Skip to main content

The Three-Headed Beast: An Interblog Dialogue Part 7

This is the seventh part of an dialogical essay between myself and BF of Workers Dreadnought.  You can read his previous contribution here.

At the end of BF’s last contribution to our dialogue he wrote: “[u]nfortunately in the years after Mao’s death this profound insight has been lost and there has been a retrenching of Mao’s dynamic concepts into a stagnant static form.”  I want to start by recognizing this statement because I believe it is important to note that this is the very reason we have begun this essay dialogue––to reopen Maoist theory, rejecting its ossification.  BF has done a good job of further de-ossifiying the field by rearticulating the categories I put forward at the conclusion of my last entry.

While I intend to quibble with his rearticulation of the third category (by following his example and rearticulating it even further), I want to first indicate the four categories of discussion we have, after his intervention, so far:
1. Analysis of class and nation in peripheral capitalist formations
2. The regionalization of Marxism
3. Revolution in different levels of social formation (culture is but one level)
4. Relationship between particularity and the universal
(I urge the careful reader who has just entered the discussion at this point to read the discussion about these categories as they were first articulated here, and as they were rearticulated in the above and more concise form here.)

As I indicated, I believe this is a more robust categorization of Maoist theory.  My one problem, however, is that the third category can be made even more precise.  I am of the opinion that “revolution in different levels of social formation” is a larger theme of Maoist theory and that it runs, like a red thread, through all four categories (ie. the discussion of class and nation in peripheral capitalist formations is a discussion of revolution in different levels of social formation, as is the regionalization of marxism).  And since I hope we will be able to demonstrate this theme in each category, I would like to make BF’s rearticulation of the third category––based on how both he and I have discussed it––into something like the following: the theorization of the dialectical relationship between base and superstructure.  As BF wrote, in his explanation of the third category:

“Mao recognized that bureaucratic culture, like that in the USSR, was trying to lead China on a revisionist road and that this bureaucratic culture was mired in Chinese imperial Mandarin culture which led to The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the concept, ‘cultural revolution’.”
I believe he is trying to articulate, as I had in my previous post, an extremely important contribution of Maoist theory that led to the Cultural Revolution––that is, the notion that superstructural ideologies can dialectically affect/obstruct the development of the economic base.  More specifically, Mao highlights that Marx’s metaphor of base-superstructure is not a univocal relationship.  Culture/politics/traditions/religions, though at one point emerging from the bare social relationships that we can call the economic base, also linger and become, in Marx and Engels’ words “self-determining concepts.” 

At this point, however, I will not elaborate on the above theory––it is best to examine it at a later point in the interblog discussion.  Rather, I will simply reassert the four categories of Maoist theory as they have been rearticulated by BF with my qualification:
1. Analysis of class and nation in peripheral capitalist formations
2. The regionalization of Marxism
3. The theorization of dialectical relationship between base and superstructure
4. Relationship between particularity and the universal
 These categories are not divorced from each other; rather, they form part of a larger totality (as is the case with marxism in general, much to the chagrin of post-modernists).  Hopefully we will be able to demonstrate how they are simply different perspectives of one broad theory––that extremely general definition of the M-L-M equation that was already discussed in previous posts: class struggle continues under the dictatorship of the proletariat, or after a socialist seizing of state power––or, to use BF’s words, revolution continues in different levels of the social formation.

In any case, I think we should begin by discussing the first category, “the analysis of class and nation in peripheral capitalist formations” and, rather than take up more of the discussion than necessary, I’ll give BF the opportunity to lay out the terms of this analysis.

Again, back to Workers Dreadnought to continue the discussion...


  1. I await your discussion of #3: the dialectical relationship between base and superstructure. If you remember, I had trouble understanding how something could be both dialectical and still properly materialist. I think I now understand, but would like to hear more on the matter.


  2. As should be evident from "BF's" last post, it took us a while to get there... We could speak for entries and entries on each general category. These dialogical essays definitely encourage tangental writing!


Post a Comment