DEFENCE OF MAOISM (I)
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
DEFENCE OF MAOISM
“From time immemorial, nothing progressive has ever been favourably received at first and everything progressive has invariably been the object of abuse. Marxism and the Communist Party have been abused from the very beginning. Even ten thousand years hence, things progressive will still be abused at the outset.”
– Chairman Mao
The slogan of the Unified Maoist International Conference (UMIC) and the birth of the New International Organisation of the Proletariat (NIOP) is “Unite under Maoism”, that is a call to the communist parties and organisations of the world to unite on the basis of unity of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism through the two-line struggle. The International Communist Movement needs to uphold, defend and apply Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism! Of these three, the main one is application to establish a general political line and apply it to every situation, for as Chairman Mao Tse-tung stated, tactics and the application of the line to the changing conditions of reality are the very life of the party.
ON THE CONDUCT OF THE DEBATE
The Coordinating Committee of the Unified Maoist International Conference (CCIMU) has published its proposal for a basis of unity as Basis for Discussion, opening the debate to unify at the Conference on a solid basis of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist unity.
The Maoist parties and organisations, for the most part, have taken position in favour of the proposal; but others, as has been published in our “Tribune of Debate” section, have criticised it on some of its fundamental points, in some cases because they misunderstood the plain text of the Basis for Discussion, questions which we will clarify in the course of the Debate; In some of these cases, it is a repetition of what Avakian and others argued in the early years of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) to oppose the definition of Maoism as the third, new and higher stage of the scientific ideology of the international proletariat. In that period, from the 1980s to the early 1990s, Avakian upheld ‘Mao-Tse-tung-Thought’ and, he said, that it was the same as saying ‘Maoism’, others accepted only up to Marxism-Leninism.
Continuing on the current debate, others have attacked the Basis of Discussion and Maoism, from clearly anti-Marxist, anti-Maoist positions, but at least they have dared to enter directly into the debate; while one, from the outside, has attacked the Basis of Discussion and the CCIMU proposal for the Unified Maoist International Conference. It is a proposal and call for the Unified Maoist International Conference and to give life to a New International Organisation of the Proletariat, which is supported by the Maoist Parties and Organisations such as the signatories of the last declaration, The old world is in decomposition, tension the forces to achieve the new! for Mayday 2022 and many other parties and organisations.
Today, it is an obvious fact that no one can avoid directly or indirectly taking part in the debate on the basis for discussion proposed by the CCIMU. This shows the great success of the preparation of the subjective conditions that lead to its realisation, to culminate this phase of discussion in the International Communist Movement, which expresses the need to unite and affiliate its still dispersed forces in a new International Organisation of the Proletariat and, after its realisation, to enter a new phase where, following the same principle of unity-struggle-unity, the differences that will still remain will be discussed within it in order to advance to a higher level of unity on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and to win over those forces that have still remained on the sidelines for various reasons.
We salute the Maoist Parties and Organizations that have publicly articulated themselves and have entered into the public debate of the Basis of Discussion proposed by the CCIMU for the Unified Maoist International Conference, where they have exposed their positions, made their observations and criticisms, keeping within the frameworks of the two-line struggle; while, in some cases, the proposal has been directly attacked from positions clearly contrary to Marxism. The Basis of Discussion has a whole process behind it and now, after its publication, it is going through the phase of a broad discussion. In this phase, the opinions and positions of the other parties and organisations of the ICM, which did not participate in the first phase, are being sought.
Our newspaper Communist International has opened the section Tribune of Debate for the discussion. As the above-mentioned positions have already been published in this section, this time we want to debate mainly on the UOC’s position against the proposed Basis of Discussion and its thinly veiled counter-position to Maoism as the new, third and higher stage of the scientific ideology of the international proletariat, and in doing so we will necessarily refer, directly or indirectly, to the criticisms and observations made by others.
The document Basis of Discussion for the CCIMU is extremely clear and quite simple; but, while never being able to lower our positions, they imply some basic knowledge of Marxism and how we apply it to the current reality. We are therefore struck by the fact that some of the published criticisms of the Basis suffer from problems of understanding the actual text of the CCIMU proposal. As noted, for example, by the comrades of Proletarian Power with regard to the criticisms of the Communist Workers’ Union of Colombia (UOC), especially with regard to the basic principles of Marxism, which have to do with the development of the scientific ideology of the international proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism. But the worst thing is that they seek to cast shadows on what is in the document Basis of Discussion or to give a far-fetched interpretation of what is really there, which does not correspond, which can only be the product of a hopeless ideological and political deformation. There have also been some problems of understanding of the text of the Basis of Discussion on the part of other comrades. But nothing can surprise us, for it is all part of the vicissitudes of the class struggle, of the struggle between revolution and counter-revolution, between Marxism and revisionism and its expression within the ranks of the Marxists, of the Maoists, as two-line struggle.
THE DIALECTICAL PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT OF MARXIST-LENINIST-MAOIST IDEOLOGY
After the brief outline of the development of the present debate, let’s deal with the Statement of the Communist Workers’ Union (mlm) Colombia, “On the Proposal on the Balance of the International Communist Movement and its current General Political Line For a Unified Maoist International Conference!” We are aware that as soon as we settle accounts on this point, with this position, which denies the development of Marxism-Leninism made by Chairman Mao Tse-tung to its three component parts, we will be clarifying the different questions that are expressed on Maoism in the other positions presented publicly to the document Basis of Discussion of the CCIMU.
Even more so, if on this point, there is already a position taken by the organisation Proletarian Power of Colombia, which is already a positive aspect of it and has its negative aspect, which is to refuse to admit that Lenin himself, in establishing contradiction as the essence and nucleus of the dialectic, left the task of deepening its study and understanding, that is, of developing it; a task fulfilled by Chairman Mao throughout his theoretical and practical work. Proletarian Power in its position statement “Delimiting and specifying”, on the UOC document, states:
“The UOC, by pointing out what its party organisation assumes to be errors of the comrades of the Coordinating Committee, ends up obscuring some matters of principle, contradicting fundamental postulates of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Let us begin, then, by making some necessary clarifications.” (our emphasis; ci-ic.org)
The comrades of Proletarian Power, in short, are pointing out two problems in the UOC’s position against the document Basis of Discussion, which we can concretise and expand on in other terms, as follows:
1. That the UOC tries to obscure the terms of the debate by seeking to ignore and contradict fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and, we add, does not speak at all about its practice in Colombia, which would allow us to verify in practice the earthiness of what they maintain in the field of theory.
2. It is an open attack on the Basis of Discussion for the Unified Maoist International Conference and its Coordinating Committee (CCIMU), behind which they seek to hide their attack on Maoism and to ignore the fact that it is the new, third and higher stage of the ideology of the proletariat, that the main thing about Maoism is that it is a new and higher stage, that is why it is the main thing.
WE WILL START WITH THE NAME OF THE UOC ITSELF
In their very name the Communist Workers’ Union of Colombia (Marxist Leninist Maoist) or UOC (mlm), already express their conception contrary to Marxism and its dialectical development, because by calling Marxism Leninism Maoism in abbreviations mlm, what they call “science of revolution”, without the hyphen of separation between the different phases, they are indicating that Marxism does not develop by leaps but following a flat, linear development. When the development of matter never takes place on the same level, but in a spiral. They are denying the stages in the development of Marxism, as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism. That on the basis of the previous one and as part of the same process of development there is a leap to a new and higher stage of Marxism, which becomes the main one. They are denying the law of contradiction. They are in their self-imposed mental prison: “triplism”, counterposing their “negation of negation” to contradiction as the only fundamental law of the incessant transformation of eternal matter. They claim to make “things correspond to their notions”. That is why, before proceeding further, we would like to demarcate ourselves from this anti-Maoist position by putting the following on the table for discussion:
Chairman Mao Tse-tung, he said that the only law is contradiction and the others are derivations. With Chairman Mao we arrive at philosophical monism; the one law, he clearly stated the development of Marxism in this matter of the utmost importance for our ideology:
“Engels talked about the three categories, but as for me I don’t believe in two of those categories. (The unity of opposites is the most basic law, the transformation of quality and quantity into one another is the unity of the opposites quality and quantity, and the negation of the negation does not exist at all). The juxtaposition, on the same level, of the transformation of quality and quantity into one another, the negation of the negation, and the law of the unity of opposites is ‘triplism’, not monism. The most basic thing is the unity of opposites. The transformation of quality and quantity into one another is the unity of the opposites quality and quantity. There is no such thing as the negation of the negation. Affirmation, negation, affirmation, negation … in the development of things, every link in the chain of events is both affirmation and negation.” (Mao Tse-tung, “Talk on Questions of Philosophy”, 18 August 1964)
The comrades of Proletarian Power take a stand, thus:
“2. In the debate on whether our science is primarily Maoist, the UOC document explicitly states: ‘We start from the adoption of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a new, third and higher stage of Marxism, and we even admit the Maoist denomination for propaganda purposes’. Here, it must be made clear what it means that ‘the Maoist denomination’ is admitted ‘for propaganda purposes’. Expressed in this way, it is understood as meaning that the name Maoist is accepted for practical matters, out of utilitarian practicality, because it serves propaganda purposes. To pretend to use the word ‘Maoist’ as a mere appellation for propaganda purposes would be absolutely inadmissible. The debate should focus on whether Maoism is recognised as the highest development of Marxism in theory and practice. (our emphasis; ci-ic.org)
That is why we uphold Maoism as the new, third and higher stage of the ideology of the international proletariat. And, it is not a simple problem of term, at stake is whether the development of Marxism by Chairman Mao Tse-tung has universal validity or not, and if it is “ism” then it has it and if it is not “ism” then it does not have it. Therein lies the problem, so it is not a problem of term.
HOW IS OUR MARXIST-LENINIST-MAOIST IDEOLOGY GOING TO UNFOLD AS A DIALECTICAL PROCESS?
The Basis of Discussion takes as its starting point the Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848, now more than 174 years since its appearance. There are antecedents; in Marx and Engels’ own work we have their participation in the League of Communists, but that league of communists was a jumble of diverse ideas, it was not a clear expression of the proletariat. It is only with the Manifesto of the Communist Party that for the first time the communists put forward their position and their programme and it is the starting point, the first stone on which our whole edifice is built, all that is the great Marxism-Leninism-Maoism; it is from the Manifesto that it remains a valid banner until communism, not, as Khrushchev said, that it had finished its mission with the programme of the CPSU of 1961, pretending to take away our class position and introduce a rotten bourgeois conception, a thorough and complete revision of the whole of Marxism.
It is in the heroic epic of the class struggle that our conception, our ideology, can be generated; Only the proletariat with its great incessant transformation of material reality into productive practice, or in the class struggle whose centre is politics as the conquest and defence of power for the class by overthrowing other powers, only as the practice of scientific research, could the class, generating titans of thought and action, take shape as the great ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism that we carry and will always carry.
And how is our ideology going to unfold as a dialectical process? Through great leaps; three great qualitative leaps with Marx, Lenin, Chairman Mao Tse-tung. But these three great qualitative leaps could not be understood without other great, medium and even small leaps. They are three concatenated stages of development of Marxism which are expressed and written as follows: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
There are three stages, one Marxism, two Leninism, three Maoism, that is what defines it. Stages of a dialectical process of development, and why is it so, because being a process of knowledge, a reflection in the mind, a reflection of matter in the mind and matter being movement, being dialectical, knowledge is so and not by simple method as some say, but by essence. Is it sometimes used, yes, but never do Marxists counterpose and even less reduce our conception to a simple methodology, that is a crass error, that is to get entangled in bourgeois theory of knowledge. Marx, Lenin and the Chairman, as well as the great Engels or comrade Stalin, if they speak of methods never refer to the reduction of the whole of Marxism to a simple methodological question, it would lose its quality of conception: being conception it has method as a derivative; after all method is procedure, nothing more. It is important to point out dialectical process, because it is in reality itself and its laws correctly grasped through practice, because it is impossible that there is knowledge without practice, this could not be; precisely that of separating theory from practice is another concession to the bourgeoisie, it is strictly bourgeois thinking, in our case of 18th century narrow empiricism.
Chairman Mao, regarding the dialectical process of knowledge, in his ‘Reading notes on the Soviet Text Political Economy’, noted:
“It should be observed that this requires going through a process. The understanding of laws always begins with the understanding of a minority before it becomes the knowledge of the majority. It is necessary to go through a process of practice and study to go from ignorance to knowledge. At the beginning no one has knowledge. Foreknowledge has never existed. People must go through practice to gain results, meet with failure as problems arise; only through such a process can knowledge gradually advance. If you want to know the objective laws of the development of things and events you must go through the process of practice, adopt a Marxist-Leninist attitude, compare successes and failures, continually practicing and studying, going through multiple successes and failures; moreover, meticulous research must be performed. There is no other way to make one’s own knowledge gradually conform to the laws. For those who see only victory but not defeat it will not be possible to know these laws.”(our emphasis; ci-ic.org)
And, what he had expressed earlier, he sums it up masterfully:
“It is not easy “to possess and apply these laws fully and consciously.” Without passing through a determined process it is impossible to reach the result.” (the second sentence is translated from the Spanish version because it is missing in the English one; ci-ic.org)
The ideas of the international proletariat are the product of a very high level of elaboration, more than 2,500 years of knowledge that has been reworked from the position and interests of the international proletariat by Marx and Engels. That is their background: 2,500 years! And insurgent in the great epic of the class struggle of the proletariat, it is a fighting, revolutionary breakthrough.
Materialism is very old, as is dialectics, they are parallel, contemporary in origin, they are more than 2550 years old in the West, we owe it to the Greeks. But it was Marx who took the idea as a derivation of matter, fusing dialectics with matter, who gave the great transformation generating the new philosophy, the cabal and complete philosophy not in a closed sense, that is why we cannot speak of system, system implies a closed circle and knowledge is a spiral, it is not a closed circle nor are the circles that make up the spiral closed.
As a scientific conception of the proletariat, it is the understanding of all that exists, that means understanding of the material world, understanding of the class struggle, that is, of the social world, and it means understanding of knowledge as a reflection of matter in the mind, which is another form of matter from the point of view or position of the proletariat.
The context in which Chairman Mao acted and the question of the new era is clearly written in the Basis of Discussion:
“The triumph of the Great Socialist Revolution of October 1917 led by the great Lenin and the Bolshevik Party marked an extraordinary feat in Universal History – the end of the world bourgeois revolution and the opening of the New Era, the Era of the World Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. There were many revolutions before the great October Revolution, each one of them provided new impulse for society. However, these revolutions only replaced an exploitation system with another.
The Great October Socialist Revolution (GOSR) was the first revolution that was conceived and carried out to establish a society free from exploitation and oppression – a classless society. The October Socialist Revolution represented a radical turning point in the history of humanity. It opened a New Era in the shining and long path that leads to socialism and communism.“
THE GREAT OCTOBER REVOLUTION OF 1917 OPENS THE ERA OF WORLD PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION
What does it mean?
That the world revolution led by the bourgeoisie is over, that means, it has lasted about 300 or 400 years, it is over, it is finished. If you take all that Chairman Mao Tse-tung did, plus the last part of his life, we have to take the new era as the world revolution led by the proletariat, i.e. conducted by the class. It is combined with the three types of revolution: democratic revolution, socialist revolution and cultural revolution. If you want to see the whole of Maoism, take the whole as a whole, and if you take into account the main importance that the Chairman attached to the world revolution, to which he devoted himself fully in the last part of his life, for concrete, historical reasons that were embodied, you can understand perfectly well what world proletarian revolution is.
Those who criticise the Basis of Discussion for having put only new era without mentioning imperialism are thinking in terms and not in the sense of the whole unity that Maoism implies.
– Yes, at the beginning it was said like this: “the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution”, it was because the main thing about imperialism is that it matures the conditions for revolution, which is a transitional stage, because after it there can only be socialism.
– But imperialism will be swept away in the “period of 50 to 100” as Chairman Mao put it, and from there follows a long stretch of proletarian revolution much longer than that until that period is completed, until through successive cultural revolutions we enter communism. That is why the CCIMU document clearly states that the capitalism-socialism contradiction and the bourgeoisie-proletariat contradiction will encompass the whole era and will be solved when we all enter communism, as stated in the document:
“In order to appraise the world in this New Era we see that four fundamental contradictions that are expressed: 1) the contradiction between capitalism and socialism – the contradiction between the two radically different systems will take this whole period and it will be one of the last to be resolved, it will last even after the seizure of Power; 2) the contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat – it is the contradiction between two opposed classes and will also remain after the seizure of Power, it manifests itself in various ideological, political and economic forms until its solution when we enter communism; 3) the interimperialist contradictions – these are the contradictions between the imperialists for world hegemony, it takes place between the superpowers, between the superpowers and the imperialist powers and between the imperialist powers, this contradiction will be resolved in the “period of 50 to 100 years”; 4) the contradiction between oppressed nations and imperialism – it is the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed nations to destroy imperialism and the reaction, its solution is also included within the “50 to 100 years”, it is the historically principal contradiction during this whole period of time; however, any of the four fundamental contradictions can become the principal according to specific circumstances of class struggle, temporarily, or in certain countries, but the historically principal contradiction will again express itself as such until its final resolution.”
With the above, we would like to clarify our views or position on this issue in the face of criticism from some parties.
THE CURRENT MARXISM THAT WE UPHOLD, DEFEND AND, MAINLY, APPLY IS MARXISM-LENINISM-MAOISM, MAINLY MAOISM
Let us now move on to elucidate the real divergences of the UOC on the ideological level against the Basis of Discussion proposed by the CCIMU, which we have indicated as number 1. In this regard, we will see and refute the UOC’s statements and we will refer to the statements of the other parties, clarifying and deepening the understanding of the statements of the Basis of Discussion, which have a whole lot of foundations behind which we will only bring to the discussion what is absolutely necessary for the struggle and clarification.
The CIMU proposal in the Basis for Discussion on this aspect states:
“During more than 170 years starting from the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848, the ideology of the proletariat has emerged and developed itself in the crucible of class struggle in three stages: 1) marxism, 2) marxism-leninism and 3) marxism-leninism-maoism. Maoism is the almighty scientific ideology of the international proletariat, it is almighty because it is true; the third, new and superior stage of marxism;”
The comrades of the UOC, on the ideology of the proletariat, as point 1. write:
“1. On the exact denomination of the science of revolution: We start from the adoption of Marxism Leninism Maoism as a new, third and superior stage of Marxism, and we even admit the denomination Maoist for propaganda purposes, however, we consider erroneous the expression «mainly Maoist» because it corresponds to the pretension of making Maoism a «synthesis» of communism and reducing scientific socialism to the contributions of Mao Tse-tung. We consider that the philosophical basis of this error lies in the pretension of reducing the general laws of movement to contradiction, interpreting that its character of being the most fundamental law of dialectics or nucleus or essence of dialectics, means that it is the «only law of dialectics»; wrong idea that was imposed in the extinct RIM (defended also by the «new synthesis» of Avakian) and that now the comrades of the Committee try to amend in the proposal with the words «only fundamental law of dialectics», but preserving the old idea of ignoring the law of negation of negation, which indicates the direction of the movement, a law openly recognized by the masters of the proletariat: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. In short, we defend the Marxism Leninism Maoism science in development, integral, coherent and exact.”
The comrades of Proletarian Power clarify and specify their position, which we quote below:
“2. Here, it must be made clear what it means that ‘the Maoist denomination’ is admitted ‘for propaganda purposes’ … as a mere appellation for propaganda purposes … absolutely inadmissible. The debate should focus on whether Maoism is recognised as the highest development of Marxism in theory and practice.
3. …it is inadmissible for the UOC to try to identify the positions of the comrades of the Coordinating Committee with Avakian revisionism in phrases such as: “is in the pretence of reducing the general laws of motion to contradiction…(quote UOC)
And they continue:
“… the UOC must demonstrate with arguments that from the thesis that contradiction is the only fundamental law of dialectics several revisionist ideas are derived(…) the Coordinating Committee say exactly: Contradiction, the only fundamental law of the incessant transformation of eternal matter … Although the UOC stresses the word fundamental, it assumes that they said only the only law … misrepresenting the position of the comrades of the Coordinating Committee. In general, a thesis is not revisionist because it is said by a revisionist,… that is precisely what we intend to discern in depth in the line struggle at the International Conference.”
Going on, the comrades of Proletarian Power – with regard to contradiction as the only fundamental law, with which we do not agree because by doing so, without saying so, they would be explicitly denying the leap implied by Chairman Mao’s statement for Marxist philosophy, for dialectical materialism – say:
“We consider Lenin’s formulation of dialectics to be accurate, we would neither add to it nor subtract from it. In this respect, Mao says in “On Contradiction“: “Lenin said: ‘Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects.’ Lenin often called this law the essence of dialectics; he also called it the kernel of dialectics.” If there are sufficient arguments to leave Lenin’s formulation of dialectics behind, and to take up a new one, they should be presented to the Conference for discussion, otherwise we must reaffirm Lenin’s thesis. … that is why we recognise contradiction as the fundamental law of dialectics, which is present in all phenomena of nature, society and thought.… Faced with … the UOC text on the negation of negation and contradiction as the essence of dialectics, in order to advance in this, we invite the comrades to see, first, the implications of the use of what they mistakenly assume to be dialectics in the exercise of their critique. Comrades say: ‘we consider the expression ‘mainly Maoist’ erroneous in that it corresponds to the pretension of making Maoism a “synthesis” of communism and reducing scientific socialism to the contributions of Mao Tse-tung’ (Emphasis added). Reasoning in absolutes leads nowhere. … it is not true that the document “For a Unified Maoist International Conference” is “reducing” scientific socialism to Mao’s contributions; what is being said is that today, to be a Marxist, one has to recognise the developments of Marxism represented by Maoism. … Maoism is the touchstone between Marxists and revisionists, … because it characterises in a major way, today’s Marxism: let us insist… Maoism.”
We reiterate, on what Proletarian Power presented in this part, we agree in part with their demarcation and much of what they are specifying in the debate with the UOC, but with the difference that they do not advance to understand the leap that Chairman Mao’s statement on “contradiction as the only fundamental law”, that is why the clarifications and precisions that we are making are necessary in combating the anti-Maoist position expressed by the UOC, as if it were a simple counterposition to what was put forward by the CCIMU in the Basis of Discussion.
Let us see, Marxism has three component parts: Marxist philosophy, Marxist political economy and scientific socialism. The development in all of them that generates a great qualitative leap of Marxism as a whole, as a unity to a higher level implies a new stage. If there is a development in all three component parts to a higher level then we have a universal qualitative leap; that is why we have to start from theory, to show the developments in these three parts, then Maoism is impossible to deny! And the rest are derivations that can be included in any of the three parts. The essential thing is to show that Chairman Mao has generated such a great qualitative leap in theory and practice.
To show the above, we publish in a separate article (see ‘Report: On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’, PCP, February 1988, published by ci-ic.org) the generalisations of all that Chairman Mao has done throughout a whole process and in this and the following articles we deal mainly with the content of Maoism that has been attacked in the present debate or is insufficiently understood for various reasons.
On the development made by Chairman Mao in Marxist philosophy or dialectical materialism or the study of contradiction, we advance what is most urgent to advance in this point of the debate, because it has to do decisively with the core of our ideology and we will continue to deal with the conception in a separate article. In view of the above, we reaffirm that Chairman Mao developed the core of dialectics, the law of contradiction, establishing it as the only fundamental law. In his “Talk on Philosophy”, he said:
“Engels talked about the three categories, but as for me I don’t believe in two of those categories. (The unity of opposites is the most basic law, the transformation of quality and quantity into one another is the unity of the opposites quality and quantity, and the negation of the negation does not exist at all). The juxtaposition, on the same level, of the transformation of quality and quantity into one another, the negation of the negation, and the law of the unity of opposites is ‘triplism’, not monism. The most basic thing is the unity of opposites. The transformation of quality and quantity into one another is the unity of the opposites quality and quantity. There is no such thing as the negation of the negation. Affirmation, negation, affirmation, negation … in the development of things, every link in the chain of events is both affirmation and negation.”
Yes, the one fundamental law, there is no other. In On Contradiction Chairman Mao he explicitly states: “The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought. It stands opposed to the metaphysical world outlook.” (our emphasis, ci-ic.org) So Chairman Mao states, the other is a derivation of the one fundamental law – the law of the unity of opposites or the law of contradiction, – as the unity of the opposites quality and quantity. And the Chairman fulminates against those who seek to oppose Marxist philosophical monism with a third law, “There is no such thing as the negation of the negation” because “in the development of things, every link in the chain of events is both affirmation and negation”.
Recapitulating the process of knowledge followed to arrive at this result, which implies a leap of great importance in the fulfilment by the Chairman of the task left by Lenin, in his Philosophical Notebooks, we say: Marx and Engels said three, one being the main; Lenin, deepening the problem, developing it, said: contradiction is the key; Chairman Mao went further, he said: “the only fundamental law”.
And why didn’t he say principal? In “On Practice”, in “On Contradiction” and in his Talk, why did he say only fundamental law? Why did he put it that way? Because there is no other, and if there is no other, how can there be a principal, do you understand the reason? If there were several, it would be principal, but it is the only one; we could talk about principal if we are talking about derived laws, in that case yes, but the essence of the problem is that it is the only fundamental one. Is this understood? We believe that it is not understood, and that is why we insist.
Honestly, we believe that they are simply repeating what they read; because if they understand this, why is it that they do not make a great effort to handle the contradiction, what does the practice show: a great handling of the contradiction or serious limitations in its handling? We are not saying that they don’t know it, that they are not aware of it. We know it by hearsay! We know that the law exists, but do we understand what is meant by the “only fundamental law”? If so, where is the practice, what does the practice prove, it doesn’t prove that we handle it as such. It is a problem of theory and practice, or do you think that the problem of philosophy, and in this case of dialectics and contradiction, is to know, to know it by hearsay? Chairman Mao himself, in his talk, tells us that he came to Marxist philosophy by the path of class struggle.
Lenin said: Capital is a monument to dialectics; a monument of contradiction, and if you think about the commodity and its definition, how he conceives it as a contradiction, then you will understand how Marx understood it. The problem, many times, is that the situation is implicit, not explicitly stated many times, this is the problem. And why is it not given, because it takes more time for a deepening on the basis of what others like Marx and Engels or the Great Lenin did, could the Chairman come to that.
We, in particular, must “emphasize that he [Chairman Mao; ci-ic.org] masterfully applied the law of contradiction in politics” like no one else!
THE COMRADES OF THE UOC WANT TO STRIP MARXIST IDEOLOGY OF ITS CHARACTER AS THE SCIENTIFIC IDEOLOGY OF THE PROLETARIAT
Moving on, let us turn to what the UOC said in its first words when referring to Maoism. We Maoists are against the attempt to reduce Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the scientific ideology of the proletariat, to science, calling it “science of the revolution”, as the comrades of the UOC do; Moreover, they write “Marxism Leninism Maoism” without the “-” of the order of the stages of the process of its development, with which they deny the development by stages, when it is common knowledge that every process of development has phases or stages, so when they write “mlm” they are denying the development of Marxism even though they write that it is “science in development, complete, coherent and exact”. Thus, these comrades, despite their particularities, follow the practice of Avakian who removed from the mouthpiece of the RCP USA, which was called The Revolutionary Worker, the denomination “Worker” to call it only “Revolution” in order to reconcile himself with the sectors of the so-called “left of the Democratic Party”, in the case at hand, the comrades pretend to strip Marxist ideology of its character of scientific ideology of the proletariat, reducing it only to “science of the revolution”.
They speak of science repeatedly counterposing its name to Marxist ideology, forgetting that Marxism is scientific ideology of the class. It is the ideology of the international proletariat to express the conception of the proletariat, the last class in history, whose understanding of the world is scientific. It is scientific, but this does not detract from its character as ideology. When one insists too much on substituting the term ideology for scientific or science one is falling back on bourgeois criteria, on bourgeois philosophy centred on the theory of knowledge. The bourgeois school in its rottenness denies ideologies and denies the necessity of philosophy and pretends to reduce it to method. For us philosophy is the core of ideology. What happens is that the ideology generated by the exploiting classes is inverted because it gives an idealist explanation of history. Our ideology is scientific because it is a true reflection of their practice and their class character. It is omnipotent because it is true (Lenin).
What lies at the heart of this substitution of scientific ideology of the proletariat for that of simply “science of revolution” is the revisionist Althusser’s imputation to Marx of having created scientific socialism as a new science but not having given it its doctrinal, philosophical foundations. That is the basis of this criterion. If you analyse the work of this individual, you find that he is going to suggest that the foundations of Marxism had to be laid by fusing Spinozism with Kantism, which is another bourgeois philosophy. Here we can see his nefarious position. In essence, what does it imply? A re-edition of the theses of the old revisionists, like Kautsky, who maintained that Marxism had no philosophy and that Marxist philosophy was kantism; in other words, he put bourgeois philosophy as the basis of our conception, in the end an agnosticism, that is, an incapacity to know.
Since the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848, when Marxism, the ideology of the international proletariat, was born, it has had three component parts: Marxist philosophy or dialectical materialism, Marxist political economy and scientific socialism. In Marx and Engels, the founders, there is a whole foundation, there is a profound understanding, and bear in mind what it means to insist repeatedly on certain terms in the belief that they are elevating Marxism, when in fact they are bastard concessions to the bourgeoisie.
While claiming that it is a “science in development”, they deny the need for the development of the core of our ideology, which is Marxist philosophy, and then go on to deny the development of Marxist political economy and scientific socialism by the Chairman, as we shall see in due course.
SYNTHESIS OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CORE OF OUR IDEOLOGY
Chairman Gonzalo, in his Seminar on Philosophy (1987), summarises or synthesises the development of the core of our ideology, Marxist philosophy, and states the following:
“Marxism: for Marx and Engels, contradiction is the main law, Plekhanov stated that Marxism posed monism. Materialism is the basis, dialectics is the guideline, and of this the main thing is contradiction. They do not go so far as to state what is the medulla. Lenin proposes what is the core and leaves the task of deepening. With comrade Stalin there is a regression because he raises four features. Chairman Mao states that the only law is contradiction and the others are derivations. With Chairman Mao we arrive at philosophical monism: the only law. This does not imply that the system has been concluded. Questions concerning freedom, on the one hand it is consciousness of necessity and the other aspect is transformation of necessity and this is the main one.
Marx defined Dialectics: the most general laws of the development of the natural world, of the social world and of knowledge, understanding as such the reflection of material reality in the mind of man.
The difficulty would be in the laws. It is Chairman Mao who proposes a single law, considering the law of contradiction as the only law and he will define materialist dialectics as the study of the law of the development of the natural world, of the social world and of knowledge, that is to say like Marx but instead of laws he says law.” (our translation; ci-ic.org)
Therefore, in the development of this part of our response to the criticisms that have been raised against the Basis of Discussion against what is new in the development of our ideology, we will document it in the next article with verbatim quotations from Chairman Mao’s work.
The UOC aligns itself with and is actually taking as its teachers the revisionists Althusser and Kautsky, pretending to reduce our ideology to “science” to “scientific socialism”, basically making bastard concessions to the bourgeoisie, that is why they say: “we consider the expression “mainly Maoist” erroneous in that it corresponds to the pretension of making Maoism a “synthesis” of communism and reducing scientific socialism to the contributions of Mao Tse-tung.” Here, too, they are clearly denying the universal value of the development of Marxism-Leninism made by Chairman Mao Tse-tung by reducing it to mere contributions, for if they are mere “contributions” they are denying the universal value of the development of the ideology of the proletariat made by the Chairman, they are denying Maoism as the new, third and higher stage of Marxism. That is why they are rabidly opposing in Marxist philosophy that the law of contradiction is the only fundamental law. And they falsely accuse the proposal of the CCIMU (Basis of Discussion) of pretending to “make Maoism a “synthesis” of communism”. That will be their interpretation because of their inverted perception of reality with their mantras of “negation of negation”.
EVERYTHING IS MATTER IN MOTION, EVERYTHING IS CONTRADICTION!
Fall backwards, if you didn’t know it! Everything is matter in motion, everything is contradiction! Such is the Marxist philosophical monism that came with Chairman Mao. And that is why the movement of matter: of nature, of society and thought “is existent Contradiction itself” Let us quote Lenin on this point:
“Movement and “self-movement” (this NB! Arbitrary (independent), spontaneous, internally-necessary movement), “change,’’ “movement and vitality,” “the principle of all self-movement,” “impulse” (Trieb) to “movement” and to “activity”— the opposite to “dead being”—who would believe that this is the core of “Hegelianism,” of abstract and abstrusen (ponderous, absurd?) Hegelianism?? This core had to be discovered, understood, hinüberretten, laid bare, refined, which is precisely what Marx and Engels did. The idea of universal movement and change (1813 Logic) was conjectured before its application to life and society. In regard to society it was proclaimed earlier (1847) than it was demonstrated in application to man (1859).” (Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Science of Logic”)
The development, the process, processes, is spiral, as Lenin points out in the following on his reading of Hegel in the Philosophical Notebooks, quote:
“Human knowledge is not (or does not follow) a straight line, but a curve, which endlessly approximates a series of circles, a spiral. Any fragment, segment, section of this curve can be transformed (transformed one-sidedly) into an independent, complete, straight line, which then (if one does not see the wood for the trees) leads into the quagmire, into clerical obscurantism (where it is anchored by the class interests of the ruling classes). Rectilinearity and one-sidedness, woodenness and petrification, subjectivism and subjective blindness—voilà the epistemological roots of idealism. And clerical obscurantism (= philosophical idealism), of course, has epistemological roots, it is not groundless; it is a sterile flower undoubtedly, but a sterile flower that grows on the living tree of living, fertile, genuine, powerful, omnipotent, objective, absolute human knowledge.”
The UOC claim to be the masters of Marxism and dialectics, after they changed the name of their theoretical journal “Contradiction” to “Negation of the negation”, of course, because they consider this a law of dialectics comparable to the law of contradiction, they pretend to give lectures on the subject. Basically they are against Lenin and Chairman Mao, for they are in fact advocates of “two unify into one”, they blatantly deny what is in On Contradiction (1938) verbatim in his speech of 27 January 1957, in “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (1957), where the Chairman says that after 28 years of leading the people’s war in China he has fulfilled the task left by Lenin in 1915 of deepening the understanding of what he established in this respect, and in his Talk on Philosophy (1964), from which we extract the relevant part against the accusation made by the UOC that the definition of Maoism as the third, new and higher stage of the ideology of the proletariat is intended to “make Maoism a “synthesis” of communism” as the main thing.
With what Chairman Mao stated in his Talk on Philosophy, the Chairman’s development of Marxist philosophy on the law of contradiction should be made clear, and the thesis of those who hold the “law of negation of negation” as a fundamental law of dialectics comparable to contradiction and where the revisionist thesis that “two combine into one” is crushed, should be set out with concrete examples of synthesis according to Maoism. We hope that they will listen to Chairman Mao’s injunction: “We must take life as our starting point in discussing the unity of opposites (Comrade K’ang Sheng: ‘it won’t do merely to talk about concepts.’)” The Chairman furthermore says:
“What is synthesis? You have all witnessed how the two opposites, the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, were synthesized on the mainland. The synthesis took place like this: their armies came, and we devoured them, we ate them bite by bite. It was not a case of two combining into one as expounded by Yang Hsien-chen, it was not the synthesis of two peacefully, coexisting opposites. They didn’t want to coexist peacefully, they wanted to devour you. Otherwise, why would they have attacked Yenan? Their army penetrated everywhere in North Shensi, except in three hsien on the three borders. You have your freedom, and we have our freedom. There are 250,000 of you, and 25,000 of us. A few brigades, something over 20,000 men. Having analysed, how do we synthesize? If you want to go somewhere, you go right ahead; we still swallow your army mouthful by mouthful. If we could fight victoriously, we fought if we could not win, we retrated. From March 1947 to March 1948, one whole army [of the enemy] disappeared into the landscape, for we annihilated several tens of thousands of their troops. When we surrounded I-ch’uan, and Liu K’an came to relieve the city, the commander-in-chief Liu K’an was killed, two of his three divisional commanders were killed and the other taken prisoner, and the whole army ceased to exist This was synthesis. All of their guns and artillery were synthesized over to our side, and the soldiers were synthesized too. Those who wanted to stay with us could say, and to those who didn’t want to stay we gave money for their traveling expenses. After we had annihilated Liu K’an, the brigade stationed in I-ch’uan surrendered without fighting. In the three great campaigns – Liae Shen, Huai-Hai, and Peking-Tieltsin – what was our method of synthesis? Fu Tso-i was synthesized over to our side, with his army of 400,000 men, without fighting, and they handed over all their rifles. One thing eating another, big fish eating little fish, this is synthesis. It has never been put like this in books. I have never put it this way in my books either. For his part, Yang Hsien-chen believes that two combine into one, and that synthesis is the indissoluble tie between two opposites. What indissoluble ties are there in this world? Things may be tied, but in the end they must be severed. There is nothing which cannot be severed. In the twenty–odd years of our struggle, many of us have also been devoured by the enemy. When the 300,000 strong Red Army reached the Shen-Kan-Mng area, there were only 25,000 left of the others, some had been devoured, some scattered, some killed or wounded.
We must take life as our starting point in discussing the unity of opposites (Comrade K’ang Sheng: ‘it won’t do merely to talk about concepts.’)”
“While analysis is going on there is also synthesis, and while synthesis is going on, there is also analysis.
When people eat animals and plants, they also begin with analysis’ Why don’t we eat sand? When there’s sand in rice, it’s not good to eat. Why don’t we eat grass, as do horses, cows and sheep, but only things like cabbage? We must analyse everything. Shen Nung tasted the hundred herbs and originated their use for medicine. After many tens of thousands of years, analysis finally revealed clearly what could be eaten, and what could not…”
“What’s the method of synthesis? Is it possible that primitive society can exist side by side with slave-holding society? They do exist side-by-side, but this is only a small part of the whole. The overall picture is that primitive society is going to be eliminated. The development of society, moreover, takes place by stages … This stage in history has not yet been clarified, although it has been going on for a million years and more. Class society has not yet lasted 5,000 years… In a word, one devours another, one overthrows another, one class is eliminated, another class rises, one society is eliminated, another society rises. Naturally, in the process of development everything is not all that pure. When it gets to feudal society, there still remains something of the slave-holding system, though the greater part of the social edifice is characterized by the feudal system. There are still some serfs, and also some bond-workers, such as handicraftsmen. Capitalist society isn’t all that pure either, and even in more advanced capitalist societies there is also a backward part. For example, there was the slave system in the Southern United States. Lincoln abolished the slave system, but there are still black slaves today, their struggle is very fierce.”
“One thing destroys another, things emerge, develop, and are destroyed, everywhere is like this. If things are not destroyed by others, then they destroy themselves. Why should people die? Does the aristocracy die too? This is a natural law. Forests live longer than human beings, yet even they last only a few thousand years. If there were no such thing as death, that would be unbearable. If we could still see Confucius alive today, the earth wouldn’t be able to hold so many people. I approve of Chuang-uu’s approach. When his wife died, he banged on a basin and sang. When people die there should be parties to celebrate the victory of dialectics, to celebrate the destruction of the old. Socialism, too, will be eliminated, it wouldn’t do if it were not eliminated, for then there would be no communism. Communism will last for thousands and thousands of years. I don’t believe that there will be no qualitative changes under communism, that it will not be divided into stages by qualitative changes! I don’t believe it! Quantity changes into quality, and quality changes into quantity. I don’t believe that it can remain qualitatively exactly the same, unchanging for millions of years! This is unthinkable in the light of dialectics. Then there is the principle, ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’. Do you believe they can carry on for a million years with the same economics? Have you thought about it? If that were so, we wouldn’t need economists, or in any case we could get along with just one textbook, and dialectics would be dead.
The life of dialectics is the continuous movement toward opposites. Mankind will also finally meet its doom. When the theologians talks about doomsday, they are pessimistic and terrify people. We say the end of mankind is something which will produce something more advanced than mankind. Mankind is still in its infancy.”(our emphasis; ci-ic.org)
In short: Chairman Mao, studying the law of the unity and struggle of opposites, contradiction, applying it to study the continuous movement of eternal matter towards opposites, establishes that it is contradiction which explains the idea of universal movement and change, i.e. which indicates the direction of movement, and not a supposed law of the negation of the negation.
The Basis of Discussion makes a big statement which is essential: they are three stages, one Marxism, two Leninism, three Maoism, that is what it defines. But, they are stages of a dialectical process of development, because being a process of knowledge, a reflection of matter in the mind and matter being movement, being dialectical, that is what knowledge is. But these stages are three great qualitative leaps that could not be understood without other great, medium and even small leaps, and with these incessant leaps, which, given their very elementary magnitude, we do not consider.
That is why the UOC denies the definition of Maoism by denying that it is principal and by denying the development of the philosophy by Chairman Mao, centring on contradiction as the only fundamental law of the movement of eternal matter. Marxist philosophy, conception of the proletariat – dialectical materialism – contradiction being the core – contradiction, the fundamental law of dialectics – not principal because there are no other fundamental laws of dialectics. Chairman Mao’s definition of philosophy as the study of contradiction as the law of the development of nature, society and thought. Therefore, it is necessary to rectify, to know how to read and study and to think. The documents precisely move communists to think, to develop the initiative of understanding in order to be able to transform.
When one says mainly Maoism, it indicates that we are facing an immense dialectical process that Chairman Mao summarises and personifies. When they say they admit only up to Maoism as a tactic, but not mainly Maoism, what they do not want to recognise is that there is a leap, they are not up to date, they are not in time with the dialectical process and they are lagging behind. They do not recognise Maoism as the third stage of our ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
OUR POSITION ON THE QUESTIONING OF THE CCIMU PROPOSAL AS REPRESENTING A PARTICULAR NUANCE OF THE ICM
1. On the “particular nuance” of the International Communist Movement at the present time.
In the UOC’s Pronouncement, after setting out their general considerations on what they consider to be the initial basis of unity, “achieved in the struggle against “avakianism””, they state:
(The CCIMU proposal) “does not represent a common general basis of unity, to continue the struggle around the divergences that for now are legitimate within the revolutionary communists, since such a proposal only expresses the position of a particular shade of the communist movement.“
Two things are clearly expressed in this position of the UOC:
1. That they are for another common ideological basis of a Programme of immediate political struggle of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoists;
2. That they are against the document Basis of Discussion “because the proposal only expresses the position of a particular shade of the communist movement”.
We have already touched on the point 1. on the real divergences of the UOC, on the ideological plane against the Basis of Discussion proposed by the CCIMU, and we will refer to the approaches on this plane of the comrades of Proletarian Power, which we will continue after we have dealt with the observation 2. that the UOC launches against the Basis of Discussion.
As the name suggests, these are the Basis of Discussion proposed by the Coordinating Committee for the Unified Maoist International Conference (UCIMIC), which represents a tendency or nuance of a good number of Maoist Parties and Organisations of the world, i.e. a fraction of the ICM, to overcome the differences and achieve unity through the two-line struggle on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism. Hence the slogan Unite under Maoism! Therefore, we take the accusation of the comrades of the UOC as true, because we consider that, instead of being a mistake, it is a positive thing. Because the proposal of the CCIMU follows the Leninist tradition of unifying the movement under the reddest shade of the movement, as is clear from these quotations from Lenin:
“And you emphasise that ‘we need to put forward a slogan that would unite everyone’.
Let me say frankly that what I fear most at present is just this kind of blanket unification which, I am convinced, is the most dangerous and the most harmful thing for the proletariat. After all, Kautsky has already invented, in Neue Zeit, an ultra-‘unifying’ theory.” (Lenin, “Letter to Alexandra Kollontai”, 28 November – 8 December 1914).
“We know about all these fashionable and trenchant phrases. Only there is not a grain of truth or sense in them. There can be no strong socialist party without a revolutionary theory which unites all socialists, from which they draw all their convictions, and which they apply in their methods of struggle and means of action. To defend such a theory, which to the best of your knowledge you consider to be true, against unfounded attacks and attempts to corrupt it is not to imply that you are an enemy of all criticism.” (‘Our Programme, Second Half of 1899)
“It is precisely because Marxism is not a lifeless dogma, not a completed, ready-made, immutable doctrine, but a living guide to action, that it was bound to reflect the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life. That change was reflected in profound disintegration and disunity, in every manner of vacillation, in short, in a very serious internal crisis of Marxism. Resolute resistance to this disintegration, a resolute and persistent struggle to up hold the fundamentals of Marxism, was again placed on the order of the day.” (Lenin, “Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism”, 1910)
“Marx … (in) his letter on the Gotha Programme, in which he sharply condemns eclecticism in the formulation of principles. If you must unite, Marx wrote to the party leaders, then enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, do not make theoretical “concessions”. This was Marx’s idea, and yet there are people among us who seek—in his name—to belittle the significance of theory!
Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This idea cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity. Yet, for Russian Social-Democrats the importance of theory is enhanced by three other circumstances, which are often forgotten: first, by the fact that our Party is only in process of formation, its features are only just becoming defined, and it has as yet far from settled accounts with the other trends of revolutionary thought that threaten to divert the movement from the correct path. On the contrary, precisely the very recent past was marked by a revival of non-Social-Democratic revolutionary trends (an eventuation regarding which Axelrod long ago warned the Economists). Under these circumstances, what at first sight appears to be an “unimportant” error may lead to most deplorable consequences, and only short-sighted people can consider factional disputes and a strict differentiation between shades of opinion inopportune or superfluous. The fate of Russian Social-Democracy for very many years to come may depend on the strengthening of one or the other ‘shade’.”(Lenin, “What is to be done?”, Autumn 1901 – February 1902).
We consider it necessary to explain the Marxist criterion that until the Communist International has been reconstituted as the World Communist Party, the General Staff of the international proletariat, all the declarations of a Party, a joint Party or an international organisation, however wide it may be, will only represent the position of a part or fraction of the ICM, which we will always fight for as its red fraction.
So the proposal of the Basis of Discussion, prepared by the CCIMU, has never pretended to represent all the forces of the ICM (nor could it), but only a component of it, its left and red fraction, with the aim of promoting the two-line-struggle for the UMIC and the NIOP, for a General Political Line for the International Communist Movement and the World Proletarian Revolution. These Basis of Discussion after the discussion of the same, with the criticisms, contributions, improvements as a product of the two-line-struggle whose breadth depends not only on the initiative of those who are organising the UMIC, but also on all those who are about to unite sincerely, frankly and loyally under Maoism and really do so in order to discuss our differences together. With what has been said, we are also clarifying to the comrades of Proletarian Power, with regard to the publication of the Basis of Discussion in order to open the debate as widely as possible within the international communist movement, what is the way or path to be followed to establish the basis of unity of the UMIC and the NIOP.