The Peruvian authorities’ legal offensive in December has precedents, there were arrests in a 2014 state crackdown that saw 28 leaders and other activist arrested and some charged with terrorist and drug offenses. The organisation survived and continued to agitate for the rights of prisoners….
“Arrests in Lima” returned to the issue of the Peace letters and Movadet that regarded them as genuine and the beginning point for a recalibrated analysis of political tasks for Peruvian communists.
In the “Chairman’s Politics?” reference was made to announcements and texts issued in the name of the PCP, reflecting support for the strategic reorientation of Movadet that others labelled the Right Opportunist Line ROL. The authenticity and authorship remains uncertain but the coherence of the argumentation suggests a genuine commitment to what they regard as their Chairman’s politics. The earlier four part series, “To keep our red flag flying in Peru” provided an introductory overview with:
Part 1 – providing sources, both word and web, on the Peruvian struggle
Part 2- An annotated chronology of events
Part 3 – Commentary on the solidarity activities generated after Guzman’s arrest
Part 4 – Documents and texts reproduced of varying viewpoints and analysis.
An unsourced claim in a NorwegianTjen Folket Media article, argued: Fujimori wished to execute Gonzalo upon his arrest in September 1992, but the Yankee imperialists insisted that this was not tactically advisable. Instead, they needed to use Gonzalo against the people’s war.
Whilst acknowledging the existence of the letter, without accepting it had been authored by Chairman Gonzalo, and recognising the effect of splitting the PCP and causing “enormous confusion and defeatism in the ranks” its analysis is not taken seriously.
Denounced as a hoax, the position of an unarmed struggle, the analysis of the changed strategic repercussion and arguments to step back from the internal war was quickly dismissed as a betrayal of the revolution.
Loyalists saw such an agreement with a Peace Accord as a means to preserve the Party. That that, what became identified as the ROL, could have originated in the deliberations of Chairman Gonzalo and be criticised as such, had the consequences of militants actually using Gonzalo against Gonzalo.
The militants decided that the armed revolutionary struggle could be continued without the physical governance and decisive political leadership in the conduct of the war of Chairman Gonzalo to guide and direct it. They represented his legacy by drawing on his past instructions and analysis. The loyalists in upholding the Head of the Party followed the new direction attributed to him. These mutually antagonistic wings eventually saw the two-line struggle establish separate organisations both sharing and defending a common heritage, both appealing to the authority of Gonzalo thought for their actions.
A proponent, at different times, of both lines comrade Nancy described it thus:
“This struggle is the most decisive in the history of the Party because a sinister line, the right-wing opportunist line, the bourgeois split line of revisionist essence whose core is a bourgeois military line, opposes the correct course of the class and is the most dangerous line in the history of the Party, therefore that bourgeois split line must be crushed and the split bloc that carries it must be overthrown.”
Whereas the appearance of new collections by Guzman was welcomed with, ‘long live President Gonzalo’s publication! Unwrap the new moment of unarmed political struggle guided by the Gonzalo Thought strategic, specific and main ideological weapon for the Party!’, from militants there is a generally a silence about the words spoken or attributed to Guzman ever since Chairman Gonzalo’s benchmark “Speech from the Cage” on September 24, 1992:
“We are here in these circumstances. Some think this is a great defeat. They are dreaming! We tell them to keep on dreaming. It is simply a bend, nothing more, a bend in the road! The road is long and we shall arrive. We shall triumph! You shall see it! You shall see it!“
What is reflected in the MPP – Germany site is, in internet terms, a dissident view of the split in the PCP post-1993. Less is heard internationally from the loyalist PCP than overseas-based supporters of protracted people’s war.
Even though the forces that continued the fight has been diluted by political defections in the leadership and rank-and-file desertion, the position of the militants have remain basically the same, expressed again in this 2012 interview with comrade Laura:
“In September 1992, there was the arrest of President Gonzalo and our Party tested in a thousand fights and supported by the undefeated ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Thought Gonzalo, had to face this challenge; in difficult times arise all kinds of monsters, breastfed and sheltered by imperialism, mainly American, as are the revisionists of the “peace agreement” sheltered in Movadef; these wretched traitors threw into the world, with unbridled efforts, supposed peace, pacification and dialogue, the stupidest idea to poison the class, the masses.”
As the militants tried unsuccessfully to maintain the impetus of the people’s protracted war unleashed a decade earlier, the Gonzalo loyalists new direction kept them in opposition to the Peruvian state as they campaign to shift its hostility and fight its suppression of its civil rights agenda.
Figure 1MOVADEF activists in Lima with a picture of Chairman Gonzalo.
Of Movadef, the organization plays the role of combatting the people’s war by using Gonzalo against Gonzalo according to other self-declared Gonzaloist militants. This criticism is dismissed by the Movadef activists loyal to the imprisoned Guzman and campaigning for amnesty for other PCP militants. Without denigrating the past struggles, speaking in defence at three major state trials of Guzman/ Gonzalo, Head of the Party and revolution, and in defence of the 1980-1992 Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Gonzalo thought people‘s war, in defence of the Peruvian revolution , they are arguing from a minority position that the
“ struggle for the political solution of the problems derived from the war has guided the general policy of the PCP since 1993 and corresponds to the current development of the contradiction between revolution and counter-revolution that has led to a situation in which neither party can defeat the other definitely. Although the political solution is a necessity for the people, the nation and Peruvian society as a whole, from the beginning there was opposition both from the reaction and within the Party itself, leading to the need to impose it in a long and complex struggle, which continues until now. Part of this campaign is the fight for the freedom of political prisoners, and the clarification of human rights violations at the time of the internal war.”
Voicing the position of supporters of the new direction, who assumed they were applying the just and correct call of Chairman Gonzalo, were two (historic) website , the Movimiento Popular Peru – Alemania – Some of their documents were linked in the previously posted THE CHAIRMAN’S POLITICS. More recent postings purporting to being issued in the name of the Central Committee, Communist Party of Peru, and published under the imprint of Ediciones Bandera Roja, can be found at Partido Comunista del Perú 1928 – 2016 (pcp71028.blogspot.com).More documents are available, mainly in Spanish-language editions, with some English and French translations available. Including Guzman’s declaration that “I have nothing to do with Tarata. When will you understand?”
There has been a red thread running through modern revolutionary nationalism that traces its legacy to James Connolly. The latest incarnation , operating mainly throughAnti Imperialist Action Ireland , Irish Socialist Republicans draw consciously upon the Irish revolutionary tradition seeking first to complete the unfinished revolutionary tasks of 1916.
It is the perspective proclaimed by James Connolly
“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs”
For National Liberation & Socialist Revolution
Anti Imperialist Action Ireland describes itself as an all Ireland Socialist Republican mass organisation.
“Our position is that Ireland is both a colony and a semi-colony. It is a colony in that the British government forcibly occupy six counties of Ireland while maintaining indirect control of the remaining 26 counties.”
Adhering to the position made popular since the Belfast Agreement of April 1998, that “The British have worked for decades to move Republicans to a constitutional rather than a Revolutionary position.”
Operating at the margins of the broader republican nationalist continuum, the Irish Socialist Republicans maintain a minority left communist maximalist position echoing intransigent pronouncements expressed in the Republican movement in the past.
Reformism, Revisionism and Electoralism are the tools of our enemies to keep our class exploited and oppressed and must be rejected….“The only dealings Revolutionary Irish Republicans should have with the British government is to dictate terms of a British withdrawal.”.
As a class-based organisation, AIA is looking to build upon that Irish revolutionary tradition based on working class militancy and the perspective of what William Morris saw as “when class-robbery is abolished, every man will reap the fruits of his labour.” (forgive the aged gender pronoun) That overtly socialist foundation to its republican politics distinguishes the AIA current from the reformist and bourgeois elements in the nationalist continuum.
Play your part in finishing the business of 1916.
AIA, formed winter 2017, argues the issues directly facing the Irish working class flow from partition and British imperialist occupation, this the primary contradiction in Ireland and dictates the struggle for national liberation (the end to partition of the Six Counties) and Socialist Revolution is primary.
We build on the revolutionary tradition and ideology of Irish Socialist Republicanism, first laid down by James Connolly, as the inextinguishable lamp to guide the feet of the Irish Workers to victory. With Connolly, we follow the Irish Citizen Army and uphold the idea that the Working Class must have our own fighting and political organisations. Like the Citizen Army we hold that there is ‘but one ideal – an Ireland ruled, and owned, by Irish men and women, sovereign and independent from the centre to the sea, and flying its own flag outward over all the oceans.’
What began as a small organisation with a core of experienced activists has developed, in that short space of time, into an All Ireland Socialist Republican Mass Organisation, with a growing membership of Revolutionary Youth across the country. [Macradh- ISR Youth established at Easter 2019] A new generation born after the Good Friday surrender learning the ‘Fenian Faith’ from veterans of the struggle.
ISR boasts having an organised presence in every city in the Occupied Six Counties…. As Irish Socialist Republicans, as Irish Marxist Revolutionaries, for ultimate victory over British imperialism we understand that it is necessary to continue to engage our forces within the class struggle and we must see this struggle to its bitter end.
To smash the class system we need to build a united broad front of militant left republicans, socialists and solid community activists, we continue to unite with those progressives and the masses who have committed to fight imperialism.
Key priorities for Irish Socialist Republicans
The organisation identifies three sectors to concentrate work on:
Irish Socialist Republicans reiterate our commitment to waging the class struggle and combating and resisting the enemies of the working class, be it the exploitative employers, landlords, or imperialist vultures that prey on our communities. Throughout the course of 2021 we will step up our activism to resist evictions, build revolutionary trade unions and fight for Public Housing.
Our activists played a leading role in the fight against Britain’s Far Right in Ireland and their efforts to gain a foothold for fascism in our Country…..extend solidarity to all who mobilised under the leadership of Anti Fascist Action Ireland and we look forward to standing beside you….. uphold the tried and tested policy of no platform. ……
ISR are working for an Anti Imperialist Broad Front to lead the struggle for Nationalist Liberation and Socialist Revolution…..All Ireland Anti Fascist Resistance
It has begun to spread its message in social media with postings as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Ireland on Facebook, and traditional print medium through stickers and production of the bi-lingual magazine The Socialist Republican. This aims to encourage discussion and debate among the Republican Base and to act as a resource for Revolutionary theory and practice. The first edition of a self-advertised MLM Theoretical Journal , An Ghrian Dhearg appeared in 2020 with a main feature on “Lessons from Loughgall”.[i]
The organisation acknowledges its engagement in public activity such as
To mark the 40th Anniversary of the launch of the 1980 Hunger Strike, Anti Imperialist Action renamed Merrion Road in Dublin that houses the UK Embassy, as Bóthar Breandan MacAodha/ Brendan Hughes Road, and the annual ongoing Poppy Watch Patrols whereby Anti Imperialist Action members confiscated “Brit Imperialist Poppy Wreaths”, as in Bray, County Wicklow, and burned them.
Campaigning on working class issues …
Anti Imperialist Action in Dublin have launched a new Revolutionary Housing Action Campaign and like the Land League of old, we are fighting for the 3F’s: Fair Rents 2. Fuck Evictions and 3. Funding Public Housing
And for political rights….
Stop the Extradition of Liam Campbell Campaign. In May 2009, he was arrested following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant at the behest of the Lithuanian authorities, where he was wanted in connection with a gun running plot which saw his brother Michael arrested. Campbell remained in prison for four years and was released in 2013 following the decision of Belfast Recorders Court to deny Campbell’s extradition to Lithuania.
Commemorating Ireland’s rich revolutionary history with
Pickets honouring Ireland’s patriotic dead e.g. Annual candlelit vigil for Vol. Kevin Barry at the GPO, grave-side commemorations and remembrance for former patriotic fighters for Ireland. It planning includes this year’s 40th anniversary of the Hunger Strike campaign.
Static demonstration solidarity with Pickets in support of Irish and International Political Prisoners, take solidarity action on the streets on campaigns highlighted by Maoists worldwide: release of Comrade Amhad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, of Chairman Gonzalo, the leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) of Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement and of Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Communist. [ii]
Leaning to Maoism
Their publications and social media utterances are peppered with maoist terminology and references and more overt advocacy that identifies a current of thinking with militant republican nationalism last seen in Cork in the 1960s.[iii]
For ultimate victory against our enemies we have initiated the correct policies and have put in place well planned militant Marxism – Leninism – Maoism as our scientific revolutionary ideology that has proven correct in many parts of the world.[iv]
Connections to developing MLM resources e.g. Its activities and statements reproduced on Maoist website like the news site, Redspark [v] and the related publishing house, Foreign Language Press produced a collection of speeches “Revolutionary Writings” by Seamus Costello, the INLA Chief of Staff assassinated October 1977 by the Official IRA, in its “Colorful Classics” Collection.[vi]
AIA reciprocates the signs of solidarity reproducing statements and reports from the Maoist environs on its website, such as the 2020 international 1st of May declaration “Proletarians of all countries, unite! Cast away the illusions and launch into fight!”, published on a German Gonzaloist site. This call to arms aimed squarely at the Maoist milieu.[vii] Furthermore its public association tends to be linking to the more Gonzaloist tendencies articles e,g the MLM internet review, Communist International.
[i] Available to purchase from An Culturlann 216 Falls Rd, Belfast BT12 6AH Price: £2.50
The arrests conducted by the Peruvian National Police [PNP} in Lima in early December was targeted at the campaigning prisoner rights organisation, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef). Movadef was created in 2009, initially as an organization to fight for an amnesty and freedom of political prisoners in Peru. The organisation is regularly referred to as “the political arm of the Shining Path terrorist group” by the Peruvian state.
On December 2, 2020, hours before resigning as the Minister of the Interior, Rubén Vargas had announced the capture of 72 people accused of being linked to the PCP through the “Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef).” According to the government official, Movadef-linked people have been previously arrested for the alleged crime of apology for terrorism, but alleged current investigations show that they are part of the Shining Path structure. The State’s prematurely gloated; this was “historic” because it liquidated the political and military structure of the terrorist group.
The PNP operation “Olimpo” after 4 years of surveillance, infiltration, and investigations included the participation of 1,200 police officers, as well as 98 representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office. It was a multiagency offensive as Olimpo was led by the Anti-Terrorism Division (Dircote), the High Complexity Investigations Division (Diviac), the Peruvian Army Intelligence Directorate, and the Third Supraprovincial Criminal Prosecutor’s Office.
Detainees include members of Amnesty Movement and Fundamental Rights (Movadef) and Fudepp (Front of Unity and Defense of the Peruvian People) set up in 2015 to seek registration with the national Election board. Peru News Agency reported the persons under arrest include former inmates belonging to Shining Path, such as Fernando Olortegui and Victor Castillo. The list also includes Evalisa Cano, a member of the Movadef Base in Downtown Lima, and Carlos Cano Andia, described as a member of the Eastern Detachment of the Popular Guerrilla Army.
The state authorities regarded these civil organisations not simply as apologist for “terrorism”, but as the political operating arm of the Peruvian communists that still seeks the same purposes and objective of the PCP led by the imprisoned Gonzalo/Guzman. The state alleges “they obeyed directives and slogans from the dome led by Abimael Guzmán Reinoso and other members currently in prison.”
In 2017 Interior Minister Carlos Basombrío pointed out that there is evidence that Abimael Guzmán is part of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights structure, based on documentation seized in prisons in 2014.
“I am one of those who think that Movadef is not a Sendero sympathizing group. It is more than that [a legal arm]. We have abundant documentation, and in the handwriting of Abimael Guzmán, seized in prisons in 2014, which shows that Abimael Guzmán directs Movadef, that is, he is part of the Movadef structure.”
In contrast, Movadef and its activists are condemned by those who claim the name of the the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), specifically The Peru People’s Movement (MPP), who repeatedly asserts it was generated by PCP for the party work abroad. Politically Movadef is labelled an instrument of the Right Opposition Line (ROL), “revisionist and capitulationist rats” dedicated to recycling capitulators and trained repentant guerrillas, with the need to trace a “new path” for the struggle in Peru.
Movadef raised a new characterization of society, pointing out that because of the PCP’s armed struggle, Peru stopped being semi-feudal to become a dependent capitalist country. Obviously, when they characterize Peru as dependent capitalist, the form of revolutionary action can adapt to change, where the centre of said struggle necessarily passes through participation in electoral, constitutional, and bureaucratic life. In 2011 they tried to register as a political party before the National Elections , but they were rejected, closing the door to that route by the Peruvian state. The demand for democratic rights seen by sectarian leftist critics as the same line of abstract democracy and freedom as “opportunists and revisionists Patria Roja.”
Still Movadef campaign that their constitutional rights be respected, and say they are persecuted because they “think differently” or that “they are persecuted for ideas” to defend the life and freedom of Chairman Gonzalo, of those imprisoned who wield Gonzalo Thought.
Former political prisoner Esther Palacios argues in support for “the new grand strategy proposed by its president [Gonzalo] of moving from a political struggle with weapons to a political struggle without weapons and to use all possible forms of struggle within the political struggle. Thus, fight for the fundamental rights restricted or denied by the open dictatorship of Fujimorism imposed by neoliberalism in 1992 and within which the different demo-bourgeois governments continue.
This new stage marks them out as having capitulated, label as traitors and the described as “faithful followers of the Prachanda Path in Latin America”. There are well-rehearsed positions against Movadef’s approach:
— Not only did they go against the People’s War, but claimed the way to solve the fundamental problems of society is through reconciliation, peace, the meeting of classes—they yelled like Kautsky, “there is no longer any room for armed struggle for the solution of class conflicts,” and “that it will be ridiculous … to preach a violent disorder” to change society. They turned their backs on the People’s War, on the revolution, they created their “glass ceiling” that was no more than reform and renewed constitutionalism, and they went against those who support the People’s War.
The thought that Chairman Gonzalo, “the greatest living Marxist-Leninist-Maoist on the face of the earth” could be accuse of being the author of the CIA’s “Peace Letters” and the right-wing opportunist line is repeatedly denied as part of the betrayal of Maoism, Chairman Gonzalo, the party and the People’s War by those who have given up on the revolution.
What remains loudly claimed is that it was in Peru, and precisely with the PCP’s doctrinaire interpretations of Mao and the People’s War that Mao Tse-tung Thought became Maoism, that is, a third and superior stage of Marxism, and not only that, but also its contributions of universal validity of Gonzalo Thought, an obstacle to opportunism and revisionism. Within the international communist movement is voiced the advice they should take Chairman Gonzalo to account for his own conduct of leadership in his own country, his “Left” opportunist line before his capture in 1992 and Right opportunist line soon after his capture. Furthermore, these conflicting opportunist lines have brought about the decline of the people’s war in Peru.
The elevation of Gonzalo Thought, in particular the concept of a militarised party and protracted people’s war, and the characterisation of Maoism places in the shadows those “miserable rats of the right opportunist line (ROL), revisionist and capitulationist,” who claim (with as much authenticity) to be equally inspired and led by Gonzalo to act and group themselves, as “the third instrument of the revolution”, the united front led by the PCP.
Rejecting the hoax is rejecting a presentation of Chairman Gonzalo, dejected, defeated who had generated letters calling for demobilization and entering a “new stage”, of the need to enter a new phase of the struggle marked by reconciliation and, a scenario that involves amnesty, electoral struggle, and struggle for rights in the framework of bourgeois democracy. All this is seen as a denial of the PCP, Gonzalo Thought, the people’s war and consequently of the ideology of the proletariat.
Hence , the flare up at the re-publication of the new edition of the so-called “Peace Letters”, the hoax of the CIA-Peruvian reaction presented by the former Minister of the Interior (of the Minter) Rubén Vargas shortly after the arrests in Lima of Movadef’s activists.
MPP somehow regard the arrests as a CIA operation, “the continuation of the one set up by this spy agency of US imperialism to detain and then infame Chairman Gonzalo, presenting him as the head of the ROL, with the service of these “revisionist and capitulationist rats” to annihilate the leadership of the party and the revolution.
There is a reference point frozen in time that remains fundament for those who honour the name of “Fourth Sword of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.” Two weeks after his arrest, Guzman was presented briefly before television cameras. Wearing a black-and-white striped prison uniform, he was filmed pacing back and forth in what resembled a circus lion’s cage
Guzman took full advantage of the 15 minutes the government gave him. “Here, under these circumstances, some may think that this is a great defeat,” he said defiantly. “They are dreaming. We say, keep on dreaming. It is simply––and nothing more than––a stone along the path. The path is long. We will reach our destination, we will triumph!” Guzman then stridently ordered his organization to continue the armed struggle, which he now described as a patriotic defense of the nation against imminent imperialist intervention.
That defiance remains celebrated.
What is disregarded and discarded from historic memory was another television appearance a year later in December 1993 when Guzman appeared in a video surrounded by all of the imprisoned members of the Central Committee reading out a document signed by them all reiterating request for peace talks with the government. While Fujimori sternly rejected any possibility of negotiating with Shining Path––”winners” of wars do not negotiate – no peace agreement was ever reached, both due to the refusal of the government and the refusal of those who remained in command of the war.
The original media reports in 1993 were that, from jail, Chairman Gonzalo was calling for the Shining Path “guerrillas to suspend the war, and to the government to start peace talks”. It was not a surrender as such but merely a call for negotiations under the pretext that the political period had undergone a major change. Other important jailed PCP leaders began to recruit support for a peace accord. The Peruvian state promoted the so-called “peace accords” by shuttling members of the ROL around from prison to prison to promote it. Still, it seems most of the political prisoners rejected the ROL, under very difficult conditions. The leadership outside the prisons rejected the peace proposal and continued fighting, thus setting up a two-line struggle in the PCP. In 1994 the PCP began to break-up and fall into decline. Critics say that in 25 years those adhering to the “old line” of armed action have stalled and they have never taken even one district, and, even if they do some ambushes, this does not add up to a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist people’s war.
The Movimeento Popular Peru de Alemania – MPP-Germany- operating through an anti-imperialist group based in Hamburg, was the only “PCP” group abroad to accept the “Peace Letters” as genuine and claims to have received phone calls from Abimael Guzman /Chairman Gonzalo instructing it to work for a peace accord in Peru.
These Peace Letters allegedly written by Abimael Guzman were quickly followed in October 1993 by a hundred-page document signed ‘President Gonzalo’ and released by the PCP under the title Asumir y combatir por la Nueva gran Decisión y Definición (‘Accepting and Fighting for the New Great Decision and Definition’) based on a supposedly qualitative change in the political period used to justify this initiative.
Since being imprisoned under harsh isolating security, two manuscripts have been smuggled out that have been largely ignored by those who maintain a protracted people’s war stance. The first publication smuggled out of prison was Guzman’s memoir, De puño y letra, a series of autobiographical manuscripts, letters, and legal arguments compiled by Elena Iparraguirre, his wife and number two in the hierarchy.
Reviewing, when publicly presented on September 12th 2009 at a hotel in Lima, former high profile supporter, Luis Arce Borja saw only betrayal arguing that the Shining Path, since 1993, has become a political party of the counterrevolution after all, objectively, Guzman’s book serves the interests of the government.
Almost all of the thousand published copies were seized by the government, and attention turned to repress (apply the apology law) the authors and publishers who collaborated with the publication of ‘De Puño y Letra‘.
Whereas Luis Arce Borja sees it reaffirms once again what he calls the treacherous conduct of Guzman, “who in 1993 agreed to a kind of cemetery peace with Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos”, generally the controversial book was regarded as an apologia for violence as a means to meet political ends but it also places the conflict firmly in the past and calls for national reconciliation.
Dr. Alfredo Crespo, lawyer for Abimael Guzman, in defense of this publication, has said that Gonzalo has ended the “historical process of the armed struggle”. The content reaffirms the approach of Guzman regarding a proposal for a peace agreement made in 1993, and an “amnesty general for all those who participated in the internal war”.
Guzman’s 2014 book, Memories from Nemesis compiles documents and memoirs substantiating the move to struggle without arms.
The merit of this decision from the leader split the organisation, accepted by some and rejected by others – both claiming to uphold Gonzaloist Thought. The repression of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef) illustrates the state’s views that it is uprooted the underground PCP loyal to Guzman. To acknowledge that raises too many unpalatable issues for its political opponents who chisel the arrests in Lima into their own constructed reality of the overarching narrative of a hoax and CIA conspiracy.
Planning to release the 2nd edition of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IX, the Paris-based publishing house Foreign Language Press “discovered some surprises in our endeavour to put out the best text we could.” [i]
They encountered issues of scholarship that are tackled in any intellectual production from the simplest blog to the authority in the field: can the reader trust the text? There are always caveats in any approach to reading that question its reliability, accuracy, value and purpose. Some of the concerns raised in an earlier posting Reading Maobut dealt with in a more focus and informative manner by the FLP editors.
Despite his charismatic authority and creative Marxism, Mao frequently acknowledged he was no superman and worked with and through others as the collective development of ideas, the collective editing and bureaucratic, as well as personal, approval before publication under Mao’s name illustrated. Many academics drawn to textual analysis and comparison, often preoccupied with the differences between the ‘speaking notes’ and the official version, have commented on this collective production in the evaluation of the work of Mao Zedong. Such collaboration, commonplace if hidden and seldom advertised, produces an intellectual co-operation that lies behind influential work[ii] as in the critique of Soviet economics attributed to Mao that emerged in 1967. As Timothy Cheek noted these “are Hu Sheng’s notes from Mao’s 1960 study group – Hu Sheng rearranged Mao’s comments and added sub-headings; Mao never reviewed them.” [iii]
Scott Harrison makes available the translated, and Chinese edition of the text. He notes the “standard” Monthly Review English language version many of Mao’s comments to comrades about Soviet economics are not included along with the notes he made while reading the Soviet textbook. This explains why this English language book are so much shorter than even the “Short” Chinese language edition.
Deng Liqun, who prepared the original “Short” Chinese edition, included all of Mao’s comments, but much shorter extracts from the full Soviet texts that Mao was criticizing. Like the attribution to Hu Sheng, Deng Liquin’s text was edited based on his extensive conversations with Mao.
As with anything published under Mao’s name, Harrison says questions have also been raised about the accuracy of the translations of Mao’s comments in some places. Part of the process of how these texts were produced, basically somebody’s edited notes or minutes of recorded talk and conversations involving Mao, rather than by his hand, serves to illustrate why so much attention was given in the production of officially released work of Mao Zedong.
When Mao spoke publically, he spoke for the party .The gonzo culture of western political reporting with its proliferation of politician’s arbitrary comments, political leaks and ill-thought out boasts was alien to the Chinese political process. The emergence of unauthorised raw texts, uncensored and not necessarily prepared by Mao himself excited sinologists and raised the issue of authenticity and ownership. There is the argument that the only authorised work of Mao Zedong is that released during his lifetime – the first four volumes of Selected Works, the Selected Readings and military essays released by Mao. His best-selling Quotations – The little Red Book of popular culture – was published under the direction and guidance of Lin Biao and like any other text somebody’s political interpretation by selection of the compilations of texts presented.
Authorised English language edition
Selected Readings (1971) 1926 -1965
Volume 1 (1975) 1926-1937
Volume 2 (1967) 1937- 1941
Volume 3 (1975) 1941 -1945
Volume 4 (1969) 1945 – 1949
Volume 5 (1977) 1949 -1957
On Diplomacy (1998) 1938 – 1974
Some would advise readers to use some appropriate caution with the last two volume, considering that those who produced it were leading China back to capitalism by this time. Those who thought that the Chinese revisionists would not be publishing more of Chairman Mao’s Selected Works (or that they couldn’t be trusted if they did) had attempts to try to determine what might have been produced from the material that had emerged unofficially during the Cultural Revolution. In the publication of four further (unofficial) volumes of Selected Works, these Indian compilations, partially utilising the work of Stuart Scram, pioneered the popularisation of Mao before what was, mainly consumed by academics, the steady authorised release of material from the post-Mao regime.
Unauthorised additions to the published series
Subsequent volumes of Selected Works published in India in the 1990s by Kranti Publications, Secunderabad, and Sramikavarga Prachuranalu, Hyderabad. Second editions by Foreign Language Press, Paris. 2020/21
Volume 6 1917 -1946
Volume 7 1947 – 1957
Volume 8 1958 – 1962
Volume 9 1963 – 1970
Kranti Publications/ Foreign Language Press (Paris) drew upon variety unauthorised sources to continue the series Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung. Other compilations of work attributed to Mao were published by western publishers, notable Mao Tsetung Unrehearsed (1974) 1956 – 1971 compiled and translated by Stuart Schram that utilised the sixiang wansui editions.
Volume 6 of Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, produced by the Indian publishing house, Kranti Publications in 1990, contained a compendium of work dating from 1917-1946 that had not appeared in the Chinese authorised edition. Unfortunately scantly bibliographical source, it nevertheless was stimulating in its selection of material that had been omitted or new material seeped out from China.
This was followed by other volumes: Volume 7 covers the period from the founding of the People’s Republic (October 1949) until the Great Leap Forward (1958) and contains 478 documents, mainly composed of his letters and telegrams , that are not included in the “Official” Volume 5 of the Selected Works that covered this period.
Volume 8 gathers texts documenting a critical and dynamic period in the People’s Republic: 1958-1962 and includes the main documents from the Lushan Meeting in 1959, where the two-lines first emerged in open struggle in party meetings.
Volume 9, originally released in December 1994, covers the next stage in the developments that led to the initiation of the Socialist Education Movement and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution taking the narrative up to 1970.
The editors at Kranti Publications noted
“During the great proletariat cultural revolution a nationwide programme of studying the works of chairman Mao were launched and it was in hightide. Then Mao himself observed: “The Selected Works of Mao, how much of it is mine! It is a work of blood. The struggle in the soviets was very acute. Because of the errors of the Wang Ming line we had to embark on the 25,000 li Long March. These things in Selected Works of Mao were taught to us by the masses and paid for with blood sacrifices”.”[iv]
Long out of print, in 2020/21 these volumes were made available in corrected reprints by the overtly MLM publishing house, Foreign Language Press. When announcing the release of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong Vol. IX, FLP’s editorial team observed the challenge of scholarship in the service of revolutionary advance when it explained the difficulties with sourcing material for those pioneering editors at Kranti Publications.
III Source material
Since his death, any official evaluation of Mao has been framed by the document on party history adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the CPC on June 27, 1981. It has more nuances argument than its critics credit but still the bottom line was to draw a line in the mid-1950s and state that anything after that period associated with Mao was ultra-leftist and disastrous for Chinese society.
Basically everything the modern Maoist appreciates in Mao, the politics of the mass line and supervisory mass campaigns , the anti-revisionist stance, radical encourage for anti-imperialists, the Cultural Revolution’s emphasis on ‘continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat’ has been condemned by the Chinese leadership since his death.
However as it turned out, the 1981 Resolution would not end work on Mao’s life. Memoirs by military figures and Mao staff members, biographical studies of senior figures, and selective issue of Party documents added to the knowledge of Mao’s actions and words. Besides Chinese authored memoirs, (amongst them two translated for English-speaking market) Quan Yanchi (1992) and Zhong Wenxian (ed) (1986),[v] work by oversea authors became available: Ross Terrill’s and Philip Short’s biography of Mao were published by Chinese publishing houses.
The fresh attention to Mao was low-key and factual. It stressed his human side, Guangming Ribao ran an article detailing Mao’s grave health problems — including a respiratory ailment due to his smoking — from the spring of 1971 until his death. What was not permitted was any positive evaluation or reference to what had been condemned as Mao’s political leftism.
A powerful “Mao re” (Mao fever) of the early 1990s produced a cultural, good-humoured remembrance of the former leader. Sometimes the use of Mao was commercial, his image on lighters and wristwatches along with the posters, busts and tourist-targeted reproduction copies of Quotations. Such trivial uses will go on being made of Mao image. Sometimes it was superstitious, satiric, or nostalgic. Seldom was it politically.
Another Mao fever that began in 2003. This was the year of the 110th anniversary of Mao’s birth, the publication of a solid official party history biography of Mao, of many films, performances and other events marking the anniversary. On this occasion, Hu Jintao paying lip service said Mao still offered China “precious spiritual wealth.” In forty-eight days, the special website devoted to the 110th Mao anniversary received half a million hits. The thought of Mao remained strong in the mass culture of China, manifest in popular nostalgia if absent from its political and economic policies. It is Mao who still resonates in the spiritually sterile and morally corrupt capitalist society of post-Mao China. How far Maoist nostalgia is reflective and not restorative is another question.
Obviously the source for material by Mao comes from China. All foreign language editions and collections draw upon official and unofficial compilations of texts. There is still no complete Chinese edition of Mao’s works – Professor Takeuchi Minoru[vi] spent decades producing a Japanese language collection of Mao’s pre-1949 writings in 20 volumes, and Stuart Scram (continued by Timothy Creek) English language series Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49 runs to eight published volumes.[vii]
Many western publications – especially those including texts not found in the first four volumes of Selected Works – draw upon the explosion of material collected and produced during the Cultural Revolution when large unofficial collections of Mao’s papers, popularly title “Long Live Mao Zedong Thought” – the various sixiang wansui editions – contained instructions, letters, talks and quotations seldom checked for authenticity or accuracy without bibliographical conventions. These sixiang wansui volumes from 1967 and 1969 emerged from the Institute of International Relations in Taipei. They were compiled from neibu (restricted circulation)[viii] material captured when Red Guards occupied ministries or other government offices, and raids on homes of leading officials. Many of these texts appear to be lecture notes taken down by anonymous hands.
These raw texts contribute to the party’s historiography and Mao’s role in it but they are very much the product of daily politics. These were treated as largely trustworthy not least when translated and popularised in Chairman Mao Talks to the People by Stuart Schram (in UK published as Mao Tse-Tung Unrehearsed. Talks and Letters: 1956-71). There are still other sources to mine, the little known sources, often non-Chinese sourced that could be traced e.g. Anna Louise Strong: Three Interviews with Chairman Mao Zedong. [ix]
Not surprisingly there are significant differences and details within the Wansui volumes which provided access to Mao’s unofficial work published without being shaped or polished by consideration or subject to political editing and concerns. The breadth and depth of material reproduced in Taiwan in the early 1970s had previously been unavailable to western scholars and were uneven in quality and indifferent to bibliographical filters and checks.
There was the American government’s publication in 1978 of Collected Works of Mao Tse-Tung (1917-1949) produced by the Joint Publications Research Service[x] based on a ten volume Chinese language edition, Mao Tse-tung Chi that appeared in Hong Kong in 1975 . However any item official published in Selected Works or Selected Readings were not included. Again the main source were the unofficial Red Guard collections Mao Tse-tung Ssu-shiang Wan-sui (Long live Mao Tse-tung thought).
Without great fanfare and promotion, and not intended for a mass readership, nevertheless there has been detailed and thematically organized collections of Mao works published. China state publications provide the bedrock of material of work by Mao published in China after his death, and seeded many an academic’s publishing record.
The body of available material expanded through selective official publication of individual items like letters and various thematic volumes which are published exclusively in Chinese language editions, either openly or for restricted circulation (neibu) mainly from the Central Committee supervised Department for Research on Party literature.
The Central Committee’s Research Institute on Party Literature remains responsible for releasing new material. The official publication of Mao’s work had been significant as defining the political orthodoxy. Its release was a carefully choreographed and deliberate statement. This was a function of the Selected Works version published during Mao’s lifetime when revised texts were produced under Mao’s supervision and often with his active participation. Mao’s Selected Works were not simply a historical collection recording what was said at the time. They have been subject to collective editing reflecting their purpose as a political instrument as party orthodox and promotion of ideological training. For instance, Volume V of Selected Writings had only 70 articles from the period 1949-1957 when Western academics identified 750 possible entries for inclusion and actually selected 522 to publish.[xi] Drawn up under the brief tenure of Hua Guofeng, Volume V was quickly suppressed partly because of its “errors” in its stance of upholding the “continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the revolution”.
As with previous work, after Mao’s death the assumption must be that public editions of Mao’s writings are still released to support current party policy. Even though the contents are incomplete and extremely selective in relation to the total corpus of Mao’s work, notable was the lack of appearance of Mao’s more radical advocacy, a shunning of the “ultra-leftist” positions associated with Mao’s later years (seemingly any thought after the aged of 63). [xii]
Back in 1988, Timothy Cheek discussed the massive amount of material released with 23 volumes of talks and writings attributed to Mao, amounting to over 5,500 pages.[xiii] Unlike the hundreds of millions of copies involved in the print run of officially sponsored Mao publications in his life time, and the 28 million copies of Volume V of Selected Work published in 1977-78, these new releases were more modest in number and not as widely circulated beyond the orbit of the sinologist field. Such releases fed new publications of Mao’s writing in English by academic publishers such as The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward[xiv] .
In all, the release from the 1980s onwards were part of a Chinese party/state sanction scholarly and historicist drive that saw a release of new volumes of Mao’s writings that specialist libraries like at Harvard (USA) and western academics secured access regardless of their circulation status. Some of the sources referenced by scholars include:
1983 Selected Correspondences of Mao Zedong
1983 Selected Materials regarding Mao Zedong’s Journalistic work
1983 Collected writings of Mao Zedong on the investigations in the countryside.
1986 Mao Zedong Reader in two volume edition published covering 1921-1964 with copious (488) and lengthy end notes.
1986 a collection of 14 articles on Mao’s reading habits was published: Mao Zedong’s Reading Life (Mao Zedong de dushu shenghuo , Sanlian Shudian, Beijing 1986)
1987 a research guide to 14,000 items in two volumes, Index to research on Mao Zedong’s life and works ( Mao Zedong shengping, zhuzuo yanjiu suoyin. Guofeng Daxue Chubanshe, Beijing 1987) was published. A testimony to the interest and extent of material generated around Mao.
1987 A Collection of Mao Zedong’s Comments and Notes on Philosophical Writings is another volume of the series of Mao Zedong’s special works edited by the CPC Central Committee’s Party Literature Research Center (with the cooperation of other units). It is a collection of Mao Zedong’s notes on and extracts from the philosophical writings on Marxism which he studied between the 1930’s and 1960’s. “Most of them have never been published before.” [xv]
1987 – 1996 Mao Zedong’s Manuscript since the founding of the People’s Republic (Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao .Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 1987-1996). This multivolume collection has three volumes covering the period of the Cultural revolution: Volume 11: January 1964 – December 1965 to Volume 13: January 1969 – July 1976
1991 Draft Writings by Mao Zedong for the Early Period, June 1912-November 1920. Mao Zedong Zaoqi Wengao, 1912.6-1920.11 Changsha: Hunan Chaubanshe.
1993-1999. The Party Literature Research Centre of the Central Committee published the multi-volume ‘Mao Zedong Works’. The first volume appeared in 1993 on the Centenary of Mao’s birth, and Xinhua News Agency announced publication of the 8th volume in July 1999. The multi-volume work contains over 800 pieces not previously published in the Chinese edition of “Selected Works of Mao Zedong”, although only key items from 1966 onwards are included because the Cultural Revolution “launched by Chairman Mao, was a mistake of overall importance”.[xvi]
1993 Mao Zedong’s Military Writings six volumes (Mao Zedong junshi wenji .Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 1993).
1994 Selection of Materials by Mao Zedong on Foreign Affairs (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 1994) In the former, over five-sixths of the documentation covers the post-1949 period, the last being from his May 25, 1974 talk with former British Prime Minister Edward Heath. An English-language collection of Mao’s writing On Diplomacy was produced by Foreign Language Press in 1998.
1995 A Collection of Reports and Speeches by Mao Zedong to the Seventh Party Congress (Mao Zedong zai qida de baogao he jianghua ji . Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 1995).
Also, Nancy Hearst and Tony Saich suggested that (although unseen) a limited circulation 60-volume edition of pre-1949 Mao texts apparently exists.[xvii]
1998 Complete Books of Mao Zedong, 6 volumes (ed) Jiang Jiannong. Mao Zedong Chuan Shu, Shijiazhuang: Hebi Renmin Chubanshe
2013 Mao Zedong Nianpu 1949-1976 of six volumes of previously obscure materials from the central party archives press published to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, Guangming Daily (23/12/2013) reported the publication of the Mao Nianpu (or Mao Zedong Chronology) (1949-1976). Compiled by the CCCPC Party Literature Research Office, it comprised six volumes and about three million words, covering Mao’s life and achievements during the twenty-seven years from the founding of the People’s Republic of China to his death.
Adam Cathcart commented that in Mao Zedong Nianpu a single editor was responsible for editing the entire Cultural Revolution period, covered in a single volume of 653 pages of text covering ten years (1966-1976), and suggests Mao’s dwindling physical activity could be partially to account for the relative lack of density of the entries. Judicious selection based on the 1981 resolution may leave other writings safely in the archives?
At the same time, the Chronicle of Mao Zedong (1893-1949) (total three volumes) published in December 1993 has been revised and issued across the country.
IV Turning Mao’s Chinese into English
The reworking on Mao related text, as in the scholarship undertaken by FLP, is a constant feature as in finding the original source of a document that was only available as an excerpt in the 1st edition of the Selected Works Vol. 9 and replace the excerpt with it in the 2nd edition. But there are frustrations too as FLP Twitter account noted: “wish we found this a week earlier. Rab Rab Press, a tiny publisher from Finland, has released in June 2020 a new translation of the last meeting of Mao with Red Guards leaders that corrects so many parts that the JPRS translation one has wrongly translated.”
Foreign Language Press has taken on the challenge with an announcement regarding the future of their work on the Mao’s writings. Work has already begun on Volume X with several hundreds of page of Mao’s writings, interviews, letters and instructions from 1966 to 1976 that have yet to be released in English. They hope to publish in 2021.[xviii]
The readability of the translated work requires an understanding of the nuances of Chinese terms and expressions while ensuring that what is read is both accurate and conveys what was said. A good translation requires more than transliteration in the translation, a good English renderings of Mao’s Chinese, translate into “accuracy and nuance, tone and register.” These concerns were evident in the 1930s according to this account by Edgar Snow.
In his Red Star over China Snow writes: “Seated next to me was Wu Liang-ping, a young Soviet ‘functionary’, who acted as interpreter during my ‘formal’ interviews with Mao Tse-tung. I wrote down in full in English Mao Tse-tung’s answers to my questions, and these were then translated into Chinese and corrected by Mao, who is noted for his insistence upon accuracy of detail. With the assistance of Mr. Wu, the interviews were then re-translated into English.” In 1979 Wu Liang-ping wrote an additional explanation: “At the request of Mao Tse-tung, Snow compiled the notes on Mao’s revolutionary experience and wrote an account that was, after having been translated into Chinese by Huang Hua, scrutinized and revised slightly by Mao. Huang Hua translated these revisions into English, and returned the draft to Snow.” [xix]
Reviewing the English language series Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, Brantly Womack judged “they lack the genius of the official Chinese translations. The translations in the official Selected Works of Mao Tsetung are remarkable for their ability to transcend the literal text and to get the original point across better with a different construction or wording.”[xx]
Foreign Language Press alluded to the questions raised on which version of the available texts are more authentic, or more authoritative, in its consideration of using the texts in the collection published as Mao Papers, Anthology and Bibliography Edited by Jerome Chen (1970) . It was also a practical concern as FLP’s second editions of the “Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung” compiled in early 1990s by comrades from Kranti Publications, corrects typographical and formatting errors. In Mao Papers the editor had undertaken his own translation and ignored pre-existing official version of English language published texts. A noted and respected translator of Mao, the sinologist Stuart Scram (1924 –2012) noted in his review of the publication of these independent translations – “many of which are highly elliptical and difficult to interpret” – errors in dating and distorting editorial choices .[xxi] The FLP highlight some of these concerns in Jerome Chen’s use of material that have to be addressed by any compiler of Mao’s writings. [xxii]
This small, if energised MLM publishing house noted in its politically-driven scholarship:
“You can trace our evolution in Mao’s Selected Works: Volume VI is basically a reprint with some corrections of the more obvious typographical errors; Volume VII was much more thoroughly copyedited and we replaced all the Wade-Giles Chinese with pinyin and included an index of names and places; Volume VIII included, in addition to the corrections made in previous volumes, corrections in the sourcing of the texts in particular; and Volume IX… in Volume IX we uncovered a whole host of problems. Texts that were translated incorrectly, placed out of context, chopped up and moved into other texts and dated and sourced incorrectly. The more deeply we dug, the more errors we discovered, and found ourselves irretrievably behind schedule.” [xxiii]
On translating Mao, academic author Thomas Kampen, listed the difficulties the task involves[xxiv]
Many aspects have to be considered:
1) Many of Mao’s speeches were not intended for publication. 2) Many speeches were not based on detailed manuscripts. 3) Many listeners were not from Hunan and were not familiar with his pronunciation. 4) Notes were handwritten and not always legible. 5) The speeches sometimes lasted for several hours (people may have been exhausted). 6) Ambiguity was not always intended; participants were aware of the speeches by other leaders or RMRB/Hong Qi editorials of the time.
The officially published works of Mao have gone through an editorial process and polishing not unknown in western publishing circles where fiction texts receive the blue pencil while maintaining the mythology of the lone writer, and why employ a sub-editor in a newspaper office, who would go without the benefit of peer review in academic study that brings items to the author’s attention? As FLP notes, the source material for unofficial publication of work attributed to Mao are “compilations of documents published in other compilations translated from… Chinese compilations”.
A background case study illustrating the problems suggested to in the endeavour to bring Mao’s work to a wider audience. Just two small episodes illustrates the complexities involved in presenting Mao for professional academics:
Is what you read, what was written – the problem of mistranslation was explored upon in a blog by Leeds University lecture, Adam Cathcart with regard to Mao’s addresses to the Chengdu conference of March 1958 when “Mao gave no fewer than six speeches at the Chengdu meeting — none of which was publicised at the time.”[xxv]
Once you have a translated quote, is it understood and used appropriately with accuracy? The academic response [xxvi] provoked by the lies and distortion contained in the worldwide best-selling hatchett job on Mao by Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Halliday, was a public condemnation of “poor scholarship” that is discussed quietly online in numerous forums. For instance, Did Mao say let half the people starve? Academic consensus growing that Frank Dikotter, author of a best-selling trilogy on modern Chinese history, got Mao’s quote seriously wrong does not stop it been repeated and reproduced elsewhere. The hunt for the killer quote was dissect and framed within an academic discussion. [xxvii]
The discussion did bring forth a self-criticism from an eminent scholar in the field of Chinese studies, Michael Schoenhals,
“…perhaps you would like to believe that the authors of Mao’s Last Revolution (HUP 2006) can be trusted when, on p. 102, they have Mao saying “the more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are”? Don’t! I was responsible for that translation of Mao’s abstruse remark “越杀人就越要革命” and the translation is wrong. A correct translation …. should read “The greater the number of people murdered, the greater the wish [on the part of the survivors] for a revolution.” A world of difference!”
The evidence of the diversity of material since 1949 might question the need for the translation of every item produced in his life-time, after all it would take an equal amount to read and study it!
Not all entries need equal attention and study as the volumes are full of sleight, single sentences entries, recording comments and letters, diplomatic greetings and observation written by Mao e.g a simple opinion is editorial elevated to be taken as an “Evaluation of the movie “The Song of the Gardener” “ Mao’s comment in November 1974 was: I think it is a good show.
An explanatory note from the editor explains that prior to this, the “Gang of Four” had criticised the movie “The Gardener” in Hunan in November 1974.[xxviii]
Its inclusion may serve a wider agenda of the Chinese authorities seeking to disassociate Mao from the “Gang of Four” by citing differences in opinion but much further contextual research would be required, and what criteria is invoked in the judgement – artistic, political, politeness ? The numerous occurrence of such entries reinforces the need to evaluate and select what is given prominence in any published work.
The original producers of the unauthorised Volume Six acknowledged the limitations of “the works included in this volume, we have neither the means nor the competence to vouch safe about their authenticity and completeness.” Upfront there were warnings for the reader to be wary – “We fondly hope that much more additional material could come to light enabling us to substantially improve on this” – but in that absence the intention was to “further stimulating the study of Mao’s works.” [xxix]
They pointed out the weakness in that there was poor bibliographic control. ..Except indicating the primary source quoted in the originals, no attempt is made to annotate or edit the texts in any respect or in any manner.” So maybe “Works” is accurate, rather than writings, as much of what is available consists of manuscripts of notes and contemptuous recording by others.
V Political Interpretation
“No verdict on a man who changed either the course of events or accepted patterns of thought (and Mao changed both) can ever be called final. Many such individuals are re-evaluated, and argued about, decades or even centuries after their disappearance.” Stuart Schram 1982 in a lecture in Hong Kong.
The fashion to paint Mao as one-dimensionally and unremittingly evil was not Deng’s, nor was the idea of maintaining Mao’s legacy: Deng Xiaoping had a different agenda for China’s development that was reformist, state capitalist and market-driven.
In saying that we should use as our guide genuine Mao Zedong Thought taken as an integral whole, I mean that we should have a correct and comprehensive understanding of Mao Zedong Thought as a system and that we should be proficient at studying it, mastering it, and applying it as a guide to our work. Only in this way can we be sure that we are not fragmenting Mao Zedong Thought, distorting or debasing it. We can then see that what Comrade Mao Zedong said with regard to a specific question at a given time and under particular circumstances was correct, and that what he said with regard to the same question at a different time and under different circumstances was also correct, despite occasional differences in the extent of elaboration, in emphasis and even in the formulation of his ideas. So we must acquire a correct understanding of Mao Zedong Thought as an integral system instead of just citing a few specific words or sentences.[xxx]
One approach of the post-Mao leadership was to quote an earlier Mao in contrast to his later self as demonstrated in the Beijing Review article, “Chairman Mao on Mao Zedong Thought”. [xxxi] It sought to establish a legitimatising source and symbol it could use against the Mao that would issue calls to bombard the headquarters against the capitalist roaders. The perspective was reinforced that condemned and shelved Mao’s erroneous thinking. Li Rui, briefly in the mid-1950s, the personal secretary to Mao Zedong on industrial affairs, noted for his criticisms of the Great Leap Forward, so not an unpartisan observer, commented on the wider impact of such thinking:
As a historical phenomenon, Mao Zedong’s erroneous thinking in his later years also generated considerable worldwide impact.
During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong Thought was declared to be the “third milestone” in the evolution of Marxism, focusing on this erroneous thinking in his later years. Left-wing parties and groups in some countries not only accepted his theories but also put them into practice. The ways in which the Cultural Revolution was conducted were once followed by radicals in a dozen countries and regions and at one time created a stir, such as the “Red May Storm” in France, the “Khmer Rouge” in Southeast Asia, and the “Shining Path” in Latin America. This indicated that Mao Zedong’s erroneous thinking in his later years already went beyond national boundaries and its study is of international importance. [xxxii]
Political Interpretation in China is hostile to the sentiments expressed worldwide by revolutionaries was voiced by the Australian E.F. Hill:
This is meant to be no more than a note prompted by another note. I adhere to the view that Mao Zedong made a unique contribution to the international cause of Communism and the liberation of mankind. His writings should be deeply studied and independently thought over using the general principles and putting on one side those things peculiarity confined to China. [xxxiii]
In a 1956 conversation with representatives of some Latin American communist parties, Mao Zedong warns them about mechanically copying the experiences of the Chinese revolution:
“The experience of the Chinese revolution, that is, building rural base areas, encircling the cities from the countryside and finally seizing the cities, may not be wholly applicable to many of your countries, though it can serve for your reference. I beg to advise you not to transplant Chinese experience mechanically. The experience of any foreign country can serve only for reference and must not be regarded as dogma. The universal truth of Marxism-Leninism and the concrete conditions of your own countries–the two must be integrated.” [xxxiv]
Studying Mao can be a fulltime occupation and the field of scholarship has generated library shelves throughout the world. The official publication of Mao has continued with the specific intent to tame and shape his legacy. The “collective wisdom” created and applied throughout the Chinese Revolution is institutionalise in the party, relativizing his thought away from its dominance as Deng Xiaoping began the de-mythologizing of Mao that keeps him as a symbol. Whilst the 1987 new material for the Study of Mao Zedong’s Philosophical Thinking was advertised as “something which has great theoretical and practical significance” in Red Flag, little sweeps into party practice.
The process of articulating and systematizing what became known as the Thought of Mao Zedong within China began in the mid-1930s amidst the shift from a rural class-based revolution to a national united front against Japanese imperialism; the application of Marxism to Chinese conditions. It was this intellectual contribution that was the discourse of Western academics when they debated the subject of Maoism.[xxxv] Events moved on, and different interpretations arose…
The analyses of Stuart Schram which stressed Mao’s early immersion in Chinese classical literature, drawing upon Mao’s numerous allusions to these in his talks and writings, developed the notion that Mao’s political philosophy, steeped in Chinese tradition, and his political practice, not least leading a successful peasant-based revolution, was substantially different from orthodox Marxism as sanctioned in the Soviet Union.
In Mao studies a group of radical academics (Richard Pfeffer, Andrew Walder and Mark Selden) engaged in scholarly dispute with the non-Marxist Sinologists Stuart Schram and Benjamin Schwartz in the journal of Modern China 1976/1977 to challenge this evaluation as being based on a rigid understanding of what constituted Maoist canon.
Paul Healy and Nick Knight offer an alternative, Marxist-orientated perspective in studying Mao’s career compared to the atheoretical textual attention of Professor Schram in the volume edited with Arif Dirlik (1997) Critical perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought[xxxvi]
The radical argument drew upon Mao’s clearly self-professed allegiance to Marxism, drawing upon the anti-authoritarianism of the Cultural Revolution period as well as the earlier Yenan writings of Mao that resonated with the Marx of ‘German Ideology’ and the (then) newly emerging body of writings by the early Marx, in particular ‘Grundrisse’. Maoist-inclined intellectuals e.g. David Fernbach and Martin Nicolas provided many of the translations of these works. Mao’s criticism of ’Soviet revisionism’ and articulation of a generative class thesis under socialist state structures drew support from those attracted to an alternative vision from that provided by a Soviet Union that seemed little different from its capitalist Cold War adversaries.
The early years of this century saw intellectual ferment among self-identifying Maoist focusing on the ideological judgements behind terminology issues – to use Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism.[xxxvii] That extended contention in recent years has swivelled to encompass a contention that basically Mao Zedong was not even a maoist. One current associated with the positions of the chairman of Partido Comunista del Peru (CPP), Chairman Gonzalo , argues that it needs someone like Gonzalo to systematize and formulate the universal lessons learned from the revolutionary struggle in China led by Mao, critics ask in what way have CPP and Gonzalo systematized and formulated Mao’s thinking questioning whether a few authoritative text produced by the PCP suffice as the basis for such an assertion when contested by other Maoists. [xxxviii]
“For most Maoists, the practices and lessons learned from the Cultural Revolution are the cornerstone of the development of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism. The launching of the GPCR was Mao’s response to the emergence of a new bureaucratic capitalist class in the Party under socialism. He believed that the only way to win the struggle for socialism was the elevated consciousness of the masses and their ability to rectify the Party: to target the real enemies of the dictatorship of the proletariat within the Party leadership itself. In the end, the masses were unable to accomplish this, in spite of—as you can read in the many documents in this volume—all of his efforts to enable them to do so.”[xxxix]
[ii] Mao Zedong; Moss Roberts, trans. (1977). A Critique of Soviet Economics. New York: Monthly Review Press
[iii] Timothy Cheek, The ‘Genius’ Mao: a treasure trove of 23 newly available volumes of post-1949 Mao Zedong texts. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 19/20, 1988.
[iv]Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Volume 9 (1993) Kranti Publications
[v] Quan Yanchi (1992) Mao Zedong Man, Not God. Translated by Wang Wenjiong and English text edited by Gale Hadfield. Paperback: 213 pages. Foreign Languages Press. 9787119014456 and Zhong Wenxian (ed) (1986) Mao Zedong: Biography – Assessment -Reminiscences. 238 pages. Foreign Languages Press .083511886X
[vi]Mao Zedong Ji (Collected Writings of Mao Zedong) edited by Takeuchi Minoru. 10 volumes. (Tokyo: Sososha 2nd ed. 1983) + Mao Zedong Ji: Bujuan (Supplement to Collected Writings of Mao Zedong ) edited by Takeuchi Minoru. 10 volumes. (Tokyo : Sososha 1983-1986)
[viii] Neibu – The concept of restricted circulation based on political criteria is a much discussed source by western academics who are less forthcoming about the private government briefings and seminars, the newsletters of restricted circulation based on financial criteria, and research products from the financial markets circulated by connections and restricted access to archives that all contribute to the ecology of information circulation in the west.
[ix]The China Quarterly, No. 103 (Sep., 1985), pp. 489-509
[x] The Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) was a United States government defense-funded organization that was absorbed into the monitoring service, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).
[xi] Michael Y.M.Kau and John K Leung, The Writing of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976 : Vol 1 September 1949-December 1955 (1986) New York: M.E. Sharpe: Vol 2 January 1956- December 1957 (1992) New York: M.E. Sharpe
[xii] See Li Rui (1996) An Initial Study on Mao Zedong’s Erroneous “Left” Thinking in His Later Years. Chinese Law & Government, 29:4, 6-11
[xiii]Timothy Cheek, The ‘Genius’ Mao: a treasure trove of 23 newly available volumes of post-1949 Mao Zedong texts. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 19/20, 1988
[xiv]The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward edited by Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, and Eugene Wu. Harvard University, 1989
[xv] Noted Shi Zhongquan in Hongqi [Red Flag] No 17, 1 Sept 1987 pp 3-9
[xvi] “All volumes of ‘Mao Zedong Works’ published.” Xinhua News Agency July 1st 1999.
[xvii] Newly Available Sources on CCP History from the People’s Republic of China in New perspectives on state socialism of China (eds) Timothy Cheek and Tony Saich. 1997
[xx] Brantly Womack, Mao before Maoism. The China Journal No.46 July 2001:95-117. His 1977 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Chicago was published in 1982: Foundations of Mao Zedong’s Political Thought, 1917-1935 Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. Subsequently published by China Renmin University Press (2006) translated as Mao Zedong Zhengzhi Sixiang de Jichu (1917–1935) 毛泽东政治思想的基础 (1917–1935).
A more extended and argued piece can be found in the work of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile, Evaluation of the Work of Mao Tsetung [published in Revolution, Journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Vol. 5, No. 1, January 1980].
[xxxv] See: What is Maoism? A Symposium, Problems of Communism, September 1966 Issue and the earlier disagreements voiced in the pages of The China Quarterly: Karl Wittvogel, “The Legend of Maoism” China Quarterly Nos 1-2 (1960) and Benjamin Schwartz, “The Legend of the ‘Legend of Maoism’” China Quarterly No.2 (April-June 1960).
[xxxvi] Dirlik (1997) New Jersey: Humanities Press. See: ‘Mao Zedong’s Thought and Critical Scholarship’ pp3-20
[xxxvii] See J. Moufawad-Paul, Critique of Maoist Reason FLP 2020
[xxxviii] PCP articles found in Collected Works of the PCP 1968-1987 FLP 2016. Drawing a line of demarcation in 21st Maoism, the veteran Philippine Marxist, Joma Ma. Sison, in an interview spoke critically on those taking such positions in the contemporary world communist movement. Published by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, 18 November 2019 https://ndfp.org/questions-on-mao-zedong-thought-maoism/