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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


September 14, 1939

[Extracted from a lecture to the Party Cadres in Yenan, 14 September, l939, reported in ‘Chieh-fang’ No. 85, 30 September, 1939.]

. . The new world economic crisis, which began in 1937, has in recent years penetrated into so-called 'peaceful' states such as England, France, and America; it is also developing in Germany, Japan, and Italy. This economic crisis has also brought a grave political crisis in its wake. The people are discontented with capitalism and with the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Whether it be in the states that became fascist a long time ago, or in the states where they are taking advantage of the war to carry out fascination, this political crisis, this popular discontent are daily becoming more acute. On the other hand, the socialist Soviet Union has been strengthened to the point where it can no longer be invaded. Under these conditions, the bourgeoisie of each of the imperialist states realizes that without a vast war, without transforming the limited war into a total war, without demolishing its imperialist friends, it cannot escape either the economic crisis or the political crisis, nor can it escape its own death.

These are the calculations of the bourgeoisie of all the countries of the world on the eve of its death. The authors of these calculations have no idea that in this way — by making use of a war to divide up the world anew in order to escape from the economic and political crisis and to avoid their own death — they cannot fail to create an even greater economic and political crisis and to hasten the day of their death. They are like a mad dog, they are already mad, the capitalist system has made them altogether mad, they cannot do otherwise than hurl themselves pell-mell against their enemies and against the walls of the world. Such is the reality of life today in all the capitalist countries of the world. A fight between mad dogs — such is the present imperialist war.


'War is the continuation of politics.' The nature of imperialism is predatory, and even in periods of 'peace' there is no instance when the policy of the imperialist states is not predatory. But when the predatory policy of certain imperialist states encounters the obstacle of certain other imperialist states and cannot break through this obstacle by peaceful means, then these states use warlike means to break through this obstacle so that they may pursue their predatory policies.. The aim of the Second Imperialist War is similar to that of the First Imperialist War. It consists in dividing up the world anew, that is to say, in dividing up anew the colonies, semi-colonies, and spheres of influence, in pillaging the peoples of the world, and in establishing their domination over the peoples of the world. . . Apart from aims of this kind, are there any other aims? Are there any good aims? There are none whatever. Whether it be Germany, Italy, or Japan, whether it be England, America, or France, all the imperialist states participating directly or indirectly in the war have only a Counter-Revolutionary, an imperialist goal — pillaging the people. The 'lasting peace' of Japanese imperialism, the 'self determination of peoples' of Hitler, the 'opposition to National Socialism' of Chamberlain, the 'aid to Poland' of Daladier — all these come down to a single word: pillage. Merely because it sounds good and to fool the people, they order their secretaries to invent a few synonyms, that is all.


The nature of the war is basically determined by the political aims of the war. All wars are divided into two categories. As Comrade Stalin has said, they are divided into: (1) Just wars, the aim of which is not pillage but liberation, and (2) Unjust wars of pillage. By its nature, the Second Imperialist War like the First Imperialist War, belongs to the second category. The two sides in the present war, in order to fool the people and mobilize public opinion, both proclaim with utter shamelessness that they themselves are just and those on the other side unjust. In reality all of this is nothing but a farce and sham. Only Wars of national liberation and wars of popular liberation, as well as wars undertaken by socialist countries to support these two kinds of liberation movements, are just wars. Many people are confused about the present war. According to them Germany is certainly unjust, whereas England and France are democratic and anti-fascist states, and Poland, for her part, is waging a national war of self-defence. They therefore believe that on the whole, the Anglo-Franco-Polish side has after all a slightly progressive character. This is altogether muddled conception, arising from the fact that people have not clearly understood either the aims of the war or the peculiarities; that characterize the first and the second stages of the war.


A portion of the imperialist states, the fascist states of Germany, Italy, and Japan, were waging wars of aggression like mad dogs, violating the interests of all small and weak peoples, violating the interests of all democratic countries, and unleashing a fascist menace within each democratic country. At this time the people of the whole world demanded that aggression be resisted and that democracy be defended; they demanded that another part of the imperialist states, the so-called democratic states of England, America, and France, intervene against these wars of aggression and that they allow the people to retain a small residue of democracy. The Soviet Union made known many times that she was ready to establish a joint front against aggression with all these so-called democratic states. If these so-called democratic states had intervened at the time against the aggressors, if a war had broken out to prevent aggression, if for example it had been possible together with the Soviet Union to aid the armies of the Spanish Government in their effort to stop the German and Italian aggressors, and to aid China in her effort to stop the Japanese aggressors, then such an action, such a war, would have been just, would have had a progressive character. But these so-called democratic states did not intervene; they adopted a policy of 'non-intervention' . Their aim was to bring about a situation in which the two sides—the side of the aggressors and the side of the victims of aggression—would be ravaged by war, after which they would intervene to fish in troubled waters. . . Nevertheless, at this time, apart from the circumstances that German, Italian, and Japanese imperialism were waging unjust wars of pillage, and that the so-called democratic states were allowing them to continue, there was another circumstance, there were also wars of national liberation.


There is not the slightest doubt that the revolutionary policy of this stage has as its goal the organization of a united front against aggression of the people of the country that is the victim of aggression... At the same time, this policy does not ignore the organization by the Soviet Union and the governments of all the democratic countries of the struggle to prevent new aggression... Even after Munich, because of the anger aroused among the broad masses of the English and French people and even among the left wing of the bourgeoisie by the defeat of Spain and the disappearance of Czechoslovakia, there was a possibility of compelling the Chamberlain and Daladier governments to abandon their policy of non-intervention and to organize, with the Soviet Union, a common front against aggression...


The bourgeoisie of the so-called democratic states fear on the one hand that the fascist states may violate their interests; but they fear the development of the revolutionary forces even more. They fear the Soviet Union, they fear the liberation movements of the peoples of their own countries, they fear the liberation movements in the colonies and semi- colonies. Consequently, they rejected a genuine united front against aggression and a genuine war against aggression involving the participation of the Soviet Union, and they organized by themselves a united counter-revolutionary front, they undertook by themselves a robbers' war of pillage.

The Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations lasted from 15 April to 23 August . . . but from beginning to end, England and France refused to recognize the principle of equality and reciprocity. They wanted the Soviet Union to guarantee their security but they were absolutely unwilling to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union or of the small countries of the Baltic…… In addition, they would not allow the Soviet Army to cross Poland to fight the aggressor. Naturally, the Soviet Union was not willing to conclude a treaty like that proposed by England and France, which would not have been adapted to revolutionary aims but only to counter-revolutionary aims... This is the basic reason for the rupture of the Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations. At this point, Germany abandoned her anti-Soviet position and in fact was ready to abandon the so-called 'anti-Comintern Pact’, she recognized the inviolability of the Soviet frontier and so the German-Soviet Non-aggression Treaty was concluded. The absolute lack of sincerity of England and France in their negotiations with the Soviet Union, their absolute refusal genuinely to oppose aggression, the way in which they decided to break off the Three Power Negotiations, proves nothing less than that Chamberlain had already decided on war. Consequently, if the great war broke out, it was not only Hitler but Chamberlain who wanted to fight, for if he had really wanted to avoid the war, he could have done so only with Soviet participation...


At the present time, now that war has broken out, the situation has undergone a fundamental change. The distinction that existed in the past between the fascist states and the democratic states has lost all meaning. At the present time, if one wishes to distinguish between things of different natures, there are only the following two categories: (1) all the countries that are waging an imperialist war of pillage as well as all the countries that are in reality supporting this war; and (2) those who are waging not wars of pillage but just wars of national liberation and popular liberation, as well as the countries that support these war.... Today England had become the most reactionary country in the world, and the Number One anti-Soviet, anticommunist, anti-democratic, and anti-popular leader, the enemy of all small peoples, is none other than Chamberlain...


In conformity with the peculiarities of the second stage of the war, what should the revolutionary policy of the proletariat be, and especially of the Communist Party?

In my opinion, it should be the following:

1. In all the imperialist countries participating in the war, we must call on the people to oppose the imperialist war, make clear the imperialist nature of both warring camps, treat them all as the same kind of robbers. In particular, we must oppose English imperialism, this robber chief, incite the people not to allow themselves to be deceived by the imperialist robbers, carry out propaganda among the people, in order that they may transform the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war, establish a united popular front against the imperialist war. . .

2. In all the neutral countries, such as America, the members of the Communist Party should reveal to the people the imperialist policy of the bourgeois government, with calls itself neutral but in reality aids the war and seeks to enrich itself in the war...

3. In all the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the policy to follow is that of the national united front, either to resist the invader (as in China), or to oppose the mother country (as in the case of India), in order to attain national independence... In all the colonies of countries participating in the war we must oppose the actions of the traitors to the nation who support the war waged by the mother country, oppose the mobilization of the people of the colony to participate in the war on the front of the other country, remind the people of the colony of the misery they suffered during the First Imperialist War. In the colonial and semi-colonial countries, if we do not oppose the traitors to the nation there is no hope for the movement of national liberation.


Wars between imperialisms and mutual weakening of imperialisms.. constitutes a favourable condition for movements of popular liberation in all countries, for movements of national liberation in all countries, for China’s war of resistance, for the building of communism, in the Soviet Union. From this standpoint, the darkness that reigns in the world is only provisional and the future of the world is bright. Imperialism will surely perish, and the liberation of the oppressed people and of the oppressed nations will surely be achieved.


Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung