Questions about Maoism and Leading Light Communism
We recently received some questions about the relationship of Leading Light Communism to Maoism.
1. Is the LLCO’s concept of the Third World the same as chairman Mao’s?
No. The Leading Light’s “Global Class Analysis” is totally different from Mao’s “Theory of Three Worlds.” Let’s look at the differences.
Mao Zedong upheld a “Theory of Three Worlds” in the 1970s. Mao reportedly said the “First World” was made up of the United States and the Soviet Union. The “Second World” was made up of the smaller imperialists like European countries, Japan, Australia, etc. The “Third World” was made up of the poorer countries. Mao’s conception was one based on the nationalist, geopolitical needs of China, not on proletarian science. Mao’s theory was invented after the fact to justify China’s increasingly narrow-nationalist foreign policy in the 1970s. In any case, according to the Maoist approach, the main thing that determined one world from another was military power, geopolitical aggressiveness, etc. So, even though European imperialist countries had a higher standard of living than the Soviet Union, the smaller, militarily weaker, European imperialists were part of Mao’s “Second World.” By contrast, Leading Light looks at the world from the standpoint of what Mao called “the first question of revolution”: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” We look at the world, not from the standpoint of nationalism and foreign policy, but from the standpoint of the question of class, from the standpoint of the proletariat. Our Global Class Analysis looks at the world from the standpoint of aligning social forces in order to make revolution to eliminate all exploitation and oppression, to reach true freedom, Leading Light Communism. Thus we divide human society into “worlds” based on standard of living. Those zones, countries, geographic areas whose populations have the poorest standard of living are the most Third World. Those zones, countries, geographic areas whose populations have the wealthiest standard of living are the most First World. We can see society as divided into a continuum, one pole represents the higher standard of living, the First World. The Third World, the lower standard of living, is another pole. The “Second World” pole between the two. Although we do not often talk about the “Second World,” it can be seen as those countries concentrated in the middle in terms of standard of living.
[FW] -S-U——————–P-R- [“SW”] —————-M———–B- [TW]
On this model, a country like Switzerland, “S,” with a higher standard of living, falls closer to the extreme end of the First World, “FW,” than the United States, “U.” A country like Portugal, “P,” falls on the First World side, but closer to the middle, the “Second World”, “SW.” Russia, “R,” also, falls somewhere closer to the middle. Similarly Bangladesh, “B,” has a poorer population than Mexico, “M.” On this model, wealthy Gulf countries fall on the First World side also. This model can also be applied within individual countries. For example, there are First World neighborhoods and areas in Third World countries that have a much higher standard of living. Similarly, there are some pockets of the First World within Third World countries.
We can also use this model to predict the rise of fascism. Traditionalist fascism is much more likely to take hold in First World countries with a lower standard of living, for example Greece or Russia. Wealthier First World countries tend to adopt a more liberal outlook. The closer a country is to the Third World pole, “TW,” the greater the social base, the potential, for revolution. Similarly, the higher the standard of living that exists, the more First World a country is, the smaller the proletarian class, the bigger the bourgeoisie. Thus we say there is no significant proletariat in the First World. We must write off the First World populations because they have a bigger interest in preserving and advancing their position in the system than in destroying the system itself. First World peoples have far, far more to lose than their chains. They have their whole consumerist, comfortable, bourgeois standard of living to lose. The true proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains. Again and again, we see the bourgeois populations of the First World oppose revolution and anti-imperialist struggles. Revolution proceeds from the Third World pole to the “Second World” pole to the First World pole.
2. Why do we have to defeat the First World?
Long ago, Maoists in China understood that class had changed since Karl Marx’s day. For example, Maoists in China spoke of the “new bourgeoisie” that arose within the Communist Party itself. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were part of this new bourgeoisie, yet did they personally own factories as the traditional bourgeoisie of the England of Marx’s day? Could Liu Shaoqi personally give away China’s productive power to his friends or children? No. The new bourgeoisie in the Soviet Union and China was not the traditionalist bourgeoisie of Marx. The new bourgeoisie was a bureaucratic, technocratic class that collectively owned China’s wealth. This new bourgeoisie was led by reactionary ideology. And the new bourgeoisie used their position to further take power from the masses and concentrate it in their own hands.* The point here is that Maoists long ago recognized that new class formations had arisen that Marx had not fully anticipated. The working bourgeoisie of the First World may work, but that does not mean they are exploited. They have such a high standard of living, they benefit so much from Empire, that they have no interest in overthrowing it. Friedrich Engels wrote long ago of how the entire population of England was becoming bourgeois on the back of the exploitation of India. Vladimir Lenin long ago wrote of the “labor aristocracy.” Lin Biao too spoke of a “global countryside” that opposed a “global city.” All of these writers were pointing to the fact that class was changing. Just as the Maoists had identified a new bourgeoisie in their midst, these authors were identifying another new bourgeoisie arising in the imperial and wealthy countries, in what would become the First World. Leading Light builds on these ideas and advances them to a whole new scientific level.
Maoists during the Cultural Revolution emphasized the importance of Lenin’s observation that “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Long ago, Maoists in China understood that the defeat of the bourgeoisie is key to advancing to communism. They emphasized the necessity of the “all-round Dictatorship of the Proletariat over the bourgeoisie.” Maoists in China were not just talking about Marx’s traditional bourgeoisie, but also the new bourgeoisie that arises inside the Communist Party itself. Similarly, we too extend our recognition of class struggle to all-round Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Real Marxism has always demanded defeat of the bourgeoisie. And today, this means defeat of this new bourgeoisie, the Bourgeois World, the First World itself. Just as this was a dividing line between real Marxism and revisionism in the past, it is a dividing line between real Marxism and revisionism today. We must defeat the bourgeoisie, not compromise with it. Thus we must reject the revisionism poison of Karl Kautsky, Nikita Khrushchev, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and the First Worldists. Just as the Maoists in China raised the understanding of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to a whole new level, so too does Leading Light Communism advance this aspect of revolutionary science.
3. You said that you have some comrades in the First World, what is the function of the comrades in the First World?
Leading Light Communism aims at total victory through Global People’s War that is truly global. All Leading Lights, no matter what their origin or location, are our brothers and sisters. There is a long tradition of exceptional individuals from the bourgeoisie who break from their class background. The most famous example is Friedrich Engels himself, who not only provided resources so that Marx could survive, but Engels was a revolutionary scientist in his own right. Leading Light is a movement for all real revolutionaries.
Leading Light raises the slogan “Revolution in the Third World, Resistance in the First World.” First World comrades have a duty to do everything they can to support the Global People’s War of the Leading Light, especially in the Third World. They also have a duty to create resistance in the First World. They have a duty to gain resources. They have a duty to undermine the Empire. They have a duty to subvert and weaken the First World. First World comrades have the same duty to serve the people, to live and die for the people, as Third World comrades. We do not abandon revolution in the First World, we just recognize that it is not possible in the foreseeable future. To conquer the First World, we must first liberate the Third World. Thus, as Lin Biao said, the world revolution proceeds from the global countryside to the global city.
4. Are the indigenous, black, and other ethnic minorities in the First World enemies of the Third World?
It is important to realize that not all minorities/nationalities are the same. For example, Asians within the United States have higher incomes than whites. And, the Asian community is not homogeneous. There are Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Hmong, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians, Koreans, and many other Asian populations in the United States. There are great differences that exist. For example, Japanese will be richer than Laotians. Similarly, there is a great many differences between the many indigenous peoples. There are also differences between black communities. Some black communities are much better off than others. Similarly, this is true of Chicanos, Mexicans, and other Latinos. Cubans are better off than Salvadorans in the United States. There a great many differences between different populations. And there is variety within the populations. Even though there is great variation, on the whole, most of these populations are part of the First World. Even though their standard of living is often less than the white population in the United States, it is still First World. On the whole, these are still First World populations. Even so, there are some Third World pockets within First World countries. Some indigenous populations in the United States, and some aboriginal populations in Australia, can be considered Third World. There are small pockets of very poor white people also. However, all these populations tend to be too small, fragmented, isolated, and dynamic to serve as reliable social bases for revolution. There might be some exceptions, but this is the general rule. Leading Light’s line is not that there is no proletariat in the First World countries. Rather, we say, there is no significant proletariat in the First World countries.
This does not mean that there aren’t great injustices that occur within these and other populations inside First World countries. It does not mean that we should not be outraged at injustice. However, we are not liberals. We are revolutionaries. Our job is to make revolution. And, whether we like it or not, the pockets of genuinely exploited, poor, Third World communities, in the First World do not add up to a significant social base capable of making revolution.
5. Do you see Lin Biao as greater than Mao Zedong?
Rather than look at the individuals, we should look at the political lines. Politics in command, not individuality. In some cases, Lin Biao’s line was better than Mao Zedong’s. Lin Biao challenged Mao’s turn to the right, including his alignment with Western imperialism in the 1970s. In the 1960s, Mao criticized Nikita Khrushchev for his line of “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialists. By the 1970s, Mao himself had moved into alignment with the Western imperialists. Just as the Soviets, Mao was putting national interest above the interest of the international proletariat. This was part of the conservative turn in the 1970s in China. Mao favored a China-centered geopolitics in the 1970s. Lin Biao favored an emphasis on aiding people’s wars and anti-imperialist struggles. Lin Biao favored people’s war; Mao favored national interest. Furthermore, Lin Biao correctly emphasized that global revolution would proceed from the “global countryside” to the “global city.” Lin Biao also wanted to continue to radicalize the Cultural Revolution after 1969, Mao moved to bring back many of the rightists and revisionists that had fallen. Lin Biao pushed left after 1969; Mao pushed right. On these points, Lin Biao was better than Mao. However, overall, Mao was a more important figure than Lin Biao. It was Mao, not Lin Biao, who guided the Chinese revolution. It was Mao who is the most important ideological author of the Chinese revolution and the Maoist wave of revolutions. Lin Biao is a Leading Light, but Lenin and Mao are the two brightest Leading Lights of twentieth century revolution. Think about it: Mao was the leader of a proletarian revolution that encompassed a quarter of humanity. His star shines very, very bright.
Our first duty is to revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, not the legacies of individual leaders. All of these Leading Lights of the past – Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, etc. – were great heroes, leaders, servants of the people. They embodied some of the best in humanity. They embodied our best selves, our best aspirations. However, history did not stop when Mao died. Science continues to develop. Today, we have developed the science of revolution to a whole new stage in order to initiate the next great wave of revolution. Just as Lenin advanced Marx, Mao advanced Lenin, we advance them all. Leading Light Communism is the future.
6. You claim Leading Light Communism is the highest stage of revolutionary science. What is the difference between Leading Light Communism and the classical Marxism-Leninism-Maoism?
Leading Light Communism is an all-round advance of revolutionary science. Leading Light Communism has advanced every area of revolutionary science. It is not possible to list all the advances of Leading Light Communism here. Instead, we will focus on some key advances:
Leading Light Communism integrates the most advanced discoveries of today to create a genuinely scientific epistemology, an epistemology that integrates the best aspects of Marxist materialism with contemporary advances in logic, linguistics, cognitive science and neurology, and statistical analysis. Great advances are happening in all these areas of knowledge, if Marxism does not adapt, then it might as well be frozen metaphysics. Science did not freeze when Mao died in 1976. The capitalists are constantly advancing the science of oppression, if we do not counter their advances, we will always lose. We must wage a tit-for-tat struggle against the capitalists by advancing the science of revolution, Leading Light Communism. This idea is at the heart of advancing science to a whole new stage.
Leading Light advances political economy to a whole new stage. Leading Light is a new theory of Global Class Analysis that reveals how class works on the global level today. Global Class Analysis tells us that the social base for revolution exists almost exclusively in Third World. No significant proletariat exists in the First World. Leading Light shows how the the modern bourgeoisie and proletariat has changed. Not only are the new forms of the bourgeoisie that have arisen in the First Word, but Leading Light also emphasizes the growing importance of shifting demographics in the Third World.
Leading Light advances our understanding of gender. Leading Light shows how just as Empire has changed class dynamics, it also changes gender dynamics. First World people as a whole are granted more life options at the expense of Third World people. This is true for men and women. First World women have won more and more access to the traditional privileges of First World men. This is part of the growth of liberalism and social democracy in the First World. However, we have to ask, who pays for this? Third World women often experience the worst forms of patriarchal oppression. Patriarchy in the Third World is used as a way to enforce horrible forms of gender apartheid. Patriarchy, especially in semi-feudal forms, is used to exploit and control women in the Third World. So, we have a situation where First World women are gaining more and more First World privilege, more and more life options, on the backs of continued imperialist and semi-feudal, patriarchal oppression of Third World men and women. This creates a situation where First World women do not have a common gender interest with Third World women. First World women may want gender equality with First World men, but the lifestyles of both First World men and women requires the continued existence of patriarchal, semi-feudal barbarism imposed on Third World women. Thus Third World men and women have far more common interest, both class and gender, than either has with First World men and women.
Leading Light has further advanced revolutionary military science. Revolution in the contemporary world is a matter of developing the Global People’s War of the Leading Light, a people’s war on a global scale by the Proletarian World against the Bourgeois World. This is a total war, a war against the First World as a whole, against First World civilization itself. It demands new forms of people’s war, advanced theory and practice. The shifting demographics, the rise of the slum, has deep implications for waging people’s war. The rise of the slum dwelling classes in the Third World means that future revolutions cannot be thought of simply in terms of countryside and city, but must be thought of also in terms of the growing role of slums. Information technology, psychological warfare, the rise of airpower, satellites, robotics, etc. will play greater roles in future conflicts. New technologies and approaches must be integrated into contemporary strategies in order to win. The revolutionary law of people power is still fundamental, but people power, to win, must be focused in ever more concentrated, advanced ways to win. “Without theory, practice is blind.”
Leading Light further advances our understanding of the history of revolution, counter-revolution, and socialist construction. Leading Light advances the understanding of the rise of revisionism and capitalist restoration to a whole new level. Leading Light shows how the Theory of the Productive Forces, the police paradigm, and certain conceptions of human good are interlinked. Although both the Soviet Union and Maoist China, in the revolutionary phases, were shining examples, they were flawed in important ways. Leading Light offers the most advanced account of the shortcomings of previous waves of revolution. This gives us important knowledge about how to do better next time.
Leading Light also advances the Marxist understanding of ecology. Leading Light shows how past Marxism failed to understand the importance of nature. For example, nature plays an important role in political economy. One way to further underscore the parasitism of the First World as a whole is to look at consumption patterns. The First World is simply not sustainable. First World consumption levels, the First World lifestyle, is killing the planet, our common home. First World consumption is a threat to the global ecosystem itself and a threat to the continued existence of all life, including the proletariat. Thus it is an important part of any future revolution to put care and defense of nature at the forefront. The New Power of the Proletariat must take a fundamentally different approach to nature than the reactionaries who threaten us all with extinction. Past socialism failed in significant ways in this regard, Leading Light says that the most advanced ecological science is an important, key part of the most advanced proletarian science today, Leading Light Communism.
Leading Light offers a new, advanced scientific vision of revolutionary construction. We are trying to eliminate thousands years of oppressive social organization and social programming. For thousands of years, power, economy, and culture have been organized in terribly oppressive ways. Marx described his project as scientific socialism and communism, applying the best science to the task of ending all oppression. Thus past revolutions need to be viewed as scientific experiment. Just as the Bolsheviks advanced over Marx and earlier attempts to reach communism, the Maoists advanced on the Bolsheviks. Similarly, real revolutionary scientists recognize that we need to advance over Mao’s revolution. If Mao had gotten everything right, he would have won. Socialism would still exist in China today if the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist tradition alone was the answer. Since the restoration of capitalism in China, the world has changed in important ways. We must learn from the greats who came before, but we must go forward. We must always recognize we stand on the shoulders of giants, but we have a duty to the masses the arm them with the most advanced revolutionary science. Anything short of this is treason.
Leading Light Communism has made advances in numerous other areas: high and low science, aesthetics, Cultural Revolution, United Front, New Power, and on and on. Leading Light Communism is a real advance, it is not just empty rhetoric, sloganeering, cultism. The scientific advances are so numerous and deep that it is not possible to articulate them in such a short format. The Leading Light has elevated every aspect of revolutionary science to a new stage. Leading Lights are not Avakianists who offer nothing but eclecticism and empty rhetoric. Leading Lights are not Prachandists who use the cover of innovation to revise the revolutionary heart out of Marxism. Leading Light is not empty cultism, sloganistic bombast. This is a genuine scientific advance that preserves and elevates the best in Maoism – Cultural Revolution, People’s War, New Power – but takes it all to a qualitatively new level.
There is a way forward. True Marxists, true Leninists, true Maoists are not metaphysicians with frozen dogmas. True Marxists, Leninists, Maoists are revolutionary scientists. To be a real Maoist today requires going beyond Mao. This is what science demands. Being a Maoist always meant adherence to the most advanced revolutionary science, not the letter of Mao’s work. Real Maoism is science, not religion posing as science. Thus it is the duty of all real Maoists to go beyond Mao, to adopt the most advanced revolutionary science today. And this means upholding Leading Light Communism.
* We have updated our stance on Soviet revisionism. Read the full article here: https://llco.org/understanding-soviet-revisionism/