Russia’s party leaders spent the three years from 1953 to 1956 in efforts to strengthen and consolidate their position both at home and throughout the “socialist bloc.” Of primary importance in this period was Russia’s control of Eastern Europe. During these three critical years the Moscow leadership had to play a cool hand. Unsure of themselves, not possessed of Stalin's capacity for deliberate, decisive and even ruthless action in times of crisis, the coming new leaders needed to avoid any wide-open dispute that might tend to undermine their position. Most of all, it was crucial for their purpose that they maintain apparently friendly relations with China. To this end Moscow made some minor concessions on unsettled problems, but would not retreat from the policy of “joint-stock” companies, retention of Port Arthur as a naval base and continued penetration of Manchuria. These constituted points of principle to a privileged caste that was rapidly developing some new forms of imperialist exploitation.
By 1956 the leading clique in unity in action and sufficient realized that their position of depended upon their capacity communist movement, maintain the Russian sphere of influence realize these aims Moscow had Moscow had developed a facade of confidence to act more boldly. They authority, both at home and abroad, to dominate and control the world control in Eastern Europe and expand in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To work on isolating China, their most powerful potential opponent, the one most likely to mobilize and lead an effective challenge to their plans for world domination.
The attack opened upon Stalin at the 20th Party congress in 1956 was a definite sign of the new leaders staking a claim to leadership on their own behalf, and in open defiance of the dead leader whom they no longer needed to fear. The strategy consisted of blaming and reviling Stalin for all the errors of Soviet policy, and all the coercive methods used during the previous thirty years. They claimed for themselves, the self-styled “Leninist core of the Central Committee” (Khrushchev’s phrase), credit for all that was correct in Soviet policy and methods. This proposition they advanced in defiance of two undeniable facts: a) Not one of the heroes of 1956 had ever demonstrated he had the courage to disagree with Stalin while he was alive; and b) all of them – to a man – had served as leading functionaries in party and state administration during most of the Stalin period, thereby sharing the blame for all the errors and deficiencies of the era.
There is little doubt that the anti-Stalin campaign was launched with the ultimate end in view of attacking China, as well as achieving internal balance and maintaining domination over Eastern Europe. In the initial period the Chinese made a determined effort to avoid a rupture in relations. The first response from Peking was to voice support for the “positive features” of the 20th Congress, while offering friendly criticism of its negative aspects. This was accomplished in two articles published in 1956; “On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” in April, and “More on the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” in December. The second article appeared after the Hungarian uprising of 1956, taking cognizance of that memorable event.
The crisis methods of the 20th Congress “disclosures”, the ambivalence of a shaky and unsure leadership in Moscow trying to convey the impression of uncompromising struggle against the imperialist powers while simultaneously trying to curry favour with the imperialists, provoked division in the socialist camp and emboldened the imperialists, who developed plans for intervention. Events in Hungary, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the less critical break with Rumania, encouraged the imperialists.
In a NATO debate on the opportunity presented for effective intervention after the Hungarian debacle, John Dulles, chief spokesman for the leading imperialist power, declared there was a “need for a philosophy for living and acting at this critical point in world history.”
He asserted further: “the Soviet Communist structure is in a disintegrating condition, with the power of the rulers disintegrating . .. Facing this situation, the free nations must maintain moral pressures which are helping to undermine the Soviet-Chinese communist system and maintain military strength and resolution.” He called upon the NATO alliance “to disrupt the powerful Soviet despotism based upon militaristic concepts,” and conffdently expressed the view that “a change of character of that world now seems to be within the realm of possibility.”
Confronted with this challenge, and the danger of world conflict inherent in it, the Chinese Communists, on the basis of their own very rich experience, essayed to offer some very timely advice to the Communist movement. The advice was aimed at eliminating divisions and weaknesses in the socialist camp, tackling the problem of solving the many justified grievances of people resulting from past errors and wrong policies. Early action on these critical problems was necessary lest the imperialists miscalculate, and take an irrevocable step towards war.
The Chinese revealed the fundamental characteristic difference in the two main contradictions existing in the situation, and the method which should be used in solving each, as follows:
There are before us two types of contradiction which are different in nature. The first type consists of contradictions between our enemy and ourselves.. . This is the fundamental type of contradiction, based on the clash of interests between antagonistic classes. The second type is contradictions within the ranks of the people . . . This type of contradiction is not basic; it is not the result of a fundamental clash of interests between classes, but of conflicts between right and wrong opinions or of a partial conflict of interests. It is the type of contradiction whose solution must, first and foremost, be subordinate to the over-all interests of the struggle against the enemy. Contradictions among the people themselves can and ought to be resolved, proceeding from the desire for solidarity, through criticism and struggle, thus achieving a new solidarity under new conditions ...
The Chinese went on later to point out some of the serious errors that were the main source of contradictions within the socialist camp. These errors required correcting before they became irreconcilably antagonistic, in order that unity might be restored in the face of imperialist provocation. It is obvious that the thrust of the criticism on this score was directed at Moscow, where the anti-Stalin campaign was being conducted in a manner calculated to serve as a cover for consolidation of the dominant Moscow group, and proletarian internationalism was being prostituted to serve Moscow’s expansionist plans. The Peking article stated:
Communists . . . understand that only when they correctly represent the interests and sentiments of their nation can they really enjoy the trust and love of the broad mass of their own people, effectively educate them in internationalism and harmonize the national sentiments and interest of the peoples of different countries.
To strengthen the international solidarity of the socialist countries, the Communist Parties of these countries must each respect the national interests and sentiments of the other countries. This is of special importance for the Communist Party of a larger country in its relations with that of a smaller one. To avoid any resentment on the part of the smaller country, the Party of a larger country must constantly take care to maintain an attitude of equality . . .
. . . Stalin displayed certain great-nation chauvinist tendencies in relations with brother parties and countries. . . There are certain historical reasons for such tendencies. The time-worn habits of big countries in their relations with small countries continue to make their influence felt in certain ways, while a series of victories achieved by a party or a country in its revolutionary cause is apt to give rise to a sense of superiority.
. . . No matter whether their country is big or small, if Communists counterpoise the interests of their own country and nation to the general interest of the international proletarian movement. .. they will be making a serious mistake of violating the principles of internationalism . . . ”Stalin’s mistakes aroused grave dissatisfaction among people in certain East European countries . . . Bourgeois nationalists try their best to exaggerate shortcomings of the Soviet Union...
Striving to maintain unity and present a united anti-imperialist front, the Chinese Communists, at the Moscow meeting of fraternal parties in 1957, and at the Bucharest meeting in 1960, made some compromises which Moscow later tried to exploit to their own advantage. The Chinese later commented on this matter, as follows:
. . . the delegation of the CPC made some necessary compromises. In addition to the formulation on the question of peaceful transition, we did not agree with the reference to the 20th Congress of the CPSU and suggested changes. But out of consideration for the difficult position of the leadership of the CPSU at the same time, we did not insist on the changes.
Who could have imagined that these concessions which were made out of consideration for the larger interest would later be used by the leadership of the CPSU as an excuse for aggravating differences and creating a split in the international communist movement.
At the Bucharest meeting in 1960 the Russian delegation arrived equipped with a definitive statement of principle on all the matters in dispute. They presented their position with the attitude that it should be endorsed with a minimum of discussion, and even less amendment, since the CPSU was the “leading party”. Chinese delegates accused Khrushchev of adopting a patriarchal, arbitrary, and tyrannical attitude towards fraternal parties. Khrushchev’s way of doing things at the meeting, the Chinese said, was entirely detrimental to the unity of international communism. From this point on, the dispute on principle and tactics became aggravated and the split between Moscow and Peking widened.
A decision was taken at Bucharest to hold another meeting in two years time, but this never materialized. The situation was becoming increasingly difficult for the Russians, and forums for free exchange of opinions were becoming a dangerous challenge to their authority. The trend appeared to be in the direction of increasing support for the general line espoused by Peking and a future meeting might find Moscow in a minority position. After Bucharest, Moscow concentrated on mobilizing Communist Parties against China, and against those others who supported China, in whole or in part. To achieve this end the Russians did not hesitate to use state relations where possible. Instead of a further meeting aimed at the solution of differences, there came an open break, and a public airing of the dispute.
China was probably correct in making the effort to strengthen unity in the socialist camp, and to effect a radical change in the disastrous course of action Moscow was bent on following. But the final outcome seems to have been a foregone conclusion. The weight of evidence tends to prove that a bureaucratic caste possessing special political and economic privileges had been in the process of formation in the Soviet Union for a number of years.
In the initial stage of Soviet power the declared policy was to adhere to the principle of the Paris Commune in regard to salaries paid to state and party officials. Salaries of cadres were to be fixed at levels paid to the average worker. Also, in order to guard against the evolution of a fixed state bureaucracy, all officials, elected or appointed, were to be subject to instant recall. As early as 1919, attacks were being directed against the Commune policy. There was criticism directed against the supporters of change, in the following words:
Those bolsheviks are making quite an unpardonable error who are proposing a salary of 9,000 roubles for members of the Town Duma, for instance, instead of suggesting a maximum salary of 6,000 roubles for the whole of the state – a sum quite sufficient for anybody.
The proposed venture into the area of bureaucratic privilege was defeated at this time. But with the retreat to the New Economic Policy, and concessions to capitalist mores, pressures increased in favour of higher salaries. Initially some safeguard was maintained in that members of the ruling Bolshevik Party were limited to the salary of an average worker. Considerable sacrifice was demanded of those desiring party membership. By 1931 important changes in policy were becoming evident.
In an address to “business executives” in that year, Stalin declared: “. . . we must abolish wage equalization and discard the old wage scales that take into account the difference between skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work . . . wages must be paid according to work performed and not according to needs ...”
There had never, of course, been equalization of wages. Under cover of resisting “equalization” there was being advanced a proposition for the further widening of an already existing wage and salary differential. What was crucial in this proposition was not so much the recognized necessity for some kind of wage differential, but that the trend was toward increasing, rather than decreasing inequality. The proposal constituted a clear declaration that the workers, or at the very least an important and strategic section of the working people, could be motivated only by the hope and expectation of pecuniary gain, never by socialist principles and objectives. This was not just a tactical manoeuvre; it was a retreat from fundamental socialist principle.
In view of the attitude displayed by leading personnel in Soviet industry, it was inevitable that the scramble for self-enrichment would gain momentum and permeate the ranks of state and party functionaries. When the Stakhanovite movement became popular later in the thirties, the stronger and more highly skilled could not only earn incomes far in excess of the average worker in industry and on the collective farms; in addition they were showered with honours, appointed to administrative posts in the state, and advanced to ranks of honour in the party.
The accumulation of personal wealth became possible once again. The right to inherit family fortunes was protected by Article 10 of the Constitution, which reads:
The right of citizens to personal ownership of their incomes from work and of their savings . . . as well as the right of inheritance of personal property of citizens, is protected by law.
A class possessing its own particular needs and social solidarity begins to develop in this political and economic climate. Its class status and privileges attained, it requires a state apparatus, with police and army, that will secure its privileged estate – a development described by Engels:
Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to labour, there arises a class freed from directly productive labour, which looks after the general affairs of society, the direction of labour, state business, law, science, art, etc.
This developing class continued to develop and prosper as a distinct social group in Soviet society, and a policy of admission to party membership facilitated their opportunity of becoming an effective ruling force. Having common social and economic interests that bound them together, the elite functioned as a united bloc that began to dominate the party apparatus – and control of the party was the key to control of the state.
Policies pursued by the Soviets during the war and post-war years tended to strengthen the elite in all aspects – economically, politically and ideologically – and they began to cohere as a distinct class with a Great Russian national consciousness and possessing definite class interests and objectives. Using the positions of advantage obtained from being inside the party apparatus, they were able to seize the opportunity presented by the crisis of leadership and policy from 1953 to 1956. The 20th Congress of the CPSU was an important step in the a Great Russian national consciousness, possessing definite class the state. At last the embryo class had become a class in fact.
The class which ascended to power in the Soviet Union was a group of exploiters of a special type. In place of the classical capitalist structure based on individual and small group ownership and control, the new Soviet bourgeois class was founded on collective ownership through the state, and made effective through control of the state. The origin of the class, and the method by which its class interests were best represented and protected, dictated rejection of individual ownership of the means of production. An open return to straight private ownership would have quickly brought into question the legitimacy of the class and its pretensions, and could have precipitated a renewal of revolution at home and isolation from important auxiliary forces represented in the Communist parties abroad.
It does not matter that in Russia the ownership and control of capital investment is vested in the state, or that the Soviet state is a particular form of bureaucracy. The state in this case is not fundamentally different in character from a capitalist limited liability company or a bank, save in the extent of its control over the economy. Unlike the normal capitalist enterprise, the Russian state enjoys a monopoly over resources and production, and the areas of internal and external trade, thereby affording the controlling state bureaucracy a control over the supply, direction and management of labour not obtainable in any normal capitalist economy. The bureaucrats who control the state may not be easily identifiable as a class, because of the difference between the Russian bureaucracy and the classical form of capitalist class structure. But they have clearly defined common interests, as well as the political capacity to realize their goals, using coercive methods much more readily and often, and in.a more crude fashion, than in the ordinary bourgeois democratic state. They are a class in the real sense of the word, because they act as a ruling class that exploits and oppresses other economic groups in society.
As in any other social system based on exploitation, the Soviet ruling class seeks to acquire “spheres of influence” or neo-colonies, as sources of cheap raw materials to feed industry, and as outlets for manufactured goods. Foreign policy and foreign relations are necessarily shaped to provide for these internal needs. In this sphere, as in the internal sphere, practice is in contradiction with ideological declarations, which must still make a pretence of adherence to revolutionary tradition.
GENERAL. A basic principle guiding and shaping Chinese foreign policy is the recognition that the people of all lands are confronted with the common and essential task of resisting aggressive imperialism, represented by the United States and Russia who, in China’s view, both collude and contend in world affairs. To diminish the role of the superpowers in the world, and to take advantage of and sharpen the contradictions inherent in the dual character of Soviet-U.S. relations, the People’s Republic of China actively promotes formation of a broad united front of countries that are not completely controlled by the imperialists and seek to fashion independent positions in foreign relations and domestic policies. For instance, during Trudeau’s visit to the People’s Republic, Chinese spokesmen addressed Canada as one of those countries that properly belong in such a united front. The “third world” would, of course, form the largest and most significant bloc in the front. Any success registered by united front actions would necessarily cause defections from the camps of the two superpowers, diminishing their capacity to divide the world into “spheres of influence”, and thus increasing the climate of competition, and heightening the contradictions between the two big powers.
Being cognizant of the fact that the broad united front against imperialism is central to China’s foreign policy, and that there are different levels and forms of relationship between the People’s Republic and the various participants in the front, is the key to understanding Chinese foreign relations and the varying forms of application in practice. The general principles governing all relations are the “Five Points” long espoused by China:
But all participants, or potential participants, in the anti-imperialist front are not alike, and are not treated alike in practice. China explains this differentiation in the following way:
In our foreign affairs ... we have adopted different policies toward different types of countries and varied our policies according to the different conditions in countries of the same type.
1. We differentiate between socialist and capitalist countries. We persevere in the proletarian international principle of mutual assistance with regard to socialist countries. We take the upholding and strengthening of the unity of all the countries in the socialist camp as the fundamental policy in our foreign relations.
2. We differentiate between the nationalist countries which have newly attained political independence and the imperialist countries.
Although fundamentally different from the socialist countries . . . the nationalist countries stand in profound contradiction to imperialism. They have common interests with the socialist countries – opposition to imperialism, the safeguarding of national independence and the defence of world peace . . .
We have consistently adhered to the policy of consolidating and further developing peaceful coexistence and freindly co-operation with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the same time we have waged appropriate and necessary struggles against countries such as India which have violated or wrecked the Five Principles.
3. We differentiate between the ordinary capitalist countries and the imperialist countries and also between different imperialist countries.
While persevering in peaceful coexistence with countries having different social systems, we unswervingly perform our proletarian internationalist duty. We actively support the national liberation movements of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the working-class movements of Western Europe, North America and Australia, the people’s revolutionary struggles against the imperialist policies of aggression and war and for world peace.
In all this we have but one objective in view, that is, with the socialist camp and the international proletariat as the nucleus, to unite all the forces that can be united in order to form a broad united front against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.
Three points to be clear about when observing China’s foreign policy in practice are: 1) The seeming contradictions do not flow from any ambivalence or uncertainty on the part of the People’s Republic, but are accounted for in the chief characteristics of the given country, and in its relationship with China and other countries. 2) The attitude toward one or the other superpower is determined by which one poses the greatest threat at the moment. 3) It is a country’s external relations, not its internal policies, that determine its relationship to the anti-imperialist front and decide China’s attitude. A country that is under internal reactionary rule is admissible to the front, provided it resists the imperialists and refrains from interfering in the internal affairs of others. In regard to the last category, China is confident that countries freed from the imperialist yoke will invariably, given time, develop in a progressive direction internally. The trend of development visualized is summed up in the slogan: “Countries want independence, nations want liberation, and people want revolution.”
In his first major statement to the United Nations, in November 1971, China’s representative summarized his government’s foreign policy, as follows:
We have consistently maintained that all countries big and small, should be equal and that the five principles of peaceful coexistence should be taken as the principles guiding the relations between countries. The people of each country have the right to choose the social system of their own country according to their own will and to protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of their own country. No country has the right to subject another country to its aggression, control, interference or bullying. We are opposed to the imperialist and colonialist theory that big nations are superior to the small nations and small nations are subordinate to the big nations. “We are opposed to the power politics and hegemony of big nations bullying small ones or strong nations bullying weak ones. We hold that the affairs of a given country must be handled by its own people, that the affairs of the world must be handled by all countries of the world and that the affairs of the United Nations must be handled jointly by all its member states and the superpowers should not be allowed to manipulate and monopolize them. The superpowers want to be superior to others and lord it over others. At no time, neither today nor ever in the future, will China be a superpower subjecting others to its aggression, control, interference or bullying.
There have been some who have criticized this policy on foreign relations in practice, in one or another specific instance, which they abstract from the overall world situation, viewing it as an isolated occurrence, rather than seeing it as part of the whole picture. But when looked at in its entirety, it is readily apparent that there is no contradiction between theory and practice in China’s foreign policy and that it has remained consistent over the years. One should recognize that if the principle is violated in order to accommodate one particular and isolated occurrence, then the entire policy is undermined and brought into question.
The foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China is firmly based on confidence in people, and an unswerving belief in the superiority of people over weapons. The whole objective of the policy is aimed at the mobilization of the widest mass of people in a movement of popular resistance against imperialism and the efforts at world domination that are the core of superpower activity. Such a policy would open the road to social advance.
Soviet foreign policy is demonstrably at variance with the views of China. The Soviets must appear before the world as ardent revolutionaries and supporters of independence for all countries. Without the pretence of adhering to these positions they would stand exposed, and see their influence evaporate; hence the often-recurring necessity for militant-sounding declarations. But, contrary to the experience with China, the deed is vastly different from the word.
We have seen that the success of the policy of China – dependent upon the widest possible mobilization – in no way conflicts with the national requirements of the People’s Republic. China possesses no foreign territory, deploys no armies beyond her borders, acquires no foreign investments, exploits no other people and has no pretensions to superpower status.
The Soviets, on the other hand, glory in their superpower status, hold profitable foreign investments, employ foreign “aid” as a method of economic domination and exploitation, and have important spheres of influence to defend, especially in Eastern Europe. An additional factor disturbing Moscow’s peace of mind is the ever-present threat of popular upheaval in the home territory – particularly in the nationally oppressed autonomous republics and in the European outposts of Soviet imperialism. These conditions render inacceptable any policy based upon popular appeal and mass mobilization. The main thrust of Soviet policy, therefore, plays down the anti-imperialist struggle, and speaks only about “peace” in general; indeed, insists that peace is realizable even while imperialism, that is, the exploitation of one nation by another, is still with us. This type of policy is based upon agreements between ruling groups, especially on the question of division of “spheres of influence,” and seeks to limit mass mobilization. The Soviet position is stated as follows:
We reiterate once more that the policy of the Soviet Union is designed to safeguard peace and promote the struggle against all forces that wish to plunge the world into war . . . the Soviet Government declares its willingness to cooperate with all governments who favour, or will favour, an easing of international tension ...
Despite loud harangues about the right of small nations to an independent existence, this policy does not depend upon the mobilization of an anti-imperialist front; indeed, the policy of “world peace with imperialism” could conceivably be threatened (as will be seen later) by such mobilization: it depends upon the ability of the superpowers to reach agreement in areas of possible conflict, agreement based on the concept “what is good for the superpowers is good for the whole world.” The theory is that once the massively-armed superpowers agree on any point they can jointly impose their decision on all nations. Khrushchev once remarked “if the two big powers can agree they need only wiggle their little finger and everyone must obey.” Superpower collaboration and trust in weapons is substituted for confidence in people and reliance on their ability to resist imperialist aggression.
Striking confirmation of the superpower-oriented essence of Soviet foreign policy can be found in two related statements: In a telegram addressed to U.S. President Kennedy by Khrushchev and Brezhnev, in December 1961, it was stated that the Soviet Union and the United States “will be able to find a basis for concerted actions and efforts for the good of all humanity”; and in the previous month of September, Khrushchev had declared that the two powers could “march hand in hand for the sake of consolidating peace and establishing real international cooperation between all states.” Nothing is said about the United States giving up its imperialist ways as a necessary measure in the interests of world peace, nor is any mention made in reference to equal participation by all countries, big and small, in determining world policies. Everything depends upon collusion between the two big powers. At the very moment this was being said the United States was stepping up its massive aggression against Vietnam.
Moscow emphasizes peaceful coexistence as the only really important aspect of foreign policy, and makes little distinction between exploiting and exploited nations. Advances in the direction of socialism, the Soviets claim, will be gained by example, in economic competition rather than in struggle. Soviet spokesmen have declared “When the Soviet people will enjoy the blessings of Communism, new hundreds of millions of people on earth will say: We are for Communism,” and by then, the Russians say, even capitalists may “go over to the Communist Party.” Obviously an effective “example of the blessings of communism” would be for the Russians to live in luxury, wallow in an abundance of goods, even while tens of millions of the world’s people go hungry. In practice this policy “justifies” Soviet profits from “aid”, foreign investment and the acquisition, at cheap rates, of Eastern Europe’s raw materials and agricultural products, because it builds the Russian economy and so “proves” that “Communism” works. There is a considerable flaw in the “justification”: the classic imperialist powers have been applying that policy in their overseas relations for many years, with precisely the same results. If Moscow’s argument has any value at all, it is to prove that imperialism works. If the Russian policy enjoys any degree of success it will bring to reality the dream expressed in Khrushchev’s remark to his American friends: “It is true that for the time being you are richer than we. But we want to be as rich tomorrow, and richer still the day after.”
Soviet foreign policy is based on the assumption that the superpowers must decide all important world issues, and unilaterally impose a settlement on any “local war” that may erupt.
Peaceful coexistence as a general line, rather than one aspect of a comprehensive foreign policy, despite what Soviet spokesmen may say to the contrary, denies to people the right to struggle to break the imperialist yoke. And as imperialist domination is the main problem demanding solution before people can determine their own destiny, Soviet policy means, in practice, opposition to wars of national liberation. Effective anti-imperialist struggle has most often taken the path of “local wars” of national liberation – Indochina, the Arab Republics, Algeria, Morocco, the Congo, etc. World opinion may sometimes force the Soviets to give limited aid to some local liberation struggles; their policy is to “put out the fire.” Vietnam was a special case. Russia did not come with aid until North Vietnam was attacked, and that constituted aggression against a Soviet sphere of influence. Moscow has an interesting theory that can “justify” Soviet opposition to any “local war,” whatever the issues and objectives. The “theory” is quietly inserted in an article in “defence” of national liberation struggles, and reads as follows:
. . . The CPSU and the other Marxist-Leninist parties consider it necessary to display the maximum vigilance with regard to all the local wars and conflicts engendered by the imperialists ’policy of strength’. The facts show that, faced with an abrupt change in the balance of strength in favour of world socialism and fearing that a world war would end in complete collapse for the imperialists, some imperialist circles place their hopes on touching off local wars, striving in this way to achieve their aggressive designs. It is the task of all democratic and peace-loving forces to give the most determined rebuff to the imperialist fomenters of local wars. This is all the more important since local wars might be the spark igniting the flames of world war...
Armed with this theory the Soviets can not only refuse to support a local armed struggle for national liberation; they can openly oppose it by contending that it is an imperialist-inspired provocation that could touch off a world war.
It is clear that a wide chasm lies between the two lines on foreign policy. China’s line is oriented toward people – trusting in the desire and capacity of ordinary people to unite in resistance to imperialist exploitation, and advance along the path of fundamental social change. The Soviet line is oriented toward weapons and superpower unity, in opposition to any undertaking that tends to upset the status quo. In the name of social revolution, for example, Moscow calls upon oppressed people to quietly suffer national indignity, hunger and foreign oppression, while Russians grow rich and are well fed, as conclusive proof that “Communism” works. There should be no difficulty in deciding which policy is really in the interests of common people everywhere.
DETENTE. There is no reason for discussing “detente” in connection with the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China, where there is no room to accommodate such a policy. This particular breed of diplomacy belongs to the world of superpower relations, and is an original Moscow invention.
According to the Oxford dictionary, “detente” means “the easing of strained relations.” But in the Soviet-U.S. big power lexicon it covers a multitude of sins.
In the world of Soviet-U.S. relations, detente means superpower collusion, collaboration, dividing the world into spheres of influence, defence of the status quo and unity in opposition to “disturbers of the peace.” Each recognizes the authority and sovereignty of the other in zones of power where intervention would be considered a direct attack on the power centre of one superpower by the other. For instance, while the Americans took advantage of Soviet difficulties in Eastern Europe for propaganda purposes, there was never any idea of more practical interference.
In addition to the general relations of the superpowers inherent in detente, the policy serves one more rather important aspect of superpower plans – the “containment” of the People’s Republic of China.
After the Soviets’headlong flight from the Cuban missile fiasco of 1962, at a time when the Sino-Soviet dispute had reached a high point and Moscow was encouraging and arming India for an attack on China, the Soviet Union followed a course of practical detente in Europe which permitted the United States to shift large numbers of highly-trained troops to Indochina for use in the attempt to encircle the People’s Republic. At that time the United States had to be considered the main threat.
But the United States suffered a major set back in Southeast Asia, and was forced to pull back, thus easing the threat from that quarter. Now the Soviets have taken over directly the task of encirclement and detente, and the clear intention of the United States not to interfere in Eastern European affairs or encourage any popular outbreak there has allowed Russia to deploy millions of troops in the Far East and to engage in provocative acts on China’s border.
Moscow desperately wants more practical support from the United States in the anti-China policy, but skillful Chinese diplomacy has been successful in opening up friendly contacts with the Americans, thus minimizing the danger of greater U.S.-Soviet unity on an anti-China program.
Detente, among its other characteristics, is a ruse by which Moscow hopes to obtain U.S. neutrality while the Soviets strengthen their position in their sphere of influence, expand their domination of new fields and press their attacks on China. The policy of detente has no relationship whatever to real peace and the security and independence of nations.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The stand of China on nuclear weapons has been both clear and consistent. It is conceded that atmospheric tests create a health hazard, but the much greater danger is the threat of nuclear war. This threat, in China’s view, is greatly increased by monopoly control of the weapons. The superpowers use them for purposes of blackmail and coercion. At one point in 1962, Moscow’s nuclear gambles almost precipitated a war.
The two big powers, their required atmospheric tests concluded, have moved underground where tests are continued at an increasing rate and in larger volume as new weapons are created and stockpiled. Having no need for further tests in the atmosphere, the superpowers play on the justified fears of the people in attempts to win popular support for monopoly control, and to direct attention away from continuing underground tests and nuclear weapons stock-piling. Some people are taken in by this line and concentrate on protection of the atmosphere, neglecting the real threat, which is increasing stores of weapons and the threat of war.
Proceeding from the standpoint that the main danger lies in monopoly control and the possibility of nuclear war, China, at considerable cost, works to break the monopoly and simultaneously advances proposals that would resolve the problem. China’s proposals are simple and direct:
If the program espoused by the People’s Republic was put in operation, the problem of tests in the atmosphere would be solved and the threat of nuclear war removed. At one time China offered to suspend tests in the atmosphere if the third point was accepted preliminary to agreement on the whole program. China also unilaterally declared she would not be the first to employ nuclear weapons, even if war should erupt.
The Soviet position on nuclear weapons has been consistent only in its inconsistency, changing with Russia’s political and military needs of the moment.
Originally the United States alone enjoyed a monopoly on the weapons and the Russians, quite legitimately, set out to break it, in order to eliminate the intolerable coercive position occupied by the Americans and the danger of war it represented. At that time the Soviets held a very much different position on atmospheric pollution from the one now occupied by them. Respecting nuclear weapons, Khrushchev declared in 1962:
The Soviet Government regards general and complete disarmament as the most important measure capable of guaranteeing lasting peace and creating the most favourable conditions for promoting confidence and cooperation between states . . . In particular, the question raised. . . of ending nuclear weapons tests would disappear forever, since those weapons will not merely be banned but completely destroyed.
This is considerably short of China’s proposal, which would ban a single monstrous weapon of mass destruction, even while we are yet far from complete disarmament. But even this proposal advanced by Moscow has been abandoned by the Russians since they gained membership in the nuclear club and achieved superpower status, in addition to having far-flung outposts of empire to maintain and defend.
An even more categorical statement, rejecting a Test Ban Treaty, was broadcast to the world by Khrushchev in 1961. He declared:
Having worked out a program for producing new nuclear weapons types, which required a series of underground tests, the U.S.A. would not agree at this conference to banning all nuclear explosions, but only to stopping tests in the atmosphere. Thereby, it sought to make the Soviet Union sanction with its own signature the execution of the United States present program of further nuclear weapons development.
While the Geneva negotiations went on, they did not discontinue but intensified their armament build-up, stockpiling immense quantities of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons. Under these conditions, without a treaty of general and complete disarmament an agreement on stoppage of atomic tests would have done the cause of peace an ill service. It would only have bred a false illusion of security. People would have thought the danger of war was lessening; whereas such an agreement would not in the least have checked the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and certainly would not have prevented their being used in the war the imperialist powers threaten.
But what a change a brief passage of time brings! Russia, herself in need of “false illusions,” has adopted the American test ban proposal as her own and is trying to force it on others as a great humanitarian achievement. The puppets who formerly supported Moscow’s rejection of the test ban now support, even more ardently and as part of their anti-China campaign, the banning of tests in the atmosphere. Agreement on a Test Ban Treaty will not lessen the danger of war now any more than in 1961. But now Russia is a partner in a two-power monopoly, with a powerful desire and need to retain nuclear weapons and expand her store of them.
In order to obviate the necessity of China having to independently develop a nuclear capability, Russia made a commitment to supply China with full information on the subject. But as the Soviets became expansion-minded and acquired superpower status, relations with the People’s Republic deteriorated and this commitment, along with many others, was unilaterally abrogated by Moscow. China was confronted with the alternative of submitting to Russian dictates and becoming a prime target for nuclear blackmail, or proceeding with the arduous task of developing a nuclear capability to break the weapon monopoly and maintain independence of action. The Chinese chose the latter course.
On the question of first use: the Soviets clearly indicate they are prepared to resort to nuclear strikes in reply to an attack by “conventional” weaponry. Here is the Soviet position on that point, as outlined in a 1963 Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU:
. . . imperialism starts a war against us, we shall not hesitate to use this formidable weapon against the aggressor. But if we are not attacked, we shall not be the first to use the weapon.
A position like this only serves to heighten the climate of crisis and increases the danger of “limited” war turning into nuclear war. Waving nuclear weapons like a battle flag is a favourite tactic of the Russians when opposed. They constantly remind all within hearing: “We have powerful nuclear weapons in our arsenal that can wipe out whole cities.” Every Moscow parade is seized as an opportunity to display nuclear weaponry before the eyes of the whole world as a constant reminder and threat that Moscow is equipped to spread destruction at will. Not even the most warlike imperialists of the United States make such a display of murder machines.
The most astounding act of Soviet “nuclear diplomacy,” an adventure that came very close to precipitating the world into a general nuclear war, was the Russian-instigated Cuban missile crisis of 1961. This venture lays bare all the inner contradictions of Russian policy and demonstrates the fundamental difference in content and direction between the Chinese and Soviet policies.
In the Cuban “missile crisis” the Soviet Union acted unilaterally, contending that Cuba’s destruction was under threat from the United States. How Cuba’s independence and national integrity was to be secured by a rain of nuclear missiles has never been satisfactorily explained by Moscow, especially since Cuba at the Bay of Pigs earlier had demonstrated her capacity to rebuff the imperialists without resort to nuclear weapons.
China sharply criticized the Soviets for initial “adventurism” and for later capitulation in the face of imperialist threats. Moscow responded with hysterical attacks, and statements that represented a complete distortion of China’s nuclear policy and foreign relations.
The entire Russian adventure in the Caribbean was based on the principle “weapons decide everything”. This concept China firmly rejects, adamantly opposing reliance on weapons rather than on people. China’s rejection of Moscow’s policy, especially in its relation to struggles for national liberation, was restated during the debate on the Cuban crisis, as follows:
The Communist Party of China has always held that the socialist countries should actively support the peoples’ revolutionary struggles . . . At the same time, we hold that the oppressed peoples and nations can achieve liberation only by their own resolute revolutionary struggle and that no one else can do it for them.
We have always maintained that socialist countries must not use nuclear weapons to support the peoples’ wars of national liberation...
We have always maintained that the socialist countries must achieve and maintain nuclear superiority. Only this can prevent imperialists from launching a nuclear war and help bring about the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons.
We consistently hold . . . nuclear weapons must always be defensive weapons for resisting imperialist nuclear threats. A socialist country absolutely must not be the first to use nuclear weapons, nor should it in any circumstances play with them or engage in nuclear gambling... it is not we but. . . the CPSU who have frequently boasted that they would use nuclear weapons to help the anti-imperialist struggle of one country or another.
. . . the oppressed peoples and nations have no nuclear weapons and they cannot use them to make revolutions... there is no clear battle line between the two sides in national liberation wars, and therefore the use of nuclear weapons is out of the question . . . What need is there... to support the peoples’ revolutionary struggles by nuclear weapons?
. . . How would a socialist country use nuclear weapons to support the revolutionary struggle of an oppressed people or nation? Would it use nuclear weapons on an area where a war of national liberation . . . was in progress, thereby subjecting the revolutionary people and the imperialists to a nuclear strike? Or would it be the first to use nuclear weapons against an imperialist country which was waging a conventional war of aggression elsewhere?. .. in either case it is absolutely impermissible for a socialist country to use nuclear weapons.
. . . when the leaders of the CPSU brandish nuclear weapons, it is not really to support the people’s anti-imperialist struggles.
Sometimes, in order to gain cheap prestige, they just publish empty statements which they never intend to honour.
In no other passage is the contention of nuclear weapons being a “paper tiger” made more clear and concise. The weapons have horrendous potential, to be sure, but are paper tigers just the same. They cannot prevent or halt wars ot liberation, nor can they play any role in them. Soviet dependency on massive nuclear superiority cannot possibly advance the liberation struggles.
China holds that aid to nations struggling for their independence must be in line with their needs, without preconditions and free from any suggestion of interference in the countries’ internal affairs, and without any attempt to direct the course of struggle. It must be meaningful aid, freely given. China has been practising this policy for some time.
The Soviets, on the other hand, when they extend “aid”, other than brandishing nuclear weapons, do so with strings attached, a profit motive and an insistence on the right to “advise” and to assign “experts” to the region.
At a Moscow conference held in January-February, 1952, leading Soviet theoreticians clearly outlined the Russian “big brother” and dominant attitude toward ’third world’ nations. These spokesmen declared:
But as regards Mongolia and other countries where there is no proletariat, there the people’s democracy is or will be a dictatorship of the peasantry of these countries, and this must not be considered fantastic in our time, when the Soviet Union exists.
A peasant regime not guided by the working class or bourgeoisie cannot exist for a long time. The whole meaning of the teaching on the non-capitalist path of development lies precisely in the fact that the working class of the land of victorious socialism takes upon itself the leadership of a backward country with a peasant population.
This Soviet’neo-imperialist “theory” can be stretched to cover a vast area of the earth’s surface and at least a quarter of its population. Here is “justification” for Soviet ownership of industry in “under-developed” nations, and for the presence of domineering Russian “experts” who lord it over the “backward” native population. Such a policy is completely at variance with the real requirements of the independence struggle. It serves merely as an excuse for the establishment and perpetuation of Russian domination, which is tantamount to imperialist exploitation.
China, having had personal, firsthand experience of this neo-imperialist Russian policy, has rejected it on its own behalf, and protests and opposes it when applied to others.
China offers firm opposition to an aspect of Russian foreign policy known as “limited sovereignty”, seeing in the concept a bogus “Marxist” approach to the problem of relations between nations within the “Socialist bloc”. This concept in reality provides for the means of enforcement of the concept of the “socialist division of labour” and was most clearly articulated following the Czechoslovak crisis. Commenting on this Soviet doctrine of “limited sovereignty”, the Chinese have said:
The CPSU leadership raved that the interests of the socialist community under their control represent the highest sovereignty and that this must be given first place, while the sovereignty of any one state is limited. They arrogate to themselves the right to determine the destiny of the members of the community, including the destiny of their sovereignty. They allege that such an act as ’rendering military aid to a fraternal country to do away with the threat to the socialist system,’is in the interests of the camp of socialism and is upholding the sovereignty of another country. This is out and out gangster logic put out by the new Czars to justify their aggression.
It is clear that there are sharp differences of opinion between Peking and Moscow on relations between countries in the socialist camp, and on the question of the role of the CPSU in shaping and directing world communist opinion and policy. The CPSU have shown, on several occasions, that they will not hesitate to resort to invasion and occupation to ensure that decisions of the CPSU Congress are obeyed by all other parties in the socialist bloc countries. Toward this end the CPSU also seeks to use its own formula of intra-party relations – the principle of the minority submitting to the majority, that is to say, submitting to the dictates of Moscow and accepting CPSU decisions as binding on all parties. This is the essence of the Soviet charge that China violated unity of action: China sharply questioned decisions made in Moscow which it regarded as wrong, and refused to be bound by them.
There was a period following the 20th Congress (1956) when the CPSU felt insecure in the world communist movement. For a time there existed the possibility that a majority of world parties might look to Peking rather than Moscow for inspiration. For several years, then, the CPSU emphasized the independence of separate parties and the necessity to accept the fact of differences existing, and of striving for consensus on questions.
Simultaneously playing down the dominant role of the CPSU, the Russians began the task of regrouping on the world front. Parties loyal to Moscow began excluding persons of contrary opinions, and the Russians, with the aid of the military, reasserted their dominant position in the Eastern Europe countries, enabling them to control party decisions and policies. With forces regrouped, the CPSU was ready to move toward a reassertion of Moscow’s authority by the time of the 1960 conference in Bucharest.
The Russians circulated a document which, in essence, presented decisions made at the CPSU Congress, to be endorsed as the program of the world communist movement. Confident now in their ready-made majority, the Russians made the unprecedented proposal that in world party relationship the rule that the minority be bound by majority decisions should prevail. With that went the rule of a lower party body submitting to a higher body. Who was to be the higher party body to whom everyone should defer? Khrushchev makes that point rather clear in several statements referring to the leading position of the CPSU. Here are a few examples:
. . . the Soviet Union stands at the head of the socialist camp and the CPSU at the head of the communist movement . . .
The role of the Soviet Union lies. . . in its being the most powerful country of the world socialist system, in having accumulated extensive positive experience in the building of socialism, and in being the first to embark on the full-scale building of communism . . . The Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been, and remains, the universally recognized vanguard of the world communist movement, being its most experienced and steeled contingent.
Accepting the CPSU as the “vanguard party” would concede to that party the unquestioned right to decide on all matters in dispute. In effect, decisions arrived at in Congress of the CPSU would be automatically binding on all parties. This was a totally unacceptable proposal and the Chinese opposed it vigorously, declaring:
In relations between parties there is no reason to demand that the minority should submit to the majority, for between parties there are no superiors and inferiors: each party is independent . . . The Soviet party accuses us of fractionalism for disputing certain resolutions passed by its own congresses. In trying to bind others it is the Soviet party which has offended against inter-party discipline. For how can there be equality between fraternal parties if everything the Soviet party decides at its own congresses is binding on the rest? Or must we admit a new concept – ’father’ parties and ’son’ parties? . . . The purpose behind the condemnation in the draft resolution of the activities of fractions and groups is intended to place a bomb under the Chinese party, and nothing else at all. We shall not yield!
In a letter of September, 1960, the Chinese party challenged the Soviet position of a binding majority in these words: “. . . the problem of exactly who is right and who is wrong cannot in every case be judged by who has the majority. After all, truth is truth. Error cannot be turned into truth because of a temporary majority, nor will truth be turned into error because of a temporary minority. ”
At the Moscow meeting of 1960 the Chinese declared:
. . . It is totally wrong to apply the principle of the minority’s submitting to the majority to the relations among fraternal parties in actual present-day conditions in which centralized leadership such as that of the Comintern neither exists nor is desirable. Within a party the principle that the minority should submit to the majority and the lower party organization to the higher one should be observed. But it cannot be applied to relations among fraternal parties . . . Here, the relationship in which the minority should submit to the majority does not exist, and still less so the relationship in which a lower party organization should submit to a higher one. . . On what super-party constitution does the Central Committee of the CPSU base itself in advancing such an organizational principle? When and where did the Communist and Workers’ Parties of all countries ever adopt such a supra-party constitution?
. . . even within a party . . . it cannot be said that on questions of ideological understanding truth can always be told from error on the basis of which is the majority and which the minority opinion ...
. . . even within a party group the majority is not always correct. . . on the contrary the majority have to renounce the policy of suppression if unity is to be preserved, and this is particularly the case where relations among fraternal
If the CPSU leaders insist on marking off the ’majority’ from the ’minority’, then we would like to tell them quite frankly that we do not recognize their majority. The majority you bank on is a false one ...
It would seem that this critical analysis should have been sufficient to refute the ill-considered proposal of “majority” rule in the world communist movement, especially at a time when there were sharp differences of opinion on questions of principle. But a number of parties were willing to accept Moscow directives, became apologists for the CPSU line, expelled dissident groups from their ranks, and joined Russia in an anti-China crusade. From that time until now the situation has deteriorated, and repression, aimed at dissenting opinion, has been on the increase in the Soviet orbit.
It is clear that there has been, for some considerable time, a wide chasm between the CPC and the CPSU on questions of theory and practice. There is not a single item of major importance upon which Peking and Moscow do not find themselves ranged on opposing sides.
On the Soviet side the lack of confidence in people is very apparent. Moscow places her faith in superiority in weapons as the means to attaining objectives. Along with this weapons fetish the Russians opted for agreement on “spheres of influence” in concert with the United States, the other super-power. The degeneration of Soviet society from a dream of socialist equality to capitalist inequality and exploitation while the mass of Soviet people remain influenced by the hopes inspired by the revolution, makes for a wide divergence between word and deed, and heightens the class contradictions in Soviet society. Soviet foreign policy is a true reflection of the class divisions that have arisen internally; and foreign relations, especially relations with Eastern European countries, are designed to meet the needs of a society based on exploitation.
Russia, like every expansionist power, must, in periods of empire crisis, resort to armed aggression and military occupation, to keep a subject people under control. The parade of puppets ruling their native lands on Moscow’s behalf should not cloud the issue. Every imperialist power has been able to buy traitors who will provide “legality” for the occupation. The only difference is in professed aims: the imperialists do it in the name of the “defence of freedom” and the “free world”; the Soviets follow the example, but in the name of “revolution” and “Socialism”. Both parties end up as oppressors of other countries and peoples.
As is ever the case, a ruling class that oppresses and exploits colonial peoples must and will oppress also their own people. This is true of the Soviet Union. In expectation of a wide range of freedom under socialism and the new Soviet constitution many citizens offer criticism of things they see are wrong. Such dissenters are summarily dealt with as “enemies of the people and the socialist state,” and are incarcerated in prisons, labour camps, and insane asylums. No one can guess how many tens of thousands are disposed of in this way, only the more notable cases at the centre being able to win any outside publicity. Conditions of repression in the Soviet state under the new bourgeois class are infinitely worse than in a normal capitalist democracy. The “state of the whole people” is a bit short on the elements of socialist democracy.
Repression by an entrenched and unyielding bureaucracy is naturally generating a determined opposition. Resistance is present in the peripheral states in Europe, and in the “autonomous” republics and regions in the USSR. The question of national independence is a major one in the orbit of Russian power, and contradictions between the nations that are oppressed and the nation that oppresses are increasing rapidly. As crisis develops at the base, the Russian working class will tend to unite with the people of the oppressed nations against the common enemy. This is much easier than in the “normal” empire, because Russians and the exploited nations are so close geographically and can have real physical unity as well as solidarity of actions. The Moscow ruling group may look stable, but there is a time bomb of people’s resistance under their throne.
It has been shown above how Chinese leaders reject the weapons fetish and put their trust in people. The whole program and policy of the Chinese Communist Party is based on a united front against imperialism – especially to oppose the super powers and their war-making potential.
Unlike the Soviets, China’s foreign policy depends for its success on the mobilization of broad masses of people, and their conscious participation in anti-imperialist struggle and for national independence. Control of colonial and semi-colonial areas of exploitation would be in direct conflict with China’s foreign policy, and would negate any effort spent in attempts at implementation. China has no colonies or “spheres of influence”, nor does it seek any. Aid and trade relations are developed on a mutual benefit basis, and in the interest of advancing the struggle for freedom. Hence, China is equipped, morally and physically, to encourage, support, join and lend impetus to a broad united anti-imperialist front of peoples and nations. With China, words and deeds are in harmony, instead of being in conflict, as in Russia.
The same is true in the sphere of internal activities. Possessing no colonies or spheres of influence and profitable markets, and seeking none, China must construct a socialist country relying mainly on its own resources. At home as abroad China emphasizes self-reliance and faith in the initiative of the working people. This line requires the widest possible mobilization and release of mass initiative to tackle and solve the enormous problems of construction encountered.
The program advanced could be realized only if the working people enjoyed the full benefits of applied socialist democracy and freedom from coercion and bureaucratic controls. The Cultural Revolution was launched precisely for the purpose of smashing a burgeoning bureaucracy in the party and state apparatus. The aim was to release the initiative of the popular masses for the tasks of socialist construction and assistance to struggles for national liberation. Only a party and state leadership that had faith in the people, and shared their socialist aspirations, could dare to encourage working people to rise and smash the bureaucratic machine in this way. The Tenth National Congress of the CPC took note of the significance of the Cultural Revolution, writing into the Constitution:
. . . There are classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, there is the danger of capitalist restoration and there is the threat of subversion and aggression by imperialism and social-imperialism. These contradictions can be resolved only by depending on the theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat . . .
. . . Revolutions like this will have to be carried out many times in the future...
Could anyone seriously visualize the Moscow ruling clique even mentioning revolution against bureaucratic control, not to speak of actually writing it into the constitution? According to Brezhnev and company the revolution is ended; nothing is left but to construct communism under the “state of the whole people” while most of the world hungers.
The CPC Congress encouraged an attitude of revolutionary criticism so that a wrong line could the more surely be exposed. The report on the Revision of the Constitution states:
We must have the revolutionary spirit of daring to go against the tide . . . When confronted with issues that concern the line and the overall situation, a true communist must act without any selfish considerations and dare to go against the tide, fearing neither removal from his post, expulsion from the party, imprisonment, divorce nor guillotine.
And article 5 of the Constitution states:
Leading bodies of the Party at all levels shall. . . constantly listen to the opinions of the masses both inside and outside the Party and accept their supervision. Party members have the right to criticize organizations and leading members of the Party at all levels . . . It is absolutely impermissible to suppress criticism and to retaliate. It is essential to create a political situation in which there are both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness.
This is clearly the attitude of a Party that has confidence in the people, is a part of them, sharing their hopes and struggles, constantly inspiring the people and urging them on to greater goals.
It will no doubt be apparent to the reader of the foregoing survey that Sino-Russian relations, from the earliest times, have been marked by almost constant conflict, with but very brief interludes of friendship. Russia for long played the bully, and China the role of victim. But as of 1949 “China stood up” and the relationship was changed radically. Brezhnev and company appear not to have quite got this message yet, but the relationship of world forces is changing so rapidly that the winds of change cannot for long pass Moscow by.