“Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” is a trend that is becoming more popular among leftist circles in the First World but dwindling among guerrilla forces in the Third World. Forces upholding the ideology have sharply decreased in size over time in the Philippines, in India (1, 2) and in Peru, where the Shining Path was effectively eradicated and its leader, Abimael Guzman (Chairman Gonzalo), is in a Peruvian prison under life sentence. In Nepal, the Maoists were interned in UN camps by the approval of their own leadership, who sought political office under the present system. Those who uphold the ideology in the First World claim that they are practicing scientific socialism with real-life application. In actuality, they are practicing a religion with blatant use of historical revisionism.
Advocates of the ideology uphold numerous falsehoods depending on what suits their interests, claiming that the Maoist movements in the countries listed above are ever-growing and rapidly expanding, that they are on the verge of capturing state power, that they are the greatest threats to the United States today, and more. Their claims are facetious, contradicting each other at times, and most often blatantly false and completely detached from reality. One of the more significant of the falsehoods is that the Communist Party of Peru was the first group to conceive Maoism as a new and qualitatively higher stage of Marxism. This claim is rooted not in reality but in political expediency. It deliberately ignores historical events and is very easy to debunk. It was the Chinese Communists themselves who upheld what was then considered “Mao Zedong Thought” as a new and higher stage. This was part of Marshal Lin Biao’s groundbreaking political report in the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in April 1969,
“For half a century now, in leading the great struggle of the people of all the nationalities of China for accomplishing the new-democratic revolution, in leading China’s great struggle for socialist revolution and socialist construction and in the great struggle of the contemporary international communist movement against imperialism, modern revisionism and the reactionaries of various countries, Chairman Mao has integrated the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of revolution, has inherited, defended and developed Marxism-Leninism in the political, military, economic, cultural, philosophical and other spheres, and has brought Marxism-Leninism to a higher and completely new stage.”
This political report was adopted unanimously in the Congress, including the vote of Mao Zedong. The Ninth Congress upheld the theory of continuous revolution under proletarian dictatorship and the idea of the new stage, the stage of the collapse of imperialism, which was added to the Constitution of the Communist Party. This congress, which saw many Red Guard and People’s Army participants, and is considered the peak of the Cultural Revolution, lasted for nearly a month.
The Tenth Congress, which was held in 1973, lasted for only four days in late August by contrast. This congress was held after the winding down of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Lin Biao in a plane crash in 1971. In four days, various changes to party policy were rushed through, notably the deletion of the 1969 amendment to the constitution declaring Mao Zedong Thought as a new stage. This was an attack on the Cultural Revolution and on Lin Biao, who was being denounced as a reactionary and a wrecker after being accused of attempting a coup, which is most likely a fabrication in an effort to smear the late leader.
Even the term “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” did not originate with the Shining Path or the contemporary “Maoists”. The term was in use with American academics in the 1960s who describe the ideology as such (1, 2), though some, like Arthur A. Cohen, had pointed out at that time that the Chinese were averse to “Mao-ism” on cultural grounds, which is why they instead called it “Mao Zedong’s Thought”. This is ignored in contemporary “Maoist” analysis which argues that the ideology was labeled as a “thought” instead of “-ism” because of the lack of conception of the theory as a stage.
The deletion of the stage idea from the party constitution in 1973 has since enabled “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists” to revise history and to claim that it was the Shining Path, not the Chinese Communists, who first conceived “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” as a new stage. Like the right-wing of the Chinese Communist Party at the time, this historical revisionism is an effort to attack Lin Biao and his theory but also to promote the current-day “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” over which the remnants and successors of the defunct Revolutionary Internationalist Movement would be the sole authority.
Such authority has resulted in the theories and statements of these remnants to be considered “Maoism”, the one legitimate “Maoism”. This is effectively a religion with a Church of Maoism in control, issuing decrees which are the laws and restrictions of the religion. The CPI-Maoist and the CPP-NPA are the unofficial leadership of the Church. There is hardly room for debate and discussion and to attempt to understand society scientifically.
History should be acknowledged and understood through research and careful analysis. The revision of history should not be taken at face value. Most importantly, historical theory should not be placed above the current material conditions for the sake of nostalgia or continuity. Just as old theory was not sufficient for the Chinese in the 1960s, old theory is not sufficient for the problems today.