Why western Maoism was a dead end

4:30pm Sunday 19 September

About this session

In the 1960s and ’70s Maoism became popular amongst students and young workers as revolutionary feeling pervaded much of Western society. America’s barbarous war on the Vietnamese, the anticolonial struggles in the Third World, and the stifling conservatism of Stalinist Communist Parties all gave a boost to the politics of Mao’s dictatorship and his so-called “Cultural Revolution”.

But Maoist ideas were disastrous for the Western revolutionary Left. The radical potential of the ’60s and ’70s was squandered by those who thought that the primary struggle was between the West and the Third World, that revolution would come from the barrel of the gun, and that those who wanted a revolution simply had to make it happen.

The real Marxist tradition sharply rejects all these ideas and centres the role of the working class of every country in overthrowing the capitalist state to establish a socialist society. This talk will explain how and why Maoist ideas were adopted by many Western radicals, and the terrible price paid for it.

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