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Mao Zedong, “Notes on the Report of Further Improving the Army’s Agricultural Work by the Rear Service Department of the Military Commission,” May 7, 1966

Mao sent this note to PLA Chief Lin Biao on May 7, 1966. It was subsequently called the May 7th Directive. It inspired the setting up in 1968 of “cadre schools” to reeducate party officials by bringing them closer to the people by working with them and by studying the teachings of Mao.
May 7, 1966

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

Dear Comrade Lin Piao,

I have received the report from the Rear Service Department which you sent me on 6 May. I think it is an excellent plan. Is it possible to send this report to all the military districts and ask them to hold discussions of it among the cadres at the army and division levels? Their views should be reported to the Military Commission and through it to the Centre for approval. After that, suitable directives should be issued to them. Please consider this [suggestion].

In the absence of a world war, our army should be a big school. Even under conditions of the third world war, it can still serve as a big school. In addition to fighting the war, it must do other work. In the eight years of the second world war, did we not do just that in the anti-Japanese base areas? In this big school, the army should learn politics, military affairs, and culture, and engage in agricultural production. It can build up its own middle- and small-size workshops to produce goods for its own use and the exchange of other goods of equal value. It can take part in mass work, factory work, and rural socialist education. After socialist education, there are always other kinds of mass work for it to do, to unite the army and people as one. The army should also participate in the revolutionary struggle against capitalist culture. In this way, it carries out military-educational, military-agricultural, military-industrial, and military-civilian work. Naturally, [these kinds of work] should be properly coordinated and a distinction should be made between major and subsidiary work. A unit can select one or two from the agricultural, industrial, and civilian combination, but not all three. In this way, the tremendous power of several million soldiers will be felt.

Likewise, workers should, in addition to their main industrial work, learn military affairs, politics, and culture, and take part in the socialist educational movement and in criticizing the capitalist class. Under adequate conditions, they should also engage in agricultural production, following the example of the Tach’ing (Daqing) Oilfield.

The communes do their main agricultural work (including forestry, fishing, animal husbandry, and subsidiary trades), but they must also learn military affairs, politics, and culture. When circumstances allow, they should collectively set up small-scale factories and take part in criticizing the capitalist class.

The students are in a similar position. Their studies are their chief work; they must also learn other things. In other words, they ought to learn industrial, agricultural, and military work in addition to class work. The school years should be shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue.

Under favourable conditions, people in commerce, service trades, and party and government offices should do likewise.

What has been said above is neither new nor original. Many people have been doing this for some time, but it has not yet become a widespread [phenomenon]. Our army has been working in this way for decades. Now it is on the threshold of new developments.