China: Policy and perspective; Leadership crisis in China
This is the third in a special series of programs I'm China produced by the University of Chicago. The series is based on a conference held by the university's Center for Policy Study with the support of the Johnson Foundation of raceme Wisconsin today. John Wilson Lewis associate professor of Government at Cornell University and a leading expert on China's leadership. We'll continue our discussion of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. I'd like to talk just very briefly about the. Split between Neo and mile and try to set it in the somewhat broader context. Of. Trying. Secondly and I said in a broader context but to emphasize. Slightly different things and for sure and so has emphasized. In part to make the point that we didn't. Backfire misfire
or mis predict on all that many number of things. And it is my opinion that we came reasonably close in our view of the system. To the kinds of problems that would be faced by the Chinese communist leadership. The fact that these would go more and more to open hostilities and open tensions many of us wrote in late 64 to 65 that a purge was in the offing. And it seemed to us at the time that the issues which turned out to be the issues would be something like what they are namely that they the Chinese Communists would be in. Their effort to. Instill a revolutionary zeal in their youth run into two problems with trying to maintain some kind of semblance of orderly development. Which brings you back and bring in brought us back to the problem of the Chinese Communists of face from very outset in trying to to overcome the social limits on political change to institute change
without having to change themselves by and by particularly by trying to be a party which started to change and then as the revolutionary movement not having to give way in some kind of fundamental sense to the facts of the particular in terms of recruitment. The fact that they this society itself were undergoing changes particularly in the scientific technical directions that these scientists scientific technical elites would not have been some kind of major way affect the party itself and that the party began in the very early early years and this was seen fairly clearly began in the very early years to to run it. And we're up against this this kind of problem that you couldn't really have it both ways. You particularly couldn't have it both ways and this is the third point I'm going to try to make because you you could not. You did not have any real agreement between the Chinese Communist leadership at the top. It's not that there was a there were factions it's not that there were problems of personalities perhaps at the time. And this we have very little evidence but that there there was a there was. Very real different points of view in the within the leadership as it approached these
problems in the early 1950s. The problems then and I'll try to associate them and as I try to look at the O'Shaughnessy in Monza don't are the problems of one aim though on the one hand the person who throughout his life was in charge of of organization of trying to set up a control system is a kind of organizational system which would function in advantage of mobilization of arousal of of trying to appeal to the general population whereas mounted on more or less saw it the other way around saw it in terms of of getting mobilization first and then organizing it appealing to the general population and then somehow getting the the population into it into a control system in a way they really did bring to bear two different perspectives. Leo was the man who was after nine hundred thirty five and even earlier always the man left behind he was not in the and then he was in the out in the in the in the provinces behind Japanese lines
behind the woman long lines. The person who had to do the dirty job of organizing the guerilla movement he is the one that carried out the guerrilla war he was the principal political commissar. Whereas the ocean whereas MT Saddam was set up after 1930 35 36 and then in relative safety he did not go out in the end after nine hundred thirty six thirty seven he did not go out and do that organization he sat in Indian man and was never under direct attack by the by the Japanese So there are there are there were two different kinds of people one the kind of personality I would identify as Mao or he he was kind of the leader above it all side in side and you know when they were shot she the person who had the dirty work knew what the realities of Mao's theory of girl a war with warfare were down at the Operative levels. Now. If you look at it if you look at in this way I would start because I only have a very short time I'd start by first of all looking at the struggle that has begun against the OCE out chea the praise now has festered and so has as you correctly pointed out he's now been
picked out as the the biggest power holder holder in the whole lot. He's the central target of the of the great cultural revolution this has been predictable that this would happen since late or. Late November early December when it became very clear that the OCE ouchy was was the man behind all of the others who had been picked off earlier or were about to be picked off. Since then there has been a torrent of. Revelations and accusations against the O'Shaughnessy. Some of which are credible as you can. You can make some sense and they do seem to be reasonably verifiable or you could perhaps give them some credit. Others are simply while the regular and some of the ideas that he tried to seize say seize power through a coup d'etat in February 1066 I think is is not particularly credible it doesn't fit to what anything that we know of the times. There are some some some things that are wild particular that he tried to capitulate with junk shack in 1045. This is not
credible he he is that they piece of evidence they used against him was that he signed the mobilization orders for for the troops in 1945 and this is used to indicate that somehow he was capitulating to John because he indeed demobilize some of the soldiers and signed as a as the head. As they had our operative in the region signed their du mobilization orders many of them with the Chargers are also given out of context. For example one of the main things that he's being charged with is having gone to a cotton mill in tin soon and in one thousand forty nine in April one thousand forty nine in having Ted to the the manager of this cotton mill. Well it's a very fine thing that you were an exploiting capitalist in a matter of fact the more the exploitation the greater the merit and the honor. Now out of context that sounds very damning. In fact he probably made a kind of statement that Mark Marx himself would mean that in the capitalist phase the exploitation is a is a good thing because it helps move us on to the next phase and in the end that's this kind of statement in context.
It would come out reasonably innocent out of context it it comes out. On the other hand on the on the other side and it's well to keep in mind two things from this however one that they either in or that these things are being made up or they have an incredibly complex police system which which would have recorded as a private conversation of the O'Shaughnessy and we live in a factory in 1949 so it's so huge that you do have you have to rethink some of the things that you you would have thought about the system before that a person like you or your child she would have gone to Mount reasonably immune from this kind of of surveillance someone. It was indeed recording his conversations in this way. He he may have we may have to think out some of the other things we thought they despite this this these revelations. I would argue and I would occur if I understood all of what Tom was saying and I would concur very much that the the issues are predominated between the first part of the great cultural revolution and late in 1066 and I think they
they this was an issue kind of problem with them it didn't become a personal power struggle until very very late in the game. I think that the media. But that the issues were ones that you can indeed trace back not to 965 it but and in my opinion until 1964 and just going through my files last night I dug out a little thing that is entitled to a great revolution on the cultural front in No. And it's it's written in 1964 and one of the things I haven't looked through it very carefully I just get it on the plane but one of the things that's interesting about it is the Peter Principle people who were elected to to make the major pitch in the beginnings of the Cultural Revolution in 1964 were people like punk John Lu dinghy and others who I have now been person it isn't inconceivable that that they that some of the things that they did very early and had and were were responsible for their for their later purging in ways that we do not now see very clearly but I think it did begin
in July 1964 and then was interrupted fundamentally I think by the Vietnam War. It stopped decisively at the time of the Tonkin Gulf affair and then was not brought brought back to the fore until the Chinese who felt reasonably secure that they would not get involved directly in the Vietnam War. Late in 19 65 or early 966 I think when they made that calculation then they went back to the The Great Cultural Revolution. And at that point. They were still fairly fundamentally in agreement as I think that if you would have made predictions someone asked me this in the coffee break what what about your prediction in one thousand sixty six thousand one hundred sixty five that the heir apparent was the O'Shaughnessy out on it not only say their parent was their child she in 1965 I would say it was the heir apparent Was she in 1066 at the end he was still the principal man indeed the fact that he's a prince of a man accounts for the fact that you now have to plan to make such a maximum effort against him that he was
given the really the principal role in what turned out to be of the it has the basis for his downfall or his attacks on him later. I think it's also important that is in June when he is supposed to have made all of these mistakes with respect to these work teams that were sent out to university high school and so on and caused all of the rumpus that later led to the Red Guards. It is interesting and important to note that it was much that Mao turned over as he went off to Hong Joe he turned over the Great Cultural Revolution to Laotian in dung shopping. He left giving it to them and he would not particularly given it to them if he thought that they were in my opinion if he would have done if he felt that these were the people who are the principal capitalist power holders who are going to I'm trying to get. I think he gets concerned because he then begins to see what I think are fundamental issues are are the issues that that in a way what's keeping this thing from working what's kept it from working as of early 19th as mid 1064 with keeping this thing from working is the is the is the problem
of. Of the bureaucracy it's standing between me the leader as I stood in in the none standing between me the leader and the and the and the masses and it's keeping my message from from getting down to the to the to the lower bureaucracy and indeed that they're making compromises within the bureaucracy with with the with the lower with the youth particularly the kind of compromises that will fundamentally alter things beyond all hope of repair over time so it's not only that they're not communicating down my message they're communicating down and erroneous message and there and he saw the work teams that were sent out to to bring some kind of order to the to the. Great culture revolution of some sort of manifestation of of more of a of a deeper problem. And then you began to get a a a breakdown a breakdown into what are the components of the of the what now the great cultural revolution that is the India logs the immobiliser is on the one hand and the more bureaucratic operatically control oriented people on the other hand. This brings it back in
a way it begins to bring back to the kind of issues that you see before 1942 in the Chinese Communist movement. If you go all the way back in the history of the Chinese Communist Party in terms of continuities that Mr. Professor Hall was talking about you can find the same kind of issues that have now reappeared as argued as fundamental and crucial issues from one thousand thirty eight thousand nine hundred forty two. And the that it is it is not insignificant that LEO's writings before 1942. That is particularly his how to be a good communist are singled out as the as evidence of all of his mistakes. He wrote these as the bureaucrat the person interested in building the party because in his mind you had to have a party organizing people on the spot in order to run a revolutionary group. All of these slogans and all these other things all of this nice business about serving the masses meant nothing what you had to get down there and it would do is to get into the into the villages and somehow organize them and and and and work on the other hand mousy and his perspective would have seen that that this
was that this was. Inappropriate but somehow in 1942 and I think they know what we will later see as the one of the fundamental accomplishments of the so-called first rectification campaign from 1982 to 1944. The main accomplishment of that was to bring about a compromise or reconciliation if you will between these two points of view between Sheehan-Miles of them between the leaders and the Commissar if you will. And these this compromise was the basis of a of the of the of the of the struggle for power that was to be so successful in the next seven or eight years that and it was it was this compromise that. I think it is so crucial that during this period and I think that that we can see that there was a unity and there may have been contradictions within that unity but still there was a unity that existed from from one thousand nine hundred forty two to forty four. Somewhere in there on up until 19 up until 1966 in that unity for the first time we all shot she in his first works in one thousand forty three mentions miles or don't he never mention mounted them before. If for the
for the first time we begin to talk about the same kinds of things that Miles talking about terms of getting down to the masses of organizing them in the kind of popular way always before he talked about the party the parties organization the parties training the party's relationship with within it within its own apparatus the very relationships of the various parts is diff out chea. Who is given the responsibility because he is the man who knows how to organize. It's their shout she has given the primary responsibility always in the framework of the fact that now is the principal man the man who's who's the good guy or the leader the the helmsman as they would have put it that were always within the general framework that this is where carrying on Mao's revolution the OCE out she was given the task of of all of the making all of the changes that came about after nine hundred forty eight forty nine was it was little Shall she who set up the the land reform movement in one thousand forty nine fifty he was the one who talked about the differentiation of class status in the countryside. It was the Ashanti who who was the primarily
responsible for and did take responsibility for they the state and party constitutions of nine hundred fifty four nine hundred fifty six respectively in the and it was it was Leo who Leo who coined the slogan read an expert Mao never used that slogan it was it was little shell cheese slogan and we always thought that this meant politics and command politics in command was Mao's slogan slogan was make a compromise between the reds and the experts make the bureaucracy somehow come to terms with what's going on in the society. And I think we saw this as a as a beginning of a problem because in coming to terms you began to get what they later called the great strategic task of of somehow keeping alive the revolution because in coming to terms it meant letting the revolution die. And one of the things that we haven't understood is how do revolutions die and how do they die in a place like China when the leadership goes on and on and on. And they in these these people don't die themselves hard and yet the conditions have dire and they become kind of irrelevant. And there is there has been
this this fundamental problem this is best seen I think in the attack on how to be a good communist which is started in is which started on March 30 first as you know the red flags issues now come out in broadcast form before the journal come down the broadcast the whole thing in bits and parts before that the final edition is produced and in its fifth edition I think I'm on Mark's mother came out broadcast was March 30th my 21st and so on. They've they've started a major attack on what was the the main journal in the Chinese Communist movement four party members party apparatchiks in this project in this was this was how to how to be a good communist or more correctly in kind from translating from the Chinese Its how to on the on the cultivation of the Chinese Communist Party member. What is said in that and I think what is sad in that it sort of summarizes the kind of issues as Miles sees them. The first thing that they attack the how to be a good communist for from March on is in a sense for Leo's personal slight to mile.
That is I think the first. Thing that that is most important in this is that that Leo is attacked for not having mention Mao for not having or having had his works published in much much more numerous editions and then mount Saddam's edition there. Those how to be a good communist. It was published in 20 million editions and Miles only 11 million editions and these kind of slides which which mouthe has found very very much to his dislike and so there has been in this and I think there is a very strong personal element that's come up in this. The fact that the rival someone asked about junking Miles Miles. Wife and the madam are not Saddam does have a kind of personal thing about Madam no Shante. The fact that when one bomb a man a mere child she was perpetrated out in the you know one of the meetings with with ping pong balls around her neck in these ping pong balls signified a term some pearls that Madame the madame of those she had picked up on a trip to Indonesia. I think this is a kind of a
woman's trick I think the not I kill thinking thing a man putting ping pong balls around a woman's neck and if there is this kind of this that this is a woman's vengeance that you find in here and there is a very strong personal element in many of the things that come up. Miles there are many of these stories that are presumably got published in journals like Frontline and and picking daily and so many of these have DAY. Have the flavor of trying to belittle mile for mile jumps on jumps on a horse then falls off and and sort of was around in the horse dung and then gets up and then rides off in all directions waving his sword sword shouting slogans. When stories like this can come out in the in the in the press slightly disguised by and by different names you get a you get a feeling that there is a strong personal element and this is picked up in the in the attacks on the oche Algy in how to be a good communist. The second thing is picked up isn't in the sense of self cultivation the selfishness and I think this has been overplayed in the press and I would just
make a couple of questions certainly they they do argue that that they were still young which is the name of the how to be good Thomas is gone and they still young does imply in Chinese self cultivation at least they they do make a good deal of the self aspect of the cultivation the self first the meditation part of the book comes under criticism. If you read this carefully what you find is that they're not really interested in the south part of the cultivation they're interested in the what the what was the what they were called evading for what they were and indeed take a typical statement in bone to April on April 2nd where where they say we believe that the revolutionary young fighters nurtured by Mount Saddam's thought can definitely educate and liberate themselves. And this this is the same idea of self liberation self cultivation comes with respect to Maoist things but it's within the Maoist context and what they see is that there is not the what they really see is not the the the problem of of selfness But the problem of what the South is
cultivating itself to be in to do. And here they are they are they are than go under I think what is the most important thing to them in the Osho jis book and that is that the that they were shot she was trying to train people to be subservient to the to the to the party organization rather than to mile and miles onto bureaucracy too and they talk about the the slab is in the slavish unus in the writings the fact that that that you had to be subservient to the to the earth to the organization to your superiors and that this made you. Brother in a hearty way toward your subordinates and as well as as many people say I read this book Gunn's the typical kind of confession these days. I read this book and I found myself acting in a commander's way toward my my subordinates and I operated as a docile tool of my seniors and I didn't really mix it up and struggle I didn't have any kind of a of a of a real Marxist Maoist type relationship with them and they've attacked in the in the Maoist cause in the
Maoists have attacked the the whole concept the whole idea of of being a docile tool the party you've got to be a docile tool but not of the party of mine. And there is a there is there is this is there this difference which which I think is is one of the reasons what goes on at the time. Now they attack a number of other things. One of the strangest attacks is the way in which she defines in how to be a good Communist the future communist society he defines it as is a wonderful society in which there's where there is there is abundance and peace and in that everyone is literate and everything's being built up and and they they say this is the attack on this is that it's both calling them true which is an interesting commentary. That Leo paints too rosy a picture of the future. This then I think is in the book you find the highlighting and the attack on this book the highlighting of of the two views of social development the mobilisation view versus the controlled society if you knew you you get what what is it from their point of view the really crucial thing not so much what's going on between these two groups but how they will affect the third group because it isn't so important that
Mao convinces Layo it's important that Mao and Leo with Mao that they will fight this out in the context of of the target the target being the youth and how how they respond and that in a sense in from their point of view it's it's not just the winning but that you win in order to make your maximum effect for your love for your target group the the young people each. And this has very important advantages though has the advantages of bureaucracy and has played this very very coolly in my opinion he's he's operated not as an opposition the only way we have any notion of what Leo has been doing is by by what we've learned from the donor or from the him from the Mau Mau in control press or or or radio or what have you the posters. We have no notion at all from the US group itself we're not even very sure who's in it except when they're specifically named the the bureaucracy has operated like like bureaucracies should when under attack They've simply said we're all with you we're not against you anything at the mouse's you've all got to be rebels all of your pieces we're
all rebels. So when Mao begins to attack somebody he doesn't know who is his friends and who are the enemies. In February they are the party in Peking issued a directive. I told someone at the coffee break they issued a directive saying that all all posters all newspapers all orders have to be issued in quintuplets and sent five copies and have to be sent to Peking and for someone to sit there and read to find out who's who and they've got a campaign against what they call Blondie Angele which is against viewpoint ism and the bureaucracy is just reloaded the system with words and everyone has a calling everybody read revolutionary Mao Zedong Thought rebels. It's for this reason that Michael can't figure out in Shanghai or in in Peking or in other places who's who and who is or who is friends for a while he's in command and he isn't in command and the reason for that is that he doesn't know who are his friends and who are his enemies and his his whole strategy in the past has been based on knowing who are my friends and who are my enemies. This leads to my last point which was that. In in trying to break the
bureaucracy the there has been a response on the part of the bureaucracy that in my opinion is not random and is I think it that there is a correlation between what's gone on in the in Mao's effectiveness with respect to taking over party and and other and state organizations Army organizations in these various parts of China and other things that are that we know about China for example. There would be very many power centers the party didn't operate as a pure dictatorship because it didn't list support from the workers from the peasants who were in the in the suburbs and so on and there was there was a a a sense of a kind of legitimacy that was built up in the more modern parts of the of China in these in these cities and it was someone who was we were comparing Taiwan and mainland China and some of these parts of China they're as modern as any places you can see in Europe or anywhere else in the world with that exception the United States. So there are there was in these cities a fundamental weakness in terms of of can of control of control in that if you had real
disaffection. Within these within the the cities on the part of the leader of the youth say then this could undermine the organization because the organization was in part dependent on these these these supporters. One of the things that the that the Chinese group that mounted them did was to one thing was to stop all schools which in in in part to upset one of the main areas of support in the city is the whole schools system the youth and so on and made them very uncertain what was happening and you can go through this with the workers and so on so that they had this simply picked out the the kind of supporters who are in the in the cities and use them to undermine the system itself. But in doing so even though these have been the easiest targets they've been the most difficult to consolidate because there have been plural centers of power and they've had in order to take over these more modern cities they've taken over parts of them but this doesn't mean to take over all of them. And they've had to go factory by factory and there's there's articles in red flag about taking over the the Peking postage stamp printing works and they and the cotton mills and all kinds of things they.
It isn't the kind of organization where they can simply say we have got the center so we've got it all. They're having to do it even street by street in some cities and in doing this they don't have to focus of attention here. And then they lose it over here and they're there and it's a constant problem for them in the cities and those cities where there wasn't the compromise where there wasn't the kind of organization of this time. The Chinese communists have found themselves able to take the control of the cities more directly and or the countries of these less developed areas to the west more easily because there wasn't any. In the end it was more money as a military dictatorship and they simply took over military command or these military commanders have resisted them which is more than it is which is more the story most of that western part of China bureaucracy has remained intact and against them they haven't had any really very very easy access into that kind of power structure although it's it's mixed up when they have taken these areas this power structure they have lost the peasantry. It is one of the things that happened as it split into a rural urban kind of thing and in the in the less modern parts of China Daily there is
now some indication particularly in grey Joe and in other parts of the southwest China others. There are indications of kind of incipient peasant rebellions peasants coming roaring into the cities and are storming granary isn't doing a number of other things would which indicate a real breakdown of discipline within within the rural society so that you can if you go through this reasonably carefully see some kind of a pattern in this the the organization I think is going to create a. If you choose a situation which may which means in part neither side is going to win. I think it's important to note that that it is now reached a kind of stalemate isn't that clear who's winning and it's going to be I think a some time before we are able to sort it out. You've just heard John Wilson Lewis of Cornell University discussing China's Cultural Revolution. Professor Lewis spoke at a conference held by the University of Chicago Center for Policy Study. The next two programs in the series will be devoted to China's foreign policy. These programs are produced for
- Leadership crisis in China
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- A series of talks from the University of Chicago dealing with current events in China.
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Lewis, John Wilson, 1930-
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