Announcing One Hundred Flowers
Article by Struggle Sessions Editorial Board
The principal purpose for our Journal is engaging with Maoist theory, and using it to cut through the muck of revisionism and other bourgeois theories by reliance on the classics as the foundation of our ideology. As editors we understand the widespread hostility towards theoretical struggle in many ostensibly progressive circles today as a phenomena to be understood precisely in terms of its relationship to “the fashionable preaching of opportunism” and the “infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity.”
These are precisely the forms that bourgeois ideology takes when it reproduces itself within mass movements and on the “left.” The opposition to and impatience with theoretical discussions and debate often intrudes when attempts are made to have them. We see that these are essentially the defense mechanisms of bourgeois “common sense” inculcated in by socialization in this society. Since the publishing of collections of our writings both online and in print (Volume 1 and Volume 2) we have seen two-line struggle take place, study groups form, and readership increase countering this bourgeois common sense. Knowing that we can’t smash legitimizing opportunist orthodoxies, icons, and formulations by writing alone, our contributors have produced pieces that takes Marxism and makes it into a weapon to be assimilated and applied creatively through practice.
We can not and will not abandon this important mission to produce theory that can, in turn, be transformed into political line (politics, policies, actions). We will not abandon this real social process of discovering relative truths through struggle, of uncovering and refining for use.
But this has brought us to important and less important questions facing the Maoist movement generally and more specifically the movement in imperialist countries: many questions have not been scrutinized with Marxist theory. This is in part due to a desire not to go against the tide of pop activism or sacred middle class virtues, even though Marxism is well up to the task of taking on new questions. Good theory and bad theory is a thing that must always be developing and decomposing, contending in ideological battle with one another. Through living situations the propagandist, mass worker, and trained fighter in the movement encounters new problems that stresses existent understandings, creating new seams and strains.
When approaching living situations, even committed Maoists will find disagreements and these give way to ideological and two-line struggle. We adhere to the Hundred Flowers policy in revolutionary China. As a precursor to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in 1957, Mao proclaimed:
“The policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend offers additional guarantees for the flowering of science and the arts. If what you say is right, you need not fear criticism, and through debate you can further explain your correct views. If what you say is wrong, then criticism can help you correct your mistakes, and there is nothing bad in that. In our society, militant revolutionary criticism and counter-criticism is the healthy method used to expose and resolve contradictions, develop science and the arts and ensure success in all our work.”
Was this liberalism? Was it promotion of the “free market place of ideas” — with all its illusory and capitalist content? Was it relativism? Was it because he had secret sympathies for all one hundred schools of thought? No — to Mao there was a strategic and epistemological point in this, both to how we will arrive at truth, and how our movement will train more and more theorists capable of creatively fighting their way to the truth.
The dialectic conveyed in this beautifully simple policy cannot be forgotten. Once a thought emerges (the flower blossoming) it must contend with other thoughts in order to survive. This does not mean that revolutionaries should entertain bourgeois weeds or give equal platform between revolutionary and reactionary views. The matter is simple, the revolutionary camp and the mass movement will produce a wealth of ideas which must be struggled over in the open. Having a one-way theoretical organ that rarely publishes ideas, criticisms, debates, opposing ideas and even polemics from acknowledged serious opposition gets in the way of training revolutionaries to work their way through the complex and contradictory problems facing those who must integrate theory into the practical struggle.
In the spirit of this policy, which Mao understood as forever ongoing, we have committed a section of our Journal to the blossoming and contending of views regarding topics which enjoy controversy, or to publish and facilitate debates. By organizing such a section, as a Journal we can move ever closer to a rigorous scientific position, this is for the benefit of not only the Maoist movement, but can also serve to facilitate struggle and transformation of our readership. This is a vital step toward organized ideological struggle, moving it from the dead-end echo-chambers of social media and placing it on the theoretical plain.
Some views we will publish in this section are without a doubt going to be views our Journal and Editorial Board finds no unity with, this is an effort to air these views to subject them to criticism from the basic foundations of the classics. We will even see articles that are in no way attempting to situate themselves in our tradition, but may nonetheless offer us positive and negative examples. Maoists and wider readers are not children who need protective padding and a strict information diet, we should see that these ideas which are are blossomed and contended with are ones that people already encounter elsewhere in real life. We should expect that the truth about a set of ideas can emerge through contending. We should see that readers walk away trained in how to tell truth from falsehood.
In getting rid of the rubber padding and warning labels we still maintain that counterrevolutionary lines that are not even partially correct or that aren’t motivated by a genuine desire for uplifting the oppressed should not be given play. Ideas submitted by guest writers should be their own. We don’t want to publish ideas that come from the characterizations of the movement’s committed opponents. Affirming this policy towards our own journal will be done by not publishing gossip and badmouthing. Sincere engagement is how we will identify and rescue the much-needed relative truths from a morass of mythology and dogma.
We continue to stand opposed to social media worship as so. Facebook by its very algorithms amplifies and centers spectacle and performance, burying what may be substantive under what receives the most likes and shares. As a capitalist enterprise it does this because the popular social media platform is ad-driven, each click generating new revenue, and “leftbook” is one of their brands one can seek out while you’re there. As a silo of emptiness with very little use value, there is a social demographic drawn to it which perhaps has much to contribute but squanders it in shallow engagements. We urge social media addicts to treat their disease by doing actual, on-the-ground work and, if not possible, to see this as an opportunity to apply ones talent in writing as a contributor!
This section of our journal is necessarily more forgiving and less strict on presentation, citation and reference. As editors we will continue to make suggested edits to our authors, but will be giving space to more guest authors and even those we find to be in error. Mao explained this well when promoting the Hundred Flowers policy: “We intend to use the policy of ‘opening wide’ to unite with the several million intellectuals and change their present outlook.” Correct emphasis must be placed on the part where Mao promotes changing their present outlook. This is to say that our journal remains partisan, in service to principally Maoism.
As so we must again reject any misconception that opening wide means capitulating to incorrect ideas, or allowing our journal to lose its color by being overrun by such ideas. With this strategic orientation as the core principal we can reach many more people. All ideas are corrected and transformed through being challenged, only the most wretched dogmatist can think otherwise. For the cowardly writers who peddle strictly incorrect ideas, such a section is an immediate threat—because their ideas cannot contend and shatter like glass before Maoism. These types of cowardly pseudo theorists will continue in their echo chambers, never blossoming and never contending.
We look forward to providing this space to our regular writers as well as providing more space to guest writers. Our email is Strugglesessions@protonmail.com and we respond to submissions within one to two days.