Military Strategy Magazine - Volume 8, Issue 1

Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2022 9 contradictions’, Mao explained how to address incorrect, ‘non-Marxist’, ideas. ‘As far as unmistakeable counterrevolutionaries and saboteurs of the socialist cause are concerned, the matter is easy, we simply deprive them of their freedom of speech’.[xxvii] Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of the Private Sphere Obviously, the notion of culture wars and the impact of Mao’s thinking on contemporary political practices in the West is a vast subject, and at best one can only draw attention to its general contours in a brief essay such as this. This short article has therefore sought to illustrate how the all-pervasive thought and language policing within public and private institutions in evidence across the Anglosphere attests to the little understood influence of Maoist strategic ideas. His proto-constructivist writings on how perceptions of the exterior world can be reordered by changing one’s subjective cognition may be found in any number of contemporary social science texts in Western academic literature, and which in many other respects provides the fuel for culture war. Whether or not one regards these developments as a progressive good, the ideas regarding the harnessing of the power of the internal sphere as a latent realm of power represents Mao’s most innovative contribution to strategic thought, more so than his writings on guerrilla warfare. Certainly, it represents his most enduring influence on the post-modern West. Whatever else Maoism may be in a Western setting, it repudiates the liberal understanding of politics, which draws a separation between the personal and the political. Maoist understandings of the private sphere reject this view and hold that the un-curated mind is a barrier to social transformation and needs to be sanitised of all impurities. Politicising the private realm is precisely what Maoist strategic conduct aspires to. Mao made no secret of his aversion to liberalism. He despised its civility, itswillingness to hear ‘incorrect views without rebutting them’, and its latitude for permitting ‘irresponsible criticism in private’. [xxviii] Whatever one’s viewpoint on contemporary political and cultural developments, there should be few illusions, Western Maoism seeks to eliminate the liberal-democratic conception of the West. References [i] See Matthew Clapperton, David Martin Jones and M.L.R. Smith, ‘Iconoclasm and Strategic Thought: Islamic State and Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria’, International Affairs, Vol. 93, No. 5 (2017), pp. 1205-1231. [ii] Quoted in Timothy S. Chung, ‘In search of Mao Zedong – two views of history’. Taipei Times, 25 May 2000, http://www., (accessed 29 April 2021). [iii] Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars (London: Counterpoint, 1983), p. 36. [iv] F. Lopez-Alves, ‘Political crises, strategic choices, and terrorism: the rise and fall of the Uruguayan Tuparmaros’, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1989), p. 204. [v] Colin Gray, The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 15-53. [vi] See Michael Howard, War and the Liberal Conscience (London: Hurst, 2008), pp. 5-22. [vii] Renati Des-Cartes [René Descartes], Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstratur (Paris: 1641). [viii] “Mao Tse-tung, On Contradiction,” (August 1937), pp. 2-3, Maoist Documentation Project, available at https://www. (accessed 3 May 2021). The Strategy of the Mind: Maoism and Culture War in the West David Martin Jones and M.L.R. Smith