Mao Zedong: the ‘people’s democratic dictatorship’ (1940)


In 1940 Mao Zedong delivered a long speech commemorating the 28th anniversary of the
founding of the CCP and spoke about the basis of a “people’s democratic dictatorship”:


“Communists the world over are wiser than the bourgeoisie, they understand the laws governing the existence and development of things, they understand dialectics and they can see farther. The bourgeoisie does not welcome this truth because it does not want to be overthrown.

As everyone knows, our Party passed through these 28 years not in peace but amid hardships, for we had to fight enemies, both foreign and domestic, both inside and outside the Party. We thank Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for giving us a weapon. This weapon is not a machine gun but Marxist-Leninism…

The Russians made the October Revolution and created the world’s first socialist state. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, the revolutionary energy of the great proletariat and labouring people of Russia, hitherto latent and unseen by foreigners, suddenly erupted like a volcano, and the Chinese and all mankind began to see the Russians in a new light. Then, and only then, did the Chinese enter an entirely new era in their thinking and their life. They found Marxist-Leninism, the universally applicable truth, and the face of China began to change…

Up to now the principal and fundamental experience the Chinese people have gained is twofold: Internally, arouse the masses of the people. That is, unite the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, form a domestic united front under the leadership of the working class, and advance from this to the establishment of a state which is a people’s democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants…

The 40 years’ experience of Sun Yixian and the 28 years’ experience of the Communist Party have taught us to lean to one side, and we are firmly convinced that in order to win victory and consolidate it we must lean to one side. In the light of the experiences accumulated in these forty years and these 28 years, all Chinese without exception must lean either to the side of imperialism or to the side of socialism.

Sitting on the fence will not do, nor is there a third road. We oppose the Jiang Jieshi reactionaries who lean to the side of imperialism, and we also oppose the illusions about a third road. The people’s democratic dictatorship is based on the alliance of the working class, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie, and mainly on the alliance of the workers and the peasants, because these two classes comprise 80 to 90 per cent of China’s population. These two classes are the main force in overthrowing imperialism and the Guomindang reactionaries. The transition to socialism also depends mainly upon their alliance.

The people’s democratic dictatorship needs the leadership of the working class. For it is only the working class that is most far-sighted, most selfless and most thoroughly revolutionary. The entire history of revolution proves that without the leadership of the working class, revolution triumphs. In the epoch of imperialism, in no country can any other class lead any genuine revolution to victory. This is clearly proved by the fact that the many revolutions led by China’s petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie all failed…”