Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be a Far Better World
Part 11: Mao on the Contradictions of Socialist Society
Revolution #038, March 12, 2006, posted at revcom.us
Editor's note: Revolution is serializing the speech "Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be A Far Better World" by Raymond Lotta.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Communism and Socialism
Part 3: The Bolsheviks Lead a Revolution That Shakes the World
Part 4: The Soviet Experiment: The Social Revolution Ushered in by Proletarian Power
Part 5: The Soviet Experiment: Building the World's First Socialist Economy
Part 6: The Soviet Experiment: World War 2 and Its Aftermath
Part 7: Mao's Breakthrough — The Revolution Comes to Power
Part 8: Mao's Advance — Breaking with the Soviet Model
Part 9: The Great Leap Forward
Part 10: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China - Not Fanatical Purge, But the Socialist Road vs. the Capitalist Road
Lotta is on a national speaking tour as part of the Set the Record Straight project. Information on upcoming speaking dates and related materials are available at www. thisiscommunism.org.
Mao Tsetung made a theoretical breakthrough for Marxism. He analyzed that antagonistic classes continue to exist in socialist society. He analyzed that the class struggle--between the proletariat, which rules society, and the bourgeoisie, which is ruled over in socialist society--also continues under socialism.
This is complicated. Youre not mainly dealing with old-style capitalists waving property deeds or stock certificates. Yes, remnants of the old bourgeoisie will still be around in the early years of socialism. And various old-line reactionary political operatives will seek to organize against the new system. But as the revolution progresses and consolidates the socialist economy, you are mainly dealing with a new bourgeoisie. This new bourgeoisie exists within the political, economic, and ideological relations and structures of socialist society.
Politically, its very complicated. It would be easier if this new bourgeoisie went on TV proclaiming to the masses, "Hey, we want to tear down the whole system and exploit you." No, it organizes and fights for its interests and programs within the institutional framework of socialism and in pseudo-Marxist and pseudo-socialist language.
All this has to do with the very nature of socialist society.
The Inequalities in Socialist Society
Socialism is a great leap forward. I have been talking about the great things it makes possible. But socialism is also a transitional society. It contains the economic, social, and ideological scars of the old society. What do I mean by this?
There are the differences in development between industry and agriculture, and between town and country, and between regions. Very importantly, there is still the division between mental and manual labor--between people who are mainly engaged in intellectual, administrative, and creative activities and those who are mainly working with their hands.
There are still differences in peoples incomes. Money and prices and contracts continue to play a significant role in the economy.
These and other social inequalities, as well the persistence of commodity exchange, must be restricted and ultimately overcome to get to communism. The ways these things influence people's thinking and values must also be ideologically challenged and eventually overcome to get to communism. But this will require a protracted and complex process of revolutionary struggle and transformation.
Mao analyzed that these social differences and commodity relations are the soil out of which new privileged forces and a new bourgeoisie grow in socialist society. And he took this analysis further. He showed that the core of a new bourgeoisie is found within the top reaches of the communist party. Why?
The Vanguard Party as the Focal Point of Contradictions
The communist party is the leading political institution in socialist society and the main directing force of the economy. The masses need revolutionary leadership to carry the struggle forward to revolutionize socialist society. You need vanguard leadership and a proletarian state to lead society and coordinate the economy in the interests of the masses and in the interests of advancing the world revolution. You need a strong proletarian state to stand up to the imperialists who are breathing down your necks.
But here's the rub. There are forces in high positions of leadership in the party and state that push and fight for a bourgeois line. By bourgeois line, I mean an outlook and policies that seek to expand the kinds of inequalities that I have been talking about. I mean an outlook and policies that seek to restrict the initiative of the masses. And these forces in high leadership who push a bourgeois line will be strategically positioned to implement their program: to institute policies and to restructure economic and social relations in a capitalist direction. These "capitalist roaders," as Mao called them, are also strategically positioned to rally and mobilize sections and forces in society around a program of neo-capitalism.
Some people might ask, "well, why not avoid the problem and just do away with a vanguard party and state?" But that doesnt solve the problem. It just leaves you powerless and even more vulnerable in the face of all the contradictions Im talking about. And the bourgeoisie will come back to power.
So a vanguard party has to lead the revolutionary process forward. But the vanguard party also becomes the focus of the contradictions of socialist society. And the struggle within the party between the socialist road and the capitalist road becomes the focal point of class struggle under socialism.
This was a pathbreaking discovery by Mao.
But Mao was also pioneering the means and methods for dealing with this problem: mobilizing the masses from below to politically strike down the bourgeois power centers within the communist party and to revolutionize the party and institutions of society; and waging ideological struggle to transform people's thinking and understanding. In this way, the socialist revolution digs up the soil that regenerates capitalism.
So with this political and theoretical background, lets look at the Cultural Revolution.
NEXT: The Cultural Revolution as a Seismic Eruption of Liberation