Hegemony Cannot Decide Destiny of World History
Hegemony Cannot Decide Destiny of World History
Hegemony Cannot Decide Destiny of World History
Hegemony Cannot Decide Destiny of World History
by Wu Chun
Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November 30, 1973
DOES the development of world history depend on hegemony by colonialism and imperialism or on revolution by the people of different countries? Do big powers control the destiny of world history or is it the masses who create world history? Fundamental differences between the materialist-historical viewpoint and the idealist-historical viewpoint and between the Marxist-Leninist line and the revisionist line exist over these questions.
Masses Are Masters of History
Historical materialism holds that the masses are the masters of history. "The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history." The progress of world history is decided by people's revolutionary struggles and the fate of mankind must be determined jointly by the people of all countries in the world. Chairman Mao's instruction to "never seek hegemony" sums up the historical experience of China and the world, grasps the characteristic of the international class struggle at the present stage, reflects the general trend of the development of history and profoundly embodies the basic Marxist-Leninist principle that the masses are the creators of history. The proletariat is the greatest class in the history of mankind. To fulfil its historic task of eliminating all exploitation and oppression and realizing communism throughout the world, the proletariat must rely on the correctness of its political line and the unity and struggle of the proletariat and the oppressed people and nations of the world. The class nature of the proletariat determines that it will never seek hegemony and at the same time will resolutely oppose any country lording it over others. Our country is a socialist country under the dictatorship of the proletariat and it is also a developing country. As Chairman Mao has said: "We all belong to the Third World, we are developing countries." In accordance with Chairman Mao's instruction to "never seek hegemony," we have always stood together with the numerous small and medium-sized countries and placed our hopes on the peoples of the world. We have consistently maintained that all countries, big or small, should be equal. International affairs should be solved through consultation by all countries and not by the superpowers having their way. We are firmly opposed to the superpowers riding roughshod over the people of other countries from their positions of strength, and to power politics and hegemonism with the big bullying the small, the strong bullying the weak and the rich exerting pressure on the poor.
Doom Awaits Hegemonists
Playing the overlord is the nature of all exploiting classes and is a characteristic of both old and new colonialism. Lenin pointed out: “World domination is, to put it briefly, the substance of imperialist policy." (A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism.) The rulers of some capitalist countries in modern history were hegemonists who stubbornly resisted the tide of historical development, defied the will of the people of the world and tried in vain to turn back the wheel of history. But it was not long before one after another the hegemonies of these self-ordained exceptional "mighties" were swept away in the raging torrent of the people's revolution. History is the best witness. Today, when the Soviet revisionist social-imperialists act the overlord everywhere, it would greatly benefit people to thumb through the pages of history and see how those hegemonists who tried to hold back the tide of history finally fell into decline or complete destruction.
When the feudal system was rapidly disintegrating in Western Europe and capitalism was developing rapidly, the bourgeois world revolutionary storm to overthrow that system and set up the capitalist system swept Europe and the Americas. Characterized by the stubbornness and brutality of the feudal colonial empire, Spanish hegemony tried to suppress the bourgeois revolution in the Netherlands, the earliest in Europe, in order to maintain its feudal rule. In the Americas, it adopted the barbarous policy of "genocide" and (he primitive policy of plunder, engaged in the slave trade and practised the slave system, and caused the prolonged stagnation of the economy of the colonies. Wherever its hegemony held sway, the Spanish empire seriously impeded the transition of human society from feudalism to capitalism. But history did not reverse itself as the hegemonists hoped. Spain, cock of the walk for less than a century, was reduced to a shadow of its former self under the powerful blows of the revolutionary people of the Netherlands. In the end the Spanish colonial empire collapsed in the flames of the national-liberation movement in the Latin American colonies and the people's revolution at home.
Britain was once a typical colonialist country. With its wealth and strength, it launched a series of wars of aggression to seize overseas colonies so that by the close of the 19th century it had grabbed colonies more than 100 times its own size and become known as "Mistress of the Seas." Britain plundered and enslaved the people of different countries, suppressed the national-liberation movements in the colonies and opposed the revolutionary struggles of the people of other countries. It also bellowed for strangling the new-born Soviet Russia in its cradle. But what happened in the end? The revolutionary storm of the oppressed nations and people of the world to oppose colonialism and imperialism shook the whole globe and portion after portion fell off from the colonial edifice the British Empire until it now becomes, like other areas of Europe, an integral part of the second intermediate zone which the superpowers are contending for.
The United States became the overlord of the capitalist world after World War II. Relying on its military and economic might, it pushed forward neocolonialism. It interfered in other countries' internal affairs, violated their sovereignty and syphoned off their natural resources. It supported the reactionary forces and put down the people's revolutionary movement everywhere. But the wheel of history kept rolling on. The struggles of the oppressed people and nations developed vigorously and many countries gained independence after engaging in various forms of struggle. U.S. imperialism fell from the pinnacle of power after its defeat in the war of aggression against Korea. It declined further with its defeat in the war of aggression against Viet Nam and it is now more and more beset with difficulties at home and abroad.
A glance at this not unfamiliar history enables us to understand still more clearly that in the great process when a new social system replaces an old, the big power hegemonists always take on the reactionary role in opposing the revolution and obstructing the historical trend. They do not propel the progress of history as the Soviet revisionists have claimed, but hinder its progress. However, the law governing the development of history is irresistible. World hegemony by big powers cannot change the orientation of history's development nor can it decide the destiny of human history. Instead, their fate shall be decided by history and the people.
Dialectics of the Development of History
How should we understand the historical phenomenon in which those who wish to rule the world inevitably come to a bad end? Marx pointed out: "Any nation that oppresses another forges its own chains." (Confidential Communication.) This incisively reveals the objective law that domination over others leads to one's doom. The hegemonists' logic is that of ceaseless aggression and expansion till self-destruction. To step up its enslavement and oppression of the people in its colonies, a colonial empire must maintain the hegemony it has established. And to protect this hegemony requires expanding it. This naturally calls for ceaseless arms expansion, strengthening of the bureaucratic military apparatus and launching wars of aggression, which would, of course, bring on an unbearable load and serious political and economic crises, exhausting and weakening the empire. An overlord inevitably has to face up to a challenger for hegemony and the contradictions in their contention are insuperable. The enslaved people's resistance is the decisive factor in the development of the logic of the hegemonists. Even while it is lording it over others, the colonial empire inevitably creates its own opposite, a force which opposes and finally will bury it. Engels said: "Nil one who enslaves a nation can go unpunished." (For Poland.) The colonies which are subjected to aggression and enslavement by the colonial empire are nooses round the neck of the suzerain country. The wider the scope of its aggression and enslavement, the more nooses there are round its neck; the more rampant its hegemonism, the heavier the punishment. The colonial empire's hegemony drives the people of various countries, including its own people, to rise up to struggle against it. The people of various countries steadily grow and expand in strength in their struggle during which they use revolutionary violence to oppose counter-revolutionary violence. "In given conditions, each of the two opposing aspects of a contradiction invariably transforms itself into its opposite as a result of the struggle between them." The struggle between the colonial empire and the oppressed nations and people — between aggression and resistance to aggression, between hegemony and opposition to hegemony — is certain to cause the two sides to transform themselves into their opposites. The people's revolutionary force will grow from small to big, from weak to strong and from defeat to victory while the hegemony of the colonialists will go from strong to weak, from being cock of the walk to being at the end of its tether and finally to being transformed into its opposite. The hegemony of the colonial empire is built on the enslavement of the people of the colonies and is bound to crumble and collapse with the awakening and liberation of the people of the colonies. This is the dialectical law governing the development of history. The reactionary nature of the hegemonists determines that they can never understand this logic of history and they are bound to follow in their predecessors' footsteps and plod on to their fate.
The Soviet revisionist social-imperialists have inherited the cause of the hegemonists in history. They are engaged in imperialist crimes under the golden signboard of "socialism*' and "internationalism." Picking up the mantle of the old tsars, they entertain even wilder ambitions than the former. They are contending with U.S. imperialism for hegemony in an attempt to set up a social-imperialist world hegemony. They loudly sing of "peace," "security"' and "disarmament" while in reality they step up arms expansion and war preparations and push ahead with the polities of aggression and war. Trumpeting "internationalism" and the "interest of the socialist community," they in fact turn some partners into their colonies and appendages. While shouting about "aiding the national-liberation movement." they actually are pushing neo-colonialism in B big way in Asia. Africa and Latin America and control countries there politically, economically and militarily. While boasting about supporting the revolution of the people of various countries," they play a counter-revolutionary two-faced game of colluding with the most reactionary forces in the world and betraying the revolutionary cause of the people of different countries. However, the people all over the world will judge their words by their deeds. The Soviet revisionists' aggression and subversion are being exposed everywhere and their deception is becoming less and less effective. Expansion and aggression abroad and enslaving other countries and peoples have put them fundamentally in opposition to the world's people, including the Soviet people. Their actions have enabled more and more countries and people to sharpen their vigilance and distinguish between the genuine and the false. Pounded by the world's revolutionary people, they are in trouble at home and abroad and their days are becoming more and more difficult.
Soviet Revisionists' Hegemonic Fallacies
To dominate the world, the Soviet revisionist social-imperialists have cooked up a set of hegemonic fallacies and vociferously hawk the notion that the Soviet Union and the United States are countries with the biggest military and economic potential in the modern world and that they decide the fate of humanity. Anyone with a bit of knowledge of modern history can see at a glance that this is nothing new but is exactly the same stuff as the imperialist theories for aggression. The British colonialists in the past boasted that the British Empire was the world's agent; the U.S. imperialists also bragged that the United States should lead the world. It is most obvious that the talk of big powers' hegemony to determine the world's destiny as spread by the Soviet revisionists is nothing but an imperialist theory with a "socialist" label. It is the out-and-out gangster logic of neo-colonialism and fascism. Such fallacies represent in a concentrated way the interests of the Soviet bureaucratic monopoly capitalist class and the aspirations of the landlord and capitalist classes to restore capitalism inside the Soviet Union as well as the anti-communist, anti-popular and counterrevolutionary will of international imperialism and the reactionaries of various countries.
The Soviet revisionist renegade clique talks about world hegemony, works for world hegemony and even dreams of world hegemony. But it has a guilty conscience and is particularly sensitive to people exposing the imperialist characteristic of its hegemony. It flies into a rage at the mention of "big countries" and "small countries" and "rich countries" and "poor countries" in the world. It claims that whoever puts the "Soviet Union, a socialist country, on a par with the world capitalist powers" has "ill intentioned lucubrations." Soviet revisionist gentlemen! You are a superpower out for world hegemony. It is not that others are indiscriminately pinning labels on you but that your hegemonic words and deeds have shown you up for what you are. If you do not want to dominate the world, why have you invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia, massed troops along China's border, sent troops into the People's Republic of Mongolia, intervened in Egypt, dismembered Pakistan. . .? What is this if not naked hegemonism? What is this if not outright imperialism? Nobody can cover up the facts. If there is any motive to the exposure of your hegemonism by the revolutionary people of the world, it is only to make clear your real features and explain the reality of history so as to sharpen their vigilance to deal with your aggression and control.
Irresistible Historical Trend
The emergence of Soviet revisionist social-imperialism is merely a brief interlude in the process of imperialism heading to its doom and a reflection of the death-bed struggle of the world's counter-revolutionary forces. It can never hold back the tide of history, nor save the whole capitalist system from inevitable doom. Since the Soviet revisionists have taken the old road of imperialism, they will, of course, be subjected to the laws governing imperialism and the logic of hegemonists’ history and will end up by being transformed into their opposite. "Revolution is the main trend in the world today.'* Great disorder in the world shows that the world situation is excellent. The struggle against the power politics and hegemonism of the superpowers has become the common demand of the people of all countries. All countries and peoples who are subjected to aggression, subversion, control, interference and bullying by the superpowers are forming a broad united front. This is a vivid manifestation of the fact in the present era that it is the people of all countries in the world who make history and decide the destiny of human history; at the same time it is an important characteristic of the current excellent situation. In his recent meeting with Vice-President Hussein el Shafei, Chairman Mao said; "The people of our two countries, the people of the Third World and the people of the whole world are always for unity." The great unity of the people of the world is becoming a great irresistible force. All hegemonies will in the end be completely buried by the revolutionary storm of the world's people.
(Translation of an article published in “Hongqi," No. 10, 1973. Subheads are ours.)
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