Maoism: our rallying cry for proletarian power

Hereby we publish a translation of an article by Yeni Demokrasi that we received.

In this final part of our series of articles, which we began by pointing out that the flag of proletarian internationalism is waved with three fundamental slogans, we will clarify the slogan of Maoism after the world proletarian revolution, the struggle against revisionism. The reason for leaving Maoism for last is to ensure a holistic understanding of scientific development. The importance of the understanding of the totality in the social progress of humanity is one of the decisive elements of the era of proletarian revolutions. When we say that without Maoism, Marxism and Leninism cannot be understood and therefore applied, the conception on which we rely is the conception of the totality of Marxism. Maoism is the level that teaches us to think, act and orient ourselves holistically: just like Marxism, Leninism.

When Stalin defined Leninism, he explained that Marxism had developed and that acting in new conditions with new forms of struggle was embodied in the theories developed by Lenin. Although his formulation “The Marxism of our time is Leninism” provoked superficial approaches, it should be noted that this definition was understandable and even correct in the conditions that were his. Leninism really included the problems and struggles of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions. It clarified questions that Marxism had not yet answered. The flaw in this definition is the possibility of limiting the science embodied by Leninism to the “Marxism of our time”. Yet science is a constantly evolving and perfectible field. Science can develop even before the times change. The scientific analysis of the epoch we are entering may not be completed immediately. In fact, the development of science generally proceeds as follows. Our knowledge of new conditions, new tools, new situations, new formations can and does evolve from the first period of the epoch to the next. As material life contains information that is beyond our knowledge, we often discover it much later. In addition to the evolution of material conditions, we must add to this knowledge the evolution of theory and the development of our concepts.

The movement of thought: From whole to part

Evaluating social progress within the framework of certain laws and its foundations, having complete thoughts about the future, considering the process we are in and all the processes on a social level is one of the results of the long intellectual development of humanity, and even the most important. The emergence of the monotheistic religions in history has been influenced by this development. There is no doubt that the religious phenomenon has fundamentally weakened holistic thinking because of its non-materialistic attitude, i.e. it does not explain existence on the basis of matter. However, religions are strong examples of human communities acting together and thinking socially. This is not just because societies are intellectually inclined towards religion; religion is also an inevitable consequence of understanding and adapting to the material world. With the emergence and development of the mode of production and its links, the inverse relationship of religious thought to the material world was socially undermined, and humanity began to form a new unity, to form a holistic, coherent, all-embracing thought about itself and the world that could explain it. For the generality of humanity, the space occupied yesterday by religion is now occupied jointly by nationalism and religion. Nationalism is the unified ideology of the bourgeois class and the basis of its general political line. This ideology subordinates people of different classes to nationality and behaviour within the nation, and thus to the bourgeoisie. This was an inevitable process for people, particularly the working class, throughout the period of development of capitalism. Like any process, it had to come to an end. In conditions where the irreconcilable opposition of the working class to the bourgeoisie is hardening in parallel with the development of capitalism, a workers’ movement is being set up against the bourgeoisie and consequently against nationalism. This means new conditions for the emergence of a new coherent thought. Just as the bourgeoisie developed the nationalist idea against the hegemony of religion, an ideology was born for the working class which is united with its interests, born of its interests. Marxism is the product of these conditions, based on the interests of the working class.

Maoism, which is the subject of this series of articles, is the result of these same conditions maturing, developing and taking on new forms.

Marxism, the ideology of the working class, which is completely different from nationalism, the ideology of the bourgeoisie, and therefore naturally Leninism and Maoism, do not hide the fact that it is a class ideology, but express and defend it fully. Although the ideology of a class is the general thought that conforms to the interests of a class, it is scientific and for the liberation of all humanity. Being the last oppressed and exploited class, the emancipation of the working class will be the emancipation of humanity from the world of exploitation and from the world of necessities formed in the context of classes. This is the basis of its scientific characteristic. For on this basis, conformity with reality and the realisation of the goal are at the highest level. So that incompatibility with reality and obstacles to the realisation of the goal mean, in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist science, a deviation from ideology, a deviation towards the opposite ideology…

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is a unified ideology. The source of this unity, unlike the unity of idealistic philosophies, does not come from itself but from the unity of reality. Reality as the source of the scientific characteristic is compatible with the interests of the working class.

The greatest enemy of the concept of integrity today is the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, which has boasted, strengthened, dominated and imposed itself through big thinking, nationalism, the national state, the domination of the national market at the expense of foreigners, patriotism, the watering of the fatherland with the blood of the nation, is today (of course, today has a long history) hostile to holistic thinking, to big causes, to being a people of causes. Today, it praises, teaches and conditions the fact of remaining in fragments, learning from fragments in fragments, being content with fragments, and therefore denying the whole, acting in an individualistic way. It seeks to isolate from society those who act in the name of social emancipation by labeling them terrorists, saying: “Social emancipation is an adventure, its end is disappointing; saving oneself already saves society, so one’s own emancipation must be man’s main goal, it is even the goal in itself”. This state of the bourgeoisie stems from the essence of capitalism, which is compatible with its interests, but it is also the result of its rotten system. Today, in all fields dominated by the bourgeoisie, the essential thing is to remain in the fragments, to know the fragment, to defend the insignificance of the fragment in relation to the whole. This is its war on science, its rejection of unity, its bending, obscuring and incomprehensible of reality to suit its own interests.

Development of the proletarian movement

Maoism, which is one of the slogans and the basis of the struggle of International Unity, is a holistic current; it can only be grasped and applied when it is considered holistically. When this is not the case, when it is reduced to fragments like Marxism and Leninism, it loses its essence, becomes revised and gentrified…

To understand Maoism, which the Proletariat Party accepted for the first time in 1993 at its grand session by pointing out the inadequacies of the concept of Mao Zedong Thought, we will use in this article Mr Ali Çakıroğlu’s article “The Third Great Guiding Light and the Apogee of the Proletariat: Mao” by Mr Ali Çakıroğlu. This article was published in the 11th issue of YDG (New Democratic Youth) in August 1993, just after the Party of the Proletariat decided to use Maoism as a concept. Of course, although it was written by him, the content of the article and what it stands for include to a large extent the views of the Proletariat Party. The reason we say to a large extent is that the article was written during a period of debate. With this acceptance we will also deal with the development of Maoism within the Proletarian Party.

We can state the following from the outset: For us, the acceptance of Maoism is not a simple change or renewal of concepts. Maoism is the current axis of understanding and application of Marxism-Leninism. Marxism can only be defended if Mao’s contributions are understood as universal, indispensable and involving qualitative transformation and development. Without this, Marxism-Leninism cannot be defended or applied today. The fundamental difference of the communist movement is that it is Maoist.

The article “The third great guiding light and the apogee of the proletariat: Mao” begins by stating that his contribution is due to his mastery of dialectics: “Mao has made a number of contributions to Marxism-Leninism. The main source of his contributions comes from his mastery of the dialectical method. Mao’s philosophical analyses were the key to his analysis of the issues before and after the revolution”.

For Maoism, the determination of this mastery and the fact that it constitutes the essence of development are decisive. Underpinning all Mao Zedong’s contributions is his definition and qualitative development of Marxist philosophy on the basis of the concept of contradiction. The method of dividing one by two is the only scientific method for analysing everything. Everything can be understood through the discovery of its inherent contradiction, and only through this understanding can it be improved and changed. The people’s war, the new democratic revolution, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, the People’s United Front, the class struggle in socialism, the struggle on two lines are the embodiment of this method of Marxist philosophy in various fields.

Immediately afterwards, the article presents the concrete conditions of Mao’s contribution by setting out the familiar thesis on the “new world” as defined by Leninism: “With the October Revolution of 1917 opened the epoch of imperialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. This epoch revealed two essential aspects of the world revolution.

“First: The world anti-imperialist struggle waged in the colonies and semi-colonies of various types within the framework of the world proletarian revolution” and “Second: Advancing the socialist revolution on the right track”. In tackling these two problems, Mao developed Marxist-Leninist theory and practice on both fronts and raised them to a higher level.

Comrade Stalin, in his book “The Essentials of Leninism”, opposes those who claim that Leninism is a revival of the revolutionary elements of the Marxism of the 40s of the 19th century and declares: “Lenin really restored the revolutionary content of Marxism which had been confined within its limits by the opportunists of the Second International. Nevertheless, there is some truth in this definition. The truth about Leninism is this. Leninism not only restored Marxism, but went a step further by developing Marxism in the new conditions of capitalism and the class struggle of the proletariat”, and then he said: “According to a fuller definition, Leninism is in general the theory and tactics of the revolution of the proletariat and in particular the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat”, and a little further on he says: “For this reason, Leninism is the further development of Marxism”.

There is no need to explain how hollow is the assertion that Leninism is the rebirth of Marxism in relation to the definition proposed by Comrade Stalin. For Comrade Stalin the meaning of the rebirth of Marxism is very different: He explains that it is being developed under new conditions, in the context of new problems and as an inevitable consequence of the development of the movement, and that it therefore contains new things. The fact that he formulates them as “in general the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution and in particular the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat” shows its explanatory, concrete and directive character. Lenin defined the tasks of the proletariat in the face of imperialism, the paths to be followed, the gates that would open towards the World Proletarian Revolution, and developed theses that were found in Marxism in the form of kernels or that did not exist at all, and above all developed solutions to the problems of the movement he was leading, which was developing towards universality. The definition of these problems is as decisive as their solutions. It should be emphasised that science develops from the definition of problems, and that it is only after correct definitions that solutions are developed. For example, at the beginning of the 1890s, Lenin correctly intervened in the drift of philosophy caused by the crisis in science caused by the ambiguity of the “definition of matter with the new discoveries”, and he was able to defend materialism in the strongest possible way…

Maoism is the light of the world revolution

Like Lenin, Mao put forward theses in the context of new problems in new conditions and the inevitable consequences of the development of the movement. It must be stressed that this was not a question of “revitalisation” but of development. In the article we are taking as a basis, the material conditions of this developmental action and the theses in these conditions are explained as follows:

“When the Chinese revolution completed its anti-imperialist and anti-fascist stage, it meant not only developing the theory and practice of Mao’s New Democratic Revolution by establishing the democratic people’s state, but also creating a model of this stage of the revolution, of its completion, for the whole world, for certain types of countries. Two elements of the model of the new democratic revolution are very important. These are the strategy of the united front and the armed struggle, the army-party relationship in this struggle, and the strategy and tactics of the armed struggle. In fact, the fundamental essence of these two points covers not just certain types of country, but all countries in the world.

The highest point reached by the united front before Mao – if it could be reached at all – was “the proletariat unites all those who can be united, including the bourgeoisie, against the imperialists”.

“Mao applied this level of the united front in the Chinese revolution and in his united front strategy. Many people understand Mao’s concept of the united front in this way. But this is only half of Mao’s understanding of the united front, and a lesser half at that. What Mao did new about the united front was to highlight the conditions under which a united front with the national bourgeoisie was appropriate and, more importantly, how the proletariat could find the means to exercise its leadership over such a front, to give it real revolutionary direction and breakthrough, and to prevent its usurpation by bourgeois forces. On this question, Mao strongly opposed many forces which proclaimed a united front on Monday and, on Tuesday morning, essentially liquidated the independent ideological, political and military role of the proletariat; unlike these forces, Mao advocated a correct understanding of the dialectic between the participation of the proletariat in the united front and the consolidation of its own class consciousness and leadership role. The essential thing was to preserve the independence and initiative of the armed forces of the proletariat and to use them to the full at every turn of events to uphold the red flag”.

With his theses on the two main forces of the revolution, apart from the party, Mao highlighted the main fundamental problems and, of course, the tasks of revolutions in all countries and the road ahead, although they were given concrete form in the Chinese revolution. It should be pointed out that Mao did not propose prescriptions perfectly adapted to the specific conditions of the revolution in each country. Consequently, it is certain that the tasks in countries undergoing different revolutionary processes will differ from one another. While emphasising this, it must be recognised that the inevitable interweaving of revolutions and wars will have universal characteristics in both frontal politics and armed struggle. To limit Mao’s contributions to revolutions in semi-colonial countries is to overlook precisely these universal characteristics. Mao led the revolution in one of the three different types of country in the world, and that country is China, with its various specificities. The same can be said of Russia under the conditions in which Leninism developed. Compared with other countries, Russia also has very different characteristics. So much so that Marx and Engels also mentioned Russia’s distinctive features on numerous occasions. It is also necessary to add to these characteristics those created by the conditions of the first imperialist war of partition. So much so that it is quite possible to say that “the Bolshevik revolution in Russia could only have come about under these conditions”. Nevertheless, there is no country where the flag of Leninism cannot be waved, and Leninism is not only the revival of Marxism, but also the theory and tactics of proletarian revolutions, in particular the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Without learning and understanding them, it is impossible to participate in and serve the world proletarian revolution.

The development of Mao’s contributions in the specific Chinese context cannot be a reason for confining them to Chinese conditions. These contributions must be defined on a universal level with correct analysis and abstraction, and only then will they be able to participate in and serve the world proletarian revolution.

If we return to what has been said about the two basic elements identified from the conditions of Mao’s contributions: firstly, the importance of what has been said about the organisation of the front can be demonstrated in the 2nd imperialist sharing war, particularly in the specific case of many European countries. In our article entitled “Responsibilities in the World Proletarian Revolution”, we dealt with this question. In these countries, where major weaknesses, inadequacies and failures have been demonstrated, the policy of the front essentially included what is mentioned in the quotation. In the USSR, but especially in China, we witnessed the most advanced and manifestly developed implementation of the United Front policy: contrary to the assertions of many slanderers and, perhaps, apostates through lack of understanding, Mao succeeded in uniting “the whole Chinese nation” against the invasion of Japanese imperialism, despite repeated betrayals, high-level ruptures and attacks. Some people make the mistake of explaining China’s success in repelling the invasion by Japan’s difficult situation on the international stage. Everyone knows that the Japanese invasion of China took place in the strongest form and that the resistance to this invasion is recorded as one of the rare resistances and victories in history. No distortion can erase the fact that the subject of this resistance was the Chinese people and the CCP that led them. The memories of this great resistance are still very vivid…

Remember that the same misrepresentation was made about the USSR’s war against Nazi Germany, and that the United States was said to have defeated fascist Germany. By reading a little history, it will be possible to see to what extent these attacks of ignorance and devaluation against the USSR and Stalin in particular, who lost more than 20 million people and immeasurable material goods for victory in that war, are incompetent attacks. There is no doubt that this history must be read with documents and indisputable data…

The policy of the United Front and the concept of preserving the independence and initiative of the armed forces are the most fundamental doctrines of the proletarian revolutionary process. It is necessary to recall how these doctrines are neglected today by the so-called communists with the despair of “impotence” and the opportunism of “indefinite unions”. Wherever the independence and initiative of the armed forces of the people are belittled in the name of great objectives, the “communists” have led the revolutionary struggle into impossibility and failure. Mao relied on these principles when he declared that with the right policy, a small force could become a great force. However, because of the underestimation of these principles, great powers have been broken. This is what we witnessed in Nepal. In Peru, the essentially identical new policies of the right opportunist line have led to the same result.

Mao’s united front strategy cannot be reduced to the watered-down “coalition politics” and “there are so many of us” type of unity put forward by various “progressive” or “anti-fascist” and “anti-imperialist” sections today. Mao’s united front strategy was nothing of the sort. Since only the proletariat is capable of resolving the contradictions of capitalist society, the proletariat leads the united front “on the basis of the clarity of its objectives, the material strength it has gathered and the strength of its program”, and Mao’s united front strategy has only one objective, which is, in Mao’s words, “the seizure of power by the armed forces”.

Consequently, the problem will be solved by war. This type of definition of the task “is the central task of the revolution and its highest form”. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution is universally valid in China and in all countries”.

This point of view, based on the fact that revolutionary struggles are struggles for political power in all circumstances, was realised in the Chinese revolution led by Mao. This principle, which was realised under special conditions and unique circumstances, was applied for the first time in history in a revolution led from beginning to end by the ideology of the proletariat, by the Communist Party, which placed itself from the point of view of the interests of the working class. As a result, the principle has been concretised and has reached the most advanced level thanks to the contributions made to the theory. This new theoretical plan is sufficiently powerful to be a light for revolutions in all countries. This powerful light must be in the hands of all revolutionary travelers.

Mao, master of the military art

Explaining Mao’s contributions further, the article moves on to the Marxist military line embodied by Mao, again emphasising universality. This comment on Maoism indicates that a new theory is on the way. We will address this question in the next section. We will explain that the realisation of the military strategy of war developed under Chinese conditions, particularly in the form of the people’s war, must not obscure the universality of the strategic principles it contains, and that these principles must guide the wars which will have to be put on the agenda in all revolutions…