Theoretician Reinterprets Mao Thought

Times Staff Writer

The Communist Party theoretician who is officially in charge of interpreting the thought of the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung says he believes that stock exchanges and large-scale private employment are ideologically justifiable in China today.

“We are still in the early stages of socialism,” Su Shaozhi, the director of the Institute of Marxism, Leninism and Mao Tse-tung Thought of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told The Times in a recent interview. “The only criterion is whether something promotes production and our commodity economy.

“In my personal opinion, issuing stock and exchanging stock may be one measure for doing this, so long as it does not lead to harmful speculation. This is still under discussion, and we haven’t drawn any conclusions yet.”

Blending of Marx, Reality


A decade ago the official viewpoint of the Chinese Communist Party was that Mao was a great philosopher whose philosophy represented a new stage in the development of Marxism. And while Mao was alive, the ultimate interpreter of Mao Tse-tung thought was considered to be Mao himself.

Now, Mao Tse-tung thought is considered to be not a new stage of Marxist philosophy but merely a blending of Marxism with the realities of China. (In the current viewpoint, the essence of Mao Tse-tung thought is the idea that a Communist Party can carry out a revolution using the peasants as its base, rather than the urban proletariat as Karl Marx had envisioned.)

Furthermore, Chinese Marxists now tell party cadres that they should draw a distinction between Mao Tse-tung thought, which is valid, and Mao himself, who made many mistakes.

“Mao Tse-tung thought is the collective wisdom of our whole party, not merely of Mao himself,” Su explains.

Size of Private Firms

Su and his institute are studying whether it would be permissible for China’s Communist government to allow private employers to hire 100 workers or more. At the moment, there are some private businesses in China, but virtually all are small-scale enterprises with fewer than 10 employees.

“In my opinion,” Su said, “in the early stages of socialism we can recognize that this is a form of exploitation, but one which promotes production. It increases employment, and it increases the income of the people. It’s not socialism, but it promotes production, so it is a Marxist measure. In Marxism, the basic rule is to promote productivity.”

Even if China does permit some exploitation of surplus labor, Su said, “it would be limited, not like in the United States or Hong Kong, where the exploitation is unlimited.”


“We should not return to capitalism,” he said. “In China, in the macroeconomic sphere, we have a planned economy, and the percentage of private ownership is very small.”

In the past, in Mao’s later years, “we had the wrong idea that we should have pure public ownership,” Su said.