Lin Biao/Cultural Revolution

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Thu Sep 14 19:11:31 MDT 1995

On Thu, 14 Sep 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> Thank you  for your post attached below.
> I do not have any knowledge of the groups you mention.
> I assume that the contradiction with Lin Biao was one that in Mao's
> theory was a contradiction among the people, that turned antagonistic.
> It is not clear to me how much he was planning a military coup himself
> and how much he became alarmed at the preventative measures Mao was
> putting in place against a military coup, and decided he was himself
> in danger.
> I understand that conflict arose over a proposal that Mao should
> become Head of State, which he saw as an attempt to promote himself
> into an honorific position. But behind this there were presumably
> differences about what had happened in the Cultural Revolution.
> Do you accept as probably authentic the statement attributed to
> Mao that the Cultural Revolution was 70% good and 30% bad?
> I am sorry that I cannot afford the time to access your archive. In
> any case on an important theoretical question like this affecting
> 1/5 of the world's population, I would appreciate your own view here
> about what was positive about it and what was negative. I would say
> this is not just a serious academic question but a serious
> theoretical question of marxism. I look forward to your reply.
> Chris B, London.

MIM replies: I have sent Chris B. our literature list. Anyone else
who wants it can just e-mail me.

I will make a few more comments on this question. What Chris is
thinking about with the dispute over the state chair job is
that Lin Biao was asking Mao to take it over in addition to his
post as chair of the party. Mao said no.

This appears to have been aimed at Zhou Enlai and his faction of
the party, because presumably, if Mao died, Lin Biao would have been
chair of the party and Zhou would have had the top state post
as designated in the succession plans. It was thought that Lin
wanted this post for himself and so he wanted to inherit it
from Mao when Mao died. (Woops, just kidding; Mao and Lin were unrelated.)
Lin already had the official designation of being Mao's successor,
so any posts that Mao had would go to Lin.

Given that it was Zhou Enlai who protected Deng Xiaoping and groomed
him for power, some look back and say Lin Biao would have been better.
If that is true, then maybe Mao should have let him have the post.
We don't have a stand on that.

What is known is that Mao was never entirely comfortable
with Lin and Lin seemed rather to be a better alternative to
Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and the other people basically in power
today. (Liu is dead but spiritual guide now.) Lin likewise
allied with Mao in his own way. One thing that Mao did publicly
after Lin died in the flight from the coup attempt was denounce
Lin's attempt to build a personality cult around Mao himself. Mao
linked this with Lin's attempt to prepare shallow adulation for
Lin himself in the event Mao died.

Even the shortness of the quotes in Quotations of Chairman Mao
(The Red Book) are in Lin Biao's style. He wanted things shallow
it appears, so that there were not difficult philosophical disputes
after Mao died, just clear accession.

Hence the blows that Lin Biao and his friends landed against
Deng Xiaoping and other dogs we see in power today  in state-
capitalist China came at a price. Lin built up Mao to be a god
and he himself built himself up as god's choice for next leader.

When Lin had a conflict with Mao, he undercut his own following
amongst the people. Lin-believers had a difficult time after the
coup. It also reflected badly on Mao; although Mao simply
made a point of polemicizing against personality cults and idealism
after the coup attempt.

Ironically, the Lin coup attempt punctured maybe the biggest
bubble of the Cultural Revolution. This was both good and bad.
In the short run, it was very bad, because it assured Zhou Enlai
and his capitalist-road followers ascendancy. In the long run,
it will be a good thing, because a generation of people who had
been inadequately politicized now thinks for itself. Whereas
such independent thought leads in  no great direction in imperialist
countries, in countries where productive labor is more predominant,
independent thought has more potential for communism.

Pat for MIM

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list