According to the Chinese constitution, Maoism (called “Mao Zedong thought” in China) is simply “Marxism-Leninism defined in a Chinese context.” Mao's most original contribution to Marxism was his recognition of Chinese peasants as the main force of revolution in China. As early as 1925, in his Report on the Hunan Peasant Movement, he urged the Chinese Communist Party to turn its attention to the countryside. He argued that proletarianism was a mindset as much as an economic condition and that the Chinese peasants would be the “vanguard of the revolution.”
Mao's Little Red Book
Very few people have read Marx's Das Kapital, but millions of people have read a simplified version of Mao's political philosophy. Quotations from Chairman Mao, known in the West as Mao's Little Red Book, was commissioned by General Lin Biao in 1964. Made up of selections from Mao's writings, the book was intended to simplify Maoist thought for the relatively uneducated soldiers of the People's Liberation Army. Lin issued a free copy of the book to every soldier. It quickly became a vehicle for spreading both Maoist ideology and for increasing literacy.
During the infamous Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, the book was made available to the public for the first time. Everyone in China soon owned a copy and it became a talisman for members of the Red Guard.