Some questions on the New Democratic Revolution

By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media

A friend has asked some questions after reading an interview with a spokesperson from the Indian CPI (Maoist). On this basis he would like to hear more on the Maoists view on: 

1) The question of New Democracy, about this stage as a transitional phase to socialism (in the third world). 

2)The question about the four class alliance in the new democratic revolution.

3) The question about the division in the bourgeoisie between the national bourgeoisie and the comprador bourgeoisie. 

4) The question about the Islamist groups and potential cooperation with these and even support of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

One of our associates has written the following answer:

Hello Comrade, thanks for the questions!

First of all –  these are important questions for the worlds international communist movement because they are central questions in the revolution in the third world – thereby most of the countries of the world. Admittedly it does not play a direct role in revolutions in Europe, but they are still questions that concern us, and I will answer them as good as I can. 

1) On New Democracy

The theory of new democracy is primarily laid out by Mao. I recommend to read the text  On New Democracy, one can also read the Communist Party of Peru’s line of The Democratic Revolution. For me, it looks like that these are the texts that best and most principally explain these questions. 

The theory on new democracy builds on Lenin’s thesis on the worker and peasant republic for example when he writes that the soviet government builds on a worker-peasant alliance and that middle peasant shouldn’t be attacked by the state. In 1905 he wrote about the peasant movements role in the democratic revolution.  

The new democratic revolution and the basis for it might be summed up in this way: 

The bourgeois (democratic) revolutions historical task is to abolish feudalism. In colonies, its task is to liberate the colony from foreign colonial powers. 

Historically is this anti-feudal and anti-colonial revolution placed on the agenda of capitalisms breakthrough in Europe. We get the British revolution (civil war), the American revolution, the french revolution, the revolution in Haiti, the revolution in Latin America etc. In Norway, we have 1814, 1884 and 1905 which are three important leaps in the bourgeois-democratic revolution where Norway goes from a colony under feudalism to a capitalist country under bourgeois parliamentarism.

These democratic revolutions are led by the bourgeoisie, but also large parts of peasants and in the cities workers and the petty bourgeoisie, participates in them.

With the transition to the epoch of imperialism, the bourgeoisie stops to lead revolutions like this. The bourgeois-democratic revolution is finished in the imperialist countries and the bourgeoisie has no interests in the emancipation of the colonies. On the contrary – the bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries uses all means to prevent democratic revolutions in their colonies and semi-colonies, and reverse them where they have taken place.  

To conserve imperialism and the colonies (and semi-colonies) they join forces with a part of the bourgeoisie in these countries ( the comprador bourgeoisie). These then get a direct interest to conserve imperialism, because they get their power and income from it.

On their own and within imperialism the rest of the bourgeoisie can only have ambitions to take the place of the compradors. That will say that they themselves can make profitable deals with the imperialists. In many countries this leads to bourgeoisie dividing based on which imperialist they support, some are US-friendly, others lean towards France or England, some towards Russia or China and so on. They attempt to play with the competition between the imperialists to get a “good deal”. 

Thus in the age of imperialism, it is so, that will say from the year 1900, that democratic revolutions must be led by the proletariat. The democratic revolution in this epoch is merged with the proletarian world revolution. And under the leadership of the proletariat, the new democratic revolution must go directly over to a socialist revolution after it has crushed feudalism and thrown out imperialism.

A concrete example that the new-democratic revolution goes directly over to a socialist revolution is the events that happened in china from 1949 till the 60s.

It is called new democratic and not only “democratic” because this is the democratic revolution in the new epoch, in the epoch of imperialism, and as a part of the proletarian world revolution.

The Communist Party of Peru says that the proletarian world revolution has two currents, the new democratic and the socialist. They are two currents that are apart of one and the same historical process because imperialism has changed capitalism fundamentally and makes it so that the bourgeoisie has gone from being a historically progressive class that has led progress to be a historically reactionary class that stands in the way for progress.

2)  The Four Classes

New democracy is not classless. It has its state power, and all states must be a class state. This state is, due to the specific epoch (imperialism) and the concrete countries (the oppressed countries), possible to be established as a four-class-alliance, under the leadership of the proletariat.

The four classes are the proletariat, the peasants (primarily the poor peasants), the petty bourgeoisie (in the cities) and the national bourgeoisie. All of the four classes have two common enemies: feudalism and imperialism. Concretely the four classes are inhibited and held back by these. And most of them are oppressed and exploited also by feudalism and imperialism.

It is easy to see how the proletariat and peasants suffer under feudalism and imperialism. Examples on these are slave-like working conditions, the lack of health and safety measures, raw and brutal working conditions, murders of union activists, child labour, oppression of women, hunger and extreme poverty.

But also the petty bourgeoisie and the lower parts of the bourgeoisie (the “middle bourgeoisie” or the “national bourgeoisie”) experience the chains and problems in imperialism. The petty bourgeoisie experience, for example, the lack of textbooks, bad study conditions, oppression of freedom of speech, lack of progress and modernisation, lack of a job ( that maybe makes them move to another country) and so on. Within healthcare and education, they also experience how their patients, clients and pupils are affected by injustice. 

Within the middle bourgeoisie, they experience harsh competition from foreign monopolies that dominates the economy. Small restaurants need to compete with McDonald’s and Coca Cola. Clothes manufacturers and farmers experience that large monopolies dump surplus commodities that they are not able to sell in the imperialist countries at a loss in the markets of the third worlds. And so on.

Short said – the four classes have two common enemies (feudalism and imperialism) and thus they can unite in a common revolution.

But only the proletariat –  through its own party, the communist party –  can lead this revolution to victory. Because it must be turned directly into a socialist revolution to completely break with imperialism. Vietnam and Venezuela are examples of countries that have not broken away from imperialism and thus they are still poor and semi-colonial countries that live under the pressure from imperialism and feudalism. The feudal conditions in the countryside persist and are not completely crushed as they managed to in Soviet and China when they led the new democratic revolution over to a socialist revolution and collectivised agriculture.

They are not able to build up their own national industry on a big scale, but are made dependant on foreign capital and trade with the imperialists. 

The proletariat is unique because it has a unique revolutionary world view because of its unique historical role – they can’t emancipate themselves without emancipating all humans. They can’t make themselves rules without beginning the process of liquidating themselves and all other classes as classes. They must merge the proletarian revolution with the democratic revolution in the third world, and thus lead the new democratic revolution.

Peasants and petty-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie can not lead the firm and determined in this direction. They will zigzag or lead in the wrong direction. They won’t point towards collectivisation but towards private property and thus not towards socialism but towards capitalism –  and within imperialism, this means that countries in the third world continue to be semi-colonial.

3) The division of the bourgeoisie

The national bourgeoisie in the third world is the lower part of the bourgeoisie, in contradiction to the bureaucratic bourgeoisie that is tied to the state and the comprador bourgeoisie that is tied to foreign imperialism.

Be aware that this division is not the same as in the imperialist countries. In the imperialist countries, the entire bourgeoisie is tied and dependent on imperialism. The entire bourgeoisie benefits on imperialism and will lose on seceding the imperialist countries from the imperialist system. Thus there is no room for an alliance with any parts of the bourgeoisie in these countries against imperialism.

It is not the communists who divide the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie as all other things is a unity of opposites. They have political contradictions that follow their economical (material) position they have.

The comprador bourgeoisie has economical deals and connections with foreign imperialists, and they thus take political positions for these –  just as the comprador bourgeoisie in Venezuela takes a position for US-Imperialism.

The bureaucratic bourgeoisie emerges because in the third world there is developed specific deformed capitalism, bureaucratic capitalism, out from the state apparatus and the half state-owned enterprises. They have for example their root in the colonial administration that the old colonial powers built up in these countries. Because imperialism has little means to give the masses welfare and they must often rule through brutal oppression and is soaked in corruption.

The national bourgeoisie is the middle bourgeoisie – they stand between the petty bourgeoisie and the comprador–  and the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. These have small companies and few employees. They experience constantly how banks and monopolies exert pressure against them and drive them to bankruptcy or til the brink of bankruptcy.

In the new democratic revolution in China, these were given certain rights in the liberated areas. They were allowed to run their enterprise in exchange with them paying taxes to the new democratic state/front. Their property was respected. And thus many of them saw the benefit of running a business within the new democracy. After the revolution, these could either continue or be bought out to gradually socialise their property.

4) The question about Islamists

There exist many types of Islamists. Saudi Arabia is an Islamist regime allied with the US. Iran is an Islamic Regime against the US. In Afghanistan, the Maoists has experienced armed conflict with the Taliban but has also said that it is good that the Taliban fights against the US. The Afghanistani Maoists has said that the Taliban is reactionary and represents the feudal ruling class in the countryside. China works for diplomacy between the US and Taliban, and the US and Taliban are negotiating for peace and division of power in Afghanistan. 

I am not sure what the line of the Indian Maoists is in detail. I have also read that they refer to Islamist groups that one can cooperate with. In the Philippines the Maoists has strategic treaties with the Islamists on Mindanao were they have some cooperation.

I do not believe that there is any basis for – or a wish for –  unity between Maoists and the Taliban. Taliban is very reactionary and such forces have killed many Maoists. The situation is maybe different in certain states in India. As we have seen in Latin-America religious people and movements can play a progressive role. It is probably like this with some Muslim groups. In China under the revolution there existed a Muslim section of the red army, at the very least for a period.

The most important question about Islam is that the communist fights against sectarianism and chauvinist division of the masses. We are seeking unity among the deepest and broadest masses regardless of religious conviction. And we fight against the fascists attempt to use religion to put the masses against the masses.

Then religious movements must be analysed in the class struggle and from the role the play. They can be an expression of different classes, different layers within the classes and can play different roles based on this.

Then we must work after the strategical to split and isolate the enemy as much as possible. Unity among the people on the one side, the most important side, but it is also important to prevent the enemy to build up strong on their side. We must utilize the contradiction among them, pit them against each other and attempt to stop that minority leaders are pushed into the enemy’s camp necessarily. At the very least try to strengthen the split among them so that those who are not our friends get neutralised.

Then we must struggle as Mao says, not by hitting in all direction at the same time. We must focus on a few enemies so that we can cover our backs. If we can make peace with individual groups it can both be wise and completely necessary. At the same time, there is, of course, limits to who one can cooperate with. If one cooperates with the most reactionary representatives of the ruling class or hostile groups, one can undermine oneself. The enemies of the new democratic revolution are feudalism and imperialism, and thus can’t one cooperate with feudal lords and imperialists without putting the revolution at risk. Who are we supposed to mobilise the masses against, if one, for example, is cooperating with the feudal lords? How can one do an agrarian revolution? It is made impossible and thus one can’t cooperate with these forces.

But the concrete tactic must be made in each concrete individual case and in each individual country.