On September 9th the world commemorated the 45th death anniversary of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. His spirit virtually engulfed the entire globe penetrating the hearts of the opressed masses in depth unparalleled by any political leader. His path breaking experiments defined a new epoch in mankind. The era is still that of Lenin’s or that of Imperialism but is Mao who enabled a spark to turn onto a Prairie fire on a global scale, at intensity unparalleled in history. After his death, one got a sensation of the earth shaking, with grief expressed by the oppressed masses of the world at scale not traversed in the last century. Today he is portrayed by the bourgeois Western media as a tyrant or mass murderer .Even revisionist China today run him down greatly. Chairman Mao may be gone, but his spirit still shimmers all over the globe, like an inextinguishable flame.
It was Mao Tse Tung who elevated Marxism Leninism to a higher stage in every sphere. taking it to new height. No Marxist revolutionary after Lenin applied Marxism so creatively, at every juncture faced, taking massline of Leninism to unexplored regions. From the days of 1927 in the Chingkangshan mountains, the Long March in 1935, the anti-Japanese War of 1937-45, the 1942 rectification movement the 1945-49 civil war,the Socialist Education Movement, the Great Leap Forward, the Socialist Education Movement and finally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966-76, he applied Marxist-Leninist dialectics and massline , at a scale unparalleled. Few leaders ever in history displayed as much mastery in penetrating the hearts of the masses, confronting the enemy and understanding the very language or idioms of the masses. Mao gave Marxism-Leninism an Asiatic form. In the ‘Great Debate ‘Mao made one of the most profound critiques of Stalin and the USSR. His critique of Soviet political economy was truly classical ,from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
The great humility of Mao was illustrated throughout his life from submitting to the majority from the 1930’s under Wang Ming ,to accepting Liu Shao Chi as head of state in 1956 and doing his utmost to eradicate his personality cult which was greatly elevated by Lin Biao or rebuking even his own wife Chiang Ching in the Cultural Revolution..The salary he received and most simple house he resided in ,is another ideal example. With utmost discipline Mao submitted to the collective at every stage. At an international level he never displayed a big brothr attitude when addressing leaders of Africa, Latin America or their parts of Asia.
One of Mao’s remarkable contribution was probing into psychology by undertaking thought transformation, which reformed landlords or reactionary intellectuals. Even in the period of the Chinese revolutionary war, he delved into the psyche of the red army soldiers, refuting feudal ideas or customs to the very core.
Politically Mao’s greatest contribution was formulating a new military theory of ‘Protracted Peoples War’, path of ‘New Democratic Revolution” and theory of ‘Continuous Revolution under the dictatorship of the Proletariat’ which he ushered through the Cultural Revolution. In his writing in 1942 Mao chalked out a new strategy for people of the semi-colonial countries where the peasants in the countryside would encircle the cities. Mao was the pioneer in discovering that the peasantry was the main force and rural areas or countryside the main area, in revolutions in third world countries. His sheer genius made him ideologically confront Li Li San’s line that propogated urban putschism or insurrection in cities. Without hi s guidance the Long March from Kiangsi to Yenan in 1935, regarded as the greatest military achievement of the last century, would have been inconceivable. With the skill of a surgeon he instilled democratic practice and functioning within the Communist party and Red Army, initiating major programme of self-rectification. Revolutionary democracy within an army was taken to unprecedented heights. Mao took Leninist mass line to another height in the 1940’s, with regard to inviting criticism from below. During the Hundred flowers campaign he invited even rightist intellectuals to assert their voice. Finally in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Mao took proletarian revolutionary democracy to regions unexplored. Never in a Socialist Society was a revolution undertaken before, with mass movements of unparalleled scale. A striking blow was delivered to the path that was directing China towards capitalism by Liu Shao Chi. Mao planted the seeds of the new Socialist man as noone before. Without his leadership I would never have envisaged such gigantic mass movement to sprout up. It was remarkable how he struck the balance between the army, party and the masses and in every time when the movement looked like de-railing, he put it back on course. Mao rebuked left sectarian depradationary actions of red guards, over intervention of the army, military line of Lin Biao and even deviationist trends of the gang of 4,his very supporters. It was reminiscent of a boat weathering the stormiest of oceans, but not loosing direction.
Mao Tse Tung’s greatest achievements were to eradicate landlordism and capitalism in China, to take production levels of steel to unequalled magnitude in a third world country, to abolish illiteracy completely or even unemployment, to take revolutionary democracy to an unprecedented height, and sow the seeds for revolutionary movements to turn from a spark into a Prairie fire, worldwide.
I strongly refute the analysis made by Rangakayaama in frontier Autumn Number of 2005 on a huge personality cult created on Mao ,and his inability to curb it. In the same light I diasagree with the analysis of Scott Harriosn .in massline.info. However I still recommend them for reading.
WEAKNESSES OF CHAIRMAN MAO
No doubt Chairman Mao had weaknesses and arguably made serious errors. To me it is regrettable that for such a prolonged period he let capitalist roaders to flourish within the party, with figures like Liu Shao Chi still remaining head of state till 1965.I am also critical of his appointing Lin Biao as his successor in 1969, who in the end completely betrayed the Marxist line.
Mao was unable to check the excessive infiltration of the army during the Cultural Revolution, excesses on artists and intellectuals by red guards, prevent dissolution of revolutionary committees or build extensive revolutionary democracy in mass organisations or public bodies.
Mao’s permitting China to become part of United Nations in 1971,remain silent on the toppling of Allende by Pinochet in Chile ,re-instating Deng Xiaoping into the party were a scar or blot on his political career.
In important ways Mao continued with Stalinist tradition. Mao did not explore the realms that Marx forsake, like when dissolving the Shanghai commune and not going beyond perceiving two-line struggle within the party as sufficient for crystallizing revolutionary democracy. Arguably he was too harsh on the revisionists.
On the one hand Mao was unable to extricate China from the Confucian paternalistic traditions which glorified an individual, while on the other he was unable to generate sufficient revolutionary democracy from below.
I strongly believe that Mao was unable to curb factionalism in the party during the Cultural Revolution. I strongly refute the analysis made by Ranganayakamma in frontier Autumn Number of 2005 on a huge personality cult created on Mao ,and his inability to curb it. In the same light I disagree with the analysis of Scott Harriosn .in massline.info. However I do profess that there were errors in practice of massline.
Historians need to analyse the formula which enabled the right to triumph or usurp power in China, shortly after Mao’s death. Analysis must also delve into how a serious movement on Maoist lines has not germinated in China for over 4 decades.
It is significant today that there are groups in China still upholding the policies of Chairman Mao and strong opponents of the current regime. Countless demonstrations have been staged by workers, peasants and youth, supporting Mao’s line, with agitators often been arrested.
Today all Marxists must unconditionally in the very womb launch a striking blow on all propaganda distorting Mao. I can’t forget the programmes worldwide, commemorating Mao’s birth centenary, particularly in India.
Today imperialism or capitalism is facing its gravest crisis, and we have to resurrect Mao’s formulations, especially in context of the third world. We have to take into consideration the new forms of infiltration of capital or mechanization and cannot mechanically adhere to the classic semi-feudal, semi-colonial thesis. Party or army building cannot mechanically copy the Chinese experience. Even in third world countries in revolutionary war, there has to be greater fusion or links of the workers with peasants and urban areas with rural areas.
Lin Biaoist trends prevail which uphold only the proletariat of the 3rd word as revolutionary which has to be combated. In the past the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement caused havoc by prematurely calling for a Communist International, in contrary to the approach of CPC and Mao earlier. We must also refute all tendencies that treat Maoism as an independent entity, and not an integral part of Marxism-Leninism. Those who claim that Maoism is a rupture from Leninism are distorting the very essence of Chairman Mao’s ideology.
I hope a further study is undertaken on the aspect of massline, particularly during the Cultural Revolution.
PROGRESSIVE WRITERS ON CHAIRMAN MAO TSE TUNG
I recommend everyone to read ‘Mao Tse Tung Immortal Contributions’ by Bob Avakian , ‘On Maoism’ by Sashi Prakash ,’Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism ‘by Joma Sison and ‘On Mao Tse Tung Thought ‘by Harbhajan Sohi. “Did Mao kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward” by Joseph Ball ,’On the role of Mao Zedong’ by William Hinton ,Scoot Harrison ‘On Mao’s concept of massline and some misconceptions’ and ‘What is Maoism”by Bernard D Mello. Even bourgeois writers like Dick Wilson ,Stuart Schram ,Felix Greene ,Lee Fegion or Edgar Snow held Mao Tse Tung in the highest esteem. I recommend everyone to read their bios or portrayals of Mao. Today in my view the most outstanding or sound analysis from a Marxist perspective on Maoism is made by Chairman Joma Sison..The best essay on Mao Tse Tung thought after 1976 is written by late Comrade Harbhajan Sohi. I strongly refute the analysis made by Ranganayakamma in ‘frontier Autumn Number ‘of 2005 on a huge personality cult created on Mao ,and his inability to curb it. In the same light I disagreed with the analysis of Scott Harrison .in massline.info. However I still recommend them for reading.
Bob Avakian’s work ‘Mao Tse Tung’s Immortal Contributions” is classical, most dialectically summarizing how Mao was the greatest Marxist of his era. He projects Mao’s contributions in philosophy and political theory The very heart of massline is touched in all spheres and how in every way the teachings of Mao are an integral part of those of Lenin and Marx. The book illustrates the very subtle aspects of all stages from the pre-revolutionary period to the Cultural Revolution. He covers Revolution in Colonial Countries, Revolutionary War and Military line, Political economy Economic policy and Socialist Reconstruction, Philosophy, Culture and the Superstructure, Continuing the Revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and why Mao Tse Tung was the greatest revolutionary of his time. In every chapter he dealt with how Marx and Lenin tackled all those aspects and how Mao’s teachings and practice crystallised them to a new height. in a most symmetrical manner. To me of most importance is the chapters on Revolutionary war and military line, Revolution under dictatorship of the proletariat Political economy, Socialist, economic policy and construction, and Philosophy. With the articulation of a sculptor he link successive chapters. His notes are most insightful on Fundamental principles of Mao’s military line, Economic policy in liberated areas, Two Roads after Liberation, Learning from Negative experience of Soviets, Theory f Knowledge Universality and particularity, Cultural Revolution and he Continuous Struggle, Chinese analysis of Stalin, Cultural Revolution,All –round dictatorship of the proletariat, Magnificient achievements of the Cultural Revolution, Contributionof Mao Tse Tung.
Avakian feels that Mao towards the end was unable to check the trend that made the CCP treat the Soviet Union as the greater danger and treat the Chinese Revolution as a virtual prism for all nations to evaluate revolutionary line
Chairman Joma Sison most surgically sums and links all aspects previously unexplored by Mao.“In the course of his leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC)and the Chinese revolution, Mao together with his Chinese comrades had the modesty of being averse to glorifying himself by the term Maoism. In the literature of the Chinese CP, you will find summary references to his contributions in ideology and policy as “Mao’s thinking” and “Mao’s thought”. It was only in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that “Mao Zedong thought” graduated to “Mao Zedong Thought (with a capital T).
Regarded as Mao’s most important achievement to constitute the third stage of the development of Marxist theory and practice was not his theory and practice of protracted people’s war but that of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution to combat revisionism, prevent capitalist restoration and consolidate socialism. (Considered as the first stage in the development of Marxism was the formulation of its fundamental principles and critique of free competition capitalism by Marx and Engels. And the second stage of Leninism was the further development of Marxism by Lenin in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution).
Before Mao died, he had achieved all theoretical and practical contributions that he was capable of in order to achieve the third stage in the development of Marxism. But the CPC called this the stage of Mao Zedong Thought. In the early years of the GPCR there was even an overenthusiastic notion within the CPC that after the solution of the problem of modern revisionism “imperialism was heading towards total collapse and socialism was marching towards world victory. But Mao himself cautioned in 1969 that it would take another 50 to 100 years to reach that desired goal.”
hey summed up the great achievements of Mao under the term Mao Zedong Thought, such as the following:
- In philosophy, Mao elaborated on and developed Lenin’s identification of the unity of opposites (divide into two) as the most fundamental law of materialist dialectics. He did so in such essays as On Contradiction, On Practice, Where Do Correct Ideas Come From? and On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People. He applied materialist dialectics in gaining higher knowledge from the dialectics of theory and practice, in carrying out the new democratic revolution through people’s war and undertaking socialist revolution and construction.
- In political economy, Mao had the advantage of learning positive and negative lessons from Stalin’s policy of socialist industrialization and agricultural cooperation, the revisionist reversal of socialist revolution and construction and leading self-reliant socialist revolution and construction by using the basic and heavy industries as the lead factor, agriculture as the base ofthe economy and light industry as the bridging factor under conditions of imperialist blockade, revisionist betrayal and other adversities.
- In social science, Mao developed further the theory and practice of the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution. But his most important achievement in social science was in recognizing the problem of modern revisionism and the continuing fact of classes and class struggle in socialist society and in adopting solutions. He put forward a series of campaigns to uphold, defend and advance socialism, such as the anti-Rightist campaign, the Great Leap Forward. the socialist education movement and ultimately the cultural revolution as he faced greater resistance of the revisionists and capitalist roaders.
- In party building, Mao adopted and developed further Leninist teaching on building the proletarian vanguard party. He excelled at developing the rectification movement as the campaign for educating the Party cadres and members in Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, as the method for identifying the errors and weaknesses and for saving the patient from the disease and and as the way for the Party to better serve the masses, mobilize them, let them acquire power and come under their supervision.
- In people’s war, Mao had already demonstrated how the toiling masses of workers and peasants could defeat an enemy that was superior in military equipment and trained personnel through the strategic line of protracted people’s war by encircling the cities from the countryside in semicolonial and semifeudal countries. By winning the new democratic revolution through people’s war, the revolutionary proletariat and the people gain the power to proceed to socialist revolution.
- The theory and practice of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through the GPCR was regarded as the greatest epoch-making contribution of Mao. It was aimed at combatting modern revisionism, preventing capitalist restoration and consolidating socialism.’
I advise all cadres to study Joma Sison’s writing son Maoism commemorating birth centenary in December, 1993.
Sashi Prakash in booklet ‘On Maoism’underlines how it was the concept of Cultural Revolution that enabled Mao to take Leninism to a new qualitative stage. He praises every phase handled by Mao, highlighting the great achievements. Most dialectically he projects the distinct features of Mao’s contribution .However he is critical of the Great debate being deferred ,the compromise with the national bourgeoisie during the Socialist Revolution, the glorifying of the Chins party as being the only correct one , the choice of Lin Biao as a successor and the legalising of revolutionary committees. No doubt this work has glaring weaknesses in rejecting the 1963 General line of the CPC as well as concept of people’s war for third world countries.
In Red Star over China and Edgar Snow’s China Edgar Snow portrayed how Mao’s leadership gave the vey backbone for the party and red army to crystallise He vividly illustrated how Mao knitted together scattered elements to build a guerrilla army to confront the enemy and was at the very centre when land distribution campaigns were launched. If one reads ‘Other Side of the River’ ,’Red Star over China’ or ‘The Long Revolution’ we get an insight how in essence Mao elevated revolutionary democracy to unprecedented heights. Snow reflects how red terror methods were deployed as a virtual necessity in the revolution. The books reveal the inner spiritual change of the Chinese people. In ‘Other Side of the River’ at very ground level he illustrates how in every sphere China made big strides with Marxism touching their soul. In the Long Revolution Snow demonstrates how revolutionary democracy penetrated unexplored areas, during the Cultural Revolution.
I praise the appraisal of late Chairman Gonzalo,but I feel he gives Maoism a different meaning as what the CCP formulated in 1966.Today there is a most ecclectical trend that derides the significance of the line of protracted war or General line of Communist movement advocated by CPC in 1963.This trend treats Gonzalo thought as a higher stage of Maoism.
Even if not Marxist Dick Wilson’s biography ‘The Great Helmsman’ illustrated how Mao progressively transformed the very soul of China and morally gave a new dimension to revolutionary democracy. The essence of Mao’s democratic character is brought to the fore and phenomenal achievements.
“Mao Zedong was a great force. In spite of his grim errors, and to some extent because of them. he will be remembered a s one of the giants of our century. To the Chinese, he will remain a titanic figure. For others, he offered a unique example by de- Europeanizing Marxism: In Mao’s thought, Marxist ideology a n d Chinese civilization met and transformed one another. At the center of that transformation stood the peasantry-ignored by Western Marxism and despised by urban China, but loved by Mao. (The evidence suggests, however, that Mao the Chinese revolutionary had originally seized upon Marxism less a s a goal than a s a useful-and fashionable-weapon. In his guerrilla days, he was inspired less by abstract theories of communism than by the swashbuckling adventures of the Robin Hood-like heroes of old Chinese sagas such as Romance o f the Three King- doms; in the Selected Works, only 4 percent of literary references a r e to Marx a n d Engels, against 2 2 percent to Confucian sources .)
Mao began by offering his party a brilliant leadership that finally overcame all its foes and brought him to the throne of China’s imperial dynasties. Then, for a few years, he presided over a regime that pursued a broadly Soviet model of com-
munism with only minor modification~. Finally, during the last two decades, he broke out of the Soviet harness and endeavoured to pull China up by its bootstraps using revolutionary tech- niaues of unnaralled scope and scale.”
His subtly altering policy toward the thorny question of land reform during the 1920s and ’30s was a test case of how discretion may be nurtured by experience. The problem: weigh- ing the political advantages of wholesale land redistribution against the disadvantages of so alienating the landed classes a s to jeopardize the entire local economy. On this issue, which was central to the early Chinese revolution-Mao once told the American reporter Anna Louise Strong that “A people’s war . . . is not decided by taking o r losing a city, but by solving the agrarian problemH-Mao did display on the whole good judg- merit, rarely pushing landowners too hard. Mao’s post-1949 balance sheet is worse, with a string of horrendous mistakes on a huge scale: the Hundred Flowers, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution. Until those campaigns, Mao’s strong points a s a leader out- weighed his weaknesses. His outstanding quality was ingenuity a n d resourcefulness.
“In drawing u p a balance sheet, one has to consider the cost of Maoism. Millions of Chinese died in the various campaigns that Mao pursued after 1949, and millions more suffered injury o r persecution. One of Mao’s sympathetic streaks, of course, was his insistence on the essential corrigibility of class enemies. Endless memorandums went out from his office to the field on how much better i t was to argue a n opponent o r a class enemy, such as a landlord, round to your own way of thinking. That way you would acquire an ally . But few others in the Communist Party were as persuasive a s Mao on this point. (A riveting orator, Mao enlivened his speeches with earthy proverbs and poetic images, few of which survived the bureaucratic editors of Mao’s Selected Works.) And Mao was a realist. He knew the intensity of the political forces he was unleashing in Chinese society. He knew the grim logic of the kind of revolution he was engaged in and recognized that blood would be shed. The question we might now ask is: Were the results really worthwhile? This is something t h a t the Chinese will come to a conclusion about in their own way .”
Earlier on the Long March Dick Wilson wrote “The Long March led the Communists through 11 provinces, over raging rivers and snow‐capped mountain ranges, through swamps and forests. They had to fight against Nationalist armies as well as the troops of provincial warlords, local bandits and hostile tribesmen. At one point where water was unknown they could survive only by drinking their own urine. Soon after they began their odyssey, the collapse of
Background On China most of the other scattered Communist bases in various parts of China left on the shoulders Of Mao and his colleagues on the Long March the burden of the survival of Communism in China. As Mao’s men disappeared from view in the impenetrable interior of Western China, abutting on Tibet, many observers assumed that Chiang Kaishek had won his civil war and that Communism was decisively beaten in China—possibly in Asia as a whole.
But when the ragged remnants of Mao’s band approached Yenan, in the shadow of the Great Wall in Northern China, at the end of October, 1935, the tide had unexpectedly turned. Mao’s leadership, acting upon the discipline and dedication which the rigors of the Long March had forged, transformed the Communist movement into the driving force which succeeded, 14 years later, in taking over the entire country and pushing the Nationalists into the sea. The Long March thus changed in character from a desperate retreat to a prelude of victory.”
Very vividly Wilson portrayed Mao’s first meeting with Stalin and it’s consequences in term sof impact internationally.
Dick Wilson also projected the final years of Mao’s life very illustratively, covering Mao’s relations with Lin Biao, Chou En Lai and Chiang Ching.Unlike many critiques he expresses how Mao was loyal to Chou till the bitter end. Wilson felt that Chou En Lai paid more loyalty to Mao than anyone else.
Wilson narrated how much Lin Biao was at variance with Mao’s thinking as well as of Chen Boda.Great justice was given to the root of the Mao-Lin conflict. Mao was quoted of listing his 10 big struggles over line, including that of the latest Lin Biao.
He also portrayed how Mao curtailed his wife, and other members of the gang of 4.Very significantly he quoted Mao to wife Chiang Ching “Nothing will be gained by seeing me. The books are by Marx and Lenin. You do not read books by Marx and Lenin, and you do not read my books. There is no point in seeing me. You have made too many enemies. It is lucky that I am stil around. What will you do after I am dead?Why can’t you be more considerate of me?I do envy the Chou en Lai marriage. You never implement my instructions. There are over two hundred members in the party Central Commitee,you must talk with them and take action. You must know your own ability People are dissatisfied with you. Don’t you know that?”
Mao stated about Chiang Ching”She doesn’t speak for me, she speaks only for herself. I am opposed to the gang of four comrades clustering together.”Before his comrades Moa told Chiang Ching”It is hard to mend your ways. Stop slapping hats on others at will.”
Coverage of important value was given to a meeting of Chairman Mao with Edgar Snow. It dealt with American relations with China and China’ s internal progress. Wilson also reported how Mao told Edgar Snow how his personality cult had been exaggerated, but t was very hard to overcome it. Mao recounted how he eliminated or stripped himself of the title of Great Leader, Great Supreme Commander, Great Helmsman and only retained the title of ‘Great Teacher.”
The main drawback on writers like Wilson was their unbalanced views on the Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural revolution, failing to view or respect the situation Moa and China faced or place it within a Marxist perspective. In Wilson’s view Mao underestimated democratic values. and prolonged the despotic Chinese tradition. “Mao’s post-1949 balance sheet is worse, with a string of horrendous mistakes on a huge scale: the Hundred Flowers, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. Until those campaigns, Mao’s strong points a s a leader out- weighed his weaknesses. His outstanding quality was ingenuity a n d resourcefulness.”
BBC commentator Hugh Purcell rated Mao as the greatest statesman of the last century. Stuart Schram in his biography portrayed how Mao penetrated the hearts of the Chinese people, traversed unexplored regions and created transformation, on an unprecedented scale. In a biographical book he upholds Mao’s contribution towards revolutionary democracy as one reaching an unscaled height. In Purcell’s view Mao was a progressive dictator. He is critical of excesses or methods of terror but praises the creativity of the production methods .Purcell felt Mao took revolutionary democracy to a higher regions than in Russia. Very judiciously he portrays ‘Moa and the People’s Communes” as well as ‘Mao and the People’s Will.”
Stuart Schram is critical of Mao’s red book treated like a Koran or Bible, devoid of any of the integral democratic elements in Marxism..He is also critical of CPC looking at future of world revolution only through Chinese experience.Neverthless he praised the building of Communes, the methods of undertaking land reforms the three antis and five antis campaign ,confronting corruption. and the the thought transformation campaigns. In Schrams’ view Mao sinified Marxism, giving it an Asiatic shape.
Lee Fegion in “Mao, a re-interpretation” projected how Mao left no stone unturned in building people’s genuine democratic revolutionary power and get rid of a firmly entrenched bureaucracy. In his view even in the Great Leap forward Mao’s ushering of Peoples communes was a most progressive move. It is pertinent that al also make pertinent criticism.Still he was critical of the Great Leap Forward being conducted in a most haphazard way However he complemented Mao for demarcating from the Soviet or Stalinist model and undertaking decentralisation. In my view this is Mao’ s best biography by a non Marxist in recent decades.
Quoting author Lee Fegion in ‘Mao-a Re-Interpretation’, ‘The speed of China’s economic growth from 1949-1966 was unprecedented in history. Amazingly the production doubled from 1966-76.The rate of Growth CPC achieved in the Cultural Revolution era far exceeded that of the first ten years of Deng Xiapoing’s years, growing at 8 percent. Mao took the Chinese govt. Out of business and controlled the day to day lives of the peasantry. The reason for the substantial growth was that during the Cultural Revolution, Mao reverted to giving priority to rural industrialisation. Local governments were given the right to manage their independent finances. Mao wanted more financial and investment decisions to be made by the local government, not the central authorities. He made factories increasingly self-reliant, subject only to the demands of the party, and the administrative organs of their locality or region. Central control was not completely dissolved; broad decisions still followed party policies dictated from above. Mao’s attacks on the bureaucracy, his efforts to level distinctions between mental and manual labours, and his empowerment of workers and education of peasants made the distribution of income in China among the most balanced in the world, surpassing that of every Asian country. Mao succeeded in ousting more than 70 % of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commitee, reducing and decentralising the Soviet Style bureaucracy that was dominating China. Mao had deep conviction that the bureaucracy entrapped China. Mao broke the unity of the Communist party, by attacking the system of consensus under which the party had built it’s rule, during the previous decades. He was convinced that corruption had its roots in bureaucratism. Mao’s method of dealing with the bloated bureaucracy were unlike Stalin’s, never executed from above ,but from below by the red guards who confronted it from below, promoting de-centralisation of the government. ‘Lower level education was altered by Mao’s Cultural Revolution, with examination system abolished. Specialized Agricultural Schools were abolished as well as technical training schools. However elementary school enrolment increased from 116.21 million in 1965 to 150.1 million in 1976.Middle school enrolment grew from in 1965 from 9.34 million to 67.8 million in 1976.’
‘In October, 1967 after re-opening the universities, allowed admissions to colleges based on recommendations from one’s work unit. It enabled peasant youths to gain a better education than would have been done by the earlier policy.’
‘Mao initiated the formation of red guards who confronted corrupt party officials and the Royalist red guards who were established. Major clashes erupted between the 2 red guard factions. Mao’s efforts virtually dismantled official avenues of communication between bottom and top. Even when Maoist leaders attempted to contact the various red guard groups to give them personal instruction, they struggled. The Central govt could no longer control day to day affairs and new rebel factions formed daily. The situation grew more chaotic when revolutionary red guards attempted to seize power in factories, confronting the workers.’
One of the best writings projecting the truth on Chairman Mao is that of Joseph Ball on ‘Did Mao really kill Million sin the Great Leap forward.”Most brilliantly at the very core he refutes the lies of intellectuals with figures. William Hinton in Monthly Review sum sup ho win essence Mao in every juncture sharpened the weapon of genuine revolutionary democracy.
‘In ‘the Great Famine Frank Dikötter alleges that the Great Leap Forward starved the Chinese masses. This was a complete distortion of history with the book literally twisting facts.Josepb Ball most effectively countered the lies of Dikottter,hitting back at the very root.Quoting writer Joseph Ball on the Great Leap Forward “To read many modern commentators on Mao’s China you would get the impression that Mao’s agricultural and industrial policies led to absolute economic disaster. Even more restrained commentators, such as the economist Peter Nolan 5 claim that living standards did not rise in China, during the post-revolutionary period, until Deng Xiaoping took power. Of course, increases in living standards are not the sole reason for increases in life expectancy. However, it is absurd to claim that life expectancy could have increased so much during the Mao era with no increase in living standards.’
‘For example, it is claimed by many who have studied figures released by Deng Xiaoping after Mao’s death that per capita grain production did not increase at all during the Mao period. But how is it possible to reconcile such statistics with the figures on life expectancy that the same authors quote? Besides which these figures are contradicted by other figures. Guo Shutian, a Former Director of Policy and Law in the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, in the post-Mao era, gives a very different view of China’s overall agricultural performance during the period before Deng’s “reforms.” It is true that he writes that agricultural production decreased in five years between 1949-1978 due to “natural calamities and mistakes in the work.” However he states that during 1949-1978 the per hectare yield of land sown with food crops increased by 145.9% and total food production rose 169.6%. During this period China’s population grew by 77.7%. On these figures, China’s per capita food production grew from 204 kilograms to 328 kilograms in the period in question.’
‘Even according to figures released by the Deng Xiaoping regime, industrial production increased by 11.2% per year from 1952-1976 (by 10% a year during the alleged catastrophe of the Cultural Revolution). In 1952 industry was 36% of gross value of national output in China. By 1975 industry was 72% and agriculture was 28%. It is quite obvious that Mao’s supposedly disastrous socialist economic policies paved the way for the rapid (but inegalitarian and unbalanced) economic development of the post-Mao era.’
‘There is a good argument to suggest that the policies of the Great Leap Forward actually did much to sustain China’s overall economic growth, after an initial period of disruption. At the end of the 1950s, it was clear that China was going to have to develop using its own resources and without being able to use a large amount of machinery and technological know-how imported from the Soviet Union.’
‘Although problems and reversals occurred in the Great Leap Forward, it is fair to say that it had a very important role in the ongoing development of agriculture. Measures such as water conservancy and irrigation allowed for sustained increases in agricultural production, once the period of bad harvests was over. They also helped the countryside to deal with the problem of drought. Flood defences were also developed. Terracing helped gradually increase the amount of cultivated area.’
Quoting Scott Harrison in ‘The massline of Mao and some misconceptions
“Even the CCP didn’t fully grasp or completely implement the notion of the mass line that Mao put forth. The proof of that is that Mao had to constantly talk about the mass line, and continually clarify and refine it over the years to combat a large number of misconceptions, both populist-rightist and anti-democratic “left” misconceptions.
The problem though in learning what Mao’s own conception of the mass line is, is that he himself never wrote a complete and final treatise on the subject. He first broached the topic in a major way in his 1943 essay “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership”. In that essay he does bring out the core concept of the mass line in the name he himself was using for it at the time: the leadership method of “from the masses, to the masses”.
But there are many important aspects of the mass line method that Mao did not discuss in that essay. For example, he did not make it clear there that this is not simply repeating to the masses what we hear from the masses in a populist fashion. Later on, in many separate places, he clarified this with his apt analogy of the party as a factory processing the ideas of the masses and turning out a finished product. In doing so he brought out the role of Marxism-Leninism in doing this processing (sifting, winnowing and synthesizing), as well as the role of scientific investigation of the objective situation in doing so.
So the painful fact is that one cannot learn Mao’s full conception of the mass line by reading any one of his essays, or even by reading section XI on the Mass Line of the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (which is the source of the initial conception for most Maoists). The full Maoist conception of the mass line can only be taken directly from him through a systematic study of his writings.”
Quoting William Hinton in “On the Role of Mao Zedong”
“Mao’s proletarian stream, in order to serve the long-term interests of the workers and peasants, had to struggle for a socialist future and the eventual elimination of class exploitation. That Mao truly had the future interests of the common people in mind in struggling for this goal is demonstrated by the crisis and stagnation now pervading large parts of rural China. This is leading to the proletarianization of scores of millions of peasants chronically underemployed on the ubiquitous noodle strips of soil allocated to them by the family responsibility system.
In sharp contrast, representatives of the bourgeoisie in the party, in order to save a future role for themselves, and to save China as a sphere of operation for the bourgeoisie as a class, had to struggle for, at the very least, a prolonged period of mixed economy with an ever widening role for private entrepreneurs leading to a capitalist future. To weight the dice in this direction Deng’s government redeemed scores of millions of dollars worth of bonds once issued to China’s independent entrepreneurs to compensate for government expropriations, bonds on which interest had been paid for ten years prior to their cancellation in l966. Bond redemptions began around 1980.
Can Mao be blamed for the struggle, this split over policy? No. This struggle was built in and inevitable. Initiatives arising on either side had to be challenged and defeated or at least stalemated by the other side. The contest was bitter, protracted, and hard-fought. Tragedies and casualties on both sides were many. Extreme friction between the two class factions contributed hugely to policy failures. No policy, from either side, could be applied without contest.
From the bourgeois side the bitterness was rooted in an inexorable truth: in the long run, just as the peasants of old China could get along without the landlords, but the landlords could not get along without the peasants who laboured; the workers and peasants of revolutionary China could get along without the bourgeoisie, but the bourgeoisie could not get along without the labor of workers and peasants and the surplus value they created. I am not talking here about intellectuals. The working class can win support from and train intellectuals devoted to socialism just as the bourgeoisie can win support from and train intellectuals devoted to capitalism.
To blame Mao, then, for the struggle that ensued and for its outcome is unwarranted, unrealistic, and unhistorical. Mao did what needed to be done given his social base, while Liu did what he had to do given his social base. After a decade of conflict things came to a head in the Cultural Revolution. Mao won some victories early on, but, unfortunately could not consolidate them under the hammer blows of the Liu-Deng counteroffensive reinforced, as it was, by the dead weight, inertia, and tenacity of all the old customs, old habits, old beliefs, and superstitions that made any and all change difficult, not to mention such radical changes as socialist relations of production and a matching socialist superstructure demanded. Mao had the upper hand politically. He was able to speak directly to and mobilize hundreds of millions of peasants and workers. But Liu had the upper hand organizationally because his group, his stream coming from the underground controlled, by virtue of its existing network in l949, the organization of the party nationwide and had the power to appoint, remove, promote, and educate the middle level of cadre throughout the whole country.
I also recommend the work of Bernard De Mello on ‘What is Maoism” in 2009 which has aberrations on aspect of revolutionary line of the Cultural Revolution, but does justice to important contributions of Mao, in the Chinese revolution. Bernard’s concept of radical democracy is ecclectical,diluting cutting edge ideology of dictatorship of the proletariat, but he portrays the elevation of power in the hands of the working class. Even if eclectic Bernard poses important questions on why the setback took place to Maoism in China and no major movement has erupted to challenge the capitalist regime. Significantly he questions t he credibility of mere 2 line struggle within a Communist party or sufficient level of revolutionary democracy from below within a Socialist state, enabling the masses to check the party.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist.Toured India,particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly .An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com