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Monday, July 09, 2018

J. Moufawad-Paul on Maoism

By សតិវ អតុ
I've come across an interesting article about J. Moufawad-Paul and his positions on Maoism.
For a little background from Revolutionary Praxis:

J. Moufawad-Paul on Maoism

Posted on October 14, 2017
J. Moufawad-Paul (JMP) has written two works upholding Maoism as the only viable revolutionary doctrine in the world today. These are The Communist Necessity: Prolegomena to Any Future Radical Theory (2014) andContinuity and Rupture: Philosophy in the Maoist Terrain (2016). JMP has summarised his general position in the form of a syllogism:
“Proposition1. Historical materialism is a “science” that holds class struggle as its primary law of motion.
Proposition 2. If we take this law of motion seriously we must also take world historical revolutions seriously.
Proposition 3. There were only two world historical socialist revolutions, Russia and China, and there are reasons to accept them as “world historical”.
Proposition 4. This science, like any science, must develop according to ruptures in continuity with its laws of motion.
Proposition 5. Revolutionary theory progressed through Leninist and Maoist turns because it is only world historical revolutions that permit development.
Conclusion 1. Maoism is thus the most advanced development and to reject this is to reject historical materialism’s law of motion.
Conclusion 2. Maoism is not the end of the sequence but another opening; the questions it raises must be solved by another world historical revolution.”

JMP makes some very good points about Maoism. I thing the conclusion 2 (above) makes a real important point; " Maoism is not the end of the sequence but another opening."
Within this article, in which JMP is both quoted and explained by Harry Powell:

The terms “Maoist” and “Maoism” came into use during the nineteen sixties following the Sino-Soviet split to refer to those communists who agreed with the Communist Party of China in characterising the Soviet Union and its internal and external political lines as “revisionist”. The organisations and parties which were formed with this political orientation called themselves “Marxist-Leninist” and proclaimed their guiding ideology as “Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-tung Thought”. In America these groups, such as the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA came to be called the “New Communist Movement”. JMP does not consider that these organisations were “Maoist” in a fully meaningful sense. Rather they adhered to Marxism-Leninism as it had developed in the international communist movement during the Lenin and Stalin periods. Mao Tse-tung Thought was seen as supplementary to Marxism-Leninism with some useful additions applicable to imperialistically dominated countries but not as a distinct qualitative development in Marxist theory and practice.
JMP claims that the explicit recognition of Maoism as a qualitatively new advance on Marxism-Leninism came in 1988 with the issuing of a statement to this effect by the Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso). This was followed in 1993 by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) issuing its statement Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! In this RIM statement the qualitative advances which Maoism has brought to revolutionary ideology are summed up as follows:
“Mao Tsetung greatly developed the proletarian philosophy, dialectical materialism. In particular, he stressed that the law of contradiction, the unity and struggle of opposites, is the fundamental law governing nature and society.”
This may seem unremarkable at first sight but Mao rigorously applied the dialectical method of analysis to concrete political situations and action in a much more rigorous way than had his predecessors. For example, see his On New Democracy. The conceptual distinctions Mao made in applying dialectical analysis enable much more definite and precise conclusions to be drawn from examining any particular matter than was the case hitherto.

With in this passage JMP makes a distinction between Marxist-Leninist (ML) and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM). He also makes a distinction between MLM of the 1960s and a more updated version of MLM that starts in Peru with the Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso)[1] and also the beginning of the  International Revolutionary Movement (RIM).
For those of us who consider ourselves Maoist, we see Maoism as the highest development of Marxism. We have a lot in common with those who simply consider themselves ML, but they reject the more developed theories of MLM. They may reject all other attempts to improve ML or they may have added a different theoretician, such as Trotsky. For us MLM is a way more complete theory than just ML or the other chosen theoreticians. It is already difficult to get most Americans to consider the positive side of ML. It could be argued that ML is easier for people to understand and easier to promote. It may be easier to understand, but it not much easier to sell the American people on ML than it is MLM. Trotskyites are of course opposition to Maoism and a competing ideology. We may be able to work with them from time to time in coalitions. But they have no place in a Maoist party.
The article explains why MLM is superior as stated in the above Conclusion 1.
The second point is that Maoism since 1980 and the advancement of the CPP(SL). Of course we develop MLM more since 1980. MLM is not a religious dogma. It changes and reconstitutes such theories over time. I hadn't thought much about such changes, but it doesn't hurt to look at them.

Cult of personality:

JMP sees the qualitative advance to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) as arising out of the practice of waging people’s war by the CPP (Sendero Luminoso), the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist). These parties have shown in practice the universal validity of people’s war. It is also true that the first two parties, after tremendous advances, suffered serious setbacks and defeats. In the case of the CPP(SL) the capture of its leader, Chairman Gonzalo, and its Central Committee led to a major split in the Party and great diminution of the armed struggle. The CPN(M) fought a very successful people’s war which resulted in the first really free elections in the country and the formation of a national government led by the Party. But then its two main leaders, Prachanda and Bhatterai, abandoned the struggle to create a New Democratic regime and claimed that only a bourgeois republic was possible. The Nepal People’s army was disbanded and the Maoist party split.
In actual practice Maoism has in these two cases shown that it has some major shortcomings. JMP emphasises the necessity of rupture in the successive stages in the development of Marxism. The above two cases strongly suggest that there needs to be a radical rupture with respect to the inflated role and position of leaders in revolutionary parties. Lenin, Stalin and Mao were all elevated to occupy a demigod-like position. This was especially so with Mao. As we have seen in the cases of Stalin and Mao, the socialist systems in the Soviet Union and People’s China started to rapidly degenerate and disintegrate following the deaths of the great leaders. In Peru and Nepal the abandonment of revolutionary lines by Gonzalo and Prachanda brought about confusion within and the collapse of their parties. On a much smaller scale the elevation of Bob Avakian into a guru type status in the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has brought about the discrediting and isolation of that organisation.
Some people say that it is necessary to have prominent, clearly visible leaders with whom the masses can identify. But we have seen in the cases of Gonzalo and Prachanda that this can lead to confusion and collapse when such leaders abandon the revolutionary political line they hitherto espoused. Also this position takes a somewhat patronising attitude towards workers and peasants. Are they not capable of forming an allegiance to a particular political doctrine as opposed to a particular leader? It is encouraging to note that the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is conducting a people’s war at a high level, has a more collective style of leadership. Part of the development of Maoism should be a rupture with the creation and elevation of great leaders. It‘s time for the communists to grow up!

These are some good points on the cult of personality. And such a cult does seem to hold a movement back. The Communist Party of Kampuchea and the Sandinistas Revolution in Nicaragua both spurned a Cult of Personality. The CPK changed after two years and their allies told them to create the Pol Pot personality cult. But that didn't help them.

In the past many communists saw People’s War as appropriate for less developed, imperialistically dominated countries, e.g. the Philippines. They did not see it as universally applicable as a necessary part of revolutionary struggle in all countries. In the case of Northern Ireland Sinn Fein/IRA waged a long-term people’s which was within the largely urban context of an advanced capitalist society. The model of People’s War has superseded the model of sudden, spontaneous insurrection which was inherited from the experience of the Russian Revolution.

One problem that remains for US leftists is how do we take power in this country. There are three basic methods, people's war, spontaneous insurrection which was inherited from the experience of the Russian Revolution and the ballot box. Of these three, none have been particularly successful in the US. Right now the US government has worked overtime to try and be ready for the US left to try a people's war. They have had massive spying on every possible organization that may oppose the system and any group with a military style. It would be hard to form a political group or army without any spies. In the 1970s the FBI put together a massive anti-left program called COINTELPRO. They used all kinds of dirty tricks, divisive tactics and dirty campaigns to try and discredit the left. The mainstream news media went along with most of it. They tried to confuse the public with images of hippy new leftists so that most American people thought most of the campus radicals were all sleeping around and taking drugs. We can easily assume these same tactics are being used against the left today and we can count on new ideas they may have. But the biggest problem of all is how to get the masses we need on our side. Right now this country has a very effective educational system that has woven anti-communism into every child in America.
We have seen some success with the Occupy Movement a few years ago. A prolonged version of something like that could provide us with a way to bring down the system.

[1] Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso) is also designated, CPP (SL) or for this article, CPP.

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