The real Labour party split?

Has shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s use of quotes form Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book revealed a serious ideological split between his office and that of his leader Jeremy Corbyn?

For it is impossible to be a supporter of communist China in that period and also an enthusiastic apologist for the Soviet Union – as Corbyn and his chief spin doctor Seumas Milne have shown themselves to be.

It has become conventional wisdom to see the Cold War as a struggle between capitalism and communism. But for true vitriol it is worth reading the Soviet Union’s views on China.

I have my copy of the Little Red Book (1969 vest pocket edition – second printing), which starts with the modest claim by Lin Piao that Mao is “the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our era.” I won’t rehearse the contents of the LRB here as most British papers are enthusiastically providing edited highlights.

I also have a copy of an article published by the official Soviet Novosti Press Agency published in 1970 under the wonderful headline of “Pseudo-revolutionaries Unmasked. “

This article takes a rather different view Mao’s contribution to Marxism-Leninism than that expressed by Lin Piao, accusing the Chinese leader of coming “out in unison with imperialism’s malicious anti-Soviet and anti-communist campaign.”

It continues: “Hateful to Mao Tse-Tung and his following are the successes of the USSR in the development of socialist industry, agriculture, science and technology, the steady rise of the living standard and cultural level of the masses, the strengthening of the defensive might of the Soviet Union, the tasks set by our Party for the further intensification of socialist production for the purpose of building the material and technical basis of communism and strengthening the positions of world socialism.”

The article, published in Pravda in May 1970, continues in this vein for some 29 pages, littered with comments such as “The anti-Leninist course of China’s present leadership,” accusations that Mao “disguised himself as a Marxist” and a condemnation of Maoism as “a reactionary utopian petty-bourgeois conception.”

I could go on but the message is pretty clear. You can’t support both the Soviet Union and Chairman Mao.

So are we now to see a dialectic struggle between the offices of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell? Is Seumas Milne, the ultimate apologist for the Soviet Union, now demanding the purging of McDonnell for even possessing a copy of a book that represents everything a true Marxist should hate?

Have we seen for the first time that the real struggle in the Labour party is not between the Corbynistas and the old Blairites but between the apologists for Moscow and the apologists for China?

I think we should be told.

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