Mao Zedong

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Let a hundred flowers bloom: let a hundred schools of thought contend.
All reactionaries are paper tigers.
Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.
One cannot advance without mistakes... It is necessary to make mistakes. The party cannot be educated without learning from mistakes.

Mao Zedong (or Mao Tse-tung in Wade-Giles; Simplified Chinese: 毛泽东; Traditional Chinese: 毛澤東; December 26, 1893September 9, 1976) was the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1943 until his death. He was also a founder of the People's Republic of China.

Quotes[edit]

Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.
  • The "Cabinet meeting" of the Chinese government is really quick in yielding. Even the fart of foreigners can be taken as "fragrance." The Cabinet meeting lifts the cotton export ban because foreigners want cotton; it orders "all provinces to stop collecting the cigarette tax" because foreigners want to import cigarettes. Let the 400 million compatriots again think it over: Isn't it correct to say that the Chinese government is the bookkeeper of foreigners?
  • 江山如此多娇,引无数英雄竞折腰。惜秦皇汉武,略输文采;唐宗宋祖,稍逊风骚。一代天骄,成吉思汗,只识弯弓射大雕。俱往矣,数风流人物,还看今朝。
    • The country is so beautiful, where so many heroes had devoted their lives into it. Sorry that the Qin Emperor or the Han Wu Emperor lacks a sense for literacy; while the founders of the Tang and Song dynasties came short in style. The great man, Genghis Khan, only knew how to shoot eagles with an arrow. The past is past. To see real heroes, look around you.
    • Qinyuanchun ["Snow"] (沁园春•雪) (1936; first published in late 1945). Variant translation of the last stanza: "All are past and gone! / For truly great men / Look to this age alone."
  • 我们需要的是热烈而镇定的情绪,紧张而有秩序的工作。
  • 哪里有压迫,哪里就有反抗。
    • Where there is oppression,there is revolt.
  • I knew the Classics, but disliked them. What I enjoyed were the romances of Old China, and especially stories of rebellions. I read the Yo Fei Chuan, Shui Hu Chuan, Fan T'ang, San Kuo, and Hsi Yu Chi, while still very young, and despite the vigilance of my old teacher, who hated these outlawed books and called them wicked. I used to read them in school, covering them up with a Classic when the teacher walked past. So also did most of my schoolmates. We learned many of the stories almost by heart, and discussed and re-discussed them many times. We knew more of them than the old men of the village, who also loved them and used to exchange stories with us. I believe that perhaps I was much influenced by such books, read at an impressionable age.
    • In Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China (1937)
  • Many people think it impossible for guerrillas to exist for long in the enemy's rear. Such a belief reveals lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water the latter to the fish who inhabit it. How may it be said that these two cannot exist together?
    • On Guerilla Warfare (1937), Chapter 6 - "The Political Problems of Guerilla Warfare"
    • This is usually aphorized as "The people are the sea that the revolutionary swims in," or an equivalent.
  • Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.
    • On Protracted War, May 1938, from 'Mao's Selected Works, Vol. II', Section 64 pg. 153
  • Marxism comprises many principles, but in the final analysis they can all be brought back to a single sentence: it is right to rebel.
    • Speech marking the 60th birthday of Stalin (20 December 1939), later revised as "It is right to rebel against reactionaries."
  • "You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are. All the experience the Chinese people have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce the people's democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.
  • Stalin made mistakes. He made mistakes towards us, for example, in 1927. He made mistakes towards the Yugoslavs too. One cannot advance without mistakes... It is necessary to make mistakes. The party cannot be educated without learning from mistakes. This has great significance.
    • Said to Enver Hoxha, on his visit to China in 1956, as quoted in Hoxha's (1986) The Artful Albanian, (Chatto & Windus, London), ISBN 0701129700
  • There are a lot of things we can learn from the Soviet Union. Naturally, we should learn from its advanced and not its backward experience. The slogan we have advocated all along is to draw on the advanced Soviet experience. Who told you to pick up its backward experience? Some people are so undiscriminating that they say a Russian fart is fragrant. That too is subjectivism. The Russians themselves say it stinks. Therefore, we should be analytical.
  • 百花齐放,百家争鸣 (Simplified Chinese), 百花齊放,百家爭鳴 (Traditional Chinese), bǎihuāqífàng, bǎijiāzhēngmíng (Pinyin)
    • "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend" is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.
    • Slogan used at the start of the Hundred Flowers Campaign of open criticism of the communist government that began in late 1956 and ended in July 1957.
  • Ours is a people's democratic dictatorship, led by the working class and based on the worker-peasant alliance.
    • On the Correct Handling of Contradiction (1957)
  • Criticisms from democratic personages can be of only two kinds, those that are wrong and those that are not. Criticisms that are not wrong can help remedy our shortcomings while wrong ones must be refuted. As for such types as Liang Shu-ming, Peng Yi-hu and Chang Nai-chi, if they want to fart, let them. That will be to our advantage, for everybody can judge whether the smell is good or foul, and through discussion the majority can be won over and these types isolated.
  • 假如办十件事,九件是坏的,都登在报上,一定灭亡。那我就走,到农村去,率领农民推翻政府,你解放军不跟我走,我就找红军去。【在庐山会议上的讲话(1959年7月23日)】
    • If we did ten things, nine were bad and got disclosed by the newspapers, we will be over. Then I will go, to the countryside, lead the peasant and revolt. If the Liberation Army do not follow me, I will get the Red Army. (July 23, 1959)
    • Speech at the Lushan Conference (23 July 1959)
  • The chaos caused was on a grand scale and I take responsibility. Comrades, you must all analyse your own responsibility. If you have to shit, shit! If you have to fart, fart! You will feel much better for it.
  • Maybe you're afraid of sinking. Don't think about it. If you don't think about it, you won't sink. If you do, you will.
  • (論國民黨) 有很多的頑固分子,他們是頑固專門學校畢業的。他們今天頑固,明天頑固,後天還是頑固。什麼叫頑固?固者硬也,頑者,今天、明天、後天都不進步之謂也。這樣的人,就叫做頑固分子。要使這樣的頑固分子聽我們的話,不是一件容易的事情。
    • (Referring to the Kuomintang) There are many stubborn elements, graduates in the speciality schools of stubbornness. They are stubborn today, they will be stubborn tomorrow, and they will be stubborn the day after tomorrow. What is stubbornness (wan gu)? "Gu" is to be stiff. "Wan" is to not progress: not today, nor tomorrow, nor the day after tomorrow. People like that are called the "stubborn elements". It is not an easy thing to make the stubborn elements listen to our words.
    • Mao, 1967, as quoted by Jing Huang in The Role of Government Propaganda in the Educational System during the Cultural Revolution in China.
  • Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.
  • All the rest of the world uses the word "electricity." They've borrowed the word from English. But we Chinese have our own word for it!
    • Quoted in Khrushchev Remembers (1970), p. 474
  • People who try to commit suicide — don't attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people.
    • As quoted in Mao's Last Revolution (2006) by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, ISBN 0674023323
  • My closest friend and brother – this world is lucky to have a great personality as Kim Il Sung. This causes my boundless happiness. The fate of the world revolution and the international communist movement are on your shoulders, Comrade Kim Il Sung. I wish you long life and good health.
  • 我这个人是被许多人恨的,特别是彭德怀同志,他是恨死了我的;不恨死了,也有若干恨。我跟彭德怀同志的政策是这样的:『人不犯我,我不犯人;人若犯我,我必犯人。』过去跟我兄弟也是这样。
    • 庐山会议实录
    • I am hated by many, especially comrade Pang Dehuai, his hatred is so intense that he wished me dead. My policy with Pang Dehuai is such: You don't touch me, I don't touch you; You touch me, I touch you. Even though we were once like brothers, it doesn't change a thing.
  • When we look at a thing, we must examine its essence and treat its appearance merely as an usher at the threshold, and once we cross the threshold, we must grasp the essence of the thing; this is the only reliable and scientific method of analysis.
    • “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire” (January 5, 1930)
  • In approaching a problem a Marxist should see the whole as well as the parts. A frog in a well says, “The sky is no bigger than the mouth of the well.” That is untrue, for the sky is not just the size of the mouth of the well. If it said, “A part of the sky is the size of the mouth of a well”, that would be true, for it tallies with the facts.
    • “On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism” (December 27, 1935)
  • We the Chinese nation have the spirit to fight the enemy to the last drop of our blood, the determination to recover our lost territory by our own efforts, and the ability to stand on our own feet in the family of nations.
    • “On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism” (December 27, 1935)

Changsha (1925)[edit]

  • Alone I stand in the autumn cold
    On the tip of Orange Island,
    Xiang flowing northward;
    I see a thousand hills crimsoned through
    By their serried woods deep-dyed,
    And a hundred barges vying
    Over crystal blue waters.
    Eagles cleave the air,
    Fish glide under the shallow water;
    Under freezing skies a million creatures contend in freedom.
    Brooding over this immensity,
    I ask, on this bondless land
    Who rules over man's destiny?

On Practice (1937)[edit]

  • In class society, everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.
  • If a man wants to succeed in his work, that is, to achieve the anticipated results, he must bring his ideas into correspondence with the laws of the objective external world; if they do not correspond, he will fail in his practice. After he fails, he draws his lessons, corrects his ideas to make them correspond to the laws of the external world, and can thus turn failure into success; this is what is meant by “failure is the mother of success” and “a fall into the pit, a gain in your wit.
  • The Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism has two outstanding characteristics. One is its class nature: it openly avows that dialectical materialism is in the service of the proletariat. The other is its practicality: it emphasizes the dependence of theory on practice, emphasizes that theory is based on practice and in turn serves practice.
  • Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment. ... If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.... If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.
  • Only those who are subjective, one-sided and superficial in their approach to problems will smugly issue orders or directives the moment they arrive on the scene, without considering the circumstances, without viewing things in their totality (their history and their present state as a whole) and without getting to the essence of things (their nature and the internal relations between one thing and another). Such people are bound to trip and fall.
  • Knowledge begins with practice, and theoretical knowledge, which is acquired through practice, must then return to practice. The active function of knowledge manifests itself not only in the active leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but - and this is more important - it must manifest itself in the leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice.
  • If we have a correct theory but merely prate about it, pigeonhole it and do not put it into practice, then that theory, however good, is of no significance.
  • Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding the laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world.

On Contradiction[edit]

  • The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. This internal contradiction exists in every single thing, hence its motion and development. Contradictoriness within a thing is the fundamental cause of its development, while its interrelations and interactions with other things are secondary causes.
  • Changes in society are due chiefly to the development of the internal contradictions in society, that is, the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production, the contradiction between classes and the contradiction between the old and the new; it is the development of these contradictions that pushes society forward and gives the impetu6 for the suppression of the old society by the new.
  • It [materialist dialectics] holds that external causes are the condition of change and internal causes are the basis of change, and that external causes become operative through internal causes. In a suitable temperature an egg changes into a chicken, but no temperature can change a stone into a chicken, because each has a different basis.
  • Opposition and struggle between ideas of different kinds constantly occur within the Party; this is a reflection within the Party of contradictions between classes and between the new and the old in society. If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggles to resolve them, the Party's life would come to an end.
  • If in any process there are a number of contradictions, one of them must be the principal contradiction playing the leading and decisive role, while the rest occupy a secondary and subordinate position. Therefore, in studying any complex process in which there are two or more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding its principal contradiction. Once this principal contradiction is grasped, all problems can be readily solved.
  • Of the two contradictory aspects, one must be principal and the other secondary. The principal aspect is the one playing the leading role in the contradiction. The nature of a thing is determined mainly by the principal aspect of a contradiction, the aspect that has gained the dominant position. But this situation is not static; the principal and the non-principal aspects of a contradiction transform themselves into each other and the nature of the thing changes accordingly.
  • While we recognize that in the general development of history the material determines the mental and social being determines social consciousness, we also - and indeed must - recognize the reaction of mental on material things, of social consciousness on social being and of the superstructure on the economic base. This does not go against materialism; on the contrary, it avoids mechanical materialism and firmly upholds dialectical materialism.
  • Contradiction and struggle are universal and absolute, but the methods of resolving contradictions, that is, the forms of struggle, differ according to the differences in the nature of the contradictions. Some contradictions are characterized by open antagonism and others are not. In accordance with the concrete development of things, some contradictions, which were originally non-antagonistic, develop into antagonistic ones, while others which were originally antagonistic develop into non-antagonistic ones.
  • Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power.

On Protracted Warfare (1938)[edit]

  • Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. People necessarily wield military and economic power.
  • History shows that wars are divided into two kinds, just and unjust. All wars that are progressive are just, and all wars that impede progress are unjust. We Communists oppose all unjust wars that impede progress, but we do not oppose progressive, just wars. Not only do we Communists not oppose just wars; we actively participate in them. As for unjust wars, World War I is an instance in which both sides fought for imperialist interests; therefore, the Communists of the whole world firmly opposed that war. The way to oppose a war of this kind is to do everything possible to prevent it before it breaks out and, once it breaks out, to oppose war with war, to oppose unjust war with just war, whenever possible.
  • In seeking victory, those who direct a war cannot overstep the limitations imposed by the objective conditions. Within these limitations, however, they can and must play a dynamic role in striving for victory. The stage of action for commanders in a war must be built upon objective possibilities, but on that stage they can direct the performance of many a drama, full of sound and color, power and grandeur.
  • Without preparedness, superiority is not real superiority and there can be no initiative either. Having grasped this point, a force that is inferior but prepared can often defeat a superior enemy by surprise attack.
  • The army must become one with the people so that they see it as their own army. Such an army will be invincible....
  • A proper measure of democracy should be put into effect in the army, chiefly by abolishing the feudal practice of bullying and beating and by having officers and men share weal and woe. Once this is done, unity will be achieved between officers and men, the combat effectiveness of the army will be greatly increased, and there will be no doubt of our ability to sustain the long, cruel war.

On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People[edit]

  • The unification of our country, the unity of our people and the unity of our various nationalities - these are the basic guarantees of the sure triumph of our cause.
  • Two types of social contradictions - those between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people themselves confront us. The two are totally different in their nature.
  • The contradictions between the enemy and us are antagonistic contradictions. Within the ranks of the people, the contradictions among the working people are non-antagonistic, while those between the exploited and the exploiting classes have a non-antagonistic aspect in addition to an antagonistic aspect.
  • The organs of state must practice democratic centralism, they must rely on the masses and their personnel must serve the people.
  • Within the ranks of the people, democracy is correlative with centralism and freedom with discipline. They are the two opposites of a single entity, contradictory as well as united, and we should not one-sidedly emphasize one to the denial of the other. Within the ranks of the people, we cannot do without freedom, nor can we do without discipline; we cannot do without democracy, nor can we do without centralism. This unity of democracy and centralism, of freedom and discipline, constitutes our democratic centralism. Under this system, the people enjoy extensive democracy and freedom, but at the same time they have to keep within the bounds of socialist discipline.
  • This democratic method of resolving contradictions among the people was epitomized in 1942 in the formula “unity, criticism, unity”. To elaborate, it means starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle and arriving at a new unity on a new basis. In our experience this is the correct method of resolving contradictions among the people.
  • In ordinary circumstances, contradictions among the people are not antagonistic. However, if they are not handled properly, or if we relax our vigilance and lower our guard, antagonism may arise. In a socialist country, a development of this kind is usually only a localized and temporary phenomenon. The reason is that the system of exploitation of man by man has been abolished and the interests of the people are the same.
  • The minority nationalities in our country number more than thirty million. Although they constitute only 6 per cent of the total population, they inhabit extensive regions which comprise 50 to 60 per cent of China's total area. It is thus imperative to foster good relation between the Han people and the minority nationalities. The key to this question lies in overcoming Han chauvinism. At the same time, efforts should also be made to overcome local-nationality chauvinism, wherever it exists among the minority nationalities. Both Hanchauvinism and local-nationality chauvinism are harmful to the unity of the nationalities; they represent one kind of contradiction among the people which should be resolved.
    • " VI. THE QUESTION OF THE MINORITY NATIONALITIES "
  • What is correct invariably develops in the course of struggle with what is wrong. The true, the good and the beautiful always exist by contrast with the false, the evil and the ugly, and grow in struggle with them. As soon as something erroneous is rejected and a particular truth accepted by mankind, new truths begin to struggle with new errors. Such struggles will never end. This is the law of development of truth and, naturally, of Marxism.
    • " VIII. ON "LET A HUNDRED FLOWERS BLOSSOM LET A HUNDRED SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT CONTEND" AND "LONG-TERM COEXISTENCE AND MUTUAL SUPERVISION" "
  • Marxists should not be afraid of criticism from any quarter. Quite the contrary, they need to temper and develop themselves and win new positions in the teeth of criticism and in the storm and stress of struggle. Fighting against wrong ideas is like being vaccinated -- a man develops greater immunity from disease as a result of vaccination. Plants raised in hothouses are unlikely to be hardy. Carrying out the policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend will not weaken, but strengthen, the leading position of Marxism in the ideological field.
    • " VIII. ON "LET A HUNDRED FLOWERS BLOSSOM LET A HUNDRED SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT CONTEND" AND "LONG-TERM COEXISTENCE AND MUTUAL SUPERVISION" "
  • What should our policy be towards non-Marxist ideas? As far as unmistakable counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs of the socialist cause are concerned, the matter is easy, we simply deprive them of their freedom of speech. But incorrect ideas among the people are quite a different matter. Will it do to ban such ideas and deny them any opportunity for expression? Certainly not. It is not only futile but very harmful to use crude methods in dealing with ideological questions among the people, with questions about man's mental world. You may ban the expression of wrong ideas, but the ideas will still be there. On the other hand, if correct ideas are pampered in hothouses and never exposed to the elements and immunized against disease, they will not win out against erroneous ones. Therefore, it is only by employing the method of discussion, criticism and reasoning that we can really foster correct ideas and overcome wrong ones, and that we can really settle issues.
    • " VIII. ON "LET A HUNDRED FLOWERS BLOSSOM LET A HUNDRED SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT CONTEND" AND "LONG-TERM COEXISTENCE AND MUTUAL SUPERVISION" "
  • Literally the two slogans -- let a hundred flowers blossom and let a hundred schools of thought contend -- have no class character; the proletariat can turn them to account, and so can the bourgeoisie or others. Different classes, strata and social groups each have their own views on what are fragrant flowers and what are poisonous weeds. Then, from the point of view of the masses, what should be the criteria today for distinguishing fragrant flowers from poisonous weeds? In their political activities, how should our people judge whether a person's words and deeds are right or wrong? On the basis of the principles of our Constitution, the will of the overwhelming majority of our people and the common political positions which have been proclaimed on various occasions by our political parties, we consider that, broadly speaking, the criteria should be as follows:
  • Communists must use the democratic method of persuasion and education when working among the laboring people and must on no account resort to commandism or coercion. The Chinese Communist Party faithfully adheres to this Marxist-Leninist principle.
  • Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man's thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change. Contradictions exist everywhere, but they differ in accordance with the different nature of different things. In any given phenomenon or thing, the unity of opposites is conditional, temporary and transitory, and hence relative, whereas the struggle of opposites is absolute.
  • New things always have to experience difficulties and setbacks as they grow. It is sheer fantasy to imagine that the cause of socialism is all plain sailing and easy success, without difficulties and setbacks or the exertion of tremendous efforts.
  • Our educational policy must enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture.
  • By over-all planning, we mean planning which takes into consideration the interests of the 600 million people of our country. In drawing up plans, handling affairs or thinking over problems, we must proceed from the fact that China has a population of 600 million people, and we must never forget this fact.
  • Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting the progress of the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land. Different forms and styles in art should develop freely and different schools in science should contend freely. We think that it is harmful to the growth of art and science if administrative measures are used to impose one particular style of art or school of thought and to ban another. Questions of right and wrong in the arts and sciences should be settled through free discussion in artistic and scientific circles and through practical work in these fields. They should not be settled in summary fashion.
  • What is needed is scientific analysis and convincing argument. Dogmatic criticism settles nothing. We are against poisonous weeds of all kinds, but we must carefully distinguish between what is really a poisonous weed and what is really a fragrant flower. Together with the masses of the people, we must learn to differentiate carefully between the two and to use correct methods to fight the poisonous weeds.
    • VII: On "Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Content" and "Long Term Coexistence and Mutual Supervision"
  • Throughout history new and correct ideas have often failed at the outset to win recognition from the majority of people and have to develop by twists and turns in struggle. Often correct and good things have first been regarded not as fragrant flowers but poisonous weeds.
    • VII: On "Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Content" and "Long Term Coexistence and Mutual Supervision"
  • We must learn to look at problems all-sidedly, seeing the reverse as well as the obverse side of things. In given conditions, a bad thing can lead to good results and a good thing to bad results.
  • Now, there are two different attitudes towards learning from others. One is the dogmatic attitude of transplanting everything, whether or not it is suited to our conditions. This is no good. The other attitude is to use our heads and learn those things that suit our conditions, that is, to absorb whatever experience is useful to us. That is the attitude we should adopt.
  • A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our personnel -- an unwillingness to share weal and woe with the masses, a concern for personal fame and gain. This is very bad. One way of overcoming it is to streamline our organizations in the course of our campaign to increase production and practice economy, and to transfer cadres to lower levels so that a considerable number will return to productive work. We must see to it that all our cadres and all our people constantly bear in mind that ours is a large socialist country but an economically backward and poor one, and that this is a very big contradiction. To make China prosperous and strong needs several decades of hard struggle, which means, among other things, pursuing the policy of building up our country through diligence and thrift, that is, practicing strict economy and fighting waste.

Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (The Little Red Book)[edit]

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
  • 凡是敵人反對的,我們就要擁護;凡是敵人擁護的,我們就要反對。
    • We should support whatever our enemies oppose and oppose whatever our enemies support.
    • Chapter 2, originally published in Interview with Three Correspondents from the Central News Agency, the Sao Tang Pao and the Hsin Min Pao (September 16, 1939), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 272.
  • 谁是我们的敌人?谁是我们的朋友?这个问题是革命的首要问题。
    • Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.
    • Chapter 2, originally published in Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society (March 1926), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 1.
  • 革命不是請客吃飯,不是做文章,不是繪畫繡花,不能那樣雅致,那樣從容不迫,文質彬彬,那樣溫良恭儉讓。革命是暴動,是一個階級推翻一個階級的暴烈的行動。
  • A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. It cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
  • 枪杆子里面出政权
    • Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
    • Chapter 5, originally published in Problems of War and Strategy (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.
  • 一切反动派都是纸老虎。看起来反动派的样子是可怕的,但是实际上并没有什么了不起的力量。从长远的观点看问题,真正强大的力量不是属于反动派,而是属于人民。
    • All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful.
    • Chapter 6, originally published in Talk with the American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong (August 1946), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 100.
The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.
  • 美国垄断资本集团如果坚持推行它的侵略政策和战争政策,势必有一天要被全世界人民处以刑。其他美国帮凶也将是这样。
    • If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world. The same fate awaits the accomplices of the United States.
    • Chapter 6, originally published in Speech at the Supreme State Conference (September 8, 1958).
  • 革命战争是群众的战争,只有动员群众才能进行战争,只有依靠群众才能进行战争。
    • The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.
    • Chapter 8, originally published in Be Concerned with the Well-Being of the Masses, Pay Attention to Methods of Work (January 27, 1934), Selected Works, Vol. I. p. 147.
  • 没有一个人民的军队,便没有人民的一切。
    • Without a People's army, the people have nothing.
    • Chapter 9, originally published in On Coalition Government (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 296-97.
  • 我们的原则是党指挥枪,而决不容许枪指挥党。
    • Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.
    • Chapter 9, originally published in the Problems of War and Strategy (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.
  • Recently there has been a falling off in ideological and political work among students and intellectuals, and some unhealthy tendencies have appeared. Some people seem to think that there is no longer any need to concern oneself with politics or with the future of the motherland and the ideals of mankind. It seems as if Marxism was once all the rage but is currently not so much in fashion. To counter these tendencies, we must strengthen our ideological and political work. Both students and intellectuals should study hard. In addition to the study of their specialized subjects, they must make progress both ideologically and politically, which means that they should study Marxism, current events and politics. Not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul [...] All departments and organizations should shoulder their responsibilities in ideological and political work. This applies to the Communist Party, the Youth League, government departments in charge of this work, and especially to heads of educational institutions and teachers.
    • Chapter 12; originally published in "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People" (27 February 1957), 1st pocket ed., pp. 43-44
  • 下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利。
    • Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory.
    • Chapter 19; originally published in The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains (June 11, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 321.
  • 革命的集体组织中的自由主义是十分有害的。它是一种腐蚀剂,使团结涣散,关系松懈,工作消极,意见分歧。它使革命队伍失掉严密的组织和纪律,政策不能贯彻到底,党的组织和党所领导的群众发生隔离。这是一种严重的恶劣倾向。
    • Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.
    • Chapter 24, originally published in "Combat Liberalism" (7 September 1937), Selected Works, Vol. II, pp. 31-32
  • 要使文艺很好地成为整个革命机器的一个组成部分,作为团结人民、教育人民、打击敌人、消灭敌人的有力的武器,帮助人民同心同德地和敌人作斗争。
    • [Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.
    • Chapter 32, originally published in Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art (May 1942), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 84.


Attributed[edit]

  • 天下大乱,形势大好。
    • There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent.
    • See e.g. Nigel Holden, Snejina Michailova, Susanne Tietze (editors). The Routledge Companion to Cross-Cultural Management. Routledge 2015.


Misattributed[edit]

  • It's always darkest before it's totally black.
    • This is a humorous misattribution that US Senator John McCain has sometimes used since at least January 2000, but there is no indication that Mao actually ever made such a comment, which is a joke referencing the common English proverb "It's always darkest before the dawn." It has also been humorously misattributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The quote may be derived from the US television show The A-Team, in which it was uttered in a 1983 episode ("The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas") by protagonist John "Hannibal" Smith. A similar quotation is attributed to actor Paul Newman in 2003.

Quotes about Mao Zedong[edit]

  • Had Mao died in 1956, his achievements would have been immortal. Had he died in 1966, he would still have been a great man but flawed. But he died in 1976. Alas, what can one say?
  • As late as 1947, Mao insisted that his program corresponded to that of Sun. Until December of that year, Mao insisted that his ‘new democracy’ would protect the ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘their industry and commerce.’ Because of China’s backwardness, he would continue to support capitalist development and ensure that both public and private, capital and labor, interests would benefit from the revolution.
    • A. James Gregor, Phoenix: Fascism in Our Time, New Brunswick: NJ, Transaction Publishers, 2001, p. 191, footnote 19
  • Mao Zedong! Amazing man! Imagine him and his followers wandering through China day and night, fighting for their goal. What an effort. He has also written beautiful prose and excellent poems.
    • Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in Damernas Värld 34/1972 answering the question "which man has made the most influence on you?" Translated from Swedish.
  • He [Chairman Mao] appears to me as a father and he himself considered me as a son. [We had] very good relations. The only problem was that on many occasions, when official dinners were held, Chairman Mao always used to bring me to his side. So, then as Chinese tradition, Chairman Mao himself would use his chopsticks to put some food in my plate. So, in a way it was a great honour, but in a way I feel little fear...he coughing too much, a chain smoker, so I might get some germs [laughing].
  • Even Mao's casual remark, "Sweet potato tastes good, I like it," became a slogan seen everywhere in the countryside.
    • Shaorong Huang, "Political Slogans as Leverage in Conflict and Conflict Management during China's Cultural Revolution Movement," in Chinese Conflict Management and Resolution, ed. Guo-Ming Chen and Ringo Ma (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), 242.
  • [Mao] has played politics with Asian cunning. … [and] has always been a master at concealing his true intention. … I was always on my guard with him.
    • Nikita Khrushchev, as quoted in A. Doak Barnett (1977) China and the major powers in East Asia, page 352
  • We spoke at length and We really liked Mao Zedong. A lot. He gave Us a very good impression, as Paul VI did. He is a good and very serious leader, and his people have done well to embrace him.

See also[edit]


Social and political philosophy
Philosophers AmbedkarArendtAristotleAugustineAurobindoAquinasAronAverroesAzurmendiBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBenthamBerlinBurkeJudith ButlerCamusChanakyaChomskyCiceroComteConfuciusDe BeauvoirDebordDu BoisDurkheimEmersonEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFranklinGandhiGentileGramsciGrotiusHabermasHan FeiHayekHegelHeideggerHobbesHumeIrigarayJeffersonKantKierkegaardKirkKropotkinLaoziLeibnizLeninLockeLuxemburgMachiavelliMaistreMalebrancheMaoMarcuseMaritainMarxMenciusMichelsMillMisesMontesquieuMoziMuhammadNegriNiebuhrNietzscheNozickOakeshottOrtegaPaineParetoPlatoPolanyiPopperRadhakrishnanRandRawlsRenanRothbardRousseauRoyceRussellSadeSantayanaSartreSchmittSearleSkinnerSmithSocratesSombartSpencerSpinozaStirnerStraussSunSun TzuTaineTaylorThucydidesThoreauTocquevilleVivekanandaVoltaireWalzerWeberŽižek
Social theories AnarchismAuthoritarianismCollectivismCommunismConfucianismConservatismFascismIndividualismLiberalismLibertarianismRepublicanismSocial constructionismSocialismUtilitarianism
Concepts Civil disobedienceJusticeLawPeacePropertyRevolutionRightsSocial contractSocietyTyrannyWar
Forms of rule AristocracyBureaucracyDemocracyMeritocracyPlutocracyTechnocracy


External links[edit]

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Additional sources[edit]

General Secretaries and Chairmen of the Communist Party of China
Party Chairmen Mao Zedong · Hua Guofeng · Hu Yaobang
General Secretaries Chen Duxiu · Xiang Zhongfa · Bo Gu · Zhang Wentian · Hu Yaobang · Zhao Ziyang · Jiang Zemin · Hu Jintao · Xi Jinping
  1. "Big bad wolf". The Economist. 31 August 2006. Retrieved on 28 July 2015.