Chapter 24 Primary Source Presentation

Document 24.1   

This document takes place in 1978, two years after the fall of the gang of four, a speech given by Deng Xiaoping Emancipating the Mind, Seek Truth from Facets and Unite as One in Looking to the Future, December 13, 1978. Deng Xiaoping was the parties most important leader at the time. Deng gave this speech at the closing session of a central committee meeting in preparation for the third plenum, which announced the plan for the four modernizations in agriculture, science, technology, national defense, and industry. Deng talks about how these plans will serve to strengthen and unite the party, as well as the importance of emancipating the mind, using one’s head, seeking truth from facts, and uniting as one to look towards the future. He talks mainly about the mind and how people’s thoughts today are rigid, and goes on to identify why rigid thinking is happening, blaming the gang of four for setting up taboos and not allowing people to think creatively. Another reason is that people didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, what should be said and what shouldn’t, as well as old habits made people afraid of progress. Deng pushes the point that people should be thinkers and think independently and not afraid to make mistakes, and that making mistakes will happen but that we will learn from them so that they don’t continue to happen. He says the drive for the four modernizations will do nothing, if rigid thinking isn’t emancipated; They need to work in tandem. Deng then goes on to highlight the importance of Mao. His speech talks a lot about Mao, and what he has contributed to society and communism. Mao is used a little bit as a propaganda tool here, because while Deng was not the next in line under Mao, he speaks as if he were. He uses Mao as a powerful symbol to push his own agenda and power. He says Mao will never fade, on page 496 he claims, without him there would be no new China and that the communist party wouldn’t exist, and he calls him “the greatest intellectual treasure of our party, our army, and our people”. He moves back to the four modernizations saying this expands upon learning and represents a revolution in which they will move forward. There are problems to deal with and should review past setbacks and failures to advance in the future, going back to the point of correcting mistakes. Deng claims they need to study Mao and Marxism for development and ultimately wants to move into a powerful socialist state.

How does this relate to the book?

This section of the book is called, Re-entering the World and this chapter is called Redefining Revolution, this is relevant because Deng’s point is to modernize and turn China into the strong state in his image in order to advance in the world. The four modernizations were a really big point in his speech, and they were also key in the chapter. The chapter also put in context that this was Deng’s political comeback.

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