CARRY OUT THE PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE’S DIRECTIVE ON THE WORK OF LAND REFORM AND OF PARTY CONSOLIDATION
June 6, 1948
We were guilty of being too impetuous in the new liberated areas, alienating ourselves from the masses, isolating ourselves, and creating many difficulties in our struggle against the enemy and in our effort to establish base areas. In view of this, comrades working in the Central Plains should review all our policies and tactical measures in accordance with the directive on the work of land reform and of Party consolidation in 1948, issued by the Central Committee on May 25. The Central Plains has a total population of 45 million, with about 20 million in areas basically under our control, 10 million in guerrilla zones and about 15 million in areas soon to be liberated by our army. For the 30 million in the areas under our control and the guerrilla zones, land has been redistributed among four million at most; only movable property has been redistributed among the rest. Therefore, in the great majority of the areas, including those areas under our control where land has not really been redistributed and all the guerrilla zones and the areas unreached by our army, we should follow the Central Committee’s directive to “make full use of the experience acquired during the period of the War of Resistance Against Japan, and put into effect the social policy of reducing rent and interest and of properly adjusting supplies of seed and food grains”. We should also apply “the financial policy of the reasonable distribution of burden, so as to unite with all social forces or persuade them to take a neutral stand, and help the People’s Liberation Army to wipe out all the Kuomintang armed forces and strike blows at the local tyrants, who are politically the most reactionary. Neither land nor movable property should be distributed in these areas, because they are newly liberated and border on enemy territory, and distribution there would not be of advantage to uniting with all social forces or persuading them to take a neutral stand for the accomplishment of the basic task of wiping out the Kuomintang reactionary forces”. Even in those areas where land has been redistributed, because of the many problems, we should, in accordance with this guideline and in light of the actual conditions, make a special study of the problems, work out solutions and make the necessary readjustment.
In carrying out the Central Committee’s guideline, the major obstacle we may encounter is resistance by some cadres, so it is imperative that our cadres recognize the correctness of the Central Committee’s directive by drawing severe lessons from the mistakes of their past “Left” impetuosity. The important lessons for us are:
1. Our guidelines and plans were not formulated on the basis of reality in the new liberated areas, but out of our wishful thinking. When we arrived in the new liberated areas, we did not investigate and study the situation, but simply planned to complete land reform in six months, without regard to whether or not the enemy’s situation permitted it and whether or not the masses and cadres were prepared for it. We overlooked the arduousness of mass work, taking the action of a few reckless persons for that of the overwhelming majority of the masses, and the momentary popular enthusiasm upon the arrival of our army for the awakening of most peasants and their demands for the redistribution of land. Therefore, we did not try to lead the masses in attaining victory step by step and group after group, but just decided recklessly to undertake land reform. Results have shown that this approach was not only impracticable, but harmful. For instance, in the Dabie Mountains, land had been redistributed in areas with a total of several hundred thousand people, shortly before the Kuomintang troops collaborated with the forces of the landlords and rich peasants to launch counter-attacks, concentrating their forces on these areas or other areas where land reform had proceeded well. Since these areas were like isolated islands standing out and vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks, they were the first to suffer terrible and total destruction, with areas where work had been done most satisfactorily suffering the greatest losses. In most cases land was not truly redistributed. In some cases its redistribution was controlled by landlords and rich peasants. In others, the masses who had obtained land returned it secretly to the landlords and rich peasants and then rented it from them when the enemy’s activities presented a serious menace and the landlords and rich peasants made threats against them. In still others, a handful of reckless persons (many of them riffraff or persons who had connections with landlords) seized the fruits of land reform, leaving the great majority of poor peasants and farm laborers with very little or poor land, if any at all. In still other cases, the peasants were only brave enough to take the land of small, weak landlords and rich peasants and of middle peasants, avoiding the land of powerful landlords and rich peasants. These things happened nearly everywhere, mostly because cadres from other areas had land redistributed by administrative orders or redistributed it on behalf of the local people before the people were really aroused and organized and before the majority of peasants really wanted land redistribution. Experience has proved that when we do not have an entire area under our control militarily, when the armed forces of Kuomintang and the landlords and rich peasants have not yet been eliminated, when the great majority of peasants are not demanding land redistribution and have not been organized, and when honest local cadres at the district and village levels have not emerged in large numbers and cadres sent in from other areas are not yet familiar with the local conditions and have not forged ties with the masses, an attempt to carry out land reform promptly is not only subjective, but adventurist.
2. Generally speaking, our leading bodies and cadres did not have the right idea about policies and tactics. After Chairman Mao and the Central Committee issued a series of directives in this regard, things are better and good results have been achieved in some areas. However, most leading organs and cadres still lack a profound understanding of the directives and some are even against them. Because we were overoptimistic about the situation concerning the war in the Central Plains after we embarked on the counter-offensive and because we underestimated the strength of landlords and rich peasants in the new liberated areas, believing we could solve every problem with guns plus land reform, we made severe “Left” errors in matters of policy and tactics on an extensive scale. Actually, in the new liberated areas there was a broad united-front force against Chiang Kai-shek. Among landlords and rich peasants, especially among intellectuals, there were enlightened gentry and left-wingers. For instance, there were forces opposed to the warlords of the Kuomintang Guangxi clique in Anhui, there were forces opposed to Tang Enbo, the Kuomintang general, in Henan, and when our army entered these areas, middle and small landlords stayed. However, suffering from a “Left” infantile disorder, we were bent on overthrowing everything and solving all the problems at one stroke, forgetting all about Chairman Mao’s tactical principle-“make use of contradictions, win over the many, oppose the few, and crush our enemies one by one”85-and the valuable experience acquired during the War of Resistance Against Japan. Due to this, we have embarked on land reform prematurely and made mistakes in pursuing the policy concerning the distribution of burdens for raising grain and funds (namely, the policy of expropriating local tyrants) and the policy concerning industry and commerce (eliminating the capitalist sector of the landlord and rich peasant economy), and made the mistakes of beating people and making arrests and conducting execution indiscriminately, with the immediate result of driving to the Kuomintang side a number of social forces that took up arms against us; otherwise they might have joined us or been convinced not to oppose us. consequently, we broadened the scope of attack, making many enemies and isolating ourselves instead of the enemy.
3. We implemented a policy of arousing the masses to distribute movable property wherever we go. In really, most of the property went to a few reckless individuals, while the great majority of the people received very little or nothing at all. Although this served temporarily to arouse the enthusiasm of the masses, it did not help solve much of their problem; what is more, landlords and rich peasants also made use of the distribution of property to stir up a lot of disputes among the masses. In particular, because social wealth was distributed prematurely and squandered profusely, our army soon encountered difficulties with military supplies (especially grain), and before long the whole burden of military supplies fell on the peasants, arousing their discontent. The middle peasants were victimized by al the mistakes we made in differentiating classes, distributing movable property, executing people, etc.; we encroached upon their interests very seriously in imposing grain levies on them, and we even harmed the interests of poor peasants. In addition, we adopted the measure of exchanging grain for money to buy non-staple foods, which had a negative effect, too. Over the past few months we have wasted an incalculable amount of grain in distributing movable property and exchanging grain for non-staple foods. Unless we correct these two mistakes, we could offend the masses and destroy the base areas.
4. The army units and local governments in the area, without exception, acted against the policy concerning industry and commerce formulated by the Central Committee. They confiscated the property of landlords and rich peasants in the industrial and commercial sectors, arbitrarily confiscated factories and shops that should not have been confiscated, under the guise of confiscating bureaucrat-capital and the property of reactionaries; they seriously damaged the manufacturing of the means of production; and they inordinately imposed taxes, which overburdened the people. Unstable social order and anarchy gravely undermined the economy, which them came to a stand still. Depression in the market and the closure of industrial and commercial enterprises were prevalent. As a result of the rash disruption of the original economic structure, large numbers of the people, who had been relying on industrial and commercial enterprises, sideline production and the market for a living, lost their means of livelihood and a most thorny problem for us to tackle in the days to come.
5. Experience has shown that excessive executions cannot curb counter-revolutionary activities, but can only bring about greater unity among the enemies and their fiercer resistance and cause social disorder, anxiety and discontent among the masses, which will facilitate counter-revolutionary activities. Striking at local Chiang Kai-shek forces militarily to the neglect of disintegrating them politically has usually led to failure. Experience has proved that we should focus on disintegrating the enemy politically, while using the support of military attacks. Militarily, we should first and foremost concentrate our forces on striking at the most reactionary of the enemy’s forces and cause the less reactionary forces to maintain a neutral stand. Wherever this tactic was applies, victory was achieved.
6. It often happened that comrades who arrived in a new area suffered from the lack of a rear area to support the fighting, so they were eager to establish one where wounded soldiers and leading bodies could be placed. This led to impetuosity. In the initial stage of the anti-Japanese war we pursued a broad united-front policy and before long we had a stable rear area. This experience has proved that even in areas where the enemy’s forces present a particularly serious threat, we can make arrangements to take care of wounded soldiers and build munitions factories, with the sympathy and support of the overwhelming majority of the people (including anti-Japanese landlords and rich peasants). However, after our army advanced down south, we followed a “Left” policy, broadening the scope of our attack and making many enemies, with the result that our rear area was frequently raided. Where enemy’s forces presented a particularly serious threat and an ultra-Left policy was pursued, it was the most difficult to build a rear area.
7. Although our political power always enjoys prestige among the people in the new liberated areas and constitutes a tremendous organizing force, we often neglected its special role or failed to bring it into play. Experience has shown that the people demand order and fear chaos; they want government to be established and want to live in peace. Yet, we insisted that everything be done directly through the people, collecting grain and taxes and raising funds without going through the government, and having people executed without going through judicial procedure in court. All this created misgivings and fear among the people. True, smashing the old regime was absolutely necessary and was demanded by the overwhelming majority of the people. However, when we were ready to establish our new regime, we became impatient, not realizing that we could have, for the time being, used the old regime and provided it with guidance to maintain order and obtain military supplies. Therefore, the result was turbulent disorder. Beyond all doubt, the old regime will not work with us sincerely. So it is essential to establish a new regime to take its place as soon as possible. however, if the old regime can help maintain order, prevent chaos and provide some of our military supplies, it will be of enormous benefit to us and the people during the transition period before the new regime has been established.
8. Experience has always proved that conducting ample propaganda on all the correct policies of the Party, exposing the enemy’s tricks and crimes, and, above all, establishing and occupying ideological positions among the masses are extremely important for us to defeat the enemy and mobilize the people in new liberated areas. Yet, we have generally neglected propaganda work. For instance, in the Dabie Mountains, instead of strengthening the organization and leadership of propaganda teams, theatrical troupes and cultural works, we sent the cadres working in these fields to undertake land reform work, and so their role was weakened or eliminated. As for the content of the propaganda, we generally stressed land reform to the neglect of the Party’s correct policies in all other fields of endeavor. “Left” slogans and rhetoric overshadowed or diminished the power of the Party’s correct slogans and views.
9. In both town and country we seriously damaged nearly all the public buildings, factories, workshops, schools, cultural undertakings, churches and temples, as well as houses, furniture and trees owned by landlords and rich peasants. It was our troops, in particular, who did the most serious damage, arousing strong repugnance among the masses. People said, “The Communist Party can handle its military affairs well, but not its political affairs!” Up to now, only a few of our leading comrades have truly realized that this kind of agricultural socialism is destructive, reactionary and evil and that it is causing incalculable losses to the interests of the people and the Party’s political influence.
10. Many of our cadres who came from other areas exhibited a very bad work style, lacked adequate understanding of the role played by local cadres, and failed to devote their attention to finding large numbers of honest activists or to turning them into cadres at district and village levels through training. Instead, they promoted a bunch of hooligans and scoundrels as cadres. This was an important reason for our becoming alienated from the masses.
11. An important root cause for our mistakes was that before we entered an area, we did not do enough mobilization work or make enough preparations. In general, we knew little about the complicated situation in new areas and did not analyze it after we entered. We acted blindly, employing prior experience (while ignoring the most important experience acquired during the anti-Japanese war) and out-dated work style (while forsaking many useful ways of doing things). This kind of destructive empiricism caused us to suffer a great deal.
12. Due to our fighting without a rear area and creating difficulties for ourselves with our “Left” errors, a Right tendency was nurtured among some of our cadres, especially in areas where the struggle was fierce. Some of them, not recognizing the brilliant victories we achieved after the counter-offensive, lost their bearings; some, lacking a firm will to fight, were content to drift along; some took an indifferent, passive or perfunctory attitude towards policies and their work; some even doubted the complete correctness of our advance to the Central Plains or regarded it as premature; some slackened their vigilance over the enemy’s so-called total warfare and espionage; some showed no concern for the interests of the masses, squandering manpower and material resources at will; some adopted a negligent, tolerant attitude towards many serious problems that emerged in the newly organized army units and towards the discontent among the masses over our incorporating local Chiang Kai-shek forces and bandits into our army; and some leading organs adopted a liberal attitude towards the neglect of discipline and anarchy that existed to a serious extent in the Party. All this has done us much harm and must definitely be overcome if we want to achieve unity of thinking and organization in the Party, avoid losses in work and fight for victory in a more effectively way.
The aim of making self-criticisms for the mistakes mentioned above is to sober us up so that we shall not repeat them later. We must understand how to educate cadres, persuade the masses and work out appropriate methods to quickly remedy the “Left” errors.
It must be stressed that the mistakes and shortcomings mentioned above cannot in any way obscure the great victories and achievements in the Central Plains area, which came after our massive offensive. We now control an area with a population of 20 million and have a guerrilla zone containing 10 million people. We have wiped out large numbers of the Kuomintang’s regular and local troops. “And that is not all. Since we marched to the Central Plains, we have drawn large numbers of enemy troops here, thus utterly upsetting the enemy’s counter-revolutionary plan to carry the war into the liberated areas and completely destroy these areas and pushing the war into areas under Kuomintang rule. In this way, we have not only preserved the existing liberated areas, but also enabled friendly army units along various routes to annihilate large numbers of enemy troops and recover large tracts of lost territory in Shandong, northern Jiangsu, northern Henan, southern Shanxi, northwest and northeast China and in other places. As a result, we have helped bring about offensives on all fronts. We have not suffered hardship for nothing.” Although a few of our army units have decreased in number, our army as a whole has greatly increased. We now have much valuable experience which we can apply to work in the new liberated areas in other parts of the country. Strategically, we have gained the initiative and we shall achieve superiority if we continue to wipe out enemy troops, and the day is not far off for the liberation of the entire Central Plains area. This will be a brilliant victory, made possible by all the comrades through their hard struggle under the correct guidance of the strategic principles formulated by Chairman Mao and the Central Committee. This is precisely the principal aspect of our work in relation to our mistakes and shortcomings. Besides, the mistakes and deviations, and the chaotic phenomena caused by them, can all be rectified and remedied. In fact, over the past few months we have, by and large, corrected or are in the process of correcting our mistakes in many important matters and have attained some good results, which offers substantial proof of this. “All Party comrades in the Central Plains must come to an adequate appreciation of our achievements. If, after the mistakes and shortcomings in our work are pointed out, we forget our achievements–the principal aspect of our work, forget the groundwork we have laid for forging ahead, as if we had made mistakes in everything, and forfeit our confidence in victory, that would be completely wrong and represent a Right opportunist view.”
In order to avoid repeating past mistakes, unite with all social forces to fight effectively against U.S. imperialism and Chiang Kai-shek and liberate all the people in the Central Plains at an early date, we should immediately end redistribution of land, expropriation of local tyrants, distribution of their movable property and indiscriminate confiscation of items in the area as a whole. All sabotage activities and beating, arresting and executing people contrary to the law should also be strictly prohibited. We should carry on and readjust our work in all fields in accordance with the following guiding policies and practical measures:
1. In areas under our control where land has not been distributed, we should immediately put an end to propaganda concerning land distribution and begin propaganda regarding the reduction of rent and interest rates and the reasonable distribution of burdens. We should set about conducting investigations and studies, create good examples and become more experienced, so that the Party committees in these areas can formulate unified, succinct decrees and measures for the reduction of rent and interest rates and the reasonable distribution of burdens, and, in accordance with these decrees and measures, train cadres, educate the masses and conduct a broad mass movement for reduced rent and interests rates from late autumn to next spring. In areas where land has been distributed, we should make a distinction between true and false distribution, between distribution carried out in a vast area and that in isolated places, and between areas where many problems have arisen and ones with fewer problems, so as to work out solutions accordingly. As a basic principle, in cases of true distribution, we should generally determine land ownership and property rights and make no further alterations; and in cases of false distribution, we should persuade the masses to enter into tenancy relationship at reduced rent and interest rates. For distribution carried out over a vast area, if conditions permit and the masses demand it, we should lead them in completing land distribution and, at the same time, correctly differentiate the classes and remedy our shortcomings. As for the isolated places, if conditions permit and the majority of peasants agree, we should make no alterations in existing land ownership and property rights and persuade the masses to begin the movement for reduced rent and interest rates. As for the problems that have arisen, we should consult with the masses to work out solutions based on the merits of each case. In solving problems, we should not act according to the views of a tiny number of cadres and activists, but according to those of the majority of the peasants (including middle peasants), and we can get the landlords and rich peasants who have not left the place to take part in the discussions and let them air their views.
2. In the guerrilla zones, under the principle of uniting with all social forces and concentrating on attacking the enemy, we should resolutely fight against press-ganging people, plundering and rule by special agents and the bao-jia system, safeguard the interests of the masses and of people from all social strata, and appropriately carry out the policy of reducing rent and interest rates in the light of the actual conditions and according to the wishes of the masses. That is to say, the rates can be reduced with the consent of landlords and rich peasants, or reduced by a lesser amount than in areas under our control, or reduced first by landlords and rich peasants who volunteer to do so. As for the policy concerning burdens, we should really take the interests of the ordinary masses into account. When distributing the total burden, we should refrain from imposing heavier burdens in the guerrilla zones than in areas under our control, and appropriately lighten burdens on people in areas where they are loaded with burdens imposed both by the Kuomintang and us. We must overcome and strictly check the tendency to take things from the guerrilla zones. In the guerrilla zones we should employ relatively covert forms of struggle and organization and strive for unity among various social strata to fight against the Kuomintang troops and local Chiang Kai-shek forces, concentrating our attack on the small number of reactionary special agents, while keeping a low profile, lest the people should suffer persecution from the enemy, which otherwise could be avoided. In areas where the enemy exercises powerful control, we should use armed working teams in the struggle and adopt a dual revolutionary policy against the “total warfare” now being waged by the Kuomintang on an extensive scale.
3. When we enter an area for the first time, we should pursue the united front policy on a broader scale to unite with all social forces to fight against U.S. imperialism, Chiang Kai-shek and the most reactionary elements there, so as to wipe out the enemy and gain a firm foothold. We should never execute tactical measures with undue haste. First and foremost, we must not make mistakes; we should carry out political, economic and social reforms gradually, according to the degree of consolidation of the area, and the political consciousness and organization of the masses. Therefore, politically we should make the best use of contradictions among the enemies, winning over or uniting with those who are not hostile to us, persuading the vacillating ones not to oppose us, and isolating and striking at the most reactionary ones. We must by all means avoid overthrowing all of them, lest we should help the enemy become more united and land ourselves in an isolated position. So far as social policies are concerned, we are not to expropriate local tyrants, distribute their movable property or confiscate their economic assets, with the exception of the few most counter-revolutionary elements already sentenced to death, whose personal property shall, for political purposes, be confiscated and distributed among the masses. Before reducing rent and interest rates, we should take such measures as explaining the policy to the masses, helping them to become organized and promulgating the government’s official decrees. This should not be started hastily without adequate preparations. In readjusting the supplies of seed and various grain, we should not do this by using our grain reserves to relieve the poor or by compelling landlords and rich peasants to take out grain for the same purpose. Instead we should encourage mutual aid, such as extending interest-free loans or loans at low interest rates, have the government extend grain loans for production or as temporary relief for the poor by taking out a portion of the grain that was confiscated or levied. Military supplies are the greatest difficulty in the new liberated areas. Aside from the necessary preparations made before our troops enter an area, they can requisition or borrow grain and impose monetary levies after their entry, which should be as rational as possible; that is, they should pursue a financial policy of reasonably distributing burdens. At the beginning they should make use of the old regime’s organs to raise military supplies (but, at the same time, the policy of reasonable distribution of burdens should be made known to the public), so they can avoid doing it themselves; otherwise, there will be chaos. Tax collection in cities and towns should be continued and be carried out by existing taxation organizations for the time being, which are to be transformed systematically; though the existing tax system can be applied temporarily, unreasonable, exorbitant taxes and levies should gradually be abolished. In the cities that are under our effective control or are to be under our occupation for a relatively long time to come, a reasonable taxation policy should be instituted. Only in the fairly wealthy cities, where we can stay for just a few days, is it permissible to raise donations on an interim basis in one collection through the chamber of commerce and under the guidance of the leading bodies at and above the level of district and army column Party committees. Moreover, a meeting of representative businessmen should be called to win their approval and the contribution must not be too large; no compulsion should be used. It is particularly important that our troops should set an example in adhering to all the Party’s correct policies in the new area, conscientiously observing the Three Main Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points for Attention, and strictly executing the policy of protecting cities, industrial and commercial enterprises, schools, hospitals and all public buildings and property. Damaging or wasting anything is forbidden. Meanwhile, it is necessary to resolutely refute the reactionary, destructive theory of agricultural socialism.
4. The Party should exercise its leadership and have its policies implemented by giving full play to the role of governments and mass organizations. In areas under our control, we should send large numbers of competent cadres to work in the various government departments, giving first priority to the financial and economic departments (including finance, grain, industry, commerce, banking and taxation), so as to ensure military supplies and the people’s livelihood and avoid waste and disorder, and taking the initiative in work. At the same time, we should establish people’s courts to handle and try cases, maintain public order and prevent indiscriminate beatings, arrests and executions. In nature, our political power remains a people’s democratic political power of the masses opposed to imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism under the leadership of the proletariat, so it would be a mistake to discard the “three-thirds system” formulated by the Central Committee. Therefore, governments at the district and village levels should totally be in the hands of the peasants (including middle peasants). However, the ones at and above the county level can for now, in the light of the actual conditions, consider engaging as consultants, advisers, etc. a number of progressive people from industrial and commercial circles and members of local enlightened gentry who are comparatively honest, just and well-respected, are in favour of our basic programmes and policies, such as fighting against U.S. imperialism and Chiang Kai-shek, promoting democracy, reducing rent and interest rates, and reasonable distribution of burdens, and are willing to remain in the area. However, when engaging consultants and advisers, it is necessary to seek qualified candidates, subject to examination and approval by a district Party committee; no incompetent persons should be engaged just to make up the required number, and attention should be paid to assigning the right person to the right job; otherwise we shall divorce ourselves from the masses. In guerrilla zones, guerrilla political power at county and district levels can be established under the unified organization of armed working teams, and in the villages the old organs of political power can be preserved, to be gradually transformed and brought to an appropriate democratic level. Where we have to deal with the enemy, we can establish revolutionary organs of political power with a dual character. In areas we have just entered, besides flexibly applying the principles mentioned above, we should make good use of the old governments in the early days to maintain public order and obtain military supplies.
5. In areas under our control, we should establish peasant associations (middle peasants included) on an extensive scale. Poor peasant leagues should be expanded into peasant associations, and no new leagues are to be organized; if there is both a poor peasant league and a peasant association, the two should be merged into one peasant association. Peasant associations are the principal mass organizations in rural areas; it is necessary to encourage large numbers of peasants to join them of their own free will, so as to increase their membership and prevent a handful of people from monopolizing and controlling them and turning them into narrow, sectarian organizations. In general, peasant association leadership should be composed of two-thirds poor peasants and farm labourers and one-third middle peasants. We should prevent hooligans and scoundrels from usurping leadership and see that honest, faithful working peasants hold power. Besides peasant associations, we should gradually establish youth, cultural, women’s and children’s organizations in the rural areas to unite and educate the masses. In cities we should, first and foremost, establish trade unions and organizations for uniting educated youth. In guerrilla zones and new liberated areas, we should set up small, but competent, secret or semi-secret mass organizations and intelligence agencies, and their names need not be uniform nor the organizations unified. Once progress has been made, we can set up other kinds of organizations, such as those for workers, peasants, youth and women, and, once the groundwork has been laid, small, competent Party branches should be set up.
6. In order to expand production and promote economic prosperity to ensure the people’s livelihood and to support the war, we should urge the people to accelerate production, miss no farming seasons and leave no land uncultivated, and we should prevent landlords and rich peasants from slowing down farm work and disrupting production. We should also resolutely carry out the policy of protecting the cities and industrial and commercial enterprises, and rectify the widespread erroneous tendency to attach little importance to the cities and abandon leadership over urban work. Factories, workshops, shops and sideline production in urban and rural areas have suffered serious damage in the past, so the Party and government should make great efforts to organize all kinds of specialized departments (engaging the services of industrialists, merchants, technicians and workers) to work out ways of restoring production rapidly. As for wrongly confiscated means of production belonging to private industrial and commercial enterprises, if they are still in the possession of the army or government organs, they should unconditionally be returned, lock, stock and barrel; if they have been distributed to the masses, we should persuade the masses to return them, or the government should barter with the masses for their return. Means of production that were confiscated, as they should, must not lie idle, but be used by the government or leased to individuals or a group of people for restoring and helping to increase production. At the same time, in order to restore and expand industry and commerce as quickly as possible, government banks should extend loans to industrial and commercial enterprises according to the prevailing circumstances, giving first priority to those closely related to the people’s livelihood and military supplies.
7. When applying the principles and policies mentioned above, we must fully propagate and explain them to the masses, and not be afraid to criticize ourselves in front of them. We should appropriately make it clear to them that the “Left” practices of the past, especially indiscriminately beating and executing people, damaging industry and commerce, encroaching upon the interests of middle peasants, casting out landlords and rich peasants and letting hooligans and scoundrels hold power, ran counter to the principles and policies formulated by the CPC Central Committee and Chairman Mao, did harm to the people and, therefore, must be put right. We should explain to them that land reform is a policy our Party will continue to carry out, because only through land reform can peasants win relatively complete liberation, and that the reason we have temporarily stopped to reduce rent and interest rates is that conditions for land reform are not yet ripe and the reduction of these is beneficial to the people at present. We should also explain to them that only when the peasant masses are organized, honest peasants hold power and the overwhelming majority of peasants truly demand land distribution, can land be distributed fairly and with no problems. When dealing with specific problems, we must resolutely defend the ground the masses have already gained and repulse any retaliation by landlords and rich peasants. We should make it clear that we shall only appropriately compensate middle peasants for property that has been confiscated. We should try to return the industrial and commercial enterprises to landlords and rich peasants to whom they belonged. Other property belonging to landlords or rich peasants should not be returned; however, where land has been distributed, we must ensure that every landlord or rich peasant gets an equal share of land, housing and farm tools. We should encourage as many landlords and rich peasants as possible to return to their homes, but we must adopt a serious stand and attitude, letting them know that the government and the people are lenient towards them. When they return, they must register with government authorities and declare that they will abide by all the laws and decrees promulgated by the government and will not engage in any sabotage or espionage for the Kuomintang. At the same time, we should advise the masses to increase their vigilance against counter-attacks and sabotage by landlords, rich peasants and special agents.
8. As for local Chiang Kai-shek forces and bandits, we shall pursue the policy of punishing the chief criminals without fail, allowing accomplices under duress to go unpunished and rewarding those who perform meritorious deeds. We shall focus on disintegrating these enemies politically, while attacking them militarily, for the purpose of eliminating all of them. We should mobilize people from all quarters to persuade Kuomintang officers and men to go home, and the government will be lenient to all of them; they will not be subject to insult or execution, except that they should register with the competent authorities. As to captives taken on the battle field, we shall apply the same policy as that towards those taken from the regular Kuomintang troops; killing them is absolutely forbidden; we should instead use them to help disintegrate and win over the other enemies. As to the main criminals who must be executed, they should be shot after the court has passed the sentence of death on them; beating criminals to death and other unlawful methods are forbidden, because we shall lose people’s sympathy if we employ these methods.
9. Now that local armed forces in the various places have expanded considerably, we should plan to reorganize and consolidate them, with emphasis on strengthening the ranks of cadres, intensifying class education, establishing Party organizations, carefully screening out bad elements and secret agents, and enforcing strict military discipline and discipline regarding the masses. At the same time, the local armed forces should expand continually once they have been consolidated. Due to the many problems in the existing people’s armed forces, we should also take effective measures to reorganize and consolidate them, with the support of peasant associations, and prevent secret agents, landlords and rich peasants from controlling them. In villages where there are reliable peasant associations, the people’s armed forces should be placed under their leadership; the peasant associations should gradually control all the villagers’ weapons.
10. Strengthening propaganda and education is a task that demands immediate attention both in the army and in all areas. Propaganda teams and theatre troupes should be restored and strengthened in the army. Party committees and political organs at all levels should provide more effective leadership over propaganda and education, so as to be sure they are fully in keeping with the Party’s principles and policies. They should put a stop to such erroneous practices as writing slogans and conducting propaganda at will.
11. Training local cadres is not only a key link in maintaining ties with the masses and doing a thorough job, but is also the responsibility of cadres from outside areas. All local authorities should select large numbers of honest activists and poor intellectuals (including those from middle peasant families) in the struggle and promote them to cadres at district and village levels after they have received training. The Party should often check this work to see how well it is being done. We should also enlist large numbers of young intellectuals who were from landlord and rich peasant families and send them to study in north China, remould them in local military and political schools, or send them to work in other districts or villages after training.
12. The army is an important force in local work in the new liberated areas. Comrade Liu Shaoqi has said that if the army does not follow the Party’s policies, it means there is no way to ensure the Party’s policies in the most important part of the Party. Therefore, Party organizations and cadres in the army should be on the alert, be aware of their heavy responsibilities, assiduously study policies, use manpower and material resources sparingly, and make sure they are models in carrying out all the Party’s correct policies.
The Central Committee has instructed the entire Party to resolutely overcome certain manifestations of lax discipline and anarchy in many places and to abolish empiricism and bureaucratism in the leading bodies. These phenomena are most serious in the Central Plains. Since we launched the counter-offensive, the leading bodies in the various areas have to operate separately in a relatively tense situation, each having to work on its own. Consequently, indiscipline and anarchy have grown and there is a lack of a serious and responsible attitude towards the Party’s policies and tactics almost everywhere. Slackness, tardiness, inefficiency, lax leadership and liberalistic attitudes towards various kinds of erroneous tendencies have all reached an appalling extent. Therefore, it is necessary for Party organizations and cadres at the various levels to discuss the Central Committee’s directives carefully, adopt the correct methods of leadership and work methods and rectify the erroneous ones. Although we have made a preliminary breakthrough in the Central Plains, we are still confronted with many difficulties in our effort to completely defeat the enemy and ensure supplies for our several hundred thousand troops. Thus, it is imperative that all comrades in the Central Plains conscientiously carry out the correct policies, tactics and leadership methods formulated by the Central Committee, promptly rectify errors and increase working efficiency; only in this way can we overcome one difficulty after another and liberate the whole of the Central Plains area.
(This directive was drafted for the Central Plains Bureau of the Central Committee. After it was submitted to the Central Committee, Comrade Mao Zedong, on behalf of the Central Committee, sent a telegram in reply on June 28, in which he expressed full agreement and added two paragraphs to it. The Central Committee communicated the document to all its bureaus, sub-bureaus and front committees. Comrade Deng Xiaoping was then first secretary of the Central Plains Bureau of the Party Central Committee.)