J. Moufawad-Paul describes cultural revolution thusly: “Whereas Leninism was that stage that established the necessity of revolution up to the dictatorship of the proletariat, Maoism is that stage which claims that revolution must continue within the dictatorship of the proletariat … in order to struggle against the counter-revolutionary ideology that is often preserved in the [ideological] superstructure.” It is precisely here where Leninism ends and revisionism begins.

In Theory

The problem with cultural revolution is that it seeks to destroy the last remnants of the bourgeoisie through force even though all experience has shown that the small bourgeois producers and bourgeois ideology can only be gradually eliminated with time and development. They can’t be destroyed in the physical sense. As Lenin says in State and Revolution, “The proletariat needs state power … for the purpose of guiding [Lenin’s italics] the great mass of the population-the peasantry, the petty-bourgeoisie, the semi-proletarians-in the work of organizing a socialist economy.” Like the state, the last remnants of the bourgeoisie will wither away as the proletarian socialist enterprises and collectives become stronger.

Moufawad-Paul would be wise to remember Stalin’s words in Dialectical and Historical Materialism:

Productive forces are … the most mobile and revolutionary element of production. First the productive forces change and develop, and then, … men’s relations of production, their economic relations, change.

Changes in the mode of production inevitably call forth changes in the whole social system, social ideas, political views [what Moufawad-Paul refers to as the ideological superstructure].

This means the history of the development of society is above all the history of the development of production.

Rather than focus on socialist development, Maoists would prefer to plunge themselves into an orgy of fantastical revolutionary excitement where all reactionary thinking can be clubbed to death like a seal. If violent revolution abolished all class distinction and reactionary ideology, then we wouldn’t need the dictatorship of the proletariat in the first place. When we deny this we cease to be materialists and become instead idealists and anarchists.

In Practice

Cultural revolution has been a demonstrated failure. While a Marxist-Leninist like myself would say the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was ultra-leftist chaos which weakened the Chinese Communist Party and nation before Deng Xiaoping set things back on track, even a Maoist would have to admit it failed because Deng, a supposed capitalist roader, ascended afterwards. So no matter which way you look at it, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution didn’t do what it was supposed to.

Meanwhile, the anti-corruption campaigns undertaken by Xi Jinping have revitalized and removed opportunists from the Party exactly as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution intended to but without the extrajudicial killings. Rather than having gangs of students defenestrate revolutionary heroes, reemphasizing party discipline and mass line leadership while carrying out civilized, lawful action against perpetrators and opportunists can achieve the exact same goals in a more orderly fashion.