Our Viewpoint on Maoism

-Rajesh Tyagi

Our struggle against Maoism implicitly recognizes that there are many sincere and committed individuals in the Maoist movement, who are motivated solely by a desire to eliminate the pervasive and persistent injustice that they see all around them. However such motivations alone are insufficient and cannot form a substitute for a sober and scientific understanding of social reality.

Maoism, the Chinese variant of Stalinism, has nothing in common with revolutionary Marxism. In conjunction with Stalinists they have misled and mis-educated generations of youth and workers in the backward countries and have prevented them from taking to the road of revolution.

We summarise our disputes with and our attitude towards Maoism, as under:

1). In arguing against the Maoists, our first and foremost difference relates to their class orientation and their exclusively nation-oriented politics. They vow to fight the international capitalism from a nationalist base, from which the international capitalism, the imperialism has emerged and transgressed its limited boundaries long ago. The proletarian policy, the reply of the proletariat to the economic policy of finance capital, to Imperialism, cannot be the national policy of free trade and democracy, its establishment or restoration, but the complete elimination of all competition by abolishing capitalism, through expropriation of the propertied class.  

2). Maoists are reactionaries, because they propose to go back to democracy, based upon free competition and thus take to backward step from large scale capitalism, the imperialism, instead of joining hands with and relying upon the forces generated by Imperialism, for advance to socialism.

3). Maoists are virulent opponents of the strategy of Permanent Revolution, the program on which the 1917 Russian Revolution was based and this from two standpoints: They are nationalist in outlook and orientation; and they are advocates of the Menshevik-Stalinist theory of two-stage revolution. This conception, which is based on a mechanical application of Marx’s outline of mankind’s transition from one mode of production to another, asserts that every part of the world and country will pass through exactly the same socio-economic and political evolution and that in countries of belated capitalist development the socialist revolution is not on the agenda, rather the task at hand is to complete the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

4). In our view, the countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.

5). Not only in the agrarian, but also in the national question, they assign to the peasantry, the overwhelming majority of the population in backward countries, an exceptional place in the democratic revolution. Though, the political weight of the peasantry in backward countries would be of decisive importance, but it can neither be leading nor independent. It would follow either the bourgeois or the working class. As the national bourgeois in these countries has no revolutionary role to play, thus without an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry the tasks of the democratic revolution cannot be solved, nor even seriously posed. But the alliance of these two classes can be realized in no other way than through an irreconcilable struggle of the proletariat against the influence of the national-liberal bourgeoisie, for the leadership of the peasantry.

6). No matter what the first episodic stages of the revolution may be in the individual countries, the realization of the revolutionary alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry is conceivable only under the political leadership of the proletarian vanguard, organized in the Communist Party. This, in turn means, that the victory of the democratic revolution is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat, which bases itself upon the alliance with the peasantry and solves first of all the tasks of the democratic revolution.

7). The above-outlined sketch of the development of the world revolution, eliminates the question of countries that are mature or immature for socialism in the spirit of that pedantic, lifeless classification given by the programme of the Stalinist Comintern. Insofar as capitalism has created a world market, a world division of labour and world productive forces, it has also prepared world economy as a whole, ripe for socialist transformation.

8). Different countries will go through this process at different tempos. Backward countries, may, under certain conditions, arrive at the dictatorship of the proletariat, sooner than advanced countries, but they will come later than the latter to socialism. A backward colonial or semi-colonial country, the proletariat of which is insufficiently prepared to unite the peasantry and take power, is thereby incapable of bringing the democratic revolution to its conclusion. Contrarywise, in a country where the proletariat has power in its hands as the result of the democratic revolution, the subsequent fate of the dictatorship and socialism depends in the last analysis, not only and not so much upon the national productive forces as upon the development of the international socialist revolution.

9). The Maoists have elevated armed struggle as the first principle of revolutionary practice. Marxism on the other hand demands the building of a mighty revolutionary party whose first task is the raising of proletarian consciousness. This can be witnessed from the practice of both the Bolshevik and German revolutionaries who through persistent and indefatigable political work successfully built mass revolutionary movements of the working class. The most crucial task for Marxists is to conduct a relentless political struggle to raise the class consciousness of the working class in order for it to realize its historic mission.

10). One of the tragic outcomes of Maoism has been to spawn all sorts of petit-bourgeois movements based upon the armed struggle. For Marxists the question of the actual use of arms does not arise until the revolutionary mood has gripped the masses, which requires both the ripening of the objective contradictions of capitalism and the emergence of a significant, class-conscious revolutionary vanguard. Any premature resort to arms, will inevitably lead to adventurism and is a hallmark of petit-bourgeois radical movements.

11). The Maoists rely upon the peasantry to conduct a protracted peoples war that by definition is confined largely, if not exclusively, to rural, and even remote areas. Revolutionary Marxists certainly recognize that the peasantry, which still constitutes a major part of oppressed masses in backward countries, will play a vital role in the revolution. But the peasantry by its very nature, as a heterogeneous social grouping based on an archaic mode of production and undergoing rapid social differentiation with the ever deeper penetration of capitalist relations into the countryside, is unable to play a consistent and independent revolutionary role and this has been amply confirmed by many revolutionary peasant struggles over the past century in the backward countries of the world. In most cases, the Maoist movements have degenerated into murderous campaigns against individual landlords and other rural exploiters, while entering into various implicit tactical alliances with sections of the elite. The Marxian class analysis insists that the working class by virtue of its position, as both the product of modern globally-organized production and a property-less class, is the only consistently revolutionary class whose historic mission is the overthrow of capitalism and thereby the class rule, altogether.

12). The peasantry inevitably follows either the working class or the block of the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie. The Maoists in practice have shown themselves to be totally oblivious to the working classes in urban areas and confine themselves to the rural armed struggle. The working class continues to be under the sway of the Stalinist parties, who, not unpredictably, have repeatedly subordinated the working class to the National Bourgeoisie and by extension to international capital. This follows from their adherence in practice to the Menshevik two-stage theory that consciously subordinates the working class to the national bourgeoisie during the so called first stage of the revolution. The ascendance of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union heralded the triumph of Stalinist-Menshevik nationalism over Bolshevik internationalism. In backward countries, such Stalinist heritage is the reason why the old Communist Parties have evolved into a reliable left-prop of the National bourgeoisie, who are now openly assisting the bourgeoisie in carrying out its neo-liberal reform program, which is aimed at making these countries, a cheap-labor producer for the world capitalist market. While the Maoists criticize the Stalinist parties, in practice they abandon the working class to the parliamentary Stalinist parties, focusing their attention instead almost exclusively on peasant-based armed struggle.

13). The Maoists' orientation to the peasantry is at one with their Menshevik-Stalinist derived conception of the nature and tasks of the coming revolution in these backward countries. Based on the fact, that key aspects of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, including the eradication of casteism and landlordism, have not been completed, the Maoists argue that the peasantry is the principal revolutionary force and that a New Democratic revolution must be carried out before there can be any question of a socialist revolution. But what the October revolution showed in the positive form and the suppression of the anti-imperialist revolutions in these countries, with the transfer of power to the political representatives of the National Bourgeoisie in South Asian, African and Latin American countries, showed in the negative, is that in the epoch of imperialism, the tasks of the democratic revolution can be completed only when the working class leads the peasant masses in a revolution that combines the democratic and socialist stages and which self-consciously perceives itself to be an integral part of a world socialist transformation.

14). Stalinism with its theory of 'socialism in one country' reduced socialism to a theory of national economic development that served the interests of the privileged bureaucratic caste that usurped power from the working class in the USSR. Socialism is impossible to achieve within the confines of a nation-state and this has been amply proven by the spectacular and tragic collapse of the Soviet Union and other satellite states and by the Chinese Stalinists’ regime’s transformation into provisioners of cheap labor for international capital. None of this comes as a surprise to Trotskyists, as the inevitability of such a trajectory in the absence of a political revolution against the bureaucracy and revival of the world revolution was brilliantly foreseen by Trotsky in the case of the Soviet Union, way back in the 1930s.

15). The Maoists proclaim their full agreement with Stalin’s theoretical betrayal of Marxism, espousing both the theory of 'socialism in one country' and the 'two-stage theory' of revolution. They also defend the political record of the Soviet Stalinist regime, including the wholesale elimination of the leading representatives of Bolshevism culminating in the Moscow trials and the great purges and the assassination of Trotsky. They also extol the Comintern policies that led to one disastrous defeat after another, for the working class in the 1930s, including its role in splitting the German working class in the face of the Nazis and its strangling of the Spanish Revolution in the name of the 'Popular Front'. Stalinism is also responsible for ceding the leadership of anti-colonial movements across the world to what it termed as the patriotic and progressive bourgeoisie. Such subordination of the workers movement to the bourgeoisie, is what led to the horrific massacre of workers in China in 1926-27 and then in Indonesia in 1965 and to the consolidation of a reorganized capitalist order in South Asia with the independence and partition of British India in 1947.

16). We do not see any fundamental difference between what they call the Chinese Path and the politics of the contemporary Maoists, whether in Nepal, India or Latin Americas. Mao’s orientation, a turn away from the working class to waging a peasant-based protracted peoples war, was a pragmatic adaptation to the tragic defeat that the Chinese Revolution suffered in 1925-27 as a result of the CCPs subordination, on Comintern orders, to the bourgeois Kuomintang. The consolidation of Stalinism in Russia had the most immediate impact on the revolutionary developments in China in the 1920s. The Stalin-led Comintern not only advocated a bloc with the bourgeois Chiang Kai Shek (even making him an honorary president of the short-lived Peasants' International) but also instructed the members of the CCP to join the KMT as individual members, while retaining their membership in the CCP. Such a policy created considerable confusion as to the class character of the Kuomintang and its role in the revolution and had the most profound impact on the organizational and ideological strength of the CCP.

17). The CCP did develop considerable strength in the cities, emerging as the leadership of a powerful working-class offensive between 1922 and 1927. But in April 1927, following several uprisings of Shanghai workers, the KMT along with their allies ruthlessly attacked the CCP and workers pickets resulting in a most terrible massacre. The CCP was left totally ill-prepared to this abrupt attack and prevented it from either foreseeing this disaster or to mount an effective defence. This drowning of the working class in blood led to the consolidation of the KMT in the cities and drove the CCP underground and to the rural areas.

18). Mao strongly supported the subordination of the CCP to the KMT and continued to insist that it had been correct even after 1927, and rose to power in the CCP as the advocate of a new policy based on peasant guerilla war. The defeat of the Chinese revolution in 1927 was far from inevitable. Trotsky and his supporters fought for a radically opposed perspective based on the need to assert the political independence of the working class and to prepare the masses for the inevitable betrayal of the anti-imperialist struggle by the national bourgeoisie. This question played an important part in the struggle of Trotsky and his supporters in the Left Opposition against the Stalin clique and is documented in the outstanding collection of writings Trotsky left analyzing the developments in China during the 1920s, (see the book: ‘Hidden dynamics of the Chinese Revolution; Speeches and Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1925-1940) http://new-wave-nw.blogspot.com/2009/01/hidden-dyanmics-of-chinese-revolution.html.

19) The collapse of the Kuomintang regime and the rise to power of the CCP on the basis of the armed peasantary oragnised in the Peoples Liberation Army needs to be critically evaluated, in the light of post WW-II environment where the world bourgeois saw no revolutionary danger to its regime the world over, either from the side of Soviet Russia under Stalin or China under Mao. The Comintern, which was organised by Lenin and Trotsky, as world party of the revolutioanry proletairat was first diluted and then disbanded by Stalin in 1943. Here we would only make the following basic points. While Mao remained at the helm of the CCP, the Beijing regime exhibited the basic hallmarks of Stalinism- the ruthless suppression of any independent organs of workers power, intense nationalism, and in the economic arena a veering between opportunism and reckless voluntarism, as apprently reflected in the case of the so-called 'Great Leap Forward' and the 'Cultural revolution'. Never did the Beijing regime made any serious effort to construct a revolutionary international. Instead, it maneuvered on the world stage, as its alliance with Pakistani dictatorship, amply illustrates. The regimes' turn towards capitalist restoration was prepared by Mao’s rapprochment with Washington under Nixon, especially at the time of Vietnam war.

20). Maoism is a variant of Stalinism, which itself is the ideology spawned by the bureaucracy that came to power in the USSR as a result of the debacle of and consequent delay in the world revolution and the resulting isolated existence of a workers state in a backward country, still trying to throw off the legacy of feudalism. This bureaucracy consolidated its rule through the ruthless suppression of the Marxist tendency in the USSR and the advance guard of the working class, and sought to defend its privileges by manipulating and suppressing struggles of the working class with the aim of reaching an accommodation with world imperialism, and ultimately restored capitalism in the USSR.

21). In so far as Maoism can be distinguished from Stalinism proper, it is in its adulation of armed struggle and the peasantry, its crude resort to sloganeering as a substitute for serious analysis and an inherent tendency to anti-intellectualism. The triumph of Mao and the CCP in 1949, led all sorts of petit-bourgeois groups to argue that it is possible to achieve Socialism by relying upon forces other than the international working class. Such impressionistic analysis also led to great confusion, splits and setbacks even within the Fourth International.

22). In sharp contrast to the Maoist policy of strategic boycott of bourgeois parliaments, for socialists, bourgeois parliaments provide a means to not only expose the treacherous and underhand deal-making that is an everyday occurrence in bourgeois politics, but also provide a national platform to forcefully advocate the interests of the working class and other downtrodden. In fact, legal work will provide the political space for the building of the mass movement whose goal is the ultimate seizure of power. However, before building up of such forces all talk or advocacy of armed struggle will lead to adventurism and will indeed set back the consolidation and building up of an independent working class party, while giving the bourgeoisie pretexts to justify the suppression of democratic rights. In order to secure the right to call for boycott or overthrow of the bourgeois parliaments, we must be able to mobilise the working class and behind it the peasantry, against the rule of the bourgeois.

23). Our opposition to Maoism is, however, of a fundamental character and goes far beyond our disagreements with their views on participation or boycott of bourgeois parliaments. In addition to the points mentioned above, we would add that the Maoists advocate a reactionary outlook that foresees socialism to mean an equalization of poverty, and place little emphasis on development of labor productivity far beyond what capitalism has already achieved. As Marx so incisively observed, the building of socialism cannot proceed on the basis of shortages, but is possible only by increasing economic output using the highest levels of labor productivity and the resources of world economy.


  1. Whenever i see the post like your's i feel that there are still helpful people who share information for the help of others, it must be helpful for other's. thanx and good job.

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  2. This is very useful, Rajesh. Thanks.
    I'd like to make a couple of points.
    First, the question of armed struggle is posed by the circumstances of a revolutionary situation. If the class enemy rules by means of totalitarian violence, then we need armed force for self-defence at the very least. The issue isn't one of violent versus peaceful politics, but one of political goals regardless of the means by which we pursue them. If we are forced to use arms in our struggle then we must use them for the right objectives. If we have the strength we must use it to seize power for the working class and to expropriate capitalists and landlords. In other words, the choice between armed and unarmed struggle is not always ours to make, but the choice of programme and goals is always up to us.
    Second, it's worth remembering the "third leg" of Trotsky's general characterization of Stalinist/bureaucratic policy. The first is the Two-Stage Revolution, the second is Socialism in One Country -- these are well-known. But the third is not so familiar -- Bureaucratic Centralism. Democratic Centralism combines the fullest freedom of discussion with the greatest discipline and unity in action, ensuring that decisions are both well understood and firmly rooted, and carried out voluntarily and enthusiastically. Bureaucratic Centralism ignores freedom of discussion, voluntary discipline and enthusiasm, and relies instead on proclamation, arbitrary orders, forced compliance and the discipline of the whip. It is utterly incompatible with socialism. It doesn't lead to the emancipation of humanity, but enslaves it.
    The Two-Stage Revolution and Socialism in One Country are programmatic perversions of the ideas of Marx and Lenin, but Bureaucratic Centralism is the repressive political method by which these programmatic perversions are imposed on class and nation. It is a political regime that crushes both the working class and democratic forces. Without the concrete power mobilized by Bureaucratic Centralism, neither the Two-Stage Revolution or Socialism in One Country would be more than academic curiosities. Wherever Stalinist and Maoist parties retain any social clout, however, they use Bureaucratic Centralism to impose these suicidal ideas on their followers. The more massive their influence, the more deadly these ideas become.
    Third, you write that the revolutionary Bolshevik Comintern was diluted by Stalin. This is very misleading. It was perverted and castrated. Its whole character was changed. Dilution implies that a liquid is weakened but remains the same. The Stalinist bureaucracy put a different liquid in the bottle altogether. And far from weakening this new and corrosive liquid, it strengthened it until the bottle that contained it (the Comintern) was eaten away.
    This can't be emphasized strongly enough. Trotsky characterized the Stalinist bureaucracy as *counter-revolutionary* in the Revolution Betrayed. Not as "less revolutionary", or "unrevolutionary" or even "reactionary", but as murderously counter-revolutionary.
    Individual fighters organized in Maoist or Stalinist parties are often dedicated to the struggle and capable of great sacrifices -- as the history of the Chinese Red Army shows. As soon as they are used to enforce the Holy Trinity of Stalinism, however, they become dedicated to the crushing of working class aspirations and the destruction of socialist revolution.


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