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For different uses of the term, including political parties with the name "New Democracy", see New Democracy (disambiguation).

New Democracy (Simplified Chinese: 新民主主义) or the New Democratic Revolution (Simplified Chinese: 新民主主义革命) is a Maoist concept based on Mao Zedong's "Bloc of Four Classes" theory in post-revolutionary China. Currently, the Shining Path, the New People's Army of the Philippines and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) are conducting active guerrilla warfare ("people's war") with the intent of establishing New Democracy; prior to 2006, when it entered the government of Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was equally militant and recently (as of late 2009) has sometimes threatened to return to 'armed struggle'.

The theory still aims to overthrow feudalism and/or achieve a country's national independence from colonialism, but it bypasses the rule of the capitalist class that usually follows such a struggle, claiming instead to seek to enter directly into socialism through a coalition of classes fighting the old ruling order. This coalition is subsumed under the leadership and guidance of the working class and its communist party.

This bloc of classes is symbolized most recognizably by the stars on the Flag of China, with the largest star to symbolize the Communist Party of China's leadership, and the surrounding four smaller stars symbolizing the Bloc of Four Classes: proletarian workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie, and the nationally-based capitalists. This is the coalition of classes for Mao's "New Democratic Revolution" as he described it in his works. Mao's New Democracy explains the Bloc of Four Classes as an unfortunate but necessary consequence of imperialism as described by Lenin. Critics on the radical left generally denounce the strategy as a futile and/or dangerous "lesser evil" policy.

The classical Marxist understanding of the stages of economic and historical development of the modes of production under which a socialist revolution can take place is that the socialist revolution occurs only after the capitalist bourgeois-democratic revolution happens first. According to this, the bourgeois-democratic revolution paves the way for the industrial proletarian class to emerge as the majority class in society, after which it then overthrows capitalism and begins constructing socialism.

Marx believed that primary communist revolutions in non-industrialized areas of the world would be unsustainable because they would be lacking the essential prerequisite economic and social conditions. But the October Revolution outlasted all other serious post-World War I socialist movements in Europe and seemed to validate Lenin's analysis that socialism could still be achieved in a country composed largely of peasants. Thus Mao, in turn, took Lenin's perspective to the next level, saying essentially that bourgeois democracy and socialism could be combined into a single stage of construction, called New Democracy.

Once New Democracy has been established, the country is claimed to be ideologically socialist and working towards communism under the leadership of the communist party, and its people are actively involved in the construction of socialism — see the examples of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution for what Mao viewed as the participatory democracy inherent in the New Democracy concept — even as the country itself maintains and furthers many aspects of capitalism for purposes of rapid economic growth.

It is in this way that New Democracy is considered a stepping stone to socialism — a two-stage theory of first New Democracy, then the dictatorship of the proletariat. Given that the self-proclaimed ultimate goal of socialist construction is the creation of a stateless, classless and moneyless communist society, adding the New Democratic Revolution arguably makes the whole process a three-stage theory: first New Democracy, then the dictatorship of the proletariat, then communism.

See also

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