March 6, 1963
Record of Conversation from Chairman Mao's Reception of the Delegation of the Brazilian Communist Party (The New Party)
This document was made possible with support from Henry Luce Foundation
Central Committee International Liaison Department Document
Record of Conversation from Chairman Mao's Reception of the Delegation of the Brazilian Communist Party (The New Party)
Time: March 6, 1963. 6:10pm to 8pm.
Place: Zhongnanhai, Yinian Hall
Chairman: Welcome to you. You are a Marxist-Leninist party, determined to pursue revolution. There are some parties now that are Communist in name but are determined not to pursue revolution. A Marxist-Leninist must pursue revolution. What sort of Communist party is it if it does not [pursue] revolution? If one does not [pursue] revolution, from the people’s perspective, there is no great difference with the political parties of the capitalist class. For such parties, there is no need to exist at all. For example, European socialist parties, UK labor party – they are no different from the political parties of the capitalist class. At present some Communist parties are coming close to social democracy, especially the faction of the Indian Communist Party led by Dange – he doesn’t have the slightest difference from the big national parties of the big bourgeoisie and the landlords. This new party of yours, you feel that the new party is smaller than the old party, and also feel that the forces of imperialism and their running dogs are great, you have many difficulties. Your country has bourgeois liberalism, a Communist party can be either legal or semi-legal. Are you currently semi-legal or illegal?
Amazonas: We are semi-legal.
Chairman: On the one hand, this is advantageous. You can resort to semi-legal activities, openly publish periodicals, not be banned. The cadres and party members can openly carry out mass work, develop the party’s organization – all of this is advantageous. What’s not advantageous is this: this sort of situation is not seen as very good for a revolutionary’s toughening, there is no white terror. Our party was always illegal. We had two instances of cooperation with the Guomindang. The first time was from 1924 to 1927, three years. We used the conditions of cooperation to develop party and mass movement, and carried out some military work. In preparing and carrying out the Northern Expedition, we obtained [nawo] some troops. Party membership reached 50,000. But at the time the Party did not have the consciousness, was not prepared for a serious attack by the capitalist class, was not prepared to oppose white terror. The emphasis was placed at the time on the aspect of organizing a mass movement, including the peasant movement, but this organized several million peasants under our leadership. Though the peasantry [sic, possibly “the party?”] had some weapons, it was not prepared for white terror. In 1927 white terror began, we fell into a hasty position. We have told of this experience to many parties, for instance the Indonesian Party, the Japanese Party, letting them use if for reference. In general, there is day when one can meet with this sort of situation. We proposed that they prepare themselves mentally and organizationally, and also, if possible, prepare themselves militarily. But who really taught us to pick up arms? It is not that we taught ourselves. It was imperialism and its running dog Chiang Kai-shek. They taught us by resorting to white terror. We had no other way, only to grasp weapons. Out of 50,000 party members, not many were left. Some were killed, others turned allegiance. The third part turned negative and left the party. The fourth part are those who remained – it’s the few of us. Out of 50,000 party members, only a few thousand remained, less than 10,000, less than one fifth. Similar with your party, which also has a few thousand. We few were not killed, and did not turn allegiance, but were not willing to give up, wanted to continue the struggle. Where did we struggle? It was impossible to do in the city. In the city it was only possible to preserve some strength to conduct underground work, we were forced to go to the countryside. I personally did not go to university. Who among them (pointing to Deng Xiaoping and other comrades) went to university? None did. I did not go to university, comrade Liu Shaoqi did not go to university. Comrade Zhou Enlai did not go to university. Comrade Deng Xiaoping did not go to university. Our Central Committee has very few people who went to university. My social profession is elementary school teacher. I also did some newspaper work. The party’s work is to grasp the labor movement, to grasp the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle. During the first period of cooperation between the Guomindang and the CCP, before Guomindang captured power, we used the Guomindang’s signboard as a cover to develop the labor movement. I also studied class relations in the countryside, organized village movement schools [sic, find the right term], such as the Guangzhou peasant movement lecture and study circle. But can one say that I really understood the peasants. No. Who chased out Marxist-Leninist intellectuals from the cities and up the mountains to become guerillas? It was Chiang Kai-shek’s white terror. There was no other way. There was only one road – to go into the mountains to become guerillas. Once we started fighting, we fought for 22 years, all the way until 1949, when at last Chiang Kai-shek was chased out of the mainland. It was only when we spent ten years in guerilla warfare that we were really able to understand peasants. The main method was to hold conversations with peasants in the base guerilla areas, to understand their situation. The main shortcoming of the intellectuals (which city workers also have) is that they really don’t understand the countryside, their flavor is the intellectuals’ flavor, out of tune with the peasants. I think that Juliao is like that, as a result peasant don’t trust them. They just look at them and know the flavor is wrong, different from theirs, they won’t speak their mind to you. When you speak to him, pull out a notebook to make notes, he is afraid you are writing things down to rectify him. It’s like Russia’s Narodniks: they advanced the motto of going among the people, but the peasants did not trust them, in fact they were a party of the capitalist class. These experiences – perhaps comrades have already told you – but I feel like I have a duty to tell you once again. For now you don’t have white terror. This is because your country still does not have a real revolutionary situation and a real revolutionary movement. The capitalist class does not yet feel there is necessity to unleash white terror against you, and even more does not feel that there is such a necessity in opposing the old party. The old party has already become a tool of the capitalist class. But when you really start up a wide mass movement, touch their rule, touch their ownership, at that time imperialism, the big landlords, comprador capitalist class will bring down their hand. Cuba’s experience is like that. Cuba’s old party, that is – the People’s Socialist Party – was not feared by the ruling class. What they feared was the July 26 Movement, because this movement touched imperialist and reactionary ownership, attacked the barracks. The attack was defeated, the ruling class began seizing people and killing people. Some people could not remain in the country and fled abroad, there was no other way but the way of guerilla struggle, this was the guerilla war led by Castro, but it did not have easy sailing. It is said that when they started they only had seven guns, 82 people, and they sailed in one boat. After they struggled for a certain period, only 8 people were left, including Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, [Che] Guevara and other comrades. They carried out the struggle in the countryside, summed up the lessons of their losses. 82 people turned to 8, less than ten in one. After they summed up their experience, they continued what they were doing, and scored initial victory. But at the time the People’s Socialist Party was opposed to them, was unwilling to take up the armed struggle. Only the July 26 Movement continued to do it, the revolutionaries within the People’s Socialist Party continued to do it. [Che] Guevara, Raul are all party members of the People’s Socialist Party, they continued to do it. Only when victory was about to be achieved did the People’s Socialist Party change its policy, and turned from opposition to support. Why is it that the main leadership positions fell into the hands of the July 26 Movement? This is because in the past the People’s Socialist Party committed the mistake of opportunism. In the ranks of the People’s Socialist Party there was a faction that was entirely revisionist, led by Escalante, their goal was to topple Castro, to replace him with someone else, to turn the banner of the revolution from red to grey so as to accord with the needs of imperialism. This faction lost out. As I see it, this struggle still continues inside the Cuban party, there still remain remnants of Escalante. Who taught the revolutionary party to go into the mountains and to fight a guerilla war? Mainly American imperialism and Batista, they forced them to have no other way out. In your country, one also has to pay attention to the environment. Your country had two instances of armed peasant struggle. One time was under the leadership of Prestes. At the time he was not yet a party member. I asked him why he lost. He said that at the time he did not have a basic land program, not to mention a thorough land program. The other time was the peasant armed struggle led by Juliao, it was also defeated. They first sent some intellectuals from the cities into the countryside, they were out of tune with the peasants, the peasants were not happy with them. The rulers just struck them a little, and they fell over. You have a rich experience that you can use. There is China’s experience, Cuba’s experience, and the Soviet experience. At the time the Russian Narodniki were a party of the capitalist class, there was also a constitutional democratic party, which was also a party of the capitalist class, a reformist party, similar to China’s Kang Youwei, can’t compare with Sun Yatsen, it never captured political power. On the one hand, it was against the tsar. On the other hand, it opposed the Russian Socialist [Democratic] Labor Party [double check the name in English]. Even more, it opposed the Bolsheviks who were a part of the Socialist Democratic [Labor] Party. The power of the Mensheviks within the Socialist Democratic Labor Party was very considerable. They were not prepared to go into the countryside to start revolution, they were not prepared for a real revolution. All of these capitalist parties taken together – the constitutional party, the democratic party, the Narodniks, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, the Mensheviks – together opposed the Bolsheviks’ party. And inside the Bolsheviks there was a faction led by Zinoviev that also opposed revolution and armed struggle. The faction that really supported armed struggle was Lenin’s faction. It had Lenin, Stalin, Molotov and others. Every bourgeois and petite bourgeois party exposed its real face to the society. In the period between the February and the October revolutions, the many political factions that entered upon the political stage all lost their credibility in the eyes of the people. The tsar lost his credibility and already fell from stage. The Socialist Revolutionaries, Kerenskii took power and also lost credibility. The people did not believe the Constitutional Democrats, they abandoned the people. One large remaining party were the Mensheviks. They had the majority in the Soviet, and the Bolsheviks had the minority. But the Bolsheviks and Lenin decided to rise up. On the eve of the October revolution they advanced the motto All Power to the Soviets, which had been previously abandoned. The reason that this motto was previously abandoned was that the Mensheviks had the majority in the Soviet, and All Power to the Soviets meant All Power to the Bolsheviks. But on the eve of the October revolution, the Bolsheviks in the Soviet turned from a minority to a majority, so Lenin proposed that the motto All Power to the Soviets, which had been previously abandoned, should be advanced again. However, at the time the majority was only 51%. Of course, it increased greatly after the October revolution. All the parties that opposed struggle, like the Socialist Revolutionary Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, the Narodniks, the Mensheviks, and others – all of them turned into counterrevolutionary white parties. This point is worth researching. Every capitalist and reactionary enemies of the society, like the emperor, Chiang Kai-shek, Kerenski, the power-holders, every capitalist and petit bourgeois un-revolutionary or anti-revolutionary faction, they generally want to bring their role into play, generally want to perform their own game. Before these factions largely lose credibility before the masses, revolution cannot succeed. The Cuban revolution demonstrated this point. Batista and people who cooperated with him all were proven to have credibility, the majority of the society believed that the only way out was revolution. The revolution achieved victory because it was supported by the majority of the people. In your country, 65% of the people are in the countryside. This is a good condition, a little worse than the conditions of Russia on the eve of the October revolution. China’s conditions were better still than yours. 80% of the population was in the countryside, the real urban population did not reach 20%. China’s feudal exploiters were worse than yours in Brazil. Your materials say that land rent plus other exploitation reaches one third to one half [of one’s income]?
Chairman: Is it just that – one still needs to study this. In China feudal exploitation took 50% to 80% [of income], it was hard to live. Why, although we committed many mistakes in the past, lost the base are in the south, were forced into a 12,500 km Long March, but we were not destroyed, maintained a part of our strength, continued revolution and ultimately achieved victory? There are two reasons: the first is that exploitation in the countryside, imperialist exploitation was very bad. This is an objective reason. It was always present. The other is a subjective reason: had we not overcome the dominant position that was in the party prior to 1934, that is to say the dogmatism that brought losses to the revolution, our revolution would have long collapsed. After the Zunyi Conference, we changed the mistaken line, that line was leftist in form but in reality rightist, terribly afraid of the enemy. At long last, the few of us became a majority from a minority, and the party was not split. But a part still split off. Zhang Guotao commanded more troops than us. They were 80,000, we were 30,000. Moreover, he established a Central Committee. At the time there were two central committees. But at last we overcame Zhang Guotao’s line. The Red Army originally had 300,000 people, after the Long March of ten thousand li only 30,000 remained, one out of ten. Party membership was also originally about 300,000, after the Long March only several tens of thousands remained. But at the time we were not weaker but stronger. Because we obtained lessons of experience, and our line was relatively correct. We summed up the experience of defeat from committing rightist opportunism in 1927, and also summed up the experience of having three times in the few years before 1934 had the leftist line lead the revolution to detour so that we had no choice but undertake the Long March. Afterwards were the eight years of the war against Japan, four years of the war of liberation, 12 years in all, when there were also many zigzags and difficulties. We renewed cooperation with Chiang Kai-shek. At the time there were two ways of thinking inside the party, one faction was revisionist, which we call rightist opportunism and capitulationism. It was represented by Wang Ming, who is now in Moscow. Even now he still opposes us, supports revisionism, but he is still a member of our central committee. We both united with and struggled against Chiang Kai-shek. We united with the aspect of his resistance against Japan but struggle against the aspect of his opposition to Communist Party and to the people, which included armed struggle. In the eight years of war against Japan, Chiang Kai-shek launched three anti-Communist high tides, sending troops to attack us. One the one hand, the Japanese attacked us. On the other hand, Chiang Kai-shek. We were under attack from two sides but we mainly struggled against Japan. As for Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-Communist tide, if we did not counterattack, we would have collapsed. We resolutely counterattacked in the three anti-Communist high tides but after we counterattacked, whether we achieved victory or whether, because of mistakes, met with defeat (as in the Wannan Incident ), the struggle would reach a certain extent when it had to be controlled, and this is when the slogan of Reason, Interest, Control emerged [check the right translation]. Reason refers to ample reason [to fight], interest refers to an opportune moment, control is stopping before reaching a certain extent. This way, during the entire period of war of resistance against Japan, we maintained a united front with the Guomindang, all the way until Japan’s capitulation, and even after Japan’s capitulation we maintained it for a year and a half. After this, in July 1946 Chiang Kai-shek attacked us in a major way. At the time he had more than 4 million troops, we only had over 1 million troops and guerilla forces. The base are had a population of more than a 100 million. But the prestige of American imperialism and Chiang Kai-shek among the Chinese people became less and less, soon there was no prestige left. This way the war was fought for three and a half years, there were retreats and offensives. Then, for a year or more (1946 to the summer of 1947) we retreated in big strides, at the same time eliminating large numbers of the enemy troops. In the summer of 1947 we counterattacked, from retreat turned to offensive. In 1949 we chased Chiang Kai-shek out from the mainland. In general, revolution is tortuous, it’s not a straight road. Defeat-victory-again defeat-again victory – this way until the final victory. We hope you study the Cuban experience. They also lost and won, and against lost, and again won, also retreated, advanced, again retreated, again advanced, doing it again and again, only achieving victory in the end. But the time that passed was quite short. It took only five years from attacking the Moncada barracks to victory. At the time America and the reactionary clique did not have the experience. Now the situation is somewhat different, they have the experience of being defeated in Cuba. Rulers of every country in Latin America also have the experience of the defeat in Cuba, and experience of success in Guatemala and Ecuador. I met the former President of Guatemala [Jacobo] Arbenz, he is now in Cuba (when you go to Cuba you can also meet him, say hello from me when you see him). He is a good comrade. But because my conversation with him was not long after the defeat, sentiments were on the down side. I said: success and failure are common in military operations. The defeat of the Guatemala revolution is temporary, the people of Guatemala and comrade Arbenz will win in the end. I very much agree with Castro’s February 16 speech. He said that objectively Latin America has a revolutionary situation, but it lacks in subjective conditions. What he means is: many countries’ communist parties are opportunist, including Prestes’ party, the Mexican party, the Argentinian party, the Chile party, the Uruguay party, the Ecuador party, the Peru party (comrade Wu Xiuquan said: there is also the Columbian party). Your situation in Brazil is not bad. Not only is there the revolutionary Cuba, but there is also Venezuela, the Venezuelan party is good. Columbia has a leftist faction, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina don’t have one. Now the hope rests on the shoulders of revolutionary factions. You are the revolutionary faction of Brazil. Your party’s development is very quick, demonstrating that the people want revolution. It is said that in the old party there are a lot of those who approve of you. There are some comrades in the old party whom I spoke with. Last November, the Gesuoyi [translit] couple spoke to me. They told me that they agree with the new party’s points and disagree with the old party, but they are still members of the old party. Gesuoyi the husband was previously a central committee member, served as the secretary of the Rio de Janeiro party committee. Later that was revoked. You have to have confidence. Now you are a minority but the hope is on your shoulders. Your party will definitely develop, will definitely achieve victory, but there can be many zigzags during the struggle, there are victories and there are defeats. Sum up the experience, and in the end one can achieve victory. It is not definite that from the people joining your party now, everyone will reach the victory day. When the revolution meets with difficulties, there will be people who will not dare half-way, others will come over to the enemy’s side, another part of the party members will sacrifice their lives, this is definite. Cuba sacrificed 20,000 people but less than those who died in the old society from hunger, disease and oppression. People who died this way were more. Your material mentioned the death rate, it is said that many people do not reach 19 before dying, and average life expectancy is 39 years old. In China life expectancy used to be 30 years old. Your materials also mentioned malnutrition, the shortage of iron and calcium. This all testifies to what Lenin said: the suffering from the revolution is less than the slow suffering of the old society. China used to have a multitude of people. After the victory of the revolution, the population increased very quickly, to the extent that we think it is a little too fast. I hope to find a map pf Brazil, 1,000,000 to 1.
Amazonas: We can look for it.
Comrade Wu Xiuquan: (to the Chairman) We can look for it ourselves.
Comrade Li Qixin took out a large map, and everyone looked. Amazonas, pointing to the map, said: Brazil borders on eight countries. Chairman pointed to River Amazon, and asked: is this the world’s largest river? Amazonas said: it’s not the longest but it has the largest volume of water. Lin Ken said: in some places, you can’t see one bank from the other.
Chairman: My talk will stop here. I spoke for too long. Do you have anything you are dissatisfied with? Do you have any questions?
Amazonas: We don’t have any questions.
Chairman: I can’t guarantee that all that I said is appropriate, perhaps there are some things that are not appropriate, I can merely provide reference. One thing is that you must create experience, absolutely cannot mechanically copy a foreign country’s experience. Modern revisionism is on the one hand revisionism, on the other hand it is also dogmatism because it copies foreign country’s experience.
Amazonas: I want to tell Chairman Mao the following. For many years I was a central committee secretary in Prestes’s party. Because of party work relations, I travelled to many countries. During my contacts in many countries, it was only China that has a different relationship with fraternal parties than other parties. Even in the Soviet Union, the relationship with important parties is very different from that with unimportant parties. I have never met the highest leaders of the Soviet Communist Party.
Chairman: How long were you in the Soviet Union?
Amazonas: I studied in the Soviet Union for two years, and otherwise went there once for work, two times altogether. When Molotov was relieved from his post, I was in the Soviet Union. What I wanted to say is that I saw a new type of a relationship with a fraternal party in China. While having contacts with the leading comrades of the Chinese party, I saw modesty, a spirit of friendly affection towards fraternal parties, and rich experience. These experiences will help Brazil and the entire international Communist movement. Portuguese has a saying: a friend in need is a friend indeed. Now when we are difficult situation, just at this time, we found the Chinese Party’s helping hand extended to us. And we have never before found such kind of help. We believe that the short period that we are spending in China will greatly aid our party’s revolutionary work. I feel that a number of questions need to be newly discussed in our party. Especially the rural question, comrade Mao Zedong very much emphasized that we must recognize that we still do not understand the peasants, our work in the countryside is still just scratching the surface. I once again express our deep gratitude on behalf of the party and on my own behalf to Chairman Mao for the political and material help provided to us by the Chinese Party, and for giving us every possible care during our visit. We will never forget the point raised with us by Chairman Mao Zedong, in the future there will be defeats and victories, but the Brazilian people will certainly achieve the final victory. In general, we cannot find appropriate words to express our satisfaction and gratitude. We will express this gratitude in our struggle. Only our struggle can be the way of expressing our gratitude.
Chairman: Your party is developing very fast. Therefore, Brazil has a revolutionary party. China’s help is your right and our obligation. All help is mutual. Your struggle is great support to us, we have common enemies.
Lin Ken: Just now comrade Amazonas said that our party is very small and has difficulties. Before we came, the leadership discussed and decided to bring comrade Mao Zedong and his wife a small souvenir so as to express our admiration, love and esteem for comrade Mao Zedong. (Gives Chairman a fiber handbag).
Chairman: Thank you. My wife’s health is bad. Now she is in the South for treatment, not in Beijing. I will pass it to her.
Amazonas: (shaking hand with Chairman): It is a great honor for us to see Chairman today.
Chairman Mao addresses the communist compulsion to revolution and past cases of revolutionary activities like the Cuban experience.
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