How Mao would have evaluated the Yellow Vests

Already a quick glance at the imbroglio makes it clear that we are caught in multiple social struggles. The tension between the liberal establishment and the new populism, the ecological struggle, efforts in support of feminism and sexual liberation, plus ethnic and religious battles and the desire for universal human rights. Not to mention, trying to resist digital control of our lives.

So, how to bring all these struggles together without simply privileging one of them as the “true” priority? Because this balance provides the key to all other struggles.

Old ideas

Half a century ago, when the Maoist wave was at its strongest, Mao Zedong’s distinction between “principal” and “secondary” contradictions (from his treatise “On Contradiction,” written in 1937) was a common currency in political debates. Perhaps, this distinction deserves to be brought back to life.

Let’s begin with a simple example: Macedonia – what’s in a name? A couple of months ago, the governments of Macedonia and Greece concluded an agreement on how to resolve the problem of the name “Macedonia.” It should change its name into “Northern Macedonia.”

This solution was instantly attacked by the radicals in both countries. Greek opponents insisted “Macedonia” is an old Greek name, and Macedonian opponents felt humiliated by being reduced to a “Northern” province since they are the only people who call themselves “Macedonians.”

Imperfect as it was, the solution offered a glimpse of hope to end a long and meaningless struggle with a reasonable compromise.

But it was caught in another “contradiction” – the struggle between big powers (the US and EU on the one side, Russia on the other side). The West put pressure on both sides to accept the compromise so that Macedonia could quickly join the EU and NATO, while, for exactly the same reason (seeing in it the danger of its loss of influence in the Balkans), Russia opposed it, supporting conservative nationalist forces in both countries, to varying degrees.

[Abstract. Appeared in RT on December 21, 2018.]

So, which side should we take here?

[Extract. Appeared in RT on December 21, 2018.]


  1. Mao Ze Dong was wright , in the even wright way..also Alexnder the Great.. was wrong in the wrong way also. A solvenian might know him , because they are all balkanisied-never fight a good neighbar.If two are struggling a third will laugh.

  2. Clearly we should not take any sided and let the conflict fester. Both sides would benefit, as people would worry about offending one or the other side and would try to learn their history and culture. If a perfect solution existed, who would care about Macedonia? Being in the EU should not be about political correctness. If it is, then may as well not be part of it.

    The solution is to make Macedonia mean the Greek macedonia if you are in Greece and make Macedonia mean the country when you are in the country. Make it context-dependent. If you are outside of both countries then just clarify the country macedonia or the greek macedonia. But the real reason behind this is that we want conflict for the same reasons we enjoy conflict in movies: It shows us something about ourselves and the world.

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