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The People's Democratic Dictatorship
Mao Tse-tung

On the basis of the experience of these twenty-eight years, we have reached the same conclusions that Sun Yat-sen, in his will, said he had drawn from "the experience of forty years." That is, "we must awaken the masses of the people and unite ourselves in a common struggle with those peoples of the world who treat us on a basis of equality." Sun Yat-sen had a world outlook different from ours and he set off from a different class standpoint in observing and dealing with problems. Nevertheless, on the problem of how to struggle against imperialism in the 1920's, he reached this conclusion which was basically the same as ours.

Twenty-four years have elapsed since Sun Yat-sen's death, and under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party Chinese revolutionary theory and practice have made tremendous strides forward, fundamentally altering the face of China. The Chinese people have by now accumulated vital and basic experiences along the following two lines.
(1) Internally, the people must be awakened. This means welding the working class, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie into a united front under the leadership of the working class, and from this proceeding to the creation of a state of the people's democratic dictatorship, a state led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.

(2) Externally, we must unite in a common struggle with the peoples of all countries and with those nations which treat us as equals. This means allying ourselves with the Soviet Union, with every New Democratic country, and with the proletariat and broad masses in all other countries. This means forming an international united front.
"You incline to one side." That is right. The forty years' experience of Sun Yat-sen and the twenty-eight years' experience of the Chinese Communist Party have convinced us that in order to attain victory and consolidate it, we must incline to one side. According to these experiences, the Chinese people must incline either toward the side of imperialism or toward that of Socialism. There can be no exception to this rule. It is impossible to sit on the fence; there is no third road. We oppose Chiang Kai-shek's imperialism. We also oppose illusions about a third road; without exception, one inclines either toward imperialism or toward Socialism. Neutrality is merely a camouflage; a third road does not exist.

"You are too provocative." Yes. In speaking of our dealing with domestic and foreign reactionaries, that is, imperialists and their running dogs, but not with any other people. In regard to the reactionaries, the question of being provocative or not does not arise...
Internationally we belong to the side of the anti-imperialist front, headed by the Soviet Union. We can only turn to this side for genuine and friendly assistance, not to the side of the imperialist front.

"You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, what you say is correct. That is just what we are. All the experiences of the Chinese people, accumulated in the course of successive decades, tell us to carry out a people's democratic dictatorship.
This means that the reactionaries must be deprived of the right to voice their opinions; only the people have that right.
Who are the "people"? At the present stage in China, they are the working class, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie.

Under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, these classes unite to create their own state and elect their own government so as to enforce their dictatorship over the henchmen of imperialism -- the landlord class and bureaucratic capitalist class, as well as the reactionary clique of the Kuomintang, which represents these classes, and their accomplices. The people's government will suppress such persons. It will only permit them to behave themselves properly. It will not allow them to speak or act wildly. Should they do so, they will be instantly curbed and punished. The democratic system is to be carried out within the ranks of the people, giving them freedom of speech, assembly and association. The right to vote is given only to the people, not to the reactionaries.

These two things, democracy for the people and dictatorship for the reactionaries, when combined, constitute the people's democratic dictatorship.
Why must things be done in this way? Everyone is very clear on this point. If things were not done like this, revolution would fail, the people would suffer and the state would perish.
"Don't you want to abolish state power?" Yes, we want to, but not at the present time. We cannot afford to abolish state power just now. Why not? Because imperialism still exists. Because, internally, reactionaries still exist and classes still exist.

Our present task is to strengthen the people's state apparatus -- meaning principally the people's army, the people's police and the people's courts -- thereby safeguarding national defence and protecting the people's interests. Given these conditions, China, under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, can develop steadily from an agricultural into an industrial country and from a New Democratic into a Socialist and, eventually, Communist society, eliminating classes and realizing universal harmony.

Such state apparatus as the army, the police and the courts are instruments with which one class oppresses another. As far as the hostile classes are concerned, these are instruments of oppression. They are violent and certainly not "benevolent" things.

"You are not benevolent." Exactly. We definitely have no benevolent policies toward the reactionaries or the counter-revolutionary activities of the reactionary classes. Our benevolent policy does not apply to such deeds or such persons, who are outside the ranks of the people; it applies only to the people.

The people's state is for the protection of the people. Once they have a people's state, the people have the possibility of applying democratic methods on a nationwide and comprehensive scale to educate and reform themselves, so that they may get rid of the influences of domestic and foreign reactionaries. (These influences are still very strong at present and will remain for a long time to come; they cannot be eradicated quickly.) Thus the people can reform their bad habits and thoughts derived from the old society, so that they will not take the wrong road pointed out to them by the reactionaries, but will continue to advance and develop toward a Socialist and then Communist society.

They methods we use in this respect are democratic, that is, methods of persuasion and not of compulsion. If people break the law they will be punished, imprisoned or even sentenced to death. But these will be individual cases, differing in the principle from the dictatorship imposed against the reactionaries as a class.
As for those belonging to reactionary classes or groups, after their political power has been overthrown, we will also give them land and work, permitting them to make a living and to reform themselves through labour into new persons-- but only on condition that they do not rebel, sabotage or create disturbances. If they do not want to work, the people's state will force them to do so. Furthermore, the propaganda and educational work directed toward them will be carried out with the same care and thoroughness as the work already conducted among captured army officers. This may also be spoken of as a "benevolent policy," but it will be compulsorily imposed upon those originally from enemy classes. This can in no way be compared to our work along self-educational lines among the ranks of the revolutionary people.

This job of reforming the reactionary classes can be handled only by a state having a people's democratic dictatorship. When the work has been completed, China's major exploiting classes -- the landlord class and the bureaucratic capitalist class, i.e., the monopoly capitalist class -- will have been finally eliminated.
Then there will remain only the national bourgeoisie. In the present stage a great deal of suitable educational work can be done among them. When the time comes to realize Socialism, that is, to nationalise private enterprise, we will go a step further in our work of educating and reforming them. The people have a strong state apparatus in their hands, and they do not fear rebellion on the part of the national bourgeoisie.

The education of the peasantry presents a serious problem. Peasant economy is dispersed. According to the Soviet Union's experience, it takes a long time and much painstaking work before agriculture can be socialised. Without the socialisation of agriculture, there can be no complete and consolidated socialism.
If we wish to socialise agriculture, we must develop a strong industry having state-operated enterprises as its main component. The state of the people's democratic dictatorship must, step by step, solve the problem of industrialising the country. Since this article has no intention of taking up economic questions, I will not go into detail here ...

Summarising our experiences and condensing them into one point, we have the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class (through the Communist Party) and based upon the allegiance of workers and peasants. Our dictatorship must unite with all international revolutionary forces. This then is our formula, our main experience, our main program.
During the long period of its twenty-eight years' existence, our party has done just one thing, and that is, it has attained a basic victory in the revolutionary war. This is worth celebrating because it is a people's victory, and because it is a victory in such a large country as China.

But much work still lies ahead of us. If we were walking down a road, our past work would not seem like more than the first step of a ten-thousand li march. The remnants of the enemy must still be wiped out. A grave task of economic construction spreads out before us. Some of the things we are familiar with will soon be laid aside, and we will be compelled to tackle things with which we are not familiar. This means difficulties. The imperialists count upon our not handling our economic problems well. They stand on the side-lines and wait for our failure.

We must overcome all difficulties and learn the things we do not understand. We must learn to do economic work from all who know the ropes (no matter who they are). We must respect them as teachers, learning from them attentively and earnestly. We must not pretend to know when we do not know. We must not put on bureaucratic airs. If one bores into a subject for several months, for one year or two years, it can eventually be mastered.
Some of the Communists in the Soviet Union were also unable to handle economics at the beginning, and the imperialists also waited for their failure. But the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. emerged victorious. Under Lenin's and Stalin's leadership, the Soviet Communists not only have been able to carry on construction. They have already built up a great and glorious Socialist state.

The Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. is our very best teacher, and we must learn from it. Both the international and the domestic situation are in our favor. There is absolutely no doubt that we can rely upon the weapon of the people's democratic dictatorship, unite all the people throughout the country with the exception of the reactionaries, and march steadily toward our goal.