Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

I Wor Kuen

Theory of Three Worlds: A Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism


First Published: Getting Together, Vol. VIII, No. 12, December 1977.
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.

On November 1, 1977, the Editorial Department of China’s People’s Daily published a major article entitled, “Chairman Mao’s Theory of the Differentiation of the Three Worlds is a Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism.” This 35,000 word article provides a comprehensive and in-depth presentation of China’s line and policy regarding the international situation, as formulated by Chairman Mao.

Marxist-Leninists around the world are hailing the publication of this article and the theory of the three worlds as a powerful weapon for the working class and peoples of the world. It is crucial for all revolutionaries to study and apply the three worlds analysis in order to proceed from reality and advance the worldwide revolutionary movement. It is available in the U.S. in the November 4, 1977 issue of Peking Review, No. 45.

The article concretely refutes the modern revisionists as well as the Trotskyites’ view of the international situation. It shows in real life how the three worlds analysis enables us to unite with all forces in the world opposed to the main common enemy – the two superpowers, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It narrows the enemy target and broadens the allies of the proletariat and oppressed peoples in making revolution, and analyzes class relations on an international scale.

The article consists of five parts: 1) The Differentiation of the Three Worlds is a Scientific Marxist Assessment of Present-Day World Reality; 2) The Two Hegemonist Powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, are the Common Enemies of the People of the World; 3) The Countries and People of the Third World Constitute the Main Force Combatting Imperialism, Colonialism and Hegemonism.; 4) the Second World is a Force That Can Be United With in the Struggle Against Hegemonism; and 5) Build the Broadest International United Front and Smash Superpower Hegemonism and War Policies.

Throughout the article, it stresses the importance of proceeding from a dialectical and historical materialist analysis of the world’s main forces and fundamental contradictions. It points out that Chairman Mao’s analysis of the three worlds is a direct continuation of Lenin and Stalin’s teachings applied to the contemporary world situation. The special introduction to the People’s Daily editorial pointed out that “all the revolutionary teachers of the proletariat differentiated the world’s political forces by relying on an objective and penetrating analysis of the overall situation of the international class struggle in different periods instead of following any hard and fast formula.”

In describing the role of the first world, consisting of the two superpowers, the article points out that they are bent on winning world hegemony and have placed themselves in opposition to each other and to the countries, people and nations of the entire world. It brings to light the intensifying war preparations on the part of the superpowers, and points out sharply that it is the Soviet Union which, between the two superpowers, constitutes the main source of the danger of a new world war. The reasons cited are that the Soviet Union is a newcomer to imperialism, and has to grab for areas already controlled by other imperialists, chiefly the U.S. It is a fascist state with highly concentrated state monopoly capitalism, so it is easier for the Soviet Union to gear its economy toward militarization. Also, the Soviet Union still masquerades as “socialist” to cover its aggression and hegemonism.

In regard to the third world, the article stresses the long-term role of the countries and people of the third world as the main force in the struggle against imperialism and hegemonism. As the introduction to the editorial states, “The third world people account for over 70% of the world’s population, and as a worldwide anti-imperialist force, they are the mainstream of the world revolutionary struggle. . . subjected as they were to the most ruthless oppression, the countries and people of the third world have been the most resolute in their resistance. For a fairly long historical period, they will continue to wage a fierce struggle against imperialism and above all the superpowers.” It also points out that the political awareness of the third world has risen, and that they are uniting more and more against their common enemies.

The editorial clearly points out that in today’s world, the lesser imperialist powers of the second world are also a force that can be united with in the struggle against hegemonism. They are being bullied and even threatened by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and are more and more striving to safeguard their national independence and are increasingly opposing superpower hegemonism. For the working class within the second world countries, a part of their revolutionary struggle against domestic monopoly capital must be to stand in the vanguard of the struggle against hegemonism. The editorial states, “Of course when we refer to the second world as a force that can be united with in the struggle against hegemonism, we certainly do not mean to write off the contradictions between the second and third world countries and the internal class contradictions in the former, nor do we in the least mean that the struggle of the oppressed nations and people against oppression and exploitation should be abandoned. The world can only advance in the course of struggle, and it is only through struggle that unity can be achieved.”

Overall, the article emphasizes the importance of recognizing the objective basis for a united front of various forces worldwide against superpower hegemonism and war preparations. As the editorial states, “It has been the consistent revolutionary policy of the international proletariat to form the broadest possible united front in worldwide revolutionary struggle to strike at the chief enemy.”

The three worlds analysis is very important to our understanding of the international context of our struggle here inside the U.S. for the revolutionary overthrow of U.S. monopoly capitalism. We must support every struggle against U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism around the world. We must unite with the anti-imperialist struggles of the third world countries and peoples, and see that even the lesser imperialist countries of the second world can make contributions to the worldwide revolutionary movement. In this way, we can see how all of our struggles here contribute to our goal of advancing step-by-step toward world communism.