Mao's "God"

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Fri Sep 6 12:01:05 MDT 1996

>From owner-marxism  Wed Sep  4 09:09:31 1996
Date: Wed, 04 Sep 1996 09:26:31 -0700
From: cwellen <cwellen at>

Comradely Greetings from Wei En Lin

On Wed, Sept 4, we read some comments concerning:

"Chairman Mao's quip about going "to meet Marx"
and that "our God" i.e. the "god" of the Marxists, is
the masses."

The quote I mentioned did not refer to Mao's
going "to meet Marx."  Mao, nearing death spoke
of going "to meet God."  The statement did appear
to be a quip, since Mao was speaking about
his own death and the legacy of his thought
in a consistently serious tone. Let us
be accurate.

Many times, as Mao grew older, he spoke
of his own death in traditional or
semi-traditional ways.  For instance,
he spoke of traveling to the Kun Lun
Mountains, or  the "Heaven," of the classics.

The quote about the God and the people
is being dealt with out of context, if
Mr. Godena thinks it was meant as a quip.

The statement was:

"The Chinese Communist Party must persevere
and work unceasingly, and we too, will touch God's
heart.  Our God is none other than the masses of the
Chinese People."

[This is from "The Foolish Old Man Who Removed
Mountains, one of the Three Texts, which Mao
most often urged people to read, from 1966
onwards.  Found in Mao's "Selected Works"
Vol. III, 321-322]

I pose these questions for who say Maoism
and belief in God are inconsistent.

If Maoism and the idea of God are
inconsistent, then why does Mao
urge people to read this text?

Why any mention of "God" whatever?

Are Leninists going to accuse Mao
of 'God-building' (a la Lunacharsky)?

Is it possible that Mao's notion
of God is so radically different
>from the Western notion that the
same criticisms used against
traditionalist Christian
Theology are inappropriate?

I suggest, most respectfully,
that people should study some
Chinese philosophy before they
generalize about Mao's notion of
God.  They should remember his
writings were addressed to a Chinese
audience, and that some familiarity
with the traditions of that audience
is advisable.  At least to the extent
of not imposing Western categories where
they do not apply.

As to the accusation that I am trying
to "coddle to religion", my main point
is simple enough.

I am not arguing for religion.  I am
arguing that some religious believers
can contribute to revolutionary praxis;
and that some ideas, which are called religious
are consistent with revolutionary thought
and practice.

I am arguing that one should be open-
minded and not jump to conclusions, especially
when other cultures are concerned.

Sincere Regards,

Wei En Lin

MIM replies: Comrade, most of what you say
is correct or reasonable, but I find it
specious for you to say that Mao believed in God
in his own Chinese way. Not only did Mao make many
sarcastic comments and use various metaphors,
but he also said he was going to meet Marx.

The story of the masses moving the mountain
is recognizable as a popularization of Marx's
earliest philosophical writings in which he
said God is merely a vehicle in which to
attribute less to humanity and more to something
else that can be manipulated for convenient ends.

There are important differences between China
and the West. Confucianism is secular and yet
occupies a place as important as Christianity or
more important.

Mao also used many expressions from Confucianism.
Does that make him Confucian? How many expressions
do you think it is possible for us to use today
that do not derive from religion or Confucian-like
secular substitutes?

If you are merely saying that you would like to be
able to speak the language of the people in whatever
context they are, we agree with you. What Mao did
was address those who believe in God and pull them
to earth by speaking of the power of the masses. That
is not a religious matter. It is simply concretizing

We should be in favor of learning all languages and
cultures and then speaking in those frameworks to
dispell ideas of other-worldly powers or the afterlife
and focus on the power of the people.

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