On the "Originality" of Mao Tse-Tung

ANEW official edition of Mao Tse-tung's "Selected Works" calls to mind the curious fact that in some respects the political landscape in Communist China presents a more familiar aspect to the student of Communism than the current landscape in the Soviet Union. This edition,[i] with its editorial comments and explanatory footnotes, is clearly designed to lift the figure of Mao Tse-tung to the position of the unerring Communist philosopher-king in the classic tradition of Lenin and Stalin. Like Lenin and Stalin before him, he has faithfully applied the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism to the requirements of time and place in China. From the very outset of his political career, he has possessed those principles of the New Democracy which were to remain his unerring guide. While other groups and individuals were diverted into eddies or dashed on the rocks to the left and right of the stream of history, Mao proceeded down the navigable channel.

Now, whatever may be the case in the future, the fact remains that none of the present group ruling in the Kremlin has as yet shown the slightest propensity or courage to claim anything like an analogous position. Whether this drastic diminution in the theoretical rôle of the Soviet leaders represents a "basic change" or whether it is merely a function of a passing situation is a question which we shall not attempt to consider here. Whatever may be the case, the contrast with China where the older tradition is still very much alive is most striking.

Since the edition so obviously serves an official purpose, one immediately suspects editorial tamperings. As a matter of fact there is room for such suspicion. A spot comparison of the Chinese, Russian and English texts does not suggest any tampering via translation and while one might readily suppose that the selection of texts for inclusion has been tendentious (obviously embarrassing pronouncements have, of course, not been included) actually the bulk of Mao's most significant pronouncements has been

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