Mao: Problems of War and Strategy

Mao at Yenan.

[Final part of our series on revolutionary military strategy in imperialist countries.  While it mainly deals with revolutionary war in China, it contains many important insights into revolutionary strategy in general and how it’s application changes for different countries in particular.]

November 6, 1938


The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.

But while the principle remains the same, its application by the party of the proletariat finds expression in varying ways according to the varying conditions. Internally, capitalist countries practice bourgeois democracy (not feudalism) when they are not fascist or not at war; in their external relations, they are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations. Because of these characteristics, it is the task of the party of the proletariat in the capitalist countries to educate the workers and build up strength through a long period of legal struggle, and thus prepare for the final overthrow of capitalism. In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform, of economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers. There the form of organization is legal and the form of struggle bloodless (non-military). On the issue of war, the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries oppose the imperialist wars waged by their own countries; if such wars occur, the policy of these Parties is to bring about the defeat of the reactionary governments of their own countries. The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing.[1] But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside’ and not the other way about. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.

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Why Do These Stupid Books Sell?

[From the blog M-L-M Mayhem!]

I am always fascinated and frustrated by the North American mainstream public’s willingness to buy and accept as authoritative “historical” books of dubious scholarship that popularize ruling class ideology.  The reason these books are not treated with the suspicion they deserve, obviously, is because they are designed to reinforce what people are already taught to believe.  These books masquerade as academic, as well-researched and expert, and yet they rarely fit the standards of academic feasibility and honesty.  And yet they still become part of popular discourse, defended by laypersons who repeat, ad nauseaum, these books’ claims and pour scorn on the qualified critics who raise questions.

Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, for example, not only argued the ahistorical and racist-colonial position that Palestine was an empty desert, a terra nullius, before the European Zionists arrived to “make it bloom again” (and that the Palestinians are really all lying Arabs who snuck into the Zionist paradise from neighbouring states), but he plagiarized his argument from Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial––a book already apprehended as a work of historical hucksterism decades earlier.  Despite the attempt of proper historians, The Case for Israel is still a best-seller and Harvard University Press is more than happy to re-issue further editions.

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