MAO Zedong [Old style: Mao Tsetung, or Mao Tse-tung] (1893-1976)
The great Chinese revolutionary leader who further developed the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism into what we now call Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and who led two great social revolutions: the Chinese Revolution of 1949 (the liberation of China from foreign imperialism and bureaucrat/comprador capitalism, and then the construction of socialism), and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (against the capitalist-roaders within the Communist Party of China). After Lenin, Mao was by far the greatest and most important revolutionary Marxist of the 20th century.
[More to be added...]
MAO Zedong — Life Of
[To be added...]
MAO Zedong — Contributions of to Revolutionary Theory and Practice
Summing up Mao’s enormously important contributions to revolutionary thought and practice is no small task. From the standpoint of revolutionary practice it is hard to believe that the great Chinese Revolution which overthrew foreign imperialism and Chinese bureaucrat-comprador capitalism in 1949 could have been successful without him, at least during that era. And it is virtually impossible to imagine that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution could have occurred at all without his personal initiation and direction of it. Mao’s contributions to revolutionary theory lay behind both those great revolutions; in philosophy and socialist political economy, as well as in revolutionary political and military strategy. The outline here of Mao’s individual great contributions to Chinese and international revolutionary theory and practice should therefore be viewed as both incomplete and insufficiently elaborated.
1. Mao’s creation of the new revolutionary strategy of People’s War:
It is true that peasant rebellions and guerrilla warfare have a long history in China, and also occurred in Europe and elsewhere. But after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Marxist-Leninists the world over—with hardly any exceptions—were unable to conceive of any proletarian revolutionary strategy except that of the “October Road”; i.e., of a long period of mostly legal struggle leading to eventual insurrection in the cities, and then most likely followed by a period of civil war. While Mao recognized very well that this October Road strategy was still necessary and appropriate in advanced capitalist countries, he analyzed the failure of this approach in China in the 1920s and came up with a brand new strategy for proletarian revolution in mostly rural, largely feudal countries like China—namely People’s War. This new strategy of the countryside first surrounding the cities was successful not only in China, but also in Vietnam.
Included in this theory of People’s War are some truly brilliant principles of revolutionary military strategy, the proper relationship of the revolutionary army to the masses, and so forth. Many of these principles are also applicable in other circumstances and in other types of revolutionary warfare.
2. The method of leadership of the masses which Mao called “from the masses, to the masses” and which is also known as the mass line:
This is the democratic method of finding out from the masses themselves what their ideas are about how to promote their own struggle, selecting the best of these ideas based on existing revolutionary theory, the revolutionary goal, and a study of the objective situation, and then returning this political line of action to the masses and leading them in struggle on this basis.
This method of leadership is perhaps the single most characteristic feature of Maoist politics, and certainly the most striking aspect. While it was to some degree implicit in Marxism all along, and was also used informally by Lenin (as with his recognition of the importance of the soviets (councils) to the Russian revolution, when they were created by the masses), it was only with Mao that this general method of leadership was summed up theoretically and then systematically popularized among the Communist Party members as the fundamental method of revolutionary leadership. This leadership method played a huge role in the success of the 1949 Revolution and in the socialist transformation of industry and agriculture. (It was less systematically used in the GPCR, however, even though Mao himself called for it to be used as the “basic method” in that revolution in the initial 16 points in the document which launched the GPCR.)
3. The establishment of genuine socialist society in China during the period of the late 1950s, including in the countryside:
It may seem obvious that if there is a successful revolution in the name of the proletariat it will then proceed to really establish socialism both in industry and in agriculture. However, most of the so-called socialist revolutions in Eastern Europe after World War II did not really do this. In industry their “socialism” just meant nationalization and having top-down economic planning, which almost from the start became hard to distinguish from state capitalism. It did not really extend, in any serious way, to the control of workplaces by the workers there. Even worse, collectivization in the countryside in Eastern Europe was a complete failure. In China, however, Mao led the country not only in the nationalization of industry and the establishment of socialist economic planning, but also strongly promoted the supervision and control of workplaces and their policies by the working class itself, the requirement that managers also take part in labor, and so forth. (These measures were then greatly intensified during the GPCR.)
Even more tellingly, Mao led the genuine collectivization struggle in the countryside into real socialism, culminating with the creation of the People’s Communes. Because of the use of the mass line, this not only improved upon what had previously been done in the Soviet Union, it was done in a vastly more humane, democratic and successful way than Stalin’s brutal collectivization of agriculture in the USSR.
4. The recognition that the class struggle continues under socialism and through the entire period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the promotion of serious revolutionary politics in this continuing struggle:
In hindsight, the entire world proletarian revolutionary movement looks rather naïve in initially supposing that the seizure of power by the working class in a country and the consequent nationalization of industry, along with the creation of economic planning, would by itself soon create a solid and stable socialist society progressing steadily on the path to communism. Mao was one of the first to recognize that this was not what was happening in the Soviet Union, and that China was also in danger of following the capitalist path that Khrushchev and his followers had pioneered there.
Mao then initiated the “Great Debate” with the revisionist Soviet Union over the path forward. [Many of the documents from the Chinese side in this debate are now available at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GreatDebate/index.htm#GreatDebate] This debate was of world importance in re-establishing Marxism-Leninism as a genuinely communist movement.
5. Mao’s launching of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to stop those within the Communist Party of China itself, who were on the capitalist road, from destroying socialism in China:
This is one of the most remarkable events in all of revolutionary history; the leader of a revolutionary party launching a new revolution against that very party because it had been captured (to a considerable degree) by representatives of the class enemy.
The GPCR was successful for a decade, while Mao was still alive, in preventing the capitalist-roaders from destroying socialism. Unfortunately, after Mao died on September 9, 1976, these revisionists seized power in a political coup d’etát, and soon turned China back into a capitalist country again, and later even into a fully-fledged imperialist country. Nevertheless, our world revolutionary movement, even though it is rather weak at the moment, has learned an invaluable lesson from all this. Mao has alerted us to a very serious problem which we will be much better prepared to deal with in the future. For one thing, the communist parties we now create and develop will be concerned with this long term threat right from the very beginning.
6. Mao’s contributions to philosophy:
The Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism was created and summarized earlier by Marx, Engels and Lenin, and many of the basic ideas included in it are actually traceable back to Hegel, Feuerbach, and the French materialist philosophers of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, Mao’s contribution in this area was tremendous. He reconnected up dialectical materialism to revolutionary politics in the intimate way that had not occurred since Lenin. Marxist philosophy was changed from the more or less ideological window dressing that it had become back into a true guide to understanding and changing the world. Mao took dialectical materialism seriously! And because he did, and led quite successful revolutionary struggle by doing so, we, his political descendants, also now take dialectical materialism seriously.
7. Mao’s contributions to socialist political economy:
Mao’s contributions in this area are quite underappreciated. Mao did not write on the political economy of capitalism, but he spent a large part of his life working out how exactly to transform capitalism into socialism, and then eventually into communism. He analyzed what had gone wrong in Soviet industry (such as the top down approach and the failure to use the mass line) and in the rural collectivization efforts there and in Eastern Europe. And he kept China not only socialist while he was alive, but undergoing significant periodic transformations in the direction of communism. His pathbreaking efforts and successes in this area remain an important part of his legacy for the entire world communist movement.
MAO — Evaluation of Stalin
See: STALIN—Evaluation of by Mao
MAO — On Religion
See also: MARXISM—As a Religion [Mao quote], TAOISM [Mao quote]
“Primitive humans, yielding before the force of nature and capable only of
using simple tools, were unable to explain change in the environment and so turned to the
gods for help. This was the origin of religion and idealism....
“The science of history has proved to humankind the materiality and law-like regularity of the world, and given rise to a consciousness of the uselessness of the fantasies of religion and idealism, and resulted in humankind’s arrival at materialism.” —Mao, “Lecture Notes on Dialectical Materialism” (1937), in Nick Knight, Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism (1990), pp. 90 & 91.
“The theory of motion of dialectical materialism is first and foremost in opposition to the idealism and religious deism of philosophy. The essence of all idealisms and religious deisms resides in their refusal to recognize the material unity of the world; they assume that the world’s motion and development are non-material, or were at the very beginning non-material, and are the consequence of the operation of spirits or God’s supernatural power. The German idealist philosopher Hegel believed that the contemporary world had developed out of the so-called ‘World Idea’; and in China, the philosophy of the Book of Changes and the moral theories of Song and Ming neo-Confucianism all engendered views of the development of the world which were idealist. Christianity asserts God created the world, and in Buddhism and the various Chinese fetishisms the motion and development of the world’s myriad things is put down to the supernatural. All of these explanations which contemplate motion divorced from matter are fundamentally incompatible with dialectical materialism. Besides idealism and religion, all pre-Marxist materialism and all present-day anti-Marxist mechanistic materialism, are proponents of materialist theories of motion when it comes to discussing natural phenomena, but the moment social phenomena are mentioned, they cannot but become divorced from material causes and revert to spiritual causation.” —Mao, “Lecture Notes on Dialectical Materialism” (1937), ibid., p. 105.
“A man in China is usually subjected to the domination of three systems of
authority: (1) the state system (political authority), ranging from the national, provincial
and county government down to that of the township; (2) the clan system (clan authority),
ranging from the central ancestral temple and its branch temples down to the head of the
household; and (3) the supernatural system (religious authority), ranging from the King of
Hell down to the town and village gods belonging to the nether world, and from the Emperor
of Heaven down to all the various gods and spirits belonging to the celestial world. As for
women, in addition to being dominated by these three systems of authority, they are also
dominated by the men (the authority of the husband). These four authorities—political, clan,
religious and masculine—are the embodiment of the whole feudal-patriarchal system and
ideology, and are the four thick ropes binding the Chinese people, particularly the peasants.
How the peasants have overthrown the political authority of the landlords in the countryside
[in the liberated areas] has been described above. The political authority of the landlords
is the backbone of all the other systems of authority. With that overturned, the clan
authority, the religious auhority and the authority of the husband all begin to totter....
Everywhere religious authority totters as the peasant movement develops. In many places the
peasant associations have taken over the temples of the gods as their offices. Everywhere
they advocate the appropriation of temple property in order to start peasant schools and to
defray the expenses of the associations, calling it ‘public revenue from superstition’. In
Liling Country, prohibiting superstitious practices and smashing idols have become quite the
vogue. In its northern districts the peasants have prohibited the incense-burning processions
to propitiate the god of pestilence. There were many idols in the Taoist temple at Fupoling
in Lukou, but when extra room was needed for the district headquarters of the Kuomintang
[then in alliance with the CCP], they were all piled up in a corner, big and small together,
and no peasant raised any objection. Since then, sacrifices to the gods, the performance of
religious rites and the offering of sacred lamps have rarely been practised when a death
occurs in a family. Because the initiative in this matter was taken by the chairman of the
peasant association, Sun Hsiao-shan, he is hated by the local Taoist priests. In the Lungfeng
Nunnery in the North Third District, the peasants and primary school teachers chopped up the
wooden idols and actually used the wood to cook meat. More than thirty idols in the Tungfu
Monastery in the Southern District were burned by the students and peasants together, and
only two small images of Lord Pao [an ancient official known for his fairness] were snatched
up by an old peasant who said, ‘Don’t commit a sin!’ In places where the power of the peasants
is predominant, only the older peasants and the women still believe in the gods, the younger
peasants no longer doing so. Since the latter control the associations, the overthrow of
religious authority and the eradication of superstition are going on everywhere.”
—Mao, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927), SW 1:44-45.
“Furthermore, the imperialist powers have never slackened their efforts to poison the minds of the Chinese people. This is their policy of cultural aggression. And it is carried out through missionary work, through establishing hospitals and schools, publishing newspapers and inducing Chinese students to study abroad. Their aim is to train intellectuals who will serve their interests and to dupe the people.” —Mao (and comrades), “The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party” (December 1939), SW 2:312.
“In the field of political action Communists may form an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal united front with some idealists and even religious people, but we can never approve of their idealism or religious doctrines.” —Mao, “On New Democracy” (January 1940), SW 2:381.
“The Communist Party of China is in full agreement with Dr. Sun’s policy on nationalities as stated here.... Their spoken and written languages, their manners and customs and their religious beliefs must be respected.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:306. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_25.htm
“All religions are permitted in China’s Liberated Areas, in accordance with the principle of freedom of religious belief. All believers in Protestantism, Catholicism, Islamism, Buddhism and other faiths enjoy the protection of the people’s government so long as they are abiding by its laws. Everyone is free to believe or not to believe; neither compulsion nor discrimination is permitted.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:313. Online as indicated above.
“The Communist Party adopts the policy of protecting religion. Whether you believe in religion or not and whether you believe in this religion or that religion, all of you will be respected. The Party respects religious belief. This policy, as presently adopted, will continue to be adopted in the future.” —Mao, comments to the Tibetan Goodwill Mission (1952), Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], November 22, 1952. [English translation from Donald E. MacInnis, Religious Policy and Practice in Communist China (1972), p. 14.]
“In advocating freedom with leadership and democracy under centralized guidance, we in no way mean that coercive measures should be taken to settle ideological questions or questions involving the distinction between right and wrong among the people. All attempts to use administrative orders or coercive measures to settle ideological questions or questions of right and wrong are not only ineffective but harmful. We cannot abolish religion by administrative order or force people not to believe in it. We cannot compel people to give up idealism, any more than we can force them to embrace Marxism. The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression.” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW 5:389. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-5/mswv5_58.htm
MAO — Personality Cult
Around 1942, with the Rectification Movement in the Chinese Communist Party which condemned the erroneous and disastrous earlier political lines of Wang Ming and others, the early signs of a personality cult began to arise around Mao Zedong. Of course it is true that political lines are generally associated with prominent individual leaders, and that goes for correct lines as well as incorrect lines. Thus there is always at least an implicit commendation involved for those who have led in the adoption of political lines and policies which have been proven successful. And it is also true that those who have led in the development of past successful lines have earned the right to be carefully listened to when they propose additional lines and policies in new situations. However, there is still the danger of starting to think that political lines are correct because only that one person is capable of developing them, and even that whatever that one person says in the future must also be correct.
While there were some signs of this sort of thing in the CCP at least from 1942 on, it got taken to absurd extremes during the first few years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (i.e., in the period 1966-1970). For a while it was practically mandatory to refer to Mao as “the Great Leader Chairman Mao” if not the fuller phrase “the Great Leader, the Great Supreme Commander, the Great Teacher and the Great Helmsman Chairman Mao”. Successes in agriculture, industry, education and all spheres of life were attributed to Mao or Mao Tsetung Thought. Mao badges were produced in huge numbers (possibly more than 2 billion according to the Wikipedia) and it was practically obligatory to wear such badges over one’s heart and to carry a copy of the “Little Red Book” (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung). It is said that people were also often required to recite quotations from Mao. Mao was in fact treated almost as a living god by huge numbers of people.
Although these days most Maoists inside and outside China tend to cringe at the most extreme manifestations of the Mao personality cult, it is still widely defended as having been “necessary” for the most part. The argument in favor of promoting the personality cult around Mao was that—given the strength and growing domination of the CCP by the capitalist roaders—this was the only way to build a mass movement to expose and oust these enemies from positions of power in the party and government. There was no doubt some considerable truth to this, but it only pushes the central issue back a bit: How did it happen that things got so out of hand in the first place?! Surely there must be some strong criticism of Mao and the other genuine proletarian revolutionaries in the CCP for allowing this crisis situation to develop to the point where a personality cult around Mao could be deemed necessary in order to re-establish proletarian rule!
By far the worst promoter of the Mao cult was Lin Biao, who among other things introduced the fad of constantly waving the “Little Red Book”. And after Lin’s downfall the personality cult was soon drastically cut back. The requirement that Mao badges be constantly worn soon diasappeared. Nevertheless, Mao himself must receive the primary blame for promoting this personality cult around him, even though he resisted some of the wildest aspects of it (see his letter below to Jiang Qing) and insisted that it be greatly toned down during the last years of his life.
See also: PERSONALITY CULT, CULT (Political), and the long article "Personality Cult: Is It Necessary for Revolution?", by Ranganayakamma, written in 1983, and a discussion from 2007 occasioned by that article at: http://www.massline.org/SingleSpark/Theory/P-Cult-Discuss1.htm
“The center is asking my permission to publish the speech given by my friend
[Lin Biao], and I shall agree.... I have doubts about some of his views. I have never believed
that my little red book contained so much spiritual power. When he praises it to heaven, the
whole country will do the same. It is all exaggerated.... (I have been pushed by them onto
Mount Liang [among the rebels]), and I cannot refuse my consent. To be forced to give it
against my convictions is something that has never happened to me in all my life.... I feel
sure of myself, yet I have doubts.... At the Hangzhou conference last April, I said that I
did not approve of the formulas my friend uses, but my words had no effect.... They have used
even worse expressions, they have exalted me to the heavens as the miracle of miracles....
I have become the Zhong Kui [a terrifying mythological character] of the XX century Communist
party.... I’ll break my bones in the fall.... If they have already demolished Marx and Lenin,
why not us, too—and with more reason? You should think about this and not let victory go to
your head.... Our task today is to knock out some of the rightist elements in the Party and
in the country (to knock all of them out would be impossible); in seven or eight years we
could launch a new campaign.... When can these lines be published?.... Perhaps the moment will
be after my death, when the Right will have appropriated the power.... The Right will exploit
my words to raise the black banner, but without much luck. Since the Chinese empire was overt
in 1911, the reaction has never been able to hold power for long. The Left, however, will use
my words toward organizing itself, and the Right will be overthrown...”
—Mao, in a letter to his wife Jiang Qing, July 8, 1966. From Edoarda Masi, China Winter: Workers, Mandarins, and the Purge of the Gang of Four (NY: 1982), p. 19. Originally from an English translation of the letter in Issues and Studies, January 1973, pp. 94-96, and in the Yearbook of Chinese Communism, 1973, pp. 2-3.
[Alas, it seems that the capitalist roaders in China have held onto power much longer than Mao expected. —Ed.]
“We discussed my account of our last talk, in January 1965, in which I
had reported his [Mao’s] acknowledgement that there was indeed a ‘cult of personality’ in
China—and moreover there was reason for one. Some people [in China] had criticized me for
writing about that.
“So, he said, what if I had written about a ‘cult of personality’ in China? There was such a thing. Why not write about it? It was a fact ... those officials who had opposed my return to China in 1967 and 1968 had belonged to an ultraleftist group which had seized the foreign ministry for a time, but they were all cleared out long ago. At the time of our 1965 colloquy, Mao continued, a great deal of power—over propaganda work within the provincial and local party committees, and especially within the Peking Municipal Party Committee—had been out of his control. That was why he had then stated that there was need for more personality cult, in order to stimulate the masses to dismantle the anti-Mao party bureaucracy.
“Of course the personality cult had been overdone. Today, things were different. It was hard, the chairman said, for people to overcome the habits of 3,000 years of emperor-worshiping tradition. The so-called ‘Four Greats’—those epithets applied to Mao himself: ‘Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Supreme Commander, Great Helmsman’—what a nuisance. They would all be elminated sooner or later. Only the word ‘teacher’ would be retained—that is, simply schoolteacher. Mao had always been a schoolteacher and still was one. He was a primary schoolteacher in Changsha even before he was a Communist. All the rest of the titles would be declined.
“‘I often wonder,’ I said, ‘whether those who shout Mao the loudest and wave the most banners are not—as some say—waving the Red Flag in order to defeat the Red Flag.’
“Mao nodded. He said such people fell into three categories. The first were sincere people. The second were those who drifted with the tide—they conformed because everyone else shouted ‘Long live.’ The third category were hypocrites. I was right not to be taken in by such stuff.”
—Edgar Snow, “A Conversation with Mao Tse-tung”, Life magazine, April 30, 1971, p. 40. This article is online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/Individuals/Snow-Edgar/EdgarSnow-Life-1971-April30.pdf
The name most commonly used in the West for a style of formal clothing commonly worn by Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders during the Mao era, but which was actually created at the request of Sun Yat-sen, and promoted by him early in the 20th century. Sun Yat-sen is also known as Sun Zhongshan, so in China this is called a Zhongshan suit. It is also sometimes called the “People’s suit”.
Mao suits were mostly abandoned in China in the 1980s after the new capitalist class consolidated its control of the Communist Party and the government, and sought to more strongly emulate Western capitalist countries. However, Mao suits are occasionally dragged out of the closet for occasions when the rulers seek to emphasize their supposed “legitimacy”, as for example in the uneasy aftermath of the Tiananmen Massacre that Deng Xiaoping engineered in 1989.
“MAO TSE-TUNG THOUGHT” [New style: “MAO ZEDONG THOUGHT”]
See also: “THOUGHT” (As a system of political ideology)
MAOIST COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY AND NORTH KURDISTAN [MKP]
A party founded in 1994 as a split off from the TKP/ML, and was originally known as the Communist Party of Turkey (ML), with parentheses rather than a slash! It has two periodicals in Turkish, Devrimci Demokrasi [“Revolutionary Democracy”] and Sinif Teorisi [“Theory of the Class”]. The MKP has an armed wing named the People’s Liberation Army (Turkish initials: HKO). The Party was affiliated with the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement while that organization existed.
Some of the MKP’s documents and statements are being posted at: http://www.bannedthought.net/Turkey/index.htm
MAOIST REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY
See: REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY, FOREIGN EXPERIENCE
A foreign-owned manufacturing plant in Mexico, generally near the U.S. border. Maquiladoras have often been established by U.S. corporations in order to exploit low-wage Mexican labor. They are also allowed by the Mexican government to import materials and equipment from the U.S. duty free. These advantages have allowed U.S. corporations to increase their profits by shifting their production across the border. Ironically, however, in recent years, with the rise of even cheaper wage production in China, many maquiladoras have been undercut and have closed down.
Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index
MASSLINE.ORG Home Page