Reiterating Mao’s teachings is one of the essentials in the area of political education as a new generation is joining people’s struggle.
The class struggle question is one of the areas to learn from Mao Tse-tung [also spelled Mao Zedong] [b. December 26, 1893] as now-a-days confusion dominates political position of a group of “progressives” and “anti-imperialists” engaged with mongering “rights” of sects and sub-sects but “forgetting” rights of the entire working people. An amazing group in a conflict-laden reality! So, Mao’s theoretical formulations on the issue of class struggle demand renewed attention.
Mao writes in his famous On Practice: “In class society, […] every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.” And, he emphatically restated in 1942: “Our stand is that of the proletariat and of the masses.” (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art)
Mao never imagined that class struggle in China will subside after the victory of the people’s armed struggle in the country. He unequivocally said in 1957: “In China, [….] [t]he class struggle is by no means over. The class struggle […] between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will continue to be long and tortuous and at times will even become very acute. […] In this respect, the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism, is still not really settled. (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People, henceforth CHC)
Even, years before making the above observation, he specified the reality as he said in 1949: “After the enemies with guns have been wiped out, there will still be enemies without guns; they are bound to struggle desperately against us, and we must never regard these enemies lightly. If we do not now raise and understand the problem in this way, we shall commit the gravest mistakes. (Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China)
In the same year, he again alerted in his opening address at the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference: “The imperialists and domestic reactionaries will certainly not take their defeat lying down and they will struggle to the last ditch. After there is peace and order throughout the country, they will still engage in sabotage and create disturbances in various ways and will try every day and every minute to stage a comeback. This is inevitable, beyond all doubt, and under no circumstances must we relax our vigilance.”
Mao said: “After the basic victory of the socialist revolution in our country, there are still a number of people who vainly hope to restore the capitalist system and fight the working class on every front, including the ideological one.” (CHC)
He specifically said: “It will take a long period to decide the issue in the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in our country. The reason is that the influence of the bourgeoisie and of the intellectuals who come from the old society will remain in our country for a long time to come, and so will their class ideology. If this is not sufficiently understood, or is not understood at all, the gravest mistakes will be made and the necessity of waging the struggle in the ideological field will be ignored. (CHC)
Mao’s warning in 1957 was: “In our country bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology, anti-Marxist ideology will continue to exist for a long time. [….] In the ideological field, the question of who will win in the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie has not been really settled yet. We still have to wage a protracted struggle against bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology. It is wrong not to understand this and to give up ideological struggle. All erroneous ideas, all poisonous weeds, all ghosts and monsters, must be subjected to criticism; in no circumstance should they be allowed to spread unchecked. However, the criticism should be fully reasoned, analytical and convincing, and not rough, bureaucratic, metaphysical or dogmatic. (“Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work”)
In 1962, Mao said: “never forget class struggle.” (Speech delivered at the 10th plenary session of eighth central committee of the Chinese Communist Party.)
In all these statements Mao was reiterating one of the basic principles of Marxism. “The question of the class struggle”, writes Lenin, “is one of the fundamental questions of Marxism. [….] Every class struggle is a political struggle. [….] Marxism recognises a class struggle as fully developed, ‘nation-wide’, only if it does not merely embrace politics but takes in the most significant thing in politics — the organisation of state power. [….] [T]he liberals, when the working-class movement has grown a little stronger, dare not deny the class struggle but attempt to narrow down, to curtail and emasculate the concept of class struggle. Liberals are prepared to recognize the class struggle in the sphere of politics, too, but on one condition — that the organisation of state power should not enter into that sphere. It is not hard to understand which of the bourgeoisie’s class interests give rise to the liberal distortion of the concept of class struggle. [….] The bourgeoisie ‘want’ to curtail the class struggle, to distort and narrow the conception and blunt its sharp edge. The proletariat ‘wants’ this deception exposed. The Marxist wants whoever undertakes to speak of the class struggle of the bourgeoisie in the name of Marxism to expose the narrowness, the selfish narrowness, indeed, of the bourgeois conception of the class struggle, and not merely to quote figures, not merely to go into ecstasies over ‘big’ figures.” (“Liberal and Marxist Conceptions of the Class Struggle”, Collected Works, vol. 19, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1977, emphasis in the original)
China is going through days of economic and political struggles at different levels in different forms in different organizations and organs; and many people-movements in countries keep a keen eye on these developments there in China. A number of these struggles in China have turned/are turning intense and bitter. These are undeniably visible in people’s mobilizations on occasions, and in formulations related to property, legislative, administrative, political, organizational and academic activities. New questions are being raised by developments in the areas mentioned above. There are millionaires and billionaires in the country, and they are joining different political processes. There are working people hard pressed and thrown into jaw of market; and the working people are trying to carry on their political process. It’ll continue; and the seeming equilibrium will be lost. However, it will take price as the struggle will move forward.
Years ago, Edgar Snow asked Mao during an interview: “Youths who heard you lecture at Yenan later learned about revolution in practice but what could be the substitute for youths in China today?” (“Interview with Mao”, New Republic, February 26, 1965)
“Mao said that of course those in China now under the age of 20 had never fought a war and never seen an imperialist or known capitalism in power. They knew nothing about the old society at first hand. Parents could tell them, but to hear about history and to read books was not the same thing as living it.” (ibid.)
Snow questioned further: “You have fundamentally changed the environment in China. Many wonder what the younger generation bred under easier conditions will do. What do you think about it?”
According to Snow, “He also could not know, he said. He doubted that anyone could be sure. There were two possibilities. There could be continued development of the revolution toward Communism, the other possibility was that youth could negate the revolution, and give a poor performance: make peace with imperialism, bring the remnants of the Chiang Kai-shek clique back to the mainland, and take a stand beside the small percentage of counter-revolutionaries still in the country. Of course he did not hope for counter-revolution. But future events would be decided by future generations, and in accordance with conditions we could not foresee. From the long-range view, future generations ought to be more knowledgeable than we are, just as men of the bourgeois-democratic era were more knowledgeable than those of the feudal ages. Their judgment would prevail, not ours. The youth of today and those to come after them would assess the work of the revolution in accordance with values of their own. Mao’s voice dropped away, and he half closed his eyes. Man’s condition on this earth was changing with ever increasing rapidity. A thousand years from now all of them, he said, even Marx, Engels and Lenin, would possibly appear rather ridiculous.” (ibid.)
During the days of people’s armed struggle in China, a manifestation of intensified class struggle, Mao had to repeatedly pay a heavy price. But, he denied relinquishing his proletarian class position. “Mao had mentioned that both his brothers had been killed. His first wife had also been executed during the revolution and their son had been killed during the Korean War. Now he said that it was odd that death had so far passed him by. He had been prepared for it many times but death just did not seem to want him. What could he do? On several occasions it had seemed that he would die. His personal bodyguard was killed while standing right beside him. Once he was splashed all over with the blood of another soldier, but the bomb had not touched him. There had been other narrow escapes.” (ibid.)
None can escape class struggle in respective society. A part of powerful interests now-a-days sometimes pronounce class struggle in their so-called liberal statements and literature, but, in political action, run helter-skelter to escape from it. They fail in their acts of denials as it’s not the dreams and intentions of the powerful interests, but class struggle that determines political actions of all participants in politics. Hence, with bold pronouncements and political position on class struggle, Mao, one of the leaders of the world proletariat, lives in the arena of politics. Mao will live as long as class struggle continues. So, learners in the area of people-movement should look into Mao to carry forward the task of organizing these movements.
Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not yet authored/edited any book dealing with non-earthly issues, and he does neither operate any blog/web site nor any facebook nor similar accounts.