This paper will be reproduced as a two-part article. The paper contains
basically the history of the Manifesto and Internationals, and then explains how
the Manifesto are the roots to the tree of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Ze Dong Thought.
In this first half of the article we will present the history and the
development of Marxist philosophy In the second article, which will appear in
the coming issue, we shall trace the developments in the fields of Marxist
political economy, proletarian tactics, the Party and the Dictatorship of the
150 years ago the Communist Manifesto gave a clarion call for a new social
order... a new philosophy, a new political economy, a new culture, a new society
and a new human being.
It was one of the most path-breaking documents ever written, which has
influenced mankind more than any other. It laid the basis for understanding
human history; understanding the laws that govern society and change:
understanding the emerging societies of the future and man's role in it; and the
causes for man's sufferings, deprivation, lack of freedom.... and their
It launched the first such organisation, that was to lead the oppressed towards
the new ideal. In this Manifesto was pictured the new 'promised land', not as an
abstract utopia, but as a realisable inevitable goal of humanity.
Inspite of the setback in the USSR and China, it is impossible to deny the
immense impact that Marxist thought has exercised on the world. No country on
this globe would have escaped its influence. From the appearance of the
Manifesto, down to the present day, Marxism has been a decisive factor, not only
in the political arena, but in the development of human thought and the creation
of the new human being. And irrespective of the present state of affairs, it is
indisputable that the October Revolution changed the entire course of w9rld
Manifesto of Class Struggle
The spectre of communism continues to haunt the bourgeoisie in all corners of
the earth. Having wished communism dead, hundreds of times over, it rises again
and again from the ashes, like the proverbial phoenix, sending the bourgeoisie
into terror and panic. And in this Kurukshetra, in this last battle to create
human society's real utopia... a heaven on earth... setbacks are inevitable;
where the rising forces must face the full blast of bourgeois terror.
Extermination of thousands, nay millions of communists, is preceded by virulent
anti-communist propaganda encompassing not only the media, but education,
culture, entertainment, and politics. Yet, inspite of the setbacks, capitalism's
crisis only deepens, its inhumanity grows and its degeneration intensifies.
Today, 150 years after its appearance, the Communist Manifesto is even more
relevant.... with parasitic capitalism having reached the epitome of its decay.
As we approach the end of the second millennium, imperialism, with a marked
preference for the fleshpots of financial and monetary speculation, instead of
the production of real wealth.... spreads a deadly moral poison through the
fabric of society. The perils of war, genocide, mass starvation deaths and state
brutalities are coupled with a culture of rapacious greed, indifference to human
sufferings, extreme individualism, egotism and selfishness, and a ruthless,
cutthroat competitiveness to survive and succeed. In these closing years of the
twentieth century, inspite of the giant strides in technology, human beings feel
even less in control of their destinies, than ever before. Thrown to the ravages
of the market economy, governed by continuous crises over which they have no
control; the bulk of society is being pushed to a state of perpetual insecurity;
compounded by bigoted frenzy government at intolerance and social alienation.
The economy, the environment, the very air we breathe, the water we drink, the
food we eat-all seem under threat.
The bourgeoisie have no answers to a communist alternative. The setbacks in the
USSR and China, are being projected by them as the failure of communism. But,
their alternative? Nothing but their highly pessimistic 'End of History'.
Fukuyama's bestseller, was nothing but legitamisation of what exists, with a
pretense that communism is buried for ever. Without providing any alternative,
without setting any new ideals, the bourgeoisie of the globalisation period
seeks to drown the new generation in a barrage of trivialities, consumer
fetishism and psychological (media) numbing. For those who still persist in
social awareness, there is the multi-billion dollar NGO business; which provides
the structures for the emotional release of the socially sensitive. It is also
the main breeding-ground for the new fad theories - post modernism, sub-altern
studies, going-back4o-nature style environmentalism, etc - which creates a
'modern' intellectual inactivity.
Today, the only answer to the rot in present-day society is communism. The
principles as outlined in the Manifesto 150 years ago, together with their
refinements and developments, are the only answer for a just, rational order.
Though Marxism provides the deepest insights into truth, it has always grown
through a bitter, nay, one may say, life-and-death, struggle against the
bourgeoisie.... not only in the battle field, but also philosophically,
ideologically, culturally, politically and organisationally. The Manifesto
itself was born amidst a desperate struggle against alien tendencies. Since
then, till this day it continues to grow and develop only in fierce battles
against all sorts of idealist, metaphysical and subjectivist views and theories.
This is clearly evident, while commemorating the Manifesto. Throughout the world
a host of revisionists, Trotskyites, 'academics' etc., have been commemorating
the Manifesto's 150 years. They praise it, idealise it, eulogise it... isolated
from the class struggle of today. They place it on a pedestal, to be nurtured,
fondled... but never used as a guide to social practice. In India too, the
entire spectrum of revisionists, Trotskyites, 'Left' academics and fake
revolutionaries are busy commemorating 150 years of the Manifesto. Their
sterile, abstract platitudes is best reflected in the articles 'Communist
Manifesto and Marxian idea of Post-capitalist society' (EPW, August 8, '98) and
the 'Liberation' article (August '98 Vol.5, No.5) entitled 'Unchained Melody'.
Any real, living commemoration of the Manifesto can only be in the light of
their further discoveries and developments.... including the latest.
Manifesto… The Seeds For The Maoist Bloom
The Manifesto was the seed implanted into society by Marx and Engels. This seed
was nursed into a sapling by Marx and Engels themselves, in an era where the
proletariat had emerged, but when revolution was not yet on the agenda.... and
Marxism was born. This sapling was further developed into a sturdy plant by
Lenin, and later Stalin, in the era of imperialism, when revolution had come
onto the agenda, when the production relations had become fetters on the further
growth of the productive forces.... and these writings of Lenin and Stalin, in
the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, together with the first ever
experiences of socialist construction, resulted in the development of Marxism,
into Marxism-Leninism. And it was with Mao, that this plant began to bloom in
the bright sunlight of the Chinese revolution and the Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution (GPCR)... and with the writings of Mao, which has taken the science
of revolution and socialist construction to new heights, Marxist thought has
further developed into Marxism-Leninism-Mao Ze Dong Thought.
Without the seed, no bloom would be possible. Yet, to talk only of the seed,
without reference to the plant and its bloom, can be nothing but purile,
sedentary nonsense. The birth of the Manifesto 150 years ago, and the writings
and experiences through the years culminating in the GPCR, comprise a common
thread, the grasping of which alone gives the Manifesto its richness and life.
Here, we shall look at the Manifesto in this living context.
In this paper we shall first give a brief historical background of the Manifesto
and also of the international communist movement till today. Next we shall
analyse the major basic principles outlined in the Manifesto in the light of
their further development by Marx Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. We shall trace
the link and development between the Manifesto and the later writings, upto the
GPCR, on the basic Marxist concepts of Marxist Philosophy (Historical
Materialism, Dialectical Materialism and the Proletarian world outlook),
political economy, proletarian tactics, the proletarian party and the
Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Finally, we shall conclude with the
significance of the Manifesto today.
In this section we shall first trace the birth of the Communist Manifesto; then,
traverse the course of the three Internationals; and finally, recount the events
in the international communist anena upto today.
of the Manifesto
The period in which the Manifesto was written, the period when Marxism was born,
was a period of tremendous turmoil in Europe....turmoil, not only political, but
also ideological. The period was also one in which the working class saw its
first major growth.
With Britain and France already having gone through their bourgeois democratic
revolutions (Britain 1649; France 1789); with Britain having witnessed an
industrial revolution (1760-1832); and with Germany on the eve of a bourgeois
democratic revolution (1848).... the period was witness; to path-breaking
revolutionary ideas, in economics, in philosophy and in the natural sciences.
In the realm of economy, in 1817, the first economic analysis of the workings of
the capitalist system was produced by David Ricardo. It was on this rudimentary
understanding, that Marx later developed his full fledged theories of
In the realm of philosophy, the Utopian Socialists like Saint-Simon and Fourier
in France, and Robert Owen in Britain, stricken by the inhumanities of rising
capitalism, put forward ideals of socialism, justice, liberty, equality, etc.
And around these concepts, French secret societies proliferated with Paris as
their centre. In Germany, Hegelian philosophy peaked during the decade of the
1830s. This giant amongst contemporary philosophers, though seeped in idealism,
developed the dialectical method that attracted Marx and Engels, who became part
of the 'Young Hegelians'. Then, in 1841, came Feuerbach's 'Essence of
Christianity', which put forward the materialist concept that "nature exists
independently of philosophy." As Engels said,' "Enthusiasm was general; we
all became at once Feuerbachians. "Simultaneously in Germany there developed
various offshoots of Hegelian philosophy, with a socialist content, like those
of Strauss, Bauer and particularly Stirner.... the pr6phet of contemporary
In the realm of the natural sciences, the gigantic discoveries gave further
validity to dialectical materialist philosophy. Particularly, the three great
discoveries of: the cell in all living matter, the law of the conservation of
energy, and the theory of evolution of the human species — provided a strong
scientific basis for dialectics.
Together with this ideological ferment the working class movement peaked in the
1830s. France witnessed two big workers' uprisings in 1831 and 1839; in Britain,
the Chartist movement, initiated in 1836, developed the first nationwide
workers' movement, which reached its climax between 1838 and 1842; and in
Germany, the working class got organised into a large number of groups, playing
an active role in the unfolding bourgeois democratic revolution.
It was amidst this ideological ferment and a rising working class movement that
Marx, for the first time ever, put forward a scientific approach to
understanding society. Engels summed up the situation succinctly, when he said2
“the step (forward) which Feuerbach did not take had nevertheless to be
taken. The cult of the abstract men, which formed the kernel of Feuerbach’s new
religion, had to be replaced b~9 the science of real men and their historical
development. This further development of Feuerbach'5 standpoint, bey6nd
Feuerbach2~was inaugurated by Marx in 184S, in 'The Holy Family' ".
These concepts were further developed by Marx and Engels, leading finally to
the Manifesto in 1848.
The Communist Manifesto was written as the programme of the 'Communist
League'.... the first international organisation of the proletariat whose
programme was a communist one. The 'League' grew out of the numerous secret
societies, particularly one of them - the 'Federation of the Just', led by the
Germans Karl Schapper, H. Bauer and J. Moll. After much effort, Marx and Engels
were finally able to convince the members of the League of their scientific
views on socialism (as opposed to the then prevalent utopian views). At the
second congress of the League, in November-December 1947, Marx and Engels
were commissioned to draw up a 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'. In 1848 the
manifesto was adopted as the Programme of the League.
First International and Paris Commune
The Communist League faced continuous harassment by the governments of Europe,
and in 1851 their central committee office in Cologne (Germany) was raided and a
large number of its leaders arrested. In end 1852, after being kept in detention
for 18 months, they were sentenced from three to six years imprisonment. Soon
after this judgment the League was disbanded... but it was this League that was
to be the precursor to the First International.
Twelve years after the dissolution of the League, with the growth of the working
class movement, a new international body was formed……. the First International
or the International Workingmen's Association. This time the initiative was
taken by the French and English workers, and was founded in London on September
28, 1864. Marx formulated the rules and constitution of this new body. The First
International comprised three trends - the French Proudhonists (anarchists), the
British trade unionists and the German Marxists. It was only the Marxist section
who used the Communist Manifesto as their basis. The International developed
amidst intense ideological struggle, which, from 1868, took the form of major
battles between the anarchists, led by Bakunin, and the Marxists. These
struggles came to a head at the Hague Congress in 1872; a year after the defeat
of the Paris Commune.
After this, the General Council was shifted t6 New York, which continued
intermittent work for four years, and then ceased to exist. But, it was during
this International, and under its influence, that the proletariat, for the first
time in world history, seized power. Though the Paris Commune lasted only six
weeks, the experience was to provide a wealth of information for future
On March 8,1871, when the French bourgeoisie had capitulated to the Prussian
(German) invaders-rather than fight on, with working class support - the workers
of Paris revolted and seized power. In place of the bourgeois parliament they
set up the Commune, which had executive as well as legislative functions. Its
members were elected by universal suffrage and subject to instant recall. The
standing army was abolished and replaced by the armed people; the police were
brought directly under popular control; the magistrates and all other public
officials were elected by the workers and paid workman's wages. This was the
first time in history that the proletariat had succeeded in overthrowing the
bourgeoisie and setting up its own state, and although the communards comprised
both Marxists and anarchists, and, at that time, had no concept of a proletarian
party, the new state assumed the form of a proletarian dictatorship. But, by
end-May the Commune was overthrown, as the communards were too soft towards the
bourgeoisie, allowing them to regroup... the workers of Paris - men, women,
children - were massacred in thousands by the riflemen of the bourgeoisie.
The major lesson learnt from the Commune was on the nature of the state. This
point was developed by Marx soon after the defeat of the Commune in his book
'Civil War in France', which was an address (in 1871) to the General Council of
the International Workingmen's Association at London. Drawing on this
experience, in the 1872 Preface to the German edition of the Communist
Manifesto, Marx and Engels stated "the working class cannot simply lay hold
of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purpose."
The Second International
It was a full seventeen years later, after a renewed growth of the working class
movement, that Engels initiated the formation of the Second International at
Paris in July 1889. This time it was built on the principles of the Communist
Manifesto. This International influenced and led the development of the trade
union movement and workers' parties, which witnessed a gigantic growth during
But in the 1890s, there developed a trend alien to Marxism within the
International. The founder of revisionism, the German, Bernstein, carried away
by the sweep of the labour movement, coined the catch-phrase "the movement is
everything, the ultimate aim is nothing", which best expressed the revisionist
thinking. Lenin, while analysing this trend said that3 “….
the second half-century in the existence of Marxism began - in the nineties -
with a trend hostile to Marxism within Marxism itself Bernstein, a one-time
orthodox Marxist, gave his name to this trend by coming forward with great noise
and the most purposeful expression of amendments to Marx, revision of Marx,
After Engel's death it was the German, Kautsky, who led the Second International
in accomplishing the enormous task of organising the international proletariat.
But, with the outbreak of World War I, the bulk of the leadership capitulated to
their own bourgeoisie, coining the slogan 'defend the fatherland'. Kautaky led
this opportunism and was opposed by a small section within the international
comprising Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebnekth. Yet, as the majority
backed Kautsky, this opportunist line led to the collapse of the Second
International in August 1914.
The Third International
After the victory of the Bolshevik revolution, and with the end of the war,
Lenin initiated the establishment of the Third International in March 1919.
Under the impact of the October Revolution, for the first time, the
International spread outside the confines of Europe and America, with communist
parties sprouting all over the globe. The Third International, led first by
Lenin, and then by Stalin, reestablished the Marxist principles, discarded by
the leaders of the Second International. The ‘Comintern', as it came to be
known, helped guide the incipient communist movements developing throughout the
world in the 1920s and 1930s. Also it acted as the leading international centre
for the struggle against imperialism in general, and fascism in particular. It
was at the forefront in the battle against the fascist hordes during World War
But, on June 10, 1943, the Third International dissolved itself. In its own
statement, the reason given for the dissolution was that :' "long before the
war it had already become increasingly clear that to the extent that the
internal as well as international situation of individual countries became more
complicated, the solution of the problems of the labour movement of each country
through the medium of some international centre would meet with insuperable
obstacles"; in short, it added that "the organisational form as chosen by
the First Congress of the Communist International" had outlived itself, and
that "this form even became a hindrance to the further strengthening of the
national workers’ parties."
Summing Up Three Internationals
The first International, functioning in the period of the rise of capitalism,
laid the basis for the modern labour movement, both theoretically and
organisationally. The Second International was organised at the time of the
rapid growth of world capitalism and imperialism, and it, for the first time,
developed the trade unions, cooperatives and workers' parties into mass
movements. It became overwhelmed; however, with opportunism and degenerated into
an instrument of the employers against the working class. The Third
International, led the revolutionary organisations of the working class, the
peasantry, and the oppressed peoples1 of the world, functioning in
the period of imperialism, of the general crisis of the international capitalist
system, and the beginning of world socialism. It tended to cleanse the
proletarian movement of the poison of class collaboration and petti-bourgeois
reformism and equip it with the programme, leadership and organisation necessary
for it to carry out its historical socialist mission.
Cominform And After
With the dissolution of the Third International, and the aggressive designs of
post-war US imperialism, the need for some international centre was strongly
felt. As a result, nine leading communist parties of Europe met at Poland in
September 1947 and established the Communist Information Bureau or the Cominform,
with headquarters at Belgrade. Many parties throughout the world, associated
with this new body. However, this had a short life, as, with the CPSU turning
revisionist, the Cominform liquidated itself on April 8, 1956.
In the years that followed, the international communist movement got divided
into two major camps, with the bulk turning towards the revisionist CPSU, and a
section supporting the CPC. Then followed the 'Great Debate' between the CPC and
the CPSU, which culminated in the June 14 letter of 1963, in which the CPC drew
clear lines of demarcation between modern revisionism and revolutionary Marxism.
Since then, this 'Letter', entitled "A Proposal concerning the General Line of
the International Communist Movement", became the basis for rallying the genuine
communist forces throughout the world. Until 1976, till the death of Mao, the
CPC and China acted as a sort of international centre for the world communist
But with the Deng revisionists seizing power in China, this centre collapsed.
Since 1990 there have grown a number of forums, conferences, seminars, where
communists are able to interact, seeking some form of international
coordination. With class struggle, led by communists, still at a relatively low
key, it is inevitable that crystallization into an effective international body
will take time. No doubt the Communist Manifesto continues as one of the major
basic documents of the international communist movement; but only those
proletarian parties who adopt its latest developments are likely to advance and
While commemorating 150 years of the Manifesto, the first programme of an
international centre, it would be well to consider certain historical facts in
the rise and fall of such centres, drawing lessons, before undertaking any new
formation. The validity or otherwise for the dissolution of the Third
International, the Cominform structure, the CPC's experience with the Third
International and their reasons for not forming a centre, etc. are some of the
many factors that requite analysis.
MANIFESTO, As THE BASE TO A MAOIST EDIFICE
The Manifesto and the further writings of Marx and Engels, laid the foundation
for the further development of Marxist thought and practice. It was the roots
from which the tree of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Ze Dong Thought has grown over the
past 150 years. Nothing is static, everything must either grow or decay. Marxism
Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao as inheritors of the Manifesto, discovered
and enriched our understanding of the laws that govern society and change. No
doubt Marxism is bound to develop further, as the class struggle deepens, and as
socialist construction is developed further after taking into account the
reasons for the setbacks in the USSR and China.
In this section we shall see how the basic concepts as outlined in the Communist
Manifesto have been further developed and deepened by Marx, Engels, Lenin,
Stalin and Mao.
(1) Marxist Philosophy
(i) Historical Materialism.
"The history of all hitheno existing society is the history of class
struggle” ….. Communist Manifesto
Till today, history is taught as a mere conglomeration of unconnected events. It
was Marx who, for the first time, put the study of the history of society on a
scientific footing. He discovered the laws that governed society's development.
He showed that society had developed from one stage to the next, passing from
primitive communist society to slave society, to feudal society and then to
capitalism. This development was based on the contradiction that existed between
the productive forces and the relations of production, which was the primary
cause pushing society forward.
Marx and Engels further discovered the specific laws of capitalism, and thereby
deduced its inevitable transition to socialism. They showed that the basic
contradiction of capitalism is that between socialised production and private
appropriation. And that it is on the basis of this contradiction that the
struggle between the classes develops. As Engels said,5 "the
contradiction between social production and capitalist appropriation became
manifest as the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
"That this contradiction must necessarily lead to socialism was explained by
Marx thus:6 "Centralisalion of the means of production and
socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible
with their capitalist integument. The integument is burst asunder. The knell of
capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated."
Lenin scientifically applied Marx's concept of historical materialism to the
Russian revolution. He showed that Tsarist Russia was basically feudal, and so
the path to socialism must first and foremost pass through a bourgeois
democratic revolution. He showed that the nature of the revolution cannot be
determined by our subjective wishes (for socialism, etc) but by acting according
to the laws of development of society. Attacking the Narodniks, Trotsky and
others, who spoke of going direct to socialism, Lenin put forward his famous
thesis of two-stage revolution. History later showed the correctness of Lenin's
theory Russia first went through the bourgeois democratic revolutions in 1905
and February 1917, before the final victory of the October Socialist Revolution.
Mao further developed Lenin's theory of two-stage revolution, putting forward
the concept of New Democracy, as applicable to backward semi-feudal, semi-
colonial societies. Here, Mao also maintained, that in the backward feudal
countries the revolution will pass through two stages - the bourgeois democratic
and the socialist. But he added a major discovery, that in the present
imperialist era, the bourgeois democratic revolution will be of a new type - a
new democratic revolution. This will differ from the old-type bourgeois
democratic revolution, in that it will not only target feudalism but also
IMPERIALISM……. that the leadership of this revolution will no longer be by the
bourgeoisie, but by the proletariat... and that it will no longer be part of the
old bourgeois revolutions, but a part of the world socialist revolution.
So we find that the tool of historical materialism discovered by Marx and Engels,
was utilised in the Russian and Chinese revolutions to achieve victory. Without
these tools, incorporating not only the general concept of historical
materialism, but also its specific interpretations — like two-stage revolution,
new democracy, people's democratic dictatorship, etc — it would have been
inconceivable for the proletariat to have achieved victory.
Yet today, scores of revisionists, Trotskyites, etc., continue to speak of
one-stage revolution, talking of socialist revolutions in backward countries…….
there by negating the anti-feudal tasks. In India itself the traditional
revisionists, of the CPI and CPI(M) variety, never understood the concept of
two-stage revolution as elucidated by Lenin and Mao.... and therefore negated
the anti-feudal struggle, and in its policies swung from one extreme to trailing
the bourgeoisie in order to complete the bourgeois tasks, to the other extreme
of advocating socialism directly. Even the neo-revisionists and fake
revolutionaries of today, who claim loyalty to Mao's thought in words, in actual
practice negate the anti-feudal struggle. It is only the communist
revolutionaries who are leading the armed struggle in the countryside, who are
serious about the anti-feudal tasks and apply the historical materialist concept
of two-stage revolution to India.
(ii) Dialectical Materialism
"Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas views and
conceptions, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the
conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his Social
life ?".... Communist Manifesto
The great basic question of all philosophy is that concerning the relation of
thinking and being. Idealism gives primacy to thinking over being, while
metaphysics sees things as static, unconnected, things-in-themselves. Marx and
Engels revolutionised philosophy by discovering dialectical materialism -
materialism in its interpretation and explanation of everything, dialectical in
its method. Explaining the concept of materialism, Marx said' "ft is not the
consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, it is
their social being that determines their consciousness." While dialectics
was explained by Engels thus :8 "Dialectics.... grasps
things and their images, ideas, essentially in their interconnection, in their
sequence, their movement, their birth and death...."
The struggle between materialism and idealism and between dialectics and
metaphysics runs through the entire history of philosophy. Society's acute and
complex class struggles are inevitably reflected in the philosophical realm as
acute and complex struggles between materialism and idealism, and between
dialectics and metaphysics. It was Marx who brought philosophy down from the
pedestal of the 'thinkers' into a tool in the hands of the proletariat, to
understand the world, in order to change it. In his 'Theses on Feuerbach' Marx
said "the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the
point, however is to change it.”
This basic philosophy of dialectical materialism was further developed by Lenin
in his book "Materialism and Empirio-Criticism". In this, Lenin fought against
those who negated the materialist theory of experience and advocated the
idealist theory of experience. Opposing the incorrect view then prevalent Lenin
said "as objective things change, our thinking must change accordingly, so
that we will not lag behind the development of the objective reality and not use
'old experience' to solve new problems."
But is was Mao, who not only raised the understanding of dialectics to a much
higher plane, he also brought dialectical materialism into the very life of the
party and people. His path-breaking writing 'On Practice' and 'On
Contradictions' was brought out to attack the ideological roots of the then
prevalent (1 937) opportunist line in the party.
The former summed up the struggle between materialism and idealism on the
question of the relation between knowing and doing in the realm of philosophy.
It systematically expounded the dialectical materialist theory of the unity of
knowing and doing, pointing out that dogmatism and empiricism - two forms of
subjectivism -are only repeating the mistakes of the idealist views in history.
In this article he further developed Lenin's concepts of the dialectical
relationship between perceptual and conceptual knowledge, between theory and
practice. Lenin had said:9 "From living perception to abstract
thought, and from this to practice - such is the dialectical path of the
cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality." Mao added:10
"Perception only solves the problem of phenomena, theory alone can solve
the problem of essence.
In 'On Contradictions', Mao summed up the opposition between the two world
outlooks - the dialectical and metaphysical world outlooks - in the history of
human knowledge. It profoundly explained the basic law of materialist
dialectics, pointing out that the dogmatist and empiricist methods of thinking
are subjective, superficial and one-sided, and repeat the metaphysical mistake
Further, Mao and the CPC took dialectical materialism deep amongst the rank and
file of the party and mass organisations, where it was consciously utilised to
solve problems faced by the people in their daily lives. Particularly during the
GPCR and after, 'Peking Reviews' and other books and magazines, published
numerous articles on how the party and masses used dialectics to solve problems
in agriculture, industry, human relations and even problems of party
organisation and class struggle.
Thus we find that from the time of the Manifesto right upto the GPCR, a common
thread in the introduction, growth and development of the concept of dialectical
materialism. A thorough grasp is best achieved by the party of the proletariat,
by imbibing its living essence as elucidated by Mao.
Revisionists of all hues, invariably turn subjective and fall prey to all forms
of idealist and metaphysical thinking.... they also conveniently divorce theory
from practice in order to camouflage their dirty deeds. In India, whether it is
the traditional revisionists of the CPI, CPI(M) variety, or the neo-revisionists
with a M-L brand name, both have been deeply imbued with petti-bourgeois,
liberal thinking, and so invariably fall prey to a subjectivist approach. For
them, the philosophy of dialectical materialism is only to be preached.... but
never used. On the other hand, the genuine communist revolutionaries, while
rectifying the dogmatic and sectarian flaws of the pre 1972 period, have been
able to use dialectical materialism to advance the Indian revolution forward.
(iii) Proletarian World Outlook
"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to
all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the
motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors', and has left
remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than
callous 'cash payment'. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religions
fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy
Water of egotistical calculations. It has resolved personal worth into exchange
value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set
up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade. In one word, for
exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted
naked shameless, direct, brutal exploitation."- Communist Manifesto
All philosophies, including religions, seek truth, happiness and the freedom of
man.. And it was precisely this question that Marx and Engels first addressed in
their earliest writings, upon which they built their economic and political
theories. Engels said,11 "the urge towards happiness is innate in
man, and must therefore form the basis of all morality." Marx, in fact,
discovered the true essence of freedom, liberty, etc of the individual,
extricating from the confines of hypocritical bourgeois liberty with its extreme
individualism, and also from the concepts of abstract freedom of the religious
missionaries' communion with god. In his very first major writing, 'Economic and
Philosophical Manuscripts', Marx scientifically, brought out the roots of the
alienation of man in this bourgeois system... alienated, not only from the
product manufactured, but also from himself, having sold his labour power to the
capitalist. He defined 'Freedom' as, the consciousness of necessity. He said
that men are never, in any respect, in any of their activities, independent of
the natural or social laws and their necessary consequences. It follows that in
so far as they lack knowledge of these laws and of their consequences, they are
constrained and unfree. These laws, with their necessary consequences, then
assert themselves as an alien power, with unexpected or destructive effects,
frustrating human purpose. But in so far as men gain knowledge of these laws and
knowledge of their necessary consequences, they can learn to utilise them for
their own purpose.... and thereby take a step forward towards real freedom.
Regarding 'truth' Marx and Engels freed it from the blind faith of religiosity,
and lowered it from the pedestal of the absolute. Marx said,12
"The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not
a question of theory but is a PRACTICAL question."
The concepts of happiness, truth, liberty, freedom etc were further developed,
in a living sense in the course of the Russian and more particularly the Chinese
revolution….. they were linked to the question of the proletarian world outlook;
the outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party. In effect, happiness and freedom
become achievable only by developing a new world outlook, free from the
paralysing effects of selfishness, greed, arrogance, ego, etc.
In Russia, for example, soon after the revolution, workers, imbued with a new
consciousness of selflessness initiated the "communist subbotniks".... where
thousands of workers worked voluntarily without wages, to help develop the
war-ravaged economy. Lenin, in his article 'A Great Beginning', hailed the
subbotniks as an example of the new form of communist value .... pointing out
that it was a great beginning to overcome the habits left as a heritage to the
workers and peasants by past society and for building a new social order.
Mao, who made the question of remoulding one's outlook, into a proletarian world
outlook, as a central aspect in his approach. Errors in politics, organisation
or tactics, wrong policies, incorrect tendencies were traced to its ideological
roots, as having manifested due to an incorrect outlook. In all spheres of
activity Mao focused on this key question, saying that every idea (and of course
action) is stamped with the brand of a particular class.... if it is not
proletarian, it must necessarily be bourgeois. In the party he introduced the
method of rectification campaigns, criticism and self-criticism, and two-line
struggle. For the People's Army there were the "Three Main Rules of
Discipline and Eight Points for Attention." The central theme of Mao was the
approach to selflessly serve the people as best presented in his 'three
constantly read articles' (made popular during the GPCR) - 'Serve the People',
'In memory of Norman Bethune' and 'The foolish Old man who removed the
Mountain.' His concept of 'Serve the people' was not only accepted as a guide to
people's daily activity, but as a yardstick to measure attitudes towards life in
general, towards work and fellow-workers, towards study and fellow students, and
towards one's neighbours……. It dominated an approach to all spheres of running
the economy, being accepted as the principal guideline at all levels, from
planning heavy industry to selling peanuts. Mao, strived in all ways to create
and build this new communist man, not only in his writings, but also through all
his organisational, political and economic measures. This was particularly
evident after the seizure of power.
In 1952 the San Fan mass movement was launched directed against waste,
corruption and bureaucracy; the big upsurge in socialist education in 1957
led to the formation of the communes; the great Leap Forward from 1958
was a mass movement to take industry to the countryside, build a spirit of
self-reliance and introduced a scientific temper amongst the peasantry. In the
early 1960s the mass campaign to 'Learn from Tachai in Agriculture and
Taching in Industry' developed and spread models of the communist spirit (subbotnik-like)
to promote production. Finally, this entire process culminated in the GPCR whose
main slogan was 'fight self and criticise revisionism.' Not withstanding some
short -comings, human history has never witnessed such a revolution as the GPCR...
a revolution to change man and create a better being, imbued with the spirit of
self-sacrifice, modesty, simplicity and service to the people.
So we find, that on the question of world outlook, the concepts of the new
communist man, introduced by Marx and Engels, saw a gigantic development and was
made a living reality for millions of people, by Mao. Today, while remembering
the Communist Manifesto, it is inconceivable to gloss over this gigantic
contribution by Mao. No communist or genuine party will be able to effectively
proletarianise its approach without learning from this rich experience of the
Chinese revolution and socialist construction and applying it to their concrete
In India, centuries of idealist philosophy, obsessed with the 'self', as opposed
to concern for our fellow human beings, has deeply inculcated selfish values,
further vulgarised and aggravated by 'modern' imperialist culture.
Unfortunately, our revisionists, of the CPI and CPI(M) mould, never made a clear
break with their idealist thinking. The proletarian world outlook was skin-deep,
resulting not only in incorrect policies, organisational methods and
betrayals.... but also in compromise with feudal ideas in realms like caste,
women's freedom etc. It was the CPI ML) and the great Naxalbari struggle that
finally smashed decades of putrefied thought within the communist movement,
liberating it from the confines of purile bourgeois liberalism and a philistine
petti-bourgeols polity. But even here, the deep-seated values of the past,
coupled with a half-century revisionist history re-asserted itself with the
setback of 1972 — subjectivist thinking, ego, arrogance, sectarianism, etc
played havoc with the movement, resulting in intrigue and splits, reversion to
revisionist practice, abstract theorising and capitulation to the old methods.
It is only with the advance of the armed struggle in AP, Bihar and Dandakaranya
that much of this filth has been cleansed, wherein a proletarian world outlook
has once again begun to assert itself.
(To be continued)
I. Fredrick Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German
3. Lenin Collected Works 15, 32
4. History of the Three Internationals (Book 2) by William Z Faster
5. Engels : Anti-Duhring
6. Marx: Capital, Vol. 1. Chapter XXXIII
7. Marx And Engels Selected Works I, page 362
8. Engels : Anti-Duhring - Preface and Introduction
9. Lenin: Conspectus of Hegel’s Book, The Science of logic
10. Mao: On Practice
11. Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy
12. Marx: Theses on Feuerbach