Mao & praxis Re: [xmca] Geertz and praxis for us too

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Sun Nov 05 2006 - 07:51:50 PST

Actually, Mao was attempting to render Marxist theory in a way that would
be accessible. His essay "On Practice" ["Shijian Luen" - could be
translated "On Praxis"]. The English is at
& that site would have it in many other languages as well.

This is one of the essays that everybody in China studied during the
Cultural Revolution. I bet many knew it almost by heart. When Mao wrote
for the masses, he was very deliberate about limiting the vocabulary so
that everyone could read it (which was a good thing for second-year
students of Chinese in places like the US!); but he doesn't shy away from
presenting concepts like "social praxis" in a theoretically rich way.

As I recall the standard English version of the slogan (which I don't see
now, and which might actually be not from this text itself):

"Where do correct ideas come from? From social practice, and from nowhere

This was pretty straightforward Marxism, against Hegelian or other

On Sun, 5 Nov 2006, Jay Lemke wrote:

> Praxis, as I understand it, is not activism. It is the near-fusion of
> practice and theoretical understanding, with the latter informed by
> participation in practice, and informing an always-learning and ever-changing
> practice. I was, of course, quoting Mao a bit provocatively in regard to
> correct ideas coming from the people, and assumed it was clear what people he
> was referring to. He was speaking, in context, of course, to cadres working
> with the masses, and he was talking about praxis without using the formal
> vocabulary.
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