Class struggle (阶级斗争) became a very familiar term once the Communist took power, and Mao warned people not to forget class struggle, which should be reminded every year, every month, and even every day. In 1962, Mao raised another specific struggle, as he said, “there still exist class, class contradiction, and class struggle; and that also existent is the struggle between socialism and capitalism and the danger of a comeback of capitalism.” The latter is the line struggle (路线斗争).
The leaders of two lines were not clear at first, as “Mao felt that the forces of capitalism operated primarily in the form of unreconstructed consciousness among certain strata.” As the time developed, the party leadership was stratified on the issues like land reform, socialization in 1951-1956, response to the condemnation of Stalinism, the Great Leap Forward and the People’s Communes. Mao sensed “some comrades” (which he never exactly pointed out, but everyone else knew who he’s referring to) were “taking the capitalist road.”
In 1965, Mao used his favorite method of class struggle while “identifying the class enemy as people in positions of authority in the Party who take the capitalist road (走资本主义道路当权派, 简称走资派),” who were actually Mao’s political enemy. Thus he combined the class struggle and line struggle, as Blecher wrote, “class struggle was to be undertaken, in which ‘capitalist roaders’ would be attacked in a broad mass movement.” In other words, Mao tried to eliminate his line struggle opponents, Liu and Deng, through class struggle with mass support on Mao’s side.
Later in the Cultural Revolution, the whole society joined in the “game.” People fought against each other in the name of class struggle, and people put their enemies to the other line. All those political terms acted as excuses for a group to punish the other group, as Mao set a good example ahead.