Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 1


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

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.

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.


In these two brief statements, Mao argues that in order to be a Marxist one must stick to the strong central ideology that defines themselves, the movement, and their actions in that movement. He also argues that liberalism rejects ideological struggle which allows for a peace without principle, which can lead to an attitude that puts the individual over the community, and thus, creates the opportunity for the rise of inequality and the rise of individuals who are able to amass wealth. This can then allow them to damage the community’s cohesion and create political instability.

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

This basically means that there is no one free from the principles of ideological struggle. Further, it means that if you hold back from correcting your fellow comrade because of old social bonds, you are doing the movement a disservice.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one's suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one's own inclination. This is a second type.

This basically means that if you feel someone is in need of criticism and you criticize them behind their back, rather than facing them down personally, you damage the stability of the movement.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

This basically means that if you avoid bringing up something of importance to the community simply because it does not affect you personally, you weaken the movement.

To be Continued…..If you want keep reading the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

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