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Marxism–Leninism–Maoism (M-L-M or MLM), is a theoretical tendency which builds upon Marxism-Leninism and some aspects of Mao Zedong Thought. It was first formalised in 1993 by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
Maoism was considered synonymous with Mao Zedong Thought (also known as Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought) from the 1960s onwards – when many anti-revisionist Marxist organisations sided with China following the Sino-Soviet split – until 1993, when the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) formalised Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a new and higher stage of Marxism-Leninism. This caused a split in the Maoist movement, with the adherents of Mao Zedong Thought leaving the RIM and congregating around the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations.
Building on the theory of the vanguard party by Vladimir Lenin, the theory of the Mass Line outlines a strategy for the mass popularisation of revolutionary ideology, consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and strengthening of the party, and for the building of socialism.
The Mass Line can be summarised by the phrase "from the masses, to the masses". It has three components (or stages), as follows:
- gathering the diverse ideas of the masses
- processing or concentrating these ideas from the perspective of revolutionary Marxism, in light of the long-term, ultimate interests of the masses (which the masses themselves may sometimes only dimly perceive), and in light of a scientific analysis of the objective situation
- returning these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of a political line which will actually advance the mass struggle toward revolution
These three steps should be applied over and over again, reiteratively uplifting practice and knowledge to higher and higher stages.
Protracted People's War
Protracted People's War, a strategy for guerilla warfare, holds that:
- Any attempt to fight with the bourgeoisie on its own terms, using the same tactics and strategies as they do, will be crushed (Maoists cite that, apart from the October Revolution, every single revolutionary attempt that used conventional warfare was crushed by the bourgeoisie).
- It cannot be predicted when the objective conditions for revolution will exist. Thus the subjective conditions — i.e. class consciousness — must be built long in advance.
- Seizure of state power generally does not happen in one fell swoop. A situation of dual power through the course of protracted people's war arises when the proletarian vanguard controls sections of the country at the same time as the bourgeoisie.
- The party cannot possibly hope to lead the proletariat in a seizure of power if it itself has no military experience. Thus, military experience — i.e. experienced gained through actually fighting, even if on a limited scale — must be gained long in advance of a seizure of power. Dual power, in addition to being a necessary development towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, is invaluable in providing this military experience (along with civil knowledge, fuel for propaganda efforts, material aid for the party, and the expansion and improvement of the mass line).
On a national scale, protracted people's war envisions a surrounding of the cities from the countryside, as history has shown that pockets of proletarian control generally develop in the countryside first. The phrase "the surrounding of the cities from the countryside" is sometimes applied on a global scale, with the cities as a metaphor for the first world (both generally the bourgeois hold-outs), and the countryside for the third world (both commonly the first stages of proletarian control).
The theory of New Democracy holds that the national-bourgeois in semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries has a dual character in that although it is an exploitative capitalist force, it can also (though not always) side with the proletariat against colonialism, imperialism, and the comprador-bourgeoisie (whose existence is due to imperialism).
The role of the national-bourgeoisie as a progressive asset in the proletarian struggle to overthrow imperialism is of course never guaranteed, and will eventually, when the anti-imperialist situation progresses, turn on the proletariat. The Balli Kombëtar in Albania in 1943 and the Kuomintang in China in the 1920s are examples of this. These national bourgeois forces temporarily allied with the proletariat of their countries (the Albanian Party of Labor and the Chinese Communist Party, respectively) for the overthrow of imperialism but eventually turned on the proletariat once they felt their long-term existence in the new society would be threatened.
Much like the New Economic Policy in Russia, New Democracy is conceived of as a necessary (but temporary) evil for the long-term development of socialism, or in this case, for the construction and consolidation of socialism in the first place. Maoism holds that the national-bourgeois in the New-Democratic stage must always be firmly under the command of the proletariat, and they must be firmly dispensed with as soon as the national situation allows (in other words, when the contradiction between the comprador class and the people is no longer the primary contradiction of the nation, or when the bourgeois-democratic revolution is at a sufficiently advanced stage) for an outright dictatorship of the proletariat.
Maoists draw heavily from the experiences and lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which sought to eradicate the bourgeois that arose within the vanguard party itself and to transform all aspects of the social superstructure. The catchphrase "class struggle continues, and is intensified, under socialism" is frequently used.
Maoists hold the primacy of the relations of production over the productive forces, criticise Stalin's line that bourgeois influence under an advanced stage of socialism is primarily due to external forces (to the almost complete exclusion of internal forces), and strongly reaffirm the base-superstructure dialectic (that the conscious transformation of the base on its own is not enough, but the superstructure must also be consciously transformed).
Differences from Mao Zedong Thought
- Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is considered to be a higher stage of Marxism-Leninism, much like Marxism-Leninism is considered a higher stage of Marxism. Mao Zedong Thought is however considered to just be Marxism-Leninism applied to the particularities of the Chinese revolution.
- Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is considered to be universally applicable (particularly the theory of Protracted People's war) whilst the aspects of Mao Zedong Thought are generally not.
- Marxism–Leninism–Maoism completely rejects the Three Worlds Theory of Mao Zedong Thought, considering it part of the right-wards turn Mao took near the end of his life and a deviation from Marxist-Leninist theories of imperialism.
Perhaps the most notable Marxist-Leninist-Maoist international was the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). RIM was founded in 1984 and included such organizations as the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), also known as "Sendero Luminoso" or "Shining Path," and the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), now known as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) UCPN(M). Today, the RIM appears to be defunct or near defunct. The magazine associated with the RIM, A World To Win, has not published an issue since 2006, though A World To Win News Service still publishes regularly on the internet.
In addition, many of the one-time RIM organizations have become increasingly critical of each other. This has resulted in many public splits.
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is a political party which aims to overthrow the government of India. It was founded on September 21, 2004, through the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) People's War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC). The merger was announced to the public on October 14 the same year. In the merger a provisional central committee was constituted, with the erstwhile People's War leader Muppala Lakshmana Rao (alias Ganapathi) as General Secretary. It is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Indian government.
The Communist Party of Peru - Shining Path is a guerrilla insurgent organization in Peru. It was founded in 1980 with Abimael Guzmán as its leader. The Shining Path is currently waging a war against the Peruvian Government.
The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a national communist party with a revolutionary background, is a follower of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism, although it is believed that the party has developed its own ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Prachanda Path, which was developed taking Nepal's political, sociological and geographical constraints into consideration.
In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New People's Army (NPA) has been waging a revolutionary war since 1968. Its strength peaked during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos and was the main bulk of the opposition against the dictatorship. However due to controversies regarding massive purges of its members in the mid-1980s and political miscalculations, it suffered several splits within its ranks in 1992 and 1997 forming several separate communist parties. It maintains active guerrilla fronts throughout the Philippines until today and is still considered by the military as the main threat to national security. The CPP, according to the military also allegedly has been leading and influencing legal left-wing political organizations and engages in elections.
The Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP), formed by former Central Luzon Regional Committee members of the CPP after the split in 1997 maintained much of the Maoist orientation from the CPP most especially on the concept of People's War. However it has put equal emphasis on legal political struggles along with armed revolution and it sees the proletariat as the leader of the Philippine revolution in union with the peasantry. The Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan (People's Revolutionary Army, RHB) is the armed wing of the MLPP and according to military intelligence sources, the most active and fastest growing insurgent force in the Philippines recently next to the CPP. Like its estranged political sibling the MLPP is said to be organizing legal organizations but does not engage in electoral processes.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) was an early Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party. Of particular theoretical note it expanded on Lenin's theses on the labor aristocracy and more contemporary works such as J. Sakai's Settlers, the Mythology of the White Proletariat, claiming that the workers in modern imperialist countries form a new type of labor aristocracy and cannot be considered "proletarian" in the traditional marxist sense of the term, only "sometimes oppressed" workers.
Concurrent to the collapse of MIM in 2008, some groups began using the term Maoism (Third Worldism) to describe this trend. Today, Maoist (Third Worldist) groups in the USA include the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement, and the Leading Light Communist Organisation.
The New Communist Movement in the US saw the development of various organizations that upheld the Chinese Revolution and its innovations to Marxism-Leninism. A Maoist party was attempted with the process of forming the Revolutionary Communist Party. However, since then the RCP-USA has taken up a new ideology named after its chairman, Bob Avakian. In 2014, an organization called the New Communist Party-Liaison Committee developed out of a split from the Organizing Committee for a New Communist Party. The NCP-LC aims to unite Maoists in the US to build ideological unity as a foundation for building a party at a later time.
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- The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons
- Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement
- Leading Light Communist Organisation