Written: July 1946
First Published: Fourth International, Vol.7 No.7, July 1946, pp.202-206 under the name Li Fu-Jen (Frank Glass was no longer in China but in the United States at this time)
Transcription/HTML Markup: Ted Crawford and David Walters
Copyleft: Frank Glass Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Civil war is raging in China. Across the plains of Manchuria troops of Chiang Kai-shek’s central government are battling for supremacy against the military forces of the Chinese Stalinists. With the generous aid of American imperialism, Chiang Kai-shek succeeded, in May, in capturing the strategic town of Szepingkai. Next, the Stalinists were ousted from Changchun, the Manchurian capital. The fall of Kirin followed. At this writing (early June) Chiang’s forces are being deployed for an assault on Harbin, the last important Manchurian urban center in Stalinist hands. All these cities had been invested by the Stalinists when they swept into Manchuria from North China in the wake of withdrawing Soviet troops.
Chiang’s easy victories over the Stalinists are testimony to the military superiority of his forces, thanks largely to the supply of modern weapons and munitions furnished by the American imperialists, who, moreover, placed ships and transport planes at Chiang’s disposal for the deployment of his troops to Manchuria. The weapons of the Chinese Stalinists, although augmented by arms seized from surrendering Japanese troops, are no match for the war equipment at Chiang’s disposal. This disparity of weapons compels the Stalinists to withdraw from the cities to the wide open spaces, to avoid head-on battles, and in general to adhere to the methods and tactics of guerrilla warfare which they have been following for the past 18 years. More important, however, than this unfavorable relationship of military forces is the fact that the Stalinists have no real political base in the urban centers. Moreover, having long ago abandoned their early revolutionary program, they are unable and unwilling to rally decisive masses for an all-out war against the reactionary regime of Chiang Kai-shek.
Despite the loss of the principal cities, substantial control of Manchuria still rests with the Stalinists, who hold at least three-quarters of this vast area with its 30 million population. Chiang’s control scarcely extends beyond the railroad zones. This is the picture in Manchuria, north of the Great Wall. Meanwhile, fighting between Chiang’s troops and Stalinist forces is also under way in the extra-mural province of Jehol, which the Stalinists took over by disarming Japanese forces at the time of Japan’s surrender. To the south, civil war flares over wide stretches of China proper. There are half-a-dozen fighting fronts around; the great northern metropoli of Peiping and Tientsin. There have been battles in the neighboring seaboard province of Shantung. Sporadic skirmishing has been taking place in the central China provinces of Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhwei and Hupeh.
This is an old struggle which has been going on with varied degrees of intensity for 18 years. The Stalinists, leading what is avowedly a movement of agrarian and “democratic” reform in opposition to Chiang’s Kuomintang regime, have established a dual power in the interior of China and have rallied large numbers of the peasantry to their banner. There is nothing new in this situation except the intensification and widening of the conflict following upon the conclusion of the imperialist war.
What is new – and this is something the capitalist press has consistently failed to report – is the re-emergence of the working-class movement in the cities. After 18 years of prostration, the Chinese proletariat is again rising to its feet. A wave of strikes has been sweeping through the big cities. The revival of the Chinese working-class is a fact of transcendental importance. It introduces a new factor in the process of class polarization. During the war, the centrifugal forces tearing at the vitals of decayed Chinese society were kept under control by the Japanese imperialist armies and by the military-police regime of Chiang Kai-shek. With the defeat and surrender of Japan, a political void was created over large sections of the country. Into this void the long pent-up forces of civil war and class strife have rushed like an unleashed torrent and are now spilling over the face of the whole land, drawing in the most diverse strata of the exploited and oppressed. This elemental movement of the masses may well prove to be the preparatory stage of the third Chinese revolution. To understand its nature, and in order to plot a perspective, it is necessary to consider the class forces involved and their present relationship.
The Chinese Proletariat: Between 1927, when Chiang Kai-shek established the dictatorship of the Kuomintang on the ruins of the Chinese revolution, and 1937, when the Japanese invasion of China began, the working-class remained politically dormant. An economic upturn in 1934 gave some impetus to the revival of the trade unions. But considered from the point of view of both organization and political consciousness, the proletariat remained a negligible class factor. If the Chinese ruling class under Chiang’s leadership undertook to resist the Japanese invasion in 1937, this must be explained, in part, by the political weakness of the masses as expressed in the quiescence of the proletariat, which was underlined by the grovelling class-collaborationist policies of the Stalinists. Chiang could embark on a course of armed resistance to Japan only when he felt assured that class peace could be substantially maintained in the rear.
In the early stages of the Sino-Japanese war the big coastal cities were lost to Japan after their industries had been pulverized by bombs and artillery fire. This was a serious blow to the working class. At the end of 1937, after Shanghai had been evacuated by Chinese troops, the number of factory workers in that city dropped by 90 per cent – from 300,000 to 30,000. But a degree of economic restoration developed under the Japanese occupation and by December, 1941, on the eve of the Pacific war, the number of industrial workers, in the strictest meaning of the term, had risen to about 250,000. But from then on, with the China coast subjected to American blockade, industry was cut off from raw materials and foreign markets, power output (dependent upon coal) was reduced, and the internal market shrank rapidly. The numerical strength of the industrial proletariat was again sharply reduced. On the eve of the Japanese surrender industrial workers in Shanghai numbered approximately 150,000. Today, according to a report by the Social Affairs Bureau of the Shanghai City Government, there are 500,000 workers in the city’s industries. But this figure evidently includes workers in small enterprises and very likely a large number of shop employees. In reality, the number of industrial workers in employment cannot be greater than it was just prior to the Japanese capitulation.
Shanghai is China’s greatest industrial center. Its economic decline mirrored the fate of other industrial centers such as Hankow and Tientsin. However, the decline in the industrial proletariat in these cities was compensated by a growth of industrialization in the southwest following the removal of the military and political centers to that region at the end of 1937. There are no reliable data as to the number of factories established or the number of workers employed in them. But according to the Ministry of National Economy some 20,000 factories, each employing not fewer than 30 workers, were built during the eight years of war. Thus there are now at least 600,000 modern industrial workers in China’s southwest. This penetration of the rural interior by modern industry is a fact which will prove of immense political significance in the future. Before the war, Chinese industry was largely confined to the narrow coastal region. The working-class movement was geographically isolated from the peasant movement in the hinterland. Today, a large segment of the industrial economy is planted deep in the heart of the country.
Japan’s capitulation resulted in a fresh paralysis of Chinese industry. The great majority of the Shanghai factories closed down and many of the plants in the interior suspended operations. This meant another setback for the Chinese proletariat. Nevertheless, the end of the war created a situation enabling the workers once more to take to the road of struggle. During the war, the workers were deluged with patriotic and chauvinist propaganda by the Kuomintang, in which, of course, the Stalinists joined. In the areas under Japanese occupation, the workers were bowed under the jackboot of the imperialist invaders. But with the end of the war, the patriotic lies of the Kuomintang and the Stalinists quickly lost their force. The workers refused any longer to tolerate the exploitation and misery to which they had been subjected.
The Strike Wave In the five months, November 1945 through March 1946, despite the desperate economic crisis, more than 1,000 strikes took place in Shanghai alone. The strike movement spread to the most distant and remote places and the most backward branches of the economy. In the course of these struggles the workers in nearly every trade have restored their unions under the leadership of genuine proletarian militants, in contrast to the pre-war situation where the unions were held in tight control by “Special Service” (political police) representatives of the Kuomintang. So great already is the pressure of the fast reviving proletariat that even the reactionary leaders of the former Kuomintang-controlled unions are compelled to appear in more radical guise in their efforts to regain control of organized labor. Chu Hsieh-fan, Chinese representative to the Paris International Labor Conference and notorious throughout China as a “bosses’ man” and strikebreaker, has organized a Labor Federation with a distinct anti-Kuomintang coloration, evidently with the aim of dominating the radicalized labor movement. The Stalinists, their activities as yet still confined mostly to the rural interior, have not yet gained control of the reviving workers’ movement. Thus far, the workers have not lifted up their heads politically. The strike struggles are economic in character. They gravitate around such questions as wages, conditions of labor, and unemployment. Thus the struggle is in its first, elementary stage. Once production is restored and the currency stabilized, one may expect an elevation of the struggle to the political plane. In this process the peasant struggles in the interior, the countrywide civil war, will play a galvanic role.
The Chinese Peasantry: It was the peasant – “the pack-horse of history” – who bore the heaviest burdens of the war. The agrarian masses were forced to contribute all they possessed – food, money and cannon fodder. The Chinese village, already bankrupted during the preceding decades, has emerged from the war completely ruined. “Victory” has not brought any lessening of the suffering of the peasants. Chiang Kai-shek proclaimed a land-tax moratorium for one year and decreed a 25 per cent reduction in land rents. These “relief” measures are ironical in the extreme when viewed against the background of actual happenings in the rural areas. In the name of “pacification” and “rehabilitation” a wild orgy of barbarous repression and robbery has been let loose on the villages. A fearful famine is raging in the provinces of Hupeh and Hunan, famed as the granaries of China. Millions of peasants are doomed to die of hunger.
During the war, the process of concentration of land ownership advanced at an accelerated tempo. Small and middle land-owning peasants were bankrupted. Their lands fell into the hands of the big landlords and village usurers, who have close ties with the banking capitalists and the Kuomintang bureaucracy. In the regions dominated by the Stalinists, the concentration of land ownership is not so evident. There the small landlords, especially well-to-do independent peasants, are the predominant elements in the village. But the poor peasants, thanks to Stalinist reforms, are able to maintain themselves and are protected by laws which prevent the big landlords from expanding their holdings without limit.
In 1938, for the sake of an “Anti-Japanese United Front” with Chiang Kai-shek, the hangman of the Chinese revolution, the Stalinists renounced their revolutionary agrarian program and proclaimed themselves the guardians of private property both in land and in industry. In line with this policy, they oppose the expropriation of the big landlords and retard the peasant struggle wherever they can. What the peasants need now, according to them, is not the land itself, but reduced rents, lower interest rates, better order in the village, more discipline in the army, an end to official corruption. This is intended to justify their thoroughly reformist and opportunist policies which are diametrically opposed to the revolutionary policies of the genuine Marxists. The importance of reforms has never been denied by Marxists, but they never substitute reform for revolution, as the Stalinists do. The Chinese peasant indeed suffers from exploitation and oppression in varied forms, but his hunger for land represents the most fundamental of his needs, if not the most urgent.
In an effort to compete with the Stalinist program of agrarian reform, the Kuomintang government has declared its readiness to allot land to demobilized soldiers. At the recent Plenum of the Central Committee of the Kuomintang the old Sun Yat-senist slogan of “The Land to the Tillers” was heard. Needless to say, all these promises and declarations are shameless deceptions. Nevertheless they are proof that land hunger is very real. As a result of the “army reconstruction” program of the Kuomintang, several million soldiers will return to the villages whence they came. These peasant youth, having learned the use of force in the settlement of problems, and influenced by the strike movement in the cities, will play an important role in the coming struggle for the land. When the agrarian revolution surges forward, it will certainly not stop at the artificial limits which the Stalinists seek to set to it by their reformist land program. The peasant hates the big landlord with an abiding hatred. His hatred extends to the Kuomintang regime, which is the political agent of his exploiters and oppressors. Already during the war, in isolated but flaming revolts against Kuomintang-landlord rule, the Chinese village revealed the revolutionary direction it will inevitably take.
The Urban Petty Bourgeoisie: This variegated stratum of Chinese society embraces handicraftsmen, commercial employees, government servants, students, teachers, small shopkeepers and professionals of every description. Their situation was exceedingly miserable during the war. With city wholesale prices multiplying 4,000 times as the spiral of inflation mounted, the position of the fixed-income group can be better imagined than described. Their living standards dropped below those of the workers. The petty bourgeoisie, as a class, furnished a strong social support for the Kuomintang throughout the war. Despite all their hardships, they remained patriotic. But the “victory,” bringing with it increased difficulties and burdens, quickly brought disillusionment as well. The attitude of this class today, generally speaking, is anti-Kuomintang. Many participate actively in the struggles of the workers. Some incline toward the Stalinists and support the Stalinist slogan for “Democracy and Peace.” But as yet there has been no general ideological crystallization.
The Chinese Bourgeoisie: In order to provide a theoretical foundation for their reformist, popular-frontist policy of class collaboration, the Stalinists divide the ruling bourgeoisie into two mutually “antagonistic” sections. One section they designate as “bureaucratic,” the other as “national.” The former, they declare, is “feudal” and “reactionary,” while the latter is “democratic” and “progressive.” This conception of a fundamentally divided ruling class, corresponding to the former Stalinist concept of “good” and “bad” capitalists in other lands, is widespread in China today, thanks to Stalinist propaganda. The stratum which the Stalinists designate as “bureaucratic” consists in reality of the finance-capitalists who have close ties with the big landlords, on the one hand, and with Wall Street on the other. They control the whole system of Chinese economy. During the war years, the national wealth became concentrated in the hands of this small coterie of financial magnates, among whom are to be found the leading members of the Kuomintang government. They control the government and its armed forces. In close alliance with Wall Street, and using the four Chinese government banks as their key instruments, these “bureaucratic” capitalists gripped the economy by the throat and indulged in a mad orgy of speculation at the expense of the masses. This financial oligarchy is certainly reactionary, but to designate it as “feudal” means concealing its true character as the ruling summit of the entire bourgeoisie as a single class.
As for the so-called “national” and “progressive” section of the bourgeoisie, this is composed merely of those relatively smaller capitalists who have not found a place in the big financial oligarchy. They are indeed dissatisfied with the unbridled rule of the top magnates. They complain about the arbitrariness and corruption of the government. They prattle about “democracy.” But they are no more “progressive” than the financial oligarchy is “feudal. “ Under the first blows of the revolutionary masses, these “democratic” national capitalists will quickly reveal their reactionary face, their essential class solidarity with the big finance-capitalists at the top.
This brief survey of the classes in China indicates clearly the accelerating process of political polarization. The process is still far from complete. But the direction is unmistakable. The broad masses are being swept, as if by an irresistible current, into opposition to the exploiters and their government. Class lines are sharpening and hardening. The turbulent tide of class struggle testifies to a profound disruption of the equilibrium of social relationships. Not since 1927, when Chiang Kai-shek grasped the reins of power in a bloody counter-revolutionary coup d’etat, has the Kuomintang regime been so isolated as it is today. Its rule rests exclusively upon the army, the government bureaucracy, the landlords and capitalists – a tiny segment of the population. The little political capital it was able to accumulate during the early period of the war by its resistance to Japanese invasion and its appeals to national sentiment, has been dissipated in the sea of corruption and oppression which has inundated the country.
To some extent Chiang Kai-shek has offset the internal isolation of his regime by leaning ever more heavily on his powerful patron across the Pacific – Yankee imperialism, which has now entered as an integral factor into the oppression and robbery of the Chinese people. During the first four years of the Sino-Japanese war, 1937-41, China fought the Japanese invaders alone. In the last four years, 1941-45, the ruling Kuomintang continued the fight in alliance with, and growing dependence upon, the Anglo-American imperialists. During this latter phase, the American imperialists, in particular, gained commanding positions for themselves in China and forged the closest ties with the ruling summits of the Chinese bourgeoisie. Today more than ever the facade of national sovereignty provides only the scantiest cover for the reality of China’s semi-colonial status. At every step the Kuomintang regime reveals its economic, financial, military and diplomatic dependence upon Washington. Thus the end of China’s eight-year struggle against Japanese imperialism, fought at terrific cost in human life and treasure, finds the Chinese people still far from their goal of national independence.
This situation was foreseen by the Trotskyist movement. In a thesis entitled The War in the Far East and the Revolutionary Perspectives, adopted by the Founding Conference of the Fourth International in 1938, we pointed out that the Kuomintang was conducting a “purely military-defensive campaign” against Japanese imperialism which had already at that time revealed its complete impotence. Fearing to mobilize and arm the masses for genuine all-out struggle, Chiang Kai-shek placed first reliance on the Anglo-American imperialists, who, for their own reasons, were interested in expelling the Japanese invaders from China. The end result of this whole process was clearly forecasted: “If Japanese imperialism should be defeated in China by its imperialist rivals, and not by the revolutionary masses, this would signify the enslavement of China by Anglo-American capital.” Only a slight amendment is necessary in this statement: British imperialism, its entire world position undermined and weakened, is in no sense the equal partner of American imperialism, which now seeks to assume the role of sole arbiter of China’s destiny.
The Basic Conflict: It is precisely here that the American imperialists come into collision with the Soviet Union, which emerged from the war as a world power second only to the United States. Between these two powers there is deep and irremediable antagonism. Not only is there the immediate, conjunctural conflict which springs from Stalin’s expansionist policies (which collide with the world aims and interests of American imperialism). There is the far more profound historic conflict inherent in the contradictory economic structures of the two countries: state and collectivized property in the Soviet Union, together with the state monopoly of foreign trade, and capitalist private property, the system of profit and “free enterprise,” in the United States and the rest of the capitalist world. This conflict can be resolved, in the last analysis, only by war. The American imperialists, together with their junior British partners, are preparing for this war – in Europe, in the Middle East, and in the Far East.
China (including Manchuria) and the Soviet Union have a common frontier which runs for thousands of miles. This fact of high strategic significance, quite apart from the interest of American imperialism in China as a source of exploitation and super-profits, is the strongest possible determinant in the China policy of the Washington administration as it prepares for the third world war. China is viewed not only as a staging ground for the conflict with the Soviet Union, but as one of the principal battlefields of the armed struggle. That is why, in North China, a powerful American military base is now being built up.
So long as civil war rages in China, it is difficult if not impossible for American imperialism to cash in on its victory over Japan. A country torn by armed strife is hardly a safe field for profitable investment. Nor is it easy, under such circumstances, for the Wall Street bandits to proceed smoothly with their plans for converting China into a base for military operations against the Soviet Union. That is why Washington is exerting such strenuous efforts to effect a “compromise” between the Kuomintang and the Stalinists. Its method is two-fold:
1. Pressure on Chiang Kai-shek to “democratize” the Kuomintang regime through the formation of a coalition government with the Stalinists and the Democratic League (a loose federation of small petty-bourgeois “liberal” groups such as the Third Party, the Youth Party, the Village Self-Government Party, the Vocational Education League, the National Salvation Society).
2. Diplomatic pressure, via Moscow, on the Chinese Stalinists to abandon the armed struggle against the Kuomintang and settle all differences by negotiation.
Washington’s pressure on Chiang Kai-shek, quite characteristically, is exercised by dangling before him the prospect of a $500,000,000 loan to fill up the bankrupt Kuomintang treasury. It is also not unlikely that the much larger loan sought by the Kremlin is being used as a bargaining lever by Washington to induce Stalin to force his Chinese henchmen into dropping the fight against Chiang Kai-shek.
Negotiations between Chiang and the Stalinists resulted some months ago in a “truce agreement,” engineered by General Marshall. But before the ink was dry on this document fighting broke out again and it has been continuing sporadically ever since. The ulcers of civil war, springing from the acute ailments at the base of Chinese society, will not yield to the balm of the American dollar. The continuing strife, now billowing in waves of class struggle across the whole country, is clear testimony to the fact that the social needs and aspirations of the Chinese masses cannot be reconciled with the continuance of the Kuomintang dictatorship and the regime of capitalist-landlord oppression which it represents. The murderous and foully corrupt Kuomintang government, resting on the small minority of exploiters, is unable to make any serious social or political concessions to the masses. It can neither alleviate the economic plight of the people nor grant them any democratic rights, for this would only open the floodgates of revolution. The Stalinists, on the other hand, could capitulate totally to Chiang only at the price of their own political extinction and perhaps their physical extermination as well. That is why, despite their abysmal betrayals of the interests of the masses – notably their abandonment of the agrarian revolution and the political support they gave to Chiang Kai-shek throughout the war – they are compelled now, on the basis of their miserable class-collaborationist and reformist program, to continue the struggle against the Kuomintang regime.
With what aim? As they themselves declare, with the aim of “democratizing” China! Alas, there is no example in all history of a reactionary dictatorship being metamorphosed into a democracy. This is a trick that cannot be turned even with the aid of Stalinist political alchemy. The bloody tyranny of the Kuomintang can be ended only by a popular revolution which will sweep away not only the political regime, but the exploiting class from which it derives its power – the capitalists and landlords and their imperialist patrons and backers. What is needed – and nothing short of it will suffice – is the socialist revolution of the proletariat, united with the poor peasantry and all other layers of the exploited and oppressed.
The Stalinists, of course, do not intend to lead any such revolution. On the contrary, they intend to stifle, sidetrack and abort every movement in that direction – if they can. They have made it abundantly clear that they are ready to call off the struggle against the Kuomintang (while, of course, retaining most of the territory they already hold) in exchange for seats in a “democratic” coalition cabinet and a few mild political reforms, including, naturally, their own legalization as a party. If some such basis of agreement can be found, Chiang Kai-shek will be only too ready to adorn his vile rule with a few “democratic” trappings. But he has no intention of yielding power. Nor will he share it with the Stalinists. And so the Chinese people would be given, not real democratic rights, but a democratic farce and fraud.
Stalinist Policy in China The achievement of such a fraudulent “democracy” represents the sum and substance of Stalinist policy in China today. It is with this policy that they have managed to become the focal point and rallying center of the whole democratic movement in opposition to the Kuomintang. Their leading role is assured, moreover, by the sizeable territories which they control, the considerable armed forces at their disposal, and their long record of struggle against Chiang Kai-shek. The Democratic League, previously described, is a negligible factor on the political scene. The Trotskyists are still too small a group, and too isolated, to play an important role.
It was in 1936, on the eve of the Japanese invasion of China, that the Stalinists renounced their revolutionary agrarian program and proclaimed themselves the guardians of capitalist private property for the sake of achieving an “Anti-Japanese United Front” with Chiang Kai-shek. However, in the rural areas under their control they have reduced land rents and interest rates on loans. It is reforms such as these that have given the Stalinists their popularity among the lower layers of the peasantry. Also, the peasants have been able to observe that the Stalinist administration is clean and efficient, in contrast with the sink of iniquity represented by Kuomintang rule. Additionally, the Stalinist armies are more disciplined than Chiang Kai-shek’s soldiery, who, because of their extreme poverty and hardships, go in for looting on a large scale.
However, while reducing rents and interest rates, the Stalinists showed the other side of their political face, by guaranteeing and enforcing payment of the lowered rents to the parasitic landlords and the reduced interest to the village usurers. By these means they seek to prove to the landlords and capitalists that they are better and more efficient defenders of private property than the Kuomintang. Should they fail to reach an agreement with Chiang Kai-shek, it is their hope to make an alliance with the “national” section of the bourgeoisie on this basis. But this so-called “national” bourgeoisie cannot be wooed so easily. Although they chafe under the economic chaos and the unbridled rule of the Kuomintang, they see salvation from their ills in the pressure and intervention of American imperialism, rather than in the “Communists.”
In the present state of political flux and uncertainty, the Stalinists are attempting to restore their influence in the cities, the influence they lost 19 years ago when they abandoned the proletariat which they had led to revolutionary defeat. They aim to plant themselves in the reviving labor movement. This will serve not only to widen their social base. It will at the same time give them opportunity, in a more decisive sector of the economy, to demonstrate to the “national” bourgeoisie their value as guardians of the social status quo and to prove that they, much better than the Kuomintang, can open a road to peaceful capitalist development. We may expect them to display their hand in strikes, by way of showing that they have more ability than the Kuomintang special police to control the workers and insure industrial peace. The end purpose of this policy, which will complement the class-collaborationist line of the Stalinists in the villages, is a coalition government with the “national” bourgeoisie.
Whether such a coalition is ever realized or not, the traitorous role of the Stalinists is apparent. They head the popular movement in order to behead it, in order to lead the rebellious masses back into the stultifying miasma of class collaboration. In China as throughout the world, Stalinism is the deadly foe of the toilers, the greatest obstacle in the path of the revolutionary movement. It is doubtful, indeed, if a Stalinist-bourgeois coalition will ever materialize, so profound is the social conflict underneath. Even if it should be realized, it would at best be an uneasy misalliance, constantly disturbed by erupting class strife and civil war. Such a coalition would have even less stability than the Stalinist-bourgeois coalition in France, because the plight of the masses cannot be relieved, not a single social problem can be solved, without ending the system of capitalist private property and exploitation. Moreover, behind the conflicting reality of Chinese social life lurk the contradictory seeds and proddings of the foreign patrons of the Kuomintang and the Stalinists, namely, American imperialism and the Kremlin oligarchy, who pour fresh irritants on the sores of social unrest. The Wall Street bandits want to stabilize the Kuomintang regime so that China may be converted into a happy hunting ground for American capital and a base for war against the Soviet Union. Stalin seeks to use the Chinese mass movement as a diplomatic pawn in his game of power politics, with the aim of “neutralizing” American imperialism.
The Trotskyist Program: In this new stage of the political struggle in China the Trotskyists must say to the Chinese people: You can drive the imperialist marauder from your country; you can end the bestial rule of the Kuomintang; you can destroy capitalist-landlord parasitism; you can cut through the murk of political and diplomatic trickery which threatens to make your country a new battlefield in a third world war; you can step forth on the high road that leads to the socialist revolution – but only under the revolutionary banner of the Fourth International. In the unfolding class battles the Trotskyists must tirelessly expose the treachery of the Stalinist misleaders. They must participate boldly in all the struggles of the masses and put forward a consistent program of democratic demands in line with the transitional program of the Fourth International. Among the workers they will agitate for the eight-hour day, a rising scale of wages to meet the rising cost of living, workers’ control of production. Among the peasants they will unfurl the banner of the agrarian revolution – “Land to the Peasants!” They will fight for every hand’s breadth of legality, in order the better to reach the broadest masses. They will struggle for freedom of speech and press, for the unhindered right of the workers to strike. All these transitional and partial demands, as they are taken up by the masses, must be knit together in the slogan for a plenipotentiary National Assembly, elected on the basis of free, direct and universal suffrage, in order to raise the partial and local struggles to an all-national level. The revolutionary demand for a plenipotentiary National Assembly, combining both legislative and executive functions, must be sharply counterposed to the plans of Chiang Kai-shek to summon a hand-picked, and therefore fraudulent, National Assembly. It must likewise be counterposed to the treachery of the Stalinists in trying to form a coalition government with the bourgeoisie.
By all these means the Trotskyists will succeed in winning to their banner the best proletarian militants, the bravest peasant fighters, the best among the radical intellectuals. Thus will they build the revolutionary party that will lead the tormented people of China to their socialist victory.