Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Speech by OL Chairman: ’The Greatest Communist of Our Time’

First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 21, September 27, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The following are excerpts from a speech given by Michael Klonsky, Chairman of the October League, at a memorial meeting for Mao Tsetung in Chicago on September 17.

* * *

The greatest communist of our time, Mao Tsetung, is dead. His death is a great loss to the Chinese people, whose revolution he led through every stage and each twist and turn. But more than that, it is a loss to the working and oppressed people of every land.

This is because the thought of Chairman Mao has great international significance beyond the borders of China. Just as Marx and Engels were not simply Germans; just as Lenin and Stalin were not simply Russians, it would be wrong to look at Chairman Mao and his teachings as simply Chinese. All of these great teachers were internationalists above all and no one more than Mao Tsetung. They all applied and developed the ideas of scientific socialism to the revolutionary conditions of their time for the whole world to learn from.

It would be impossible in one speech or in one article to adequately sum up all of Mao Tsetung’s contributions to the treasure-house of Marxism. Now that comrade Mao is gone from us, I’m sure that this task will be carried on.

It will have to be done in sharp struggle with the bourgeoisie and their agents who have always slandered and attacked Mao throughout the last half-century. From early childhood until liberation, they arrested him, murdered his wife, children and family. The Japanese imperialists flew regular bombing runs over Yenan during the war with the expressed purpose of killing Chairman Mao, who was sheltered in cave dwellings at the foot of the mountains.

Now in death, they will mercilessly try to distort the meaning of his life with lies. More dangerously, they will try to separate him from the masses or mystify him to such an extent that the working people to whom he belonged cannot relate to him.

As Lenin wrote: “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their teachings with the most savage malice the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to surround their names with a certain halo for the ’consolation’ of the oppressed classes and the object of duping the latter, while at the same time, emasculating the essence of the revolutionary teaching, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.” (State and Revolution).

The revisionists in China tried to separate Mao Tsetung from the traditions of Marxism-Leninism which he inherited and developed. They wrote that Mao Tsetung Thought was something separate from Marxism-Leninism and even tried to say that we were living in a “new era” when Marxism-Leninism no longer applied but Mao Tsetung Thought did. Mao Tsetung Thought is inseparable from Marxism-Leninism. Chairman Mao was the staunchest defender of Marxism-Leninism in our time. In no way can his teachings be separated or counterposed to those of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin who preceded him.

Marx and Engels were the co-founders of scientific socialism. They lived during the era of the development of capitalism. They studied the laws of development of the’ system and the revolutionary movements of the people, such as the Paris Commune and the bourgeois revolutions and peasant revolts that marked their times.

Marx and Engels taught us the basic laws of class struggle, and of the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat–that is, the rule of society by the working class–which is the path towards communism.

But these two revolutionary giants never-lived to see their dreams of a new society translated into living reality, except for a period of the few months when the Commune existed in Paris. It was Lenin who took up the revolutionary banner after their death and who applied and developed their teachings under the conditions of imperialism—the highest stage of capitalism. Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

Lenin founded the Bolshevik Party, a party of a new type which was capable of leading the socialist revolution. He defended Marxism against the revisionists of his day, like Bernstein and Kautsky, rediscovering its revolutionary content which was mucked over by the opportunists of the Second International, who called for the parliamentary road to socialism and who sided with their own capitalists against the workers of other countries in the first imperialist war.

Lenin led the first successful workers’ revolution in the world and established the first socialist state. He linked the revolution itself with the theoretical development of the workers’ need to exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat and developed the science of Marxism to deal with these new tasks which history placed before the people in this new epoch.

Stalin continued the work of Lenin. He led the Soviet Union in socialist construction and the people of the world in the defense of socialism against Hitler’s fascist legions. He turned back the assault from within the fortress of socialism by the Trotskyists and revisionists of his day.

Mao Tsetung not only led the Chinese Revolution to its success, not only founded the great and glorious Communist Party of China and guided the working class forward to victory, but creatively applied the science of Marxism-Leninism to solve the new and unanswered questions of his day.

He led the people through the complex twists and turns of the new democratic revolution, about which his theoretical works have lit the pathway for all third world countries. The Chinese new democratic revolution smashed without a doubt the chauvinist notion that somehow Marxism-Leninism was the property of the Europeans and not applicable to people of color— the people of the third world.

His military writings are studied carefully wherever the enslaved are daring to take up arms and fight for their freedom. “Every communist must grasp the truth ’political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,’” stated Chairman Mao.

Mao Tsetung’s philosophical works help lay the ideological foundations of our movement, while his contributions on party building shine through the fog of opportunism like a lighthouse.


The most important of his contributions came after the liberation of China when Chairman Mao led the way forward in socialist construction and in carrying out class struggle under socialism. Chairman Mao had to simultaneously carry out the struggle against China’s capitalist-roaders as well as to defend Marxism-Leninism from the Soviet revisionists who had already succeeded in restoring capitalism in the homeland of Lenin.

To realize the significance of Chairman Mao’s leadership, we can only ask ourselves what would have happened to the international movement if China had followed the USSR and more than 100 other parties into the camp of revisionism? Where would we have been today had not Chairman Mao and his comrades stood up to the Khrushchev revisionists and said, “No! We will not let you trample on the bright red banner of socialism!”

What hope would the thousands of workers who have rallied to our movement have had if China, Albania and the rest of the socialist countries had been destroyed from within like the Soviet Union?


Chairman Mao personally initiated and led the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which saved socialism. Around the world, Marxist-Leninists, inspired by the Cultural Revolution, rose up against the modern revisionists and formed new parties and Marxist-Leninist organizations.

It was his decisive leadership at a time when the whole communist movement hung in the balance that enabled us to struggle. Even in the final hours of his life, he led the struggle against Teng Hsiao-ping, who tried to reverse the correct verdicts of the Cultural Revolution.

The history of development of our own movement is very closely connected to that of the Chinese comrades and Chairman Mao. His clarity and militant support for the people of the U.S. and in particular the Afro-American people’s struggle have given many of us the courage to continue when times were hard, knowing that the socialist motherland with its 800,000,000 were behind us.

Our party when it is built will owe its existence to Chairman Mao. It is our sacred duty now to carry on the struggle to forge the party, to unite the working class and oppressed nationalities, and to mobilize the masses in revolutionary struggle to overthrow this oppressive system of capitalism.

We must follow Chairman Mao’s example and lead a life completely devoted to the cause of the people, sparing no sacrifice and fearing no difficulty in the great battles ahead.