Resources and Study Guide on Protracted Peoples’ War

The following information is aimed at providing comrades with information on Mao’s theory of protracted peoples’ wars (PPW). To facilitate this process I have collected several vital works which explain the fundamentals and origins of this mode of combat along with study guide to help comrades absorb the material.

[TEXT:] Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War: (W/Study Guide)
                [TEXT]: Problems of Strategy in the Guerrilla War Against Japan: (W/Study Guide)

      [TEXT]: On Protracted War: (W/Study Guide)

      [TEXT]: Problems of War and Strategy: (W/Study Guide)

The next section aims to educate comrades on the previous and ongoing peoples’ wars around the globe. I have divided each conflict into its own category with the earliest documents listed first. The more recent ones come after.

coRIM,”Statement on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Siraj Sikder” (2000)
Naeem Mohaiemen, “Terrorist or Guerrillas in the Mist?” (2006)

Burkina Faso

AWTW, “The Fall of Captain Sankara, or Why You Can’t Make Revolution Without the Masses” (1988)

Sri Lanka

Ravindran, “Tamil Eelam Struggle and its Lessons” (2009)

Surendra, “The Liquidation of the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam: Lessons Paid in Blood” (2009?)

Democratic Students Union (India), “Two Years After the Eelam War” (2011)


F.G., “Condescending Saviours: What Went Wrong with the Pol Pot Regime” (1999)


Aloke Banerjee, “Inside MCC Country” (2003)

BannedThought, “Military Assaults Against Revolutionaries and the Masses in India” (2009-2012)

BannedThought, “Manipur-National Liberation Struggle” (2010-2012)


UIC(S), “Defeated Armies Learn Well” (1985)

RCP-USA, “Interview with Former Iranian Political Prisoner” (2008)


Nejimeh Siavush, “Kurdistan and Prospects for Red Political Power” (1986)


S.R., “Malaya: Revolution and its Abandonment” (2005)


Shafi, “Peoples War in Nepal” (2001)

AWTW, “Building Revolution in Nepal: A Better World’s In Birth” (2002)

AWTW, “Building Red Power in Nepal” (2004)

Revsa, “Nepal Teach-In” (2008)

Revsa, “Documentary Report from the Peoples War” (2012)


CoRIM, “The Yasser Arafat Surrender Ceremony: What Died on the Shite House Lawn?” (1993)

Jagdish, “Afarat: The Man Who Kindled and Betrayed Hopes” (2005)


PCP, “Military Line: Communist Party of Peru” (1979)

PCP, “Let Us Develop Guerrilla Warfare!” (1982)

CSRP, “Revolution in Peru” (1985)

Carol Andreas, “The Sendero Luminoso Guerrillas” (1985)

Gordon McCormick, “The Shining Path and the Future of Peru” (1990)

Gary Leupp, “Peru on the Threshold: A Reply to Hobart A. Spalding” (1993)

Shafi, “Peoples War in Peru” (2000)

JMP, “Review of ‘People of the Shining Path’” (2011)


Jose Maria Sison, “Peoples March Interview” (2000)

CCP Statement, “Win Greater Victories in the Peoples War” (2009)

Jose Maria Sison, “Peoples War in the Philippines” (2010)


AWTW, “Turkey’s Prisons: Shining Trenches of Combat” (2001)

CoRIM, “Maoism versus Opportunism in Turkey” (2001)

Peoples March, “History of the Communist Movement in Turkey” (2001)


CBS News (Youtube Video), “Inside the Viet Cong: Tactics, Weapons, Tunnels, Uniform” (1963?)

RCP-USA, “Vietnam: Miscarriage of the Revolution” (1979)

~             ~             ~

                This last section will be comprised of selected questions and answers taken from study guides relevant towards Protracted Peoples Wars. Each question was selected from the above linked guides and does not deal with the information contained within the resources on each peoples war in each country.

                Q1: What were three stages of China’s revolutionary war?

                A1: The first stage was from 1924-1927, its beginning, while the second stage began in 1927-1936. It is during this third time period where the national revolutionary war began.

                Q2: What were the main enemies in China’s revolutionary war?

                A2: The main enemies of China during this moment in time were Imperialism and feudal forces.

                Q3: Which body led the Chinese revolutionary war?

                A3: The Chinese Communist Party. This is because the other forces, all strata of the bourgeoisie and peasantry were limited in outlook and could not muster resistance or lead China in the direction where freedom and prosperity would be plentiful.

                Q4: Define the differences between Active Defense and Passive Defense.

                A4: Explained simply active defense is when one defends with the intention of launching a counter-attack while passive defense is simply defending for the sake of defending. As Mao said: “Active defence is also known as offensive defence, or defence through decisive engagements. Passive defence is also known as purely defensive defence or pure defence. Passive defence is actually a spurious kind of defence, and the only real defence is active defence, defence for the purpose of counter-attacking and taking the offensive.” The difference lies in reaction.

                Q5: What is a strategic retreat?

A5: As Mao explains: “A strategic retreat is a planned strategic step taken by an inferior force for the purpose of conserving its strength and biding its time to defeat the enemy, when it finds itself confronted with a superior force whose offensive it is unable to smash quickly.” This strategy involves withdrawing from large amounts of territory in order to draw the enemy into areas in which they are at a disadvantage. When they are weak and low in morale the Red Army should strike as part of the strategic counter-offensive.

Q6: What is the objective of strategic retreat?

A6: To conserve military strength for the counter-offensive. The strategic retreat is merely the first stage within the strategic defense.

Q7: What favorable conditions can be created before launching of a counter-offensive?

A7: In order to launch a counter-offensive the Red Army must be actively supported by the local population (meaning possession of a base area), operate in terrain which is favorable to guerilla actions, have all the assault troops concentrated, identify the weak spots of the enemy, and have the enemy reduced to a tired, demoralized state where they are prone to make mistakes. It is important to note that not all of these conditions are required before the launching of a counter-offensive; while a weaker force must have at least a few of these pre-requirements it is not necessary, and indeed most likely impossible, to induce each one.

                Q8: Why is it important to note the differences between guerilla and regular warfare?

                A8: As Mao states: “Measures of tactical defence are meaningless if they are divorced from their role of giving either direct or indirect support to an offensive. Quick decision refers to the tempo of an offensive, and exterior lines refer to its scope. The offensive is the only means of destroying the enemy and is also the principal means of self-preservation, while pure defence and retreat can play only a temporary and partial role in self-preservation and are quite useless for destroying the enemy.

The principle stated above is basically the same for both regular and guerrilla war; it differs to some degree only in its form of expression.” As he goes on to say, it is this differences which separates the two brands of war from each other.

                Q9: What is the strategic defensive and the strategic offensive in guerilla warfare?

                A9: It is the moment in the war when the enemy is on the strategic offensive and when the revolutionary forces are on the defensive; this is revealed by the active defense of base areas and guerilla zones. When the enemy goes on the strategic defensive it is when the Red Army has launched their own strategic offensive, in which case, the enemy is reduced to defending their gains won during the previous offensive. Likewise, the strategic offensive is focused not on defending territory but on expanding territory and weakening the enemy (if not destroying their columns in totality); what applied to the strategic defensive applies to the strategic offensive, only on offensive terms with the situation reversed.

                Q10: What is mobile warfare?

                A10: Mobile warfare is the warfare of regular army units translated into fighting the war on a national level; it is fighting the enemy wherever they may be. While mobile warfare has a guerrilla character to it is more conventional than unconventional.

                Q11: Why was the nature of China’s War Protracted?

                A11: This is due to the contradictions which manifest themselves in both sides, namely, that Japan is a powerful Imperialist country with great military and political-organization power, yet small and deficient in manpower and resources, while China, on the other hand, is a large, weak country with vast resources and many potential soldiers to call-upon for mobilizing and resistance. Because of these factors China was unable to win a quick victory. Yet in the end final victory was theirs; it simply came at a much slower pace.

                Q12: What are the three stages of protracted war?

                A12: In order: the period covering the enemy’s strategic offensive and revolutionist’s strategic defensive, the second being the enemy’s strategic consolidation and the revolutionist’s preparation for the counter-offensive, with the final period being the stage of the revolutionist’s strategic counter-offensive and the enemy’s strategic retreat.

                Q13: During these three stages what conditions do the belligerents find themselves in?

                A13: To quote Mao: “China moving from inferiority to parity and then to superiority, Japan moving from superiority to parity and then to inferiority; China moving from the defensive to stalemate and then to the counter-offensive, Japan moving from the offensive to the safeguarding of her gains and then to retreat–such will be the course of the Sino-Japanese war and its inevitable trend”. Such is the course of the struggle.

                Q14: How should the protracted war be conducted?

                A14: Specifically talking “In the first and second stages of the war, i.e., in the stages of the enemy’s offensive and preservation of his gains, we should conduct tactical offensives within the strategic defensive, campaigns and battles of quick decision within the strategically protracted war, and campaigns and battles on exterior lines within strategically interior lines. In the third stage, we should launch the strategic counter-offensive.” From here flexible planning, correct deployment, and other tactical decisions of war are able to be made.

                Q15: What does it mean when a battle is fought on “exterior lines”?

                A15: This refers to “the sphere of the offensive” and how the battle is fought on the enemy’s interior. This, in turn, sets up the use of mobile warfare and of surrounding weaker enemy columns with stronger friendly columns.

                Q16: What is a “battle of quick decision”?

                A16: As implied from its namesake it is a battle of campaign which is concluded quickly. It is a military engagement where friendly forces swiftly attack an enemy unit and destroy a part, if not all, of the unit.

                Q17: What is the benefit to applying “quick-decision offensive warfare on exterior lines”?

                A17: Simply said it is the ability to change the situation not only on the local battlefield but the situation as a whole. It will reduce the enemy’s strength, deplete his morale, and cause a gradual shift in which revolutionary forces become superior while the enemy forces become inferior.

                Q18: How does the strategic offensive end?

                A18: Namely through the enemy losing the initiative. In the case of Japan’s invasion of China this would mean a shortage of soldiers, supplies, morale, and the most vital support of the locals (which, for Japan, was rendered absolute once they began their barbarous campaign intended to suppress the Chinese masses). Other factors to take into account are the disposition of enemy forces (where they are most active), their activity (their relations with the masses), and how they are conducting their war in relation to one’s own (guerilla and mobile warfare VS positional and conventional warfare).

                Q19: What are the central tasks and the highest form of revolution?

                A19: Simply said, the seizure of power by armed force and the settlement of the issue by war is the highest form of revolution, which, as Mao contends, is the Marxist-Leninist principal which is universally applicable.

                Q20: In seizing power the methods of preparations are different for bourgeois democracies and semi-feudal nations; describe the difference.

                A20: Within semi-feudal nations, like Mao’s China, the conditions for seizing power was through armed struggle. However this does not hold true for capitalist countries. This does not mean a rejection of violence, for an armed insurrection will still be held, but rather it means the preparations are different. Case in point, while the semi-feudal nations must take up arms as soon as possible the course of action for capitalist countries with bourgeois democracy is that of a long legal struggle; organizing workers, agitating within trade unions, and recruiting prior to the insurrection. Likewise the method of conquest, upon the insurrection will be the reverse of each other: in the semi-feudal nations the cities must first be encircled by occupying the country-side, while in the bourgeois democracies the cities must first be taken with the country-side seized later.

                Q21: What are the three stages of the whole war process?

                A21: The strategic defensive, the stalemate, and the strategic counter-offensive.

~             ~             ~

                And so concludes our study guide. I hope it has helped you better understand Mao’s theory of protracted warfare. If you have any questions regarding the theory feel free to contact me via PM or post in the Peoples’ War usergroup.

Special thanks go out to comrades “XVZC” for their help, without which, this list would not have been created.

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