FLP: Announcing the upcoming release of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong Vol. IX

Dear Comrades,

On this day, Mao’s 127th birthday, we at Foreign Languages Press were hoping to release the 2nd edition of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IX. However, we discovered some surprises in our endeavor to put out the best text we could. As our publishing house has grown (exponentially in 2020), we’ve moved from simply reprinting important but difficult to locate MLM texts; to reprinting them with more thorough proofreading; to recruiting others to help correct mistakes; and finally, in this latest stage, to do more research on the texts themselves to ensure that what has been printed and translated before, is actually as the author intended. You can trace our evolution in Mao’s Selected Works: Volume VI is basically a reprint with some corrections of the more obvious typographical errors; Volume VII was much more thoroughly copyedited and we replaced all the Wade-Giles Chinese with pinyin and included an index of names and places; Volume VIII included, in addition to the corrections made in previous volumes, corrections in the sourcing of the texts in particular; and Volume IX… in Volume IX we uncovered a whole host of problems. Texts that were translated incorrectly, placed out of context, chopped up and moved into other texts and dated and sourced incorrectly. The more deeply we dug, the more errors we discovered, and found ourselves irretrievably behind schedule.

Even so, working on this edition of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IX has been one of the more deeply satisfying projects of Foreign Languages Press. While there is a certain scholarly gratification to correcting the English publication of these texts, the primary reason is because of the importance of these particular documents in this particular time period: the Socialist Education Movement and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Below are some examples of some of the trouble we ran into.

Compilations of Compilations of Compilations

Part of the difficulty of working on this 2nd edition of Volume IX, is that the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. VI-IX are compilations of documents published in other compilations translated from… Chinese compilations.

Since the 60s, different sinologists (Stuart Schram being the most prolific) have released books to present “unofficial” writings, speeches or letters of Mao. At the same time, the US Government has been doing a huge translation project through the “Joint Publications Research Service,” an organization funded by the Department of Defense. Both the sinologists and the US government have been using different versions of unofficial Chinese compilations spread by different Red Guard groups called Long Live Mao Zedong Thought (or Wansui), as well as other sources such as the Selected Letters of Mao (Shuxin), the People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) or the Red Flag (Hongqi)—as their main sources.

So summarize, here are the main (but not only) sources of the four volumes:

Selected Works

First English Compilation

Chinese Source

Volume VI

Schram, Stuart, Political Thought of Mao Zedong

Chen, Jerome, Mao Papers

JPRS, Report 71911-1/5

Wansui (Vol. 1-2)


Volume VII

Kau, Writings of Mao Zedong (Vol. 1)

Chen, Mao Papers

Wansui (Vol. 3)


Renmin Ribao

Volume VIII

Stuart Schram, Mao Talks to the People

Chen, Jerome, Mao Papers

JRPS, Report 61269-1

Wansui (Vol. 4)

Volume IX

Stuart Schram, Mao Talks to the People

Chen, Jerome, Mao Papers

JPRS, Report 61269-2

Beijing Review

Wansui (Vol. 5)

Renmin Ribao


For Volume IX, we tried to indicate both the author of the first translation of each document and also where the document came from. And that’s where we ran into trouble.

Duplicates & Incorrect Translations

As we worked on documents from Chen’s Mao Papers, we realized that many of them were wrongly sourced, dated, or were duplicates from earlier documents. For instance, Chen’s book contains a series of 187 “instructions” that Mao gave at different moments. These instructions, most no longer than a paragraph or two, were sourced from different newspapers and were integrated into two articles (the first two pages, the second 23 pages) in the first edition of Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IX. Given that Mao wrote relatively few documents during the GPCR, they are an interesting resource to understand Mao’s thinking in this period.

However, many times Chen did not make sure the speech or remark he was translating was actually a new document or if his source (most of the time, the Renmin Ribao) reprinted it from an older document.

For instance:


Chen’s translation & source

Text from the RMRB

Original translation & source


Without destruction there can be no construction; without blockage there can be no flow; without stoppage there can be no movement.
(Renmin Ribao, 8.6.1966, p. 1)


There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion without rest; the two are locked in a life-and-death struggle.
(“On New Democracy,” Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IV)


The exploiters and reactionaries are, under any circumstance, the minority while the exploited and revolutionaries are the majority. Therefore the dictatorship of the former is unjustifiable, whereas that of the latter is fully justifiable.
(Renmin Ribao 17.6.1966, p. 3)


Exploiters and counter-revolutionaries are always and everywhere in the minority while the exploited and revolutionaries are invariably in the majority. Therefore, dictatorship by the latter is perfectly right, while dictatorship by the former is invariably wrong.

(“In Refutation of ‘Uniformity of Public Opinion,’” Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume V)


Class struggle, productive struggle, and scientific experiment are three great revolutionary movements for the construction of a great socialist country, the safeguard for a communist against bureaucratism, revisionism, and dogmatism so that he can be ever victorious, and the dependable guarantee for the proletariat to unite with other broad working masses to carry out democratic dictatorship.
(Renmin Ribao 26.6.1966, p. 1)


Class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment are the three great revolutionary movements for building a mighty socialist country. These movements are a sure guarantee that communists will be free from bureaucracy and immune against revisionism and dogmatism, and will forever remain invincible. They are a reliable guarantee that the proletariat will be able to unite with the broad working masses and realize a democratic dictatorship.

(“Note on ‘The Seven Well-Written Documents of Zhejiang Province Concerning Cadres’ Participation in Physical Labor,’” 1963)

These are just some examples of the instructions that are quoted from earlier documents. This realization caused us to consider removing all the “Instructions” from the 2nd edition. But in researching this issue, we saw that some instructions were actually excerpts from documents that were never published in English elsewhere, and that some of them carried important historical value. For example, Instruction #95 contains a previously unpublished ending to the “Note on ‘The Seven Well-Written Documents of Zhejiang Province Concerning Cadres’ Participation in Physical Labor’” mentioned above.

Therefore, we decided to check all the 187 instructions one-by-one to remove the duplicates. Here, we stumbled upon yet another problem: Jerome Chen translated all the “Instructions” himself, while in many cases, the Beijing Review had already translated them. Some examples:


Chen’s Translation

Beijing Review’s Translation


This movement is of a colossal scale and has truly mobilized the masses. It is highly significant to their ideological revolutionization.

(Renmin Ribao, August 19, 1966.)

This is a movement of a momentous scale. It has indeed mobilized the masses. It is of very great significance to the revolutionization of the thinking of the people throughout the country.
(Beijing Review, August 26, 1966, Vol. IX, No. 35, page 3)


The overthrown bourgeoisie tries by hook or by crook to use literature and arts to corrupt the masses, thus paving the way for a capitalist restoration. This makes our tasks in literature and art heavier rather than lighter. Our leadership on the literary and art front should be strengthened instead of weakened. To carry out their glorious tasks, our literary and art organizations must carry the great proletarian Cultural Revolution through to the end.
(Hongqi 1966, no. 5, page 6)

The overthrown bourgeoisie is trying, by all methods, to use the position of literature and art as a hotbed for corrupting the masses and preparing for the restoration of capitalism. Therefore, our tasks in the field of literature and art are not lighter but heavier. Our leadership on the literary and art front should not be weakened but, on the contrary, strengthened still further. In order to fulfil their glorious tasks, our revolutionary literary and art organizations must carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end!
(Beijing Review, December 9, 1966, Vol. IX, No. 50, page 6)

Sometimes the differences in the translations are aesthetic. Sometimes they are confusing, as when Chen translated well-known phrases differently like the “‘three-in-one’ combination” vs. “three-way alliance.” Therefore, we tried to replace Chen’s translations by the official ones when possible.

Wrong Dates

Another careful check we did was of the document dates, many of which were incorrect or incomplete. As an example, the “Twenty Manifestations of Bureaucracy” from 1963 was dated February 1970, the date when it was released in a JPRS report. The same is true for “Conversation With Wang Hairong” from 1964 that was dated 1970.

Aside from a few big errors, many dates were incomplete, giving only the month and the year of publication, while the exact date was also known and documented in the Wansui.

Also, Chen dated most of the documents in his book by the date they were published in the newspapers, and not by the date they were first issued. Studying the Beijing Review was of a great help here, as it gave the precise date (and sometimes hour) that Mao was meeting delegations and holding discussions with them.

The Context Matters

In the end, we decided to separate the two “Instructions” articles into smaller standalone articles that we placed chronologically in the book, the same way it was done in the Wansui. Placed in context, we believe that many of those short one paragraph long instructions are much more interesting and relevant than when compiled into one 23 page long article.

As an example, Instruction #71 from November 10, 1966 to the Red Guards says: “Comrades, long life to you! You should put politic in command, go to the masses and be one with them and carry on the great proletarian cultural revolution even better.”

Out of context, it seems like a common exhortation. But chronologically it comes just after the October 25 “Talk at the Central Work Conference,” a conference during which many rightists accused Mao of being responsible for all the “havoc” that the Red Guards were wrecking all over the country and implored him to stop them. To read that just two weeks after that conference, Mao publicly addressed the Red Guards (for the first time since the beginning of the GPCR!) reaffirming his support, the “instruction” becomes suddenly more meaningful: a clear answer to the rightists and the proof of the deep trust that Mao had in the Red Guards.


The large majority of the documents present in this volume comes from trustworthy sources—either official sources, or the 5th volume of the Wansui (which was compiled by different Red Guards groups with a quasi-religious dedication to compile everything that the Chairman ever said or wrote). Nevertheless, some 30 documents that were present in Chen’s Mao Papers were sourced from an “Anthology without a Title” (NT). After some research, we were able to locate all but seven of them in the Wansui or other sources, which makes us believe that this anthology was probably another edition of the Wansui (highly possible given there were 300+ different editions), but we can’t vouch for their trustworthiness. We invite the reader to be careful when reading that handful of documents.

The Importance of Volume IX

For most Maoists, the practices and lessons learned from the Cultural Revolution are the cornerstone of the development of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism. The launching of the GPCR was Mao’s response to the emergence of a new bureaucratic capitalist class in the Party under socialism. He believed that the only way to win the struggle for socialism was the elevated consciousness of the masses and their ability to rectify the Party: to target the real enemies of the dictatorship of the proletariat within the Party leadership itself. In the end, the masses were unable to accomplish this, in spite of—as you can read in the many documents in this volume—all of his efforts to enable them to do so.

In the end, party leaders at the very top were able to use factionalism to foment antagonism among the masses in their struggle for power. In this way, the revolution was, dialectically, both defeated and also failed; the principle contradiction being the relentless attack from the rightists and the secondary being the masses’ as yet undeveloped ability to see through the manipulation. Most would agree that understanding this defeat and failure and the many and complex lessons learned in that line struggle is critical to any revolutionary movement dedicated to building the next socialist societies. However, many revolutionaries outside of China, because the absence of source material, active obscuration and revisionism of that history after the coup, language and cultural barriers, and lack of thorough investigation—have nonetheless, an incomplete understanding of the events and the context of those vital years.

Take for instance the question of the so-called Cult of Personality. Both the Right and the Left level criticism at Mao for promoting, or at least not renouncing the cult built up around him during the GPCR. But how many know how the “cult” started? Who started it and for what purpose? And after it was built, who used it and how, and for what purpose?

Readers of this volume can see in instance after instance that Mao opposed the manifestations of the “cult.” He tried to forbid the naming of places after him, the building of statues in his likeness, and refused all personal gifts. In criticizing the dogmatism around the “absolute correctness” of every single one of his words, he sarcastically said to Lin Biao: ‘You say that one of my words is worth 10,000, but you don’t even listen to one, so that means you don’t listen to 10,000.’ In a 1967 directive about an external communiqué he said:

I deleted Great Leader, Great Teacher, Great Commander-in-Chief, and Great Helmsman. I also deleted “boundless flame.” How could there be boundless flame in the world? There is always a “bound” and so I deleted it. I also deleted “10,000 percent” from the phrase “mood of 10,000 percent joy and excitement.” It was not 10 percent, 100 percent, or 1,000 percent, but 10,000 percent! I didn’t even want to have one percent, and so I deleted it entirely.

The Two Main Stages of the GPCR

Mao launched the GPCR because of his experiences in the many mass movements prior to it: the Three and Five Antis Campaigns against corruption, the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Leap Forward and finally the Socialist Education Movement. During the Socialist Education Movement, the Party tried for the last time to rectify itself from within. But Mao’s efforts were thwarted in a direct challenge by Li Shaoqi, when he found that when he issued instructions about targeting “those in authority in the Party going the capitalist road,” Liu countered with instructions that resulted in witch-hunts and punishment of middle and lower leaders. Through those experiences of party-led rectification movements, Mao understood that the right leadership was gaining strength, and that only the conscious intervention of the masses could stop them.

In the beginning of movement, when Mao sent the Red Guards out around the country, he was relying on them to be the “spark” to ignite the Cultural Revolution—to upend the bureaucratism that was gaining a stranglehold on government officials, root out and investigate problems in leadership and expose the manifestations of the line struggle that the masses were facing. The rightists fought him on this by putting forth claims of chaos and excess. But as Mao continued to support the Red Guards in their efforts, the rightists turned to another tactic.

Mao discovered this tactic when he went on a country-wide investigative tour from July to September 1967. His investigation found that much of the initial positive efforts of the Red Guards had dissolved into factional fighting, with each faction claiming to be more righteous that the other, and, as in the Socialist Education Movement, the rightists at the top were able to use the factionalism to direct the attacks on targets further and further down the leadership chain. The pages of instructions given during that tour (mentioned above) directed people to save cadres with wrong ideas through education and opposed beating people up and putting dunce caps on them, calling them tactics used against landlords—not those used among the people.

When he returned to Beijing in September, Mao called for a “Great Unity” among the people; he said he had been around the country investigating the situation and had not discovered any real differences among the masses. This essentially began the GPCR’s second stage, where the primary contradiction shifted. You can see in the documents in Volume IX that Mao’s focus increasingly turned from identifying and calling the rightists into account, to calling for the masses to abandon factionalism and unite. Time and again, he exhorted the leaders of the different Red Guard factions to foster unity, to stop creating enemy relations between them, to root out the real problems. He met with them over the course of many hours during which they agreed 100% (or 10,000%!) about the absolute correctness of the Great Leader’s wisdom and then proceeded to completely ignore his instructions as soon as they left the meeting.

It does not serve the interests of the bourgeoisie to train younger generations outside of their class to think independently and to ask critical questions—complicated questions that require investigation, study, and ongoing reflection to answer in an appropriately nuanced or dialectical way. This can be true of sincere, committed comrades as well. For instance, it’s simpler to read Mao, or quotations of Mao, or Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc. in order to find the evidence we need to “prove” that what we believe is correct, rather than do more in-depth reading and analysis. But the fact is, unless we tear away the lenses that obscure our understanding of the GPCR, ones that condemn it as a violent, chaotic expression of excess, as well as ones that take Mao’s word as gospel, we will fall into the same traps as the red guards of Beijing and Qinghua University, the very traps that Mao pointed out and roundly criticized in many of the articles in this volume.

The fact that the factionalism and dogmatism that eventually plagued the Red Guards (and caused Mao to disband them) plays out in Maoist circles today is an indication that we who call ourselves Maoist, have yet to understand and put into practice many important lessons of the GPCR. Some today continue to hold up Mao and what he said as proof of the righteousness of their own actions and the wrongheadedness of others—without real study and research into what he really thought and why. It’s the very practice of which Mao criticized Lin Biao and the Red Guard leaders: shouting that every word was absolutely true, but then disregarding what he actually said, much less trying to understand why. The factionalism and the making of contradictions among the people into contradictions between the people and the enemy remains a lesson unlearned from the Cultural Revolution. Joan Hinton described it this way:

The top capitalist roaders were trying in every way they could to get people to use guns to fight each other, to turn the Cultural Revolution into a mess, so they could say, “Look what Mao did,” and save their own necks. It was just… thirty years of wrecking in different ways and this was the most intense. Capitalist roaders at the top were threatened, and they went right down to try to wreck the thing. It became very clear with the Socialist Education Movement, because it was a direct confrontation with Mao and Liu. It was Mao’s 10 points and then Liu’s 10 points and then Mao’s 23 points. The Cultural Revolution failed because of the ability of the capitalist roaders to whip up factionalism among the people. And in fact, the people are so easily whipped into factionalism. It’s the petit bourgeois ideology, which is so strong in all of us: our Achilles’ heel. We can’t join together to fight the main enemy, because of our own petit bourgeois tendency to become factional. To me, if we can’t get over this, it’s the one thing that’s gonna keep ordinary people from ever being able to develop socialism… In the US it’s against the foreign born, it’s whites against blacks and so on—all done to divide the working people. The working people fall for it all the time, because we do not have proletarian ideology. We don’t think that the working people are one family; we just look at somebody from the other village and think, “they’re not our village…” There’s no reason on earth for them to hate each other. All working people get their living from working. (Chou, Silage Choppers and Snake Spirits, 3rd edition, Foreign Languages Press, p. 360)

Of course, Mao’s Selected Works, Volume IX can’t possibly clear up all the critical questions about the Cultural Revolution. In fact, we hope that this volume actually raises more questions and prompts further research and study. But these texts clarify a number of points:

  • Mao conducted ongoing investigation into the complex forces involved in the struggle;

  • Mao made mistakes and was self-critical; and

  • Mao was quite isolated politically in the leadership


  • Mao was not “old and senile” in his later years and therefore confused about how to lead the GPCR;

  • Many of the actions during the GPCR that have been attributed to Mao were actually manifestations of factionalism and line struggle which he opposed; and

  • Leading a “paper” revolution to expose and overthrow enemies of socialism—barely a generation out of feudalism—while still keeping a population of over 700 million people fed, clothed and housed, was an extremely complicated endeavor.

Understanding and respecting Mao’s opposition to lavish gifts and edifications to individuals, we are announcing the upcoming release of this last (for now…) volume of his Selected Works on his birthday, not to glorify his image, but in the spirit of trying to arm the people with questions, insight and understanding in order to continue the struggle for socialism.

A Last Word About Why Mao IX is Not the End

While we hope that this volume will help comrades to have a better understanding of the GPCR, we are also aware that the selection of documents we present in it is very limited. All together, the documents specific to the GPCR are only around a 100 pages long for a period that lasted 10 years. Given that the first editions of Mao’s Selected Works VI-IX were, as we said earlier, compilations of compilations, it’s understandable that the comrades published them could only work with what they had access to. And today, almost 30 years since their initial publication, there still have not been any new English translations of Mao’s writings from this period.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything left to publish! More than half of the 5th Volume of the Wansui, which has documents from 1963 to 1969, isn’t translated, and it isn’t the only source where documents can be found. While earlier sinologists who attempted to translate Mao’s works only had access to a handful of smuggled copies of the Wansui, access isn’t as difficult today.

Therefore, we are pleased to announce that the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IX won’t be the last volume of this series; as we post this article on the Chairman’s birthday and ready Volume IX for the printer, we have already begun our work on Volume X. Volume X will fill some of the holes in Volume IX and present several hundreds of page of Mao’s writings, interviews, letters and instructions from 1966 to 1976 that have yet to be released in English.

This work requires funds to obtain source material, so if you wish to help out, please consider contributing (https://foreignlanguages.press/contribute/).

Volume X will be released in 2021, and we will keep you apprised with more details as we advance in our work. If you want to be kept informed on our progress, you can follow us on our social media!

Foreign Languages Press

C. Kistler

Also editor of Nouvelle Turquie.