Introduction : Maoism and revolutionary continuity
Rishi Raj Baral
Liberate philosophy from the confines of the philosophers’ lecture rooms and textbooks, and turn it into a sharp weapon in the hands of the masses. Mao tse-tung
When talking about the revolutionary change of the society, it is natural that the question of class and class struggle comes to the fore. The class struggle is the driving force of history. Marxism has developed on the basis of “philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”. Class, class struggle, abolition of private property, revolutionary transformation and dictatorship of the proletariat are the basic questions emphasized by the leaders of the proletariat from Marx to Mao. The perception and position towards these basic questions determines who is a Marxist and who is not.
We have now entered the third decade of the 21st century. The character of the socialist revolution of the 21st century has been interpreted and analyzed according to one’s own position. The imperialist and expansionist powers are using both traditional and neo-colonial tendencies to compete for supremacy in the world, and in the name of ”oil war”, ”trade war”, ”anti-terrorism campaign”, they are imposing war, particularly on the people of the ‘Third World’. The globalization project has become a powerful tool for the expansion and domination of economic, military and political power. NATO’s activities are still going on and the imperialist powers are launching direct armed attacks. The activities that have taken place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Venezuela have proved that the imperialist powers do and are doing everything for their own interests.
The overall history of class society is a history of military power as well as intellectual power. The main motto of reactionaries is to maintain control over consciousness and ability of the people. Imperialism has not only an army with guns, but also an army with pens. They have intellectuals working as think tanks— writers, journalists and professors. With the expansion of the illusions of monasteries, churches, God-worship, priest-priesthood, heaven-hell, idealism and spiritualism, the reactionary forces have been exploiting. This is what the reactionary class has been doing since long time. We can understand this reality only by looking at the history after the publication of the Communist Manifesto. We can see easily how imperialism used and is using unified force against the values put forward by the Communist Manifesto. They deny the scientific worldview of existence and social consciousness, reality and reflection, struggle and transformation. Plato, Kant, Freud, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger emerged as the key supporters of the reactionary powers. At the same time, idealism, naturalism, Freudianism, existentialism and nihilism reflected in various aspects of social life including art and literature.
After Stalin’s death, the struggle against revisionism weakened, not only in Russia but throughout Europe. After the Russian Twentieth Party Congress, the International Communist movement split into two factions, ideological as well as territorial questions became decisive. The question of defending Marxism-Leninism became grave and challenging. This was the basic question that Mao realized in his time. Mao was concerned with how to advance the revolutionary continuity. The question before Mao was to defend the proletarian values developed in the course of world Communist movement. It was not just an issue between Russia and China, but a question of whether to hold the flag of Marxism-Leninism or to give space to revisionist and imperialist activities. The Great Debate led by Mao was the consequence of this historical necessity.
The Great Debate was a great campaign for the safeguarding of Marxism-Leninism and against revisionism and imperialism. In a real sense, it was a historic and great debate. At first glance, the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution may seem like a campaign against the right-wing opportunist tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution was the continuation of the Great Debate. These two need to be seen interrelated and in continuity. Both these campaigns are connected to the struggle against revisionism and interrelated to the defense and development of Marxism-Leninism. Only in this way can one understand the ”upheaval of the 1960s”, ”the long-sixties” and truly grasp the global impact and universal significance of Mao’s contributions.
Mao died in 1976 before the results of the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution took qualitative shape. Then there was a counter-revolution in China, the Chinese Communist Party, led by Deng Xiaoping betrayed the socialist revolution and took the capitalist road, attacking the values established by Mao and Chinese Communist Party. The counter-revolutionary gang led by Deng Xiaoping denounced the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution as a “period of destruction and chaos” and imprisoned Maoist leaders Chan Ching, Wang Hognwen, Chang Chun Chiao and Yoa Wenyuan and killed several Maoist revolutionaries. It caused great damage to the world Communist movement. It was a great setback for the world Communist movement and proletariat. This hindered the revolutionary continuity and caused serious damage.
It was natural for the imperialist powers to be delighted with this. It was a matter of pleasure for them, but it caused great pain and worry to the oppressed classes and communities of the world. The imperialist powers have been active for years in trying to destroy the communist movement, but the right-wing opportunists within the socialist camp became more active than that and became leaders in destroying the world socialist camp. As a result, one school of thought continued to carry on the legacy of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, and the other carried on the legacy of Bernstein, Kautsky, Trotsky, Khrushchev and Deng Xiaoping. Although there may be some differences in its characters depending on the country and the situation of a particular society, basically today’s ideological-political struggle is a struggle between these two tendencies. The ideological struggle reflected in the field of art and literature is also a product of this.
The period from the death of Stalin to the death of Mao, dubbed the ‘Long Sixes’ by intellectuals in the West, was a period of intense ideological struggle. Truly this was a time of upheaval. It provided both positive and negative experiences and lessons. The need was to learn from this and move forward. It is true, that the counter-revolution in China disappointed various Communist parties and the intellectuals. After Mao’s death, the greatest confusion in world politics was felt in Europe, especially in French intellectuals. Unable to properly understand the character of the revolution and the features of class struggle and social change, a group of intellectuals chose the path of deviation considering life in despair. The notion of ”post-ism” was the product of this despair and deviation. This was the path taken by Michelle Foucault, Richard Rorty, Giles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Jacques Derrida. J. Lyotard and J. Baudrillard.
There were many reasons behind the beginning and expansion of the ”post-ist” trends. After World War II, especially after the American defeat in the Vietnam War, the imperialist powers were active building a new project against the Communist movement. The growing influence of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party, and the defeat of American imperialism in the Vietnam War, made the imperialist powers restless. The Thatcher-Reagan alliance was a product of this and was active in building an anti-Marxist intellectual force. Then British cultural scholars, like Stuart Hall, who was once associated with Marxism, stood as intellectual porter for this project. Lack of accurate ideological-political analysis of the situation, inability to properly understand the role of the imperialist powers, inability to properly assimilate the nature and character of the revolution, and to conclude overall success and failure from one context and event, provided energy for the development of ”post-ism”. The “post-ism” tendency, which appeared to be the product of the despair and deviation of European intellectuals, was transformed into a project of globalization by the imperialist powers through state-based policies and plans. This kind of planning proved to be more dangerous than military expansion, and is still in operation today.
The ideas of “the end of the grand narrative”, the “end of ideology”, “death of Marxism”, ”end of the history”, was its consequence. There was a kind of competition among western intellectuals for such interpretations. The modern revisionism born of the political womb of Khrushchev’s pro-imperialist “peaceful transition” did not stop at the anti-Stalin campaign; it toppled Lenin’s statue, and the wall of Berlin. Unable to analyze the fact behind fall of Berlin wall some intellectuals saw the fall of Marxism from the world. Derrida came into sight with the banner of post-structuralism, Lyotard and Baudrillard with post-modernism and Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Ranajit Guha and Dipesh Chakrabarty stood with the banner of ”post-colonialism”. Following this, carrying the banner of ”Post-Marxism”, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Stuart Hall, Stuart Sim, Etienne Balibar, Judith Butler and Jacques Rancière lined up. The ”post-ism” trend expanded into a new dimension of ”post-imperialism” and “post-Maoism”. Antonio Negri and Mitchell Hart’s ‘Empire’, Slavoj Zizek’s ”Communist Idea”, Alain Badiou’s ”Communist Hypothesis” and Jodi Dean’s ”The Communist Horizon” are the latest productions of ”post-ism”.
The other side of scenario is positive and bright. The situation of the Communist movement in the ”Third World” is different from that in the ”First World”. Although, it was not easy to move the revolutionary movement forward after Mao’s death, but the revolutionaries of the world intensified the ideological struggle against revisionism and, stepped forward. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Peru, formed under the leadership of Comrade Gonzalo, synthesized Mao’s contributions as Maoism and put forward the theoretical proposition that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the guiding principle of the world revolution and protracted People’s War is the direction of Peru and world revolution. The People’s War, which began in Peru under the leadership of Comrade Gonzalo, gave new impetus to the world’s proletariat.
The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) was formed in 1984 with the aim of uniting the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionaries of the world under one flag. In a sense it was the beginning of a new International and was a historical step. It analyzed the overall history from Marx to Mao and synthesized Mao’s contributions to the world Communist movement as the third and higher stage of Marxism. RIM synthesized Maoism as the guiding principle of today’s world revolution. While some intellectuals were crying over the future of Marxism, and wondering for ”new inventions”, the Maoist revolutionaries of the world centered themselves to move forward in the light of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They intensified the ideological and practical campaign against all types of opportunism and ”post-ism”. Now we have Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a revolutionary weapon for the revolution of the 21st century.
After the formation of RIM, a global campaign to build a Maoist party was launched to give momentum and direction to the proletarian movement. Along with the process of party formation and reorganization, the Maoist parties in some countries focused on preparing for a protracted People’s War. Despite the setbacks of the People’s Wars in Peru and Nepal, the Maoist parties in India, the Philippines and Turkey are accelerating the people’s war in the specific situation of their respective countries. In addition, in some other countries of the world, the building of Maoist parties on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and accelerating the class struggle is also underway.
At present, the revolutionaries of the world have to fight against imperialism as well as against the various tendencies of ‘post-ism’ and revisionism. Imperialism is directly attacking on the one hand and using the ”red flag against the red flag” on the other. Ideological battle continues on all three fronts—philosophical, ideological and political. In spite of very complicated and challenging to fight against the political tendency that advocates pluralism and parliamentarism in the name of the Communist Party, Maoist revolutionaries are fighting firmly against both the imperialist and revisionist fronts. This is the brightest side for revolutionaries of today.
The front of the ideological struggle is complex in itself, the front of the ”red flag against the red flag” is even more complex and, no matter how complex, it is essential and necessary to fight. In fact, Marxism developed in the midst of the struggle and in this process it has kept itself alive to this day. This is what Mao repeatedly stressed on “Never forget the class struggle.” Marx-Engels developed the ideology of revolution by fighting against the right-wing opportunists of their time, prominently, Blanqui, Bakunin and Lassalle. The ideological struggle with Lassalle was very complicated. Before and after October Revolution, in order to defend and develop Marxism, Lenin had to fight against the right-wing tendencies of Bernstein, Kautsky, Mensheviks, and the anarchist Trotsky. Stalin defended Marxism-Leninism and the world socialist camp by fighting against the divisive tendencies of the opportunists like Trotsky and imperialist powers.
Mao’s fight against Khrushchev’s modern revisionism was no ordinary; it was a battle against imperialism and revisionism at the same time. Khrushchev’s history was a negative lesson in the world Communist movement. The Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution led by Mao enlightens how capitalist–roaders under the guise of Marxist-Leninist activism in the socialist construction campaign, seek to destroy the whole socialist achievement and why a continuous revolution is necessary. Therefore, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was not only a product of Chinese needs but also an important ideological battle waged by the Marxists-Leninists against revisionism and imperialism. This is what revisionists around the world and the imperialist hypocrites oppose the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution. What has been seen in China since Mao’s death illustrates the need and justification for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
The battle fought by the revolutionary Maoists of the world in the ideological-political and cultural front is essentially a battle between revolution and counter-revolution. Maoism is hostile to the various tendencies associated with ‘post-ism’, and it is also hostile to the tendency to reject the dignified noble history of the class struggle from the Paris Commune to the present. Both, the post-Marxist trend put forward by Laclau and Mouffe, and the tendency of Zizek and Badiou that rejects the history of Marxist-Leninist movements, claiming that “all twentieth-century revolutions are revolutions of violence and murder and failed revolutions”, are anti-Marxist tendencies.
In past, Bov Avakian, the leader of RCP, USA and Raymond Lotta played an important role, but in present they have also been active in exercising ”post-ism”. Despite trying to create confusion by weaving jargon, it is clear that through ”new synthesis”, Bob Avakian is practicing ”Post-Maoism” in theory and practice. Its subsequent activities further confirm this.
Of course, it is necessary to discuss, analyze and synthesize the current world situation and the character of the revolution. But, it is not a matter of discarding sacrificial history; it is a matter of learning from it. The truth is that the journey ahead is possible only by standing on the foundation of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. As Mao has stressed:
Marxism must necessarily advance; it must develop along with practice and cannot stand still. It would become lifeless if it were stagnant and stereotyped. However, the basic principles of Marxism must never be violated.
It is universal truth, which we have to follow and adopt. The Communist movement is not a history of nostalgia and not a hollow hypothesis; it is a revolutionary science of necessity and freedom that needs dedication in practice.
Of course, there has been some change in the way imperialism works, but fundamentally nothing has changed in its character, and Lenin’s definition of imperialism is just as relevant today. Today’s globalization is even more dangerous than the imperialism of yesterday. It is trying to mobilize the world through traditional and neo-colonial dominance. We must be clear that the notion of “empire” expressed by Negri and Hart is a direct “post-imperialist” notion and serves the interest of American imperialism.
It is true Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is not a dogma and it is to be applied to the specific situation of a particular country. But the whole world cannot be assessed on the basis of first world conditions. However, class and class struggle are the basic aspects of the revolution. There is no other way, this is the universal truth. The post-Marxists envisage a struggle outside the class and the post-Maoists talk of a revolution from void.
The Communist movement is not just a project of hypothesis, but a revolutionary practice. There is no politics without class, party and struggle. How can one expect revolutionary transformation without Party organization as advocated by Badiou! No reactionary class in the world has left the power and authority for the oppressed class and will not do so in the future. It is not a matter of opposite classes, it is also a matter of power struggle between the same classes and there have been bloody incidents. The recent US presidential election and post-election scenario, which boasts of “democracy” and “freedom” to the world, has revealed many things. All the great changes in history are the product of bloody struggle. The reactionary class is the first to move forward in a bloody struggle and the oppressed class must take up arms in resistance. This is a historical fact. The hypothesis beyond that is essentially a state of surrender to imperialism and its domestic puppet powers.
To reject the revolutionary theory developed by Marx to Mao and the history of the whole communist movement and to speak of a ‘new invention’ is a vagabond thinking. In essence, it is only a service to the reactionary forces. After abandoning the theory of class, party and class war, there is nothing to be gained. There is no point in talking about revolution by throwing away all the weapons of revolution. In fact, the notion of ”post-Marxism” is metaphysical and idealistic at the philosophical level, pro-imperialist at the ideological level and status-quoist at the political level.
Now, Euro-American “neo-Marxism” trend has merged with “post-Marxism” and the main ideological struggle of the Maoist revolutionaries is with the Trotskyists and the “post-Marxists”. But the situation in the ”Third World”, including Nepal, is somewhat different. The Trotskyists here are insignificant, not organized, and in no position to come out openly. Nepal’s revolutionaries have great respect for Stalin and Mao. In fact, not only the revisionists of Nepal, but also the revisionists of the ‘Third World’ do not show a contemptuous attitude towards Stalin and Mao like the revisionists of the ‘First World’ and the Trotskyists. The Trotskyists consider themselves great revolutionaries. However, there is no point in calling oneself a revolutionary by denying the revolutionary history of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Trotskyists are not revolutionaries either; it is just a hypocrite tendency. Of course, Stalin had some amount of metaphysical problem, but his contributions are more historical than his shortcomings, and he is a true Marxist-Leninist. We must be clear that Stalin and Mao are not murderers; they are the true successors of Marx and Lenin and are the leaders of the world revolution. Those who call themselves Marxists and oppose the Stalin, Mao and Maoist movements cannot be Marxists, they cannot be called Marxists. We need to be clear on this and stand firm. The ideological struggle of Marxists in Nepal is basically with political revisionism—the proponents of pluralism and parliamentarism.
Today’s need is to fight against all kinds of delusions spread in the name of Marxism. Today’s fundamental question is whether to build a public opinion by standing firmly on the side of Maoism or to choose the ”post-ist” tunnel by seeing and finding imperfections in Marxism. The answer to this question can only be found by following the path of self-struggle and ideological struggle. Only the struggle waged and fought on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism under the leadership of the revolutionary party gives the right direction and momentum. It only truly reflects and represents the direction of 21st century scientific socialism.
Along with the development of Maoism, it is natural that revisionism also appears with a new character. At present, confusion is being created not only in the name of Marxism-Leninism, but also in the name of Maoism. Maoism is not a logo or a trademark; it is a revolutionary way of life and guide to action. Just as ideologically degenerate individuals and parties are misleading themselves as Marxists, Communists, Socialists, etc., some who are deviated from Maoist values also are misleading in the name of Maoism. Now revisionism is not only in the form of Marxism-Leninism, but also in the name of Maoism. Awareness about this is needed. We must heighten our vigilance.
Most of the so-called Marxist ‘First World’ scholars glance at the situation in the First World and evaluate Marxism and the world Communist movement. In fact, they have not been able to properly study and analyze even the situation in the ‘First World’, their views are superficial. The truth is different than this. Though, the ‘Third World’ has been the victim of cultural imperialism and globalization, but the Marxist intellectuals of the Third World are far ahead in terms of revolutionary movement and ideological struggle.
We are not in a position to consider Terry Eagleton a Marxist, he is a Trotskyist. His book Why Marx Was Right? is a book that creates confusion against Marxism in the name of Marxism. Eagleton’s journey to sever ties with Marxism ends in the Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God debate. He has openly departed with Marxism through Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God debate. Frederick Jameson has stepped into the post-modern terrain (post-modern Marxist?) through the Valences of the Dialect. He pleads himself as a Marxist, but, he is not a Marxist, rather than a post-Marxist. Zizek the fashionable so called Marxist has demonstrated his vile and hypocritical tendencies through “Introduction: Mao Tse-tung the Marxist Lord of misrule” and Badiou’s nostalgia has led him astray and he has resorted to Lacan and Nietzsche for ‘new inventions’. To know them, one has to study their writings, but it is proper to remember them in history, not to follow them.
Those who have faith and belief in revolutionary philosophy, ideas, politics and practice need to study the works of Marx-Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Maoist revolutionaries around the world, and must conduct schooling and engage in ideological struggle. But it is the matter to be worried that, the interest of leaders and cadres towards study and analysis seems to be declining, it is not a good indication. There are various materials based on the world Communist movement. We have to study all kinds of materials and take what we find useful. The main objective of our study should be centered to the transformation of society. Our emphasis should be on “philosophers have interpreted the world in a various ways, the point is to change it” and to focus on such study materials.
In addition to the basic materials related to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, the textbooks we study and follow are: Basic Understanding of the Chinese Communist Party, Marxism Leninism, Maoism Basic Course (revised version) and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Study Notes. The Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course and the Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Study Notes are prepared by Indian Maoist Comrades and are important materials for the study of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the world Communist movement. In fact, these are the basic course, which we must study and apply.
In the ‘Third World’, the intellectuals of Nepal and India have waged a fierce ideological struggle in favor of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and have published many important books, but as it is in the local language, its reach has not reached in other world, especially English World. The Maoist parties of the First World have also carried out their activities and the intellectuals have also waged ideological struggles, but its dimension has not been wide. Now we have three books The Communist Necessity, Continuity and Rapture Philosophy in the Maoist Terrain and Critique of the Maoist Region by J. Moufawad-Paul. Though, there are some issues to be debated (I have mentioned it in the last chapter) but, these books are very important from the point of view of the current Communist movement and ideological struggle.
In conclusion, Maoism has drawn a line between revolutionaries and revisionists, clarifying who is a true revolutionary and who is not. Maoism is no longer confined to Chinese Marxism, and the theory of the Third World Revolution, it is universal.
I would like to quote Mark Seldon here:
The Chinese revolution offers inspiration not only to those who would expel colonial oppressors. Nor is its message limited to new nations striving to overcome poverty, economic stagnation, and domination by the industrialized metropolitan powers. It addresses men and women everywhere who seek to create a society free from stifling oppression, arbitrary state power, and enslaving technology.
After Mao’s death, the Chinese capitalist-roaders took the path of counter-revolution, but Mao’s contributions to the world Communist movement are just as relevant and accurate today. In this sense, the views expressed by Seldon on the The Yenan Way in Revolutionary China 50 years ago are of specific significance.
It is the matter to note that, the path taken by Maoism is not only a question of Chinese context and the ”Third World”. In a class society, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is always relevant everywhere and it is to be applied to the specificity of a particular country. Maoism is the guiding principle of today’s world revolution, it is international and universal. The same thing applies with art, literature, and aesthetics. The only question is whether to assimilate it or not.
Those who call themselves Marxists need to assimilate this fact. To be a Marxist means to be a Maoist. Therefore, the question of who is and who is not in favor of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and its revolutionary activities is more important than who calls himself a Marxist. Meaningless arguments in the name of ‘time has changed’ are just an excuse to run away from the revolution. Who is a Marxist or not can be determined only by the fact that who is standing on which front and who is fighting with which weapon.
My book is based on this value. This book is divided into 9 chapters. It not only criticizes the post-Marxist illusion but also emphasizes the need and justification of Maoism for the 21st century Communist revolution.
(This is the ‘Introduction’ chapter of the Book Universal Maoism, illusion of post-Marxism and ideological struggle by Rishi Raj Baral.)