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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

On Coalition Government - Mao Yan'an, 1945

1974 photograph of the meeting hall where the 7th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held between April and June, 1945, in Yan'an (Yenan), China

At the 7th Congress in April is when Mao made his exceptionally important political report On Coalition Government which looked at not only strategy and tactics at the time -- when the Communists were still in a military coalition with the Kuomintang against Japan -- but also expanded upon his ideas of "New Democracy".

Key Quotes:

- This army [The Red Army] is powerful because all its members have a discipline based on political consciousness; they have come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation. The sole purpose of this army is to stand firmly with the Chinese people and to serve them whole-heartedly.

Guided by this purpose, this army has an indomitable spirit and is determined to vanquish all enemies and never to yield. No matter what the difficulties and hardships, so long as a single man remains, he will fight on.

Guided by this purpose, this army has achieved remarkable unity in its own ranks and with those outside its ranks. Internally, there is unity between officers and men, between the higher and lower ranks, and between military work, political work and rear service work, and externally, there is unity between the army and the people, between the army and government organizations, and between our army and the friendly armies. It is imperative to overcome anything that impairs this unity.

Guided by this purpose, this army has a correct policy for winning over enemy officers and men and for dealing with prisoners of war. Without exception all members of the enemy forces who surrender, who come over to our side or who, after laying down their arms, wish to join in fighting the common foe, are welcomed and given proper education. It is forbidden to kill, maltreat or insult any prisoner of war.

Guided by this purpose, this army has built up a system of strategy and tactics which is essential for the people's war. It is skilled in flexible guerrilla warfare conducted in accordance with the changing concrete conditions and is also skilled in mobile warfare.

Guided by this purpose, this army has built up a system of political work which is essential for the people's war and is aimed at promoting unity in its own ranks, unity with the friendly armies and unity with the people, and at disintegrating the enemy forces and ensuring victory in battle.

Guided by this purpose, the entire army, operating under conditions of guerrilla warfare, is able to utilize, and has in fact utilized, the intervals between battles and between training periods to produce grain and other necessities, thus becoming wholly, half or at least partly self-supporting, so that economic difficulties are overcome, living conditions improved and the burden on the people lightened. Every possibility has been exploited to establish a number of small-scale armament works in various military base areas.

- What then do we propose? We propose the establishment, after the thorough defeat of the Japanese aggressors, of a state system which we call New Democracy, namely, a united-front democratic alliance based on the overwhelming majority of the people, under the leadership of the working class.

It is this kind of state system that truly meets the demands of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population, because it can win and indeed has been winning the approval, first, of millions of industrial workers and tens of millions of handicraftsmen and farm labourers, second, of the peasantry, which constitutes 80 per cent of China's population, i.e., 360 million out of a population of 450 million, and third, of the large numbers of the urban petty bourgeoisie as well as the national bourgeoisie, the enlightened gentry and other patriots.

Of course, there are still contradictions among those classes, notably the contradiction between labour and capital, and consequently each has its own particular demands. It would be hypocritical and wrong to deny the existence of these contradictions and differing demands. But throughout the stage of New Democracy, these contradictions, these differing demands, will not grow and transcend the demands which all have in common and should not be allowed to do so; they can be adjusted. Given such adjustment, these classes can together accomplish the political, economic and cultural tasks of the new-democratic state.

The politics of New Democracy which we advocate consists in the overthrow of external oppression and of internal feudal and fascist oppression, and then the setting up not of the old type of democracy but of a political system which is a united front of all the democratic classes. These views of ours are completely in accord with the revolutionary views of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. In the Manifesto of the First National Congress of the Kuomintang, Dr. Sun wrote:

"The so-called democratic system in modern states is usually monopolized by the bourgeoisie and has become simply an instrument for oppressing the common people. On the other hand, the Kuomintang's Principle of Democracy means a democratic system shared by all the common people and not privately owned by the few."

This is a great political injunction of Dr. Sun's. The Chinese people, the Chinese Communist Party and all other democrats must respect it, firmly put it into practice and wage a determined fight against all individuals and groups that violate or oppose it, and so defend and develop this perfectly correct political principle of New Democracy.

The organizational principle of the new-democratic state should be democratic centralism, with the people's congresses determining the major policies and electing the governments at the various levels. It is at once democratic and centralized, that is, centralized on the basis of democracy and democratic under centralized guidance. This is the only system that can give full expression to democracy with full powers vested in the people's congresses at all levels and, at the same time, guarantee centralized administration with the governments at each level exercising centralized management of all the affairs entrusted to them by the people's congresses at the corresponding level and safeguarding whatever is essential to the democratic life of the people.

The army and the other armed forces constitute an important part of the apparatus of the new-democratic state power, without which the state cannot be defended. As with all other organs of power, the armed forces of the new-democratic state belong to the people and protect the people; they have nothing in common with the army, police, etc. of the old type which belong to the few and oppress the people.

- The culture of New Democracy should likewise be "shared by all the common people", that is, it should be a national, scientific and mass culture, and must under no circumstances be a culture "privately owned by the few".

Such is the general or fundamental programme which we Communists advocate for the present stage, the entire stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. This is our minimum programme as against our future or maximum programme of socialism and communism. Its realization will carry the Chinese state and Chinese society a step forward, from a colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal to a new-democratic state and society.

The political leadership of the proletariat and the proletarian-led state and co-operative sectors of the economy required by our programme are socialist factors. Yet the fulfilment of this programme will not turn China into a socialist society.

We Communists do not conceal our political views. Definitely and beyond all doubt, our future or maximum programme is to carry China forward to socialism and communism. Both the name of our Party and our Marxist world outlook unequivocally point to this supreme ideal of the future, a future of incomparable brightness and splendour. On joining the Party, every Communist has two clearly-defined objectives at heart, the new-democratic revolution now and socialism and communism in the future, and for these he will fight despite the animosity of the enemies of communism and their vulgar and ignorant calumny, abuse and ridicule, which we must firmly combat. As for the well-meaning sceptics, we should explain things to them with goodwill and patience and not attack them. All this is very clear, definite and unequivocal.

But all Communists and sympathizers with communism in China must struggle to achieve the objective of the present stage; they must struggle against foreign and feudal oppression to deliver the Chinese people from their miserable colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal plight and establish a proletarian-led new-democratic China whose main task is the liberation of the peasantry, a China of the revolutionary Three People's Principles of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a China which is independent, free, democratic, united, prosperous and powerful. This is what we have actually been doing. Together with the masses of the Chinese people, we Communists have been fighting heroically for this objective for the past twenty-four years.


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