Generally, the Communist system in the Soviet Union and in China are practically identical politically, economically, with the reciprocal purges ect… However, Mao Tse-Tung and Stalin did not see eye to eye on many things and Maoism is considered today by most people to be a more developed stage of Marxism-Leninism. This is because of the historical and cultural background of China and because of her geographical position and climate which affects society.
Contrary to Russia, Communism developed in the countryside instead of in the cities. Thus it was a peasants’ revolution rather than, as predicted by Karl Marx, a workers’ revolution. The cities in China were at the beginning, anti-Communist.
The Chinese absorption of Marxism was highly selective. China took from Marxism those aspects which best suited the Chinese situation rather than force the Chinese situation to fit an overachieving ideology. Thus Marxism was to be the servant of the Chinese Revolution.
Mao Tse-Tung believed that adherence to pure Marxist theory would be suicidal and concluded that proletarian revolution based upon the urban areas was impossible in China since 80 percent of the people were peasants. Due to the warmer climate and more fertile land, peasantry was more popular in China.
This pragmatic solution led to the Revolution starting in the rural areas. The most important difference between Stalin and Mao is the comprehension of the word ‘proletariat’. The Russians believed it meant, as Marx had, the industrial workers while the Chinese, by lack of sufficient workers, understood it as the peasantry.
The Great Leap Forward where everyone was put to work was another Maoist characteristic. For 100 days each year, the peasants were not working in the fields so Mao set them up to work in the off-season harvest after 1957. Millions of men and women were put to work in winter, digging irrigation ditches and canals, preparing railroads and laying track. Then the “backyard furnace” was invented and 600 000 small steel establishments were set up. The object was to overtake Britain in steel production. However, when the peasants left their land to work on the industrial projects, the lands suffered. So more changes were made. In some communes, men and women were separated to increase their productivity by cutting down socialising.
On February 27th 1957, Mao was feeling very positive about all that he had done so he decided to loosen the straps on the Chinese people. He introduced the ‘hundred flowers’ campaign where he encouraged arts, sciences and “a flourishing socialist culture in our land. Different forms and styles in art should develop freely”. It seemed he was encouraging free thought and criticism of the system. After only six weeks though, Mao’s open invitation brought a real storm of furious criticism from the intellectual community who believed the chairman was sincere. This infuriated Mao who was expecting positive feedback and in April 1957 a rectification campaign had begun to eliminate the ‘triple evils’: “subjectivism, sectarianism, and bureaucratism”. The party members and Mao believed to be above criticism so a purge of intellectuals began.
The Cultural Revolution is perhaps the greatest difference between Stalinism and Maoism and was entirely set up by Mao Tse-Tung. He has been called insane many times for the crazy extent which the Cultural Revolution took and for the lasting and devastating effects it continues to have. Mao favoured the word, “destruction” when he promoted the Cultural Revolution; he preached that he had to destroy an old system of production, an old ideology and old customs first. He thought that once the ideology had been established, productivity would follow in a revolution.
“Although the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, it is still trying to use the old ideas, culture, customs and habits of the exploiting classes to corrupt the masses, capture their minds and endeavour to stage a comeback. The proletariat must do the exact opposite: it must deal merciless blows and meet head-on every challenge of the bourgeoisie in the ideological field and use the new ideas, culture, customs and habits of the proletariat to change the mental outlook of the whole of society. At present, our objective is to struggle against and overthrow those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic authorities’ and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art and all other parts of the superstructure not in correspondence with the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.”
Fifteen years after the success of the Revolution, Mao saw his new society as troubled, he had destroyed the old ruling class, but had established two new ones: the intelligentsia and the bureaucracy. Mao had turned against the intelligentsia after the ‘hundred flowers’ campaign but had not finished destroying them. When he saw the Soviet Union’s new aristocracy with their dachas and limousines, he set out to destroy the establishment he had created.
Always one to manipulate the masses, he turned towards the youth for a new society by creating the Red Guard, an army of children. They were sanctioned by the highest authority, Mao himself and were bent on destruction. In essence, the children destroyed anything which did not appeal to them, although the initial target was to destroy the ‘four olds’: ideas, culture, customs and habits. They travelled in bands for mutual protection and inspiration, destroyed stores and restaurants and attacked however they desired. The Red Guards were divided by family background: poor peasants against well-to-do peasants, peasants against workers, and the children of army officers.
The next step of the Cultural Revolution came in January 1967 when Mao replaced the officials all over China by young people with no experience and no common sense.
Then universities, middle schools and primary schools closed down. This was called the period of the terror. The only young people to receive an education were the children of intellectuals who were taught by relatives and parents.
Mao tried to destroy the education process which was disastrous for China as specialist, technicians ect… were indispensable for the development of a country, and in this case, they were dismantled. However, he changed his mind in 1978 and sent in the People’s Liberation Army to desman the Red Guard.
Mao’s theory of constant revolution to avoid the forming of classes is the major separation with Leninism and Marxism.
It was under these conditions that the most earthshaking political event and the largest mass mobilization the Earth has ever seen took place. This is how Chairman Mao defined its objectives: “The current Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is absolutely necessary and most timely for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing capitalist restoration and building socialism.”
Mao’s Communism focuses especially on the particular interest for China and this by rejecting foreign intervention. The only use for foreign involvement is to insure Chinese security, economy… He believes in Chinese Communism first, and not in World Communism. However, China supports people threatened by oppression which explains their expansion policy. Indeed, China has expanded her territory by invading the Tibet, fighting Korea. China has refused economic aid, except for trade with the Soviet Union which represented only 2 percent of Chinese investments.
China developed its own brand of Communism to suit its needs and similarly to Stalinism, was dictated by only one man, who had the power to decide anything he desired.