Why Black People Need Maoism in 2018


Carine Williams | Race & Ethnicity | Commentary | July 30th, 2018



When they hear Maoism, many people think of China, Peru, and the Philippines. They picture peasants "surrounding the cities from the countryside." This is, of course, understandable, but a mistake. Maoism is not simply "everything that Mao did," or "everything that happened in China between 1949 and now." I have spent a great deal of my time writing working to dispel these sorts of myths, some peddled in an unprincipled fashion by anti-Maoists. Maoism is a living, breathing science. By science we mean something with universal principles that can be taken and applied by all who have a material interest in making revolution. In the United States, this is Black people, or the New Afrikan nation.

It was not by accident that the original Black Panther Party (BPP) developed close relations with the revolutionary leadership of the People's Republic of China. Huey didn't go to China to play; he went to study and learn things that could be applied back home. Of course, he eventually degenerated in political line and practice, taking a right opportunist course along with Bobby Seale (always a centrist) and Elaine Brown (who guided the party, in his absence, into a mainstream political force that led into the arms of the Democratic Party). This opportunism in the highest expression of revolutionary sentiment, practice, and force in this country to date needs to be studied and ruthlessly criticized, yet we should be careful. We must place things in their historical context and ensure that we are able to divide one into two, meaning see the beneficial as well as the negative aspects of a thing but also realize that one aspect must be primary.

The BPP was destroyed by a combination of factors: lack of a really scientific method of analysis and cohesive program of political education, failure to promote and apply the Marxist-Leninist principle of Democratic Centralism (debate inside the party, formation of a political line through this debate, and the upholding of this decision by all party members and organs), and a culture of liberalism that ended with comrades fighting comrades, thus opening the door for external factors (the FBI and other LE agencies) to play havoc and get cadre railroaded into prison and killed. We must study and learn all of these lessons, because when we develop another organization with the prestige, mass base, and power that the Panthers had, and we will, they will come for us all again.

So, why do we need Maoism? Because we are against the most brutal, bloody, and vicious empire known to humankind. This country is looting and enslaving our class siblings all over the world. To overturn this order of things, to smash it and rebuild it in the interests of the revolutionary proletariat of the entire world, we must apply the synthesis of 200 years of systematic, organized class struggle, which is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism: the continuity of the revolutionary project that was Marxism-Leninism, with a rupture from the dogmatism and revisionism. Maoists do not uphold "Actually Existing Socialism" because a scientific analysis rooted in the principles laid down by the revolutionary movements and projects that gave us Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao would demonstrate that stealing food from Filipino fisherfolk, like the People's Republic of China (PRC) has been doing, is 100% non-Marxist. This is in disagreement with many Marxist-Leninist organizations today, which uphold these things and other imperialist depredations carried out under the faded red banner of China.

The Maoist argument is that Marxist-Leninist terrain has been spent, and the 21st century must learn from Maoism. "You haven't seized state power yet!" others cry. Indeed, and there has never been a truly Maoist party that has initiated armed struggle in the imperialist metro poles. This doesn't mean that Maoist principles cannot be applied to these countries, this means that we must be ever more creative in our application and ever more disciplined in our party-building efforts. Party building in the USA requires the careful and thorough cultivation of a mass base. Tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people must depend on and follow this party and participate in mass organizations before it can even begin to call itself a vanguard. This is what many who came out of the New Communist Movement of the mid-late 1970s failed to realize. The days of endless squabbling sects that fight over "mass bases" of a handful of other activists must be put to an end, and we must have a truly mass perspective.

There is optimism in the spread of For the People (FTP) organizations and the development of the Organizing Committee for a Maoist Communist Party (MCP-OC) which has a more mass orientation and places primacy on the development of a class analysis and political line in the USA that is based in painstaking investigation and rooted in the aspirations and struggles of the most oppressed, along with a record of seeking to develop international solidarity and prison work. This, I believe, is the best hope for New Afrikan Maoists in the United States and I wholeheartedly encourage Black comrades to develop FTP-type organizations in their own communities under OC guidance. Even if this isn't done, at the very least studies in Maoism, studies in Maoist revolutions, and studies in Maoist theory are beneficial. After and during these studies, think about how it can be applied on your block and in your community.

Learn about and be like Fred Hampton. Time is up for spinning our wheels; we must get together, unite on a principled and unshakeable basis, and mount a formidable resistance against decades and centuries-old oppression based in capitalism and white supremacy. I also encourage support and donation to the Hampton Institute as an invaluable resource in promoting revolutionary ideology and practice in the finest Marxist tradition.