Let us examine Livio Maïtan's 'Report on the "Cultural Revolution" in China' delivered to the 9th World Congress of the Fourth International.(5) Maïtan relied mainly on American sources, choosing, moreover, those which most denigrated China. On the basis of the assessments concocted by these 'leading specialists', he believed himself to be in a position to state that in 1965 'the per capita consumption had not yet exceeded the 1933 level' (p. 706, n. 1). How happy were the Chinese in the period of Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese occupation!
Moreover, our author's text is studded with strange assertions which display a total ignorance of everything which concerns China and its recent history. Here are a few of them (we leave aside many of the best ones):
- in China there are peasants not living exclusively from the income of their labour (p. 707);
- there is 'job insecurity';
- there are delays in the payment of wages (Maïtan has made a general 'problem' of one incident connected with the struggles and troubles occasioned by the cultural revolution in Shanghai in January 1967);
- before January 1967 the leadership of the party and the city council in Shanghai had been 'a stronghold of the Maoist tendency' (p. 709, n. 21); it seems here that Maïtan may have been led into error by the fact that Yao Wen-yuan's article against Wu Han (Deputy Mayor of Peking) of 10 November 1965 was first published by the Shanghai daily 'Wenhui Pao' - at a time when Yao and Chang Chouen-Kiao were working in the Shanghai city council.
- During the cultural revolution (p. 710),
substantial peasant sectors raised demands similar to those that
took shape after the halting of the movement of the people's
communes . . . relative freedom for private accumulation, an
expansion of the private plots, the chance to use the 'free'
market, a decrease in deliveries to the state, etc. It is
significant that in certain cases it was the Maoists who sought
to counter-act excessive state intervention, which was attributed
to Liu Shao-chi.
In this passage it is clear that Maïtan has inverted the Maoist and Liu Shao-chiist positions. The innocent reader cannot but conclude that the Maoist favoured private accumulation and the utilisation of free markets! In fact, the cultural revolution in the countryside was above all a movement of criticism by the peasants themselves of Liu Shao-chi's sinister line known as 'San Zi Yi Bao' ('three freedoms, one forfeit'): extension of individual plots of land, development of free markets, multiplication of small enterprises assuming the entire responsibility for their profits and losses, and the establishment of production norms on a family basis.
M. Maïtan believed he knew, without quoting sources, that the revolutionary committees 'were not elected but were the product of agreements at the top' (p. 710). As if preliminary discussions between revolutionary organisations, old, experienced, revolutionary cadres and army representatives were incompatible with election or broad democratic votes by the masses. In fact, it was the latter who chose the majority of the members of the revolutionary committees, without the soldiers unless they were in the militia. Below the district level, in fact, the people's militia, a part of which is constituted by all the youth who volunteer, took the place of the army in the 'Triple Combination'.(