“What Maoism Has to Offer the World,” a Self-Criticism and Repudiation

Tribune of the People raised its objections to the blog of “Jiminy Krix” and the blog post “What Maoism Has to Offer the World” we reached out to the author with the request that he revisit the article in question, he has produced the following response. It is the position of Tribune that this blog represents a dangerous trend that obfuscates and harms the Maoist movement and miseducates those interested in Maoism, it promotes bourgeois ideology as “MLM.” We are glad to publish the authors self-criticism and repudiation of his past articles, which we hope will serve to discourage the uncritical spread of the politics contained in the blog. The following are his own views, and not necessarily those of Tribune.

Guest Post by Jiminy Krix

When comrades with the Tribune told me that the piece “What Maoism Has to Offer the World” was still seeing circulation, I was surprised. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. But my real surprise came when I read it. I could not believe how bad it was—it was almost as though the piece were designed to be as wrong as possible—not just in offering a genuinely Maoist presentation of Maoism, but even on basic facts.

In a meaningful way, it is exactly right that it was written to be as wrong as possible, and given what I know about my errors—especially then—I should not have been surprised. Not to put too fine a point on it, the piece is profoundly opportunist. It is opportunist in the sense, first, that it was created foremost in pursuit of personal intellectual acclaim—I don’t say this to mean that I was fully conscious of this, but that is without a doubt the objective truth about my motivation. One of the clearest ways this occurs is that it does not cite anything, and barely quotes anyone. The reader is functionally left with no authority but the writer. It is also opportunist in an almost archetypal sense: it embraces quantity over quality, seeking to win as many people as possible to the name of Maoism rather than the content of the ideology. The objective of the piece was functionally to increase the number of people calling themselves Maoists without teaching them Maoism, essentially feeding revisionism—a revisionism all the more harmful because it tries to pass itself off as Maoist.

One of the most disturbing aspects about the piece is how breezy, casual, and vulgar it is. Mao teaches us that “a revolution is not a dinner party … ; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle. … A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” Understanding that should give gravity to discussions on Maoism. But I did not understand that at all, despite giving lip service to it. Even then, I barely did even that much. As Chairman Gonzalo writes, “What is fundamental in Maoism? Political Power. … Power based on an armed force led by the Communist Party.” But in the piece, again and again, there is almost no mention of fighting, of struggle. There is almost no mention of organizing the confrontation against recognized class enemies or conquering Power.

It resorts to a lexicon that vacillates between lumpen cursing and pandering to petty-bourgeois intellectual fashions, especially postmodernism. In a central example, it refers to Maoism as “dope”: not only does it trivialize Maoism by basically saying it is “cool” as opposed to all-powerful because it is true, of the deepest importance on earth—in a particularly vile fashion it conflates Maoism with drugs that weaken and kill the masses. Similarly, it disgustingly trivializes the eternal contributions of Mao and the countless heroes of the Chinese Revolution as “dope shit.” This is tailist, uncritically taking up the habits of some sections of the masses—it is not proletarian or professional. There are also too many examples to list that exemplify Lenin’s correct observation that “an opportunist, by his very nature, will always evade taking a clear and decisive stand, … always wriggle like a snake between two mutually exclusive points of view and try to ‘agree’ with both.” Overall, the lexicon embodies an error described by Chairman Gonzalo: he writes that “[the intelligentsia] insist repeatedly on certain terms, believing that they will thus raise Marxism, when at the bottom they are bastard concessions to the bourgeoisie.”

I had no place teaching anyone the fundamentals of Maoism. Nor does anyone have any business trying to learn about Maoism from a personal blog. A recent article in the Maoist journal Struggle Sessions, “Political Education Does Not Come From Reddit,” capably describes a harmful political current that this piece represents a potent example of.

My piece works hard to avoid offending liberal and revisionist sensibilities. It uses vague, unscientific terms. It does not apply the Marxist philosophical method of unambiguously dividing things into two, and synthesizing a conclusion that advances our struggle.

To combat the piece, I will do my best to explain what I understand to be wrong with each section. The piece has many problems, but for brevity’s sake I will only focus on the most egregious. I am grateful for the help of the comrades at the Tribune, because I know that if I make mistakes in this process, they will not allow them to spread harmful, incorrect ideas, as this piece has for so long.

Introduction

Even from the first sentence, the piece introduces theoretical confusion. It is true that the monopoly press and bourgeois schools are racist, and that they uphold bourgeois perspectives; but in a postmodern way, it treats these two things as coequal, instead of explaining the concrete origin of racism in class society.

Saying that the bourgeois perspective on Malcolm X and the Panthers is “total lies” is simply not true. They do lie, but they also report the facts when they can make them serve their purposes. In the next paragraph, it links a set of resources on China compiled by a Dengite revisionist. And as will be discussed further below, even from the very start, the piece takes up an error of rank opportunism by substituting nostalgia about the Panthers in the place of a critical assessment.

“Mass line”

The description of the mass line is tailist through and through. Even while it vaguely refers to the mass line as the Communist method of leadership, it claims that the masses should be asked what they think of their problems, what they think the answer is, and then to do essentially that. The mass line is the Communist method of leading the masses to make revolution—there is no other way.

As mentioned above, there is also virtually no question here of fighting or struggle. It invokes the phrase “serve the people” only to equate it with economistic programs that amount to charity—but the main form that service to the people must take is conquering Power through struggle against class enemies. As the Communist Party of Peru write in “Mass Line” in their General Political Line, “revolutionary violence [is] the universal law for the conquest of power and … the principal form of struggle is the armed struggle and the principal form of organization is the armed forces, and … before the outbreak of a war all the struggles and organizations should serve to prepare it.” Thus there is no separating the mass line from Maoism, and from revolutionary violence.

By the same token, it is in practice utopian in suggesting through emphasis that the masses’ problems can be solved simply by talking, by changing the way we relate to each other.

It validates the revisionist notion that there is a diversity of valid Marxist “tendencies.” There is only Marxism, which once was Marxism-Leninism and today is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, with the contributions of universal validity of Chairman Gonzalo. Maoism is not a rupture from Marxism but a higher fulfillment of it. Maoism is the ideology of the proletariat, all-powerful because it is true. The very concept of a “tendency” is contrary to Marxism, because it conceives of things in terms of inclinations toward activities, rather than understanding it as something completely fundamental, as an ideology, whose core is Marxist philosophy.

This section also reduces all Communist organizing to the mass line. While the mass line is crucial, it is wrong and frivolous to call it “doing Communism.”

Again in a postmodern way, it sets the working class and “other oppressed groups” side by side, without explaining the centrality of the proletariat and its historic mission, nor the concrete relationship between other manifestations of oppression and class society.

It offers the bourgeois academic idea that what makes a person “advanced” is their nominal, stated acceptance of the proposition that revolution is necessary, rather than their concrete actions and stance toward concrete class enemies, and completely ignores the question of considering a person’s relationship to production, which grants them revolutionary potential in the first place.

Finally, it implies that there is no place for a revolutionary news organization, which has been proved especially absurd by the Tribune of the People, not to mention the great Lenin!

“Worldwide”

One of the most stark manifestations of the piece’s opportunism is in the way it valorizes quantity over quality, placing the number of adherents of a given idea or organization over the correctness of its politics, as long as it meets the fast-and-loose standard of the weasel phrase “inspired by Maoism.” When the post uses that phrase, it in effect does not recognize Maoism. It denies that Mao elevated Marxism-Leninism in an all-around way to a new and higher stage. It conflates, as Chairman Gonzalo writes, Mao Zedong Thought (“‘thought’ is nothing but a set of ideas”) with Maoism, where “‘ism’ is a doctrine that interprets all the matter in its different ways of expression.”

As a result of this fundamental error, it centers the Communist Party of the Philippines, who constitute a rightist position within the International Communist Movement and, as the Tribune Editorial Board emphasized recently, propagate revisionism outside their own country, and opportunistically conflate Maoism with Mao Zedong Thought without giving any credit to the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo as the synthesizers of Maoism.

It also makes the grave counterrevolutionary error of proclaiming that the People’s War in Peru ended. As the Communist Party of Ecuador – Sol Rojo emphasized recently, “denying the existence of the people’s war in Peru has become a counterrevolutionary act.”

Unmoored from the leadership of the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo, the greatest living Communist—those who actually synthesized Maoism—it upholds the Communist Party of India (Maoist) as leading the most theoretically advanced revolution in the world today, without even making an argument for why that might be the case.

Discussing Turkey, it suggests that it’s possible for there to be multiple Communist Parties in a country at any given time. The proletariat can have only one Communist Party in a given country, and any pretense otherwise deviates from basic Marxist principles, as expressed in the admission standards of the Communist International under Lenin’s Great Leadership. Again under the error of conflating what is “influenced by Mao” with Maoism, it upholds the DHKP-C, a revisionist organization, rather than upholding the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist, the genuine Communist Party of Turkey, who now more than ever deserve our staunch and unequivocal support.

“In the United States”

The piece upholds the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords as “Communist,” and (revisiting that weasel phrase) “heavily inspired by Mao.” The fact is, they were neither. This is one of the most egregious errors in the piece, because the Panthers were not inspired by Mao, but distorters of Mao. In discussing the Panthers, it is crucial to identify two right-opportunist lines: the armed revisionism of Cleaver, and the economism of Newton and Hilliard that manifested most clearly in their “survival programs.” As the Struggle Sessions Editorial Board write in “Maoism in the US,” “these programs were used by rightists to liquidate both political education and armed self-defense—in short the whole focus of the Panthers shifted from confrontation and battle against the enemies of black people to confronting with charity the conditions of black people.” Pitifully, my blog post does not note the fact that this right opportunism was the root of several other fatal errors: the Panthers did not stand for a Communist Party, without which proletarian revolution is impossible; they falsely claimed to be the vanguard of the revolution in the US; they denied the role of the proletariat as the revolutionary class; and they promoted a kind of proto-identity politics. And on top of this, the post ignores their militant struggles against class enemies, which were what at times captured the imagination of the masses.

It also upholds the Revolutionary Union (RU), which eventually became the “Revolutionary Communist Party” (RCP), rank revisionists who explicitly endorsed Joe Biden in the most recent elections. It does not mention that the RU/RCP were never Maoists, and that they only briefly claimed to be as cover for an unforgiveable attempt to assert their Avakianite influence into the International Communist Movement, as has been pointed out in recent pieces in the Tribune, including a recently translated speech by Chairman Gonzalo, “On Chairman Mao’s Thesis ‘Three Worlds Delineated’” as well as the aforementioned “Maoism in the US.”

“Cultural revolution”

This section is one of the clearest instances of opportunist pandering to liberal anti-Communist ideas, especially against Lenin, Stalin, and the Soviet Union.

Without coming out and saying it, the piece implies that Power is inherently corrupting, and that the reason a new bourgeoisie begins to emerge in the Party is simply that it holds Power, as opposed to the fact that classes and class struggle persist in socialism. But again, Power for the proletariat is central in Maoism. As Lenin taught, without Power, everything is an illusion. It also ignores the concrete fact that, in socialism, bourgeois right necessarily exists while being restricted by the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that its necessary persistence during the era of socialism instills bourgeois ideas and generates bourgeois individuals, which must be tirelessly combated.

The piece says that when it comes to identifying the bourgeoisie in the Party or in other positions of authority, the masses simply “know what’s up.” This is yet another assertion of tailism, which suggests that simply from their class position, the masses already have a kind of primordial correct grasp of politics. This is brazen opportunism, no different from that of liberal postmodernists. While of course the masses are the makers of history, if they could simply always automatically identify all their enemies and how to get organized to fight them, there would be no need for revolutionary theory—and no need for revolutionary leadership. And in fact, the piece also fails to mention that it is the Party itself that launches cultural revolutions—even these great moments which depend on the initiative and the bravery of the masses do not occur without leadership, without authority.

By suggesting that Lenin was wrong that the state will wither away, it begins its covert attacks on Lenin. In the place of Lenin’s fundamentally correct formulation about the state, it supplements wild speculation about the conclusion of the socialist period by asserting without any justification or argument that “one final cultural revolution” will usher the world into Communism. In discussing the achievement of Communism, it also ignores the fact that, as Chairman Gonzalo said in his great Interview, we must always view the revolution in each country “as part of the world revolution. … Because in the final analysis a Communist Party has an irreplaceable final goal: communism. And, as has been established, onto that stage all must enter, or no one will.”

“Party of a new type”

Here the piece robs Lenin of the glory of one of his greatest contributions to Marxism—the Party of a new type. It speaks of the Party as Lenin theorized it and built it—and then attributes this entirely to Mao. While Mao did contribute and apply the theorization of two-line struggle and its place in the Communist Party, the article uses this fact as a means of caricaturing the Party as theorized by Lenin. Lenin’s Party was not “an unchanging, monolithic organization.”

The piece’s description of the Bolshevik Party is nothing but an anti-Communist caricature, specifically one that accords most with the bourgeois historical view of the Party under Stalin’s leadership.

One of the most glaring omissions is that there is no mention of Lenin’s contribution of democratic centralism, one of the single greatest contributions in the history of Marxism, without which there could simply be no Party of the new type.

One of the fundamental errors of the piece, repeated in many different forms through the whole piece, is a rejection of authority. Functionally, this way of presenting Maoism emerges from a revisionist urge toward what a piece in the journal Struggle Sessions referred to as “Avakianism without Avakian,” which, the author writes, “must be understood as a break with Leninism—via an attack on Stalin—and the continuity of whatever eclectic-revisionist ideas serve to … ‘score points’ among pop-activist subcultures (i.e. an orientation toward the petty bourgeois student and managerial class).”

Mao upheld the Party of a new type as synthesized by Lenin! He wrote, “With the birth of revolutionary parties of this type, the face of the world revolution has changed. The change has been so great that transformations utterly inconceivable to people of the older generation have come into being through fire and thunder.”

“Protracted People’s War”

The piece’s description of Protracted People’s War is one of its most ridiculous aspects, since it tries to describe a war with all but no discussion of conflict or revolutionary violence. It speaks of “building” Power rather than conquering it, and even when it speaks of the revolutionary forces having Base Areas, there is no mention of the fact that these must be conquered through armed struggle.

But what it does do is continue to pander to the squeamish and comfort-seeking intellectual, by taking time to emphasize that Protracted People’s War “has many legal components.” In describing whom the revolutionary Army should attack, it names a few examples of the most personally despicable enemies of the people as a way of tip-toeing around the fact that, at the end of the day, agents of the bourgeois state and reaction must be unsentimentally targeted not according to moralism but a strategy that employs selective annihilation, until the bourgeois state is destroyed.

It also continues its anti-authority push in its discussion of the militarization of the masses. While indeed the masses must be militarized, foremost they must be armed with Maoism. It is not guns alone that can prevent capitalist restoration, but the masses’ ability to use them to consciously further proletarian revolution. The omission of this detail again plays on the anti-Communist idea that all authority is untrustworthy and oppressive, while denying the centrality of revolutionary theory and leadership to the achievement of Communism.

The piece also describes the revolutionary Army as being for the masses to “protect themselves as they build their new world.” Again this picks up the squeamishness about fighting and struggle. The Army is not a passive, solely reactive force—it must go on the offensive, to conquer Power, and when it does carry out defense, it is active defense. There is nowhere to build, and nothing to build with, that is not won through fighting. As Chairman Gonzalo says, “Damn the words of traitors. Everything was won in fact through revolutionary violence.”

The piece uses the nonsense phrase “a communist or a Maoist,” as if it were possible to be a Communist without being a Maoist. It also claims that we are seeking “people’s power.” Marxists do not call for “power to the people” in a socialist revolution—in an imperialist country, the only solution is Power for the proletariat: Power for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It offers the pattern of Protracted People’s War in semifeudal countries, in which the cities are surrounded from the countryside, as the universal pattern—when it makes no sense whatsoever to mechanically expect to apply this pattern to an imperialist country, where there is no peasantry and no countryside.

Absurdly, it suggests that one of the main tasks of the revolutionary Army is to help the masses understand their own oppression, and then convince them of the necessity for revolution in the abstract. The masses know they are oppressed! And setting this task for the revolutionary Army imagines it as having a similar function as the blog post itself intended to—providing decontextualized understandings that lead nowhere and which can produce no concrete action. The tasks of the Army are to fight, to produce, and to mobilize the people—and principal among these is fighting.

And finally, the piece claims that the militarization of the Party means that every Party member is a member of the revolutionary Army. If it means anything at all to say that someone is a member of a military force, then this is an obvious absurdity. While the Party must lead the Army and organize itself at all military levels, this does not entail that every single member of the Party must be enlisted. Overall the militarization of the Party means, as Chairman Gonzalo teaches us, “the set of transformations, changes and readjustments [the Party] needs to lead the People’s War as the principal form of struggle that will generate the new State.”

“Conclusion”

The piece concludes no differently from its general theme: in short, it places reading theoretical works far above practice—above struggle. It links “education” sources not vetted by any organization, including other opportunist blog posts.

Self-Criticism and Repudiation

I wish to conclude with a self-criticism of myself and this piece. Foremost, my piece and I myself were a concentration of the right-opportunist line that was running rampant in the movement at that time—a line that has now in the main been defeated by the left line.

More specifically, my errors at that time were the poisonous stance, outlook, and method of a bourgeois intellectual. What does that consist of?

As mentioned above, it took the form of praise- and status-seeking. It promoted the work of the Great Leaders of the International Communist Movement as my own thinking. It also refused to give credit for the correct criticisms I received from comrades at that time that helped make the piece less incorrect than it would have been otherwise. (To be clear, this piece you are reading benefited enormously from the correct criticism of comrades.)

Closely connected with this is an unbelievably arrogant individualism. Despite being so profoundly wrong and misinformed, having had no revolutionary experience, what gave me the gall to try to educate anyone on Maoism? The answer lies in the fact that I centered communication, believing that changes in communication could solve fundamental problems, an entirely postmodernist perspective. Therefore, with nauseating vanity, I believed my familiarity with bourgeois intellectualism entitled me to take up this crucial task. As Chairman Gonzalo aptly writes, “the intelligentsia is a source of snobbery, of terminology that confuses the language, confuses our unified understanding. … Marxism is not a problem of fashions; there is no room for these useless fumes.”

I objectively had little faith in the proletariat, the rest of the masses, and my comrades. Therefore I turned to online “leftists” (i.e., others caught up in revisionism—bourgeois intellectualism parasitically masquerading as Marxism) rather than orienting toward the proletariat. And like all bourgeois intellectuals, I have avoided conflict, especially with the liberals and revisionists whose praise I sought. Thus having decided to pander to these “leftists,” I offered a revisionist “Maoism” eviscerated of its revolutionary content, filled instead with ideas that excite liberals and revisionists.

I don’t want to imply that I’ve fully overcome these errors. I am still struggling against them, and in fact have recognized, with the help of comrades, that indulging in them by deigning to offer leadership—such as producing blog posts like the one criticized here—feeds them and worsens them. And it was an ongoing error of liberalism on my part to not keep track of the harm my old writings have continued to cause, and I am grateful to the comrades with Tribune who have led the effort to put an end to it.

If there is any doubt left, I want to say unequivocally that I completely reject this piece and denounce it. It is disgusting to me to learn that the blog as a whole is used by contemporary revisionists and right opportunists to attack leftism. The piece, along with other pieces on the blog, has no use beyond as a negative example. Wherever these are seen, they should be torn apart. Anyone who circulates the blog and especially this post is promoting right opportunism, and in doing so misleads the masses, as I did—all for the degenerate reward of the worthless praise of sycophants and an empty, self-indulgent narcissism.