Why the fuss over Mao?
OK. I've been pretty silent for a while, being caught up with other things, but I'm going to jump in a bit on this one.
It is very easy to sit in modern-day San Francisco, New York, London, or Auckland and wonder what all the fuss over Mao is about. Surely it cannot have any relevance to the West or anywhere else for that matter. Sitting in Ayacucho, Barranquilla, or Rollpa, all the fuss makes perfect sense.
What Mao and the Chinese masses faced was a predominantly small-producer economy dominated by landlords with scattered cities in which industry and bureaucracy concentrated, in a country economically and politically subjected to imperialism. What, other than that, did Peruvian and Colombian peasants face in the 1960's, 1970s, and even 1980s? What, if not that, do peasants in Nepal face today? To them Mao and the Chinese provided the example of successful analyisis and methodology which best fit their experienced reality, and provided it in a language which fit their own symbolism. For example, in Peru references to the Levantamiento de la Cosecha de Otono --the Autumn Harvest Uprising -- the word "levantamiento", which means both "uprising" and "lifting" or "gathering", is usually misinterpreted as the gathering of the autumn harvest, thus implying that the revolution brought the fruit of the land into the hands of the peasants--which, in fact, it did. The USSR can keep its massive dams and record-setting turbines, and Bolivian miners, with their long history of industrial work and political organization, can get excited by the Stalin-Trotsky debate if they want, but what peasants demand is always land, fodder, water, and the fruits of their labor.
In the USA "evil gentry" is a charming colloquialism. In the Andes or the Himalaya the "shensi malvado" has a face and a name.
Marxism is a method by which a class can analyze its reality and based on that plot a revolutionary course, it is not a secret held only the "pure" proletariat. Mao provided an example of that method applied to a peasant society by peasants. So, who else could we credibly ask peasants to look to for example, James Cannon and Michel Pablo who never led more than a few thousands in the industrial countries, or the peasant armies under whose banner "one fourth of humanity stood up"? Come on, surely there is no contest!
To sit and disparage that example because we disapprove of the fighting among Maoist factions is like dismissing Trotsky because we are uncomfortable with Posadas.