Angang Constitution

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As the Great Leap Forward (GLF) ended in catastrophe, leaders of the
Chinese Communist Party took a step back from the policies that caused
the tragic famine that killed tens of millions and brought the country’s
economy to the brink of collapse. From late 1961, industrial relations in
China began to be regulated by a new document entitled ‘Regulation of
Tasks in State-Owned Industrial Enterprises (Draft)’ (most commonly
known as the ‘Seventy Articles’, adopted on 15 September 1961). The new
policy spelled the abandonment of the ‘mass line’ and the return to a
management model based on the authority of the factory director, assisted
by administrative and technical staff, which had been heatedly contested
during the strike wave of 1956 and 1957. Concurrently, the material incentives
that had been disdainfully discarded under the GLF were reinstated,
albeit for a limited number of groups of unionised workers in state-owned
enterprises. However, while these policies were consistently implemented
until the eruption of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, not everyone in the
Party’s top leadership was ready to abandon the ‘mass line’ that had driven
the GLF. Mao Zedong himself never hid his opposition to this reorganisation
of labour relations—a position he made abundantly clear in 1960 when he
publicly endorsed the so-called Angang Constitution. This document laid
out the principles of putting politics in command of enterprises, assigning
a stronger role to the Party in management, resorting to mass mobilisation
within companies, blurring the boundaries between workers, technicians
and managers, and pushing for technological revolution. The Seventy
Articles and the Angang Constitution became the core documents in a
‘struggle between two lines’ in industry that would last into the reform
era. This essay examines the local and national political dynamics at play
behind the scenes in Mao’s adoption of the Angang Constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labour
EditorsIvan Franceschini, Christian Sorace
Place of PublicationBrooklyn NY USA
PublisherVerso Books
ISBN (Electronic)9781839766343, 9781839766350
ISBN (Print)9781839766336
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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