SENIOR CADRES SHOULD TAKE THE LEAD IN MAINTAINING AND ENRICHING THE PARTY’S FINE TRADITIONS
November 2, 1979
Today I wish to speak to our senior cadres on a number of questions.
I. MATERIAL BENEFITS FOR SENIOR CADRES
The document “Some Regulations Concerning the Material Benefits for Senior Cadres”, which is about to be circulated by the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, was drafted mainly by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection with the participation of some other departments concerned. Necessary revisions will be made according to the views expressed in your discussions. I have read the record and am very pleased because not only are you all in favour of adopting these regulations but you have asked that they be made stricter and more specific. This shows that the overwhelming majority of our senior cadres are concerned for the overall interests of our Party and state and understand the general situation. After review and endorsement by the Political Bureau, the document will be distributed to the units concerned for trial application before it is formally promulgated. Basically, these regulations reaffirm the provisions in force before the Cultural Revolution. There aren’t many new ones, and some are not so strict as before. Those that concern housing are an instance. Although the document prescribes that each person may have only one residence, it may vary in size. But a few people now have two or three residences! And they are not all senior cadres, some are at lower levels. The document stipulates that whatever the size of the residence, the occupants must pay rent for all rooms except those used for offices and reception. This is unchanged from before the Cultural Revolution, when we all paid for living space. Many other provisions remain the same — for example, the one regarding payment for the use of official cars for private purposes. In fact, by and large we have now restored our old regulations without adding many new or stricter ones. I think these rules will work, because they did before the Cultural Revolution.
Their introduction is somewhat overdue, as we have been too busy to attend to it before. But if we delay further, we’ll find it hard to justify ourselves before the people. As you know, one of the chief subjects of conversation among the masses recently has been precisely the pursuit of personal privileges by cadres. This, I am afraid, pertains mainly to senior cadres. Of course, I’m not saying that all senior cadres are like that. Many, in fact, live very simply. However, there are indeed some whose addiction to personal privileges is rather serious. That is also true of some cadres at middle and lower levels, such as certain secretaries of commune and county Party committees and certain comrades in factories, mines and other enterprises. We must realize that this is not only a problem relating to the style of the Party. It has become a general tendency in our society — a social problem. To overcome it we must start now by establishing regulations with regard to the material benefits for senior cadres and then, step by step, introduce similar regulations for cadres at other levels. If our senior cadres take the lead, the problem will be easier to solve. Both the masses and the cadres at the grass roots are against privilege-seeking, especially by cadres at the higher levels but also by those in the middle and lower ranks. The people resent it greatly when cadres seek privileges.
At present, the people at large are most worried by three problems, namely, rising prices, privilege-seeking by cadres and the housing shortage. Some people have tried to exploit for ulterior motives the widespread dissatisfaction among the masses (including Party members and cadres) over privilege-seeking (including “back-door” dealings). This is true of certain persons who use the “Xidan Wall” as well as of some bad elements among the people coming from different localities to lodge appeals with the central authorities. You have to stop and think for a minute, for some really outrageous things are happening. For example, some persons have an insatiable desire for a life of ease and comfort and are always making their homes bigger, better and more beautiful. Others violate rules and regulations in various ways for their own convenience. This sort of wrongdoing alienates us from the masses and the cadres and debases social morality. People are very sensitive to it.
We must revive and develop further the Party’s fine traditions of hard work, simple living and close ties with the masses. All of us grew up the hard way and went through many bitter times in the Agrarian Revolutionary War [1927-37], the War of Resistance Against Japan [1937-45] and the War of Liberation [1946-49]. Life was very tough, too, during the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea [1950-53]. How is it that we were able to overcome all those difficulties and hardships? Basically it’s because our cadres and Party members shared the hardships with the masses. Just look back at the years 1958 and 1959, when we made “Left” errors so grave that the economy suffered a major setback and we had to slash the investment in capital construction from nearly 30 billion yuan to a little over 5 billion, transfer 20 million workers and office staff from cities to the countryside and shut down a number of factories. How is it that we were able to manage all that? Why was it then possible for us to readjust the economy rather smoothly? Because our Party maintained close ties with the masses and its prestige was high among them. We told the people the difficulties, explained issues clearly, and did a lot of work. Transferring 20 million people to the countryside was itself no easy job. If not for the high prestige enjoyed by the Party and the government, it couldn’t have been done. Besides, the general social conduct then was different from that today, and our cadres were in closer touch with the masses. All that made it possible for us to overcome the difficulties quickly. Material conditions today are somewhat better than they were then and except for housing, our people’s standard of living has improved. So why do the masses still have so many complaints against us? It has a lot to do with the fact that some of us, especially the higher-level cadres, are divorced from the masses. Of course, it also has something to do with our not having done enough work in certain areas, including propaganda and education. We haven’t put the problems plainly before the masses, reached a common understanding with them and discussed and solved those problems together with them.
One important cause of our divorce from the masses is privilege-seeking by cadres. A cadre who pursues personal privileges inevitably divorces himself from the masses. When comrades pay too much attention to their personal or family interests, they don’t have much time and energy left to devote to the masses, and at best they attend perfunctorily to matters they can’t dodge. We have a few people now who act like overlords, and some of their behaviour is truly shocking. They divorce themselves from the masses and lower-ranking cadres, and their subordinates follow suit, which results in deterioration of the general standard of social conduct. At what time in the past did a Party committee secretary — a secretary of a county or commune Party committee, say — have as much power as he has today? Never! And there are a few people now who abuse this power and encroach upon the interests of the masses, pursue a privileged life-style for themselves and even act tyrannically and outrageously. What’s more, they seem to think it’s natural to behave that way. Recently many people have come to the capital to appeal to the central authorities for help. It’s true that there are a few bad elements among them. There are also some whose complaints, though wholly or partly justified, are hard for us to deal with for the time being, limited as we are by the present conditions. But most of the complaints are about problems which can and should be solved in line with the present Party and government policies. Yet a small number of comrades take a bureaucratic, apathetic attitude towards these problems and put off taking any action. And a handful, violating law and Party discipline, have gone so far as to retaliate against people who come with grievances. This is absolutely wrong and intolerable. If our senior cadres can first solve problems in their own attitude and behaviour such as those I have mentioned above, then they can tackle similar ones in other spheres throughout the country with justice on their side. If we fail to solve our own problems, we’ll have no right to say anything about the conduct of others, for people will simply retort, “What about you?” In short, it is high time to establish the regulations I’ve been talking about.
I would also like to say that privilege-seeking by some of our senior cadres has affected their relatives and children, leading them astray. A small number of comrades are in bad repute both in their own units and elsewhere mostly because of their children’s misdeeds. For instance, before the Cultural Revolution, Party and state secrets were kept pretty well and rarely leaked out. Today, some cadres’ children have free access to classified documents and spread their contents at will. There have even been individual cases in which the sons or daughters of cadres have sold or given secret information to foreigners. This is one of the main reasons why many of our secrets can’t be kept now. Incidentally, some current practices simply must be changed. We used to have a rule that classified documents were not to be taken out of the office and that the persons responsible for secret documents must travel in pairs when conveying them from place to place. Nowadays, some people just stuff classified documents into their briefcases and carry them wherever they please. Documents belonging in confidential files are entrusted to individuals who keep them wherever they like. This simply won’t do. Regulations are needed. As there are no office rules at present, some senior cadres are accustomed to working on public business at home. I’m not saying that those few comrades who are aging and in poor health may not do so. But generally speaking, it should be avoided. Many things can be settled by discussion in the office. Why, then, do we just route documents around so that people can read them and check off their names? Isn’t this bureaucracy? Some papers circulate for as long as six months without any decision being made. Nobody knows whether those who checked off their names approve or disapprove of the content.
To rectify the Party’s style of work and improve social conduct, we should start with the senior cadres. Implementing “Some Regulations Concerning the Material Benefits for Senior Cadres” will have many good effects. First and foremost, it will naturally help to reduce bureaucracy. Of course, we may find our lives a bit less comfortable, but they’ll still be far more comfortable than those of ordinary cadres and the masses. The regulations may sometimes cause us inconvenience. For example, if we call a car to go to the movies, we’ll have to pay for the transportation. But if you don’t want to spend the money, you can just stay home. What’s so terrible about that? Once this document is promulgated by the Central Committee and the State Council, it will have the force of law — you’ll have to abide by it, like it or not.
Before the Cultural Revolution, we did attend to the problem of how to narrow the gap in living standards between the senior cadres on the one hand and the lower-level cadres and the masses on the other. We lowered the salary scales of senior cadres three times and explicitly stipulated that there should be no more increases. It was decided that with the expansion of production, only workers and office staff and lower-level cadres would get gradual pay raises, and the standard of living of the masses should be improved gradually. Considering certain needs of senior cadres that arise from the nature of their work, we have decided that their salary scales should not be lowered further, nor should there be any widening of the gap between their pay and living standards and those of lower cadres, workers and office staff and others. Senior cadres should cease to enjoy privileges which frequently exceed their salaries in value. Our present problem is not that our senior cadres are too highly paid but that they have too many privileges. This is liable to alienate them from the masses and the lower-ranking cadres, and even to corrupt their family members, debase the general standard of social conduct and make it impossible to overcome bureaucracy. Therefore, all of us, including comrades in the Political Bureau, must be fully prepared mentally for the enforcement of these regulations. We have to put up with inconveniences. Only then will we have the right to speak.
Although the document has not yet been formally discussed and endorsed by the Political Bureau, the Central Committee is determined to solve this problem. It was not easy for us to make up our minds to do this, because we knew we would offend some people. A small number will not agree with our decisions, and they will be the first ones we’ll have to offend. And while most of us will favour this document in principle, when it is actually enforced and directly affects us individually, some of us will feel resentful. We must straighten out our thinking on this issue. Not only should we conscientiously observe the regulations ourselves, but we should convince our family members and other persons concerned that they are correct. We should all think back and realize how much better our life is now than before!
II. SELECTING SUCCESSORS
The problem of cadres’ material benefits affects the senior cadres first of all. Another problem, the selection of successors, is even more directly related to them.
The line and principles adopted for the modernization programme are correct, but the problem — and it is a serious one — is lack of trained personnel necessary to carry them out. The reason is simple: everything has to be done by people. Without a great many qualified people, we will not achieve our goal. So we urgently need to train and promote large numbers of them for our modernization programme. The selection of successors is a new task and a responsibility for our veteran comrades and high-level cadres. Most of them are around 60 years old now, or even older. Their energy is, after all, running out. Otherwise, why do some work at home? Why can’t they put in eight hours a day at the office? Certainly some of the comrades here are able to work eight hours a day in the office, but I doubt if even half of you can do it. We veterans have rich experience, but we should know our own limitations in energy. Take me. I have much less energy than I used to. I can manage two activities a day — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — but arrange another in the evening and it’s too much. This is a law of nature and it can’t be helped. Since the smashing of the Gang of Four, we have rehabilitated our veteran comrades one after another and reinstated nearly all of them in their original posts or equivalent ones. Thus, the number of our cadres has increased. To reinstate our veteran comrades is necessary and correct. But the problem we face is the shortage of younger, professionally competent cadres. Without them it will be impossible to carry out the programme of modernization. We veteran comrades should be soberly aware that the selection of successors can’t be delayed any longer. Otherwise, the drive for the four modernizations will become a pipe dream. I believe you comrades have heard and seen plenty of things that prove this.
We veteran cadres have the responsibility of making earnest efforts to select successors. During my recent inspection tour, I spoke of this wherever I went. So did Comrade Ye Jianying in his National Day address . Veteran and high-level cadres should attend to this personally; they should make investigations, talk to others, listen to the views of the masses and get ready to hand over their responsibilities. Today, the criterion for judging if an old comrade or higher cadre measures up to the requirements for a Party member or a cadre is whether he makes a serious effort to select qualified successors. We are asking that the replacement or reappointment of the top three comrades in leading groups at all levels (including Party branches) be completed within about three years. In the higher-level organs we should consider, as the first step, promoting younger comrades to the second and third senior posts, while the veteran comrades remain in overall charge for some time. In the organs at lower levels, if promising young comrades are available they can be directly chosen to serve even in the top post. If we don’t solve this problem at all levels within the next three years or so, it will be even more difficult later. We should make a concrete assessment of younger people. A small number of them were so poisoned by the ideas of the Gang of Four that even today they are still unable to recognize their errors; on no account can we choose such persons as our successors. If we don’t give due attention to this now, by the time we have all died or become too old to work many such people may be climbing up to succeed us, and that would be a disaster for our Party and our state. Haven’t we reversed many wrong verdicts pronounced during the period when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four were running rampant? If such persons are allowed to succeed us and hold power, they will certainly change those verdicts back again.
Today we have a favourable condition for choosing successors, namely, we know where people stand politically. In his National Day speech, Comrade Ye Jianying put forward three requirements for successors: first, they must resolutely support the Party’s political and ideological lines; second, they must be selfless, abide strictly by the law and discipline, uphold Party spirit and be completely free of factionalism; and third, they must be deeply committed to the revolutionary cause, have a strong sense of political responsibility and be professionally competent. In addition, they must be energetic enough to work eight hours a day. We must never neglect this point. You can’t do valuable work in the modernization drive if you have no professional knowledge, no enthusiasm for work or no energy. No matter how brilliant your ideas may be, it’s hard to work well without enough energy. We must realize that the careful selection of fine successors is of strategic importance and will have profound consequences for the long-term interests of our Party and our state. If we don’t solve the problem properly in the next three years or so, who knows what will happen in 10 years’ time? All of us should be concerned about the future of our country, people and Party. We must realize that this is a matter of fundamental importance. We now have correct ideological and political lines, but if we don’t do good organizational work, it will be impossible to ensure that the correct political line is carried out. In that case we will have failed the Party and the people.
Our senior cadres must assume personal responsibility for selecting as our successors cadres who meet the three requirements. We should first straighten out our own thinking so that we attend to this task actively and on our own initiative. We mustn’t rely solely on the Organization Department of the Central Committee, because they don’t know all the different lines of work, and they don’t know all the cadres well. Successors should be chosen promptly, the sooner the better. The real mainstays of our cause today are around 40 years old, and only very few of them are around 30. We should not hesitate to promote people of these age groups. When you comrades assumed important responsibilities as regimental, divisional or army-level commanders, you were very young, just in your twenties. Can it be that young people today aren’t as smart as they were then? Not at all! But they are overshadowed by us its the old custom of promoting by seniority that has prevented the young people from coming up. Many comrades who may not appear to be fully qualified for leading posts before they assume them will in fact quickly prove to be so if they are promoted and given some help.
It is also necessary to pick younger officers for the higher organs of the armed forces, those of the greater military regions for instance. Because of the special characteristics of our armed forces, officers should still be promoted grade by grade. Nevertheless, some old conventions need to be broken. Government institutions and production enterprises are different from the army, and schools and scientific research institutions are even more so. In such units, rules can be overridden to select and promote talented people. Some provincial, municipal or autonomous-region Party committees have promoted one or two relatively young cadres who, although they are already in their forties or early fifties, are still called “young” and whose names always appear at the bottom of the list of leading cadres. This shows the old conventions have not yet been completely discarded. Another problem is the overstaffing of the leading bodies–the standing committee of a Party committee tends to have 15 to 18 members or even more. What we should do now is to thoughtfully select young and competent comrades for the top and second posts in leading organs at the middle and lower levels, and for the second and third posts in the higher organs. And we should prepare to let them take over the top posts at all these levels after, say, two, three or five years. If it turns out that we’ve chosen the wrong person, we can always replace him. We still have time.
With regard to training and promotion in schools and scientific research institutions, as I said yesterday at the meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, we should establish a system of academic degrees and titles and of titles for different technical personnel. Now that we have several young scientists who have won fame both at home and abroad, why can’t they be promoted to the rank of professor or research fellow? In intellectual work whoever has made contributions should be given a corresponding title regardless of seniority. In factories too, we should always select directors those who have the greatest technical or managerial competence, regardless of age or seniority. Let me tell you something. The system of picking workshop chiefs and group leaders by democratic election, which we introduced into some factories as an experiment, has proved very effective. The important thing is to link the good operation of an enterprise with the workers’ own vital interests, so that the people the workers elect to run an enterprise are those they believe will run it well, because a well-run enterprise means bonuses for the workers as well as greater contributions to the state. So far we have solved only the problem of electing workshop chiefs and group leaders; we shall have to study the question of how to choose factory directors and managers.
To sum up, we can succeed in our modernization programme only if we work harder to train and promote able people. In colleges and universities faculty members should have the title of professor (of the first, second or third grade), associate professor, lecturer or teaching assistant. In scientific research institutions, there should be research fellows (of the first, second or third grade), associate researchers, assistant researchers and research trainees. In the enterprises, there should be senior engineers and engineers, senior accountants and accountants, and so on. Whoever meets the requirements should get the corresponding title and pay. Salaries may still be fixed rather low at present, but they shouldn’t be too low. We must do away with equalitarianism and the practice of “sharing food from the same big pot”. The salary of an outstanding research fellow may be more than that of the head of the institute, while in a college or university, a prominent professor may be paid more than the president. Only then will people be encouraged to improve their qualifications and will capable persons come to the fore. We must establish a system under which people with specialized knowledge and in the prime of life are placed in posts which give full scope to their talents. I would like to mention here that in general, scientists should not be bothered with administrative matters but should be enabled to concentrate as much as possible on their own specialities so as to do the best possible research.
We should make a special effort to seek out and promote middle-aged cadres. In perhaps five years’ time a number of able people will emerge from among our college or university graduates. They will all be under 30, and we should make a point of promoting them. In the present circumstances, however, the emphasis should be on promoting the middle-aged and selecting those who meet the three requirements to take over leading positions. The veteran comrades should make way for them. In seeking out able personnel, we should break out of the old routine ways. We must bear in mind that this task is a “project of century-long significance”. But let’s not talk about 100 years, let’s just talk about the next 10. This whole matter was on my mind back in 1975, when Chairman Mao asked me to take charge of the Central Committee’s work. Wang Hongwen ran off to Shanghai, where he told people to wait and see how things stood in 10 years’ time. I talked with Comrade Li Xiannian about what would happen to people like us in 10 years. As far as age is concerned, they had the advantage of us, as they do of the comrades present here. If people who cling to the ideology of the Gang of Four were to take power one day, you wouldn’t be able to overcome them. How much longer can you expect to live? And even if you are still around at that time, your minds won’t be too clear. That is a law of nature.
We say that capitalist society is bad, but it doesn’t hesitate to discover and utilize talent. One of its traits is that it makes use of anyone who is qualified, regardless of seniority, and this is considered natural. In this respect, our system of selecting cadres is outmoded. The seniority system represents a force of habit and is backward.
Our cause will have a bright future if we can select the right people for the right jobs. The reason is self-evident: it is not enough just to formulate correct ideological and political lines and define the objectives of the four modernizations; there must be people to do the work. Who is to undertake the job? It’s no good for us just to sit in the office checking our names off papers that are routed to us — there’s no hope in that. It’s the younger people who are doing the real work today. Since that is so, why not promote them to leading posts? Some people say the younger comrades don’t have enough prestige and authority to keep things in hand. Well then, help them out. What’s more, we have too many “temples” now. Recently we have been considering whether it is good to have so many ministries and commissions under the State Council. Do we need so many departments and bureaus under each ministry or commission? Or so many branches in the army? Can’t we carry out some kind of reform? In my view, we simply can’t have government organs and military commands that are so swollen and unwieldy. The damaging effects of bureaucracy in our organizational structure and work methods are visible on every side. There are too many “temples” and each has too many “deities”. Veteran comrades stand in the way and younger people have no chance to come forward. Therefore, we must reform the present cadre system and establish one that facilitates the promotion of younger cadres.
A couple of years ago I proposed setting up a system of advisorships. It wasn’t completely successful, however, because many people didn’t want to become advisors. Now it is clear that the advisor system alone won’t solve the problem and that the important thing is to have a retirement system. This question deeply concerns each one of us, and I ask you to think it over carefully. Unless this system is established, it will be impossible to reduce overstaffing, to make organizations less unwieldy and to give younger people an opportunity to move up. When we have regulations explicitly stating the retirement age for cadres of different levels and departments, everyone will know when he is supposed to retire. Before the “cultural revolution”, we did consider creating such a system. But it didn’t seem very pressing then, because most of the comrades present here today were only in their late forties. It is now 13 years since 1966, and most of you are around 60. So the problem has become urgent and must be solved soon. Will a retirement system mean that some comrades will be slighted? It’s not a question of slighting anybody, but of addressing a major problem that affects the prosperity and vitality of our Party and our state. It seems that the advisor system is one way out and that it should therefore be maintained. But what is more important is to establish a retirement system. Many comrades have made this suggestion, but we have not discussed it formally yet. Today I’m just stating my views in advance.
The old comrades have many responsibilities now. What is the most important? To select successors well. When the right successors are chosen, we will have fulfilled our obligations and our life’s work will be more or less complete. For us, the day-to-day work comes second, third, fourth, fifth or even sixth. Our first priority should be a good choice of successors.
What I am talking about today may not be very pleasant for senior cadres. You may say, “Just look, we veteran cadres are in for hard times now. There are regulations that restrict our material benefits. Special prerogatives are out. And now comes this talk about retirement, and about `deities’ in temples giving way to new ones, and so on. Isn’t all this directed at us older comrades?” I don’t think that’s the right way to look at it. We ourselves should be conscious of these necessities. As for me, I’d like to retire right now if the Party would let me. I really mean it. That’s the truth. But in the interest of our cause as a whole I can’t retire yet, nor do I think you would agree to my doing so. I feel keenly that the question brought up today is of overriding importance. We must look to the future, for our cause will affect generations to come. The matters I’ve been talking about are very important and they will surely affect some of us — and possibly all of us — at some time in the next 10 years. Suppose we think further ahead, say, 20 years. What problems may be encountered then, and what may happen? How many of the comrades present will still be around 20 years from now? Of course, I would like to see you all enjoy long lives, but the laws of nature are inexorable. If we don’t look further ahead, if we don’t consider this question from the point of view of the fundamental interests of our Party and state, we can’t arrive at the correct conclusions, and we will find it difficult to make decisions on many issues or to handle things properly.
III. LOOKING AFTER THE PEOPLE’S WELL-BEING
Our Party used to have excellent relations with the people. Keeping close ties with the masses is a fine tradition of our Party, but Lin Biao and the Gang of Four nearly destroyed it. Still, it wouldn’t be in keeping with reality to put all the blame for our present alienation from the people on Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, for we have our own share of responsibility. Some of the things that alienate us from the people, including preferential treatment, existed before the “cultural revolution”, though to a far less serious extent than today. At that time, cadres had self-discipline and were concerned about the people. Now things are different. In the past, when a leading comrade inspected a place, he would first go and see the condition of the kitchen, toilets and bathing facilities. There are still comrades like that, but not many. Quite a few simply don’t get in touch with the people. Some school leaders don’t talk to students and don’t even have much contact with the teachers. Our past experience tells us that we should be especially concerned for the people in times of adversity. So long as we are concerned for them, identify ourselves with them and share their lot instead of seeking privileges, all problems can be readily solved and all difficulties overcome.
In passing I would like to mention our propaganda and educational work. It is highly important and has yielded very good results, but recently our propaganda on some issues has been rather one-sided and not well thought out. As a result, comrades working at the grass-roots level have run into difficulties. For instance, Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) published two articles within a short interval about the people coming from different localities to appeal to the central authorities for help. When the first article appeared on September 17, people began streaming into Beijing. The second article, which came out on October 22, clarified things and the number of such people soon dropped. What does this show? It shows the tremendous influence newspapers alone can exert. If comrades in different organizations really explain to the people the problems facing our country, or even compare the difficulties of today with those of 1962, and if they explain to them the measures we are taking to overcome the difficulties, the people are sure to feel and react differently. So long as we maintain close ties with the people and explain things to them patiently, we will have their sympathy and understanding and will be able to surmount any difficulties, however great.
The problems that are arising now show that we have been quite alienated from the people for a considerable time. We should do painstaking ideological work among them, including those who are always putting up big-character posters and making public speeches at the “Xidan Wall”. Of course, it is necessary to crack down on the handful of bad elements. But we should adopt dual tactics in dealing with these elements and place the emphasis on educating them and splitting their ranks. Further, we were completely right to establish the policy of economic readjustment, restructuring, consolidation and improvement, and it is increasingly clear that readjustment in particular is necessary. However, since in our propaganda and educational work we have failed to keep up with developments, a fair number of people have wrongly found this policy demoralizing. This, together with the rise in prices, has led them to feel there is no hope for the four modernizations. So our educational work, including work through the mass media, must catch up with policy changes. Whenever a problem comes up, every locality and every institution should take on the task of educating the masses by explaining the issue to them properly. It is essential that we heed the voice of the masses, discuss the conduct of affairs with them and work with them to overcome difficulties. Students in some schools have complained about their living conditions, saying that no one is paying attention to the way their kitchens are run, that spinach, after one rough cut, is thrown into the pot with the dirt still on it. It shouldn’t be too hard to wash spinach clean and cut it into small pieces, and it wouldn’t add to the cost. However, it will be difficult to solve even simple problems like this without proper educational work and close contact with the masses and cadres at lower levels. More often than not, it has been our failure to do our work well and promptly that has given rise to the existing problems and that has caused so many petitioners to come from different localities to seek help from the central authorities. Of course, some of them are bad people who break the law and regulations, and that cannot be attributed to shortcomings in our work.
At present cadres throughout the country, and first of all the senior cadres, should set an example and take the lead in reviving and enriching our Party’s traditions of working hard, living simply and maintaining close ties with the masses. We will run into a variety of difficulties in our effort to achieve the four modernizations because we lack experience in such matters. For one thing, we are short of managerial and technical personnel. For another, technical transformation of an enterprise reduces the size of the work force needed, and this creates the difficult problem of how best to employ the extra workers. Furthermore, we are going to establish a retirement system. This is undoubtedly correct, but many people won’t like the idea, so we will run into difficulties there too. In the final analysis, these problems can be solved only if we have faith in the masses, rely on them and stick closely to the mass line. It is up to the veteran cadres to take the lead in further developing our Party’s tradition of maintaining close ties with the masses. Younger cadres should be selected and promoted to leading positions at different levels. The veteran cadres should pass on their experience to them, help and guide them and set a good example for them so that they will inherit and develop the Party’s fine traditions of hard work and plain living and closeness to the masses. They should be taught that to solve problems it is not enough merely to be young and to possess professional knowledge. It is essential to have a good style of work. But what is most important is to maintain close ties with the masses. We should not be overlords and should guard against the arbitrary and bureaucratic ways of high officials in the yamen [government offices in feudal China]. These are some of the fundamental views of Comrade Mao Zedong, and we should still act in accordance with them.
Comrades, our senior cadres are all long-tested veterans nurtured and educated by the Party over a long period. The overwhelming majority of you have always obeyed the Party and acted in the spirit of its directives. You struggled against Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. You work for the cause of the Party and the people faithfully and wholeheartedly, and you have maintained our Party’s fine traditions and style. We are confident that under the new historical conditions and in the course of the new Long March towards the four modernizations, you will all respond eagerly to the Party’s call, set an example for others and take the lead in further developing the Party’s fine traditions of hard work and plain living and of closeness to the masses. We are confident that you will conscientiously follow the regulations, oppose the pursuit of personal privileges and check all unhealthy trends, and that you will strive to seek out and train successors, gradually handing over your responsibilities and thus completing your glorious mission.
(Speech at a meeting of cadres of the rank of vice-minister and above from the central Party, government and army organizations.)