Source: Problems of the Chinese Revolution, by Leon Trotsky, 1932
Publisher: Pioneer Publishers, New York, NY
Transcription/HTML Markup: Martin Fahlgren & D. Walters
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To THE POLITICAL Bureau of the Central Committee of the C. P. S. U. In view of the exceptional importance and complexity of the question of the Chinese revolution, I have formulated my views on it in writing. I considered this all the more necessary because comrades Stalin and Bucharin, at the meeting of the Moscow functionaries which was devoted to the Chinese question, attributed to me views which, in reality, I do not share. I request that my theses be distributed to the members of the Plenum, since I intend to ask that they reject the decision presented by the C. C. on the situation created in China after the capture of Shanghai and the other events of recent date.
Moscow, April 15, 1927
* * *
The events taking place in China at the present time have as great a significance as the events that occurred in October 1923 in Germany. And if at that time the entire attention of our party was turned to Germany, so this must now be done with China, all the more so because the international situation has become more complicated and more disturbing to us.
As a result of the 1923 events in Germany, the C. C. of our party called together a special conference of representatives of the local party organizations (together with the Plenum), adopted special theses, mobilized the whole party, called a special international conference through its representatives in the E. C. C. I., etc.
The same thing must also be done now.
1. The Principles of Leninism and the National Liberation Movements
The revolution in China is of world historical importance. To comprehend and correctly estimate the Chinese events, one must be thoroughly clear on the standpoint of Leninism on the character of the national liberation movement in colonial and semi-colonial countries in general.
Lenin wrote: “The social revolution can be accomplished only in an epoch that embraces the civil war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie in the advanced countries and a whole series of democratic and revolutionary, as well as national liberation movements in the undeveloped, backward and oppressed nations.
“Why? Because capitalism develops unevenly and objective reality shows us, side by side with highly developed capitalist countries, a whole series of very weakly, or economically not at all developed nations.” (Volume XIII, page 369-370.)
The national liberation movements of the oppressed nations are, therefore, according to Lenin, a component part of the socialist world revolution, although Lenin himself defines them as democratic and revolutionary, that is, so far as their immediate aims are concerned, bourgeois movements. The national liberation movements of the oppressed peoples are an element of the international socialist revolution. This does not, however, mean that any national movement, at every moment, in every situation, is a revolutionary factor. It only means that in the last analysis, the national liberation movement as a whole is such a factor.
A national liberation movement can pass through various stages. When the Finnish people (the bourgeoisie included) conducted its struggle against Czarism (that is, against Russian imperialism of that time), it was a national liberation struggle. At one time, the Finnish bourgeoisie, led by Svinhufvud (he himself was exiled by Czarism), fought against the imperialist government of Kerensky. Objectively, this undermined the power of the Russian bourgeoisie and served to prepare the victory of the Russian proletariat in October 1917. On the morrow of the October revolution, the Svinhufvuds, to whom the Soviets had just granted independence, did no less for “their” workers, who were preparing an October revolution, than to give them the butcher Mannerheim, who drowned in blood the proletarian revolution in Finland. The Finnish bourgeoisie today still conducts, to a certain extent, a struggle for its national independence. It cannot be said that Finland is an imperialist state, it can only be a “tool” of imperialism. In spite of this, one cannot speak at this time of the revolutionary import of the Finnish national movement. The national liberation movement in Finland has grown over into bourgeois reaction, because the proletariat, all things considered, did not have enough power to raise the movement to a higher plane, that is, to lead to a victorious proletarian state in Finland.
Another example: the national liberation movement in Poland. The best spirits of Russia—Herzen, Tchernichevsky—sympathized with the Polish rebellion. Marx and Engels, in the period of the First International, correctly considered the national liberation movement in Poland as worthy of the support of the international proletariat. The hatred of Czarism. born in Poland out of the oppression of the Polish people by the great Russian landowners, had a revolutionary significance. Nevertheless, the Polish bourgeoisie, from the inception of the imperialist war, converted the national movement, with Pilsudski at its head, into a plaything of German imperialism, and later on, into an instrument of French and English imperialism.
Turkey furnishes us with a still more interesting example. The national movement in Turkey, led by Kemal Pasha, for a long time had an indubitably revolutionary character, and thoroughly deserved to be called a national revolutionary movement. It was directed against the old feudal regime in the country, against the Sultanate, as well as against imperialism, primarily against British imperialism. This movement swept along with it a tremendous mass of the peasants and to a certain degree, the Turkish working class. The Kemalist party of that time resembled to a certain extent the Kuo Min Tang of today. (But it must not be forgotten for a single moment that the working class in Turkey was of course far weaker than in China.) The Kemalist party had its “council of People’s Commissars”, it stressed its solidarity with Soviet Russia, etc., etc. In a telegram from Kemal to Chicherin, dated November 29, 1920, it says literally: “I am deeply convinced that on the day that the toilers of the West, on the one side, and the oppressed peoples of Asia and Africa, on the other, will understand that international capital uses them for mutual destruction and enslavement, solely for the benefit of their masters, on the day when the consciousness of the crimes of colonial policy will imbue the hearts of the toiling masses of the world—then the power of the bourgeoisie wil be at an end!” This did not prevent the same Kemal from cutting the throats of the Communist leaders some time later, from driving the labor movement into illegality, from reducing agrarian reform to a minimum, and in his domestic policy, from following a road to the bourgeoisie and the rich peasants. This happened because the Turkish proletariat was too weak to create an independent class power, and to help the peasantry, under the hegemony of the proletariat, to create a directing center of the Turkish revolution which would not depend upon the liberal bourgeoisie, upon the bourgeois officers, etc., etc. Now, Kemalism is not a national revolutionary movement, it is not a sector of the socialist world revolution. The national unification of Turkey proceeded—but “in the Kemalist manner”, i. e., in the bourgeois manner, just as the national unification of Germany was achieved in its day “in the Bismarkian manner”, The national movement in Turkey did not grow directly into a revolutionary movement linked up with the international proletarian movement.
In Persia, the slogans of the national liberation movement were in the beginning also given lip service by the possessing classes, but were then transformed into their opposite, into the military and fascist monarchy of Riza Shah, which to a great extent is really an instrument of England. Under the cloak of the slogan of “national unification” and of “progress” (“centralization”, “modernization”) a regime of serfdom is really being maintained in the village and the slightest expression of political dissatisfaction by the toilers is suppressed.
Numerous such examples could be drawn from the history of the national movements in India, Egypt, etc., especially in the period of imperialist war and in the years that immediately followed.
The history of the revolution has demonstrated that every bourgeois-democratic revolution that is not transformed into a socialist revolution, inevitably goes the way of bourgeois reaction. Either it goes forward or it goes backward, but it does not remain standing on one spot. Either a rising line or else a falling line. This law runs like a red thread through all the great revolutions, beginning with the great French revolution, through the revolutions of 1848 and the Russian revolution of 1905, up to the German revolution of 1918.
When Lenin raised the slogan “dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” for the first Russian revolution of 1905, and defended the view that the radical victory of the bourgeois revolution could he realized only by a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, he wrote at the same time that “this dictatorship will inevitably be a temporary phenomenon (namely, it is either a transition to a bourgeois dictatorship and to the defeat of the proletariat, or else to the socialist dictatorship).” (Lenin Collection , Volume V, page 123.)
The same law applies essentially to national liberation movements. In so far as a national liberation movement and national unification proceeds under the bourgeoisie, to that extent the national liberation movements even if they gain wide scope, will at a certain time go the way of bourgeois reaction. The national liberation movements of the last decade as a whole have contributed not a little to the shaking of the foundations of imperialism. In spite of this, the concrete course and conclusion of these national movements of the past years must bring the vanguard of the international proletariat to realize in all soberness the fact that national movements in no wise always bear the same character and that so long as they remain under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, they will absolutely play an anti-proletarian role at certain periods, that they will become instruments of imperialism.
2. Bourgeois Democracy and the National Revolutionary Movement
Every national revolutionary movement is a bourgeois movement, but not every bourgeois democratic movement is a national revolutionary movement, just as every peasants’ revolution is a bourgeois revolution but not every bourgeois revolution is a peasant revolution. Lenin distinguished between “bourgeois- democratic” movements in backward countries and “national liberation movements” in those countries. In his report to the Second Congress of the Comintern, Lenin said in the discussion on the national and colonial question:
“Thirdly, I should especially like to emphasize the question of the bourgeois-democratic movements in backward countries. That is the point which has aroused some differences of opinion. We debated whether it was correct theoretically and in principle to declare that the C. I. and the Communist parties should support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. The result of the discussion was that we came to a unanimous decision to speak only of nationalist-revolutionary movements instead of ‘bourgeois democratic’ movements. There is no doubt that every national movement in the backward countries can only be a bourgeois democratic movement, since the great mass of the population there consists of peasants who represent the capitalist middle class. It would be Utopian to think that proletarian parties, in so far as it is at all possible for them to arise in such countries, could carry out Communist tactics and Communist policies in backward countries without having a definite attitude towards the peasants’ movements, without actually supporting it. But the objections raised were that if we say bourgeois democratic, the distinction is lost between the revolutionary and the reformist movements, which have become quite clear in recent times in the backward countries and the colonies, for the imperialist bourgeoisie has done everything possible to create a reformist movement among the oppressed peoples also. A certain understanding has been arrived at between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting and of the colonial countries, so that very often, perhaps even in most cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, despite its support even of national movements, nevertheless fights against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes in agreement with the imperialist bourgeoisie, that is, together with it. This was completely demonstrated in the Commission and we believed that the only correct thing to do would be to take this distinction into consideration and to substitute almost everywhere the words ‘nationalist-revolutionary’ for ‘bourgeois-democratic. The sense of it is that as Communists we will support the bourgeois liberation movements in the colonial countries only if these movements are really revolutionary, that is, if their representatives do not prevent us from educating and organizing the peasants try and the great masses of the exploited in a revolutionary sense. If this cannot be done, the Communists are obliged to fight there also against the reformist bourgeoisie, to whom the heroes of the Second International belong. There already exist reformist parties in the colonial countries and sometimes their representatives call themselves social democrats or socialists.” (Minutes of the Second World Congress , page 139-140.)
We already have in these theses of Lenin the key to all the tactical problems of the Chinese revolution. Taking advantage even of an opportunist movement of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie in the interests of the proletariat, as Communists, we do not support every single national movement, but only those whose representatives do not hinder us from educating and organizing the peasantry and the broad masses of the exploited. The bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries has learned very well to “support” the national movement with one hand, and to fight in alliance with the imperialist bourgeoisie against all revolutionary movements of the revolutionary classes with the other hand.
If we apply this to present-day China, we must say: the Right Kuo Min Tang which has been and remains the leading Kuo Min Tang, also “supports” the national movement with one hand, while with the other it allies itself with the imperialists (American, Japanese, and English) against the revolutionary classes (the proletariat and the peasantry).
These fundamental directives of Lenin, which were approved at the Second Congress of the Comintern, must be kept in mind when we proceed to the solution of the problems of the Chinese revolution.
3. The General Perspectives of the Chinese Revolution
The development of capitalism in China has made tremendous progress in the last two decades. It would be wrong to believe that the native Chinese capitalist bourgeoisie owns only a very small part of Chinese industry. Sixty percent of the capital in the coal industry, twenty percent in the iron industry, sixty- seven percent in the textile industry, seventy percent in the match industry, twenty-five in the sugar industry, fifty-eight of the railroads, twenty-six of the river and sea transports, belong to Chinese capitalists. Twenty-seven Chinese banks have a capital of 250,000,000 Chinese dollars. Besides this, the trading capital of the native Chinese bourgeoisie also amounts to a large sum. In comparison, we recall the fact that at the end of the nineteenth century Russian industry also lived chiefly on foreign capital, that only twenty- one percent of its total capital was Russian (M. N. Pokrovsky’s figures). The sum total of foreign capital invested in Russian industry, trade and banks up to 1917 was estimated at approximately two and one-half billion rubles. The investment of foreign capital in China is appreciably greater.
“The conquest of China by capitalism will give an impetus to the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America,” wrote Engels in 1895.
“The next uprising of the people of Europe will in all probability depend more upon what happens in the Celestial Kingdom [that is, in China] than upon any other cause,” wrote Marx even earlier.
“One can safely prophesy that the Chinese revolution will fling a spark into the powder barrel of the present industrial system, that it will provoke an explosion of the general crisis which is being prepared and which, once it has extended over the foreign countries, will follow on the heels of the political revolution on the continent.”
Marx was generally of the opinion (cf. Class Struggles in France ) that “violent upheavals happen sooner at the extremities of the bourgeois organism than at its heart, where the regulation of its functions is easier than elsewhere”, In this sense he attributed a tremendous world historical significance to the revolution in China as well as to the revolution in Russia.
The proletarian dictatorship has now triumphed in Russia, while in China the revolutionary democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the proletariat can triumph and can begin to grow into a socialist dictatorship providing a correct tactic is pursued by the Chinese proletariat and the vanguard of the international working class. Then the socialist revolution on the continent and in Europe will take a huge step forward.
In China today we have almost five million wage workers, including three million industrial workers employed in the mines, on the railroads, the textile and silk factories, in the big iron mills, etc.
These workers are joined by a great number of artisans and small employees who can and will go along with the working class under present conditions.
Sixty-three percent of the peasantry consists of poor peasants who do not possess more than two hectares of land and are exploited and enslaved by the large landowners and the kulaks. This sixty-three percent of poor peasants possesses only one-fourth of all the cultivated land. Five percent of the rich kulaks and large landowners has thirty percent of the total cultivated land; ten percent owns twenty percent of the landed property ; the middle peasants--twenty percent of the total—have twenty-six percent of the cultivated land in their hands.
The poor and middle peasantry are burdened by taxes, by high rent payments, by the despotism of the authorities, etc. Hundreds of millions of peasants can become allies of the proletariat.
If we add to this that the national bourgeoisie of China is still relatively weak, that the compradores are hated by the people; that the usurers, gentry and kulaks in the village have repeatedly provoked outbreaks of peasant uprisings (because of their suppressive measures) ; that numerous technical petty bourgeois, tens of millions of the poor city population and small tradesmen on the one side, and an important part of the intellectuals, students, on the other, are in their overwhelming majority dissatisfied with the present situation; if we remember further what great strength the Chinese proletariat has in such decisive points as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tientsin, Hankow, etc., it becomes clear that the hegemony of the proletariat in the developing bourgeois democratic Chinese revolution is quite possible.
The Chinese revolution will be victorious under the leadership of the working class or not at all. Otherwise, the bourgeoisie will take the whole affair in its hands, in one way or another it will come to an agreement with foreign imperialism (with one group of countries or another, or with ,a single country) and then it will lead China for a certain period of time on the bourgeois road, wiping out the vanguard of the working class more cruelly than did Kemal Pasha.
The perspective of a non-capitalist (i. e., a socialist) development of China is not excluded and has much in its favor, given a correct policy. Imperialism has not developed the productive forces of China in recent years, and it is not inclined to do it in the next few years, because (1) its own productive apparatus at home is not being completely utilized; (2) because imperialism is afraid of the growth of the native proletariat and (3) because the whole situation in China is not “secure” enough for imperialism, not “safe” enough.
The development of the productive forces in China can follow on the non-capitalist road in the epoch of world revolution in which we live. Since the U. S. S.R. exists, covering one-sixth of the earth’s surface, and already has an enormous influence on the Chinese revolution ; since the proletarian revolution in the U.S. S. R. has already existed for ten years; since the C. I. exists, uniting the vanguard of the world proletariat in its ranks.; since national liberation movements are growing throughout the world ; since serious contradictions still divide the camp of the imperialists and since a lusty, young, rapidly revolutionized working class, comprising millions of people, exists in China—the non-capitalist road of development of China is possible.
“The question was,” said Lenin at the Second Congress, “can we acknowledge as correct that the capitalist development of economy is necessary for the backward peoples who are now liberating themselves, among whom progressive movements have now arisen after the war? We came to the conclusion that we must answer in the negative. If the revolutionary victorious proletariat organizes a systematic propaganda and the Soviet governments come to its aid with all means it is wrong to assume that the capitalist stage of development is necessary for such peoples” (Minutes of the Second Congress , page 142.)
The non-capitalist (socialist) road of development for China is possible if :
(a) the working class really becomes a class fighting for itself, an independent class force, if it builds a strong Communist party capable of drawing the masses of the peasantry behind it, if it does not permit the large and petty bourgeoisie to absorb the working class into a petty bourgeois bloc “comprising the whole nation”, in short, if it understands how to become in reality the leader and director of the whole revolutionary movement in China, if it takes the leadership in the unification of China into its own hands ;
(b) the U. S. S. R. supports the Chinese working class with all its strength;
(c) the proletarian revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries (England, France, Japan, America) grow to maturity and if the workers of these countries understand how to prevent their bourgeoisie from strangling the Chinese revolution with military force;
(4) the Chinese revolution finds a favorable echo in the other oppressed countries like India, Indo-China,
The successful struggle for the non-capitalist (socialist) road of development for China is possible only if we first of all throw aside energetically and irrevocably the basic Menshevik formula: The working class must subordinate its policy in the revolution to the consideration that the liberal bourgeoisie shall not recoil from the revolution since that would weaken the impetus of the revolution.
“From the fact that the content of our revolution is bourgeois,” Lenin wrote in 1907, “the superficial deduction is made among us that the bourgeoisie is the motive power of the revolution, that the proletariat has only secondary tasks to fulfill in this revolution, that a proletarian leadership of the revolution is impossible.”
There is no doubt that in its present stage, the Chinese revolution is still a bourgeois-democratic revolution in a semi-colonial country. To complete this bourgeois-democratic revolution, to give it the greatest possible scope, to help it carry through to the end the struggle against the imperialists, and to complete a real unification of China, to lead it to the stage where the bourgeois-democratic national revolution begins to grow into a socialist revolution—all this is possible only when the working class succeeds in tearing the leadership of the movement completely out of the hands of the bourgeoisie, under the slogan of the agrarian revolution and in general to draw the petty bourgeoisie with it.
In other words, all this is possible only with a radical class differentiation in the camp of the national liberation movement in China, a differentiation that has begun and will from now on move forward every day. To fear this differentiation, to insist on the united front with the national bourgeoisie, to endeavor “not to frighten” the leaders of this bourgeoisie, to construe the tactic of the united front in the Chinese revolution as an alliance of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie, and the Kuo Min Tang as a government of the “bloc of four classes” (Martinov, Pravda , April 10, 1927) is to extinguish the revolutionary spirit of the masses, to restrict the program of the revolution, to force it into the Procrustean bed of bourgeois-Menshevik slogans—in other words, to abandon the perspective of a non-capitalist, socialist development of China.
When Lenin, at the Second Congress of the Comintern, outlined the perspective of a non-capitalist development of the backward countries, he immediately combined the perspective with the slogan of Soviets for the Ea st, and along with it preached the creation at all costs of independent Communist organizations in these countries. Lenin said: “We must not only build independent nuclei and parties in all colonial and backward countries, we must not only immediately propagate the idea of peasants’ Soviets and seek to adapt the Soviet organization to pre-capitalist conditions, but the C. I. must also explain theoretically that with the aid of the proletariat of the advanced countries, the backward countries can reach the Soviet form of organization, and through a series of stages, avoiding the capitalist system, also to Communism.” (Minutes of the Second Congress , page 142.)
“The idea of Soviet organization is simple and can be applied not only to proletarian relationships but also to feudal and semi-feudal peasant relationships. Our experiences on this field are not yet extensive. But the discussions in the Commission, where many representatives of colonial countries were present, very decisively showed us that we must incorporate in the principles of the Communist International that peasant Soviets, Soviets of the exploited, are not only an appropriate means for capitalist countries, but are also suitable for pre-capitalist conditions, and that it is the absolute duty of the Communist parties and of those elements ready to create Communist parties, to propagate everywhere the idea of peasant Soviets, of Soviets of the toilers, also in the backward countries and in the colonies, and to make the practical attempt to form Soviets of the toiling people as soon as the conditions allow.” (Ibid ., page 141.)
In the theses on the national and colonial questions adopted at the Second World Congress of the Comintern, after the report of Lenin, it says literally:
“Especially necessary is the support of the peasant movement in the backward countries against the landowners and against all forms and remnants of feudalism. Above all, we must strive wherever possible to give the peasant movement the most revolutionary character possible, to organize the peasants and all the exploited into Soviets and thereby to establish the closest possible union between the West European Communist proletariat and the revolutionary movement of the peasants in the East, in the colonies and the backward countries.” (Ibid ., page 230.)
If we keep in mind this highly important directive of Lenin and the Second Congress of the C. I., and if we take into consideration the tremendous movement that has now arisen among the Chinese working masses and led to the capture of Shanghai and the unification of a territory with twenty million people under the power of the national government, it becomes immediately necessary to raise the slogan of Soviets for China.
The Chinese revolution has reached the point where the slogan of Soviets becomes the essential slogan.
Whoever speaks of a non-capitalist development of China and now (after the capture of Shanghai) rejects the slogan of Soviets, does not take seriously his own words on the non-capitalist development of China.
4. On the Class Independence of the Proletarian Movement in the Backward Countries
The idea of the class independence of the proletarian movement and above all the idea of the creation of independent proletarian parties in the backward countries, the colonies and the semi-colonies, is one of Lenin’s basic teachings on the world revolution. It is most closely connected with the idea of the possibility for these countries to avoid the stage of capitalist development under favorable conditions. The struggle of the backward countries, colonies and semi- colonies against imperialism, which has of course a tremendous significance for the general balance of forces of the revolutionary world movement, creates for a certain time the conditions for common action of the proletariat with the non-proletarian sections of the population, for certain blocs and agreements against the common imperialist enemy. But just because of that, the Communists must underline with special emphasis the need for the complete independence of the proletarian movement or of the proletarian elements in the movement , to say nothing of the independence of the Communist party. In Lenin’s thesis approved by the Second Congress of the C. I., which retains its full force to the present day, it says on the question:
“It is necessary to wage a determined war against the attempt to cloak the not really Communist revolutionary liberation movements in the backward countries with a Communist mantle. It is the duty of the Communist International to support the revolutionary movement in the colonies and the backward countries for the sole purpose of assembling the units of the future proletarian parties—Communist in reality and not only in name—in all the backward countries and of educating them to the consciousness of their specific tasks, that is, to the tasks of the struggle against the bourgeois democratic tendencies within their own countries. The Communist International should establish a temporary agreement, even an alliance, with the revolutionary movement of the colonies and the backward countries, it must not however fuse with it but must absolutely preserve the independent character of the proletarian movement—even if it is still in embryonic form.” (Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International [German edition], page 231.)
The basis of the dispute between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, in the last analysis, proceeded for a long time from the question: Should a completely independent Marxian proletarian party be created in backward Czarist Russia and could the working class and its party assume the leading role in the revolution? The policy of the Mensheviks rejected this in deeds. And precisely this rejection led the Mensheviks more and more into the camp of the enemies of the proletarian revolution.
The Bolshevik party, said Lenin, “need not be afraid of inflicting blows upon the enemy hand in hand with the revolutionary bourgeois democracy under the absolute provision: not to amalgamate the organizations ; to march separately and strike unitedly ; not to conceal the conflict of interests ; to watch its allies as much as its enemy,” etc., etc. (Volume VI, page 130.)
It is just this “absolute provision” that we have no right to forget in China now, otherwise we leave the road of Bolshevism.
Of the Kuo Min Tang as a party we can say now, with the necessary modifications, what was said by Marx and Engels on the petty bourgeois-democratic party of Germany and on the attitude of the working class to it:
“The relationship of the revolutionary workers’ party to the petty bourgeois democracy is: it marches together with it against the faction whose overturn it aims at ; it opposes it in everything with which this fraction seeks to consolidate itself.” (Karl Marx, Enthüllungen fiber den Kommunistenprozess in Köln , page 129.)
“By the side of the new official governments, they [the workers] must at the same time set up their own revolutionary workers’ governments, be it in the form of communal committees, communal councils, by means of workers’ clubs or workers’ committees, so that the bourgeois democratic governments not only instantly lose the backing of the workers but find themselves from the very beginning under the supervision and threats of authorities behind whom stands the whole mass of the workers. In a word: from the first moment of victory our distrust must no longer be directed against the vanquished reactionary party but against our former allies, against the party which seeks to exploit the common victory by itself . . . The arming of the whole proletariat with rifles, guns, arms and ammunition must be carried out immediately, the revival of the old bourgeois militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed . . . In this connection [the nomination of candidates against the bourgeois democrats] they should not permit themselves to be duped by the phrases of the democrats as, for example, that the democratic party is thereby being split and the reaction is being given the possibility to triumph. All these phrases are calculated, in the last analysis, to trick the proletariat . . . But they [the workers] themselves must do the greater part of the work for their final victory by enlightening themselves on their class interests, by adopting as quickly as possible their independent party position, by refusing to be diverted for an instant from the independent organization of the party of the proletariat by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie.” (Ibid ., pages 133, 134, 137.)
Such are the general principles which the Communists must adopt in order to solve the most important questions of the Chinese revolution, especially of the questions of the relations of the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuo Min Tang.
5. The Chinese Bourgeoisie and Its Present Role in the Revolution
The basic problem of the Chinese revolution is the question: which class shall lead the peasantry?
Can the Chinese bourgeoisie lead the peasantry behind it?
The Chinese bourgeoisie is not homogeneous: It is above all a trading bourgeoisie plus the usurer. Thanks to a whole series of reasons, in the first place thanks to the fact that foreign capital has applied the brakes to an appreciable degree to the development of this bourgeoisie, the capital accumulated in trade has been concentrated on landed property and has thereby preserved the feudal roots of the exploitation of the Chinese peasantry.
In certain districts, seventy-five percent of the total cultivated land belongs to tradesmen. The usurers take from one hundred and twenty percent to three hundred and sixty percent annual interest from the peasants. Trading capital has completely subordinated home work and hand work in the village, above all textile home work which plays a colossal role in China. The Chinese landowner who applies feudal forms of exploitation to the peasantry, appears in the city as a merchant who is connected with the other sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie. But the civil war has begun in the village. The peasantry is organizing itself into peasants’ Leagues which already embrace five million people, it is creating its armed defense detachments, and has already entered into armed struggles against the usually firmly organized large landowners and gentry and their armed brigades, the Min Tuan.
The civil war in the village is thus already a fact and there is no doubt that the front of this war will rapidly be extended and that in this war, important sections of the city trading bourgeoisie, not to speak of the large landowners in their pure form, are already to be found on the other side of the revolutionary barricades and are grouping themselves around the Right Kuo Min Tang .
In the city, an ever more intense struggle of the proletariat against the native industrial bourgeoisie is taking place, which has burst out in an unusually broad strike wave. In the first two and a half months since the occupation of Wuhan by the national revolutionary army, 200,000 workers struck there, achieving only a thirteen-hour working day instead of seventeen, and a ten and a half hour working day instead of eleven. In Canton the development of the strike struggle almost reached the calling of a gener al strike.
Under the pressure of the working class, which is organizing ever more strongly into trade unions, the Chinese bourgeoisie moves away from the national revolution, makes alliances with the large landowners and agrees to compromises with foreign imperialism in which it strives to unite with it for the suppression of the working class and the peasant movement.
The Chinese big bourgeoisie cannot solve the agrarian question, it cannot lead the peasantry behind it, because it is itself in large measure connected with landed property, it is leagued politically with the class of large landowners, which means that the Chinese bourgeoisie cannot lead the peasantry, that it cannot advance the revolution. The Chinese bourgeoisie is being transformed, with the development of the workers’ and peasants’ movement, into a counterrevolutionary factor.
The crisis in the government and in the C. C. of the Kuo Min Tang is only the beginning of the political appearance of the civil war in the village and class struggle in the town. The national revolutionary government can only be partisan in this civil war, i. e., either the government of the working class, the peasantry and the city poor (and to that extent an anti-imperialist government) or else the government of the big landlords and the bourgeoisie, that is, of agreements with foreign imperialism.
6. What is the Kuo Min Tang?
What is the Kuo Min Tang? We must be completely clear on this score, otherwise enormous mistakes are possible.
The organization of the party dates back to 1922, when the Communists entered the Kuo Min Tang. It found expression at the Reorganization Convention of the Kuo Min Tang in January 1924. Already at that time, the Leftward development of the Kuo Min Tang, expressed in the attempt to base itself on the masses of workers, peasants and city poor, provoked an uprising of the Canton bourgeoisie (uprising of the “Paper Tigers”) against this line of the Kuo Min Tang. The suppression of the Canton bourgeoisie in 1924 with the aid of workers and peasants brought about an influx of these elements into the party. These elements at present form the majority of the Kuo Min Tang. The organization in Canton numbered 150,000 members in December 1926, including 32,000 workers, 30,000 students and 64,000 peasants. If we cross out about 25 percent from the figure for the peasants, under whose flag gentry and large landowners have smuggled their way in, we still obtain an absolute majority of radical Left elements. But this Left majority does not lead the party. It is led by the Right bourgeois minority which bases itself on the commanding staff of the national revolutionary army, thanks to which the Right Kuo Min Tang continues to rule all over the territory occupied by the Southern troops. The bourgeoisie and the large landowners not only take the state apparatus in their hands with the aid of the army staff, but they go so far as to disperse Kuo Min Tang committees that do not pursue a purely bourgeois line (Li Ti Sin’s coup de force in Canton). This is how the Kuo Min Tang becomes an amorphous organization under the Right wing leadership. Meetings are almost never called together by the organizations and questions of political action and the building up of the state are not discussed. Since there are no meetings, the members have no means of influencing the policies of the authorities. These circumstances have led to a situation where the Kuo Min Tang is largely a party that stands objectively in opposition to the Right wing which keeps the party leadership in its hands and has the supreme power locally. The Chinese Communists base themselves to a large degree on this Left majority of the party. Together with the Left majority they must overthrow the Right elements and remove them from the party as well as from the government. Such a purging is connected with the arming of the workers and peasants, since the Right Kuo Min Tang, which is supported by the staff of the national revolutionary army, will undoubtedly oppose with arms any attempt of the Left to take power in the state or the party. To this day the worker pickets are either unarmed or they are being disarmed by the authorities (Canton). The peasants’ leagues are armed chiefly with bamboo sticks. To arm them requires time. Therefore manceuvers from above are necessary until the revolution is better armed. At present they assume the form of giving support to Tan Shen Shi against Chiang Kai-Shek. Such manceuvers are unavoidable. But even Tan Shen Shi will solve nothing in the question of the Leftward development of the government, for he is an even more reactionary general than Chiang Kai-Shek, a large landowner attached to Japanese imperialism, who hooked up with the Kuo Min Tang in 1926.
The official ideology of the Kuo Min Tang is the doctrine of Sun Yat Sen. Lenin characterized Sun Yat Senism as a peculiarly Chinese populism. In actuality, Sun Yat Senism “in its pure form” is a peculiar populism adapted to Chinese conditions, plus nationalism. Lenin called Sun Yat Sen’s party a liberal party. Sun Yat Senism is the Chinese doctrine of Social Revolutionism as it existed in Russia, plus nationalism, plus Cadetism. In distinction from the Mensheviks, Lenin perceived in Russian populism not only its petty bourgeois and reactionary nature (it was a petty bourgeois. “Russian socialism”) but also its progressive bourgeois democratic essence, in so far as it was an expression of the maturing agrarian revolution in Russia. We must see not only its petty bourgeois national “socialist”, reactionary content but also its progressive and democratic essence. Sun Yat Senism expresses. primarily the striving for the national unification of China, thence also to a certain degree the tendency toward the peasants’ revolution. This national movement becomes in even larger measure a peasants’ movement. But in Sun Yat Senism (as in the Russian populist movement in its time) the intellectuals play an important role, and in the present Kuo Min Tang they form a strong and influential wing that represents the interests of the national bourgeoisie.
In 1894, Sun Yat Sen founded the “League for the Renovation of China” (Sing Hun Fu). The party was almost exclusively bourgeois. In 1905, Sun Yat Sen organized a new party, the Tung Men Fu, which already looked for support, up to a certain point, among the peasants. In 1911, shortly before the first Chinese revolution, Sun Yat Sen laid the foundation for the present peoples’ revolutionary party, the Kuo Min Tang. He drew in the liberal bourgeoisie, the intellectuals, broad sections of the city petty bourgeoisie and the home workers, and at the same time sought connections with the working class and the peasantry.
An honest democrat, a sincere friend of the oppressed masses, Sun Yat Sen nevertheless accorded the working class a very insignificant role in his teachings. For many years he was an enthusiastic admirer of American democracy, saw in President Lincoln his ideal and declared the social order established in the Hawaiian Islands by American imperialism to be a sort of paradise.
Just as little elaborated in the teaching of Sun Yat Sen is the peasant question.
Only in the last two years of his life, under the influence of the Russian revolution and the growth of the working class in China, did Sun Yat Sen begin to devote more attention to the labor movement and to be convinced that the working class would play a great role in the Chinese revolution.
The three main slogans of Sun Yat Senism are, as is known: 1. Nationalism, 2. Democracy, 3. State Socialism. Taken together they represent a nebulous petty bourgeois “socialism”.
It is obvious that this petty bourgeois ideology can in no case be the ideology of the Chinese proletariat, whose vanguard already stands on the foundation of Marxism-Leninism. The memory of Sun Yat Sen as a sincere revolutionist who rendered inestimable services to the national liberation movement of China, can and should be honored. Sun Yat Sen can and should be regarded as an ally of the proletarian revolution at a certain stage of the movement in China. But it must be clearly seen that Sen Yat Senism cannot be the ideology of the Chinese proletariat, only Marxism- Leninism can and should be that. Marxism or Sun Yat Senism? That is the question.
What is the Kuo Min Tang as a political organization? What is the national government? What are the national armies?
It is often said that the present national armies are Red armies. But that is not the case. They should be compared neither with the Red Guard in our revolution nor with the Red Army, for they are neither purely proletarian detachments, as were our Red Guards, nor a peasant army, led by workers and the proletarian party, as is the case with our Red Army. The national armies are extremely heterogeneous. Their Canton nucleus has been increased by various badly organized detachments that joined it. Of the 40 corps at present, 35 are composed of those who went over to the side of the South during the struggle. These armies consist of mercenaries with only a small percentage of volunteers. But the general situation transforms them into an excellent peasant army, revolutionary and eager for the struggle. The role of the commanding staff is unusually great. But the staff is very little to be relied on. The commanders of the national armies are mostly elements alien not only to the workers, but also to the peasants’ movement, belonging to the bourgeoisie and the large landowners. A whole host of commanders in the national army were only a short time ago in the service of the North. The Communists are a very small handful in the Army. The generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek belongs to the Rights, that is, to the bourgeois elements of the Kuo Min Tang, and has already repeatedly shown himself to be an open enemy of the proletarian movement, a man capable of betraying the Chinese revolution. His last declaration (March 1927), which was extolled as a “victory” of the Communists and the Left wing of the Kuo Min Tang, is in reality a diplomatic chess move. It is the same language that Kerensky used for a long time towards the Central Committee of -the Social Revolutionists, when this Central Committee still sought to maintain a Centrist position, with this difference, that there is now much more real power in the hands of Chiang Kai-Shek than there was then in the hands of Kerensky. The first coup d’État made by Chiang Kai-Shek on March 20, 1926, was not a “struggle of ambition” between Chiang Kai-Shek and Wang Chin Wei (as the political philistines picture it) but a reflection of the class struggle. The victory of Chiang Kai-Shek led to the victory of reaction in Kwantung. The armed counter-revolutionary detachments (the so-called Min Tuani) hastened to break up the peasant leagues and to disarm the peasants. The old officials were brought back into the government. Very serious blows were inflicted upon the workers.
The national government, up to very recently, was a tool in the hands of the generals. Only the pressure of the masses tempered the Right tendencies of the government and made some more or less radical elements enter the government (the minister for foreign affairs, Eugene Chen, is a sort of Fabian). The national government frequently comes out openly against the workers’ and peasants’ movement, in a whole series of places it has suppressed workers’ strikes and strangled the peasants’ movement, does not permit it to grow, restricts it, resorts to dissolutions and arrests and endeavors to throw the movement of the peasants and the bandits’ “movement” into one pot, supports strike-breakers’ organizations against the workers. It rejects the most just and most elementary demands of the peasantry. Without granting the peasantry anything serious “from above”, at the same time it does not permit this movement to develop from below. Up to 1925, the big bourgeoisie has played first fiddle in the national movement.
Canton was, up to a very short time ago, the main point of support of the national movement. The national government was located here for a long time. That is why it is especially important to know the attitude of the national government to the labor movement in Canton. The real wages of the Canton worker have fallen about fifty percent since 1917. The average wage of the worker in Canton varies between 3 and 10 dollars a month. Only a small number of skilled industrial workers who form the labor aristocracy (a small handful of the 200,000 workers in Canton) receives between 15 and 27 dollars a month. It is just this group of the labor aristocracy that has formed the Mechanics’ Union, which does not affiliate to the class trade unions but follows the Right Kuo Min Tang.
Under the slogan of “civil peace”, the national government demands of the workers that they refrain from striking “behind the front of the national-revolutionary armies”, and submit all economic conflicts to the decision of governmental arbitration commissions. The workers did this readily ; but in the vast majority of cases the arbitration of the government operated in the interests of the employers. The government labor bureau draws out its arbitration decisions, subjecting the workers to starvation, save where it ranges itself deliberately on the side of the capitalists. In the Kuo Min Tang there is a “workers’ department” and in addition a “merchants’ department”, The bourgeoisie exerts its pressure on the merchants’ department and in the vast majority of cases draws the official organs of the Kuo Min Tang over to its side.
It was like this while Sun Yat San lived and it is all the more so now.
On the pretext of resisting an alleged “Red terror”, the bourgeoisie organizes its armed bands. In recent times it has even reached the point of the lynching of workers by employers, not to speak at all of those who are sacked from their jobs. The national government of Canton has not only frequently closed its eyes to these exploits of the employers, but even encouraged the building of yellow labor organizations under the leadership of former labor leaders who went over to the side of the employers. The government opposes arming the workers. On August 6, 1926, the generalissimo of the national-revolutionary army, Chiang Kai-Shek, ordered the disarming of the workers, their arrest and the court martial for those workers who would use their arms against the mercenary bands of the employers. In December 1926, after the departure of the government and the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang for Wuhan, a similar order was issued, and the workers were energetically disarmed by a mobilization of the troops for this purpose.
After the departure of the government from Canton, the “revolutionary” general Li Ti Sin dispersed the Canton committee of the Kuo Min Tang where the “Left” had a “far too great” influence, and he actually installed a Right wing committee. Of the 50,000 members of the Kuo Min Tang there remained only 13,000; the workers dropped away. But there are Communists in this committee also. And in spite of that, this “revolutionary general” arranges ceremonial receptions for the delegation of the Communist International that comes to Canton. By their participation, however, the Communists cover up all these exploits of Li Ti Sin, who is the real master of Canton.
The police of the national government have continually defended the strike-breakers’ unions against the real labor unions. Under the protection of the police, the employers have repeatedly suppressed strikes. In October 1926, a detachment of armed soldiers of the 25th regiment of the 3rd army swarmed into the railway car shops late at night and opened fire upon the workers., leaving a number of dead and wounded. This “incident” took place in connection with a peaceful industrial conflict on the railroads, in which the provocation of the Right Kuo Min Tang people played no small part.
What is happening in Canton, is also taking place over all the territory occupied by the national armies. The provincial governments imitate the Canton central government. In July 1926, the shooting of workers and arrest of Communists took place in Wutchau, Kwangsi province. The pretext was that the striking workers were disorganizing the rear of the Northern Expedition. Among those shot were three workers who had participated in the Hong-Kong strike.
The same things happen to the peasant organizations. In Tun Yang Sen, a detachment of the peasant guard was mercilessly destroyed.
In the province of Hupeh, there were a series of cases in October and November 1926 where peasants organizations were dissolved. In Ma Tchin Tan, for example, ten men were fatally wounded in the dispersal of a demonstration of workers and peasants. In Hunan, during the dissolution of a peasant organization, one of the leaders of this organization was hung. The Right Kuo Min Tang people actually direct the most important governmental organs and army corps and utilize them to smash the workers’ and peasants’ movement. The district captains and commanders of the army corps in various localities act in concert against the workers and peasants, while the courts and the press of the Kuo Min Tang wink at it.
The official government demands that all politics shall be excluded from the program of the peasant leagues. The peasant organizations are labelled “robber bands”, In the organs of the Kuo Min Tang the following declarations can be read: In June 1926, the journal THE RIGHTS OF MAN wrote: “What is the present misfortune ... We believe it lies in the robber bands and the organizations of the peasantry mixed up with them. That is the greatest misfortune, and we strongly hope that firm measures to annihilate them will be adopted.”
The Republican Gazette writes in the leading article of its issue for July 17, 1926: “The peasant organizations continue to incite only unrest, they destroy the peace of the villages.” The Go HUA likewise assails the peasant organizations.
The reduction of farm rents by 25 percent was “decided” while Sun Yat Sen was still alive. But it has not yet been carried through, for the whole apparatus of the national government and the Kuo Min Tang is connected by a thousand threads with the bourgeoisie, and through it with the large landowners.
The national government has pursued an impermissible policy towards the workers in the most recent times. On January 5, 1927, the Canton government, in accordance with a decision of the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang, published a new law on strikes which forbids the workers to carry weapons during demonstrations, prohibits special strike pickets, and sets up compulsory arbitration for the workers in almost every trade. The representatives of the national government have repeatedly decided directly in favor of the bourgeoisie against the workers, the merchants against the commercial employees., and so forth, in the proceedings of the compulsory arbitration commissions. A whole series of cases are known where the followers of Chiang Kai-Shek dispersed workers’ meetings (in Hankow) which did not suit him, etc. Even the existence of the trade unions has not yet been recognized, and the workers’ organizations in Canton and elsewhere under the national government can be considered to this day as “illegal organizations”.
The revolution has not only not assured the working class the eight-hour day, but has not even assured him one day of rest in the week, nor labor insurance, nor broad social legislation. The master and the factory owner can still subject the coolie and the worker to corporal punishment. The position of the industrial worker in China is even now still extremely miserable, only very little better than that of the coolie.
That is how matters stand with the labor question.
The Kuo Min Tang formally numbers 300,000 members. The government officials enter the party “out of reasons of service”, Its organization is indefinite in the extreme. No one can say exactly what is the basic unit of the party, or where the party begins and where it ends. The influence of the average party member on the policy of his leaders is extremely weak. but the Central Committee has extensive powers and is at the same time politically unreliable in the extreme.
Actually, an almost unlimited power rests in the hands of Chiang Kai-Shek and the other generals.
Perhaps the reorganization of the Central Committee undertaken at the last Plenum of the Kuo Min Tang will mean a few improvements. But the fact is that besides the Political Bureau there has been created a “special committee” with very far-reaching and little defined full powers.
In social questions, the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang has frequently had a policy that recalls the policy of the Cadet party in old Russia. The government has granted few real economic improvements to the workers and peasants. The political legislation of the Kuo Min Tang is equally niggardly and steeped in bourgeois principles.
In our Communist press, especially in the press of our party, the real essence of the Kuo Min Tang, unfortunately has up to now been painted in glowing colors. The Kuo Min Tang government has been explained among us and continues to be explained as a “government of the whole population of China” or as a “bloc of the four classes”, etc.
As though Marxism no longer applied to China, and as though a government “standing above the classes” could exist there! The average reader of our press must have received the impression that the Kuo Min Tang people are “almost” Communists (who differ with us only on “details”) and that what is taking place in China at present is already all but a socialist revolution. Even the putsch of Chiang Kai-Shek on March 20, 1926, when the Russian Communists were arrested in China, was not mentioned by a single word in our press, and the workers of the U. S. S. R., just as the whole international proletariat, knew nothing about this event. Only very recently, in March 1927, did the first article appear in the review of the E. C. C. I., which lifts the curtain a bit over what is happening in the Kuo Min Tang. In this editorial article, we read:
“The national government is already in the hands of the Center, which has lately been tending in most cases outspokenly toward the Right. To an even higher degree is this the case with the provincial governments of the South China state . . . To the Right Kuo Min Tang belong important statesmen, representatives of the bourgeois strata of China and the like. By their past, their present, their social and political connections, the Right Kuo Min Tang people are predestined to reach agreements with the imperialists, to reject thoroughgoing social reforms, to stem a further development of the revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ movement” Die Kommunistische Internationale , No. 12, March 22, 1927, page 554.)
In the same article we read that the Kuo Min Tang and the national government are seriously concerned over the growth of the labor movement and are issuing laws which are really directed against the right to strike.
When, after all this, the leading article of Die Kommunistische Internationale declares that “the Kuo Min Tang is now suffering from a lack of revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ blood. The Chinese Communist Party must concern itself with an appropriate blood supply, then the situation will change radically” (Ibid ., page 557)—such a unique diagnosis and peculiar manner of treating anaemia only attests the profoundly erroneous attitude of the editors of the review themselves.
The recent victories of the national armies have greatly extended the territory of the Kuo Min Tang, by including Hankow and Shanghai, two centers of large laboring populations. Under favorable circumstances, this can lead to a strengthening of the Left wing of the Kuo Min Tang. But even now there is also noticeable a parallel strengthening of the Right wing. One part of the Chinese bourgeoisie, doubtlessly with the full approval of the foreign imperialists, is revising its attitude to the Kuo Min Tang, is going over to its side, endeavors to enter it with the aim of getting at the head of the organization in order to behead the organization.
“The bourgeoisie is streaming into the ranks of the Kuo Min Tang, which is also gaining other new members from the commanders of the new troops. that flow into the national army. These two sources lead to the strong growth of the Right wing. Without having the masses at their disposal, the Rights are strong through their close connection with the whole state and military apparatus” (from an article by L. Heller, the official representative of the R. I. L. U. in China).
“At the present moment, the forces of the Left wing of the movement are greater than those of the Right. But one must not lose sight of the fact that in the process of the victories of the Canton armies they have been joined by many camp-followers who can easily be utilized against the interests of the worker and peasant masses, if the Communist party and the revolutionary Left wing of the Kuo Min Tang will not be constantly on guard for the interests of the revolution,” writes Rafes (The Revolution in China , page 131), even Rafes, who together with Martinov, sinks back most obviously into Menshevism in the problems of the Chinese revolution.
To compare the present Kuo Min Tang with the workers’ and peasants’ Soviets, even if only of the February 1917 period and the remaining of the Chinese Communists within it with the participation of the Russian Communists in the Soviets, of that time, is to make a gross error. In the first place, the Kuo Min Tang has in its ranks only 300,000 members (out of a population of 400,000,000) while tens of millions of people were represented in the February Soviets. In the second place, the Bolsheviks, when they went into the February Soviets, maintained the complete independence of their own party, which is not the case in China. In the third place, if the Kuo Min Tang is the same thing as the Soviets were, then why raise objections to the slogan of Soviets in China?
“The Kuo Min Tang is a cross between party and Soviets ”, said comrade Bucharin in the meeting of the Moscow functionaries on April 4, 1927.
“The Kuo Min Tang is a sort of revolutionary parliament, with its Præsidium, the Central Committee,” said comrade Stalin in the same meeting, and added: “Chiang Kai-Shek is a head higher than Tseretelli and Kerensky, for by force of circumstances he is leading a war against the imperialists.”
The one assertion is as false as the other!
If the Kuo Min Tang is a cross between party and Soviets , then why would it not accept the slogans of Soviets? The present leaders of the Kuo Min Tang will surely be against this slogan.
If the Kuo Min Tang is a revolutionary parliament, the struggle of the parties there is inevitable and necessary. Then why does not the Chinese Communist Party enjoy complete political and organizational independence in this revolutionary parliament?
To “speak Russian”, the Kuo Min Tang can sooner be compared with the old party of the Social Revolutionists (plus part of the “Left” Cadets) of the days when this party was still progressive.
But it would be more correct to compare the present Kuo Min Tang with the Kemalist party of 1920. At that time, the Kemalist party posed strenuously as a revolutionary, “almost” Bolshevik party, coquetted with the workers, called the peasant masses to its side, permitted collaboration with the Communists, called its government a “Council of People’s Commissars”, etc. But after it had bided its time, it drove the Communists into illegality, slit the throats of a number of their leaders (the murder of comrade Soubkhi and others) and formed a bourgeois national government with a conservative internal policy.
Naturally, Turkey is not to be compared in everything with China. Above all, there exists a numerous working class in China which is capable of playing a great revolutionary role. This basic difference must not be forgotten for a moment. But the working class of China will be able to play this role politically only when it becomes an independent force, when it ceases to be an appendage to the Kuo Min Tang. Then the fate of the Kuo Min Tang also, with a correct tactic on our part, will be different from the fate of the Kemalist party. There are many honest supporters of an alliance of the proletariat and the peasantry among the Left Kuo Min Tang people. With a more correct tactic, the Left Kuo Min Tang people would make the final break with the Right, and thereby be enabled to create a mass organization capable of playing a great revolutionary role. But the historical experience with the development of the Kemalist party should not be lost upon us.
“Will China go the road of Turkey and Kemal Pasha or the road of Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution? ” That is how the imperialists put the question (Peking-Tientsin Times , March 6, 1927). The greatest danger for the world revolution, especially for the U. S. S. R.., would be such an evolution of the Kuo Min Tang, that is, a victory of its Right wing and a compromise of this “Kemalist” wing, under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek or some one else, with American or Anglo-American imperialism. Such a conclusion would be worse than the situation we had before the taking of Shanghai. It would open the Chinese markets to “peaceful” conquest by international imperialism, which would serve to consolidate capitalist stabilization. It would free the hands of imperialist England and hasten the moment of a possible expedition of international imperialism against the U. S. S. R. The danger of such a conclusion must absolutely be seen.
On this ground alone, we absolutely have the duty: to tell ourselves and the whole working class the whole truth about the present Kuo Min Tang, to keep the whole international proletariat well informed on this matter, to make no attempt to give diplomatic solutions to questions arising in reality out of the class struggle. The utilization of one general against another in the interest of the revolution, is necessary. But this game with the antagonisms and rivalries among generals cannot replace a class line. Our orientation is towards the masses. Just as the struggle between the Right and Left Social Revolutionists had a tremendous significance at a certain stage of our revolution, so the present struggle between the Left and Right Kuo Min Tang also possesses no small significance. But in any case, we need a Chinese Communist Party which is independent of both the Right and the Left Kuo Min Tang.
7. The Chinese Communist Party
The Chinese party is comparatively young. Only after the four month political strike in Shanghai (June to October 1924) and the almost one and a half year boycott strike of the Hong Kong workers (beginning in June 1925), did the Chinese Communist Party begin to grow till it reached 15,000 members (and about as many in the Young Communist League). In the Chinese trade unions, however, there are about one and a half million workers and the young Communist party exerts a strong influence upon them. The Chinese Communist Party also has a certain influence upon the peasants’ leagues, which, under somewhat favorable conditions and a correct policy, will grow even more rapidly.
The Chinese Communist Party is a component part of the Kuo Min Tang under exceedingly ambiguous conditions. It assumes the obligation not to criticize Sun Yat Senism, a teaching that has nothing in common with Marxism.
As a T. A. S. S. telegram of March 23, 1927 reports, (this telegram was not made public in our press) the Plenum of the Kuo Min Tang of March 13, 1927, decided among other things: “Nothing shall be published in the organs of the Communist party that disturbs the collaboration of the Chinese Communist Party with the Kuo Min Tang.” Such a formulation signifies in reality the prohibition of criticism of the Kuo Min Tang by the Communist Party of China. Such obligations must never be assumed by any Communist party.
The Communist organizations are really pretty amorphous. In the eyes of the people, the Communists share the responsibility for all the actions of the Kuo Min Tang, including those directed against the workers and against the peasants, for they abstain from any sharp criticism of the Kuo Min Tang. In their agitation among the masses of the people the Communists never, or almost never, appear in the name of their own party but in the name of the Kuo Min Tang. In this manner the Communist face of the party is frequently lost in its contact with the masses. Despite the collosal scope of events, the Communist party does not possess its own daily paper to this very day, or in general, any widely circulated Bolshevist press, although it already has ministers in the National government. The lack of a Communist daily paper really signifies the lack of a Communist organizing center. In a word, the Communist party is really transformed into an annex of the Kuo Min Tang. This is so true, that even in the Chinese party “there are people who do not consider it possible to kindle the revolution in the village, since they are afraid that to draw the peasantry into the revolution will disrupt the anti-imperialist united front”, (Stalin at the Seventh Plenum of the E. C. C. I.)
The political and organizational dependence of the Communist Party of China on the Kuo Min Tang makes it impossible for the party to fulfill its duty either to the working class or the peasantry.
The political line of the Communist Party of China is an extreme zig-zag. Its basic orientation is neither clear nor stable. The June 1926 Plenum of the C. C. of the Communist Party of China, for example, adopted the following resolution:
“The alleviation of all these sufferings is an urgent demand of the Chinese people. This• is not Bolshevism. It can however be said that this is a Bolshevism in the name of our people but not in the name of Communism. . . .
“They [the bourgeoisie] do not understand that such a minimum of class struggle as is expressed in workers’ organization and strikes in no way weakens the fighting capacity of the anti-imperialist and antimilitarist forces. What is more, they do not understand that the welfare of the Chinese bourgeoisie depends upon the success of the war carried on together with the proletariat against the imperialists and militarists, and not upon the continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat.”
This viewpoint is absolutely non-Bolshevik ; it is really a Menshevik standpoint. With such a policy of the Communist party the defeat of the working class in the Chinese revolution is guaranteed. But simultaneous with this ultra-Right deviation we also observe ultra-Left moods among the Chinese communists. Declarations something like this: “The Kuo Min Tang died on March 20, 1926, and since May 15 it has putrified. So why should we support this rotting corpse with our hands?” (Die Kommunistische Internationale , March 1, 1927, page 409) are naturally false. As a Communist organization the Kuo Min Tang could not die, for it never was one. As a petty bourgeois organization, which has a strong bourgeois kernel at its center, it is by no means dead. Such ultra-Left moods are explicable only as a reaction to the false ultra-Right, almost Menshevik policy, to which the erroneous political attitude of the Communist Party of China is leading.
Above all the Communist Party of China must apply in their entirety the theses of Lenin adopted up by the Second Congress of the C. I., for they alone give a correct orientation which assures the victory.
The Communist Party of China must be legalized in the territory occupied by the national army. For the most part the Communist party is illegal even here, for the leaders of the army suppress the Communists at every opportunity. A Communist mass press must be created. The Communists must speak to the masses in their own name.
8. The Communist Party of China and the Kuo Min Tang
For the Communist Party of China to remain in the Kuo Mia Tang at all costs radically contradicts the theses by Lenin adopted by the Second Congress of the C. I. The advocates of this course apparently imagine the line of development as follows: first we will drive ahead to the complete victory of the national army, i. e., to the unification of China, then we will begin to separate the Communist party from the Kuo Min Tang. In other words: first let us make the bourgeois revolution in alliance with the bourgeoisie, and then the proletariat will start acting as an independent class force with a fully independent working class party, etc. This is a Menshevik conception through and through.
One national unification can be entirely different from another. It is well known that after the revolution of 1911 China was unified under Yuan Shi Kai (a cross between a Chinese Stolypin and a Witte). Then, China was unified under Wu Pei Fu (the Tchihli period), the present ally of Chang Tso Lin. It is well known how ephemeral was the unification of China under Sun Yat Sen in the beginning of the revolution of 1921, for there were not yet any real class forces capable of assuring this unification.
In the course of the struggle for unification itself, the Chinese proletariat must conquer the leading role. For if the unification is to proceed under the leadership of the bourgeoisie (even the most democratic) the conditions for the further struggle of the proletariat will become much worse. The entrenched national bourgeoisie can impose far more unfavorable conditions upon the proletariat than at present. The proletariat must serve the cause of China’s unification— that is the formula of the Chinese bourgeoisie. The national unification of China must serve the cause of the Chinese and international proletariat—that should be the formula of the working class. For the proletariat cannot free itself without freeing the whole world.
The bourgeois revolution and the socialist revolution in China are not separated by a “Chinese wall”, But the bourgeois revolution can grow and finally develop into a socialist revolution only if the proletariat conquers an ever greater leading röle in the bourgeois revolution itself. Lenin insisted on this point:
“The C. I. should establish temporary agreements, even an alliance, with the revolutionary movement in the colonies and the backward countries, but it must not merge with it, rather it must absolutely maintain the independent character of the proletarian movement—be it only in its embryonic form.” Moreover, in China the proletarian movement is no longer in an embryonic form. The internal contradictions in China, as in every great revolution, are maturing very swiftly.
The Communists can and must support the national armies and the National government. The Communists can and must, under certain conditions, even enter the National government. Lenin was for the entry of the Bolsheviks into a provisional revolutionary government but naturally he was against entry into a provisional government like that of Prince Lvov or Kerensky.
The Chinese Communists can enter the National government upon the following conditions:
1. Complete political and organizational independence of the Communist Party of China; full opportunity for it to carry on its agitation, propaganda, organizational work, arming of the workers, etc.
2. Full opportunity for the Communists to criticize the half-measures and mistakes of the Kuo Min Tang before the masses.
3. Strictest control by the Communist party itself and the Communist International over its representatives in the National government.
4. Full opportunity for the Chinese Communists to raise the slogan of Soviets and to defend this slogan before the masses the moment the party judges it opportune.
5. The platform of the government must be of a kind that does not hinder us in the “education and organization of the peasantry and the broad masses of the exploited in a revolutionary spirit” (Lenin).
The participation of the Communists in the National government without these conditions is pregnant with enormous dangers and may positively break the backbone of the young Communist Party of China.
If we have a few ministers in the Kuo Min Tang movement, but not a single daily party paper, then such a situation is more than dangerous for the young Communist Party of China, and forces one to doubt that the Communist ministers will accomplish their responsible task. It can be said with certainty that the participation of the Communist ministers in the National government will compromise the party if it remains an annex to the Kuo Min Tang.
It is only from the leading article in Number 12 of the journal, Die Kommunistische Internationale (March 1927) that our party learns for the first time that
“The June Plenum of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party decided on the following tasks with regard to the Kuo Min Tang:
“1. to pass over from the policy of an alliance from within to the policy of a bloc; (2) to work out a clear independent political line; (3) to strive towards having the urban petty bourgeois democracy become the foundation of the Kuo Min Tang; (4) to see to it that the Kuo Min Tang is not built up as a centralized party, that its local organizations• should rather take on the form of clubs. (March 22, 1927, page 555.)
Further on it is reported that the Communist Party of China considers indispensable the organization of a Left faction in the Kuo Min Tang. The editorial of Die Kommunistische Internationale is of the opinion that “all these decisions must be revised”, Yet the basic tendency of these decisions is undeniably correct. A “revision” is rather needed of the line that allows the Communist Party of China to remain an annex of the Kuo Min Tang.
Is the entry of a Communist party into a non-Communist organization permissible in general? There are cases where it is admissible, where the peculiarity of the situation even makes such a participation necessary. We had such a situation, for example, with regard to the English Labor Party. The Comintern decided at its Second Congress that the English Communists must enter the Labor Party. Lenin motivated this necessity by the peculiarity of the situation.
He said: “We must keep in mind that the English Labor Party is under especially peculiar conditions: it is a very unique party, or more correctly, it is not at all a party in the ordinary sense of the word. It consists of the members of all the trade unions, which now number about four million adherents, and it gives all the political parties that belong to it ample enough freedom of movement.”
The English Communists, Lenin continued, “have sufficient freedom to write that these or those leaders of the Labor Party are traitors, that they defend the interests of the bourgeoisie and are their agents in the labor movement . . . When the Communists have such freedom ... they ought to join the Labor Party . . . under such conditions it would be a mistake not to enter the party.” (Works , Volume XVII, page 303.) But only under such conditions.
Besides this, the following must not be lost sight of: Lenin did not express himself for the participation of the English Communist Party in the Labor Party at a time when a revolution was already under way in England, but in a relatively “peaceful” period in English life. The example of the recent English general strike has shown that the relations between the Labor Party and the Communists immediately sharpen as soon as the movement rises.
China, however, is passing through a period of revolutionary rise. The movement is growing and the contradictions between the working class and the bourgeois section of the Kuo Min Tang are also growing.
Naturally, the Kuo Min Tang cannot simply be compared with the English Labor Party. On the one hand, workers predominate in the English Labor Party. There it is a question of the united front tactic with members of our own class. Despite this, we ought not forget the following words of Lenin on the English Labor Party:
“Naturally the Labor Party consists for the most part of workers; but it does not follow from this that every party composed of workers is politically a workers’ party. That depends upon who leads it and upon the content of its actions and its political tactics. Only the latter determine whether we have before us a real political party of the proletariat. From this only correct standpoint, the Labor Party on the contrary is a thoroughly bourgeois party, even if it is composed of workers, for it is led by reactionaries, and the very worst ones at that, and completely in the spirit of the bourgeoisie.” (Works , Volume XVII, page 301.)
The leaders of the English Labor Party are accomplices of the imperialists and are frequently themselves “labor” imperialists.
On the other hand, the Left Kuo Min Tang, in so far as it works together with the Communists, objectively plays the role of an anti-imperialist factor in the present period. Herein lies naturally a colossal difference. At the same time, however, it must also not be forgotten that worker elements do not predominate in the Kuo Min Tang. Up to now, bourgeois elements have played a great role in the leadership of the Kuo Min Tang, elements who are capable even tomorrow of becoming allies and accomplices of imperialism in one form or another, to one degree or another. The Right Kuo Min Tang leaders are already the allies of imperialism.
It must be remembered that the Kuo Min Tang as a whole fights against imperialism only up to a certain point. The Kuo Min Tang demands the annulment of the unequal treaties imposed upon China, the abolition of the crassest forms of customs dependence, but no more. It must be remembered that so far as customs dependence is concerned, England for example, considered it possible to meet India half way, and thereby disarmed a section of the Indian national bourgeoisie. It must be clearly seen that the Right and the Center of the Kuo Min Tang are passionately steering towards a compromise with America, Japan and even England, that they will attempt to get loans from them, etc. It is entirely possible that the present struggle of the leading kernel of the Kuo Min Tang against imperialism will quickly give way to an agreement with imperialism.
We should also have no illusions about the “Left” leaders of the Kuo Min Tang, especially about Wang Chin Wei. At the decisive moment, they may prove to be not one whit better than the “Left” leaders of the English Trade Union Council. But everything possible must be done to lead the Left Kuo Min Tang people on the revolutionary road, without being transformed into a tail of the Lefts, who are themselves the tail of the Rights.
In principle the question must stand so: The Chinese Communists can and must adhere to the Kuo Min Tang, but only under the conditions which Lenin agreed to for the entry of the English Communist Party into the Labor Party. Up till now, this has not been the case.
In the present military and political situation, the Communist Party of China can and must remain in the Kuo Min Tang, but only in order to gather its forces, to begin immediately to rally the masses under its banner, to conduct a relentless struggle against the Right Kuo Min Tang and to strive for their expulsion and destruction. Our slogan under the present circumstances is not withdrawal from the Kuo Min Tang, but the immediate announcement and realization of the complete and unconditional political and organizational independence of the Communist Party of China from the Kuo Min Tang, that is, the complete political and organizational autonomy of the Communist Party of China.
>The Communist Party of China must declare openly that it no longer assumes any obligations which restrict its political and organizational independence in the slightest, and that so far as it has previously assumed such obligations it now annuls them. The Communist Party of China, in a manifesto and in a series of leaflets to the people, must set forth the grounds for such a declaration. The Communist Party of China must immediately create its daily press.
The line for the Communist party remaining in the Kuo Min Tang at any price leads not only to uncritical eulogies of the Kuo Min Tang, not only to cloaking the class struggle in the Kuo Min Tang, not only to the suppression of facts that cry to high heaven about the shooting of workers and peasants and the worsening of the material position of the workers, but also to the direct disorientation of the parties of the Comintern, including also the Communist Party of China.
A big meeting called by the French Communists in Paris on March 23, 1927, at which the leaders of the Communist Party of France, Semard, Monmousseau, Cachin and others appeared, sent the following telegram to the Kuo Min Tang:
“The workers of Paris greet the entry of the revolutionary Chinese army into Shanghai. Fifty-six years after the Paris Commune and ten years after the Russian, the Chinese Commune marks a new stage in the development of the world revolution.”
The French Communist workers are apparently being told that the present Kuo Min Tang is the Chinese Commune!
The organ of the German Communists, Die Rote Fahne , prints a picture of Chiang Kai-Shek on March 17, 1927, and presents him as the leader of the revolutionary workers of China, without explaining to the German worker who Chiang Kai-Shek really is. Die Rote Fahne of March 18, 1927, reports that “three million Chinese workers are in the ranks of the Red International of Labor Unions”.
One of the largest papers of our Russian party, Worker Of Baku , interprets the position of our party in the Chinese question in such a way that it gives the National government the advice “to carry on temporarily the policy of Brest-Litovsk on the field of international policy”, (Worker Of Baku , April 5, 1927.)
The Worker Of Baku forgets that the “policy of Brest” was correct after the seizure of power by the proletariat, after the establishment of the Soviet republic. But our party could in no case have proposed the policy of Brest to the government of Kerensky, for example. The government of Scheidemann and Hasse, after the overthrow of Wilhelm, also embarked upon a “policy of Brest”, but this does not lead to the victory of the proletarian revolution but to the victory of the bourgeoisie. The policy of Brest practised by social democrats signifies Versailles, and at the same time the victory of the bourgeoisie over the proletarian revolution. The policy of Brest carried through by Chiang Kai-Shek would signify the alliance with Anglo-American imperialism. The Worker Of Baku makes the “little” mistake of identifying the government on the Kuo Min Tang with a proletarian government. Of course, if this “little” mistake is permitted, then the Kuo Min Tang may be allowed to crush workers’ strikes, and it may also be called the “Chinese Commune”, The Right and the moderate Kuo Min Tang people will be quite able to come to an agreement with Anglo-American imperialism without the Communists.
But the climax of the mistake is reached by the secretary of the Communist Party of China, comrade Tchen Du-Siu, when he signs the joint declaration of the Kuo Min Tang and the Communist Party of China on April 5, 1927. It says:
“Even if our basic views are not alike in all details , we must be united.” The suppression of workers’ strikes, the disarming of the workers and the shooting down of workers and peasants are merely “details”!
The document denies the rumors that the “Communist party is preparing to organize a workers’ government, that it wants to invade the concessions by force, and overthrow the government of the Kuo Min Tang.” As if the occupation of the imperialist concessions by the workers were the same thing as the overthrow of the Kuo Min Tang government. It is absolutely false. In Hankow the workers occupied the concessions and that did not at all signify the overthrow of the Kuo Min Tang government. Instead of elevating the revolutionary elements of the Kuo Min Tang to the level of the vanguard of the working class, the Communist Party of China itself sinks in this appeal to the ideological level of the Kuo Min Tang leaders. Such a way of putting the question is pregnant with the greatest dangers.
At the same time the appeal expresses the idea that the present form of collaboration of the Communist party inside the Kuo Min Tang may be replaced by the form of “alliance” of the two parties. Obviously a section of the Communists insisted on that.
Our position is not at all the one of converting the Kuo Min Tang into a “workers’ and peasants’ “ party which is to replace and absorb the Communist party. The idea that we do not need workers’ parties in the East, but workers’ and peasants’ parties is a complete break with the ideas of Marx and Lenin. There never were any “workers’ and peasants’” parties that could defend the cause of the workers. The ideal of a “workers’ and peasants’” party was realized in Georgia by Na Jordania, but everyone knows what role Georgian Menshevism actually played. The Kuo Min Tang is a petty bourgeois organization which we are now supporting in so far as it fights imperialism . The peculiarity of the situation even permits our collaboration within the Kuo Min Tang, if only our political and organizational independence is assured one hundred percent . But if the Kuo Min Tang leaders force things to a point where the Communist Party of China is not given the possibility of working together with the Kuo Min Tang under such conditions (that is, under the conditions of complete organizational and political independence), that is, if they expel the Communists from the Kuo Min Tang, the Communist party must not draw back in fear even from that. Even then, of course, it will apply the policy of a bloc towards the Kuo Min Tang, so long as the Kuo Min Tang will fight against the imperialists. But the complete political and organizational independence of the workers’ party is something that must not be lost sight of for a single moment .
It is however entirely possible that with a correct tactic of the Comintern and the Communist Party of China, the Left Kuo Min Tang elements will be sufficiently strong to repel the Rights and create the possibility for the Communists to remain within the Kuo Min Tang under the conditions specified above. But if the Communists do not immediately raise the question openly of their complete organizational and political independence, if the Communists relinquish aiding the Left Kuo Min Tang people to create their own faction against the Right, then the political victory of the Right Kuo Min Tang is not out of the question. This victory would have the most ruinous consequences for the whole Chinese revolution, and would do the greatest damage to the cause of the world revolution in general.
Only such a policy can insure the leading role of the working class in the Chinese revolution, and the drawing over to its side of the peasantry and the whole petty bourgeoisie.
“To the question whether the leading role of the proletariat in the bourgeois Russian revolution is possible, we answer: Yes, if the petty bourgeoisie inclines to the Left in the decisive moments, and it is being pushed towards the Left not only by our propaganda but by a series of objective factors of an economic, financial (the burdens of the war), military, and political nature, etc.” (Lenin, Against the Stream.) That is how Lenin wrote in the year 1915.
Only with a correct, independent class policy can the Communist Party of China help the petty bourgeoisie incline to the Left in the Chinese revolution, to the side of the proletariat.
9. On the Slogan of Soviets
At the present moment, after the capture of Shanghai, now that the National government possesses a territory with 200,000,000 people and large workers’ centers are at its disposal, after the great workers’ strikes have aroused the peasants’ movement, the time has arrived when the slogan of building Soviets can and must be issued, of workers’, peasants’ and toilers’ councils, of Soviets in which the soldiers of the National army also must have their special representation, Soviets to which the representatives of the bourgeoisie should not be admitted. The Second Congress of the Comintern (compare above) already spoke of the necessity of propagating the Soviet idea even in the East, of creating them at the first opportunity. This moment has arrived in China. Only the building of Soviets is capable of preparing and assuring the non-capitalist road of development in China. Only the building of Soviets can create a better form for the working class leadership of the whole national liberation movement of China. Only the Soviets can shatter the old bourgeois governing apparatus and begin to create a new one, for up till now the old officials have in reality still been administering.
The present platform of the Soviets could be about as follows:
1. Nationalization of landed property (this demand is also contained in the first program of Sun Yat Sen. It must be interpreted in a genuinely Bolshevik sense.)
2. Genuine agrarian revolution (not mere reform) with all its consequences, that is, the complete emancipation of the poor and small peasantry from rent payments and from their debts, destruction of all vestiges of feudalism, etc. (the Kuo Min Tang program of recent date is extremely indefinite: (1) firm regulation of the tax rate ; (2) abolition of all special taxes ; (3) reorganization of rural administration; (4) improvement of the conditions of the peasantry; (5) disbandment of all armed detachments formed against the peasants; (6) prohibition of usury; (7) establishment of maximum rent payments, etc., etc. At all events this is not the program of an agrarian revolution.)
3. Nationalization of the railroads.
4. Eight-hour day for the workers (and a whole series of other labor laws).
5. Annulment of the “unequal treaties”, and also the raising of the question of foreign debts.
6. Confiscation of the Chinese shops and factories (large and medium). Nationalization of the Chinese banks, if their owners combat the national revolution.
7. As a perspective, the confiscation of the foreign shops and factories, the concessions, as well as of plantations and other landed property, etc. The buying out of those foreigners can be permitted who enter into an agreement, and the application of confiscation to those who participate in intervention.
8. Creation of a regular and genuine Red army, that is,, a workers’ and peasants’ army, which is led by workers and not by career officers (the latter must be drawn in and utilized in the spirit of the Russian experiences of the first years of the revolution).
9. Arming of the workers.
10. Emancipation of women.
11. A series of laws that extirpate the remnants of feudalism.
The Soviets in China must of course be adapted to Chinese conditions, that is, wherever necessary “to adapt them to pre-capitalist conditions” (Lenin). Under present conditions, the immense majority of the population can and must have access to the Chinese Soviets, above all the immense majority of the peasantry. The Soviets in China cannot be an organ of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the present period, but an organ of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the peasantry and the poor city population.
As the next slogans for the peasants we must now raise the following:
1. Abolition of rent payments or at least their immediate reduction by fifty percent.
2. Suppression of illegal taxes and collectives.
3. Out with the gentry!
4. Disarmament of the Min Tuan.
5. Arming of the peasantry.
Necessary also is the organized arming of the revolution, that is, the creation of Soviets as real centers of the revolution (the Soviets can become the arena for the activity of the Kuo Min Tang as well as of the Communists) . The masses of the people who sympathize with the Kuo Min Tang will support the idea of building Soviets if we follow a correct policy. Wherever we succeed in conquering city administrations the Communists must do everything possible to arm the workers and to transform the municipal organs into points of support of the revolutionary movement, and deepen the movement against the bourgeoisie and against the large landowners.
It is understood that in case of a victory of the Soviets in China, a “Chinese” N. E. P. would also be necessary, with even greater concessions to the petty bourgeoisie in the beginning.
The Communist Party of China must take the offensive with an open and broad propaganda for Soviets and the program indicated above, without in any way permitting the Kuo Min Tang to tie its hands in this regard. This would be a serious political test for the Left elements of the Kuo Min Tang. This would also signify the attainment of the real political and organizational independence of the Communist Party of China. It would also mean a real deepening of the workers’ and peasants’ movement in China. A real force would be created against the imperialists and a serious guarantee that the whole present struggle would not in the end be transformed into a mere struggle between the North and the South without any deep social content.
The numerous slaughters of the English and American imperialists cannot be brought to a halt by abandoning the attempt to raise the movement to a higher stage. The imperialists will be satisfied only if all affairs are turned over to the Right Kuo Min Tang people, that is, to the hands of the bourgeoisie, which will be transformed tomorrow into an agency of imperialism. The assault of imperialism can be brought to a halt only when still greater masses of workers and peasants are brought to their feet, when they are armed, when Soviets are created that can organize the resistance of tens and hundreds of millions of the Chinese people against imperialism under the slogan: Victory or death!
10. The Foreign and Domestic Position of the Chinese Revolution
The Chinese revolution is becoming the point of convergence of international imperialism. Here is the spot, here is the place where (for the time being to a small extent) the armed military forces of international imperialism have gathered. Here the possibility of a united front of the imperialists of the largest countries is beginning to appear in outline, although it is still far from being firmly established. The Nanking massacre shows how bestial international imperialism becomes as soon as it perceives the first great victories of the Chinese revolution.
The complete victory of the Chinese revolution threatens the imperialists:
(a) with direct loss of billions (concessions, etc.) ;
(b) with the loss of markets, particularly in an epoch when the problem of markets is becoming decisive ;
(c) with the extension of the revolutionary “contagion” to India, Indo-China, etc.
This also explains the fact that American imperialism, which up till now best understood how to mask its hostility towards the Chinese revolution by an outward benevolence, is apparently giving up its temporizing attitude.
The presence of considerable armed forces of international imperialism in the harbors of China, in the settlement of Shanghai, etc., creates a tremendously difficult situation for the Chinese revolution. But there is no doubt that with a correct and audacious policy on the part of the Chinese revolution, the imperialist brutalities will only unleash still greater forces in China, will only lead to the disintegration of the “reliable” sections of the imperialist armies, and will call forth an outbreak of indignation among the workers of Europe and America. Only thus can the united front of the imperialists be forestalled. In any case, only the leadership of the working classes can insure success in this tense and heavy-laden atmosphere.
In April 1922, Lenin wrote:
“And India and China are seething. More than 700 million people live there. Add to them the Asiatic countries adjacent and similar to them, and they are more than half of the population of the earth. There the year 1905 is approaching, irresistibly and ever swifter, but with the essential and tremendous difference that the 1905 revolution in Russia (at least in the beginning) could pass away isolated, that is, without immediately drawing other countries into the revolution also, while the revolution maturing in India and China is already being drawn now into the revolutionary struggle, into the revolutionary movement, into the international revolution.” (Works , Volume XVIII, Part 2, page 74.)
If Lenin in 1922 was of the opinion that China “is seething”, what would he say about it now, in 1927?
The Chinese revolution can triumph only if it draws other countries into the revolution, if it draws them “into the international revolution”.
Only when it goes over to the struggle for the Soviets can the Chinese revolution get the highest degree of sympathy and support from the international proletariat. “For the Chinese Soviets”—this appeal will meet with much more understanding and support from the international proletariat than the slogan “For the Kuo Min Tang”.
No matter how great may be the vacillations, as well as the attempts to shift the Right Kuo Min Tang people to the foreground as more “acceptable” to international imperialism, as possible “mediators”, etc. —all such attempts can only destroy the cause.
The whole Northern expedition was conceived by Chiang Kai-Shek not as an expedition of the revolution against the counter-revolution, but more as a strategic step that would ease the position of isolated Canton. It is no credit to Chiang Kai-Shek that the powerful movement of the workers and peasants transformed this expedition, in part at least, into an expedition of the revolution against the counter-revolution. The masses themselves, millions of workers and tens of millions of peasants, infused the national struggles with a social, revolutionary content, against the leaders of the Kuo Min Tang and in any case against the Right leaders of the Kuo Min Tang. The events that accompanied the Northern expedition, the surging of the masses, their ebullition, show how much combustible material there is in China, what inexhaustible reservoirs of strength lie in the Chinese revolution, how great are the possibilities for deepening the Chinese revolution and giving it a tremendous impetus.
The foreign and domestic position of the Chinese revolution are closely connected.
The imperialists are extending their tactic in the present period on two fronts.
On the other hand, they are preparing a direct war against the national revolutionary movement and have already begun it in part. In all the harbors of China a war fleet is being concentrated. The strategic points are being occupied. Troops are being brought in greater numbers. The bombardment of Nanking is not merely an episode, but signifies a bloody “beginning” which may be followed by a terrifically bloody continuation. Feverish military preparations are being made in the foreign settlements not only in Shanghai, but also in Canton. It is not out of the question that in the very next period the masks will be thrown off and foreign imperialism will undertake an open punitive expedition against the Chinese revolution, and without troubling itself about anything, will attempt to establish Tchang Tso-Lin and their other direct agents “as the masters of China”.
On the other hand, the imperialists would rather come to an agreement with the “moderate” (not merely the manifestly Right) elements of the Kuo Min Tang, and are working towards this end not only through bribery and “caresses” but also through intimidation, ultimatums, etc.) . America, Japan and France would undoubtedly prefer a “peaceful” agreement with the “moderates”, a splitting of the national movement and a “compromise”, so that the forms of the exploitation of China, but not the essence, would be somewhat changed. This road, in the final analysis, would also be preferred by the most responsible circles of English imperialism. The imperialist armies sent to Shanghai came too late to help Sun Tchuan Fang, but they can now become at the proper moment the allies of the Right Kuo Min Tang people.
The Chinese revolution must see both of these dangers. There is only one way to overcome both these dangers: to bring to their feet all the workers and tens and hundreds of millions of peasants, to impart a clearly expressed social character to the national movement, not to be afraid of scaring away the bourgeoisie, to step forward energetically on the road to the creation of Soviets, to drive the agrarian revolution forward immediately, to proclaim the eight-hour day immediately, to bring real aid immediately to the poor population in city and country at the cost of the rich and the well-to-do, to give the whole movement the strongest impetus by beginning to break through the bourgeois bounds. Only thus can the offensive of the imperialists be repulsed. Only thus can the Rights and the “moderate” betrayers in the camp of the Kuo Min Tang be rendered harmless. Only thus can the Chinese revolution be saved. Only such an avalanche can halt the foreign imperialists. The endeavors to act in such a manner as “not to scare away” the Chinese bourgeoisie, as “not to rebuff” the Rights and the moderate Kuo Min Tang leaders, as “not to irritate” the foreign bourgeoisie, will only ruin everything. As soon as the imperialists will see such endeavors, they will become ten times more insolent and the bourgeois sections of the Kuo Min Tang will take the treasonable steps.
While we are doing everything for the mobilization of the international proletariat against the war danger, we must at the same time help to Chinese revolution to step forward resolutely, to rise higher, without fear of flinging the Chinese bourgeoisie into the camp of reaction.
The argument that the Chinese bourgeoisie “cannot” betray the Chinese workers because it “needs them for the struggle against foreign imperialism”, is a Menshevik argument. The Mensheviks always said that the Russian bourgeoisie would indeed like to betray the workers. but “could not” because it “needs them for the struggle against czarism”, (Martinov now that he has joined the Bolshevik party, repeats the same Menshevik platitudes with regard to the Chinese revolution that he preached with regard to the Russian revolution when he was a Menshevik.) In reality, the Chinese bourgeoisie has already begun to betray the national revolutionary movement (not to speak of the proletarian movement) as soon as it saw that the working class did not want to be only an instrument in its hands against the foreign bourgeoisie, but raised independent tasks of its own. The Chinese revolution can triumph only under the hegemony of the proletariat.
A consistent revolutionary policy against foreign imperialism presupposes a consistent revolutionary policy with regard to the leaders of the Chinese bourgeoisie, that is, the Right Kuo Min Tang people, and vice versa.
So long as the supreme command remains in the hands of Chiang Kai-Shek, so long as the most important government posts remain in the hands of the Kuo Min Tang people, so long as these representatives of the bourgeoisie have their most serious point of support in the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang, so long does the cause of the revolution continually find itself in serious danger. Betrayal from within (whether direct or indirect, rapid or slow) is under the present circumstances much more dangerous to the Chinese revolution than the bombardment of Nanking and the occupation troops of Shanghai. If the former co-fighter of Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Tsu Ming, could go over to the counter-revolution, then why should this be impossible for Chiang Kai-Shek, who has already shown himself to be the enemy of the workers and the peasants, upon whom the whole imperialist press is staking, concerning whom the most influential organs of imperialism maintain that he is carrying on secret negotiations with Tchang Tso-Lin? Leave the supreme command in the hands of this person (even if under certain control) and it will be such indecisiveness that it is a symptom of the greatest internal dangers. If the Communists take even the slightest political responsibility for this, they are treading a very precipitous path. They must leave it immediately.
11. The International Situation As A Whole
The events of the recent period confirm over and over again the whole relativity of the stabilization of international capitalism. The situation in China is as tant as a violin string. No matter how the next period may develop, the world equilibrium will in any case become ever more precarious. The perspective of a new war (or new wars) draws increasingly closer. Ever more blasting powder is accumulating in world politics.
The encirclement of the U. S. S. R. becomes ever more distinct. The last note of Chamberlain is not only a “newspaper feuilleton”, is not only a “bone thrown to the Diehards” (the differences between the two factions of the English Conservatives should in general not be exaggerated), but is undoubtedly a diplomatic preparation for more energetic steps. This note is an “incision” whose purpose it is to permit English diplomacy at the proper moment to pass over to more sharply effective methods. This note is a link in a whole chain of policy.
The united front being prepared by American and English imperialism in China can, under certain conditions, become pregnant with great misfortune for Europe also.
A certain strengthening of the partial stabilization in Germany leads to the strengthening of the “Western” sympathies of the German bourgeoisie. The more zealous German diplomacy is of late, the clearer it becomes that the moment is approaching when it may also join in the anti-Soviet front in one way or another.
Italian Fascism has entered completely into the sphere of influence of England (recognition of the annexation of Bessarabia by Rumania). In Lithuania a fascist coup d’État was carried through, without doubt with the approval of England. In Poland the class antagonisms are sharpening which can, all other conditions being equal, accelerate Pilsudski’s adventurist designs. Under such conditions, the treaties of non-aggression concluded with Latvia and being prepared with Poland, are naturally not the slightest serious security for the U. S. S. R., although they do have a certain positive significance for the U. S. S. R.
The attacks upon the institutions of the U. S. S. R. in Peking and the other large cities of China were undoubtedly organized by England and also enjoyed in part the support of America. They are links in a whole chain of a deliberate policy of provocation with which, of course, the U. S. S. R. neither has had nor will have anything to do. The Peking coup was counted on to provoke sharp measures by the Soviet government in Manchuria, and thereby to draw Japan into the struggle against the U. S. S. R. and free the hands of England and America. But among other things it is also counted on to facilitate the work of the Right elements in the Kuo Min Tang and above all to frighten the most moderate leaders of the Kuo Min Tang. It is also not impossible that Chamberlain, by referring to “documents” which are being forged after the raids and the arrests of our comrades by the Northern troops, will take a new step in the struggle against us, will contrive a campaign in the whole bourgeois press of the world, and will perhaps go to the length of breaking of diplomatic relations with the U. S. S. R.
This will be all the easier for Chamberlain, since the General Council of the Trade Unions is obviously ready for any baseness. The day after the “hearty” deliberations of the Anglo-Russian Committee in Berlin, the General Council, together with the Central Committee of the Labour Party, declared that it deplored the “insult to the British flag in China” and proposed to submit the “conflict” with the National government to the League of Nations, that is, for the same Chamberlain to decide.
Our answer to the action of the imperialists in Peking must be twofold: (1) on the one hand, not to fall into the trap, to answer the provocation with calmness, restraint, and the continuation of the policy of peace; and (2) at the same time to do everything in China itself to deepen the mass movement, to arouse ever broader sections of the toilers against the imperialists, against their lackeys in the North and against the Right Kuo Min Tang.
By and large, the international situation is becoming tenser than it has been for a long time.
The Chinese question is becoming the main question of the immediate destiny of the world revolution. It may exercise a direct influence on the immediate destiny of the U. S. S. R. It is right now that the moment is arriving which Lenin foresaw when he wrote in his political testament:
“In order to insure our existence until the next clash between the counter-revolutionary imperialist West and the revolutionary and nationalist East, between the civilized states of the world and the states that have remained backward in the Eastern manner but which form the majority, this majority must achieve its civilization. We are also lacking in civilization for passing directly over to socialism, although we possess the political prerequisites for this.”(Works ,
Whether we “get a breathing space for a second time” (Lenin, Ibid.) whether the new crusade against the U. S. S. R. will fail, as it “failed as a result of the antagonisms in the camp of the Eastern and the Western exploiters, in the camp of Japan and America”—those are the things to which Lenin attached decisive significance.
That is why the very greatest responsibility, now rests upon our party and the whole Comintern.
The tactical problem of the present moment consists essentially of this:
1. Along with rendering assistance from every point of view to the Chinese revolution, we must at the same time do everything possible to prevent the extension of an open intervention of international imperialism against the South.
2. The U. S. S. R. must pursue, as before, a policy of peace, calling upon the toilers of every country to aid in defending the cause of peace which now finds itself in very serious danger.
3. At the same time, everything possible must be done to drive the Chinese revolution forward as far as possible and to exert all forces so that it will not only have a merely national, but also a deep social character.
4. To this end, we must endeavor to create genuine centers of the revolutionary movement of the worker and peasant masses of China, namely, Soviets.
5. The Communist Party of China must be assisted to achieve real political and organizational independence at all costs. Everything must be destroyed that binds and limits the independence of the Communist Party of China.
* * * *
The disarming of the workers of Shanghai, the shootings of the Shanghai workers by the commanders of the National Armies, the arrest of the chairman of the Shanghai Trade Union Council, the disarming of the workers in other cities of China—all these are events of the greatest significance.
The present leaders of the Kuo Min Tang are directly taking over the role of Chinese Cavaignacs. The shootings and disarming of the workers in Shanghai are leading directly, from an international viewpoint, to the embracing of the foreign imperialists. The latest events confirm completely the line that is developed in the accompanying document.
Moscow, April 14, 1927 G. Zinoviev
Last updated: 2 October 2009