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Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is Our Shining Path for World Revolution

The following is a brief exposition of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and is part of a larger theoretical work outlining Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy in the United States. It was compiled by Maosoleum Guest Writer Neftali, the author of “Notes on Mass Line, Communist Organization, and Revolution”, On Marxist Philosophy. and The Materialist Conception of History. Views here are thus those of Neftali, and do not necessarily represent the entire views of the writers of Maosoleum. If you would like to have a dialogue with the author on this piece please address Neftali in the comments below. NOTE: The section “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is Our Shining Path for World Revolution” skips over two entire sections on Capital and the proletariat which the author still has in rough form.


Marxism-Leninism-Maoism [MLM] is the banner of world revolution today, it is our guiding light which has synthesized past proletarian revolutionary experience in relation to guiding proletarian universal science of historical materialism. It is the most correct universal and scientific approach to making revolution. The banner of MLM marks three significant points of rupture and continuity in the practice of proletarian revolution in its scientific mode, they correspondingly adopt the name of significant figures which represent through merit of both theoretical elaboration and political work were able to capture essential features of the class struggle at their moments and raised the universal features to light for us. It takes upon itself in sequential order of history Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Each phase which took upon it new universal significance also took upon itself both a continuity and a rupture, hence Marxism transformed to Marxism-Leninism which correspondingly transformed to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They are at this stage in the course of development of revolutionary science and in relationship to the whole course of development and experience of proletarian revolution inseparable and packed as the meaningful name which is in essence the political line of world revolution.


"Marx and Engels are able to produce the most thoroughgoing radical critique of bourgeois political economy still in our possession and, moreover, give to the whole of the working class movement the ammunition to sink the bourgeois ideology that mystifies economy."

“Marx and Engels are able to produce the most thoroughgoing radical critique of bourgeois political economy still in our possession and, moreover, give to the whole of the working class movement the ammunition to sink the bourgeois ideology that mystifies economy.”

Marxism stands for the initial point of rupture, the moment of origin which inaugurates the experience of the whole of a self-conscious and politically organized proletarian force. It makes its appearance with a fledgling industrial proletariat which has emerged upon the stage at a significant point of development of productive forces in the conditions of European world hegemony. Based in the centers of the world development, the character of the the proletariat was very European but essentially super-exploited with each nation-state at a very weak point of existence. The industrial proletariat combined with other popular urban and rural classes throughout Europe were strategically the basis for the overturning of class exploitation. After uncovering the basis of a ‘materialist conception of history’ in class society; Marx in collaboration with Engels rooted themselves theoretically in French Socialism, German Philosophy, and English Economics (the holy trinity of Europe; a trinity they conceptually took from and broke) to uncover for themselves a political synthesis for the new emerging proletarian class. Through years of critiques, polemics, scientific inquiry research and of course active political leadership of the international proletarian movement – Marx and Engels by their death left a coherent body of work which could be understood and grasped by followers of the second international which was led by the German Workers’ Movement in the main.

Marx and Engels broke with the metaphysics of German Idealism and its radical humanist variants found in the Young Hegelians. Marx stood Hegel on his head and inverted the dialectics of Hegel from its idealist incarnation into a methodological material basis. Hegel had conceived of history as an actualization of an idea of freedom; Marx saw conceptions such as freedom as historically correspondent to a stage in society. That the idea represented merely the ideology of the epoch. Marx instead look not to the system Hegel had developed but to its motions and the character of these motions to give to himself conceptual tools to make scientific analysis. Engels also provides much deeper account of this in Anti-Durhing.

Marx and Engels opened up for us a new continent of science, the ‘materialist conception of history’ or as it is to be better known today, historical materialism. They had uncovered that history was and is developing alongside the productive forces and the social relationships which extend from them. Their movement is history, and this movement is fundamentally a movement of class struggle.

Marx and Engels also brought fully into light, through a critique of the accumulation of capital (Capital Volumes 1-3; Theories of Surplus Value). By looking at the scope of the laws and tendencies which produce the capitalist mode of production, Marx and Engels are able to produce the most thoroughgoing radical critique of bourgeois political economy still in our possession and, moreover, give to the whole of the working class movement the ammunition to sink the bourgeois ideology that mystifies economy. By use of the materialist dialectic method moving from abstract to the particular, Marx is able to show how the exploitation of wage labor is the basis of the capitalist accumulative process and how this process contains deeper and deeper levels of contradictions from use-values to exchange value, from labor to labor-power and socially necessary labor time, to money as store of value and medium of exchange, from variable capital to invariable capital which constitute the organic composition of capital, etc.

Finally Marx and Engels summarized the whole trajectory of class struggle at that points, its history and its experience. They began to piece together how socialism would be developed, what character and tools it needed to create communism. They theorized about the dictatorship of the proletariat and the need for a “general staff” (the party) to make revolution and carry it through till its end. The theorized about the development of socialist society and the need to overcome bourgeois right.


"He took the quantitative material of his time, what was beginning to even be grasped by elements of the opportunists of the second international, and saw the windscar of history. Marx and Engels did not combine their understanding of capitalist accumulative process with the colonialist projects of Europe more fully or even perhaps in some texts are ideologically still in the swaddling clothes of metaphysics; Lenin had produced through scientific investigation of the development of capitalism into imperialism a qualitatively new understanding and hence a politics which broke not only from the opportunism of the second international, but also constitute a new political practice which demarcated itself from the social-democratic one. A politics for international proletarian revolution in capitalism’s final stage, imperialism."

“Lenin had produced through scientific investigation of the development of capitalism into imperialism a qualitatively new understanding and hence a politics which broke not only from the opportunism of the second international, but also constitute a new political practice which demarcated itself from the social-democratic one.”

Marx’s and Engels’ deaths opened up class struggle in such a form deprived of the austere leadership that had guided the international workers’ movement against the deviations of Bakunin, the absolutism of Lasalle, the putsch-ism of Blanqui, or the revisionism of Bernstein. Lenin’s appearance on the stage as a leader of Russian Social-Democracy, as a leader of the most militant wing of Russian Marxism – the Bolshevik Party – was profoundly important to the historical course of development in Europe. Long a student of Karl Kautsky and German Social-Democracy, the conditions of Russia, gave new life to analysis that was key for Marxist growth. Lenin’s main theoretical developments largely are in realm of concrete revolutionary activity (‘revolutionary real politics’ as dubbed by Lukacs) and concrete analysis of concrete situations. What Lenin had achieved in his work politically and in his texts has universal significance to all communists. His contributions therefore need to be situated within his practice as a professional revolutionary at a moment of a world conjuncture that determined a new course of proletarian revolution. This moment was shaped by the transformation of nascent capitalism into Imperialism.

Lenin had looked at the development of the world system and saw a configuration which Marx had not had the great foresight to uncover as a possible trend as capitalism became the dominant mode of production on a world scale.  Marx had took for granted colonialisms’ qualitative additions (or deformations) structurally to the development of a capitalist world system. Marx had seen colonialism as form of primitive accumulation and therefore as a remainder of the precapitalist modes of production. Colonialism itself became an actualization of a “ruse of reason,” which would be superseded as capitalism matured worldwide.1

Lenin – taking notes from the works of Kautsky, J.A. Hobson, and Rudolf Hilferding – had synthesized an advancement theoretically for the Marxist ranks based upon scientific investigation of world capitalist system. Imperialism, Lenin had analyzed, was the FINAL stage of capitalist development on the world scale.2 It is a stage of capitalism which is characterized by three main contradictions at the world scale:

1) Between labor and capital, between blocs of capital internationally and the imperialist states with each other, and between the imperialist states and its regime of power and the popular classes of the oppressed and colonized nations.

2) The qualitative transformation on the world scale of the transformation of creative and productive capital into finance capital; the dominance of finance capital over productive capital.

3) It is also marked by uneven and combined development on a world scale, with a concentration of industrial capital achieved in the imperialist countries and its transformation into finance capital, it is exported to the oppressed and colonial nations and facilitates a super-exploitation of the popular classes of the people.

Lenin posited himself as a practitioner of Marx’s theory by posing himself within the class struggle of the proletariat. He took the politico-theoretical and economic analysis of Marx fully to committed mind and gave us a practical and theoretical frame for understanding a new stage of capitalist development. He took the quantitative material of his time, what was beginning to even be grasped by elements of the opportunists of the second international, and saw the windscar of history. Marx and Engels did not combine their understanding of capitalist accumulative process with the colonialist projects of Europe more fully or even perhaps in some texts are ideologically still in the swaddling clothes of metaphysics; Lenin had produced through scientific investigation of the development of capitalism into imperialism a qualitatively new understanding and hence a politics which broke not only from the opportunism of the second international, but also constitute a new political practice which demarcated itself from the social-democratic one. A politics for international proletarian revolution in capitalism’s final stage, imperialism.

The Leninist politics are revolutionary real politics within the age of Imperialism and proletarian revolution. Is this to say Marx and Engels did not grasp real politics? No, both Marx and Engels were revolutionary leaders who led and organized proletarian forces with an eye towards the strategic and tactical lines of the day. What of course Lenin did was draw out this legacy and develop these lines along the emerging horizon of proletarian revolution in the age of Imperialism. After the demise of the Paris Commune – the first taste of proletarian power – set in a stage of relative “peaceful” development of capitalism3 with realignment towards major imperialist powers. Corresponding to this stage the politics of the working class movement had shifted to more open and legal work in the halls of Parliament. This stage was merely preliminary to the eve of world war.

In the light of the possibility of world war, the socialist movement went into crisis. The second international had coalesced the European social-democratic and labor parties under the conditions of legalist work, they were completely unprepared for the appearance of a revolutionary conjuncture. In fact the second international was now an instrument of the bourgeoisie themselves amongst the working class parties. Lenin had split from the prevailing line of opportunism in the second international which was crippled by its own Faustian deals. Lenin championed what the second international had only spoke of deed, to turn the imperialist war into a civil war. The second international spoke of “war against war,” but Lenin saw in the antagonistic contradictions between the imperialist states the basis for proletarian revolution itself – for the war against war to be turned into a moment of general proletarian insurrection and to aim directly for power itself.

How would proletarian insurrection be achieved? Revolution in Russia was accomplished by the combination of the existent world conjuncture (imperialism in its highest political crisis, war itself), with prepared vanguard formations of the proletariat (steeled in clandestine work in anticipation for the very moment of revolution), and with the particular concrete conditions of the Russian Empire . This can be understood as the combination of objective revolutionary conditions with subjective conditions. How is this broken down? I’ve gone through the issue of imperialism so will move to the second and third items respectively.

The history of Bolshevism provides an account of the development of revolutionary proletarian organization which could both make an intervention and embody for the whole of a class a formation for them to join, to follow, to make war against the class enemies. The party form is derived from the second international, from the model of the social-democratic movement as a whole; Bolshevism breaks from the whole of the trajectory of the second international.4 It was a party of a new type, a party which while present in the legal functioning of work in relation to the state had also been the basis for political consolidation of underground and clandestine work which prepared the whole of the party for the task of seizure of power.

The Russian Empire was also fertile ground to break the imperialist chains, as it was the weakest link of the whole of imperialism. It was the center of the whole manifold of contradictions that characterized the whole of the imperialist system. An imperialist nation dominated by imperialism, with a small but numerous working class centered in industrial cities (St.Petersburg housed the largest Steel productions), prevailing feudal conditions throughout the country with a large peasantry, an Empire formation which was a prison house of colonialized oppressed nationality people, and a military-bureaucratic regime and administrative apparatus based upon the outmoded feudal mode of production with a Bourgeoisie inept and in fear of the possibility of the proletariat to lead any proper democratic struggle. This was Lenin’s concrete analysis of the concrete situation of the Russian Empire, and furthermore demonstrates to us politically the need for an important grasp of this type of analysis to prepare for new conditions for seizure of power. The theory of “weakest link” of Imperialism is about seeing the movement of the crisis in world capitalism geographically in regards to contradictions of various class formations within mode(s) of production. The application of this line of thought is what made revolution in Russia and its oppressed nations, its what consolidated it into the steel bastion of the proletariat, its what made it a bridge for revolution combining the workers’ movement of the west with the oppressed colonial masses of the east.


"Mao’s contributions can be understood from concrete to the general, since much of Mao’s contributions in fact are fundamentally rooted in one domain - carrying forward revolution to its very end. This fact of Mao’s thought is a fact in Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin; however Mao is most consistent because the whole of his life in the midst of the what is the first real sequence of proletarian revolution on a world scale. Hence today Marxism-Leninism without Maoism is in fact revisionism and opportunism."

“Mao’s contributions can be understood from concrete to the general, since much of Mao’s contributions in fact are fundamentally rooted in one domain – carrying forward revolution to its very end. This fact of Mao’s thought is a fact in Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin; however Mao is most consistent because the whole of his life in the midst of the what is the first real sequence of proletarian revolution on a world scale. Hence today Marxism-Leninism without Maoism is in fact revisionism and opportunism.”

Maoism is the development of scientific revolutionary theory to a new stage precipitated not by the change in the character of Imperialism, but in grasping fully the struggle for socialism when proletarian revolution has been achieved and consolidated. What is the road in developing Socialism in one country, what are the methods for assault against the capitalist citadels? Often the revisionist current amongst us expresses that Maoism is only peculiar to the Third World and to the struggle which combines national liberation with the proletarian world revolution. These revisionists essentially attempt to ignore fundamentally that Lenin himself analyzed, in the second preface of Imperialism, that the weakest links were now in the colonies, that in fact world revolution would find fertile ground there amongst the billions in the popular classes of the oppressed nations. Mao Zedong and the Chinese Revolution is altogether a continuity of the proletarian revolution that occurred in and was consolidated in the Soviet Union. The Chinese Revolution, as the rest of national liberation struggle, was opened up by the objective conditions which was marked by the build up for war and post-war between the world powers. A war between the decaying imperialists in the throes of fascism and protection of their empires, a war which also had the important aspect of the proletariat playing a decisive role through the heroic war against Nazism by the Soviet People.

Mao’s contributions can be understood from concrete to the general, since much of Mao’s contributions in fact are fundamentally rooted in one domain – carrying forward revolution to its very end. This fact of Mao’s thought is a fact in Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin; however Mao is most consistent because the whole of his life in the midst of the what is the first real sequence of proletarian revolution on a world scale. Hence today Marxism-Leninism without Maoism is in fact revisionism and opportunism.

Mao’s first contribution is of course the practice of making revolution in a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country. After the closure of revolutionary upsurge in the West which had only in the end led to the consolidation of proletarian power in the Soviet Union itself5 China had become the center of revolution with its hundreds of millions of people of the popular classes who had been the bedrock of all popular struggle in the country against the reactionary classes of feudalism, the imperialists and the emerging comprador bureaucrat capitalists. China was a country with only a small industrial working class centered in a few scattered cities throughout the country; however revolution under the banner and leadership of the proletariat was possible here too. The Chinese Revolution combined the aspirations of the popular classes of the oppressed nations with that of the world proletariat.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) under the leadership of Mao Zedong had the struggle of course of making revolution in conditions radically different from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s revolution was staged as first insurrection, then consolidation of power in the centers, the cities. It won over the peasantry and the laboring masses of the entire oppressed nationalities through the course of civil war; however it consistently relied upon the industrial working class as its base. In China this would have to look entirely different. The bourgeoisie in China under the leadership of Sun Yatsen and the Koumintang (KMT) had smashed the feudal Chinese state and were left to deal with their remnants. The KMT was a revolutionary party of the national bourgeoisie popularly recognized as such by Lenin and the early Comintern, which had pushed strategic and tactical unity between the CPC and KMT, but quite quickly the KMT transformed into a party of the comprador bureaucrat bourgeoisie and soon broke into various cliques representing differing gangster cliques. While the national bourgeoisie remained an active force in China, even within the KMT, the vanguard of struggle against imperialism had shifted fundamentally to the proletariat (as it has on a world scale today). The CPC grew throughout the 1920s’, but it did not consolidate a proper materialist class analysis of Chinese society and a correct strategy for revolution in China. This was further hampered by the ideological deviations which were firmly rooted in the Party – those who blindly followed the Comintern and its policy and the Left Opportunists led by Chen Duxiu who insisted at one at the same time the unreadiness of the proletariat, tamed peasant struggle in the countryside, and dogmatically attempted to build organization amongst the industrial working class alone (Chen Duxiu would later join the Trotskyist movement). The CPC’s road map towards revolution was in fact a combination of these two unsuitable positions, one which overemphasized the role of the bourgeoisie, another which didn’t grasp that because of the terrible unevenness of Imperialism reliance on the Proletariat and revolution centered in the coastal cities (which are simultaneously the base for KMT bureaucrat-compradors and the gangster Lumpen) was in fact incorrect.

Mao understood that in a country like China, the peasantry were more than a reserve for revolution but could be active protagonists of the revolution with the proletariat in the lead. Mao called for a strategy of surrounding the cities from the countryside, for a new democratic revolution which united the hundreds of millions of people that represented the popular classes – the proletariat, the peasantry, the petty-bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie. A revolution against semi-feudalism, semi-colonialism; against the foreign imperialists, the landlords and warlords, the comprador bureaucratic capitalists. This revolution would advance towards socialist revolution under the leadership of the proletariat. It would solve the land question of the peasantry by giving land to the tiller, but under the leadership of the proletariat would advance towards socialist development of agriculture through mass campaigns led by the mass of peasants themselves in the continuing of class struggle. It would solve the issue of domination of foreign capital by breaking the imperialists by force and seizure, restructuring the development of economy based upon national self-sufficiency, in accordance with general promotion of production to uplift the masses.

Under Mao Zedong the Communist Party had organized the People’s Liberation Army for the basis of People’s War. On the basis of People’s War, the Chinese people achieved both victory against Japanese Imperialism and final victory over Chiang Kaishek and the KMT. Mao Zedong’s articulation of the theory of a protracted people’s war is the first synthesized military doctrine that is based definitively in the Marxist political line. Mao’s achievement was therefore the fusion of Marxist political doctrine to the military science of waging war, a revolutionary war.6 People’s War is a war which is fought on the political basis of a just war, a class war, against reactionaries. It is war that relies upon the people, that in the process of armed struggle is making revolution by creating base areas; creating the conditions of dual power. These base areas are the embryonic seeds of the communist state where social transformation is carried forward under the leadership of the Communist Party. The people’s army itself is an institution of the people, its main organization for defense and power. As a revolutionary army it functions as no other army, it combines democracy in its internal structure with command of the vanguard party. It is an army which aim is not simply military in scope, but functions to work for the political tasks of liberation. It is engaged in production, agitation, and education of the masses. People’s War is mobilization of the masses for war and liberation by the Party, it finds its most significant organization in the people’s army.

Mao’s doctrine of people’s war is also combined with a doctrine of a protracted war, it is therefore more correct to describe Mao’s specified theory in its actualization in China the “Protracted People’s War.” People’s war constitutes the political determining character of the war; in revolutionary war the people are the decisive factor. The protracted character is a secondary characteristic which is particular to a people’s war fought in the conditions of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. Mao Zedong shows that people’s war in a country that was like China is a protracted people’s war; with a weak national state, dominated by feudal social relationships throughout the countryside, under the yoke of imperialism, it is possible to raise the struggle of the popular classes under the proletariat (for new democratic revolution) and for this to be accomplished by building base areas in the weakest link, carrying forward agrarian revolution, taking part in indigenous production.

Base areas are sites of strategic defensive; the axiom of protracted war as Mao understood it was strategically 1 against 10, tactically 10 against 1. Numerically revolutionary forces waging a people’s war will be weaker than the enemy, this necessitates the need for strategic defensive which utilizes the counter-offensive by the concentration of forces upon the enemy at its weakest points. Mao went against the opportunist dogmatist military line of Comintern agent Otto Braun and Wang Ming and insisted upon a military strategy of a strategic defensive and strategic retreat, which can be turned into strategic offensive.  Protracted war has three stages – the strategic defensive, the strategic equilibrium, and the strategic offensive. The basis of any protracted war to succeed is dependent upon the mobilization of the people, it turns quantity into quality and utilizes the advantage that revolutionary forces have over the enemy – their war is a progressive war of the revolutionary class and its allies, whereas the war waged by the state is essentially reactionary. War is continuation of politics by other means. Amongst the reactionaries the waging of war and the application of politics becomes divorced from the masses because of their fear of the masses. In this sense this is what turns quantity into quality, the consciousness of the masses transformed through the process of people’s war itself. This is what turns the numerically weaker revolutionary force into the force of liberation, how strategic defensive will become strategic offensive.

People’s War is in the end the application of a revolutionary political line determined by the revolutionary party. The revolutionary party is a vanguard party; it is such a party because it is a party of the class, it is the concentration of the advance conscious force of that class. But People’s War is not a waging of insurrection of simply that force, but a broad upheaval of the masses led by the Party, with the People’s Army under its command as the concentration of the most matured violence of the masses in relation to the monopoly of force of the bourgeois state.

The defeat of the comprador bureaucratic KMT and the rise of the CPC in China took place within a national democratic struggle. The condition for victory was this national democratic united front which brought together the broad popular masses in unity against the class enemies. Such condition of victory had meant that the process of New Democracy would be a necessary stage to move through as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country where there lived hundreds of million peasant people with a much smaller industrial proletariat. It had become the task of the Communist Party of China to lead New Democracy into a socialist revolution. This however in fact became more difficult and by 1959 in China, there was a seeming current arising from the Party which was pushing towards new revisionist lines which would mean a road of capitalist-restoration.7 By 1962 the capitalist roaders took leadership of the party and the governance of the country. Mao Zedong along with his allies raised the spectre of a cultural revolution and mobilized the workers and students in fighting against capitalist-restoration. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) was taken up by scores of people and became a an entirely new stage in the socialist revolution in any of the history of the socialist countries at that time and till today as well.

At first the aims of the GPCR were unclear beyond the the 16 Points put forward by the Central Committee. The Cultural Revolution Group was formed to encourage the movement and became the headquarters for the revolutionaries in the Party. At first it was attempted to tie the Cultural Revolution closely in observation to the Party, this was broken by the revolutionary wing, and the masses were brought fully into mobilization. Red Guards were first formed in High Schools, beginning spontaneously, it was attempted by the revisionist section of the Party to attempt to tame the movement by forming new Red Guard formations mostly among youth and workers close to the already existing cadre, they attacked the revolutionary Red Guards and there existed a great schism in the Red Guard movement.8 These aims became more and more clear as the revisionists in the Party brought themselves more fully out in opposition to the democratic struggle of workers and youth. The bourgeoisie had taken the heights of power in the Party itself, in the administration of the state.

It became therefore more and more clear to the revolutionaries among the Party and the masses that socialism could only survive through the all-around exercising of the dictatorship of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. That the bourgeoisie were re-emerging in the party, that class contradictions were still real right within socialism. The revisionists in the Party were politically defeated for a time despite their attempts to subdue the GPCR.

The GPCR was a scene of real revolution, with appearing divisions in the Party (its de facto liquidation until its reconstitution in 1969), divisions in the PLA, divisions among the youth and workers playing out through sheer struggle of force. At many times a struggle of armed force, where rebel Bonpartist officers put down, the attempt by section of the CRG to arm the masses of people, the emergence of the Shanghai Commune, and the revolutionary committees.

What unites the entire thread of Mao’s thought is a deeper understanding qualitatively of making revolution, of understanding contradiction, putting politics in command and of understanding the necessity of a line of Mass Perspective and Mass Line. The mass perspective holds that the people and the people alone are the makers of history, that they’re, as Mao says “the real heroes.” That the masses learn to make revolution through the experience of class struggle, and that it is the position of the Party to join up in the advanced activity of the masses and bring the light of revolution to their struggle. However the Party is not simply bringing light but is also radically preparing the stepping stones towards making revolution. The Party itself is the most concentrated political expression of the class conscious proletariat, it however is not one and the same as the broad masses. The Party must deepen its unity with the masses through the application of the Mass Line.

The Mass Line is the application of a method of leadership which seeks to unite with the broad masses in their struggle and lead them in making revolution. This is done by gathering the disperse and raw ideas of the masses of people themselves in regards to their material conditions and their struggles, processing and synthesizing such ideas in light of a Marxist conjunctural analysis of the given time, and then bringing forward the activity of the party, its mass organizations, and the broad masses in making class struggle and war. The application of the Mass Line has a spiral movement to it. The Mass Line is applied and then reapplied based upon the experience of its application, it seeks towards making new leaps not simply in the practice of the Party and its Mass Organizations, but also in further developing a revolutionary mass consciousness necessary for a revolutionary people. The development of a revolutionary people was also a process of forging a revolutionary people in the course of class struggle, in uniting the advanced, winning over the intermediate, and isolating the backwards.9

Mao had a deeper understanding of this than any other revolutionary before him in making revolution. It is of course the case that Marx, Lenin, and others had an understanding of the Mass Perspective and somewhat the Mass Line, but never formulated the position of Mass Line in such concrete terms of practice. Mao’s understanding of handling contradictions among the masses of people is a radical departure from a very mechanical method inherited from the Bolshevik Party and foremostly Stalin.10


1. This is something of a Hegelian leftover in Marx’s speculative thought of the trajectory of capitalist development. In relation to colonialism, it can be found in his writings on British colonialism in India or his commentary on the US Civil War. It could also be seen in pieces of even Lenin’s early writings where he describes imperialism as progressive in some instances. The dynamic of history becomes a movement of modes of production moving into each other linearly and cleanly at an even scale throughout the world.

2. This must be emphasized that this analysis is still true today in the final instance, the world capitalist system has not fundamentally transformed from the Imperialist stage. There are in essence a few lines in the Marxist movement that are fundamentally reducible to the opportunist line of Second International and Karl Kautsky in relationship to this question. They emphasize the integration of cartels and finance, that there has emerged a transnational bourgeoisie. What these comrades fundamentally fail to perceive is that the bourgeoisie, by virtue of the fundamental dependency it needs upon a world circuit of exchange and production, had already achieved a cosmopolitan and worldly character. It has always negotiated amongst itself the terms of how it carved up the world from the conference in Berlin to the establishment of the United Nations. It also fundamentally relies upon the power of the State, and that blocs of capital must rely upon formations of the nation-state in protection of their vital interests. What the “transnational” thesis is is a line of opportunism in our ranks, a line which unfortunately leads towards erroneous class analysis on the world stage; its errors of a right and “left” type. On one hand there are those who see contradiction among the bourgeoisie as superficial in the imperialist system in contrast to their coordination and others who actually mistake elements of the national-bourgeoisie (Chavez, Morales, Correra) as representing the proletarian classes. This has been its historical character. We have a situation where monopoly capital and its national-state formations are posited into a division where there are real prospects for (and is bringing forward) war at a world scale, what “Marxist” with any revolutionary stripes would heighten the issue of “intra-peace” between them? These “Marxists” in effect only defang the movement of specific and scientific analysis, and rob under the banner of proletarian internationalism that very aspect of proletarian internationalism.

3. This “peaceful” development as it had been described by the opportunists of the second international. It was in fact a period of contestation, the final sweep of colonialist enterprise by the strong parties against the weak parties. This period was the preliminary stage of struggle before the advent of world war. Imperialist powers took the whole continent of Africa, divided the continent of Asia into spheres of influence, they picked as much as they could from the dying feudal militarist regimes of empire in Europe. Through the renewed primitive accumulation that came with the creation of empires, the imperialist powers created the modern bureaucratic militarist and administrative state. The period also revealed to all parties involved the new alignments of imperialist interest and drew together old enemies into common friends for the world war that was approaching.Lenin cites the end of this period in 1905 – when Tsarist reaction, which long haunted the German imagination, was soundly defeated by the Japanese Empire. This broke the relative peace between the imperialist powers once and for all. It also woke the revolutionary proletarian forces from the parliamentary myopia of second internationalist politics.

4. This break is also not simply a break that was arrived at the moment of seizure of power and the turn towards an onslaught against capitalism. It was in fact a ready fact prior to the seizure of power; whereas the whole history of the social-democratic parties had been of opportunism in command of political line and in command in determining the basis of party work throughout the Second International. Bolshevism, Leninism in Party Politics, was in fact the development of party organization on the basis of the actuality of revolution. This is clearly why a moment of revolutionary upheaval was able to be consolidated in the old Russian Empire and there alone, throughout Eastern Europe, Germany, and Italy the Communist Parties were fresh and new – still haunted by social democratic past in many respects as well; whereas Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin afterwards were the most steeled Party for revolution and socialist transformation.

5. The failure of revolution to break in the West has little to do with the objective conditions but very much to do with the subjective conditions of revolutionary Marxist movement. The opportunists and the “orthodox” of the second international had reduced the whole of the Marxist movement into a mere radical flavoring at one end of the spectrum of the body politic of the bourgeois dictatorship. In this sense it objectively, when the class contradictions had become more antagonistic on a world scale, had become the rearguard and mouthpiece of the Bourgeoisie against the Proletariat. In the context of such an international, the Mensheviks were even far to the left of most parties! Only the Bolshevik party was able to smash the state wholly and establish the Proletarian dictatorship. The Bolshevik Party at each stage was prepared for manoeuvring and attack against the citadel of Imperialism. Despite Luxembourg’s estimation that Brest-Litovsk would strangle the revolution and encourage German militarism, the Bolsheviks consolidated power, smashed the whites, whereas German militarism would fall apart within the year and Red Army would attempt an invasion of liberation against the reactionary governments of east Europe. Contrast this to whole sections of the early Comintern that were still gripped in the opportunism of the second international.

6. This achievement of course needs contextualization. We must understand first that the October Revolution led by the Bolshevik Party did not in fact have a decisive military strategy to deal with the Bourgeoisie. Because of its insurgent nature at the outset, military strategy was thought from the vantage-point of the political coordination of advance class conscious proletarians, arming them, and winning over or neutralizing garrison troops. The revolution of October was possible because of a collapse of the reactionary state in midst of imperialist war; the civil war was fought through quick mobilization of the masses and reformation of a revolutionary army of the workers, peasants, and soldiers – the Red Army. In essence the Red Army was a people’s army, was politically under the command of the Bolshevik Party; however clearly methods of war adopted by the Red Army were that of a state. State power was achieved by the Bolsheviks; they utilized the state as a weapon. The Bolsheviks even fused itself with personnel of the old state (particularly in the military) to carry forward the class war and red terror against the Bourgeoisie. This must be understood as a continuity of the revolution, but a continuity which meant the rapid turn of a strategic defensive to a strategic offensive and finally victory over the Bourgeoisie. In this movement from one to the other, the experience of revolutionary war (an experience payed for in the millions of lives of the Soviet people) was an experience which while having certain general principles of understanding had a particularity of its own which makes it unsuitable as a general military strategy in MAKING revolution, in seizing power. We see this very clearly in the military doctrine of Trotsky who was very much opposed to the combination of Marxism with military science. Trotsky – as a leader of a Red Army which had the material, personnel, and productive capacity of an industrial state behind him – was much more interested in the modernization and professionalization of the military and its utilization of the standard techniques of a professional army.

7. This was certainly the case after the Great Leap Forward, where three years of bad weather and voluntarist deviations on the part of cadre caused famines through the countryside. In addition to this was the revoking of Soviet technicians and forced payment of grain for loans by the revisionist Khruschev clique which had taken power in the USSR. This culminated in the Lushan Conference of 1959, where General Peng Dehuai attacked Mao publicly for the Great Leap Forward. These attacks began to raise the line against “politics in command” and advocated for the position generally known as the Theory of Productive Forces. The criticism stressed technical administration in guiding production as key over the attempts by Mao to mobilize the masses in a politically led campaign to transform China’s backwardness into a new emerging socialist production. Often it is ignored by many that the GLF came into fruition as a culimination of peasant mass movements throughout the 50s’ in which the revolutionary peasant masses were forming collectives, that they were making the active steps forward from the stage of New Democracy which had given small proprietary to the peasant over his land as a general policy of land to the tiller. People’s Communes were formed through the country which generated surpluses which would eventually in 1970 led to independent food sufficiency in China. It created new industry, increased steel production, etc. It is of course true that there were many weaknesses to the GLF – famine did outbreak and a cause of this was certainly voluntarist technical organization of the division of labor which stressed steel production and over-reported agricultural production, the famous backyard steel furnaces had produced uneven results through the country. Where there was expert technical know-how, steel production increased; however where technical skill was limited, much of production became useless unless further refined.

8. It is important to note that these Red Guards (sometimes referred to as “Scarlet Guards”) were utilized by the revisionists in the Party to deflect the movement from its emerging contradictions with the Party itself. What is often seen as the excesses of the Red Guards in attacking families of former landlords, etc. were often coordinated by the revisionist party work teams with Scarlet Guards. The emerging call of “Bombarding the Headquarters” were remarkably different from this, where it was stressed to make aim the existing and emerging bourgeoisie. Moreover within the 16 Point Position of the Central Committee in 1966, often routinely publicized by the CRG, it called for a correct orientation of contradictions among the masses that opposed violence.

9. There has and is a deep revisionist application of the Mass Line which is extensively characteristic of those social-democratic and economist organizations of the Left that attempt to dress the part. What is typical of their practice in emphasizing the Mass Line is attempting to draw attention to overall trajectory of preparing the people for revolution. Mass Line is usually understood popularly as a command to “Serve the People.” But how? The revisionist and economist organizations more often than not end up doing solely this work alone absent of real revolutionary politics. Their line is essentially tailing the masses thoroughly. Those organizations of a semi-revolutionary character furthermore attempt to see the Mass Line as a means by which one can lead the development of consciousness among the masses towards revolutionary thinking, but absent the entire discourse of revolution. They aspire to one day speak about revolution but only focus on limiting the sights of the people to the here and now of simple movementism. There is perhaps of course a whole other section of left-opportunists who dress the part which confuse the Mass Line and Mass Perspective as one thing, and liquidate this analytical orientation. They often commit both mistakes of commandism and tailism, depending of course on their opportunist schemes.

10. In this regard there is much to say about Mao’s conception of democratic centralism in distinction to Stalin’s and his handling of contradictions within the Party. Mao often speaks of the “three magical weapons” and in this piece we have not spoken yet of the qualitative developments of Mao in regards to the Party and handling of contradictions within it. It is again however generally connected to the overall distinction of Mao’s conception of contradiction.


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