The Three-Headed Beast Returns: Continuining the Discussion on the ‘Regionalization of Marxism’

Exactly a year and nine days ago, JMP at M-L-M Mayhem! responded to my then latest intervention into our inter-blog dialogue, however, I unfortunately (or fortunately for some) have not responded to his expansion of my earlier comments. At the insistence of JMP I resumed this blog in December 2010 and I had decided then to resume our inter-blog dialogue when I felt that I had sufficiently gotten into the habit of writing on this blog. 3 months have passed and I have been somewhat regular in updating the blog so I feel like I can resume our earlier project and stick to it.

JMP in his post clarified and corrected my argument that the regionaliztion of Marxism can be seen in Lenin’s practice and reminded me of the difference between a germ-form and the more substantive form developed by Mao.  JMP notes that, “This practical experience would lead to Mao’s theorization of the regionalization of marxism and it is this theorization that possesses universal significance.” This may strike the reader to be an odd, perhaps even contradictory, statement in which we are told that the regionalization, or the re-location of a given theoretical practice within a specific conjuncture, is itself a universalization, however, I would like to agree with his statement and expand upon it further as I think that this is the nub of the difference between Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought parties and Marxism-Leninist-Maoist parties. Furthermore, I think that this discussion already forebodes our next discussion regarding the relationship between the particular and the universal.

A classical, and I believe misguided and one-sided, way to understand JMP’s insight is to argue that Marxism-Leninism is an incomplete theory and thus must be supplemented with additional theoretical insights, thus Mao Zedong’s creative application of Marxism-Leninism to the particular conditions of China is reducible to just that, Marxism-Leninism in China with perhaps a few new practical insights i.e. mass line, Cultural Revolution, adages against book worship etc that inform our practice but not our theory itself.  Indeed, these commentators do not recognize that at the very moment at which one admits to the need for a ‘regionalization’ of Marxism that they have already entered into realm of the very presuppositions that inform their Marxism and thus, if they properly understand the contribution that Mao has made, are made aware of  a theoretical limit to their Marxism-Leninism and the very conditions that determine the possibility of their given Marxism. Thus, Mao’s need to creatively apply Marxism-Leninism in China and the stridency of the pro-USSR wing of the CCP, led by the 28 Bolsheviks, resulted in Mao’s need to develop more deeply the theory of ‘regionalization’ in perhaps ways that Mao did not originally intend from the outset. Indeed, this one-sided approach leads to a process of dogmatism and idealism and inevitably defeat.

What we are speaking of here is a two-sided process, which we briefly mentioned in the introduction, in which an epistemological obstacle causes the need for the development of concepts that are able to overcome the obstacle which then in turn alter the very constellation of the other concepts that till then constituted that form of knowledge. Indeed, one cannot simply add a concept to an already existing constellation of concepts that ground an epistemological system, or knowledge, without altering all of those concepts as well. If a new concept does not do so then there may be three faulty operations at work: 1) the one-sided methodology I discussed above in which the concept is said to simply add to the already existing framework; 2) the concept is not able to adequately resolve the problem that it is trying to deal with and/or 3) the concept is trying to overcome an obstacle that is actually not the epistemological obstacle itself and is simply an attribute of a larger epistemological obstacle that has yet to be solved. Thus, we are left with the question whether Mao’s theory of ‘regionalization’ of Marxism actually is universal inasmuch that it effects other concepts within the body of thought that conventionally forms Marxism? This can be easily answered if we can demonstrate that the concept of the ‘regionalization’ of Marxism has demonstratively effected any other established concept within Marxism-Leninism. This is a perfect transition to the next topic that JMP and I planned on discussing: Mao’s further development of the dictatorship of the proletariat through his re- theorization of dialectical relationship between base and superstructure.

I do not wish to go through some prolonged discussion of Marx’s, Engels’, and Lenin’s views on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat but rather, would like to just address the central aspect of the problem that is immediately established in the post-October Revolution period: how can revolutionaries further deepen the revolutionary process underway and the dictatorship of the proletariat? This question was of course amended with the rise of revisionism and bureaucratism to: how can revolutionaries further deepen the revolutionary process underway and the dictatorship of the proletariat and therefore defeat modern revisionism? The USSR leadership was never able to deal with this problem thus resulting in the USSR’s turn to social imperialism and the development of a form of new a ‘Red Bourgeoisie’. Indeed, Stalin simply argued that there classes no longer existed in the USSR and thus the class struggle was over, which allowed for the new ‘Red Bourgeoisie’ to simpy take over all the apparatuses of power because the Party was instructed to avert its ideas from the developing problem. Whereas, Trotsky simply argued that the new ‘Red Engineers’/Party bureaucrats had been able to rise because of the failure of the revolution to spread through Europe and their recourse to bureaucratic centralism, thus perverting the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and thus there needed to be a political revolution which would re-entrench workers’ democracy. But he did not answer where this bureaucratism was rooted? Neither Stalin or Trotsky, due to their partial understandings of the social totality, were able to appreciate how the new ‘Red bourgeoisie’ arose using different forms of capital which resided in different spheres like the education system, the cultural mores of a given society etc. Mao’s recognition that the problems being faced in China had no answer in the classical works of Marxism-Leninism (unfortunately dogmatists like the British Hoxhaite Bill Bland saw this recognition as a repudiation of Marxism-Leninism) thus allowed him to call for a ‘cultural revolution’ that would further revolutionize society. Indeed, Althusser recognized in the Cultural Revolution that Mao was called for a revolution in another social structure that helped constitute the larger social totality. Thus, the ‘regionalization’ of Marxism allowed Mao to develop the theory and practice of ‘Cultural Revolution’, which itself was the further enrichment and alteration of the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat, a vital component of Marxist-Leninit theory.

I now turn it over to JMP! May he answer in less than a year and nine days.

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One thought on “The Three-Headed Beast Returns: Continuining the Discussion on the ‘Regionalization of Marxism’

  1. Maybe I will answer in less than a year and nine days, though I don’t think I’ll answer immediately: there’s some entries I promised to write first… Good post, though, and I’ll read it again and reply… eventually.

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