生前防篡權,死後防鞭屍
◎ 張顯揚

● 金鐘按:張顯揚先生曾是中國社科院馬列所研究員,胡耀邦生前倚重的理論家,一九八七年和方勵之、劉賓雁、王若望一道被中共開除黨籍(未公開點名)。我曾於二十年前向他作過中國多黨制可能性的專訪。最近特地就文革問題馳函求教,張先生謹以此文作答。從三個層面剖析文革的起因。


● 中國宣傳畫,毛澤東文革初在天安門接見紅衛兵。

金鐘先生:

惠寄的大作《蘇共二十大與中國文革》,早已拜讀。遲遲未能把我的意見告您,讓您久等了。

今 年是文革發動四十周年,結束三十周年。文革是中國當代史上一件大事,是中國共產黨執政史上一件大事。當然,不是甚麼光榮的大事,而是恥辱的大事。如果有人提議把二○○六年為國恥年,以紀念那十年浩劫,我舉雙手贊成。不過,這並不是最重要的。最重要的,是要總結並吸取這件事情的教訓,以免今後再發生類似事件。

說到總結教訓,首先當然要弄清楚毛澤東發動文革的原因。您的文章主要也是談這個問題的。您把文革和蘇共二十大聯繫起來考察,是非常正確的。毛澤東發動文革,無疑和赫魯曉夫在蘇共二十大上作秘密報告,揭發斯大林的罪行,並由此開創一條中共被稱之為「現代修正主義路線」的赫魯曉夫路線分不開。但是,我認為這二者之間的關係比較複雜,不宜作直線式的推論,好像毛澤東發動文革,矛頭是指向蘇共二十大和赫魯曉夫及其路線的。

毛發動文革,防止死後被鞭屍
毛澤東對赫魯曉夫的態度是雙重的:一則以愛,一則以恨。赫魯曉夫推倒斯大林這個共產主義運動中受人頂禮膜拜的偶像,毛澤東是高興的。他評價赫魯曉夫的秘密報告是「一場解放戰爭,大家都敢講話了,能想問題了。」這堜珨〞滿u大家」,其實主要是指他自己:這下他毛澤東終於可以當共產主義運動的「龍頭老大」了,他敢講話了。至於想問題,他倒是歷來都敢想的。在這層意義上,毛澤東對赫魯曉夫滿心感激。

可是在另外一層意義上,毛澤東不僅不喜歡赫魯曉夫,而且非常痛恨他:因為他反對個人崇拜。如果赫魯曉夫用別的甚麼名目否定斯大林,毛澤東也許就不會那麼恨他了。毛澤東是一個打從骨子裡喜歡個人崇拜的人(當然是對他的個人崇拜)。因此,他在中共八大上,對剛剛開過的蘇共二十大,做了一下姿態,應付了一下門面以後,很快來了個一百八十度大轉彎,認為反對個人崇拜,是違背列寧關於群眾、階階、政黨、領袖的理論的,並且提出有所謂「正確的個人崇拜」。個人崇拜歷來是獨裁統治的一種意識形態,是獨裁者實行統治的一個重要工具。反對個人崇拜,就是反對獨裁統治,就是反對獨裁者本人。這是毛無論如何不能容忍的。直到離開這個世界,他都耿耿於懷。

同樣,蘇共二十大和赫魯曉夫,同中國文革的關係也有二重性。一方面,他們驚醒了毛澤東,讓他清楚地意識到,獨裁者身後會有人鞭屍。斯大林便是前車之鑒。如果不想(當然不想)改變獨裁制度,而又要避免被鞭屍,只有一個辦法,那就是把一切可能的鞭屍者、「睡在身旁」的大大小小的赫魯曉夫早早地消滅掉。毛澤東發動文革,就是為了消滅「中國的赫魯曉夫」,以免死後被鞭屍。

另一方面,赫魯曉夫又被毛澤東用來充當發動文革的「稻草人」:他用赫魯曉夫的惡名來脅迫人們跟著他去反對和打倒他所要反對和打倒的人。從一九五六年起,到一九六六年發動文革,毛澤東已經把赫魯曉夫妖魔化了十年,在中共黨內外,赫魯曉夫早已被認定為一個背叛馬列主義,出賣社會主義,投降帝國主義,復辟資本主義的十惡不赦的、天字第一號的壞人。現在,中國黨內也出了這樣的壞人,豈不應該趕快起來反對嗎?實際上,這就是毛澤東發動文革所宣示的邏輯,也是包括筆者在內的所有參加文革的人的思維定勢。毛澤東狠命批判赫魯曉夫如何如何,其真實意圖,就是要利用赫魯曉夫來達到他自己的目的。赫魯曉夫早在文革發動前兩年已經下台了,反對沒有赫魯曉夫的赫魯曉夫路線,不過是一種姿態,是做給中國人看的,尤其是做給那些可能同情和支持赫魯曉夫的人看的。

奪權,是文革的直接起因
毛澤東發動文革,在很大程度上是為了身後之事,這是毫無疑問的。但是,比身後之事更加緊迫的,是眼下的大權不要被篡奪。他對形勢估計得非常嚴重,認為相當大部分的權力已經不在自己手中。據說,三分天下,他只有其一。如果生前大權就被篡奪,死後便可想而知了。為了保住大權,他曾經發動了反右派、反右傾、反修正主義和社會主義教育運動(「四清」運動)等一系列政治鬥爭。可是,他認為,這些都沒有解決問題。不但沒有解決問題,形勢反而更加嚴重了,已經形成一個「資產階級司令部」。為了防止他們篡奪最高權力,他不惜以七十三歲高齡之軀,抖擻精神,發動大規模的、自下而上的、群眾性的政治運動,把他們徹底打倒,把已經旁落的大權從新奪回來。簡單地說,這就是毛澤東發動文革的最直接的起因。奪權,是文化大革命貫穿始終的主題。實際上,一開始成立中央文革小組,就奪了中央的權。文革小組,名義上隸屬於中央常委之下,實際上隸屬於毛澤東一人之下。接著,就是打倒一切、全面內戰、全面奪權。待到該打倒的都打倒了(其實,不該打倒的也打倒了)全國各地都成立了革命委員會,他便宣佈「全國山河一片紅」。(真是昏了腦,竟把台灣給忘記!)記得當時特別發行了一張郵票,就叫「全國山河一片紅」,結果大出洋相,急忙收回來。這張郵票,後來成了高價搶手貨)。

總而言之,文革就是毛澤東親自發動、親自領導的奪權運動。

奪誰的權呢?奪第二把手、國家主席劉少奇的權。在毛澤東看來,劉少奇已經在全國上下的黨政部門形成了自己的系統,到處都有他的「代理人」,只有軍隊系統有林彪替他管著,尚可放心。毛澤東之所以要把全國的黨政機關統統砸爛、打碎,目的就是要把劉少奇連同他在各地各部門的「代理人」一起打倒。令人費解的是,作為劉少奇資產階級司令部二號人物的鄧小平,居然倖免於難。其實,毛澤東本來就沒有要打倒鄧小平的意思,這從後來毛澤東一次又一次對他網開一面,留有餘地,可以看出來。當時把他放進劉少奇的「司令部」堙A不過是讓他陪綁而已。光劉少奇一個人,怎麼能成一個「司令部」?鄧小平當時是總書記,在工作上和劉少奇聯繫較多,把他同劉少奇捆在一起,正可以壯大這個資產階級司令部的聲勢,以表明問題的嚴重性。這樣,鄧小平便扮演了半個黃蓋的角色(一個願打,一個不願挨)。至於後來林彪也被打倒了,那不是毛澤東發動文革的初衷。林彪是毛澤東發動文革的第一號幫兇,後來毛澤東懷疑他有二心,才把他打倒。毛澤東死後,江青也被打倒了,那更不是文革的題中應有之義,而是新一輪權力鬥爭的第一聲驚雷。

綜上所述,毛澤東發動文革,無論是為了防止生前被篡權,還是為了防止死後被鞭屍,都緊緊圍繞一個「權」字。毛澤東一生視權力為生命,這一點周恩來看得最透出,最懂他的心思。有人曾經跟我說過這樣一件事:一次毛澤東生病(大概是在林彪出逃以後),昏迷過去,當他醒來的時候,周恩來俯下身子大聲對他說:「主席啊,大權還在你手裡啊!」研究文革的起因,一定不能忘了這個「權」字。否則,就會如墮入各種意識形態的五里雲霧。

拆穿路線鬥爭的騙人把戲
有一種看法,顯然是受了迷惑,那就是過分看重毛澤東所標榜的那些東西,甚麼路線鬥爭呀,反修防修呀,以及諸如此類的口號,把它們都當真的了。一位哲學家曾經提醒世人說:「我們判斷一個人不能以他對自己的看法為根據」,這是很對的。毛澤東打出這些旗號,只是他對自己進行的鬥爭所作的一種解釋,是他的自我表白,是不能作為判斷他真實意圖的根據的。在這些堂而皇之的旗號後面,實實在在地進行著的,是權力鬥爭。甚麼叫政治?說到底,政治就是為權力而鬥爭。這堥S有這階級那階級、這黨那黨之分。區別只在於,在民主制度下,鬥爭的勝負取決於民眾的選票;在獨裁制度下,取決強權,特別是軍隊。在決定性時刻,誰手裡有軍隊,誰就穩操勝券。二十世紀三十年代末以來,毛澤東奪取了軍隊大權,從此以後,不管進行甚麼樣的「路線鬥爭」,他都是「正確路線」,而且百戰百勝。中共黨史專家司馬璐先生說過,一部中共黨史就是以「路線鬥爭」為旗號的權力鬥爭的歷史。這是真正的高明之見。對於文化大革命,也應該這樣看。

有沒有「路線鬥爭」這回事呢?要說有也有。特別是在社會變革開始的時候,最初的參加者,理想主義者居多,那時候,內部鬥爭往往真的是為是非而鬥,即使這種是非並不像當事人想像的那麼嚴重,彼此之間也爭得很真誠、很執著。這大概可以算作路線鬥爭的雛形吧。及至後來,見到了權力,嚐到了權力的滋味,情況就不同了。把「路線鬥爭」弄到性命相拼的地步,是蘇共的發明,毛澤東把它推到了登峰造極的高度,目的當然為了爭奪權力。著名歷史學家唐德剛先生說,權癮比賭癮、毒癮還要強烈,還要難解。染上了權癮的人,如果中途不出意外,到頭來都是獨裁者。這在斯大林身上表現得最為明顯。當上蘇共中央總書記以後,為了保住並擴大已有的權力,他不斷製造各種理論、提法和口號,以便把他視為敵手的人一個個裝進去,然後宣佈一次又一次路線鬥爭,名正言順地把他們一個個打倒,並從肉體加以消滅。然後宣佈,帝國主義及其代理人遭到了可恥的失敗。上個世紀三十年代莫斯科大審判,就是用這套把戲把一個個老布爾什維克送上斷頭臺的。毛澤東也是這樣。所謂文革,不過是莫斯科大審判的中國版。區別只在於,中國版規模更大、持續時間更長、花樣更翻新、害死人更多,因而更殘酷、更醜惡、更荒誕。

如果看不清這種所謂路線鬥爭的虛偽和險惡,那就太善良,太純真了。在中國,所謂路線鬥爭,除了獨裁者用作打擊異己的工具,還是有一個巧妙用,那就是用來進行自我辯護。不管犯了多大錯誤,出了多大亂子,都可以推到錯誤路線上,自己一實偉大正確。可是,這一回他們遇到了難題:文化大革命是毛澤東親自發動,親自領導,而且是一次全局性的、持久的錯誤。即一次極其嚴重的路線錯誤。這又怎麼辦呢?他們自有高招:例如,被鄧小平稱之為「黨內第一支筆」的胡喬木,就裝一付可憐巴巴的樣子說,「這次就不提路線錯誤了吧?」為甚麼?據說「馬克思也沒有說過路線鬥爭」(其實,馬克思不止一次說過)。既然馬克思沒有說過,為甚麼幾十年來把路線鬥爭提得那麼高,認為一部中共黨史就是一部路線鬥爭史?現在事情落到毛澤東頭上了,「就不要再提路線錯誤了」。這表明,甚麼路線鬥爭,防修反修,都不過自欺欺人而已。能用來打人的時候,是路線鬥爭,自己碰上了,不過兒戲而已,甚至連兒戲都不如!

我說了那麼多,中心的意思,就是決不要用理想主義的眼光去研究文化大革命的起因,不要掉進人家的思維模式。這裡沒有任何理想主義的東西,有的只是赤裸裸的、血腥的權力鬥爭。至於這麼荒謬的文革怎麼能搞起來,而且持續了十年之久,那是一個需要從文化、歷史和制度背景上另行研究的問題。

我們這一代人已經被誤導了幾十年。我們現在的任務,就是要設法讓下一代不再被誤導。總結文革的意義,恐怕這是很重要的一條。我相信,當年輕的一代學會用自己的頭腦去思考,不再人云亦云(確切地說,不再官云亦云)的時候,這個世界就會變得美好起來。

信寫得很長了,就此打住吧。不當之處,請批評指正。謹祝大安。

二○○六年四月二十七日於北京

 

Title: Preserving Power Before Death,
and Corpse After Death

By Zhang Xianyang

Editor's Note: Zhang Xianyang was a researcher at the Marxism-Leninism Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The late Communist Secretary General Hu Yaobang relied heavily on his services. Zhang was stripped of his party membership in 1978 along with Professor Fang Lizhi, “ China 's Sakharov,” Liu Binyan, one of China 's most-respected journalists, and Wang Ruowang, one of the foremost Marxist theoreticians. But the Party stopped short of denouncing them by name. This magazine interviewed Mr. Zhang 20 years ago on the possibility of China adopting a multi-party system. Recently, we wrote to him seeking advice on the question of the Cultural Revolution. This is Mr. Zhang's reply, exploring three facets of the origin of the Cultural Revolution.

Propaganda drawing: Mao Zedong receiving Red Guards on the gate tower of Tiananmen in the early days of the Cultural Revolution.

 

Mr. Jin Zhong:

Thank you for sending me your newly published book “20 th Plenum of the Soviet Communist Party and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” I read it with interest some time ago. Sorry for not discussing my thoughts on it with you earlier.

This is the 40 th anniversary of the launch of the Cultural Revolution and the 30 th anniversary of its conclusion. The Cultural Revolution is a big event in contemporary Chinese history, and a big event in the reign of the Chinese Communist Party, but of course, not one of honor and glory, but rather of shame and disgrace. If someone would suggest that China make 2006 a year of national disgrace to commemorate that 10-year disaster, I would vote with both of my hands. But this is not the most important. What is most important is to sum up the lessons of this event and learn from it so that it will never happen again.

In summing up these lessons, we first have to clearly establish why Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution. The main theme of your essay also dealt with this question. Studying the Cultural Revolution in view of its connection with the 20 th Plenum of the Soviet communist party as you did is indeed the right approach. Mao's launching of the Cultural Revolution undoubtedly was inseparable from Nikita Khrushchev's confidential report delivered on the 20 th Plenum of the Soviet Communist Party, disclosing the crimes of his predecessor Josef Stalin and hence opening up a Khrushchev “political line” that the Chinese Communist Party termed “modern revisionist.” But as I see it, the connection between these two events was somewhat complicated, and it is not possible to draw a straightforward conclusion that Mao's launching of the Cultural Revolution was aimed at the 20 th Plenum of the Soviet Communist Party, Khrushchev and his line.

Mao launched the Cultural Revolution for his posthumous welfare
Mao's harbored a love-hate relationship towards Khrushchev. Mao was glad to see Khrushchev overthrow Stalin, an idol worshipped by all in the international communist movement. According to Mao, Khrushchev's confidential report was “a war of liberation. Now we all dare to speak out and think about problems.” When he said “all,” he actually referred mainly to himself: “Now I, Mao Zedong, am finally the 'godfather' of the international Communist movement, and I can speak out.” As to thinking about problems, Mao had always dared to think. In this respect, Mao was deeply grateful to Khrushchev.

But in another respect, Mao deeply resented Khrushchev for his opposition to the cult of personality. If Khrushchev had used other rationale to negate Stalin, Mao might not have hated Khrushchev so much. Mao was a person who loved the cult of personality from the depths of his heart (but of course, only a cult that served him). Hence, after making some gestures in the 8 th Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party to perfunctorily address the 20 th Plenum Soviet Communist Party Plenum that had just ended, he quickly made a 180-degree turnaround, saying that it was against Lenin's theory on the masses, classes, political parties and leaders to oppose the cult of personality, and that there was actually such a thing as a “correct personality cult.” But as we know, the cult of personality has always been part of the ideology of dictatorial rule, an important tool for dictators in imposing rule. To oppose the cult of personality was to oppose dictatorial rule, and dictators themselves. This was something that Mao could not tolerate in any way, and he bore a deep grudge against Khrushchev until his dying day.

All the same, Khrushchev and the 20 th Plenum of the Soviet Communist Party were related to China 's Cultural Revolution in two respects. They suddenly made Mao realize that a dictator might not be able to preserve his corpse after death. Stalin presented a lesson to be learned. If Mao did not intent to change (and of course he did not) the dictatorial system, and wanted to avoid his corpse being dishonored after death, he had only one choice: to annihilate all potential “corpse-whippers” and “Khrushchevs” big and small who were “sleeping by his side.” The reason that Mao launched the Cultural Revolution was to annihilate “ China 's Khrushchevs” so that his corpse would not be whipped after death.

On the other hand, Mao used Khrushchev as the “straw man” for launching the Cultural Revolution.: he used Khrushchev's notoriety to coerce the Chinese people to follow him in opposing and crushing those he wanted to oppose and crush. From 1956 to the launch of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Mao had demonized Khrushchev for 10 years. Both within and without the Chinese communist party, Khrushchev was regarded as the No. 1 bad guy who betrayed Marxism-Leninism, sold out socialism, capitulated to imperialism and regressed to capitalism; someone too wicked to be pardoned. Now there were villains of the same ilk in the Chinese Communist Party, and should not the Party quickly rise up to oppose them? Actually, this was the logic that Mao expressed to us when launching the Cultural Revolution, and also the mindset of all the participants of the Cultural Revolution, including me. Mao criticized Khrushchev fiercely on this and that, but his real motive was to use Khrushchev to serve his own purpose. Khrushchev had already stepped down two years before the Cultural Revolution was launched. To oppose a Khrushchev line without Khrushchev on stage was only part of Mao's performance to the Chinese people, especially those who might sympathize and support Khrushchev.

Seizing power -- The real origin of the Cultural Revolution
There is no doubt that to a great extent, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to set the stage for his death. But more important was that his existing grip on power would not be usurped. In Mao's estimation, the situation was very serious, with much of his power already draining away. As he saw it, China had three power centers at the time, of which he controlled only one. If his power were usurped while he was still alive, there could be no doubt of what would happen after his death. In order to hold onto the supreme power, he had already launched a series of political struggles, including the anti-rightist, anti-right-deviation, anti-revisionism and socialist education movements (also called the “Four Purification” movement). But as he saw it, these struggles not only failed to resolve the problem, but even managed to exacerbate the situation. A “command post of the capitalist class” was already in place. In order to prevent them from usurping supreme power, Mao did not hesitate at the advanced age of 73 years to brace up and launch a large-scale mass political movement from the bottom up so as to smash them completely and recapture the power he had lost to his subordinates. To put it simply, this is the immediate reason of Mao launching the Cultural Revolution.

Seizing power is the theme that perpetuated throughout the Cultural Revolution. Actually, once the Central Cultural Revolutionary Committee was established, Mao had already taken control of the Party central. This Central Cultural Revolutionary Committee was nominally under the control of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, but in fact under the control Mao himself. Following this came full-scale civil war and full-scale power seizure. Until all those who needed to be crushed had been crushed (and even those who should be not crushed had also been crushed), and revolutionary committees had been established all over the country, Mao announced that “Every mountain and river of China is red” (forgetting that Taiwan was not under his control). I still remember that at that time, a special postage stamp was issued with that slogan, but it became an embarrassment and was quickly recalled, and is now a valuable collector's item.

All in all, the Cultural Revolution was a political coup personally launched and led by Mao.

Against whom was the coup launched? Against Mao's second in command, State Chairman Liu Shaoqi. As Mao saw it, Liu had already planted his own system in Party and government institutions all over the country, with “proxies” everywhere. Only the armed forces were in the hands of Lin Biao on Mao's behalf, giving him peace of the mind. Mao wanted to smash and crush Party and government institutions all over the country in order to crush Liu together with all his “proxies” at all levels and all locations. It seems inexplicable that Deng Xiaoping, Liu's second in command at the “capitalist headquarters,” was spared. But in fact, Mao had no intention to crush Deng. The fact that Mao spared Deng again and again throughout in the Cultural Revolution shows clearly that this was what Mao wanted. Making Deng part of Liu's “headquarters” was just to from the appearance of a “group”; how could Liu alone constitute a “headquarters”? As general secretary of the Party, Deng had frequent contact with Liu, and banding him with Liu made this “capitalist headquarters” look like a more significant threat. In this way, Deng played half the role of General Huang Gai in the Legend of the Three Kingdoms (in which one was willing to torture, but the other was not willing to suffer).

As to the eventual crushing of Lin Biao, that was not part of Mao's original plan when he launched the Cultural Revolution. Lin was Mao's number one accomplice in launching the Cultural Revolution, and it was only later, when suspecting Lin of ulterior motives, that Mao crushed him. After Mao died, his wife Jiang Qing was also crushed. This was even less the original intent of the Cultural Revolution, but was the first thunder signaling a new round of power struggle.

To sum up, whether to preserve his power while alive or his corpse after death, Mao's launching of the Cultural Revolution was closely tied to one word: “power.” Throughout his life, Mao saw power as livelihood. On this point, Mao's premier Zhou Enlai understood Mao's thoughts better than anyone else. I was once told a story: At one point (perhaps after Lin Biao tried to escape to the Soviet Union .) Mao became ill and passed out. When he came to his senses, Zhou bent over and said to him loudly, “Dear Chairman, the supreme power is still in your hands!” When doing research on the origin of the Cultural Revolution, must not forget the word “power.” Otherwise, we will be lost in the various ideologies, like wondering in a sea of clouds.

Exposing the deception of so-called “line struggle”
When discussing the Cultural Revolution, some people allow themselves to be bamboozled by Mao's public pronouncements on “road” or “line struggle,” anti-revisionism and guarding against revisionism, and other such slogans, taking them at face value. A philosopher reminded us, “One cannot judge a person based on how he sees himself.” This is true indeed. Mao flaunted these banners only as an interpretation of the struggle that he launched. This was his self-expression, and cannot be taken as the basis of his real motives. The truth behind these grandiose banners was power struggle. What is politics? In the final analysis, politics is the struggle for power. There is no distinction between this class and that class, this party and that party. The only difference is that under democracy, winning and losing is determined by people's choice, and that under dictatorship, it is determined by raw power, especially that of the armed forces. In the decisive moment, who controls the armed forces controls the winning ticket.

Mao had held command of the armed forces since the 1930s, and no matter what line of struggle was supposed to be in effect, Mao always held the “correct line” and always emerged as the winner. Mr. Smarlo Ma, an expert on the history of the Chinese Communist Party, has said that the history of the Party is that of power struggle under the banner of “line struggle.” This is a brilliant insight that should also be applied to the Cultural Revolution.

Was there ever a real “line struggle”? It is possible to say there was. Especially when social changes were first introduced, the initial participants were mostly idealists, and at that stage, internal struggle was often really about right and wrong, although not to such a degree of seriousness as the participants imagined. But as time went by, as people began to see and taste power, things changed. Making “line struggle” a matter of life and death was a Soviet invention, but Mao carried it to an unprecedented level with the purpose, of course, of seizing power.

Mr. Tang Degang, a well-known Chinese historian in the United States , has said that addiction to power is stronger than addiction to gambling or drugs, and more difficult to shake off; those addicted to power, if allowed to have their way, will all end up as dictators. This was most obvious in the case of Stalin. After becoming general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, in order to maintain and extend his power, he continued to generate theories, sayings and slogans so as to entrap each of those he regarded as enemies, and then repeatedly pronounced “line struggle” to justify crushing and destroying them. He would then announce that imperialists and their proxies had met with a disgraceful failure. The Big Moscow Trial of the 1930s used this trick to sent old Bolsheviks to the guillotine one by one. Mao followed suit. The so-called Cultural Revolution was simply the Big Moscow Trial Chinese style. The only difference was that the Chinese version was even bigger and lasted longer, employed more tricks, caused more deaths and therefore was crueler, uglier and more ridiculous.

It would be naive and unsophisticated to fail to see through the hypocritical and perilous nature of so-called “line struggle.” In China , “line struggle” served not only as a tool of dictators to attack dissidents, but also as a means of self-defense. No matter how big a mistake was committed, or how much trouble resulted, one could always blame it on an “incorrect line.” But this time there was a difficulty: Mao personally launched and led the Cultural Revolution, and it was an error that involved the whole country over an extended period of time. How could it be excused? Clever solutions were developed by people such as Hu Qiaomu, whom Deng Xiaoping called “the first pen within the party,” who grimaced pitifully and said, “Let's not mention an incorrect line this time.” Why? Because, it was determined, “Marx himself never mentioned line struggle.” (In fact, Marx mentioned it more than once.) But if Marx never mentioned line struggle, why did the Chinese Communist Party take it to such a level, even regarding the history of the Communist Party as one of line struggle? Only when trouble fell on Mao did they decide not to mention “incorrect lines” again. This tells us that using so-called line struggle to guard against and oppose revisionism was simply used to fool others as well themselves. When it could be used to whip others, line struggle would be put in place; but when line struggle struck back at them, it would be discounted as a joke, or even less than a joke!

I have gone on at length mainly to emphasize that one should not examine the origin of the Cultural Revolution from an idealistic point of view or succumb to others' mode of thinking. There was never an idealist element in the entire process, only naked and bloody power struggle. As to how such a ridiculous Cultural Revolution could have been launched and lasted a full 10 years, that is a problem that has to be studied separately on a cultural, historical and institutional level.

Our generation has already been misled for several decades. Our duty now is to prevent the next generation from being misled again. I'm afraid this is the greatest significance of the Cultural Revolution. I believe that when the younger generation has learned to exercise their own brains instead of parroting what others say (in particular, what government officials say), this world will become a better place.

This letter has run pretty long, and I should stop here. If I have made some inappropriate remarks, please feel free to correct me. Best wishes.

April 27, 2006, Beijing