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Maoism, also known as Mao Zedong Thought (), is a communist theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong (1893 1976). Its followers, known as Maoists, consider it as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxism. Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It fell into disfavour in China in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping introduced sweeping reforms.

Maoism is also used to refer to Mao's belief in the mobilization of the masses, particularly in large-scale political movements; it can also refer to the egalitarianism that was seen during Mao's era as opposed to the free-market ideology of Deng Xiaoping; some scholars additionally define personality cults and political sloganeering as "Maoist" practices. Contemporary Maoists in China criticize the social inequalities created by a capitalist and "revisionist" Communist party.

Internationally, Maoist organizations mainly draw upon Mao's ideology of the People's War, mobilizing large parts of rural populations to revolt against established institutions by engaging in guerrilla warfare. Notable Maoist organizations and armed groups currently exist in several countries, most notably the Shining Path in Peru, the Naxalites in India, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist); the latter of which is the only current Maoist party holding power through a democratic process.[1]



Although often described as an evolution of Marxism/Leninism, Maoism is defined more by its theoretical and ideological departures from orthodox Marxism or Leninism than by its similarities to the Western versions of modern socialism. Thus, the origins of Maoism cannot be found in Marxist writings alone, but also in the modern Chinese intellectual tradition in which he was raised.

The modern Chinese intellectual tradition

The modern Chinese intellectual tradition of the turn of the twentieth century is defined by two central concepts, iconoclasm and nationalism.[2]

Iconoclastic revolution/anti-Confucianism

By the turn of the twentieth century, a proportionately small yet socially significant cross-section of China's traditional elite (i.e. landlords and bureaucrats), found themselves increasingly skeptical of the efficacy and even the moral validity of Confucianism.[3] These skeptical iconoclasts formed a new segment of Chinese society, a modern intelligensia, whose arrival, or as lauded historian of China Maurice Meisner would label it, their defection, heralded the beginning of the destruction of the gentry as a social class in China.[4] The fall of the last Chinese imperial dynasty in 1911 marked the final failure of the Confucian moral order, and did much to make Confucianism synonymous with political and social conservatism in the minds of Chinese intellectuals. It was this association of conservatism and Confucianism which lent to the iconoclastic nature of Chinese intellectual thought during the first decades of the Twentieth century.[5]

Chinese iconoclasm was expressed most clearly and vociferously by Chen Duxiu during the New Culture Movement which occurred between 1915 and 1919.[6] Proposing the, "total destruction of the traditions and values of the past," the New Culture Movement was spearheaded by the New Youth, a periodical which was published by Chen Duxiu and which was profoundly influential on a young Mao Zedong whose first published work appeared on the magazine's pages.[6]

Nationalism and the appeal of Marxism

Along with iconoclasm, radical anti-imperialism dominated the Chinese intellectual tradition and slowly evolved into a fierce nationalist fervor which influenced Mao's philosophy immensely and was crucial in adapting Marxism to the Chinese model.[7] Vital to understanding Chinese nationalist sentiments of the time is the Treaty of Versailles which was signed in 1919. The Treaty aroused a wave of bitter nationalist resentment in Chinese intellectuals as lands formerly ceded to Germany in Shandong were, without consultation with the Chinese, transferred to Japanese control rather than returned to Chinese sovereignty.[8] The negative reaction culminated in the May 4th Incident which occurred on that day in 1919. The protest began with 3,000 students in Beijing displaying their anger at the announcement of the Versailles Treaty's concessions to Japan yet rapidly took a violent turn as protesters began attacking the homes and offices of ministers who were seen as cooperating with, or in the direct pay of the Japanese.[8] The May 4th Incident and Movement which followed, "catalyzed the political awakening of a society which had long seemed inert and dormant"[8]

Yet another international event would have a large impact on not only Mao but also the Chinese intelligensia was the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Although the revolution did elicit interest among Chinese intellectuals, socialist revolution in China was not considered a viable option until after the May 4th Incident.[9] Afterwards, "To become a Marxist was one way for a Chinese intellectual to reject both the traditions of the Chinese past and Western domination of the Chinese present" Maurice Meisner, Mao's China and After, page 18.

Mao's personal philosophy

Along with the Chinese intellectual tradition which was prevalent during his youth, it is clear that Mao's personal philosophy, his idealism and populist leanings, were foundational to the formation and profile of Maoism.


Mao believed that human consciousness is the key factor in human history. In other words, Mao can be seen as an idealist and as such, directly contravenes the deterministic tenets of orthodox Marxism.[10] Mao had the utmost faith that, through the actions of "dedicated revolutionaries" a new social reality could be formed which would be in harmony with his ideals.[10]


Mao also believed strongly in the concept of a unified "people". These notions were what prompted him to investigate the peasant uprisings in Hunan while the rest of the China's communists were in the cities and focused on the orthodox Marxist proletariat.[11] Many of the pillars of Maoism such as the distrust of intellectuals and the abhorrence of occupational specialty are typical populist ideas.[7] The concept of "People's War" which is so central to Maoist thought is directly populist in its origins. Mao believed that intellectuals and party cadres had to become first students of the masses to become teachers of the masses later. This concept was vital to the strategy of the "People's War."[7]


Also crucially important to the adaption of Marxism to the Chinese model and the formation of Maoism were Mao's nationalist impulses.[12] Mao truly believed that China was to play a crucial preliminary role in the socialist revolution internationally. This belief, or the fervor with which Mao held it, separated Mao from the other Chinese Communists and led Mao onto the path of what Leon Trotsky called, "Messianic Revolutionary Nationalism" which was central to his personal philosophy and is demonstrated in his long-standing hostile relationship with ComIntern.[11]

The Yan'an period

During the period immediately following the Long March, Mao and the Chinese Communist Party were headquartered in Yan'an, which is a prefecture-level city in the Shaanxi province. During this period Mao clearly established himself as a Marxist theoretician and produced the bulk of the works which would later be canonized into the "thought of Mao Zedong".[13] The rudimentary philosophical base of Chinese Communist ideology is laid down in Mao's numerous dialectical treatises and was conveyed to newly recruited party members. This period truly established ideological independence from Moscow for Mao and the CCP.[13] Although the Yan'an period did answer some of the questions, both ideological and theoretical, which were raised by the Chinese Communist Revolution, it left many of the crucial questions unresolved; including how the Chinese Communist Party was supposed to launch a socialist revolution while completely separated from the urban sphere.[13]


Basic components

  1. People's war: The armed branch of the party must not be distinct from the masses. To conduct a successful revolution the needs and demands of the masses must be the most important issues.
  2. New Democracy: In so called backward countries, socialism cannot be introduced before the country has gone through a period in which the material conditions improve. This cannot be done by the bourgeoisie, as its progressive character is long since replaced by a regressive character.
  3. Contradictions as the most important feature of society: Society is dominated by a wide range of contradictions. As these are different in nature, they must also be handled in different ways. The most important divide is the divide between contradictions among the masses and contradictions between the masses and their enemies, where the enemies are recognized as all who contradict Maoism. Also the socialist institutions are plagued with contradictions, and these contradictions must not be suppressed as they were during Stalin's era.
  4. Cultural revolution: The revolution does not wipe out bourgeois ideology; the class-struggle continues, and even intensifies, during socialism. Therefore a constant struggle against these ideologies and their social roots must be conducted. Cultural Revolution is directed also against traditionalism.
  5. Three Worlds Theory: During the Cold War, two imperialist states formed the first world ; the United States and the Soviet Union. The second world consisted of the other imperialist states in their spheres of influence. The third world consisted of the non-imperialist countries. Both the first and the second world exploit the third world, but the first world is the most aggressive part. The workers in the first and second world are bought up by imperialism, preventing socialist revolution. The people of the third world, on the other hand, have not even a short-sighted interest in the prevailing circumstances. Hence revolution is most likely to appear in third world countries, which again will weaken imperialism opening up for revolutions in other countries too.[14]


Mao drew information from the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin in elaborating his theory. Philosophically, his most important reflections emerge on the concept of "contradiction" (maodun). In two major essays, On contradiction and On the correct handling of contradictions among the people , he adopts the positivist-empiricist idea (shared by Engels) that contradiction is present in matter itself (and thus, also in the ideas of the brain). Matter always develops through a dialectical contradiction:

Furthermore, each contradiction (including class struggle, the contradiction holding between relations of production and the concrete development of forces of production) expresses itself in a series of other contradictions, some dominant, others not.

Thus, the principal contradiction should be tackled with priority when trying to make the basic contradiction "solidify". Mao elaborates further on this theme in the essay On practice. On the relation between knowledge and practice, between knowing and doing . Here, Practice connects "contradiction" with "class struggle" in the following way: Inside a mode of production, there are three realms where practice functions: economic production, scientific experimentation (which also takes place in economic production and should not be radically disconnected from the former) and finally, class struggle. These may be considered the proper objects of economy, scientific knowledge, and politics.[15]

These three spheres deal with matter in its various forms, socially mediated. As a result, they are the only realms where knowledge may arise (since truth and knowledge only make sense in relation to matter, according to Marxist epistemology). Mao emphasizes—like Marx in trying to confront the "bourgeoisie idealism" of his time—that knowledge must be based on empirical evidence.

Knowledge results from hypotheses verified in the contrast with a real object; this real object, despite being mediated by the subject s theoretical frame, retains its materiality and will offer resistance to those ideas that do not conform to its truth. Thus, in each of these realms (economic, scientific and political practice), contradictions (principle and secondary) must be identified, explored and put to function to achieve the communist goal. This involves the need to know, "scientifically", how the masses produce (how they live, think, and work), to obtain knowledge of how class struggle (the main contradiction that articulates a mode of production, in its various realms) expresses itself.

People's war

Maoism's political orientation emphasizes the "revolutionary struggle of the vast majority of people against the exploiting classes and their state structures", which Mao termed a "People's War". Usually involving peasants, its military strategies have involved guerrilla war tactics focused on surrounding the cities from the countryside, with a heavy emphasis on political transformation through mass involvement of the lower classes of society.

Agrarian socialism

Maoism departs from conventional European-inspired Marxism in that its focus is on the agrarian countryside, rather than the industrial urban forces. This is known as Agrarian socialism. Notably, Maoist parties in Peru, Nepal and Philippines have adopted equal stresses on urban and rural areas, depending on the country's focus of economic activity. Maoism broke with the state capitalist framework of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and dismisses it as modern revisionism, a traditional pejorative term among communists referring to those who fight for capitalism in the name of socialism.

New Democratic revolution

The theory of the New Democracy was known to the Chinese revolutionaries from the late 40 s. This thesis held that for the majority of the peoples of the planet, the long road to socialism could only be opened by a national, popular, democratic, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution [the language of the day], run by the communists.'[16]

And in the context of New Democratic revolution, the rationality of such economic policies as to destroy feudalism on the basis of land to the tiller, to confiscate all foreign and domestic economic establishments with a monopolistic character and to limit, control and guide private capital that do not control public life, have been proved in practice.[17]

Mao's intellectual Marxist development

Mao s Intellectual Marxist development can be divided into five major periods: (1) The Initial Marxist Period from 1920 1926; (2) the formative Maoist period from 1927 1935; (3) the mature Maoism period from 1935 1940; (4) the civil war period from 1940 1949; and (5) the post-1949 period, following the revolutionary victory.

  1. The Initial Marxist Period from 1920 1926: Marxist thinking employs imminent socioeconomic explanations; Mao s reasons were declarations of his enthusiasm. Mao did not believe education alone would bring about the transition from capitalism to communism because of three main reasons. (1) Psychologically: the capitalists would not repent and turn towards communist on their own; (2) the rulers must be overthrown by the people; (3) the proletarians are discontented, and a demand for communism has arisen and had already become a fact. [18] These reasons do not provide socioeconomic explanations, which usually forms the core of Marxist ideology.
  2. The Formative Maoist Period from 1927 1935: In this period, Mao avoided all theoretical implications in his literature and employed a minimum of Marxist category thought. His writings in this period failed to elaborate what he meant by the Marxist method of political and class analysis .[19] Prior to this period, Mao was concerned with the dichotomy between knowledge and action. Now, he was more concerned with the dichotomy between revolutionary ideology and counter-revolutionary objective conditions. There was more correlation drawn between China and the Soviet model.
  3. The Mature Maoist Period from 1935 1940: Intellectually, this was Mao s most fruitful time. The shift of orientation was apparent in his pamphlet Strategic Problems of China s Revolutionary War (Dec, 1936). This pamphlet tried to provide a theoretical veneer for his concern with revolutionary practice. [20] Mao started to separate from the Soviet Model since it was not automatically applicable to China. China s historical particularism viewed through Marxist eyes served as the link between the Marxist process and China.
  4. The Civil-War Period from 1940-1949: Unlike the Mature period, this period was intellectually barren. Mao focused more on revolutionary practice and paid less attention to Marxist theory. He continued to emphasize theory as practice-oriented knowledge. [21] The biggest topic of theory he delved into was in connection with the cheng-feng movement of 1942. It was here that Mao summarized the correlation between Marxist theory and Chinese practice; The target is the Chinese revolution, the arrow is Marxism-Leninism. We Chinese communists seek this arrow for no other purpose than to hit the target of the Chinese revolution and the revolution of the east. [21] The only new emphasis was Mao s concern with two types of subjectivist deviation: 1) Dogmatism, the excessive reliance upon abstract theory; 2) Empiricism, excessive dependence on experience.
  5. The post-1949 period, following the revolutionary victory: The victory of 1949 was a conformation of theory and practice. Optimism is the keynote to Mao s intellectual orientation in the post-1949 period. [22] Mao assertively revised theory to relate it to the new practice of socialist construction. These revisions are apparent in the 1951 version of On Contradiction . In the 1930 s, when Mao talked about contradiction, he meant the contradiction between subjective thought and objective reality. In Dialectal Materialism of 1940, he saw idealism and materialism as two possible correlations between subjective thought and objective reality. In the 1940s he introduced no new elements into his understanding of the subject-object contradiction. Now, in the 1951 version of On Contradiction , he saw contradiction as a universal principle underlying all processes of development, yet with each contradiction possessed of its own particularity."[23]

Departure from Leninism

"Mao departed from Leninism not only in his near-total disinterest in the urban working class but also in his concept of the nature and role of the Party. For Lenin the Party was sacrosanct because it was the incarnation of the "proletarian consciousness," and there was no question about who were the teachers and who were the pupils. For Mao, on the other hand, this was precisely the question, and it remained unresolved' he proved unwilling to define fully the relationship between the organized consciousness of the Party and the spontaneous consciousness of the masses in a purely Leninist fashion."[24]


In its post-revolutionary period, Mao Zedong's thought is defined in the CPC's Constitution as "Marxism-Leninism applied in a Chinese context", synthesized by Mao Zedong and China's "first-generation leaders". It asserts that class struggle continues even if the proletariat has already overthrown the bourgeoisie, and there are capitalist restorationist elements within the Communist Party itself. Maoism provided the CPC's first comprehensive theoretical guideline with regards to how to continue socialist revolution, the creation of a socialist society, socialist military construction, and highlights various contradictions in society to be addressed by what is termed "socialist construction". While it continues to be lauded to be the major force that defeated "imperialism and feudalism" and created a "New China" by the Communist Party of China, the ideology survives only in name on the Communist Party's Constitution; Deng Xiaoping abolished most Maoist practices in 1978, advancing a guiding ideology called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics.[25]

Maoism after Mao

Shortly after Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping started the capitalist reforms of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1978 beginning the radical change of Mao's ideology in the PRC.[26] Although Mao Zedong Thought nominally remains the state ideology, Deng's admonition to seek truth from facts means that state policies are judged on their practical consequences; the role of ideology in determining policy, in many areas, has thus been considerably reduced. Deng also separated Mao from Maoism, making it clear that Mao was fallible and hence that the truth of Maoism comes from observing social consequences rather than by using Mao's quotations as holy writ, as was done in Mao's lifetime.[27]

In addition, the party constitution has been rewritten to give the capitalist ideas of Deng Xiaoping prominence over those of Mao. One consequence of this is that groups outside China which describe themselves as Maoist generally regard China as having repudiated Maoism and restored capitalism, and there is a wide perception both in and out of China that China has abandoned Maoism. However, while it is now permissible to question particular actions of Mao and to talk about excesses taken in the name of Maoism, there is a prohibition in China on either publicly questioning the validity of Maoism or questioning whether the current actions of the CPC are "Maoist."

Although Mao Zedong Thought is still listed as one of the four cardinal principles of the People's Republic of China, its historical role has been re-assessed. The Communist Party now says that Maoism was necessary to break China free from its feudal past, but that the actions of Mao are seen to have led to excesses during the Cultural Revolution.[27]

The official view is that China has now reached an economic and political stage, known as the primary stage of socialism, in which China faces new and different problems completely unforeseen by Mao, and as such the solutions that Mao advocated are no longer relevant to China's current conditions. The official proclamation of the new CPC stand came in June 1981, when the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee took place. The 35,000-word "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China" reads:

"Mao Zedong is the Chinese people's savior!", an old slogan painted on the brick wall of a Chinese Buddhist Temple
"Chief responsibility for the grave 'Left' error of the 'cultural revolution,' an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong . . . . [and] far from making a correct analysis of many problems, he confused right and wrong and the people with the enemy. . . . Herein lies his tragedy."[28]

Both Maoist critics outside China and most Western commentators see this re-working of the definition of Maoism as providing an ideological justification for what they see as the restoration of the essentials of capitalism in China by Deng and his successors. In 1978 this led to the Sino-Albanian Split when Albanian leader Enver Hoxha denounced Deng as a revisionist and formed Hoxhaism as an anti-revisionist form of Marxism.

Mao himself is officially regarded by the CPC as a "great revolutionary leader" for his role in fighting the Japanese and creating the People's Republic of China, but Maoism as implemented between 1959 and 1976 is regarded by today's CPC as an economic and political disaster. In Deng's day, support of radical Maoism was regarded as a form of "left deviationism" and being based on a cult of personality, although these 'errors' are officially attributed to the Gang of Four rather than to Mao himself. Thousands of Maoists were arrested in the Hua Guofeng period after 1976, with prominent Maoists sentenced to death.

Maoism internationally

Maoism outside China

From 1962 onwards, the challenge to the Soviet hegemony in the World Communist Movement made by the CPC resulted in various divisions in communist parties around the world. At an early stage, the Albanian Party of Labour sided with the CPC. So did many of the mainstream (non-splinter group) communist parties in South-East Asia, like the Burmese Communist Party, Communist Party of Thailand, and Communist Party of Indonesia. Some Asian parties, like the Workers Party of Vietnam and the Workers Party of Korea attempted to take a middle-ground position.

The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia is said to have been a replica of the Maoist regime. According to BBC The Communist Party of Kampuchea (Cambodia), better known as the "Khmer Rouge", identified strongly with Maoism, and is generally labeled a "Maoist" movement today.[29][30] Maoists, however, are quick to point out that the CPK strongly deviated from Marxist doctrine, and that the few references to Maoist China in CPK propaganda were critical of the Chinese.[31]

In Africa, Siad Barre's regime in Somalia is often cited as being pro-Maoist, as it sided with the People's Republic of China during the Sino-Soviet split and, as such, China provided support to the regime during its war with the pro-Soviet nations of Ethiopia, Cuba and South Yemen.

In the west and south, a plethora of parties and organizations were formed that upheld links to the CPC. Often they took names such as Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) or Revolutionary Communist Party to distinguish themselves from the traditional pro-Soviet communist parties. The pro-CPC movements were, in many cases, based among the wave of student radicalism that engulfed the world in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is a Maoist political party in India which aims to overthrow the government of India.[32] 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 Group leader Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi as General Secretary. It is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Indian government for organizing mass killings in furtherance of their ideology.

Only one Western classic communist party sided with CPC, the Communist Party of New Zealand. Under the leadership of CPC and Mao Zedong, a parallel international communist movement emerged to rival that of the Soviets, although it was never as formalized and homogeneous as the pro-Soviet tendency.

In the United States, the Black Panther Party, especially Huey Newton, was profoundly influenced by Maoist thought.

After the death of Mao in 1976 and the resulting power-struggles in China that followed, the international Maoist movement was divided into three camps. One group, composed of various ideologically nonaligned groups, gave weak support to the new Chinese leadership under Deng Xiaoping. Another camp denounced the new leadership as traitors to the cause of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. The third camp sided with the Albanians in denouncing the Three Worlds Theory of the CPC (see Sino-Albanian Split.)

Che Guevara, though initially praising the Soviet Union prior to, during and shortly after the Cuban Revolution, later came out in support of Maoism, and advocated the adoption of the ideology throughout Latin America. The pro-Albanian camp would start to function as an international group as well,[33] led by Enver Hoxha and the APL, and was also able to amalgamate many of the communist groups in Latin America, including the Communist Party of Brazil and Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in Ecuador. Later Latin American Communists such as Peru's Shining Path also embraced the tenets of Maoism.

The new Chinese leadership showed little interest in the various foreign groups supporting Mao's China. Many of the foreign parties that were fraternal parties aligned with the Chinese government before 1975 either disbanded, abandoned the new Chinese government entirely, or even renounced Marxism-Leninism and developed into non-communist, social democratic parties. What is today called the "international Maoist movement" evolved out of the second camp the parties that opposed Deng and claimed to uphold the legacy of Mao.

Maoist organizations

Today, there is no consensus on who does and who does not represent Maoism. Various efforts have sought to regroup the international communist movement under Maoism since the time of Mao's death in 1976.

One notable organization was the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). RIM was founded in 1984 and included such notable organizations as the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), also known as "Sendero Luminoso" or "Shining Path," the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), now known as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) UCPN(M), and the Revolutionary Communist Party USA (RCP(USA)). 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.[34]

In addition, many of the one-time RIM organizations have become increasingly critical of each other. This has resulted in many public splits. For example, recently the RCP USA has criticized the UCPN(M) as revisionist after the UCPN(M) abandoned its people's war for the parliamentary road. In addition, Red Sun, a web page that claims to be affiliated with some faction the Communist Party of Peru, has criticized both the UCPN(M) and RCP USA. Another movement that has criticized the UCPN(M) is the Communist Party of India (Maoist) -- although they were never formally a RIM member, the CPI(Maoist) was formed out of three organizations, some of which were RIM members, at conferences organized by RIM.[35][36]

Another effort at regrouping the international communist movement is the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO). Two notable parties that participate in the ICMLPO are the Marxist Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The ICMLPO seeks to unity around Marxism-Leninism, not Maoism. However, some of the parties and organizations within the ICMLPO identify as Mao Zedong Thought or Maoist.

Other trends have sought to lead international Maoism. The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) was founded in 1983 and largely dissolved by 2009. Although smaller than the ICMLPO and RIM, MIM's main influence was in intellectual and literary circles. Even though MIM dissolved organizationally, MIM-influenced efforts continue to exist. The Leading Light Communist Movement, which was founded between 2007 and 2009, continues its efforts to spread its distinct form of Maoism through its print journal and online webpage Monkey Smashes Heaven.

The Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) is an internationalist communist movement that holds that there is no first world proletariat, that the first world "working class" is part of the global bourgeoisie that aligns with imperialism against the masses of the third world, and claims to have developed Marxism to a new, fourth stage. They claim to have developed unique theories of global class analysis, global people's war, new theories of exploitation, etc. Monkey Smashes Heaven takes a positive view of Lin Biao, a view not shared by others claiming to be Maoist. The Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) has published materials in English, Polish, Chinese, Tagalog, Czech, Greek, Macedonian, French, and Spanish.

In the United Kingdom, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) are the only British party perceived to be operating under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought. Many meetings of the CPGB (M-L) are attended by delegates from the Chinese Embassy in London.[37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44] The youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) maintains the sister organisation 'Hands off China'.[45] The party has released various Maoist literature, in particular Maoist theory guides 'On Practice'[46] and 'On Contradiction'.[47]

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a national communist party with a revolutionary background, is a follower of Maoism, although it is believed that the party has developed its own ideology, Prachanda Path, which was developed taking Nepal's political, sociological and geographical constraints into consideration. Still, this party is believed to have taken Maoism as its doctrine as its name suggests.

In the USA the Kasama Project (KP), was initiated by former RCP USA members critical of what they viewed as the dogmatism and cult of personality of RCP USA. KP describes itself as seeking to radically re-imagine contemporary revolutionary politics. It is deeply influenced by Maoist thought, in particular as developed by the RCP USA, but claims members who arrive from other traditions, such as anarchism. KP has published articles in English, Persian, Spanish, and other languages.

The Communist Unification of Spain is an independent party that follows the Marxist-Lenninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Criticisms and interpretations

Maoism has fallen out of favour within the Communist Party of China, beginning with Deng Xiaoping's reforms in 1978. Deng believed that Maoism showed the dangers of "ultra-leftism", manifested in the harm perpetrated by the various mass movements that characterized the Maoist era. In Chinese Communism, the term "left" can be taken as a euphemism for Maoist policies. However, Deng stated that the revolutionary side of Maoism should be considered separate from the governance side, leading to his famous epithet that Mao was "70% good, 30% bad". China scholars generally agree that Deng's interpretation of Maoism preserves the legitimacy of Communist rule in China but at the same time criticizes Mao's brand of economic and political governance.

Critic Graham Young claims that Maoists see Joseph Stalin as the last true socialist leader of the Soviet Union, but allows that the Maoist assessments of Stalin vary between the extremely positive and the more ambivalent.[48] Some political philosophers, such as Martin Cohen, have seen in Maoism an attempt to combine Confucianism and Socialism - what one such called 'a third way between communism and capitalism'.[49]

Enver Hoxha critiqued Maoism from a Marxist-Leninist perspective, arguing that new democracy halts class struggle, the theory of the three worlds is "counter-revolutionary" and questioned Mao's guerilla warfare methods.

See also

External to China:


Further reading

  • Marxism in the Chinese Revolution by Arif Dirlik
  • Rethinking Mao: Explorations in Mao Zedong's Thought by Nick Knight
  • The Function of "China" in Marx, Lenin, and Mao by Donald Lowe
  • Li Ta-chao and the Origins of Chinese Marxism by Maurice Meisner
  • Mao s China and After by Maurice Mesiner
  • The Political Thought of Mao Tse-Tung by Stuart Schram
  • Mao Tse-Tung, The Marxist Lord of Misrule. On Practice and Contradiction by Slavoj Zizek

External links


Selected organizations


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