Direktlänk till inlägg 14 juni 2020

Poor Mao Zedong, who wasn't even a Maoist (part 1)

Av NAT:s redaktion - Söndag 14 juni 16:55

This is a response to the article Maoism is not a "label" by comrade Ragnar Röed, which was published in Marxistiskt Forum 1/2018. Part 1 - see also part 2.

 

What is meant by a label?

 

Already the headline of the comrade's article shows that he has not understood the content of my article Is revolution made on the basis of labels? in Marxistiskt Forum  1/2017. He writes that I reduce "it (i.e. Maoism) to a 'label'". On the contrary, I write that the revolution cannot be made on the basis of labels, i.e that revolutionary currents cannot be reduced to labels. What is meant by a label? A label is a sticky term; it can be true or false, or even empty and contentless. Marx commented on the French "Marxists" during the late 1870s with the words: "All I know is that I am not a Marxist." (Engels: Letter to Schmidt 1890). Why did Marx express those words? Of course, because he considered that these French so-called Marxists mainly represented a different line or they did not understand his teaching at all. Then it didn't matter that they also called themselves Marxists.


Question to Röed: Were everyone who called themselves Marxists, especially after Marx's death, also Marxists? Was everyone who called themselves Leninists, especially after Lenin's death, also Leninists? Trotsky claimed to be a Bolshevik-Leninist. Was Trotsky a Leninist at all? Is everyone today claiming to be a Maoist also Maoist?

 

The meaning of terms such as Marxism, Leninism and Maoism is absolutely crucial

 

Röed asks if I oppose terms like Marxism or Leninism. That's a stupid question. Of course I do not. The core issue, the crucial one, however, is what is meant by the term Maoism. Röed writes that it was Stalin's lot to formulate Leninism as well as that it was others to formulate Maoism. It is true that Stalin summarizes Leninism in On the Foundations of Leninism and Concerning Questions of Leninism. He does so through a full presentation of Lenin's policies and theories, which are supported by source references and detailed quotes. Source references and elaborate quotes are by the way difficult to find by the Communist Party of Peru (Partido Comunista del Peru), abbreviated CPP,  and its epigones regarding their interpretation of Maoism. At the same time, these two articles by Stalin express a controversy about the meaning and consequence of Lenin's theories. After Lenin's death, all the leading Bolsheviks declared themselves Leninists. Especially "Concerning  the questions of Leninism" is a polemic against Zinoviev's and Kamenev's interpretations of Leninism. This illustrates my previous point that what is decisive is the meaning of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism.


When Stalin summed up Leninism, did Lenin's political line then first become Leninism? Did Stalin add any new dimension to Lenin's political line and theories, which no one had discovered before? In what way did "Stalin and CPSU lift Leninism to a new stage of Marxism"? Wasn´t that done by Lenin himself? The correctness of Lenin's political line had already been confirmed in practice by the October Revolution. Lenin's theoretical texts were already written and published. In the two quoted texts, Stalin emphasizes that he defends Lenin's positions – not that he has in any way developed them further. Did Marx become Marxist first through the care of others? Don't Marx's theories speak for themselves? In his funeral speech on Marx, Friedrich Engels mentions only two of his decisive discoveries, namely, the theory of historical materialism and the theory of surplus value, but these are sufficient to explain Marx's greatness. Both of these theories have had enormous historical significance. The same with Lenin's party theory, the theory of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, the armed urban revolution and the alliance between the proletariat and peasants (which Stalin also addresses in the articles mentioned) and other theories.


Mao Zedong was not even a Maoist

 

Röed writes that "It is correct that Mao himself did not formulate Maoism" and further "Mao and the Communist Party of China (CPC) were not revisionists (thank God! – my note), but they were not Maoists either.”


Poor Mao Zedong, who wasn't even a Maoist! Röed's reasoning means that Mao Zedong did not understand the full consequences of his own thoughts and that he never reached Gonzalo's, the chairman of Communist Party of Peru (CPP), and Röed's theoretical level. "Their (i.e. the CPC´s  and Mao Zedong's) primary task was not to make revolution in all countries, but to make revolution in China." Does Röed mean that the task of the day is to make revolution in all countries – at the same time? If so, who will lead the world revolution? In that case, it is pure and simple Trotskyism. So far, revolutions and liberation wars have taken place in country after country, not in all countries simultaneously.


Röed states that "Maybe that is why it needs someone like Gonzalo and a party like CPP to systematize and formulate the universal lessons learned from this process." But in what way have CPP and Gonzalo systematized and formulated Mao's thinking? Which authoritative text by CPP and Gonzalo can Röed refer to? My view is that CPP and Gonzalo have reduced Maoism to a set of dogmas, a catechism. At every point where PKP and Gonzalo represent a different view than Mao Zedong's, they are also completely wrong. They have not further developed Mao Zedong's theories in a single point.


Was the October Revolution really a people´s war?

 

Röed writes that the October road "can also be understood as a prolonged people's war". "Also be understood" is an opportunistic way of expressing oneself. "Understood" by whom? Was the October Revolution understood as a people´s war by the Bolshevik Party with Lenin and Stalin at the forefront? It is not possible to find a single text by Lenin or Stalin, describing the October Revolution as something other than an armed urban revolution, which first prevailed in the cities in February 1918, and later finally through the civil war that encompassed all of Russia. But of course, the prerequisite for the Soviet power to prevail throughout Russia was that the revolution had first prevailed in the cities, just as the French Revolution of 1789 first prevailed in Paris. I recommend that Röed read Lenin's The Elections to the Constituent Assembly and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and The history of CPSU (b), in particular the five-point summary. Röed states that "the 1917 uprising (no revolution? – my note) was just part of a long-running war, where the first major battles took place in 1905 and where the victory for Soviet power was first a fact in 1922". It is strange that Röed, who claims to have read Concerning the Foundations of Leninism, has not noted the passage about the period 1907 - 1912, where Stalin describes the retreat-tactics that the Bolshevik Party had to resort to. Both forms of struggle and organizational forms changed; instead of boycotting the duma – participation in the duma, instead of open revolutionary actions outside the duma – actions in the duma and work within the same etcetera. Not a word, therefore, about the Bolshevik Party trying to initiate some kind of people´s war and surrounding the cities from the countryside. The Bolshevik Party focused its political activities on the proletariat of the Russian cities. The Russian proletariat constituted a smaller proportion of the population than in Western Europe, but on the other hand, the proletariat was much more concentrated in Russia than in Western Europe.


Question to Röed: Was the Bolshevik Party, under Lenin and Stalin's leadership, right, who led the Russian working class in an armed urban revolution and which then spread to the countryside through the alliance with the peasant class? Did Lenin and Stalin know what they were doing or had they in fact started a people´s war?


The principal contradiction determines the strategy - the people's war is not universal

 

Mao Zedong developed dialectical materialism, especially in "On contradictions". Anyone who does not try to use – or even understand – the analytical conceptual apparatus in "On contradictions" is no Maoist. In "On Contradictions" Mao Zedong writes:


“There are many contradictions in the process of development of a complex thing, and one of them is necessarily the principal contradiction whose existence and development determines or influences the existence and development of the other contradictions.


For instance, in capitalist society the two forces in contradiction, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, form the principal contradiction. The other contradictions, such as those between the remnant feudal class and the bourgeoisie, between the peasant petty bourgeoisie ant the bourgeoisie, between the proletariat and the peasant petty bourgeoisie, between the non-monopoly capitalists and the monopoly capitalists, between bourgeois democracy and bourgeois fascism, among the capitalist countries and between imperialism and the colonies, are all determined or influenced by this principal contradiction. “[ii]


Earlier in the same article Mao Zedong also writes that:


“Qualitatively different contradictions can only be resolved by qualitatively different methods. For instance, the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is resolved by the method of socialist revolution; the contradiction between the great masses of the people and the feudal system is resolved by the method of democratic revolution; the contradiction between the colonies and imperialism is resolved by the method of national revolutionary war;;… ”[iii]


The CPP, RCP (Canada) and their unoriginal successors have not understood that the question of the principal contradiction is of decisive importance to the revolutionary strategy. By ignoring this aspect, consciously or unconsciously, they end up in the same camp as revisionists, Trotskyists and all sorts of ultra-leftists.


Can the principal contradiction change? Obviously.


Mao Zedong writes:


“In a semi-colonial country such as China, the relationship between the principal contradiction and the non-principal contradictions presents a complicated picture.


When imperialism launches a war of aggression against such a country, all its various classes, except for some traitors, can temporarily unite in a national war against imperialism. At such a time, the contradiction between imperialism and the country concerned becomes the principal contradiction, while all the contradictions among the various classes within the country (including what was the principal contradiction, between the feudal system and the great masses of the people) are temporarily relegated to a secondary and subordinate position.”[iv]


The Communist Party of China and Mao Zedong were quite clear that there are only two paths to the socialist revolution, the armed urban revolution and the people's war. Mao Zedong writes:


" But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat is determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside and not the other way about (my bold style). All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.” [v]


In a 1956 conversation with representatives of some Latin American communist parties, Mao Zedong warns them to mechanically copy the experiences of the Chinese revolution:


" The experience of the Chinese revolution, that is, building rural base areas, encircling the cities from the countryside and finally seizing the cities, may not be wholly applicable to many of your countries, though it can serve for your reference. I beg to advise you not to transplant Chinese experience mechanically. The experience of any foreign country can serve only for reference and must not be regarded as dogma. The universal truth of Marxism-Leninism and the concrete conditions of your own countries--the two must be integrated." [vi]


Incidentally, it can be stated that the CPC did not apply the people´s war "all the way". A footnote to Introducing the Communist states:


“In the latter stage of the anti-Japanese war, and more particularly in the period of the Third Revolutionary Civil War (1945 - 49), guerrilla warfare changed into regular warfare as the main form of armed struggle under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (my bold style), and this was due to the further growth of the revolutionary forces and the changes in the enemy's circumstances. The latter stage of the Third Revolutionary Civil war witnessed a further development, when operations were conducted by huge formations, which, equipped with heavy arms, were able to storm strongly fortified enemy positions.”[vii]        


These footnotes were reviewed and approved by Mao Zedong. People´s war was not even ”universal” in China!


In The Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement of 1963 CPC addresses the revolutionary battles waged by the oppressed nations and the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the struggle for the proletarian revolution in the imperialist and capitalist countries in two separate chapters . See  “9. The oppressed nations and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America are faced with the urgent task of fighting imperialism and its lackeys” respectively “10. In the imperialist and the capitalist countries, the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat are essential for the thorough resolution of the contradictions of capitalist society” in A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement.[viii] Nowhere is it argued that the strategy and forms of struggle in these areas would be identical and that the people´s war would be applicable to resolve the principal contradiction between proletariat and bourgeoisie in a capitalist country.


It is no argument that the only armed urban revolution that has succeeded is the October Revolution. Similar attempts were made in Germany, Hungary, Estonia and China. The reason why there have been no more attempts is due to both objective and subjective factors.  The October Revolution took place in connection with the First World War and the successful liberation wars in China, Yugoslavia, Albania and Indochina took place in connection with the Second World War, two exceptional occasions.


The people's war has succeeded in those countries which have been subjected to imperialist aggression, with the principal contradiction being between the aggressor / occupying power and the people in each country. This applies to China, Yugoslavia and Albania during the Second World War; this applies to Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea after World War II. North Korea and the people´s democracies of Eastern Europe are special cases. If a country is subjected to imperialist aggression, the principal contradiction changes, as the aggression affects not only the proletariat but also the peasants and other parts of the petty bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie and even some parts of the big  bourgeoisie and the landlord class. In all these countries the peasants constituted a very large proportion of the population; in China 80 percent according to Lin Biao, at least 75 percent in Yugoslavia and Albania and probably at least as much in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea. In addition, geopolitical and topographical conditions, as well as historical martial traditions, play an important role. The only times the people's war, i.e in the sense that cities are surrounded from the countryside, have succeeded in neocolonial countries without an occupying power present in the country are Cuba 1953 - 1959 and Nicaragua (1961 - 1979). It is irrelevant to this argument that Cuba later allied with the Soviet Union and that the Sandinistas were later overthrown and that the organization is now a right-wing Social-Democratic Party, although running the government.


Röed writes:


"The conclusion of this is today that there are no 'two ways' to communism, but that the road everywhere and all places goes through prolonged people's war."


This is political nonsense and an open revision of the teachings of both Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong.


In fact, I cannot see the slightest military tactical advantage of starting a people´s war in an imperialist country like Sweden, as long as the principal contradiction goes between the proletariat and bourgeoisie. In Sweden, the farmers' share amounts to just over one percent, while the proletariat amounts to 70 percent. In imperialist countries, the power, the population and the proletariat are concentrated in cities and towns. People's war means that armed forces are gradually taking control of areas outside the cities and encircling them. Unless, from the outset, the revolutionary forces have the support of the majority, the ruling class and its apparatus of violence will very easily be able to isolate and eliminate every single liberated area. Contrary to the situation when a people is subjected to imperialist aggression, petty bourgeoisie and petty bourgeois strata will not more or less automatically position themselves on the side of the proletariat in the context of a people´s war against a domestic enemy. In addition, the revolutionary forces will also have no advantage of local knowledge over the domestic class enemy. Instead, the decisive factor is to win the support of the majority of people because the situation for it is unbearable and carry out a storm attack, as the ruling class is paralyzed and no longer able to rule. There will be no shortage of weapons by the proletariat in such a situation. It is a completely different matter if the principal contradiction in Sweden changes so that it goes between the Swedish people and an attacking imperialist superpower/great power.


In fact, no communist party in an imperialist and capitalist country has ever tried to initiate a people´s war, as long as the principal contradiction has gone between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. RCP´s (Canada) plans are still in the drawer. If such attempts were made, these organizations would probably quickly degenerate into ultra-leftist sects in the style of the RAF (Baader-Meinhof League) in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy and the Action Direct in France, which objectively served as provocateur organizations in the 1970s and 1980s. I would also like to say that a party that believes that the principal contradiction between the proletariat and bourgeoisie in an imperialist and capitalist country can only be resolved through a people´s war, will never ever lead either a people´s war or a socialist revolution. At best, such a party will remain a playhouse.


Question to Röed: Do you agree that Mao Zedong never advocated that the people´s war could be applied regardless of the principal contradiction and situation, that is, it was not a universal strategy? Aren't the beliefs that the people's war is not universal and that it is universal (CPP's view) two completely incompatible views? Why is Mao Zedong wrong?


Why show CPP/Gonzalo respect but not Marx/Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong?

 

Röed considers that I lack in humility and mention the capture of the CPP Central Committee and Gonzalo in 1992 in a disrespectful way. This is nonsense.


Firstly, practice is the criterion of truth. The most important argument against reformists, revisionists, Trotskyists and anarchists is that they never have succeeded in implementing a socialist society, or in the case of the anarchists even without a state apparatus. If a Communist Party has failed in one or the other context, it is also a sign that the ideological and political line has in some ways been wrong or incorrectly applied. That's why you can't compare Rosa Luxemburg/Karl Liebknecht, Gramsci or Bela Kun with Lenin or Ernst Thälmann with Stalin.


Secondly, the capture of the Central Committee and Gonzalo in 1992 was not the result of slipping on a banana peel or a lightning strike. It was a sign that they overestimated their own strength and underestimated the enemy, and did not take the necessary security measures. This is a typical leftist opportunistic error. In connection with the period from the February Revolution to the October Revolution, Lenin was put in safety several times, as the Bolshevik Party understood his decisive importance for the outcome of the Revolution.


Thirdly, “A political party’s attitude towards its own mistakes is one of the most important and surest ways of judging how earnest the party is and how it fulfils in practice its obligations towards its class and the working people. Frankly acknowledging a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analyzing the conditions that have led up to it, and thrashing out the means of its rectification—that is the hallmark of a serious party; that is how it should perform its duties, and how it should educate and train its class, and then the masses. " (Lenin)[ix]


Where is the CPP's self-criticism? When the party left in SKP [x] lost the battle against the right-wing liquidators 1978 - 1980, a comprehensive self-critical review was made in SKA's [xi] political report from 1982. We concluded that we had committed both left and right errors ourselves.


Question to Röed: Did the CPP make any mistake at all when the Central Committee and Gonzalo was captured? Which one (-s)? Or was it a brilliant move to procure a martyrdom? Why hasn't CPP published any self-criticism?


Fourthly, the comparison between communists in Norway and Sweden on the one hand and CPP on the other is absurd. Parties in imperialist and capitalist countries such as Norway and Sweden should be compared with other parties in the imperialist bloc, not with parties in neo-colonial countries or colonies. It is no coincidence that all Comintern resolutions and even "A Proposal on the General Line of the International Communist Movement" (1963) make this distinction. History has shown that it is much more difficult to carry out a revolution in any imperialist and capitalist country than a successful liberation war in a colony or neocolonial country, especially as it is subjected to imperialist aggression. Already in "Radicalism" Lenin states:


"Incidentally, apart from a number of other causes, that is why it is more difficult for Western Europe to start a socialist revolution than it was for us.“ [xii]


The most important difference between the situation in the imperialist bloc and the neo-colonial countries, commonly called the Third World, is that the class contradictions are much sharper in the latter. The reason is the material living conditions of the proletariat in the imperialist countries – and that the peasant class amounts to only one or a few percent. Lenin also writes in "Radicalism":


 “…for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters).” [xiii]


The CPP should of course be compared with other parties and movements in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The only countries that in modern times, i.e after the Second World War, where the people, through armed struggle, have succeeded in overthrowing a domestic repressive regime without these countries being subjected to imperialist occupation, are Cuba 1953 - 1959 and Nicaragua 1961-1979. As you know, these liberation movements were not even led by Maoists. If you compare the CPP with the Communist Party of India (Maoists) and the Communist Party of Philippines (CCP) and the people's wars that they are waging, then neither of these parties has won, but they have neither been defeated. The Communist Party of Philippines has been engaged in a sustained struggle since 1968; The Communist Party of India (Maoists) represents a continuation, via various divisions and new constellations, of the 1967 Naxalbari uprising and the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninists) in 1969. The major difference between these two parties and the CPP is that the former make no claims of being the leader of the world revolution and are not claiming to have further developed Maoism.


It does not matter that the CPP had a dominant position in 40 percent of Peru´s territory for some time. The Nepalese Maoists controlled 80 percent of Nepal's territory before embarking on the parliamentary road. Only victory can confirm the accuracy of the line. As the saying goes, a miss is as good as a mile. The CPP's initial success may, in the first instance, been due to the Peruvian regime being unusually corrupt and the repression against the Peruvian people, mainly the peasants, extremely severe. This was also the case in Cuba and Nicaragua, where the Batista- and Somoza-regimes were extremely corrupt and oppressive. The CPP will not even come close to the Hungarian Communist Party, which under Bela Kun managed to lead the Hungarian working class in a socialist revolution and even establish a Soviet Republic, which lasted for just over four months, from March 21 1919 to August 6 1919. The important thing about the Hungarian Revolution today is to study what mistakes were made so that state power could not be maintained.


Röed states that anyone who criticizes CPP is arrogant and lacks humility. That's a ridiculous statement. The CPP went out with tits and trumpets and claimed to have further developed Maoism on Peruvian conditions through Gonzalo's thinking. The PKP simply claimed the victory in advance. In addition, the party presented itself as the leader of the world revolution, even though it had not yet won in Peru. This is in both cases a manifestation of hubris. Did the Communist Party of China claim to be the leader of the world revolution in 1945, when Mao Zedong's thinking was first enshrined in the CPC's statutes, in a situation when Japanese imperialism had been defeated? Really not.


In one document from CPP 1988, "The Line to Build the Three Tools of the Revolution," which is present on the Tjen Folket´s website, states:


"Chairman Gonzalo puts forward the thesis that all communist parties in the world must be militarized (my bold style) for three reasons:"


This is a call to all Communist parties in the world that they should be "militarized" in whatever situation. This is presumptuous left dogmatism in cubic. This call goes against Mao Zedong's attitude, which is the only correct one:

“The principle of using different methods to resolve different contradictions is one which Marxist-Leninists must strictly observe. The dogmatists do not observe this principle; they do not understand that conditions differ in different kinds of revolution and so do not understand that different methods should be used to resolve different contradictions; on the contrary, they invariably adopt what they imagine to be an unalterable formula and arbitrarily apply it everywhere, which only causes setbacks to the revolution or makes a sorry mess of what was originally well done (my bold style).”[xiv]


It would never have occurred to the CCP or Mao Zedong to formulate such a concrete call for all the Communist parties in the world. On the contrary, in a 1956 conversation with representatives of Latin American communist parties, Mao Zedong discourages them from "transplanting the Chinese experience mechanically " (see previous quote). Only political fools can launch an unchanging formula aimed at all the communist parties in the world, and only fools cannot immediately realize that this is wrong. Whoever supports Gonzalo in questions, where his view contradicts the classics, especially Lenin's and Mao Zedong's, is not only mistaken but also shows a lack of respect for them. Gonzalo, for example, falsifies the history of Russian revolution, as well as Mao Zedong's theory of people´s war, which the latter never considered universal.



Rickard B. Turesson

16/7 2018

(Published in Marxistiskt Forum nr 1/2019)


See part 2 here!

   

(This blog is connected with Nya Arbetartidningen)



Selected works, Vol. VI, p. 463

[ii] Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Volume I, p. 231 or https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_17.htm

[iii] Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Volume I, p. 221 or https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_17.htm

[iv] Selected Works, Volume I, p. 331

[x] Communist Party of Sweden, originally Communist League (Marxist-Leninists) in 1967, was a Maoist Party founded in 1973. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Sweden_(1967)

[xi] Communist Worker´s Party of Sweden –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Workers%27_Party_of_Sweden

[xii] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch07.htm

[xiii] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch07.htm

[xv] https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sino-soviet-split/cpc/proposal.htm

[xvi] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/dec/16.htm

[xviii]  History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) - https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch08.htm

[xix] “The Comintern has long ceased to meddle in our internal affairs” – https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-6/mswv6_36.htm

[xx] Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement  1984 -–https://ia800201.us.archive.org/22/items/DeclarationOfTheRevolutionaryInternationa<

 
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