Democracy and Class Struggle republish chapters on Mao Zedong from the Marxism Leninism Maoism Textbook of Indian Maoist Comrades as an introduction to his life and ideas on the 124th Anniversary of his death.
The rebirth of Chinese Socialism in 21st Century is the rebirth of the Marxism Leninism Maoism and has Henry CK Liu writes on his essay on Mao and Lincoln:
The full impact of Mao’s revolutionary spirit is yet to be released on Chinese society. A century from now, Mao’s high-minded principles of mass politics will outshine all his neo-liberal critics.
Democracy and Class Struggle has one request of our readers in 2018 combat the anti Mao lies and in particular spread the research of Sun Jingxian here;
Mao Tse-tung was born on 26th December 1893, in the village of Shaoshan Chung in the fertile valley of Shaoshan in the Hunan province of China. The district where Mao was born was a wealthy agricultural area. It was also a strategic area with all major routes by road or river passing through the Hunan province. Being at the crossroads of commerce the Hunan people were known for their peasant traders. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Hunan also became an intellectual centre and a centre of dissidence and revolt, producing many of China’s best scholars. It produced both the military generals who helped the Chinese Emperors, as well as the revolutionaries who overthrew their rule. It was also a major centre of the biggest peasant revolt of the nineteenth century – the great Taiping peasant uprising. Hunan provided lakhs of fighters for the rebellion, which lasted for 14 years from 1850 to 1864. This vast support for the peasant revolt was because of the severe poverty of the peasantry due to exploitation by the landlords and excessive taxation. Though the uprising had been brutally crushed, the memory of the revolt remained strong in the villages around where Mao spent his childhood and youth.
Mao’s father, Mao Jen-shen, was born a poor peasant and was forced to become a soldier for seven years in order to pay off his father’s debts. Later through hard work and careful saving he was able to buy back his land. He grew to become a middle peasant and petty trader. The standard of living of the family however remained very poor. Even at the age of sixteen, Mao only ate one egg a month and meat about three or four times a month. Mao’s father put his children to work as soon as possible. Thus Mao started work in the fields at the age of six. Mao’s mother, Wen Chi-mei, was from Xiangxiang district just sixteen miles from Shaoshan. Mao was the eldest son. He had two younger brothers and an adopted sister. All three were among the members of the first peasant Communist party branch that Mao formed. All became martyrs in the Revolution.
Mao was a rebel from a very young age. He called his father the Ruling Power. He often united with his mother, brother and the labourer against the authority of his father. This was the opposition. At school too he opposed the old customs. Once in protest against his schoolteacher he, at the age of seven, ran away for three days and stayed in the mountains surrounding his village. After this protest – which Mao calls his first successful strike – he was not beaten in school.
Mao’s first school was the village primary school, which he joined at the age of seven. As soon as he learnt to read sufficiently, he developed a passion for reading. He preferred romantic books of rebellion and adventure. Very often he would read the whole night by the light of an oil lamp. Mao’s father, who himself had very little schooling, was not interested in Mao continuing his education for too long. He needed somebody to work in the fields and to maintain his accounts. So in 1906, he removed Mao from the village school.
Mao however continued his interest in reading and constantly demanded to be sent for further education. His father could not understand this interest of his son and thought the solution was in marriage. At the age of fourteen, Mao was married to a girl from the same area. Mao however refused to complete the marriage.
Meanwhile the revolutionary atmosphere was rapidly growing in the surrounding areas. Two rebellions took place in this period, which had a lasting impact on Mao. One was the revolt in Hunan in 1906 led by the revolutionaries of the party of the nationalist Sun Yat-sen. The other was a rebellion against a landlord by a group of peasants of Shaoshan itself. Both were crushed and the leaders were beheaded. Mao was very much affected by the injustice and longed to do something radical for the country and its people. He also longed to continue his education. Finally in 1910, he was sent to a Higher Primary School, in his mother’s home district, Xiangxiang.
The students in this school were all from landlord and rich background who initially looked down upon Mao. Mao however had soon outshone all the other students by his superior intellect and hard work and study. He would sit reading for long hours in the classroom after everyone had left. His teachers were highly impressed by his ability. Within a few months however he was restless to move on to a higher level. After a year he easily passed the exams for admission to Middle School which was situated in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. In September 1911, Mao walked the forty miles to Changsha. Mao, who was almost eighteen, was seeing a city for the first time.
Changsha, a city of scholars, was in extreme turmoil at the time of Mao’s arrival there. Revolutionary associations under various names had been formed by teachers and students. Underground literature was being circulated and an explosion was expected at any moment. Mao, who had already developed some radical thinking, was eager to participate in the events. Within a month of Mao’s arrival the 1911 bourgeois revolution broke out under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen. Mao immediately decided to join the revolutionary army. The revolution however was soon betrayed and landed in the hands of counter revolutionaries. Mao, after five months, resigned from the army and landed back in Changsha.
On his return, Mao was in search of what to do and what direction to take in life. Looking up advertisements in newspapers, he registered for a number of courses in schools ranging from a soap-making school and a police school to a law school and a commercial school. He finally sat for the entrance examination for the First Provincial Middle School in Changsha and stood first. After six months however he left the school and arranged a schedule of education of his own, which consisted of reading every day at the Hunan Provincial Library. For six months, he would spend the whole day from morning to night at the library with just a small lunch of two rice cakes. This period of intensive reading covered a very wide range of social and scientific topics of Western as well as Chinese authors. It laid the foundation of Mao’s education. Six months of such study however left Mao totally penniless. His father, who could not understand his son’s desire to just go on reading on his own, refused to support him unless he joined a real school.
Thus in 1913, Mao joined the Hunan First Normal College which was a Teachers’ College. He remained there for five years from 1913 to 1918. The collapse of the central Chinese government and the outbreak of World War I had created conditions of extreme upheaval throughout China and the world. In China wars between provincial armies of warlord generals became a common occurrence. It was also the period when Japan, making use of the involvement of the other imperialist powers in war, tried to achieve total domination over China. This led to strong opposition from Chinese intellectuals and revolutionary sections.
It was during these years that Mao’s political ideas took shape. In 1915 he became secretary of the Students’ Society at the Normal College, and created the Association for Student Self-Government. This organisation organised numerous agitations against the college authorities for student demands. Mao also led this organisation in street demonstrations against Japanese domination and their Chinese puppets. This organisation was later to become the nucleus for future student organisations in the Hunan province.
As the attacks of the warlord generals grew the students in many places formed self-defence corps. In 1917 Mao became the head of his college battalion. He obtained some arms from the local police and led the students in guerrilla attacks on warlord groups to collect more arms. Using his knowledge of guerrilla tactics used by earlier Hunanese fighters as well as study of military theory, Mao build up the college battalion into an efficient fighting force. Mao also took a keen interest in all the major military campaigns of the ongoing World War I. He lectured and wrote articles on strategy and tactics.
Mao also involved himself in various other activities. He fought against social evils like opium taking and prostitution. He fought against oppression of women and tried to ensure the maximum participation of women in the students’ movement. He wrote and encouraged swimming, sports and intensive physical training among the students and youth. He himself maintained extreme physical fitness – took cold baths throughout the year, swam in cold water, went barefoot and bare-chested for long walks in the hills, etc. In 1917 he started an evening school where he and other students and teachers taught the workers of Changsha’s factories free of charge.
In 1918, Mao inaugurated the New People’s Study Society, which he had been planning for about a year. It was one of many such student groups, but grew into something else, the core of a political party. From the start it insisted on action as well as debate. It would not only talk revolution, but practise it, first of all revolutionising its own members, turning them into ‘new men’. It had girl members and took up among other issues, the oppression of women in the traditional marriage system. Its activities went according to a programme of debate, study and social action. Social action included night schools for workers, visiting factories, demonstrating against Japanese imperialism, writing articles, fighting for new ideas and the use of the vernacular language. In later years all thirteen of the original members of the society joined the Communist Party of China (CPC), founded in 1921. By 1919 there were eighty members, of whom over forty were to join the Party.
Around the time of Mao’s graduation from the Normal College in 1918 he was joined in Changsha by his mother who came there for treatment. She however could not be cured and died in October 1918. After her death Mao moved to Peking, the capital of China, where he for six months took up a very low paying job as an assistant librarian in the Peking University. This job was obtained through Li Ta-chao the university librarian, who was the first Chinese intellectual to praise the Russian Revolution and one of the first to introduce Marxist thought to China. Under Li Ta-chao, Mao rapidly developed towards Marxism. He started reading those works of Lenin, which had been translated into Chinese. Towards the end of 1918 he joined the Marxist Study Group formed by Li. He also met many intellectuals and Marxists. One who had an impact then on him was Chen Tu-hsiu, who was later to become the first Secretary of the CPC. Chen at that time was editor of the radical magazine, New Youth, which Mao had already written for and which had had an influence on him.
Mao spent only six months in Peking. During this period however he fell in love with Yang Kai-hui, the daughter of one of his Changsha College lecturers, who was now a Professor at the Peking University. She was then a student, doing a course in journalism at the university. For both it was their first love. Their love was of the type that was then called ‘new’ love where the partners made their own choice going against the traditional system of arranged marriages. For some time their love remained secret. They were not sure whether there was time for love when the country needed them so much. They decided to wait some time before taking a final decision.
In April 1919 Mao returned to Changsha just before the outbreak of the historic May 4th movement of 1919. This anti-imperialist democratic movement shook the whole of China. Though initiated by the students, it rapidly covered vast sections of workers, merchants, shopkeepers, artisans and other sections. Mao immediately involved himself wholeheartedly in political agitation. On his arrival he had immediately taken up a low paying job as a primary school teacher. All his spare time however was spent in organising agitations and spreading Marxism. He encouraged the study of Marxism in the New People’s Study Society and other students’ societies that he was in contact with. At the same time he built up the United Students Association of Hunan which encompassed even young school students and girls students in a big way. Uniting all sections Mao organised a movement for the seizure and burning of Japanese goods. He brought out a weekly magazine the Xiang River Review, which quickly had a great influence on the students movement in South China. When the weekly was banned in October 1919, Mao continued to write in other journals. Soon he got a job as a journalist for various Hunan papers and set out for the big cities of Wuhan, Peking and Shanghai to win support for the Hunan movement.
However when he landed in Peking in February 1920, he soon got involved with the plans to build the Communist Party of China. He held discussions with his university librarian, Li Ta-chao and other intellectuals. He visited the factories and railway yards and discussed Marxism with the workers. He did further study of the works of Marx and Engels and other socialists. He also met Yang Kai-hui, who had been studying Marxism. They discussed their dedication to each other and to the revolution. They got engaged.
After Peking, Mao spent four months in Shanghai, China’s biggest city and its biggest industrial and commercial centre. Here he held discussions with Chen Tu-hsiu and other Shanghai Marxists. To support himself he took a job as a labourer, working twelve to fourteen hours in a laundry. It was during this period, in May 1920, that China’s first Communist group was set up in Shanghai.
When Mao moved backed to Hunan in July 1920, he started working to set up a similar Communist group there. His father had died in the beginning of the year and Mao made his home in Shaoshan there initially. His two brothers and adopted sister were among his first recruits. He then moved back to Changsha where he continued recruiting. There he took up a job as the director of a primary school and also taught one class at the Normal College for which he received a comfortable salary for the first time.
Towards the end of 1920, Mao got married to Yang Kai-hui and they lived together for the one and a half years that Mao was in Changsha as primary school director. They were regarded as an ideal couple with Yang being also involved with the work of the Party of which she became a member in 1922. They had two sons, one of whom died in 1950 as a volunteer in the Korean War against US imperialism. The other became an accountant. Yang who performed secret work for the Party was arrested in 1930 and executed.
Though Mao participated in various agitations during this period, the main focus of his work was the formation and building up of the CPC. After forming a Communist group in Hunan, Mao went to Shanghai to attend the secretly held First National Congress of the CPC in July 1921. He was one of twelve delegates who represented only 57 party members at that time.
After the Congress, Mao became the Provincial Party Secretary of Hunan Province. From the very beginning he paid particular attention of building the party in Hunan on the basis of Leninist party principles. He recruited youth from the existing revolutionary organisations as well as advanced workers who were won by extending the workers’ movement. He started two monthly magazines to raise the ideological and political level of the Party members and Youth League members and to help them to carry on Communist education among the masses.
It was during this period upto 1923 that Mao concentrated a great deal on the organising of workers in Changsha, the Anyuan Colliery (in the neighbouring Kiangsi Province) and in the Shuikoushan Lead Mine. By August 1921 he set up the first Communist trade union. In 1922 he formed the Hunan branch of the All-China Labour Federation, of which he was made the chairman. The Anyuan Colliery movement and organisation in particular was an excellent example of Communist organising. The Party at first ran spare-time schools for the workers of the colliery to carry on Marxist education.
It then organised a trade union. Meanwhile, a branch of the Socialist Youth League was formed among the workers, the best members of which were later absorbed into the Party. The Anyuan Colliery saw major strikes, which had country wide repercussions. It had a strong organisation, which survived even during the repression periods. The workers provided valuable support and participation at various stages in the revolutionary war. Anyuan was the liaison centre for the first Communist base area in the Chingkang Mountains.
Mao did not participate in the Second National Congress of the CPC, held in July 1922, as he missed his appointment. He participated in the Third National Congress of the CPC, held in June 1923, at which he was elected on the Central Committee. This Congress decided to promote an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal national front in co-operation with the Kuomintang Party led by Sun Yat-sen. It directed Communist Party members to join the Kuomintang Party as individuals. Mao did so and was elected as an alternate member of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee at its First and Second National Congresses held in 1924 and 1926. He worked as Head of the Central Propaganda department of the Kuomintang, edited the Political Weekly and directed the Sixth class at the Peasant Movement Institute.
Mao’s Fight Against Right and ‘Left’ Lines and Victory of the Chinese Revolution
The First Revolutionary Civil War : From 1924 till the beginning of 1926 the Chinese Revolution advanced rapidly with the proletariat and peasantry in great ferment. In 1925 the protest against the 30th May massacre of demonstrators by the British police in Shanghai turned into an anti-imperialist people’s movement involved all sections of the masses throughout the country. The country was on the verge of a decisive battle between revolution and counter-revolution.
However two deviations then plagued the CPC. The dominant Right opportunist clique was led by the then party General Secretary, Chen Tu-hsiu. He took the stand that the bourgeois-democratic revolution must be led by the bourgeoisie and the aim of the revolution should be to form a bourgeois republic. According to his line the bourgeoisie was the only democratic force with which the working class should unite. He did not consider any possibility of building an alliance with the peasantry. On the other hand, were the ‘Left’ opportunists who were represented by Chang Kuo-tao, the leader of the All-China Federation of Labour. He saw only the working-class movement. He argued that the working class is strong enough to make revolution alone. Thus his clique also ignored the peasantry.
While fighting these two deviations, Mao made his first major contributions to the development of Marxist theory.In March 1926, he brought out his famous Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society and in March 1927, he presented his Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan. In these works he tried to answer the most basic questions of the Chinese revolution. Who are the friends and enemies of the revolution, who is the leading force and who are the reliable and vacillating allies? He argued that it was the proletariat and not the bourgeoisie who would have to lead the revolution.
However the proletariat would not be able to win by fighting alone. He stressed the role of the peasantry, which was the closest and most numerous ally of the proletariat. He also pointed out that the national bourgeoisie was a vacillating ally with the possibility of the Right wing becoming an enemy and the Left wing remaining a friend of the revolution. Mao also presented his ideas on how the masses were to be mobilised, a revolutionary government established and the peasant armed forces organised. This was Mao’s clear perspective for the direction the revolutionary forces should take.
This was the time of the Northern Expedition, which was a critical part of the first phase of the Chinese Revolution – the First Revolutionary Civil War. It was a march by the Revolutionary Army under the leadership of the revolutionary national united front (the Kuomintang-CPC united front). Starting in July 1926 from Kwantung in the south of China its aim was to smash the reactionary government of the imperialist-backed Northern warlords in a revolutionary war and achieve the independence and unity of China. The Northern Expedition was initially a major success with the whole of South China and many of the Southern warlords being defeated or won over. Under the influence of the Northern Expedition there was an upsurge among the peasantry. The proletariat staged many armed uprisings in cities to coincide with the advance of the Revolutionary Army. Even Shanghai the largest industrial and commercial city of China was liberated in March 1927 after three attempts at armed workers’ uprising.
After achieving major victories however the bourgeois clique represented by Chiang Kai-shek (the main Kuomintang leader after Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925), broke the united front. In April 1927 massacres, backed by the imperialists, were launched on the Communist cadre in various parts of the country. The Right opportunist Chen Tu-hsiu leadership of the CPC however, instead of mobilising the workers and peasants against the Kuomintang reactionaries, submitted to them. In July 1927 another Kuomintang clique launched massacres against the Communists. This resulted in the breaking up of the united front and defeat of the First Revolutionary Civil War.
The Right line of Chen Tu-hsiu, which dominated throughout the period of the First Revolutionary Civil War was one the important reasons for the failure of the revolution during this period. Though Mao struggled against this Right Line, he could not win the support of the majority in the Party. In fact at the Fifth National Congress held during this period, in April 1927, Chen succeeded in removing Mao from the Central Committee.
The Second Revolutionary Civil War Period : In August 1927, at the start of the next period—the Second Revolutionary Civil War Period—Chen Tu-hsiu was removed as General Secretary after a firm criticism of his Right opportunism. Mao was brought back on the Central Committee and made an alternate member of the Provisional Polit Bureau that was set up. However the correct criticism of the Right line gave way in November 1927 to the domination of a ‘Left’ line in the Central Committee, under the leadership of Chu Chiu-pai, an intellectual comrade returned after training in Russia.
This line made the wrong assessment that the Chinese revolution was on a ‘continuous upsurge’, and therefore called for armed uprisings in many cities. The leadership criticised Mao for advocating and leading a peasant uprising and opposing uprisings in big cities. He was again removed from his Central posts. He was also removed from membership of the Hunan Provincial Committee. The ‘Left’ Line led to heavy losses and the abandonment of this line by April 1928.
The Sixth Congress of the CPC held in Moscow in June 1928 rectified this first ‘Left’ line and adopted a basically correct understanding, repudiating both the Right and ‘Left’ positions.
Though Mao did not attend the Congress it basically upheld his position on many points. In his absence he was again elected on to the Central Committee. It was while implementing this understanding, and while building up the Red Army after the failures of the Northern Expedition and the city uprisings, that Mao made his further contributions to the development of Marxist-Leninist theory.
He wrote Why is it that Red Political Power can exist in China? in October 1928, and The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains in November 1928. These historical works provided the theoretical basis for the historic process of building and developing the Red Army then under way. Mao, starting from a small group of worker and peasant fighters had after the failure of the peasant uprising in 1927 set up the first base in the Chingkang mountains in October 1927. Through the period from 1927 to the beginning of 1930 the area of armed peasant uprisings and rural revolutionary bases grew steadily.
Many of the fighting sections under Communist leadership joined Mao’s forces. The Red Army grew to 60,000 soldiers and, a little later to 1,00,000 soldiers.
However ‘left’ ideas again started gaining ascendancy and from 1930 took over the leadership of the party. Two ‘Left’ lines led by Li Li-san in 1930 and Wang Ming in 1931-34 dominated the party and caused incalculable harm. Li Li-san in June 1930 drew up a plan for organising armed uprisings in the major cities throughout the country and for concentrating all the units of the Red Army for attacking these major cities. The attempt to implement this plan between June and September 1930 led to severe losses and a demand from cadres for its rectification.
During this period Mao led an attack on Changsha but withdrew to prevent heavy losses in the face of superior imperialist and Kuomintang forces. After the withdrawal there was brutal repression in Changsha during which Yang Kai-hui, Mao’s wife, who was doing underground work there, was executed. Li Li-san did self-criticism at a plenum held in September 1930 and stepped down from leadership positions. Mao and Chu Teh (Commander of the Red Army) were taken on to the newly formed Polit Bureau.
This Polit Bureau was however bypassed by a plenum called in January 1931 by Wang Ming one of the group of twenty-eight so-called ‘Bolsheviks’ who had returned after training in Russia. They did not call Mao and Chu Teh for the plenum but removed them and others from the Central Committee. In August 1932 Mao was also removed from his posts as secretary of the Front Committee and political commissar of the Red Army. With the Party and Red Army in their full control the Wang Ming clique committed numerous errors which led to severe losses.
Throughout, their main attack was on Mao, who was the representative of what was according to them right opportunism and the main danger within the Party. Mao’s correct line was called a ‘rich peasant line’. Sectarian and factional methods were used by the ‘Left’ Line leadership to attack not only Mao but also the leaders of the earlier ‘Left’ Lines, Li Li-san and Chu Chiu-pai. While the Wang Ming clique was creating havoc in the Party, Chiang Kai-shek was organising repeated campaigns of encirclement and suppression against the Red base areas.
The first four campaigns were defeated because of Mao’s leadership and the influence of his strategic principles before the ‘Left’ leadership acquired full control over the Party and Red Army in the base areas. However when the ‘Left’ leadership actually moved into the base area their direct leadership led to serious errors and defeat of the Communist forces in the fifth campaign of the Kuomintang forces. In order to break through Chiang Kai-shek’s encirclement and win new victories it was decided from October 1934, to undertake the world-shaking strategic shift of the Red Army, known as the Long March. Mao was accompanied by his next wife, Ho Tzu-chen, a Party cadre from a local peasant family of the Kiangsi base area. They had married in 1931, after the death of Mao’s earlier wife, Yang Kai-hui. They had two children who were left behind with peasants in the Kiangsi base area at the start of the Long March.
It was during the Long March, at the Tsunyi Plenum of the CPC, in January 1935, that leadership of the party moved into the hands of Mao and his policies. This was a turning point for the Long March as well as for the Chinese Revolution. It was then decided to continue the Long March in the northward direction to be able to better co-ordinate the nation-wide anti-Japanese movement, which had been growing continuously since the Japanese attack and occupation of North-eastern China in 1931.
During the Long March, besides the repeated attacks of the Kuomintang troops, the Party had also to face the line of flightism and warlordism led by Chang Kuo-tao. Two conferences of the Central Committee held during the Long March defeated Chang Kuo-tao’s proposal to retreat to national minority areas of Sinkiang and Tibet. He however refused to follow the Party decision and tried to form a new Party Centre. He led a section of the Red Army in a different direction during which they were attacked and finished off by the Kuomintang forces. Chang himself became a traitor and joined the Kuomintang. The main force of the Red Army reached their destination in the Shensi province in Northern China in October 1935, one year after they had started the Long March.
The Red Army which numbered around 3,00,000 just before the beginning of the fifth encirclement campaign had now been reduced to just over twenty thousand. It was this core that set up the Shensi-Kansu-Ninghshia (on the border areas of these three provinces of Northern China) base area. It became famously known as Yenan, the name of its capital. This was the base from which Mao led the Party and Red Army to victory by 1945 in the war against Japan.
It was during this period that Mao and Ho Tzu-chen were divorced in 1938. In April 1939 he married Chiang Ching. Chiang Ching was the party name of Lan Ping, a theatre and film actress, who had joined the Party in 1933 and moved to Yenan in1937 to teach drama at the Art Academy there and participate in the propaganda teams who went among the peasantry. Mao who took a keen interest in art and literature met her in the course of this work and they fell in love and decided to get married.
The Period of the War of Resistance Against Japan: Immediately after the completion of the Long March, Mao concentrated on the adoption and implementation of a new tactical orientation in order to end the Civil War and unite the maximum forces for a War of Resistance against Japan.
His presentation On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism was a major development of Marxist-Leninist United Front tactics. This was later further developed in his May 1937 Report on The Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party in the Period of Resistance to Japan. Giving a brilliant exposition of the stage of development of China’s internal and external contradictions, Mao explained the change in the principal contradiction caused by Japan’s aggression and therefore the change in the United Front tactics necessary to face the new situation.
He called for a united front with the Kuomintang in order to drive away the Japanese aggressors. Chiang Kai-shek however did not agree to enter a united front until he was forced to do so by the CPC’s propaganda and by the pressure of certain factions in his own party. He finally agreed, when he was arrested in December 1936 by two of his own generals who insisted that a united front should be built with the CPC. The Anti-Japanese United Front was set up in August 1937.
During the period of the War of Resistance, Mao had again to fight wrong trends though these did not grow to capture leadership over the Party and the struggle. One was a pessimistic trend of national subjugation present in some Kuomintang sections of the United Front. These people after some defeats at the hands of the Japanese felt that the Chinese was bound to be suppressed and ruled by the Japanese and other imperialists. One faction even prepared for surrender. On the other hand there was the trend in some sections of the CPC, who felt that since the united front had been formed there would be quick victory over the Japanese. These comrades overestimated the strength of the United Front and did not see the reactionary side of the Chiang Kai-shek clique.
In order to correct these mistaken theories and to point out the correct course of the war, Mao in May 1938 brought out his book On Protracted War which pointed out that the War would finally end in victory but the victory would not be quick. He also in this and other writings laid down the military principles of the war.
Mao also wrote various philosophical works to help educate the Party cadre and remove the damaging effects of the earlier Right and ‘Left’ Lines. Basing on these writings, between 1941 and 1944, a lengthy Rectification Campaign was held to fight the main errors in the Party. This was combined with in-depth discussions to review the history of the Party. Chou En-lai, who had been a leading comrade throughout the period, particularly participated in this process. This led finally to an open and complete repudiation of the earlier wrong Lines. This understanding was adopted in the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party at Plenum of the CPC held in April 1945.
Armed with the correct line and correct tactics, the CPC led the Chinese people to victory, first in the War of Resistance against Japan and then against the reactionaries led by Chiang Kai-shek. From a fighting force of just over twenty thousand at the end of the Long March, the Red Army grew to a strength of one million towards the end of the anti-Japanese war in 1945. At that time, at the Seventh Congress of the CPC in April 1945, Mao in his Report On Coalition Government, presented a detailed summing up of the anti-Japanese war and an analysis of the current international and domestic situation. He gave a specific programme for the formation of a coalition government with the Kuomintang after the victory over the Japanese forces.
The Third Revolutionary Civil War Period: However after the victory over the Japanese, Chiang Kai-shek, because of the support of U.S. imperialism and the superior strength of his military forces, refused to agree to the formation of a coalition government on any reasonable terms. At that time even Stalin wanted the CPC to come to an agreement, saying that they should not have a civil war and should co-operate with Chiang Kai-shek, otherwise the Chinese nation would perish.
Nevertheless the CPC under Mao went ahead and fought what came to be known as the Third Revolutionary Civil War. Relying on the full support of the masses and particularly the peasantry, the Red Army was able to change the military balance of forces and move in July 1947 from the strategic defensive to the strategic offensive. By October 1949 the CPC had, within a period of four years, won nation-wide victory over the U.S. backed Kuomintang.
As China gained victory, Marxist-Leninists and the proletariat throughout the world were filled with joy and pride at the formation of a seemingly invincible socialist camp encompassing one-third of humanity. Mao however gave an idea of the challenges ahead and dangers of the coming period.
In 1949, on the occasion of the twenty-eighth anniversary of the founding of the CPC, in his speech ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship’, he said, “Twenty- eight years of our Party are a long period, in which we have accomplished only one thing—we have won basic victory in the revolutionary war. This calls for celebration, because it is the people’s victory, because it is a victory in a country as large as China. But we still have much work to do; to use the analogy of a journey, our past work is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li.”
The Great Debate – Mao’s Fight Against Kruschev’s Modern Revisionism
In 1953, after the death of Stalin, a revisionist clique led by Kruschev, performed a coup, and took over the controls of the CPSU, then the leading party of the international proletariat. They threw out or killed the revolutionaries in the party, started the process of restoration of capitalism in the first land of socialism and proceeded to develop ties with the imperialist camp, particularly U.S. imperialism. By 1956, after securing firm control over the CPSU, they, at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, started spreading their revisionist poison among other communist parties. They simultaneously attacked the so-called Stalin personality cult and introduced their revisionist theory of the three peacefuls—peaceful transition, peaceful coexistence and peaceful competition.
Peaceful transition meant peaceful transition to socialism by the parliamentary road. Kruschev proposed that in the present era it was possible to achieve socialism by peacefully winning a majority in parliament and then bringing about reforms to bring in socialism. He thus denied the need for revolution. This theory was thus a repetition of the revisionism of Bernstein and other social-democrats.
Peaceful co existence between states having different social systems was proposed by Kruschev as the general line of the foreign policy of the socialist state. He thus distorted Lenin’s policy of peaceful co existence with capitalist states, which was just one aspect of the socialist state’s foreign policy of proletarian internationalism. Kruschev subordinated all other things to his desire to maintain a peaceful existence with imperialism. He made relations with and aid to other socialist countries and the policy of help to the struggles of oppressed nations dependent upon the requirements of peaceful co existence with the imperialist powers. This was thus nothing but a policy of collaboration with imperialism.
Peaceful competition was the theory that the contradiction between imperialism and socialism would be resolved through economic competition between the capitalist and socialist systems. This theory thus refused to recognise the reactionary and war mongering character of imperialism. It created the illusion that the contradiction between the socialist and imperialist camp was a non-antagonistic contradiction, which would be resolved through peaceful forms of struggle.
Kruschev’s theory of the three peacefuls was thus a full-fledged revisionist theory, which he wanted to impose on the international communist movement. It was directed towards building up close relationship with imperialism. In order to implement his schemes and gain the acceptance of the imperialist powers, Kruschev simultaneously launched a vicious attack on Stalin in the name of personality cult. In order to demolish the revolutionary principles that Stalin had stood and fought for it was first necessary to destroy the image of Stalin among the revolutionaries and the masses throughout the world. This was done through a campaign of lies and degenerate propaganda.
Many of the leaderships of the communist parties of the world backed the revisionist Kruschevite line.
Many prominent leaders and parties had already started taking the revisionist line in their own countries. Browder in the USA had already put forward theories of collaboration between socialism and capitalism and moved out of the international communist movement; Thorez, the former Third International leader from France, who developed close relations with the bourgeoisie following the period in the anti-fascist front, had in the post-war years taken national chauvinist positions towards the peoples of the French colonies and become a servant of the French imperialist bourgeoisie; Togliatti of Italy, another major Third International leader, had wanted to ‘reform’ and ‘restructure’ capitalism into socialism through ‘structural reforms’ through the bourgeois parliament ; the Communist Party of India leadership had already changed their tactical line to recognise the peaceful path. Thus these revisionist forces, who had not been sufficiently criticised and defeated in the earlier period, quite happily collaborated with Kruschev.
Where however such parties tried in any serious manner to implement ‘peaceful transition’ through the electoral system and where such efforts sufficiently threatened the social order, they were eliminated through military coups and savage repression, as in Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), and Chile (1973).
Among the newly formed People’s Democracies, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, led by Tito, had already, from 1948, started on the revisionist road and broken off from the socialist camp. Kruschev however soon started making friends with him. Most of the remaining leaderships also aligned with Kruschev. Within the socialist camp it was only the CPC and the Albanian Party of Labour who identified and recognised Kruschevite revisionism and made a valiant and determined defence of Marxism-Leninism.
The CPC, under Mao’s guidance was in the vanguard of this struggle. Within two months of the 20th CPSU Congress the CPC published an article On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which upheld Stalin as an outstanding Marxist-Leninist. This was followed by another article in December 1956, More on the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which insisted that the socialist camp should clearly demarcate who are its friends and enemies. This was combined with a seven year long attempt to struggle with and defeat the Kruschevite revisionist line within party forums, particularly at the meetings of 60 fraternal parties in 1957 and of 81 fraternal parties in 1960, and at meetings with the CPSU leadership.
As the struggle sharpened the Soviet Revisionists in June 1959 withdrew technical assistance in the field of defence, and in July 1960 withdrew suddenly all the Soviet technical experts that were working in China. The same was done with Albania. In April 1960 the CPC published Long Live Leninism and two other articles upholding the basic principles of Leninism on imperialism, war and peace, proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. These articles opposed the revisionist positions of the CPSU without mentioning it by name.
The revisionists however continued with their attempts to further systemise their revisionist positions. Thus in the 22nd Congress of the CPSU held in 1961, the Programme adopted there revised the essence of Marxism-Leninism, namely, the teachings on proletarian revolution, on the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the party of the proletariat. It declared that the dictatorship of the proletariat was no longer needed in the Soviet Union and that the nature of the CPSU as the vanguard of the proletariat had changed. The Congress advanced absurd theories of a “state of the whole people” and a “party of the entire people”. At the Congress Kruschev launched an open and public attack on the Albanian Party and even gave a call to overthrow its leader, Enver Hoxha. This was opposed by the CPC delegation led by Chou En-lai.
Kruschev also started encouraging other Communist Parties to launch public attacks on the CPC. Numerous articles in the Soviet also attacked the Chinese leadership. The CPC finally started replying to some of the attacks of Togliatti of the Italian Party, Thorez of the French Party, Gus Hall of the CPUSA and others in series of seven articles which came out at the end of 1962 and the beginning of 1963.
A summary of the main views of the CPC were put down in the famous June 14th Letter of 1963, which was titled as A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement. This was replied to by an Open Letter to the CPC by the CPSU. Since the whole issue was now in the open, the CPC decided to conduct the debate through the open press. It brought out nine commentaries on the CPSU’s Open Letter and clarified all issues before the masses.
This struggle, which came out in the open in 1963 and continued through 1964, came to be known as the Great Debate. The Great Debate was of immense historic significance. It was a principled and comprehensive struggle against modern revisionism.
It provided the rallying point for all proletarian revolutionary forces throughout the world. It was also a scientific development of Marxism-Leninism, which gave the international communist movement its revolutionary general line for that period. Mao was the driving force behind the struggle.
It was through the Great Debate that Mao advanced the science of Marxism-Leninism by providing the answers to the most significant questions before the international proletariat—the fundamental contradictions in the world, who are friends and enemies, the aims of the movement, and the path for achieving the victory of World Socialist Revolution. These formulations were mainly contained in the June 14th Letter.
The nine commentaries outlined and elaborated the revolutionary position on various crucial issues facing the international communist movement after the World War II—neo-colonialism, war and peace, peaceful existence, Yugoslavia, Kruschev’s revisionism and the historical lessons to be drawn therefrom.
It was through the Great Debate that Maoism gained further acceptance as the guiding ideology of the revolutionary sections of the international proletariat.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) was the answer of Marxism to the obstacles and sabotage of the process of socialist construction created by the Kruschevites and the capitalist roaders. Particularly after the rise of revisionism in the Soviet Union, Mao had realised that one of the biggest dangers of the restoration of capitalism came from within the Party itself. Throughout the Great Debate, Mao, while fighting revisionism, tried to find the answer to the question of how to prevent the restoration of capitalism. He was at the same time deeply involved in the fight with the Chinese Kruschevites, like Liu Shiao- chi and Deng Tsiao-ping. Thus while concluding the Great Debate in the CPC’s last document, which was called On Kruschev’s Phoney Communism and its Historical lessons for the World, Mao stressed certain points on the question of prevention of the restoration of capitalism.
Mao firstly stressed the recognition of the need to continue the class struggle throughout the period of socialist society, right to the end. He explained that change in the ownership of the means of production, i.e. socialist revolution on the economic front is insufficient by itself. He insisted that we must have a thorough socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts in order to consolidate the revolution. And this revolution must be continued under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Another point that Mao repeatedly stressed was that in order to carry out this revolution it was necessary to stick to the mass line, and to boldly arouse the masses and to unfold mass movements on a large scale. For this the Party would have to rely on, win over and unite with the masses of the people, who constitute 95 per cent of the population, in a common struggle against the enemies of socialism.
Mao also stressed the need “to conduct extensive socialist education movements repeatedly in the cities and the countryside.” In these continuous movements for educating the people Mao again stressed the need to organise the revolutionary class forces, and “to wage a sharp, tit-for-tat struggle against the anti-socialist, capitalist and feudal forces”. Thus Mao clearly saw that the extensive participation of the masses was an essential precondition to prevent the restoration of capitalism. This came from Mao’s experience of how it was the revisionists from within the leadership of the Party itself who were the main elements bringing about the restoration of capitalism.
However within the CPC itself there was strong resistance from the highest levels, led by Liu Shiao-chi, to the implementation of these theories and the concrete programme being proposed by Mao. Thus though the ‘socialist cultural revolution’ was officially accepted at the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee in 1962, the implementation was half-hearted and in a direction counter to the line given by Mao. In fact the Party bureaucracy, under Liu’s control, started criticising Mao for the actions he was trying to take and opposing the action taken on capitalist roaders like Peng Te-huai.
This criticism they conducted through articles in the press and plays and other cultural forums which were in their full control. Their control was such that Mao could not even get an article defending himself printed in the press in Peking. Such an article defending Mao and his policies was finally published in November 1965 in the Shanghai press, which was a much more radical centre than Peking. This was what Mao later called ‘the signal’ for the GPCR which started a flow of criticism of the party bureaucracy an support of Mao’s Line in the media and the field of culture. There also arose demands for self-criticism by the main culprits. The Party bureaucracy however did all they could to prevent this movement from taking on a mass character. The Cultural Revolution Group, which was supposed to initiate and direct it actually tried to control the dissent and channelise it along academic lines.
Finally the CC under the direction of Mao, issued a circular of 16th May, 1966, dissolved the ‘Group of Five’, under whose charge the Cultural Revolution was being sabotaged, and set up a new ‘Cultural Revolution Group’ directly under the Politburo Standing Committee. This May 16th Circular gave the call to criticise and break the resistance of the capitalist roaders, particularly those within the party. This action led to the actual initiation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and made it a mass phenomenon involving millions of people.
On May 25th the first big character poster was put up at the Peking University criticising its vice-chancellor and the education system.
This was only the first of thousands of such massive posters put up by the students and masses throughout the country where they expressed their opinion and criticised what they felt was wrong in society. Demonstrations and mass criticisms were held criticising professors, party bureaucrats and others for their wrong policies. Soon there was a demand from a section of students for the abolition of entrance examinations. The Central Committee in June passed an order suspending new admissions to colleges and universities for six months so that the students and youth could more fully participate in the GPCR. However the six month period proved too short and the universities only opened again after four years.
Mao too started personally participating in the GPCR. On July 17th he participated along with ten thousand other swimmers in a mile long swim which across the river Yangtze. This was his symbolic act signifying that he was participating in the flowing stream of the GPCR. Again on August 5th, during the Eleventh Plenum meeting of the CPC, Mao gave a much more straightforward signal. He put up his own big character poster. His main slogan was “Bombard the Headquarters!” This was a clear cut call to attack the capitalist headquarters of the capitalist roaders in the Party headed by Liu Shiao-chi. Mao’s call gave a further push to actions and militancy of the movement.
On August 18th Mao was present at the first rally of Red Guards in Peking – it was a million strong. The Red Guards were the members of the thousands of mass organisations that had sprung up throughout the country for participation in the GPCR. The first mass organisations were composed mainly of students and youth, but as the movement grew such organisations grew among the workers, peasants and office employees. The August 18th rally was the first of numerous such rallies. At some times there were over two million Red Guards from all over the country assembled in the capital.
The Eleventh Plenum defined the GPCR as “a new stage in the development of the socialist revolution in our country, a deeper and more extensive stage.” Mao, in his closing speech at the Plenum said, “The great proletarian Cultural Revolution is in essence a great political revolution under socialist conditions by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. It is the continuation of the long struggle against the Kuomintang reactionaries waged by the CPC and the broad revolutionary masses under its leadership. It is continuation of the struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie.”
The Eleventh Plenum adopted what came to be known as the Sixteen Articles of the Cultural Revolution. They repeated what had been said by the May 16th Circular that the present revolution is to touch people’s souls, to change man. Old ideas, culture, customs, habits of the exploiting classes still mould public opinion, offering fertile ground for the restoration of the past. The mental outlook must be transformed and new values created.
It identified the main target as “those within the party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road.” It identified the main forces of the revolution as “the masses of the workers, peasants, soldiers, revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary cadres”.
The objective of the revolution was “to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticise and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic ‘authorities’ and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, art and literature and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.” The form of the revolution was to arouse the masses in their hundreds of millions to air their views freely, write big-character posters, and hold great debates so that the capitalist roaders in power would be exposed and their plans to restore capitalism could by smashed.
The essential aspect of the Cultural Revolution was the advancement and practical implementation of Mao’s mass line. It was aimed, not merely at eliminating the elements hostile to socialism, but to enable the working class to ‘exercise leadership in everything’, to ‘place politics in command of administration’, and to ensure that everyone serving as an official should ‘remain one of the common people’. In order to achieve these aims it was necessary to launch an all-out offensive against bourgeois ideology in such a way that the masses would be actively involved.
Thus, the Eleventh Plenum resolution instructed
“In the great proletarian Cultural Revolution, the only method is for the masses to liberate themselves, and any method of doing things on their behalf must not be used.
“Trust the masses, rely on them and respect their initiative. Cast out fear. Don’t be afraid of disorder. … Let the masses educate themselves in this great revolutionary and learn to distinguish right and wrong and between correct and incorrect ways of doing things.”
As the masses entered in full strength in the revolution they even created a new organisational form—the revolutionary committee.
It was based on the ‘three-in-one’ combination: that is, its members, who were elected, subject to recall, and directly responsible to the people, were drawn from the Party, the People’s Liberation Army, and the mass organisations (the Red Guards whose membership reached thirty million in number). They sprung up at all levels, from the factory or commune to the organs of provincial and regional government, and their function was to provide the link through which the masses could participate directly in the running of the country.
This three-in-one organ of power enabled proletarian political power to strikes deep roots among the masses. Direct participation by the revolutionary masses in the running of the country and the enforcement of revolutionary supervision from below over the organs of political power at various levels played a very important role in ensuring that leading groups at all levels adhered to the mass line. Thus this strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat, was also the most extensive and deepest exercise in proletarian democracy yet achieved in the world.
Under the initial sweep of the Cultural Revolution in 1966-67, the bourgeois headquarters within the Party was effectively smashed, and most of the leading capitalist roaders like Liu Shiao-chi and Deng Hsiao-ping and their supporters were stripped off their party posts and forced to do self-criticism before the masses. It was a great victory, which not only inspired the Chinese masses, but also created a wave of revolutionary enthusiasm among communist revolutionaries throughout the world.
During the Great Debate many revolutionary forces had gathered around the revolutionary line of the CPC led by Mao, but it was mainly during the Cultural Revolution that these forces throughout the world came to accept that it was Maoism that could provide the answers to the problems of World Socialist Revolution. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had shown that Marxism had an answer to the enemy of capitalist restoration. This advance in Marxism, led to the consolidation of numerous revolutionary groups and parties throughout the world on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and the launching of revolutionary struggles under their leadership.
However Mao warned, “The present Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is only the first; there will inevitably be many more in the future. The issue of who will win in the revolution can only be settled over a long historical period. If things are not properly handled, it is possible for a capitalist restoration to take place at any time in the future.”
Further he reminded the Ninth Party Congress in 1969, “We have won a great victory. But the defeated class will continue to struggle. Its members are still about and it still exists, therefore we cannot speak of the final victory, not for decades. We must not lose our vigilance. From the Leninist point of view, the final victory in one socialist country not only requires the efforts of the proletariat and the broad masses at home, but also depends on the victory of the world revolution and the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man on this earth so that all mankind will be emancipated. Consequently, it is wrong to talk about the final victory of the revolution in our country light-heartedly; it runs counter to Leninism and does not confirm to facts.”
Mao’s words proved true within a short time. First in 1971 Lin Piao, then vice-chairman, who in the Ninth Congress of the CPC had been appointed as a successor to Mao, conspired to seize power through assassinating Mao and staging a military coup. This was foiled through the alertness of the revolutionaries in the party.
After this however, arch revisionists like Deng were rehabilitated back to high positions within the party and state apparatus. During the last period of the Cultural Revolution, there was again a struggle against these capitalist roaders and Deng was again criticised and removed from all posts a few months before Mao’s death on 9th September 1976.
He however had many of his agents in positions of power. It was these renegades who engineered the coup to take over the party and lead it on the path of capitalist restoration very soon after the death of Mao.
It was they who sabotaged the Cultural Revolution and then formally announced its end in 1976.
This coup and capitalist restoration however cannot repudiate the validity of the truth of the Cultural Revolution. Rather it, in a way, confirms Mao’s teachings on the nature of socialist society and the need to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Cultural Revolution is a scientific tool developed in the struggle against capitalist restoration and in the theoretical struggle to develop Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Its scientific validity has been established in the test of practice of the Chinese Revolution. Its effectiveness as a weapon to mobilise the vast masses in the struggle against the danger of capitalist restoration in a socialist country has also been proved.
However, as Mao himself pointed out, no weapon can provide a guarantee of final victory. Thus, the fact that the capitalist roaders have achieved a temporary victory does not in any way diminish the objective truth of the necessity and effectiveness of this weapon in the fight for socialist construction and the defence of socialism.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is one of the foremost contributions of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the arsenal of the international proletariat.
It represents the implementation in practice of Mao’s greatest contribution to Marxism—the theory of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to consolidate socialism, combat modern revisionism and prevent the restoration of capitalism.
Its significance for the international proletariat is immeasurable in today’s world where all the socialist bases have been lost due to the manipulative schemes of the bourgeoisie within the communist party itself. Therefore the time has come to revise Lenin’s definition of a Marxist.
Lenin while defining a Marxist had said that it was not enough to accept the class struggle to be called a Marxist. He said it that only those who recognise both the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat can be called Marxists.
Today it not sufficient to only recognise the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat to be a Marxist. A Marxist has to accept the basic understanding of the GPCR.
Thus, only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat to the recognition of the continuous revolution in the super structure with the aim of the completion of the world revolution and building communist society as early as possible.
LONG LIVE MARXISM LENINISM MAOISM
STUDY AND LEARN
May 16th 1966 Remembered : Celebrating 50 Years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION IN THE LIGHT OF MARXISM LENINISM MAOISM