Difference Between Naxalism and Maoism

Naxalism originated as a peasant rebellion from Naxalbari in West Bengal.  We use the terms Naxalism and Maoism interchangeably for the same Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in India.

Naxalism and Maoism: Comparison

While Naxalism originated in India, Maoism in China. The common thread between the two is “armed resistance” and “violence”.

There are a few notable ideological differences, which were more clear in the beginning of the Naxalism, but now it’s very difficult to perceive those differences because Naxalites have turned themselves to Maoists and have stated objective to overthrow the Indian Government through armed rebellion.  In the beginning, the Naxal movement was not centered around overthrowing the state and impose New Democratic Revolution. This movement was basically a revolt of  the peasants, workers and tribals against centuries of oppression. It was against the inequality, poverty, lack of development and social hierarchy.

However, Naxalism was provided the ideological basis by Marxism, Leninism as well as Maoism and so in effect, Naxalism is hodge-podge of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism (MLM).

Ideology and Maoist Party Programme

In due course, Naxalism became totally based on principles of Maoism. This entire movement is for a communist revolution [which they call “Indian Revolution“] to establish socialism; and thereby to reach the stage of communism. To achieve this so called “Indian Revolution“, they would overthrow the Indian State through armed struggle; capture the political power and then introduce New Democratic Revolution (NDR).

They follow the Theory of Contradiction whereby contradiction between the great masses and feudal system can be ended only by the so called New Democratic Revolution (NDR). These contradictions are

  • Between the idealist outlook and the materialist outlook of the world
  • Between proletariat and bourgeois
  • Between labour and capital
  • Between feudalism and common masses and so on.

Following is the summary of the Maoists party programme in India:

  • To declare that Indian Independence in 1947 was a fake independence
  • Armed Struggle is the path to seize political power by encircling from countryside to countrywide
  • Chinese path of armed struggle has to be followed.
  • Maoist forces of South Asia should be united to overthrow the Indian State
  • Women, Dalit, Minority and Nationality question is essentially a class question.
  • Boycott of elections
  • New democracy will be people’s democracy
  • Ultimate goal is to establish a People’s Democratic Federal Republics of India

Process of spreading ideology

Maoists spread their ideology very systematically and in a phased manner roughly as follows:

  1. Preparatory Phase-Detailed survey of new areas identifying important people, important public issues on which masses can be mobilised.
  2. Perspective Phase-Mobilisation through frontal organisations – staging demonstration against government / administration based on local public grievances.
  3. Guerrilla Phase-Converting the public movement into violent guerrilla warfare.
  4. Base Phase-Here the Maoists try to establish their base and change the guerrilla zone into a liberated zone.
  5. Liberated Phase-Establishment of people’s Government.

Various Mobilization Strategies

Local support is required to achieve the above objectives and for cadre recruitment, intelligence, logistics, and territorial control. The Naxalite leaders take up emotive objectives of protecting the people’s rights of Jal, Jangal and Jamin (Livelihood Issues) and to provide justice through the Sangam and Jan Adalat. Thus, the priority of the Naxal agenda is tribal control of land, forest resources and minerals. In practice also, the Local Naxal bodies have taken up issues of livelihood in the tribal areas. For instance, in Chhattisgarh, the tribals took control of picking of tendu leaves. They employed the tribal youth and these youth were paid better because there were no contractors, thus removing the contractors’ exploitation of tribal labour.  The local Naxal bodies have also taken up matters such as irrigation in dry land farming, primary education and health programmes in remote areas. The Maoist mobilization strategy also includes a wide ranging network of “Janathana Sarkar” (people’s government), to replace the feudal nature of society. These activities are based upon the ideals of mass organizations given by Charu Mazumdar.

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