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Sunday, August 05, 2018

​How much criticism of Stalin does it take to turn a Maoist into a Trotskyist?

By សតិវ អតុ
It is a bad sign when someone labels an article like this one:

"On the right opportunist revisionist and liquidationist theory of J. Moufawad Paul."
 My photo
The article is labelled: “Maoism”[1] From Below," on the publication called Struggle-Sessions The authors, Kavga and Anatoli K. could have just as easily accused him of eating human babies and practicing sorcery.
Some of the arguments against JMP include criticism of Stalinism[2]:

"Moufawad-Paul however in both his attacks on Stalin and his insistence on the “mass party” (see, The Criticism of Mortals) flattens out the unity of opposites, in his distortion; no aspect of a contradiction is principle and dominant. Democracy and centralism stop being a unity of opposites and start being two equals which co-exist peacefully without struggle. He is, in short, gutting the essence of the Party. He is making an error in dialectical materialism far worse than that of Stalin. Without this internal contradiction democratic centralism ceases to function, by falsely smoothing over this contradiction he has eliminated the leading role of the Party. One no longer divides into two; for Mouawad-Paul, two becomes one."

 And splitting hairs over Maoist views on democratic centralism, such as:

"An argument quite similar to that of Moufawad-Paul’s was presented by Leon Trotsky[3] himself in regard to “inter-party democracy” which was his way of framing his revisionist-liquidationist politics. In practice Trotsky and his camp were extremely centralized, and the subsequent Trotskyite movement was always centered on Trotsky the person. Nonetheless due to this ideological maneuver and rattling of “democracy” as equal to centralism or dominant over centralism, demands for “socialism from below” became the dog whistle of many Trotskyites and remains so to this day. Dressed in some Mao-speak, Moufawad-Paul has made a new-return, not to the principles foundational to Leninism but in the form of a distorted “Maoism” from below. This is evidenced by his false equalizing of the democracy and centralism, quantity and quality contradictions etc., a major issue we will continue addressing throughout the piece.
To make matters even more muddy, Moufawad-Paul claims that the false flattening of contradictions in the form of equalizing democracy and centralism—which is in reality the subordination of centralism to democracy, i.e. liquidationism — is a genuine contribution of Chairman Mao! This argument however is absent in the major works and thought of Maoists. It was made abundantly clear by those who synthesized it that MLM[4] was not in any way a diffusion of centralism."

No matter what anyone believes and no matter whether these criticisms are legitimate or not, JMP is not writing revisionism, liquidationism or Trotskyism. It is simply a difference of opinion.
Many Maoist have had strong criticism of Stalin for many years. Mao seemed to favour Stalin as a kind of role model leader and yet Mao developed extremely different methods of leadership from Stalin. Their leadership styles are clearly different. Therefore there is no reason that a modern Maoist can't disagree with Stalin and some of his policies. Criticism of Stalin from Maoists have gone from almost non-existence to severe criticism. Almost all Maoist recognize the importance of Stalin from a historical sense, but there are plenty of Maoists who recognize the differences in technique that developed from the two leaders over time. To label a Maoist a liquidationist or revisionist for criticizing Stalin just doesn't make sense.
There are some positions nearly all Maoist agree on; such as that Stalin's "Socialism in one Country," was superior to the Trotsky idea of "Permanent Revolution." Even if a Maoist was to hesitate on the is position, that is hardly liquidationism. If a Maoist such as JMP were to call Stalin a traitor to the working class, the party, the country and communism, that might be worthy of such condemnation. But that is not what he is saying. No Maoist would agree with that. Opposition to Trotskyism is almost a universal position for Maoists. But there are some areas of disagreement that many Maoist feel appropriate, such as collectivization of agriculture, the cult of personality, vanguard party of communist revolution, allegedly using state violence and the purge trials of alleged inter-party supporters of the bourgeoisie. As in Wikipedia, their article on Stalin also alleges that there was a totalitarian state. On the left we all know that " totalitarian state" was a propaganda term created in the west and it has no place in a leftists debate. Trotskyists tend to argue that there is no communist, Marxist or socialist value to Stalin at all. They usually imply that Stalin is just a fascist or even an anti-communist. JMP never makes such a claim.    
I for one have questioned whether the trials of party members, such as Nikolai Bukharin[5]
and their executions were really necessary. That is not to say that I agree with Bukharin and his ideas, nor do I agree with many of the ideas of Staliln's political opponents. But there is a difference between expelling someone from the party and executing them. Wrong does not warrant executions.
As noticed in the first example: "He is making an error in dialectical materialism far worse than that of Stalin. Without this internal contradiction democratic centralism ceases to function, by falsely smoothing over this contradiction he has eliminated the leading role of the Party."

I think that the role of the party changes over time, or it evolves. We don't throw out all the functions of a party. But the role of leadership does change. The Chilean MIR and the New People's Army have changed how the party leadership conducts business. The Chilean MIR had avoided complete annihilation due to attempts to keep a backup of party leaders. By avoiding a single cult of personality, the Philippine Maoists were able to avoid the kind of set back that the Communist Party of Peru (AKA Shining Path) endured when President Gonzalo was captured.[6]
So the main point of all of this is that JMP is not guilty of any of these accusations. We can debate his positions, but he is not an opportunist revisionist, liquidationist or a Trotskyist. He has some differences of opinion of Comrade Stalin and we can debate his opinions- "Yea or Nay! "
That is my point on this issue. I may have more to say about him later.

[1] Maoism, supporters of Mao Zedong (泽东).
[2] Stalinism, supporters of Joseph Stalin (Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин/ იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე სტალინი).
[3] Leon Trotsky, (Лев Дави́дович Тро́цкий).
[4] Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin/(Владимир Ильич Ленин) and Mao.
[5] Никола́й Буха́рин. 
[6] See: An article was posted at that site, Maoism as Anti-Eurocentrism, by Redzeal, pointing out that some of the anti-Maoist opinions of Western Marxists are rooted in Eurocentrism. The reaction to this on the site was predictable. For example:
 “Problematic analysis.
Mixes humanism with radical agency perfunctorily, collapses post enlightenment developments in Europe (Hegel, Marx, etc) into imperialist history too simplistically in its critique of European history and the capitalist class developments of the "core"......
“The only ones who can counter Eurocentrism is the European working class.....”(Really! No need to combat Eurocentrism? If this isn’t Eurocentrism I don’t know what is.)

And then there is this plain and ridiculous comment:

“The author either is ignorant of, or lying about, the anti-Eurocentrism of the early Comintern and its continuation by Trotskyists. What's more I find it hard to take seriously an analysis which upholds Maoism as anti-Eurocentrist when Mao demanded that a billion Chinese act like idiots and worship him as an infallible deity. Plus, how anti-Eurocentric was Mao's betrayal of third world revolutions when it conflicted with his diplomatic goals?”

And some earlier comments said it all:

“I don’t consider Maoism to be Marxist.”

“Mao was not a Marxist and China is just another state capitalist excuse for being commie.”

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