This document was written to inform the party cadres that there was corruption taking place within the party. He warned that Party members were being corroded by the bourgeoisie. The document came after the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee asking comrades to carry out the principal of combating corrosion laid down during that session.
He stated that the sturggle against corruption, waste and bureaucracy should be considered as important to combat as counter-revolutionaries. He wanted the broad masses, including the democratic parties and also people in all walks of life to be devoted to this task. All leaders should be taking personal responsibility for thier own warong doigns and report those of others. In minor cases the guilty should be criticized and educated; in major ones the guilty should be dismissed from office, punished, or sentenced to prison terms (to be reformed through labour), and the worst among them should be shot. The problem can only be solved in these ways.
Mao knew that the biggest and most important to solve problems were inside the Party, government, army and mass organizations. His solution in the cities was to rely on working class people to unite with law-abiding capitalists and other sections of the urban population to launch struggle against capitalists who are violating the law by bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing economic information.
The idea was to utilize contradictions, effecting splits, uniting with the many and isolating the few so that in the process a united front against the “five evils” will speedily take shape. He expected that united fronts to come together in three weeks in large cities. By doing this the reactionary capitalists guilty of the worst crimes will be isolated placed in a position for the state to dish out punishment. (Fines, confiscation, arrest, imprisonment or execution.) This was called on to take place in the first ten days of February.
In the work against the “five evils” in industrial and commercial units he advocated leniency for past offences and severity for new ones. leniency towards the many and severity towards the few; leniency towards those owning up to their crimes and severity towards those refusing to do so; leniency for industry and severity for commerce; and leniency for commerce in general and severity for commercial speculation.
private industrial and commercial units should be classified into five categories: the law-abiding, the basically law-abiding, those that partly abide by the law and partly break it, those that break the law on a serious scale, and those that completely violate the law. As far as the big cities are concerned, the first three categories make up about 95 per cent and the last two about 5 per cent. The percentages for different big cities are roughly the same, with only small variations. As for medium-sized cities, the percentages differ considerably from these figures.
These five categories apply to the capitalists and the non-capitalist independent handicraftsmen and family traders, but not to the street vendors. In big cities the street vendors may be left alone for the time being, but the independent handicraftsmen and family traders had better be dealt with. In medium-sized cities it would be better to deal with both the independent handicraftsmen and traders and the street vendors in this movement.
During and also after the struggle against the “five evils”, the following aims were meant to be achieved:
(1) Get thoroughly clear about the situation in private industry and commerce so as the better to unite with and control the bourgeoisie and develop the country’s planned economy. Planned economy is impossible unless we are clear about the situation.
(2) Draw a clear line of distinction between the working class and the bourgeoisie, and in trade unions eliminate corruption and bureaucracy which alienates the masses and weed out the capitalists’ hirelings.
(3) Reorganize the trade councils and associations of industry and commerce, remove from their leading bodies persons guilty of all the “five evils” and those who have been totally discredited, and in their stead draw in those who have acquitted themselves fairly well in the struggle against these evils. With the exception of those who have completely violated the law, there should be representation of all categories of industrialists and traders.
(4) Help leaders of the China Democratic National Construction Association to conduct a shake-up, to expel those guilty of all the “five evils” and those who have disgraced themselves in the public eye and to recruit a number of better individuals, so that it can become a political organization capable of representing the legitimate interests of the bourgeoisie, mainly the industrial bourgeoisie, and of educating them in the spirit of the Common Programme and in the principles governing the struggle against the “five evils”. Take measures to disband the secret organizations of different groups of capitalists, such as the “Thursday Dinner Club”.
(5) Eradicate the “five evils” and eliminate commercial speculation so that the entire bourgeoisie will obey the laws and decrees of the state and engage in industrial and commercial activities beneficial to the nation’s economy and the people’s livelihood. Develop private industry within the limits set by the state (provided the capitalists so wish and its operations conform with the Common Programme), and reduce private commerce step by step. Expand the state’s plan to monopolize the sales and contracts of private industry year by year and at the same time extend the coverage of our plan over private industry and commerce. Set new percentages of profit for private capital so that it will be able to make some profits but not exorbitant ones.
(6) Do away with hidden accounts, make the accounts public and gradually establish a system under which the workers and shop assistants supervise production and management.
(7) Recover the greater part of the economic losses to the state and the people through the payment of evaded taxes, restitution, fines and confiscation.
(8) Set up Party branches among workers and shop assistants in all large and medium-sized private enterprises and strengthen Party work.