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The Maoism (Chinese:毛泽东思想; pinyin: Mao Zedong sīxiǎng literally: "Mao Zedong thought") is a communist revolutionary movement and belief, based on the ideas of Chinese revolutionary and communist leader of the People's Republic of China Mao Zedong is based. Mao developed his ideas - triggered by the social and economic grievances in China - primarily with reference to theories of Marx and Lenin . With the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, they became guidelines for political action and thought in China. A number of these ideas are summarized in the so-called Red Book , also known colloquially as the Mao Bible . In book form they were brought to the people in the truest sense of the word, read by millions of Chinese and used as an instrument of revolution.

The philosophy of Mao Zedong

Guiding principle

Maoism is a western term. In China the social and economic theory referred to as “Mao Zedong sixiang”, in German: Ideas or philosophy of Mao Zedong, is called. For Mao, these ideas were based on the writings and teachings of Karl Marx , Friedrich Engels , Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin . This is what Mao refers to when he uses the term Marxism-Leninism . In doing so, he addresses both the basics and further developments of the communist worldview. The idea of ​​revolution as the drive and goal of political action plays a central role in Maoism.

For his radical new approach, Mao could also refer to "a long tradition of protest and the development of new political approaches". According to historians such as Schmidt-Glintzer , the period between the uprisings in the 19th century and the end of the last imperial dynasty at the beginning of the 20th century can be seen as the "period of transformation" within Chinese society. New types of people emerged who hindered 'the planning and action of the traditional elites'.

Looking back at the Chinese civil war between communists and republicans (1927-49) as well as the Great Leap Forward (1958-61) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the following can be established as the guiding principles of Maoism for the period from 1921 to 1976 . It is a provisional and one-sided compilation based on German publications. The results of the Chinese research have not yet been evaluated.

  1. There is a Chinese way of Marxism-Leninism. In this sense, Mao has repeatedly called on the Chinese to “unite the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution in full and in an appropriate manner”.
  2. The central leadership of the world communist movement founded by the Soviet Union is rejected. Red China should unite with the peoples of the third world to fight against the colonial superpowers. "The connection of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the revolution in the respective countries is the most fundamental guarantee for the victories of the cause of the revolutionary popular masses of all countries."
  3. The peasant class instead of the industrial workers is the main force behind the communist revolution in China. After World War II, 70% of the Chinese population were landless farmers, day laborers and migrant workers. Lenin had promoted the idea that workers and peasants should lead the revolution together.
  4. The revolutionary conquest of power takes place through guerrilla wars from rural bases. Mao's troops practiced this in the period after the “Long March” (1934/35). They settled on the Yellow River near Yan'an City until 1948 . From this base they acted militarily against the republican Guomindang party and the Japanese occupation forces . They managed to get the residents of the area excited about Mao's ideas.
  5. Revolution and class struggle are permanent means of China's development. In the Russian sister party, Leon Trotsky took the view that the "permanent revolution" was the "only real program for the elimination of all oppression". Within the entirety of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , it was questionable whether the "permanent revolution" was an idea that conformed to theory.
  6. Practical advancements that are possible are preferable to theory. This means that many theoretical intermediate stages of the development towards a classless society should be skipped in order to achieve the desired communist social and economic order as quickly as possible. This idea is u. a. goes back to the Hegelian idea that civilizations develop in "qualitative leaps".
  7. The necessary further development towards a communist society depends on revolutionary thinking. Hence, the transformation of traditional consciousness into communist consciousness determines the pace and quality of the process of changing the traditional order. The focus is therefore on the constant revolutionizing of consciousness or the change in thinking. This idea led to Mao's decision to proclaim the Cultural Revolution.
  8. A changed, revolutionary thinking is the ideal of the communist society to be developed. Only revolutionaries who no longer think traditionally are capable of winning people over to this new ideal of Chinese society. The decision of the individual to strive for a different way of thinking is rewarded by the change made in the interests of the community. From the Chinese perspective, common ideals are more important to society than those of the individual. The change in the individual was consequently rated higher in the interest of the common ideal than the individual professional competence and as the individual reward through material performance incentives.

Until the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, Mao Zedong was convinced that the billionaire people of the Chinese could overcome the misery and backwardness in which they lived by orienting themselves towards communist ideas. With the help of mass movements and a changed consciousness of the masses, he also assumed, one would soon overtake economic development in Great Britain and the USA under the leadership of the CPCH. He also thought he would be able to catch up with the Soviet Union shortly, because, in his opinion, they did not value mass movements and political awareness.

The change in thinking and the resulting communist movement of as many Chinese as possible has - as Mao repeatedly stated in speeches and writings - probably induced him to explain many events of the revolutionary movement between 1924 and 1976 to the institutions and members of the CCP. These explanations are also available in the original text in German.

Ideology of practice

The “ Mao Bible ”, German-language edition, Beijing 1972

How do you make a revolution?

Mao's philosophical ideas were one thing, another was the question of their practical implementation. When he wanted to become a revolutionary and therefore became a member of the Communist Party , all he knew was that he wanted the revolution, Mao said in a 1960 speech to the Chinese Communist Party ( CCP ) Political Bureau . How to make a revolution, he didn't know at the time.

Theory and reality must match

Mao addressed this question in the late 1930s during the civil war with the Guomindang with the text "About Practice". He served to train the revolutionary army in Yan'an .

His explanations include a. the statement that people only recognize as “right” what works successfully in practice. On the other hand, everything that leads to defeat is assessed as "wrong". People who want to revolutionize society are dependent for the truth of the theory on bringing their revolutionary ideas into conformity with the laws of the objective outside world. If they succeed, they will be able to successfully implement revolutionary ideas.

The correct social theory, however, is not fixed for all time: "Marxism-Leninism has by no means exhausted the truth, but continuously paves new paths for the knowledge of truth in practice." The idea of ​​constant change has been the focus of Chinese thought for thousands of years and action.

Epistemological requirements

The materialistic epistemology applicable to Maoism, which is considered to be the prerequisite for the possibility of constantly changing thinking, is based on sensory perceptions. In western thinking, especially in German philosophy, the idealistic view is predominant that thinking changes exclusively with the help of the ideas of reason innate in man. The sensual experience only serves as a stimulus. Objective is that which arises from reason.

Mao's philosophy is correspondingly different: the objective yardstick for Marxist-Leninist and Maoist theory is reality as people experience it exclusively through their senses. Everyone must be able to check the correctness of the theory against this reality in order to recognize it for himself. The “richer” the material of the sensual experience, the more productive the thinking about the sensual experience and the evaluation of the sensual experience becomes. Rational knowledge arises from this evaluation of the rich sensual experience. That, according to Mao, "... is the epistemology of dialectical materialism." It enables different perspectives in thinking and acting through sensory experience. This corresponds to the 2000-year-old tradition of Chinese thought, which - as the sinologist Porkert has examined - "receives its impulses from the immediate perception and mental processing of current events".

Practice as a criterion for truth

In the process of rational knowledge, terms arise and connections are noticed, which are further developed into theories. Their truthfulness cannot be confirmed or rejected rationally alone. The only way to a thorough solution of this question is to bring the rational knowledge back into "social practice". That is, to apply the theory to the practice of production, to revolutionary struggle and to the practice of scientific experimentation and to examine whether it can lead to the goal that has been set.

The unity of knowledge and action

Theories about processes that have a finite ( contingent ) course can be considered complete at any given point in time, Mao noted. But with regard to the natural progression of human knowledge, these processes are never completed. True revolutionary leaders therefore need not only be able to correct any mistakes in their ideas, theories, plans or projects. They must also be able to "bring their own subjective knowledge as well as the subjective knowledge of all those involved in the revolution forward and adjust accordingly when a certain objective process has progressed from one stage of development to another and has been transformed."

Mao also described the connection between practice and theory as an endlessly repeating dialectical process of the unity of knowledge and action:

“Discovering the truth through practice and confirming and developing the truth in practice; proceed from sensual knowledge and actively develop it further into rational knowledge, then again, proceeding from rational knowledge, actively guide revolutionary practice to transform the subjective and objective world; Practice, knowledge, practice again and knowledge again - this cyclical form repeats itself endlessly, and the content of practice and knowledge is raised to a higher level with each cycle. That is the whole epistemology of dialectical materialism, that is the dialectical-materialistic theory of the unity of knowledge and action. "

Study practice and theory together

Mao noted in publications and speeches that many who study Marxism violate this unity of theory and practice by separating theory from practice. This is how mistakes are spread that cause great harm to people. On the occasion of the opening of the party school on February 1, 1942, Mao pointed out that the comrades should not regard the Marxist theory as “dead dogma”. The learning success of the students should be assessed according to whether they approach the problems in China with a clear head, or whether they even recognize the problems. This is how you can tell whether someone has learned well or badly.

Influence in the Federal Republic of Germany

Maoism influenced the West German student movement from 1967 , and some political groups supported Mao's Marxist-Leninist ideas. In the time after the collapse of the SDS , the K groups emerged , most of which were Maoist. But former members of the K groups also play a role in the history of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen . After Mao's death in 1976, however, the Maoist circles largely ran out of inspiration. Prominent ex-Maoists in Germany are the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann , the former Federal Health Minister Ulla Schmidt and the former Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin . The professional soccer player Paul Breitner also posed with the Mao Bible.

Influence in other states

In addition to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia outside of China, a Maoist variant of Marxism-Leninism became the official state doctrine under Enver Hoxha in Albania after the Warsaw Pact withdrew . In the period between 1976 and 1979, however, Hoxha cut this connection as well, since he criticized Chinese foreign policy ( theory of the three worlds ) as opportunistic. Several strong Maoist parties are still active in Nepal today , such as the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) . Other Maoist organizations are the so-called “Shining Path” ( Sendero Luminoso ), which fought against the government in Peru during the civil war and controlled large parts of the country at times, as well as the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and its apron organization “National Democratic Front of the Philippines ”. In addition, various organizations dating back to the militant movement of the Naxalites around 1970 are active in several north-east Indian states , including in Bihar , Jharkhand , Andhra Pradesh and Assam ; these organizations are still Maoist-oriented today and continue to operate under the umbrella term Naxalism .

In Turkey , today's İşçi Partisi was the first party to profess Maoism. There is also the Türkiye Komünist Partisi / Marksist-Leninist . In Turkey, but now also in Germany, there is the MLKP (illegal in Turkey, legal in Germany) , which also describes itself as Maoist.

In Greece , there are two legal Maoist parties, the KKE / μ-λ (Kομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας / μαρξιστικό-λενινιστικό, Greek Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist) and the Μ-Λ KKE (Μαρξιστικό-Λενινιστικό Kομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας, Marxist-Leninist Communist Party Greece), whose influence is limited by the far more powerful non-Maoist KKE .

In the US there is the Revolutionary Communist Party led by Bob Avakian .


Nanjie is said to be the last communist village in China. 3000 people live here. Everything they need - including education and health care - is provided by the municipality. Your return is to live according to Maoist ideas.


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Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. A little red book as a weapon of the revolution . FAZ December 16, 2016.
  2. See Joachim Hofmann: Der Marxismus: his illustration based on original quotations . Donauwörth 2009, p. 13.
  3. ^ Friedrich Pohlmann: Marxism-Leninism-Communism-Fascism. Essays on the ideology and the structure of rule of the totalitarian dictatorships . Pfaffenweiler 1995, p. 61f.
  4. See Schmidt-Glintzer: Brief history of China . Munich 2008, pp. 170 - 175. - See also Kai Vogelsang : Geschichte Chinas . Stuttgart 2013, p. 512 ff: V. mentions that communist ideas had been known for a long time, but could only be convincingly represented under the changed socio-political conditions.
  5. See the status of research in Chinese publications: Changshan Li: The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) as reflected in German and Chinese scientific literature . Diss. Bonn 2010, pp. 17-21.
  6. ↑ Leading article of the people's newspaper Renmin Ribao from September 18, 1968: Guide to the victory of the revolutionary peoples of all countries . Quoted from Maowerke Archive Beijing.
  7. Ibid .
  8. Henning Böke: Maoism . Stuttgart 2007, p. 21.
  9. ^ Leon Trotsky: The Permanent Revolution: Results and Perspectives, 1906/1928 . Essen 1993, p. 8.
  10. See Hauser & Häring: China Handbook . Berlin 2005, pp. 80-83.
  11. Cf. Changshan Li: The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) as reflected in German and Chinese scientific literature . Diss.Bonn 2010, p. 104.
  12. ^ Under the title "Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung" in VNW-Verlag Neuer Weg GmbH, Essen 1966.
  13. ^ Mao Zedong Texts . Edited by Helmut Martin. Munich / Vienna 1982, fifth volume 1961-1964, p. 341.
  14. Mao Tsetung: On Practice. About the connection between knowledge and practice, between knowledge and action . (July 1937) Selected Works Volume I, Verlag für stremdsprachige Literatur, Peking 1968, pp. 347–364.
  15. Mao Tsetung: On Practice. (July 1937) Selected Works Volume I, Peking 1968, p. 349.
  16. Ibid . P. 362.
  17. See e.g. B. Coreth & Schöndorf: Philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. Stuttgart 2000, 3rd edition pp. 174-177.
  18. Ibid . P. 357.
  19. Manfred Porkert: China - Constants in Change. Stuttgart 1987, p. 32.
  20. Ibid . P. 358f.
  21. Ibid . P. 362.
  22. Ibid . P. 363.
  23. Mao Tse-tung: Reshaping Our Studies (May 1941) . Selected Works Volume III, Verlag für foreign language literature, Beijing 1969, pp. 15–24.
  24. Mao Tse-tung: Improving the Working Style (February 1, 1942) . Selected Works Volume III, Verlag für foreign language literature, Beijing 1969, pp. 35–54.
  25. Saroj Giri: Maoists and the Poor: Against Democracy? Economic and Political Weekly December 5, 2009.
  26. Tony Cheng: China's last Maoist village , in: Al Jazeera English, June 25, 2008.
  27. Source: