May 24, 1977
A few days ago, when two leading comrades of the General Office of the Central Committee of the Party came to see me, I told them that the "two whatevers" are unacceptable. If this principle were correct, there could be no justification for my rehabilitation, nor could there be any for the statement that the activities of the masses at Tiananmen Square in 1976 were reasonable. We cannot mechanically apply what Comrade Mao Zedong said about a particular question to another question, what he said in a particular place to another place, what he said at a particular time to another time, or what he said under particular circumstances to other circumstances. Comrade Mao Zedong himself said repeatedly that some of his own statements were wrong. He said that no one can avoid making mistakes in his work unless he does none at all. He also said that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin had all made mistakes -- otherwise why did they correct their own manuscripts time and time again? The reason they made these revisions was that some of the views they originally expressed were not entirely correct, perfect or accurate. Comrade Mao Zedong said that he too had made mistakes and that there had never been a person whose statements were all correct or who was always absolutely right. He said that if one's work was rated as consisting 70 per cent of achievements and 30 per cent of mistakes, that would be quite all right, and that he himself would be very happy and satisfied if future generations could give him this "70-30" rating after his death. This is an important theoretical question, a question of whether or not we are adhering to historical materialism. A thoroughgoing materialist should approach this question in the way advocated by Comrade Mao Zedong. Neither Marx nor Engels put forward any "whatever" doctrine, nor did Lenin or Stalin, nor did Comrade Mao Zedong himself. I told the two leading comrades of the Central Committee's General Office that, in my letter of April 10 to the Central Committee, I had proposed that "from generation to generation, we should use genuine Mao Zedong Thought taken as an integral whole in guiding our Party, our army and our people, so as to advance the cause of the Party and socialism in China and the cause of the international communist movement". I also told them that I had made this proposal after considerable thought. Mao Zedong Thought is an ideological system. Comrade Luo Ronghuan and I struggled against Lin Biao, criticizing him for vulgarizing Mao Zedong Thought instead of viewing it as a system. When we say we should hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought, we mean precisely that we should study and apply Mao Zedong Thought as an ideological system.
(Excerpt from a talk with two leading comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)