Maoism: Our Rallying Cry for Proletarian Power II

We publish an unofficial translation of the article of Yeni Demokrasi:

When Mao asked him about his experience, he told Arafat that the Arabs did not need to learn tactics from others as they already had a great guerrilla leader, recalling the Rifli Abdelkarim al-Khattabi. Mao’s position here is not special. In his understanding of war, “special” or “unique” situations, facts and accumulations are of fundamental importance. At the strategic level of principles, wars undoubtedly have common characteristics. In a proletarian revolutionary civil war or an anti-imperialist liberation war, there are principles and strategies to be defended on the basis of Mao that “can be applied in any country”. In terms of tactics, each country must rely first and foremost on its own history, culture, accumulation, conditions and population. It is important to recognise that other examples in this area can only serve as inspiration. It is important to recognise that other examples in this field can only serve as inspiration.

There are more and more commentaries on the universality of People’s War. The latest international alliance has also taken up this approach. However, Mao’s statements on People’s War do not include universality as a strategy. Mao defines People’s War as the encirclement of the cities in the semi-colonies from the countryside, the conquest of the cities with a strong army strengthened by the domination of the countryside and with superior equipment in every respect, anchored in the red political foundations. In the developed capitalist countries, where occupation is out of question, the reverse strategy must be applied. The revolution begins in the cities and spreads from there to the countryside. Since the forces of the socialist revolution are in the cities, the main contradiction of the revolution is in the cities, and with the right organisation, since the working class has the upper hand in the cities, the revolution can develop here.

The communist leader Gonzalo, who led the People’s War in Peru and made great progress, placed particular emphasis on the People’s War in his commentary on the universality of Maoism. He states that it “must be adapted to the conditions of each country”. The People’s War, which will be waged according to the conditions of each country under the leadership of the respective communist party; on the basis of the masses; through the establishment of bases and the creation of new centres of power in these bases; He defines it as a war of a tactically strong and organised armed force against a strategically superior, weak armed force that gradually becomes stronger through organisation. The leadership by the communist party, the obligatory/inevitable arming of the revolution, the evolution from the simple to the complex and new centres of power based on bases are universal principles. Gonzalo’s proposal for People’s War goes one step further than Mao’s views on the practice of People’s War in China explained above. This is not how Mao Zedong described the matter. We see that the definition of People’s War here differs from Mao Zedong’s definition of People’s War, without of course denying one or the other. Therefore, it must be recognised that this is a new interpretation. These different approaches give us an idea of how we should conceive of the universality of Maoism.

Universality and specificity

What kind of idea is that? The dialectical relationship between universality and originality… The idea only arises under certain conditions, under the specific circumstances of material life. The universalisation of this idea, i.e. that it becomes valid under all circumstances, is a problem of procedure. The fact that an idea becomes universalised in development does not mean that it is the same as the original idea. While certain features of the idea will undoubtedly become universal through development, certain other features will remain localised or spread to some extent. For example, Mao Zedong developed the People’s War under Chinese conditions, even in China in the 1920s and 30s. There are both specifics and universals that arise from these conditions. It is necessary to recognise and define the universal forms at the level of principles and at the same time identify the local forms. Are there no forms of People’s War that Mao Zedong recognised as universal and applicable in every country? Of course there are. However, he did not claim that the People’s War was universal. It is up to the communists of this country to discover the universal characteristics of the People’s War and adapt them to the particularities of their country. Every experience based on the universal law of movement, action and the interests of the peoples is the object of study in the revolutionary struggle and must be utilised. We do not deny that the People’s War, which was developed as a strategy of revolution in the semi-colonies and defined by Mao Zedong, can also have characteristics that are applicable in the developed capitalist countries. However, it is also clear that the claim that People’s War as a whole, which is strategically based on encircling the cities from the countryside and sustained peasant guerrilla warfare, is universal, goes beyond Mao’s definitions.

Review Closed for dogmatism

The experiences of the revolutionary war, and not only these, but above all, were almost always urged by Mao to study and apply. In these warnings, he also pointed out that this should not be done dogmatically. Warning against dogmatism does not mean rejecting the view that People’s War in the colonies, semi-colonies and occupied countries is a viable strategy. Mao Zedong said that the strategy of People’s War is valid under the conditions mentioned, and this is scientifically verifiable. The warning against dogmatism is not directed against its application in the numerous colonies and semi-colonies, but against the possibility of a “mechanical transfer” of the People’s War in China to other countries as well. Such a warning also applies to the Great October Revolution and even to Marxism-Leninism as a whole. Science rejects dogma, and “mechanistic adaptation” is a form of dogmatism. Nevertheless, People’s War as a strategy is feasible under the conditions outlined by Mao. Mao clearly asserted this. This was also his opinion when he said that the Latin American communists should learn from the experience of the Chinese revolution, namely the creation of bases in the countryside, the encirclement of the cities from these bases and finally the seizure of power throughout the country. However, he also stated that this should not take the form of “complete”, “one-to-one” or “mechanical utilisation”. Sometimes this “limitation” is taken as an affirmation by Mao that People’s War is not a strategy of democratic revolution in the semi-colonies, which is a kind of “downsizing” to obscure the essence. It is also a fact that People’s Wars adapted to the above conditions led to successful results. When the People’s War was abandoned, the revolution had failed.

The universality of the People’s War

This principle is one of the characteristic features of Maoism. But how should we assess the idea that the strategy of People’s War is universally applicable in all countries of the world? Is it completely wrong?

Surely this is not entirely wrong. How can one argue that a strategy that is applicable in many countries of the world does not have characteristics that would be applicable in other countries? Although it is a strategy used in colonial and semi-colonial countries, People’s War has universal characteristics. It should be clear that we are making a distinction here. We are arguing that People’s War is a local, specific and therefore not universal strategy; but at the same time, on the basis of the law “in every particular there is a general”, we are dealing with the universal characteristics of People’s War. To explain this, it is useful to consider the relationship between universality and specificity as a method. The assertion of the universality and absoluteness of a thing does not deny the specificity and relativity of the same thing. On the contrary: what is universal and absolute is also specific and relative. For everything exists in movement in certain forms and periods of time, and movement itself is the limit of the thing. Thus the universal and absolute is realised in these movements. Every process of investigation, discussion and opinion-forming has a sequence and a duration. When we evaluate a form of movement in order to develop an idea, we try to discover the characteristics that are different from other forms of movement, that are peculiar to it, that have been realised in it. The condition for understanding this is to show what is different about it. Knowledge of the general characteristics of the movement of matter does not mean that all forms of movement have been learned. The universal is realised in the specific and completed in the specific. What is realised and completed in the specific develops into another specific and so on in an endless cycle: Universality is the common feature of this entire process. Mao Zedong defined this common feature in a single law: the unity and struggle of opposites or the law of contradiction. Contradiction is universal and absolute, while the contradiction in things is specific and relative. If you do not understand the contradiction of a thing, you cannot understand or analyse it. So, let us look at the People’s War by accepting that the universal is realised locally, that it has local characteristics and that the local has a universal content and embodies the universal in itself. Let us use this relationship in the discussion of the People’s War.

People’s War as a strategy was realised in the process of the democratic revolution in China and became the theory of the specific conditions of the Chinese democratic revolution. This is the specificity and relativity of the People’s War. What are the characteristics of this specificity? Firstly, it took the form of a “peasant war”. Secondly, it followed the path of encircling the cities from the countryside. The third developed in the course of a protracted war that spread throughout the country and culminated in the seizure of political power at the end of the process.

Mao also describes the People’s War, as it developed in China, as a strategy based on a protracted guerrilla war, armed from start to end, in the countryside, in the cities and among the peasants. The aim is to encircle the big cities, build centres of power with a united front anchored in bases in the countryside, and finally take political power throughout the country. Comrade İbrahim’s approach also confirms this: “Comrade Mao Zedong adapted the Marxist-Leninist theory of uninterrupted and gradual revolution to the conditions of semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries and came to the following conclusions: The struggle against feudalism and the struggle against imperialism in these countries are inseparable. The essence of the democratic revolution is the land revolution. The land revolution is achieved through the People’s War under the leadership of the proletariat. toprak

“The People’s War is essentially a peasant war. The party of the proletariat, supported by the poor and middle peasants, must take up the armed struggle in the rural areas, create liberated areas there, expand these liberated areas in the course of a protracted war and seize political power throughout the country by conquering the big cities.”

Universal principles

What are the universal characteristics of the People’s War, the developmental conditions and dynamics of which are concretised in this way?

In the article by M. Ali Çakıroğlu, which we have taken as a “starting point” for us to explain Maoism as a concept and the universality of Maoism, the following is said about the military line: “During the 22-year war that led the Chinese revolution to victory, Mao developed the first holistic Marxist military line. Although it is the product of a particular war (or indeed wars), these basic principles have a rich universal content for all revolutions.”

One speaks, without discussing the universality of the People’s War, of the universal principles (which apply to all revolutions) that were contained in the 22 years of war that culminated in the realisation of the Chinese Revolution. The extent to which this is done consciously is of course debatable, but we can use this method consciously. We can judge with what principles and what characteristics the military line developed under Chinese conditions has reached the holistic Marxist military line. In this way, we can visualise the universal aspects of the movement that is developing at the local level. By establishing that what is local is also valid in the universal, we can determine which of the principles embodied in the People’s War are universal. Developing the discussion through this method is consistent with the Marxist method of learning, understanding and analysing.

Let us say the following at the outset: the article in question claims that Mao’s military line has universal characteristics. To see that this is a correct assessment, one must consider the following sentences: “This means that the Party must lead the armed struggle and the revolutionary armed forces and never allow the army to become the leading political force of the revolution or a force independent of the Party’s political leadership.”

It is clear that the party or politics must control the weapons, a principle that a proletarian movement cannot reject; in any country, if there is a war, if armed forces are formed, it is imperative that they must be used/act in the interests of the proletariat. Otherwise it cannot serve the proletariat and therefore cannot lead it to revolution. The interests of the proletariat are embodied by the leadership of the communist party. The communist party can determine the politics of the proletariat because it embodies the proletarian ideology.

However, this statement is not sufficient for universality. The universality of this principle applies to all countries where war is an unavoidable fact. The definition of a communist party to wage war can only be a principle of the inevitability of war. Therefore, if we say that the proletarian revolutionary war is inevitable for all countries, we can only argue that the principle that the communist party/politics must master the weapons is also a principle valid for all countries.

Mao Zedong told us that the fundamental issue in the question of power is war. He said: “The seizure of power by the armed forces, the solution of the problem through war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This revolutionary principle of Marxism-Leninism applies universally to China and to all countries.”

This determination was most clearly emphasised by Mao, but also by Lenin and Stalin. When Mao says: “This is the revolutionary principle of Marxism-Leninism”, he is already referring to its existence before himself. However, this principle was first defined by Mao as a “principle without exception”. Seen in this light, the principle of political armed force is a universal principle. This principle, which will apply in the revolutions of all countries, must of course be redefined and explained under the specific conditions. The definition of the “universal principle” alone is not enough: “A correct political line and strategy can only emerge from a correct assessment of the political situation and the class situation both on the international stage and in the respective country, and such an analysis can only be taken up and carried out by the Party in a variety of ways”.

A concrete assessment of the political situation and the class situation is the fundamental element for proletarian politics to dominate the armed forces. Only when such an assessment is made can the universal principle be realised. To explain why this is so, we can quote the following passage from the relevant article, which is convincing: “… the revolutionary army will inevitably comprise very large forces, therefore, without firm leadership and consistent ideological training (and struggle) of the party, this or that tendency – which Mao fought tirelessly – to reduce the goal of revolutionary war to something lower than revolution to the end will inevitably take root, germinate and lead the progress of the revolution into danger. All this is of fundamental importance – or at least it was and should be of fundamental importance.”

The correspondence of this principle with the interests of the international proletariat is obvious. For the question of the emancipation of the proletariat exists under material conditions due to its exploitation, injustice and oppression. The domination of politics, which includes the solution of this problem, gives weapons their true power. The use of arms alone, where the initiative lies with the arms, means defeat for an oppressed, weak, ill-equipped and initially organisationally dispersed force, as it does not contain the hope of the liberation of the proletariat. If we look at this approach from the point of view of the bourgeoisie, the opposite is the case. The fact that politics is in charge on this side means that the interests of the oppressors, which are at odds with the interests of the oppressed, are in the foreground. It is not an approach that will find supporters among the oppressed to claim that they are taking up arms, building armies and organising “for more exploitation, more plunder, more profit”. The bourgeoisie almost exclusively uses the means of manipulation. The reason we say “almost” is that some bourgeois sections are on the side of just struggle against feudalism and imperialism, against occupations, if anything. In this case, too, they take advantage of the principle that politics orders arms… Of course, one must be aware of the ephemeral nature of this usage behaviour. The Taliban’s war against Russian social imperialism is a case in point. The Palestinian anti-occupation war waged today by Hamas is another example. Nevertheless, there is a particular reality in these examples that we must recognise. The domination of politics by the subjects of these resistances is temporary. Their reactionary leadership is far from seeking the future in this justice, despite the just reality on which they objectively base themselves. Even when these wars are waged, the importance they attach to the power of weapons often takes precedence over the importance attached to politics. The fact that in the just struggle against Israel more attention was paid to the capabilities and connections of the weapons used at the end of the battle shows that the principle of “mastery of politics” has taken a back seat in this struggle. We refer here only to the fact that these groups are politically on the right side in the war and the support that this righteousness brings with it. In this respect, the collaborators and imperialism are far from acting according to the principle in question. Their mainstay is their armed forces of all kinds. Weapons in particular are their priority. This is how they declare their invincibility and superiority, or they develop weapons to become even more superior and invincible. Not to mention the fact that they do this at the cost of impoverishing the people, leaving them without a future and destroying them through terrible wars.

The same content is explained in the article we are relying on as follows: “The military logic of the proletariat cannot be based on an understanding such as soldiers for soldiers, weapons for weapons and so on. That would be a futile endeavour. What they need is to emphasise and rely on their own advantages. “

“The imperialist and reactionary armies prefer to overwhelm and defeat their opponents in their own advantageous way, with superior technology and power. If the imperialist and reactionary armies are prevented from fighting with superior technology, superior military power and the like, their strategic weaknesses are immediately exposed. Since the armies are led by the politics of exploitation and plunder, they are armies of exploitation and plunder. The actual belligerents led by such an army have no real (or a false) awareness of the goals for which they are fighting. Since they are organised in a strict hierarchical structure due to the fact that they are armies of exploitation, there are fierce contradictions between the higher and lower ranks in addition to the sharp class and national contradictions. When the advantages of such armies – superior technology and high military power – are lost or neutralised, they are basically at a loss as to what to do.

“Realising that the advantages of these armies of exploitation and plunder will be largely neutralised if the oppressed masses rise up with their heads and clenched fists, Mao turned to the US and other imperialists, who have nuclear power, great military and technological might, and said: ‘Imperialism is a paper tiger’.”

The article concludes with a definition of the three principles on which Mao based himself and which he applied in the People’s War (the domination of politics by weapons, the orientation of war towards the advantages of the proletariat and the main element of war being the masses/people) as universal principles: “These three principles are the essential elements of the unified Marxist military doctrine that Mao put at the service of the proletariat.”

On the basis of this method, it is impossible not to recognise that some of the principles contained in the People’s War are universal. A similar assessment can be made for the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary war. However, it must be admitted that not much can be deduced from this for the military line. This is because the revolution in Russia did not take the form of an arduous and protracted civil war. In fact, the war after the seizure of power lasted longer than the revolutionary civil war. In this situation it was therefore not possible to develop the principles for the formation of a complete military line. Nevertheless, the existence of these principles can be demonstrated on examination in the form of a germ.

It cannot be denied that the three principles mentioned by Çakıroğlu are universally justifiable. However, at this stage, after many discussions and evaluations, we list the universal principles of the military line embodied in Maoism as follows:

Firstly, the People’s War is guided by the ideology of the proletariat. This is a characteristic of all revolutions of our time.

Secondly, the People’s War is a war of an organised and well-equipped force against an initially weak and ill-equipped force that relies on the forces of the people.

Thirdly, the new power defined in the strategy of People’s War is in line with the task of building proletarian governments that apply to all countries.

Fourthly, the People’s War is part of the proletarian world revolution, it serves the dictatorship of the proletariat.

These characteristics are universal and also apply to the People’s War, which is a specific form of the line of war of the proletarian revolutionary movement. There can be no doubt that these principles, which are embodied in the People’s War, are the characteristics of all revolutions of our time. We reject the thesis of the “universality of the People’s War”, as advocated by a significant section of the International Communist League, because it does not correspond to the “limits” set by Mao and because we maintain that the defined form of the People’s War, this strategy, is valid under colonial, semi-colonial and occupation conditions. Therefore, the fact that the People’s War strategy includes the concept of a “protracted peasant war” is the strongest proof that it cannot be a universal war strategy.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the People’s War under Chinese conditions is a different strategy from the General Uprising that led to the Great October Revolution. The so-called General Uprising, the “final blow” or the seizure of power as a whole, is also part of the People’s War. For the complete capture of the besieged cities is only possible through a general uprising organised in these cities. There is no revolutionary movement that does not end in a general uprising. It is therefore wrong to define the general uprising as a strategy; it is the final blow for the seizure of total power and will be valid in every country. Comrade Mao spoke of protracted peaceful struggle as a strategy to be used alongside People’s War. It must be emphasised that the protracted peaceful struggle includes and must include the above principles.

We recall that the main differences that must be taken into account in the discussions on strategy are the nature of the revolutions, the relationship between urban and rural areas, the strength and equipment of the enemy, the basic possibilities of struggle and the relations between the classes within the popular sectors…

After this explanation of the universality, not of the People’s War, but of certain principles that the People’s War embodies, we turn to the opening that Maoism has brought to political economy. In particular, the universality of the contributions contained in the theory of class struggle under socialism is one of the decisive features that lead us to consider it as a culminating point…

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