A WORLD TO WIN
 


The Bright Red Banner of Mao Tsetung Thought

By N. Sanmugathasan, General Secretary, Ceylon Communist Party

The Bright Red Banner of Mao Tsetung Thought was published in June 1969. The Chinese Communist Party promoted and helped distribute it broadly. The excerpt below from Chapter IV calls attention to Mao's development of the correct understanding of dialectics.  AWTW

The Contribution of Comrade Mao Tsetung to the Development of Marxism-Leninism

            Let us now take Comrade Mao Tsetung's most important philosophical article, "On Contradiction", and study it closely. It was written 30 years ago. In this article Comrade Mao Tsetung has very obviously made a creative exposition of Marxist-Leninist dialectics.

            Take the first sentence in this article: "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics." This is a most profound statement. It is a very short sentence but it would take a day to explain it.

            Simply, this law means that motion is inherent in all forms of matter and that motion, that is, development, takes place as a result of the development and clash of the contradictions that are always present; and further, between the different aspects of each contradiction there is both identity and struggle; and, that, through the process of developing contradictions a thing or a phenomenon changes into its opposite. Thus, Comrade Mao Tsetung in one sentence explains the basic law of materialistic dialectics.

            A most systematic exposition of Marxist dialectics by one of the founders of scientific socialism, Engels, is to be found in one of his most famous works "Anti-D-hring". This is a very important book because it refutes all forms of fallacies spread so assiduously by D-hring.  The most important mistake of D-hring was that he had negated the law of contradiction. He held that contradictions were artificial. Engels made a comprehensive criticism of D-hring and refuted his wrong theories. He established the fact that the law of contradiction was an objective law of matter. He stated that movement is contradiction, that is to say, things are moving and developing because of inherent contradictions; and that by the law of contradiction we mean the law of the unity of opposites.

            That is why Comrade Mao Tsetung has described the law of contradiction as not just another law of materialist dialectics, but its most basic law. In the second sentence of his article, Comrade Mao Tsetung has quoted Lenin's statement that "Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects." It is, therefore, very important for us to understand that the law of contradictions, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the most basic law of materialist dialectics.

            In his book "The Science of Logic", Hegel, the philosopher, had stated that there were three basic laws in dialectics. They were (1)  the law that quantitative and qualitative changes give rise to one another; (2) the law of the unity of opposites; (3) the law of the negation of the negation.

            These were the three basic laws of dialectics put forward by Hegel. Marx and Engels recognised and affirmed these three basic laws of Hegel but put them in the opposite order.

            Hegel had presented these three laws not as the law of objective dialectics but as subjective dialectics. That is, he did not regard these laws as inherent in objective things but only as governing the law of man's thinking i.e. in the logic of the thinking of men. In other words, Hegel interpreted dialectics from an idealist point of view.

            However, according to Marx and Engels, the law of contradiction, the law of the unity of opposites, was a law that is inherent in objective things whereas man's knowledge of contradiction is but a reflection of the objective law in man's thinking. Therefore, Marx and Engels had satirized Hegel and pointed out that he had stood truth on its head.

            Marx and Engels reversed this position and pointed out that these laws of dialectics are inherent in objective things. This was made clear by Engels in his "Anti-D-hring" and "Dialectics in Nature".                                     A new development arose in Lenin's time. The question arose as to which of the three laws of dialectics is the most basic. In the third sentence of his article, Comrade Mao Tsetung refers to Lenin's article "On the question of Dialectics" and points out that "Lenin often called this law (i.e. the law of contradiction) the essence of dialectics; he also called it the kernel of dialectics".

            Although Lenin pointed out that this law was the kernel of dialectics, he did not live to point out the relation between this kernel and the other two laws of dialectics.

            Later, when the philosophical circles in the USSR dealt with these things, they pointed out the three laws but put them in different order. They put them in the following order: 1) the law of the unity of opposites; 2) the law about quantitative and qualitative changes; and 3) the law of the negation of the negation.

            This was the formula used in the USSR for a long time.

            In 1938, in The Short History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Stalin presented 4 features of the dialectical method: 1) All phenomena are inter-connected and inter-dependent; 2) All matter is in a process of motion and movement and development; 3)   Quantitative changes lead to qualitative changes; and 4) Everything develops on the basis of the struggle of the opposites.

            Stalin, thus, put the law of the unity and struggle of the opposites as the last one instead of as the first one. When the philosophical circles in the USSR dealt with the three laws of dialectics or when Stalin wrote about the four features of the dialectical method, both sections were putting the law of contradiction, the law of the unity of the opposites, on an equal footing  with the other laws, instead of treating it as the basic law of materialist dialectics.

            Comrade Mao Tsetung has systematically studied the laws of Marxist-Leninist dialectics and has developed Lenin's thesis contained in his work "On the Question of Dialectics". Comrade Mao Tsetung does not deny the law about quantitative and qualitative changes or the law of the negation. Engels had dealt with all these things in his anti-D-hring. But, what Comrade Mao Tsetung does point out clearly is that out of these laws, the most basic law is that of the law of contradiction, the law of the unity of opposites. In this way, he has put this question in a monistic way. He has refuted the theory of putting these three basic laws on a parallel footing.

            For example, Stalin says that the second feature of the dialectical method is the law of motion or development. Actually, motion or movement is inherent in contradiction and this had been pointed out by Engels in his "Anti-D-hring" when he said "motion itself is a contradiction". If we grasp that the law of contradiction i.e. the law of the unity of opposites is the most basic law of materialist dialectics, then we can understand that all the other laws of dialectics spring from this basic law.

            Thus, it is clear that by asserting the primacy of the law of contradiction, the law of the unity of the opposites, Comrade Mao Tsetung has creatively developed Marxist-Leninist philosophy and dialectics.

            Although Mao Tsetung's article "On Contradiction" is his most important contribution on Marxist philosophy, he has also developed Marxist philosophy on a number of other points.

            Another important philosophical work of Comrade Mao Tsetung is his article on "The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People". In this work, he deals with the question of how to handle contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. He also deals with the theory of how contradictions of different natures can be converted into each other. He also uses the law of contradiction to explain how to deal with the struggle between different views and ideas inside the Party.

            Already, in his article, "On Contradiction", Comrade Mao Tsetung had pointed out that "Opposition and struggle between ideas of different kinds constantly occur within the Party; this is a reflection within the party of contradiction between classes and between the new and the old in society. If there were to be contradiction in the party and no ideological struggles to resolve them, the party's life would come to an end."

            This was the first time that Comrade Mao Tsetung used the law of contradiction, the law of the unity of the opposites, to explain the question of opposition and struggle between different ideas within a party. This is a creative development of Marxism-Leninism.

            In the past, in the history of the Communist Party of China and in respect of some comrades in other parties also, incorrect views prevailed about the attitude to opposition and struggle between contradictory ideas inside the Communist Party. Some comrades admitted the law of contradiction when they dealt with phenomena outside the Party. However, when they came face to face with contradictory views inside the Party, they failed to use the dialectical method and, instead, used the metaphysical approach. In other words, they failed to understand that contradictions are universal and would also exist inside the Party too as a reflection of the contradictions outside the Party. Therefore, when these comrades came across contradictions and struggles inside the Party, they thought that it was terrible and bad.

            It was as an answer to such a metaphysical approach that Comrade Mao Tsetung pointed out the universality of contradiction and that, therefore, opposition and struggle between different ideas constantly occurs inside the Party too. This was nothing strange because it was a reflection of class contradictions outside and the struggle between the old and the new inside the Party. If these contradictions and the consequent ideological struggles to resolve them ceased to exist within the Party, then the life of the Party would itself cease.

            Only if we understand this aspect of inner-party struggle and its virtual inevitability in any living and developing Party can we understand the struggle that developed inside the Communist Party of China against Liu Shao-chi and his henchmen.

            When the imperialists saw the Cultural Revolution in China and the exposure of Liu Shao-chi and his black gang, they thought that the Communist Party of China would be finished. When the Soviet revisionists saw the same phenomenon they also thought that the Communist Party of China would collapse and that the leadership of Comrade Mao Tsetung would be overthrown.

            Even some friends did not understand this question correctly and felt sad and thought that everything inside the Communist Party of China is not good. They did not understand that if such contradictions and ideological struggles to resolve them did not occur, then the life of the Party would come to an end.

            The reasons why these comrades get these wrong ideas is that they do not look at these ideological struggles from a dialectical view-point. That is why, at the very beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Comrade Mao Tsetung said that the Cultural Revolution was a sign of the sound development of the Chinese Party.

            Therefore, comrades and friends should look at the phenomenon of the Chinese Cultural Revolution from this Marxist-Leninist dialectical standpoint. They will, then, realize that it was a good thing and not at all a bad thing. They will then realize the tremendous significance of the struggle against Liu Shao-chi and his wrong views. They will also understand that if this struggle has not been carried out, revisionism would have triumphed in China, capitalism would have been restored and China would have changed