Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview

themselves. In the same way those who confine themselves to attending to the wounded in battle cannot be absolved from the guilt of war.

I had argued the whole thing out to myself in this manner, before I received Polak's cable, and soon after its receipt, I discussed these views with several friends and concluded that it was my duty to offer to serve in the war. Even today I see no flaw in that line of argument, nor am I sorry for my action, holding, as I then did, views favourable to the British connection.

I know that even then I could not carry conviction with all my friends about the correctness of my position. The question is subtle. It admits of differences of opinion, and therefore I have submitted my argument as clearly as possible to those who believe in ahimsa and who are making serious efforts to practise it in every walk of life. A devotee of Truth may not do anything in deference to convention. He must always hold himself open to correction, and whenever he discovers himself to be wrong he must confess it at all costs and atone for it.❖

Mao Tse-tung [Zedong] ( 1893-1976) was a founding leader of the Chinese Communist Party. After completing his formal studies in 1918 at the First Teachers' Training School in Changsha, Mao began a long career as writer, teacher, journalist, political organizer, and politician. He was one of the original twelve delegates to the First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1927, he led the peasant uprising in Hunan, after which he retreated into hiding. He then led the famous "long march" to Shensi Province. Thus began his role in the long Chinese revolution that culminated in the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. After that, Mao was chairman of the People's Republic until his death in 1976. "Identity, Struggle, Contradiction" ( 1937) reveals Mao the theorist at his most brilliant. Here, he joins a sharp philosophical rendering of Marxist-Leninist philosophy with his direct knowledge of China's revolutionary situation. Perhaps more than anyone, including Lenin, Mao managed to unite theory and political practice into a coherent philosophy of life. In the selection, one can see the fresh meaning given to Marx's idea of contradiction in reference to China's place in the world conflicts of the interwar period.


Identity, Struggle, Contradiction

Mao Tse-tung ( 1937)

. . . The contradictory aspects in every process exclude each other, struggle with each other and are opposed to each other. Such contradictory aspects are contained without exception in the processes of all things in the world and in human thought. A simple process has only one pair of opposites, while a complex process has more than one pair. Various pairs of opposites are in turn opposed to one another. In this way all things in the objective world and human thought are formed and impelled to move.

But if this is so, there is an utter lack of identity, or unity. How then can we speak of identity or unity?

____________________
Excerpt from "On Contradiction", Anne Fremantle, ed., Mao Tse-tung: An Anthology of His Writings ( New York: International Publishers Co., 1971 [ 1937]), pp. 234-238.

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