Tiananmen Square 1989: Revisionism Brings Oceans of Blood And It Sure As Fuck Ain’t Maoist.
I’m not so presumptuous as to call myself a “historian”, I’m more of a student of history that just so happens to have read more than a few books and taken quite a few university courses. However, I know that when we discuss history, we have to take into account the political background and class stand of the person/organization with whom we are discussing or debating. Anarchists, when discussing revolutionary (and revisionist) China, along with various shades of liberals and revisionist opportunists, tend to, for their own purposes (slander of the revolutionary era and or cooptation of the revolutionary era to attempt to create some phony continuity and red veneer for the revisionist regime), tend to lump everything that has occurred in that extraordinarily complex and huge country from 1949 all the way up to today as “Maoist”. This is disingenuous and flat out wrong. Maoism as Marxist-Leninist-Maoists understand it was not formally synthesized in the form that we uphold until the late 1980s and early 1990s. Even outside of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the Communist Party of the Philippines was upholding, essentially, a very similar synthesis that can also be called Maoist. A major part of this synthesis, what we know as Maoism, is a rejection of the revisionist regimes that had seized power in China and the Soviet Union, a critique of the systems in place in the DPRK and Cuba while maintaining support for their people against the machinations of Yankee imperialism which Maoists continue to believe is the most nefarious, and an all around repudiation of revisionism, which we define as the washing out of class struggle. Parliamentarianism (or electoralism in the US), negating the necessity of waging armed struggle, negating the necessity to continue the class struggle under socialism, and believing in peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism is revisionism because it revises the fundamental principles that the history of the Communist movement has taught us must be upheld to stay on the socialist road. In essence, if you believe that China under Deng Xiaoping and his successors is “socialist” or “Maoist”, you are not a Maoist because you believe that a Communist Party with billionaires in the Central Committee and which entertains people like Donald Trump can guide a country towards Communism. The state calling itself the PRC, in 2018, rejects all that which gives Marxism its force. It is irrelevant that Xi Jinping has studied “Marxism” in university, a peasant who lived through the Cultural Revolution had more Marxism in their little finger. To my point.
The massacre in Tiananmen Square is commonly laid by the revisionist or the unwary at the feet of Maoists. “Yeah, what you’re saying is good, but why did you guys kill all those people?” Let’s go back to how Mao dealt with upheavals. For one, he loved them, he said so himself. The essence of Marxism can be summed up in the phrase: It is right to rebel. It was this quote and others like it, and the practice of revolutionary China, that led to the praxis of the Black Panther Party and similar formations which cropped up around the world, in major part directly inspired by the Cultural Revolution inspired by and led by Mao and those in the Party who upheld his political line, namely the Gang of Four. Of course, many petit-bourgeois vulgar pseudo-Maoists who think that Maoism is “loyalty to my sect, death to all others through knife fight on the basketball court” think that violence is the sum total of everything. They’re semi correct in that revolution is not a dinner party (another irritatingly abused quote) and the ebbs and flows will, undoubtedly, lead to violence during cultural revolution and that revolution is indeed a very violent thing. The important thing is to ensure that the masses are correctly guided and bad elements aren’t able to use the CR for their own opportunist ends as Lin Piao did, and also protecting against excesses against the people during the revolution such as the Lucanamarca incident in which women and children were killed. They’re incorrect in thinking that life is a giant mosh pit where non-antagonistic contradictions should be solved with violence. This is a rejection of dialectics and Maoist philosophy, we know that the antagonistic turns into the non-antagonistic and vice versa. In essence, it’s revisionist thinking. Revisionists cannot see transformation of things into their opposite,they see China as still socialist because it once was, and they call the collapse of the social-imperialist USSR in the 1990s “the collapse of socialism”. This is an example of the unity of apparent opposites, the anti-anti-anti-anti-revisionists and the revisionists themselves. Ironically, Deng Xiaoping would agree with them, considering that the Red Guards during the GPCR who committed the most stupid and senseless acts of violence that alienated the masses and were eventually reined in by Mao himself were controlled by rightists such as Lin Piao to slander and derail the intent and purpose of the GPCR so that they could say “See! This is a nightmare! The economy is a mess and people are being killed!”. There were criminals and other bad elements who disguised themselves as Red Guards and would label regular people “landlords” or “KMT agents” and kill them or loot their homes for personal profit. This doesn’t in any way detract from the world-historic significance and universality of the Cultural Revolution and the necessity of learning from it to sharpen our practice. Deng Xiaoping was a persistent rightist and, like Xi Jinping’s father, was sent down to the countryside to conduct manual labor. Rightists hate that, their practice is to abuse their position within the party and amass riches for themselves. Workers during the GPCR would ask “where are the cadres’ hammers”, meaning why were these rightist lardasses sitting around embezzling and lording it over them instead of being Communists and working among them. As a result, tables were turned. Workers and peasants, with the backing of Mao and the correctly guided in the Party, forced their way into management and cadres were sent to the factory floor or the fields. This is as it should be.
When Mao died, Deng Xiaoping, Hua Guofeng, Wang Dongxing and other rightists that had been brought back to power because the rightist and protector of rightists Chou Enlai leaned on an aging and sick Mao to bring them back to power to “restore the economy” and prepare for the Soviet invasion that everybody thought was coming seized power, arresting the representatives of the proletarian revolutionary line in the party, the Gang of Four, led by Jiang Qing. They were given a kangaroo court trial and thrown into prison. By attacking the Gang of Four, the rightists attacked Mao’s line but due to his high prestige (still appealed to by revisionists) could not attack him directly. In essence, they threw the revolution in the trash. The masses did not and still do not stand for this, and sporadic strikes, shows of support for real Marxism and real revolution, and nostalgia for the GPCR continue to this day. The Tiananmen Square uprising was mainly liberal democratic in character, but it still should not have been suppressed by violence. The masses, many of whom remembered the freedom of the Cultural Revolution era, resented the clamping down on democratic rights guaranteed by the constitution, the rise of a new and arrogant bourgeoisie from within the Party, and the various other things that happen when revisionists come to power. Suppression of mass demonstrations by violence is the shared feature of both social and regular imperialists. On the Hungarian incident in 1956, Mao said:
“We must work well among those involved in disturbances to split them and differentiate the many from the few. Give the many proper guidance and education so that they can gradually change, and don’t hurt them. I believe it is true everywhere that people at the two poles are few while those in the middle are many. Win over the middle section step by step and we will get the upper hand. We must make an analysis of riot leaders. Some of those who dare to take the lead in rioting may become useful people through education. As for the handful of bad types, we need not arrest, jail or expel any except those guilty of the gravest offenses.. Let them stay on in their own unit but strip them of their political capital, isolate them and use them as teachers by negative example. When Comrade Teng Hsiao-ping (LOL) went to make a speech at Tsinghua University, he asked the student who had threatened to kill thousands and tens of thousands of people to serve as a teacher. A fellow like him has no arms, not even a pistol, why should you be afraid of him? If you expel him right away, you will have a clean house but then you’ll not win general approval. Expelled from your place, he’ll have to find a job in some other place. Therefore, to expel people like him in haste is not a good way. Such people represent the reactionary classes, and it is not a question of just a few individuals. To deal with them too crudely is good riddance, but their function as teachers by negative example will not be fully utilized. In the Soviet Union, when college students create trouble, the practice is to expel a few ringleaders, and it is not realized that bad things can serve us as teaching material. Of course, dictatorship must be exercised over the very few who stage such counter-revolutionary rebellions as the Hungarian incident.”
In essence, you can’t just kill everybody that disagrees with you. If nobody disagrees with you publicly, you’re running a cult and people still disagree with you, they actually probably disagree with you so much they’re getting ready to poison your dinner. Revisionists and ultralefts share similar tendencies: they see everything as either black or white. If you criticize, you get shot or thrown in jail. This is not a Maoist work style. Deng Xiaoping suppressed Tiananmen because he remembered the GPCR and resented his treatment because his rightist line and attempts to derail the revolution were not tolerated. So, he waited until Mao died, worked behind the scenes, and staged a coup, liquidating (for a time) the representatives of the proletarian revolutionary line by incarcerating them. His line in command, the line of the bourgeoisie, led to the China that we see today, where students and elderly people are incarcerated for calling for the remembrance of Marx, Lenin and Mao, suicide nets appear outside of factories, and Mao is a body in a coffin trotted out to legitimize all sorts of fresh hell. If you don’t want Tiananmen Squares, you better study Mao and learn what led to it. Don’t blame Maoists. We don’t like it either.