the Marxist Civil War

Chris Burford cburford at
Thu Aug 17 19:01:37 MDT 1995


Defending Mao again, eh?  Methinks me smells a rat.


I am interested that Ralph immediately assumed the passage
below was a defence of Mao. I thought I was saying in a non-partisan
way, that there is a fundamental potential split, that can take
different forms in different historical situations between, the heart
and the head, the prose and the passion, the aged and the youth, the flame
lit on the day of revolution, and the need for consolidation and
compromise when the revolution has been won. Or between hacks and

When you read the passage from Trotsky that enflamed Stalin so, you can
see it was also the substance of the split in China, when Mao used the
revolutionary youth to attack the Stalinist bureaucracy whom he detested.

I do actually think that the cultural revolution was a tragic mistake,
but a mistake that had to happen, like eastern European socialism had to
happen. The lessons, however of the Chinese revolution, honed over
15 years of protracted struggle in very complex conditions, should
be incorporated into marxist analysis. If you call that Maoist, I think
that term is inevitably open to confusion nowadays.

I thought CLR James was particularly critical of China at the time
when Mao launched his move to the left and his attacks on the Soviet
influences that were fast consolidating in the country. I accept that
in the course of this and in the Great Leap forward there were
great injustices and adventurism. But I am not sure that James's formula
based on workers councils could have worked.

I would welcome Ralph expanding on this strategy.

Chris B.

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