I would like to first apologize for the 3-month gap between the last intervention made by JMP and this one. However, I would like to resume the dialogue at the next logical step in our outlining of a coherent Maoist philosophy i.e. the regionalization of Maoism. The problem that one regularly encounters when speaking of Maoism in North America is a common misunderstanding that Mao’s ‘sinification’ of Maoism, was also the reframing of the Marxist project within the context of a specific geographical locale which does not implications on practice outside of this locale. Indeed, the regionalization of Marxism should not be simply understood as Chinese Marxism that does not influence our practice in the First World and is a form of ‘Third World Marxism’, but rather, requires the additional step of comprehending the universal qualitative originality of the said contribution.
Just to recap the discussion regarding the issue thus far: JMP described that the second feature, or contribution, of Maoism to Marxist theory is:
“2) The “sinification” of Marxism: the importance of generating an historical materialist analysis from the actually existing social context rather than importing eurocentric analyses and categories uncritically. This theoretical development was influential in the appearance of numerous anti-eurocentric Marxist theories in Africa and Asia.” (see Part 5)
To which I responded:
“The 2nd category requires Mao to develop a strategy for non-European societies that takes into account the peasantry in China. Thus, there is a need to reconsider a revolutionary strategy that is able to mobilize the peasantry and the working class alike in a class alliance which is under the leadership of the proletariat: “protracted people’s war” (the universal applicability of this concept and revolutionary strategy has been hotly debated and whilst I do believe that it is a universal concept this must be fully articulated elsewhere and with attention paid to regional articulation) i.e. the development of red base areas, which then enables the spread of red power and hegemony through the countryside and preliminary land reform, which leads to encirclement of the cities and the uprising of the proletariat to capture State-power.” (see “The Regional and the Whole“)
And we finally agreed that we would refer to that category as the “regionalization of Marxism” so that we could look at some of the universal aspects that flow from this epistemological shift in Mao’s focus – a de-centering of the Marxist project from Europe, which allowed for the development of concepts and additions/subtractions to be made which allows for the creative application of Marxism-Leninism (at this point) to new particular conditions (that also have an universal aspect). Thus, I would like to spend some time briefly commenting on this epistemological shift, but also make some brief remarks about the protracted people’s war strategy and its international applicability (of course this is a much larger concept that needs to be developed in detail elsewhere).
From Marx, Engels and Lenin we are given a series of concepts that are able to describe accurately the conditions experienced by themselves in their particular political conjunctures i.e. in Marx and Engel’s case the rise of industrial capital, the failure of the Paris Commune etc; and in the case of Lenin, the recognition of higher stages of capitalism and its extension, the October Road (the insurrectionist strategy of the CPSU), the capture of state-power etc. All of these experiences and the categories that arise from these specific analyses: mode of production, dictatorship of the proletariat, imperialism etc have a dual character: a regional character that is specific to a specific time/place, and a universal character which allows us to further understand and theorize our own conditions. (Stalin of course is an omission to this list as although he experienced new problems and contradictions in his leadership of the USSR, due to a metaphysical approach and an unscientific way of dealing with class contradictions was unable to appropriately synthesize these contradictions and experiences into a scientific theory that ultimately made the capitalist counter-revolution in the USSR possible).
However, there is already a ‘regionalization’ present in the work of Lenin for example, thus Lars Lih’s argument in “Lenin Rediscovered” (which has been mentioned before), demonstrates that Lenin’s re-articulation of the Erfurtian ‘party-of-a-new-type’ within the Russian context was not an articulation of a new ‘party-of-a-new-type’ as has been orthodox Leninist mainstay since the 1919, but rather that the Leninist party i.e. the Bolsheviks was an implementation of the German party whilst being cognizant of the limitations imposed by the immediate conjuncture that Lenin has been exposed to. Indeed, Lenin recognizes that the organization of a mass working class party is not possible within Russian conditions and thus must resort to the use of a clandestine party-model. Lenin of course acknowledges this re-articulation under specific conditions in one of his most misinterpreted works, “Left-Communsim: an Infantile Disorder”; it has been used by revisionists and opportunists around the world alike to justify their gradualist policies of a mass party (and in the context of the USA and Canada as articulated by Browderism, as a form of liquidation) that desires to build socialism through the ballot box; rather than recognizing that the use of the elections was only a tactic appropriate to a specific period of the class struggle which allows for the promotion of socialist ideas in the democratic sphere, which when having becoming popular amongst the masses would result in a counter-revolutionary action by the bourgeoisie of banning all socialist groups thus requiring a clandestine party to actually capture state-power. Thus, the Leninist-party (of a specific type, I argue that in fact that there are at least 3 Leninist party-forms that Lenin himself utilized from 1905-1920, but this typology must be dealt with elsewhere) has both a regional and universal aspect.
Mao’s own regionalization of Marxism allowed him to him to develop some of the main characteristics of semi-feudal semi-colonial society including a series of political economic categories, especially a further breakdown of the “peasant” into sub-types and the relations between these different types of peasants. This is an epistemological shift in so fat that there is an attempt to understand and develop concepts that are particular to the Chinese, and more broadly Third World context, which allows for the reformulation of concepts to better explain these different conditions. However, it is in keeping with the scientific spirit of Marx, Engels and Lenin that ensures that Mao does not become dogmatic and his thought fixed by a set of concepts and ideas that are meant to descrive radically different conditions. This allowed him to correctly understand what kinds of alliances and class forces were needed for the New Democratic Revolution. This of course has been most clear when North American Marxists, especially Trotskyists argue, that much of the Third World is already capitalist in its mode of production. Indeed, Mao’s insightful analysis into the class character of China, rather than simply assuming European categories, allows Mao to recognize that there is a possibility for a Ned Democratic Revolution that combines the bourgeois and some elements of the socialist transition to communism, without having to necessarily go through first a bourgeois revolution and then a subsequent socialist revolution. This concept of the NDR has universal applicability for much of the Third World.
Furthermore, Mao’s regionalization of Marxism allows Mao to recognize that the classic insurrectionist strategy employed by the Russians, and then dogmatically pushed by the 28 Bolsheviks, could not work within the Chinese context, thus Mao is able to make another innovative contribution to Marxism proper – the Protracted People’s War strategy. The PPW strategy can be simply summed up as the development of red power and base areas in the countryside through the promotion of socialist ideas amongst the peasantry and the revolutionary capture of land (and subsequent redistribution amongst the peasantry) through the use of the PLA, whilst simultaneously building an urban movement in the cities, which will rise up against the bourgeoisie when the PLA has successfully encircled the cities. This strategy of the PPW recognizes several universal aspects: 1) that the nature of any future struggle will not be, and cannot be, a single insurrection (the storming of the Winter Palace) but rather will be a protracted struggle between the bourgeoisie and the communist forces militarily (thus the vast majority of the working class and peasantry will need to be organized into organizations like trade unions, peasant associations etc with appropriate military structures including PLA detachments and self-defense capacity); 2) that one cannot wait for the revolution to take place to form a red army by which to take on the bourgeois state and the repressive state apparatuses under its control; and 3) that there needs to be effective development of red base areas which allow for the exercise of dual power and provide protection for the working class from the bourgeoisie. Of course, in the Euro-American countryside there no longer exists a peasantry per se to organize, and thus there cannot be a rural strategy, which includes the encircling of cities, but rather the development of urban red base areas. Thus, although some wish to simply mock Maoists in the First World by arguing that we wish to go to the country-side to organize peasants, they fail to understand the universal aspects of the regionalized Marxism of Mao.
There must be thus, a further development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the First World that is attentive to the new particular conditions that have arisen in the last 30 years that has allowed for the development of a singularly different superstructure, a bourgeois-democratic post-political society, and a correct line towards the unique situation of the colonized indigenous populations in the settler-colonies of Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand amongst others.
I now turn this over to JMP as I am sure that he has much to say on the issue.