First Published: in Struggle! No. 123, September 5, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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On September 9, 1976, Mao Tse-tung, the great revolutionary leader of the Chinese people for more than forty years, died. It’s impossible to think of Mao without also calling to mind the struggle and the victories of the Chinese people, to whom, as Mao himself put it, he was first a pupil in order later to be teacher.
So what we are commemorating today is not another “great man” in the sense that the capitalists often do when they sing hymns to various “geniuses”. No, we are paying respect to the struggle and victories of the Chinese people whom Mao guided along a revolutionary path for so many years.
September 9, 1978, should be something more than just a memorial celebration. It should be an occasion to uphold those victories in the face of those characters who would like to cast them aside and move on to something else more “realistic”. It should be grasped as an opportunity to defend those victories against the attacks of those who are rejecting Marxism-Leninism more and more openly, the Marxism-Leninism upon which Mao based himself and which he applied in a lively way to push the class struggle forward in China and in the world.
Worse still, some of those people have the gall to even use Mao’s name to accomplish their opportunist objectives. Mao was “the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time”, that is the latest word from the so-called Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) .
But what does this statement mean in reality when you look beneath the superficial faithfulness to Mao’s teachings? Would the League have us understand by this that they have carefully weighed in the balance the strong and weak points of all of the revolutionary leaders (Lenin, Stalin, Also, Hoxha) of our time, in the epoch of imperialism, and that Mao has the honour of having been awarded first prize? This kind of game is, to say the least, a dubious exercise for those who claim to be Marxist-Leninists to indulge in. If this is not what they’re doing, than there is only one other possible conclusion to draw from what they have said: that Mao was the greatest Marxist-Leninist of a “new epoch”, one that is different from the epoch of imperialism.
This “new epoch” has been clearly mapped out for us by the current Chinese leadership: it is an epoch which is witnessing the birth of a “new phenomenon in the history of the development of imperialism” namely “the predominance of imperialist superpowers over the run-of-the-mill imperialist powers.” 
So there we have an indication of where those people, who like to introduce themselves as the greatest (and indeed the only, according to the League) defenders of Mao want to end up. According to them, Mao’s contribution to the science and historical experience of the world proletariat was the discovery that imperialism is not the final stage, the highest stage of total decay of capitalism condemned to certain death as a result of the unified actions of the revolutionary forces around the world. No, according to them, there is another stage which he discovered – the stage of the superpowers – which has completely changed the nature of the epoch we are living in and has transformed the character of imperialism itself. This new stage imposes on us all a “new” task: reconciliation. Reconciliation between the peoples of Chile or Iran and the fascists Pinochet and (Shah) Pahlavi. Reconciliation between the people of Zaire and the former colonizing power, Belgium, U.S. imperialism and the dictator Mobutu. Reconciliation such as we have seen recently between Hua Kuo-feng and Tito, who was also proclaimed a great Marxist-Leninist leader of this “new epoch”.
This is the epoch where the struggle to eliminate all imperialism , and reaction has been reduced to nothing more than a “long-term struggle” (the expression is the League’s). The immediate struggle is the one against the superpower(s). In short, we are supposedly now living in an epoch where imperialism is no longer a tiger, as Mao said it was, but rather a pussycat that is to be petted and mollycoddled.
This talk about a “new epoch” has absolutely nothing in common with the teachings of Mao. Those who attribute such a fantastic invention to him are nothing but con artists. Moreover, these imposters have no doubt picked up on the fact that its going to be hard to make the peoples of the world swallow such slanders about Mao’s contribution. So they have also taken care to specify, as the Chinese leaders did recently, that “The development of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung thought undoubtedly includes the revision of certain outdated principles”.
And these are the people who claim to be defending Marxism-Leninism and the heritage of Mao?Was Mao talking about a “new epoch” of reconciliation when he wrote: “When we say ’imperialism is ferocious” what we mean by that is that its nature has not changed and that the imperialism will never put aside their butcher knives to become buddhas right up to the day they are overthrown.” Was Mao thinking about the Shah of Iran or Pinochet or Mobutu when he said that “it is up to the peoples of the whole world to put an end to the aggression and oppression of imperialism?”  Are these perhaps the “outdated principles” that China’s current leaders would like so much to “rectify” and get rid of?
The August 25 issue of The Forge contained the following warning: “When a great communist like Mao Tse-tung dies, all the betrayers of the revolution, revisionists and opportunists of all hues, try to claim the mantle of his teachings and to attack those genuine continuators of his revolutionary cause”. Never has the League written truer words. The truth of this statement hits very close to home. It should make its members, the readers of The Forge and all others who have had the wool pulled over their eyes by the League, think twice about the revisionist road which this group has been trodding along for quite some time now.
Commemorating the anniversary of Mao’s death is not a matter of looking for a blanket of moral security in proclamations about “the greatest of the great for all time”. Rather it is an occasion to work as he did, not to defend “individuals” or their “reputations” but to uphold Marxism-Leninism against all types of opportunism and revisionism. It is an opportunity to reaffirm that we are still in the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution. It is a chance to work still harder at applying the science of the proletariat to the concrete conditions of our country so that we will be able to overthrow the capitalist class and build the dictatorship of the proletariat right here in Canada.
 The Forge, August 25, 1978, page 2.
 “Chairman Mao’s Theory of the Differntiation of the Three Worlds is a Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism”, Peking Review, No 45 November 4, 1977, p 19.
 The Forge, March 17, 1976, p. 10 Our emphasis.
 Peking Review, No 29, July 21, 1978 page 12.
 Our translation of Le camerade Mao Tsé-toung sur L’imperérialisme et tous les réactionnaires sont des tigres en papier pages 8 and 31 respectively.