From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 36 (Whole No. 95), 19 December 1931, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Japan has succeeded in her immediate objectives in Manchuria. She remains firmly lodged there, as predicted in The Militant. Her steady display and use of military force, her intransigence in achieving her aims in Manchuria, have brought about the capitulation, at present, of China, the League of Nations and the United States.
The League of Nations formulated (12-10-31) an innocuous resolution on the Sino-Japanese conflict in Manchuria which Japan readily accepted, and China accepted because there was no other choice. The resolution does not even mention the decisive question of the control of the Manchurian railways. So far as the moment is concerned, they are Japan’s to have and to hold. The much-talked of commission of inquiry into affairs in Manchuria and China has no actual power, will make inquiries over a period of time, and then incorporate them into an official record for time’s dusty files. Meanwhile, the Japanese military forces are to evacuate Manchuria “as speedily as possible”, a speed which will make a snail’s pace look like that of a harrier. China and Japan are to continue direct negotiations for settlement of the disputes.
Fundamentally nothing is settled in Manchuria. The last word is yet to be said: and that will be said neither by the Japanese imperialists, the League of Nations, the United States, nor yet by the Chinese bourgeoisie – but by the Chinese and Manchurian masses, the Japanese and all other exploited people. On that day there will real evacuation: of all exploiters.
In one important respect in the day to day events, neither the Japanese nor the other imperialist powers have been successful. They could not provoke the Soviet Republic into the war and thus make easier the aims of the bourgeoisie to unite forces in an onslaught for the overthrow of the first Workers’ Republic. That is an evidence of the basic desire of the workers for peace. But it does not mean that continued provocations and attempts against the Soviet Union will always go unchallenged by the outraged working masses of the Soviet Union and the entire world.
Nor is Japan’s immediate position at home a rosy one. Despite efforts, among them the steady export of gold to bolster the yen and to maintain the gold standard, Japan on December 13 joined England and other nations and went off the gold standard. Speculation with the yen has been continuous. Trade has been stagnant; the boycott of Japanese goods by China has had sharp effects and there has been a loss of trade in other directions, plus the fact that Japan has also been involved, deeply in the world economic crisis.
Japan’s victory in Manchuria will yet prove a pyrrhic one. It presents itself before capitalist judgment with Manchuria virtually entirely in its possession – and, by capitalist standards, possession is nine-tenths of the law. But the dispossessed will learn how to deal with bourgeois standards.
In China itself, the rising wrath of the workers and students has been asserting itself in demonstrations against the Nanking govenmeut of Chiang Kai-Shek in paricular. The students have demonstrated en masse, in a strike of 50,000 participants on one occasion, for a more determined struggle by China against the Japanese invaders of Manchuria. Strikes of workers are suppressed or outlawed by decree. The Chinese government continues the policy of White Terror against the labor movement and especially against the Communists. Recent despatches from China show efforts ot the workers to revive and vitalize their labor organisations, so brutally and cruelly destroyed by Chiang Kai-Shek and Co.
In the face of the attitude of the workers, peasants and students, the Kuo Min Tang has been trying to unite its force. The two main factions, that of Nanking, headed by Chiang Kai-Shek, and Canton, headed by the opportunist Eugene Chen, Sun Fo, Wang Chin Wei, have held unification meets, but thus far without success. Both feel the necessity of bourgeois unity to beat down the working masses and to continue with the system of exploitation, but they have not been able to agree on the division of the spoils. As we go to press, there is reported the resignation of President Chiang Kai-Shek as head of Chinese Nationalist government. This does not change anything essentially.
There is of course no principle difference between these two bourgeois factions: both of them capitulate before the imperialists – Japan, United States, Great Britain, etc. Both are alike in their hatred, oppression and exploitation of China’s toiling masses; both destroy labor’s organizations and forces – their unions, political parties, etc.; both murder labor militants and communists. Both countenance betrayal and traitorous conduct to the foreign enemy, rather than risk the loss of their privileges to the plundered workers. Witness the renegacy of the Chinese general Ma, who, first fighting the Japanese in Manchuria, has now become Japan’s puppet there. The Chinese bourgeoisie have said nothing about this, except to deprecate and condone this act: no doubt having similar actions on their part in mind for the future. Ma does openly what the Chiang Kai-Sheks would rather do covertly.
Events and affairs will continue in Manchuria. But more now than ever, the basic problem stands out: the struggle of the exploited masses against the foreign and native exploiters. The city proletariat, headed by a Communist Party, must lead this struggle and movement. There can be no subordination of the Communist Party to the bourgeois Kuo Min Tang, as was the policy of Stalin and the Comintern in the Chinese Revolution of 1927–1929, which resulted in the beheading of the Chinese Revolution. Nor can the peasant, the agrarian masses, be permitted to assume, or even to attempt, the role of leadership of the struggle against the bourgeoisie, the landlords and warlords. That role is the historical one of the working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party; it is for the exploited peasantry of China to march under the leadership of the proletariat and Communist Party. This over-emphasis and over-evaluation of the peasantry by Stalin and Bucharin, guided by the Menshevik Martynov, added further ruin to, and loss of thousands of lives of the Chinese masses. It must not be repeated: or the Chiang Kai-Sheks will have double duty as executioners of the proletariat.
The working class movement of China is again slowly rebuilding its forces and organizations. All possible assistance must be given to hasten the revival and growing struggles against the Chinese bourgeoisie in the struggle, among other things, for democratic rights. The generation and growth of a genuine Communist Party of China, linked in common effort with a de-Stalinized and regenerated Communist International, are the best and only real hopes in the struggle against the Japanese invaders, the native Chinese exploiters and the foreign imperialists. That resolves itself into the conscious and militant struggle of the working masses everywhere against the capitalist system.
Last updated: 24.2.2013