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To Mao, people's health was prerequisite for class struggle to "neutralise" the right

By Sheshu Babu*
Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893 - September 9, 1976) has been criticized for his policies, particularly by western media and writers. However, there is also the view that his philosophy contains human values, too, which are valuable to people. One of the most cited quotation by Mao in this context is his speech at Peking in 1957, where he said, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the science and a flourishing socialist culture in the land" (www.phrases.org.uk).
This may appear to reveal his idea of welcoming criticism and freedom of expression.However, there is also a perception that he was intolerant towards right wingers and their ideas. 
This is reflected in Samir Amin’s article, “China 2013”, (monthlyreview.org, March 1, 2013,):
“Mao formulated and implemented a general principle for the political management of the new China that he summarized in these terms: rally the left, neutralize (I must add: and not eliminate) the right, govern from the centre-left. In my opinion, this is the best way to conceive of an effective manner for moving through successive advances, understood and supported by the great majority.” Samir adds:
“In this way, Mao gave a positive content to the concept of democratization of society combined with social progress on the long road to socialism. He formulated the method for implementing this: 'the mass line' (go down into the masses, learn their struggles, go back to the summits of power)... The 'mass line' was the means for producing consensus on successive, constantly progressing strategic objectives..." To combat the rightist tendencies in the party, Mao gave the slogan 'bombard the headquarters'. Mao said, “It is only when there is class struggle that there can be philosophy. It is a waste of time to discuss epistemology apart from practice” (“Talk on question of philosophy”, August 18, 1964, selected works, marxist.org). In fact, he advised comrades who study philosophy that they must go down to the countryside to participate in class struggles.
The three basic constituents of Marxism, Mao believed, are scientific socialism, philosophy and political economy which Lenin elaborated in 'The Three Sources and The Three Component Parts of Marxism’. At the same time, he acquired knowledge from Confucius, Kant and others. The real content of philosophy, in his view, is in mass struggles.
Seeking to link health of the people with class struggle, Mao tried to show concern about the health of people, chiding intellectuals who eat and dress well without any exercise. He believed, they should learn about class struggle and revolution by going and living with the people who work hard daily. In his view, it is important to acquire physical strength to face enemies (“A Study of Physical Education”, April 1917, Collected Works).
Mao's philosophy is universal love and welfare of the people also had an element of class struggle. In the concluding speech 'Be Concerned With The Well- Being of The Masses: Pay Attention to Methods of Work”, (January 27, 1934) he emphasised on the mobilisation of masses to overthrow imperialism to work for the well being of masses.
"If we want to win, we must do a great deal more: We must lead the peasants' struggle for land and distribute land to them, heighten their labour enthusiasm and increase agricultural production, safeguard the interest of workers, establish cooperatives, develop trade with outside areas and solve problems facing the masses – food shelter and clothing fuel, rice, cooking oil and salt, sickness and hygiene and marriage. In shots, all the practical problems in the masses' everyday life should claim our attention..." (“Be Concerned With The Well-Being of Masses”).
If these problems are attended, the masses will truly rally around the leaders and participate in revolution, he believed.
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*The writer from anywhere and everywhere

Comments

Farooque Chowdhury said…
Thanks to Sheshu Babu for the article. Keep up the spirit. Farooque Chowdhury

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