The Sino-Soviet split began when the Soviet leadership had decided to
"de-cultivize" Stalin. The Soviets minded it as a Soviet internal matter
and underestimated foreign consequences. At the time, Mao modeled his
own cult of personality following the Stalin sample, so such a turn
naturally made him feel unhappy. He was not the only: North Korea's Kim
Il-sung and Albania's Enver Hoxha also felt unhappy by this reason. In
the Mao's view, image of Stalin was important for the entire Communist
Movement, and he perceived the fact the Soviets had not consulted with
him and others as a sign of disrespect and 'imperialist' arrogance.
Moreover, after the death of Stalin, Mao started seeing himself as more
Elder against those 'juvenile' post-Stalin generation folks in Moscow,
and this perception aggravated his ambition and anger. Here was a subtle
moment, since in the 1st half of the 1950s there really was a *sincere*
spirit of "international socialist brotherhood" (many Russia's elderly
and 70+ mainland Chinese remember the time). It contributed to the Mao's
view that, as an older in age, he could take over the Stalin's role.
Some myth-makers exaggerately depict Mao in the 1950s as "the most
authoritative communist theorist in the world" <https://bit.ly/3kuvOMC
misrepresenting him as a highly influential figure within the "socialist
camp", so that Khrushchyov even had to beg for Mao's approval due to the
internal struggle within the Soviet leadership. It's a falsity. It might
be what Mao wanted to be (and so may be a wishful thinking of some Mao's
fans in China), but what he in fact was not.
Khrushchyov, who took the post-Stalin lead, was not nearly as heavy and
bloodthirsty as Stalin, but he was personally rough, impulsive and
direct, unceremonious character. It was what might additionally offend
Mao, given the Chinese love ceremonialism and see straightforwardness as
a rude manner. So all this likely contributed.
By then time, the Soviet Union was "building socialism" already for 40
years. In the early 1920s, the Bolsheviks hoped that their revolutionary
impulse will be continued in 'industrial' Europe. However, it turned out
so that Mussolini invented socialism with Fascist characteristics and
Hitler invented socialism with 'Aryan' characteristics. And, after the
WW2, the US turned out the ultimate beneficiary. By the 1950s, the
Soviet ideologists had become more careful and realistic, and adopted
"peaceful coexistence" line. But, for the Chinese communists, revolution
occured just recently. They had more revolutionary ardor. And it led to
the fact that Mao eventually proclaimed himself a true Marxist-Leninist
revolutionary against the Soviet "revisionists".
Combination of such factors drove Mao to distance from the USSR and
start playing a separate tune. In essence, he attempted "to hijack" the
Soviet-built "socialist camp", but he was unable to offer a reasonabler
alternative to the Soviet course. As the China-Soviet relationship was
deteriorating, since the second half of the 1950s, Mao / CPC started to
compete against the USSR / CPSU within the World Communist Movement by
offering "more true" Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in opposition to "Soviet
revisionism". It was not much successful. In the 1960-70s, the Mao-led
CPC used to endorse various schismatic, marginal, freaky factions within
socialist-communist parties in the world, but in this way the CPC was
still unable to create an international formation somehow comparable to
the Soviet-dominant community <https://bit.ly/3sMfnPH
>. Along with that,
since the mid-60s, China'a official anti-Soviet rhetoric became
increasingly unbridled and obscene, as the doctrinal criticism gradually
transformed into nationalist-like hatred against the USSR.
The Mao's domestic policies at the time - the Great Leap Forward and the
Cultural Revolution - also ended up not so well, as well as those China-
backed non-revisionist Red Khmers in Cambodia-Kampuchea.
In Russia's old history, there was tsar Ivan 4 the Aweful (known as Ivan
the Terrible, in an inaccurate translation), who made great achievements
at the beginning, but the last 20 years of his reign were marked by ugly
extremist policies. Mao looks somewhat similar in this respect. Nowadays
the CPC has officially recognized <http://bit.ly/3zn8ZAN
> the Great Leap
and the Cultural Revolution as severe mistakes, but, actually, these two
can't be taken separately, in isolation from other Mao's policies at the
time. Some changes to the worse happened in Mao's temper and mindset, so
that the Great Leap, the Cultural Revolution and the confrontational
stance towards the USSR, were all manifestations of one underlying trend.
Maybe one day the CPC will recognize it so.
If the Khrushchyov's leadership was more attentive and delicate towards
Mao in the 1950s, then maybe the China-Soviet relationship would worsen
less dramatically. But a hardly solvable issue was that Mao demanded not
only a higher 'status' for himself but also more confrontational "true
revolutionary" combative approach towards "capitalist world". The latter
was hardly acceptable for the Soviet and east-European communists in the
It would be wrong to claim the Mao's "anti-revisionist" agenda destroyed
socialist camp, since the Soviet-led socialism seemed to be untenable on
its own, but Mao played as a spoiler, and his quirks surely accelerated
the end of the international communist movement. By the mid-1970s, the
USSR entered in the Brezhnev's Era of Stagnation, and some basic chronic
nature of the internal shortcomings within "socialist system" had become
increasingly obvious. The Gorbachyov's hapless effort to reform, filled
with incompetence and idealistic delusion, finally led the entire system
When nationalist pragmatist Deng Xiaoping came to power in the 1979, the
'true Marxist-Leninist' issues, that seemed sound in the 1960s, were
already irrelevant, and the generic image of Communism had been damaged.
Deng further contributed to its damage by waging the nationalistically
motivated war against socialist Vietnam. Along with that, he started to
sell the cheap Chinese labour to the American greedy capitalists, which
eventually led China to the present economic succcess.
Some modern Chinese thinkers seek to interpret the present situation as
sort of China's victory over the USSR, as if the 1960-70s rivalry was in
continuation today. This is a bogus interpretation, because the USSR was
not Russia and it ended poorly not because it didn't listen to the Mao's
'wise' criticism, but due to very other reasons. China has succeeded not
because it stood the Mao's "true Marxist-Leninist" "counter-revisionist"
line, but rather the opposite: it renounced the Mao's leftist radicalism
and ambition to lead the socialist camp, and pragmatically jumped into
bed with the US, in exchange for particular China's economic interest, -
which was much greater 'revisionism' in comparison to what Mao called so
in the 1960s.
The moral of the story allows a variety of interpretations, but at least
it's clear that the present day situation differs from what was 60 years
ago, when Mao came into a feud against the Soviets within "communist
brotherhood". Today, post-Soviet Russia and post-Mao China do not play
exactly on the same field, and there's no reason to resurrect and abuse
the outdated narratives. And the international communist movement, the
way it existed in the 20th century, is dead.
In modern China, 'communism' has now become to mean essentially the one
ruling party governance and certain social discipline. Chinese people
are inspired primarily by "national rejuvenation" sentiment, which may
be good as such, but it's nationalist rather than communist. It's very
far from the original socialist spirit in the early 20th century.
Analyzing the reasons why the Communist idea, - at least in its original
plan, - turned out to be untenable, one can point to many reasons, and
such an analysis has far from been completed, and one of the reasons was
that those people whom the revolutionary movement brought to leadership
positions turned out to be prone to destructive feuds among themselves -
and not only / much due to ideological disagreements, but also / largely
because of their personal ambitions and rivalry for power and 'status'.
On the one hand, the revolutionary movement promoted up into the ruling
class many such people who were originally poorly educated, had narrow
outlook and limited cultural baggage, - and so were their behavioral
patterns. On the other hand, there was a cause inherent in the communist
doctrine itself: the Marxism and most of other "left" revolutionary
socialist trends of thought that became popular since the mid-19th
century, were focused on contradictions between social groups or classes
but tended to completely ignore the very basic competitive nature of
humans. So the original ideologists idealistically saw the revolutionary
community or party as sort of brotherhood whose conscious-conscientious
members were supposed to somehow fraternally elaborate their decisions
on the basis of reason and common goal. Real life has shown it does not
work well this way.
Infightings within the communist parties or within ruling elites of the
communist / socialist countries were pretty ugly and often led to cults
of personality for winners and utter demonization for losers. Given that
the concept of conscious brotherhood did not allow to openly declare a
direct ambition for power and leadership, rivals resorted to abuse of
exaggerated ideological accusations and even falsely attributed horrible
crimes to their competitors. Such infightings, quite similar in their
quality, were seen in different times within both the Soviet and China's
communist elites. The Sino-Soviet split itself started as an infighing
of the sort - within the Communist Movement, - and the Mao's anti-Soviet
accusations of 1960-70s should be seen primarily from this perspective.
In post-Soviet Russia, communism is now officially explicitly abandoned,
as, generally, any 'doctrinalism' (the Russian Constitution states "no
ideology may be established as state or obligatory one"). However, many
continue to reflect on the Soviet past trying to comprehend and separate
good and evil. This stuff remains to be sensitive and politicised, as it
keeps some links with the current powerful interests as within Russia as
outside of it, which makes fair and balanced analisys of the past intra-
Soviet situation difficult. But it's likely that one day some new ideas
in continuation of the Soviet experience will arise from this reflection.
In the modern CPC's line, the idea of implementation of communism is not
explicitly abandoned, but it has shifted to an indefinite-unforeseeable
future. It has become somewhat similar to the Second Coming idea in the
Christian theology (two thousand years ago the early Christians believed
Jesus would come [again] soon, but nowadays this belief exists in a much
more vague form). Rhetoric in the present day program CPC's documents
> is mainly intended to better legitimize and
justify the CPC's ruling role in China, but it has little inspirational
matter in doctrinal sense. The major fact is that under the CPC's rule,
the PRC has really become economically successful, and so far so good.
Don't break things that work.
It would be correct to say that the modern China's system of ideology
and organization was initially significantly influenced by the Marxist-
Leninist doctrine (and the Stalinist organizational approach) but today
it has originally-Chinese evolved so that it might be better to invent a
new term to designate it, - something like Neo-Sinism or something. The
PRC's system today is something peculiar that doesn't fit well to the
known ideological cliches in the past.
I think the original Marxist Communist idea is faulty because it ignores
the basic competitive nature of humans, and on the other hand considers
"class struggle" in a simplified tribalistic manner, as if the economic
classes were rival tribes (which, in turn, complements the implication
of the tribal-like brotherhood within "proletariat"). On the third hand,
human nature is not only competitiveness but also mutual assistance and
empathy (what is called 'love' in the Christianity). So it may be more
realistic to think about some combination of "fair competition" and
"social welfare" that would enable people to assert their egos according
to their personal abilities / skills, and wouldn't lead to formation of
an institutionalized inequality (including in the from of economic
classes) and abuse of exploitation. That is not quite Marxist. Meanwhile
the China's turn in the 1980s - in drastic contrast to the Mao's "anti-
revisionism" - as well as the Gorbachyov's hapless reforms in the USSR,
were both aimed closer to such a compromise model. And, once again, it's
not truly Marxist. It'is something the Russians and the mainland Chinese
might think about regardless of domestic nationalist sentiments (while
the objectives for the Russia-China inter-national cooperation are above
such ideological issues).