Rebellion and Factionalism in a Chinese Province: Zhejiang, 1966-1976

By Keith Forster | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
RENEWED RADICALISM, 1973-74

Prelude, September 1973-January 1974

The theoretical/ideological justifications for a renewal of the radicalism of the Cultural Revolution were provided in part by the reappearance in 1973 of an argument first put forward by Chen Boda in 1968 (see chapter three). One of Mao's major obsessions, and one that he had incessantly harangued his senior colleagues about since 1962, was his notion that socialist society consisted of classes and that the major contradiction in the era of socialism was that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Chen Boda had argued in 1968, basing himself on Mao's statement that the communist party inevitably contained factions, that factions represented classes. The proletarian faction represented the proletariat and the bourgeoisie had its own representatives -- the bourgeois faction or revisionists. This argument laid the groundwork for the position adopted by Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan in articles that they published in 1975 that the bourgeoisie itself was entrenched within the body of the CCP.

In September 1973, Hongqi carried an article by the party branch of a production brigade in a Beijing county repeating Mao's 1966 statement concerning the presence of factions within the party.1 On this occasion the quotation was used to condemn factionalism. The radical journal from Shanghai Study and Criticism (

), in an article of May 1974 also cited Mao, without attribution, and stated that "those who represent different class interests [are] bound to form different factions and organize different parties". It continued:

The appearance of different political factions and the struggle between the two lines in our Party are a reflection in the Party of the class struggle in society, and chieftains of opportunist lines are agents of the landlords and bourgeoisie who wormed their way into the party of the proletariat.2

The radicals used such arguments to justify their renewed attacks on their opponents within the party. Recourse to the vague, semi-formulated ideas of Mao Zedong was their starting point.

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