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MAO ZEDONG'S TEACHINGS ON THE MODE OF THINKING

Stefan Engel MLPD, 6 November 1993

 

The best way to honor a revolutionary is to continue his lifework systematically.

In the international revolutionary movement today, we are confronted with two main methods by which the importance of Mao Zedong is denigrated.

One is to limit the significance of Mao's epoch-making ideas to only as far as China's new-democratic revolution or, at the most, the beginnings of socialist construction and thereby deny his ideas of their universal truth. This method is used mainly by the current revisionist leadership of the People's Republic of China centered around Deng Xiaoping and his followers. Their sole purpose is to deceive the masses; thus they avoid coming into open contradiction with Mao Zedong, even as they destroy his lifework by restoring capitalism and selling out the People's Republic.

The other method is to apply mechanically and dogmatically the Chinese revolution's concrete strategy and tactics, concrete means and methods, and concrete forms to any country without regard for the county's specific social, geographic and historical features. The "ultraleftists" use this method most. Through ultraleft phrase-mongering, adventurism and sectarianism, they damage the reputation of Mao Zedong no less than the revi­sionists. And like the revisionists, they, too, cannot comprehend the universal truth of Mao Zedong Thought because the truth can only be discovered in the peculiarities of specific social conditions.

On the 100th birthday of Mao Zedong, therefore, the most urgent task of Marxist-Leninists is to defend Mao Zedong Thought against both revisionist and ultraleft distortions—to adopt critically and self-critically the universally valid ideas of Mao Zedong and apply them creatively to the concrete practice of class strug­gle. This means bringing our way of thinking and feeling along with our actions to agree with the objective reality's course of development.

Mao Zedong himself showed us the only reliable method for comprehending the universal validity of his revolutionary ideas:

When we look at a thing, we must examine its essence and treat its appearance merely as an usher at the threshold, and once we cross the threshold, we must grasp the essence of the thing; this is the only reliable and scientific method of analysis. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung I, 119)

To be able to make the most of Mao Zedong Thought for the interest of the international Marxist-Leninist and working-class movement now and in the future, one must understand the essence of this Thought.



Mao Zedong and the Ideological Struggle from the Standpoint of the Proletarian World Outlook

A characteristic feature, a central thread, marking all writings and statements of Mao Zedong is his untiring ideological struggle against all non-Marxist views and theories. It is Mao's basic view that correct ideas can only prevail through ideological struggle.

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revo­lutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung II, 31)

The bourgeois world outlook is naturally most developed in a bourgeois society, thrusting itself spontaneously upon the working class and the masses of working people more than anything else. Ideological struggle is Mao Zedong's fundamental method for interfusing the proletarian world outlook with all matters of strategy and tactics, concrete analysis of objective reality, and inner-Party debate.

An article in Hongqi (Red Flag) 5 (1964), quoted in the German edition of Peking Review (22/07/1964), explains:

The key problem of good ideological work is ensuring that the thinking of functionaries always remains revolutionary; in other words, that the Marxist-Leninist level of the cadres is raised. This is important because the propagation of revo­lutionary ideas among the masses and the strengthening of ideological guidance must be carried out by the cadres. Unceasing revolutionization of the cadres' thinking and systematic improvement of the leadership's style of work and conduct of affairs are indispensable prerequisites for unceasing revolutionization of the masses. [Our translation]

The three basic components of Marxism, as we know, con­sist of political economy, with the theory of surplus value as its cornerstone; proletarian strategy and tactics as the theory of class struggle; and the proletarian world conception of dialectical and historical materialism.

These three components form a dialectical unity in which one aspect or the other comes to the fore one at a time. Neglect­ing or ignoring any one of these fundamental aspects inevitably results in the inability to grasp the complete essence of Marxism-Leninism, let alone apply it creatively to class struggle.

As a tendency to neglect ideological struggle over the proletar­ian world outlook developed in the old Communist movement prior to 1956, Mao Zedong helped to put back the proletarian world outlook firmly in its place in the theory and practice of the revolutionary proletariat. He took up Lenin's conception of the crucial role ideological struggle plays under certain historical conditions. Of which, the significance of political and cultural education, Lenin says:

We are living in an historic period of struggle against the world bourgeoisie, which is far stronger than we are. At this stage of the struggle, we have to safeguard the development of the revolution and combat the bourgeoisie in the military sense and still more by means of our ideology through education, so that the habits, usages and convictions acquired by the working class in the course of many decades of struggle for political libertythe sum total of these habits, usages and ideas—should serve as an instrument for the education of all working people. [Author's emphasis] (Selected Works in Three Volumes III, 428)

Stalin recognized the importance of ideological struggle in theory, but in practice neglected the struggle against the bearers of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in socialist society, the state apparatus and the Party: the first main error of the CPSU under Stalin's leadership. The failure to mobilize the broad masses of the people against the degenerate representatives of the bureaucracy was the second main error.

Mao Zedong took cognizance of the weaknesses of Stalin and to avoid committing the same errors, he placed particular em­phasis on the proletarian world outlook in solving complicated new problems. For him the proletarian world outlook was always the "telescope and microscope" to see through the subtlest mechanisms in the development of human society and human thinking, and from where he developed his extremely refined conclusions. Hence, the more complicated the problems to be solved, the deeper the necessity to comprehend the proletarian world outlook and master its theory, practice and method!



Mao Zedong's Scientific Method

The whole course of the world of nature, society and hu­man thinking is a never-ending dialectical process. Therefore, beyond the concrete individual manifestations of objective reality—which we can directly perceive with the aid of our sense organs—the only possible way to get down to reality's essence is with the aid of the dialectical-materialist method. Mao Zedong gives a masterly explanation:

Fully to reflect a thing in its totality, to reflect its essence, to reflect its inherent laws, it is necessary through the exercise of thought to reconstruct the rich data of sense perception, dis­carding the dross and selecting the essential, eliminating the false and retaining the true, proceeding from the one to the other and from the outside to the inside, in order to form a system of concepts and theories it is necessary to make a leap from per­ceptual to rational knowledge. Such reconstructed knowledge is not more empty or more unreliable; on the contrary, whatever has been scientifically reconstructed in the process of cognition, on the basis of practice, reflects objective reality, as Lenin said, more deeply, more truly, more fully. (Selected Works I, 303)

When the MLPD (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany) made its evaluation of the September 1993 Hamburg Senate election, it was particularly important not to overestimate the value of election results as a gauge in assessing the consciousness of the masses, for bourgeois elections in period of state-monopoly capitalism are never more than a relative indicator of this. In the so-called militant democracy of the Federal Republic of Ger­many, elections are determined, above all, by a system that sub­ject revolutionary parties to institutionalized handicaps. Another is the monopoly parties' complete control over the modern mass media, which decides election campaigns to the extent of 95 per cent. Last but not least, the narrow limitations of bourgeois parliamentarism and the restricted opportunities for self-expres­sion make it impossible for the sentiment of the masses to get reflected, particularly when these are directed against the system of dictatorship by the monopolies and their political parties.

Meanwhile, in strikes and demonstrations, in the most varied forms of active popular resistance and mass protest, some forms of expression far more significant than election campaigns and election results will ever produce have developed.

Thus, election results could only provide us with a very super­ficial knowledge, not a realistic picture, of the development of the consciousness of the masses. Only the analysis of all sides of the development of the masses' consciousness—the negative and the positive aspects, the obvious and the hidden, the funda­mental and the concrete, the theoretical and the practical, the progressive and the reactionary, the objective and the subjec­tive—could help us arrive at a thorough assessment, and that is, that a profound change in the mood of the masses, which will end the long period of relative calm in the class struggle, is developing with increasing rapidity.

The process of moving from the sensory perception of things to their rational assimilation with the aid of the dialectical-materialist method reflects objective things and processes "more deeply, more truly, more fully."

In revolutionary practice, relatively familiar questions can usually be answered by delving into the wealth of practical experiences and by conventional methods. Questions that come up under new phenomena and fundamental changes in the situation, however, require bringing one's thinking and actions in line with the new reality through the dialectical-materialist method. Mao Zedong prescribes that

as far as social movements are concerned, true revolutionary leaders must not only be good at correcting their ideas, theo­ries, plans or programs when errors are discovered but when a certain objective process has already progressed and changed from one stage of development to another, they must also be good at making themselves and all their fellow-revolutionaries progress and change in their subjective knowledge along with it, that is to say, they must ensure that the proposed new revo­lutionary tasks and new working programs correspond to the new changes in the situation. (Ibid., 306)

This holds true all the more when one has to deal with revolutionary upheavals.

In a revolutionary period the situation changes very rapidly; if the knowledge of revolutionaries does not change rapidly in accordance with the changed situation, they will be unable to lead the revolution to victory. (Ibid.)

In such situations, dogmatism is particularly dangerous because it generally lacks the flexibility to grasp the new revolutionary tasks in every concrete turn of the class struggle. Various comrades in the MLPD, for example, failed to recognize that today, when the petty-bourgeois movement is in a crisis, when the awakening work­ers' movement has become the dominating force in the social mass movement and the proletarian character of the Party is not threatened, it is not correct to emphasize mainly the Party's dif­ferences with the movement of the petty-bourgeois intellectuals and their activities and organizations. Rather the time has come to do everything to step up preparations for the alliance with the petty-bourgeois strata and to really become a party of the masses. These comrades did not understand the new situation and dogma­tically clung to the same primary task as in the 1970s. Then, the main threat to the young workers' movement and the rebuilding of the revolutionary party was the destructive effect of domination by petty-bourgeois intellectuals.

Mao Zedong castigated the method of the dogmatists:

Our dogmatists are lazy-bones. They refuse to undertake any painstaking study of concrete things, they regard general truths as emerging out of the void, they turn them into purely abstract unfathomable formulas, and thereby completely deny and reverse the normal sequence by which man comes to know truth. (Ibid., 321)



Every Cadre Must Adopt the Proletarian Mode of Thinking

The core of the proletarian world outlook is the proletarian mode of thinking, the dialectical method of linking Marxist-Leninist theory with the concrete practice of class struggle.

It was Mao Zedong's desire that leading cadres not only embrace the core of the proletarian world outlook, but that the proletarian methods of thinking and work pervade all Party activities. In the teaching of the dialectical-materialist method, he emphasized ideological struggle by all cadres and members of the Party. This idea is contained in Mao Zedong's two main philosophical works, "On Practice" and "On Contradiction", written as early as 1937. These works are outstanding guides to mastering the dialectical-materialist method for learning Marxist-Leninist theory and translating it into the concrete practice of class struggle. They also provide a general guideline for developing cadres and the abilities and qualities required of them.

To become a Party of the masses, the MLPD must succeed in the coming years to develop thousands of cadres who

can grasp the essence of Marxism-Leninism and the ideological/ political line of the MLPD;

possess the ability to apply the dialectical-materialist method to any problem independently, a necessary requisite to become poli­tically able and sufficiently skilled in performing particular functions and tasks on a qualitatively high level;

have the political foresight that permits cadres not only to think through each problem in depth but also to grasp the direc­tion of future development and draw appropriate conclusions;

are sufficiently tempered and unfazed by any difficulty—must possess the necessary spirit of sacrifice to do everything for party-building and class struggle; and

are closely in touch with how the masses think, feel and act and are freed of self-interest and craving for recognition, pride and arrogance, lechargy and passivity, rigidity and sectarianism.



Literature and Art for Educating the Masses

Raising the general cultural standard in a semifeudal and semicolonial country such as China, where illiteracy was parti­cularly widespread, was of special significance: without raising the cultural level, there can be no successful revolutionary lib­eration struggle! Literature and art, therefore, must serve the class interest of the proletariat. In "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" Mao Zedong elucidates:

In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines.

There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or indepen­dent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine. There­fore, Party work in literature and art occupies a definite and assigned position in Party revolutionary work as a whole and is subordinated to the revolutionary tasks set by the Party in a given revolutionary period. Opposition to this arrangement is certain to lead to dualism and pluralism, and in essence amounts to "politics Marxist, art bourgeois," as with Trotsky. {Selected Works III, 86)

To enable the masses to adopt the proletarian world outlook in a deepgoing way, Mao Zedong untiringly fought to have proletarian culture reach the broad masses. And this applies, of course, to the decisive aspect of culture and proletarian ideology. Since our literature and art are basically for the workers, peasants and soldiers, "popularization" means to popularize among the workers, peasants and soldiers, and "raising stan­dards" means to advance from their present level We must popularize only what is needed and can be readily accepted by the workers, peasants and soldiers themselves. Consequent­ly, prior to the task of educating the workers, peasants and soldiers, there is the task of learning from them. This is even more true of raising standards. There must be a basis from which to raise. (Ibid., 80)

Literature and art are forms of ideological struggle. They are fundamental methods for deeply rooting the proletarian mode of thinking among the broad masses.



Mao Zedong's Struggle against Bourgeois and Petty-Bourgeois Thinking within the Party

To firmly establish proletarian methods of thinking and work in the Party, Mao Zedong conducted an intense struggle against all manifestations of petty-bourgeois and bourgeois modes of thinking and work in the Party; to create the necessary climate, he had to struggle against liberalism, the main petty-bourgeois tendency. But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprin­cipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations. ("Combat Liberalism," Selected Works II, 31)

Twenty years later, in the Soviet Union under Khrushchov, it was to be proven that neglecting ideological struggle brings about not only political degeneration of individual members and Party units, but also the degeneration of the entire Party and, consequently, the destruction of socialism.

Mao Zedong identified eleven principal manifestations of liberalism at that time:

1. Rejecting principled criticism and self-criticism

2. Irresponsible behind-the-back gossiping instead of open criticism

3. Playing safe and behaving opportunistically

4. Giving pride of place to one's own opinions

5. Indulging in personal attacks instead of concentrating on objective argument

6. Saying nothing against incorrect views and allowing them to continue

7. Behaving as though a Marxist-Leninist were an ordinary citizen

8. Behaving indifferently when harm is done to the masses' interests

9. Working perfunctorily and muddling along instead of working conscientiously

10. Priding oneself on being a veteran instead of consistently working to improve one's abilities

11. Not correcting mistakes

Mao Zedong has proved that liberalism erodes the ranks of the Party and impedes any real progress. Above all, liberalism has the effect of alienating the Party from the masses.

Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. (Ibid., 32) Conversely, this means that ideological struggle—untiring persuasion work—is decisive for guaranteeing ever deeper ties between Party and masses. The ideological struggle to grasp how the masses think, feel and act is the essence of the Party's sys­tematic and detailed grass-roots work, the method for decisively becoming the party of the masses. Liberalism means dispensing with ideological struggle; hence it is also an obstacle to the Party's decisively becoming the party of the masses. Mao Zedong points to the socioeconomic roots of every idea:

In class society everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class. (Selected Works I, 296)

Liberalism is a manifestation of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking.

Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism. (Selected Works II, 32)

In his constant struggle to firmly establish proletarian methods of thinking and work, Mao Zedong pointed out a whole range of additional symptoms of petty-bourgeois thinking—dogma­tism, stereotyped Party writing, self-righteousness and smugness, book knowledge, passivity and carelessness, corruptibility and recognition-seeking, unprincipledness and inflexibility, haughty airs, exclusivity, veteran mentality, sectarianism, lack of discipline, subjective style of work, intellectual vanity and arrogance, empiri­cism, ultrademocracy and ultracentralism, fanaticism, disdain for the masses, formalism, bureaucratism, extravagant praise and egotism, and so on. Common to all these manifestations of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking and work is the separation of Marxist-Leninist theory from revolutionary practice. Accordingly, the essence of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking is the metaphysical method, the separation of theory from practice.

The manifestations of petty-bourgeois thinking reflect the social character of the petty bourgeoisie. By the term petty bour­geois we do not wish to denigrate comrades of petty-bourgeois class situation or origin; we use it as a scientific category for the purpose of conducting the ideological struggle accurately.

Generally speaking, the petty bourgeoisie in capitalist society, particularly in the stage of state-monopoly capitalism, is no longer a uniform class or stratum. It includes the self-employed small-scale producers, the self-employed intelligentsia, the dependently employed intelligentsia, the masses of civil servants, the small and middle farmers, etc. They are typified by their vacillating character. With reference to capitalism, Marx characterized the petty-bourgeois thus:

In an advanced society the petty bourgeois necessarily be­comes from his very position a Socialist on the one side and an economist on the other; that is to say, he is dazed by the magnificence of the big bourgeoisie and has sympathy for the sufferings of the people…. A petty bourgeois of this type glo­rifies contradiction because contradiction is the basis of his existence. He is himself nothing but social contradiction in action. He must justify in theory what he is in practice.(Marx/Engels, Selected Works l, 527)

The objective assessment of the role of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, which is most likely to put its petty-bourgeois views into theoretical form, is most important to the ideological struggle in the Party. For this reason, it is important that every revolutionary movement should exercise particular vigilance towards the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. According to Lenin,

No one will venture to deny that the intelligentsia, as a special stratum of modern capitalist society, is characterized, by and large, precisely by individualism and incapacity for discipline and organization.... This, incidentally, is a feature which un­favorably distinguishes this social stratum from the proletariat; it is one of the reasons for the flabbiness and instability of the intellectual, which the proletariat so often feels; and this trait of the intelligentsia is intimately bound up with its customary mode of life, its mode of earning a livelihood, which in a great many respects approximates to the petty-bourgeois mode of existence. (Selected Works in Three Volumes I, 293)



Mao Zedong's Law of the Two-Line Struggle

If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideologi­cal struggles to resolve them, the Party's life would come to an end. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung I, 317)

The contradictions within the Party are a reflection of the class struggle within society. Therefore, the emergence of ideological/ political contradictions within the Party is an objective law.

The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. (Ibid., 311)

This law of contradiction in things, of course, also applies to the Party and to inner-party discussion.

The idea that inner-Party contradictions must not be allowed to occur—a view contrary to Marx's and Lenin's—spread in various old Communist parties prior to 1956 and in the Party of Labor of Albania (PLA) under Enver Hoxha. It led to the notion that incorrect opinions and views could not come from within the party but brought from outside.

This metaphysical view does not seek the cause of inner-party contradictions from class struggle and its reflections in people's minds, but in the non-Marxist idea of external influence on the Party through the work of agents. Of course, there are attempts from outside to influence the Party, but it is the internal contra-dictoriness of Party life which is fundamental and decisive to the development of the Party.

Enver Hoxha, in his book Imperialism and the Revolution, polemicized against Mao Zedong:

Mao Zedong himself has advocated the need for the existence of "two lines" in the Party. According to him, the existence and struggle between two lines is something natural, is a manifes­tation of the unity of the opposites, is a flexible policy which unites in itself both loyalty to principles and compromise. (399)

The KABD, forerunner organization of the MLPD, responded in July 1980:

The two-line struggle is the objective law of development of contradictions within the Party. Even if Hoxha denies it, it will nevertheless have its effect (in the PLA as well). Petty-bourgeois mentality emerges spontaneously again and again and does not only infect people of petty-bourgeois origin. Unless they have a very firm socialist consciousness, prole­tarians, too, are inflicted by petty-bourgeois mentality as a result of inner influences and changes, reinforced by the influence of bourgeois ideology as an external cause. Parti­cularly vulnerable are the bureaucrats who tend to petty-bourgeois mentality because of their higher standard of living and a certain amount of power they have in their hands.

Those members and officials in the Party who are domi­nated by petty-bourgeois mentality will soon come into conflict with the proletarian line of the Party. At first these are contra­dictions among the people, which, if they can't be resolved, change into antagonistic contradictions. These contradictions are manifested as the two-line struggle. The petty-bourgeois line attempts to undermine the proletarian line and to change the Party into a revisionist party. This must be prevented by the consequent struggle of the proletarian line....

So it is a necessary process that a two-line struggle develops on the basis of inner-Party contradictions. The objective cause of this is the existence of classes, class contradictions and class struggle in socialism. Hoxha denies this objective law by imply­ing that Mao Zedong approves of the constant existence of two lines within the Party. But he cannot prevent this law from having its effects in Albania and the PLA. (China Today 5, 41-42)

By attacking Mao Zedong Thought, the PLA robbed itself of the chance to withstand the onslaughts of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology, which ultimately caused the Party's downfall.

The Central Committee of the MLPD, prior to the Fourth Party Congress in 1991, initially rejected the reunification of Germany because it led to the West German monopolies' annex­ation of East Germany. This position, though in agreement with that of the revisionists or the "Independent Left," was coming from an entirely different frame. Subjectively, we rejected the stand of the revisionists for defending the GDR as "real socialism"; we rejected as well the petty-bourgeois anarchist slogan of the "In­dependents", "Never again Germany!" Objectively, however, our attitude differed only slightly from that of the revisionists and the "ultraleftists". By rejecting reunification, we ignored the justified desire of the German population for overcoming the unnatural division of the German nation, and objectively opposed the demo­cratic popular movement in the GDR. That was a fundamental error which could only have its cause within the Party itself.

The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung I, 313)

The error occurred because we concerned ourselves one-sidedly with the doubtlessly existent desire of the West German monopolies to expand their economic and political power and did not take the fundamental interests of the German people as starting point.

In fact, reunification had a dual character: on the part of the West German monopolies, it was annexation; on the part of the masses, reunification. Even if it took place under capitalist terms, the reunification of Germany was primarily the progressive result of the democratic popular resistance against the bureaucrat-capitalist Honecker regime and ought to have been supported by Marxists under all circumstances. The main task of the Marx­ists would be to overcome the division of the German working class in the East and West and to build the Party in the whole of Germany.

The Central Committee's mistake lay chiefly on the incorrect analysis and the violation of the mass line. It was only on the basis of this mistake that the revisionist and sectarian influences stemming from the spontaneous movement could take effect.

On this Mao Zedong says:

Does materialist dialectics exclude external causes? Not at all. It holds that external causes are the condition of change and internal causes are the basis of change, and that external causes become operative through internal causes. (Ibid., 314)

The wrong "agent" theory frequently led to the mechanical handling of contradictions in various old Communist parties and, not infrequently, to the use of unjustifiable and harmful mea­sures of coercion. Mao Zedong's theory of the struggle of two lines and the importance of ideological struggle is of elementary significance for building any proletarian revolutionary party.



The Corrosive Effect of the Petty-Bourgeois Mode of Thinking in Party-Building

The rebuilding of Marxist-Leninist parties in Europe at the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '70s took place at a time when the social movement was very heavily dominated by the petty-bourgeois student movement. With few exceptions, the working class submitted to attacks of monopoly capital without putting up a fight. Class struggle was at a relative ebb. Reform­ism determined the thinking of the workers. Their fighting spirit had been dulled by the policy of benevolent reforms practiced by the monopolies for years.

Attracted by the successes of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the criticism of modern revisionism, along with the successes of the Indochinese peoples in their liberation struggle against U.S. imperialism, tens of thousands of petty-bourgeois students turned to Marxism-Leninism. In almost all countries of Western Europe, there emerged Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations citing Marxism-Leninism and Mao Ze­dong Thought as their authority. But, by no means, did everyone quoting Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought necessarily grasp the essence of the proletarian world outlook. The theo­retical organ of the MLPD, Revolutionärer Weg (Revolutionary Road), comments:

The active forces in the student movement turned to the working class, studied Marxism-Leninism more or less, and founded Marxist-Leninist groups. With their petty-bourgeois thinking, they combined petty-bourgeois revolutionism, hos­tility to authority, Trotskyism and anarchism with Marxism-Leninism and "Left" opportunism. From this hotchpotch, the so-called M-L movement emerged. It was necessary, apart from combating revisionism, also to combat the hostility to authority which still clung to many people from the students' movement. (No. 1-3: 7)

Petty-bourgeois claims to leadership, dogmatism, schematism, eclecticism, opportunism and sectarianism characterized the petty-bourgeois "M-L" movement from the outset. Under the leadership of petty-bourgeois students, splits occurred and new groups were founded again and again, usually all claiming to be the only genuine "Marxist-Leninist" party. In 1972 alone there were at least 150 such "Marxist-Leninist" groups and parties in Germany. After a brief flowering in the '70s, this petty-bourgeois "M-L" movement completely collapsed at the beginning of the '80s.

The leaders of the petty-bourgeois "M-L" movement would not learn from and integrate with workers; they were incapable of actually creating deep ties with the proletariat and adopting a proletarian mode of thinking. Instead, they tried to build the organizations and parties in their petty-bourgeois image and according to their petty-bourgeois goals; they were thus bound to fail.

With the decline of the spontaneous "M-L" movement, most of these petty-bourgeois students proved incapable of drawing the correct conclusions from their defeat. They proved their whole lack of character by quickly returning to the bourgeois fold, retiring to private life, or joining the petty-bourgeois Green Party, of course, not without vehemently attacking Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as the alleged cause of their failure.

The petty-bourgeois student leaders proved incapable of going against the tide. Despite a more or less extensive book knowledge of Marxism-Leninism, they had maintained their class standpoint and failed to adopt the proletarian mode of thinking. And, they laid the blame for their capitulationism on the sup posed backwardness of the masses. They declared the workers' movement dead and turned to their real metier: the movement of the petty bourgeoisie—the defense of their individualist, pacifist, nihilist and negativist interests and concerns. The petty-bourgeois mode of thinking thus led to liquidationism.

When manifestations of liquidationism also developed in the KABD in 1975-76, Willi Dickhut summarized, for the first time, the different features, traits and manifestations of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking influencing over the working-class movement at that time. He came to the conclusion: where liquidationism occurs, the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking is dominant

In their effort to corrode and liquidate the Marxist party, the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the liquidators are ob­jectively acting in a counterrevolutionary way; objectively, they have become agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class camp. A clear line is all that can be drawn between them and the proletarian party. (Revolutionärer Weg 15: 35)

Therefore, it is necessary to detect the manifestations of petty-bourgeois thinking in good time. Whether they occur individually or collectively, they must be promptly and resolutely combated through criticism and self-criticism before they generally become a dominant feature in the thinking of cadres. The moment the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking becomes dominant over the proletarian mode of thinking in the Party, liquidationism results.

Willi Dickhut underscored two factors as material basis for liquidationism. First, the emergence of petty-bourgeois interme­diate strata and their dissolution into the proletariat. Second, the effect of the changed situation either in an economic or political crisis or in a revolutionary situation.

Revolutionärer Weg sums, up the principal features that charac­terized petty-bourgeois liquidationism that emerged in 1976: haughtiness and arrogance, individualistic claims to leadership and careerism, individualism and lack of discipline, ultrademocracy and freedom of criticism, disdain for the masses, sectarianism, dogmatism and empiricism, liberalism and revisionism.

From these, it was necessary to strengthen revolutionary vigilance to defend and consolidate the Party.

The basis of revolutionary vigilance is nothing less than the critical, revolutionary attitude towards reality, the correct com­bination of criticism and self-criticism as method of scientific cognition. To recognize the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, as chief cause of liquidationism, in its various aspects and manifestations and be able to nip them in the bud, one must recognize the emergence of petty-bourgeois thinking in one­self and in others and must weed it out. (Ibid., 93)

Revolutionärer Weg also points out that revolutionary vigilance has nothing to do with petty-bourgeois skepticism and mistrust, which are themselves manifestations of petty-bourgeois thinking. Therefore, we should simultaneously guard against the development of mistrust. We call for revolutionary vigilance on the basis of mutual trust amongst each other, whether members or leading bod­ies. The dialectical unity between trust and revolutionary vigilance must always be ensured, with one aspect being the principal aspect at a particular time. Currently, revolutionary vigilance must become the principal aspect because it has been irresponsibly neglected. (Ibid.)



The Necessity of a System of Control

The question of the mode of thinking is so important for the workers' movement that it must constantly be reviewed. Nay, more: "who influences whom?" must constantly be checked. (Ibid., 11)

The question of who influences whom is of fundamental sig­nificance to a revolutionary party. Apart from control from below through the revolutionary vigilance of the members, con­trol must also be organized from above in the Party by means of independent control commissions.

The elimination of the independent control commissions under Stalin was an underestimation of the ideological struggle over the mode of thinking. Mao Zedong's failure to recognize this was obviously a mistake, as the negative development of the Communist Party of China following his death showed.

It was not by accident that Lenin formed his basic thoughts on the necessity of independent control commissions. The idea came at a time when manifestations of petty-bourgeois bureaucratism began to develop with a vengeance within the apparatus of the Party, the state, and the economy of the young Soviet Union.

Our Central Committee has grown into a strictly centralized and highly authoritative group, but the conditions under which this group is working are not commensurate with its authority. The reform I recommend should help to remove this defect, and the members of the Central Control Commis­sion, whose duty it will be to attend all meetings of the Political Bureau in a definite number, will have to form a compact group which should not allow anybody's authority without exception, neither that of the General Secretary nor of any other member of the Central Committee, to prevent them from putting questions, verifying documents, and, in general, from keeping themselves fully informed of all things and from exercising the strictest control over the proper conduct of affairs. (Lenin, Selected Works in Three Volumes III, 712)

In rebuilding the Party following the revisionist degeneration of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany), the MLPD reintro­duced the independent control commissions. The system of control commissions further developed by the MLPD is an im­portant conclusion from the revisionist degeneration of formerly Communist parties.

The chief task of these commissions is to educate leading bodies and members to overcome petty-bourgeois thinking and to strengthen their proletarian mode of thinking. However, to do this, a necessary condition is for the control commissions to have the ability to undertake far-reaching administrative measures. Control without this capability, without "power," is empty.

In educational work, the need to avoid administrative mea­sures as much as possible does not mean these measures can be dispensed with entirely. The very possibility that administrative measures could be applied extends the scope of education with­out resorting to these very measures; thus effectively, their actual use is minimized.

The efficaciousness of the work of the control commissions is enhanced to the same extent as the system of control from above is accompanied by control from below. Since proletarian thinking can only develop on the basis of persuasion, of free­will recognition of necessity, in the final analysis, it is every cadre checking his or her own mode of thinking and work that decides all cadre development. Therefore, the task of the control commis­sions is to educate the members and leading bodies to exercise revolutionary vigilance towards themselves and others.

The systematic struggle over the mode of thinking in the Marxist-Leninist party is guaranteed by the dialectical unity of the three aspects of control: control from above, control from below and control of self.



Willi Dickhut's Theory on the Struggle between the Proletarian and the Petty-Bourgeois Modes of Thinking

Building on Mao Zedong's discovery of the inevitability of inner-Party contradictions, Willi Dickhut developed the concept of the "struggle between the two lines as the objective law of the development of inner-Party contradictions. "It finds expression in the unceasing struggle between the proletarian and the petty-bourgeois modes of thinking within the Party. Willi Dickhut's theory of the mode of thinking is of fundamental significance for the rebuilding of Marxist-Leninist parties following the degenera­tion of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) into revisionism and, since 1956, of the parties linked to the CPSU.

If we want to build the proletarian party, we must always observe this law of the development of inner-Party contradictions.... Inner-Party struggle reflects class struggle and expresses itself as a struggle between the two lines. That is to say, every ideo­logical/political line is bound to a certain class. The class of the bourgeoisie champions its bourgeois line; the working class, its proletarian line. The content of the bourgeois line is bourgeois ideology; the content of the proletarian line is proletarian ideology, that is, Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Bourgeois ideology penetrates into the working class through numerous channels and tries to corrupt proletarian ideology. This is facilitated by the existence of petty-bourgeois strata which vacillate between [the] bourgeoisie and [the] working class.

[The] working class and [the] petty bourgeoisie are con­nected by a thousand strings. The petty-bourgeois mode of thinking is constantly acting on the working class. This does not stop at the proletarian party, the vanguard of the proletariat.

The stronger the influence of petty-bourgeois thinking on sections of the proletariat, the more this must impede class struggle. The firmer the foothold gained in the proletarian party by the different manifestations of petty-bourgeois think­ing, the more this must influence the ideological/political firmness of the members either in a positive or negative way.

Thus, a struggle emerges in the Party, a tug-of-war between the proletarian and the petty-bourgeois modes of thinking. Petty-bourgeois thinking finds expression in an ideological/ political line which opposes the proletarian line. The struggle between the two lines breaks out and intensifies.

The petty-bourgeois line, which initially appears as a ten­dency, as yet a contradiction among the people, becomes an antagonistic contradiction. The proletarian line must be ag­gressively defended against the petty-bourgeois line with the goal of smashing the petty-bourgeois line and helping the proletarian line to victory. Were the petty-bourgeois line to win out, this would mean a victory for revisionism and the liqui­dation of the proletarian party. (Willi Dickhut, quoted from Revolutionärer Weg 24: 163)



The Proletarian Mode of Thinking

The proletarian parties and organizations, which had to assert themselves against the petty-bourgeois "M-L" movement, could only preserve and develop themselves by resolutely dissociating from these petty-bourgeois "Marxist-Leninist" organizations and parties. They had to concentrate on winning over the decisive majority of the working class and patiently re-educate comrades of petty-bourgeois origin and class situation to adopt a pro­letarian mode of thinking, critically assimilate and creatively apply Marxism-Leninism to the present-day conditions of state-monopoly capitalism in Germany. Everything was, above all, a matter of developing proletarian cadres for the new Marxist-Leninist party through patient educational work.

According to Karl Marx,

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their be­ing, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. ("Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy," in Marx/Engels, Selected Works I, 503)

The proletarian mode of thinking has two stages: (1) spon­taneous proletarian thinking as a reflection of belonging to the working class or as an expression of proletarian class instinct and (2) proletarian thinking raised to the level of socialist conscious­ness. At the first stage, proletarian thinking is still very unstable and more or less strongly influenced by or predisposed to petty-bourgeois thinking. Therefore, raising it to the second level— where the proletarian class standpoint becomes fused with scientific socialism—is essential.

The developed proletarian mode of thinking is identical with the ability to thoroughly think over every problem in depth and perspective and, accordingly, take planned action. This three­fold thinking characterizes the proletarian mode of thinking of the cadres of a Marxist-Leninist party. They are able to apply

Marxism-Leninism creatively to concrete conditions, lead the masses and educate them to have proletarian thinking.

To grasp Marxism-Leninism, one needs to adopt its method; book-learning, even by heart, is never enough. Lenin throws harsh judgment on these bookish "Marxists":

They all call themselves Marxists, but their conception of Marxism is impossibly pedantic. They have completely fail­ed to understand what is decisive in Marxism, namely, its revolutionary dialectics. (Selected Works in Three Volumes III, 712)

In essence, the proletarian mode of thinking is the scientific method for applying the theory of Marxism-Leninism to the con­crete reality of society and human thinking and actions. It is therefore the living mode of existence of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Under the conditions of state-monopoly capitalism, it is no longer enough, if it ever was, merely to cite Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. One must thoroughly imbue one­self with the proletarian way of thinking, feeling and acting and adopt the proletarian mode of thinking. The foundation for building the Marxist-Leninist party has widened: the theory of Marxism-Leninism no longer suffices; the Marxist-Leninist party must operate on the basis of the proletarian mode of thinking. Only then will the party be able to avoid mistakes and be in the position to win the decisive majority of the working class for the overthrow of imperialism and the building of socialism.

All organizations that do not resolutely take up the struggle for the proletarian mode of thinking and against the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking will change into opportunist or sectarian organizations or go down sooner or later.

The question of the mode of thinking has acquired a uni­versal social dimension under the conditions of state-monopoly capitalism. With changes in the class structure in state-monopoly capitalism, a relatively large stratum of dependently employed intelligentsia has developed. Its upper end extends into the ranks of monopoly capital; at its lower end, the working class. There is no longer a sharp separating line between the working class and the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia today. They have come increasingly closer to each other in respect to their life cir­cumstances and living conditions. For example, while youths from worker-families go to colleges and become intellectuals, children of petty-bourgeois intellectuals become blue-collar workers or low-ranking white-collar employees. Mobility be­tween the petty bourgeoisie and the working class has become fluid, with concomitant effects on the way both classes think: the petty-bourgeois thinking exercises influence on the masses of the working class; conversely, the proletarian mode of think­ing, on the petty bourgeoisie. This change in class structure is the decisive material condition for the increased significance of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in today's class struggle.

With the emergence of the modern mass media, the mono­polies have succeeded in gaining a direct influence on the working class' thinking, feeling and acting. As a result of reformist con­cessions, a broad stratum of workers has been able to attain a petty-bourgeois living standard for a time, on the basis of which, the ideology of reformism has taken strong root among the working class. But even as the working class continues to reject openly bourgeois or imperialist ideologies, monopoly capital has been making use of the modern mass media and electronic mass culture—aimed at undermining proletarian class consciousness and dulling the fighting spirit of the working class and disorga­nizing it—to spread petty-bourgeois thinking systematically among the working class and the youth.

For this reason, too, there is no one-hundred per cent prole­tarian mode of thinking, not even among the most politically conscious cadres of the Party. The struggle between the pro­letarian and the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking goes on independent of our will. Only those who are conscious of this can avoid the danger of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking and strengthen their proletarian mode of thinking!

The petty-bourgeois mode of thinking seeks to reconcile the proletarian and the bourgeois world outlooks and thus becomes the gateway to the working class for bourgeois and reactionary ideas.

With the awakening of class consciousness and the transi­tion to the working-class offensive, however, a reverse process has been initiated against the backdrop of the end of the social reforms. The working class is consolidating its proletarian thinking and is overcoming step-by-step the influences of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking on its demands, the forms of struggle used, and its ideas about the prevailing system. Doubtlessly, the decades of patient and systematic work by the Marxist-Leninists among the industrial proletariat contributes to this development.

This process of overcoming the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in the working-class movement, however, does not proceed in a straight line, but rather in stages, and is interrupted by lapses and setbacks. The material basis for this is the com­plexity of class relations in state-monopoly capitalism and the distinctly crisis-ridden character of its present-day development. Moreover, the revolutionary party is not yet able today to lead the broad masses of the working people.

The development of the MLPD into to the party of the masses, consequently, is the most urgent task for raising the class struggle of the working class in Germany to a higher level and establish­ing the proletarian mode of thinking among the masses on a broad front.



Mao Zedong's Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People

Based on the experience of the new-democratic revolution and the socialist revolution, Mao Zedong analyzed the existence of two kinds of contradictions in socialist society: the contradic­tions between ourselves and the enemy and the contradictions among the people.

In an article published on April 14, 1964 entitled "Statement of the Central Committee of the SED against the Divisive Policies of the Chinese Leaders: For Strengthening the Unity and Solidarity of the Communist Worker Parties," Ulbricht attacks Mao Ze­dong's analysis of the continued existence of classes and class contradictions in socialist society with the following assertions:

Law is the growth of the forces of peace and socialism..., law is the growth of the strength of the Communist and workers' parties, of their unity and solidarity. [Our translation]

Mao Zedong thoroughly rejects this idealistic conception that socialism is already a society without classes and class contradictions.

In philosophy, materialism and idealism form a unity of opposites and struggle with each other. The same is true of another pair of opposites, dialectics and metaphysics. Whenever one talks about philosophy, one cannot do without these two pairs of opposites. Now in the Soviet Union they will have noth­ing to do with such "pairs" but are going in only for "singles," asserting that only fragrant flowers, but not poisonous weeds, grow there, and denying the existence of idealism and meta­physics in a socialist country. As a matter of fact, idealism, metaphysics and poisonous weeds are found in every country. In the Soviet Union many of the poisonous weeds appear in the name of fragrant flowers, and many absurd statements bear the label of materialism or socialist realism. We openly recognize the struggle between materialism and idealism, between dia­lectics and metaphysics, and between fragrant flowers and poisonous weeds. This struggle will go on for ever and will move a step forward at every stage. (Selected Works V, 366)

The materialist analysis of the existence of correct and in­correct views in socialist construction made it possible in Mao Zedong's China to conduct comprehensive, ideological/political mass education. In the GDR, by contrast, ideological problems were usually solved by administrative means. For example, when disturbances directed at the bureaucratic decree of higher norms developed on June 17, 1953, the SED leadership failed to distin­guish between the masses' justified criticism of the bureaucratic, centralistic practices of the SED leadership and the really exist­ing counterrevolutionary troublemakers. The leadership could have resolved the contradiction by using the method of the unity of opposites. Mao Zedong comments:

Disturbances should be differentiated into several categories and handled accordingly. In one category there are the justifi­able disturbances, in which case we should admit our mistakes and correct them. In another category there are the unjustifiable ones and these we must rebut. Disturbances having good grounds ought to occur; groundless ones will get nowhere. In yet another category, the disturbances are partly justifiable and partly not, and we should accept what is justifiable and criticize what is not.... Don't be too ready to use force or to open fire on people, except in the case of a real, large-scale counterrevolutionary rebellion which necessitates armed suppression. (Ibid., 374)

Contradictions between ourselves and the enemy have an an­tagonistic character, and they must be handled primarily by the method of heavy blows. The contradictions among the people, on the other hand, have a non-antagonistic character and must be handled by the method of patient reasoning and argument.

The great danger of trying to resolve ideological problems by administrative methods is the possibility that antagonistic con­tradictions can develop out of non-antagonistic ones.

In ordinary circumstances, contradictions among the people are not antagonistic. But if they are not handled properly, or if we relax our vigilance and lower our guard, antagonism may arise. (Ibid., 391)

What holds for the contradictions in socialist society also has significance for the Marxist-Leninist party. As long as the pro­letarian mode of thinking dominates, the contradiction with petty-bourgeois thinking is not antagonistic. In this condition, overcoming petty-bourgeois thinking must be accomplished through reasoning and argument and principled criticism and self-criticism.

All attempts to use administrative orders or coercive mea­sures to settle ideological questions or questions of right and wrong are not only ineffective but harmful. We cannot abolish religion by administrative order or force people not to believe in it We cannot compel people to give up idealism, any more than we can force them to embrace Marxism. The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression. (Ibid., 389)

However, should the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking make further inroads and become the dominant mode of think­ing, the non-antagonistic contradiction becomes antagonistic. Nevertheless, even at this stage, one must still try to influence the petty-bourgeois elements through ideological struggle. But if the bearers of petty-bourgeois thinking close their minds to ideological/political arguments and go over violating discipline and launching liquidationist activities, splitting and corroding the Party, then harsh administrative action must be taken against them.

In the case of non-antagonistic contradictions, unity is the main, the essential thing! In the case of antagonistic contra­dictions, division is the main, the essential thing! (Rote Fahne, 10/1980) As soon as this distinction is neglected or falsified, errors must occur. (Revolutionärer Weg 24: 152)

By these principles Mao Zedong sharply departs from the administrative and intimidating methods partly practiced by the central bureaucracy in the Soviet Union under Stalin. The im­proper handling of contradictions in socialist society is a weighty argument of anticommunists today against the socialist Soviet Union under Stalin. We must take this criticism very seriously and learn from it.

The correct handling of contradictions among the people can only be achieved by using the method of principled criticism and self-criticism, a basic feature of proletarian party-building. Principled criticism and self-criticism moulds the culture of the revolutionary party and educates the members to practice open, candid discussion; moreover, it allows party members to acquire a deep understanding of Marxism-Leninism and its creative use in practice. However, if such a proletarian party culture of prin­cipled criticism and self-criticism is lacking, or if it is diminished, life in the revolutionary party will soon die out, initiatives will flag and the party's attraction for the masses will fade.



The Corrosive Effect of the Petty-Bourgeois Mode of Thinking and the Undermining of Socialist Construction in the GDR

Mao Zedong teaches that in socialism—the transitional society between capitalism and communism—classes and class struggle continue to exist; for which reason, the question of who can win out will only be decided in the course of centuries. Thus, even when the means of production are transferred to public ownership, it is all-important to continue the socialist revolution even beyond the economic front. Only if the prole­tariat can also assert itself—beyond just in the economic—in the ideological field and seize and consolidate political leadership at all levels of socialist society will it come closer to its goal of abolishing classes. The proletarian socialist mode of thinking must replace the widespread bourgeois and petty-bourgeois modes of thinking.

The main threat in this struggle stems from the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, which, owing to its conflicting character, is the chief medium through which bourgeois ideology covertly penetrates the thoughts and actions of the working class. If the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking gains predominance, it means the end of socialism and the emergence of capitalism of a new type: bureaucrat-capitalism (as has happened in the Soviet Union, the GDR and so on).

The growth of a new-type bourgeoisie in the central bu­reaucracy of the Party, the economy and the state—that is, the conversion of the bureaucracy from servants of the socialist state to bourgeois masters of society—does not happen overnight. It takes place in three stages.

First stage: The emergence of a bureaucracy of card-carrying Party member

The first stage goes through a long process, decades until the entire working population takes part in government that as a consequence, the special stratum of administrative experts be­comes unnecessary. A whole new danger emerge as the new life-circumstances of the workers in administration negatively influence their mode of thinking; eventually, these workers become separated from the lives of the masses and develop an attitude of superiority and a feeling of power. In the GDR this manifested clearly in the spread of callous methods of treating cadres. The former head of the Central Control Commission of the SED (criticizing the treatment of KPD functionaries who were imprisoned or who emigrated during the war and the reign of fascism) hits the nail on the head:

The personnel departments, and also responsible leading bodies of important organs, treat people in a soulless way. They see only files, sort imprisonment, see emigration, and this alone suffices to reject people. The worst thing about this is that no office looks after these comrades.... They hang around for months, suffer material want and are pushed into becoming a potential for the enemy …. The method practiced thus far of treating people in a stereotyped and abstract way creates uncertainty and does not result in exposing agents. We must not forget that every personal file stands for a living hu­man being. (Quoted in Willi Dickhut, Was geschah danach? Zweiter Tatsachenbericht eines Solinger Arbeiters ab 1949 [What Happened after? Second Factual Report of a Solingen Worker from 1949], 75-76)

Second stage: The petty-bourgeois degeneration of the bureaucracy in socialism

A higher standard of living and arrogance of power promote the degeneration of the bureaucracy, its development into a petty-bourgeois stratum. In the journal Spartakusbriefe (Spartacus letters), illegally published by members of the KPD in 1967, KPD criticized the striving of higher SED officials for a petty-bourgeois life-style:

The members of second generation of technocrats, "spe­cialists", bureaucrats and apparatchiks have come of age. And they are even far worse than the first. Above all they've carried things to greater perfection and already show stronger features of a new class. They usually come into their leading positions direct from school and have even fewer ties with the people, the working and peasant class, than their predecessors. They know no class solidarity in the spirit of proletarian internation­alism. Physical labor is a "humiliation" and "inefficient" for themselves. For them what count are only production results, tactical, political advantages, not the least theirs. [Our trans­lation] (Probleme der Marxisten-Leninisten der BRD [Problems of the Marxist-Leninists of the FRG] 1969, 17) The unfolding of the socialist initiative of the masses in the GDR was liquidated and supplanted by a petty-bourgeois policy of "acting on the masses' behalf or by commandism.

Third stage: The leap from socialism to bureaucrat-capitalism

When the degenerate bureaucracy's striving for power be­comes greater, it seeks, like the petty bourgeoisie, to rise to the social position of the bourgeoisie. But since there is no longer a ruling bourgeois class in socialism, the petty bourgeoisie in the apparatus of the Party, the state, and the economy seizes power and overthrows the dictatorship of the proletariat The degenerate bureaucrats, as a whole, collectively appropriate the means of production and control these for the purpose of enriching them­selves at the expense of the working masses. What has been just a tendency initially is now systematically pursued and extended.

In Germany, SED bureaucrats consciously screened them­selves off from the masses in their residential districts, their hunting and vacationing grounds. They took advantage of their access to Western currencies, particularly the D-Mark, and luxury goods to enjoy a comfortable, Philistine way of life.

The degenerate bureaucracy betrays the revolutionary spirit of Marxism-Leninism, deforms it into formulas and phrases and tries to conceal its new class rule from the masses under the cloak of a so-called real socialism. Revisionism is the ideological foundation of bureaucrat-capitalism.

Mao Zedong proved in theory and practice that the degen­eration of socialism is not inevitable. By creatively assessing the experience of the Soviet Union as the first socialist country, he recognized that the timely mobilization of the masses is the decisive method to fight the bureaucracy, a method applied under his guidance in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. More­over, several cultural revolutions through constant proletarian education are necessary to achieve final victory over the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in the bureaucracy. Revolutionärer Weg underscores that

the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is

1. the highest form of class struggle in socialist society;

2. the awakening and rapid development of socialist con­sciousness among the masses by means of criticism and self-criticism and by studying and, at the same time, putting Mao Zedong Thought into practice;

3. the concrete form of exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat to prevent the bureaucratization of the Party, the government and management apparatus (against capitalist-roaders in power); and

4. the building of an ideological-political barrier against the danger of capitalist restoration. (No. 19: 540)

Modern revisionists, in their mortal fear of having their betrayal of socialism exposed, launched an attempt to picture Mao Zedong as an idealist visionary divorced from reality. Soviet author A. M. Rumyantsev claimed, for example, that

"Mao Zedong Thought" is the attempt to overturn reality, the establishment of the "rule" of social consciousness over social being and, consequently, pure idealism. The Maoist conception of the transformation of the superstructure into the "decisive aspect," "which accordingly also changes the character of the phenomenon itself," served as convenient philosophical argu­ment for voluntaristic "experiments"…. [Our translation]

(Quellen und Entwicklung der "Ideen Mao Tsetung", [Sources and Development of Mao Zedong Thought], Berlin, 1973)

Mao Zedong himself gives the best answer:

While we recognize that in the general development of history the material determines the mental, and social being determines social consciousness, we also and indeed must recognize the reaction of mental on material things, of social consciousness on social being and of the superstructure on the economic base. This does not go against materialism; on the contrary, it avoids mechanical materialism and firmly upholds dialectical materialism. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung I, 336)

With the hostile criticism of Mao Zedong the would-be Marxist-Leninist Rumyantsev was soon to have done with Marx and Lenin right along with Mao.

For Marx, contrary to our revisionists, the relation of being to consciousness is always dialectical. And in addition to the materialist conception of history that being determines con­sciousness, he also states that "when theory grips the masses, it becomes a material force." Theory, of course, must be in accord with objective reality. In the same work, Marx emphasizes, "Always, theory is realized in a nation only inasmuch as the theory is the realization of its needs " (A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right).

There is no doubt that, again and again, Lenin, too, empha­sized the importance of socialist consciousness for the mobilization of the masses in their millions. At the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets he termed it "one of the most profound and at the same time most simple and comprehensible precepts of Marxism".

The greater the scope and extent of historical events, the greater is the number of people participating in them, and, contrariwise, the more profound the change we wish to bring about, the more must we rouse an interest and an intelligent at­titude towards it, and convince more millions and tens of millions of people that it is necessary. [Author's emphasis] (Selected Works in Three Volumes III, 446)

In contrast, the modern revisionists' narrow-minded idea is that one can bring the masses to resolve society's problems through bureaucratic decrees, surveillance and material incentives!

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the GDR is the materi­alist answer to the revisionist distortions of socialism and to the rejection of the decisive significance of the consciousness of the masses for any social progress. Mao Zedong's teachings on socialist construction, summed up in the following words, have proven correct:

In short, good accomplishment of ideological work means revealing the powers of the human being in socialist society. In the end, the power of the socialist system rests on this basis and on the enthusiasm of the broad masses for socialism. If we are able fully to bring to bear people's energies and the masses' enthusiasm for socialism, then the positions of our revolution and our socialist construction will always remain invincible. (Hongqi, 5: 64)

A new upsurge of the struggle for genuine socialism requires that the working class accept the lessons which the historical experience of the destruction of socialism and the bankruptcy of bureaucrat-capitalism holds. The working class must learn to distinguish equally well between genuine socialism and phony socialism and between genuine Communists and phony Commu­nists. The scientific touchstone for this is not a formula-laden "socialist" book-knowledge but solely the proletarian mode of thinking. The Marxist-Leninists must let the proletarian mode of thinking guide their entire activities. Only then will they be able to contribute to making the proletarian mode of thinking the pre­dominant thinking among the masses that, too, overcomes all self-doubts, all notions of being powerless, and all wavering.



The Proletarian Mode of Thinking is Developing

Wrong views that arise among the masses must also be correc­ted by means of persuasion. Particularly today—as dissatisfaction grows against the drastic dismantling of social reforms—the kind of thinking that exists among the masses is not proletarian alone but also petty-bourgeois and even reactionary views. We must, of course, resolutely speak out against erroneous views; never­theless, we must do this using fundamental trust in the masses as our starting point and by applying primarily the method of reasoning and argument. For we must never forget,

The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history. (Selected Works of Mao Tsetung III, 207)

When the first terrorist activities of - handful of neo-fascists took place in Germany two years ago, and the ultrareactionary and fascistoid Republicans and German People's Union (DVU) won a considerable number of votes in elections, the petty-bourgeois Left immediately advanced the "theory" of a "shift to the Right" and the "reactionary masses." The Marxist-Leninists repudiated this "shift to the Right" theory because it was a totally one-sided characterization of what was taking place in the consciousness of the masses. Mao Zedong characterized this petty-bourgeois ignorance towards the masses:

The masses have a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism. Those who can only follow the old routine in a revolutionary period are utterly incapable of seeing this en­thusiasm. They are blind and all is dark ahead of them. At times they go so far as to confound right and wrong and turn things upside down. Haven't we come across enough persons of this type? Those who simply follow the old routine invari­ably underestimate the people's enthusiasm. Let something new appear and they always disapprove and rush to oppose it. Afterwards, they have to admit defeat and do a little self-criticism. But the next time something new appears, they go through the same process all over again. This is their pattern of behavior in regard to anything and everything new. Such people are always passive, always fail to move forward at the critical moment, and always have to be given a shove in the back before they move a step. (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung, 121)

Of course, one could not underestimate the reactionary ten­dencies and dismiss the real danger of a trend to the Right; however, to get a complete picture, one needed to analyze the development of masses' consciousness from all sides. As it turned out, the broad masses sharply rejected the neo-fascist terror and the rightist tendency; they were willing even to take to the streets against these fascists. Between September 1992 and February 1993 alone, strikes and demonstrations took place with over six million people in Germany taking part. There had never been such broad antifascist activity of the masses in Germany before. The antifascist movement forced the German government to ban various fascist organizations and thus inflicted a sharp setback on the neo-fascist mob.

Since the last world economic crisis in 1981-1983, increasing discontent has shaped the consciousness of the masses in Ger­many. In the last three years, this discontent has intensified and is drawing to a head under the pressure of a new, deep economic and political crisis in post-reunification Germany. Currently we can observe that a resolute search for a solution is developing from the growing discontent.

The result of the growing dissatisfaction is an ambivalent con­sciousness tugged by strong opposites, very unstable and can express itself both in reactionary and revolutionary views and activities. Under certain conditions, the consciousness of the masses can develop towards a reactionary direction.

Notwithstanding all these, in Germany an increasing num­ber of factors are changing the growing dissatisfaction and channelling it into a progressive current. If this current pre­vails, it would doubtlessly lead to a revolutionary ferment, a general rebellion of the working masses against the present social system.

Between January and August 1993 alone, 950,000 blue- and white-collar workers participated in 40 warning strikes, and 60,000 went for longer periods in 13 different official strikes, all in connection with union contract negotiations. Eighty-five workers' mass demonstrations and protests and self-organized strikes with a total of 455,000 participants took place. That means at least 1.5 million workers took part in struggles. In September and October this trend picked up; the self-organized mass actions of the coal-miners and steelworkers constitute the climax of the class disputes for the time being. The self-organized strike of 95,000 coal-miners in Saar and Ruhr and 20,000 steelworkers is the clearest sign to date that the working class is asserting itself more and more in an offensive. Other signs of the growing militancy of the working class in Germany are as follows:

1. The backward strata of the working class is participating in the struggle.

2. A widespread militant mood in the industrial unions is de­veloping, which in practice makes the unions organizations for struggle.

3. Links between individual workforces are becoming stronger, and the workers are organizing their factory struggles independently through branch-spanning or regional class disputes.

4. The most militant wing of the working class is organizing in a countrywide campaign "Jobs for Millions" on the basis of struggle.

5. The workers' struggles are increasingly directed at the government, and more and more workers are calling the entire social system in question.

6. The Marxist-Leninists are quickly gaining influence among the industrial proletariat, and their demands and forms of struggle are increasingly being adopted by the workers, while reformism clearly is losing influence and has gone into open crisis.

The working-class offensive is determined by two elements in particular: (1) the shift from individual to mass struggles and (2) the close connection between struggles for economic and political demands.

If the working-class offensive prevails, the struggles of the working class will acquire the character of class struggle in the true sense. And indeed, the working-class offensive is beginning to prevail; for this, I consider the broad-scale awakening of the class consciousness of the workers the most important factor.

A second important factor in the development of the masses' consciousness is the emergence of elements of an active popular resistance that are very closely related to the workers' movement. This phenomenon certainly started with the worker-struggles in Rheinhausen; for the first time, entire city districts took up active popular resistance to defend workers' interests—from housewife to school principal, from baker to retired worker—everyone sensed the challenge and became active. This example influ­enced other groups—the antifascist struggle, the fight against waste incineration plants, the fight to defend social and com­munity services, and so on. The unfolding of active resistance means that more and more strata of the population are being drawn into the struggle against the Bonn government over an increasing number of social issues. The linkage of the workers' movement with the active popular resistance is of very great significance because it gives a clear proletarian thrust to the growing discontent of the broad masses.

A third factor is the growth of a new youth movement, which bears the best prerequisites for becoming a new revolutionary youth movement. The youth has been at the forefront both of the workers' struggles of the last two years and in the active people's resistance. It constitutes the militant vanguard as regards practical action.

The new youth movement is the most mobile sector of the present mass movement, and the most receptive to revolutionary ideas to change society. It is characterized by general rejection of the Bonn parties and the present social conditions. Currently, it is chiefly composed of secondary-school students and young workers.

For these three factors to become strong and dominant among the masses, a fourth factor is necessary: the development of an internationalist consciousness. This internationalist conscious­ness involves the realization that the working class must unite internationally against the attacks of international monopoly capital. For this, too, there are a number of important elements that must be carried out and organized. For example, the anti­fascist mass movement has not only come out in favor of banning fascist organizations, but has also espoused the cause of inter­national solidarity. In various multinational corporations, the organization of international cooperation and joint agreements for specific struggles—both at the trade-union level and on an independent basis—between individual workforces have begun.

Of course, we are only at the beginning of the international­ist consciousness. But with this the working class comprehends that its struggle is part of an international class struggle against the international monopolies and their imperialist world system, and that the unification of the working class in the whole world can prevail over imperialism.

The decisive fifth factor is the growing attraction of the idea of genuine socialism. This comes out today chiefly in three things: first of all, in a growing tendency of the masses to self-organization on the basis of struggle as they sever themselves from the influence of bourgeois parties and institutions; second, in the search for a real social alternative that is free from exploitation and oppres­sion; and third, in the growing interest in the MLPD and its youth league, REBELL.

Arguing for a genuine socialist alternative has the most last­ing influence beyond all the vagaries of the politics of the day. Therefore, winning over the decisive majority of the working class to genuine socialism remains the fundamental task of this period.

In the transition from growing discontent to a revolutionary ferment, the proletarian mode of thinking will increasingly displace the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking among the masses. The proletarian tendency can only grow strong in the resolute struggle against the petty-bourgeois assertions of the current German leadership and against the illusion-creating reformism of reformist/revisionist forces in the Greens and PDS, and the right-wing leaders of the SPD and the trade unions.

The guarantee for the correct handling of contradictions among the people is the strict application of the mass line. The patient work of arguing among the working class and the petty-bourgeois strata, for the only practicable solution is to prepare the alliance of the working class and the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia for the struggle against imperialism.



The Collapse of Bureaucrat-Capitalism in the Soviet Union and Preparations for a New Revolutionary High Tide on an International Scale

The collapse of bureaucrat-capitalism in the GDR in 1989 and of bureaucrat-capitalist rule in the Soviet Union in August 1991 was accompanied by a wave of modern anticommunism un­leashed worldwide. "Purified" petty-bourgeois intellectuals who had previously espoused socialism exerted themselves in droves to declare the death of socialism and call on the Left to put its efforts into reforming the capitalist system. Revisionist parties fell apart, new-Left reformist parties like the PDS were founded. The Pentagon's ideologist Francis Fukuyama expounded the theory of the "end of the history of mankind", which had come with the collapse of "real socialism". Capitalism and its bourgeois democracy were now supposed to have proven themselves the strongest system. U.S. imperialism based its political strategy of a New World Order under U.S. leadership on this ideology.

As early as 1962, Mao Zedong projected the trend of the future:

The next 50 to 100 years or so, beginning from now, will be a great era of radical change in the social system throughout the world, an earth-shaking era without equal in any previous his­torical period. Living in such an era, we must be prepared to engage in great struggles which will have many features dif­ferent in form from those of the past (The Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China [Documents], 106)

The new situation has doubtlessly created some uncertainty in the international working-class and revolutionary movements. While Marxist-Leninists who have deeply grasped Mao Zedong Thought saw themselves confirmed in practice, revolutionary organizations that had either followed the dogmatic line of Enver Hoxha or kept with modern revisionism found themselves in deep water.

International Marxist-Leninist and workers' movements be­gan a new process of formation. A number of revolutionary organizations capitulated or embraced the line of Gorbachov, a mixture of revisionism and social-democracy. Other revolu­tionary organizations seized the opportunity to examine their previous points of view critically and self-critically and moved closer to Mao Zedong Thought.

A time has come when the wheat has started to separate from the chaff. What at the beginning appeared, superficially, as a decline of the revolutionary movement, proved in essence to be a healthy process of purging the movement of wavering opportunists and sectarian elements. Modern revisionism has revealed its fundamental weakness to the masses of the whole world. Against this background, it is possible and necessary for Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought to defeat modern revisionism for good.

And this will prepare the way for a new revolutionary upsurge for the cause of genuine socialism. In the dependent countries, this will lie in taking the socialist road of national liberation; in the imperialist countries, in the overthrow of imperialist rule.

This new situation of the international revolutionary move­ments, however, can only be perceived with a proletarian mode of thinking, which adopts Mao Zedong's thought that one divides into two, that the new will prevail over the old. The petty-bourgeois elements and the modern revisionists, in contrast, raise a terrible howl in dark despair and talk only of a "crisis of socialism."

The Marxist-Leninists, with the sharp sword of Mao Zedong Thought, must make the proletarian mode of thinking the basis of their revolutionary activity and prepare the new revolutionary upsurge in the struggle for socialism on an international scale.

Long live Mao Zedong Thought!

Long live the proletarian mode of thinking as the basis of successful Party-building, of proletarian class struggle, and of the building of socialism/communism!

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