Marxism–Leninism–Maoism (M–L–M or MLM, formerly known as Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought) is a political philosophy that builds upon Marxism–Leninism and some aspects of Mao Zedong Thought which was first formalised in 1993 by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.[1]


Maoism was considered synonymous with Mao Zedong Thought (also known as Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought) from the 1960s onwards—when many anti-revisionist Marxist organisations sided with China following the Sino-Soviet split—until 1993, when the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) formalised Marxism–Leninism–Maoism as a new and higher stage of Marxism–Leninism.[2] This caused a split in the Maoist movement, with the adherents of Mao Zedong Thought leaving the RIM and congregating around the International Conference of Marxist–Leninist Parties and Organizations.[3]


Mass line

Building on the theory of the vanguard party by Vladimir Lenin, the theory of the mass line outlines a strategy for the mass popularisation of revolutionary ideology, consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and strengthening of the party and for the building of socialism. The mass line can be summarised by the phrase "from the masses, to the masses". It has three components (or stages) as follows:[4]

  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.
  3. Returning these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of a political line which will actually advance the mass struggle toward revolution.

These three steps should be applied over and over again, reiteratively uplifting practice and knowledge to higher and higher stages.

People's war

People's war, a strategy for guerilla warfare, holds the following:

  • Any attempt to fight with the bourgeoisie on its own terms, using the same tactics and strategies as they do, will be crushed (Maoists cite that apart from the October Revolution, every single revolutionary attempt that used conventional warfare was crushed by the bourgeoisie).
  • It cannot be predicted when the objective conditions for revolution will exist. Thus the subjective conditions—i.e. class consciousness—must be built long in advance.
  • Seizure of state power generally does not happen in one fell swoop. A situation of dual power through the course of protracted people's war arises when the proletarian vanguard controls sections of the country at the same time as the bourgeoisie.
  • The party cannot possibly hope to lead the proletariat in a seizure of power if it itself has no military experience. Thus military experience—i.e. experienced gained through actually fighting, even if on a limited scale—must be gained long in advance of a seizure of power. In addition to being a necessary development towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, dual power is invaluable in providing this military experience (along with civil knowledge, fuel for propaganda efforts, material aid for the party and the expansion and improvement of the mass line).

In a joint document released in 1998, several communist parties affirmed the difference between the specific strategic line of protracted people's war and the more general (and universally applicable) people's war. Protracted people's war is identified as being a specific application of the concept of people's war to countries with a large population (or majority) of peasantry and involving encircling the cities from base areas of communist control in the countryside.[5][6]

The issue of applying people's war to fully industrialized first world nations is the subject of much debate. Many organizations, such as the RIM and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada in Canada, have put forward that much of a hypothetical people's war in the first world would take place in urban areas.[6]

New Democracy

The theory of New Democracy holds that the national-bourgeois in semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries has a dual character in that although it is an exploitative capitalist force, it can also (though not always) side with the proletariat against colonialism, imperialism and the comprador-bourgeoisie (whose existence is due to imperialism).

The role of the national-bourgeoisie as a progressive asset in the proletarian struggle to overthrow imperialism is of course never guaranteed and will eventually turn on the proletariat when the anti-imperialist situation progresses. The Balli Kombëtar in Albania in 1943 and the Kuomintang in China in the 1920s are examples of this. These national bourgeois forces temporarily allied with the proletariat of their countries (the Party of Labour of Albania and the Communist Party of China, respectively) for the overthrow of imperialism but eventually turned on the proletariat once they felt their long-term existence in the new society would be threatened.

Much like the New Economic Policy in Russia, New Democracy is conceived of as a necessary (but temporary) evil for the long-term development of socialism, or in this case for the construction and consolidation of socialism in the first place. Maoism holds that the national-bourgeois in the New Democratic stage must always be firmly under the command of the proletariat and they must be firmly dispensed with as soon as the national situation allows (in other words, when the contradiction between the comprador class and the people is no longer the primary contradiction of the nation, or when the bourgeois-democratic revolution is at a sufficiently advanced stage) for an outright dictatorship of the proletariat.

Cultural Revolution

Maoists draw heavily from the experiences and lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which sought to eradicate the bourgeois that arose within the vanguard party itself and to transform all aspects of the social superstructure. The catchphrase "class struggle continues, and is intensified, under socialism" is frequently used.

Maoists hold the primacy of the relations of production over the productive forces, criticise Joseph Stalin's line that bourgeois influence under an advanced stage of socialism is primarily due to external forces (to the almost complete exclusion of internal forces) and strongly reaffirm the base-superstructure dialectic (that the conscious transformation of the base on its own is not enough, but the superstructure must also be consciously transformed).

Country classification

Maoists state that there are two kinds of countries: imperialist-capitalist ones on one side and oppressed semi-colonial semi-feudal countries on the other side.[7][8] In the oppressed countries there is a bureaucratic capitalist bourgeoisie, submitted to imperialism.[9] According to this concept, in some oppressed countries the ruling class tries to be expansionist.[10]


Maoists uphold Mao Zedong's philosophical works, particularly his work on dialectics in On Contradiction and on epistemology in On Practice.

Differences from Mao Zedong Thought

The three most notable differences between Marxism–Leninism–Maoism and Mao Zedong Thought are the following:[11][12][13]

  1. Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is considered to be a higher stage of Marxism–Leninism, much like Marxism–Leninism is considered a higher stage of Marxism. However, Mao Zedong Thought is considered to just be Marxism–Leninism applied to the particularities of the Chinese revolution.
  2. Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is considered to be universally applicable whilst the aspects of Mao Zedong Thought are generally not.
  3. Marxism–Leninism–Maoism completely rejects the Three Worlds Theory of Mao Zedong Thought, considering it part of the right-wards turn Mao took near the end of his life and a deviation from Marxist–Leninist theories of imperialism.

Marxism–Leninism–Maoism internationally


Perhaps the most notable Marxist–Leninist–Maoist international was the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). RIM was founded in 1984 and included such organizations as the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), also known as "Sendero Luminoso" or "Shining Path"; and the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), now known as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) UCPN(M). Today, the RIM appears to be defunct or near defunct. The magazine associated with the RIM, A World to Win, has not published an issue since 2006, though A World to Win News Service still publishes regularly on the internet.[14] In addition, many of the one-time RIM organizations have become increasingly critical of each other and this has resulted in many public splits.


The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is a political party which aims to overthrow the government of India.[15] It was founded on 21 September 2004 through the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) People's War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC). The merger was announced to the public on 14 October the same year. In the merger a provisional central committee was constituted, with the erstwhile People's War leader Muppala Lakshmana Rao (alias Ganapathi) as General Secretary. It is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Indian government.

Kangleipak (Manipur)

It is claimed by the Kangleipak Communist Party (Ibungo Ngangom) that Kangleipak (Manipur) was annexed by the Union of India under the guise of Manipur Merger Agreement of 1949. According to this group, which follows a fusion of Marxism and Maoism as its main ideological line, the merger of Manipur with the Union of India was in blatant contradiction of relevant international law as the then king of Manipur no longer had the authority to sign the agreement following the establishment of a democratically elected government. "Moreover, the then king signed the merger instrument only under duress, or more precisely, at gunpoint and so the so-called Manipur merger agreement was null and void from the very beginning", claims Ibungo Ngangom, the group's chairman. The group is currently at war with the Union of India and its express primary goal is not only to liberate Kangleipak (Manipur) from the semi-colonial yoke of India, but also to bring about a communist state in Kangleipak through the scientific socialism of Karl Marx.


The Communist Party of Peru – Shining Path is a guerrilla insurgent organization in Peru. It was founded in 1980 with Abimael Guzmán as its leader. The Shining Path is currently waging a war against the Peruvian government.


The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a national communist party with a revolutionary background, is a follower of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism, although it is believed that the party has developed its own ideology, Marxism–Leninism–Maoism–Prachanda Path, which was developed taking Nepal's political, sociological and geographical constraints into consideration.

The Communist Party of Nepal is another Marxist–Leninist–Maoist party in Nepal. It claims that the UCPN(M) is a revisionist organization and is continuing the People's War against the UCPN(M) government.


In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New People's Army (NPA) has been waging a revolutionary war since 1968. Its strength peaked during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos and was the main bulk of the opposition against the dictatorship. However, due to controversies regarding massive purges of its members in the mid-1980s and political miscalculations it suffered several splits within its ranks in 1992 and 1997 forming several separate communist parties. It maintains active guerrilla fronts throughout the Philippines until today and is still considered by the military as the main threat to national security. According to the military, the CPP also allegedly has been leading and influencing legal left-wing political organizations and engages in elections.

The Marxist–Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP), formed by former Central Luzon Regional Committee members of the CPP after the split in 1997 maintained much of the Maoist orientation from the CPP most especially on the concept of people's war. However, it has put equal emphasis on legal political struggles along with armed revolution and it sees the proletariat as the leader of the Philippine revolution in union with the peasantry. The Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan (People's Revolutionary Army, RHB) is the armed wing of the MLPP and according to military intelligence sources is the most active and fastest growing insurgent force in the Philippines recently next to the CPP. Like its estranged political sibling the MLPP is said to be organizing legal organizations but does not engage in electoral processes.

United States

The Black Panther Party was a proto-Marxist–Leninist–Maoist political party in the United States, requiring all official members to read Mao's Little Red Book.

The Revolutionary Communist Party was previously a Marxist–Leninist–Maoist political party in the United States.[16] The RCP participated in the founding conference of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement on 12 March 1984. The RCP signed the "Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement"[17] and supported the RIM's declaration "Long Live Marxism–Leninism–Maoism!" on 26 December 1993 which recognized "Marxism–Leninism–Maoism as the new, third and higher stage of Marxism". However, today the RCP uses the term "New Synthesis" to describe its ideology and has moved away from Marxism–Leninism–Maoism, although they still call themselves Maoists.[18]

The RCP is considered to be a revisionist organization by several Maoist groups, such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist),[19] the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada[20] and several smaller Maoist formations in the United States.


  1. "Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!". Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. Archived from the original on April 11, 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  2. Moufawad-Paul, Joshua. "Onwards Maoist Century!". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
    "Maoism today". PCR-RCP. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
    "International Situation of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism". Retrieved 18 June 2014.
    "Maoism or Trotskyism" (PDF). Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  3. Cailmail, Benoît. "A History of Nepalese Maoism since its Foundation by Mohan Bikram Singh" (PDF). European Bulletin of Himalayan Research. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. "Short Definitions of the 'Mass Line' and a 'Mass Perspective'". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  5. "General Declaration on Mao and People's War" (PDF). Red Flag. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  6. 1 2 "Protracted people's war is the only way to make revolution". Socialisme Maintenant!. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  7. "Mao Zedong: The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party".
  8. "Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement".
  9. "Capitalist or semi-feudal semi-colonial countries?".
  10. "The relationship between semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism".
  11. Brown, Nikolai. "What is Maoism?". RAIM. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  12. "Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course". Massalijn. Communist Party of India (Maoist). Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  13. "The five main contributions of Maoism to communist thought". Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  14. "A World to Win News Service". 3 April 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  15. "Maoists looking at armed overthrow of state by 2050". The Times of India. 6 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  16. Our Ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by Bob Avakian
  17. "Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement".
  18. "What is Bob Avakian's New Synthesis?".
  19. "Against Avakianism".
  20. [ "Proletarians of all countries, unite! Long live the 50th anniversary of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution! Long live the Proletarian World Revolution! Long live Maoism!"].
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