On the Dictatorship of the People's Democracy
Mao ZeDong (1949)
Chapter 41


"You are dictatorial." Dear sirs, you are right' that is exactly what we are. The experience of several decades, amassed by the Chinese people, tells us to carry out the people's democratic dictatorship. That is, the right of reactionaries to voice their opinions must be abolished and only the people are allowed to have the right of voicing their opinions.

Who are the "people"? At the present stage in China, they are the working class, the peasant class, the petty bourgeoisie, and national bourgeoisie. Under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, these classes unite together to form their own state and elect their own government (so as to) carry out a dictatorship over the lackeys of imperialism -- the landlord class, the bureaucratic capitalist class, and the Kuomintang reactionaries and their henchmen representing these classes -- to suppress them, allowing them only to behave properly and not to talk and act wildly. If they talk and act wildly their [action] will be prohibited and punished immediately. The democratic system is to be carried out within the ranks of the people, giving them freedom of speech, assembly, and association. The right to vote is given only to the people and not to the reactionaries. These two aspects, namely, democracy among the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, combine to form the people's democratic dictatorship. . . .

The [function of the] people's state is to protect the people. Only when there is the people's state, is it possible for the people to use democratic methods on a nationwide and all-round scale to educate and reform themselves, to free themselves from the influence of reactionaries at home and abroad (this influence is at present still very great and will exist for a long time and cannot be eliminated quickly), to unlearn the bad habits and ideas acquired from the old society and not to let themselves travel on the erroneous path pointed out by the reactionaries, but to continue to advance and develop towards a socialist and communist society accomplishing the historic mission of completely eliminating classes and advancing towards a universal fraternity.

The methods we use in this field are democratic; that is, methods of persuasion and not coercion. When people break the law they will be punished, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death. But these are individual cases and are different in principle from the dictatorship over the reactionary class as a class.

From C. Brandt., B. Schwartz, and J.K. Fairbank, A Documentary History of Chinese Chinese Communism, Harvard University Press, 1952. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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