Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Greatest Marxist of Our Time Dead at 82

Glory to Mao Tsetung!

First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 20, September 20, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“All men must die, but death can vary in its significance,” wrote Mao Tsetung. “Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather,” Chairman Mao said, quoting from the ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien. Mao added, “To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.”

On Thursday morning, Sept. 9, Mao Tsetung died. His death is indeed weightier than Mount Tai. It rests as a heavy burden on the people of China and the working people throughout the world. In his 82 years, millions came to love and cherish Chairman Mao and to follow the brilliant path he charted on the road to communism. No human being in history influenced so many people in his lifetime or had such a profound effect on the world as did Mao Tsetung. He was the greatest Marxist of the contemporary era.


Chairman Mao now takes his place alongside the glorious leaders of the working class – Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels, V. I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin – who have left humanity its greatest legacy: the science of communism. Mao Tsetung creatively applied and developed the teachings of Marxism-Leninism to the period in which he lived. He personally guided the Chinese people through each stage of their revolution and provided the leadership to the communist movement throughout the world in its life or death struggle against revisionism and opportunism of all types.

Founder of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army, beloved leader of the people in times of their greatest hardships, brilliant theoretician, military leader, statesman and poet, Mao Tsetung was before all else .a revolutionary. His death will certainly bring joy to the imperialists and social-imperialists and to the reactionaries everywhere. But among the working and oppressed people of every country, Mao Tsetung will forever be mourned and revered.

Born the son of middle peasants in China’s Hunan Province on Dec. 26, 1893, Mao Tsetung devoted his life from early youth to the revolution. At 18 he joined Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalist Army in the 1911 bourgeois democratic revolution. He contributed revolutionary articles to various journals and in 1918 founded China’s first Marxist newspaper, Hsian Chiang Review.

In 1919 he joined the May 4th Movement which marked the beginning of the new democratic revolution. The May 4th Movement, sparked by the uprising of thousands of youth and students, was directed at foreign imperialism and the domestic reactionaries who sold out China’s national interest. Summing up this great movement 20 years later, Mao wrote: “How should we judge whether a youth is a revolutionary? How can we tell? There can only be one criterion, namely, whether or not he is willing to integrate himself with the broad masses of workers and peasants and does so in practice.” (“The Orientation of the Youth Movement”).

Mao Tsetung was one of the 12 delegates to the founding Congress of the Communist Party of China, held in 1921 in Shanghai, and was chosen secretary of the Hunan Party Branch. Following the founding of the Party, Mao organized militant strikes of miners in Anyuan.

He then organized the peasant movement in Hunan in support of the Northern Expedition against the reactionary warlords and in 1926 wrote his classic “Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society,” which solved the problem of the chief ally of the revolution by showing the revolutionary character of the peasants. He started the article with the question: “Who are our enemies and who are our friends? This question is one of primary importance in the revolution.”

Chairman Mao’s view of the peasantry as the staunchest and most numerous ally of the Chinese working class was deepened in his “Report of an Investigation into the Peasant Movement in Hunan” written in 1927. Regarding the mass upsurge in the peasant movement, Mao said: “There are three alternatives. To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them? Every Chinese is free to choose, but events will force you to make the choice quickly.”


But Mao Tsetung’s line was rejected by the party leadership, then under the opportunist line of Chen Tu-hsiu, who preached reliance on the bourgeoisie rather than on tile workers and peasants. Later in 1927 the alliance between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomingtang was smashed by Chiang Kai-shek and four-fifths of the party was wiped out by Chiang’s anti-communist terror. Mao and the party were forced to retreat to the Chingkangshan Mountains.

In 1934, Chairman Mao led the epic Long March from the liberated base area in Kiangsi, following the terrible set-backs caused by the “left”-opportunist line Wang Ming. The Long March covered over 7,500 miles, with the enemy in hot pursuit and allowed the people’s army and party to survive. It opened up new horizons for the Chinese revolution following its completion.

It was on the Long March that Mao’s leadership was finally fully recognized and in 1935 at the historic Tsunyi Meeting he was elected to the post of Chairman. Following the Long March, the party established its base area in Yenan. From there, under Chairman Mao’s guidance, it would soon liberate all of China from the Japanese invaders and the Chiang Kai-shek clique. Mao wrote of theLong March that: “It has proclaimed to the world that the Red Army is an army of heroes, while the imperialists and their runnng dogs, Chiang Kai-shek and his like, are impotent ... It has announced to some 200 million people in 11 provinces that the road of the Red Army is their only road to liberation.”

In the war against the Japanese invaders, Chairman Mao led the formation of the anti-Japanese united front calling on the Chinese people to unite in a protracted war of national liberation. In an interview with Edgar Snow in 1936, he said: “The key to victory in the war now lies in developing the resistance that has already begun into a war of total resistance by the whole nation.”

Chairman Mao’s military tactics and strategy were key in defeating the Japanese. In the course of the war he wrote many of his classic military writings such as, “On Protracted War,” “Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War Against Japan,” and “Problems of War and Strategy.” In these writings he showed the Chinese people that only through a protracted armed struggle—a people’s war—could the revolution succeed. He developed the tactical line of surrounding the cities from the countryside, establishing rural base areas and then finally liberating the urban centers. This line was the result of a scientific application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of China’s revolution.

In 1940, he developed the general line and policy for the party to guide the new democratic revolution in “On New Democracy.” “Thus this revolution,” he explained, “actually serves the purpose of clearing a still wider path for the development of socialism.” “On New Democracy” has become a powerful weapon and a bright beacon in the hands of the third world peoples who are presently carrying through their own revolutions.

Chairman Mao also wrote many of his philosophical works in the caves of Yenan, making some of the most important contributions ever to the communist world view of dialectical and historical materialism. The two most important of these works were “On Practice” and “On Contradiction.” In “On Practice” Mao explained, “In judging the trueness of one’s knowledge or theory, one cannot depend upon one’s subjective feelings about it, but upon its objective result in social practice. Only social practice can be the criterion of truth.”

Following the defeat of the Japanese imperialists, Chiang Kai-shek launched civil war against the communists with the backing of U.S. imperialism. But despite U.S. aid, the corrupt, reactionary rule of the Chiang Kai-shek clique was smashed through the revolutionary warfare of the masses and Chiang was forced to flee and set up his puppet regime in Taiwan Province. On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was founded and the new democratic revolution ended in victory.

Without interruption, Chairman Mao led the party and the people in constructing a strong and independent China on the road to socialism. But Chairman Mao pointed out that China’s victory in socialist construction was bound up with the victory of the worldwide revolutionary movement against imperialism. Thousands of Chinese volunteers came to the aid of the Korean people in their struggle against the U.S. invaders. Under Mao’s leadership, China gave freely of itself, with “no-strings-attached” aid to the Vietnamese, Cambodian, African, Arab and other liberation movements.

During the course of his life, Mao made many personal sacrifices. Most of his family was killed by the reactionaries or foreign invaders during the revolution, including his first wife, his two brothers and his mother. One of his sons died a volunteer in the Korean struggle.

Chairman Mao led China on the course of socialism through self-reliance. Despite the betrayal of the Soviet revisionists who withdrew all aid, China was able to build itself up through hard work and diligent efforts. Chairman Mao pointed out, however, that production could only advance through grasping revolution.

Perhaps Mao’s most important contribution to Marxism-Leninism was his teachings on the class struggle under socialism. Summing up the strengths and weaknesses of the international movement and in particular the experience of the Soviet Union, Chairman Mao pointed out: “In this respect, the question of which will win out socialism or capitalism, is still not really settled.” He added: “Marxism can develop only through struggle, and not only is this true of the past and the present, it is necessarily true of the future as well.” (“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”).

Chairman Mao showed how the overthrown bourgeoisie never rests content with its defeat but continues to make attempts at restoration of the old society. They are joined in this by the new bourgeoisie which arises out of the bureaucracy in the party and the state. He pointed out that the victory of revisionism would mean the death of socialism. “The rise to power of revisionism,” he warned, “means the rise to power of the bourgeoisie.”


He concluded that classes and class struggle continue throughout the entire historical period of socialism when the “bourgeoisie is right in the party” itself. Leading the struggle to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius and criticizing Teng Hsiao-ping, Chairman Mao laid down the party’s basic line for carrying on the revolution during socialism.

In the course of many struggles against the capitalist-roaders in China as well as against international revisionism headed by the USSR, Mao pointed the way forward, calling class struggle “the key link” in building socialism. Under his guidance and revolutionary line, the Chinese people eliminated step by step ownership by imperialism, bureaucrat-capitalism, and feudalism, and gradually transferred the ownership of the means of production to the hands of the proletariat. Creatively applying the teachings of Marxism-Leninism to socialist society, Mao developed and deepened communist theory and practice and answered previously unanswered questions dealing with the nature of the revolution under socialism.

He personally initiated and led the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which was a powerful mass movement aimed at preventing capitalist restoration. In the course of this great revolution, the capitalist roaders such as Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and Teng Hsiao-ping were defeated. But Chairman Mao warned against the idea that class struggle is “dying out.” He warned that even with the collapse of Teng Hsiao-ping, the revisionists still exist and will inevitably cause trouble.

Of equal importance has been Chairman Mao’s leadership in the international struggle against revisionism. After restoring capitalism in the Soviet Union, the Khrushchev revisionists did their best to destroy socialism and the existing communist parties every where in the world. But under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, the Chinese Communist Party along with the Albanian Party of Labor and Marxist-Leninists around the world rose up in militant resistance and defense of communism.

Mao Tsetung never relented in the fight against Soviet social-imperialism. In 1962 he pointed out: “The Soviet Union today is under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the German fascist type, a dictatorship of the Hitler type.”

The birth of new communist parties and organizations, growing and developing throughout the world in opposition to revisionism, is in large part due to the decisive leadership given by Mao Tsetung in leading the international break with the Soviet revisionists.

In his last years, he called on the people of the world to “get prepared” for a new outbreak of wars and revolutions as the crisis of imperialism deepens and the two superpowers prepared for a new world war. In poetry, he chided those who place their hopes in superpower “detente,” saying: “Stop your windy nonsense! Look, the world is being turned upside down!”

Chairman Mao was active in the revolutionary struggle up to his last days. He led the struggle against the attempts by Teng Hsiao-ping to stir up his “Right Deviationist Wind” and restore capitalism. Up until a few months ago, he was meeting regularly with foreign guests and doing theoretical work.

His last years were spent actively training successors to carry on the work he and his comrades, Chou En-lai, Chu Teh and the rest had begun. “Revolutionary successors of the proletariat are invariably brought up in great storms.”

Upon his death, the imperialists, social-imperialists and reactionaries are engaging in speculation that now, at last, China may change its colors. They have promoted the idea that Chairman Mao’s greatness means that China and the world communist movement are weak and vulnerable.

Chairman Mao has explained that the reason why Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin could work out their theories, “was mainly that they took part in the practice of the class struggle and the scientific experimentation of their time: lacking this condition, no genius could have succeeded.” (“On Practice”).

Like these great working-class leaders, Chairman Mao was closely tied to the masses throughout his life. It was the people and the class struggle that produced Chairman Mao and will certainly produce millions of other revolutionary heroes to take his place.

The socialist revolution in China and in the world is making great advances. While the road ahead is difficult, Chairman Mao said, “the future is bright.” (“On the Chungking Negotiations”). Chairman Mao’s death has brought great sorrow to the world’s peoples just as the deaths of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin did previously.

But Mao Tsetung’s ideas and all of his contributions will live on eternally to guide the millions of successors that are following in his wake, forging their Marxist-Leninist parties, smashing revisionism and all opportunism, taking up arms in hand to rid this world of imperialism and reaction once and for all.