The Party’s Leadership is Omnipresent: Reporting on the Renewed Attempt Under the Party’s Leadership to Struggle for a Mountain River in Lin County, Henan”

People’s Daily Lead Article: Dec 19th 1965

At Play at the Time

By upholding an achievement launched during the dawn of the Great Leap Forward, a collectivization campaign opposed by the present leadership such as Liu Shaoqi, while focussing on a need for party members to join workers in actual practice, the report is a sign that a radical push may be in the making. However, at the same time the article emphasizes that the campaign was conducted “under the leadership of party.” This could be seen as a message proclaiming stability on high. 

At Play at Present

How can past political mobilizations be understood? This article argues that we uphold the good, and discard the bad. The Red Flag Canal, an often overlooked achievement of people’s engineering, also foreshadows later struggles over the relationship between a people’s struggle and scientific objectivity. 

Content

The “Red Flag Canal” was a project initiated it 1957 to irrigate a high and arid region in Henan, by constructing terraced fields and a canal through steep mountain gorges. Completed in May of the year, this end of year article provides a summation of the achievement.

Content Summary

The canal is a tremendous effort, completed often with primitive tools.

After 9 years time, the county has now changed its appearance according to the ambitions of the revolutionary people. A 70 kilometer red flag canal has been built to transport water from far away Shanxi Province in addition to the construction of  34 branches of canals totaling 750 kilometers, and numerous small reservoirs and anti-erosion projects. This has resulted in increased yields of up to 410 jin of grain per mu of land, and even in an unprecedented drought in 1965, the country has achieved yields averaging 361 jin per mu.

Even greater of a change has been experienced by the people of Lin County. For countless years, the people of the county had to rely on “Mother Nature” to put their affairs in order. Now, under the leadership of the party, they have become a laboring army infused with socialist consciousness, which cannot be scared away by natural difficulties.

It was the poorest peasants who advocated most strongly for collectivization, and who fought against a tendency for collectives to focus on individual profits. In addition, officials early on often yielded to a tendency to overlook the political nature of work, rather than concentrating on a mechanical approach to accomplishing tasks.

During the Great Leap Forward, many older cadres did not grasp the importance of socialist ideals, having joined the party during the new-democratic movement, which opposed feudalism. Despite the area having been a center of revolutionary activity during the war period, cadres had a habit of working hard and sticking there head into their work, sometimes without considering the political implications. On the other hand, new comrades lacked experience under fire. In addition, new problems and complications multiplied during collectivization. Mechanical work styles followed. Meetings and reports multiplied, rather than concrete political practice. While such tendencies were criticized in the early 50s, this time they were eventually remedied with an insistence that cadres work alongside peasants to produce actual results, as opposed to rectifications in the past which simply opposed bureaucratic political styles by on the spot measures to reduce meeting time and paperwork.

The task was defined all along between struggles over the question of socialist direction. Questions such as could the project even be completed without a previous model, how could the project be conducted if it cut through existing land, should it be self-organized, or rely on national support, should the results be consumed right away or amassed for future efforts all were debated heavily through the project, using the practice of “mass debates” rather than methods of criticizing people through the use of “dunce hats.”

The county’s production of 60 million jin of grain, and accumulation of 40 million yuan in earnings may not be a shocking figure compared to large-scale grain producing counties. But in Lin County, this number is not small at all, and for such production to have increased in a short time is shown not only to be possible, but actually is a fact!

During the hardships of drought and natural disasters experienced early in the project, the effort was temporarily suspended. However, the county’s party committee at the time took a “one divides into two” approach to this pause. On one hand, the weaknesses in the project needed to be acknowledged. However, on the other hand, the revolutionary achievement of the people could not be denied. At the time of the suspension, the canal had reached up to 20 kilometers, and had already entered Lin County, a success, and a motivation for future work.

stone worker

An elderly stone worker trains an apprentice. As part of the Red Canal project, he has trained numerous apprentices from the Yao Village Commune.

after four years

After four years of bitter struggle, the people of Lin County have completed a 70 kilometer canal (shown at right) through their mountains, bringing water from Shanxi’s Zhang River directly to their ploughed land.

venice

A Mountain Village turns into Venice (literally the “southern Yangtze”). The Red Canal passes through the Baijiazhuang Village Commune.

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