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Mao Zedong Thought Cannot Dull the Brilliance of the Great October Socialist Revolution

Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists

U.S. Neo-Revisionism as the American Expression of the International Opportunist Trend of Chinese Revisionism

Part VI: Mao Zedong Thought Cannot Dull the Brilliance of the Great October Socialist Revolution

 

These days mark the 62nd anniversary of the triumph of the Great October Socialist Revolution. This was an earthshaking and unprecedented revolution in which Lenin and the Bolsheviks led the Russian proletariat in overthrowing the yoke of imperialism, opening up the path for the liberation of the proletariat and oppressed peoples of all countries. The October Revolution was a most significant event in world history, which ushered in the era of proletarian revolutions, the epoch of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the victory of socialism. The triumph of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the October Revolution was a great confirmation of the theory of Marxism as elaborated by Marx and Engels. It also marked the inevitable triumph of Leninism – the Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution, the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general and the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular.

With the triumph of the October Revolution, the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin emerged as a center of socialism and a mighty base for the advance of the world revolution. For the first time in history the capitalists and landlords were radically expropriated, eliminating the exploitation of man by man, and the Soviet working class and toilers embarked on the road of the construction of socialism. The eyes of the exploited and oppressed of the whole world turned to the land of the October Revolution. The most class conscious proletarians of all countries in both the West and the East took up the banner of the October Revolution and Marxism-Leninism, which they recognized as the sole path to liberation from the yoke of exploiters, the capitalists and landlords, the colonialists and imperialists. As Lenin pointed out, “Bolshevism can serve as a model of tactics for all.” (The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, p. 88) Lenin organized the Communist International under which the communist parties, Leninist parties of a new type, of revolution, were set up. And under the invincible banner of the October Revolution, guided by the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, the world revolution, the struggles of the proletariat and oppressed peoples for social and national liberation achieved unprecedented victories. The imperialist system was breached in a number of countries of Europe and Asia, and a powerful socialist camp emerged confronting the imperialist camp.

It is therefore not in the least surprising that from the very days of October 1917 to the present the imperialist bourgeoisie has concentrated all its energy and power towards preventing the proletariat from taking the road of the October Revolution, destroying Bolshevism and liquidating the Marxist-Leninist parties and the socialist camp. The international bourgeoisie has unleashed its armies and all its instruments of repression against socialism and Marxism-Leninism. In particular, imperialism created its special agency within the international communist movement itself, a special weapon in the form of modern revisionism with which to fight Marxism-Leninism. And through the Trojan horse of modern revisionism, imperialism achieved what it couldn’t achieve through the armed counterrevolution. After the death of Stalin, the Khrushchovite modern revisionists betrayed the October Revolution and through the revisionist counterrevolution overthrew the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system in the Soviet Union, and revisionism came to power in a number of socialist states and liquidated the communist parties as revolutionary parties in many countries.

Nevertheless, despite the zigzags in history, despite the revisionist betrayal, the experience of the October Revolution and the ideas which led it, the doctrine of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, have not been and cannot be eliminated but maintain the same brilliance and universal validity as ever. The red banner of Marxism-Leninism and the October Revolution is held high aloft by the international proletariat, by the Marxist-Leninist communist parties with the glorious Party of Labor of Albania and Comrade Enver Hoxha in the forefront. And there is the genuinely socialist country, the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania which marches forward triumphantly on the road of Red October.

Therefore, more than ever, the defense of the road of the October Revolution and Marxism-Leninism against the onslaught of modern revisionism, against their revisionist distortion and negation, remains a central task for all genuine Marxist-Leninists. This is a cardinal subjective factor for the development of the world revolution, for the struggle of the proletariat and oppressed peoples for social and national liberation. The purity of Marxism-Leninism, as the doctrine of the international proletariat, must be guarded as the solid ideological foundation of the contemporary revolutionary movement. Thus the attempts of the various currents of modern revisionism to overthrow Leninism, under whatever pretext and from whichever source, must be relentlessly exposed and repudiated.

In short, whether or not the road of the October Revolution and the Marxist-Leninist theory which guided this revolution are valid for all countries and must not be violated is a question of paramount importance on which Marxism-Leninism clashes with modern revisionism of all types. It clashes with Khrushchovite revisionism which propagates the “peaceful road to socialism” and social-fascism and social-imperialism. It clashes with Titoite revisionism with its “specific socialism” and “third road” to deny the universal experience of the October Revolution, and to justify capitalism and alliance with U.S. imperialism. It clashes with “Eurocommunism,” with its “Italian,” “French” and “Spanish” “roads to socialism” which justify a policy of historic compromise and collaboration with the monopoly bourgeoisie. And on this vital question Marxism-Leninism clashes sharply also with Chinese revisionism and Mao Zedong’s theory of “three worlds” which denies the revolution altogether and which defends U.S. imperialism in particular. Like the other variants of modern revisionism, Chinese revisionism, with its ideological basis in Mao Zedong Thought, is a revisionist negation of the experience of the October Revolution and Marxism-Leninism.

Just as the other revisionisms have done, Chinese revisionism has created an entire arsenal of opportunist “justifications” for its fundamental negation of Marxism-Leninism in its revisionist doctrine of Mao Zedong Thought. To uncover and expose Mao Zedong Thought, however, it is not sufficient to look only at Mao’s official works. Mao Zedong posed as a “great Marxist-Leninist” while in fact he was a wily revisionist who eclectically and pragmatically combined some Marxist-Leninist phraseology with his revisionist distortions of Marxism. Therefore the entire development of Mao Zedong Thought and the practice of the Communist Party of China must be examined. Also in this light, the “theoretical” defense of Mao Zedong by the U.S. neo-revisionist and hardened “three worldist” sect, the “RCP,USA,” is a valuable contribution to the exposure of the revisionist and opportunist nature of Mao Zedong Thought, giving Mao’s anti-Leninist theses an even more undisguised elaboration.

 

Mao’s Theory of a “National” or “Chinese Form of Marxism” Means to Revise Marxism

Mao Zedong was an advocate of the revisionist and national chauvinist position that Marxism-Leninism is not the universally applicable doctrine of the revolutionary proletariat of all countries. According to Mao, each country requires its own ideology, its own “national Marxism.” In particular Mao held that the Communist Party of China had to develop a “Chinese form of Marxism,” different in character from the “European Marxism” of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. While the followers of Chinese revisionism at times attempt to give the development of Mao Zedong Thought an “anti-revisionist” coloring, this “Thought” did not emerge in the struggle against modern revisionism. In reality, since the mid-1930’s the Communist Party of China has developed Mao Zedong Thought as a “Chinese form of Marxism,” i.e., a Chinese revision of Marxism from that time.

Mao’s idea of a “Chinese Marxism” was promoted under the chauvinist and xenophobic pretext that China is allegedly an “objective world” unto itself, a necessarily unknown entity to all but Mao and the Chinese. Hence, the scientific laws governing the development of class society and the proletarian revolution which had been discovered by “foreigners” were allegedly not applicable to Chinese conditions or were at best only partially applicable.

Therefore, the CPC and Mao Zedong set out to establish a “Marxism” with a specifically Chinese character, an “Asio-Marxism” which, of course, is not Marxism at all. In 1945, the 7th Congress of the CPC adopted a new constitution declaring that “the Thought of Mao Tsetung” must “guide the entire work” of the party. (Mao Tsetung, by Stuart Schram, p. 232) And in his report to the 7th Congress, Liu Shaoqi (Liu Shao-chi) defined Mao Zedong Thought as an “admirable example of the nationalization of Marxism.” (Ibid, p. 233) The following year, in an interview with Anna Louise Strong, Liu Shaoqi declared that “Mao Tsetung’s great accomplishment has been to change Marxism from a European to an Asiatic form.” (Ibid., p. 254) Of course, it cannot be argued that Mao disagreed with the arch-revisionist Liu Shaoqi on this. Mao presided over the 7th Congress and knew full well what his comrades were saying about “Mao Tsetung Thought” to the foreign journalists. No, this was Mao’s line as well. For Mao Zedong too constantly harped on the need of giving Marxism “a definite national form,” “an indubitably Chinese character.” (Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 209)

In the creation of this “Chinese form of Marxism,” in building up “Mao Zedong Thought” as something more “suitable to China” than Marxism-Leninism, Mao harbored a real chauvinist hostility towards the revolutionary experience of the international proletariat. The theory and tactics to guide the Chinese revolution had to be Chinese, or more specifically had to be the product of the “brilliance” of Mao Zedong and his ideas alone. In this regard, Mao Zedong is completely shameless:

...it is we Chinese who have achieved understanding of the objective world of China, not the comrades concerned with Chinese questions in the Communist International. These comrades in the Communist International simply did not understand, or we could say they utterly failed to understand Chinese society, the Chinese nation, or the Chinese revolution. For a long time even we did not have a clear understanding of the objective world of China, let alone the foreign comrades! (“Talk at an Enlarged Central Work Conference,” January 30, 1962, cited in Stuart Schram, Chairman Mao Talks to the People, p. 172)

This outrageous diatribe against “foreign comrades” reflects the typical hostility which Mao Zedong consistently displayed towards Marxism-Leninism and towards the international communist movement. For example, everyone knows that the great proletarian revolutionary strategists, Lenin and Stalin, were among those “comrades concerned with Chinese questions in the Communist International.” Yet with unsurpassed arrogance, Mao declares that Lenin and Stalin too, “utterly failed to understand Chinese society, the Chinese nation, or the Chinese revolution.” But then again, how could any “foreigners” “have a clear understanding of the objective world of China”?!

Furthermore, this abuse of “foreign comrades” is a typical example of Mao Zedong’s sinister duplicity. In Mao’s official writings, insofar as he quoted from the Marxist-Leninist classics, it was mostly from Stalin’s works pertaining to China. Mao even stressed that the Chinese communists must especially “study Lenin’s and Stalin’s writings on the Chinese revolution.” But this was simply so much eyewash because it is well known that Mao made a regular practice of abusing and slandering Stalin as a blundering ignoramus in regard to the Chinese revolution and in every other field. Like the other revisionists, Mao raved against the great disciple of Lenin, Stalin, in order to oppose Leninism itself. Shameless hypocrisy was Mao’s stock in trade.,/p>

The “RCP” also speculates and “theorizes” at length on this idea of the unknowable “objective world” of China. The first tactic of “RCP’s” defense of the so-called “immortal contributions” of Mao Zedong is to create the completely unfounded aura around Mao of the “great helmsman” crossing dark and uncharted waters, casting a ray of light in whichever anti-Leninist direction he steers. China is not like any other country, they protest. Hence, how can you criticize Mao from a Marxist-Leninist position when “Mao was really dealing with a new historical situation.” (The Communist, Number 5, May 1979, p. 49) The “RCP” raves:

...where in the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is a clear line presented on how to wage the armed seizure of power in a country like China? Of course there is no such prescription, for unlike Hoxha, the great leaders of the proletariat were not into speculating on hypothetical situations that had not yet arrived. Since there had never been a revolution led by the working class in such a country prior to the Chinese Revolution, isn’t it really rather silly to tell us to compare Mao’s writing with the military writings of the earlier Marxist-Leninist leaders to discover Mao’s mistakes? (Ibid., p. 14)

The defenders of Mao make great play with the specific and particular features of the Chinese revolution in order to deny its basic features, its fundamental path, which Marxism-Leninism and the October Revolution had brilliantly illuminated. Thus, for example, in order to defend Mao Zedong’s bourgeois democratic and opportunist line of “long-term mutual supervision” between the bourgeois parties and the communist party under socialism, the “RCP” explains this away with the assertion that such a line was necessary because of the “nature of Chinese society and the historical conditions.” (Ibid., p. 49) And the “RCP” continues: “It is also important to note that at the time Mao wrote his major theoretical works on this subject, there was no historical experience of the proletariat and its Communist Party in leading the victory of a democratic revolution and building a new social order on this basis.” (Ibid., p. 49)

But this is a hoax because the “democratic” revolution is not the experience of Mao alone. A century before Mao’s writings, Marx and Engels organized the proletariat’s participation in the bourgeois democratic revolution and wrote extensively and drew important theoretical conclusions a-bout the ways and means for the proletariat to carry this revolution through to the proletarian revolution and socialism. And, on the basis of the theory of Marxism, with Lenin and the Bolsheviks at the head, the Russian proletariat led the bourgeois democratic revolution to victory in Russia on their triumphant march to the October Socialist Revolution. The fact of the matter is that it was Lenin who, as early as 1905, systematically worked out the Marxist-Leninist theory on the bourgeois democratic revolution led by the proletariat as an intermediate stage for the uninterrupted transition to the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus, the fantastic claims that before Mao “there was no historical experience” on this fundamental question of the revolution, are a ridiculous farce. Furthermore, nowhere in the extensive writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin, the great champions of the hegemony and undivided leadership of the proletariat and its party in the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat can anything be found to justify such an extreme opportunist policy of “long-term mutual supervision” between the capitalist parties and the communist party within a state which is allegedly the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist.

But then again, maybe there is something else to the claim that before Mao “there was no historical experience of the proletariat and its Communist Party in leading the victory of a democratic revolution and building a new social order on this basis.” Indeed there was no historical experience and there is no possibility of building the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis of a revolution which is stopped at the democratic stage. And it is exactly here that Marxism-Leninism, which only considers the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution as a necessary stage for the immediate going over to the socialist revolution, clashes head on with Mao Zedong Thought. Mao Zedong, like the opportunists of the Second International, held that there is a Chinese wall between the bourgeois democratic and the socialist revolutions. And it was Mao Zedong Thought which blocked the democratic revolution in China from going beyond Mao’s idea of “new democracy,” from being transformed into a genuine socialist revolution. Thus, “RCP’s” defense of Mao Zedong Thought on the plea of “new historical conditions” turns out to be only further evidence of the fact that Mao Zedong Thought is not Marxism-Leninism at all but a gross distortion of it in the direction of bourgeois democracy. And it is the classics of Marxism-Leninism which show that Mao’s preachings about the “long-term mutual supervision” and “harmony of interests” between labor and capital under socialism are nothing but the social-democratic and Bukharinite thesis of the growing of capitalism into socialism.

 

Mao Zedong’s Opposition to “Dogmatism” and “Foreign Stereotypes” Was Directed Against the Experience of the October Revolution and Marxism-Leninism

Mao Zedong’s pronounced national chauvinist attitude towards the revolutionary experience of the international proletariat was expressed in a concentrated fashion in the campaigns he waged against “dogmatism” and “foreign stereotypes.” In his campaigns against so-called “dogmatism,” Mao did not have as his target the real dogmas, the dogmas of the Second International, the trotskyites, the modern revisionists and other opportunists. On the contrary, within the “foreign stereotypes” and “foreign patterns” which Mao rejected, were included also the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the positive and revolutionary experience of the international proletariat, particularly the experience of the socialist revolution and socialist construction in the Soviet Union. Mao continually harped against “blindly following Soviet experience,” and he talked a great deal about the need to “sum up the positive and negative experience of the Soviet Union” in order to cast this invaluable and light-giving experience of the international proletariat in a completely negative shadow.

The defenders of Mao try to paint his hostility to the “Soviet experience” in “anti-revisionist” colors. But this is a gross distortion. In fact Mao did not differentiate between the Soviet experience under Lenin and Stalin which is Marxist-Leninist and socialist experience, and the Soviet revisionist experience under the Khrushchovites which is anti-Leninist, capitalist and social-imperialist experience. Furthermore, in league with the trotskyites, Titoites, Khrushchovites and all the revisionist and opportunist renegades, Mao heaped vile abuse on the great Marxist-Leninist Stalin in order to tarnish the entire magnificent epoch of socialist revolution and socialist construction in the Soviet Union.

According to Mao: “After the October Revolution, while Lenin was still alive, while the class struggle was very acute and Stalin had still not come to power, they too were full of life.” (“Talks at the Chengtu Conference,” 1958, Chairman Mao Talks to the People, Schram, p. 96) This is how Mao Zedong shamelessly threw mud at the glorious decades of J.V. Stalin’s leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state, the dictatorship of the proletariat and genuine socialism. To claim that this type of “opposition to Soviet experience” on Mao’s part was somehow “anti-revisionist,” is absurd. The truth is Mao maintained national chauvinist views towards so-called “foreign stereotypes,” “Soviet experience,” etc., in opposition to Marxism-Leninism.

For their part, the “RCP” has raised this yellow, revisionist banner of Mao Zedong’s as their guiding principle. The “RCP” theorists have adopted as their first principle hostility to the international communist movement and the rejection of the international experience of the proletariat. And they correctly attribute this anti-Marxist-Leninist line to Mao. The “RCP” elaborates that: “...as a decisive part of forging the correct line... Mao also had to challenge and break with the force of convention within the international communist movement”; Mao had “to depart from, even ’violate,’ certain ’norms’ which some have come to regard as sacred, in such basic areas as the functioning of the Party and its relations to the masses. ...without such ’violations’ – that is to say, developments – of Marxism-Leninism, the Chinese revolution” would not have made “new breakthroughs on the path to communism.” “Had Mao...gone along with those who demanded that the Chinese revolution be a clone of the Soviet revolution, and who invoked the Soviet experience and the Soviet Union itself as a holy icon,...there would have been no Chinese revolution.” (Mao Tsetung’s Immortal Contributions, pp. 312-14) What disgusting anti-communist trash! Moreover, about this garbage dragged up from the basements of the Hoover Institute, the “RCP” declares: “It can be further said that it is even a law of revolution”!

No, you anti-communist gangsters. The iron law of revolution is that it is only by defending Marxism-Leninism, its norms, the Leninist-Stalinist teachings on the Party, and the lessons of the October Revolution, and by relentlessly combatting the revisionist scoundrels such as yourself who glory in “departing” from and “violating” the Marxist-Leninist teachings which the entire international proletariat holds sacred, that the revolution can triumph.

 

Mao Zedong’s Revisionist Thesis of “Two Paths to Power”

Mao raised the slogan that “the Chinese Revolution is a continuation of the October Revolution,” and similar phrases can be found in his works. But here again is Mao’s hypocrisy, because he did not agree with this idea at all. In fact, Mao Zedong created an entire, worked out theoretical position, or more precisely schematic dogma, that the road of the October Revolution is only good for the advanced, imperialist-capitalist states while the oppressed nations and peasant countries had to have a different road, their own road to liberation, which was the road of China and Mao Zedong.

In the words of “RCP,” Mao Zedong held that: “...to mechanically copy and apply to China the experience of the October Revolution in Russia, which set the general strategic orientation for revolution and the seizure of power in the capitalist countries” is an “erroneous tendency.” The issue here is not whether or not the experience of the October Revolution should be “mechanically copied.” This is only a flimsy ruse, a dodge to fool the naive. The issue here is that under the hoax of not “mechanically copying,” the “RCP” restricts the experience of Great October to a purely national phenomenon, applicable to the “capitalist countries” alone. In other words, the fundamental lessons of the October Revolution do not apply to all countries, and particularly not to the revolutions in the colonial and neo-colonial countries.

The “RCP” further elaborates Mao’s scheme of “two paths to power”: “Hoxha tries to make it sound as if Mao held that in every country the road to victory lies in surrounding the city by the countryside. Quite the contrary. Mao held specifically that the model of the October Revolution, of insurrection in the cities, would be the road to power in the imperialist countries. Furthermore Mao never held that in all dependent and colonial countries the revolution would develop along this path.” (Ibid., p. 16) Here again, the “RCP” is creating the diversion of whether or not “Mao’s road” applies to “all dependent and colonial countries”; as they themselves later explain, this “will be the road to victory in many, if not most, such countries.” (Ibid., p. 16) So the point is crystal clear: since there are “capitalist” or “imperialist” countries on the one hand and “colonial or semi-colonial and semi-feudal” countries on the other, therefore there must be two separate “general strategic orientations” – two “paths to power” – the road of the Bolsheviks and October for the “imperialist countries,” and the road of Mao and China in “many, if not most” of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Let’s further examine this anti-Marxist concoction of “two roads” as elaborated by Mao himself:

Internally, capitalist countries practice bourgeois democracy (not feudalism) when they are not fascist or not at war; in their external relations, they are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations. Because of these characteristics, it is the task of the party of the proletariat in the capitalist countries to educate the workers and build up strength through a long period of legal struggle, and thus prepare for the final overthrow of capitalism. In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform, of economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers. There the form of organization is legal and the form of struggle bloodless (non-military). On the issue of war, the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries oppose the imperialist wars waged by their own countries; if such wars occur, the policy of these Parties is to bring about the defeat of the reactionary governments of their own countries. The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing. But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are 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. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.

China is different however. The characteristics of China are that she is not independent and democratic but semi-colonial and semi-feudal, that internally she has no democracy but is under feudal oppression and that in her external relations she has no national independence but is oppressed by imperialism. It follows that we have no parliament to make use of and no legal right to organize the workers to strike. Basically, the task of the Communist Party here is not to go through a long period of legal struggle be-for launching insurrection and war, and not to seize the big cities first and then occupy the countryside, but the reverse. (Selected Works, Vol. II, pp. 219-20)

Such is the treachery of Mao Zedong Thought. What is it that makes “China different” from the capitalist countries in the ideas of the “greatest Marxist-Leninist” Mao? It is that the road of the October Revolution of Lenin and Stalin “has been proved correct” only in the capitalist countries but is however inapplicable to China!

To unravel Mao’s anti-Marxist mumbo jumbo it should be pointed out that Lenin, too, exposed Kautsky and the leaders of the Second International who with similar arguments rejected the international significance of the October Revolution. Regarding these revisionist critics, Lenin pointed out:

In Russia, the dictatorship of the proletariat must inevitably differ in certain specific features from that in the advanced countries, owing to the very great backwardness and petty bourgeois character of our country. But the basic forces – and the basic forms of social economy – are the same in Russia as in any capitalist country, so that these specific features can relate only to what is not most important. (V.I. Lenin, “Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” Collected Works, Vol.30, p. 108)

Clearly Mao Zedong too, is grabbing at “specific features” in order to throw out the window what is most important in the experience of the October Revolution. The basic social forces at work in Russia operated in the same way as in China and in every other country made up of antagonistic classes – proletarians and capitalists, landlords and peasants, etc.

In his above thesis, Mao displays his extreme rigidity of concept and the shallow woodiness of his anti-Marxist dogmas. And Mao’s rank schematism gives rise to nothing but typically social-democratic conclusions. Just look at Mao’s so-called arguments. Is it true that legal and parliamentary struggle played no role at all in China? No, in fact, at one point in the revolution the Communist Party participated in parliamentary struggle in league with the ruling party. Nor did this rule out the fact that at the same time the revolutionary armed struggle was also being waged. Nor was this situation exceptional to China as, for example, during the Spanish Civil War when parliamentary struggle was also utilized by the revolution. Furthermore, is it not the case that in China, just as in any country where the proletariat exists, this class must be organized and there is a question of “economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers,” etc.? (More on this later on.) Is it not simply social-democratic and Browderite reformism to describe the task of the communist parties in the capitalist countries as: “a long period of legal struggle,” that “In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform,” etc.? Don’t the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the need for illegal forms of struggle, revolutionary mass struggle, etc., in order to prepare for the insurrection apply to all countries, even the most “bourgeois democratic”? Aren’t Lenin’s teachings on the need for illegal as well as legal organization for a successful struggle against imperialism universally valid? Mao writes as though in the “bourgeois democratic” countries the proletariat is granted the “legal right to organize” when in the most democratic bourgeois states these rights are won only through arduous struggle and are inevitably extremely limited. Besides this, there are fascist capitalist countries (note; Mao was writing in 1938) and other militarist and semi-feudal capitalist states as well as those states which are undergoing increasing fascization under the mantle of “bourgeois democracy” with their countless anti-communist and anti-working class laws and measures that restrict the “use of parliament” and the “legal right to strike” to the point that these things have become very hollow indeed. In this regard, how was it that China was so “different” from the October Revolution, which everyone knows was prepared by the fearless Bolsheviks under the conditions of the bloodstained military-feudal absolutism of tsarist Russia?

It is clear that Mao is following in the footsteps of the opportunist social-democrats of Lenin’s time. They also denied that the lessons of the October Revolution were of an international character, claiming that they could not apply to “democratic” Europe as they were suited only to the conditions of “Asiatic barbarism.” Mao Zedong simply wants to turn this on its head. This is why Mao has concocted this completely schematic picture, and a completely social-democratic one at that, of a purely legal, parliamentary, reformist and peaceful development of the revolution in the capitalist countries and makes the outrageous assertion that such a development “has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia”! Thus, Mao advocated the stereotype of the non-revolutionary West in contrast to the revolutionary East, and the non-revolutionary proletariat as opposed to the revolutionary peasantry. This is what lies behind Mao’s idea that “China however is different.’’ What a travesty of Marxism-Leninism!

Another “specific feature” of Mao’s rigid stereotype is his thesis that “capitalist countries...are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations.” Here again Mao is trying to create a formula to the effect that the road of the October Revolution is a peculiar phenomenon to oppressor and not oppressed nations like China. And here again Mao is arguing from a completely opportunist and social-democratic position. The world system of imperialism is a system of the savage oppression of nations, both capitalistically undeveloped nations and fully capitalist ones. There are many contemporary and historical examples of advanced capitalist and imperialist nations being subject to the domination of powerful imperialisms. Defeated Germany after World War I is such a case. And the enslavement of defeated Japan and shattered Western Europe by a much strengthened U.S. imperialism after the Second World War remains in force to this day. Before Mao it was Karl Kautsky who attempted to prettify the imperialist system with the argument that imperialism only strives to subjugate agrarian territories and nations and not industrial ones. Against this idea Lenin pointed out: “The characteristic feature of imperialism is precisely that it strives to annex not only agrarian territories, but even most highly industrialized regions (German appetite for Belgium; French appetite for Lorraine).” (Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” Collected Works, Vol. 22, pp. 268-69) Thus, Mao’s argument is none other than that of the renegade Kautsky.

Like the renegades of the Second International, Mao Zedong argues in this vein in order to create a Chinese wall between the bourgeois democratic and socialist revolution, to separate the anti-imperialist and socialist tasks of the revolution with a gaping chasm. It was this gaping chasm created by Mao Zedong Thought which stood in the way of the uninterrupted transition of the Chinese bourgeois democratic, anti-imperialist revolution into a genuine socialist revolution. Moreover, this is one of the fundamental features of the anti-Leninist theory of “three worlds.” And therefore it is one of the key ingredients of the anti-Marxist schematism in the political line of the “three worldist” sects such as the “RCP.”

The “RCP” agrees completely with Mao that an artificial Chinese wall must be erected between the bourgeois democratic revolution and the proletarian socialist revolution. For the “RCP,” any bourgeois democratic deviation of Mao and the Chinese after liberation is justified because China’s revolution was bourgeois democratic and thus cannot be expected to become a truly proletarian socialist revolution – that is, not ever. At the same time, also guided by Mao’s idea of the insurmountable gulf between the bourgeois democratic and socialist revolutions the “RCP” has invoked an anti-Marxist taboo to the effect that the proletariat, in carrying out the socialist revolution, must not and may not take up any democratic tasks. And it is on this basis that the “RCP” virulently condemns the anti-imperialist struggles of the proletariat of Western Europe, Japan, Canada, etc., against U.S. imperialist domination under the hoax that to do so, to wage anti-imperialist struggle, necessitates abandonment of the socialist revolution and an alliance with one’s own bourgeoisie.

On this point the “RCP” is in complete ideological harmony with the other “three worldists” who have written off the proletarian socialist revolution in these states altogether, and advocate an alliance with the internal monopoly bourgeoisie under the hoax of a struggle against the two superpowers, or more precisely, against Soviet social-imperialism. These “three worldist” formula worshippers are thus in the identical anti-Marxist position of creating a wall between the bourgeois democratic and socialist revolutions and between the democratic and socialist tasks of the revolution. It is for this reason that the “RCP” and all the “three worlds” the theorists jump up and down raving against the Marxist-Leninists for allegedly “denying two-stage revolution,” “combining two stages into one,” etc. However, demagogy is cheap. The issue here is that the “three worlds” schematists place the revolution into either “purely bourgeois democratic stage” or “purely socialist stage” compartments and then clamp down anti-Marxist-Leninist “sacred laws” onto each stage: (a) that the bourgeois democratic revolution must be divided by a wall from the socialist revolution and therefore cannot and must not carry out any socialist tasks, nor can such a revolution be uninterruptedly carried through to the socialist stage; and (b) that the revolution cannot be socialist in character if it is still faced with democratic tasks, or to express the same “sacred law” from the other side, the socialist revolution must be forbidden to carry out any tasks of a democratic or anti-imperialist nature. Such is the revisionist doctrinairism of Mao Zedong Thought.

 

The Theory of Encircling the Cities from the Countryside Denies the Hegemony of the Proletariat in the Revolution

The final and most telling “specific feature” which Mao clings to in order to trumpet his “Chinese path to power” is the specific course of the armed struggle in China: that in the October Revolution the insurrection was launched in the cities and advanced into the countryside whereas in China the war took the course of encircling the cities from the countryside. From this fact, Mao Zedong created an entire theory of encircling the cities from the countryside, an anti-Marxist-Leninist theory which is at the center of the so-called “Chinese road.” Moreover, this “brilliant strategic concept” of Mao’s was built up as a universal pattern applicable and mandatory for all countries with the possible exception of the imperialist states. The Chinese revisionist leaders even demanded that “Mao’s road” be followed in Spain! In official Chinese literature the concept of encircling the cities from the countryside was even extended to the course for the world revolution, with the “countryside” of Asia, Africa and Latin America surrounding the “cities” of the imperialist metropolises. These are the very same anti-Marxist-Leninist ideas that are at the bottom of Mao’s theory of “three worlds.”

Far from a “brilliant new Chinese path to power,” a path more applicable than that of the October Revolution for the undeveloped countries, the theory of encircling the cities from the countryside is the height of rank schematism. Such a formal pattern has been demolished by events and real life over and over again. Most recently the development of the revolution in Iran is a great demonstration of the absurdity of Mao’s so-called “strategic concept.” To condemn the revolutions of the proletariat and toiling masses of Asia, Africa and Latin America to such a scheme is to condemn these revolutions to disaster.

Mao Zedong’s thesis of surrounding the cities by the countryside is not simply the description of the course of the military operations in China’s liberation war. To the contrary, it is a cover for definite anti-Marxist-Leninist theories which negate the hegemony of the proletariat and the role of the cities in the revolution. No, “Mao’s road” of encircling the cities from the countryside is a diabolical theory of distrust of the proletariat which replaces proletarian hegemony in the revolution with that of the peasantry. This theory that in China the revolution could do without the urban proletariat and that the revolution didn’t have to be organized in the cities simultaneously with the work in the countryside, is another ugly manifestation of the pragmatism of Mao Zedong Thought. This road was not illuminated by Marxism-Leninism. Quite the opposite. As Mao says: “For so many years previously (prior to formulating the “general line” including encircling the cities from the countryside – ed.) we were working in the dark.” (Chairman Mao Talks to the People, Schram, p. 172) Put simply, the road of encircling the cities was formulated by Mao not on the basis of Marxism but was stumbled on as Mao and the CPC groped in the “dark.”

Marxist-Leninist theory and the October Revolution had in fact indicated a different road for the Chinese revolution than Mao’s road of encircling the cities from the countryside. In answer to this charge, the “RCP” demands “where in the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, is a clear line presented on how to wage the armed seizure of power in a country like China?” (The Communist, May 1979, p. 14) Indeed, for those whose minds are confounded by the eclectic formulations of Mao Zedong Thought, their lack of Marxism may leave them, as Mao says, “in the dark.” But in fact Marxism-Leninism indicates “a clear line” for the proletariat of all countries, including China. For example, there is nothing unclear about Stalin’s writings on the course of the Chinese revolution, and Stalin’s clear line is not in agreement with Mao’s road. In Stalin’s works, he clearly outlines the specific features of the Chinese revolution. It was Stalin who stressed the need for the proletariat to lead the peasant masses in agrarian revolution as an essential condition for the victory of the Chinese revolution, pointing out that there are “even Chinese Communists who do not consider it possible to unleash revolution in the countryside.” (“Prospects of Revolution in China,” On the Opposition, p. 510) And it was Stalin who emphasized the fact that “In China the armed revolution is fighting the armed counter-revolution. That is one of the specific features and one of the advantages of the Chinese revolution...the Communists in China must devote special attention to work in the army.” (Ibid., p. 505) But do these specific features justify a policy of abandoning the cities and the proletarians concentrated there? Not in the least.

Stalin, speaking under the heading “The Proletariat and the Hegemony of the Proletariat in China,” gave a very definite answer to this question:

I think that the Chinese Communists should orientate themselves first and foremost on the proletariat.... I know that among the Chinese Communists there are comrades who do not approve of workers going on strike for an improvement of their material conditions and legal status, and who try to dissuade the workers from sinking. .. That is a great mistake, comrades. It is a very serous underestimation of the role and importance of the Chinese proletariat. This fact should be noted in the theses as something decidedly objectionable. It would be a great mistake if the Chinese Communists failed to take advantage of the present favorable situation to assist the workers to improve their material conditions and legal status, even through strikes. Otherwise, what purpose does the revolution in China serve? The proletariat cannot be a leading force if during strikes its sons are flogged and tortured by agents of imperialism. These medieval outrages must be stopped at all costs in order to heighten the sense of power and dignity among the Chinese proletarians, and to make them capable of leading the revolutionary movement. Without this, the victory of the revolution in China is inconceivable. (Ibid., pp. 513-14)

Could Stalin have presented his position against the “very serious underestimation of the role and importance of the Chinese proletariat” more clearly? Nevertheless, to Mao the work in the cities and hence in the urban proletariat was only subsidiary at best and quite unimportant. As already discussed, Mao held social-democratic and reformist ideas about the organization of the proletariat and he considered this work non-revolutionary and quite unnecessary for the revolution.

Among Mao’s legitimizations for the abandonment of the work in the cities was the severity of the White terror. As pointed out earlier, Mao argued that since in China there was “no parliament to make use of and no legal right to organize workers to strike,” there was therefore no question of organizing “economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers.” In other words, in the face of reaction nothing can be done but to abandon the workers to the “education” and tender mercies of the KMT butchers and the imperialist exploiters! To look into what Mao’s position on the work in the cities actually was, there is very little, almost nothing, written about this work in Mao’s works. But according to the CPC it was Liu Shaoqi who provided the “model” tactics on this question: “As for mass work in the cities during that period, the principal policies should have been those advanced by Comrade Liu Shao-chi, the exponent of the correct line for work in the White areas.” (see ”Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party,” adopted by the CPC Central Committee, 1945, in Mao Zedong, Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 198-202, 1965 edition) And Liu’s basic tactic for work in the cities was “to act chiefly on the defensive (and not on the offensive)” and to “work under cover for a long time and accumulate strength.” {Ibid.) In fact, the CPC with this “correct line” basically abandoned the cities, liquidated the Party organization in the KMT areas and failed to “accumulate strength” in the urban areas during the course of the liberation war. Furthermore, it cannot be claimed that this “model” tactic was only recommended as a result of the harshness of the repression following the 1927 counterrevolution. It is well known that the Chinese leaders held that “Comrade Mao Tsetung’s idea that for a long time we should employ our main strength to create rural base areas, (and) use the rural areas to encircle the cities” (Ibid., p. 184) – in other words to retreat from the cities – was not only the general line for China but for all peasant countries. (Liu Shaoqi’s position as the “advocate of the correct line” for the cities brings up another indication of the Chinese leaders’ distrust of the proletariat: that is the idea that the working class and the cities are the source of revisionism. It has been widely floated through the Chinese revisionist circles, and it is completely consistent with Mao’s basic viewpoint, that the arch-revisionism of Liu Shaoqi was the natural result of Liu’s responsibility for work in the cities and the proletariat, work which was allegedly inherently non-revolutionary and tainted with reformism and bureaucracy as opposed to the so-called “Yenan way” of Mao in the Chinese countryside.)

In the same resolution of the CPC Central Committee cited above, it states:

Comrade Mao Tsetung also pointed out that the vast rural areas inhabited by the broad masses of the peasantry are the indispensable, vital positions of the Chinese revolution (revolutionary villages can encircle the cities, but revolutionary cities cannot detach themselves from the villages), and that China can and must establish armed revolutionary base areas as the starting point for countrywide victory. (Ibid., p. 198)

Thus, for Mao, it was only the rural areas and the peasantry which were “indispensable, vital positions of the Chinese revolution” whereas the cities and the proletariat were of less consequence or of no consequence at all and were to take a back seat and wait for liberation to be brought to them from the peasantry! Of course, nowhere do the Chinese give a serious argument for this line which is diametrically opposed to Marxism-Leninism, to the experience of the October Revolution, to the correct advice of Stalin, etc. No, this anti-Marxist line is justified with idiotic dithyrambs such as “revolutionary villages can encircle the cities, but revolutionary cities cannot detach themselves from the villages”!

Due to the influence of Mao Zedong Thought, the Communist Party of China’s proletariat could not possibly fulfill its proper leading role in the Chinese revolution. Although in the 1920’s the CPC had undivided leadership of the militant proletariat and strength in the cities, by the time of liberation in 1949 the Party’s strength in the cities and the urban proletariat was almost nonexistent. The situation was so bad that Mao himself describes how the CPC was at a loss to find urban cadres and turned to the army to find them. This situation where the Chinese proletariat was not brought to the forefront of the liberation struggle could only have done a great deal of harm to the revolution, keeping it from being transformed into a genuine socialist revolution. Even if it is conceded that due to the particular savagery of Chiang Kai-shek’s 1927 counterrevolution there were devastating setbacks in the cities, it is very striking that nowhere in the works of Mao is there a hint that there was any particular drawback to the proletariat not taking its proper position in the revolution. In fact, Mao’s entire theory of encircling the cities from the countryside is a schematic pattern for justifying this situation, for one-sidedly absolutizing the role of the countryside and the peasantry, and for underestimating the role and importance of the proletariat in the revolution. And this pattern has been elevated to a universal stereotype, not only “correct for China” but for undeveloped countries everywhere.

Fortunately, despite the national chauvinist and arrogant claims of the Chinese revisionists, the proletariat and people of these countries are not predestined for this anti-Marxist road of Mao Zedong. On the contrary, the revolution in the undeveloped countries, equally with the developed countries, has only one road to genuine liberation and socialism, and that is the road of Marxism-Leninism and the October Revolution. This is the road which the Party of Labor of Albania and the Albanian working class and people have traversed. The example of the Albanian people’s liberation war against the nazi-fascist occupiers is a brilliant demonstration of the fact that the armed uprising does not have to and must not take the anti-Marxist course of leaving the working class on the sidelines and abandoning the cities even in a backward country such as Albania was at the time. Describing the victorious course of the people’s uprising, the PLA points out:

The uprising found its inspiration and began in the cities. As it extended and strengthened, the center of gravity passed to the countryside. The village became the main base of the uprising and the peasantry its main force. At the same time, the uprising was being extended and deepened in the cities, too. The countryside was liberated first, and this served as the starting point for the liberation of the cities and the whole country. However, right to the end the city remained the inspirer and leader of the whole uprising. (History of the Party of Labor of Albania, p. 662)

The fact that the Albanian working class, with its Marxist-Leninist party at the head, was able to carry out its historic mission as the leader of the revolution, has ensured the triumph of genuine socialism in Albania. Among other factors, this factor has guaranteed the uninterrupted development of the revolution through the anti-imperialist democratic stage to the stage of the construction of the economic base of socialism, through to the present stage of the complete construction of socialist society. The People’s Socialist Republic of Albania is the prototype of the new socialist society which can only be realized and consolidated under one banner – the invincible banner of Marxism-Leninism and the October Revolution.