Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist)

WCML Remarks at Memorial

First Published: The Communist, Vol. II, No. 12, October 10, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In the spirit of building the widest possible unity among Marxist-Leninists to commemorate the life of Chairman Mao Tsetung, this presentation was given by the Workers Congress (M-L) at a memorial meeting in Chicago sponsored by the organizations associated with the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party.

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Comrades and friends,

In memory of Chairman Mao Tsetung, we would like to sum up one of his most important contributions–a contribution on which we must all rely if we are to take our place in the front ranks of the struggle to overthrow imperialism, social imperialism, modern revisionism and all reaction.

In the first lines of the pamphlet COMBAT LIBERALISM, written in 1937, during China’s war of resistance against Japanese imperialism, Chairman Mao wrote:

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.

Throughout Chairman Mao’s life as the teacher and helmsman of the Communist Party of China, he used the weapon of active ideological struggle to guide the Chinese Party and the Chinese people to successful victories in overthrowing the rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, in founding the People’s Republic of China and in establishing a socialist society. For the first time in the history of the development of Marxism, he pointed out that there are still classes and class struggle after the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of-production has in the main been completed. He led the struggle to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and he launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movements to criticize Lin Piao and Teng Hsiao-ping. In the international communist movement, Chairman Mao led the struggle against modern revisionism and the renegade clique that has seized power and restored capitalism in the USSR. He has fostered and strengthenedthe unity of genuine Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations all over the world.

Why did Mao emphasize ideological struggle and why is this lesson so important to us all? Mao says active: ideological struggle is the weapon for ensuring unity within the party and the revolutionary organizations in the interests of our fight. Bourgeois ideology is present in all communist parties and organizations. Through ideological struggle we root out bourgeois ideology from our ranks and move forward’ on the path of revolution with our proletarian unity strengthened. Inner party struggle is the lifeblood of our movement. Mao said:

Opposition and struggle between ideas of different trends constantly occur within the Party; this is a reflection within the Party of contradictions between classes and between the new and old in society. If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggles to resolve them, the Party’s life would come to an end.

Whether to persist in inner party struggles or not is a principled difference between Chairman Mao’s line and the revisionist line in party building. Chairman Kao led his party through ten great two line struggles. He constantly upheld that struggle was a sign of a healthy party, a sign that the party was pursuing class struggle in a steadfast manner. Opportunists have always done their utmost to negate the class content of inner party struggle or try to call it a struggle between individuals or attack inner party struggle as “creating contradictions”, but for Mao, struggle is the weapon to ensure our unity in the interests of our fight.

For our revolutionary organizations struggle and unity are dialectical aspects of a single whole. They are a unity of opposites. Just as without democracy there can be no centralism, so too without struggle, there can be no unity. Giving up the weapon of struggle means abandoning the fight for the unity of our party. Abandoning our unity means surrendering the interests of our fight. Opportunists hypocritically attack inner party struggle by denying the objective reality that struggle exists in the party because they are afraid of what the light of day might expose. At the same time they are usually busy undermining the unity of the party, maneuvering, wrecking, and plotting unprincipled power plays. This was certainly the case with the chieftains of the revisionist line in China – Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao, and Teng Hsiao-ping – who deceitfully tried to smuggle into the party the theory of the dying out of class struggle.

On the other side are those who turn every distinction between right and wrong within our organizations into a battle between the camp of revolution and the camp of counter-revolution, what Mao called the difference between Yenan and Sian. They therefore see every difference as a reason to split or divide the party. Shades of difference within the party are important for if such contradictions are not resolved they become antagonistic. But Mao distinguishes between antagonistic and non-antagonistic contradictions. Within the revolutionary ranks we use the formula “unity-criticism-unity” to resolve contradictions between right and wrong. This means both unity and struggle. As Mao says the essential thing is to start from the desire for unity, resolve contradictions through criticism and struggle and arrive at a new unity on a new basis. This lesson is the hard won experience of the Chinese party and the Chinese people in their long history of struggle.

Those who don’t recognize this method never see the possibility of erroneous views being given up and comrades transforming themselves onto a correct path. We must be good at uniting with those who disagree with us or who formerly opposed us. But some comrades consider that there should be no contradictions in the party and that the party should be absolutely pure. But purity is relative and impurity is absolute. Our party development does not take place in a vacuum, but exists in an environment of complex class struggle. Inner party criticism, as Mao said, is a weapon for strengthening the party organization and increasing its fighting capacity.

“The mistakes of the past,” he went on, “must be exposed without sparing anyone’s sensibilities, it is necessary to analyze and criticize what was bad in the past with a scientific attitude so that work in the future will be done more carefully and done better.” This is what is meant by “learn from mistakes to avoid future ones”. But our aim in exposing errors and criticizing shortcomings, like that of a doctor curing a sickness, is solely to save the patient and not to doctor him to death.

The masses of working and oppressed people in the US know two things – they want to fight and they know they can’t fight isolated or alone. As Lenin said, the only weapon the proletariat has is the strength of its organization. That is why party building means strengthening our ties with the best of the proletariat. The source of our failure to take up active ideological struggle to build the party or to fight for the unity of our organizations is our failure to wholeheartedly devote ourselves to serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people and to lead their struggles. Mao Tsetung’s confidence in inner party struggle stemmed from his reliance on the masses. His every breath and every word was based on mobilizing and serving the masses of people. What he said was “Can 800 million people manage without struggle?!” In the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, he mobilized the Chinese people in their hundreds of millions against corruption and degeneration within his own party against those who had become fat and corrupt at the expense of the people and who tried to restore capitalism in China.

It is an important lesson for us in the US communist movement that Chairman Mao held organization of the proletariat so precious, but also held that the only way to ensure the unity and strength of this party was through active ideological struggle. Today the US proletariat is still without its vanguard party. It is our main task to build that party. We must not become disillusioned because the struggle within our movement is protracted and difficult. Proletarians are revolutionary optimists. We will only succeed in our party building efforts if we earnestly follow the teaching of Chairman Mao and take up the weapon of principled ideological struggle. This is the only way to ensure our unity in the interests of our fight. Comrades, we gird ourselves for struggle. Let no comrade show fatigue. This is not for tomorrow or for the next year but for a thousand years. How did Chairman Mao understand inner party struggle? He said:

We have been singing the Internationale for fifty years and on ten occasions certain people in our Party tried to split it. As I see it this may happen another ten, twenty or thirty times. You donít believe it? You may not believe it. Anyway, I do. Will there be no more struggle when we get to communism? I just don’t believe it. There will be struggles even then, but only between the new and the old, what is correct and what is incorrect. Tens of thousands of years from now, what is wrong still won’t get by, it won’t stand up.

Chairman Mao liked to say about the Chinese Communist Party that “This party of ours has a bright future.”

Comrades and friends, the road is tortuous, but this Party of ours has also a bright future! In mourning Chairman Mao, let us have the confidence to seize this lesson of his teaching: ideological struggle is the means to build our party and ensure our unity. Class struggle is the key link!