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On Contradiction (Mao Zedong)

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Mao Zedong's On Contradiction is considered his most important philosphical essay. Along with On Practice it forms the philosophical underpinnings of the political idealogy that would later become Maoism. It was written in August 1937 while Mao was at his guerilla base in Yenan. Mao sugggests that all movement and life is a result of contradiction. Mao insists that there is a different between antagonism and contradiction. For example he writes in 1911 both the bourgeois and proliteriat were allies against the monarchy despite their contradictions because it was nonantagonistic. Mao also suggests that they're may be contradictions between workers and peasents that are anatgonistic under capitalism but will become peacedul under marxism. Mao accepts that contradictions will always exists even in a communist nation but that thoose contradictions can be made harmless. Mao furthers the theme layed out in his essay On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.

"We may now say a few words to sum up. The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought. It stands opposed to the metaphysical world outlook. It represents a great revolution in the history of human knowledge. According to dialectical materialism, contradiction is present in all processes of objectively existing things and of subjective thought and permeates all these processes from beginning to end; this is the universality and absoluteness of contradiction. Each contradiction and each of its aspects have their respective characteristics; this is the particularity and relativity of contradiction. In given conditions, opposites possess identity, and consequently can coexist in a single entity and can transform themselves into each other; this again is the particularity and relativity of contradiction. But the struggle of opposites is ceaseless, it goes on both when the opposites are coexisting and when they are transforming themselves into each other, and becomes especially conspicuous when they are transforming themselves into one another; this again is the universality and absoluteness of contradiction. In studying the particularity and relativity of contradiction, we must give attention to the distinction between the principal contradiction and the non-principal contradictions and to the distinction between the principal aspect and the non-principal aspect of a contradiction; in studying the universality of contradiction and the struggle of opposites in contradiction, we must give attention to the distinction between the different forms of struggle. Otherwise we shall make mistakes. If, through study, we achieve a real understanding of the essentials explained above, we shall be able to demolish dogmatist ideas which are contrary to the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism and detrimental to our revolutionary cause, and our comrades with practical experience will be able to organize their experience into principles and avoid repeating empiricist errors. These are a few simple conclusions from our study of the law of contradiction."


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