“Some Questions on Maintaining and Developing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”
For our Party leading the people in building socialism, there are two historical periods: before “reform and opening” and after “reform and opening.” These are two interrelated periods that also have major differences, but the essence of both periods is that our Party was leading the people in the exploration and practice of building socialism. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” was created in the new historical period of “reform and opening,” but it was created on the basis of New China having already established the basic socialist system and carried out more than twenty years of work. A correct understanding of this problem requires grasping three points.
First, if our Party had not taken the decision in 1978 to carry out “reform and opening,” and to unswervingly push forward “reform and opening,” socialist China would not be in the good situation it is today–it is even possible it could have faced a serious crisis like the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. At the same time, if in 1949 New China had not been established in a socialist revolution, and accumulated important ideas, materials and institutional conditions, gaining both positive and negative experiences, it would have been very difficult for reform and opening to proceed smoothly.
Second, although the ideological direction, policies and practice of building socialism in these two historical periods were very different, these two periods are not separate from each other, and are not at all fundamentally opposed. Our Party has in the process of building socialism proposed many correct positions, but at the time they were not properly implemented; they were only fully implemented only after “reform and opening,” and we will continue to adhere to them and develop them in the future. Marx said long ago: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”
Third, there must be a correct evaluation of the historical period before “reform and opening.” We cannot use the historical period after “reform and opening” to deny the historical period before “reform and opening,” nor can we use the historical period before “reform and opening” to deny the historical period after “reform and opening.” The practice and exploration of socialism before “reform and opening” built up the conditions for the practice and exploration of socialism after “reform and opening;” the practice and exploration of socialism after “reform and opening” is to maintain, reform and develop the previous period. …
The reason I emphasize this question is because this is a major political issue that, if not handled properly, will have serious political consequences. The ancients said: “To destroy the people of a country, first go at their history.” Hostile forces at home and abroad often write articles about the history of the Chinese revolution and the history of New China–they stop at nothing in attacking, vilifying and slandering, but their ultimate purpose is to confuse people and to incite the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party and our country’s socialist system. Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why the Soviet Communist Party fall from power? One important reason is that in the field of ideology the struggle was very intense–fully negating the history of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party, negating Lenin, negating Stalin, promoting historical nihilism and confused thinking. Party organizations at all levels hardly did anything, and the army was not under the leadership of the Party. In the end, the Soviet Communist Party, this great Party, was scattered, and the Soviet Union, this great socialist country, fell to pieces. This is a cautionary tale!
Comrade Deng Xiaoping pointed out: “On no account can we discard the banner of Mao Zedong Thought. To do so would, in fact, be to negate the glorious history of our Party. On the whole, the Party’s history is glorious. Our Party has also made big mistakes in the course of its history, including some in the three decades since the founding of New China, not least, so gross a mistake as the ‘Cultural Revolution’. But after all, we did triumph in the revolution. It is since the birth of the People’s Republic that China’s status in the world has been so greatly enhanced. It is since the founding of the People’s Republic that our great country, with nearly a quarter of the world’s population, has stood up — and stood firm — in the community of nations.” He also stressed: “The appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong and the exposition of Mao Zedong Thought relate not only to Comrade Mao personally but also to the entire history of our Party and our country. We must keep this overall judgement in mind.”
This is the vision and thinking of a great Marxist statesman. Think for a moment: if at that time we had fully negated Comrade Mao Zedong, could our Party still stand firm? Could our country’s socialist system stand firm? If it does not stand firm, then the result is chaos. Therefore, correctly handling the relationship between socialism before and after “reform and opening” is not just a historical issue, in fact it is mainly a political issue. I suggest that everyone take out the “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China” and read it again.