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MARX, LENIN AND MA0

Structure

18.1 lntrod~lction 18.2 Karl Marx (1 8 18-1883) 18.2.1 Alienation 18.2.2 Misrorical Materialism
18.2.3 18.2.4 Class War

Surplus Value

18.3 V. I. Lenin (1 870-1924)

Party as Vanguard of the Proletariat 18.3.2 De~nocratic Centralisin 18.'3.3 Impesinlism 18.3.4 Wcaltcst Link sf the Chain 18.3.5 Sponlaneity Element gives way to Selectivity of Til~ie and I'lace 18.4 Mao Tse-Tung (Now Mao Zedong) (1893-1976) 18.4. I Peasant IZcvol~~tioll 18.4.2 Contradictions
18.3.1

18.4.3

On Practice

18.4.4

United Front and New Dci~iocracy

18.5 S~rmrriary 18.G Exercises

18.1 INTRODUCTION
For over the last two hu~ldrcd years, Libcralisnz has beeti the lzzost dominant stralid it1 political phitosopky. In its carliest incarnation, which is now called clslssical or negative liberalis~n (as distinct kom its later versions as welfare or positive liberalisin and neo-libera1isn-1) it stood. Inore than any thing else, for individ~~nl liberty. While as a political doctrine it was a defence rights of the individual, in its econo~nic diine~isioriit stood for of certain inalienable ~ialural luiss~z~firire or free-market ecotlomy. Because of these twin postulates of libernlism, it soon became tlie ecorlolnic philosoplly of capitalism ain~ed at protecting and pro~~~otitig the interests of the bourgeoisie or the capitalist class. While on tllc one hand, it led to the cotlcentration of capital in a few hands, oh the other, it cilln~i~~atecl in the alie~~aiion and exploitatiot~of ~ h c proletariat (the working class). As a result of illis negative Pi11 out, liberalism became a target of at$ack fko111dif'lkrent quarters, Tlie most virulent and systematic attack on classical liberillis~n and laissez,fi~iw ecoliolnics came fro111 Karl Marx, who went so far as to assert that the worlting class could be redeemed froln its alienation and exploitatiori only by tlre revolutionary polemical nature of his political, overthrow of the wliole capitalist order. Because of the I~igllly social and eco~~ornic phi losophyj the mamian ideas soon acquired the character of n powerful, anti-liberal, political ideology which tias popularly come to be known as socialism or communism. In fact, for about the last one Iiundred and liAy years, liberalism and lnarxism

have emerged as the two major contending ideologies each criticising, denigrating and attacking tht: other. In this whole process, the theory and practice of Iiberalis~n as well as lnarxis~n have undergone several changes. So much so that many ofthe original marxian formulations have been enriched, adapted arid even modified by the various post-Marx marxists. In this rcspect, the contributions of V. I. I,enin and Mao Tse Tung (now Mao Zedong) have been most seminal and noteworthy. This unit is aimed at fa~niliarzingyou with soine of the most significant aspects of marxism, particularly with the ideas of Marx, Lenin and Mao. These three have been tlle most proniinent theoreticians of mamism, each of whom has, in his own unique way, dolninated the minds of millions of men and have changed the face of the world during the twentieth century. While Marx laid the theoretical foundations of this change, Leniri and Mao successfully modeled their respective societies - the erstwhile Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China - by adapting the principles and postulates of marxist theory to the conditions prevailing in their countries. In the process of doing so, they have enriched the marxist theory and practice by adding various new dimensions and by offering diverse i~~terpl-etations to the original marxian formulations. Let us briefly look at the contribution of each of the~n.

18.2

KARL MARX (1818-1 883)

Born at Trier in Germany in 18'18 (May 5) Marx studied law at the University of Bonn and later at the llniversity of Berlin where lie got attracted to the y0111igHegelian movement which was highly critical not only of the Prussian Government, but also of Christianity. Because of his association with this anti-government movement, his career options in university or govertuuent wcre virtually closed. Therefore, he took to journalism and became the editor of R~IC'~J~ %eilzli?g .SL'~B (1842). I-lere, he began writing radical articles on economic issues criticizing the govern~nent"~ ecano~nic policies. The Prussian I-ulerswere annoyed at his views and ordered the closure of' his newspaper. Fceling suffocated in Germany, Marx migrated to France in 1843. During his stay at Paris, he came into contact with the French socialists and began to organise the ~nigrantGerman workers. It was also at Paris that Marx wrote his first major wo1.1~: fico~~umic undPhilosophical Manuscripts pop~llarly known as EPM(which was written in 1844 but was first published in 1932). The central concern of this worlc is alienation. It was also duri~lg his stay at ~ & ithat s he met Friedrich Engels who became his life long friend and benefactor. However, bec'quse of his revolutionary ideas Marx was expelled from France as well it1 1844 and (along Wit11 Engels) he moved to Belgiiun. During his stay in Belgit~m, spanning over three years, ~ a r got r involved in a serious study of llistory which led him to propound his famous theory of historical mcrteriulism or 171aterialistic interpretation ofhistory. This theory is contained in the first joint work of Marx and Engels titled, The Gerrnan Idrology. Like EPM even this work was not published during Marx's life time. Around this time, he joined the Comr?~unist Le,.cz,g*e, which was an organisation of emigrant Gennan workers. When tlic leagi~e lneld its conference at London in 1847, Marx and Engels were assigned tlie task of writing a Con~~nunist hfanifesto. It was the p~~blicatioli of this work in 1848 which led to a wave of workers revolutions in Europe, more particularly in France. Marx's analysis of these revolutio~~s is contained in two worlcs: Thc Class Struggk in France and the Eiyhleenth Brzmmirc. qf'lozris Bonuparle. In 1848 Marx ret~lrned to France and fro111there to Gerrnany where Ile again started the publication of his earlier newspaper, Rheinsche Zeitung. Like its earlier stance, the paper was highly critical of tlie Prussian Government and it was again closed d o w ~ by i the authorities. In 1849 (May) Marx moved to Engla~id and stayed at London till his death in 1883.

Marx's 3-1 years stay in England is marked by two changes in him. Firstly, he moved gradcsaily but decisively from 1'lrilo.sophy lo Economics. IJnlike olienc.rtiv11 wliich is tlie central theme of EPA.2 Marx r~ow go1 erlgrossed in tl-le analysis of the phenomenon of ex~~~uitcrlion (see T.R. Sharnia, "Karl Mars: From Alienatiol~ to Exploitation", In~ii~irm .~oztn7u! oflYoliticcrlScience, Vol. 40 (No. 3) SepternL?er,1979, Pages 339 ff). He devoted liis attention to scrious econo~nic qt~estions like M~LI);L' /~thol(i', c~~pif(llisin and szty1z1.rvolue. Secondly, he was as much involved in writing serious treatises as in Icading the worlcers' rnovcinents i n Europe. He was not nierely an arrn-cl~nir theoretician critical of capitalism, and its exploitative nature but also a revolutionary and nn icleologue of communism. His ~iiust iricisive work in this direction was a massive rnal~uscripttitled "T.rlmdris.~e" (Outline) which 11c wrote around 1857 but whicli came to light only i l l 1939. An abridged version orthis worlc is contaitled in his . . lllrc.fLice to C'on/i.ihzrtionto C 'ritiqzrec~f'l'oiitic"i1 Ec'o~~oM I~ is~thesis J . nbour Itrho 1114 theo1.y r<#'vciltle, szrrl~tus vallle and ~ L I \ I ~ uf'ccq~II~1 .Y ~ ~ ( ' ~ ' r r i ~are ~ i contained ll~~tio~ i1.1 liis threc vcll ilme m ~ i g n u opus ~ ~ i C'lrpiftrl cvliose first volumc come out in 1867 and tlle reniaining two volun~eswere published by Engels aiter Mars's death. Marx's stay in London was also devoted to orga~iisingthe British and Frencli workers. In 1 864 he (alongwirli others) set LIPthe first major orgall isnt ion of' workers of Europc which Worlcing Men's Association (popularly Icnown 4s C.~omrn~~tiist was niinied "l~ller~iatiorld In~clnational). It remained :ictive up to I876 ancl its brightest hour was ill 187 1 when it succeeded in setting L I tlie ~ 1'~ri.s. Commzt,~e. The WOI.I~L'~N of I3;iriscaptured tlic city ilnd rtiled it for nearly two ~no~itlrs. Marx's C'lvil JVur in I;IYIIIL*C ivrit1~11 in 1871 i:; an cl:ibo~.ntion01' [he ai~iis anti working of tlic P:it.is C'olnmune. After 1870, Marx was n~ostly reacting to various political developments which wcrc taltillg place i r r Ftiropc. I-le ufas critical of tliose con~rn~~nists wile were supportilig sl:tte sociLtlismof'1,ass:ilt:. This criticism is ccmtaincd in his I'i.ificlric qf'tlrc C;olhr, l'rog~+cr~~iinc ( 1 875).

As pointed o ~ labove, t h/rn:~ in his early ycnrs was nttrucied to I-icgclian iclealisrn, but under Llie inlluonce ol' 1:cucrbach lie etiibraccd comniunism 01' tlie Iiuinanist variety which he articulated in his 1;Ji'Ai.1 fe c:-iticizedcapitalis111bccause it leads to the alienation oi'labottr. It is only il.1 cornm~lnisni 111:lt lii~mnn beings will be redec~icd iiwln this pl~enometlon. Alienation is a very cornpic?: concept. Sometimes. it is equated with such conccpts as cslr.ungcme:.iif, ol?jrct{ji<-nl'iott alld i*e!'ficcrrion. To put it in simple wol-ds, it i niplies de-hunt(miz~rtion or the lo.s.ruj~.vclj:'The worker it1 a capitalist order works in a mechanical mal~ner and does not derive ;uiy pleasure fro111his work. I-]is labour becotnes a commodity which he rnust sell in order to from his work. FIe is also alielinted froin the groduct of Ilis survive. 'Tllus, lie gets 2ilit.~ii~t~d labour, from his fellow wot-kersand fiom the natitral world. Mnrx argued that in a capitalist bccnusc it docs not bclong to society, tlie worlter is alienated fro111tlie product 01' his labot~r Iiitii b~tt belongs to soiiiebody else (tile capitalist). The competitive nati~re of capitalism also In essence, the worker is alienated from his alienates the worker li.otii liis fellow w~rlters. crcative potentialities that are cllaracteristic of Iiis species being. Mclrx advocated that it is only in a cotiiniunist socicty tliat nia~i will rct~~rti to liis real self as a fiee creative agent and Ihe work will no more remain u mo~~otonous activity. Private property is the product and tlie consequence ol'aliet~ated Iaboi~r and, therefore, its abolition will lead to rede~nptioli oi'nian from 1iis alielialecl state.

18.2.2

Historical Materialism

In rl~c history of ideas there are three main explanations of how the human societies have developed over the ages - the spiritucrlist interpretation, the idealist interpretation and the rnulericilist interpretation. According to the first, all developlnents in Iiuman history are due to the divine dispensation or God's will. According to tlie second, it is tlie ideas that constit~~te niotor of hurnat~history. In other words, it is the developnlents of ideas that lead to corresponding developnlents in all the domains of human activity. Tlie idealist interpretation is associated mainly with Hegel (a German thinker who preceded Ivlarxj. According to the in human history are due to changcs in the third, which Marx expounded, all develop~net~ts material conditions of life. 111 this unit, we are concerned only with the third, i.e., the materialist inrerpretation wliich invcrtedtl~e tlegelian idealist interpretation. In the idealist interpretation i t is the PII~IILI which is primary and mcrtler. secondary; while according to Marx's nlaterialist interpretation, it is j71ulrc.r.which isprini~rrj) and the 117ind.secon~lc1rj~. The doctrine of historical ~i-iaterialism constit~~tes tlie core of Marxian writings. It is tlie main theme of Marx's Cerrncm Ideology. It seeks to explain all liistorical events in terms of changes occursing in tlie nrocle qj' PI-otlzrclion. The cl~angt-s from ~~rirnilivc. co~nn?uni.srn to slavery, from slc~very to feudalism, ~~OI~I.J~L to ~capital ~ L I ~ism ~ Sand I T -horn I c~pi/iili.srn to socialisni and c011i111~~1iisln are al I explained i l l terrns of' changes in the material conditions of society and in the lives of individuals. Tlie node of proditction consists of thejbrces or n1crrn.s qf'j~rocl~~ction (land, labo~lr, capital, ~nachine tools and factories, etc.) and rclutiows qf'proc/z~zrcfions: slave-master, ~ e r ~ b a r o proletariatn, capitalist. The economic structure ofeach society wliicll is constituted by relations of production is the real jburrdtrtion oftliat society. It constitutes the bcue on wliicli rises the legal, political and ideoIogical . s ~ ~ e r - s ~ r u cand r ~ . to ~ rwhich e correspond definite fornis ol'social consciousness. existence. This was quite the opposite of the Hegclian assertion tliat consciousness deter~uines
Masx's tl~coryof historical materialism is also dialecticrzl. Marx borrowed the ifitrlcc/ical method from Hegcl \vho had described all the liistorical changes in tertns of thesis, unli-thesis ~rnJ sj~nthcsi~ in the domaiti of ideas. An idea (thesis), according to Elcgcl, gives rise to a counter-idea (anti-thesis) and finally their co~itradiction is resolved in a synthesis. 'This synthesis itself acquires the s t a t ~ of ~ sa thesis and givcs rise to its anti-thesis which is again resolved in a sytltt~esis, and tlie process goes on. It is important lo note that whereas Megel had applied the dialectical tilethod in the domain of' ideas, Marx applied tlie dialectical method in explaining tile n~atcrial world. As sucl~, while the I-Iegelian positioli is cliaracterised as n'icrlccliccrl itleciii.sm, tlislt of Marx is known a s ciiulecticcrl ntateriulisnz.

18.2.3

Class War

The 111odeof procluction or the way social production is orga~liscdin a society and tlie way instsun~ents oi'production are used for sucl~ production determines social, political, legal and ideological character of society. At a certain stage, tlie forces of prod~~ctioll out-grow (develop) ~ with the existing rclations of production beyond the relations ofproduction and gel O L Ioftune wliicli fetter (hinder) the former's growth. 'This conlrrrefiction (opposition) between the forces of production and relations of production leads to a c1~1,s.s wur, i.e., a war between the class which owns the means of production and the class which owns only labour power. Class war, according to Marx, has been the tilost proniinent and recurring feature of all hulnan societies. h1~1r7ifhst0, Marx - Engels wrote, "tkc history of all hitherto existing society In the Coitrri~zrni.st is the 11istory of class struggles; freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild niaster and jo~trrieynIan, in a word, oppressor and oppressed...". When this class war reaches

a high water niark,and contradictions become intense, it is resolved through a social revolution wliich ensures newer and higher relations of production corresponding to the forces or means of production. B L Iin ~ due course, the forces of production again outgrow tlle relations of This process goes on. A marked feature of production again necessitating a social revol~~tit~n. a class-based society is that antagonis~n01. contradiction arises due to divergent economic interests. In order to defend its class interest, the class owning the means ot' production establishes its class rule. "No antagonism, no PI-ogress"asserted Marx. You can see from the above argument that Marx's contelllion is that the state in a capitalist society is a vehicle of class rille. It follows fro111this argument that if classes are abolished and a class-less society comes about, then the state will become redundant and gradirally it will wither away.

18.2.4

St~rplus Value

AI~otherimportant theory that Marx enunciated is the theory of surplus value. It is with the help ofthis concept that Marx explained the whole phenomeno~i ofexploitation in the capitalist terms, surplus value is what is norrnally called yrqfit. Marx's society. To put it in si~nple argument is that the worlcer produces social objects which are sold by the capitalist for more than what the worker receives as "wages". Thus, the worker is not paid for the whole of his labour (or labour power) that he spends in producing the social commodities. Some part of his labour is appropriated (or stolen) by the capitalist. The theory of surplus value is rooted in tlze lubour thcorv r!f'vulrre i.e., that value of a cornnlodity depends on the amount of labour spent in producing it. In other words, surplus value arises because some part of tlie worlcer's 1:lbour is not paid to him. Marx further argued that it is only in class based societies that surplus value exists because the bourgeois class exploits the proletariat. The bourgeoisie consists o f those who own the mczrns ofproduction (land, capital and factories, etc.), while the proletariat co~lsists of [host: wlio own nothing but their labour powcr which they n ~ i ~sell s t in order to survive. As the surplus value increases, tlic worker gets paid less and less. As pointed out above, this gives rise to a sharp contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat which is resolved finally in a proletarian revolution. 'This revolution will bring about the demise of capitalism. The state power will be captured by the proletariat. After the capturc of state power by the working class, Marx visualized a briel' period of Jicmtorshi~~ of the . proletariat. It is during this dictatorship that the society would ~ ~ s hin er sociulism (where ecrch will work nccording to c u ~ ~ n cund i p get accorcling l o work) and finally, commu~ism (where is viewed each will work according to cnpucity and get according to need Thus, conlmunis~n by Marx as a class less society orassociated producers. Co~nrnunisin for Marx was a society which revolutionary dictatorship oftke proletariat woi~ld bring about after capitalis~n is overtlirown. It will also u~idertalce positive crbolition qfjv-ii~ule property and the abolition of:pri.vate ownership. In a cornmunist society, there will neither be exploitation nor alienation. Coln~nunis~n for Marx is the return of man to himself from his by abolition of classes in society. This can only be done by alienated condition. It is ~narked the proletariat by establishing its control oves the nieans of production. Once the society becornes class-less, tlie state will no ~norcbe required. The capitalist state is a managing -0mmittee of the bourgeoisie because it facilitates the exploitation of one class by another. , herefore, in a classless society, the state will become redundant and it will wither away. Such conditions, according to Marx, existed in ancient times i n the tribal societies.

Born at Sinibirslt in 1870 (April 22) Lenin had normal schooling. I-Iowever, when he was taking Iiis final scliool exaniination at the age of 16 his elder brother (Alexander) was charged of conspiring to kill tlie Tsar (King in Russia was known as Tsar) and was sentenced to death by tlie Tsarist regime. Despite all the trauma that this event brought to Lenin, he secured the liighest possible ~iiarks in the school examination. After school education, he joined the Kazan IJniversity. It was during his stay at the University that Lenin began taking part in the various s t ~ ~ d eagitations nt which ultiniately led to liis expulsion fro111the University. Thereafter, he involved himself fu1I y in revolutionary activities and soon became the leader of the Marxist group at St. Petersburg. He was arrested in 1895 by the Tsarist regime and exiled to Siberia. It was Iiere that he wrote his first major work -Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899). In this work, he described how capitalism was growing in Russia during its initial phase. In 1900 he migrated to Geneva and joined Plakhanov's revolutionary group. He also started editing a paper ~iamed Iskcrra in which lie launched an anti-Tsarist campaign. In 1902, he wrote his work - Whcrt is to be done which deals with party organisation. In 1916 second i~nportant when the first world war had reached a very grim stage, Lenin produced Iiis most incisive work Imperiulism, the I5ghest Stage of Cupitalism wherein he analysed the phenomenon of imperialism. In October 1917, he assunied power in Russia. By doing so, Lenili earned the credit for the first successfiil Marxist revoltltion and that too, in a capitalistically less developed country like Tsarist Russia where feudalism was deeply entrenched. Soon after the success of this revolution, Lenin started suffering froni fkequent strokes. His ill health forced him to gradually withdraw from tlie active governance ofthe Soviet Union. However, during the few years that lie lived after the sirccess of his revolution, he laid tlie foundation ofa socialist state wliich his successor, Josepli Stalin, developed into a super power in a short span of time.

18.3.1

Party as Vanguard of the Proletariat

'There are several seminal contributions of Lenin to Marxist theory and practice. 111liis Developn7ent ofCupitalism in Ru,ssia, he tried to offer an interpretation of Tsarist Russia in Marxist tertns. He argiled that there was a large wage-labour class in Russia. However, he expressed the view that this wage labour class was not fully conscious of its exploitation. He fitsther added that only the industrial proletariat (factory workers) was capable of articulating tlie grievances of this whole class in the revolutionary direction. This could be done only by transcending local economic grievances and narrow trade unionism. For this, there was a need of a national level political organisation. Only such an organisation could raise the level of political conscio~~sness of the worlters by transforniing tlie wage labour class into a revolutionary proletariat class capable of staging a successfi~l revolution. Lenin indeed tried to do so in actual practice, Tile biggest task for him was to create a working class in Russia which was conscious of its exploitation. This in his view needed a co~nmunist organisation, but he realized that tlie autocratic Tsarist regime would not allow any such organisation to operate openly. The o~ily alternative was to operate i~ndergroundin a clandestine manner. In sliort, the problem for Lenin was how to do Lliese twin tasks: (i) creating a national level organisatioii of Russian wage workers and (ii) raising their level of political consciousness. The Leninist strategy on these two issues is contained in his What is to be Done. In this work, Lenin argued that in conditions prevailing in Russia there was need of a Communist Party wliicli could act as a Vangztard qfthe Proletariat. (Stalin furtl~er elaboraled this idea whcn lie argued that a working class without a Co~nlnunist Party was lilte an army without the General

staff). Lenin did not only e~nphasise the need of such a Communist Party in Russia, he also added that this vanguard party sliould consist of or at least be led by whole time professionul revolutio~~uries. Only then a successfi~lrevolution c o ~ ~ be l d brought about. You must have noticed that by malting this argument Lenin departed from the original Marxian position. In fact, the task which Marx had assigned to the proletariat class in staging a successf~~l revolution got transferred to the Con~munist Party as tlie vanguard of this class. Lenin's vanguard thesis was criticized by several of his contemporaries, particularly by a Polish Marxist Rosa Luxembourg. She argued that this would place the worlting class in tutelage ofthe party. She also pointed out that due to Lenin's vanguard thesis, the worlters would lose aII their initiative and become mere tools in the hands of the party. While she did not altogether deny the need of a well organised party and the role of able leadership in its functioning, she asserted that it would kill or at least blunt the self-emancipatory efforts of the working class.

18.3.2

Democratic Centralism

Having l-tlade the Communist Party as the vanguard of the proletariat, Lenin advocated a certain type of organizational structure for the party. His thesis is popularly known as 'democratic centralis~n'.To put it i n simple words, democratic centralisni consisted of two elements: democracy and centralism. It meant that the hierarchical strilcture of tlie Communist be such that each higher organ of the party should be elected by the lower organ party stio~~ld and all the party matters should initially discuss freely at all the levels of the organisation, from the lowest to the liigliest. However, once a decision has been taken by the highest organ be imposed strictly on all t'he lower organs and all of the171 I I I U S ~ abide by it. While it sl~ould theoretically democratic centralisni has de~nocracy as well as centralism, in actual practice the party became less and less denlocratic and more and 11iorecintralized. Like Iiis vanguard thesis, Lenin"s views on democratic centralism were also criticized by several of his conten~poraries.

Marx in his analysis of capitalisni had argued that in the task of over-throwing a~~tocl-acy and I'eudalism, tlie boirrgeoisie plays a revolutionary role and brings about democracy and capitalism. This is called the '1:)ourgeois democratic revolution'. It pirts the bourgeoisie into Finally, it would power. Under the rille ciflthe bourgeoisie. capitalism would develop ti~rtlier. reach a stage where the class contradiction betweer1 the bourgeoisie and tlie proletariat would becoriie very sharp. ' h i s would create conditions for al~i'oletcrri~~ s o ~ i ~ l l irevolzltiotz st which woi~ld mark tho clttn~iseof capitalisn.1. This prediction of Marx, however, did not prove true and the developnient of capitalisni in Europe did not lead to proletarian socialist revolutions. Lenin tried to explain why the Marxian prediction about the proletarian socialist revolutions and demise of capitalism had not conle true. Mow Iiad cslpitalisln received a lease of life. Mow Lenin in his Inzperiulisn-I:The FIiCq!ic.st Sfc~ge of had capitalisn~failed in its historic ~iiission? C'c~pitolism tried to explain 1.1iis lease of life which capitalisin in tlie west had received. Capitalism, in his view, had grown so much that raw material and domestic markets in the capitalist coun tricl; were not enough to permit its fi~rtliergrowtli. 'rlierefore, it had become necessary .for.these countries to find raw material and new ~narkets for investment in Asia, Afiaica and Soi~th America. Thus, capitalisni was exported fioni Europe. It Iiad acquired a non no pol is tic position and had beco~iie reactionary. Due to colonization of Asia, Africa and South America, capitalism had acquired aparusitic position. Thus, capitalism had reached its highest stage (imperialism) and had exhausted the historical mission of creating conditions

for a proletarian revolution in different capitalist countries. However, capitalism in its i~nperialist manifestation had created conditions for a socialist revolutio~l at the global stage.

1 8 . 3 . 4

Weakest link

0% the

Chain

The success df thl: Bolshevik Revolution in a capitalistically under-developed country like Russia in 1917 raised two new problems for Lei~in. The first problem was to recoricile and interpret this revolution in Marxian tenns. Leniri did so by inventing 'the weakest link oftlie chain' argument. It meant that Tsarist Russia where capitalism was not yet fi~lly developed constituted the weakest link of the in~perialist chain and strategically it is quite appropriate to break the chain at its weakest rather than at its strongest point. In fact, this whole idea is also implicit in Marx. Marx had argued tliat with tlie develop~nent of capitalism, the bourgeoisie becomes stronger and stronger. But it also gives rise to its equally powerful gravediggers i.e., the proletariat class. The bourgeoisie cannot grow strong without leading to simultaneous growth ofthe proletal-iat.So in societies where the bourgeoisie is strong, the proletariat is also strong. Siniilarly, where the bourgeoisie is weak, the proletariat is also weak. Tlie Leninist argunicnt was that the capitalistically advanced cot~ntries of Europe constitilted the strongest point of the ilnperialist chain; while 'Csarist Russia constit~~ted the weakest link. The second proble~n for Lenin was more serious. Since the revoliltion had occurred in Tsarist Russia where capitalism was still unripe, the problem was to draw aplan for building a socialist state. The pl-oblem got further co~npoundedbecause Marx in his writings had given a very sketchy picture of the socialist stage and had not explained in detail how a socialist society wou.ld conie about. Tlie C'apitalis~ State, according to Lenin, emerged as an organ of class rule. It was a special organisation of force and violence fix the exploitation of the working class. This capitalist state had to be replaced by a socialist state. In his State and I?evulution, L,enin offered some outlines of his strategy to built such a socialist state in Russia. E-Ie argued that the bureaucratic ~nilitary state was LO tre replaced by soviets modelled on the lines of tlie I'asis Colii~nune. hloreover, he did not subscribe i.lllyto the Marxist notion ofwithering away of the state. Instead, he begrit1 to argue tliat during the transitional ph:ise, the comniunists coillcl ilse the state apparatus to achieve their and econoniic goals. It r~ieantthat it may be 1.rccessary to five wirh b mixed economy for so~netime (private and public sectors could co-exist) till the public sector is strong enougli to take over the task of socialist reconstruction. Only then the possibility ofwitherillg away of the state would be tllere.

18.3.5 Spontaneity Element gives way ts Selectivity of Time and Place


.

As pointed otrl earlier, Leliin assigned the task of staging a successful proletarinn revol~rtion to the con~luunist party as the vanguard of the proletariat. 'This amounted lo some dcviatioll from the Marxian position. Marx had expsessed considerable Faith in the revolutionary potential of tile working class. But in Lenin's argument, the spontaneity element inherent in Marx gave way to selectivity of'tiine and place. Lenin was critical of the view expressed by the Mensheviks (minol-ity faction in the party) thal revolutionaries slloi~ldwait for the development of spontaneous revolutionary action of the illasses. He argued that without strong leadership fiom o1.1tside its ranks, the working class coi~lcl never rise beyond trade i~nioriis~ii. I-le considered such trade unioriis~ii refor~nistrather than revolutionary. It aniounted to saying that the leadership of the Com~nunist Party would decide where and when tlie revolution is to be attempted. In other worcls, tlie agenda of revolution would be decided by the party ?lid not by the workers. 'This view of Lenin was criticised by some of Iiis conteniporaries, particularly

Rosa Luxemberg. She argued tliat since the ciecision abrjut timc, place and strategy of the revolution was to be decided by the Communist Party, the spontaneity element of a revolution which is inherent in Marx wou!d give way to selectivity ol'tiine and place. This, she f~irther added, would blunt the seli'-ema~icipatory efforts of the worlting class.

18.4

M A 0 TSEjTUNG (NOW MA0 ZEDONG) (1 893-1 976)

Born at Shaoslian in Munan province of China in 1893 (Decenlbek 26) Mao is tlae second Marxist revolutionary (Idenin being the first) who bsoilght about a silccessful revolution in a baclcward country like China. Moreovcr, lie did so primarily with the 11elp ofthe peasantry a class which, Marx thought, had no revolr~tionarypotential. Even Lrnin had not placed much faith in the peasant class. Mao, like Lenila, was botli a practitiotler of Marxism a:, also its theoretician. Ai'ter a little tbr~ual education, he joii~ed the arrny of Hunan province during the 191 1 revolution led by Kuon~intatsg (KMT), a bourgeois nationalist party of Sun Yat Sen. Soon after the success of the KM'T revolution, he moved to Changsha (Capital of Munan) and later lo Peking (Now Beiji~~g). It was here that he came under tlze influence of the radical Marxist leader Li Dazliao who arranged a job for him in tlie university library. IIowever, he left the job and retusnccjl io Changslia and became activc in the Cotnmunist Party of China (CPC). Between 1921-25, he organized the mine workers. Hc also travelled to various parts of China which gave him a first hand impression about the exploitative conditions under which the Chinese peasantry was reeling at that time. 'This was a period of cooperation between the KMT and the CPC. tIowever, tension betwcen the two began to develop when the CPC, pressed for agrarian rerorms wliicli werc not acceptable lo the KMT, because they were bound to adversely affect the interest of the KMT lneinbers many of whom were landlords. B y 1927, the relations betwcen the KMT and the CPC became so bitter that the KMT decided to hit at the comn~i~nists, After this break between the KMT and the CPC, Mao was asked to organise a rebellion of I-Iunan peasants. During the course afthis rebellion, Mao wrote his first major worlc - An(r1ysi.v of Clusscs in lltc Chinese Society. Here, hc identified tlic various strata of Chincse peasantry- small, marginal, 111iddleand the big peasant and the revolutionary potential of cach ofthem. I-Ic highlighted the contradiction between the peasantry and the feuds1 lords. He argued that in the Chirlese conditio~is, the pcasnnlry was going to be the vanguard of the evolution, unlilte Tsarist RLISS~Q wlicre rcvolution was led by thc proletariat. 1-lealso identified tlie strata which coi~ltl be reliable atid 1*ncill(rfi17gr~ll ies in a peasant led revolution. I-leattempted the IJcrrvest Uprising of pcnsants in 1928, b ~ l the t uprising was cruslled and Maa had to flee alongwith his supporters to Chingkangslinn (now Jingangshan) mountains. From these mountains, Mao's party starlcd its guerrilla warl8r.e tactics, By this, Mao bc-camc the originator warfi~re within thc ninrxian revolutionary framework. By these tactics, the CPC of guerrill~i was able to capturc various parts of South-cast China. It set up a nur-nberof peasant Soviets in the capti~red areas. These successes of the CPC in rural CI~ina. however, were not according to the policy laid down by the Cotnmunist International, which had been advocating that the revolution niust begin from the urban centres. Tlie urban ccntercd rcvolution, Mao thought, was bound to fail in China because there was a vcry sn~all proletal-iat. 'Tliercfore, he continued his guerrilla warfare tactics in the rural areas. 'T'he KMT tried to crush these gt~errillcn attacks and encircled tlie areas where peasant Soviets 11ad been set up. who took slielter in the north-west hills Finally, the ICMI'arlnies drove out the rcvoli~tionaries of China, This escape became farnous as Mao's 1,017~A4arch. This also nnade Man the undisputed leader of the CPC, a position which he ~qaiiltait~cd till his death. Mao's spay in tlie

north-west (Yanan Province) was the most fruitful period for the CPC. It was here that Mao began an extensive study of Marxist philosophy. Mao is believed to have written two serious pieces during this period; oiie titled "On Pructice" and the other called "On Contradiction", both of which were published after the success of the Chinese revolution. In the 1940s, he gave a blue-print of the future Chinese Government titled "New Democracy" (1 945). During 1942-43, Mao consolidated his position in the CPC by eliminating all his possible potential a r~ctijicnlion ccmzpaign. He also advocated a strategy of mass mobilizatio~l of rivals througl~ peasants which is known as Mao JsMass-linc.Here, he took a highly nationalist posture against the Japanese invasion and tried to organise the Chinese people around the national sentiment. He also refined his theory and practice of guerrilla warfare. The threat to Chinese security during the secor~dworld war again bro~~ght the KMT and the CPC together. When the cooperati011between the two finally ended in 1949, Mao became the head of the Chinese state which began to be called the People's Republic of China (PRC). During the course of reconstruction of the Chinese society, Mao gave a nod el different from the one envisaged by Marx in his writings or the one attempted by Lenin in the Soviet Union. In the early 1950s, Mao gave his famous call of "Let Hundred Flowsr.~ Bloom" which allowed different viewpoints in the CPC to be expressed fieely and openly. Later, he attempted collectivization of agric~llture followed by a call for a Grecrt Leap Forwnrd to bring about quick transition to com~ni~nis in ~n China. These attelnpls of Mao did not fully succeed, which generated some resentnlent and even opposition to Mao's Inanage~nent of the economic agenda. Mao tried to figlit this opposition on an ideological plan]<and gave a call for a Cultural Revoltition in 1966. This was an attenipt at re-charging the revolutior~ary zeal of the CPC cadres. He reinained wedded to this idea till his death in 1976 (September 9).

18.4.1 Peasant Revolution


While the Marxist Leninist legacy greatly influenced llim, Mao is a great innovator in his own right. He rilodified Marxism Leninism by relying heavily on tlie peasantry's revolutionary potential. It needs to be reinembered that Marx has treated the peasantry with some degree of contempt. For the most part, peasantry for him was conservative and reactionary; it was no more than a bag of potatoes unable to make a revolution. Even Lenin had relied mainly on the proletariat in the urban centres of Russia for mass insurrections and had not placed much faith in the peasantry's revolutionary potential. Mao'sjrndamental contribution, therefore, was to bring about a successfi~l revolution in China mainly with the help of the peasantry. More than anything else, his revolutionary model became relevant for several Ako-Asian peasant societies. fro111the course of postSecondly, Mao i n his cultural revolution phase drew soine lesso~~s revolutionary reconstl~uction in the Soviet Union and warncd (like Milovan Djilas) against the emergence of the new bourgeois class who were beneficiaries of the transitional period. In other words, Mao was aware that the party's top hierarchy coi~lditself become a new class. Mao used this argument to side-line his rivals in the top echelons of the CPC.

18.4.2

Contradictions

In Marxist theory, the main vehicle of all changes in society is contradiction. Mao further elaborated this idea. For him, contradictions or the unity of opposites (thesis and anti-thesis) leading to a higher level and transforming q~~antity into quality (synthesis) was the filndamental law of historical development. But he did not fully endorse the Marxist position o n contradiction. it may be mentioned that Marx, in his writings, seems to have used the terms contradictions and antagonis~ns almost interchangeably. I-Iowever, Lenin began to distinguish

between the two. He expressed the view that contradictions would remain even in a socialist society, but antagonisms would not. Mao ilnlnensely enriched the debate. In his famous essay titled "On Contradictions (1937), he formulated the notions of nntagol7isiic contradictions and non-antagonistic contrudictions. According to him, antagonistic contradictions are those which can be resolved peacefillly. In his 'On Correct Handling of Contradictions' (1 957) Mao further elaborated this view. He argued that the contradictions between the peasantry and the proletariat were non-antagonistic; the contradictions between the peasantry and the proletariat on one hand, and the petty bourgeoisie on the other were non-antagonistic; the contradictions belween the peasantry, the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie on the one hand and the national bourgeoisie on the other were non-antagonistic. Contradictions between the various cotn~n~lnist parties were non-antagonistic, but contradictions between the Chinese people and the compradore bo~~rgeoisie were antagonistic. Contsadictions between the socialist and the capitalist camp were antagonistic. Contradictions between colonial countries and in~perialis~n were antagonistic. He also argued that at any one point oftin~c, onc contradiction becotnes the principul contrtrdiction whereas the other contradictions become nlinor. Further, he argued that even a principal contradiction has a principal aspect and several minor aspects. For example, in the era of irnperialisln the contradiction hclw~~enl the imperialist camp on one hand and the I . ,a principal contradiction and contradiction socialist camp and colonial countries on thc D ~ ~ P Cis aspect of this principal contradiction. between the Soviet Union and the US was a ljril~cipal However, he also added that which contratlictinn is to be treated as antagonistic and principal and which as minor and non-antagonistic or whic1-1aspect is to be treated as principal wo~tld be contingent on relative liistorical tactical considelxtions.

18.4.3 On Practice
This elaboration of contradictions led l\/lac> to t;,cpound his epistemology or theory of knowledge. In his farnous essay titled, On Practice (I 9'73) Mao argued that all knowledge of the real world comes to us through concrete investigntion and empirical analysis. I-le was opposed lo mere book learning or i~lt~litive theorising. For example, if one wanted to understand the its r c pattern , of land ownersl.lip Chinese society, then one must un(erstand its class s t r i ~ c t ~ ~ and the impact of imperialism on the local economy of China. Theory without continuous reference to erllpirical reality woilld become a tilere dogma. I-lowever, he visualized two stages in the ilnderstanding of empirical reality: The Perceptiral .s.trgc, and The Concepttlul Stage. At the perceptual stage, we only get the impression of reality through our senses. This sense perception has to be compounded into conceptual knowledge. For exalnple, when one looks at tlie empirical reality of rural China, it is only the perceptual stage of knowledge. But having seen this reality, one lias to understand it in ternis of different stratas of peasantry: middle and big farlmmers etc., that is tlie conceptual stage. landless, marginal, sn~all,

18.4.4 United Front and New Democracy


Mao realized that the peasantry in China was not strong enough ta win the revolutionary and feudalisru. Therefore, it was necessary to seek the help of struggle against ilnperialis~n the other classes of Chinese society. It was in this context that Mao emphasized the concept of a United Front. It was seen as an alliance between different partners who Iiad some common interest like opposition to irnperialisln. The nature of such a United Front woilld depend on the historical situation. Its object would be to pursue tlie resolution ofthe principal contradiction. Such a United Front strategy was elnployed by Mao by establishing the alliance of Chinese yensuntry with the proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie and even the nationul bourgeoisie. It

also intendcd 1:Iie non-party elemevits among the Chinese intellectuals. The United front had and western powers. to be a broad alliance ofthe Chinese people against Japanese i~nperialism In pursuance of his United Front strategy, Mao gave a caIl in 1940 for a new democratic republic of China. It was to be a state under tlie joint dictatorship of several classes. In 1945, lie proposed a state system which is called New Democ~ucy. While the united front consisted of an ovcrwhelrning majority of the Chinese people, the leading position in the allianck had to and the national be in the hands of the working class. It meant that the petty bo~~rgesisie bot~rgeoisie worcld not ot~ly be partners in the United Front, they would also be partners of the ruling alliance, but they had to be onlyjunior partners. He called such a state as the 'People's Democratic Dictatorship'. It was a cornbinatio~i of two aspects - denzacracy for the people and dictatorship over the 'enemies of the people' or the 'running dogs of imperialism'. In ccmcrete terms, it meant that the Chinese democratic state would incorporate the peasantry, the working class, tlie petty bo~lrgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie in the ruling alliance. In doing so Mao deviated from tlie classical Marxist notion of thc diclatorship of the proletariat. In fact, he combined Marxis111and nationalism.

18.5

SUMMARY

In this unit, we have discussed the founder arid two prominent advocates ol'Marxism: Marx, 1,enin and Mao. We have discussed Marx's theory ofalienation, historical materialism, surplus., value, clnss war and revolution. Broadly, Marx's views on the state, dictatorship of the proletariat :111d the socialist society are also mentioned. This is followed by a discussion of Lenin's ideas on party organisation and democratic centralism, his theory of itnperialistn and liis views on the nature of'the post-revolutionary state. Lenin's views about selectivity of place and time of revolution as against the Marxist view about spontaneity are also discussed. Finally, h4ao's views about classes in tlie Chinese society, his notion of peasant revolution, liis views on contradictions atid new de~nocracy are discussed. Maoist notion of antago~iistic and non-antagonistic contradictions is an important contribution ta the Marxist theory. In addition to it, his advocacy of 'let hicndred flowers bloon~'and 'great leap forward' is also discussed.

1)
2)

What is tlie main intcllect~~al contribution of 'early' Marx? How does 'early' Marx differ from 'later' Marx? What is riiateriatistic inter pretation of history?

3) What is Lenin's theory of Party Organisation?


4)

What is Lenin's analysis of imperialism?

5) Describe Mao's anatysis of classes in the Chinese society.


6) What has been Mao's contribution to the theory of contradictions? 8) Conin~ent 01.1 Mao's notion of New Democracy.