Communism: An Assessment
J. Bradford DeLong
>Your strategy rests on assuming away or abstracting
>historical contexts and leaving only general, abstract qualities
>number of persons that perished, to balance the accounts
of the dead and
>then pronounce your moral verdict.
Gee. Other people complain that I do not abstract enough--that
I argue too much from relevant historical contexts and so,as
some put it, wind up making the same arguments that justify the
Nazi New Order.
Let me try to distinguish between two kinds of "relevant
historical context." The first--which I reject completely
and utterly--is that there is a difference between people killed
by the Okhrana or shot by Franco's police on the one hand and
people killed by the NKVD (or people starved to death because
the soldiers took all their grain and no one would dare tell
Mao that the harvest was low) on the other hand because people
who fall in the second group are counterrevolutionary scum. Dead
is dead. To deny the humanity of some of the dead seems to me
to simply be anti-human.
The second--which I think everyone has to admit is valid--is
that great crimes can be... not eliminated or justified but,
I think, excused in some sense... if they are necessary steps
on the road to Utopia. Whether the enormous death toll of Maoist
China or Stalinist Russia (or Suhartan Indonesia) could be justified
if these projects had wound up building Utopia is a very hard
question to which I don't have answers--although I do recommend
reading Trotsky's "Their Morals and Ours," Lukes's
"Marxism and Morality," and Le Guin's "The Ones
Who Walk Away from Omelas" as things form which I have profited.
But in this world we don't have to deal with that question.
*None* of these projects constructed anything like Utopia.
You can blame the failure to construct Utopia in Russia and
China on the structure of the Communist Party as a sick and perverse
institution, or you can blame it on renegades in high places--that
Mao was in the end defeated by a conspiracy of his aides (Deng
Xiaoping, Liu Shaochi, Chou Enlai, Peng Dehuai, Lin Piao) and
that Stalin's good works were blocked by successive conspiracies
of *his* peers and aides (Trotsky, Radek, Zinoviev, Kamenev,
Kirov, Mikoyan, Beria, Khrushchev, and so forth). But if you
go down that line, you soon conclude that the whole Communist
leadership throughout the twentieth century was dominated by
renegades and counterrevolutionaries--in short, you blame it
on the structure of the Communist Party as a sick and perverse
institution (even though your definitions of "sickness"
and "health" are opposed).
And without Utopia at the end of the road, the (valid) question
of means and ends simply does not arise. "You can't make
an omelette without breaking eggs." But eggs are broken.
The habit of breaking them grows. Yet no omelette appears...
>I don't agree with you that it would have been "vastly
better for the
>Vietnamese people" if *we* had won the war.
Let me rerun my argument.
Start at, say, Norway's North Cape, and walk around what people
used to call the "Communist sphere of influence" or
the "Iron Curtain." And as you walk, ask yourself on
which side of this dividing line has life been better--more humane--closer
to utopia, if you will--over the past generation or two.
You start with the former Russian Soviet Federated Socialist
Republic on your left, and Finland on your right. Finland broke
away from the ex-Czarist empire at the end of World War I, and
was one of the few pieces not reabsorbed either under Lenin or
Stalin. I do not think anyone would dispute that life has been
better in Finland than in the former R.S.F.S.R. over the past
couple of generations.
Continuing your walk, you find the former Soviet Balticshore
Republics--Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania--on your left, and
on your right Sweden, the jewel and the model of a good but attainable
society for us social democrats for most of the post-WWII period.
Once again, I don't think anyone would dispute that life has
been better in Sweden.
You come to the dividing line between the former East Germany
and the former West Germany, then to the dividing line between
what is now the Czech Republic and West Germany, then to the
Hungarian-Austrian border, then to the Yugoslav-Austrian and
Yugoslav Italian border. Once again, I don't think anyone would
dispute that for the past two generations it was better to be
on the right-hand side of this dividing line to the left.
Continuing on, you ponder the question of whether life has
been better in Albania and Bulgaria on your left, or in Greece
and Turkey on your right. Once again, I see no contest. Further
along the boundary you compare life in the Central Asian ex-Soviet
Republics against life in Iran and Afghanistan. Here I am genuinely
unsure: it seems very clear that life was better to the right
before the Islamic Revolution, but afterwards? I am not sure
whether life was better in a Soviet Central Asian Republic or
in an Islamic Theocracy...
But by the time you reach the border between India or Nepal
and Tibet, there is once again no dispute: better to be outside
the power of Mao and his successors than to be in.
The border between India or Thailand and Burma leaves me scratching
my head. Is Burma Communist? How would we tell? Has life in Burma
been better than in neighboring regions of China? I don't know.
Life has been much better in Thailand than in postwar Laos
or Cambodia--and we all owe the Vietnamese government a debt
of gratitude for destroying the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
Life since 1975 has been better in Indonesia or the Philippines
than in Vietnam. Life has been better in what we now call the
"Taiwan province" of China than in the other provinces
where Mao and his successors have ruled.
And when we walk the border between North and South Korea
the regime to our left has managed to combine all the delights
of imperial theocracy, hereditary monarchy, and high Stalinism.
By the time you finish your walk, simple induction--the same
thing that leads us to fondly believe that the sun will rise
tomorrow--leaves you with one inescapable conclusion:
COMMUNISTS ARE BAD!
Perhaps, if your will is strong and your intellect weak, you
might want to maintain that it should be that "Eurasian
Communists are bad" (and that Latin American Communists
might have been different, had they ever managed to hold power).
But at the very least:
EURASIAN COMMUNISTS ARE BAD!
Wherever the dividing line between the "U.S. sphere"
and "World Communism" happened to settle as a result
of World War II and subsequent conflicts, life has been a lot
better outside the Iron Curtain than inside it. The natural conclusion
is that Communism was not one of the brighter lights on humanity's
tree of good ideas, and that it is a terrible shame that it could
not have been contained within a much smaller area before it
strangled itself to death on its own massive internal contradictions
as a mode of domination and production.
Thus I do not see how anyone can do anything other than wish
that the U.S. had won the Vietnam War--that the North Vietnamese
government had given up and brought its soldiers home in 1973
and settled to the task of building socialism north of the DMZ.
Then Cambodia and South Vietnam would have been left to work
out their own destinies independent of the high priests of Marxism
and central planning, and would probably today look something
like Thailand, something like the Philippines, and (if we were
lucky) something like South Korea.
Their people would be vastly better off than they are in fact
> I never meant to imply that LBJ gave marching orders
>Suharto butcher his minions, merely that it served US policy,
>therefore was supported by the US.
But I don't think that it *did* serve U.S. policy, because
Suharto's massacre put genocide back on the list of acceptable
policy options for countries that were interested in maintaining
good relations with the U.S. I suspect that Indonesian behavior
in East Timor would have been very different had Suharto not
had the example of U.S. acquiescence in 1965 in mind. I suspect
that Yahya Khan in Pakistan would have thought twice before trying
to exterminate the Bengali intelligentsia had there been a previous
example in which massive bloodshed by a U.S. military ally had
serious consequences for State and Defense Department policy.
I think that Pinochet would have rounded up fewer people into
soccer stadiums and shot them. I think that the Pinochet government
would not have blown people up in DuPont Circle. I think about
Argentinian governments that threw people out of helicopters
into the South Atlantic.
I think a lot of things: it seems to me that the failure of
the U.S. government to establish in 1965 the principle that allies
of the U.S. are anti-communist but they are not genocidal mass-murderers
is a failure that has made the world a significantly worse place
over the past generation.
>The 10 to 15 thousand names of communists and
>labor organizers that US intelligence did turn over to them
>for the purpose of exterminating those people.
>Third, I think you incorrectly trace the path of Vietnamese
>The construction of "North" and "South"
Vietnam was not chosen by the
>Vietnamese. The Geneva Accords of 1954 called for elections
>Vietnam in 1956. General Eisenhower, then President, had
>indicating that Ho Chi Minh would win those elections by
%80 of the vote.
>I know the number is high, but that was the US intelligence
>So they intervened to prop up this fiction called "South
The U.S. has intervened to prop up several fictions in history:
"South" Korea, "West" Germany, "Taiwan."
The U.S. has also intervened to destroy one political government
that had all the shared-culture earmarks of a nation-state: the
"Confederate States of America".
It seems to me that we live in a better world because the
U.S. took powerful steps to help create these three fictitious
nations, and to destroy the one genuine one. And it seems to
me highly likely that had the fiction of "South Vietnam"
taken hold, we would have a better world still...
>We really don't know how experiments in
>alternative economic development may have turned out, because
>nowhere on earth where the global hegemons haven't interfered
>them. They may failed of their defects, but we don't know,
>allowed to be tried unfettered....
You appear to want to argue on the one hand that capitalism--the
market economy, the international division of labor, international
capital flows and multi-national corporations--is an unjust,
cruel, and exploitative system against which it is natural to
You appear to want to argue on the other hand that international
trade and investment are such valuable resources to a developing
country that to embargo trade with the U.S. (even if you are
still free to trade with Europe and Japan) is a cruel and vindictive
act that sabotages any attempt at economic development.
I think that it is very hard to sustain both of these poles
of argument simultaneously. Either international trade and investment
are very valuable tools for a competent and public-spirited developing
country government, in which case a peasant revolution to expel
"imperialism" is simply a mistake. Or international
capitalism is an unjust, cruel, and exploitative system, in which
case a trade embargo is probably desirable.
I believe that the post-1975 U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam
was cruel and vindictive--and also that the Communist-led peasant
rebellions of twentieth century Asia were extremely destructive,
tragic, and ultimately worse than pointless.
>For an interesting analysis of recent Vietnamese development
>Kolko's new ANATOMY OF A PEACE (not to be confused with his
>ANATOMY OF A WAR). Here Kolko shows that Vietnam's economy
>recover after its pullout from Cambodia/Kampuchea, thus freeing
>to finally reinvest in its economy. The vindicative US trade
>(remember who was invaded and who lost almost all the people)
>lifted with the fall of the Soviet block. This helped bring
>this area, along with alternative sources of cheap labor
in Southeast Asia
>drying up. Yet even with all this, the standard of living
>people has not increased since the boost their economy received
>Kampuchea pullout many years back.
Why should it have increased? The standard of living of the
Soviet people appears not to have increased between the late
1920s and the early 1950s (although a guy named Adolf Hitler
is as responsible as a guy named Josef Stalin). Then the Soviet
Union had one generation of improvement in its standard of living,
before the arteriosclerosis of the system brought economic development
to a halt at the end of the 1970s. It is very hard to believe
that the standard of living of the Chinese people was any higher
at the end of the Cultural Revolution than it had been in, say,
1937--before Japan's army moved in. Centrally-planned, collectivized-agriculture
regimes appear to be good at (i) producing large numbers of T-34
tanks, (ii) building dams, and (iii) taxing the peasants to support
urban workers and bureaucrats. They are not good at delivering
increases in the standard of living...
...While not entirely
consistent, Carley says Franco-British indifference caused Litvinov's
but mainly avers that the Soviet Union remained loyal to collective
security until 19 August, after the Anglo-French military mission
to be less than serious...
Is there any reason to imagine that Stalin was ever loyal
to "collective security"?
I had thought it reasonably clear--as clear as any riddle
wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma can ever be--that Stalin
didn't think he had a dog in any possible fight between Germany
and Britain and France. Stalin's hope was to build up a strong
and mighty power, watch while capitalism's crisis caused a repeat
of World War I among the imperialist powers, and then pick up
the pieces. Just as the end of World War I had seen communism
triumphant in the Soviet Union and temporarily triumphant in
Hungary and Bavaria, so--Stalin must have imagined--another war
between the imperialist powers would have also seen massive gains
Thus it has always seemed to me overwhelmingly likely that,
no matter what alliances were in effect and what scraps of paper
were signed, that the outbreak of a war between the western allies
and Nazi Germany would have been followed by a retreat of the
Soviet Union into neutrality.
Conversely, Stalin's fear was that Britain and France would
explicitly or implicitly use Nazi Germany as a tool to try to
destroy the Soviet Union.
Thus Stalin's policy after the rise of Hitler has never seemed
to me to be inconsistent or to involve any changes of direction.
The three constant imperatives are (i) try to make friends with
Germany, make it aware of how valuable Soviet assistance could
be, and turn it to the west; (ii) try to induce Britain and France
to defend liberal democratic values against Nazi Germany; and
(iii) try to hide when the balloon goes up.
>Which brings me back to the query
>with which I ended my previous paragraph acknowledging Brad
>criticism and accepting his point: What term should be used
>this kind of ideological commitment which does (to get back
>original issue of I.F. Stone's independence) call into question
>presentation of such individuals as existing or writing outside
I remember talking to then future-Ambassador Kirkpatrick after
a high-school football game. The topic was treason and dissent.
I must have been 17 or so.
Ambassador Kirkpatrick said that there were two rhetorical
modes which it was difficult--but important--to keep separate:
The first mode was the criticism of U.S. policy from the standpoint
that since we are the good guys, we ought to act like the good
guys. One can justifiably criticize elements of U.S. policy during
the Cold War (i) because U.S. actions caused collateral damage
to the innocent (or not very guilty) that was disproportionate
to the gain achieved in the fight against totalitarian dictatorships,
or (ii) because U.S. actions eroded the principles of freedom
and democracy and so made our victory in the Cold War less worthwhile.
Indeed, one should: we are looking into the abyss, and only the
constant recall of our ideas and principles to ourselves keeps
the abyss from looking into us.
(One can also criticize elements of U.S. policy during the
Cold War because of their stupidity--much of Acheson's criticisms
of Dulles, for example.)
The second mode was the excuse of others' acts of destruction
on the grounds that American policy had made similar mistakes,
or committed analogous acts of destruction: How can you criticize
the Slansky trial when America executed Ethel Rosenberg? How
can you criticize the Sandanista campaign against the Miskito
Indians while America is arming the Contras? How can you criticize
the Hitler-Stalin pact when America brought Werner von Braun
across the Atlantic to head up its missile program? And many,
Ambassador Kirkpatrick said, if I recall correctly, that when
you were in the first mode it was sometimes hard to keep from
sliding into the second, and that when others were arguing in
the first mode it was easy to jump and accuse them of sliding
into the second, but that it was nevertheless very important
to try to keep the distinction between the two clear: because
the first is important and praiseworthy, while the second is
destructive and damnable.
I think that she was right.
So I would prefer to keep the term "fellow traveler"
for those who actually wanted to end up at the destination hoped
for by the Soviet Union--abolition of private property, world
socialism, all ruled by a Leninist (or Maoist, or Castroite)
party--perhaps Alexander Cockburn, post-1956 Eric Hobsbawm, and
post-19546 E.P. Thompson belong in this category.
I'm not sure what term to use for Kopkind--who genuinely thought
that the Soviet Union was a "progressive" force in
the third world (although not in the second). Idiot, perhaps?
And I'm not sure what term to use for myself. Revolutions
eat their children: The leaders who triumph within the revolutionary
organization are often the worst. This holds for the right as
well as for the left: if Nicaragua's choice in the 1980s was
between the Sandanistas and the dictatorship of someone like
General Galtieri who likes to throw pregnant women out of airplanes
into the South Atlantic, perhaps I.F. Stone was right. I think
the Sandinistas were better than Somoza. I think the Sandinistas
were much worse than what Nicaragua has well. But I do not know
what regime would have been produced by a Contra military victory
in the second half of the 1980s. I look to Guatemala or Argentina
and I shudder. (Of course, I look to the South American urban
guerillas and I shudder too...)
I think that Stone falls perhaps halfway between Kopkind and
me. Traces of an idiot, and occasional (or perhaps more than
occasional?) falls from the first rhetorical mode into the second.
But more than anything else loyal to America as it ought to be...
>Your snipping of my comments to you, and changing the
subject thread even
>though we are no longer talking about Kazan or HUAC are two
more signs of
Right. I'm supposed to use your subject line "DeLong
thinks fascism leads to democracy." You know as well as
I do that your subject line is a lie,
And I will use it when pigs fly.
The real question is why in the years from 1945 to 1989 the
non- or semi-democratic regimes in the West Bloc--Greece, Turkey,
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines,
Thailand, and Malaysia--have evolved, slowly and haltingly, toward
political democracy, human liberty, and economic prosperity,
while their counterpart non-democratic regimes in the East Bloc--Cambodia,
Laos, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia,
Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, E. Germany, and the USSR itself--did
not until the revolutions of 1989.
The difficulty of this historical problem is amplified once
one notes that for almost the entire post-WWII period this democratizing
trend did not hold for South Asia, Africa, or Latin America (although
we hope it holds now). Moreover this democratizing trend did
not hold before WWII in Europe--then it was democratic regimes
that evolved into non-democratic ones, not the reverse. Fascism
in the sense of Mussolini, or Hitler, or their many interwar
imitators in Europe and post-war imitators outside Europe, is
a powerful enemy of political democracy.
I don't think that I have all of the answers. I have been
impressed by Charles Maier's analyses of the "politics of
productivity" after World War II in western Europe. I have
scattered thoughts about how the success of western European
social democracy in Bonn, Paris, London, Benelux, and Scandinavia
exercised a powerful magnetic attraction on non-democratic countries
in southern Europe...
>This question ignores the fact that to a large degree
the Soviet Union and
>the US did not ALLOW development of political democracies
>economic prosperity during the Cold War. Its tough to get
>going when every time you start to reform society someone
comes in with a
>gun and shoots you.
But in the first three post-WWII decades the U.S. "allowed"
the development of political democracy (and economic prosperity)
in western Europe, and more recently the U.S. has "allowed"
movements toward political democracy (and economic prosperity)
in East Asia...
The explanation that the U.S. always and everywhere seeks
to create poverty and dictatorship--and has the power to do so--seems
to me to be simply wrong.
To reach this conclusion you have to close your eyes to the
differences between South and North Korea, Japan and China, Taiwan
and Vietnam, Greece and Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary, and West
and East Germany throughout most of the post-WWII period.
I do think that in Latin America (and to a great extent in
Africa) United States policy has--wrongly--bet on authoritarian
thugs rather than democratic socialist reformers, and that Latin
America has suffered greatly from it--that Guatemala, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and several others would
be much better off if not for the United States.
But others disagree:Jeanne Kirkpatrick, for example, says:
(i) that revolutionary leaders like Salvador Allende who are
attractive to pinko-bleeding-heart-liberal-San-Francisco-social-democrats
like myself never come out on top once the revolution has rolled
through to its completion; (ii) that the leaders of the communist
dictatorship that the revolution ends in are people like Josef
Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Josip Tito; (iii)
that someone like Fidel Castro is at the benificent end--way
at the benificent end--of the possibilities of what might happen
after the revolution; (iv) that a Latin America ruled in the
1970s and the 1980s by a couple of Castros, a few Zhivkovs, a
Kadar or two, plus a Hoxha and a Pol Pot would have led to a
world vastly inferior to the one we have; and (v) that the illusions
about the possibility of acceptable regimes to the left of Sweden
under which I suffer were allowable back before Kronstadt but
today indicate nothing more than a softness of the brain.
And I have a hard time arguing back, for there are not and
never have been any acceptable regimes to the left of post-WWII
>You cannot fairly take a paragraph, post it up as a
law, then then
>disprove it, proudly trumpeting an intellectual victory.
Let's look at Marx's passage again...
"Let us some up: The more productive capital grows, the
the division of labor and the application of machinery expands.
The more the division of labour and the application of machinery
expands, the more competition among the workers expands and
the more their wages contract.
"In addition, the working class gains recruits from the
strata of society also; a mass of petty industrialists and small
rentiers are hurled down into its ranks and have nothing better
to do than urgently stretch out their arms alongside those of
workers. Thus the forest of uplifted arms demanding work becomes
ever thicker, while the arms themselves become ever thinner."
Did you note that the first paragraph begins "Let us
Do you really mean to say it is not fair to take a paragraph
that begins "Let us sum up" and turn it into a thesis
to be investigated? When I begin paragraphs with the phrase "Let
us sum up," I mean the reader to understand that the paragraph
is a summary, thumbnail sketch of what I am trying to say. Are
you saying that Marx worked by different rules, and that when
he said "let us sum up" he in fact meant "don't
take this paragraph to be a summary statement of what I am trying
Now I could take care of the argument that Marx's thought
"evolved over time" by jumping from 1849 to 1864, to
the Inaugural Address of Marx to the First International, which
"It is a great fact that the misery of the working
masses has not diminished from 1848 to 1864, and
yet this period is unrivalled for the development
of its industry and the growth of its commerce."
And after four pages of official statistics and government
reports detailing poverty in England, moves on to the European
"Everywhere the great mass of the working classes
were sinking down to a lower depth, at the same rate
at least, that those above them were rising in the
social scale. In all countries of Europe it has now
become a truth demonstrable to every unprejudiced
mind, and only denied by those, whose interest it
is to hedge other people in a fool's paradise, that
no improvement of machinery, no appliance of science
to production, no contrivances of communication, no
new colonies, no emigration, no opening of markets, no
free trade, nor all these things put together, will
do away with the miseries of the industrious masses;
but that, on the present false base, every fresh
development of the productive powers of labour must
tend to deepen social contrasts and point social
antagonisms. Death of starvation rose almost to the
rank of an institution, during this [1848-64]
intoxicating epoch of economical progress, in the
metropolis of the British Empire."
The tone--of both _Wage Labour and Capital_ and the _Inaugural
Address to the First International_--sounds insistent. And phrases
like "sinking down to a lower depth" and "death
by starvation" certainly sound like absolute immiserization
But there isn't really any point to this. When a text becomes
itself transfigured--when it ceases to be of mortal origin and
meaning, but instead becomes Holy Writ for a world religion--then
all rules of interpretation and argument are suspended...
Brad De Long
>Well I asked you, and other people have asked you,
three times now, to
>either retract or prove the claim that Churchill's meddeling
>politics and the installation of a fascist-inspired and backed
>what led to PASOK and Greece's current crazy little parliamentary
Well, they *did* keep having elections -- a huge number of
Had Churchill's little meeting with Stalin turned out differently
and had Churchill traded Greece to Stalin for Bohemia and had
EAM-ELAS seized control over Greece in December 1944, or had
Vafiades' December 1947 proclamation of a provisional government
been rapidly followed by a communist victory, then -- as you
know at least as well as I -- there would have been no more elections
in Greece, at least not until the aftermath of 1989. Political
leaders would have been executed for treason, expelled from the
Party for "deviations," purged and forced to resign
in disgrace, and so forth. But there would have been no elections.
Without elections, progressive political evolution is... unlikely.
(Here, by the way, is where I think your labeling of as many
people as you can as "fascist" betrays you: fascists
dislike elections even more than communists do -- for fascists,
the people do not choose leaders, the people obey the leaders.
Fascists may hold rigged plebiscites, and they may accept the
unanimous endorsement of hand-picked "corporatist"
bodies. But fascists do not hold elections. And that is a key
difference between Italy in the 1920s and 1930s and Greece in
the late 1940s and 1950s.)
There was an election in 1946... a plebescite on the monarchy
in 1946... an election in 1950... another one in 1951... another
one in 1952... an election in 1956 (adding women to the voting
rolls)... another election in 1958... another election in 1961...
another election in 1963... another election in 1964... a *big*
political mistake by King Constantine in dismissing Georgios
Papandreou from office in 1965... an election scheduled for 1967
but preempted by the Papadopoulos-Patakos-Spandidakis coup...
an appeal by King Constantine at the end of 1967 to overthrow
the junta and restore democratic government... expulsion of Greece
from the Council of Europe in 1969... continued military rule
(in which Nixon, Kissinger, and Agnew played a destructive role...)
until the disastrous military adventure in Cyprus in July 1974...
Karamanlis's restoration of the constitution of 1952 in August
of 1974... elections in November 1974 aqnd again in November
1975... first PASOK victory in 1981... et cetera, et cetera,
From your perspective, all this is just an episode: "...fascism
and royalism, and the immense corruption of the current democracy"
and compared to this history "Bulgarian-style politics would
not have been much worse or even worse at all."
I do not think that such a position can be maintained. If
the history of the twentieth century teaches us anything, it
is that political democracy -- regular elections, circulation
of elites, a free press that allows political debate, and so
forth -- is of immense importance. When Karl Marx wrote that
the Rights of Man and of the Citizen -- liberalism -- bourgeois
liberties -- were not "human emancipation," he nevertheless
qualified his observation by noting that they were "civil
emancipation" and that civil emancipation was a very good
I think that the wreck of twentieth century Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism-Maoism
-- along with the wreck of Mussolinism, Francoism, Hitlerism,
and so on -- has taught us that civil emancipation is much more
important than Marx recognized, and that you have no prospect
of getting anywhere close to human emancipation unless you take
a road that leads through civil emancipation -- the liberal and
Yes, it seems something of an exaggeration to say Lin Biao
was saying that all are to think as one ABOUT EVERYTHING as,
Brad sort of implies.
To me the most horrible thing is that it isn't *anything*
of an exaggeration:
Mao Zedong thought is Marxism-Leninism of the era in which
imperialism is headed for total collapse and socialism is
advancing to world-wide victory. It is a powerful ideological
weapon for opposing imperialism and for opposing revisionism
and dogmatism. Mao Zedong thought is the guiding principle
for all the work of the party, the army, and the country.
Therefore the most fundamental task in our Party's political
and ideological work is at all times to hold high the great
red banner of Mao Zedong thought, to arm the minds of
the people throughout the country with it, and to persist
in using it to command every field of activity. The broad
masses of the workes, peasants, and soldiers, and the broad
ranks of the revolutionary cadres and the intellectuals
should really master Zedong thought; they should
all study Chairman Mao's writings, follow his teachings,
act according to his instructions, and be his good fighters....
In our great motherland, a new era is emerging in which
the workers, peasants, and soldiers are grasping Marxism-
Leninism-Mao Zedong thought. Once Mao Zedong thought
is grasped by the broad masses, it becomes an inexhaustible
source of strength and a spiritual atom bomb of infinite
power. The large-scale publication of _Quotations from
Chairman Mao Zedong_ is a vital measure for enabling
the broad masses to grasp Mao Zedong's thought and for
promoting the revolutionization of our people's thinking.
It is our hope that all comrades will learn earnestly and
diligently, bring about a new nation-wide high tide in the
creative study and application of Chairman Mao's works and,
under the great red banner of Mao Zedong's thought, strive
to build our country into a great socialist state with
modern agriculture, modern industry, modern science and
culture, and modern national defence!
Mao Zedong thought was to be the guiding principle "for
*all* the work of the party, the army, and the country."
Not some. All. Only the revisionists, the dogmatists, and the
other counter-revolutionary elements opposed Mao Zedong thought.
And (at least until his assassination on Mao's orders) Lin
Biao was to be in charge of telling everyone else what Mao Zedong
The USSR had to keep pace with the militarist U.S. to protect
itself from another holocaust as committed by "NATO"
1919 and the capitalist Nazi army in the 1940's.
How quickly they forget.
The world "socialist camp" was on the *offensive*
between 1945 and... call it 1980 or so.
The overthrow of the capitalist regime in Czechoslovakia and
the Maoist conquests of China were singular offensive victories
by the socialist camp, followed by the defeat of the French at
Dien Ben Phu and the successful defense of North Korea against
MacArthur's unprovoked aggression between 1950 and 1953. The
aggressive response of the Red Army to counterrevolution in East
Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia laid down the law that not
an inch of socialist territory would be yielded to imperialists.
Things reached a crescendo in the 1960s, with the glorious
socialist revolution in Algeria, the successful establishment
of a western-hemisphere beachhead in Cuba and the conquest of
the south and the reunification of Vietnam.
As Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy wrote in... was it 1965?: "The
highest form of resistance is revolutionary war aimed at withdrawal
from the world capitalist system and the initiation of social
and economic reconstruction on a socialist basis.[T]he revolutionary
peoples have achieved a series of historic victories in Vietnam,
China, Korea, Cuba, and Algeria. These victorieshave sown the
seeds of revolution throughout the continents.It is no longer
mere rhetoric to speak of a world revolution: the term describes
what is already a reality and is certain to become increasingly
the dominant characteristic of the historical epoch"
Neither Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, or Mao *ever* perceived
themselves as being on the politico-military defensive. It's
a little late to start (falsely) claiming that they did.