The below piece was originally posted in the hot-off-the-presses latest edition of Insurgent Notes, an excellent Communist journal published by some of our comrades.
In this moment the US revolutionary left is attempting to rebuild from being murdered, exiled and corrupted into practical nonexistence. As part of this process, we have to take a hard and utterly nondogmatic look at the history of various revolutionary traditions…..unfortunately this is not very common. What is more common, and infinitely more boring and useless, is a gutter-level political culture that includes one-sentence name-calling summaries of traditions and idealized versions of ones’ own, leading to brain-dead strategic thought often based in knee-jerk rejection.
We are also not going to win by implementing broad left unity, or by rejecting theory and strategic thought as “academic” or “overintellectualized“. This could only work if our ideas for approaching the world, and the strategies we make with them, don’t matter for whether our struggles win (if only for a few years) or are drowned in blood. I’ve yet to hear someone directly defend this thesis, but by all means the comment thread is open for you if you’re interested!
What nondogmatic means in this case is MORE intellectual, in the sense of a deeper look into the reality of complex historical events, figures, strategies and tactics. It also means “No Cheap Shots“, i.e. we’re trying to learn about the applicability of certain ideas to reality, and the consequences of their use, rather than GET someone in some kind of boxing-like debate.
The following piece is an example of the kind of sharp debate that we need, and the readable historical summations of different tendencies we’ll need to develop and debate in order to understand our history and its impact on today.
Introduction by an Advance the Struggle Comrade:
A Marxist critique of Maoism
Were living in a historical moment where anarchism, Trotskyism and Maoism have not proved to be powerful revolutionary systems nor totally obsolete. They hang on to the left. Become reproduced in a variety of ways. Maoism in particularly is an important movement. It claims to be the most serious Marxist movement that is grounded in a non European setting. Such a dynamic makes Maoism an attractive force for young militants of color who align themselves with third world struggles. The Black Panthers were highly influenced by Maoism and Fanon. Movies often depict Panthers selling the Mao’s little red book. The key inspiration for the Panthers, Malcolm X, also was influenced by Maoism. In his Message to the Grassroots, 10th Nov, 1963: Malcolm states:
“…The Chinese Revolution — they wanted land. They threw
the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah,
they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I
read an article — don’t be shocked when I say I was in
prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means:
prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life
magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her
father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the
trigger ’cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had
the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of
Uncle Toms — just wiped them out. And within ten years
that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more
Toms in China. And today it’s one of the toughest,
roughest, most feared countries on this earth — by the
white man. ‘Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there.”…
As 1500 strikes take place in China everyday, and China being a center of global capitalist accumulation within the world system, many in the Chinese left will try to redevelop Maoism. We need a clear analysis of the political character of Maoism from a marxist perspective. One that can trace its historical development from 1911 to the present. With that said, we welcome Loren Goldner’s essay, a Marxist critique of Maoism.
Note to the Reader: The following was written at the request of a west coast comrade after he attended the August 2012 “Everything for Everyone” conference in Seattle, at which many members of the “soft Maoist” Kasama current were present. It is a bare-bones history of Maoism which does not bring to bear a full “left communist” viewpoint, leaving out for the example the sharp debates on possible alliances with the “nationalist bourgeoisie” in the colonial and semi-colonial world at the first three congresses of the Communist International. It was written primarily to provide a critical-historical background on Maoism for a young generation of militants who might be just discovering it. —LG.
Maoism was part of a broader movement in the twentieth century of what might be called “bourgeois revolutions with red flags,” as in Vietnam or North Korea.
To understand this, it is important to see that Maoism was one important result of the defeat of the world revolutionary wave in 30 countries (including China itself) which occurred in the years after World War I. The major defeat was in Germany (1918–1921), followed by the defeat of the Russian Revolution (1921 and thereafter), culminating in Stalinism.
Maoism is a variant of Stalinism. Continue reading →
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