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The Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee 1962

Sep 1, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

The Tenth Plenum of the Eight Central Committee (Zhongguo gongchandang di ba jie Zhongyang weiyuanhui di shi ci quanti huiyi 中国共产党第八届中央委员会第十次全体会议) was held from Sep 24-27, 1962, in Beijing. It was chaired by Mao Zedong. Participants were 82 full members (weiyuanren 委员八) and 88 expecting members (houbu weiyuanren 候补委员八). There were also 33 invited observers (liexi 列席) as deputies of various central government agencies, provinces, cities, and autonomous regions.

The Party would seriously cling to Mao Zedong's request that agriculture was the fundament of economy, and industry its leader (yi nongye wei jichu, yi gongye wei zhudao 以农业为基础、以工业为主导. Heavy industry was reduced to a certain minimum (11 to 15 per cent of the economy) and made place to light industry, in order to support the promotion of agriculture and to increase the range of consumption products (pans, watches, bicycles, coloured textiles) and the development of urban services (tailors, hairdressers, stores). Related to this were the three channels of state-owned commerce (guoying shangye 国营商业), commerce of the cooperatives (hezuoshe shangye 合作社商业), and trade in the cities (jishi maoyi 集市贸易), by which agricultural and industrial products would be brought to the markets. This would only be possible when the cities (i.e. the sector of light industries) in turn would deliver the necessary materials and commodities.

The development of agriculture would be the foremost task, while the relations between agriculture and industry would have to be "handled in a correct way" (zhengque chuli gongye he nongye de guanyi 正确地处理工业和农业的关系). For this purpose, the work of the industrial departments would have to be transferred to the road of making agriculture the fundament of the economy. The Plenum appealed to all workers, peasants, intellectuals, Party members, and all patriots, to unite even much closer (gengjia jinmi de tuanjie qi lai 更加紧密地团结起来). As a result of the experience of the Great Leap with exaggerated collectivization, peasants were allowed some "small liberties" (cultivating grocery, a few animals), for their own benefit.

The economy would have to be stabilized and concentrated (gonggu jiti jingji 巩固集体经济), and stress be laid on agricultural sideline production, like the growing of domestic animals, enforcing hydrological work and forestry. Quality, technology and investments would have to be raised, as well as leadership qualities and expertise (rencai 人才).

To summarize, the Tenth Plenum did not fundamentally alter the economic policy formulated by the Sixth Plenum (1958) or the Ninth Plenum (1961). The official wording even continued to use slogans of the past years, namely that "under the leadership of the Central Committee and Chairman Mao Zedong" (zai dang zhongyang he Mao Zedong tongzhi de lingdao xia 在党中央和毛泽东同志的领导下), the glorious banners (guanghui qizhi 光辉旗帜) of the general line of socialist construction (shehuizhuyi jianshe zongluxian 社会主义建设总路线), the Great Leap Forward (dayuejin 大跃进), and the People's Communes (renmin gongshe 人民公社) would be raised, and everyone would work more diligently to make richer the coming year's harvest, to contribute to the new development of the national economy, and to achieve "new victories for the cause of socialism".

The strengthening of agriculture would be based on the methods of the eight-character method (bazi fangzhen 八字方针) from 1961, i.e. adjustment (tiaozheng 调整), consolidation (gonggu 巩固), enrichment (chongshi 充实), and raising (tigao 提高) of production, after several years of severe natural disasters (yanzhong ziran haizai 严重自然灾害) and shorcomings and errors in the own work (ziji gongzuo de quedian, cuowu 自己工作中的缺点、错误). Thanks to these efforts, the agricultural output of 1962 had increased in comparison to the year before. //XXX Alternatively: 巩固、深化、提高、发展//.

There was, in the first two or three years after the Great Leap Forward, relative freedom in literature and the film industry, and relaxation of mass campaigns.

Yet in the ideological sphere, the spirit left the realm of economic policy and began to concentrate on the reemergence of class struggle between the proletarian class and the capitalist class. Foreign imperialism, the tendency of self-developing capitalism among petty producers (xiao shengshan zhe de zifa de zibenzhuyi qingxiang 小生产者的自发的资本主义倾向) and the influence "of the strength of the forces of the habits of the old society" (jiu shehui de xiguan shili 旧社会的习惯势力) were said to persist and fueling class contradictions. Even if the number of such revisionists was small, they would disturb the way to socialism and go the path of capitalism (zou zibenzhuyi daolu 走资本主义道路). The economic convalescence from the famine years allowed or even urged Mao Zedong to remind his comrades that "we must not forget class struggle" (qianwan bu yao wangji jieji douzheng 千万不要忘记阶级斗争).

With this formula, Mao wanted to counter the decline of revolutionary ardour and increasing irresponsibility among Party cadres, the bureaucracy of the communes and collectives, and the peasants. The latter, for instance, highly welcomed offerings by communal authorities to rent land for private production (Guillermaz: 337). Investigations had found out that just about 15 per cent of all communes were properly managed (ibid.). Some high cadres like Chen Yun or Zhu De even advocated that re-privatization of land should be intensified, in order to raise productivity. In this context, Deng Xiaoping brought forward his famous argument that the colour of a cat does not matter as long as it catches mice (bu guan bai mao, hei mao, hui zhuo laoshu jiu hao mao 不管白猫、黑猫,會捉老鼠就是好猫, July 1962). Zhang Wentian 张闻天 (1900-1976), at Lushan a supporter of Peng Dehuai, and the economist Sun Yefang 孙冶方 (1908-1983) compiled studies recommending the return to farming on a family basis.

The Resolution of the Plenum Zhonggong ba jie shi zhong quanhui gongbao (中共八届十中全会公报) referred to US imperialism in the case of the Cuba crisis and to French imperialism in Algeria. It also praised the success of communist movements in Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia. It was therefore necessary to support socialist countries in their struggle against imperialism, and to cling to the five principles of Peaceful Coexistence established as the Bandung Line.

Even if China was to join the Soviet Union in this respect, both socialist countries would have to fight revisionism (xiuzhengzhuyi 修正主义), dogmatism (jiaotiaozhuyi 教条主义), right opportunism (youqing jihuizhuyi 右倾机会主义), national chauvinism (daguo shawen zhuyi 大国沙文主义) and narrow-minded nationalism (xia'ai minzhu zhiyi 狭隘民族主义) for the struggle of the purity (junjiexing 纯洁性) of Marxism-Leninism.

The party had to raise its vigilance (jingti 警惕) because the class struggle was complex, tortuous, sometimes overt, sometimes concealed, and sometimes even most violent (jieji douzheng shi cuozong fuza de, quzhe de, shi qi shi fu de, youshi shenzhen shi hen jilie de 阶级斗争是错综复杂的、曲折的、时起时伏的,有时甚至是很激烈的). Mao Zedong was alarmed that the present generation did not know the bitterness of the past, but only the sweetness of the present, and would therefore to be reminded that the struggle was not yet finished.

Yet a separate speech, Mao Zedong still warned Party cadres not to have their daily work be interrupted by issued of class struggle. Even if work and the class struggle should proceed simultaneously (gongzuo yu jieji douzheng yao pingxing 工作与阶级斗争要平行), the class struggle must not be placed in a very prominent position (jieji douzheng buyao fang zai hen tuchu de diwei 阶级斗争不要放在很突出的地位).

For raising intra-party coherence, the work of supervisory commissions (jiancha weiyuanhui 监察委员会) on all levels was to be strengthened, and the number of members in them increased.

There were only minor changes in the personnel. Peng Dehuai and Chen Yun still held their seats in the Politbureau, but Lu Dingyi 陆定一, Kang Sheng 康生, and Luo Ruiqing 罗瑞卿 became members of the Secretariat (Zhongyang shujichu shuji 中央书记处书记), while generals Huang Kecheng 黄克诚 (1902-1986) and Tan Zheng 谭政 (1906-1988) were released from it.

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