Just Read

Fearghal McGarry [2012]

Rebels: Voices from the Easter Rising 

ISBN  978-0141041278

Contemporary accounts are the first partial draft but often not the most accurate account of history, here, written by participants, structured by a historian, the compilation of quotes provides a narrative and the conveys the flavour of the Easter Rising. From the witnesses’ recollections of their schooling and other childhood influences to their accounts of what happened at Easter 1916, Rebels tells of this seismic and much-debated insurrection. The testimonies gathered from participants by the Irish Bureau of Military History in 1947 provides a real feel for the ordinary person in history, and captures the detail often absence in the general histories. To recall just two incidents: Seamus Pounch stationed at the Jacob’s biscuit factory, in the first few quiet days before the arrival of British army reinforcements in Dublin, said:

“During a lull in the fight in Jacob’s we held a miniature ceilidh – Volunteers and Fianna, Cumann na mBan, Clan na Gael Girl Scouts… a real welcome break in the serious business we had in hand.”

A testimony to the rank-and-file spirit, and indicative of the conglomeration of forces – not solely a Sinn Fein rebellion – involved in the struggle for Irish national freedom. Not quite a carnival but a celebration, not the mystic “blood sacrifice” so often stressed, but a survivor’s account and insight in an incident that contributes to the human story and commitments that makes history. In another contribution from Liam Tannam, based at the GPO, not a story about the great James Connolly of the Irish Citizen Army, but a nameless Finn. He, and a Swede appeared at the GPO to join the fight.

“The Finn[ish] volunteer was no catholic. He had no English but before he left he was saying the rosary in Irish.”

This provoked a smile and thoughts of Lenin talking in defence of 1916 with references to no pure rebellions, and Mao’s reference to revolution not being a dinner party. The range of forces that were involved in the action, and those who opposed it from within, is clear in the contributions in the book quoting Bulmer Hobson, Irish Republican Brotherhood and general secretary of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin. Among “the rebels” the warmth and affection that Tom Clark, one of the signatories to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, engendered in many activists had not previously registered with my own preference for James Connolly.

We know the insurrection was not popularly acclaimed, jeered and booed by the Dublin mob at the time. The rebels were branded as criminals, traitors, fanatics, or, at best, dangerously misguided fools in the first drafts of history   Dublin 1916.  However, the suppression of the rebellion and executions, military occupation with twenty thousand troops in the Dublin city centre alone and nightly curfews that followed meant that the Rising’s legacy would transform Ireland forever. It was the opening shots of the protracted modern Irish revolutionary struggle .

In his more conventional historical narrative, the Rising [Oxford University Press 2010] McGarry points out that within the nationalist tradition, republicanism was moved central stage, and many revolutionary-minded activists could raise “the accusation that they had failed to live up to the ideals of the Proclamation “ so central had those events of Easter 1916 become to the identity and legitimacy of the extensive rebel tradition in Ireland. In their own words are the men and women who played a part in that writing of history.



1979: The Mao Defendants


In January 1979 Avakian was amongst 75 arrested at a demonstration against (old style: Teng Hsiao-Ping) Deng Xiaoping’s visit with Jimmy Carter at the White House and charged with assaulting a police officer. In the party’s narrative this demonstration of 500 people, called by the Revolutionary Communist Party, came at a crucial time when the U.S. ruling class was arrogantly and smugly parading Deng Xiaoping around as living proof that the Chinese revolution, in particular, and revolution in general was dead and a useless pursuit.

Upholding the revolutionary line of Mao Zedong, chanting “Mao Tsetung Did Not Fail – Revolution Will Prevail” the Washington demonstration was classed as an extremely significant and powerful event of worldwide and historic importance; “At a crucial juncture it not only exposed Teng Hsiao-ping as a revisionist-traitor and his enlistment of China on the side of the U.S. war bloc, the demonstration declared that revolution was very much alive and determined to overcome the reversal in China and everything else in its path.

RCP literature presented Avakian as the most dangerous man in America, that he was the best leader the U.S. working class has ever had, that the U.S. government intended to “railroad” Avakian and the other “Mao Tse-tung Defendants because the RCP was seen by the government as “the most dangerous revolutionary organization in this country.”

The RCP and Bob did not always get comradely support from others from the new Communism Movement. The Communist Party, USA (Marxist-Leninist) article, dismissingly headlined, “Bob Avakian, The Jerk is Loose” Bolshevik Revolution, No. 1, December 1979.

While the RCP’s “infantile leftism” was condemned in a polemical piece headlined,

A Reply to the RCP: “Mao Defenders” Sow Ideological Confusion and Provoke Reaction.

“The RCP’s arrogant, self-inflated view of itself as the maker of revolution contradicts reality as well as the Marxist-Leninist understanding of who it is that really makes revolution. Unite! Vol. 5, No. 17, October 1, 1979.

The relentless activism of the organization intensified in the year following the arrests: RCP cadre and supporters attacked the Chinese Embassy in Washington, disrupted a press conference with Deng Xiaoping and marched through the streets of Washington, San Francisco and Seattle in red blazers and berets waving the “little red book” and posters of Mao Tsetung and the Gang of Four. From coast to coast, in the build up to nationwide MayDay disruptions, the RCP’s strived for its name to be become synonymous with that of Mao Tsetung. In its campaign, “A Fitting Welcome for Teng”, its main slogan was “Uphold Mao and the Gang of Four”. Those arrested in the course of these demonstrations are known as the “Mao Defendants.”

Revolutionary Worker No.88 January 16th 1981

Major events

“We do not want to be convicted! That would be a crippling blow against our Party and against building a revolutionary movement in this country.”

The defense brought out the legal question of prosecutorial vindictiveness—a term referring to any action of a prosecutor in response to the assertion of a legal right by a defendant which can appear to be a reprisal against the defendant for asserting that right. The prosecution had originally indicted the Mao Defendants in two separate groups of nine and eight, with one group charged with eleven felonies and another with fifteen (this itself was an escalation from the original charges of one misdemeanor and one felony).

When the defendants asked for a joint trial and won—a move that clearly signaled the intent of the Party and the defendants to treat this as the political trial it was and to take every opportunity to expose the politics behind it—the prosecution responded by upping the charges against all 17 to 25 felonies, one misdemeanor and a possible 241 years of jail time.

The RCP newspaper, the Revolutionary Worker covered the speech by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA at the Free Bob Avakian and the Mao Tsetung Defendants rally held in Washington, D.C., on November 18. 1979. It was also published as a separate pamphlet, Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead. Bob said,

They saw a disciplined, militant, powerful march of 500 people going down the street in unison chanting and delivering a clear political message, and they saw twice that number of pigs surrounding the march. And all of them to a man and woman’ said, “Goddamm, something motherfucking heavy must be going on here. I’d better check it out!” [Revolutionary Worker No.57 May 30th 1980]

Only a few days before the rally the case against the <Mao Tsetung Defendants> was dismissed in a lower court and immediately appealed to a higher one. This was a real victory- the Government had been forced to back off.  poster

The party-initiated, Committee to Free the Mao Tsetung Defendants described the trumped up charges totalling up to a possible 241 years of jail time, and the government using legal means (with pending hearings in federal appeals court) against the Chairman and the 16 other Mao Defendants as part of a continuing plot and manoeuvre as the ruling class decides its next move.

Shortly after the dismissal, the prosecution appealed. And while the brief sat in the higher court, the ruling class went about the business of laying the basis to either get the Chairman in some other way or to bring back this particular attack on a more favorable basis for them. This began shortly later with a Secret Service investigation of Comrade AvaWan based on an L.A. Times article with a so-called quote proven—even later admitted—to have been false, concerning a. threat against Carter, continued through the 800 arrests of Party members and supporters in the course of building for revolutionary May Day 1980 and the murder of Damian Garcia just a week before it; and recently intensified both with a concentrated media campaign to brand the RCP as terrorists and with the arrest of 2 revolutionaries in Atlanta on the charge of advocating the overthrow of the government—carrying a 20-year jail term—with the main piece of evidence a poster publicizing the Revolutionary Worker with a quote from Comrade Avakian on it.

Revolutionary Worker No.77 October 24 1980

Damián García, who was closely associated with the RCP and who had raised a red flag on top of the Alamo a few weeks earlier as part of building for RCP-sponsored demonstrations on May Day 1980, was murdered in Los Angeles. Avakian told the Washington rally of the attacks that the party had withstood,

And even since the Greensboro incident, these attacks have continued to intensify, with firebombs being thrown into our offices, with bullets being shot into our offices, with direct threats being made to attack and destroy our Party headquarters in various parts of the country. And direct attacks have, for example, been made on one of the other Mao Tsetung Defendants not far from Greensboro in Durham, North Carolina.

Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead 1981

According to Avakian’s memoirs, within this same period there were growing reports of death threats against him from various quarters.

We know that they’re still carrying out COINTELPRO stuff”

The party was coming under intense scrutiny including a Secret Service “Investigation” of Bob Avakian.

Five hundred thirty-four pages of Secret Service documents concerning Bob Avakian and the RCP which were recently released through the Freedom of Information Act, makes clearer the top level government conspiracy to crush this revolutionary Party and wipe out its leadership.

Revolutionary Worker No. 46 March 21,1980

The majority of the materials released deal with the RCP and its activities in only the last two years, in particular since the January 29th demonstration in Washington, D.C. against Deng Xiaoping. This was said to be

merely the obvious tip of a giant, submerged iceberg of political surveillance, harassment and repression being carried out against the Revolutionary Communist Party, with special focus on its Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a coordinated nationwide massive effort by the U.S. Secret Service.

What did the material reveal? In part: clear indications of both informants and actual government agents infiltrating RCP activity and prosecution being actively considered against the RCP and its members on the charge of advocating the violent overthrow of the government. While fighting these charges, Avakian went on a national speaking tour in 1979 and while in Los Angeles, gave an interview to an L.A. Times reporter. In her article, the reporter attributed statements to Avakian that were distortions, which the Secret Service then used as a pretext for an investigation, the Secret Service’s ongoing attempt to frame Bob Avakian on the charge that he allegedly “threatened the life of the president.” After being threatened with a lawsuit, the L.A. Times printed a partial retraction. The Secret Service investigation was challenged in court, and nothing ever came of this investigation

campaign ad

“And I want to emphasize-politically-we’re going to be creating political turmoil and creating public opinion around this whole case and all the issues. Because this touches on all the fundamental issues of society and the world. It touches on the developments towards world war. It touches on the nature of the dictatorship in this country. It touches on the question of revolution. Many of the fundamental questions, political questions, of society and world affairs are going to be brought out in this trial.”

BA Interview with the Washington Post given in October 1979.

However, at the time of state attention and repression, after receiving an arrest warrant, Avakian “jumped bail” and fled to France. For years the only image was a picture of a bearded Avakian, wearing a flat cap, gazing solemnly at the camera, describing : “[t]he author in exile, in front of the Wall of Communards in Paris, 1981.”

And so he remains in exile, a man persecuted in his own land.untitled

Except he wasn’t. All charges against Bob Avakian were dropped in 1982, as he admits in his book, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian [2006].

In 1982, after a three-year court battle, 17 members, the “Mao Tse Tung defendants”, were acquitted of felony charges for allegedly violent activity at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.

But the chairman was still on the run, even if nobody is chasing him in self-imposed exile in France for nearly 40 years until his return to the US where “Chairman Bob” is revered by his small party in terms suggestive that he is the architect of a New World. They have established the Bob Avakian Institute to promote his words and analysis. The hyperbolic presentation of Avakian [e,g, http://revcom.us/a/423/six-resolutions-of-the-Central-Committee-of-the-RCP-USA-en.html ] maintains that there is an ongoing and ever present danger to the person of Chairman Bob and the organization he leads. The propaganda campaigns to ‘defend BA’ – as Avakian is affectionately referred too – has included a relentless poster and publicity campaign and media stunts such as back in 2007 when a group of people including well known personalities like Chuck D, Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and others 710YHPsNKOL__UX250_had signed an ad in the New York Review of Books urging everyone to “engage” with the thoughts of Bob Avakian, and calling for the government not to suppress his freedom of speech across a full page of The New York Review of Books: an advertisement featuring the boldface words, “Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian is such a voice.”

All this activism contrasts with where the RCP came from: during the New Communist Movement in the US they were the most significant movement outside of the Black Panthers when in the 1970s the RU/RCP-USA had a significant presence that was embedded in the working class throughout all of the US. The government considered them a threat from their foundation; the FBI eventually decided that they were the number one threat, worse than the Weather Underground: the declassified documents that illustrate how the FBI infiltrated and helped wreck the RCP-USA were explored in the book Heavy Radicals. Of course it is also worth pointing out that the RCP-USA’s degeneration into the cult of Avakian that it is today was not just the responsibility of counter-insurgency but, as Heavy Radicals makes this point, also of unhealthy internal practices. Avakian was one of four leaders of the original RU/RCP-USA and it is not until the final split, around the post-Mao leadership in China, that he ended up being the sole authority. It degenerated into a political sect that, based on the memory of its once importance, still imagines it represents communism itself. And because of its American exceptionalism imagines it is imposing Bob’s ideas (eg, the “new synthesis“) upon the entire international communist movement.

60. Foreign Language Press, v 2.0


Revolutionary Writings” by Seamus Costello, the INLA Chief of Staff assassinated October 1977 by the Official IRA, is one of the latest volume in the “Colorful Classics” Collection published under the stewardship of Chris Kistler. He issued a call in August 2016 For a New International MLM Media that resulted in the website Redspark.

It was argued that while all Maoists could not agree on the question on universality of PPW – protracted people’s war – there was a demarcation line, an agreement on the necessity of armed struggle. “The news and articles we would post would be those from MLM, MLMZT and ML movement waging or having the strategy to wage an armed struggle to grasp the power.”

Besides carrying reports and news of international struggles, it has built a good library of 970 online articles, documents or books and collection of films and documentaries from throughout the world.

While co-ordinating the operation of the website ( and editor of Nouvelle Turquie website) and other social media outlets like facebook, Kistler is acting as the public face for a major publishing project referred to initially as Redspark and now apparently called Foreign Language Press.

A former militant of the PCmF, he now resides and works in the Nederlands, and seems suitable qualified to be at the centre of a developing International MLM Media. Kistler works for National Democratic Front (NDF) chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison as a translator and active within the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). It was in this capacity, at the April 2018 meeting organised by the Seamus Costello Memorial Committee’s 1916 Commemoration in Bray, Christophe Kistler read a solidarity statement from the International League of Peoples Struggle written by Jose Maira Sison founding Chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines. There is no conflict in interests when Specific Characteristics of our People’s War by Jose Maria Sison was reprinted in May 2017 as part of the publishing project.

Costello, an Irish Republican Marxist Leninist, joins a pantheon of maoist revolutionaries and advocates of armed revolutionary action. The most readily available material by Costello has been in the pages of Starry Plough archives and scattered around the internet.

Many of the issued titles have been available on the internet but the book remains a powerful icon and portable study material. The range of material published after a year of publishing (or rather republishing) MLM books has seen  14 different titles printed  with around 1400 books distributed (from more than 1600 book printed) in close to 20 different countries.

This printing project being non-profit, will always welcome donations. https://www.youcaring.com/worldrevolution-866714   


Distribution has been via an informal contact network that maps out a particular correlation of global maoism. The collection “Colorful Classics” is distributed in the USA by Fourth Sword Publications, an initiative of Red Guards Austin.

FSP  Fourth Sword Publications is a small press publishing effort based on an interest in creating and distributing Maoist related literature. We exist to propagate and spread Maoism by making hard to find books available in print as well as publishing new Maoist books. We wish to make these books affordable to the working class. US orders only. Email fourthswordbooks@gmail.com.


Reflecting the political impulse behind the series, book launches with Kistler have the character of political public meetings as in London in October 2016, co-hosted by Revolutionary Praxis, when a talk about the situation of the most advanced revolutionary movements in the world and of the history of the MLM movement in Britain, was followed by a book launch of the 1st volume of the first edition of “Collected Works of Communist Party of Peru” (1968~1987) and new editions of three important documents : “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course” (CPI maoist), “Philosophical Trends in Feminist Movement” (Anuradha Ghandy) and “Minimanual of Urban Guerrilla” (Carlos Marighella).

The following week in Germany there was a book launch organized by Jugendwiderstand & Redspark in Berlin-Kreuzberg, talking about the needs of a revolutionary press publishing in the 21st century.

Latest news from April 2018 is the announcement of a Spring Thunder Tour supporting people’s war in India during which three publications will be made available: the 5th printing of the popular study text, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Urban Perspective (an explanation of the work in the urban areas of CPI (maoist) and Post-Modernism Today by Comrade Siraj.  Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/redspark.nu/

If you cannot buy direct, the most readily available place to obtain copies may be at the forthcoming London Radical Bookfair on Saturday 2nd of June. Revolutionary Praxis will have a stall. The fair will be held for the third year running at Goldsmiths University, South East London. https://londonradicalbookfair.wordpress.com/

colourful classics 6

59.One of the comrades: Rose Smith


JOHN GOLLAN, John Mahon and Bill Alexander arrived in Peking on their way to Hanoi on June 9. That evening nine British comrades who live and work in Peking (with the approval of the E.C.) went to their hotel to discuss the Party’s policy on Vietnam. (The nine comrades were: Rose Smith, Michael Shapiro, Elsie Cholmely, David Crook, Isabel Crook, Patricia Davies, Joshua Horn, Miriam Horn, Margaret Turner.)

The custom had grown up over the years that whenever British Party leaders came to Peking they arranged to meet the comrades working there. Not this time. In fact as they stepped out of the lift and saw us their faces were a study of surprise and discomfort and one of them gasped: “Good god!” Gollan did not even invite us into his room but headed off down the corridor away from us. We followed him and ourselves went for extra chairs. The meeting that followed lasted only 25 minutes, after which Gollan summarily ended it. Report from British Comrades in Peking, Vanguard Vol.2 No.5 Aug/Sept 1965

This account, recounts the communist militants then tackle the CPGB’s stress on the war’s horrors and the campaign for a negotiated settlement rather than militant support for the “the victorious fight of the Vietnamese people”.

“From the outset Gollan showed contempt for our questions-which were such as any Party member is entitled to ask. He told Rose Smith-a foundation member of the Party- that he was not going to discuss her questions seriously because they were “hostile” and she had criticised him… In fact it was Gollan who was hostile and arrogant. He neither sought our opinions as comrades, nor deigned to put his own case. He acted as a boss with underlings. We knew he was tired from travelling, but it was obviously not just tiredness that led him to announce that he would give us only 20 minutes. And when faced with a very awkward question he stood up and replied: “I’m not going to allow you to rob me of my sleep.” Then he began to undress. It was nine o’clock.”   https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/cpgb-peking.pdf

One of the comrades, Rose Smith deserves to be known as her life and struggles illustrates the interplay and importance of community, class and gender. In an article published during the Cultural Revolution, she observed,

“Born of the British working class, reared among miners and cotton textile workers, daily participating in the hardships and humiliations of their lives it was there that I had early learnt that the only way out for the working class is through proletarian revolution and the overthrow of capitalism.

In long-drawn out strikes, on picket lines, on hunger marches, and then fighting evictions I had seen the proletarian spirit of rebellion in action, daring to challenge capitalist authorities, openly defying the reactionary forces that stood in the way of progress. The struggle among the masses had been my life-blood.”

Peking Review No. 30 July 21, 1967

Israel Epstein recalls, in his memoirs “Rose Smith, an elderly but feisty journalist of pure working class origin and a founding member of the British Communist Party, worked in the official Xinhua (New China) News Agency, and for a time with us at China Reconstructs. In the arguments in the international movement she leaned towards China’s side. But rampant factionalism among Red Guards groups cut her to the heart. Whenever she could, she preached unity.

Enlisting Elsie (Israel’s wife), the two of them had once saved a man who was about to be kidnapped, “debated with”, and possibly beaten up by a rival group. Seeing him surrounded by assailants, the two tall women moved on either side of him, like protective walls, and marched to safety.”

My China Eye: Memoirs of a Jew and a Journalist .Long River Press 2005

 Graham Stevenson’s biographical account notes that “In 1960, Rose joined the staff of the official Chinese news agency in Beijing, where she remained until her death at the age of 94 years on 23rd July 1985.”

Read more on the life of the CPGB’s National Women’s Officer, union organizer, prominent member of the National Minority Movement, leader of the Women’s Hunger March, and elected to the CPGB’s Central Committee, a journalist with the Daily Worker and in the Chinese propaganda media.

Rose Smith, is naturally the subject of an academic thesis by Gisela Chan Man Fong, (1998) The times and life of Rose Smith in Britain and China, 1891-1985: an interplay between community, class and gender. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

She is also the subject of a chapter in John McIlroy, Kevin Morgan and Alan Campbell (eds), Party People, Communist Lives: Explorations in Biography. Lawrence & Wishart 2001

And has an entry on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Rosina Smith (10 May 1891 – 23 July 1985) was a British communist activist, educator and union organizer.

58. G l o b a l M a o i s m

Mao Zedong thought illuminates the whole world red with its boundless radiance With 19 separate national sections providing information on and primary documents from anti-revisionist movements, organisations and parties, the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line is the first web stop for any historical investigation of global maoism. EROL maintains this history that had faded into obscurity. In providing the source material from the movement it provide documents so that those studying them can draw their own conclusions on that period.

Other useful sites to explore include the MLM library provided by Redspark website that provides a developing collection of documents and author specific writings from the maoist perspective.

For many varied reasons (explored here) there was for self-identifying Maoists a distinct lack of an international experience similar to the structure and authority of the Comintern. Following the death of Mao Zedong however the identity of Maoism outside China splintered under ideological offensives launched from Albania and by organisations quickly critical of developments within China that principally grouped in RIM.

There were concerted efforts to unite global maoism into embryonic international associations like the (now defunct) Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and the broader International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) both in its pro-Hoxha and maoist variants http://www.icor.info/about-icor .

There is an online posting of a collection of materials by and about the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM], including their official documents, statements by the Committee of RIM [CoRIM], and issues and articles from their unofficial and now defunct magazine A World to Win.

These sites are purposeful, in the words of a committed blogger:

“it is important to examine the strengths and limitations of revolutionary organizations that were once significant so as to avoid repeating past errors.  Often we tend to repeat the past’s mistakes, even when we think we are forging a new path, and there is sometimes little to know historical memory over an experience that can and should teach us something about how to organize as communists now.”

Learning From Documents of Past Struggle (continued) May 31, 2013

Contemporary Maoist organisations across the globe engage in the slow process of rebuilding an internationalist constellation on a shared understanding. In the aftermath of the demise of RIM, there were interventions on the need for a regrouping of international co-thinkers. Here is a selection of documents on the debate  in the international communist movement at that period that provides the broad outline of the arguments of the varying self-declared competing Maoist trends.

The interest in Maoism outside of China and beyond the Global South has also attracted an academic interest and growing body of literature. Some of the more accessible commentary on various aspects of global maoism include:

 Alexander Cook, ed. (2014) Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History  Cambridge University Press

 Global Maoism and Cultural Revolution in the Global Context. Comparative Literature Studies Vol. 52, No. 1, Special Issue: (2015) Penn State University Press


Cagdas Ungor    REACHING THE DISTANT COMRADE: Chinese communist propaganda abroad (1949-1976). Binghamton University (State University of New York) 2009

 Zachary A. Scarlett   CHINA AFTER THE SINO-SOVIET SPLIT: Maoist Politics, narratives and the imagination of the world. Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) March, 2013

Matt Galway   BOUNDLESS REVOLUTION: Global Maoism and communist movements in South East Asia, 1949-1979. University of British Columbia (Vancouver) July 2017

Journal Articles

Matt Galway

Global Maoism and the Politics of Localization in Peru and Tanzania. Left History Vol 17, No 2 (2013)


Dr. Matthew Galway  A SHINING BEACON: Global Maoism and Communist movements in PERU and CAMBODIA, 1965-1992


Julia Lovell  The Cultural Revolution and Its Legacies in International Perspective  . The China Quarterly, Volume 227 September 2016, pp. 632-652


Dr Julia Lovell     The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-Era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and International Image-Building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 25 (2015): 135-158. Downloaded from: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/13758/

Dr Julia Lovell. Global Maoism  Podcasts / produced by Simon Brown, 29th March 2017

Dr Julia Lovell of Birckbeck, University of London, discusses the role and significance of Global Maoism in the development of the Cold War

Arif Dirlik (2014) Mao Zedong Thought and the Third World/Global South, Interventions, International Journal of Postcolonial Studies Vol 16 No. 2, 233-256. DOI: 10.1080/1369801X.2013.798124

Quinn Slobodian (2018) The meanings of Western Maoism in the global 1960s The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties Chapter 5

Dr Evan Smith (2018) Peking Review and global anti-imperialist networks in the 1960s.


Kevin Pinkoski  Maoism in South America: Comparing Peru’s Sendero Luminoso with Mexico’s PRP and PPUA


Matthew Rothwell   (2013)   Transpacific Revolutionaries: The Chinese Revolution in Latin America. Routledge

Matthew Rothwell   Secret Agent for International Maoism: José Venturelli, Chinese Informal Diplomacy and Latin American Maoism


Matthew Rothwell  
The Chinese Revolution and Latin America: The Impact of Global Communist Networks on Latin American Social Movements and Guerrilla Groups  http://worldhistoryconnected.press.uillinois.edu/7.3/rothwell.html

Dr Alpa Shah • Judith Pettigrew     Windows into a revolution: ethnographies of Maoism in South Asia. Dialect Anthropol (2009) 33:225–251. DOI 10.1007/s10624-009-9142-5

Nielsen, Ryan D., “Maoism in South Asia: A Comparative Perspective On Ideology, Practice, and Prospects for the 21st Century” (2012). Honors Projects. Paper 12. http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/intstu_honproj/12

Ahmed, Ishtiaq. (2010) “The Rise and Fall of the Left and the Maoist Movements in Pakistan.” India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs 66.3: 251-265.

Hirslund, D. V. (2017). Urbanising Maoism: Reconceptualising the transformation of revolutionary movements. Paper at SASNET Seminar, University of Lund, Sweden.

Miguel Cardina (2016) Territorializing Maoism: Dictatorship, War, and Anticolonialism in the Portuguese “Long Sixties”. Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 11.2, Fall 1, 2016.   DOI: 10.1177/0022009415580143

Sebastian Gehrig (2011) (Re-)Configuring Mao: Trajectories of a Culturo-Political Trend in West Germany . Transcultural Studies, No 2 (2011) http://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/9072/3106

Jason E. Smith (2013) From Établissement to Lip: On the Turns Taken by French Maoism   https://www.viewpointmag.com/2013/09/25/from-etablissement-to-lip-on-the-turns-taken-by-french-maoism/

Dhruv Jain (2017) Theorists and Thieves. Monthly Review https://monthlyreview.org/archives/2017/volume-69-issue-04-september/

 Alexei Volynets (2013) Towards the History of Maoist Dissidence in the Soviet Union https://afoniya.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/towards-the-history-of-maoist-dissidence-in-the-soviet-union-an-article-by-alexei-volynets-part-1/

maoists unite

Lived in London: Uncle Joe

young stalin

There are tales that you want to be true.

The Crown Tavern on Clerkenwell Green, Farringdon, is reputedly where Stalin and Lenin first met in 1905. Lenin worked in Clerkenwell as editor of the revolutionary paper Iskra (The Spark) from 1902 until 1903. The office was at 37a Clerkenwell Green now the Marx Memorial Library. Stalin, having met Lenin at a 1905 conference in Finland, visited him that year in London, and local legend has it that they used to talk together in the Crown and Anchor pub (now the Crown Tavern) on Clerkenwell Green.

“Alas, this is a myth” according to Dr Sarah Young .” Stalin most definitely wasnot at the 1905 congress. Even the sycophantic Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute biography of Stalin, which tries its best to affiliate Stalin to Lenin’s victories and decisions from the earliest possible stage, doesn’t manage to place him at the scene, and states that the two men first met at the Bolshevik congress in Finland in December 1905-January 1906”.[i]

However, Stalin was in London in the April/May of 1907 attending the Fifth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic and Labour Party, along with the likes of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg. Stalin’s account of the Congress can be found in his Notes of a Delgate that are full of the factional polemics and debates , that according to Stalin’s report “ended in the victory of “Bolshevism,” in the victory of revolutionary Social-Democracy over the opportunist wing of our Party, over “Menshevism.” [ii] Of London, there is an absence of detail or impressions made upon the young revolutionary.

According to most accounts, Stalin lodged at Tower House, Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel one of six hostels built to provide cheap and clean accommodation for people who flocked to London looking for work.

Stalin paid sixpence a night for his  stay at Tower House — described by the author Jack London as a “monster doss house” in People of the Abyss. Tower House is still standing in Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, now a smart refurbished block advertising loft-style apartments.

Robert Service got it wrong when he describes “a certain Ivanovich took up lodgings at 77 Jubilee Road. “[iii]. There is no such place in the East End; he means Jubilee Street that runs between Whitechapel Road and the Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets. Service says the landlords spoke Russian.

On arrival in London, Stalin and the others registered at the Polish Socialist Club on Fulbourne Street off the Whitechapel Road across from the London Hospital. Observed by Special Branch detectives and excited journalists, they received their sparse allowance of two shillings a day, guidance on how to find the main Congress, and secret passwords to avoid Okhrana infiltration. The venue for the 1907 RSDLP congress was the Brotherhood Church at the corner of Southgate Road and Balmes Road, Hackney. There was also supposedly a Bolshevik caucus held at the socialist club in Fulbourne Street, off Whitechapel Road on 10 May.

Three hundred and thirty six delegates took part between April 30 and May 19 1907. Stalin did not speak during the entire Congress. He knew that the Mensheviks, who hated him for his truculence and banditry, were gunning for him as part of their campaign to ban bank robberies and score points off Lenin. When Lenin proposed the vote on credentials, Martov, the Russian Menshevik leader, prompted by Jordania, challenged Stalin, Tskhakaya and Shaumian.

There is a rich in detail and colourful account of his stay in London in chapter two of The Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore which traces Stalin’s journey, disembarking at Harwich, and “Legend says he spent the first nights with Litvinov, whom he now met for the first time, in the Tower House hostel on Fieldgate Street, Stepney, … Its conditions were so dire that Stalin supposedly led a mutiny and got everyone rehoused. He was settled into a cramped first – floor backroom at 77 Jubilee Street in Stepney, which he rented from a Jewish – Russian cobbler”  shared with Mikhail Tskhakaya and Stepan Shaumian. The house on Jubilee Street no longer exists.

Service draws upon recollections of Arthur Bacon, to The Daily Express in January 1950, as a Stepney working-class boy had met “Mr Ivanovich” in 1907. Young Bacon earned pocket money by running errands for the congress delegates. The revolutionaries needed messages to be discreetly carried from house to house before going up to Hackney. For each job he received a halfpenny. But Mr Ivanovich gave him half a crown. Young Arthur responded by taking him toffees. He remembered to the end of his days the bushy moustache, the knee-length boots and the friendly attitude.

Bill Fishman, perhaps the best expert on these events in London, would tell the story of how Stalin chatted up a young Irish woman on an evening walk by the Thames. The young woman’s male companions took exception to the foreigner’s advances and set upon Stalin with fists and sticks. [iv]

Simon Sebag Montefiore recalls, “Litvinov supposedly rescued him. According to his daughter, Litvinov joked that this was the only reason Stalin later spared him, saying, “I haven’t forgotten that time in London.”

Stalin probably saw little of London outside of the East end. When the Congress ended, Stalin and Shaumian remained in London to nurse Mikhail Tskhakaya, who had fallen sick. “I had a temperature of 39 or even more,” recounts Tskhakaya, so Stalin and Shaumian stayed on “to care for me because we all lived in one room.”

There are tales that you want to be true.

There is a legend among Welsh Communists that, after the Congress, Stalin forsook his nursing duties to visit the miners of the Valleys: after all, his 1905 stronghold, Chiatura, was a mining town. But despite a miraculous blossoming of sightings of “Stalin in Wales” among the Communists of the Rhondda during the Second World War, there is not the slightest evidence that he visited Wales. Besides, he had not yet invented the name “Stalin.” But he was also supposedly spotted on the docks of Liverpool, a Scouse version of his encounter with the London dockers. Simon Sebag Montefiore writes: Sadly, “Stalin in Liverpool” belongs with “Stalin in Wales” in that fabulous realm of urban mythology, regional aspirational fantasia and leftist personality cult.”

After about three weeks in London, Stalin spent a week in Paris before returning to Imperial Russia. Today Stalin’s face returns courtesy of the CPGB (ML) in the May Day Parade in London streets.

stalin banner

[i] http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

[ii] https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1907/06/20_2.htm

[iii] https://www.standard.co.uk/home/stalins-east-end-7382559.html

[iv] https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/was-revolution-planned-london


56. Lived in London : Uncle Ho

Born Nguyen Sinh Cung [1890-1969], HoChi Minhlater he was known as Nguyen-Ai-Quoc, and before, as a young man in Paris, embracing a radical internationalism[i], Nguyen stayed in south east England, taking on jobs as a waiter, baker, and pastry chef. Prior to arriving in England, Nguyen had arrived from Vietnam firstly in France in 1911, before traveling on to New York and Boston in 1912.

He moved to Paris France in 1919  where political awakening saw Nguyen-Ai-Quoc (the later known as Ho Chi Minh) speaking at the foundational congress of the French Communist Party in December 1920.


Before he served his revolutionary apprenticeship in France, Ho arrived in London in 1913, living in West Ealing and Crouch End, though the addresses are unknown, and spent several years there before moving on to Paris, Russia and China, before returning to French occupied Vietnam.

Little is known about Ho Chi Minh’s time in England, according to Quynh Le from the BBC’s Vietnamese Service [ii] ,”His time in Great Britain is among the least documented of his life. We don’t know exactly when he worked at the pub, or how long he was there,” said Quynh Le, adding “He wasn’t very political at that time.”

An official ten-volume chronology notes only that President Ho shovelled furnace coal when he first arrived in London. After a two-week illness, around February 1914, he took work at the Drayton Court Hotel on The Avenue in West Ealing .Nguyen worked in its kitchens, as a cleaner and dishwasher.[iii] The hotel was and still is a pub owned by Fuller’s.

He then went on to work at the Carlton Hotel at the Corner of Haymarket and Pall Mall, (later destroyed during the 1940 bombings and its replacement is New Zealand House, a modern office building) which has a plaque commemorating his time there placed by the Britain Vietnam Association.  It is suggested that he was “probably working as a pastry chef”[iv]

So it was entirely conceivable that Ho Chi Minh  did work as a pastry chef on the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry in the year following the First World War [v]. Indeed, a statue of communist leader Ho Chi Minh has been given to a Sussex town when the Vietnam Ambassador to the UK, Vu Quang Minh, unveiled a bronze statue at the town’s museum in May 2013.[vi] There is scant supporting evidence to support this but Newhaven council is using its link with Ho Chi Minh as part of its tourism drive.

It was during the six years that he spent in France (1917–23), he became politically active under the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (“Nguyen the Patriot”), and started his revolutionary course that saw his name chanted throughout the world, as anti-war protestors gave voice to Ho Chi Minh.

And in his own words, why he embarked upon that political journey, an article from Ho Chi Minh, Selected Writings 1920-1969, Foreign Language Publishing House , Hanoi 1977 : THE PATH WHICH LED ME TO LENINISM.

[i] Ian Birchall, The Young Ho Chi Minh.


[ii] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3725891.stm  May 18th 2004

[iii] Retracing the steps of Ho Chi Minh October 11th 2005 http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/shared/conhist07.htm?site=2

[iv] Ditto.

[v] Tom Batchelor Ho Chi Minh in Newhaven April 5th 2015 The Independent Online

[vi] Ho Chi Minh ‘friendship’ statue unveiled in Newhaven. May 19th 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-22587514



55. The British Upper classes & the Nazis

newspaperIn 2015 what surfaced was a black and white film obtained by The Sun tabloid: the seven-year-old future Queen and her mother are seen raising their rights arms to perform the Heil Hitler salute. The 17-second clip ends with the Queen’s mother and her Uncle Edward saluting.

“I don’t think any criticism of a seven-year-old child would be remotely appropriate and I don’t intend to make any” said Board of Deputies of British Jews President Jonathan Arkush condemning criticism of the Queen after a film of her giving a Nazi salute was revealed.[i]

Indeed the child and her younger sister Margaret did not know the symbolism of what they were doing, although it raises questions about what kind of dysfunctional family would teach the Hitler salute to children. Obviously it was Edward – known within the family as David – who had urged his sister-in-law and ignorant nieces in fascist horseplay.

Jonathan Arkush voiced a common response: “It’s really important for us not to judge this event with hindsight. Obviously the Nazi salute now carries horrible memories and bitterness for us, but I do not think for one moment that it would be appropriate for me to suggest that the full horror of Nazi Germany was known at that point.”

There is a much more sinister undertone to the story. There is a vast news cuttings collection, TV documentaries and scholarly studies that point to the affinity and unsavory historical connections between the British upper classes and Nazi Germany. However it is easier to avoid “the challenging past” if speculation replaces disclosure, after all rumors, never proved definitively the narrative and the Royal Archives have always ensured that letters from German relatives of the royal family in the run up to World War II remain closed.

No members of the current Royal Family have Nazi sympathies. Occasional lack of Prince Harry Nazi-Costumejudgement or ‘bad taste’ is shown: the racism passed off as Prince Philip’s gaffe, “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” (to British students in China, during the 1986 state visit).[ii] Or the 20-year-old Prince Harry after the publication of a photograph showing him wearing Nazi insignia at a private party. It runs in the family: Edward, then the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor, his racism on a visit to Australia in 1920. He wrote of Indigenous Australians: “they are the most revolting form of living creatures I’ve ever seen!! They are the lowest known form of human beings & are the nearest thing to monkeys.” [iii]

The Duke of Windsor’s dalliances with the Nazis, detailed in cables, telegrams and other documents, has been examined over the years by historians and journalists. With the former King Edward VIII the smoking gun seems more evident as he is widely thought to be Nazi sympathizer. Although there is a common defence along the lines that whether the reports on the Duke of Windsor accurately reflected his thinking at the time or whether they were merely inaccurate cocktail party gossip is impossible to tell from the diplomatic reports.

The weight of evidence from others tips the scales unfavorably:

British diplomat Sir Robert Gilbert Vansittart wrote in his diaries that in the early 1930s the Prince of Wales, expressed his full support to Hitler’s dictatorship, turning a blind eye to the persecution of Jews.

His pro-German feelings frequently found expression in indiscreet remarks that were not only insensitive to the brutalities of the Nazi regime but critical of “slip-shod democracy.” In July 1933, he told former Kaiser Wilhelm II’s grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand, that it was “no business of ours to interfere in Germany’s internal affairs either re Jews or re anything else.” “Dictators are very popular these days,” Edward had added. “We might want one in England before long.”[iv]


 Duke of Windsor    Section 2

 Nazi in the family  Section 3

British enthusiasts for Nazi Germany  Section 4

 Cultural exchange  Section 5

 Readings  Section 6


[i] Questions prompted by royal Nazi salutes. https://www.bod.org.uk/questions-prompted-by-nazi-salutes-of-royals/

[ii] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/04/48-prince-philips-greatest-gaffes-funny-moments/

[iii] Godfrey, Rupert, ed. (1998), “11 July 1920”, Letters From a Prince: Edward to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward 1918–1921, Little, Brown & Co.

[iv] Fact-checking ‘The Crown’: Did the Duke of Windsor plot with Hitler to betray Britain? by Michael S. Rosenwald December 30th 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/12/30/fact-checking-the-crown-did-the-duke-of-windsor-plot-with-hitler-to-betray-britain/?utm_term=.127e79ece0cd

54. Juche : a philosophical upgrade?

korean dymastyKim Jong Il’s birthday is one of the biggest national holidays in the DPRK and designated on February 16, 2012 , it is called the “Day of the Shining Star” . It was the literary output attributed to him that did more than anything else to popularise the concept of the Juche idea authored by his father. Under Kim Jong Il it was given a greater international dimension emphasising its originality in its philosophical gaze.

echo 1 echo 2

Kim Hun Hyok (ed) 2014 (Juche 103) Echoes Down the Centuries. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House pp 7-8

Mao and Kim 1 Mao and Kim 2 Mao and Kim3.jpg

Chairman Mao Zedong  and North Korean leader Kim Il-sung share a warm handshake at Mao’s home in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai garden on April 18, 1975.

In a book review[1] of Echoes Down the Centuries, Dermot Hudson, leading member of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), repeats the inference that Mao told the Korean communist leader that he hoped that Kim Il Sung would lead the international communist movement and world revolution after he passed away.

Whether the story is genuine or not is immaterial as it illustrates a truth that is part of the mythology that Korean authorities want to portray: the idea of continuity and rupture in the development of the Juche idea was convey most starkly in the writings attributed to Kim Jong Il as he codified the ideas of his father.

In 1980s Britain, the chances are good that it was a newspaper advert that was the first introduction to Kim Il Sung. A paid article in smaller newsprint type would be the text of his speech on the importance of Korean independence. It was the ideological and theoretical exploits of Kim Jong Il, his son and successor, who took that central emphasis on independence and applied it to wider spheres such as philosophy to build a universalist ideological edifice around the Juche idea. It was Kim Jong Il and his successor, and son, Kim Jong Un, in their speeches advanced the idea of a “Golden Age of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist” in the systemization of Juche idea. The evolution of the idea has seen it emerged, in the wake of the collapse of Soviet-style “existing socialism” promoted as “an original idea and perfect revolutionary theory of communism the great leader created reflecting the requirements of the new era of history, the era of independence.”

Now people in many countries of the world are envious of our form of socialism, calling it a “model of socialism” and a “unique socialism”. Reality graphically proves that the Juche idea on which our socialism is based is the greatest ideology.[2]  


Despite the propaganda, Juche does not travel well outside the state sponsorship of North Korea. Adherents are few in number and the many friendship associations that populate cyberspace today are maintained by a handful recycling the circular arguments and mutual support that sustains the foundation of the international allegiance.

The crusade to promote the DPRK as a model goes against the self-professed tenants of the Juche idea that was rooted in the Korean experience. Despite the number of leftist organisations that signed the 1992 Pyongyang Declaration, officially titled Let Us Defend and Advance the Cause of Socialism, support for the country (not necessarily the regime) is on terms of its defence against continuing US hostility towards the regime. On the tenth anniversary of the Declaration on April 20, 2002, the Korean Central News Agency announced that it had been endorsed by 258 parties .Ideological identification with the ideas of the ruling WPK is rare on the political left – in Britain a single organization (with as many members) declares itself for Juche, while others fringe communists express solidarity with the DPRK. From that same mielu comes, understandably, accusations of revisionism – after all, dynastic succession is an ill-fit with an ideology that has a classless society as its end goal.

[1] https://friendsofkorea.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/echoes-down-centuries.html

[2] Kim Il Jong On Some Problems of the Ideological Foundation of Socialism Juche 79 (1990)

dpkp logo

There was a struggle to convince the ranks of the WPK of the interpretation that was being promoted. He alluded to opposition to his father’s ideas “anti-Party, counterrevolutionary factionalists, steeped in worship of big powers and dogmatism, would slander them, measuring them against the theories and propositions advanced by the authors of Marxism-Leninism.” [1]

On numerous occasions Kim Jong IL, in talks to senior officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea had to lay down instructions and argued that the Juche idea, “our Party’s outlook on the world”, is the guiding idea of our times which illuminates the absolutely correct way of achieving independence for the popular masses.[2]

[1] Kim Jong Il, On Correctly Analysing and Reviewing the History of the Preceding Revolutionary Ideology of the Working Class. Juche 55 (1966)

[2] e.g. , On Having A Correct Viewpoint and Understanding of the Juche Philosophy Juche 79 (1990)

It was in 1966 that Kim Jong Il directed that analysing and reviewing the revolutionary ideology of the preceding working class was necessary for overcoming flunkeyism and dogmatism in Marxism-Leninism and establishing Juche in the field of ideology and theory.[1]

It was a constant repeated theme, that underlined the Korean approach of analysing, and valuing, the feats and limitations of Marxism-Leninism from the standpoint of Juche, so as “to give our Party members and other working people a correct understanding of the originality and superiority of the socialist ideology and theory of our Party.”[2]

Kim Jong Il, in talks to Social Scientists in the summer of 1966, had launched a “comprehensive analysis and review of Marxism-Leninism”. The context of “Leftist” and Rightist opportunism emergent in the international communist movement, and what was rightly being challenged the sycophantic and dogmatic approaches towards Marxism-Leninism as “its proponents are interpreting Marxism-Leninism in their favour”. Instead, there was an ideological offensive that the “great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary Ideology–his ideas, theories and policies –should be our sole yardstick for analyzing and assessing the preceding theories.”

It was argued that some cadres and intellectuals have not yet relinquished the habit of interpreting the leader’s revolutionary ideas within the framework of Marxism-Leninism, under the misapprehension that the latter contains solutions to all the problems arising in the revolution and construction. What was identified was a very practical mistaken stance that was described as “exerted a considerable negative influence” that tried to define Korean developing reality according to set formulae and propositions that did not conform to the actual conditions in the DPRK.

[1]Kim Jong Il, On Correctly Analysing and Reviewing the History of the Preceding Revolutionary Ideology of the Working Class. Juche 55 (1966)

[2] Kim Jong Il, Socialism Is The Life of Our People Juche 81 (1992)


The aim was clearly stated:

“a comprehensive examination, analysis and review of the 100-year-long history of the working-class ideology, Marxism-Leninism. To analyse and review the preceding revolutionary ideology of the working class is a prerequisite for eliminating sycophantic and dogmatic approaches towards Marxism-Leninism and establishing the Juche orientation in the field of ideology and theory.”

Kim Jong Il advised, having identified “more than 30 of their works” [Marx, Engels and Lenin], “relinquish the old habit of worshiping the classics of Marxism-Leninism blindly. You should study each and every phrase of the works and, in the context of their settings and purposes, analyze their historical significance and limitations. You should also assess whether the individual propositions contained in the works suit our present situation or not.”

The prescribed framework for an assessment of the historical limitation set out a number of observation offered by Kim Jong Il that underplays any universalist element, and in highlighting these limitations, historical, ideological and theoretical, of Marxism-Leninism doctrine, Kim Jong Il was underlining the view that this historical legacy was less relevant than those ideas promoted as Korea’s own, the Juche of Kim Il Sung. Arguments for the alternative abandons basic Marxist methodology, historical materialism, political economy, and essentially argues “times have changed” before going on to prescribing idealist assertions devoid of explanation and reasoning.

  • This doctrine [Marxism-Leninism] does not provide solutions to the theoretical and practical problems in the revolution and construction in former colonies and semi-colonies which make up the overwhelming majority of the nations on earth.
  • They could not anticipate the theoretical and practical problems that would arise in setting up socialist system and then building socialism and communism after the seizure of power by the working class, nor could they give specific solutions to these problems.
  • The works they wrote contain elements of the preceding bourgeois theories, those of Hegel’s philosophy in particular, and there are more elements of them in their earlier publications.
  • It is impossible to find solutions to the theoretical and practical problems of the present times in Marxism, which emerged as a result of a theoretical analysis of pre-monopoly capitalism on the social foundations of a few developed capitalist nations in Western Europe. And among the revolutionary theories advanced by Marx and Engels, several lost their viability after the shift from capitalism to imperialism.
  • You should not refer to Marxism for theories concerning the building of socialism and communism in our era. Because they had no experience in building socialism and communism, the authors of the doctrine could not give solutions to the pertinent problems, and their theories with regard to the building of socialism and communism are highly superficial and simplistic and lie within the confines of speculation.
  • Leninism, as a variant of Marxism, defending the revolutionary essence of Marxism against a diverse range of opportunistic distortions and assaults and developing its fundamental principles in line with the specific conditions in the Russian revolution and the changed circumstances of the times.
  • Lenin, could not anticipate the legion of problems that have been raised in the present times and, accordingly, no answers to these problem s are given in his theories and works.
  • You need to know that the Leninist theory on the socialist revolution, to all intents and purposes, presented a strategy and tactics that reflected the reality of contemporary Russia.
  • Lenin provided answers to some of the theoretical and practical problems raised in the early days of socialist construction, but died shortly after the revolution. So he could not provide specific solutions to the theoretical and practical problems arising in the building of socialism and communism as he lacked practical experience of it.
  • Leninism is, above all else, formulated, based on the same world outlook as Marxism, and the two doctrines are similar in composition. This defines the scope of the originality of Leninism. All in all, Lenin was a staunch champion of and faithful successor to Marxism. But his achievements in the creative development of Marxism pale into insignificance compared to those in championing and inheriting it.


Kim Il Jong On Some Problems of the Ideological Foundation of Socialism Juche 79 (1990)

In a Speech Delivered to the Senior Officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on May 30, 1990, Kim Jong Il explained

As we have the Juche idea, we have solved with credit the problem of consolidating the ideological foundation of socialism. If we had not the Juche idea or had we blindly followed others, we would not have been able to build our unique form of socialism which is the most advantageous in the world.

The essential point driven home in the elevation of Juche idea within the WPK was that it was not be viewed as a simple inheritance and development of Marxism-Leninism; it must be viewed as a new and original idea. This ideological rupture and upgrading intensified with the collapse of Soviet-style “existing socialism” at the beginning of the 1990s.

juche poster

“Socialism devoid of ideological foundation and perfect guiding ideology cannot be called genuine socialism and it might be frustrated, unable to check the anti-socialist schemes of the imperialists and reactionaries. This is shown graphically by the lesson of those countries where socialism was frustrated and capitalism has been restored. Our socialism is advancing victoriously unperturbed amidst the continuing vicious moves of the imperialists and reactionaries just because it is based on the Juche idea and guided by this idea.”


Any respect given to the historical achievements of the dialectical materialism of Marxism, as it smashed the reactionary idealistic and metaphysical outlook on the world, in this view is due to the role it played in facilitating the development of Kim Il Sung’s Juche idea as the ideological foundation of socialism.

“We must recognize the exploits Marx, Engels and Lenin performed for mankind and respect them. Thanks to the creation of Marxism-Leninism, the socialist theory developed from fantasy to science; the working class was able to have a guiding ideology for the first time in history and they could struggle vigorously against capital and for class emancipation, national liberation and socialism. Respecting the authors of the theories is an obligation on us in view of the principle of the juniors of the revolution respecting their seniors.”[1] Kim Jong Il, Socialism Is The Life of Our People Juche 81 (1992)

The claim is that the Juche idea must not be viewed as a simple inheritance and development of Marxism-Leninism; it must be viewed as a new and original idea. That we should see originality in context with derivations in understanding means that the Juche idea is not an ideology, which contrasts with Marxism-Leninism:

In the seminar work, On Having A Correct Viewpoint and Understanding of the Juche Philosophy (1990), Kim Jong Il’s talk to the Senior Officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea chided the WPK for an error “we must correct the tendency to explain the superiority and originality of the Juche idea from the point of view of Marxist dialectical materialism”.

Explaining Marx’s philosophy as a critical inheritance, the contribution of Marxism-Leninism that had shaped the initial philosophical stance of the WPK was characterised as a stepping stone to later insights.

Marx directed his main efforts to critically examining the existing philosophical theories so as to free the working class, which was making a fresh appearance on the historical stage, from the outdated and reactionary outlook on the world. By discarding what was unscientific and reactionary in the preceding materialism and dialectics and by inheriting and developing a reasonable core, Marx created dialectical materialism.

A crude orthodoxy, long since challenged in theory and practice, is set up by the Korean authorities to contrast with the Juche idea. Thus the description that Marxism considered the development of society to be the history of replacement of the mode of production taking place by the law of adaptation of the relations of production to the character of the productive forces. According to this opinion, one can understand that revolution is carried out in the main when a socialist mode of production has been established and therefore it is concluded that there remains only work to consolidate and develop the socialist mode of production. Asif nothing has occurred to challenge this schematic view.

It is argued that the revolutionary idea created by the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung is an integrated system of idea, theory and method of Juche. It is said to be a completely original idea that can be called upon only in association with the august name of the leader. The Juche idea created by the great leader is an original philosophical ideology in that it presented, to start with, a new fundamental question of philosophy and systematized its structural system and content.

The improvement is said to lie in the emphasis that “the essential attributes of man, a social being, are not products of evolution; they have been formed and developed socially and historically.” Kim Jong Il was critical of those who still attempting to consider man’s essential characteristics with the evolutionary methodology arguing, simplistically and not without contention from others, that Man is the only social being in the world, therefore, we cannot compare him with animals. The idea is further refined: “Man is a social being. This implies that he is a being who lives in a social relationship. This term is used to distinguish man from natural being. As man is a social being, he has independence, creativity and consciousness, attributes which are peculiar to him and which other material beings cannot have.”

Again stressing the questionable “originality of the Juche philosophy” not as a derivative but a rupture as “present bourgeois thinkers, revisionists and reformists are infusing people with spontaneity and the matter-first doctrine, considering all things and phenomena from the biological and evolutionary point of view and the vulgar materialistic viewpoint. In explaining and propagating the Juche philosophy, we ought to direct the spearhead of criticism to such a biological and vulgar materialistic outlook on the world.”

When Kim Jong IL and others argues that “Socialist construction shows in practice that the advantages of socialism cannot be given full play and the masses’ and the cause for independence cannot be accomplished unless revolution is carried on in the field of ideology and culture after the establishment of the socialist system.” It could be demonstrated that this was hardly an original insight of a new philosophy, when a principle evident in Soviet life in the 1920s and 1930s.

The bland assertion, oft repeated in the literature of supporters, again without supporting evidence and argumentation, (and excuse the gender bias) is that “The basic advantage of our form of socialism is that it is a man-centred society, a society which considers everything with man at the centre and makes everything serve him. This advantage is defined by the Juche idea, a man-centred idea.” From this arises the claim that by elucidating the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything, the Juche idea gave the most correct answer to the question of man’s position and role in the world.

Far from giving a scientific solution to the question of continuous revolution in the socialist society, the Juche idea repeats the exhortations of selfishness and self-sacrifice that many voluntarists’ campaigns have employed. Establishing the threshold that “the masses are completely freed not only from socio-political subjugation but also from the fetters of nature and outdated ideology and culture” resembles a utopian science fiction scenario rather than reflective of society’s future development.

Facing the vestiges of the old society with its class structure, gender inequalities, racist oppression and sexual divisions, the prescription for freeing people from the fetters of nature and outmoded ideas and culture, as practiced in the DPRK, is far from transparent and dependent upon circular argumentation that has evolved to justify a move away from a materialist and dialectical understanding to a more idealist, nationalist and mystic exhortation to focus on the leader. DSC_0321


This emphasis on the value of an individual’s contribution, that is Kim Il Sung’s, should not be confused with other currents such as ‘Guiding Thought.’ Although equally focused on an individual leader, this marginal trend tries to maintain a fidelity to marxist science rather that replace it. In this school of thought, those individuals are not “genius” with great “ideas”, but people judged to have understanding reality in the dialectical materialist way, a synthesis and not an assembly of teachings, and accepting it as it is. This, essential Gonzalist tendency promotes the concept of Guiding Thought of revolution as at the heart of Maoism, “it explains that a Leadership is generated in the revolutionary process, that a person synthesizes in a Dialectical Materialist way the understanding of the situation, showing the path to follow”[1] .

The argument is that in each country, class struggle generates individuals who proceed to the analysis of their own social and national reality, understanding the contradictions they live in, paving the way for progress through revolution, i.e. New Democratic Revolution or Socialist Revolution. The “thought” is genuine and correct only if it means a real confrontation on all aspects of old society, the practical aspect being on the forefront. Hence their emphasis on Marxism-Leninism Maoism Gonzalo thought, principally Gonzalo thought.[2]

[1] Lenin’s Thought. Communism No.2 November 2016

[2] See: COMMUNISM No.5 –published September 2017 on the theme “In defense of Gonzalo, theoretician of Maoism” http://lesmaterialistes.com/fichiers/pdf/revues/communism-005-gonzalo.pdf

Questions and Answers On the Songun Idea . FLPH Pyongyang Juche 101 (2012) p16

Q and A 27

The Korean emphasis on the Juche idea and the family that is identified with its creation and application has served to maintain an independent stance for the DPRK in the face of a hostile world. It has made a virtue out of an autarkical necessity but even then clothes any [unacknowledged] assistance or dependent economic relationships. Even with the body of literature it has produced to underpin its claims, its ulitarian political convenience is illustrated by the adoption of Songun politics under Kim Jong Il. In light of difficult international and domestic situation in the 1990s, he was first to establish the military-first policy [although back-dated to the armed revolutionary struggle under Kim Il Sung] and it moved the WPK further away from it Marxist foundations. The narrow application of such an idea, similar to Soviet development thinking in the 1960s that identified the army of third world states as the most stable national institution for progressive advance, could only be applied by parties holding state power. In all, this school of thought, promoted as some kind of upgrade to revolutionary science, provides a retrogressive step reinforcing  the sycophantic and dogmatic approaches that it was said to challenge.

nk laughs

Irish Revolutionary Tradition in Cork Workers Club’s Publications (Part 2 )

Small press publications have traditionally been the vehicle for radical political argument and providing an alternative record from the dominant narrative that makes up the general fare of public and academic publishing. Throughout the 1970s, the Cork Workers’ Club were industrious in publishing a series of historical reprints of classic texts of Irish socialist republicanism, including James Connolly. There was eventually twenty pamphlets in the series that reflected an orthodox Marxist analysis of Ireland’s radical tradition. These long out of print pamphlets had an international distribution.  

The Cork Workers Club emerged from the Cork Communist Organisation. The latter had itself been formed in 1972 in reaction to the Irish Communist Organisation’s shift from a Republican standpoint to a ’two nations’ and functionally pro-Unionist one. Through a number of organisational developments the Cork Workers’ Club, operated out of the same premises in St Nicholas Church Lane in south Cork that the republican Saor Éire had used since 1968 as its headquarters. The premises acted as a meeting place, bookshop and printing house.

Memories of CWC posted by Fintan Lane on the Irish blogsite The Cedar Lounge Revolution in 2007 recalls:

The ‘Cork Communist Organisation’ was made up largely, I believe, of the Saor Eire people (publishers of ‘People’s Voice’ etc.), who had earlier merged with the ICO. Their politics was a mixture of Marxist-Leninism (Maoism in this instance) and republicanism. My father – Jim Lane – was involved….

The CCO later morphed into the Cork Workers Club, which survived into the late 1970s as a real group and, afterwards, as a sort of publishing house. The bookshop in Nicholas Church Place remained open until the early 1980s, when it was actually an IRSP bookshop/office. It was a centre for the anti-H-Block campaign during the hunger strikes and was later used by the Release Nicky Kelly Campaign. In its early years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, public meetings were held upstairs at times. I remember once seeing a poster advertising an appearance there by Eamon McCann.

I ‘staffed’ the bookshop for a while in the early 1980s, when it was open only on Saturday and some week nights. There were some regular customers, but, as time moved on, few people slinked in besides the affiliated. Its heyday really was at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s when it was the place to go in Cork to get left-wing and republican literature. It was a genuine backstreet bookshop and when other places opened, such as the bookshop in the Quay Co-op in the early 1980s, it effectively no longer had much of a purpose. It was too far off the beaten track. A strange place, in some ways. Internet shopping would have wiped it out, had it survived that long, because it primarily dealt in political material that mainstream shops wouldn’t sell.

Source: Fintan Lane – October 30, 2007

— February 2018


Reprints of pamphlets, booklets and newspaper articles of historical value to the study of the Socialist Movement in Ireland

 No.1   James Connolly and Irish freedom. A Marxist analysis G.Schuller


No.2  British Imperialism in Ireland  by  Eleanor Burns


No.3  Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Irish Revolution


No.4    The Irish Republican Congress by George Gilmore


 No.5    The James Connolly Songbook (1972)

No. 6   Workshop Talks  by  James Connolly                              

No.7   The Irish Question (1894)  by  John Leslie


No.8 The Historical Basis of Socialism in Ireland  by Thomas Brady


No.9   The Connolly-Walker Controversy on Socialist Unity in Ireland

No.10 The Story of Irish Labour  by J.M.MacDonnell

Read Here cwc 10 

No.11 Ireland Upon The Dissecting Table – James Connolly on Ulster &             Partition.

No.12 Convict No. 50945: Jim Larkin, Irish Labour Leader

No.13 Irish Labour and its International Relations in the era of the 2nd             International and the Bolshevik Revolution.

No.14 Freedom’s Road for Irish Workers (1917)

No.15 The Connolly-DeLeon Controversy:On Wages, Marriage and the Church (1904)http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1904/condel/index.htm

No.16   The Irish Crisis, 1921 – The C.P.G.B. stand by William Paul

Read Here cwc 16

No.17  The Struggle of the Unemployed in Belfast October 1932


No.18   The Irish Free State and British Imperialism  by “Gerhard”

Read Here cwc 18

 No.19   Sinn Fein and Socialism: James Connolly, “Charles Russell”,  Selma Sigerson

No.20   The Irish Case for Communism: Sean Murray, Jim Larkin Jun., Seamus MacKee & the C.P.I.