Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism: Writings on Philosophy, 1937

By Mao Tse-tung; Nick Knight | Go to book overview

NICK KNIGHT


1 Introduction: Soviet Marxism and the Development of Mao Zedong's Philosophical Thought

The Lecture Notes on Dialectical Materialism

During the early Yan'an Period, Mao Zedong wrote in draft form a number of philosophical essays which have had in their post-Liberation versions an enormous impact on Chinese Marxism. These essays, On Practice and On Contradiction, are rightly regarded, alongside a number of other documents by Mao, as the cornerstone of the variant of Marxism which has developed in China. 1 For those interested in the development of the thought of Mao, and the emergence and development of Chinese Marxism, these essays represent a crucial starting point.

However, another lengthy text on philosophy written at exactly the time (July, August 1937) 2 that Mao penned On Contradiction and On Practice has only ever been published in post-Liberation China in neibu form (that is, as a confidential, internal Party document and not for general circulation). This is a document entitled Dialectical Materialism (Lecture Notes). 3 While it is not true that this text has been left "to the gnawing criticism of the mice" by the Chinese as was once suspected in the West, and indeed has been published on several occasions as study material for cadres and academics, 4 it is certainly the case that the Chinese hold Dialectical Materialism in much lower regard than the "celebrated philosophical essays" 5 On Contradiction and On Practice. Indeed, when questioned on his authorship of Dialectical Materialism by Edgar Snow in 1965, Mao feigned ignorance of it, although his denial of authorship

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