Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rethinking Mao's World Conception

By Perry PADA

It is difficult to have completely Mao’s thought; however, the center of Mao’s view can be comprehended through his epistemology. At the core of Mao’s epistemology lies the notion that there have been two concepts concerning the law of development of the universe, the metaphysical and dialectical. To Mao, Metaphysical or idealistic play a dominant role in human though. But, Mao argued that metaphysical outlook is seriously flawed. This is because it has too static a conception of social change and it ascribes the motive force of change to factors external to society. Therefore, Mao also held to a dialectical method down from Marxist’s notions.

The Marxist or dialectical world outlook sees the fundamental cause of social development as internal: the primary cause of change lies in the internal contradiction of nation. External causes are the condition of change, while internal causes are the basis of change. In the words of Mao, the dialectical world outlook “teaches us primarily how to observe and analyze the movement of opposites in different things and, on the basis such analysis, to indicate the methods for resolving contradictions”. In its development, Mao’s theory of contradiction becomes the most important elements of Mao’s strategic thinking.

In its application to international affairs, the theory was used to identify the major contradictions in any given situation and time. The central application of Chinese foreign policy in what ever period has been the theory of contradictions. As outlined by Mao in 1937 in his essays “On Contradiction”, this central dictum defines the crucial role played by conflict in political affairs, going beyond the principle of pragmatism evident in any state’s foreign relations. Therefore, Central to the implementation of the theory is the ability to identify the main contradiction of any given time. All other issues (contradictions) may then be subordinate to policies aimed at solving this main contradiction.

Mao’s dialectical analysis of the international system followed the law of unity of opposites by first identifying and etymologizing the system’s major actors into enemies and friends, and then formulating appropriate strategies. The two camp theory view the world was a logical corollary of his dialect based on this theory; Mao divided the world into two camps that is socialist and imperialist. Further more, his contradiction conception identify three contradictions among nations in the world. (1) Contradiction between socialist and imperialist camp. (2). Contradiction between colonized nations and imperialist nations (3). Contradiction among the imperialist nations. In Mao’s image, the peace between socialist and imperialist will never exist. Imperialism is seen as the trigger of modern war. Therefore, as long as imperialist exist there will no peace.

This attitudes are manifestoes by China through their foreign policy which integrally supporting all soviets position regarding international affairs, and also build strong relationship to all socialist countries. Based on the commitment to combat imperialist and to support socialist, Beijing created linkages to communist movement in all over the world and supporting them to make a communist revolution in their countries. For example, in the late 1940s and early 1950’s, Chinese influence contributed to insurrection in several Asian states including Myanmar, India, Malaya, Philippine, and Indonesia.

Mao’s ‘three worlds’ theory: China geopolitical strategy

The three worlds theory is a simplify model for defining and assessing the main contradiction in the international system. It functions as geopolitical compass for seeking China’s proper place in world politics. This theory as Mao’s stated above make a tripartite division of the globe; into the first world of superpowers in predatory competition or collusion; the third world of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America ; and the second world of Northern developed countries. (Kim. China in 3rd world p.183). Thus, trough this theory Chinese perceived themselves in the third world categories.

China assumed that poorness and superpowers aggression in the third is imperialism exploitation. In Chinese view, both superpowers became a threat for the world and sources of problems. To this point, we may conclude while it is arguable that the three world theory, for contemporary China, mainly to claimed and strengthened their position as a “leader” of the third world against super powers hegemony. Does modern China change it’s foreign policy attitude and abondon Mao’s thought?

Jakarta, 1 September 2006

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