Introduction to Which Path – Cowardice or the Teaching of Mao Tse-Tung?


First Published: February 1963
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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MIA Introduction: In 1963, Hammer & Steel published a U.S. edition of the Chinese anti-revisionist polemic On the Differences between Comrade Togliatti and Us under the title, Which Path – Cowardice or the Teaching of Mao Tse-Tung?, together with their own introduction, which is reproduced here.

The working class in our country has waged bitter struggles against the capitalist class. We count thousands of martyrs – victims of frameups, vigilantes and lynchings. Yet the position of most U.S. workers today is one of severe exploitation and insecurity.

Negro workers, the majority of an oppressed people, are the worst off. The Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Indians, members of oppressed national minorities, are also brutally exploited. The majority of all workers are unorganized and living, even by the figures of the U.S. government, below minimum standards. Large sections of the organized are only slightly better off and the threat of automation, depression and war faces the people.

The publishers of this pamphlet believe that these conditions result from the contradiction between mass (social) production of the wealth and the ownership of that wealth by a handful of billionaires.

We further believe that the U.S. ruling class – the capitalists – greatly enrich themselves by foreign investments and the exploitation of the peoples in colonial lands. They have bribed a small section of the working class and a large section of labor leaders to support their plunder of weaker nations. Labor leaders backing Rockefeller, Kennedy and DuPont in Asia, Latin America and in Africa against the workers in those countries have had little hesitation in selling out their own working class.

The philosophy of aiding and yielding to the capitalists is known as opportunism in the labor movement. The struggle of the working class in the U.S. has to be a battle against both the class enemy and their agent’s philosophy in the labor movement.

When ideas of the capitalists penetrate the parties of the working class they are known as revisionism. The Socialist Party in the U.S. was once a powerful force, but became weak when its Marxist principles were revised. The Communist Party of the U. S. has become weak and counter-revolutionary because its present leadership surrendered to opportunism and revisionism. The CPUSA has become an advocate of Kennedy’s imperialism. It supported him in the election, on Cuba, in India and covers up for his anti-labor, anti-Negro activities at home.

One of the most successful and dangerous arguments of the revisionists is that the theory of working class leaders abroad has no value in the U.S. Actually an antidote to opportunism and revisionism is a world outlook, which demands the study of the works of Marxist-Leninists in other lands.

The works of Chinese leaders are especially important because the role of our ruling class and its government toward China has been, almost without exception, an imperialist role. It includes U.S. attacks on China in the Boxer Rebellion and in applying the Open Door policy. The U.S. occupies Taiwan which is Chinese territory. The U.S. government organized Indian reactionaries to attack China. It invades Chinese air space with military flights.

The anti-Chinese statements of U.S. labor opportunists and revisionists have an imperialist background and are therefore opposed to the interest of the U.S. working class. They reek of white chauvinism and encourage anti-Negro hatred here.

The attack on Stalin's leadership is an extension of the concept that Lenin’s definition of capitalism in the imperialist stage is no longer valid. The teaching of both Lenin and Stalin block the backward steps of the revisionists. The Tito-Khrushchev line leads to slander of Stalin and negation of Lenin.

Mao Tse-Tung advocates discussion and meetings to restore world unity among Marxist-Leninists. The revisionists dread discussion since it hastens the doom that waits for imperialism and its servants. The recent convention of the German Communist Party is an example of the desperation of Khrushchev. In order to prevent discussion he sanctioned hooliganism against the invited Chinese delegation. Any Marxist-Leninist, who is aware of Nazismís past and present activity in Germany should consider the full implications of that anti-Chinese demonstration. In our opinion, such tactics against representatives of an Asian country have more in common with Brown Shirts than the tradition of great Germans such as Marx, Engels, Thaelman and Rosa Luxembourg.

U.S. revisionists substitute slander and wild statement for discussions. For example, they praise Kennedy who launched aggression against Cuba and they claim that China “threatened humanity with war” when she defends her Socialist frontier. They charge Socialist Albania with being dogmatic and are pleased at the flexibility of Tito – the latter is restoring capitalism with the aid of U.S. guns and planes.

The Chinese Communist Party has demonstrated time and again that it is second to none in upholding the rights of all peoples, especially the colonial and newly liberated peoples. The Chinese, unlike Tito-Khrushchev, do not accept the right of U. S. planes to violate Cuban air space. Rather than accept Kennedy’s promise on Cuba they correctly warn of further attacks.

China is the nation which unites the Socialist peoples and the peoples struggling for national liberation. This is the main reason why they are able to provide such forceful theoretical contributions against U.S. imperialism. They are in the forefront of the struggle.

The road ahead for the U.S. working class leads to Socialism. It is not an easy road. It is full of pitfalls. Some of the pitfalls, such as cowardice before Kennedy’s H-bomb threats, anti-labor laws and the McCarran Act have already claimed many casualties. Yet out of the struggles of our class will come a Party with the theory and experience to win victory.

Let us not be daunted by paper tigers. Let us learn from workers in all land. Let us unite with workers in all lands.

As U.S. Marxist-Leninists we are proud to publish a document which is in the tradition of, and enriches, the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.