Monday, October 31, 2011

Nationalise Qantas Now!

Just days after receiving a 71% pay rise of around $2m, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, without warning, grounded the entire Qantas air fleet in an employee and customer lockout.

His tactic was to create a crisis which threatened the Australian economy thereby requiring the intervention of the Australian Government which convened a compulsory conference of Fair Work Australia, the national workplace relations tribunal.

In a marathon sitting, FWA rejected the option of a 21 day suspension of industrial action and took the harsher decision, supported by the Gillard Government, to terminate the disputes between Qantas and three unions.

The FWA decision underscores the lack of industrial and workplace rights enjoyed by Australians. It grants limited rights to “protected” industrial action, but only during and related directly to a bargaining period. And as Qantas workers now know, even those limited “protected” rights can be taken away at the whim of FWA.

Joyce is the front man for Qantas and the Qantas Board’s decision to up his pay to $5.1m per year was quite rightly taken as an affront by working class Aussies. Imagine earning $50,000 per year – quite a good wage, and many are below it – and then doing your sums and working out that it would take a full 40 years of slaving your guts out to amass what Joyce has been handed as an annual pay increase! That’s close enough to an entire lifetime of work. To earn the equivalent of Joyce’s total annual salary, that same worker on $50,000 would have to start working the day he/she was born, and not stop for 100 years!

We’ll come back to this disparity a little later.

Qantas: A private company loyal only to profit

Qantas badges itself as the ultimate Aussie icon. It boasts the flying kangaroo symbol, the Spirit of Australia slogan, and the I Still Call Australia Home theme song.

In 1993 the then government-owned flagship carrier was privatised by the neo-liberal wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing, Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Foreign investors were allowed to own up to 49% of the ASX-listed company and today control about 38% of its shares.

The top four shareholders are giant multinational investment corporations (JP Morgan Nominees Australia, HSBC Custody Nominees Australasia Limited, National Nominees Pty Limited, Citicorp Nominees Pty Ltd) through whom most foreign equity in Qantas is channelled. These four big institutional investors control 71.06% of Qantas shares. The top twenty shareholders (0.014% of total shareholders) control 80.36% of the shares.

At the other end of the scale are the “mom and dad” shareholders who protested at last week’s AGM about Joyce’s management tactics and the failure of the company to provide dividends over the past two years.

The smallest shareholders – owning up to 1,000 shares each – number 51,449, or 38% of all shareholders. This 38% owns a mere 1.03% of Qantas shares. In the next category, there are 63,734 people owning between 1001 and 5000 shares. They constitute 48% of shareholders but only own 7.03% of shares. These two categories of small shareholders constitute 86% of all shareholders but only control 8.06% of the stock.

This is the reality of so-called “people’s capitalism”. The vast majority of shareholders can be totally opposed to Joyce’s tactics and the financial rewards which come his way but their will is frustrated and blocked by the tiny handful of big institutional investors who align themselves with foreign capital and its plans to bust Australian unions and relocate the company offshore.

The Qantas Board: hand-picked for the class struggle

It would be wrong to concentrate on Alan Joyce alone. He can be sacrificed if he remains on the nose. It is the composition of the Qantas Board that shows how its personnel have been selected with an eye to waging a vicious class struggle against its employees and against what might be loosely described as the Australian national interest.

The full list of the eleven Board members and their other directorships and interlocking corporate and social interests can be found here: ( )

First there is Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford who was first appointed to the Board in 2007. He had been with mining giant Rio Tinto for 37 years. The multinational giant waged industrial and political war against the mining unions in Western Australia's Pilbara region and then attacked the coal unions in the Hunter Valley. One of its tactics, under Clifford who personally broke union picket lines, was to impose a lockout and threat to sack 430 striking miners.

No wonder an October 31 report in the Murdoch rag, the misnamed “Australian” states: “Qantas's lockout looks to have come straight from the playbook of accomplished union-buster Rio Tinto, where Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford spent his executive career.”

Another former Rio Tinto Director is Richard Goodmanson, born in Australia but with dual Australian and US citizenship. Goodmanson was President and CEO of America West Airlines, a budget carrier, from 1996 until April 1999. During his tenure at America West, the airline achieved the highest rate of growth of any hub-and-spoke major carrier in North America, but at a cost to employees and to maintenance standards.

Operational problems reared their ugly head throughout the summer of 1998. Mechanical problems increased, unfavourable press ensued, and employee stress reached a breaking point. Union issues were becoming more and more common, for the flight attendant contract was still open. Mechanics elected the Teamsters as their representative, and were negotiating their first contract. Dispatchers had just concluded their first contract on April 13.

A well-publicized FAA fine was imposed on the airline in June. The record $5 million fine was imposed over maintenance issues, primarily oversight and changes in recommended procedures. America West admitted no wrongdoing, and half the fine was forgiven after a restructuring of the maintenance oversight procedures. Eventually, this would lead to yet another change in heavy maintenance contractors.

In March 1999, struggle broke out between America West Airlines management and its 2,400 flight attendants. The latter were arguing for the suspension of a pay freeze instituted along with a 10% pay cut in 1995 when the carrier was battling to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the Knight Ridder newsagency the ultimate threat “is that the company will simply shut down”.

“Such a move -- described in a Feb. 12 memo to all employees from President and CEO Richard R. Goodmanson -- would idle 12,000 workers, ground 300 daily flights and could occur as early as Friday. It also could cost the airline $5.5 million a day in lost revenue.”

“If an employment contract isn't reached between the airline and the flight attendants by 10 p.m. Friday, the workers have threatened a series of random, last-minute strikes designed to create chaos for the airline …”

A last minute agreement between the carrier and its cabin crew did indeed “avert chaos”.

Goodmanson has had to wait until October 2011 to enjoy a good old-fashioned lockout.

Then there is Garry Hounsell, appointed to the Board in 2005. Hounsell provides a direct link to legal firm Freehills of which he is also a Board Member. Freehills are leading activists in the class struggle and were the advisors to Patrick Stevedores during its 1998 campaign to bust the Maritime Union of Australia. In April of that year, Patricks sacked its workforce and imposed a lockout enforced by balaclava-wearing thugs, dogs and coppers. Freehills has a long history of developing campaigns for some of the worst employers in Australia. It is an enemy of the working class of Australia.

Dr John Schubert is a former President of the Business Council of Australia and provides a link between that organisation and the Qantas Board. It is through such links that the ruling class constantly discusses its tactics in the war on working Australians. The BCA represents the core of the mainly multinational corporations that generate the most extreme reaction against the rights and liberties of Australian people. Schubert is also a Director of foreign multinational BHP Billiton.

Other Board members include a former Senior Ministerial Adviser to the architect of Qantas privatisation, Paul Keating, as well as persons with interlocking directorships with banking, construction, transport, finance, mining, retail….

The Qantas Board is a war cabinet of the most reactionary, best organised and openly aggressive sections of the ruling class.

Executive salaries: the great divide

The outrage over Alan Joyce’s 71% pay rise is an indication of the mood of the people. From Tahrir Square to Wisconsin, from London is Burning to Occupy Wall Street, there is a growing anger about the obscene levels of private wealth and the insecurity and uncertainty of life for those at the bottom.

The following graphs are based on US data but are indicative of international trends:

The first shows that corporate profits are at an all-time high. This is despite the economic crisis of 2007-08 and represents a half-century high point not seen since the economic boost of the Korean War. Precarious employment is on the rise, entire nations are being rescued from bankruptcy at the expense of their people’s living standards, but corporate profits are safe!

The second shows that whilst the CEOs, the board members and the giant institutional shareholders are wallowing in wealth, the working class that creates that wealth is getting a smaller and smaller share of the growth. The rapidly-falling blue line is wages’ share of the economy. Every picture tells a story!

The third shows that CEO salaries, once a mere 50 times that of the average worker’s salary, are now 350 times as much. Economically and socially, these parasites live on a very different planet to the rest of us!

The last one shows the terrible reality of the last 15 years as CEO salaries and corporate profits have sky-rocketed, whilst production workers’ wages have remained more or less static, and the US Federal minimum wage has actually gone backwards.

Occupy Wall Street indeed!

Nationalise Qantas!

The disgraceful performance of the social democrats in privatising Qantas (Keating) and using Fair Work Australia to take away workers’ rights to industrial action (Gillard) can only be righted by renationalising the company.

For most practical purposes, the only way into and out of Australia is by air. The interests of our people require a national carrier, owned and operated by the Government. If it needs to be subsidised to provide a safe and reliable service, then so be it, although there is no evidence that such a government carrier would necessarily run at a loss. Management must include the unions representing all categories of employees.

If anything is to be sent offshore, let it be Alan Joyce and his reactionary Board.

Nationalise Qantas and empower the workers!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zhengzhou residents support "Occupy Wall Street"

All around the world people are being inspired by the US people's courageous campaign to Occupy Wall Street. In the belly of the beast, US citizens are saying that they have had enough of finance capital's exploitation and of its free ride on the backs of people everywhere.

The people of China have experienced a world free of imperialist finance capital but are now faced with the growth of privatisation and of capitalism. Occupy Wall Street has provided a unique opportunity for them to both express solidarity with the US mass movement, and to restate their support for socialism over capitalism.

I have translated the following report from a Chinese website. It is an action taken in the heroic proletarian city of Zhengzhou, home to the monument to the February 7, 1923 railway strike.

(Above: Main banner at the Zhengzhou rally reads "Firmly support the US people's great "Wall Street Revolution".)

The Chinese people support the Wall Street Revolution

On the afternoon of October 6, several hundred Zhengzhou residents gathered at the Zhengzhou City Provincial Workers’ Cultural Palace to support the recent mass movement to “Occupy Wall Street”.

Everyone had made a rational analysis, observing this fiery eruption in the back yard of the United States. A cadre from a state-owned enterprise said that the United States does evil everywhere in the world: whoever it wants to hit, it does; it interferes in the internal affairs of other countries; it subverts the political power of other countries; it brandishes the big stick of freedom and democracy with which to beat other people – and now it is its own turn and its true colours have been exposed.

(Above: working people donning armbands supporting Occupy Wall Street.)

A young man then took over from him and said that capitalism had already set off on a dead end road, and the people of the capitalist countries have started to awaken; a middle-aged man from Shandong working in Zhengzhou said that socialism must not only save China, it must also save the world.

The crowd then loudly shouted: “Long live the socialist system of public ownership! The private ownership system of capitalism will not last!”

Although Chairman Mao is no longer with us, the internationalism he taught us lives on!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Notes on May 7 Cadre Schools

(Above: "Going to live and work in a productionteam and settle in the countryside to wage revolution".)

In 1974 I went to a May 7 Cadre School outside Beijing, saw high school students waiting at train stations to go "up into the hills and down to the countryside" to learn from the peasants about the conditions that had produced the momentous Chinese revolution. In Nanjing I spoke to a student, in his school, about going out to the country - he had been and had put in a request to go again. On the Shanghai wharves, I saw two young female doctors driving cranes - doing their required rotation of manual labour so that they would understand the conditons of the workers they might have to treat.

All of these socialist initiatives were wound down after Mao's death. Under Deng Xiaoping, intellectuals ("cadres") were allowed to complain about such "demeaning" practices and a whole market for whinging about the Cultural Revolution opened up in the West.

The author of this piece, which I have translated from Chinese, looks back fondly on his time in a May 7 Cadre School. Mao Zedong's instructions to Lin Biao about the creation of cadre schools is attached at the end for reference.

(Above: Advance courageously along the great and glorious road of Chairman Mao's '7 May Directive' )

Li Minyi: Notes on "May 7 cadre schools".

43 years ago today, Chairman Mao issued the “May 7th Directive"; 34 years ago --- that is, from April till September of 1975, I spent a few months as a “May 7 soldier” at the May 7 Cadre School of the General Staff Communication Department at Xuchang in Henan.

As far as entering the "May 7 cadre school" is concerned, because times then were different, and people’s situations were different, then each person's experiences were naturally not the same. For example, some people thought it was the “cowshed” where “cow demons and snake spirits” were locked up, and that they were no different to labor camps and prison sentences; some others thought that it was a labor-training school, conducive to the improvement of individual ideological consciousness and have always cherished the memory of that part of their life experience. There may people who had other experiences as well, but you can say for sure that I would like to belong to the latter group.

On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the issuing by Chairman Mao of the May 7th directive, with individuals remembering their experiences of May 7 cadre schools, and in so far as mine is a commemoration, and in so far as there are people who do not have experience or an understanding of that history, then we should not lose sight of such a beneficial resource.

Early cadre

In 1975 at the age of 29, I was a publicity officer in the first communications station of the General Staff of the Ministry of Communications in Beijing. In April, my work unit decided that I should go with four other people to a "May 7 cadre school." They were: deputy political commissar of the troops Wang Furang, in his fifties; Ding Wensheng, chief of security in his early 40s; the public health logistics section chief and a 30 year old assistant from the logistics department (I can’t remember the last two people’s names).

Although I don’t clearly remember the date, we took a train and got off at Xuchang in Henan province. A car sent by the cadres came to meet us and took us to our residence about 20 km outside the town. After arriving, we were quickly put into teams that had been arranged in advance by the school personnel. The head of the team was a 50 year-old cadre school cadre named Lu. He was the assistant to the head of the residential district. We and five comrades from the engineering headquarters (hereafter called EH) were put in one class and the section chief became class leader with young Assistant Wang from the EH as deputy class leader. Little Wang and I shared a room with two others from the EH. One of the latter was an acquaintance of mine, Liu Dingcai. During our time at Fudan University he was in the journalism department, and because one of my small group of classmates, Liu Guangsheng, was in his unit I knew him and remembered his name. Dingcai was younger than me by four or five years and was promoted to a cadre after graduation, and became the secretary charged with propaganda work in EH after he went to the cadre school. There was also someone called Liu Daozhu who was two or three years older than me who was a staff officer at EH. Our dormitory was on the second row of the Southern building and nearby, if you went east across Getiao Street, there was a big fish breeding pond.

The "May 7 cadre schools" was a division-level unit of the General Staff under the Ministry of Communications. Principal Liu Mingsheng, who lived a plain life and was approachable, was an old Red Army man. The cadre school was located about 20 kilometers south of Xuchang, surrounded by flat terrain. Less than a kilometer south of our dormitory was a river more than 10 meters wide flowing from east to west, although when the depth was around one meter or so, it did not flow. According to legend, it was the Yunliang River excavated by Cao Cao during the Three Kingdoms period. The deputy team leader would take us to catch fish by hand along this river. Once or twice each year, using this method, he would catch fish.

The actual procedure is to block up the two sides of the opening under the bridge, drain away the water inside, and you would be able to catch several dozen jin (one jin is equal to 0.5 kilos) of fish, mostly carp, and sticky fish. Bathing in the river I caught a small soft-shelled turtle, weighing about two to three liang (there are ten liang per jin so each liang is 50 grams). It was brought back to Beijing by Deputy Political Commissar Wang, and placed in his fish tank at home where I have seen it.

The whole "May 7 cadre school" had over 2,800 mu of land (one mu is equal to 0.165 acres). The main crops are wheat and rapeseed. After arriving at the school, we divided our time roughly equally between studying military administration and doing productive labour. Whilst at the cadre school, we also arranged to spend a week visiting the Red Flag Canal in Linxian (Lin County), and had two weeks in nearby rural areas, implementing the "three togethers", ie living, eating and working with the people. However, I just do not remember the name of that village.

(Above: "The university moves to our village")

Learn to farm

During our time at the "May 7 cadre school," the main types of farm work our class engaged in were: digging fish ponds, harvesting rapeseed harvesting and sun-drying the wheat, opening up wasteland to grow vegetables, construction of walls for a table-tennis room, making sun-dried bricks etc.

Because there was a relatively high degree of mechanization at the cadre school, harvesting of wheat was by machine, and there was a tractor ploughing team of around ten people. That combine harvester was an energetic fellow, reaping on one side and threshing on the other, and not long after the wheat could be transported to the site for airing and drying. We only had to cut the left-over wheat, and there was not much labor intensity involved. Building mud walls and making mud bricks were duties that only our class had to undertake. Because did it so well the first time, afterwards whenever there was this type of work, it was always done by my class. It is worth mentioning that the squad leader Lao Ding, was an expert, a genius. With a hand-held sickle, he looked like an old farmer; when he picked up the trowel, he looked like a qualified mason. He led the class in having a beautiful life, and the team cadres and the students all praised him with one voice.

All of our spare time was used up planting vegetables. Around the edges of the place where we were stationed and along the sides of several fish ponds, there was a weedy area which we dug deeply and turned into a vegetable plot. The teams and groups all competed, and after doing their best to dig out the vegetable plot, planted eggplant, hot peppers, kidney beans, pumpkin squash, and then harvested the vegetables and delivered them to the canteen, had said that registration of a certain time in the team announced the results will always be outstanding praise and encouragement.

Having said that, there is a small episode I’d like to raise. Section Chief Zhang from our class, later on divided up our group to help work in the kitchen. When he was opening up wasteland to grow vegetables, he and several companions from the canteen planted watermelon at the side of a fish pond, and they grew fairly well, and in particular, after they formed into small melons, growing quickly, a new one each day, he and his companions went there each day to enjoy some. Sooner or later some were harvested, but we had not heard of them being turned over to the canteen, and they had all been privately taken care of. However, a few of the mischievous boys in our dormitory had helped eliminate the first relatively big watermelon.

That was one night around ten or eleven o'clock, when a few in our dormitory had not fallen asleep; I do not remember exactly whose ingenious idea it was to pick a ripe watermelon and take it away, but others respond immediately. So we used the dormitory near the edges of the ponds and dressed in shorts and singlets, and quietly reached the watermelon ground, took the melon off, then holding it tightly in our arms, carried it to the table tennis room, and quickly completed our mission. To confuse the masters of melon, they then selected a large melon skin and put it back where the melon had been, camouflaging it with some melon leaves.

This method was really effective, and it wasn’t until 3 or 4 days later that we heard Old Zhao and others arguing about who ate his watermelon, causing a few of us in our dormitory to smile for quite a while! After I’d been back in Beijing, I once ran into Section Chief Zhang, and recalling the matter I asked him: "Section Chief, did you ever find out who ate that watermelon?" He said: "It wasn’t those guys from the mess squad! " It was only then that I told this upright elder brother the truth.

(Above: "Take the road of the May 7 Cadre Schools and persevere in continuing the revolution")

The officers and men are equal

If you were to ask me what was the most prominent feature of life in a "May 7 cadre school", it would be the equality between officers and men, that all were of equal standing. It should be said that this "May 7th road" had a powerful impact on the traditional hierarchy and on the consciousness of “being an officer".

On the first day of the cadre school, it was announced in the team that in order to get rid of bourgeois right, all those who had come here were “May 7th soldiers” taking the "May 7th Road", and that all were students, regardless of the level of their original positions in the army, and all were to be addressed as Old Wang or Old Li and that we were no longer to call them by their previous post and rank.

The whole team had three levels of leadership cadres, they are the Minister of the Ministry of Communications Shi Fuyin, the first deputy political commissar of the Ministry of Communications, Wang Furang and the second assistant director Wang, (I remember that he had been appointed as the head of the cadre school during this period). There were also many people who belonged to the Section Chief under the Head of Department.

The quality of these leading comrades was very high, and they could all place strict demands on themselves, could transform themselves into ordinary soldiers. They were older than us and had higher positions than us, but did not put on the airs of an officer while at the cadre school. They ate and boarded with us and shared our entertainment, and did the same farm work as us, so that they could indeed draw closer to us young people and share our intimate feelings. This kind of life makes us feel warm, free and casual, but also enabled us to learn many good ideas and many good traditions alongside the older comrades.

Take our deputy political commissar Wang Furang, in the army that’s a division-level head, and as we were usually on familiar terms, how could we not just call him Old Wang! In the cadre school it could happen that his former subordinate Section Chief Ding became his class leader and often assigned Lao Wang his tasks; young people from outside work units shouted at him, telling him to do this or that. This person, Lao Wang, was really easy-going, and he got along very well in his relationship with young people, and had lots of special stories in his head. Many times, when resting from work, they were all listening to him telling stories. Many people know that Wu Dalang (“Big” Wang) went to Japan to be king, and that to avoid the taboo on the use of the personal name of the king, the Japanese have stories about “Little” Lang, “One”Lang, “Supreme” Lang, but the first time that some of us had heard of this was from Lao Wang. My classmate Liu Dingcai later went on a work trip to Beijing from outside and made a special point of calling on Lao Wang from all those years ago.

Checking the harvest

It needs to be said that there were lots of things to point out in the cadre school’s harvest. For example, by undergoing the cadre school life, the mutual understanding of the various subordinate units was enhanced and the relations between them were neighbourly and friendly; at the cadre school we were all able to eat, sleep, build up our physique, learn to do farm work, in order to reap tens of millions of pounds of food out of the effort , sprinkled with sweat; In addition to the classroom arrangements for military and political education, we also went out of the barracks to visit and study, to broaden our field of vision, to experience and understand the hard life of the masses of peasants in Henan. This is not specifically described here, and there are only two things that left a deep impression to tell you about.

First, being involved in an emergency when on a study trip to Lin County.

According to the team's arrangements, the entire unit of one hundred people went out from the cadre school, visiting 27 commemorative monuments in Zhengzhou, Henan, and visited the Red Flag Canal in Lin County. When visiting Lin County, we ran into a rainstorm, and it is said that the area of Xuchang, Luohe, and Zhumadian in the space of 24 hours had 300 millimeters of rainfall. The rainstorm led to a flood disaster, and many farmland paths were washed away. On that day in the boarding house, we heard that several members of a certain village in the county had gone out to do farm work, but because the flood had washed out their bridge, they were caught stranded on a sandbar, and that they had already been without food and water for one day and night, and needed to be rescued. As an army made up of the sons of the people, how could we sit by and do nothing when the people faced difficulties! The leader of the cadre school political department (political work section?) Director Liu, (who afterwards moved to the Communications Command Academy in Wuhan as a teacher in the Marxist-Leninist Teaching and Research Institute where his office was alongside mine) after discussions with the team’s cadres, asked the county leaders for a combat assignment, and after authorization, formed an emergency squad of more than 20 young people who could swim, and they immediately rushed to the rescue site.

Dingcai and I were both honoured to be approved to participate in the operation. I remember that it was in the afternoon, and that we first went in a big car, but that as the distance was not far and because the asphalt had been washed away up ahead we had to get out and go off on foot. On the way to our destination, we stopped at a riverside where we could see the bridge that was destroyed, and we could also see across where the river was divided to where there were two members of the trapped. We needed to cross the first river, but although it was only 10 meters wide, the depth was unpredictable, and there was a large willow tree that had been swept into the river. The first person to jump into the water, surnamed Wang, (unfortunately I cannot remember his given name) had a rope tied at the waist and took the lead. He gave the rope a pull and a few others jumped into the water, and advanced to the bank of the second river to where the people were trapped. From the waves on the water it could be seen that the river was not deep, but the current were very turbulent and the water was also very wide, about forty to fifty meters across. In coordination with the people trapped on the other side a small stone was tied to the rope which was then thrown and the rope pulled tight. Our side of the river we tried to raise the rope high, to try and help Xiao Wang get back across the river but this was without success, and Xiao Wang swallowed a lot of water. It was very dangerous. As we were anxiously thinking of other ways, the local People's Liberation Army arrived with a rubber dinghy, which they successfully used to reach the stranded people.

The stranded people were not rescued by us, but the county highly appraised us and subsequently gave a banquet to express their gratitude to all of us. The banquet was in the main hall of the country guest house, and there was a huge variety of dishes on the table and wine glasses, as well as a variety of fruits, such a rich feast as I have never again experienced. After returning to the cadre school, Xiao Wang was awarded a merit citation Third Class for his bravery in leading the attempt to save the people.

Second, the recreational activities in which we participated during our time at the cadre school.

I would have to say that as regards cultural and sports activities, there was mainly sports. There was only one thing that could be regarded as “literary” and that was one night after there had been a forecast of rain, and the class worked more than an hour overtime to carry tens of thousands of pounds of wheat in storage bag into a warehouse before the rain came. The next day I wrote a report on it which was broadcast by the school radio station.

In quite a few sports there were those who were considered to be activists. In addition to the chess and poker competitions organized by the team, there were those who had played a lot of basketball.

The poker competition was played in ascending grades, and with my partner Liu Taozhu we progressed through several competitions in the class, district and whole unit and finally became the champions. Although the prize was only the pack of cards used in the competition, it caused us both to become targets of public criticism. After the competition, not only did many people in neighbouring dormitories want to play cards with us, but so did both Minister Shi and Director Wang of the Ministry of Communications, who lived in the row in front of us, and although I didn’t know whether they were not convinced that we were champions, or whether they were considering finding an ace to compete with us, but in any case we were invited there many times for a trial of strength.

Basketball was the most frequent activity for a few months. Besides spontaneously organized competitions within the team and between teams, there was a round robin competition organized for the whole school. Liu Dingcai and I both became enthusiasts and took part in the blue team. Our team didn’t mess around, but had standards. The team leader and captain were both 46 or 47 year-old old comrades. Every time before a game, we would have meetings to study strategy and tactics; after the match we would also sit down for serious analysis and lessons learned. So we improved with each game. During the games, individuals could stay on the court the whole time, and although I was playing guard, because the captain also played guard, he asked me to be a flexible guard and encouraged me to take the opportunity to shoot, so each game I also had a score. Hearing the commentary of the comrades in the propaganda team over loudspeakers giving recognition of our attack and defence was a a proud feeling to have. On one occasion, in a match against the tractor ploughing team, their forward and I hit our heads against each other. Above his eye was a two centimeter long gash which required 78 stitches; I had a centimeter long and half a centimeter deep gash as well. That lad was a couple of years younger than I, modest and shy, and we both laughed as we collided and later maintained a good relationship.

After the round robin had been played and a whole school team created, only me and a big man surnamed Liang from our team were selected. Unfortunately, they just announced the team, but were unable afterwards to organize training and competition with other units. Nevertheless, this incident also inspired me as when all is said and done, it affirmed my participation as an individual. The experience of playing basketball in the cadre school it can be said was the most uplifting feeling I ever had in a lifetime of playing basketball.

Attachment: Chairman Mao’s May 7 instructions of 1966

Notes On The Report Of Further Improving The Army’s Agricultural
Work By The Rear Service Department Of The Military Commission
May 7, 1966
[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

Dear Comrade Lin Biao,
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 co-ordinated 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 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.