Gutian Congress

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Classroom where the meeting was held.

The Gutian Congress, also called the Gutian Conference (simplified Chinese: 古田会议; traditional Chinese: 古田會議), was the 9th meeting of the Communist Party of China and the first after the Nanchang Uprising and subsequent southward flight of the insurrectionist troops. It was convened in December 1929, at the town of Gutian in Shanghang County, then in Tingzhou Prefecture (now for the most part Longyan Municipality) in the southwest of Fujian Province.

Most of the delegates to this congress were army men (the insurrectionists having been renamed the 4th Army of the Chinese Workers' & Peasants' Red Army). Mao Zedong, voted out six months earlier but moving from his success at the little-known Jiaoyang Congress (also in Shanghang), addressed the Zhu-Mao 4th Army (朱毛四军) as its Comintern-anointed political commissar and chaired the congress.

The Gutian Congress Resolution (古田会议决议), also titled On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party (henceforth Mistaken Ideas), has its ostensible source at the Gutian Congress. One of the selections from this significant text later included in Lin Biao's Little Red Book is as follows:

In the sphere of theory, destroy the roots of ultra-democracy. First, it should be pointed out that the danger of ultra-democracy lies in the fact that it damages or even completely wrecks the Party organisation and weakens or even completely undermines the Party's fighting capacity, rendering the Party incapable of fulfilling its fighting tasks and thereby causing the defeat of the revolution. Next it should be pointed out that the source of ultra-democracy consists in the petty bourgeoisie's individualistic aversion to discipline. When this characteristic is brought into the Party, it develops into ultra-democratic ideas politically and organisationally. These ideas are utterly incompatible with the fighting tasks of the proletariat.

Mistaken Ideas also defined the Red Army as a "mass propaganda" (qunzhong xuanchuan) organ in addition to being a military fighting force. It entrenched the absolute leadership position of the Communist Party over the Red Army. The purpose of the Red Army, the resolution stated, "was chiefly for the service of political ends." The resolution further called for the criticism of what was seen as excessive democratic deliberation and discussion in the fighting force ("ultra-democracy"), preferring democratic centralism whereby the minority agreed to abide by the decisions of the majority, lower levels unquestioningly implemented decisions made by the leadership, and that mistaken ideas must be "corrected through ideological criticism."[1]

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Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, Lin Biao, ed., East is Red Publishing (Beijing, 1964, April), pp.309-11.