Tuesday, March 6, 2007

What is Maoism?

For a long time debate has been going on in Leftist circle about the significance of Maosim. Or whether there is anything called Maoism that really exists in the realm of Marxist ideology.
Following is a part of a statement by RIM(Revolutionary International Movement) about their view on Maosim, which they propagate.
However many organisations and individuals disagree with their views about Maoism inspite of themselves believing in Maoism.

Mao Tsetung developed Marxism-Leninism to a new and higher stage in the course of his many decades of leading the Chinese Revolution, the world-wide struggle against modern revisionism and, most importantly, in finding in theory and practice the method of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to prevent the restoration of capitalism and continue the advance toward communism. Mao Tsetung greatly developed all three component parts of Marxism - philosophy, political economy and scientific socialism.

Mao said, -Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.- Mao Tsetung comprehensively developed the military science of the proletariat through his theory and practice of People-s War. Mao taught that people, not weapons, are decisive in waging war. He pointed out that each class has its own specific forms of war with its specific character, goals and means. He remarked that all military logic can be boiled down to the principle -you fight your way, I-ll fight my way-, and that the proletariat must forge military strategy and tactics which can bring into play its particular advantages, by unleashing and relying upon the initiative and enthusiasm of the revolutionary masses.

Mao established that the policy of winning base areas and systematically establishing political power was key to unleashing the masses and developing the armed strength of the people and the wavelike expansion of their political power. He insisted on the need to lead the masses in carrying out revolutionary transformations in base areas and to develop these politically, economically and culturally in the service of advancing revolutionary warfare.

Mao taught that the Party should control the gun and the gun must never be allowed to control the Party. The Party must be built as a vehicle capable of initiating and leading revolutionary warfare. He emphasised that the central task of revolution is the seizure of political power by revolutionary violence. Mao Tsetung-s theory of People-s War is universally applicable in all countries, although this must be applied to the concrete conditions in each country and, in particular, take into account the revolutionary paths in the two general types of countries - imperialist countries and oppressed countries - that exist in the world today.

Mao solved the problem of how to make revolution in a country dominated by imperialism. The basic path he charted for the revolution in China represents an inestimable contribution to the theory and practice of revolution and is the guide for achieving liberation in the countries oppressed by imperialism. This means protracted People-s War, surrounding the cities from the countryside, with armed struggle as the main form of struggle and the army led by the Party as the main form of organisation of the masses, mobilising the peasantry, principally the poor peasants, carrying out the agrarian revolution, building a united front under the leadership of the Communist Party to carry out the New Democratic Revolution against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and establishing the joint dictatorship of the revolutionary classes led by the proletariat as the necessary prelude to the socialist revolution which must immediately follow the victory of the first stage of the revolution. Mao put forward the thesis of the -three magic weapons- - the Party, the Army and the United Front - the indispensable instruments for making revolution in every country in accordance with its specific conditions and path of revolution.

Mao Tsetung greatly developed the proletarian philosophy, dialectical materialism. In particular, he stressed that the law of contradiction, the unity and struggle of opposites, is the fundamental law governing nature and society. He pointed out that the unity and identity of all things is temporary and relative, while the struggle between opposites is ceaseless and absolute, and this gives rise to radical ruptures and revolutionary leaps. He masterfully applied this understanding to the analysis of the relationship between theory and practice, stressing that practice is both the sole source and ultimate criterion of the truth and emphasising the leap from theory to revolutionary practice. In so doing Mao further developed the proletarian theory of knowledge. He led in taking philosophy to the masses in their millions, popularising, for example, that -one divides into two- in opposition to the revisionist thesis that -two combines into one-.
Mao Tsetung further developed the understanding that the -people and the people alone are the motive force in the making of world history-. He developed the understanding of the mass line: -take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action-. Mao stressed the profound truth that matter can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter, further developing the understanding of the conscious dynamic role of man in every field of human endeavour.

Mao Tsetung led the international struggle against modern revisionism led by the Khrushchevite revisionists. He defended the communist ideological and political line against the modern revisionists and called upon the genuine proletarian revolutionaries to break with them and forge parties based on Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles.

Mao Tsetung undertook a penetrating analysis of the lessons of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and the shortcomings as well as the positive achievements of the construction of socialism in that country. While Mao defended the great contributions of Stalin, he also summed up Stalin-s errors. He summed up the experience of the socialist revolution in China and the repeated two-line struggles against revisionist headquarters within the Communist Party of China. He masterfully applied materialist dialectics to the analysis of the contradictions of socialist society.

Mao taught that the Party must play the vanguard role - before, during and after the seizure of power - in leading the proletariat in the historic struggle for communism. He developed the understanding of how to preserve the proletarian revolutionary character of the Party through waging an active ideological struggle against bourgeois and petit bourgeois influences in its ranks, the ideological remoulding of the Party members, criticism and self-criticism and waging two-line struggle against opportunist and revisionist lines in the Party. Mao taught that once the proletariat seizes power and the Party becomes the leading force within the socialist state, the contradiction between the Party and the masses becomes a concentrated expression of the contradictions marking socialist society as a transition between capitalism and communism.

Mao Tsetung developed the proletariat-s understanding of political economy, of the contradictory and dynamic role of production itself and of its interrelationship with the political and ideological superstructure of society. Mao taught that the system of ownership is decisive in the relations of production but that, under socialism, attention must be paid that public ownership is socialist in content as well as in form. He stressed the interaction between the system of socialist ownership and the other two aspects of the relations of production, the relations between people in production and the system of distribution. Mao developed the Leninist thesis that politics is the concentrated expression of economics, showing that under socialist society the correctness of the ideological and political line determines whether the proletariat actually owns the means of production. Conversely, he pointed out that the rise of revisionism means the rise of the bourgeoisie, that given the contradictory nature of the socialist economic base it would be easy for capitalist roaders to rig up the capitalist system if they come to power.

He profoundly criticised the revisionist theory of the productive forces and concluded that the superstructure, consciousness, can transform the base and with political power develop the productive forces. All this took expression in Mao's slogan, -Grasp Revolution, Promote Production.-

Mao Tsetung initiated and led the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which represented a great leap forward in the experience of exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat. Hundreds of millions of people rose up to overthrow the capitalist roaders who had emerged from within the socialist society and who were especially concentrated in the leadership of the Party itself (such as Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and Deng Xiao-ping). Mao led the proletariat and masses in challenging the capitalist roaders and imposing the interests, outlook and will of the great majority in every sphere that, even in socialist society, had remained the private reserve of the exploiting classes and their way of thinking.

The great victories won in the Cultural Revolution prevented the capitalist restoration in China for a decade and led to great socialist transformations in the economic base as well as in education, literature and art, scientific research and other parts of the superstructure. Under Mao-s leadership the masses dug away at the soil which engenders capitalism - such as bourgeois right and the three great differences between town and country, between worker and peasant, and between mental and manual labour.

In the course of fierce ideological and political struggle, millions of workers and other revolutionary masses greatly deepened their class consciousness and mastery of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and strengthened their capacity to wield political power. The Cultural Revolution was waged as part of the international struggle of the proletariat and was a training ground in proletarian internationalism.

Mao grasped the dialectical relationship between the necessity of revolutionary leadership and the need to arouse and rely on the revolutionary masses from below to implement proletarian dictatorship. In this way, the strengthening of the proletarian dictatorship was also the most extensive and deepest exercise in proletarian democracy yet achieved in the world, and heroic revolutionary leaders came forward such as Chiang Ching and Chang Chun-chiao who stood alongside the masses and led them into battle against the revisionists and who continued to hold high the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the face of bitter defeat.

Lenin said, "Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat." In the light of the invaluable lessons and advances achieved through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution led by Mao Tsetung, this dividing line has been further sharpened. Now it can be stated that only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat and to the recognition of the objective existence of classes, of antagonistic class contradictions, of the bourgeoisie in the Party and of the continuation of the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat throughout the whole period of socialism until communism. As Mao so powerfully stated, "Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism."

The capitalist restoration following the 1976 counter-revolutionary coup d-etat led by Hua Kuo-feng and Deng Xiao-ping in no way negates Maoism or the world-historic achievements and tremendous lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution; rather this defeat confirms Mao-s theses on the nature of socialist society and the need to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Clearly, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution represents a world-historic epic of revolution, a victorious high point for the world-s communists and revolutionaries, an imperishable achievement. Although we have a whole process ahead of us, that revolution left us great lessons we are already applying, such as, for example, the point that ideological transformation is fundamental in order for our class to seize power.


singur said...

Mao thought or Maoism?

Thanks for bringing the line of RIM under attention. It gives the revolutionary camp to understand the essence of the line of RIM and prachanda.

In my understanding of Marxism as dialectical materialism the guiding ideology of proletariat is the integral part of the principal contradiction of the existing mode of production. During the development of capitalism, when seizure of political power was not in the agenda of proletariat; the main job was to organize proletariat as a class, the guiding ideology was Marxism. As capitalism has been reached imperialism, the highest and moribund stage of capitalism, the abolition of capitalism as a system and the seizure of political power by proletariat have become possible.

Com Lenin has shown how imperialism is qualitatively different from developing capitalism. The qualitative difference is being reflected in the contradictions. The contradictions (i) between imperialism and the oppressed peoples, (ii) among the imperialist powers themselves, and (iii) between capitalists and labor are the principal contradictions in the era of imperialism. The first two are the new contradictions characteristics of imperialism alone and signify the qualitatively difference of imperialism.

As the existing socio-economic structure of the society has been qualitatively developed into imperialism, the strategy and tactics of world proletariat has been developed qualitatively; it becomes Marxism-Leninism. This is the dialectical materialistic relation among the socio-economic structure (contradictions) and guiding ideology (strategy and tactics). Our guiding ideology could be qualitatively developed only when the socio-economic structure becomes developed qualitatively.

After the second world war, due to the victory of USSR and emergence of a big socialist camp imperialism had undergone change a lot, although it didn’t bring any qualitative difference. Its crisis as Com Mao pointed out has become permanent and ever deepening. It has been entered a phase of ‘Total collapse”.

Taking all these changes in socio-economic structure into account, the guiding ideology has been further developed. The countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the semi feudal-semi colonial type neo colonies of post world war II imperialism has become the storm center of revolution. The stage of revolution in these countries is the new democratic like Chinese revolution and the path is protracted people’s war. But, it is still the era of imperialism and therefore the Leninist strategy and tactics has to be valid.

The formulation of guiding ideology of our time is difficult as the importance of Leninist strategy and tactics has to be acknowledged and at the same moment the new development has to be incorporated. This problem was solved by CPC under the leadership of Com Mao. In the report of 9th and 10th congress, CPC asserted the validation of Leninist strategy and tactics in our time and incorporated the developments of world situation and therefore guiding ideology as Marxism-Leninism-Mao thought.

I think this formulation is absolutely opposite form RIM’s formulation of Maoism as the third stage of Marxism. The question of guiding ideology (strategy and tactics) is dependent upon the principal contradictions. If contradictions change, the stage develops qualitatively and brings qualitative change in the ideology. It is the dialectical materialist relation among matter and conception. If Maoism is the third stage of Marxism, then there must be some qualitative change in the contradictions. But, there is no change in contradictions of imperialist era. The existing contradictions have been deepening and push imperialism in more and more crisis. It is certainly very important feature; it leads imperialism into the phase of ‘total collapse’ and ensures the victory of new democratic revolution in Asia-Africa-Latin America. But, it cannot develop Marxism in third stage.

But, RIM did. When it did, it actually started denial the materialistic basis of conception. At the same time it had opened the possibility of negation of Leninism; Maoism as the third stage would replace Leninism. When there is lack of materialist basis, it becomes idealism and when there is negation of Leninism, it could finally negate proletarian dictatorship and would become revisionism. These are the two sides of a same coin.

The line of Prachanda, actually reflects the both.

When it talks about the “model of 21st century”, it claims something different than Leninist strategy and tactics (and of course proletarian dictatorship) and for that it doesn’t ask for any materialistic basis. It even doesn’t talk about the contradictions, which is the soul of Marxism, instead balance of power in the world, technological boom etc.

As I understand, the root of this revisionism lies in the formulation of ‘Maoism as the third stage of Marxism”. It lacks materialistic basis. It is idealistic.

Apparently it seems that Mao-thought cannot glorify Com Mao rather Maoism can. If it is the notion, then the whole Marxist ideology will be muddled.

Marxism and Leninism are not the personal contribution of Marx and Lenin. They are not something, which came in the mind of Marx or Lenin. They are the strategy and tactics of proletariat at different era, which has come up from the contradictions of specific production relations. With Mao-thought, the advancement of proletarian strategy and tactics within the era of imperialism (where the already established guiding ideology is Leninism) is denoted. In contrast, with Maoism (as third stage), a leap (in essence denial) of strategy and tactics from established Leninism and negation of materialistic basis of guiding ideology are formulated.

Once the seed was sawn, these trends, negation of Leninism as well as idealistic basis of conception grow in the rank and file. In the hand of opportunists, it turns into clear revisionism, as happened in Nepal.

I am not a Hoxhaist, I don’t believe that all Maoists are revisionists, but I think that from the formulation, as “Maoism is the third stage of Marxism” the revisionist and idealistic trends are being enriched. I don’t see any advantage of changing the guiding ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Mao thought as formulated by CPC under the leadership of Com Mao.

2. RIM has been propagating the anti-Stalin outlook. We know that Com Stalin had given the leadership to build up socialism in a particular country, the USSR. In the process of socialism building, the CPSU(B) under the leadership of Com Stalin fought fierce inner-party struggle against the revisionists like Trotsky-Bukharin etc. The experience of proletarian dictatorship in USSR is an important experience to the proletariat.

RIM, instead of highlighting this experience, actually negates Com Stalin. We know plenty of persons and organizations, which started from negation of Com Stalin and we have seen where had they reached. Following Khrushchev, almost all the then big parties (except China and Albania) throughout the world had started denouncing Com Stalin. Finally they ended with becoming running dog of imperialism. In the present context, we can also see how RIM and CPN(M) actually end up with revisionism. The negation of Com Stalin essentially means negation of proletarian dictatorship and finally Leninism.

These are all theoretical discussions which might seem as irrelevant in terms of emergence of revisionism in RIM and CPN(M). But, the practice and theoretical conception are dependent upon each other. The revisionist practice must have revisionist root in the theoretical conception. I do believe that unless we find out that root and remove it, the danger of revisionism will still be there.
Finally, with a specific example I would explain how the idealist and metaphysical conception of CPN(M) are being reflected in their revisionist analysis and practice.

Nowadays CPN(M) says that due to the world situation and power balance it is not possible to achieve victory. It is not difficult to recognize this idea as revisionism. But, where lies its root? Don’t we see here the reflection of argument made by Trotsky? Trotsky argued that it would not be possible to build up socialism in a single country due to the external capitalist forces. On the other hand Com Stalin showed that “Self movement of matter” is the basic Marxist conception and matter (or situation) develops due to its internal contradictions. Idealists don’t rely upon internal contradictions, but stress upon external factors. The recent line of CPN(M) is actually Trotskyite in essence. To my understanding, this reflects their idealistic philosophical conceptions. The seed of this idealist conception was sown in their theoretical formulation as “Maoism is the third stage of Marxism” which lacks materialistic basis (that I have already explained).

Harsh Thakor said...

You have projected your point brillinatly .You have raised a very important point on the relevance of the era of Leninism and your argument has a sound basis However do you not feel that it was Comrade Mao who tok Leninism to a higher stage by developing the concept of protracted Peoples War-armed struggle for a New DEmocratic REvolution.
Today the R.I.M lacks theoretical clarification and it was a case of premature forming before sufficient development took place ijn the Communist Parties Worldwide.The lesson sof the dissolurion of the 1943 International and China's refusal to form one in the 1960's was not learnt.The question is have armed struggles deviated through the theory of 'Maoism',like in Peru nad Nepal or even in INdia.

Singur,Do you have any views on the Indian revolutin which I could discus with you?Eg Correctness of C.P.I(Maoist) Etc.I wish to visit Bengal someday.

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