A New Storm against Imperialism:  Global Maoism and Communism in Southeast Asia Before and After 1968

“Chairman Mao is the great liberator of the world’s revolutionary people” proclaimed a 1968 Chinese Communist Party propaganda poster. Emphasis on Mao’s global significance was not uncommon during the Cultural Revolution, and the year in which CCP propagandists released this poster was strategic. 1968 marked a major turning point for many communist parties across the globe, with many engaging Maoism in their anti-imperialist struggles. Mao long sought to export the Chinese revolution to the world as a global model for waging national revolution and socialist transformation. By 1968, only three years after the Seventeen Years period (1949-1965), China’s outreach to communist movements was paying dividends. This paper focuses on three case studies (Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia) for which 1968 was a turning point, arguing that by 1968 Maoism constituted the ideological basis of all three communist movements. It takes a genealogical approach to uncovering the processes whereby Maoism emerged in Cambodian, Filipino, and Indonesian intellectual circles before 1968 and figured into their movements thereafter. This empirical study thus seeks to contribute to a better understanding of radical thought across geographic and cultural bounds.


Matthew Galway is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former lecturer at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on intellectual history more broadly, and how Communist movements in Southeast Asia imported, adapted, and made use of Maoism, specifically (making the foreign make sense, so to speak). His current project is on the Paris-Phnom Penh connection of networked individuals who, after converting to Communism and joining the Parti Communiste Français (French Communist Party) in the 1950s, wrote Maoist-charged doctoral dissertations in economics that became foundational national texts of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979).