In Praise of Mao Zedong

First Published: Liberation, (Newsletter of the RCLB, London Branch) May 1994
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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’The masses are the makers of history’ wrote the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

It is a measure of his grasp of Marxism that Mao stressed throughout his writings the need for communists to have close ties to the people and to rely on them. His own rich revolutionary practise is testimony to that advice.

Mao Zedong led a quarter of the world’s population in bitter struggles: in a war of resistance against Japanese occupation that was also a struggle for China’s future and then in a victorious struggle against a reactionary, corrupt, bankrupt Guomindang. For those struggles alone, Mao would be remembered as a great revolutionary. But these victories were just a new beginning point. After 1949, in a new China, Mao led the struggle to take the Socialist Road in a society not that far removed from feudal conditions.

Although developed through the particularities of the Chinese Revolution, the writings of Mao Zedong contain lessons for all revolutionary struggles. Mao stressed the need to understand the concrete conditions of society as a prerequisite for changing it. His was never ill-informed practice. Underlying all of Ma ’s analysis was a penetrating grasp of Marxist philosophy, especially of the primacy of practice and development through contradiction.

In applying the experience of the Communist movement to China, he discarded or modified those aspects that failed to contribute to the changing of reality. In the process of the Chinese revolution Marxism outgrew its initial Eurocentrism and ceased to be merely European in significance. It became a genuinely global weapon of liberation.

In the Sixties, Mao’s challenging writings provided inspiration for those who sought an explanation and remedy for the cancerous revisionism in the communist movement. His principled defence of Marxism-Leninism and his contributions to it helped to combat political degeneration and revitalise revolutionary struggle throughout the world. In the coming period of struggle we can still learn from Mao ’s examples of handling contradictions, building the Communist organisation, developing strategy and tactics and upholding internationalism.

December 26, 1993 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong; communists worldwide have celebrated the revolutionary legacy we can build upon. A thousand people met last November in Germany for a weekend’s discussion on Mao’s contribution, and adopted a resolution ’General Declaration on Mao Zedong Thought’ defending him as a great Marxist. That document was distributed at the RCL’s London rally on December 11, 1993 to a small audience of veterans and young activists in political struggle. The contributions from the floor spoke in defence of Mao pointing out that if the BBC needed to attack him through its ’Timewatch’ special, this meant he was still a threat to the bourgeoisie. When the programmme was broadcast on BBC World service, Indian communists ransacked the Calcutta offices of British Airways.

To paraphrase Marx, a spectre still haunts the dreams of capitalists. ..