MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | MAO
A DIALECTICAL APPROACH TO
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung,
Foreign Languages Press
First Edition 1977
Vol. V, pp. 514-16.
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, firstname.lastname@example.org (November 1999)
A DIALECTICAL APPROACH TO
November 18, 1957
With regard to the question of unity I'd like to say something about the approach. I think our attitude should be one of unity towards every comrade, no matter who, provided he is not a hostile element or a saboteur. We should adopt a dialectical, not a metaphysical, approach towards him. What is meant by a dialectical approach? It means being analytical about everything, acknowledging that human beings all make mistakes and not negating a person completely just because he has made mistakes. Lenin once said that there is not a single person in the world who does not make mistakes. Everyone needs support. An able fellow needs the help of three other people, a fence needs the support of three stakes. With all its beauty the lotus needs the green of its leaves to set it off. These are Chinese proverbs. Still another Chinese proverb says three cobblers with their wits combined equal Chukeh Liang the master mind. Chukeh Liang by himself can never be perfect, he has his limitations. Look at this declaration of our twelve countries We have gone through a first, second, third and fourth draft and have not yet finished polishing it. I think it would be presumptuous for anyone to claim God-like omniscience and omnipotence. So what attitude should we adopt towards a comrade who has made mistakes? We should be analytical and adopt a dialectical, rather than a metaphysical, approach. Our Party once got bogged down in metaphysics, in dogmatism, which totally destroyed anyone not to its liking. Later, we repudiated dogmatism and came to learn a little more dialectics. The unity of opposites is the fundamental concept of dialectics. In accordance with this concept, what should we do with a comrade who has made mistakes? We should first wage a struggle to <"fnp">
* Excerpts from a speech at the Moscow Meeting of Representatives of the Communist and Workers' Parties.
rid him of his wrong ideas. Second, we should also help him. Point one, struggle, and point two, help. We should proceed from good intentions to help him correct his mistakes so that he will have a way out.
However, dealing with persons of another type is different. Towards persons like Trotsky and like Chen Tu-hsiu, Chang Kuo-tao and Kao Kang in China, it was impossible to adopt a helpful attitude, for they were incorrigible. And there were individuals like Hitler, Chiang Kai-shek and the tsar, who were likewise incorrigible and had to be overthrown because we and they were absolutely exclusive of each other. In this sense, there is only one aspect to their nature, not two. In the final analysis, this is also true of the imperialist and capitalist systems, which are bound to be replaced in the end by the socialist system. The same applies to ideology, idealism will be replaced by materialism and theism by atheism. Here we are speaking of the strategic objective. But the case is different with tactical stages, where compromises may be made. Didn't we compromise with the Americans on the 38th Parallel in Korea? Wasn't there a compromise with the French in Viet Nam?
At each tactical stage, it is necessary to be good at making compromises as well as at waging struggles. Now let us return to the relations between comrades. I would suggest that talks be held by comrades where there has been some misunderstanding between them. Some seem to think that, once in the Communist Party, people all become saints with no differences or misunderstandings, and that the Party is not subject to analysis, that is to say, it is monolithic and uniform, hence there is no need for talks. It seems as if people have to be 100 per cent Marxists once they are in the Party. Actually there are Marxists of all degrees, those who are 100 per cent, 90, 80, 70, 60 or 50 per cent Marxist, and some who are only 10 or 20 per cent Marxist. Can't two or more of us have talks together in a small room? Can't we proceed from the desire for unity and hold talks in the spirit of helping each other? Of course I'm referring to talks within the Communist ranks, and not to talks with the imperialists (though we do hold talks with them as well). Let me give an example. Aren't our twelve countries holding talks on the present occasion? Aren't the more than sixty Parties holding talks too? As a matter of fact they are. In other words, provided that no damage is done to the principles of Marxism-Leninism, we accept from others certain views that are acceptable and give up certain of our own views that can be given up. Thus we have two hands to deal with a comrade who has made mistakes, one hand to struggle with him and the other to unite with him. The aim of struggle
is to uphold the principles of Marxism, which means being principled; that is one hand. The other hand is to unite with him. The aim of unity is to provide him with a way out, to compromise with him, which means being flexible. The integration of principle with flexibility is a Marxist-Leninist principle, and it is a unity of opposites.
Any kind of world, and of course class society in particular, teems with contradictions. Some say that there are contradictions to be "found" in socialist society, but I think this is a wrong way of putting it. The point is not that there are contradictions to be found, but that it teems with contradictions. There is no place where contradictions do not exist, nor is there any person who cannot be analysed. To think that he cannot is being metaphysical. You see, an atom is a complex of unities of opposites. There is a unity of the two opposites, the nucleus and the electrons. In a nucleus there is again a unity of opposites, the protons and the neutrons. Speaking of the proton, there are protons and antiprotons, and as for the neutron, there are neutrons and antineutrons. In short, the unity of opposites is present everywhere. The concept of the unity of opposites, dialectics, must be widely propagated. I say dialectics should move from the small circle of philosophers to the broad masses of the people. I suggest that this question be discussed at meetings of the political bureaus and at the plenary sessions of the central committees of the various Parties and also at meetings of their Party committees at all levels. As a matter of fact, the secretaries of our Party branches understand dialectics, for when they prepare reports to branch meetings, they usually write down two items in their notebooks, first, the achievements and, second, the shortcomings. One divides into two -- this is a universal phenomenon, and this is dialectics.