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Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organization in China Changes in Management and the Divisio

Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organization in China Changes in Management and the Divisio

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Published by: Ananyo Mukherjee on Mar 01, 2013
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Cultural Revolution andIndustrial Organizationin China
Changes in Management andthe Division of Laborby Charles Bettelheim
Translated by Alfred EhrenfeldMonthly Review PressNew York and London© 1974
 Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,djr@marx2mao.org 
(May 2000)
Preface71. The General Knitwear Factory 13
2. Industrial Planning 453. Transformations in theSocial Division of Labor 694. Revolutionizing theRelations of Production 91Postscript104
page 7
This book does not propose to describe the numerous and manifold changes that haveoccurred, and still are occurring, in that vast country which is China. It would be senselessfor a foreign visitor to attempt such a task. The intended purpose, rather, is to arrive at sometheoretical conclusions regarding the implications of the changes the Cultural Revolution haseffected in the factories of China. The transformations to be discussed were described to meduring my visits to a number of factories in 1971. Their impact has been substantiated bynumerous articles published in China, which merit the closest attention, both in terms of thefacts they describe and in terms of their political orientation.The book relies heavily on material I gathered during my stay in China in August andSeptember 1971. Two women students (who wish to remain anonymous) planned and edited a portion of it, using notes taken during my seminar report at the Ecole Pratique des HautesEtudes, material I brought back with me, and the text of a lecture I delivered in Paris in November 1971. The book is also based on observations made during earlier trips, in 1958,1964, and 1967, and on the published and oral accounts by numerous foreign visitors --workers, peasants, economists, sociologists, etc. -- who have visited China recently.The book deals largely with changes as they have affected industrial management and thedivision of labor in industry. I
page 8
regard these changes as extremely important. Although the transformations in question weregiven an unprecedented impulse by the Cultural Revolution, it should not be concluded thatthey originated with this revolution or were the only ones to occur in recent years.Several points must be stressed. First, the changes in question gained their present impactonly because of the defeat of Liu Shao-chi's bourgeois political line.
The adherents of thisline had in effect begun to challenge similar changes initiated in 1958 during the Great LeapForward. On the other hand, these transformations correspond to an ideological revolutionmarking the beginning of an upheaval in manners and customs which is increasingly givingrise to a new proletarian morality.
Furthermore, the massive changes that occurred in the Chinese countryside after theformation of people's communes in 1958 continued and were strengthened during the CulturalRevolution. Between 1960 and 1966, the adherents of Liu Shao-chi's line had tried toundermine the economic and social changes initiated in the countryside during the GreatLeap Forward. The Cultural Revolution that followed was to provide the impetus for amassive socialist counter-offensive, especially in the area of rural industrialization, which hasalready substantially transformed Chinese village life. Here, too, the Cultural Revolution posed a challenge to the immemorial division of labor and, notably, to the division betweentown and countryside, that underlies the divisions between social classes.
1. Communist parties characterize as "bourgeois" a political line which objectively opposes viablechanges that would reduce the influence of capitalist or bourgeois factors in the economic base or in thesuperstructure. The predominance of such a line leads to the consolidation (an outcome that can be prevented) of capitalist forms of the division of labor and of industrial management, as well as of bourgeois positions in general. The bourgeoisie consists not only of former capitalists, landowners, etc., but also of cadres, technicians, and administrators who use their positions to undermine the workers' collective controlover the employment of the means of production and the direction of investments.2. See my article in
 Le Monde diplomatique
, November 1971.
page 9
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution thus represents an ideological and politicalstruggle the effects of which bear both on the economic base and on the superstructure,destroying the old social relationships and giving rise to new ones. The very fluctuations of the struggle which unfolded during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution evidence thedegree to which its outcome depended both on the mass movement and on its correctorientation by a revolutionary leadership.At each stage of the Cultural Revolution, the adherents of Mao Tse-tung's revolutionaryline had to accomplish an enormous labor of discussion. At the outset, for instance, it tooseveral months for the workers to rebel against the prevailing methods of management andthe division of labor and against the diehard supporters of the existing relations in thefactories. It was only gradually, through the give and take of prolonged discussion, that they began to realize that the old relations were obstructing progress along the road to socialism.

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