The mass line, the correct line and the closed circle

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Wed May 8 03:09:36 MDT 1996

Michael with admirable conciseness:
In more prosaic terms, this is known as keeping your ear to
the ground.

But when the grass is teaming with snakes that feed on the rats
that sup on the black vomit of the toadies of revisionism -

who would bend so low?


This came about as a result of an exchange about the Maoist
concept of the mass line. You point out rightly that in terms
of a system of selective amplification of popular ideas,
Maoists really have no monopoly of it. Mao and the CPC just
emphasised it as "the mass line".

Your post also concisely points out problems with it. Is the
mass line the "correct line"? Is there only one correct line?
That is certainly one problem.

Rolf with alarmingly detailed textual references has quoted
evidence that those members of the Chinese leadership who
purged and tried the "gang of four" had much evidence of
their unpopularity. This does not answer your suspicion of
the undemocratic nature of the CPC but it does suggest
that there was likely to be a desire to listen to popular

But that happens in bourgeois parliamentary
democracies too. Different factions of the conservative
party in Britain are torturing themselves over their dismal opinion
poll rating and the forthcoming election. Some quote their
constituents saying that they want less taxes. Others
quote "the public" as being concerned about job insecurity and
the risks to the welfare state, from which the middle classes
have benefitted so much.

The awful truth is that the mass line may not throw up a
single "correct" line, for bourgeois politicians or for the
leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in the middle 70's
(aka  "bourgeois politicians" to Trotskyists).

Rolf could engage in ever more detailed discussions of the moment
at which China went revisionist. But he himself implies a weakness
in the Maoist model of two line struggle. He quotes, convincingly
IMO, evidence that Mao was balancing the two wings and looking
for a third way, and he seems to support this. That in itself
suggests that "Two Line Struggle" may at least at times
be a dangerous simplification even from a Maoist point of view.

But your post, Michael, also raises the question of how
differences of opinion within the Party, among marxists or
indeed among democratic subscribers to this l'st, are to be
discussed. Now doubt it reflects my petty bourgeois menshevik
urban dwelling tendencies that I feel as a matter of
principle rats, toads, and snakes, although not the most
congenial of life forms I have to confess, are not in some
hierarchy to me as a human being, and have done nothing to
deserve the abuse heaped on them on this l'st in recent days.

We have the option of declining, therefore, to accept the
implicit hierarchy that we have to stoop "low" to listen,
observe and think for ourselves. We can seek more information
>from Latin America. From Colombia. From Brazil after this
massacre of landless peasants, for example. We can consider from
a marxist point of view,  how marxists might analyse the
war call from the Colombian government as well as the peace call
>from the Fujimori government.

Whether the "Maoists" want to form a closed circle is up to them.
Adolfo's post about being "merciless" would appear to support your
case. On the other hand this whole debate seems to illustrate that
however brave and resourceful the most fervent supporters of the PCP
may wish to claim it has been in pursuing People's War, it
has been vulnerable to confusion among its supporters in the
face of the neo-liberal attacks of the Fujimori regime, and the
regime's "peace" initiative.


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