The Global Mass Line
by Jacob Brown
The Mass Line is one of the contributions to revolutionary science by the Maoists in China. Its method of communist leadership has equipped the masses all over the Proletarian Third World to successfully resist imperialism, as well as build the socialist foundations of a future communist society. And during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, the Mass Line had enabled the masses to drive out the capitalist roaders from the vanguard party for a period of time, maintaining progress on the socialist road towards communism.
–The Mass Line–
So what is the Mass Line originally? Mao Zedong explained:
“In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily “from the masses, to the masses”. This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge.” (1)
There has always been a general correlation between the de-emphasizing of the Mass Line and the promotion of bourgeois individualism on the one hand, and the restoration of capitalism in the former socialist countries on the other hand. The continuous practice of the Mass Line alongside the maintenance of a powerful vanguard Communist Party and People’s Army form the three pillars of Proletarian class dictatorship; Masses, Party, Army. History has shown that a “Communist” Party in power with no Mass Line cannot maintain a Proletarian Dictatorship and remain on the socialist road. A “People’s” Army that does not uphold the Mass Line does not actually fight for the broad masses of people and a socialist transition to communism.
–Why the Mass Line must be global in scope–
Some key ways Leading Light Communism has raised the bar for communist theory and practice in the 21st Century are related to the “globalization” of certain Maoist advances to the science of communist revolution. Some of these advances involve the refinement of Lin Biao’s framing of the “global city versus global countryside” as the Leading Light Communist doctrine of Global People’s War, as well as Global Class Analysis.
Leading Light Communists must similarly globalize our understanding of the Mass Line, and adjust our political work accordingly. Let’s take a look at scenarios involving political work done by comrades in both the Proletarian Third World and Bourgeois First World:
–The Global Mass Line in the Proletarian Third World–
In the Proletarian Third World, there are the consequences of not following the Mass Line as mentioned above. Even Maoist People’s Wars, as in Peru, faltered in their application of the Mass Line in various ways, with the defeat of the revolutionary forces there as the end result. There is also the phenomenon of fake “revolutions” led by the lackeys of imperialism (whether in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Hong Kong, etc.) It often enough to show that the majority of people within the countries affected opposed Western imperialist-sponsored “revolution”. This is because the majority populations of all countries across the Proletarian Third World, by the very Leading Light Communist definition, have the least to lose and the most to win from the end of capitalism-imperialism. Just as Mao said, “In wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism”, so too does a single popular majority in a single Third World country and the entire global proletariat generally tend to align.
However, even this alignment between a single Third World country majority population and the world’s global poor still requires the global perspective to be paramount. Leading Light Communists oppose so-called “democracy” or even “national liberation” movements sponsored by imperialism. We do not pander to one individual population of proletarians at the expense of the global proletariat as a whole and pan-Third World socialist unity.
The majority of the Chinese population ultimately sided with the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army in the revolutionary civil war, and the Third World proletariat as a whole were the beneficiaries of China’s 20 plus years on the socialist road to communism. The Maoists own faltering in the 1970s on matters of Third World solidarity (esp. in Latin America, South Asia, and the African continent) was the jettisoning of the proto-Global Mass Line, proto-Global People’s War, and-proto Global Class Analysis brought to the table by Lin Biao in his pamphlet “Long Live the Victory of People’s War!” in favor of a cynical “Three Worlds Theory” strategy of opportunist alignments. This abandoning of the seminal version of the Global Mass Line caused great damage to Third World solidarity and the cause for pan-Third World unity on a socialist basis.
–The Global Mass Line in the Bourgeois First World–
In the Bourgeois First World today, there are no “masses” of the poor and toiling in the sense that the Maoists, Bolsheviks, and Parisian communards understood the term. There is no doubt exploitation and oppression within the belly of the beast, but there is not enough of a significant concentration of those “with the least to lose and most to win” for the term “masses” to have any serious meaning for Leading Lights. As such, the only “Mass Line” that can be applied in the First World is only the Global Mass Line.
How does this affect a communist’s political work within the First World? For instance, struggles by labor within the Bourgeois First World are often for wages far above either the value of labor or a fair share of the global social product. There is nothing that upholds the Global Mass Line about those demands in particular, and in fact directly opposes it. If Leading Light Communists in the First World are to unite with the world’s masses of people on a genuine internationalist and anti-imperialist basis in a “from the masses to the masses” way, it would benefit the struggle for us to not advocate for what is essentially “wage scaling” the proletariat globally. We cannot synthesize and concentrate the ideas and concerns of some of the richest workers on the planet as a general line-of-march for the international proletariat as a whole, and expect the world’s masses to put this into any kind of genuine revolutionary communist practice.
Nevertheless, participation in labor struggles in the First World can be an opportunity for Leading Lights to do proletarian internationalist political education amongst even those who qualify as “working bourgeoisie”. Political education about the place of different groups of workers in the global production chain, the global divide in the working class in general, and why a new Global Class Analysis is needed for a new era of class struggle in the 21st century is not wasted if communism is in focus, even for an audience of what is essentially the “aristocracy of labor”. Participation of organized labor in the First World in a Global General Strike led by the Leading Light in the Proletarian Third World should be encouraged, not discouraged. What cannot be done is give way to First Worldist social-chauvinist economism.
Likewise, the struggles of the internal colonies within the Bourgeois First World, whether against police terror or redlining, do not add up some kind of “Mass Line” made up of a nationless cobbling of “People of Color”. What Leading Light Communists within the First World do have is an opportunity to unite with these struggles on the basis of “Revolution in the Third World, Resistance in the First World” as advancing the line of partisanship in the Global People’s War as the correct orientation of the struggles of the internal colonies towards the broader struggle of the Proletarian Third World against the Bourgeois First World.
The overwhelming majority of people in the Proletarian World who are already somewhat radicalized and active against the Bourgeois World empire remain inspired by the struggles of the internal colonies within the belly of the beast. We should be engaged with and encouraging links between partisans of the internal colonies within the Bourgeois World and the revolutionary masses in the Proletarian World. What cannot be permitted is the struggles of the internal colonies to devolve into liberal intergrationism into the empire, or otherwise present so-called “Third Worldist” activist tokens as “natural” representatives (via superficial national identity claims) of the global proletariat as a whole.
–Overlapping First World & Third World Issues pertaining to the Global Mass Line–
Certain activist trends originating from the Bourgeois First World have a particularly toxic way of dividing the Proletarian Third World in diametric opposition to the Global Mass Line, often over First World gender concerns. This either takes the form of fake First Worldist “feminism” or “pink imperialism” being imposed on Third World peoples, disregarding the particular national and cultural frameworks by which different peoples across the Third World deal with the struggle to uproot gender oppression in their own local contexts.
Examples of this particularly insidious form of self-righteous “progressive” social-chauvinism come with pseudo-feminist pro-imperialist fronts in the First World ramping up the case for the US empire’s invasion of Afghanistan and other Islamic majority countries after 2001. Other examples include relatively independent Third World states being targeted for regime change, with an added charge of not being “queer friendly” enough by Western activist standards.
This overlap can work in the opposite direction in favor the Global Mass Line, through Leading Lights in the Proletarian Third World setting the standard for mass work and building the independent institutions of New Power. It is the emerging New Power within the Proletarian World that is the material result of correct application of the Global Mass Line. This defines the contours of how Leading Light Communists and partisan allies within the Bourgeois World will create their own New Power institutions in solidarity with the New Power growing in the Proletarian World. By keeping the Global Mass Line in focus, Leading Light Communists can continue the struggle as Leading Lights in a global struggle against the capitalist system involving billions of people around the world, rather than tailing liberal activist or neocolonial NGO trends.
–Universal Aspects of the Applying the Global Mass Line in Various Local Conditions–
Taking some of the more humanistic trends in bourgeois individualist psychology, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (2), can be a useful social science tool in determining a correct practice of the Global Mass Line when retooled to serve the international proletariat.
Serve The People Programs: Amilcar Cabral once said that “the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children”. (3) As such, communism is not simply a regulative idea, but a constitutive one. Communism, Leading Light Communism, is the existing movement against the system of private property and for a global system where everything is common. The masses will not sacrifice their best and brightest during a People’s War against the Old Powers without the lived experience of interaction with communists at work to Serve The People. This is where the “Serve The People” programs come into play. It is foundational for the Leading Light Communist hierarchy of needs to pay close attention to the basic needs of the masses.
The People’s Army: The Serve The People programs are vulnerable to being swept away by the enemy Old Power without the masses being organized into a unit by communists to secure these programs and the masses generally. As Mao said, “without a People’s Army the People have nothing”. The People’s Army is the institution that accomplishes this security, as well as provides the defense for a New Power that the masses establish alongside the Old Power. It is also the People’s Army that carries the revolution to the end, that brings the People’s War to a victorious conclusion, establishing socialism. And finally, the People’s Army defends socialism and helps lead the momentum under socialism towards full communism.
New Power: The New Power is the sum of all the “independent institutions of Dual Power” that bring together “Party, Army, and Masses” into a state-in-miniature existing within the shadow of the enemy Old Power. This is where People’s Assemblies, an independent proletarian legal system and People’s Courts, and a proletarian taxation system and trade networks come into play. As People’s War advances, the New Power is expanded and more of the Old Power continues to be broken up and neutralized. With New Power, the masses understand on a material level the real meaning of socialism and communism, and will make the sacrifices necessary to bring the People’s War to victory.
Socialism: Prairie Fire once wrote, “Socialism must be understood through the lenses of power, of class struggle. Socialism must be understood as a transition to communism. Socialism is after the proletariat has seized control of society. The proletariat plays a leading role. The proletariat has taken and built state power. In other words, socialism is when society has been reorganized to serve the long-term interests of the proletariat. This means that society has been reorganized to advance to communism, the end of all oppression. Socialism means we have not arrived at the final goal of communism. Socialism is a transitional stage where class struggle still needs to be waged by the proletariat against reactionary classes. Socialism is when there are still class enemies that need to be defeated. There still are antagonistic contradictions that need to be resolved even though the proletariat has seized state power. Socialism can exist in one country, communism must be worldwide. The North Korean and Cuban states are not socialist for the same reason that Obama’s regime and Sweden are not. None of these regimes are headed for communism. None of them are out to radically reorganize society in order to eliminate all oppression. Socialism can only be understood as a transition to communism — to be advancing toward communism is what it means for society to be organized around the most farsighted and long-term interests of the proletariat.” (4)
Communism: Prairie Fire also wrote: “Communism is the final goal of our revolution. The end of all oppression. The end of exploitation. No rich. No poor. No racism. No national oppression. No sexism. No gender oppression. No more oppression of the youth. Communism is total liberation. No groups have power over others. As Marx and Lenin taught, the state is a weapon for one group to oppress another. Since no group has power over another, there is no need for a state in communism. Communism is equality. A society organized around human need. No greed. No individualism. No longer will people see themselves merely as individuals under communism. Communism is collectivism. The common good. Sharing. Private property is eliminated under communism. Communism is altruism. As Marx said, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The ethic of “serve the people” will govern all human interactions. The people will be one under communism. No more me, me, me. Communism is sustainability. No longer will people destroy the earth, our common home. We have an obligation to future generations. Antagonistic contradictions no longer exist under communism. Communism is peace. Under communism, the revolution is self-perpetuating. Total communism has never existed, although there have been various indigenous societies that have shared many aspects with communism. Some have called some tribal societies “primitive communism.”” (4)
Communism is not simply a distant future goal. It is the very regulative idea that propels the global poor armed with revolutionary science to achieve it in the material world. From our foundational mass work as Leading Light Communists to Serve The People, we are making communism a constitutive idea from the very beginning. Communism was, is, and will always be the best way to organize human society worldwide. Only the intentional activity of the masses of people in their billions can bring our species into communism worldwide.
Communism is achievable if we dare to struggle and show the correct method of leadership – From the masses, to the masses, on a global level!
1. “The Mass Line”, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/ch11.htm
2. “Maslow’s Theory Revisited”, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/maslows_theory_revisited/
3. “Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories…”, https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1965/tnlcnev.htm
4. “What is socialism? What is communism?”, https://leadinglightcommunist.org/what-is-socialism-what-is-communism/