"Two-line struggle"

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Tue Apr 23 01:00:48 MDT 1996

Doug has drawn attention to Adolfo's mechanical
counterposing of black and white in "two-line struggle".

In fact in one of Adolfo's quieter passages he argued
this is as self-evident as positive and negative.

I am increasingly convinced that this reductionism was
one of the problems of late maoism, and ended up as an
excuse for extreme arbitariness. Who is defining the
two lines? And who is defining their side as 100% positive?

IMO it is clear that the thoughtfulness that went into
the Chinese war of liberation especially with their
re-education movement, (not solely restricted to Mao's
contributions), was a key factor in giving the CPC the
flexibility and strength to carry the revolution forward.
In many ways that re-education campaign was directed
against the more simplistic "stalinist" dogmatisms.

However after the capture of state power, the process of
the Cultural Revolution was detached from concrete
reality, and as I have suggested, economics. The "Two
Line Struggle" then became a recipe for factional fighting
and hypocrisy (always a danger when a high moral tone is

Undoubtedly there are conflicts and contradicitions in
all things. But who is saying they are always binary?
Leading a developing country towards a more socialist rather
than a more capitalist future involves many discussions.
It is obvious that a privileged stratum can emerge, and
then be a base for some sort of restoration of private
ownership of the means of production, but that does not mean
that every argument can boil down to the capitalist road
versus the socialist road.

Besides principles of dialectics such as the unity of
opposites, do not necessarily mean that there are
only two opposites. Chance could throw up more complex
patterns of possibilities.

Just at the moment Luis and Adolfo are instructively tearing
themselves apart because they cannot tolerate that they
have different main aims on this l'st and they can
conceptualise this only as a "two line struggle" in which
one side must be positive and the other negative.

I suggest by contrast that this l'st is full of struggle
but the most effective and creative struggle is where the
opposites are not completely counterposed, in which different
positions are tolerated and examined, and in which people
learn from each other.

Chris B, London.

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