Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Mas   —

MASLOW, Abraham H.   (1908-70)
A prominent American bourgeois psychologist who promoted a theory he called “self-actualization” which he said he derived from studying those he considered to be well-functioning individuals. According to this theory there is a hierarchy of human needs each of which must be met before a person can achieve his or her full potential. These needs are, starting with the most fundamental: physiological, security, love and belonging, esteem and status, and then “actualization” (or the desire “to be all that you can be”, as the recent U.S. Army slogan puts it). Maslow seemed not to understand at all that there is something very bourgeois in focusing on one’s own individual self-cultivation, on one’s own career, on one’s own personal “accomplishments”, and—indeed—on oneself rather than on important human goals and the welfare of others!
        Maslow is often considered to be the leader of the so-called “Third Force” in the psychological field of his era; i.e., as an alternative to both
Freudianism and behaviorism. This alternative is often called “humanist psychology”, and is clearly influenced by bourgeois humanism, bourgeois individualism and also existentialism. However, more recent psychology, especially cognitive psychology, seems to have largely shed itself of all three of these earlier “forces”. Maslow and his theories are now often viewed as unduly reflecting his own society and class milieu, and are seldom referenced in more recent psychological research.

“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” —Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848), Chapter 2, final sentence.
        [Here we see the communist approach, of focusing not on our individual self-cultivation, but rather upon creating a better society so that everyone can be “all that they can be”, and in a way that is not at the expense of the welfare of others! —S.H.]

Rare, but severe and nearly simultaneous die-offs of vast numbers of species of animals and plants. The most famous such extinction event brought the Cretaceous Period to an end, wiping out the dinosaurs. This is now generally thought to be due to the collision of a large asteroid or comet with the Earth some 65 million years ago. However, today there is another mass extinction episode in progress, though perhaps not quite as swift as that which wiped out the dinosaurs. This is the
Great Capitalist Mass Extinction, which—unlike previous mass extinctions which were brought about by natural events—is due to the horribly irresponsible mismanagement of the world by the ruling capitalist class.

The Great Mass Extinction Episodes in the History of the Earth
Extinction Episode Millions of
Years Ago
Ordovician 440      Devastated early marine fauna.
Devonian 370      Devastated early marine fauna; eliminated
more than 20% of marine families.
Permo-Triassic 250      Possibly the worst extinction event in Earth
history. More than 50% of families died out.
End-Triassic 202      50% of genera eliminated.
65      50% of genera eliminated, including
the dinosaurs. Caused by asteroid or comet.
Great Capitalist
Mass Extinction
Present Time Some notable human-caused extinctions over past
12,000 years, but huge qualitative increase in
extinctions occurring right now.
[Source: Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, (NY: Copernicus
Books, 2004), pp. 179-183, with additional comments added.]

This is the euphemism being used in present day capitalist China for the rapidly growing number of incidents of collective protest, workers’ strikes, local refusals by the people to follow the orders of the authorities, and other forms of social unrest. One Chinese sociologist, Sun Liping, estimated the number of “mass incidents” in 2010 as 180,000.
        There are many specific reasons for the huge growth in the number of such events, including the typically very low pay of workers, the exceedingly long hours of work, the dangerous working conditions, the lack of social services, the especially poor treatment of migrant workers from the countryside, the frequent outright theft of land from peasants, the high-handedness of the police and authorities, widespread political corruption, worsening inflation, and many other such things. On occasion the authorities will be forced to back down and grant some concessions, but the more typical response is to further tighten “public security” (expanded police forces and physical control over the masses). The Chinese government is expanding its expenditure for “domestic security” by 12% in 2012 over the already high level in 2011, to a total of $111 billion. (This is $5 billion more than China will be spending on its military budget in 2012!)   [Figures from the NY Times, May 10, 2012.]
        This increasing reliance on state violence to control the masses will of course mean that many future “mass incidents” will themselves be much more serious and much more violent. There are very good reasons for the growing anxiety of the Chinese leaders about the ever increasing discontent among not only the workers and peasants, but even among the new “middle class”.

“Scholars say the number of ‘mass incidents’—a vaguely defined official measure of discontent that includes spontaneous citizen protests—has doubled since 2005. The government stopped publicly reporting the total in 2006.” —Michael Wines, “As China Talks of Change, Fear Rises on the Risks”, New York Times, July 17, 2012.

The method of revolutionary leadership summarized by the phrase “from the masses, to the masses”.

“Party committees at all levels must abide by the directions given by Chairman Mao over the years, namely that they should thoroughly apply the mass line of ‘from the masses and to the masses’ and that they should be pupils before they become teachers. They should try to avoid being one-sided or narrow. They should foster materialist dialectics and oppose metaphysics and scholasticism.” —From “Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (Adopted Aug. 8, 1966), Peking Review, #33, Aug. 12, 1966, p. 11. [This famous document was prepared under the direct supervision of Mao and thus certainly shows what he himself meant by “the mass line”.]

“The mass line is the primary method of revolutionary leadership of the masses, which is employed by the most conscious and best organized section of the masses, the proletarian party. It is a reiterative method, applied over and over again, which step by step advances the interests of the masses, and in particular their central interest within bourgeois society, namely, advancing towards proletarian revolution. Each iteration may be viewed as a three step process: 1) gathering the diverse ideas of the masses; 2) processing or concentrating these ideas from the perspective of revolutionary Marxism, in light of the long-term, ultimate interests of the masses (which the masses themselves may sometimes only dimly perceive), and in light of a scientific analysis of the objective situation; and 3) returning these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of a political line which will actually advance the mass struggle toward revolution. Because the mass line starts with the diverse ideas of the masses, and returns the concentrated ideas to the masses, it is also known as the method of ‘from the masses, to the masses’. Though implicit in Marxism from the beginning, the mass line was raised to the level of conscious theory primarily by Mao Zedong.” —Scott H., The Mass Line and the American Revolutionary Movement, Chapter 43.



“A mass perspective is a point of view regarding the masses which recognizes: 1) That the masses are the makers of history, and that revolution can only be made by the masses themselves; 2) That the masses must come to see through their own experience and struggle that revolution is necessary; and 3) That the proletarian party must join up with the masses in their existing struggles, bring revolutionary consciousness into these struggles, and lead them in a way which brings the masses ever closer to revolution. A mass perspective is based on the fundamental Marxist notion that a revolution must be made by a revolutionary people, that a revolutionary people must develop from a non-revolutionary people, and that the people change from the one to the other through their own revolutionizing practice.
         “The relation between the mass line and a mass perspective is simply that only those with a mass perspective will see much need or use for the mass line. It is possible to have some notion of the mass line technique, and yet fail to give it any real attention because of a weak mass perspective. On the other hand, it is also possible to have a mass perspective and still be more or less ignorant of the great Marxist theory of the mass line.
         “The mass line and a mass perspective are nevertheless best viewed as intimately related, as integrated aspects of the Marxist approach toward the masses and revolution. I have found the most felicitous phrase for both aspects together is ‘the mass line and its associated mass perspective’.” —Scott H.,
The Mass Line and the American Revolutionary Movement, Chapter 43.



“We Communists ought to face the world and brave the storm, the great world of mass struggle and the mighty storm of mass struggle.” —Mao, “Get Organized!”.

[To be added...]
        See also below and:

MASSES — Shortcomings Of

“The masses too have shortcomings, which should be overcome by criticism and self-criticism within the people’s own ranks, and such criticism and self-criticism is also one of the most important tasks of literature and art. But this should not be regarded as any sort of ‘exposure of the people’. As for the people, the question is basically one of education and of raising their level. Only counter-revolutionary writers and artists describe the people as ‘born fools’ and the revolutionary masses as ‘tyrannical mobs’.” —Mao, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1942), SW 3:91-92.

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