Lushan Conference

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Lushan Conference
庐山会议旧址.JPG
Site of the Lushan Conference
Traditional Chinese廬山會議
Simplified Chinese庐山会议

The Lushan Conference was a meeting of the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held between July and August 1959. The CCP Politburo met in an "expanded session" (Kuoda Huiyi) between July 2 and August 1, followed by the 8th Plenum of the CCP Eighth Central Committee from August 2 – 16. The major topic of discussion was the Great Leap Forward.

The Lushan Conference saw the political purge of the Defense Minister, Marshal Peng Dehuai, whose criticism of some aspects of the Great Leap Forward was seen as an attack on the political line of CCP Chairman Mao Zedong. The Conference also marked the first time since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 that disagreement over the direction of policy spilled into open conflict between party leaders.

The conference's name is derived from the meeting place, a resort on Mount Lu in the district of the same name in Jiangxi Province, in southeastern China.

The conference[edit]

The original objective of the conference was to review the events of the Great Leap Forward and solve practical issues brought forth by those events. Mao himself was critical of his own role in the failures of the Great Leap Forward.[1] He described the backyard steel campaign he had promoted as a "great catastrophe" and criticized himself for pushing communization so fast.[1] In a July speech before the Lushan Conference Mao states, "The chaos caused was on a grand level and I take responsibility for it."[1] Mao also defended the policies of the Great Leap Forward in general and communes in particular.[2]

A major specific focus of the Lushan Conference was on a distortion created by false production reports.[3] During the Great Leap Forward, lower bureaucratic levels were asked to fulfill unrealistic production quotas.[3] Ignoring the actual conditions of even lower levels, officials frequently claimed that the production goals had been achieved.[3] These behaviors were prompted by higher level officials who overly emphasized production and addressed the peasants as "rural Stakhanovites."[4] The ensuing false statistics impeded central coordination of the economy.[3] At Lushan, addressing these issues implicated a broader political tension over centralization and decentralization.[3] As academic Alessandro Russo writes, the party's former strength of coordinating peasant political power had now created a major obstacle.[3]

Mao Zedong also intended to use the conference to contain the "leftist tendency" (zuoqing) elements in the Great Leap Forward.

Peng Dehuai’s complaints[edit]

Black and white photo
Peng and Mao in 1953

In Spring 1959, PRC Defense Minister Peng Dehuai led a Chinese military delegation on a visit to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.[1] Peng expressed his displeasure with the Great Leap Forward to various communist leaders, including Nikita Khruschev.[1] In his view, the socioeconomic policies of the period undermined economic development necessary to modernization of the army.[1] On his return to China in mid-June, Peng criticized the Great Leap Forward.[1]

Peng's criticism culminated in his "Letter of Opinion."[1] On July 14, Peng wrote a private letter to Mao criticizing some elements of the Great Leap Forward. In the letter, he cautiously framed his words and did not deny the "great achievement" of Mao, but meanwhile showed his disapproval for elements like the "winds of exaggeration" (i.e., over-reporting of grain production), the communal dining and also the establishment of commune militia which he felt would undermine the strength of the People's Liberation Army. He expressed his "confusion" towards "rather large losses" and "epidemic of bragging" in the Great Leap Forward.[5] Peng attributed the problems to "petty bourgeois fanaticism."[1]

For this reason, Mao extended the conference for more than ten days.

Downfall of Peng Dehuai[edit]

"Peng, Huang, Zhang, Zhou Right-Opportunist Anti-Party Clique"

On July 23, Mao showed Peng's letter to his comrades and asked them to express their views on the issue. Peng made no further substantive argument other than for the party to immediately withdraw from political initiatives in rural areas.[6] Peng's position found no support among other conference attendees, as it amounted to "political suicide" for the party.[6] For example, Zhou Enlai, normally a mediator between left and right sides of the party, was extremely critical of Peng.[6] Additionally, Peng’s position would mean de facto realignment with Soviet approaches at a time when Mao had been trying to find an independent path in terms of both foreign and domestic policy approaches.[7]

By the time of the Plenum which immediately followed the Lushan Conference, Peng had become politically isolated.[8] The Lushan Plenum adopted a resolution denouncing "the anti-Party clique headed by Peng Duhai."[8]

In contrast to Peng, Mao’s position was that peasant enthusiasm was a positive because political development required mass momentum.[9] Mao continued to believe that the experiment of a political role for the peasantry should be continued.[9] His view was that initiatives like self-organizing agricultural tasks, self-managed schools, and cooperative medical services should continue wherever possible.[9] Mao nonetheless agreed that specific objectives had to be made more realistic and that the absurd bureaucratic boasting regarding production quotas had to be stopped.[9]

Mao bitterly criticised Peng as being part of a group wavering in the face of difficulties and who were "only 30 kilometres away from the rightists".[10] Mao also announced in August that the conflict at conference is a class struggle, and the conflict "is the continuation of the life-or-death struggle between the two great antagonists of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the process of the socialist revolution during the past decade."[11] Peng was subsequently dismissed and arrested. In September 1959, he was replaced by Lin Biao.[12] As indicated by Mao in a September 1959 speech, Mao believed that Peng and others had gone "behind the back of our fatherland to collude with a foreign country."[1]

Although the criticism of Peng Dehuai resulted in a victory for Mao Zedong, it also led the leadership to conclude that he had been treated unfairly and that the party's norms had been violated.

Zhou Xiaozhou and his successor, Zhou Hui, along with Huang Kecheng and Zhang Wentian, who lent their support to Peng Dehuai in questioning the wisdom of the Great Leap Forward were also branded as traitors, stripped of their positions, and sent to re-education through labour. Li Rui, one of Mao's private secretaries, was also stripped of party membership and sent to a labor camp for refusing to denounce Peng.[13]

Consequences of the conference[edit]

Not long after the Lushan Conference, Mao removed himself from the day-to-day workings of the party.[14] Historian Maurice Meisner argues that Mao must have understood that Peng's criticisms were widely shared by Party leadership and that Mao could not command sufficient support from the Central Committee to continue radical policies from the Great Leap Forward had he been so inclined.[14]

Mao himself summarized Lushan Conference in the Seven Thousand Cadres Conference after the disasters of the Great Leap Forward, as he self-criticized and argued the Lushan Conference should be focused on the works, however, "then up jumped Peng Dehuai and said 'you fucked my mother for forty days, can I fuck your mother for twenty days?'", and the conference became a mess.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Meisner, Maurice J. (1999). Mao's China and after : a history of the People's Republic (Third ed.). New York. p. 231. ISBN 0-02-920870-X. OCLC 13270932.
  2. ^ Meisner, Maurice J. (1999). Mao's China and after : a history of the People's Republic (3rd ed.). New York. pp. 231–232. ISBN 0-02-920870-X. OCLC 13270932.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Russo, Alessandro (2020). Cultural Revolution and revolutionary culture. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 29. ISBN 1-4780-1218-8. OCLC 1156439609.
  4. ^ Russo, Alessandro (2020). Cultural Revolution and revolutionary culture. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 32. ISBN 1-4780-1218-8. OCLC 1156439609.
  5. ^ Pantsov, Alexander V.; Levine, Steven (2012). "30". Mao: the Real Story. Simon & Schuster. pp. 463–464.
  6. ^ a b c Russo, Alessandro (2020). Cultural Revolution and revolutionary culture. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 34. ISBN 1-4780-1218-8. OCLC 1156439609.
  7. ^ Russo, Alessandro (2020). Cultural Revolution and revolutionary culture. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 1-4780-1218-8. OCLC 1156439609.
  8. ^ a b Meisner, Maurice J. (1999). Mao's China and after : a history of the People's Republic (3rd ed.). New York. p. 232. ISBN 0-02-920870-X. OCLC 13270932.
  9. ^ a b c d Russo, Alessandro (2020). Cultural Revolution and revolutionary culture. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 35. ISBN 1-4780-1218-8. OCLC 1156439609.
  10. ^ Bernstein, T. (2006). Mao Zedong and the famine of 1959-1960: a study in wilfulness. The China Quarterly, 186, p. 431
  11. ^ Starr, John Bryan (1971). "Conceptual Foundations of Mao Tse-Tung's Theory of Continuous Revolution". Asian Survey. 11 (6): 621. doi:10.2307/2642773. ISSN 0004-4687. Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  12. ^ Meisner, Maurice J. (1999). Mao's China and after : a history of the People's Republic (3rd ed.). New York. p. 253. ISBN 0-02-920870-X. OCLC 13270932.
  13. ^ "Mao's personal secretary and biggest critic Li Rui dies at 101". South China Morning Post. 2019-02-16. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  14. ^ a b Meisner, Maurice J. (1999). Mao's China and after : a history of the People's Republic (3rd ed.). New York. p. 253. ISBN 0-02-920870-X. OCLC 13270932.
  15. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick (1997). The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961-1966. Oxford: Royal Institute of International Affairs, Studies of the East Asian Institute. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-231-11082-2. Retrieved 31 October 2022.