- Category: History
- Created on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 13:44
- Written by Antaeus
We received the following critique from Antaeus a couple months ago.
We have published a previous piece by Antaeus here "Why Did Post-Maoist China Restore Capitalism?"
Antaeus wrote in critique of “Mao’s Cultural Revolution Pt. 2: The Sweep of A Revolution, 1966-1976” [written and published by the MLM Revolutionary Study Group]:
"This article belittles the Shanghai Commune; states that the “3-in-1” committees were good; is entirely uncritical of Mao right up to his death; and then accounts for the change to overt capitalist policies as a “coup” – which absolves it of trying to explain where it came from, why the Party not only did not oppose this “coup” but supported it; why the Maoists had so little support. In general, it illustrates why there can’t be a Maoist critique of Maoism. What we need is a Marxist, an historical materialist, critique of Maoism."
Kasama also posted some interviews with Mao Zedong on these matters, combining two excepts into Mao on Supporting the January Storm and New Seizures of Power in 1967.
The following is the response by Antaeus to those Mao excerpts in particular.
* * * * * *
Mao Kills Off the Red Guard Movement, July 28 1968
In an article titled “2 Excerpts From Mao Zedong: On Dilemmas Within the Cultural Revolution” posted on April 27 2009, Mike E. posted the text of an important interview involving Mao Tsetung, other leading Party officials, and a number of Red Guard leaders.
That document is titled “Dialogues With Responsible Persons of Capital Red Guards Congress” of July 28, 1968."
Mike E. introduces this text with the following paragraph:
“The following is an earlier discussion between Mao Zedong and key figures of the Red Guard movement around the issues discussed in the accompanying essay by Antaeus. The figure K’uai Ta-fu mentioned here at the beginning was a key leader of the Red Guards nationally, and one closely associated with the “overthrow all” line that emerged. Mao’s inability to win him over, and the forces he led, was one of the defining moments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — indicating that the grand revolutionary alliance Mao envisioned for a rebuilding of the party was not to be.”
I have tried to boldface this line from the quotation: "Mao’s inability to win him over, and the forces he led, was one of the defining moments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" -- for a reason:
The statement is false.
There is a lot of information available about Kuai Dafu (that's how you spell his name in pinyin, the normal way to transliterate Mandarin Chinese; "K'uai Ta-fu" is the way you write it in the century-old Wade-Giles system that nobody uses any more). Anyone can look him up on the Internet, for example. In simplified Chinese characters his name is 蒯大富 Just copy and paste that into Google.
Here is the Chinese-language Wikipedia entry on Kuai Dafu (and yes, I know it looks strange, but it works -- it's just that the stuff after "/wiki/" is in Chinese characters):
Here's what it says about the meeting with Mao of which Mike E. posted the transcript:
"On July 28, 1968, before dawn, Mao Zedong summoned Nie Yuanzi, Kuai Dafu, Han Aijing, Tan Houlan, and Wang Dabin, the "big five" leaders, and criticized Kuai Dafu. Kuai Dafu on the spot threw himself into Mao Zedong's bosom and wept bitterly. The "big five leaders" went back to their schools [these were all college student leaders], and saw that arms were laid down under the supervision of the activists, therewith stopping the armed struggle."
But you don't have to trust my translation. You can copy and paste this whole text into the following page. It will get you the gist of it: http://us.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=translate
The point here is this: Ely's note says:
"Mao’s inability to win him over, and the forces he led, was one of the defining moments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution."
The Chinese Wikipedia page says this is wrong -- Mao DID win the student leaders to stop armed struggle.
According to this same Wikipedia page, by December '68 Kuai Dafu had been assigned to work as a technician in an aluminum factory in Ningxia Province, in a Hui (Muslim) Autonomous Region -- the boondocks, a long, long way from Beijing, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ningxia_Autonomous_Region,_China
That means that Kuai Dafu went back to Qinghua University, saw to it that the armed leftist bands were disarmed, and within a few months was no longer a student but a technician in a factory. And THAT means that Mao DID win him over! Right out of activism, in fact.
In reality, this text represents the moment that Mao successfully put an end to the Red Guards movement, the mass movement of college students and young people. Mao called it off, and the militant young leaders, overawed by Mao’s prestige, obeyed him and put an end to their movement.
This statement is consistent with what a recent academic study of this same document (the one quoted by Ely here) by Alessandro Russo concludes:
"These characters were subjective figures who met in the final moment of the political situation in which their existence is grounded. As of the next day, the situation would be totally different—the Red Guards would not exist anymore as independent organizations, and in the following months they would be dissolved, ..."
And in his conclusion he repeats this:
"For quite some time, I had looked at the record of this meeting as a key document, but only a few years ago did I start to study it in detail. At one level, for me its importance is that it marks a crucial caesura: in the early hours of July 28, 1968, the core sequence of the Cultural Revolution definitely resolves. That sequence had been determined by the existence of independent political organizations, or the "Red Guards," that through this meeting were put under tutelage and shortly after dissolved."- Alessandro Russo, "The Conclusive Scene: Mao and the Red Guards in July 1968." positions 13.3 (2005) 535-574.
All this completely contradicts Mike E's note, which says that Mao "failed to win over" Kuai "and the forces he led".
In fact the opposite is true. Mao DID "win them over" -- to political passivity, to killing off the Red Guards movement. Note that Mao says at one point that the "black hand" trying to suppress the GPCR) "is me."
"Besides, I am also the black hand that suppressed the Red Guards.. . . Chairman: "If you want to arrest the “black hand,” the “black hand” is me."