by the Revolutionary Mass Criticism Writing Group of the Party School Under the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party
Beijing Review 14, no. 17, 23 April 1971, 6-11
Our great leader Chairman Mao points out: "All things invariably divide into two." "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics." (On Contradiction.)
This scientific thesis of Chairman Mao's profoundly expresses the objective law of things and penetratingly expounds the core of materialist dialectics.
It is a sharp weapon for the proletariat and revolutionary people in carrying out the three great revolutionary movements – class struggle, struggle for production and scientific experiment, a sharp weapon for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat and steadfastly continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The wide dissemination of the concept one divides into two among the people met with the extreme hatred and fear of a handful of class enemies. In 1964, the renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao- chi instigated the renegade Yang Hsien- chen, his agent in philosophical circles, to set off a heated debate on whether one divides into two or "combine two into one."
The proletarian headquarters headed by Chairman Mao directly led this struggle involving a matter of cardinal principle in philosophy in China. With Mao Zedong Thought as their weapon, workers, peasants and soldiers, revolutionary cadres and revolutionary intellectuals criticized the reactionary theory of "combine two into one" and demolished it by the revolutionary dialectics of one divides into two. As the theoretical basis for Liu Shao- chi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line, the theory of "combine two into one" permeated the political, economic, ideological, cultural, art and other fields.
To eliminate the remaining poisonous influence of Liu Shao-chi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line in all spheres of endeavor, we must further criticize the bourgeois idealism and metaphysics of Liu Shao-chi and Yang Hsien-chen and other such political swindlers, and criticize the reactionary theory of "combine two into one."
A Reaction to Continuing Revolution Under Dictatorship of Proletariat
On the orders of Liu Shao-chi, traitor Yang Hsien-chen, who long ago had prostrated himself before the Kuomintang reactionary, came out at every crucial juncture in the socialist revolution to launch attacks on the Party in the field of philosophy.
He frenziedly opposed Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line and tried to use the reactionary world outlook of "combine two into one" to remould our Party and country. In 1952, Yang Hsien-chen concocted his notorious theory of "a synthesized economic base" which preached the combining of socialist economy with capitalist economy, giving a touch of theoretical flavor to Liu Shao-chi's sinister program for developing capitalism -- "co- operation among the five economic sectors and consolidation of the new democratic system."
In 1958, Yang Hsien-chen, with ulterior motives, advocated "using identity of contradiction" and by insinuation attacked our Party because it "talked only about the struggle between the opposites, but not their unity." His aim was to provide philosophical ground for Liu Shao-chi's theory of "the dying out of class struggle" in opposition to Chairman Mao's great work On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.
From 1960 to 1962, Liu Shao-chi's counter-revolutionary clique plotted counter- revolutionary restoration all along the line from the top down, in close co-ordination with the anti-China chorus of imperialism, revisionism and reaction. At that time Yang Hsien-chen ran here and there to spread his reactionary philosophy, opposing more frantically than ever Chairman Mao's brilliant philosophical thinking. He babbled that the unity of opposites meant "common points," shouting that we had "common points" with U.S. imperialism and that we and modern revisionism had "common points with some differences."
He openly stood for "combining" the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, socialism and imperialism, Marxism and revisionism, into one. Chairman Mao was the first to perceive the danger of the counter- revolutionary plots of Liu Shao-chi and his gang and time and again warned the whole Party and the people of the whole country to guard against revisionism. At the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Party Central Committee held in 1962, Chairman Mao put forward more fully the basic line from our Party during the entire historical period of socialism and issued the great call: "Never forget class struggle."
Under Chairman Mao's wise leadership, our Party intensified propaganda and education in the revolutionary dialectics of one divides into two , launched the socialist education movement on a broad scale, initiated open polemics against modern revisionism whose centre is the Soviet revisionist renegade clique, and dealt the class enemies at home and abroad hard blows. However, all these warnings and struggles did not and could not change the counter- revolutionary nature of Liu Shao-chi, Yang Hsien-chen and company, who were impatient to restore capitalism. Yang Hsien-chen first openly peddled the theory of "combine two into one" in the lecture room of the former advanced Party school.
After careful planning, this reactionary philosophy was launched for the public in 1964. Lenin says that the struggle in philosophy "in the last analysis reflects the tendencies and ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society." (Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.) The concocting of the theory of "combine two into one" was intended externally to meet the needs of imperialism and social-imperialism in subverting great socialist China, and internally to meet the needs of the counter- revolutionary restoration by the bourgeoisie. It is a hack philosophy serving Liu Shao- chi's efforts to restore capitalism, and runs counter to continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Out-and-Out Bourgeois Idealism and Metaphysics
To oppose Marxist philosophy, all opportunists and revisionists did their best to negate the boundary between materialism and idealism as well as between dialectics and metaphysics. In peddling the reactionary theory of "combine two into one," the renegade Yang Hsien-chen resorted to this kind of base counter- revolutionary tactics. He dressed this reactionary theory up as dialectics and prated that "combine two into one" and one divides into two have "the same meaning."
He deliberately tried to negate the fundamental antagonism between one divides into two and "combine two into one." Lenin pointed out: "The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts is the essence of dialectics." ("On the Question of Dialectics.") "In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics, but it requires explanations and development." ("Conspectus of Hegel's Book The Science of Logic .")
Chairman Mao developed this great idea of Lenin's further in his On Contradiction, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People and other important philosophical works. Chairman Mao says: "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." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.)
The concept one divides into two that Chairman Mao put forward profoundly and concisely summarizes the law of the unity of opposites and grasps the heart of materialist dialectics. According to the concept one divides into two, there are contradictions in everything. The two aspects of a contradiction depend on and struggle with each other, and this determines the life of all things. The natural world, society and man's thinking are full of contradictions and struggles, and there is no such thing as "combine two into one."
Without contradiction, there would not be the natural world, society, and man's thinking; nothing would exist. Contradictions are present in all processes of things and permeate all processes from beginning to end, and promote the development of things. The constant emerging and resolving of contradictions -- this is the universal law of the development of things.
Applying the concept one divides into two in examining socialist society, we have to recognize that throughout the entire historical period of socialism, there are classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the two roads of socialism and capitalism, there is the danger of capitalist restoration, and there is the threat of subversion and aggression by imperialism and modern revisionism.
To resolve these contradictions, we must strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat and steadfastly continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Even in a communist society, there will be contradictions and full of struggles between the new and the old, the advanced and the backward, and right and wrong.
Only those who adhere to and apply this concept to guide revolutionary practices are thoroughgoing dialectical materialists. To deny the concept "one divides into two" means to deny the universality of contradiction and to betray materialist dialectics, and this inevitably leads to political betrayal of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The core of the theory "combine two into one" lies in merging contradictions, liquidating struggle, opposing revolution, combining the proletariat with the bourgeoisie, combining Marxism with revisionism, combining socialism with imperialism and social-imperialism. This out- and-out reactionary bourgeois idealist and metaphysical world outlook are diametrically opposed to the world outlook of one divides into two.
Refute Theory of "Common Needs"
Yang Hsien-chen repeatedly said that the identity of a contradiction consisted of "common points" and "common things." He distorted Lenin's thesis on the identity of contradiction, alleging that "the identity in the sphere of dialectics" was "seeking common needs." Let us read what the great Lenin wrote on the subject.
Lenin pointed out: " Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical -- under what conditions they are identical, transforming themselves into one another, -- why the human mind should take these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, transforming themselves into one another." ("Conspectus of Hegel's Book The Science of Logic.")
Lenin here is talking about the identity of contradiction. Is there any trace of "common points" and "common needs" in this? Yang Hsien-chen was blatantly lying and slandering Lenin when he alleged that what Lenin meant by the identity of contradiction was "common needs." In On Contradiction, Chairman Mao incisively explains Lenin's thinking on the identity of contradiction. Chairman Mao clearly points out: "All contradictory things are interconnected: not only do they coexist in a single entity in given conditions, but in other given conditions, they also transform themselves into each other. This is the full meaning of the identity of opposites."
Chairman Mao's teaching clearly tells us: The first meaning of the identity of contradiction is that the two contradictory aspects are interdependent in given conditions. For instance, during the period of China's new-democratic revolution, the contradictory aspects, the masses of the people and imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, did not exist in isolation from each other. Each aspect had the other as the condition for its existence and they coexisted in a single entity.
We should interpret the first meaning of the identity of contradiction only in this way and should never allow Yang Hsien-chen to distort it into having "common needs." Were there any "common needs" in the interdependence between the masses of the oppressed people and imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, as the other. In the contradiction in which the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are the two opposite aspects, the relation between them is that of the exploiter and the exploited, and the needs of one are fundamentally opposed to the needs of the other.
Chairman Mao also stressed that the matter does not end with the interdependence of the two contradictory aspects on each other for their existence and, more important, in given conditions, each of them transforms itself into its opposite, changes its position to that of its opposite. This is the second meaning of the identity of contradiction. Our Party led the Chinese people in decades of heroic struggle aimed precisely at creating conditions for the promotion of the transformation of things so as to achieve the goal of the revolution.
For instance, after the new-democratic revolution, the masses of the people who had long been oppressed and exploited transformed themselves into masters of the country, and imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, the three enemies that oppressed and exploited the people, were completely overthrown. Through the socialist revolution in the ownership of the means of production, individual ownership of farming and handicrafts was transformed into socialist collective ownership, and capitalist ownership of industry and commerce was transformed into socialist ownership by the whole people.
The renegade Yang Hsien- chen used every means to oppose these revolutionary transformations. To call a spade a spade, his reactionary theory of "common needs" is nothing but an attempt to make the proletariat and other working people submit for ever to the misery of exploitation and enslavement, and to permit imperialism, the landlords and the bourgeoisie to sit on their backs for ever. Refute Theory of "Inseparability" Yang Hsien-chen endlessly preached that the opposite aspects were "links that cannot be separated." He blabbed that learning dialectics means "learning how to link the two opposing ideologies."
This is a clumsy attempt to tamper with materialist dialectics. Materialist dialectics holds that the nature of a thing is the contradictoriness within the thing and its separability. Engels pointed out: "Dialectics has proved from the results of our experience of nature so far that all polar opposites in general are determined by the mutual action of the two opposite poles on each other, that the separation and opposition of these poles exist only within their mutual connection and union, and conversely, that their union exists only in their separation and their mutual connection only in their opposition." (Dialectics of Nature.)
That is to say, we cannot talk about the links between the two opposite aspects apart from their struggle and separability. The struggle of the opposite aspects inevitably leads to the breaking up of their interconnection, to the disintegration of the entity, and to change in the nature of the thing. Therefore, the interconnection between the opposite aspects is conditional and relative while their separability is unconditional and absolute.
As Chairman Mao points out: "In society as in nature, every entity invariably breaks up into its different parts, only there are differences in content and form under different concrete conditions." (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work.)
There is nothing in the world that cannot be separated.
The development of objective things has time and again exposed the rotten metaphysical idea that a thing cannot be separated. Have there not emerged various old and new anti-Marxist revisionist factions in the course of the development of the international communist movement? In the course of the development of our Party, there emerged the "Left" and Right opportunist lines of the renegades Chen Tu- hsiu and Wang Ming and Liu Shao-chi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line.
Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line has won great victories precisely through struggles against these erroneous lines. Therefore, revolutionary "separation" is not a bad but a good thing. It helps raise the people's ideological consciousness, enhances the unity of the revolutionary people, promotes the development of the proletariat revolutionary cause, and impels society forward. Yang Hsien-chen did not say a word about the struggle and transformation of contradictions and completely denied the separability of a thing, describing the dependence of the opposite aspects on each other for their existence as "links that cannot be separated." In fact, there are no dead and rigid links free from contradictions and transformation. Yang Hsien-chen had vicious political motives for advocating the theory of "inseparability."
When the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production reached a high tide in China in 1956, he came out sermonizing like a priest that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie "will both benefit if they come together, and will both suffer if they separate." This is of the same mould as the fallacies advocated by Liu Shao-chi such as the bourgeoisie's "exploitation has its merits" and the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have an "identical stand." This fully shows that they are a gang of faithful lackeys of the bourgeoisie.
The contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is, in essence, antagonistic and irreconcilable, and can be resolved only by socialist revolution. As Chairman Mao pointed out in 1959, in the period of socialist revolution the life-and-death struggle between the two big opposing classes -- the proletariat and the bourgeoisie -- "will continue . . . for at least twenty years and possibly half a century. In short, the struggle will not cease until classes die out completely." In a sense, by steadfastly continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the proletariat separates completely from the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes.
In the life-and-death struggle between these two classes, how can we "combine two into one"? If we should "combine two into one" with regard to the bourgeoisie, forget classes and class struggle and forget the dictatorship of the proletariat, "then it would not be long, perhaps only several years or a decade, or several decades at most, before a counter-revolutionary restoration on a national scale would inevitably occur, the Marxist-Leninist party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party, a fascist party, and the whole of China would change its color.
Comrades, please think it over. What a dangerous situation this would be! That Yang Hsien-chen spared no effort to preach that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie should "combine" and not "separate" was precisely for the purpose of realizing the counter-revolutionary plot of restoring capitalism.
Refute Theory of "Synthesis Means 'Combine Two Into One' "
Yang Hsien-chen and company also alleged that analysis means 'one divides into two' while synthesis means 'combine two into one.' “This is not only a question of their ignorance of Marxist philosophy; their real purpose was to cut asunder the dialectical relation between analysis and synthesis and to substitute reactionary metaphysics for materialist dialectics.
Marxist philosophy tells us that analysis and synthesis are an objective law of things and at the same time a method for people to understand things. Analysis shows how an entity divides into two different parts and the struggle between them; synthesis shows how, through the struggle between the two opposite aspects, one prevails, defeats and eliminates the other, how an old contradiction is resolved and a new one emerges, and how an old thing is eliminated and a new thing triumphs. In plain words, synthesis means one "eats up" the other.
The course of historical development is: What is revolutionary always "eats up" what is reactionary, and what is correct always "eats up" what is wrong. But this has to go through many complicated and tortuous struggles. As Chairman Mao points out: "Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history, such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. To interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this viewpoint is historical materialism." (Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle.)
The history of mankind's civilization is one of class struggle, one in which the revolutionary classes defeat and "eat up "the reactionary classes. Imperialism headed by the United States, social- imperialism and all other exploiting systems will eventually be "eaten up" by socialism and communism. This is an objective law independent of man's will. When reflected in men's minds, such objective analysis and synthesis require that we make a concrete analysis of the movement of opposites in all things and, on the basis of such analysis, synthesize and point out the nature of the question involved and determine on the methods to resolve them.
Different types of contradictions are resolved by different methods. It is quite clear that objective or subjective analysis and synthesis can only be "one divides into two" and not "combine two into one." Analysis and synthesis are closely connected. There is synthesis in analysis and analysis in synthesis. As Engels said in reference to the science of chemistry: "Chemistry, in which analysis is the predominant form of investigation, is nothing without its opposite pole – synthesis.: (Dialectics of Nature.)
Yang Hsien-chen and company denied the connection between analysis and synthesis and said that "analysis means 'one divides into two' while synthesis means 'combine two into one.' “This is the same stuff as the bourgeois dualism preached by Trotsky: "Politics -- Marxist, art – bourgeois." Chairman Mao points out in On Contradiction: "It was not until Marx and Engels, the great protagonists of the proletarian movement, had synthesized the positive achievements in the history of human knowledge and, in particular, critically absorbed the rational elements of Hegelian dialectics and created the great theory of dialectical and historical materialism that an unprecedented revolution occurred in the history of human knowledge."
Chairman Mao has most profoundly explained how the founders of Marxism analyzed and synthesized the achievements in the history of human knowledge. Marx and Engels neither affirmed nor negated Hegelian dialectics in its entirety, but, dividing one into two, criticized its idealist shell and absorbed its rational kernel.
This analysis and synthesis fully demonstrated the thoroughgoing proletarian revolutionary spirits and scientific attitude which they consistently advocated. They set a brilliant example for us to follow. The process of summing up our experience is also one of analysis and synthesis. By undertaking various kinds of struggles in social practice, men have accumulated rich experiences, some successful and some not. In summing up experience, it is necessary to distinguish the right from the wrong, affirm what is correct and negate what is wrong.
This means, under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism- Mao Zedong Thought, reconstructing the rich data of perception obtained from practice, "discarding the dross and selecting the essential, eliminating the false and retaining the true, proceeding from the one to the other and from the outside to the inside," raising perceptual knowledge to the level of rational knowledge and grasping the inherent laws of a thing. The movement of opposites -- one divides into two – runs throughout this process. With the experience summed up in this way, we are able to uphold the truth and correct our mistakes, "popularize our successful experience and draw lessons from our mistakes."
Reactionary Trend of International Revisionism
Was the reactionary philosophy "combine two into one" created by renegades Liu Shao-chi, Yang Hsien-chen and their ilk? No! It is nothing but a variant of the theory of "conciliation of contradictions" of the old-line opportunists and revisionists under new historical conditions. Since the emergence of Marxism, the mortal enemies of scientific socialism have openly advertised the reactionary theory of "conciliating contradictions."
Proudhon declared that he wanted to "seek the principle of accommodation" so as to conciliate the contradictions of capitalist society. Duhring uttered such nonsense as the world is "indivisible" and "there are no contradictions in things." The reactionary chieftains of the Second International vainly attempted to replace revolutionary dialectics with vulgar evolutionism and replace the Marxist theories of class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat with the theory of "class collaboration." Kautsky trumpeted that "there are no two classes in a society that do not have common interests. There were common interests even between the slave-owner and his slaves." "There are indeed common interests between the capitalists and the workers." One and all, they are only fleeting intruders in history.
Relentless criticism and exposure by Marx, Engels and Lenin showed these types up in their true colors. After the victory of the October Revolution in Russia, Deborin and company jumped forth to frenziedly oppose Lenin's theory of the unity of opposites.
They maintained that contradictions appeared not at the inception of a process but only when it had developed to a certain stage and that the resolution of contradictions was the "conciliation of opposites." This theory of "conciliation of contradictions" of Deborin's was a reflection in philosophy of Bukharin's theory of the "dying out of class struggle" which alleged that "capitalism will peaceably grow into socialism."
This reactionary philosophy for the restoration of capitalism was sternly criticized by Stalin. But after the Khrushchev renegade clique usurped Party and state power in the Soviet Union, it blatantly revived and developed Deborin's reactionary philosophy so as to restore capitalism in an all-round way. Posing as a savior, Khrushchev clamored: "The world is whole and indivisible in face of the threat of nuclear disaster. That is where we all are the human race."
The Khrushchev renegades shamelessly described this renegade revisionist philosophy as "creatively developing Marxism-Leninism." When these renegades stirred up a revisionist adverse current against Marxist philosophy, our great leader Chairman Mao, with great proletarian strength of mind, repeatedly stressed the great significance of disseminating materialist dialectics. Chairman Mao pointed out: "We want gradually to disseminate dialectics, and to ask everyone gradually to learn the use of the scientific dialectical method." (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work.)
In his speech at the Moscow Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties in 1957, Chairman Mao once again expounded in a deep-going way the revolutionary dialectics of one divides into two, and gave a head-on blow to the revisionist adverse current.
The historical experience of the international communist movement has repeatedly proved that if a Marxist-Leninist political party does not observe, analyze, and handle problems from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, it will commit mistakes and degenerate politically.
Since the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has thoroughly betrayed dialectical materialism and historical materialism and completely betrayed the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, it has inevitably gone further and further down the road of revisionism and degenerated into social-imperialism.
The reactionary theory of "conciliation of contradictions" has become a tool today for soviet revisionist social-imperialism in intensifying its fascist dictatorship, pushing an aggressive policy and in collaborating with U.S. imperialism and contending with it for world hegemony. The Soviet revisionists vehemently clamor for the creation of a "socialist community" and "giving first place to common interests."
This is a vain attempt on their part to obliterate the differences between the aggressor and the victim, the exploiter and the exploited, the controlling and the controlled. They want the working people of the countries in the "community" to sacrifice their own interests, give up their independence and sovereignty and "merge" completely into the "entity" of colonial rule by social-imperialism. But the reactionary theory of "conciliation of contradictions" cannot in the least save them.
The inherent laws of dialectics are independent of the will of the revisionists.
It has become an irresistible historical trend today for the people of the whole world and many small and medium-sized countries to unite and opposite hegemony by the two superpowers, U.S. imperialism and social- imperialism, and draw a clear line of demarcation between themselves and the two superpowers.
The revolutionary dialectics of "one divides into two" is striking firm root in the hearts of the people and is being grasped by more and more Marxist- Leninist political parties and revolutionary people. It has become their sharp weapon in opposing imperialism, modern revisionism and the reactionaries of various countries.
So long as they integrate the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice in the revolutionary movement of their respective countries, the revolutionary people of all lands will overthrow the entire old world and win final victory in the proletarian world revolution.