THIS piece answers the question at the end of last week’s column: “Is this delusion a handiwork of capitalism or is it actually an ideological enslavement by history?”
Karl Marx was such a brilliant thinker and a lucid writer that when he wrote the Communist Manifesto, it became, by estimates of other writers and thinkers, the bible of the struggle for emancipation of the working class. In Das Kapital, he investigated the dynamics undergone by commodity, from creation in the factories to consumption in the market, and in so doing formulated the theories that down history served as guideposts for classifying workers into a so-called proletariat and launching violent struggles against the so-called class that oppress and exploit it, the capitalist.
The theory on contradiction, dialectical and historical materialism, the theory of the surplus value (how profit is exacted through exploitation of labor), and other similar political thoughts are delineated in Das Kapital with exquisite logic, clarity and conviction, bolstered even with proofs of veracity even in the natural sciences so that those Marxist thoughts have come to be regarded as not just theories but truths.
In the hands of Vladimir Lenin, the revolutionary postulates of Marx were apparently proven to be practical and for the 73 years of the life of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) appeared to be heading toward testifying for posterity that everything Marx wrote in Das Kapital was true.
On the other hand, Mao Zedong developed his own thoughts based on the concrete conditions of China in the 1920s. He rightly saw that in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society which China was in that period, the peasantry made up the main force of the revolution against US imperialism; the proletariat, though regarded as the leading class, is necessarily relegated to a secondary status. Under such a set-up, the proletarian revolution takes on a qualitative change of character, from socialist to national democratic. In other words, workers in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society must first lead in a people’s struggle for the overthrow of US imperialism and thereby achieve national democracy then proceed to socialist reconstruction.
This was an entirely new theory, distinct from the purely anti-capitalist formulations by Marx in Das Kapital. But then, as Joseph Stalin puts in his paper Dialectical and Historical Materialism, “Everything depends on time, place and condition.” The socialist character of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 did not preempt China’s seeking its own course of development mandated by its particular circumstances.
Mao Zedong launched his protracted people’s war beginning in 1920, sustained it all throughout the Japanese invasion in World War II, pushed it through the five years of civil war with the Kuomintang, till in 1949 finally repelled Chiang Kai-shek’s forces, which took refuge in the small island of Formosa, now Taiwan.
In both the Soviet and Chinese experiences, workers are taught that, as again Stalin cites it in his paper DHM, actually a quote from Marx’s Das Kapital, “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.” And up to this day, Filipino workers have not gotten even a bit off the view that capitalists are oppressive and exploitative of the working class and so must be overthrown forcibly.
And yet workers have not paused even for a moment and pondered the fact that in neither the Soviet nor Chinese experience were capitalists the oppressive and exploitative classes. In Russia, the enemy was the centuries-old Romanov dynasty, which was feudal, and in China, the enemy were the various feudal warlords during the early part of the protracted struggle, the Japanese invaders in World War II, and again the feudal warlords in Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang during the five-year civil war preceding the communist takeover.
Whether in the Soviet or in the Chinese experience, oppressors and exploiters of the workers were neither a class nor a system but state power. It is this entity – state power with all its ramifications – that the workers must recognize and study and learn to cope with if they hope to achieve their liberation from oppression and exploitation once and for all.
(To be continued tomorrow)