Where do correct ideas come from?

by Mao Zedong, 1963.

Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone; they come from three kinds of social practice, the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment. It is man’s social being that determines his thinking. Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world. In their social practice, men engage in various kinds of struggle and gain rich experience, both from their successes and from their failures. Countless phenomena of the objective external world are reflected in a man’s brain through his five sense organs  —  the organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. At first, knowledge is perceptual. The leap to conceptual knowledge, i.e., to ideas, occurs when sufficient perceptual knowledge is accumulated. This is one process in cognition. It is the first stage in the whole process of cognition, the stage leading from objective matter to subjective consciousness from existence to ideas. Whether or not one’s consciousness or ideas (including theories, policies, plans or measures) do correctly reflect the laws of the objective external world is not yet proved at this stage, in which it is not yet possible to ascertain whether they are correct or not. Then comes the second stage in the process of cognition, the stage leading from consciousness back to matter, from ideas back to existence, in which the knowledge gained in the first stage is applied in social practice to ascertain whether the theories, policies, plans or measures meet with the anticipated success. Generally speaking, those that succeed are correct and those that fail are incorrect, and this is especially true of man’s struggle with nature. In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect ! but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man’s knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth. Furthermore, the one and only purpose of the proletariat in knowing the world is to change it. Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process leading from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge, the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge. Among our comrades there are many who do not yet understand this theory of knowledge. When asked the sources of their ideas, opinions, policies, methods, plans and conclusions, eloquent speeches and long articles they consider the questions strange and cannot answer it. Nor do they comprehend that matter, can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter, although such leaps are phenomena of everyday life. It is therefore necessary to educate our comrades in the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge, so that they can orientate their thinking correctly, become good at investigation and study and at summing up experience, overcome difficulties, commit fewer mistakes, do their work better, and struggle hard so as to build China into a great and powerful socialist country and help the broad masses of the oppressed and exploited throughout the world in fulfillment of our great internationalist duty.


Reactionary Communism?

We must firmly fight against social-chauvinist attitudes in the communist movement. Social-chauvinism is theoretical detritus dumped on the heads of the masses and a massive disservice to many comrades who are engaging in concrete struggles against homophobia and other garbage deriving from atavistic/religious prejudice. Social-chauvinism is the recreation of class divisions within the movement, it is the failure to tap into the contradictions of bourgeois society to broaden our ranks by drawing in people who are doubly or triply or quadruply exploited because of their skin color, nationality, gender or sexual preference. It is lack of seriousness and is really just acquiescence to “traditionalist” and religious refuse from the dumpster of class society.

The Queer Gathering

It is often assumed that communism equates liberation for the whole of humanity from the shackles of oppression; this includes Persons of Color, Women, and, of course, Queer people. Yet is this set in stone? When a communist mode of production is realized and class society has disintegrated does this automatically entail equality for oppressed and minority groups? Just the same, is the inverse true: is a classless society which still oppresses Queer people (and others) “communist” even when classes have dissolved?

If communism is defined as simply a classless society than it must be agreed upon that bigotry and communism are compatible. To efface such birthmarks more would need to be added to the definition. Yet, as it stands, this is a peculiar contradiction. Mostly for its “against the grain” attitude as communism is traditionally seen as liberation.

Facts do, however, stand in the way. Glaringly, the bourgeois mode…

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No Revolution, Perpetual Incorrectness, Speak Anyway: A Trotskyist Sect on the Chinese Revolution

An excellent take-down against some Eurocentric-chauvinist slanders against Mao and the Chinese revolution.

Red Midwest

fi-symbol The Imaginary International.

The IMT (International Marxist Tendency) is a British based orthodox Trotskyist party. They have a branch in the US called the WIL, or Workers’ International League. This US branch has a branch here in Saint Louis. To their credit, the overwhelming majority of their members (I think they have like 6 or 7), are fairly decent personally, which is more than can be said for most Trotskyists, anyway. They show up to events, sell their papers, chant, and go home. Harmless enough, at least better than the other Trotskyist group here. That being said, personability doesn’t make up for horrible politics and positions. I came across a particularly atrocious “historical piece” from their website last week, titled China’s Long March to Capitalism. Now, I’m used to Trotskyist historical revisionism and hysterics whenever a revolution led by a party that doesn’t believe that Stalin was the most…

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Cast away illusions, prepare for struggle!

This slogan is of immense depth and importance. Here, Comrade Mao implores the masses in China to do away with backward and reactionary ideas and to prepare for the hard, bitter struggle to overthrow the shackles of semi-feudalism, comprador state bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism. It has eternal and universal appeal to the world’s revolutionary masses, especially those living in the semi-colonial and oppressed countries. Essentially, it is a call for the world’s masses to wake up from their slumber, to put away their delusions (whether in the realms of philosophy, economics or social practice), and to initiate concrete and strategic steps for the long road of revolutionary emancipation from capitalist-imperialism.