It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”Mark Twain
In Dan Kurzman’s fine book, Subversion of the Innocents, we learn that Stalin’s strategy in the early Cold War proved inferior to Mao Zedong’s strategy. Mao’s program was called “The Yenan Way” and relied on a special kind of deception. It was all about disguising communists as agrarian reformers. It involved winning over middle class opportunists, businessmen and the intelligentsia. In primitive areas of the world, like Africa, Mao realized that communist ideology did not matter – so there was every reason to ignore Marxist doctrines. Everything was reduced to anti-Americanism or anti-European imperialism. As Kurzman explained, “The central purpose of the Yenan Way is actually not so much to gain mass support as to win over influential noncommunist ‘friends,’ particularly in the political field, who can open channels for infiltration in the highest councils of the nation. Such friends are obtained by any means that will work – lies, flattery, threats, blackmail, bribery, or outright purchase.”[i]
Mao’s policy in the Third World should sound familiar, for it is now the subversion policy of communism everywhere, including the United States. We saw it in the rise of Castro and Ho Chi Minh, of course, and more recently with the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and now Pedro Castillo in Peru. In fact, the Yenan Way has been at work in Peru for over 60 years; for there is a book by Eudocio Ravines, a former Peruvian communist leader who turned against Marxism. His book is titled The Yenan Way. In his book, Ravines recalls Mao’s advice to him, in which the fine points of the Yenan strategy are described. Here is what Mao told Ravines:
“The greatest talent in this work, comrade, is never to be associated with failure. Never to defend the weak even when he is right. Never to attack the pillager of the treasury if he is the owner of a great fortress. He might crush you and there’s no use being a martyr. Our experience, the experience of the Yenan Way, is this: people like doctors, generals, dentists, town mayors … do not love power for itself; much less for the good they can do with it. They want [power] for the wealth in can bring. They achieve power and then they begin to call out like Napoleon for money, money, and again money. Get this through your head, comrade. If we help these people, if we are a ladder for them because it suits us as well, then it would be absurd for us to stay their hands, sew up their pockets, or check their greed. If we did this, they would turn against us and try to crush us. That happened with Chaing in 1927 – we tried to play the moralist and he hurled all his power against us.”
Mao continued: “Let them get rich today. Very soon we can expropriate everything. The more help they get from us in their pillage, the more positions they will let us take and occupy; they will help us to capture them and even to extend them. Of course, there are two important things to remember. Never participate in any fraud or plundering, which is more difficult than you might think; and carry out your collaboration without the people’s knowledge, without leaving any proof of it for your enemies to find. This delights your robber friends, of course. For your integrity leaves more for them to divide among a larger number of fellow rogues.”
Mao continued: “Here are two things. The first is that this tiny man, this noncommunist who, thanks to our arrangements, is chosen selectman or municipal councilor, will find the way easier when the party wants to elect a deputy or capture the mayorality. Then the public won’t elect the radical, but the communist. The end remains the same; the means change according to our power. This method seems slower, but it is actually quicker and surer.”
Mao continued: “Now for the second. Any person who receives our support and does not fulfill his part of the bargain must become the target for frontal attack of pitiless ferocity. It is enough to make an example of one; once they see that we can bar the path to a man, that we have the power to destroy him utterly, the rest will be afraid not to play our game. We communists have never given this fear enough weight. I don’t know why. The ambitious petit bourgeois taken with the fever of greed feels real anguish when we strike him hard. He must be really destroyed with every arm at hand, [and] be left a wretched tatter at the end.”
When Latin American communists saw the value of Mao’s advice, to make the greedy their servants, he reproved them further: “That, especially that – servants. People who serve us through greed, through fear, through inferiority, vengeance, what have you , but who serve us. Serve the party, serve the designs of the Comintern, serve the cause of the Revolution. Congratulations … you have caught the very essence of the Yenan Way.”
In the politics of who benefits (cui bono), nearly everyone is quick to assume that simple greed is at work. But this is not the case today. When you see the success of outrageous greed, stop and ask yourself if the communist power is furthering its position through the greedy actors in question. I strongly suspect, in the dishonest transactions of many large businesses and politicians, the communists are somewhere present. They are helping in the transaction from behind the scenes, and they are taking up key positions. And now we ought to ask, when we see who is profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic, (which was started in China), is the Yenan Way at work?
Notes and Links
[i] Dan Kurzman, Subversion of the Innocents: Patterns of Communist Penetration in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (New York: Random House, 1963), p. 8.
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Who are our enemies, and who are our friends? This question is one of primary importance in the revolution. All past revolutionary struggles in China achieved very little, basically because the revolutionaries were unable to unite their real friends to attack their real enemies.Mao Zedong