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Maoism, Marxism of Our Time Group for the Foundation of the Union of Communists of France Marxist-Leninist (UCFML)

Presentation

This text is that of the central intervention of the Group for the Foundation of the Union of Communists of France Marxist-Leninist (UCFML) at the meeting-debate held at the Mutualit on Saturday, November 6, 1976. Through forums, exhibitions, and interventions, this meeting-debate revolved around the theme: What is Maoist politics? This meeting has been a great success. We have proof that there exists a revolutionary Maoist current of public opinion.
I. In Europe the Question of the Revolution is the Order of the Day

Our aim is the proletarian revolution in France. We say that this question is the order of the day; this does not mean that the situation is immediately
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prerevolutionary. But it means: the political tasks of the revolutionary proletariat have been made sufficiently clear by the class struggle itself to give meaning and strength to its sustained accomplishment. We say, against all the defeatists, all those who shamefully rally to the Union of the Left: organizing the proletarian revolution is today the only meaning and the only force. In the last fifteen years the world has seen considerable upheavals. These years have been marked by unprecedented proletarian and popular assaults. Europe itself has been stirred up by mass movements of great scope. The Europe of the German students movement, the Europe of the storm of May 68, the Europe of the workers from Asturias, the Europe of the proletarians in Turin and Milan, the Europe of the workers and peasants against fascism and revisionism in Portugal, the Europe of the Irish people against British colonialism, the Europe of the Polish workers against social-fascism, and so many others! We are proud of this Europe of class struggles, this Europe of storms! At the same time, these years have seen the imperialist and bourgeois counteroffensive unfold. In Southern Europe in particular, we see the great maneuvers of the revisionist bourgeoisie to lift themselves into power. People find standing in their path the sad quartet of usurpers of the new bourgeoisie, the quartet Marchais-Berlinguer-Carrillo-Cunhal, with their big syndicalist stick and the honeypot of so-called Eurocommunism. They go to great lengths, but they will end badly. In the end, for those who look further and perceive the principal tendencies, these vast movements, with their flow back and forth, create new historical conditions that generate enthusiasm for the proletarian revolutionaries in Europe. It is in these new historical conditions that we say: to practice the question of communist organization, necessary for the peoples victory, means to practice a revolutionary Maoist politics. To be Maoist, and not only Marxist-Leninist, to declare oneself Maoist, is a precise political choice. Our organization, the UCFML, which now has seven years of existence, is the only one to make this choice. And here we want to explain it.

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II. The Two Sources of Maoism in France

We were born at the high point of the popular assaults of the sixties. Our historical date of origin is the revolutionary storm of May 68. Our ideological and theoretical base for support is the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. MAY 68 AND GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION: these are, if you want, the two sources of Maoism in France, in the way we see its force and its duration. These two sources are not on the same level. We have never been simply pro-China for a decisive reason: politics cannot be imported. A peoples revolutionary path is drawn in its own consciousness, in its accumulated experiences, in its own historical existence. The Maoists in France appeared on the scene of history ten years ago. Who were they? They were those who said that here and now a revolutionary politics was possible. They said this against the shameful revisionists, against those who, in order not to do any politics here, had eyes only for the third world. They said that in order to produce this revolutionary politics, it was necessary radically to move forward. They refused to mimic the rituals of 1936, or those of the split of the Tours conference, which gave birth, more than fifty years ago, to the so-called French Communist Party (PCF). They affirmed that it was necessary to have confidence in the masses, and to learn from them about the politics of our time. Let all the upstarts and renegades snigger! We remember this memorable explosion that saw young people by the hundreds join tightly with people from the popular neighborhoods around strong anti-imperialist guidelines in support of the Vietnamese people. This era saw hundreds and then thousands of students break with universities and bourgeois promises in order to establish themselves in the factory. We say that they have written an admirable page of the ideological history of our people. We say: GLORY TO THE MAOIST PIONEERS OF THE SIXTIES!
III. The Lessons of the Revolutionary Storm of May 68

May 68 has been the resounding confirmation of this path. When, despite the rantings of the syndicalists, students and workers shoulder to shoulder

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successfully attacked the CRS near the factory of Flins, it became clear that something new and inevitable was born. With May 68 it is no longer a question only of an ideological break. May 68 opens the political possibility to be a revolutionary Maoist. May 68 sets the task because, on the level of organization, the revolutionary storm makes painfully obvious the absence of all general headquarters. The category of revolutionary Maoist is a category of May 68. We are proud of this: it proves that Maoist politics means the politics of mass movements and class confrontations. The vitality of May 68 is such that its lessons are still the object today of a fierce ideological struggle. Which lessons, which content? May 68 marks the upsurge of an irreducible capacity for anticapitalist and antibourgeois revolt. This revolt destroys, for our time, the old distinction between economical struggle and political struggle that is the very basis of syndicalism. The mass strike of 68, the Action Committees, the revolutionary violence in the street, the mass democracy, is all that economics, plus a little bit of politics? It is altogether different! What is born with 68 is a different distinction, a decisive confrontation, between two realities and two concepts of the mass struggle themselves: on the one hand, the reactionary conception, of the purely vindicating type, of the workerist type, with its robust syndicalist and bourgeois parliamentary framework. On the other, and meeting syndicalism head-on with its political conception, there is the novelty of a political and autonomous mass struggle. In May 68, and in the years that followed, the word autonomy resounded everywhere there was a class confrontation. Even if this word was ambiguous and divided, it marked the path and gave the spark. It opened the way for the long road of todays proletariat: that of its absolute political independence with regard to the bourgeoisie, with regard to all the bourgeoisies. We know from now on that all real mass mobilization of our time sees two paths, two lines, and, in the final instance, two politics confront each other in its midst and all along its course. This experience of the struggle between two paths has allowed us to gain access to and to understand the politics at work during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. We say the politics of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and not simply the ideology of revolt of the Red Guards.

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And on this topic as well, on the lessons of the Cultural Revolution, an intense ideological struggle was going to take place. It was from this convergence between two ideological struggles, on the balance sheet of May 68 and on the teachings of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, that would be born Maoist politics, of which we are at this point the principal organized form.
IV. The Principles and Practice of Maoist Politics

Maoist politics rely on three great principles: 1. To learn from the real movement of the class struggle; to learn from the anticapitalist and anti-imperialist mass movement. 2. To lead antirevisionism all the way to the end. 3. To be a Marxist of this time, a Marxist of the time of the teachings of the Cultural Revolution. To be a Maoist, because Maoism is the Marxism of this time. At the basis of all this lies an essential Marxist-Leninist-Maoist conviction: yes, that which is weak can become strong; that which is dominated can become dominant! This certainty is the ground on which a prolonged practice is built, whereby what is essential is not the inevitable fluctuation of forces but the political and ideological line. The bourgeoisie and the proletariat confront one another with two conceptions of political power and of the state. It is true: the consciousness of oppression and exploitation is the practical basis from which political consciousness is born. This is the state of affairs we are in: the mass revolt must transform itself into proletarian revolution. Such is the essential task for political organizations. But not every movement is the class struggle, not every movement is the carrier of proletarian and popular politics. To discern and sustain the political antagonism, as the kernel to the apparent movement, that is what vital Maoism is all about. May 68 has been prolonged into the workers revolts from 1969 to 1971. Since then, the thread of antagonism can be followed: in the revolt of the

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special workers, after the struggles at the presses at Renault; in the revolt of the immigrants, up until the great fight of Sonacotra, and for the equality of rights; among the people of Corsica for their national rights; among the poor peasants and the wine growers in the south of France; among the youth: everywhere it is necessary to study whatever confronts the state, whatever bears in it elements of the revolutionary program, whatever is violently opposed to the bourgeoisie. Maoism, comrades, is that which, in the conditions of our world, is the just outlook to attack the bourgeoisie TO THE END. In our historical field, we also must have an eye for the importance of an active point of view with regard to alliances. Poor peasants, youth, small employees, womens movement: these are forces in the storm. They are organically part of the peoples camp. The Leninist concept of people has the greatest actuality. WE SALUTE, WE SUPPORT, THE REVOLUTIONARY REVOLTS OF ALL THE STRATA OF THE PEOPLE! UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE WORKERS, THEY WILL HAVE THEIR RIGHT, THEIR JUSTICE, AND THEIR VICTORY!
V. The Universal Significance of the Cultural Revolution

On this solid political basis that comes from our history, we must take hold of the question of Marxism, of Maoism as worldwide revolutionary current, as theoretical and ideological basis, as systematization of the greatest revolutionary experiment of our time: the GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION. The Cultural Revolution is not a simple tactical phase in the construction of socialism in China. It is not a simple mass movement to rectify and regenerate the party. It is, as our Chinese comrades say, without precedent in history. It is THE great revolution of our time. It is for the second half of the twentieth century that which the Paris Commune has been for the end of the nineteenth, and October 1917 for the beginning of the twentieth century. Taking a stance on this point is what radically distinguishes MarxismLeninism from modern revisionism. Our maxim is as follows: Tell me what you think of the Cultural Revolution, and I will tell you if you are a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist.

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The Cultural Revolution is a REVOLUTION in the full sense of the term: the popular masses take up the question of the state, they meddle with the affairs of the state. It is a question of flushing out and bringing down the political representatives of a class: the new bourgeoisie that is present within the Communist Party. The Cultural Revolution is a PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. In it the working class puts forward and practices the guideline: THE WORKING CLASS MUST LEAD IN EVERYTHING. Beginning with the workers revolutionary storms in Shanghai in January 1967, the proletariat makes its massive entry on the political scene, on a scale never seen before. It enters the universities and will directly lead the struggle on the level of the superstructure. The Cultural Revolution in reality gives birth to socialist novelties that were hitherto unknown: THE TRIPLE-UNION REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEES, which take the management of production-units in their own hands THE UNIVERSITY LINKED TO THE FACTORIES, the entry of poor peasants and workers into the universities. All this organizes the reduction OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANUAL AND INTELLECTUAL LABOR THE MASSIVE STUDY OF MARXISM, and in particular of PHILOSOPHY, which blocks the elitist monopoly of the closed conception of the party THE MOBILIZATION FOR A TRULY PROLETARIAN ART AND CULTURE THE GENERALIZED PARTICIPATION OF ALL CADRES IN PRODUCTIVE LABOR THE MASSIVE ESTABLISHMENT OF EDUCATED YOUTH AMONG POOR PEASANTS And many other revolutionary transformations that aim to make of the masses an invincible bastion against the restoration of capitalism. On the basis of the Cultural Revolution, Maoism deepens and transforms all the great concepts of Marxism.

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The concept of social class itself is subject to reexamination: that bourgeoisie in the midst of the party of which Mao Zedong talks is not defined in terms of ownership of the means of production! What is at stake is its project for the state, its political project. The task involved is one of putting politics in the command post, of seeking out the social base of the new revisionist bourgeoisie, of its political project. At the time of the programme commun, you have an indication that is decisive. The Cultural Revolution and Maoism, centrally, transform the very notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They make evident that the axis is not the construction of socialism. The axis is the class struggle. Lenin said: Is not Marxist he who does not extend the recognition of the class struggle all the way to include that of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Cultural Revolution teaches us: Is not Marxist he who does extend the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat all the way to include that of the class struggle. Socialism is not in the first place a construction. It is a class struggle. This is why the Cultural Revolution is the revolution of our time. We say: LONG LIVE THE GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION, LONG LIVE THE CLASS STRUGGLE UNDER THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT!
VI. The Tasks of the Maoists

Our task as Maoists is to bring about the fusion of the universal lessons of the Cultural Revolution with the concrete situation of the revolution in France. The goal of this stage is known to everyone: it is the edification of a general headquarters of the proletariat and the revolutionary people. IT IS THE QUESTION OF THE PARTY. Our entire orientation is grounded on a conviction: THIS PARTY WILL BE THAT OF THE ERA OF THE GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION, OR IT WILL NOT BE. It is a question, for the workers vanguard itself, to build the Communist Party of a new type, the party whose edification will already be an obstacle to the revisionist degeneration.

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On this point, in the experience of the working class, there have been trials and errors since May 1968. We have seen the autonomous factory organizations, the Action Committees or the Base Committees. We have seen the gatherings on this or that point of the program: Justice for the immigrants or a single class of special workers. But in the end, what has become clear today is the need for true COMMUNIST WORKERS KERNELS, bearers of a conviction and a centralized project with regard to the stages in the edification of the party. It is in these kernels that our Maoist guideline becomes materialized: PUT THE QUESTION OF THE PARTY BACK IN THE HANDS OF THE WORKING CLASS, ORGANIZE THE WORKERS VANGUARD, AND BUILD THE COMMUNIST ORGANIZATION IN THE MIDST OF THE MASS MOVEMENT. This line unfolds today in a complex and fierce moment of the class struggle. What seems to dominate the scene is the rivalry between the two great bourgeois forces: the old bourgeoisie, the classical monopoly of Giscard and Chirac; and the new bourgeoisie, the monopoly of state bureaucracy, that of Marchais and Mitterrand, of Sguy and Edmond Maire. These two forces vie for the indoctrination of our people behind their reactionary political project. The electoral machinery is there to fix the outcome of this indoctrination. On this point, the lessons from the Cultural Revolution and from Maoism are clear: we find ourselves in a world in which the autonomy of the proletariat plays itself out between two bourgeoisies: the old and the new. The class struggle takes place on two fronts. The petty Machiavellis of the provisory, tactical, or critical rallying to the project of the [French] Communist Party (PCF) play completely into the hands of modern revisionism. Together with the entire workers vanguard, we struggle stubbornly against the polarization around the two dueling bourgeois cliques. We immediately call on all honest revolutionaries to debate and organize themselves on this question. It is imperative that we oppose the electoral maneuvers of indoctrination with an autonomous and popular mass force. We are ready to participate in the largest regrouping based on the guidelines:

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NEITHER GISCARD-CHIRAC NOR MARCHAIS-MITTERRAND! LONG LIVE THE PEOPLES REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS!
VII. Maoism Means Victory

In the world today we have three reference points: Global history gives us the stable point that is the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Ideological history gives us Marxism-Leninism and Mao-Zedong thought The history of our country gives us May 68, the class struggle on two fronts, revolutionary Maoism. If we hold strong on these points of reference, if their internal linkage guides us, on the basis of our practice, we will serve as force and support. For those who hold strong and know on what basis to guide themselves, defeatism and powerlessness are definitively eliminated. To be Maoist, finally, means to be an integral part of the victories of this time. LONG LIVE MAOISM, THE MARXISM OF OUR TIME! LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTIONARY STORM OF MAY 68! LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS OF FRANCE! LONG LIVE THE COMMUNIST WORKERS KERNELS! LET US LEAD THE CLASS STRUGGLE ON TWO FRONTS TO THE END! LONG LIVE THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT! Translated by Bruno Bosteels

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Note

This text was originally published as a twenty-four-page pamphlet by Editions Potemkine in Marseille (April 1976), the local publishing house tied to the UCFML. In keeping with the style of the original pamphlet, no additional reference notes were added for this translation. For a complete list of pamphlets and books published by the UCFML, see the bibliography in the appendix to this special issue. Trans.