We publish this unofficial translation of the article of Yeni Demokrasi.
VIOLENCE IN HISTORY: CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN SOCIALISM
We concluded the last chapter by pointing out Mao’s contribution to ensuring the uninterrupted and relentless continuation of the class struggle under socialism. We must emphasise that his contribution in this field is a contribution to the development of the idea from socialism to communism, which began with Marx. We should never forget that we must realise the inseparability of Maoism from Marxism and Leninism. The class struggle under socialism is the development and realisation of the communist line as a guide for the direction of the movement towards communism. Mao’s contribution is the development and realisation of the communist line under socialism in accordance with this conception. To explain this, let us return to what Marx said at the beginning of the communist line.
Marx said: “What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production (historische Entwicklungsphasen der Production), (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”
The definition of the dictatorship of the proletariat gives us the basic knowledge of what Mao, after Lenin and Stalin, achieved in this field in a remarkable way: The abolition of all classes and the transition to a classless society. With the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Mao proved what kind of political force this transition is based on. Marx and Engels told us that all transformations in history are ultimately based on a political force. Of course, they particularly pointed out that the basis of this force is the development of the productive forces, that the force is the inevitable result of economic conditions. This is exactly what Marx meant by the sentence in our quote “the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat”. Lenin and Stalin had an undeniable persistence and clarity with regard to the dictatorship of the proletariat. They utilised the state apparatus with a new understanding to ensure that this apparatus served the interests of the proletariat in order to remove the obstacles to the masses’ consciousness of rule. The defeat at the end, the insidious attempts of revisionism to seize the state while Stalin was still alive, cannot be a reason to deny their attitude. However, their experience does not tell us enough about the political power of the class struggle under socialism. We see in Mao the political force of this process. This political force is the power of the masses to make revolution. As he emphasised: “The revolution is the work of the masses”, and we add for the sake of clarity: it is only the work of the masses.
It was Mao who recognised that the class struggle under socialism must be carried on through revolutions. Thus, in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, he raised the Marxist consciousness of the role of violence in history to a new level. This revolution is the role of violence in socialism. The basis for this can be found in Engels’ The Role of Force in History, which also contains his criticism of Dühring. Here Engels explains the standpoint of Marxism and the thesis of violence by stating that “That force, however, plays yet another role in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, that it is the instrument with the aid of which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilised political form…” Under the conditions of socialism, Mao redefined and remodelled the form that political violence, which Dühring regarded as an absolute evil, would take in the hands of the proletariat. He completely cleared the way for the great and courageous action of the masses.
The decisive point in how Marxism explains social development is the development of social production. Social production will inevitably develop. Determining with which mode of production this is possible requires the prediction of the predominance of this mode of production. An “evil” interpretation based on the degree of violence that ensures this means moving away from materialism and reality. “A mode of production and the political system appropriate to it must not be judged by the degree of coercion necessary to maintain it, but by whether they hinder or accelerate development. The introduction of slavery was progress in the historical sense, for it disorganised primitive society and developed the productive power of society. In the past, when political power has clashed with economic development, the conflict has always led to the fall of political power: Economic development has inexorably and invariably crushed it.” Although this is the truth, it is an obstacle to understanding history to regard capitalism, for example, as a mere reaction. Not understanding history means in reality not understanding the movement of the masses. For we know that behind even the most successful political actions there is a movement of peoples that is often ignored: “The idea that political action, the splendour of the state, is decisive in history is as old as written history and is the main reason why so little material has survived about the truly forward-looking development of peoples that took place quietly behind the noisy play on the stage. This idea dominated the ideas of all historians of the past and only received its first blow from the French bourgeois historians of the Restoration.” It should be a warning for every proletarian movement, including the popular movement, to see today how this first blow is being forgotten, how attempts are constantly being made to make it invisible. It must be emphasised again and again that the people’s movement is the decisive factor, that the success of political actions only results from their agreement with this movement. Of course, political actions that run counter to the popular movement can also be successful. However, the success of such political actions is temporary. In fact, neither enslavement nor the feudal system can be restored. Ibrahim’s remark about those who explain the progressiveness of the Republic of Turkey, which he describes as a counter-revolutionary entity, as “an aspiration for the possible establishment of the Sultanate” is very true: “But this would not have suited the younger sections of the bourgeoisie, or even the old Turkish big bourgeoisie. Developments in the world have reached such a point that no one can dare to put on the crowns that have been thrown out of office. An administration with a crown can no longer greet the needs of the ruling classes or protect their sovereignty. The bourgeoisie also knows this. The counter-revolution can only be a “democratic republic” with a fascist mask.” In short, to speak of an independent role of political action or political force does not contribute to the understanding of history; on the contrary, it makes it impossible. The way to understand the role of political violence in history is to analyse the economic conditions, the concrete conditions of the class struggle. The following remark by Marx on the role of violence in socialism is revealing: “This socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.”
This is what socialism is for, and socialism undoubtedly involves political coercion, and this coercion is based on the movement of the masses. In short, this is what Mao transformed into a progressive concept and made realisable. What makes Mao unique and indispensable, as we have seen, is that he is firmly anchored in Marx and Engels.
CAPITALISM UNDER IMPERIALISM
We point out Mao’s indispensable contributions to the understanding and success of today’s revolutions. What makes Maoism a science like Leninism and Marxism is its ability to explain developments and its clear solutions to problems. We see an example of this in the forms of capitalism under imperialism.
Mao lived in China in the age of imperialism and proletarian revolutions under backward economic conditions. The China in which he lived is neither a capitalist country standing on its own feet nor with a bourgeois class capable of creating such capitalism. China is a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country within the international imperialist system.
According to the theory of imperialism developed by Lenin, “The export of capital influences and greatly accelerates the development of capitalism in those countries to which it is exported. While, therefore, the export of capital may tend to a certain extent to arrest development in the capital-exporting countries, it can only do so by expanding and deepening the further development of capitalism throughout the world.”. Lenin explains that the capital-exporting countries always bring and spread capitalism to the exporting countries with certain advantages. This is a general feature of the world-wide development of capitalism in the epoch of imperialism. It is undeniably true. It also explains the present state of development. Lenin, however, does not make any special assessment of the character of this spreading capitalism in the countries where it is spreading. He speaks of the general characteristics of imperialism. These general characteristics undoubtedly contain information and clues about the nature of capitalism in colonies and semi-colonies.
Mao, who experienced this process in a country where capital is exported to like China (like Jose Carlos Mariategui in Peru), explains this capitalism to us.
“To serve the needs of its aggression, imperialism created the comprador system and bureaucrat-capital in China. Imperialist aggression stimulated China’s social economy, brought about changes in it and created the opposites of imperialism — the national industry and national bourgeoisie of China, and especially the Chinese proletariat working in enterprises run directly by the imperialists, those run by bureaucrat-capital and those run by the national bourgeoisie. To serve the needs of its aggression, imperialism ruined the Chinese peasants by exploiting them through the exchange of unequal values and thereby created great masses of poor peasants, numbering hundreds of millions and comprising 70 per cent of China’s rural population.” (Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle, 14 August 1949)
“They talk about developing China’s economy, but in fact they build up their own bureaucrat-capital, i.e., the capital of the big landlords, bankers and compradors…” (On the Coalition Government, 1945)
“This capital is popularly known in China as bureaucrat-capital. This capitalist class, known as the bureaucrat-capitalist class, is the big bourgeoisie of China. ” (The Present Situation and Our Tasks, 1947).
These views on the nature of capitalism in China correspond to the reality of capitalism in all semi-colonies where feudalism has not been abolished. In these countries, capitalism is based on a feudal structure that has not been liquidated. This does not correspond to the usual social development. Although in many countries the bourgeoisie has co-operated with feudal superstructures against the developing proletarian revolutionary movement, it has never turned to a capitalism that is compatible with the feudal mode of production. On the contrary, it has dissolved and liquidated this style every time it has encountered it. This characteristic is inevitable for the development and sustainability of a new mode of production. However, in the phase of imperialism, capitalism in countries like China was not “Chinese capitalism”. Capitalism in such countries was developed by imperialism through the export of capital. Our quotations from Mao explain this. Here Mao describes a new kind of capitalism. Jose Carlos Mariategui does something similar for Peru. Subsequently, communists in many semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries carried out analyses that led to the same results. The type of capitalism that Mao identified is a capitalism that can be explained by imperialism. That is why the concept of comprador is special here. This capitalism also has a bureaucratic character. Bureaucratic capitalism, which is based on the capital of compradors and big landlords and includes this kind of capital, is an important contribution of Mao to political economy.
Until Mao, this capital was labelled as bourgeois capital and its owners as bourgeoisie, even as national bourgeoisie in the sense of “native”. However, Mao points out their characteristics on the basis of imperialism and feudalism, noting that they are qualitatively different. Their differences have a direct impact on the nature of the revolution and its development. Although Stalin in particular drew attention to certain features of the character of revolutions in such countries, Mao analysed the new problem from the ground up with his theory of the “New Democratic Revolution”.
The outstanding feature of the theory of the New Democratic Revolution is the role of the middle bourgeoisie in this revolution. The middle bourgeoisie, i.e. above all the national bourgeoisie, suffers considerably from the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, which is a product of imperialism and feudalism, and is hindered in its development by it. The sections that have the opportunity to develop lose their national character and are compradorised. The main obstacle to revolution in these countries therefore remains for a long time feudalism and imperialism, which can maintain its rule on this basis. When Lenin argued that the bourgeoisie has lost its revolutionary powder in the age of imperialism, he was not referring to this specific situation in countries like China. Mao solved the problems of revolution in a country like China. It is clear that the revolutions in these countries occupy an important place in the defeat of imperialism. When Lenin declared that the storm centres of the revolution were shifting to the colonial countries, he mainly pointed to the importance of the national liberation struggles. Mao, on the other hand, while emphasising Lenin’s correct statement, declared that the national liberation struggles must be combined with the democratic revolutions and that the future of imperialism would depend on the revolutions in these countries:
“True enough, this is the period of the final struggle of dying imperialism–imperialism is “moribund capitalism”. But just because it is dying, it is all the more dependent on colonies and semi-colonies for survival and will certainly not allow any colony or semi-colony to establish anything like a capitalist society under the dictatorship of its own bourgeoisie.” (On New Democracy, 1939).
This theory also expands our theory of imperialism.
“This monopoly capitalism, closely tied up with foreign imperialism, the domestic landlord class and the old-type rich peasants, has become comprador, feudal, state-monopoly capitalism.” (The Present Situation and Our Tasks, 1947).
In this context, the “monopolistic” character should also be mentioned as a remarkable feature. There is no doubt that this monopolistic character cannot be evaluated independently of imperialism. This is so not only in terms of ideas, but also because of the general incapacity of capital in these countries. The “liberal” attitude of capital is not to be found in these countries. Even today, when one speaks of “neoliberal policies”, what one sees is a strong monopoly determined by imperialist capital. One can go even further and say that it also has mafia-like characteristics. It must be emphasised that this feature is another form of oppression of the middle bourgeoisie by imperialism, and that the revolution will realise the common interest of a broad section of the population in overthrowing this monopoly. Therefore, we can say that this feature is the maturation of the revolution, the creation of the conditions for the New Democratic Revolution… Mao’s remarks, one will realise when reading his works, refer “almost exclusively” to China. This can be interpreted to mean that these theses apply only to China and cannot be generalised to the semi-colonies. It must be remembered that even at the birth of imperialism there were those who regarded it as a policy. Lenin explained shortly afterwards that this was a false interpretation. What is happening in China is a natural consequence of economic developments in the imperialist direction, capitalism in the stage of imperialism acts and must act as it does in China. The condition for the sustainability of this economic system is the existence of semi-colonies in which “the possibility of capitalism under the dictatorship of its own bourgeoisie” is constantly prevented. With the nature of its capital and the monopolistic character of the dependent bureaucratic bourgeoisie, imperialism constantly creates the conditions for this.
Therefore, when Mao analysed China, he analysed the general characteristics of semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries. The fact that he did not make this generalisation in no way diminishes this characteristic of the theory. For, as we emphasised at the beginning of this series, theory always matures later. In the analysis of each species, the individual analysis takes centre stage. However, each individual study contains almost all the general information about the species in question. This is a perfectly normal process in terms of the scientific method… In explaining capitalism in such countries, Mao also developed the general theory of imperialism. If his theses, which we have discussed in this chapter, are not understood and taken as the basis for class analyses and theories of revolution, it will not be possible to advance the revolution in the colonies, and today especially in the semi-colonies.
The last chapter deals with Mao’s contributions in the field of philosophy. In the field of philosophy, Mao once again devoted his attention to the development of the class struggle in favour of the proletariat. In this sense, he is not a “philosopher” in the usual sense. He inherited his philosophical mantle from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Precisely because he places philosophy at the service of the class struggle, he has a language of philosophy that is remarkably clear, understandable and can be learnt by the masses. Who can deny that this quality is decisive for the transformation of the slogan of Maoism into a flowing philosophical practice in the languages of the masses?