[Marxism] Maoism and Trotskyism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Feb 3 16:48:44 MST 2004

Jurriaan wrote:
>Think of it this way: would intelligent New Zealand workers give a
stuff about this Maoism-Trotskyism thing ? I would think they wouldn't -
what concerns them is a way of thinking and a principled politics that
can can inspire people with the confidence needed to improve the
position of the working class. That doesn't deny the need for theory,
but that it has to relate to New Zealand experience, not simply what
chairman Mao said or Trotsky said eighty years earlier. You don't
develop an esprit de corps by all reading the same books, but through
lived experience that relates to what's happening now.

>If particular Maoist groups are any good, that's because of their own

I largely agree, and would say the same about Trotskyist groups.

There are plenty of Maoists and Trotskyists from the 68 generation who
sold out as well, so neither Maoism nor Trotskyism are guarantees for
long-term revolutionary principle.

At the end of the day all of us go through a lot of struggle and those
of us who are serious about building a revolutionary party - as opposed
to a sect or cult, and also as opposed to a party which is really an
opportunist swamp - undertake a lot of critical reflection.  Both
Maoists and Trotskyists are capable of this.

The WP in NZ was formed by a veteran CPNZ figure (the CPNZ here having
been Maoist rather than pro-Moscow), following a decade of critical
reflection about the development of the CPNZ, Mao, Stalin etc.
*revolution* was formed by people who had done a lot of critical
reflection about Trotskyist groups.

One of the striking features of both Revo and WP is that we place
emphasis on the need for making an analysis of NZ reality that is rooted
in our own experience and our own self-education in Marxism.  So we
don't take some template created by some cult leader in London or New
York or wherever and mindlessly repeat it as some kind of truth in NZ.

In January 2003, the ACA held a week-long retreat for our core
activists, at the time mainly Revo and WP people (a lot more
independents have gotten involved since).  We studied political economy
and dialectics, as well as some stuff from 'Left-Wing Communism: an
infantile disorder'.  The dialectics study was based on stuff by Mao.
Needless to say, with my Trotskyist background in the 70s and early 80s,
I was totally unaware of Mao's writings on dialectics, apart from having
heard the name of one of the main works.  So studying parts of his 'On
Contradiction' was really educative.  There was a one-line reference to
Stalin being great, which I obviously gagged a bit on, but the rest of
it was bloody brilliant.  

I think there is a basis for serious engagement between the more left
elements of Trotskyism and the more left elements of Maoism.  It's based
on the fact that we have all come through extremely difficult times and
are still here and still fighting.  We have all had to make serious
analyses of these difficult times and question some old ideas and
dogmas.  And, often, we have actually come to some similar, or certainly
compatible, conclusions.

In the NZ case, because Revo is not Trotskyist and WP is pro-Mao rather
than dogmatic Maoist, there are no artificial obstacles to our
compatability and working together has been amazingly easy and

Philip Ferguson  

Philip Ferguson 

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