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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 04, 1964

DISCUSSION BETWEEN MAO ZEDONG AND SANGSIV, HEAD OF THE CULTURAL GROUP OF THE LAOTIAN PATRIOTIC FRONT

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    Mao Zedong advising Sangsiv on how to strengthen Communism in Laos, including learning from Chinese mistakes.
    "Discussion between Mao Zedong and Sangsiv, Head of the Cultural Group of the Laotian Patriotic Front," September 04, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CWIHP Working Paper 22, "77 Conversations." https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112143
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MAO ZEDONG AND THE HEAD OF THE CULTURAL GROUP OF THE LAOTIAN PATRIOTIC FRONT[1] SANGSIV

Beijing, 4 September 1964

Mao Zedong: Your struggle is heroic.  You are fighting on the first front, the front against U.S. imperialism.  You have learned how to carry out the mass line and you are able to unite the majority—the workers, the peasants, and other patriotic figures—to participate in the joint struggle against U.S. imperialism.  It is certain that you will win.

In order to carry out  mass work, it is necessary to behave as the masses do.  In order to make friends with the masses, first of all you need to share their spirit, and then you need to dress in the same way as they do.  You should wear the same clothes as they wear.  You also need to eat the same food as they eat.  Whatever they eat, you eat.  You also need to labor together with them.  Otherwise they will fear you.  You are intellectuals.  Are you their friends or their enemies?  They are not clear about this.  If you are their friends, you should dress, eat, live and labor in the same way as they do.  After one or two months,  you become familiar to them.  By doing so you will be able to unite with them in the struggle against U.S. imperialism.

I am not just talking about you, the cultural group.  The army should follow the same principles.  You are able to do  this, which the imperialists are unable to do.  The reactionaries exploit the masses and oppress the masses.  Your army should carry out operational tasks, and should also carry out mass work.  Our military has done this.  We have tried for several decades, and have worked out the “The Three Disciplines and Eight Attentions.”  The first discipline is that all soldiers should obey orders.  Without obeying orders, everyone cares about everyone else’s business; this is not the correct way.  Is your cultural work team under good discipline?

Lian Guan:[2] They are very well disciplined.

Mao Zedong: Without discipline, the cultural work team cannot do a good job.  The second discipline is not to take a single needle and thread from the masses.  Then, what should the army do?  What should they wear and what should they eat?  You cannot demand these things from the workers and peasants.  In addition to getting some from the enemy, our government will have to collect some taxes.  We will need to collect some food tax and some commercial tax.  We cannot exist without collecting some taxes.  After collecting the taxes, part [of the income] should go to the army and part should go to the masses.  We should let the common people share the benefit.  Our party, our government and our army are the party of the workers and peasants, the government of the workers and the peasants, and the army of the workers and peasants.  We have tried for several decades, and have won a victory.  But we have also committed mistakes several times.  For example, twice we have committed right-leaning mistakes, and three times we have committed left-leaning mistakes.  You are fine.  You have not committed the mistakes that we have committed.

Sangsiv: This is because we have drawn lessons from the comrades who have committed the mistakes, and therefore we are in a position not to commit the same mistakes.

Mao Zedong: When one commits mistakes, it is important to see what mistake it is.  When the mistake concerns political lines, it could cause huge losses.  For example, in 1927, [our party] committed a big mistake, which resulted in huge losses, and the party membership was reduced from 50,000 to less than 10,000.  In order to correct the mistake, we took up guns to fight, and, as a result, we found a way out.  Then we created several base areas and possessed an army of 300,000.  But arrogance emerged at that time,  and a left-leaning opportunist mistake was committed, leading to the loss of all the base areas in the South.  [We] began the Long March of “ten-thousand li.”  When we arrived in the North, from among the 300,000 soldiers, only 20,000 survived.  But we felt comfortable at  that moment.  Why did we feel comfortable?  This was because those who had committed the mistakes were no longer able to raise their heads.  We used the method of persuasion, that is, through the rectification campaign, to unite with them.  We did not abandon a single one of them.  Finally we won today’s victory.  When you come to China, you see some good things.  But you also need to see our mistakes.  Without an understanding of our mistakes, you will not benefit.  We have won a victory, and we have conducted socialist construction for fifteen years, yet our cultural circle is not as good as yours.  Several millions serving in the circle are bourgeois intellectuals left by the Guomindang [Kuomintang].  Among university professors, middle-school teachers, primary-school teachers in education, many are bourgeois intellectuals.  There are also [bourgeois intellectuals] among drama actors, painters, and singers in the cultural circles.  There are many among  journalists, and some in the movie-making business.  Now we have begun another rectification campaign, and they cannot endure it.  I will be happy to see that in the coming year or two bourgeois intellectuals will not sleep well as a result of the rectification campaign.

....

Mao Zedong: You should not look down upon yourself because your country is a small one.  What’s wrong with being from a small country.  Heroes can emerge in a small country.  Do you know the name of the chairman of the Indonesian Communist Party?

Sangsiv: Aidit.[3]

Mao Zedong: Yes, it is this comrade.  I once asked him where he was from.  He said that he was from a small island located southwest of Sumatra, and that he belonged to a minority race.  You see, he is from such a small place, and how can he become the chairman of the Indonesian party?  He told me that although that was a small place,  Indonesia’s language took the one there as the standard, and that it was there that the Indonesian Communist Party was the most active.  Marx was from a minority race, he was a Jew.  Jesus was also a Jew.  In the past the Jews were a minority race.  The Confucius of China lived in the State of Lu, which had only a population of several hundred thousand.  He created the first school in Chinese history.  But no one would take notice of him.  He then tried to find a job in other states, and, again, no one would take notice of him.  He had no other choice but to wander around.  He propagated the feudal morals to serve the interests of the landlord class.  Later everyone would call him a sage.

The intellectuals left over by the old society have to be transformed, something to which we did not pay much attention in the past.

Who will overcome whom?  Will the capitalist class overcome the proletarian class, or will the proletarian class overcome the capitalist class?  This problem has not been solved yet.  Some people do not understand this.  Khrushchev is one of them.  You see, the Soviet Union has existed for forty some years, and now capitalism has been restored there.  The party that was established by Lenin, and the Soviet Union that was established by Lenin, after forty some years, have become capitalist, and have adopted revisionism.  We have tried only for fifteen years.  In the future, Marxism-Leninism will win.  How to educate the young people is a big question.  If we lose our vigilance and fall asleep, thus becoming self-satisfied, the capitalist class will emerge to grab political power, and capitalism will come back.  If Marxism fails to overcome revisionism, revisionism will overcome Marxism, and, as a result, capitalism will be restored.  Under the signboard of Communism to carry out policies of capitalism, you know, this is a problem which is difficult to resolve in a decade or several decades.

When you return to your own country, please report to your Central Committee that hope is on our side.  Khrushchev is not a good person.  But he also has helped us.  He has helped us to understand the Soviet Union—how the first socialist country has deteriorated into revisionism.  Not only has he helped the Chinese, but also he has helped you and has helped revolutionary people all over the world.  There are three types of bad guys in the world: the imperialists, the revisionists, and the reactionaries in various countries.

[1] Neo Lao Hak Sat, front organization of the Pathet Lao.

[2] Lian Guan was deputy secretary general of the Standing Committee of the People’s National Congress of the People’s Republic of China, who was assigned to accompany the Laotian delegation during its visit to China.

[3] Dipa Nusantara Aidit (1923-1965), belonged to a group assuming power in the Indonesian Communist Party in 1951. He led the party as General Secretary during a period of tremendous growth in the membership. Aidit was executed after the military coup in November 1965.

CHINESE (TRANSCRIPTION) HTML

毛泽东与老挝爱国战线党文工团团长宋西的谈话

1964年9月4日,北京[1]

   毛泽东:……你们的斗争是英勇的。你们是在前线,是在反对美帝国主义的前线。你们学会了走群众路线,能够团结大多数人——工人、农民以及其他爱国人士共同来反对美帝国主义。你们一定能够取得胜利。

   要做群众工作就要和群众一样。要跟群众交朋友,首先就要同他们的精神一样。然后就是穿衣服一样,他们穿什么衣服,你们也穿什么衣服。吃饭要一样,他们吃什么,你们也吃什么。你们还要同他们一起劳动。不然,他们要怕你们的。你们是知识分子,是他们的朋友还是敌人?他们就搞不清。如果你们是他们的朋友,你们穿衣、吃饭、住房子、劳动就得同他们一样,有一两个月就熟悉了。你们这样就可以团结他们,反对美帝国主义。

   我不是单讲你们文工团,军队也一样。你们能做到,帝国主义就不能。反对派尽是剥削群众的,压迫群众的。你们的军队要作战,也要做群众工作。我们的军队就是这样。我们搞了几十年,订出了三大纪律八项注意。第一条就是一切行动听指挥,不听指挥,各干各的就不行。你们文工团有组织纪律吗?听指挥吗?

   连贯:他们的纪律很好。

   毛泽东:没有纪律,文工团就搞不好嘛!第二条是不拿群众一针一线。那么军队该怎么办?他们穿什么?吃什么?你们不能到工人、农民那里去要哇。除了向敌人要以外,我们的政府还要收一点税,收点粮食税,收点商业税。不收点税我们就没法生存。收来后一部分归军队,不部分还要归老百姓,给老百姓利益。我们的党,我们的政府,我们的军队,是工人、农民的党,是工人、农民的政府,是工人、农民的军队。……

   我们已经搞了几十年,取得了胜利。但是我们也犯过几次错误。比如右倾错误就犯了两次,左倾错误犯了三次。你们好,你们没有犯我们犯过的错误。

   宋西:因为我们吸取了犯过错误的同志的经验,所以就没有犯过类似的错误。

   毛泽东:犯错误的时候,重要的是看犯什么错误。政治路线上犯错误,损失就大。比如1927年,我们党犯过大错误,损失很大,5万党员剩下不到1万了。要纠正错误,就是拿起枪来打仗,这样我们就有活路了。我们开辟了几块根据地,拥有了30万军队。但是这个时候头脑发昏了,又犯了左倾机会主义错误,把南方的根据地统统丢了。我们开始万里长征。当我们到达北方时,30万军队就剩下两万多,这个时候就舒服了。为什么舒服了?就是犯错误的人抬不起头来了。我们用说服的方法,就是通过整风运动把他们团结起来,一个也没有丢掉。最后取得了今天的胜利。你们到中国来时,看到一些好的东西,但是我们的错误你们也要看到。不了解我们的错误,对你们不利。我们胜利了,搞社会主义建设搞了15年,我们的文化界还是比不上你们。有几百万人是国民党留下来的资产阶级知识分子。教育界大学教授、中学教师、小学教师也有不少是资产阶级知识分子。文化界唱戏的、画画的、唱歌的都有,新闻界有,电影界也有。现在我们又开始整风了,他们受不了了。把资产阶级知识分子整他一年两年睡不着觉我就高兴。

   ……

   毛泽东:……你们不要看不起自己,以为是小国。小国又怎么样啊?小国同样出英雄。你们知道印度尼西亚共产党主席叫什么名字吗?

   宋西:艾地。

   毛泽东:是这个同志。我曾问他是什么地方人,他说他是苏门答腊西南一个小岛上的人,是个少数民族。你说,地方那么小,为什么能当印尼党的主席啊?他对我说,你不要看我们的地方小啊,印尼的语言是以他那个地方为标准的,那是印尼共产党最活跃的地方。马克思就是少数民族,他是个犹太人。耶稣也是个犹太人。过去犹太人就是个少数民族。中国的孔夫子住在鲁国,也只有几十万人。他办了中国历史上第一个学校,但是大家都不理他,后来他到各国去找工作,人家也不理睬他。他没有办法,就只好流浪。他宣传封建道德,为地主阶级的利益效力。那时候人人都说他是个圣人。[2]

   旧社会的知识分子不改造不行,过去是我们没有抓紧。

   谁战胜谁的问题,是无产阶级战胜资产阶级,还是资产阶级战胜无产阶级,这个问题还没有解决。有些人不懂,赫鲁晓夫就是这样。你们看,苏联搞了四十多年,现在资本主义复辟了。列宁建立的党,列宁创立的苏联,四十多年,资本主义复辟,搞修正主义。我们还只搞了15年,将来马列主义会胜利。教育青年是个大问题。如果我们麻痹睡大觉,自以为是,资产阶级就会起来夺取政权,资本主义复辟。马克思主义不克服修正主义,修正主义就克服马克思主义,资本主义进行复辟,挂共产主义的招牌,实行资本主义政策。你们要知道,这个问题十年,几十年也不好解决。

   请你们回去向你们党中央转达,我们是有希望的。赫鲁晓夫不是个好人,但他帮了我们的忙,帮我们认识了苏联——第一个社会主义国家是怎样变成修正主义的。他不仅帮了中国人的忙,也帮了你们的忙,帮了全世界革命人民的忙。世界上有三种坏人:一种是帝国主义,第二种是修正主义,第三种是各国反对派。

[1] 据中方记录,此次接见时间为:196494日下午230分至415分。地点:湖北武汉。参加人有,老方:团长宋西·德沙坎布、副团长巴色·西沙诺及文工团主要演员;中方:连贯、曹瑛、周而复。

[2] 据中方记录,毛泽东这里的原话为:他是宣传奴隶主阶级的道德,那时候人人都说他是个圣人。他是中国第一个教育家。