Friday, September 9, 2011

Mao after the Demise of Mao

Image: "Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Gate" by http2007 at flickr

Its 35 years since Chairman Mao Tse-tung of the People's Republic of China (PRC) passed away.

Within a very short time, the PRC itself made an about turn in her policies under Deng Xiao-peng, in what was to be an 'economic revolution' of China. The PRC leadership has almost forgotten Mao's legacy. For instance, five years ago, they chose to commemorate his 30th death anniversary by simply forgetting about it.

Nevertheless, small Communist political parties around the world are adhering to Maoism albeit with little success. Meanwhile, in several countries, insurgent groups following Maoism in general and Mao's "People's War" concept in particular have waged more successful "People's Wars" years after the Chairman's demise. Even today, some of these insurgents are active with variable successes, most notably in India.

Political Parties Adhering to Maoism

Not many classic mainstream political parties adhered to Maoism in the West, with the notable exception of the Communist Party of New Zealand. In many other countries, Maoist parties were formed after the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s. In South East Asia however, several political parties embraces Maoism in Mao's life time. In Burma and Philippines, these wage an ongoing armed struggle against the respective governments.The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) formed in 1984 was a collection of Maoist parties, led by the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA. It published a periodical, "A World to Win".

"People's War"

More successful exponents of Maoism has been the relatively successful insurgent groups in Peru, Nepal and India. Both the Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso) or the 'Shining Path' and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)-CPN(Maoist) followed a similar line of action in the early stages of their struggles. There were some politico-ideological preparation carried out in remote areas with little government presence and little development. These were to become base areas of the Maoists once they initiated the armed struggle. Thus, what Ayacucho was to the Peruvians, Rukum and Rolpa were to the Nepali counterparts.

However, later the two groups diverged. Nepali Maoists returned to electoral politics winning the largest number of seats in the Nepali legislature in 2008, 12 years after they started their "People's War". Meanwhile, after nearly threatening the Peruvian government to collapse, the way of the Shining Path 'became dark' after the capture of el Presidente Gonzalo, once again, 12 years after the start of their "People's War". Nevertheless, Sendero Luminoso and some other small insurgent groups are still active in the country. The danger has not passed.

The ideal illustration of the fact that the danger persists is the case of India. The Maoist or 'Naxalite' movement in India was decimated in early 1970s within several years of its emergence. Whatever remained was suppressed during the emergency. It fragmented into numerous factions and some even turned to electoral politics. However, the conditions which gave rise to the Naxal movement were never eradicated. Hence, small hardcore Maoist rebels remained active and by now their movement has grown to such an extent that was identified as the greatest internal security threat India faces.

The general supporter or sympathizer of a Maoist insurgency usually does not have any idea as to who Mao Tse-tung was. Yet, social conditions are such that in certain places they receive overwhelming support of the populace, another important attribute to a successful guerrilla campaign according to Mao.

Mao's legacy of "People's War" seem to be quite alive despite the eclipse of Maoism as a whole, especially when its apparent that insurgent groups which are hardly Maoist also admire and utilize his methods.

Certainly. Mao is still alive and kicking in certain areas of "Maolands".

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