Mao and Sun Tzu

Mao and Sun Tzu

What is the role of ideology in guerilla warfare? Why is it so important?

In every venture, the orientation that qualifies the thinking and reasoning of individuals within a group is important. This applies to every activity that necessitates teamwork and group coordination. Guerilla warfare is an impeccable example of such group coordination. It is essential that participants in guerrilla warfare believe in what they are fighting for; they need to have a political cause and faith in their leaders, both on the battlefield and in politics. A constant factor in the development of ideologies is moral law. The moral law makes people act in accordance with their ruler (Giles, 2007). It is their belief in the cause and their commander that guerillas will follow him undaunted by the apparent danger. It is a belief in the political ideology that ensures that guerillas maintain method and discipline throughout the revolution. The belief that the unorthodox operations of guerrilla warfare is as important to the revolution as operations by regular armies is crucial in ensuring that guerillas maintain morale, belief and valiance.

What sort of commander does Mao see as best for guerilla warfare?

A commander should be an emblem of the virtues of strictness, benevolence, courage and wisdom (Giles, 2007). These qualities evoke loyalty, discipline, belief and bravery in soldiers while at the same time drawing fear and respect in rivals. Mao emphasized that leaders and commanders need to be unyielding in their policies and decisions. Commanders have to be robust, sincere, loyal and resolute (Tung, 1961). The main reason for this observation is that soldiers look up to their commanders for motivation and direction in case of difficulties. An indication of fear or hesitation is likely to weaken the resolve of soldiers and their commitment to the cause. Some of the guerillas fighting a war, according to Tung, had been farmers, teachers and students. This emphasizes the need for a solid commander. Mao also explained the need for shrewdness while commanding a guerrilla attack: commanders need intelligence before the attack to be able to apply clever battlefield tactics when attacking a larger and better-provisioned enemy.




Giles, L. (2007). The art of war by Sun Tzu. The Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved on February 5, 2018, from

Tung, T. (1961). Mao. On Guerrilla Warfare. Trans. Samuel B. Griffith. University of Illinois Press. Retrieved on February 5, 2018, from

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