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Saturday, January 15, 2022

In Kazakhstan the working class has shown what it is capable of doing and what it will do

From the International Communist Party:

The proletarian masses of Kazakhstan have led a courageous uprising that has shaken the bourgeois order in that country to its foundations.

Even though these days ended in carnage, the top of the state apparatus, unable to cope with the force of shock deployed by the workers, had to resort to foreign intervention to quell the revolt. Machine guns and a rain of lead were needed to restore order. First, the armed forces of their bourgeoisie fired on the insurgent Kazakh proletarians without restraint. Then, when these were not enough – demonstrating how thin the "nationality" of any bourgeois army is – the troops of the six countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – intervened, sparing no munitions to re-establish through terror the "normality" of capitalist exploitation.

The bourgeoisie, faced with the loss of control over a world that it has deformed in its own image and likeness, has shown that it has no other resources than terror and lies to keep the workers, cornered by the worsening of their living conditions, subjugated. In order to keep up the crumbling edifice of the ignoble regime of capital, the murderous bourgeoisie administers incredible lies to a public already fed by decades of increasingly caricatured and fantastic representations of the real world.

Thus, the processions of workers coming out of the factories and the impressive demonstrations of proletarians rushed from the suburbs in the heart of many cities of the country to storm the institutional buildings have become "terrorists" for President Qasym-Jomart Toqaev, who did not hesitate to give the order to shoot without warning to kill anyone who dared to defy the ban on demonstrations and the curfew imposed throughout the country after the first days of the revolt.

The myth of the conspiracy, omnipresent in these years of agony of the capitalist world order, has been ignobly proposed again: for the Kazakh rulers, for their Russian and Chinese cronies, and for the countless political groups inspired by the decomposed Stalinism, the uprising must have been hatched by foreign powers and organized by well-trained terrorist provocateurs from abroad.

Actual terrorists from abroad, fully armed and well-trained, did arrive in Kazakhstan, in the form of regular troops of neighboring capitalisms – not to support the revolt, but to smother it in blood. 3,000 Russian soldiers, together with hundreds more from the CIS countries, in the most acute moment of the uprising, defended the installations and the palaces of power, as well as the security of the most prominent elements of the political regime and the bourgeoisie.

Various elements contribute to remove any credibility to the thesis of a staging planned by foreign powers, or by organized Kazakh groups inspired by nationalist or Islamist ideologies, in order to carry out a coup d’État. Numerous videos document very great participation by the proletariat in the demonstrations in the city centers and imposing processions of workers coming out en masse from the factories and mining plants, demonstrating that the protest was born spontaneously in a climate of genuine proletarian anger.

This is confirmed by the context in which the revolt matured. Its economic motivations are obvious, beyond the immediate trigger – the doubling of the price of gas decided by the government on January 1st – it is no coincidence that the protest broke out at the height of a long season of workers’ struggles, which have gained in magnitude in recent years, in the wake of a tradition of trade union conflict well rooted in the country. In recent times, workers’ discontent has been growing: in 2021 the number of strikes was higher than in the previous three years. In this upsurge of workers’ struggles, the rise in gas prices has exacerbated widespread concern about a trend of inflation that already significantly erodes the purchasing power of already very low wages. In Kazakhstan, the minimum wage is just over $100 a month, while the average wage is just over $300.

In addition, although the economy has undergone a long and almost uninterrupted phase of development over the last three decades, due essentially to the extractive industry which exploits the resources of very rich deposits, this has not improved workers’ salaries in the slightest proportion. The fruits of development have gone to the restricted oligarchy of the lords of the mineral rent, linked to the multinationals of the sector, mostly contiguous with the same state apparatus.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the proletarian revolt has thrown the local and international bourgeoisie into panic, worried about seeing the rich cake of the mining income recede and terrified by a proletariat out of control, willing to descend to the battlefield with the most radical means even at the price of extreme sacrifice.

The spark of the revolt was ignited in the province of Mańğystau, in the south-west of the country, facing the Caspian Sea, immediately after the announcement of the gas price increase, with the first gatherings occurring on Saturday, January 1st. The protest developed in the city of Zhanaozen, the epicenter of a solid tradition of workers’ struggles. Already in 2011, the workers of the Ozenmunaigas oil field had carried out a strike declared illegal by the authorities, but which lasted more than six months and ended with the massacre of 16 workers.

Once again, the Ozenmunaigas workers were among the first to start the protests. They were soon joined by those from the North Buzachi, Karazhanbas and Kalamkas oil fields, and the cities of Aqtau, Atyrau and Akshukur. On January 4 the revolt spread throughout the country involving Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Aqtobe, Uralsk, Qyzylorda, Shymkent, Kokshetau, Kostanai, Taldykorgan, Ekibastuz, Taraz and many other cities.

After the first clashes with the police forces, the protests took on an insurrectionist character, overwhelming the repressive apparatus of the State and forcing it to withdraw. On January 5th, the rioters attacked the institutional offices in Almaty and Nur-Sultan, penetrating the palaces of power and devastating them. At the same time in many other cities the town halls were stormed.

President Toqaev sent the government home, accusing it of incompetence for having improperly doubled the price of gas, he calmed the price, but at the same time he defined the demonstrators as "bands of terrorists".

In the meantime, the rioters took up arms, disarming and kidnapping soldiers and policemen, and shooting began, with the first deaths on both sides.

While the international prices of raw materials underwent a jolt, the first operations of the Russian special forces began, saving dozens of members of the Kazakh nomenclature with their families. The demonstrators occupied the international airport of Almaty, probably in an attempt to prevent the most prominent elements of the enemy class from getting to safety. The arrival of Russian troops, who promptly took control of the airport of the most important city in the country, came as a rescue for Toqaev and his cronies. The bourgeois terror quickly took over causing, according to official sources, 164 deaths and proceeding in the following days to mass arrests up to the current figure of 12,000 imprisoned.

The re-establishment of the dystopian order of capital received the explicit or tacit applause of the political representatives of the bourgeoisie of every latitude. Beijing’s open support to the butcher Toqaev is equivalent to Washington’s implicit one, even in the tired repetition of the hypocritical mantra for the respect of "human rights". We saw on January 10 at the talks between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva this great concern of the Democrats in Washington for the fate of the Kazakh proletarians massacred, oppressed, and persecuted: Kazakhstan was not mentioned while talking about the entry of Ukraine into NATO. In the meantime, gas prices, after a flare-up due to the revolt, fell to previous levels in acknowledgment of the averted danger.

The sad Toqaev resumed the reins of the country, proceeded to appointment a new government, dismissed those responsible for security, and unloaded on his predecessor the responsibility of the situation, accusing him of having favored the creation of "a class of people rich even by international standards.” He admits what everyone knows, that elements of the old "Soviet" nomenclature have smoothly accomplished the metamorphosis from state boyars into capitalist oligarchs, in perfect continuity with their membership in the bourgeois class.

If the ruling class needs a rag to cover its shame after the bloodbath, here is added to the flood of lies a daring work of mystification, to erase from the eyes of the masses the real meaning of what happened, making them believe that the problem lies entirely in the nepotism of the corrupt former president.

But the fire of the class struggle is never completely extinguished and will return to set the cities of Kazakhstan on fire. The Kazakh proletarians have done everything in their power, demonstrating the heroism of which the proletariat is capable when it comes to struggle, confronting the violence of the state apparatus, seizing and disarming policemen and soldiers, arming, defending and attacking, blocking factories, mines, roads and even an airport. They could hardly go further, deprived as they are of the revolutionary party at their head, and of the solidarity of the proletariat in other countries, first and foremost of the working class in Russia.

The proletariat, wounded and beaten this time not by deception but by brute force, will inevitably rise up in a new revolt and will go towards victory if it knows how to unite above all national frontiers, equipping itself with its indispensable organ of struggle: the International Communist Party.

Because the sword of the communist revolution, sharpened by the force of history, is stronger than the lies of the bourgeoisie.

Friday, January 07, 2022


On 30th anniversary of fall of USSR let us remember that it was a Revisionist state that collapsed and not the Bolshevik party founded by Lenin. A new epoch was defined with the Socialist Revolution in USSR with path breaking achievements whose memories still shimmer in the hearts of the Russian people.

By Harsh Thakor

Last month we commemorated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the USSR. There is a virtual vendetta launched against Marxism by the Western media. In actual fact what collapsed 30 years ago was state capitalism or revisionism, not true Socialism. The path had already been paved by leaders like Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev earlier who eradicated the roots of Marxist or Socialist principles at the very base. Such leaders dismantled the very base of Socialist Society, by introducing profit motive and private farming, promoting consumerism and introducing private ownership of party members within collective farms. What they brilliantly did was to disguise themselves as Marxists by giving USSR a socialist face. The collapse created a huge psychological dent in the minds of the world people on the progressiveness of Communism or Marxism and paved the path for the triumph of consumerism and market forces worldwide.

USSR from 1917-1956 could boast of achievements unprecedented in history and giving power to the working class as never before. The first genuine workers state was established, with workers owing the means of production. Unemployment was unheard of, literacy was given to all, health system surpassed that of any bourgeois democracy, production figures attained record heights. In no place in the world did workers receive as much facilities for leisure and holidays, better housing, or as adequate transport and electricity facilities. Through collectivization peasants could integrate to produce for the collective good and serve the industrial labour community. No party ever constituted such a strong fraction of members of worker or peasant origin. Russia industrialized at rate 4 times quicker than any Western power. I would like readers to refer to books written by E.H. Carr, Alan Taylor, Anne Loiuse Strong , George Bernard Shaw or Sydney Beatrice Webb, refuting the lies of the Imperialist media on the USSR and portraying the nation in the correct light. In more recent times it is worth referring to writers like Grover Furr, Raymond Lotta, Vijay Singh, Joma Sison, Joseph Ball, Gonzalo, or Bruce Franklin. These include non-Stalinists or liberals, who vividly recount how Soviet Union overcame the most hazardous obstacles, to take proletarian welfare to heights unscaled. Carr delves into the conspiracy of the colonial powers to topple USSR and how it was imperative for Lenin and Stalin to take certain steps. The methodology of the Soviet five year plans took production to regions untranscended. Carr is no Stalinist but morally summarises that USSR did exactly what it had to do in every step to confront being submerged or encircled by the colonial powers and Nazi Germany.

The planned economy of USSR was a model for the entire world. The important features from 1917 to ‘56 were the first establishment of the Soviets, as an instrument of working class power, Brest Litovsk treaty of 1918, Civil War of 1918-21 the New Economic policy of 1921 which introduced capitalism within a workers state, the collectivization of agriculture from 1928, the Great purges of 1933-38, War production from 1935 ,the introduction of the Constitution of 1935, re-constructing Socialism after 1945, and 1952 self criticism of the party. No doubt major errors or violations of Marxist practice occurred in Stalin era from the 1930's. Tremendous excesses occurred in the purges. Innocent party members perished in the purges with democratic centralism lacking. Revolutionary democracy was suppressed to an extent from below leading to bureaucratism. Agriculture was neglected to an extent with too much emphasis on industry. Attention was given single-handedly to the base, neglecting the superstructure. Instead of persuasion collectivization was undertaken by force. A strata of a privileged class of party members was created with wage differentials imposed and a class of technicians created. This did not reconcile with Marxism Leninism. The Soviets were not able to function democratically to the full, being completely subordinated to the Communist party. Harsh treatment was meted out to poets, artists and writers not conforming with the system, with dissent not given sufficient voice. Stalin also went overboard in dealing with Scientist Lysenko. Stalin also did not display dialectical method in re-building the party after 1945. Quoting Raymond Lotta “By 1934, Stalin and several others in leadership felt it was time to consolidate the political and social gains of the revolution. The new proletarian state was facing extreme and difficult objective conditions. War was looming. There was no prior historical experience for dealing with the magnitude of the situation. Adjustments were called for. But mistakes were made in how this dire necessity was dealt with. On the basis of the transformations in ownership that had gone on, there was a push for greater discipline and stepped-up production in the factories.

But the development of the productive forces came to be seen as the guarantee of socialism. Leadership relied less on the conscious activism and initiative of the masses. The radical social and cultural experimentation of the 1920s and early 1930s was reined in – and things got consolidated in a way that strengthened more traditional relations. Socialism in the Soviet Union had to be defended. But the Soviet leadership tended to see the defense of the Soviet Union as being one and the same as the interests of the world revolution without any contradiction – and thus increasingly promoted national patriotism instead of proletarian internationalism.” “He relied on purges and police actions to solve problems--rather than mobilizing the masses to take up the burning political and ideological questions on the overall direction of society. Mao was critical of Stalin’s approach and pointed out that Stalin had a tendency to mix up two fundamentally different types of contradictions: the contradiction between the people and the enemy, and contradictions among the people themselves. Repression, which should only have been directed against enemies, was used against people who were not enemies but merely were making mistakes or expressing disagreements with the policy of the government.” It is worth pointing out how many foreign spies or saboteurs infiltrated the USSR within the party itself either of Western nations or Trotskyites, with imperialist nations engulfing the Soviet Union. Many of the orders of the purges were delivered by the far right opposition within the Bolshevik party. I justify Stalin's stand towards Bukharin, Sergie Kirov, Zinoviev and Kamanev who were all conspirators in dethroning the Russian state. I maintain that USSR won the war against the German Nazis led by Hitler only because it adhered to Socialist ideology. Morally it is USSR that won World War 2 and not the Western allies. The Soviet victory at Stalingrad was arguably the greatest turning point in the last century. Historian Geoffrey Roberts testifies this. After 1956 hypocritically Khrushchev launched a tirade against Stalin and derailed Russia from Socialist path. A private plot, profit motive concept was introduced, with economy decentralised. Managerial structures were re-introduced within factories. In 1964 Khrushchev was ousted and Brezhnev attempted to reverse it through some initiatives but all his methods were superficial. Gorbachev through Perestroika and Glasnost from 1985 gave revisionism another shape. Till the final official fall all these leaders virtually undid what Lenin and Stalin installed. Still even revisionist USSR posessed semblances of a Socialist state in terms of employment, literacy, health facilities, sports facilities and child care. It was less racist than any Western democracy. On the International level Stalin did display big brother treatment towards Eastern European Countries and China in his time and took a wrong stand in advising the CCP to adopt path of urban insurrection. After 1956 USSR advocated peaceful co-existence and compromised on national liberation Struggles. It took reactionary steps like supporting emergency in India, which invaded Afghanistan in 1982, invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, supported martial law in Poland in 1982, and adopted approach of detente towards USA. Through Comecon it virtually treated East European countries as Satellites and gave no effective moral support to 3rd world liberation movements. Still I maintain it was more progressive than America. USSR gave a sustained resistance to Apartheid in South Africa, supported Palestinian liberation against Israel, gave moral support to Cuba, supported anti-colonial movement of Angola and strongly supported Vietnam in the war against America. Today Russia is an imperialist country, even though it challenges hegemony of superpower America. It has suppressed Islamic movements exhibiting chauvinism. Internally unemployment and inflation have reached sky high levels. The most balanced analysis on Stalin is by Chairman Mao Tse Tung who evaluated that Stalin was 70% correct, and 30% wrong. Tooth and nail Mao upheld Stalin's contribution to building a Leninist state but was critical of Stalin's abuse of democratic centralism, neglecting superstructure and inability to invite democratic movements from below. Enver Hoxha's writings are enlightening, but still place no criticism of Stalin. A writer I profusely recommend is George Thomson who sums up that Stalin dealt with reactionary forces only through medium of police, terror, and failed to encourage democratic initiative of the people. The Red Paper’s publication of “How Capitalism was restored in the USSR” is a classic in illustrating how USSR morally turned capitalist with the Party turning into a new class. It most extensively portrays the essence of revisionist politics in every sphere of life The Introduction of Bruce Franklin in The essential Stalin;: Major theoretical writings, 1905-52 is also very insightful and factual.’’ ‘Set The Record Straight’ blog by Raymond Lotta to gives a balanced critique of Soviet Russia’s errors under Stalin. It is worth mentioning how even today the memories of Lenin and Stalin shimmer in the hearts of Russians, with rallies of thousands staged in their memory. On their birthdays, many Russians still feel in the main Lenin and Stalin were right and revere their contribution. Even an anti-Stalinist like Issac Deutscher upheld USSR as a workers state under Lenin and Stalin. Deutscher maintained that Stalin could never be classed with a dictator like Hitler as he promoted a progressive ideology in contrast to a fascist one, and still left behind important ingredients of Russian culture, in sphere of literature and arts. Today majority of Russians feel conditions were better when it was formally USSR. I can't forget the rallies staged by Russians in 1992 in Georgia, upholding Stalin. Today many intellectuals, including Marxists and Maoists, vilify Stalin. I recommend readers to refer to Enver Hoxha on 'When Kruschev lied' which traces how he bred a revisionist party. I strongly believe that Lenin would not have tolerated certain methods of Stalin, which in my view were incoherent to Marxism Leninism. However I doubt Lenin could have led USSR in the manner Stalin did during the war, to save the world from being enslaved by Hitler's fascist Nazi rule. I recommend readers to understand how Leon Trotsky was essentially anti-Marxist and conspired to sabotage Socialist USSR. I praise Stalin for his self –criticism in 1952 of the party. I have strong conviction that the base of reversal in Soviet Union lay in Stalin's errors, with the army delivering no effective resistance to Khrushchev’s takeover. Historians have a herculean task in what led to the overthrow of the genuine Bolshevik party and what sowed the seeds of revisionism. Some of the most commendable work has come out in recent times defending Socialist USSR from 1917-56, by journal Revolutionary Democracy and outstanding research of Grover Furr.


Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)/ Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (CCCP)

Leaders named:

Karl MarxFriedrich Engels, V.I. Lenin/ Владимир Ильич Ленин, Mao Zedong/毛泽东, Joseph Stalin/ Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин/ იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე სტალინი, Enver Hoxha, Leon Trotsky/Лев Дави́дович Тро́цкий, Nikita Khrushchev/ Никита Хрущёв, Nikolai Bukharin/ Никола́й Буха́рин, Sergei Kirov, Grigory Zinoviev/ Григо́рий Зино́вьев, Lev Kamenev/ Лев Каменев, Adolf Hitler.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Jan. 6th anniversary- Rebellion and the right pulled it off!

By Steve Otto

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s putsch (Jan. 6th). It did not succeed, and even though I have to admire their execution, planning and carrying out of an action that scared the shit out of all our elected leaders—those leaders were scared shitless.

And I should hate them because they are on the far right, but the left has not done anything like this since the 1960s.

I really wish the left could do this. But since the right shook this country to its core, I solute them.

There are times when the unity of opposites theory kicks[1] in and we see it in action.

So on this anniversary I say—Solute the right. They carried out what we wanted to do.[2]

[1] Mao Tse Tung had his own version of the unity of opposites.

[2] This article is not intended to support Trump or any of his supporters. Trump is the most undemocratic politician since Richard Nixon. Trump’s ridiculous claims of voter fraud stealing the elections and his outright support for his Jan. 6 putsch, are direct attacks on US Democracy. Some of us have been very critical of US Democracy—but replacing it with straight out fascism is not the answer.


Saturday, January 01, 2022

December 26—We celebrate the 128th birthday of Chairman Mao- part 4

By Harsh Thakor

Errors of Mao


No doubt Chairman Mao had weaknesses and arguably made serious errors. To me it is regrettable that for such a prolonged period he let capitalist roaders to flourish within the party, with figures like Liu Shao Chi still remaining head of state till 1965. I am also critical of his appointing Lin Biao as his successor in 1969, who in the end completely betrayed the Marxist line. Mao was unable to check the excessive infiltration of the army during the Cultural Revolution, excesses on artists and intellectuals by red guards, prevent dissolution of revolutionary committees or build extensive revolutionary democracy in mass organisations or public bodies. Mao’s permitting China to become part of United Nations in 1971, remain silent on the toppling of Allende by Pinochet in Chile, re-instating Deng Xiaoping into the party were a scar or blot on his political career. In important ways Mao continued with Stalinist tradition. Mao did not explore the realms that Marx forsake, like when dissolving the Shanghai commune and not going beyond perceiving two-line struggle within the party as sufficient for crystallizing revolutionary democracy. Arguably he was too harsh on the revisionists. On the one hand Mao was unable to extricate China from the Confucian paternalistic traditions which glorified an individual, while on the other he was unable to generate sufficient revolutionary democracy from below. I strongly believe that Mao was unable to curb factionalism in the party during the Cultural Revolution. I critically respect the analysis made by Ranganayakamma in frontier Autumn Number of 2005 on a huge personality cult created on Mao, and his inability to curb it. In the same light I treat the analysis of Scott Harrison in Historians need to analyse the formula which enabled the right to triumph or usurp power in China, shortly after Mao's death. Analysis must also delve into how a serious movement on Maoist lines has not germinated in China for over 4 decades.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Second thoughts on the fall of the Soviet Union

By Steve Otto

This month was the 30th anniversary of fall of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It fell on December 26, 1991. So, this is the perfect time to look at the fall of the Soviet Union and to look at the plus and minuses of that country and the socialist experiment of the 20th century.

In High School, I took an interest in Salvador Allende, the Marxist Socialist who won an election in Chile. By my early 20s I was beginning to look at Mao Tse Tung as a much more democratic leader than those in the Soviet Union. For many years I did not like the Soviet Union. I bought into the idea that the Soviet Union was socialist imperialism. There were people on the left who considered the Soviet Union to be an empire, almost as evil as the US. In Afghanistan some Maoist groups took part in the fight against a Soviet backed government. Some leftists, including many Maoist were calling the Soviet Union "state capitalism." It was not surprising that there were harsh words and animosity between Maoist groups and Pro-Soviet groups, such as the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (USA), Communist Worker’s Party, Revolutionary Communist Party USA, all against the Communist Party USA.

If there was one thing all Marxist Leninist had to agree on, it was that VI Lenin was the first ruler of the Soviet Union, the worlds first stable Marxist government (not counting the Paris Commune).

Then after 1992, things changed. The Soviet Union collapsed. But it was not just a case of one country collapsing or even the end of the Soviet Block of Eastern Europe. But the collapse didn’t stop there. While some countries, such as the government of Ethiopia, seemed more like a coup than a Revolution, many innovative revolutions that I was supportive of, such as the Sandinistas of Nicaragua and Samora Machel’s Government of Mozambique, also lost ground. In the end, their Marxist Revolutions seemed to vanish. Some of the countries and revolutionary movements, around the world, where supported by the Soviet Union. What I didn’t realize is that many progressive or revolutionary groups where getting help from the Soviet Block. Whether revisionist or not, the Soviet Union supported a lot of progressive change in the world. Even some seemingly non-Soviet style groups, such as the Red Army Faction of Germany was actually getting aid from the East German Government and they lost a lot of ground leading up to their downfall.

For many years I saw Fidel Castro as a puppet of the Soviet Empire. But when that empire fell, Cuba did not. They may be the only staunchly Marxist country left. A few years ago I visited Cuba. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Whatever anyone calls it, Cuba is not run by the same kind of capitalism that exists in the US and elsewhere. It is remarkably different. It is an easy laid back place for people to live. It is not a country where everything depends on a people making a lot of money. They have very little public advertising and none of it on their TVs. The society focuses on people and their needs, not on encouraging people to go out and make a lot of money. The purpose of life there is not to just get rich and be a great success. In Cuba there are a lot of poor people, but they can go to a doctor when they are sick and it cost them nothing. That is way different from the country I live in now, the United States of America (or as some of us say the United Snakes of America). Hear in the USA health care is expensive and most poor go without.

So I refuse to even use the term “state capitalism.” I strongly suspect that the Soviet Union was NOT capitalist. So I now realize that the Soviet Union was not all bad.

The rule of  Mikhail Gorbachev was confusing. He opened up the country as far as free speech and some other liberties, but he wrecked the economy. He was not popular. He was a communist until the failed August coup of that year. Boris Yeltsin was a horse’s ass. He was never a communist even though he was in the party. He whole heartedly supported US capitalism. He was a lousy leader and the only reason he ever got re-elected was that the Republican party sent their people over there to use all their dirty tricks to fool the Soviet People to get him re-elected.

So I have learned that the USSR played a much greater role than I originally thought. We can learn a lot from the Soviet Union, from its successes and its mistakes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

December 26—We celebrate the 128th birthday of Chairman Mao- part 3

By Harsh Thakor

Ranking amongst the most creative writers is Charles Bettlheimm who justified Mao’s transcending of regions unexplored in production relations or revolutionary democracy of the working class. Practically his was arguably the best illustration of how Mao had taken Leninism to a higher stage within the factories. Quoting Charles Bettleheim in ‘Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organisation in China “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution thus represents an ideological and political struggle the effects of which bear both on the economic base and on the superstructure, destroying the old social relationships and giving rise to new ones. The very fluctuations of the struggle which unfolded during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution evidence the degree to which its outcome depended both on the mass movement and on its correct orientation by a revolutionary leadership.

“At each stage of the Cultural Revolution, the adherents of Mao Tse-tung's revolutionary line had to accomplish an enormous labour of discussion. At the outset, for instance, it took several months for the workers to rebel against the prevailing methods of management and the division of labour and against the diehard supporters of the existing relations in the factories. It was only gradually, through the give and take of prolonged discussion, that they began to realize that the old relations were obstructing progress along the road to socialism. When I visited China in 1967 the members of various revolutionary factory committees told me that during its initial stages they believed the Cultural Revolution to be concerned only with literature and the arts, and that they had distrusted the critics of the situation in their own factories. Eventually they came to understand that the prevailing conditions in the factories had to be changed before further advances along the road to socialism could be made. “ Later, when confronted with the task of elaborating new relations, the workers were often at odds about how to interpret the slogans of the revolutionary line. Months and even years of discussion and struggle were required to achieve the unity indispensable to the success of the Cultural Revolution.[3] Through discussions and struggles involving millions of workers and vast sections of the population, a new road was opened up in the struggle for socialism. There is no precedent for such an attempt to transform social relations. It constitutes a decisive and permanent achievement, as decisive and permanent as any scientific or social experiment which discovers new processes or new objective laws.”

Part1 discusses the essential features of the changes that have occurred both in the management of industrial enterprises and in the division of labor within these enterprises. It is largely an account of my conversations with the members of the revolutionary committee at the General Knitwear Factory in Peking.

Part 2 is a relatively brief outline of the guiding political principles of Chinese planning. Although these principles were operative before the Cultural Revolution, their application was then frequently frustrated by the "centralizing" tendency abetted by Liu Shao-chi's line. 

Part 3discusses the significance, principles, and perspectives of the main thrust of the Chinese Revolution -- the gradual elimination of the distinction between performance tasks and administrative tasks, between manual labour and intellectual labor, and between town and countryside. This is the road outlined by Marx and Engels.

Part 4 discusses the political principles that were implemented during the Cultural Revolution and advances some theoretical conclusions regarding the revolutionizing of the social relations of production. JOSEPH BALL WRITING ON GREAT LEAP FORWARD- ‘In the Great Famine Frank Dikötter alleges that the Great Leap Forward starved the Chinese masses. This was a complete distortion of history with the book literally twisting facts.’ Joseph Ball most effectively countered the lies of Dikottter, hitting back at the very root. Quoting writer Joseph Ball on the Great Leap Forward

“To read many modern commentators on Mao’s China 4, you would get the impression that Mao’s agricultural and industrial policies led to absolute economic disaster. Even more restrained commentators, such as the economist Peter Nolan 5 claim that living standards did not rise in China, during the post-revolutionary period, until Deng Xiaoping took power. Of course, increases in living standards are not the sole reason for increases in life expectancy. However, it is absurd to claim that life expectancy could have increased so much during the Mao era with no increase in living standards.’ ‘For example, it is claimed by many who have studied figures released by Deng Xiaoping after Mao’s death that per capita grain production did not increase at all during the Mao period. But how is it possible to reconcile such statistics with the figures on life expectancy that the same authors quote? Besides which these figures are contradicted by other figures. Guo Shutian, a Former Director of Policy and Law in the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, in the post-Mao era, gives a very different view of China’s overall agricultural performance during the period before Deng’s “reforms.”

It is true that he writes that agricultural production decreased in five years between 1949-1978 due to “natural calamities and mistakes in the work.” However he states that during 1949-1978 the per hectare yield of land sown with food crops increased by 145.9% and total food production rose 169.6%. During this period China’s population grew by 77.7%. On these figures, China’s per capita food production grew from 204 kilograms to 328 kilograms in the period in question.’ ‘Even according to figures released by the Deng Xiaoping regime, industrial production increased by 11.2% per year from 1952-1976 (by 10% a year during the alleged catastrophe of the Cultural Revolution). In 1952 industry was 36% of gross value of national output in China. By 1975 industry was 72% and agriculture was 28%. It is quite obvious that Mao’s supposedly disastrous socialist economic policies paved the way for the rapid (but inegalitarian and unbalanced) economic development of the post-Mao era.’ ‘There is a good argument to suggest that the policies of the Great Leap Forward actually did much to sustain China’s overall economic growth, after an initial period of disruption. At the end of the 1950s, it was clear that China was going to have to develop using its own resources and without being able to use a large amount of machinery and technological know-how imported from the Soviet Union.’

‘Although problems and reversals occurred in the Great Leap Forward, it is fair to say that it had a very important role in the ongoing development of agriculture. Measures such as water conservancy and irrigation allowed for sustained increases in agricultural production, once the period of bad harvests was over. They also helped the countryside to deal with the problem of drought. Flood defenses were also developed. Terracing helped gradually increase the amount of cultivated area.’ Great Achievements of Mao Mao’s conception of 2 line struggle thwarted the bid of Liu Shao Chi and others to deny the existence of 2 line struggle within the party ,to deny the difference between the proletarian line of upholding Marxism ,and the various bourgeois lines which had penetrated the history of the CPC. Mao, like Lenin, recaptured Marxism from the hands of the bourgeois intellectuals and returned it to the working class. George Thomson stated that Moa cleared the road from deception, confirming the basic principals of scientific socialism and enabling the new generation of revolutionaries to gain access towards them. Like other great leaders Mao, defended Socialist theory from revisionists and took nothing for granted from Marxism-Leninism, analysing it in light of the Chinese Revolution. The Peoples Communes, the Socialist Education Movement, the Cultural Revolution were all undertaken by the people’s initiative, tapping the creativity from above and not imposed from above by the bureaucracy. George Thomson gave specific reference to “On Contradiction ‘ and “On the Correct handling of Contradictions among the People.” He summarises Mao’s insistence on distinguishing between antagonistic and non –antagonistic contradictions-unlike Stalin. Mao also highlighted the malleability between antagonistic and non –antagonistic contradictions. One of the most enriching aspects of Mao thought was its stress on the human element, and revolutionary transformation of the individual, to give birth to the new man. Socialist morality was restored to the movement, unlike Revisionist Russia. Quoting Bob Avakian in Mao Tse Tung’s Immortal Contributions

“Mao consistently argued that the Universal principles of Marxism Leninism must be applied and that the basic lessons of the October Revolution in Russia must be upheld-especially the need for the seizure of power through the armed struggle of the masses and for the leadership of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, but these had to find different application in China’s concrete conditions than they had in Russia. It was on this basis that, as part of leading the struggle for the seizure of nationwide political power in China, Moa made some of his most important contributions which enriched and developed Marxism-Leninism especially in the formulation of strategy of New Democratic Revolution, in military line and thought, and in laying the basic groundwork of his development of Marxist philosophy. If it was true that Mao could not have led the Chinese Revolution, in its first stage to victory, to the founding of the people’s republic, without challenging and breaking with powerful convention sin the International Communist Movement, this was still more the case with regard to leading the combined advance in the Socialist stage, after the Peoples Republic was founded. This was so in the fields of political economy and culture and it was most definitely the case with the greatest of Mao’s immortal contributions-the basic line and theory of continuing Revolution under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Most of all, it is inconceivable that there should have been a Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, an unprecedented event, in the history of the Communist Movement. If Mao had been unwilling to “go against the tide.” not only to fly into the face of the bitter opposition within the Chinese Communist party itself, most especially from powerful leaders of the party, but also to depart from, even violate certain norms which some have come to regard as sacred, in such areas as functioning of the party and its relation to the masses? Of course this is inconceivable. that without such ‘violations’ or developments-of Marxism Leninism, the Chinese Revolution would have scaled the heights it did ,not only making new break throughs on the path to Communism but inspiring, teaching and drawing revolutionaries all over the world toward the same goal.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

December 26—We celebrate the 128th birthday of Chairman Mao- part 2



By Harsh Thakor

Mao  Tse Tung wrote an essay of historical importance entitled ‘Report of an Investigation of the Peasant Movement, in Hunan in 1927. It was written as a reply to the carping criticism both inside and outside the party then being leveled at the peasants’ revolutionary struggle.

To appease the Kuomintang (KMT), they preferred to desert the peasantry, the chief ally in the revolution, and thus left the working class and the Communist party isolated and without any help. Mao spent 32 days in Hunan making an investigation and wrote this report to combat the criticisms. In Broken Wave by Hofheinz, 3 distinct party’s were illustrated of Mao’s strategy. First was emergence of a new revolutionary situation in Hunan, with massive armed peasantry sprouting and challenges to every form of traditional authority. Second, Mao singled out the poorest people, as the true fulcrum of the revolution. Third, Mao summed up that Revolution was not a dinner party with red terror an imperative step to strike the counter revolutionaries. Mao distinguished between revolutionary and counter revolutionary terror. Mao departed from classical Marxism or Soviet Model where the working class in Industrial towns would be the centre of the revolution and propagated that the village was the centre of the revolution, with the peasantry comprising the main force, and not the workers.

A massacre at Shanghai on 12th April,1927 unleashed by Chiang Kai Shek against the workers and later in Nanking and Canton was a turning pint in Mao’s career, when he realised he had won a moral ideological victory over the bankruptcy of the Chen Tu Hsui line. On Augusst 1st 1927,dispatching more than 30000 troops, the Autumn Harvest uprising erupted. It sowed the seeds of the People’s Liberation army. On 7th August at Kiukiang in Kiangsi in a emergency conference the right opportunist line of Chen Tu Hssui was subjected to criticism on aspects of leadership, agrarian revolution and army. To lead the uprising, Moa was sent to Hunan where he organised the miners from the Anyuan colliery, the KMT guards regiment which had been under the CPC’ influence and the peasants into the workers and peasants Army. However it incurred heavy losses. Subsequently the army marched according to plan to the Chingkang mountains on the Huna-Kinagsi border, where the first base was established. On 11th December 1927an uprising took place in Canton which led to the democratic government of workers and peasants known as the Canton commune. Main aim of the Cheng Feng was to build up a unified party, but Marxism was creatively applied, and not mechanically. Cheng Feng was a cadre training and rectification movement which advocated the broadest participation of people towards revolutionary cause. It confronted the bourgeois trend which supported reformist politics and organised only intellectuals, students’ and youth. John Rue in ‘Mao Tse Tung in the opposition’ wrote that Mao resolved intra-party conflicts using organisational and educational methods. Comrades who committed mistakes were subjected to ideological struggle under conditions of psychological stress. One fundamental aspect of Mao Tse Tung Thought was the conviction in men having the capacity to initiate 360 degree change. It propounded that men could transcend the barriers of their class, through re-moulding ideas.

The weaknesses of biographies by Stuart Schram and Dick Wilson are that they appreciate only the nationalistic contribution of Mao, and not in establishing proletarian democracy. 

They are harshly critical of the Great Leap forward. Wilson portrays Mao as a leader waging struggle for personal power. The strategy of Mao depended on geographical advantages .Unlike the situation in Russia in 1917, the insurgent regions in China were necessarily the most backward economically, the least integrated into the market economy and the most tenuously controlled by the Central government. These were the regions most suitable for a rebellion to simmer and contradictory to classical Marxist theory, which delegated the leading role to the developed zones, where the industrial proletariat existed. Han Suyin recounted that with the party in complete control Mao fused the Party and Red Army into a twin synthesis. Mao always considered the red army as firm breeding ground for cadres.

They were so indissolubly linked that in subsequent decades Mao hardly treated them as separate entities. The immediate cause of the Long March was the failure of the Red Army to keep their bases intact due to mounting pressure from the Kuomintang troops. In Edgar Snow's view during the Long March the retreat from Kiangsi was so swiftly and secretly managed that the main forces of the red troops had already been marching for several days before the enemy actually became aware of what was taking place. When practically the whole of the red Army was concentrated near Yutu, southern Kiangsi, the order was given for the great march. On 25th May,1935the Red Army made history at the Tatu river. The Tsunyi conference was the turning point of the March, when Mao took over the leadership. Edgar Snow wrote that a distance of about 7500 miles was encompassed, about twice the width of the American continent. The Tsunyi conference distinguished the mass line of peasant revolution from the left adventurist line that supported urban insurrection. Han Suyin wrote about the deplorable conditions faced by the red army. Food supplies were totally inadequate, baggage inadequate and no battle plans drawn to challenge enemy troop movements. The Long March could be divided into 2 stages. The first one from 16th October to January 1935, and the 2nd from the Tsunyi conference in January. The crossing of the Tatu was the most defining incident of the Long March. Unlike the old tactics of positional warfare which proved to be the Red Army's undoing, the new policy inducted guerrilla warfare that struck a blow in the very belly of the enemy. The Long March was not just a military expedition but an endeavour to discover and know the Chinese people more intrusively. It was not just a military campaign, but Mao's firm assertion of his integration with the Chinese people. Above all Mao touched upon spirit turning into a material force, placing emphasis on spiritual factors. connecting it to revolutionary zeal and optimism in conditions of deep stress. 

Amit Bhattacharya mentions how in spite of strong opposition from Lieu and his lieutenants, socialist transformation was undertaken by 1956 through mass movements in which hundreds of millions of peasants participated. Land reform was followed by mutual aid by elementary cooperatives, and elementary cooperatives by advanced cooperatives in which land and other principal means of production was owned collectively. The Agrarian reform law of 1950 enabled large landed estates owned by landlords to be distributed to the peasants, mutual aid groups were formed, and there was also a sustained movement for agrarian reform. Mao's strategy of development opposed one-sided development of heavy industry like the Soviet Union. He was critical of the USSR for neglecting the working class at the cost of machinery and equating forces of production wit industrial technology and mechanisation preceding cooperation. Mao stressed on unlike Stalin, on simultaneous development of large enterprises and medium sized and small enterprises, of national industries and local industries. A balance was established between town and country, relying on both traditional and modern technologies, on both capital intensive and labour intensive industries. Mao wished to establish a unity of democracy with centralization. Mao wished that each and every member of the party should have the opportunity of expressing his view himself. To Mao, meaning of centralism is the centralism of correct ideas, on the basis of which mutual understanding, working policy, planning, direction and unity of work should be built up. Maoist development aimed to narrow the differences between town and country, worker and peasant and between mental and manual labour. Mao aimed at rousing the spirit of hard struggle, self reliance and service to the people. In the view of Maoist strategy ,more importance was placed on political ideology, than material incentives. Mao was critical of Soviet policy of awarding material incentives. Mao's strategy gave greater priority of man instead of 'things' in the forefront. This was in contrast with the Soviet Union. Mao insisted that material welfare of the people should only be elevated with tapping the creative potential of the masses. He felt without undertaking egalitarian basis material farewell was baseless. It was during the Great Leap Forward that Mao's development strategy was first enforced. It was marked by rectification movement undertaken by the CPC Challenging bureaucracy, subjectivism and sectarianism, first within the party and then among the masses. The 2 line struggle undertaken during the Socialist Revolution was a precursor to it. Peoples Communes were established, which was created by the common people. In July 1958,56 advanced cooperatives comprising 53,200 people and encompassing 93000 mou combined to form the first peoples Commune in China. known as the Chilying peoples Commune. Bureaucracy was dismantled with party committees assigned with task of operating factories and replacing the managers. Sheer human labour brought about a miraculous transformation in the rural areas, with masses of peasants on their own initiative, led by the party, set to work on building water reservoirs and pumping stations. In the peoples communes industry, agriculture, commerce and military affairs was integrated into one unit. In the view of DD Kosambi the achievements on the administrative plane overshadowed the productive achievements. Communes virtually replaced functions earlier performed by the state machinery, with local administration abolished. The Communes were an important step to wedge the gap between town and country, worker and peasant and between manual and mental labour, to enable every person to participate in the struggle for production, class struggle and scientific experiments. 

In the Cultural Revolution class struggle was taken to a helm. A historic battle occurred in Shanghai between the Communist party rebels and industrial workers with the new mayor and secretary of the party Committee. In January 1967, the chief daily newspapers was seized by the rebels. They went onto seize control of the railways, water, electric supply and banks. The Cultural Revolution was one of a very original nature, which confronted at the very root the old selfish forms of bourgeois thinking, and replacing them by proletarian, non-self regarding forms of thinking .Quoting Broadsheet of London "In China, apart from material changes which are transforming the entire country, human nature itself is being changed. The struggle between the 2 opposing class ideologies is almost unending." Joan Robinson spoke about how every family reunion fell into the orbit of the Cultural Revolution, which was unknown before in China. William Hinton in Hundred Day war narrated how factions of students barricaded themselves into campuses of the Tsinghua University converting them into battlefield of life and death struggle. Combating it Mao organised a workers propaganda team to intervene and bring the violence to a halt.

December 26—We celebrate the 128th birthday of Chairman Mao- Part 1

For many of us this is a significant date in history. We have both written many articles on Mao Tse Tung for this site and I feel this article is a good summation of his life. -Steve Otto



By Harsh Thakor

On December 26th we celebrate the 128th birthday of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. His impact on the world people was like a red torch illuminating every sphere of the globe. No revolutionary or Marxist of his time exhibited creativity in such a magnitude or transcended such unexplored regions making path breaking contributions. He shaped the destiny of nations or people more than any leader in the last millennium. It was Mao Tse Tung who elevated Marxism Leninism to a higher stage in every sphere, taking it to new height. No Marxist revolutionary after V.I. Lenin applied Marxism so creatively, at every juncture faced, taking mass line of Leninism to unexplored regions. From the days of 1927 in the Chingkangshan mountains, the Long March in 1935, the anti-Japanese War of 1937-45, the 1942 rectification movement the 1945-49 civil war, the Socialist Education Movement, the Great Leap Forward, the Socialist Education Movement and finally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966-76, he applied Marxist-Leninist dialectics and mass line, at a scale unparalleled. Mao took Marxist spirit of self-criticism, challenging conventional methods, spiritual awakening and revolutionary democracy to Unprecedented Heights. The great humility of Mao was illustrated throughout his life from submitting to the majority from the 1930's under Wang Ming ,to accepting Liu Shao Chi as head of state in 1956 and doing his utmost to eradicate his personality cult which was greatly elevated by Lin Biao or rebuking even his own wife Chiang Ching in the Cultural Revolution. The salary he received and most simple house he resided in, is another ideal example. With utmost discipline Mao submitted to the collective at every stage. At an international level he never displayed a big brother attitude when addressing leaders of Africa, Latin America or their parts of Asia.

The salary he received and most simple house he resided in, is another ideal example. With utmost discipline Mao submitted to the collective at every stage. At an international level he never displayed a big brother attitude when addressing leaders of Africa, Latin America or their parts of Asia. One of Mao's remarkable contribution was probing into psychology by undertaking thought transformation, which reformed landlords or reactionary intellectuals. Even in the period of the Chinese revolutionary war, he delved into the psyche of the red army soldiers, refuting feudal ideas or customs to the very core. Sadly today his reputation is torn to pieces by the international bourgeoisies who are leaving no stone unturned in projecting Mao as a demon It is part and parcel of the conspiracy waged against Marxism, globally and patronising globalization. Works on Chairman Mao. A very positive biography is also written by Lee Fegion, where he sums up how Maoist China promoted decentralization and revolutionary democracy, making unprecedented strides in literacy, agriculture and health. Hugh Purcell has written a very illustrative pictorial biography which projects how Mao practiced persuasion in place of force or coercion. In Purcell’s view Mao was a progressive dictator. He is critical of excesses or methods of terror but praises the creativity of the production methods.

Purcell felt Mao took revolutionary democracy to a higher regions than in Russia. Very judiciously he portrays ‘Mao and the People’s Communes” as well as ‘Mao and the People’s Will.” William Hinton portrays the protracted resistance Mao launched against the landlords from the 1940's itself and how genuine democratic revolutionary power was built. In Fanshen he describes how land was distributed to the peasantry while in 100 Days of War covers how political power is captured in Tsinghua University. Bob Avakian most methodically explains how Mao enriched Leninism in every sphere. Charles Bettlheim most elaborately reflected how democracy was elevated to a pinnacle in production methods in the Cultural Revolution with revolutionary committees supervising factories. Edgar Snow revealed Mao's most creative leadership to steer famous victories against the enemy, having firsthand experience with the Comrades and Mao. He vividly illustrates the democratic practices and heavy penetration of the red army in the day to day lives of the people. Bob Avakian's work ‘Mao Tse Tung’s Immortal Contributions” is classical, most dialectically summarizing how Mao was the greatest Marxist of his era. He projects Mao's contributions in philosophy and political theory It is reflected how teachings of Mao are an integral part of those of Lenin and Karl Marx. The book illustrates the very subtle aspects of all stages from the pre-revolutionary period to the Cultural Revolution. He covers Revolution in Colonial Countries, Revolutionary War and Military line, Political economy Economic policy and Socialist Reconstruction, Philosophy, Culture and the Superstructure, Continuing the Revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and why Mao Tse Tung was the greatest revolutionary of his time. The introduction in italics of all the Chapters are most lucid and methodical.

In every chapter he dealt with how Marx and Lenin tackled all those aspects and how Mao's teachings and practice crystallised them to a new height. in a most symmetrical manner. To me of most importance is the chapters on Revolutionary war and military line, Revolution under dictatorship of His notes are most insightful on Fundamental principles of Mao’s military line, Economic policy in liberated areas, Two Roads after Liberation, Learning from Negative experience of Soviets, Theory of Knowledge Universality and particularity, Cultural Revolution and he Continuous Struggle, Chinese analysis of Joseph Stalin, Cultural Revolution, All –round dictatorship of the proletariat, Magnificent achievements of the Cultural Revolution, Contribution of Mao Tse Tung. Avakian feels that Mao towards the end was unable to check the trend that made the CCP treat the Soviet Union as the greater danger and treat the Chinese Revolution as a virtual prism for all nations to evaluate revolutionary line. Arguably a ewkness of this book is inadequate respects to mass line. In recent times most evaluative writings have come from Moba Gao, Dang Hongpin, Joseph Ball, Pu Yo Ching and Jiang Honshing. Ball most analytically refutes the lies of the Great Leap Forward killing millions. The weaknesses of biographies by Stuart Schram[1] and Dick Wilson are that they appreciate only the nationalistic contribution of Mao, and not in establishing proletarian democracy. They are harshly critical of the Great Leap forward. Wilson portrays Mao as a leader waging struggle for personal power. I credit Schram for touching on Mao’s contribution towards undertaking thought reform to mould thinking and crediting Mao for discovering an Asiatic form of Marxism .Wilson most illustratively portrays Mao’s contribution in shaping the revolution in the Long March and later periods like anti-Japanese and Civil War. He is also critical of CPC looking at future of world revolution only through Chinese experience. Nevertheless he praised the building of Communes, the methods of undertaking land reforms the three antis and five antis campaign, confronting corruption and the thought transformation campaigns. However he does not do justice to as a Marxist in the Cultural Revolution or to the 2 line struggle waged within the CPC, terming the red book as the equivalent of a ‘Koran.’ I would love readers to study Transformation of China 1840-1969 by Amit Bhattacharya. It most precisely and concisely summarizes history of China and Contribution of Mao Tse Tung. It delves how in so many junctures Mao elevated Marxism-Leninism to a new height whether during the Long March, the civil war, the Socialist transformation, the Great Leap Forward or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The distinct features of Mao 's theories and practice from Stalin are projected. Bhattacharya does great justice to Mao's leadership in the Long March to the Tsunyi conference, his pioneering formation of Communes and initiating first ever Cultural Revolution.


To be continued=>

[1] I would like to ad here that Schram was critical of those who tried to lump Mao in along with Adolf Hitler and Stalin as one of the world's worst mass murderers.  Schram pointed out the deaths under Mao were not part of campaigns designed to kill people off. He said the deaths that occurred were mostly unintentional rather than part of a pogram. -note by Steve Otto