The following resolution was unanimously and enthusiastically passed at an internal conference of the Central Organization of U. S. Marxist-Leninists in March 1979, a conference attended by all comrades working under the discipline of the COUSML: “… the March, 1979 Internal Conference of the COUSML resolutely denounces Mao Tsetung and Mao Tsetung Thought as anti-Marxist-Leninist and revisionist.”
This resolution was the result of a long period of study and discussion inside the organization. In June 1978 the National Committee took up the question of various formulations, such as Mao Tsetung Thought. The National Committee set forth the task of assessing the whole course of the struggle against modern revisionism and of looking into the origins of the theory of “three worlds”. Part of this was the assessment of the role of Mao Tsetung and of the Communist Party of China. The whole COUSML began internal discussions on the assessment of the course of the struggle against modern revisionism following the publication of the July 29th Letter of the CC of the Party of Labor and Government of Albania to the CC of the Communist Party and Government of China.
The COUSML approaches the question of Mao Tsetung and Mao Tsetung Thought from the point of view of the assessment of the whole course and history of the struggle against modern revisionism. The COUSML assesses the course of this struggle solely in order to defend the purity of Marxism-Leninism and to wage the struggle against modern revisionism more powerfully and consistently. It is the struggle against social-chauvinism and the all-round intensification of the struggle against modern revisionism that has resulted in the exposure of Chinese revisionism and Mao Tsetung Thought.
Chinese revisionism presented itself as part of the movement against Khrushchovite revisionism and all its variants. But the facts show that the Communist Party of China did not proceed from the sound positions of Marxism-Leninism in its criticisms of the Soviet revisionists and that the Chinese leadership promoted its own revisionist theories and had a corrosive and disruptive effect on the great historical movement against modern revisionism. Finally Chinese revisionism and Mao Tsetung Thought led China and the Communist Party of China to an utter fiasco when the Chinese “third road” collapsed into social-imperialist warmongering and open alliance with U.S. imperialism.
Right from the start, the COUSML pointed out that the emergence of open social-chauvinism in the form of ”directing the main blow at Soviet social-imperialism” was not an accident, but that it had deep longstanding roots and stemmed from the long corrosion of opportunism inside the Marxist-Leninist movement. In the September 1976 issue of The Workers’ Advocate, the COUSML denounced the alliance of the October League (now the “CP(ML)”) with U.S. imperialism in the article “Mao Tsetung Thought or Social-Chauvinism, A Comment on the October League’s Call for ’Unity of Marxist-Leninists’” (in the title of the article, one should read “Marxism-Leninism” in place of “Mao Tsetung Thought” – at that time we still believed that Mao Tsetung upheld Marxism-Leninism and was fighting against the Chinese revisionists and all modern revisionists). In that article, we pointed to the splittist and liquidationist activities of the diehard OL social-chauvinist leaders right from their work against the youth and student movement of the 1960’s to the present (p. 8). One section of the article was written on the theme that “The OL’s social-chauvinism in the face of the war danger is only a natural outgrowth of their neo-revisionist line on class struggle and proletarian revolution in the U. S.” (p. 33). In The Workers’ Advocate of March 10, 1977, which gives the call “U.S. Marxist-Leninists, Unite in Struggle Against Social-Chauvinism!”, it is stressed that ”The rise of open social-chauvinism is not an accident. Conditions have been prepared for it by the long corrosion of neo-revisionism… inside the Marxist-Leninist movement.” (p. 1) The paper connects the denunciation of the theory of “three worlds” and of open social-chauvinism with the necessity of carrying through a thorough repudiation of Browderism and modern revisionism and with the clarification of political line on the burning questions of the American revolution. Thus the COUSML constantly stressed that the class treason of the “three worlders” and the Klonskyite Pentagon-socialists should not be viewed in isolation, but that the deep roots of the class betrayal should be uncovered and repudiated.
It is the same with Chinese revisionism. The present U.S.-China warmongering alliance and the rule in China of the most fascist elements, such as Teng Hsiao-ping, is not an isolated accident, an unfortunate thunderbolt coming from the unknown. No, Chinese revisionism has its deep roots. In June 1978 the National Committee took up the task of assessing the history of the struggle against modern revisionism and of looking into the origins of the theory of “three worlds”. As a result of this study into the longstanding roots of the theory of “three worlds”, the National Committee came to the conclusion in February 1979 that Mao Tsetung and Mao Tsetung Thought are anti-Marxist-Leninist. It was Mao Tsetung Thought that corroded the Communist Party of China from within, that put forward a number of specific revisionist theories, that negated the universal laws of Marxism-Leninism and that thus provided the basis for the wild factionalism, unprincipled eclecticism, constant zigzags in policy, and the various revisionist groupings within the Communist Party of China. The Communist Party of China put forward the pretext that Mao Tsetung Thought developed in the struggle against modern revisionism, but actually Mao Tsetung Thought springs from the 1930’s as a “Chinese form (revision) of Marxism” while the Communist Party of China vacillated repeatedly in the struggle against Titoite and Khrushchovite revisionism.
The March 1979 Internal Conference of the COUSML unanimously condemned Mao Tsetung and Mao Tsetung Thought. Below we reproduce a section of a speech delivered at the Internal Conference. This extract, edited for publication, outlines the grounds upon which the COUSML condemns Mao Tsetung and Mao Tsetung Thought. The COUSML will continue to deepen the repudiation of Mao Tsetung Thought as part of the crucial struggle against modern revisionism.
I. GENERAL CHARACTERIZATION OF MAO TSETUNG
Mao Tsetung was anti-Marxist-Leninist and revisionist. He began as a progressive revolutionary democrat and he played an important role in the triumph of the Chinese democratic anti-imperialist revolution. But he was an eclectic who opposed the Marxist theses. As the leader of the Communist Party of China, he therefore opposed Marxism-Leninism and was anti-Marxist-Leninist.
His actual theses were eclectic combinations of all sorts of opportunist and revisionist ideas of all trends, and even including ancient Chinese philosophy. He sought to impose this on the Communist Party of China through the theory of developing an “Asian communism”, and he displayed xenophobia towards the rest of the world, including towards the world proletariat. Mao Tsetung Thought and the use by the Chinese Communist Party of the term Mao Tsetung Thought in fact dates back to the 1930’s, and it was developed as a “Chinese form of Marxism”, i.e. a Chinese revision of Marxism. With this “national Marxism” Mao Tsetung tried to take a middle road between imperialism and socialism. But no such road is possible. As a result, damage was done to the liberation movement before 1949 and especially after 1949 when the Chinese revolution was prevented from going over to the socialist stage. Although some measures of socialist transformation did take place, as a result of Mao Tsetung Thought, China did not develop socialism and was kept in a chaotic situation on all fronts. Eventually this third road collapsed altogether and gave rise to capitulation to world imperialism and to the emergence of China as a social-imperialist power. From a force fighting U.S. imperialism, China turned to an alliance with U.S. imperialism. The U.S.-China alliance has been under preparation since 1971, and as part of this Mao Tsetung personally greeted Nixon twice, the second time in 1976 after the fascist war criminal Nixon had fallen from power and even the pretext of the needs of international diplomacy did not exist.
Mao Tsetung Thought has been the basis for all the deviations of the Communist Party of China. It was Mao Tsetung Thought that corroded the Communist Party of China, prevented it from establishing a sound Marxist-Leninist basis and thus provided the basis for all the Chinese revisionist groupings. It is Mao Tsetung Thought that is the basis of “three worlds-ism”.
II. THE ENIGMA OF CHINA
One of the greatest difficulties in assessing the life and work of Mao Tsetung and the line and history of the Chinese Communist Party is that the Communist Party of China has consistently witheld information on the actual state of affairs in China, on the theories of Mao Tsetung and the line of the Communist Party of China, and has developed various ways and forms of creating a great mystery about what was going on in China – in the Party, in the state and in the economy.
One example of this is the case of Lin Piao. When he died, his death was not written about in Peking Review. This was not for reasons of state secrecy, as all sorts of bourgeois visitors were informed of his death. But it never was announced in Party channels. As a result, we upheld that Lin Piao was alive because it was simply unimaginable to us that such a thing would not be mentioned in Party literature and instead simply broadcast to all visiting bourgeoisie. Further consultation has revealed that we weren’t the only Party which had difficulties on this front.
When we began research on China, we ran into this immediately. Even the simplest questions are shrouded in mystery. For example, which units own the land in the Chinese communes? It seems that land and the means of production are owned in China’s countryside by very small units, even smaller than the commune, but discussion on this and on its significance is lacking in Chinese economic literature. What is the actual state of ownership of the means of production, what happened to the bourgeois class, etc., etc.? No discussion of this takes place. We have only found one or two articles that even approach the discussion of such matters. Often the only sources on China are bourgeois sources or by inference.
Party affairs are in a similar shape. The last Party Congress which gave a detailed description of the line of the Party was the Eighth Congress, which was well known as a revisionist Congress. After that, the Congresses do not describe the state of affairs in the Party or the line. Instead one receives various propaganda formulas or even six word quotations from Mao Tsetung quoted out of context. Great debates can be waged on such formulations. Each person is left to put his own meaning into these words. Mao Tsetung Thought is promoted by the Communist Party of China as the Marxism-Leninism of the era, but few writings by Mao Tsetung after 1949 have been officially published.
The theory of two headquarters in the Party is closely related to this veil of mystery. Every crime of the Party is attributed to the bourgeois headquarters on a totally arbitrary basis. Thus it becomes impossible to objectively figure out the line and a full field is left open for rampant speculation.
This mystery and chaos was encouraged by the Chinese Communist Party which went quite far in using elaborate methods to foster it. Therefore, Mao Tsetung’s views and life cannot be evaluated solely from his writings.
In practice Mao Tsetung was a pragmatist and an eclectic. In philosophical theory, Mao Tsetung also developed a number of erroneous theories on dialectics. One important thing, was that he regarded the transformation of opposites simply as a change in place. Thus, consider the example of the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Mao Tsetung regarded the socialist revolution simply as a change of place, as the proletariat going from the subordinate aspect of the contradiction to the dominant aspect, and the bourgeoisie going from the ruling class to the ruled class. He negated the fact that socialist revolution involves the elimination of the exploiting classes and a qualitative change of the phenomenon, in this way he opposed the Marxist-Leninist view of revolution and substituted evolutionist views.
In fact, Mao Tsetung regarded revolution itself as just an endless process, as a cycle repeated eternally. It goes from victory to defeat to victory, never rising to a higher level but eternally repeating itself. His quotation (Peking Review, No. 21, 1976. p. 9) on the need for revolution 10,000 years from now because junior officials etc., will always feel slighted by big shots is typical.
This is related to his view that the exploiting classes are never eliminated under socialism, under the pretext that the existence of class struggle in socialist society implies the existence of the exploiting classes. It is also related to his view that the class struggle inside the party, the struggle against revisionism, implies the existence of two headquarters.
Mao Tsetung also arbitrarily imposes formal opposites onto every situation. He speculates on thousands of different contradictions, logical contradictions, and imposes them on the world. Thus idealist sophistry replaces materialist dialectics.
IV. THE LEADING ROLE AND THE ORGANIZATION OF THE PARTY
Mao Tsetung was opposed to the hegemonic role of the party of the proletariat. He advocated “long-term coexistence and mutual supervision” between the Communist Party of China and the bourgeois parties in China in “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”. Thus he opposed the undivided leadership of the proletariat and its party. The existence of the bourgeois parties was presented as inevitable right up until communism, for as long as the Communist Party would exist.
In practice he used the army as the arbiter between factions in the Communist Party of China. In the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the Party and the mass organizations were dispersed by millions of non-party youth at the call of Mao Tsetung, and the army was also called in.
Mao Tsetung also displayed contempt for the Party in many ways. The norms of the Party were constantly violated and subordinated to his personal power. Line was constantly changed. For example, the Eighth Congress gives one line, then Mao Tsetung wrote “ On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” and gave a different line – or, to be precise, grafted on a new line eclectically to the formulations of the Eighth Congress. Subsequently another sitting of the Eighth Party Congress took place. The Party Congress apparantly found it entirely ordinary that the Party should give one line and the Party Chairman a different line, and neither endorses Mao’s views, nor condemns Mao’s deviation, but simply continues giving another line.
Mao Tsetung’s factionalism was especially revealed in his theory of the existence of two headquarters in the party, with representatives of these headquarters existing in every body from the central committee and political bureau, right down to every organization at the base. This is a theory of unbridled factionalism and of destroying the party’s monolithic unity. It presents itself as a theory to fight revisionism, but actually it is a theory to coexist with revisionism.
V. MAO TSETUNG’S OPPOSITION TO THE HEGEMONIC ROLE OF THE PROLETARIAT
Mao Tsetung downplayed the role of the proletariat. With his theory of encircling the city from the countryside he advocated the hegemonic role of the peasantry. This thesis, presented as simply a description of a military situation where the main base is in the countryside, is not true as a universal pattern and is used as a cover for definite theories negating the role and hegemony of the proletariat and the role of the cities in the revolution. In the Chinese revolution, although at the beginning the Communist Party of China had undivided leadership of the proletariat and great strength in the cities, by the liberation of China in 1949 the situation was so bad in the cities and in the proletariat that Mao Tsetung himself describes that the Communist Party of China was at a loss to find cadres for the cities. Therefore Mao Tsetung turns to the army for the cadres for the city. Even if this is accepted as an unfortunate peculiarity of the situation in China due to devastating setbacks in the cities, this would not explain or justify Mao Tsetung’s theories since, a) the Communist Party of China does not in any of its literature regard it as at all out of the ordinary that the proletariat was not organized and the cities not organized, and b) it prescribes this pattern to all other countries.
VI. ON THE TRANSITION FROM THE BOURGEOIS DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION TO THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
Mao Tsetung puts forward the view that there is a long period of capitalist economic development needed between the victory of the democratic anti-imperialist revolution and the stage of the socialist revolution. Although this view was later ascribed to Liu Shao-chi, in fact it is the theory of Mao Tsetung who developed it in his works on the question. In this way the transition of the Chinese revolution from liberation in 1949 to the socialist revolution was stopped.
Under this theory a conciliatory attitude was taken to the exploiting classes. The bourgeoisie was allowed to maintain its positions in the state apparatus. And it maintained economic positions as well.
We always took the theory of new democratic revolution to be the basic Marxist theses on national liberation and on the national liberation movement being part of the world proletarian socialist revolution. However the actual theory of Mao Tsetung was that of the great barrier between the democratic and socialist revolutions.
At first, the Communist Party of China and Mao Tsetung stated that the new democratic state was not the dictatorship of the proletariat. Later on, the Chinese new democratic state was simply redefined by the Chinese Communist Party as the dictatorship of the proletariat without any fundamental change being made in the state. In the Cultural Revolution the existence of the bourgeois parties was ignored in the documents, but they continued to exist. There was never any discussion in the Chinese literature on this change of definition, which appears to be just that – a change of definition – and not a transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The theory of capitalist economic development under the new democratic state is simply replaced by the theory that the bourgeois parties and the bourgeoisie will exist throughout the entire epoch of socialism and under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
VII. ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE EXPLOITING CLASSES
Mao Tsetung had a conciliatory and favorable stand towards the exploiting classes. This is revealed in many ways. For example, he advocated the “long-term coexistence and mutual supervision” of the bourgeois parties with the communist party and the bourgeoisie with the proletariat. He opposed the abolition of the bourgeoisie as a class and maintained that the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois parties continue to exist in the entire period of socialism.
In “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”, the theory is concocted that the antagonistic contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat can be transformed into a non-antagonistic one. Manual labor and ideological re-education was used to justify a benevolent attitude towards everyone, even the puppet emperor of Manchukuo.
VIII. ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST MOVEMENT
Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China have for a long time maintained a chauvinist attitude towards the international communist movement. The Chinese have no interest in the revolutionary and progressive traditions, values and experiences of the peoples of other countries. But they only regard China, Chinese experience and Chinese history as of any value. They did not even bother to investigate the experience of other parties and peoples. To them their own experience was everything. They maintained a xenophobic attitude.
The Communist Party of China and Mao Tsetung applied this xenophobic attitude even to the world proletariat and Marxism-Leninism. From the mid-30’s, Mao Tsetung developed a “Chinese” or “Asian Marxism”. In so far as there is any Marxist or Marxist-sounding element or phrase in it, it is taken over and renamed as a special theory and contribution of Mao Tsetung.
Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China were extremely hostile to the correct criticisms of Stalin and the Communist International concerning the deviations of the Communist Party of China from Marxism-Leninism. They spoke disparagingly of Comintern delegates and blamed the Comintern for all their mistakes while failing to give any role to the Communist International with regard to the victories of the Chinese revolution.
Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China took an extremely opportunist and vacillating stand in the struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism and Titoite revisionism. They used their participation in the struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism to promote their own sectarian and revisionist formulations, such as the existence of the bourgeoisie as a class under socialism and Mao Tsetung Thought as the Marxism-Leninism of the era.
The attitude and activity of the Communist Party of China toward the new Marxist-Leninist parties formed in the struggle against modern revisionism was hostile and disruptive. At first they opposed the formation of the new Marxist-Leninist parties. Later they adopted the tactic of recognizing all new parties whether or not they were Marxist-Leninist in order to cause disruption in the international Marxist-Leninist communist movement and oppose the new Marxist-Leninist parties. Still later the Communist Party of China adopted the tactic of recognizing many parties in one country with the exception of the genuine Marxist-Leninist party in order to disrupt the Marxist-Leninist movement in those countries. In the U.S. every opportunist trend and sect – from the neo-revisionists to the straight-out revisionists of the Guardian – was promoted in Hsinhua. At the same time the Chinese slandered the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists of the ACWM(M-L) and the COUSML in the most extravagant terms to all sorts of opportunist visitors to China. Today the Communist Party of China recognizes only the opportunist groups and parties which kowtow to its line such as the Klonskyites in the U.S. and the Jurquets in France.
Thus the Communist Party of China and Mao Tsetung have played a disruptive role in the international communist movement, a role marked by chauvinism and xenophobia, an attitude which is entirely hostile to the principles of proletarian internationalism.
IX. THE STRUGGLE AGAINST REVISIONISM
Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China present themselves as great fighters against modern revisionism and promoted themselves internationally on that basis. But in fact they used the prestige gained by the stands that they did take against Khrushchovite revisionism in order to promote their own Chinese revisionism.
Examination of the facts show that Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China played an extremely vacillating role in the struggle against modern revisionism. To begin with, they promoted the theory that revisionism and opportunism are middle forces which can be united with. This is a theoretical justification for conciliation to revisionism and coexistence with revisionism.
And in practice the Communist Party of China and Mao Tsetung vacillated to the extreme. They actually supported Tito and and considered him correct in 1948 but did not come out at that time due to the stand of the Soviet Union and due to the constraints placed on them as part of the international communist movement. When Khrushchovite revisionism emerged, Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China were happy about the criticism of Stalin, and they supported the rehabilitation of Tito. They failed to distinguish between Khrushchov and Stalin in their criticism of the Soviet Union. While Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China later appeared to moderate their stand on Stalin, they never really defended his life and work and they slandered Stalin in order to push their own revisionist theses.
The July 29th Letter of the CC of the Party of Labor and the Government of Albania to the CC of the Communist Party and the Government of China gives a history of the vacillation of the Communist Party of China in the struggle against modern revisionism, which will not be gone into here.
It is notable that the Chinese revisionists used their stand against the Khrushchovite revisionists to promote their own special revisionist theories internationally, such as the continued existence of the bourgeoisie under socialism, encircling the cities from the countryside, opportunism as a middle force to be united with, etc.
Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China criticized the Khrushchovites for their alliance with U.S. imperialism, but since 1971 Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party of China have been developing their own alliance with U.S. imperialiism. They have developed the anti-Leninist theory of “three worlds” to justify this alliance and their own social-imperialist ambitions. The theory of “three worlds” is not just a concoction of Teng Hsiao-ping but finds its ideological roots in Mao Tsetung Thought and was widely promoted in the Chinese press and Party while Mao Tsetung was still alive. This shows that the Chinese struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism did not stem from Marxist-Leninist positions.
Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists