‘Chairman Mao Returns’

The latest decision of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to give the president of People's Republic of China (PRC) Xi Jinping, the title of 'core leader' has been a subject of discussion among China-watchers. A communiqne issued by the Chinese Communist Party after a four-day plenary meeting of 370 top leaders in Beijing called on all its members to closely unite around CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core. In truth he has thus been elevated to the status that Mao Zedong once enjoyed in the Chinese Communist Party. If that is true, one must have a look at the perspective behind Mao's rise to an authoritative position in the Communist Party of China as well as among one section of the Marxists all over the world.

Mao Zedong rose to a position of authority during the new democratic revolution in China, a revolution that covered four distinct phases. The first was that of the Communist-Kuomintang alliance, which collapsed after Chiang Kai-shek's betrayal. The second was the renewal of the civil war and gradual expansion of communist influence among the peasantry mainly through the fight against landlords. It was during this phase that the great Long March took place. The third phase was the anti-Japanese War of Resistance, which merged with the world war against fascism. The CPC gave the call for united resistance and succeeded in forcing Chiang Kai-shek to join it. It was through this war that the CPC emerged as the leader of the Chinese nation. After the defeat of Japanese fascists, there began the third revolutionary civil war because Chiang Kai-shek was unwilling to share power with the communists and to form a democratic republic. The war lasted three years and ended in the flight of the Chiang clique to Taiwan. Then the formation of the People's Republic of China was proclaimed.

It was during the Long March that Mao Zedong was accepted as the foremost leader of the Communist Party of China in a conference held in a place named Tsunuy. This acceptance grew and developed in course of a bitter and protracted struggle against the enemy, namely the Kuomintang and the classes supporting it, and the right deviationist as well as left deviationist lines inside the CPC itself. The successful accomplishment of the revolution, itself a world-shaking event, substantially enhanced the prestige of the CPC and its foremost leader. This prestige and authority had the support of the people in general, particularly its toiling sections. The revolution, however, brought the question of socialism to the fore, and led to a vigorous struggle within the CPC about the course of development China was to follow. During the anti-Japanese War of Resistance and the revolutionary civil wars, a large number of persons with ingrained petty-bourgeois and bourgeois outlooks joined the CPC, because it had proved itself the only reliable platform in the struggle against imperialism and feudalism. They wanted China to follow what can be broadly termed a capitalist path. Mao Zedong fought against this tendency, but was aware that it would take a long time to decide which system, socialism or capitalism, would be victorious. He was also aware that the representatives of the bourgeoisie were there in the CPC itself. It was a long struggle, all aspects of which are yet to be analysed properly. In the upshot Mao Zedong was defeated and the policies he represented were dismantled one by one. Now China is a capitalist country in all senses. Ironically it is ruled by a communist party. China is a country where billionaire communists who talk of marxism abound. Yet it cannot be gainsaid that Mao's name bears immense prestige among the masses, and all over the world, among those who refuse to believe that capitalism is the terminus of history, his writings continue to be discussed, albeit critically. The post-Mao Chinese leadership, while turning his policies upside down, transformed him into a harmless icon to be kept in mausoleum in view of the prestige he enjoyed among the masses.

If Mr Xi Jinping has become as powerful as Mao, it is presumably because the Chinese bourgeoisie, who now control the affairs of the CPC, have given him this power. This has nothing to do with socialism and communism. Concentration of power in the hands of Xi Jinping, and perhaps a few of his close colleagues numbering no more than seven or what is called the standing committee indicates however, a tendency towards fascism in China. After all, fascism, couched in jingoism and nationalism, embodied the most aggressive nature of finance capital. In this sense, while Mao Zedong's elevation to a position of authority paved the way for a successful conclusion to the Chinese new democratic revolution, the elevation of Xi Jinping is seemingly a milestone towards Chinese fascism.

For one thing Mao's theoretical contribution to Marxism is recognised all over the world. He developed his ideas against the backdrop of liberation struggle in a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society while projecting guerrilla warfare as a strategy in general for third world countries. The concept of protracted people’s war galvanised an entire generation of communist revolutionaries in India and elsewhere. But to equate Xi with Mao is simply ludicrous because Xi Jinping, now the most powerful person in the Chinese communist party, for all practical purposes is the brand ambassador of Chinese investors abroad. The days are not far when toilers in many third world countries will have to fight against Chinese exploitation, particularly in Africa and Asia. The tragic reversal of the role of CPC that was hailed as a centre of world revolution under the leadership of Mao has adversely affected Marxist-Leninist movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Vol. 49, No.19, Nov 13 - 19, 2016