Originally published by Tjen Folket on 15.02.2015, before the first great rectification campaign beginning in 2018.
MLM smashes the myth that the revolution will suddenly come out of a crisis in the future and that the people can simply pick it like some ripe fruit.
To be a revolutionary is to learn from history and see that the rulers will not give their power away freely. Capitalism must be discarded to eradicate poverty, hunger, and environmental crises. And we are sure that the capitalists will not accept this and therefore must be displaced through revolution.
This insight is an old one in the labour movement – it has been more than 150 years since Marx broke ground for this among the proletariat’s foremost leaders. Since then, millions of workers in our part of the world have struggled for revolution. And the proletariat in Europe has taken part in a number of revolutions, revolutionary attempts, and revolutionary wars:
- Revolutions in 1848
- The Paris Commune in 1871
- Germany, 1919
- The great class war in Finland, 1919
- Hungary, 1919
- The liberation war against fascism in France, Italy, Norway, etc.
- People’s war in Yugoslavia against fascism during WWII
- People’s war in Albania against fascism during WWII
- Civil war in Greece from 1944 to 1949.
There is a long list of other examples as well. The working class in Europe has grasped for power, not only daily and by peaceful means – but they have again and again struggled and bled for socialism.
The foremost example in Europe is overwhelmingly that of the October Revolution in Russia, 1917.
despite all of these examples, many have a very abstract understanding of revolution. Not only people who call themselves revolutionaries – even many who understand why revolution is necessary cannot see this. Or they have a complicated picture of how revolution occurs and how it develops itself.
One view on revolution is based on a depiction of the October Revolution as a short-lived coup with support from the working class. People with this view emphasize certain sides of the Russian Revolution:
- Russia’s participation in WWI left the country lacking resources and emaciated the people.
- The political leadership could not solve the problems.
- A “megacrisis”: crisis in all areas of society.
- The Bolsheviks took power in the country’s capital in 1917 and established themselves as the country’s leadership that expanded its power from this center.
The “October War” that many stand for is at odds with Mao’s way – protracted people’s war.
But this view neglects many important sides of the Russian Revolution:
- The people had been grasping for power since the 1905 Revolution, which was brutally suppressed by the Tsarist state.
- There was a protracted period where the working class built its power organs (Soviets), the seeds of the new state.
- After the Bolsheviks established the Soviet government in 1917, five years of civil way between the Red Army and the White Army followed, which was supported by over fifteen capitalist countries.
Through a protracted period of over 20 years, the working class and the people built red power and eventually a red army to defend and expand this red power. Rather than contradicting Mao’s line for protracted people’s war, the October Revolution was a confirmation of it:
- It confirmed the necessity of both the communist party (the Bolshevik Party), front organizing of revolutionary classes (Soviets) and the people’s army (the Red Army).
- It confirmed the protracted nature of the revolution, which could not be determined in the course of several stormy days or weeks, but which must take years, even decades.
- It confirmed the popular nature of the revolution, that the masses of people must be mobilized. The proletariat must lead, but also activate and organize other classes, like the peasants and intellectuals.
- It confirmed that politics determine; that the political line must be revolutionary and must regard seizing power and that the masses must be politicized, activated, and moralized by the revolutionaries.
The Chinese people’s war took place from the 1920s until 1949. The people’s war in the Philippines, lead by the MLM party, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been going on for over forty years. In this perspective, the Russian revolutionary war was relatively short.
It is also a fact that the communists in China and other semi-feudal countries have by and large chosen a form of people’s war where the cities are encircled from the countryside, where red power is built in agricultural districts, mountains, and jungles first – with a strategic goal of capturing the large cities and capital city at the end, since this is the enemy’s strongest bases. This is in contrast to the Bolsheviks, who were able to seize power in the largest cities relatively quickly.
Furthermore, the Bolsheviks were able to build the Red Army directly out of the soldier’s councils – right out of the state’s own army. They were able to organize the enemy’s soldiers, break them out of the army, and make them into the new states’ soldiers. This is in contrast to building up one’s own red people’s army from more or less the bottom up.
But these differences are particular for the Russian Revolution. This has only happened in Russia, and it has not happened again that socialist revolutions have been able to be implemented so quickly by seizing power in the “center” first and building the people’s army by appropriating parts of the enemy’s army through the soldiers’ support.
The Russian Revolution shook the ruling class, and in the nearly 100 years that have passed since 1917, their military leaders have built up an enormous competence in striking down rebellion. The proletariat and communists have learned from the Russian way, but we are not the only ones. Even the ruling class has learned. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the NATO generals attempt to practice some of this knowledge, as they have for over 100 years. Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, India – the list of countries where the rulers practice strategies for striking down rebellion is long.
Despite this, we see that the masses who wage people’s war can hold out against oppression for a long time. Despite problems and setbacks, it has been possible to develop people’s war on the Filipino islands, in Peru’s valleys and slums, in India’s jungles, and in Nepal’s mountaintops. We also see that the long-term mobilization of the people is possible in Palestine and Kurdistan.
There are in other words many opportunities. But if we are to make revolution, we must lay the protracted mobilization of the masses and the establishment of red power – of the communist party, front organizing of revolutionary classes and the people’s army – at the basis. We must lay at the basis that it will take time to organize the masses, and that without a revolutionary organizing of the masses, revolution would be unthinkable.
We must lay at the basis the similarities that all victorious revolutions have had, not the peculiarities of a single revolution. Those who await capitalism’s fall into a megacrisis – economic, social, and political – in order to lay the groundwork for mass rebellion and a quick transfer of power, where the communists can seize power and rely on volunteer soldiers in the bourgeois army – they use an extreme simplification of the sides of the Russian Revolution that were very particular for Russia as their basis.
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism entails a military political strategy for the working class – the line of protracted people’s war. It does not mean using China’s way as a blueprint, but to draw from it similarities between all victorious revolutions lead by the proletariat – and to reject the flaccid myth that the revolution is something that will simply come to us and that does not need to be built; that revolution is a sudden turmoil where everything changes in a matter of days.
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