Some Preliminary Ideas about the Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution
Speech to the 18th Plenum of the CC of the PLA October 14, 1966
Text from Enver Hoxha. Selected Works Vol. IV. 1983. pp. 94-114
I want to express some preliminary ideas about the Proletarian Cultural Revolution which is going on in China during these months. I say preliminary ideas, because this revolution is a major and serious problem which requires further consideration on our part, more detailed analyses, based on more complete facts, possibly requires clarifications by the Chinese comrades, and all these things we should analyse carefully in the light of Marxism-Leninism. Many things are not clear to us, we can and do make suppositions, but they remain only suppositions which require verification from the facts, from life.
However, although we do not have enough information, the Central Committee has to judge on those facts we have and form a more or less clear internal opinion. The possibility cannot be excluded that, for the reasons I mentioned above we may not be very accurate in certain judgment or definitions.
However, the first preliminary brief analysis (because this problem does not figure on the agenda of this meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee), and the criticisms we may make of the principles, by the urgent and imperative need for Marxist-Leninist unity between our two parties and the repercussions this revolution may have in the international communist movement.
The Proletarian Cultural Revolution, as the Chinese leaders have presented it and are carrying it out, present two aspects of a single problem: the national aspect and the international aspect. Our Party, the other Marxist-Leninist parties and the entire world are interested in both the one and the other of these aspects, and in the problem as a whole.
The Proletarian Cultural Revolution is viewed, analysed, interpreted, lauded or criticized from many different positions, there is a great deal of speculation about it, but we may say that the interpretation of it is done mainly in three directions: interpretation from the positions of the capitalist bourgeoisie, interpretation from the bourgeois-revisionist positions and interpretation from the true constructive Marxist-Leninist positions.
It would be a gross mistake on the part of the Chinese comrades if they were to confound the-se stands and lump them together, when the first two are diametrically opposed to the third. In this case they would be lacking in Marxist-Leninist objectivity.
Therefore, comrades, you will understand how difficult, not to say impossible it is for us to make a correct, open and comradely criticism of the Chinese comrades in these complicated circum-stances I mentioned, or criticism of the things I shall go on to speak about, especially in regard to the unrestrained cult of Mao Zedong. But, as always, our Party will defend the principles boldly, correctly and fearlessly and will find not only the courage but also the wisdom and cool-headedness, which have never been lacking and which it has gained in difficult struggle, to express its opinion to the Communist Party of China, to discuss patiently and in a comradely way with the Chinese comrades for the common benefit, for the benefit of Marxism-Leninism.
We base the opinions we shall express here on the facts of which you are informed, from the relations between our Party and the Communist Party of China for many years on end, the views of the Communist Party of China on the major international problems and the problems of international communism, to the exchange opinions through letters and delegations by the two sides, the exchange of experience through party and state channels, etc. You are also informed about the development of the Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution from start to finish through our press and, in a more detailed way, through a voluminous material of the ATA which you receive every day, therefore I am not going to run through the history of it, but shall merely briefly recall certain moments which I consider of special importance:
1) At their congress, ten years ago, not only were the Chinese comrades unclear about the betrayal of Tito, but they made Stalin the culprit and exonerated Tito. We have facts about this stand, be-cause this comprised the essence of their talks with us. Later, as you know, they corrected this stand, but continued to underrate the Titoite danger in face of the great Khrushchevite danger.
2) The Chinese comrades did not realize the danger of the Khrushchevites fully and properly. They did not openly acquiesce in the accusations and slanders of the Khrushchevites against Stalin, but they believed a great part of them and strengthened their own opinion about Stalin in the time of the Comintern and later, about Stalin's alleged mistakes in regard to China, "mistakes" which Zhou Enlai outlined to us especially to "convince" us when he came here the last time, although he could not convince us. Even assuming for a moment that we accepted the things Zhou told us about Stalin, in our opinion they do not constitute serious faults or mistakes of principle, but at most are tactical stands adopted in various political and military situations, which, without comparing documents, and especial-ly when a long time has passed since these events and there are no documents available, at least to us, can very easily be interpreted one-sidedly.
Later the Chinese comrades realized the dangerous nature of the Khrushchevites, but their tactics remained mild, especially at first, indeed even at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU and following it, when we were openly attacked and the heat of the revisionist fire was directed at our Party alone, the Communist Party of China tried to have the polemics stopped.
Nevertheless, immediately after the fall of Khrushchev, the Chinese comrades wavered somewhat, had some erroneous illusions and took some incorrect actions. You know about the episode of Zhou Enlai with the Albanian ambassador  and the stand of our Party.
Another erroneous stand of the Chinese, which had consequences especially in certain parties, like those of Korea and Japan, was the proposal for the "creation of the anti-imperialist front including the revisionists." We forcefully and resolutely rejected this proposal, and the Chinese comrades with-drew. Now the Koreans and the Japanese have raised the banner of this idea. You have had all this in the material you have read.
3) As you know, we have had a controversy over principles with the Chinese comrades, not mainly over the class struggle, but "about the existence of the feudo-bourgeois class as a class, as an entity which fights us, even from positions of state power, at a time when state power in our countries is the dictatorship of the proletariat." We know what our thesis is and this we base on our struggle, on facts and on Marxist-Leninist analysis.
The Chinese comrades have claimed the contrary. As you know, we have told them that it may be so in their country, but not in ours, because the class struggle in our country has been waged and continued consistently from the time of the National Liberation War and since the war right to this day, and it will go on against the remnants of the feudo-bourgeois class, etc., etc. There is no bourgeoisie in power in our country. The Chinese comrades demanded that we adopt their view which may have been formulated after an analysis of the situation in China. But it was in vain, because, confronted with our analysis, they were forced to lower their tone; nevertheless, we suspect that they are not convinced and continue to think that "the Albanians are wrong in their analysis." And see, they even made their final attempt to impose their conclusion on us in the joint statement when our delegation went to China.  But they failed again.
4) In our opinion, the analysis which the Chinese comrades made of the causes of the advent of revisionism to power in the Soviet Union, a problem of major importance for international communism, has not been completely objective. They lay the blame on Stalin alone. This is of particular importance, and, if we are not mistaken, is done with ulterior motives. Our Party has another view; our analysis of this important problem agrees in some aspects with that of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, but does not agree and is opposed to it in some other aspects. The mutual exchange of opinions, criticisms and suggestions are natural, but they can be constructive only when carried out in the Marxist-Leninist way.
I mention these problems not because they have become obstacles in our relations with the Chinese comrades, but to enable us, as far as possible, to see more clearly into the recent events which are occurring in China, because, in addition to the things I pointed out, there may also be other things which we do not know about.
We have been informed about and have followed the recent developments in China only through the Chinese press and Hsinhua. The Communist Party of China and its Central Committee have not given our Party and its Central Committee any special comradely information. We think that as a party so closely linked with ours, it ought to have kept us better informed in an internationalist way, especially during these recent months.
You are acquainted with the exposé Zhou Enlai gave us. He told us nothing more than what the Chinese press had said up till then, but as to what has been done since then and what will be done later, we know nothing apart from what has been said in the press. Hence, comrades, you will under-stand how prudent we must be in drawing well-grounded and complete conclusions, because many facts about what is going on inside their party are unknown to us. To some extent we know the external appearance of events, their outward development, as well as the orientation of the development of events, but we know nothing about their causes, their fundamental reasons. We may guess, make sup-positions, build up hypotheses, but the great seriousness of the problem and the seriousness of our Party do not allow us to be imprudent and hasty.
If we are not mistaken, in the chronology of events, matters began with an article by Lin Biao about the army, which, we may say, did not imply anything special apart from the strengthening of the army and its popularization, which is natural in these international situations. It was continued with the criticism of some novels and articles and rose to crescendo in the universities of Beijing, in the rectorates and among the professors, the attack was shifted to the Beijing Party Committee (without even now mentioning the name of Peng Zhen), shifted on to some members of the Bureau, such as Lu Dingyi, to Lin Biao's deputy in the army, and thus, in turn, to the creation of the "Red Guard" and its activities. Meanwhile, Lin Biao's second article, which fanned up the cult of Mao and again recommended the reading of his works, came out. This article, you might say, was the call to action, etc., etc.
Certain things draw our attention. It came out in the Chinese press, that the Beijing Party Committee, of course, including Peng Zhen, but without mentioning his name (Zhou Enlai mentioned it to us), Lu Zingyi, Luo Ruiqing and others were "revisionists, anti-party, agents of the bourgeoisie," etc., they supported the bourgeois elements in the university, among the writers, etc., and the newspapers published criticisms of many other literary works. Hence, according to them this hostile activitiy is based in the field of culture and the school. But the three persons named and others were members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. Was it in this sector alone that they had betrayed? We cannot offer any opinion about this, because the Chinese are not saying one word. When was this "big plot," as they called it, discovered? According to them, the entire work, the whole line, all the collective and individual actions of the leadership have been analysed, as it is usually done in normal and especially abnormal times. We can say nothing about this, because this is an internal problem of theirs; we do not know but can only say: how is it possible that this hostile work, which in fact was manifested openly, was not discovered earlier?
The fact is that it is now ten years since the last Congress of the CPC was held and the new five-year plan is going by without being examined in the Congress. This is abnormal, not in order, a violation of the Constitution and, as far as we can judge from outside there has been no objective reason to prevent the holding of the Congress. This is not simply an organizational question, but first of all an issue of principle: the supreme leadership of the Party does not take decisions, and nobody renders account to it, that is, it is disregarded. Why? It is impossible for us to know this, but we can say that it is a grave violation which may have very dangerous consequences.
So much for the Congress, but what about the plenum of the Central Committee? Four years without meeting! How is it possible? Facts are facts. The principal forums of the party have been disregarded. How have the problems been judged, in unity or not? In a distorted or correct way? We can say nothing about this because we do not know, but one thing we can say, that all this is irregular, unlawful, impermissible, condemnable and with grave and dangerous consequences for the party and the country. Such a practice cannot be found in any Marxist-Leninist party.
What has impelled the Chinese comrades to violate the most elementary and most vital rules of the party? We can imagine a lot of things.
On the basis of the experience and the norms of our Party, we would severely condemn these actions as hostile, would nip them in the bud and would never allow them to become established, be-cause the example of the leadership with its good and bad aspects, is reflected right down to the base.
One can imagine how all that Chinese party with its huge numbers, divided into committees and territories and with many complicated problems, has been led.
Let us take certain questions. The 11th Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPC was held after a lapse of four years. Apart from the communiqué on the struggle against imperialism and Soviet revisionism and certain things I shall mention below, we know nothing about what was done, what was discussed, and what was decided there. But was the line of the Party analysed, were the good things and the mistakes pointed out, were those who had made mistakes faced with their responsibility, individually and collectively, what measures were taken to put things in order, etc., etc.? These are their internal matters and they are saying nothing. There as no announcement, either, about when their next congress is to be held, that means carrying on without a congress and this implies that matters are still not in order internally, have not been smoothed out and cleared up. Perhaps we are mistaken, but there may also be factions within the leadership; if this is so, then the differences must still be profound and, in the opinion and practice of our Party, it is difficult to eliminate them with those methods and forms used up till now by the Chinese comrades who continue to keep the factionalist elements, recognized enemies of the Party, not only in the ranks of the Party, but also in the Central Committee, and even in the Political Bureau.
What emerged officially from the meeting of the Central Committee? You know that, in particular, the 16-point declaration on the "Proletarian Cultural Revolution"  emerged, that Lin Biao emerged second in line after Mao, and a new ranking of the main Chinese leadership was published, in which new comrades come to the fore and Liu Shaoqi, Chu Deh and others go down to the eighth and ninth place and below. From this we gather that there were discussions at the meeting and measures were taken, but we know nothing concretely.
One thing that we do know is that the "Red Guards" had been created and had gone into action before the plenum was held, that is, the Cultural Revolution had been launched and together with it the cult of Mao was raised to the skies in a sickening and artificial manner, as you know. Everything was identified with Mao; the party, the Central Committee were hardly mentioned and it emerges clear-ly that "the party exists and fights thanks to Mao, that the people live, fight and breathe only thanks to Mao and to Mao's ideas alone." And the worst of it is that Mao himself is doing nothing to restrain this cult about him. Can it be that they have reached the conclusion that their party has decayed from within and only the authority of Mao can save the situation? Of course, Mao's authority is of importance, but any action on the part of the Chinese comrades should be carried out in the correct Marxist-Leninist way.
Naturally, this thing worries us greatly and there is reason for us to worry about it, because it concerns the fate of international communism, the fate of the People's Republic of China, of socialism and the Marxist-Leninist relations between our two parties and two countries.
The Chinese comrades are giving unprecedented importance to this "revolution," but along with "its immense importance," as yet are are not seeing the clear orientations for this "revolution." In the 16 points, if we read them carefully, we shall find some laconic orientations and some general allu-sions on political and organizational problems of the party, which must have been discussed at the plenum and are given to the masses to bear in mind. On the basis of the classification of the communists or the committees made in these 16 points, Lin Biao speaks before the "Red Guards" saying that "there is a bunch of capitalists in the leadership," etc., etc. In regard to the question of how this Proletarian Cultural Revolution should develop, what paths it should follow, what its aims and objectives are, this is not very clear to us at least, because to sum it up as the "destruction of the four old things" and the replacement of them with the "four new things" can be neither a complete nor a clear explanation, but even if you concentrate on these "four old things" you may come to the conclusion that the Chinese comrades are not thinking quite correctly about the cultural revolution and the development of socialist culture; you have the impression that everything old in Chinese and world culture should be rejected without discrimination and a new culture, the culture they call proletarian, should be created. Hence, the Cartesian theory of wiping off the past in order to build the new culture, and this will be achieved only through the "ideas of Mao," by reading his works and quotations which have now replaced every-thing in China.
Let me read you a quotation from Lenin, and I recommend you to restudy his book "On Culture and Art" published in Albanian ten years ago. One should continually delve into the works of Len-in and Stalin, and study how they dealt with this or that problem.
Here is what Lenin says about socialist culture:
"We shall be unable to solve this problem unless we clearly realize that only a precise knowledge and transformation of the culture created by the entire development of mankind will enable us to create a proletarian culture. The latter is not clutched out of thin air; it is not an invention of those who call themselves experts in proletarian culture. That is all nonsense. Proletarian culture must be the logical development of the store of knowledge mankind has accumulated under the yoke of capitalist, landowner and bureaucratic society. All these roads have been leading and will continue to lead up to proletarian culture, in the same way as political economy, as reshaped by Marx, has shown us what human society must arrive at, shown us the passage to the class struggle, to the beginning of the proletarian revolution.
"When we so often hear representatives of the youth as well as certain advocates of a new system of education, attacking the old schools, claiming that they used the system of cramming, we say to them that we must take what was good in the old schools. We must not borrow the system of en-cumbering young people's minds with an immense amount of knowledge, nine-tenths of which was use-less and one-tenth distorted. This, however, does not mean that we can restrict ourselves to communist conclusions and learn only communist slogans. You will not create communism that way. You can be-come a communist only when you enrich your mind with a knowledge of all the treasures of man-kind.
"We have no need of cramming, but we do need to develop and perfect the mind of every student with a knowledge of fundamental facts. Communism will become an empty word, a mere sign-board, and a communist a mere boaster, if all the knowledge he has acquired is not digested in his mind. You should not merely assimilate this knowledge, but assimilate it critically, so as not to cram your mind with useless lumber, but enrich it with all those facts that are indispensable to the well-educated man of today. If a communist took it into his head to boast about his communism because of the cut-and-dry conclusions he had acquired, without putting in a great deal of serious and hard work and without understanding facts he should examine critically, he would be a deplorable communist indeed. Such superficiality would be decidedly fatal. If I know that I know little, I shall strive to learn more; but if a man says that he is a communist and that he need not know anything thoroughly, he will never become anything like a communist." 
In the same work Lenin says also:
"Marxism has won its historic significance as the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat, because, far from rejecting the most valuable achievements of the bourgeois epoch, it has, on the contrary, assimilated and refashioned everything of value in more than two thousand years of the development of human thought and culture. Only further work on this basis and in this direction, inspired by the practical experience of the proletarian dictatorship as the final stage in the struggle against every form of exploitation, can be considered the development of a genuine proletarian culture." 
This is clear, while the Chinese course, as it is publicized, is not very clear, at least it is not clear to us.
What does this Cultural Revolution, as it is being carried out in China, consist of?
The "Red Guards" are changing the names of the streets and restaurants, because they had a reactionary content, writing dazibaos and criticizing anyone just as they please, ransacking houses and putting the dunce's cap on kulaks and reactionaries and parading them through the streets and squares; it is said they are wrecking the graves of foreign imperialists and, what is more dangerous, they are at-tacking party committees, burning libraries and paintings, destroying old monuments, etc.
It is difficult for us to call this revolution, as the "Red Guards" are carrying it out, a Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The signs could be removed by the municipal organs, the enemies could and should be captured by the organs of the dictatorship on the basis of the law, and if the enemies have wormed their way into the party committees, let them be purged through party channels. Or in the final analysis, arm the working class and attack the committees, but not with children.  Why are such actions taken in this sensational way and with more of a political than a cultural character? And to all these people who have been set in motion to carry out this work the schools have been shut and they will not attend school or acquire culture for a year, a little red book with Mao's quotations has been put in their hands, a red band tied around their arms and they have been given permission to shout.
Who are the pioneers of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution? The students and school pupils, and the Chinese communiqués say that they are backed up by the workers, soldiers and peasants. It seems to us that this may be so, but it is not a correct, principled course. It is dangerous, it is not serious. The socialist or proletarian cultural revolution, as the Chinese want to call it, could not be carried out in a genuine Marxist-Leninist way with these principles and these forms.
The socialist cultural revolution is a very serious, very complicated problem, and the Chinese comrades know (or say they do) that it must be guided with the greatest care by the party, which must be vigilant at every moment to check up on the line, to verify its implementation, to correct the mis-takes, to guard against the leftist and rightist deviations which are so prone to occur in such a broad and delicate sector.
One has the impression that having discovered "a grave hostile current in literature" (and why did they not see this and take measures earlier?), having discovered that "cadres in the leadership of the party and state are on the capitalist road" (and why did they not see this and take measures earlier?), having woken up from their heavy slumber to realize that capitalists and kulaks have grown fat and strong to the extent that it seems they are still in power (why was this allowed?), the Chinese comrades may thus have arrived at the conclusion that all these evils will be solved by the Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the "Red Guards" comprised of the youth, and the build-up of the cult of Mao to a fantastic level.
This is a matter which is not very clear to us. In appearance it is based on the correct slogan of the "line of the masses," but a line of the masses which goes beyond the norms and principles, which disregards the party and its justice and is based on the cult of the individual, on the exaltation of non-proletarian youth who improperly exploit all the successes achieved by the party and the people in all fields. Such a course may lead to anarchy, may weaken the confidence of the masses in the line of the party.
We think that this Cultural Revolution may be a rectification of the entire line of the party, but a rectification undertaken outside the Leninist norms of the party and the laws of the dictatorship of the proletariat, through the cult of Mao and hurling into action that stratum of the people which is the most easily carried away, the noisiest, the most delicate and most mobile as a stratum, lacking maturity and experience of the difficulties of life.
This may have grave consequences, either immediately or later, if the Chinese comrades do not correct these mistake that can be seen. The experience of the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin taught us many things.
As you will understand, many matters which I mentioned above and of which I tried to make an evaluation, which may be mistaken since we do not have the facts, are internal matters of China, of the Communist Party of China, and we do not have the right to interfere or to express our opinion, if it is not sought. However, it is impermissible for us not to have an internal opinion of our own for generla orientation, even a provisional one, with some points unclear and possibly some incorrect conclusions. It is likewise impermissible for us to be lacking in prudences and caution on a question of such major importance to the cause of Marxism-Leninism.
Our great aim and concern is and must be to avoid falling into errors ourselves, to try to see more clearly into this question, and when we have the opportunity, to exchange opinions with the Chinese comrades in a comradely way to the great general interest.
However, everything that occurs in China is not just an internal affair of China and the Communist Party of China. While being their affair, at the same time it has an international and internationalist character, because China is a big country, of great weight in the international communist move-ment. 
The Chinese leaders and the Chinese propaganda say that the "Cultural Revolution has shaken the entire world." This is a fact.
On October 1, Zhou Enlai said more or less: "The world has been split into two over the question of the Cultural Revolution, into enemies who fight us and friends who are with us and defend us."
It is precisely this international and internationalist aspect of the Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution that I want to touch on now, after touching on the national aspect.
Today, the Chinese comrades and the Chinese propaganda pose the problem in this way: "The present epoch is the epoch of the ideas of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong is the greatest Marxist of our time, Mao Zedong is the heir to all the classics of Marxism-Leninism, Marxist-Leninist science, and the world science, he is the sun," etc., etc. Hence, Mao Zedong's ideas should lead the entire world, and, in regard to the Proletarian Cultural Revolution, it is being developed and led by Mao Zedong personally. This is something unprecedented in the history of the world.
The posing of this great problem by the Chinese comrades in this way is not correct, not Marxist and far from unduly modest. But what is even more grave and dangerous is the fact that those same forms and methods they use within their own country, they want to use abroad too, that is, they want others to accept and apply this incorrect and erroneous posing of the problem in such dogmatic forms, without discussion, because otherwise, for the Chinese comrades, you go over to the other side of the barricade, to the enemies.
Now some orientations for us :
a) I want to stress certain things which the Party must keep well in mind, and which every communist should work out in his own head and not wait for directives from above about every stand. The stands of the Party, the communists and the cadres must be guided by the directives of the Congress, the Central Committee, the Political Bureau and the government. These things are clearly ex-pressed in documents and our daily press, therefore they should be assimilated and we should be guided by them.
b) The line of our Party on the struggle against imperialism and modern revisionism is correct, therefore we must proceed resolutely on this course, because it is decisive.
c) For our part, the economic and friendly relations with China will be maintained and developed only on the correct Marxist-Leninist road.
d) The cult of Mao or anybody else must be combated and we should proceed in everything just as we have done, on the Marxist-Leninist course. Not the slightest concession or opportunism in this. With the correct stands of our Party, the Chinese comrades ought to be clear on this question. Even if they are not clear or take it badly, we cannot do otherwise, because this is an issue of principle. We respect Mao in the Marxist-Leninist way and within the Marxist-Leninist norms. In regard to Mao we shall use only the official descriptions of our Party.
e) As you have noticed, our press does not speak about the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the same terms and ways as Chinese propaganda does, and we have avoided doing so in a comradely way and without aggravating things, for the reasons I have mentioned above. Probably, in fact undoubtedly, this has not pleased the Chinese comrades, but we cannot act otherwise until everything becomes clear-er to us and we consider it correct.
f) Our propaganda against China, its successes in all fields, including culture and the works of Mao, etc., should be carried out within correct norms, as hitherto, and any undue demand on the part of the Chinese comrades should be tactfully avoided. Concessions and sectarianism should be avoided, because neither the one nor the other serves our great cause which it is our duty to strengthen on the correct Marxist-Leninist road for the benefit of communism.
I think that in defending our line on many questions in the report we shall deliver at the Congress we also indirectly define some of these stands towards the views of the Chinese comrades who, so to say, ought to take them as our objections, especially to the cult and to the Cultural Revolution, as we understand them. A delegation of the Communist Party of China will come to our Congress and we have hopes that we shall try to clear up these matters as comrades should.
That was all I had to say. The Central Committee must advise us whether we view the problems correctly. I think all these matters should be kept within the Central Committee, because they are very delicate.
The entire Plenum of the Central Committee expressed agreement with the matters presented by Comrade Enver Hoxha.