Marxism-Leninism Versus Maoism

“[Maoism] was proclaimed as the highest stage of Marxism-Leninism in the present era. The Chinese leaders have declared that ‘Mao Tsetung has achieved more than Marx, Engels, and Lenin…’ The Constitution of the Communist Party of China, approved at its 9th Congress, which was held under Mao Tsetung’s leadership, says that ‘Mao Tsetung thought is the Marxism-Leninism of the era … ‘, that Mao Tse-tung “….has inherited, defended and developed Marxism-Leninism and has raised it to a new, higher stage”. Basing the activity of the party on [Maoism] instead of on the principles and norms of Marxism-Leninism opened the doors even more widely to opportunism and factional struggle within the ranks of the Communist Party of China. [Maoism] is an amalgam of views in which ideas and theses borrowed from Marxism are mixed up with idealist, pragmatic and revisionist principles from other philosophies.” -Enver Hoxha (Imperialism and Revolution).

Maoists assert their status as “anti-revisionists” but in actuality Maoism negates Marxism as an inherently ultra-leftist, opportunistic ideology. Furthermore, Mao Tse-Tung was not a true Marxist, but merely a radical and revolutionary progressive democrat who never established a dictatorship of the proletariat let alone socialism, and even despite the advances he had made for China remained an opportunist. Mao and Maoism can be summed up as radishes: red on the outside, white on the inside. In this post we shall examine the revisionist nature of Mao and his thoughts, and their relations to Marxism-Leninism. We shall start off examining Maoist theory.

Cultural Revolution: Mao proclaimed that capitalist ideology, liberalism, and other bourgeois cultures are not fully removed from society through socialist revolution and that class struggle against these detrimental features of capitalism are continued in one form or another throughout the socialist stage of development. Maoism states the method for dealing with bourgeois culture is through “cultural revolution,” in which the “masses” are mobilized to spread communist ideology in order to reduce capitalistic or feudalistic culture. However, the cultural revolution turned out to be an ultra-left disaster for Mao. Beginning in 1965 it was more of a tribute to the cult of Mao than to spreading communism. All of Mao’s words and teachings were expected to be understood and followed without question, and as a result production and economic activity declined, workers too busy engaging in appraisal of Mao Tse-Tung thought. Because class consciousness was not reached, the masses, many of whom were mere uneducated youth, frequently became excessively violent, opportunistic, and acted more in favor of adventurism than communism. Mao essentially let Party control loose itself to the hands of the cultural revolution, and even began to remove Party officials in opposition to the revolution such as Liu Shaoqi, who was originally to be named as Mao’s successor.

The cultural revolution underwent three primary stages. The first stage was the “anti-intelligence” stage in which the youth spread to combat the intelligentsia. In order to remove what was inherently perceived as “bourgeois education,” lessons in school were stopped to large extents and the focus of all daily activity shifted to the cultural revolution and praising Mao’s brilliance. It was then in the second phase of the cultural revolution in which Mao claimed that the bourgeoisie was within the Party itself and that the Party’s administration must be overthrown. As a result, terror and violence broke out on large scales, without any control from the Party because quite simply, the Party was ruined through Mao’s actions. Mao also failed to realize that he himself let the bourgeoisie exist within the Party, choosing to allow revisionists and “capitalist roaders” such Xiaoping to remain in power, and to allow the bourgeoisie to control communes as managers, allowing the bourgeoisie to receive 25% of profits from workers. Four out of seventeen members of the Politburo, including Mao, survived the cultural revolution. These members were seen as enemies of the people for their opposition. Next, in the third stage of the cultural revolution Mao finally realized the nature of the beast. He began to divide the masses into smaller groups and send them to the countrysides, shifting the power into the peasantry. This then allowed for the peasantry to become a more dominant force in numerous aspects of China’s infrastructure, including agriculture and science, and the peasantry even began to control the labor of the youth groups that had once been active in the cultural revolution. Mao also is noted for utilizing the military in 1967 to further gain control of the situation, as he often did when feeling threatened. Even with the obvious failures of the cultural revolution, Mao still stubbornly promoted it and it was not until 1976, Mao’s death, when the cultural revolution truly ended. Mao claimed to officially have ended the cultural revolution in 1969 but in reality it was extended much longer. Then after Mao’s death, the Gang of Four were perceived as counter-revolutionaries and were removed from power and jailed by Guofeng and Xiaoping, who were ironically enough spared and chosen as successors by Mao himself. Capitalism then began to restore itself in China, and whatever socialistic bases Mao had developed began to crumble. We see therefore that the cultural revolution was never an instrument of achieving socialism, or the dictatorship of the proletariat, but of reducing every member of society to brainlessly obeying Mao Tse-Tung thought. The cultural revolution exposed the revisionism of Mao, and his total lack of understanding of Marxism; at no point where the teachings of Marx or Lenin followed or spread during the cultural revolution. It remained not a revolution, but a liquidation of Marxism.

In Imperialism and Revolution by Enver Hoxha, Hoxha states that the very name of “cultural revolution” was inaccurate. “In our Party’s opinion, this name was not accurate, since, in fact, the movement that had burst out in China was a political, not a cultural movement. But the main thing was the fact that neither the party nor the proletariat were in the leadership of this ‘reat proletarian revolution’. This grave situation stemmed from Mao Tse-Tung’s old anti-Marxist concepts of underestimation of the leading role of the proletariat and overestimation of the youth in the revolution. Mao wrote: “What role did the Chinese young people begin to play since the ‘May 4th Movement’? In a way they began to play a vanguard role – a fact recognized by everybody in our country except the ultra-reactionaries. What is a vanguard role? It means taking the lead… Thus the working class was left on the sidelines, and there were many instances when it opposed the red guards and even fought them. Our comrades, who were in China at that time, have seen with their own eyes factory workers fighting the youth. The party was disintegrated. It was liquidated, and the communists and the proletariat were totally disregarded. This was a very grave situation.”

Of course in reference to Hoxha, Maoists like to whine that Hoxha himself supported the cultural revolution and saw Mao as a great Marxist-Leninist. In those regards Hoxha clearly responds: “Our Party defended the fraternal Chinese people, the cause of the revolution and socialism in China, and not the factional strife of anti-Marxist groups, which were clashing and fighting with one another, even with guns, in order to seize power.

The course of events showed that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was neither a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and in particular, not in the least proletarian. It was a palace Putsch on an all-China scale for the liquidation of a handful of reactionaries who had seized power.

Of course, this Cultural Revolution was a hoax. It liquidated both the Communist Party of China, and the mass organizations and plunged China into new chaos. This revolution was led by non-Marxist elements, who have been liquidated through a military putsch staged by other anti-Marxist and fascist elements.”

Hoxha then states: “In our press Mao Tsetung has been described as a great Marxist-Leninist, but we never used and never approved the definitions of the Chinese propaganda which described Mao as a classic of Marxism-Leninism, and “Mao Tsetung thought” as its third and higher stage. Our Party has considered the inflation of the cult of Mao Tsetung in China to be incompatible with Marxism-Leninism.”

When Hoxha himself carried out a cultural-revolution it occurred in a much different, and much more successful manner than the Chinese revolution as well. Finally, in regards to the notion of class struggle continuing to exist in socialism, it was never Mao who developed this idea, and Maoists continually like to give credit where it is wrongly due. It was Stalin who originally theorized this, in his theory of aggravation of class struggle under socialism. But Stalin recognized the ultra-leftism of Mao’s cultural revolution and the immaturity and anti-Marxist stances taken from Maoism as well.

New Democracy: Maoism states that socialism can only be built through collaboration of all classes and parties via new democracy; a new democratic regime with such wrongful misconceptions based on “coexistence” and non-Marxist teaching. New democracy undermines the vanguard Marxist-Leninist party, undermines the proletarian dictatorship, and allows the bourgeoisie to remain in power. Dictatorship of the proletariat let alone socialism can never exist without strong leadership from the vanguard party; such political pluralism of Maoism is therefore detrimental to socialism, and once again an inherently ultra-leftist conception. Alliance with the bourgeoisie is alliance with anti-Marxism, and this alliance does nothing to strengthen socialism. New democracy and Maoism inevitably conclude that bourgeois ideology exists eternally and therefore should be given the possibility to “blossom like a hundred flowers.” And of course as it turns out, Mao’s attempts of new democracy never caused beautiful flowers to grow, but merely to “enable the bourgeois wasps to circulate freely and release their venom (Hoxha).” In fact, Mao’s allowance of bourgeois into the CCP was one of the very reasons for the cultural revolution. Combining the cultural revolution and new democracy we see cycles in Maoism. First there is a period of “great harmony” then great disorder, then the cycle repeats, given the incorrect and revisionist nature of Maoism. Maoism’s theories of revolution (e.g. new democratic stages of development) therefore boil down to metaphysics rather than dialectical materialism of Marxism. Mao treats the revolutionary process as an endless process, and as a result it’s no wonder there are the occasional quasi-Trotskyist Maoists that are able to demonstrate just how perverse Maoism is capable of being. Maoism does not realize the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead Maoism attempts to form itself on the basis of petty-bourgeois ideology; “class collaboration” in what can only be described as a “hybrid state.” Some Maoists will claim that Marx himself was petty-bourgeois and became a “class traitor,” and then became a revolutionary, which they use as “proof” that there can be collaboration with the petty-bourgeois. However, Marxist-Leninists don’t necessarily claim that members of the petty-bourgeois can’t accept Marxism, we merely reject the notion of collaboration; dictatorship of the proletariat, not dictatorship of the petty-bourgeois. Marxism-Leninism seeks a well disciplined and educated vanguard party to educate and lead the people, but attempting to give the petty-bourgeois this position is merely liberalism. Stalin noted that the Communist Party is the most advanced detachment of the proletariat, and so denying the Party their true influence results in failure. New democracy also gave a high amount of power to the peasantry, which is grounded in opposition to Marxism, which states that only through a strong leadership of the proletariat can the peasantry gain proper education. The peasantry are utilized as an ally of the proletariat when necessary, but to rely almost solely as them as Maoism does is nonsense. New Democracy turned out to be nothing more than a state-capitalist nightmare.

Three Worlds Theory: According to Mao, the USA and the post-Stalin Soviet Union represented the first world, imperialist states. The second world represented other, lesser imperialist states in their spheres of influence and the third world represented all non-imperialist countries. The first and second world exploit the third world through imperialism, and as a result the working class of the first and second world are “bought out” by the bourgeoisie and raised by imperialism, and thus according to Maoist Third Worldists, socialist revolution can not occur in the first and second world countries; there is no proletariat in the first and second worlds. The entire conception of the three worlds theory was merely justification for Mao’s attempt to gain control over the third world countries surrounding China. Some Maoist Third Worldists even extended this further and claim that there can be no White proletariat, which merely leads to ultra-leftism and radically false perceptions of class struggle. The Maoist Third Worldists assert that those of the third world countries are more strongly likely to make revolutions, and as a result “choke” imperialism. It is true that revolution in third world countries does in fact weaken imperialism, as actually noted by Stalin and Lenin, but the belief that only the third world countries are capable of revolution, that the proletariat is merely a second-rate force, and especially the belief that there is no white proletarian force is absurd. The three worlds theory is merely a counter-revolutionary and chauvinist theory that divides class struggle and is anti-Marxist. Marx stated that the only true division of capitalist society is the exploiting and exploited; the three worlds theory ignores the Marxist analysis of exploitation and claims that simply because a first world worker benefits from imperialism he is not a proletariat, even despite his relation to the means of production, and despite the fact that he himself is also a wage-slave. The very claim that there are “three worlds” is inherently racist and based on metaphysics; capitalistic reactionary belief. Mao’s three world theory ultimately claims that class struggle does not exist in any country, or simply it is blind to class struggle because it judges countries and even people in relation to bourgeois political concepts and economic development.

“To divide the world in three means failure to recognize the characteristics of the epoch, to impede the advance of the proletariat and the peoples towards the revolution and national liberation, to impede their struggle against American imperialism, Soviet social-imperialism, capital and reaction in every country and in every corner of the world. The theory of ‘three worlds’ advocates social peace, class conciliation, and tries to create alliances between implacable enemies, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the oppressed and the oppressors, the peoples and imperialism. It is an attempt to prolong the life of the old world, the capitalist world, to keep it on its feet precisely by seeking to extinguish the class struggle. But the class struggle, the struggle of the proletariat and its allies to take power and the struggle of the bourgeoisie to maintain its power can never be extinguished. This is an irrefutable truth and no amount of empty theorizing about the “worlds”, whether the “first world”, the “non aligned world”, the third world, the nonaligned world, or the umpteenth world, can alter this fact. To accept such a division, means to renounce and abandon the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin on classes and the class struggle” (Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and Revolution).

People’s War: Maoism states that in order to achieve a successful revolution, the vanguard must be aware of the needs of the masses, and their needs must be factored into how the revolution takes place. By meeting the needs of the people, the revolution therefore becomes a revolution by, and for the people. According to Mao, people’s war, often as guerrilla warfare, undergoes three stages. In the first stage, the revolutionary forces begin mobilizing in remote areas in order to establish its base. Once the movement is able to gain more momentum, it continues to establish other bases throughout the area, its influence is spread throughout the countrysides, gaining support through reforms and revolutionary activity. The third stage is then to capture small cities, then larger cities, then finally take on the entire country and the bourgeoisie, all meanwhile backed with extremely high “approval ratings” by the masses.

Historically, and even in more modern situations, people’s war has relied extensively on the peasantry, however. The proletariat is the only force capable of fully leading the revolution; the peasantry is merely a valuable ally. Hoxha criticized Mao’s conception of a peoples war for having the revolution occur in the countrysides first and then the peasants capturing the cities, for he saw this process as cementing power for the peasantry and not the proletariat. The Marxist-Leninist approach of revolution therefore is an uprising that occurs simultaneously with the cities and countrysides, which worked out well in Russia and Albania. Therefore Mao’s protracted people’s war would become a longer process than necessary, and would reject essential components of revolution. Hoxha furthermore stressed that the people themselves train in using weapons in order to defend the country, and therefore military ranks were abolished, arms were distributed, and so forth. Ultimately, people’s war as a tactic for revolution is not supported by Marxist-Leninists (those who reject Maoism, anyway) but only as a method of self-defense (as utilized by Hoxha).

“In accord with the concrete conditions of a country and the situations in general, the armed uprising may be a sudden outburst or a more protracted revolutionary process, but not, an endless one without perspective, as advocated by Mao Tsetung’s ,”theory of protracted people’s war”. If you , compare the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin on the revolutionary armed insurrection with Mao’s theory on -people’s war-, the anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist, anti-scientific character of this theory becomes clearly apparent. The Marxist-Leninist teachings on the armed insurrection are based on the close combination of the struggle in the city with that in the countryside under the leadership of the working class and its revolutionary party. Being opposed to the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution, the Maoist theory considers the countryside as the only base of the armed insurrection and neglects the armed struggle of the working masses in the town. It preaches that the countryside must keep the city, which is considered as the stronghold of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, besieged. This is an expression of distrust in the working class, the negation of its hegemonic role. While adhering unwaveringly to the teachings of Marxism-Leninism on the violent revolution as a universal law, the revolutionary party of the working class is resolutely opposed to adventurism and never plays with armed insurrection. In all conditions and circumstances, it carries out an unceasing revolutionary struggle and activity in various forms, in order to prepare itself and the masses for the decisive battles in the revolution, for the overthrow of the rule of the bourgeoisie with revolutionary violence. But only when the revolutionary situation has fully matured does it put armed insurrection directly on the order of the day and take all the political, ideological, organizational and military measures to carry it through to victory” (Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and Revolution).

Mass Line: The mass line makes analysis of what the people need, what is on their minds, and so forth, and then takes those needs and gives a Marxist approach in order to help the masses understand their class interests. The mass line theory is indeed Marxist, but the problem is that Maoists seem to attribute the theory in it’s entirety to Mao. All Marxists have supported the same ideas, and the very idea of going to the masses can be attributed as early on as Marx himself.

And so where do Maoists currently stand today? One such example of Maoism’s degenerate properties manifest themselves in the RCP, an ultra-leftist organization led by Bob Avakian. Avakian makes numerous errors in his analysis of communism, as well as history, claiming Stalin committed “grievous errors,” mostly in reference to suppression of reactionaries and even to some petty criticisms of socialism in one country. Avakian attributes the theory of socialism in one country completely to Stalin, but this is not the case. Where Stalin was the spearhead in the theory’s development, it originally can be traced back to Vollmar’s theoretical work written in the late 1870s. Avakian then further makes errors, inherently claiming that socialism in one country literally means socialism shall only remain in one country, which is certainly not the case. And in regards to the Third Worldists, only a small portion of groups take the theory to heart including hypocrites such as MSH and MIM, the latter of which nobody takes seriously anyway, having no official Party line. The occasional degenerate Trotskyist is able to find acceptance of some Maoist tendencies as well. And of course when mentioning Maoism one simply has to mention the Nepali Maoist revolutionary activity that has been taking place for years. At this point, revisionism is increasingly rampant within their movement and Dengist stances have now been taken and are more prevalent. Overall, the need for Marxist-Leninists to alliance themselves with Maoists varies dependent on the Maoist. Maoists may praise Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and perhaps even Hoxha, but only the hardliner Maoists have any real worth to themselves.

Marxist-Leninist Analysis of Mao.
Mao’s Library.
Imperialism and Revolution by Enver Hoxha.
Enver Hoxha Collected Works.
Refuting Maoism Third Worldism.
The Variants of Revisionism.

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2 Responses to Marxism-Leninism Versus Maoism

  1. marcuswinter says:

    Absolutely wonderful article. Ideologically perfect and well-written. Effectively sums up the differences between Maoism and Marxism. I haven’t seen an article so excellent in a long, long time!

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