Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung' is a volume of selected statements taken from the speeches and writings by Mao Mao Tse-Tung, published from 1964 to 1976. It was often printed in small editions that could be easily carried and that were bound in bright red covers, which led to its western moniker of the 'Little Red Book'. It is one of the most printed books in history, and will be of considerable value to those with an interest in Mao Tse-Tung and in the history of the Communist Party of China. The chapters of this book include: 'The Communist Party', 'Classes and Class Struggle', 'Socialism and Communism', 'The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among The People', 'War and Peace', 'Imperialism and All Reactionaries ad Paper Tigers', 'Dare to Struggle and Dare to Win', et cetera. We are republishing this antiquarian volume now complete with a new prefatory biography of Mao Tse-Tung.… (more)
"Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale.
"Not having a correct political point of view is like having no soul." 142
"Be united, alert, earnest and lively." 147
"the source of ultra-democracy consists in the petty bourgeousie's individulaistic aversion to discipline." 163-164
Similar to political tracts such as Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments following the Seneca Falls Convention, or Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mao Zedong’s quotations deserve to be studied and many resonate with current political and social events. Discussing the Communist Party, Mao writes, “No political party can possibly lead a great revolutionary movement to victory unless it possesses revolutionary theory and a knowledge of history and has a profound grasp of the practical movement” (pg. 2). While he used this to discuss the Chinese Community Party, it applies to any group looking to change the world. In discussing the importance of daring to struggle and daring to win, Mao writes, “Historically, all reactionary forces on the verge of extinction invariably conduct a last desperate struggle against the revolutionary forces, and some revolutionaries are apt to be deluded for a time by this phenomenon of outward strength but inner weakness, failing to grasp the essential fact that the enemy is nearing extinction while they themselves are approaching victory” (pg. 44-45). This seems particularly apt in the wake of the neo-conservatism movement working to undo fifty years of social progress.
Mao discusses the importance of serving the people, writing, “The organs of state must practise democratic centralism, they must rely on the masses and their personnel must serve the people” (pg. 95). Furthermore, “Our duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means” (pg. 96). He continues these themes as they apply to patriotism and internationalism, writing, “In the fight for complete liberation the oppressed people rely first of all on their own struggle and then, and only then, on international assistance. The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty” (pg. 99). In an inscription that originally appeared in the July 20, 1949 issue of Women of New China, Mao wrote, “Unite and take part in production and political activity to improve the economic and political status of women” (pg. 170). The quote is particularly apt, appearing on the 101st anniversary of the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY.
Mao discusses the importance of culture, art, and study, writing, “Different forms and styles in art should develop freely and different schools in science should contend freely. We think that it is harmful to the growth of art and science if administrative measures are used to impose one particular style of art or school of thought and to ban another. Questions of right and wrong in the arts and sciences should be settled through free discussion in artistic and scientific circles and through practical work in these fields. They should not be settled in summary fashion” (pg. 174). He continues, “We can learn what we did not know. We are not only good at destroying the old world, we are also good at building the new” (pg. 175). Furthermore, “Knowledge is a matter of science, and no dishonesty or conceit whatsoever is permissible. What is required is definitely the reverse – honesty and modesty” (pg. 178).
While Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung may seem a relic of the past, it deserves to be studied like any other text that changed the world. Furthermore, like those texts, a clear reading can reveal wisdom of relevance and interest to modern readers.
Like a retelling of Sun Tsu's Art of War through a broken mirror, The Little Red Book is repetitive where Art of War
We are still paying the price for what Mao has done to China.
Pay close attention to the language used; you will find the same language, and particular interpretation of that language, currently in vogue. There is plain speaking on Mao's emphasis on ideological education via propaganda and the importance of a unified political philosophy before even standard military considerations.
On a practical note, like Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," there are certain doctrines of action: such as frugality and discipline which yield results regardless of the end goals.
What I did find most ironic was the promotion of "persuasion and education" in opposition to coercion and use of force; these were mainly culled from writings and speeches given in the 1950s which was before the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s; it is quite clear from history how fast that principle was abandoned within a single decade.
Like Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto" I highly recommend reading this regardless of political affiliation. China is perhaps Sparta to America's Athens and it behooves everyone to be aware of the underlying current philosophical foundation of a major world actor.