The Theoretical Breakthroughs of the Cultural Revolution

On a theoretical level, Mao Zedong’s understanding of the nature of socialist society and the need to continue the revolution under working class rule was a qualitative leap in how to wage the decades long, even centuries long, struggle to reach communism all over the world.

Mao not only demonstrated that classes and class struggle continue to exist in socialist society, he understood that socialism is a system in constant motion and struggle between two roads–the socialist road to communism and the capitalist road of restoring bourgeois rule.

This struggle between the two roads has a material basis. In one of his books on the Chinese revolution, William Hinton explained how some of the inequalities of capitalism are reproduced, in new forms, in socialist society:

“These inequalities are inherited from the old society, such things as pay differentials between skilled and unskilled work and between mental and manual work, and differences between the economic, educational, and cultural opportunities available in the city and in the countryside. As long as these inequalities exist, they generate privilege, individualism, careerism and bourgeois ideology…. They can and do create new bourgeois individuals who gather as a new privileged elite and ultimately as a new exploiting class. Thus socialism can be peacefully transformed back into capitalism.”

As these newly formed bourgeois elements coalesce around a revisionist political line in leading positions in the party, they form a new bourgeoisie. Thus, socialism is characterized by intense and at times open class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, concentrated in the communist party itself.

How would you know a capitalist roader if you saw one? How would you recognize a revisionist line?  Based on the experience of the Cultural Revolution, we can now say that in a socialist society, a revisionist political line (1) asserts that the primary task of socialism is economic development, promotes political passivity, and negates the decisive role that consciousness plays in enabling the working classes to more directly determine the overall direction of society; (2) a revisionist line defends and widens inequalities in wealth, education, and access to information and decision making power that continue to exist in socialist society; and (3) a revisionist line obscures the existence of classes and class struggle in socialist society, and denies that intense and continuing class struggle is essential to reach communism.

Revolutionary Maoists reject this revisionist line and its view of socialism as a static system. Maoists fight for a dynamic political line that unleashes mass initiative, participation and debate in all areas of society, that revolutionizes the relations of production, that overcomes economic, social and political inequalities to the greatest degree possible, that promotes internationalism and leads mass campaigns to support revolution in other countries, that combats “me first” capitalist ideology, and uproots national oppression and male supremacy.