Cultural Revolution and general MIM stuff

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Fri Sep 15 17:10:51 MDT 1995

On Fri, 15 Sep 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> Pat, I liked your thoughtful reply of 14th Sept about Lin Biao and the
> Cultural Revolution. I also liked the length - enough to present serious
> ideas but not so long as to require skimming over.

MIM replies: I've been meaning to say I liked how Louis Proyect
concluded one message with a call for others to write their own stuff.
Louis Proyect has presented numerous lengthy messages, and that is
fine by us. Some people coming in with their one paragraph blasts
on how the Marxism List rots seem really to be complaining about
having to read or struggle.

We at MIM do not distribute our lit. free on the NET except for
old news and stuff generated on the net itself. We cannot undercut
our sales of theory journals by giving them out free on the NET,
because INTERNET people can generally afford them, but a lot of
our readers are in prison and cannot. Hence INTERNET people
have a legitimate gripe against us compared with Louis Proyect,
who posts free.

As you have noticed, we try to say a few pointed things to lure
people into a more general agenda of study. We tell people certain
things are to be discovered by more study, and we try to provide
a tiny taste as proof.

> I am not sure however that Zhou was a figure quite like Deng. Deng has
> pushed the pendulum to swing right over to the very extensive introduction
> of market and capitalist relations. Had Zhou outlived Mao, (and his death
> just before Mao, must in my opinion  have greatly affected the course of
> recent Chinese history) I think his position would have been more like
> that of Liu Shaoqi.

MIM replies: Zhou was Mao's "right-hand man," and you are correct
that Zhou might have been different. Deng was certainly more open and
pugnacious--a capitalist activist as opposed to a steady capitalist

> You have indicated some aspects of the Cultural Revolution that were
> negative - eg the cult of the personality. Your comments about the brevity
> of the quotations in the little red book, are welcome on this list. With
> the title your organisation carries, you will understand that I, and I
> guess many others, might fear the possibility of a simplistic idealistic
> position, heavy with revolutionary ritual.

MIM replies: Intellectuals and the petty-bourgeoisie generally find
the doctrine of materialism confining. Whereas the activist is more
likely to realize you "have to choose sides" and understand the need
for proletarian unity, the intellectuals and petty-bourgeoisie are
loathe to give up their individuality, since they imagine themselves
above classes. Hence, they are prone to inventing as numerous
pre-scientific doctrines as there are individuals. Such naturally
leads to corrosive politics, the same way religion can only lead
to war and not unity of the people.

Hence, we emphasize that we work within an existing scientific
tradition and don't seek to invent another. Focussing on questions
such as what worked to bring progress in history is what
will unite the proletariat and its allies. That's just another
way of saying that dialectics is a philosophy of struggle, but
it is materialist philosophy which gains us our unity.

Another point I would like to raise is that it appears many
evaluate the scientific quality of an argument as poor merely
because of the tone it is expressed in. Such is a failure of
science. It gains part of its impetus from the socialization
of professionals in academia and elsewhere, a socialization
which rewards conformity, not struggle for actual
scientific progress. Even
if a Marxology list arises--where academics who used to
write for Problems of Communism join in--even in such an
academic list, the truth requires a struggle against such
substance-less conformity.

Partly the problem is one of political economy. We believe
the majority on INTERNET are not proletarian material. As such
even wavering petty-bourgeois or well-meaning youth come
under enemy influence. When struggle is required to overcome
the status quo of imperialism, it is only the imperialists
who benefit from all the petty-bourgeoisie's clamor for
level tone. The imperialists believe there is no state of
emergency, while the proletariat is inclined to see its friends
falling off cliffs. The proletariat yells out very clearly
"watch out!" Meanwhile, the petty-bourgeoisie imagines itself
above classes and capable of imitating the tone and cultural
forms of the bourgeoisie without prejudice to its own

The situation would be totally different in Peru or the Philippines
where a friendly tone amongst the people would be much more
appropriate in the most common circumstances. We in the
imperialist countries are much more likely to go for hard-boiled
imperialist ideology, and hence struggle must be sharper
in ordinary circumstances.

> Without being fully comprehensive, it would still be valuable if  you
> could spell out some things you regard as positive in the Cultural
> Revolution as well perhaps as anything else important that was negative.
> Chris B, London.

MIM replies: Today it is more clear than ever that Deng Xiaoping
was indeed a capitalist-roader just as the Cultural Revolutionaries said.
Those in the West too lazy or bourgeoisified to study said
it was all rhetoric or power struggle of individuals, precisely
because that is all the individual in the West ever seems to
experience. But now the good thing about the capitalist restoration
in China is that Deng Xiaoping has now proved in practice every
single charge ever made against him in the Cultural Revolution
and more.

Look at all the other theories of existing socialism.
1. Totalitarian theory said these societies could never
change except with force used from outside.
2. Metaphysical "Stalinists" like Hoxha said it was
impossible to go backward in class struggle and once
a society went to socialism there could be no
capitalist restoration.
3. Most Trotskyists said the same thing or allowed for a
case of "bloody counterrevolution" as the Sparts used
to yell at us before recently admitting they were wrong.

It was Mao who predicted who would restore open capitalism
in the Soviet Union, Albania and so on--the bourgeoisie
in the party. Who were Yeltsin, Gorbachev and Ramiz Alia?
They were all high-ranking authorities in the party.
They were not foreign imperialists, old landlords or
old capitalists reclaiming their power. Now that is clear
to anyone who cares about existing socialist societies,
but Mao was the only one to see that and that was what
the Cultural Revolution was about. Mobilize the masses
to knock out the capitalist-roaders, the people with
access to the means of production through the state and party.
That's the good thing about the Cultural Revolution.

We have plenty to say about the real and alleged abuses of
intellectuals and people-on-people violence in our theory
journals. Suffice it to say when the masses seize
unprecedented political freedom, and there is still an
enemy class--the result is not a tea party.

This was a long post, because we hope to establish just
once our position on certain things. Issues of tone, how
we write, how much we write, etc. are bound to come up
again and we can just refer readers back to this post.

Pat for MIM

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