A quick look at some of Mao’s errors
Mao Zedong was the greatest revolutionary of the last century. Mao led a quarter of the world in throwing off the chains of imperialism, feudalism and capitalism. “China has stood up,” he announced from the steps of Tiananmen. A quarter of the world’s population threw in their lot with Mao’s revolution to build a new world without oppression. Out of this experience, Maoism was born. Maoism was a leap in our scientific understanding of how to make revolution. Although Maoism was not Mao’s alone, his writings served as its major point of reference. Mao’s greatest gift to humanity is his contribution of Maoism. Although Maoism has been surpassed today, Maoism was a key step in the development of Leading Light Communism, the highest peak of revolutionary science to date. Leading Light Communism leads the global struggle today. We owe the greatest debt to Mao. Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish between Mao and Maoism, and between Mao and Leading Light Communism. Mao was by no means perfect. Despite all of his accomplishments, he still made grave errors. In part, Leading Light Communism is a response to these errors.
Third Worldist views can be found contending with First Worldist views throughout the history of the communist movement. Yet First Worldism has been the dominant view historically. Mao, unfortunately, inherited First Worldist dogma. Mao never broke with the idea that it was only a minority of elites in the First World that exploit and oppress the vast majority. He never broke with the idea that the majority of First World peoples, including the majority of the First World working class, are allies of the world revolution. Furthermore, Mao’s view of the United States reflects this error. For example, Mao stated:
“The Chinese people firmly support the revolutionary struggle of the American people. I am convinced that the American people who are fighting valiantly will ultimately win victory…” (1)
“In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world.” (2) (3)
Mao’s First Worldism is consistent throughout his life. The Chinese Communist Party echoed Mao’s First Worldism for most of its existence. However, during the Lin Biao period from 1965 to 1971, the CCP’s First Worldist rhetoric, at times, almost vanishes from sight. This is especially the case from 1965 to 1968. In fact, during these years, another line emerges in Chinese publications alongside First Worldism. The line that emerges is one that ignores or writes off First World struggles. This line is the line of Lin Biao’s 1965 article Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Lin Biao recognized the contradiction of the global city versus the global countryside, the exploiter countries versus exploited countries, etc, as the principal one. At the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1967, Beijing Review, for example, published an article by Robert F. Williams that paraphrased Lin Biao’s line:
“In keeping with the principles of people’s war, wherein the great masses of exploited peoples of the world represent the rural areas surrounding the cities (the exploiting industrial countries), the Afro-American revolutionaries represent a mighty urban underground within the city.” (4)
We can infer that there was a struggle within the Chinese Communist Party over how to evaluate the First World populations. By publishing Robert F. Williams, who is not under the discipline of the Party, the minority line is able to make its way into the media on occasion. Unfortunately, the Lin Biao line did not win out over the Mao-backed First Worldist dogma.
Failure to follow through on the Cultural Revolution: domestic policy, creeping capitalism
Other errors surrounded Mao’s shift to the right following the Ninth Congress of April of 1969. Into the 1970s, Mao moved rightward in both domestic policy and foreign policy. When Mao turned to the right, he came into conflict with many Maoists. When the spontaneous mass movements were ended, the Cultural Revolution Group was purged of its “ultra-left” at the end of 1967 through 1968. Wang Li, hero of the Wuhan Incident, who first theorized “continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat,” was purged at the end of 1967. Guan Feng and Qi Benyu were also purged. This put an end to the spontaneous mass movements and power seizures from below. In 1970, Chen Boda lost power. In 1971, Lin Biao lost power and died. Chen Boda and Lin Biao were the ones most responsible for the systematization and elevation of Maoism as a new stage of Marxism. Lin Biao was accused of a coup, but no credible evidence has ever been presented to support this claim. The “evidence” that was presented at Lin Biao’s trial was trivial, and often forged. The story of Lin Biao’s coup is the clumsiest of police narratives. Interestingly, the “Gang of Four,” the last remaining top Maoists in 1976, in a repeat of the falsifications surrounding Lin Biao, would also be charged with plotting a coup.
After the initial victory of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969) and the Ninth Congress (1969), the Maoist prize should have been a return to the Maoist economic policies that had been defeated by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping during the Great Leap years (1958-1962). The point of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969) had been to reverse the creeping capitalism as the Maoist model was abandoned during the Great Leap years. This defeat during the Great Leap prompted Mao to initially talk about the danger of capitalist counter-revolution by a new capitalist class. Yet after clearing away his opposition, Mao did not return to the Maoist development model after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969). Instead of taking hold of the prize, Mao opted to return to a position very similar to the compromise position that the revisionists had forced on the Maoists at the end of the Great Leap. The return to a strong Maoist development model championed by those around Chen Boda and Lin Biao, informally known as the “Flying Leap,” was abandoned. In other words, there was a turn away from Maoism throughout the 1970s, especially following the removal of Lin Biao. At times, Mao was part of this turn to the right.
Through the 1970s, as a part of the turn, verdicts were slowly reversed and those who had been deposed during the Cultural Revolution were restored. For example, in 1972, Mao attended Chen Yi’s funeral and referred to him as a “comrade.” Thus Mao signaled a reversal of the verdict on this Adverse Current leader and staunch opponent of the Cultural Revolution. Ye Jianying, who later orchestrated the arrest of the “Gang of Four” in 1976 was promoted. So too were other revisionists and rightists promoted with Mao’s approval in order to fill the power void left after the People’s Liberation Army was purged of the Maoists.
“In our country there are people who curse us, saying we are completely leftist. Which people are our ‘leftist faction’? They are those who wanted to knock down the Premeir today, Chen Yi tomorrow, Ye Jianying the next day. This so-called ‘left’ faction is now in jail. For several years there was chaos under heaven, fighting in various places throughout the nation, widespread civil war. The two sides fired guns, all together one million guns. This army faction supported this faction, that army faction supported that faction, [all] fighting. Power was seized by that ‘left’ faction… The chief backstage backer [of the ‘left’ faction] is now no longer with us, [he is] Lin Biao.” (5)
The most famous case was that of Deng Xiaoping. During the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping was characterized and deposed as the “second person in authority taking the capitalist road.” In 1972, Mao changed his tune. Mao said that the problem of Deng Xiaoping, exiled in Jiangxi at the time, was a “contradiction among the people.” (6) Deng Xiaoping was brought back to power in 1974 to a top leadership role with Mao’s blessing. Deng Xiaoping would later preside over the complete dismantling of socialism in the 1980s. Despite coming into conflict with the revisionists at times, Mao wavered and waffled. At times, Mao even protected the revisionists. Even though Deng Xiaoping was removed from power more than once, Mao had protected him. For example, Mao personally intervened to separate Deng Xiaoping’s case from Liu Shaoqi’s at the height of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969). Thus Mao saved Deng Xiaoping, allowing him to make a comeback. Mao failed to carry the Cultural Revolution through to the end.
Errors in global outlook and foreign policy
Errors were made in foreign policy and global outlook also. Mao correctly broke with the Soviet social-imperialists, in part, because of the Soviets had become imperialist themselves and even begun to align with the Western imperialists. Yet, in the 1970s, the Chinese Party found itself also aligning with the Western imperialists. This rightward turn was part of Mao’s rejection of Lin Biao’s people’s war outlook. Lin Biao was associated with the line that China ought to promote people’s wars led by Maoism. The Lin Biao line was connected to dissemination of Maoism internationally. Lin Biao’s line put China at odds with almost every state in the world except revolutionary and popular ones. The Lin Biao line advocated fighting both Western imperialism headed by the United States and social-imperialism all at once. The correct Lin Biao line came to be seen as ultra-left by Mao. As early as 1969, Mao assigned people like Chen Yi and Deng Xiaoping to come up with a new line. Eventually the new, anti-Lin Biao line would recommend a tacit Chinese-US alliance against the Soviet Union, which the Chinese Party characterized as “Hitler-like.” This came to be justified after the fact by “Three Worlds Theory” of the 1970s (not to be confused with “Third Worldism”). Deng Xiaoping was the main spokesman for this line and theory during the 1970s. Lin Biao’s faction opposed this reactionary turn in foreign policy and global outlook. The endgame of the new, reactionary line was the full capitulation to imperialism that occurred under Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. China, which had been a beacon for oppressed countries everywhere, now seemed to be selling out. This reactionary line had the effect of discrediting Mao-influenced movements worldwide.
The revolutionary movement faces difficult challenges in the coming years. There are no socialist states. In this context, revolutionary scientists must step up. It is our duty to avoid the mistakes of the past. This necessitates the ruthless evaluation of the history of the revolutionary movement. No stone must be left unturned. Today, Leading Light Communism blazes a trial by setting the record straight where others disseminate self-serving falsifications. We must take what was right about past movements, elevate and develop that. We must reject all that was wrong. Total science, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism in command.
2. Mao Zedong, “Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism” (August 8, 1963) http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/two-articles-by-mao-zedong-on-the-african-american-national-question/
3. Mao Zedong, “Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression” (April 16, 1968) http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/two-articles-by-mao-zedong-on-the-african-american-national-question/
4. Beijing Review (August 18,1967) http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/robert-williams-in-beijing-review-august-1967/
5. Teiwes, Fredrick C. The End of the Maoist Era. M. E. Sharpe. Inc. USA: 2007. p 1 of introduction
6. Two Roads Defeated part 2 of 3. http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/two-roads-not-taken-part-2-of-3-still-under-revision/