by Bob Avakian
Revolutionary Worker #908, May 25, 1997
Here I want to address a very basic question that has to do with the stand, viewpoint and method of MLM and in particular the principle that MLM "embraces, but does not replace" particular spheres of knowledge and activity. The criticism has been and is frequently raised--including by nationalists, feminists, and others particularly concerned with one or another major social contradiction (the national question, the woman question, etc.), as well as by others who have a narrow view of Marxism--that "Marxism only deals with class, it doesn't deal with race, or nations, or the oppression of women, and so on." The answer to this is: No, Marxism (or, today, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) deals with everything, but it deals with things from a definite class standpoint--that is, the scientific stand, viewpoint and method of the proletariat. From this standpoint, it takes up all major social contradictions.
And, for that matter, the world outlook and methodology of the proletariat, MLM, because it is a scientific and comprehensive world outlook and methodology, enables us to correctly approach all contradictions in nature as well as in society (and in people and their thinking). The ideology of the proletariat, and the revolutionary struggle represented by this ideology, "encompasses" these particular contradictions--the oppression of nations, of women, and other major social contradictions--within the overall process of proletarian revolution, without obliterating their particularity.
In other words, it is not the case that the only thing Marxism teaches us is that there is a class contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and that's it--everything else has to be crammed, in a narrow and mechanical way, into that class contradiction and none of these other contradictions have any life and dynamic of their own. As opposed to economism and other mechanical materialist--and fundamentally reformist--tendencies that sometimes claim to be "Marxist," MLM recognizes that the various major contradictions in society cannot be reduced to--and "forced within"--some narrow conception of the class contradiction between the workers and the bosses, or even a somewhat more broadly conceived class contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
These other social questions--and especially such decisive contradictions as the oppression of nations and national minorities and the oppression of women--represent real contradictions that have in a certain sense a life and dynamic of their own, even though they're rooted in the fundamental relations of society and have their ultimate resolution through the revolutionary transformation of those fundamental relations. In this era, they are rooted in the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and have their ultimate resolution through the proletarian revolution to achieve communism, while, in turn, these other contradictions and the struggles bound up with them--the struggle to uproot the oppression of women, the domination of oppressed nations, and so on--have a crucial role in the proletarian revolution. And there can be no proletarian revolution and no achievement of communism without fighting against and finally uprooting all such oppression.
So, MLM deals with every contradiction that people confront in nature and in society (and in thinking). It deals with all this. But it deals with all this from a definite class standpoint.
MLM does not ignore other contradictions besides "class"-- the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie--nor does it reduce everything in narrow terms to the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It recognizes and deals with the particularity of many different contradictions, but it does so from the standpoint and with the methodology of the class-conscious proletariat, because the stand, viewpoint, and method representing the proletariat is both partisan and true. It reflects the interests of a particular class and it reflects objective reality. It does not eliminate but does encompass particular contradictions. It does not exhaust knowledge but ceaselessly opens up roads to knowing the world and changing the world in accordance with objective reality and in accordance with the highest interests of humanity.
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