Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Mao on Violence and the Military, 1966 Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


Perhaps the most famous of Mao Tse Tung's sayings, collected in "The Little Red Book" of his quotations, are the quotations concerning violence. In Classes and Class Struggle: "A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another." And in the chapter on war and peace:"Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power." and "Every Communist must grasp the truth; 'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'"

He was not afraid of another world war. In the chapter on war and peace he says, "The First World War was followed by the birth of the Soviet Union with a population of 200 million. The Second World War was followed by the emergence of the socialist camp with a combined population of 900 million. If the imperialists insist on launching a third world war, it is certain that several hundred million more will turn to socialism, and then there will not be much room left on earth for the imperialists; it is also likely that the whole structure of imperialism will utterly collapse."

Mao embraces the culture of war. As he explains in the chapter on Classes and Class Struggle, violence is to be directed at the enemy, "all those in league with imperialism - the warlords, the bureaucrats, the comprador class, the big Landlord class and the reactionary section of the intelligentsia attached to them." "After the enemies with guns have been wiped out, there will still be enemies without guns; they are bound to struggle desperately against us, and we must never regard these enemies lightly. If we do nor now raise and understand the problem in this way, we shall commit the gravest mistakes."

In his chapter on Socialism and Communism" Mao tries to distinguish between authoritarian (culture of war) measures against opponents of socialism, while making possible democracy (culture of peace) for most of the people: "The People's democratic dictatorship uses two methods. Towards the enemy, it uses the method of dictatorship, that is, for as long a period of time as is necessary it does not let them take part in political activities and compels them to obey the law of the People's Government and to engage in labour and, through labour, transform themselves into new men. Towards the people, on the contrary, it uses the method not of compulsion but of democracy, that is, it must necessarily let them take part in political activities and does not compel them to do this or that, but uses the method of democracy in educating and persuading them."

Certainly the Chinese Revolution was violent, as were other revolutions before it. And certainly his statement is consistent with those of Marx and Engels, beginning with the Communist Manifesto and going through Anti-Dühring in which they describe violence as the "midwife of history."

Is it possible, as Mao suggests, that the revolution can adopt culture of war violence against the capitalists and their sympathizers at the same time as culture of peace democratic procedures for the people? Isn't this contradictory? There are aspects of the culture of war such as authoritarian structure, belief in the efficacy of violence, and secrecy that cannot be so easily differentiated. Either they are adopted or not. Given its policy of war communism, it seems that socialist China has been unable to escape authoritarian and secretive governance with reliance on violence or the threat of violence to maintain power.

Unlike the Soviet Union, China has apparently avoided getting into an arms race with the capitalist countries. So far, instead of devoting its industry to war production, it has relied on the enormous size of the Red Army to ensure national defense. As Mao says in his chapter on Relations between the Army and the People, "Every comrade must be helped to understand that as long as we rely on the people, believe firmly in the inexhaustible creative power of the masses and hence trust and identify ourselves with them, we can surmount any difficulty, and no enemy can crush us while we can crush any enemy."

Because of its reliance on the culture of war, it is difficult to see how China can escape from the collapse that came to the culture of war in the Soviet Union..



To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Mao Tse-Tung on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism