Harold R. Isaacs

The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution

XIII. The Struggle for the Land

Except for the October revolution in Russia, our century has afforded history no spectacle mightier nor more stirring than the rising of the Chinese masses in the spring and summer of 1927. Not since the days of the long-haired Taipings had the Chinese peasant had the chance to hope for more from life than the right to toil and to die. In Hunan and Hupeh now he was beginning to grip the levers of historical hydraulics—drastic and collective action. He was beginning to straighten his back and loosen from his shoulders the burden of centuries. This experience has been described as the dawning realization of the Chinese toiler that he, too, was a man, that he, too, existed. From that, the will to live not as an animal but as a man hurled not one but millions of toilers into a struggle against everything that had made them the packhorses of a civilization thousands of years old.

Ignorant and cowardly leaders had drawn for the peasant moral distinctions among his oppressors. There were “bad” gentry to be overthrown, but there were “good” gentry who were his friends. There were big landlords whose holdings, at some future date, the peasant would be permitted to confiscate, but there were small landlords who were to be regarded as firm and friendly allies. His enemies in the village were the tuhao—the local bullies, officials, and hirelings of the landlord; but the officers of the Nationalist army, even if they and their fathers and brothers were also landlords and usurers, were friends and liberators and were not to be offended by injuries to their property. Nothing falls more easily upon the shoulders of the propertied man, after all, than the mantle of moral rectitude. As the movement advanced and the “revolutionary” Government displayed no inclination to implement even the mildest of the promises it had made in return for peasant support, it began to dawn on the masses that the slogan: “Down with the tuhao and bad gentry!” corresponded not to their interests, but to the interests of classes who wanted their services without paying for them. The villages began to awake. The slogan underwent a process of plebeian face-lifting and soon read: “All who have tu (land) are hao (oppressive) and there are no gentry who are not bad!”[1]

“Down with the unequal treaties!” said the Kuomintang. The only “unequal treaties” the Hunan peasants knew about were the tenancy agreements under which they were compelled to surrender to the landlord up to 70 per cent of their crops, to make non-interest-hearing cash deposits in advance on their rent, to make gifts to the landlords at festival times, to serve without wages when a betrothal, a marriage, or a funeral in the landlord’s family required the preparation of ceremoniel or the conveying and serving of guests. The slogan for “abolition of the unequal treaties” meant to the Hunan peasant abolition of thraldom on the land. He could not help it if the Kuomintang was talking about China’s relations with the Powers.[2]

On the Kuomintang banner was inscribed nothing more than a 25 per cent reduction in land rent and a “restriction” of interest rates to 20 per cent per annum. The Kuomintang also spoke obscurely of “equalization of tenants’ rights” without ever clearly indicating what it meant. When the masses started moving and the Left Kuomintang proved unwilling or unable to give point to these mild planks in its own platform, the momentum of their awakening carried the peasants with swift, direct logic to the slogan: “All Land to the Tillers!” And with the draconic simplicity, so terrible to those who stand to lose by it, the peasants proceeded to put their own slogan into practice. By the end of April in an increasing number of hsien in Hunan and in a smaller number in Hupeh, confiscation of land and property was the order of the day.

The struggle for land brought nearly ten million peasants within the orbit of the mass organizations in Central China. The accumulated oppression of centuries had laid charges deep in the soil. The up-surge of 1927 only touched the torch to the fuses which meshed through the whole social structure like veins in the human body. Revolution brought a thundering series of explosions which left not a limb of the old society intact. Shaken asunder and trampled upon, all that was old, corrupt, degenerate, and decadent, dissolved in the “inspired frenzy of history.” Bandages were torn from the bound feet of women. Young girls, with bobbed hair and an air of defiant energy, streamed into the country-side to awaken their sex and free it of chains that bore the rust of generations.* Confucius, the high priest of privilege and submission, was torn from the shrouds of a vicious and reactionary morality and paraded in effigy through village streets and burned. Buddhist temples were seized and turned into schools and meeting-places. Foreign missionaries were packed off, dishevelled, to flee before something they called anarchy, something their treed debarred them from ever understanding. Superstitions were swept away. “The clay and wood gods have already lost their dignity. The people no longer need the Five Classics and the Four Books. What they want is political reports. They want to know the conditions in the country and in the world. The men sen (door gods) which used to be pasted on the gates have now been covered with slogans. Inside the houses even the tsao mu kao pi (ancestral tablets) have been crowded out by placarded slogans.”[3]

* “I have lived eighty years,” said an old woman to a girl propagandist in the field, “without seeing such a short-haired, big-footed, uniformed female creature like you.” Sitting in a meadow at Chiayu, south Hupeh, the girl told in a letter to a Hankow friend how she spoke to a group of peasants about the evils of foot-binding. A well-to-do middle-aged woman with three-inch “golden lilies” hobbled up to her and said: “Your feet are so big. Won’t your husband get into your shoes some time by mistake?” All the soldiers and peasants who stood around laughed aloud. The girl officer blushed, and then began to laugh herself.—From “A Letter from the Field,” People’s Tribune, June 22, 1927.

Evils which had been blood and stock of the old society were swept away in the flood. “Ever since the last days of the Manchus,” reported a Hunan peasant leader, “the Government has repeatedly prohibited opium. But in fact the opium prohibition bureau has always been the bureau for selling opium. Only petty smokers were fined. The greedy officials and gentry, even though they smoked right out in the open, were never touched. . . . But the ban that was a ban in vain for twenty years became a ban in fact after the peasants rose. The village peasant associations decreed that anyone found smoking would be fined and paraded. After many prominent gentry had been paraded in dunce caps, nobody in the villages of Hunan dared again to smoke. The peasants smashed the pipes of the gentry. To eradicate gambling, the Pioneers (boys of twelve to fifteen) made house-to-house searches. Mah jongg and other gambling paraphernalia were burned on the spot. Footbinding was abolished. Dams and roads were built; waste lands put under cultivation. . . . The establishment of schools and the smashing of superstitions became the most enthusiastic work in the villages. . . . The peasants created a peaceful village. No matter how you describe the tumult of the Hunan villages, they have been in fact more peaceful than when the landlords ruled. . . “[4]

The peasant went about his task of cleaning the Augean stables of the past with a grim thoroughness and often not without a certain grim humour. In Hwangkang, Hupeh, the “dunce caps” used for the guilty gentry were the 3-do 3-sen measuring containers which the landlords had formerly used in dividing the grain after harvest at rent collection time.[5]

Peasant justice was swift and simple in the village. If it erred at all, it erred on the side of leniency. Surprisingly few were the executions ordered and carried out. In most cases heavy fines or sentences of imprisonment were imposed upon the landlords and their followers. Justice was administered by the local peasant committee sitting as the presidium at a mass meeting of the peasants. “We fear nothing but the mass meeting,” the gentry used to say. Disputes and claims had previously been settled by the local magistrate or by the local big landlord who enjoyed the privileges of a feudal baron before the law. He used to sit in his courtyard and dispense his own brand of justice according to his own pleasure. This was now all changed. The local peasant associations swept through clogged-up calendars and settled all outstanding cases. They became the courts of appeal in all matters, even including domestic disputes.

The peasant organizations faced the enormous economic problems of the village with a courage and a daring that far exceeded their ability to solve them. Nevertheless, with the funds and other means confiscated from the gentry, in many places they went forward with the establishment of co-operatives and took steps to regulate the movement of grain and to prevent speculation.[6] These co-operatives even issued notes which were accepted in full faith by the peasants of the locality. The problems of interest on loans and land rent were met by the simple expedient of refusal to pay. In the country-side, prostitution, the sale of women and children, stemmed directly from the unbearable poverty of the peasants. Traffic in human lives had become a trade which thrived on human misery, and each year tens of thousands of women and children were sold into brothels or into the homes of the wealthy as slaves. In Yanghsin, the delegates’ conference of the hsien peasant association voted to appropriate part of the funds confiscated from the gentry to feed the poor “so that they would not need to sell their wives and children in order that all might live.” But every partial, crude effort to cope with economic difficulties brought the peasants swiftly to the basic problem of the land itself. No hunger was greater than the hunger for land. Increasingly conscious of his power, the peasant reached out to satisfy his craving.

In the cities, the workers in the trade unions administered justice, maintained local order. Dressed in blue denim uniforms and armed more often with staves than with rifles, the worker-pickets, with their “business-like air of authority,” soon became “one of the most noticeable revolutionary features on the streets.[7] In the early stages the prestige and authority of the unions were enormous. “In many of the country towns of Hupeh,” writes Chapman, “as I myself saw in Teian and heard from Chinese and foreign colleagues and friends in other towns, the Governor of the town, holding his appointment direct from the Nationalist Government in Hankow and having Nationalist troops quartered in the town, was yet unable to take any action contrary to the wishes of the two or three leading labour unions.”[8]

The unions established schools, protected the rights of women, gave refuge to escaped slave girls, organized unemployed relief, exposed, arrested, and punished counter-revolutionaries where they could. But they were already discharging their functions within the narrow limits prescribed by the restrictive regulations issued by the Wuhan Government and approved by the Communist-controlled General Labour Union.[9]

Both in city and country, the mass movement encountered formidable obstacles. The sabotage of the bourgeoisie, the imperialist blockade, the steady refusal of the Wuhan Government to cope with the situation by revolutionary measures, had already driven the workers of Wuhan up an economic blind alley. Their own efforts, evidenced in the occupation of the Hanyang factories, were stifled at the outset by the regime to which the Communists told them they owed unquestioning obedience. In Hanyang, the arsenal workers crowded eagerly around a visiting delegation of Russian trade unionists.

“During your revolution,” they asked, “what attitude did you take toward sabotage in Government industries? Did you encourage it, or tolerate it?”

“During your revolution, when did the metal workers begin to get any benefit? Did they benefit as soon as the exploiters were overthrown, or did they have to super long and make many sacrifices before the revolution was finally established?” Reporting these questions, Miss Strong omits to mention what reply was made by the Russian workers, but goes on: “Many were the sacrifices they were already making for their revolutionary (!) Government. They gave up their demand for an eight-hour day to work 13 to 17 hours in the arsenal ‘because our revolutionary Government is menaced.’ They postponed the demand for a child labour law; I myself saw children of seven and eight working ten hours in Wuchang cotton mills and was told by union organizers, ‘Wuhan is blockaded; we must not attack production, especially foreign-owned production.’ They had reason to sacrifice for Wuhan, for elsewhere their situation was far more serious. In Shanghai, Canton, and Hunan, workers were being executed. In Wuhan they still had the chance to raise their heads and argue a little. They were pathetically grateful for his meagre privilege.”[10]

“Raise their heads and argue a little!” Such were the prerogatives of the workers in the “revolutionary centre” of Wuhan! Did the visiting Russian workers tell their Chinese comrades that they indeed had made sacrifices, tremendous sacrifices, for their revolutionary Government—but that it was really theirs, really revolutionary, and not the fiction that was “revolutionary Wuhan”? If any of the visitors saw the distinction, it is doubtful if he mentioned it. What was revolutionary in Russia in 1917 was counter-revolutionary in Wuhan in 1927. It must have been. Stalin said so.

Out in the country-side, the first wave of agrarian revolt had rocked the landlords and gentry to their heels. In many places, out of fear for their lives or in hopes that in the nationalization and division of land which they expected to follow they might retrieve a share, landlords even voluntarily surrendered their land to the peasant associations. The original initiative of the peasants, moving toward the seizure of land in villages and hsien over wide territories, now needed more than anything else the aid of a centralized power capable of arming the peasants, guarding and extending their conquests. As soon as the landlords and the village gentry realized that in Wuhan no such power existed, that in Wuhan there was only irresolution, vacillation, and a fear of the peasants if anything greater than their own, confidence returned and the reactionary counter-offensive took on an armed, organized character.

“The Hunan peasants at the present time cannot be said to have overthrown the haosen,”* reported the provincial peasant association. “We can only say that they are now rebelling against them. Those who do not know the real conditions say that in Hunan the conditions are terrible, that too many haosen were killed. But the facts are otherwise. . . . The haosen killed numbered only tens, but the number of peasants killed by the haosen is astounding. . . . Many people know that the peasants are conducting a revolution in Hunan, but few know the cruelty and cunning of the haosen. . . . It has been very common in all hsien for the Min Tuan (landlord’s militia) to lynch peasants. . . . Torture was freely used. . . . After being arrested peasants would either be killed outright or mutilated—muscles of the feet extracted, genitals cut away, etc. . . . The Min Tuan in Tsalien burned alive in kerosene a student who had come to the district to work in the peasant movement. . . .

* A term embracing the landlords, gentry, and their local tools and hirelings.

“After being driven from the villages by the peasants, the haosen and the dregs of the Min Tuan often sought alliances with the bandits to fight the peasant associations. Nine reports out of ten coming to the provincial peasant association tell about the gathering of the tuhao with the bandits to drink wine and cock’s blood* for the overthrow of the peasant associations, for the extermination of the Party commissioner. . . .

* A ceremonial oath of alliance.

“They also formed reactionary organizations. In Siangsang, they called it the Association for the Maintenance of Town and Village. In Henyang, it was the White Party. In Liling and Liuyang, the San-Ai Party. In Liling, there was also the Association for Beating Dogs, the dogs meaning the peasants. In many parts of Hunan, there was the Party for the Preservation of Property. These organizations planned and carried out the massacres of peasants and raids on peasant associations. . . . Sometimes these plots were uncovered by the peasants, but the organizations were never dissolved. . .

“Another method used by the tuhao was to mingle in the peasant associations . . . to disrupt them. Or else they organized their own peasant associations. They also agreed whole-heartedly in words with the peasant movement. . . . They would organize on a clan basis in order to set one hsien against another, one name against another. [In many hsien, most of the inhabitants bear a single name and belong, in varying degrees of relationship, to the same clan.] They would entice clans-men into the association with promises of cheap grain. They also deceived the higher organs and got themselves recognized as special village or district peasant associations.”[11]

The families of the gentry who fled from the hsien and villages of Hunan carried rumours like rats carry the plague. Those who could afford to fled all the way to Shanghai. The less wealthy went to Hankow, and the least wealthy to Changsha. Everywhere they brought with them the hoary charges of communization of women which have accompanied every revolutionary movement since 1789 [”. . . Nothing could be more absurd,” wrote Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, “than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois as regards the official communization of women which the Communists are supposed to advocate. Communists do not need to introduce community of women; it has invariably existed . . . the abolition of the present system of production will lead to the disappearance of that form of the community of women which results therefrom—to the disappearance of official and unofficial prostitution.”] The Chinese émigrés spread rumours among the soldiers that within six months all their wives and sisters would be “communalized.” This accusation came fittingly from the Chinese gentry who keep as many concubines as their wealth will allow and whose exactions force the peasants to sell their wives and children into slavery and prostitution. They also tried to appeal to filial sentiments with tales of the wholesale massacre of all men over fifty.

Reports of the Hupeh peasant organizations closely paralleled those from Hunan. In Hupeh, where the movement was slower in getting under way, the gentry had more time to prepare resistance. By May not a few of the peasant associations were entirely in their hands. “In many villages in the peasant associations there are no peasants at all—only the long-gowned and broad-sleeved gentlemen going out and coming in.” If the peasants succeeded in retaining control of their own organizations, the gentry concentrated their attention on the local Kuomintang branches. Once in the Party, they would set up rival peasant associations under their own auspices and maintain a clear line of demarcation between the peasants and the Party. “In Chi-hsui hsien there were even such things as refusals to la peasants join the Party.”[12] In Hupeh there also sprang up, under various names, reactionary bands like the Ta Tao Hui (Big Sword Society), the Chuan T’o Hui (Fist Society), and others, financed and led by the landlords. The links between the gentry and the revolting militarists were quickly forged.

When Hsia To-yen rebelled in May, his troops marched “from Chianglien to Chenli, Hsienti, Tungyang, everywhere opening the prisons to release the haosen who acted as guides to hunt down the commissioners of the peasant associations and the executive committee members and to slaughter them. They killed right and left almost all the way to Wuchang. In the hsien adjacent to Honan, the gentry united with the Red Spears (an old reactionary secret society), to massacre the peasants. In Western and Northern Hupeh they joined with Chang Lien-sen and Yu Hsueh-chung.”[13]

The counter-offensive of the gentry was accompanied by the most fiendish tortures—including the kind of refined torture that could have evolved only in the minds of a ruling class entrenched in its seats of privilege for centuries. “In Yangshin they poured kerosene over the peasants and burned them alive. In Hwangkang they used red-hot irons to sear the flesh and to kill. In Lotien they bound their victims to trees and put them to death with one thousand cuts into which they rubbed sand and salt. They cut open the breasts of the women comrades, pierced their bodies perpendicularly with iron wires, and paraded them naked through the streets. In Tsungchang every comrade was pierced twenty times.”[14] The revolting masses never displayed one thousandth part of the cruelty shown them by their avenging masters. The barbarism, of which only defenders of property seem to be capable, quickly cracked through their “refined” and “cultured” veneer, so aged, so delicate, so beloved of sentimental sinologues.[15]

The workers and peasants of Hunan and Hupeh faced these enemies with practically nothing but their bare hands and their will to struggle. The movement could go forward only under the leadership of a centralizing force with the demands of the agrarian revolution boldly inscribed upon its banner. They needed local organs of political power. Above all, they needed arms. All these they lacked and without them they were powerless in the face of the reactionary counter-offensive. The Wuhan Government did not assume the mantle of revolutionary agrarian leadership with which the Comintern tried to endow it. It was even unable to make a single effective move to enforce its own programme of a 25 per cent land rent reduction.[16] What it could do was to block at every turn the efforts of the peasants to strike out for themselves.

Reports from peasant associations repeatedly urged the Government to define its policies clearly, to set up standards for the solution of the land problem. To these demands the Government spokesmen replied only with lectures about the “excesses” of the peasantry.[17]

In Hunan the delegation of the Communist International learned that the Kuomintang programme of rent and interest rate reductions could not be realized “because of the resistance of the landlords.” A Kuomintang representative told them: “There is a general and loud demand by the peasants of the province for LAND. They want the division of the land. They say that they will be obedient to the Nationalist Government, but they at the same time demand that the Government do something. They want the land!”[18]

In Moscow Stalin was rejecting the slogan of Soviets because that slogan meant struggle against “the revolutionary centre” of Wuhan, the “only governmental authority.” Trotsky was retorting that the “revolutionary centre” was a fiction, that revolutionary organs of power had now to be created and could be created and centralized only through the medium of workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ Soviets. What was the actual situation in the towns and villages of Hunan and Hupeh? The Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association’s delegate in Wuhan declared that the most urgent need was “immediately to establish organs for the maintenance of the political system. The political organs now existing are not really a power at all.”[19]

In Hunan Stoler-Browder-Doriot were discovering that the peasants were straining with all their might to create precisely the type of local organ of power of which Trotsky spoke, they were discovering that Stalin’s “only governmental authority” really did not exist.

“. . . While the militarists have been defeated and driven out . . . the magistrates and gentry, like the landlords, remained. We saw them everywhere. . . . They still exercise their feudal dictatorship over the population. . . . A revolution without the destruction of the old system of local government is unthinkable. . . . This is keenly felt and understood by the masses everywhere. . . . In Hunan the process of supplanting the old system has also proceeded further than in any of the other provinces we passed through. . . . Special commissions are being set up in various districts of the province to take over the administration of local affairs. These commissions are composed of representatives of the Kuomintang, the trade unions, and the peasant unions. . . . While the old magistrates are still officiating in the villages, they are gradually being pushed out and supplanted by so-called Citizens’ Councils which are directly elected by the population. In many places the peasant union is the highest authority for all kinds of questions. . . . But it is appropriate (!) to remark here that all this work of sweeping out the old rotten system . . . still lacks in system and planfulness. The absence of a definite programme of action for the reorganization of local government is keenly felt. Of course it can be explained (!) by the preoccupation of revolutionary China with the war against the militarists and the struggle against imperialism.”[20]

“Citizens’ Councils directly elected by the population “but were these not Soviets in embryo? Was the virus of “Trotskyism” strong enough to travel 10,000 miles and at the end of this journey to insinuate itself into the tissues of the Hunan peasants?

Everywhere the Comintern visitors went they heard the cry: “Arms to the peasants! We have no guns or ammunition. The peasants must be armed!”

“We learned,” continued Stoler, “that wherever the peasants cannot get hold of rifles, they organize self-defence corps with picks and ploughs. . . . We were told of many plans and projects for obtaining arms and ammunition for the peasants. Cases were cited where the peasants had captured thousands of rifles from the Northern troops, but invariably these arms were handed over to the National Government or the army.”[21]

The peasants wanted land and arms. The Comintern imposed upon the Chinese Communists a policy which made the satisfaction of these demands wholly dependent upon the willing collaboration of the Left Kuomintang leaders and their Wuhan Government. Without the collaboration, “victory was impossible,” decreed Stalin.

“Without solving the land question,” wrote the secretary of the Comintern delegation, “the Chinese revolution will not be able to achieve its final victory. . . . It would be a fatal error for the National Government to neglect to tackle the agrarian problem in a most decisive revolutionary manner, or to fail to lend fullest support to the political and economic demands of the peasants.” Nor was Stoler going so far as to suggest that the National Government give the land to the peasants. “Certain measures are absolutely and immediately necessary. . . . A radical reduction in rents . . . tax reforms .. . prohibition of usurious rates of interest . . . arming of the peasants,” he lamely concluded.[22]

This was, textually, the Kuomintang programme. But the “revolutionary centre” was making no move to implement even this mild programme of reform. This was “fatal” for the revolution, but the “fatal error” did not lie with the Kuomintang leaders, who were only defending their own class interests, but with the Comintern, which failed to give the peasants a chance to defend theirs.

According to Browder-Doriot-Stoler, the Wuhan Government was too “preoccupied” by the struggle against militarism and imperialism to do anything for the peasants. In reality the Wuhan leaders were preoccupied, deeply preoccupied, by the peasant movement. Only they were concerned not with giving it their “fullest support” but with finding means of checking it and keeping it within the bounds of bourgeois property.

The evasion, the confusion, the lack of any effective policy, exemplified by the deliberations and conclusions of the Kuomintang Land Commission, amounted in practice to passive sabotage of the agrarian revolt. When revolt flared none the less, the Left Kuomintang leaders abandoned their passivity and went over to a policy of direct repression.

When the peasant associations began, in the absence of any other effective force, to assume the functions of political power, the Wuhan leaders cried “Excesses!” and stepped in to limit them. Unable or unwilling itself to deal with the landlords and their hirelings openly marauding through the country-side at the head of counter-revolutionary bands of Min Tuan, [23] the Wuhan Government forbade the mass organizations to try and sentence these enemies of the people and, a little later, even prevented them from making arrests or imposing fines.[24]

“Unscrupulous landlords and gentry are denounced by the Party for the reason that they have persistently fleeced the peasants by oppressive means,” declared the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang. “. . . It must be pointed out, however, that it is only after clear and conclusive evidence is established concerning such fleecing and oppressive conduct that landlords and gentry should be dealt with by the legal organs. Those innocent and well-to-do families in the villages and districts who are not opposed to the national revolution are under the protection of the Nationalist Government. Our Party comrades should definitely instruct the masses against reckless attack on others’ liberty of person, property, profession, or religious faith. Anyone who is bent upon disturbing the local public order . . . is opposed to the revolutionary interests and his conduct is tantamount to anti-revolutionary offences. The Party headquarters in the various localities should take heed to check such actions. . . .”[25]

“The peasants are glad to give the Government this task of judging,” said the secretary of the Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association, “but the Government has no legal officers in all these districts. Our greatest demand is that the Wuhan Government should quickly establish local governments. . . . Such a government we peasants will still defend with our lives if the Government will grant us arms.”[26]

But the Government did not want a revolutionary power in the villages. Instead it ordered the dissolution of peasant associations which attempted to wield such power. Each peasant association was permitted, in theory, to have only fifty armed militiamen, and there was a decree that said that these fifty might use their arms only against bandits, not against the landlords. In all Hupeh, where by June there were no less than three million peasants organized, the peasant associations possessed seven hundred revolvers, and these were scattered all over the province.[27]

“Many hsien have sent people to the capital to request the purchase of rifles,” reported the Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association delegate to the Kuomintang. “They have brought sufficient funds, asking only aid in buying them. This is not only the demand of the village peasant associations, but the universal demand of the peasants.”[28]

But these delegates were turned back empty-handed and all other appeals went unanswered. “The peasants . . . were without arms and were continually subject to attack by counter-revolutionaries. Unfortunately it was generally impossible to meet the requests for military aid sent in from the country,” said an official report of the Kuomintang.[29]

“In the Huang An district, for instance,” said the Hupeh peasant secretary, “reactionaries killed twenty-one of the most responsible peasant leaders. The union has begged the Government to send troops to protect them. But the Government says the troops are busy at the front. The union then asks for the right to use its own arms; but this also the Government forbids, allowing it only against recognized bandits who attack villages, but not for civil conflict within the village. What can we do? The reactionaries recognize no law; they kill as they wish. But we must recognize law, for we are a responsible union. Yet the law cannot help us and only forbids us to help ourselves. . . . We won the confidence of the peasants by promising relief from bad conditions. . . . This is not carried out. . . . The ordinary peasant only cried: ‘Liars! You did nothing for us. Now we won’t listen to your empty words.’ We are trying to break down feudalism. But feudalism is based on the present economic structure of the village. The gentry have all the money. The poor must borrow every spring for seeds, fertilizer, even for their own food. Now the gentry refuse to lend any more because they hate the peasants’ union. Two-thirds of the peasants can get no money for seeds. They begin to blame the union. We promised to organize co-operatives, but for this also we have no money. . . . The law forbids us to take land from the gentry till the new land policy is settled and the courts decided. . . .”

“Against this terrific list of difficulties,” adds Miss Strong, “. . . he told me that the peasants’ union made only two simple demands, immediate establishment of local governments with enough militia to support them against bandits and lawless reactionaries; and immediate establishment of co-operative stores and Government credits to the peasants. . . . Such elementary and necessary demands,” concluded our lady reporter, “but under the military, financial, and political situation of Wuhan—such Utopian dreams!”[30]

Such was the “revolutionary centre!” Not as it existed in the imaginations of Stalin and Bukharin, but as it existed in Central China—in fact. This was where Browder-Doriot-Mann “breathed fresh air again” after their trip through Kiangsi and where “the enthusiasm that we found among the masses in Hupeh and the attitude of the Central Kuomintang and the Nationalist Government towards the workers and peasants reassured us once more. . . .”[31] This was the Government that M. N. Roy called” the emblem of the anti-imperialist fight and struggle of the Chinese people.”[32] Under its sway the most elementary demands of the peasants became—Utopian dreams!

The peasants quickly lost faith in their leaders—(”Liars! You did nothing for us—now we won’t listen to your empty words!”)—and in their organizations. “The peasant unions have gradually lost the confidence and support of the peasant,” reported a speaker at a Hupeh conference on June 25, because “what the peasants get from their struggle is often nothing but trouble or massacre.”[33]

When Hsia To-yen rebelled in May, it never occurred to him to haul down the blue and white flag. “Because he still put up the Kuomintang banner and did not clearly express his attitude (?), the peasants were attacked off their guard. The onslaught was sudden, arrests were made, many fled, so that the peasants lost their leaders and the organizations collapsed. Therefore they did not help in the fighting nor in transport.” [34]

The masses had been taught to regard the Kuomintang banner as their own. When reaction raised its head beneath its folds, it found them entirely unprepared and easily struck them down. That is what happened to the revolutionary movement as a whole. The banner of the Kuomintang had never been the banner of the masses. It was the banner of the bourgeoisie, of the landlords, the gentry, and the militarists. Neither the Shanghai coup nor even the events soon to follow hammered this fact into the heads of the Communist leaders and their Comintern mentors.

In Wuhan, the Communists had assumed full responsibility for the acts of the National Government. Communists occupied posts in the national and provincial governments. The leaders of the Communist Party sat with the leaders of the Kuomintang in a so-called “Joint Conference” in which all important decisions of policy were made. In a resolution defining the Party’s duties in these meetings, the Communist Central Committee in the first week of May declared: “The Communists in this joint meeting should discuss all principal questions, set forth concrete proposals, but such concrete proposals should not be based upon the maximum demands of our Party, but should keep in mind the interests of the development of the national revolution and the solidarity with the Kuomintang Left wing.”[35] Let it be remembered that the Communists were functioning in the “bloc” not as the independent representatives of an allied party, but as members of the Kuomintang, subject to its programme and its discipline. So when, in one of the first joint meetings, Wang Ching-wei announced that “only the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang has the right to ratify and publish the resolutions of the joint conferences,” the Communist representatives concurred. Wang Ching-wei, of course, maintained a carefully organized caucus against the Communists. He “secretly got together all the pure Kuomintang members of the different party organs, and secured that before every meeting a preliminary meeting was held at his private residence for the purpose of presenting a united front . . . against the Communist members.” [36]

But he need have had little fear of Communist recalcitrance. The Central Committee of the Communist Party even ordered Communists employed on Kuomintang newspapers “not to turn these papers into Communist organs, but to work in the spirit of the Kuomintang resolutions.” [37] Under the conditions of the “bloc” ever since its inception, the Communists had published no daily paper of their own, nor did they have any in Wuhan, nor will one find anywhere in the resolutions of the Communist International instructions to rectify this glaring lack of the most elementary weapon of a revolutionary party. The absence of a Communist Press was the final guarantee that the maintenance of “solidarity with the Kuomintang Left” meant the complete subordination of the Communists to the Kuomintang and the soft-pedalling of the Communists’ “maximum demands.”

Writing of a party so securely strapped and bound as this, Stalin, in his April 21 thesis, said: “While fighting in the ranks of the revolutionary Kuomintang, the Communist Party must preserve its independence more than ever before.”[38]

“Preserve?” echoed Trotsky. “But to this day the Communist Party has had no such independence. Precisely its lack of independence is the source of all the evils and all the mistakes. . . . Instead of making an end once and for all to the practice of yesterday, (Stalin) proposes to retain it, ‘more than ever before.’ But this means that they want to retain the ideological and organizational dependence of the proletarian party upon a petty bourgeois party, which is inevitably converted into an instrument of the big bourgeoisie.”[39]

“Solidarity with the Kuomintang Left” guaranteed that the ideological and organizational dependence of the Chinese Communists on their petty bourgeois and bourgeois allies would continue. Either the Communists would pursue an independent course in defiance of the Left Kuomintang’s demand that the mass movement be checked, or else they would capitulate to that demand. So long as the Comintern insisted that satisfaction of the workers’ and peasants’ demands was possible only through the agency of the Left Kuomintang, the road to independence was barred. The Communists, therefore, travelled the only other path open to them.

“The Central Committee did not develop and push the strike movement, but co-operated with the Kuomintang leaders in fixing compulsory arbitration and left the right of final decision to the Government, ordering the labour unions not to struggle for the workers’ demands, but to submit to labour discipline. . . . When the unions arrested a number of factory owners and shopkeepers, the bourgeoisie cried out: ‘Excesses!’ The Central Committee tried to convince the workers not to occupy factories, even when the factory owners deliberately closed them as an act of sabotage, not to close shops even when the shopkeepers deliberately raised prices.”[40]

Rising prices were blotting out the meagre fruits of a hundred victorious strikes. The workers instinctively moved forward to more revolutionary measures. They occupied the factories and shops and tried to operate them themselves. Their unions took direct punitive action against the saboteurs and the speculators. But the Government stopped them short. Government action, not workers’ actions, would solve their problems, they were told. Earl Browder addressed a meeting of trade unionists in Hankow on April 29 and said the Government would have to regulate prices. “Failure (of the Government) to do this will mean disaster to the revolutionary forces,” he said.[41]

Government failure to help the peasants was a “fatal error,” said Stoler. Government failure to help the workers meant “disaster,” said Browder. And the Government failed in both cases.

In this Government sat two Communist Ministers, holding the portfolios of Agriculture and Labour, “the classic posts of hostages,” to use Trotsky’s phrase. The Communists were originally ordered into the National Government by the Seventh Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International at the end of 1926. The Kuomintang plenary session in March named Tang Ping-shan Minister of Agriculture, and Hsu Chao-jen, the Canton trade union leader, Minister of Labour. Browder wrote on April 10 that “the appointment of Communists to head these two posts signalizes a deepening of the social phase” of the revolution. For Browder the entry of the Communists into the Government meant a “turn to the Left” which he felt sure would “undoubtedly come as a surprise and shock to American and British imperialism.”[42] Arthur Ransome, a bourgeois journalist, understood somewhat better than Browder what a Communist Minister of Labour meant in a bourgeois Government. “He will not be a tool of the trade unions, but a mediator between the Government and labour.”[43] In fact, the entry of the Communists into the Wuhan Government only thinly disguised a sharp turn to the Right which held surprises and shocks only for the masses of workers and peasants.

As Ministers, the Communists were required to carry out the policies of the Kuomintang. At the formal induction of Tang Ping-shan on May 20, Wang Ching-wei said: “The peasant movement has grown rapidly. . . . What we need now is a man who can lead and direct the peasants. . . . Comrade Tang is such a leader. He is unusually equipped to cope with the peasant problems.”[44] He was “unusually equipped” because millions of peasants identified the Communists with the October revolution in Russia and there, they knew, the peasants had been liberated. But Tang was not thinking of the October revolution. “I feel it is my sole duty to work hard to carry out the Government’s agricultural policy . . . the agricultural programme of the Kuomintang and the late Tsungli (Sun Yat-sen),” said he on assuming his duties.[45]

“The inaugural address of the Minister of Agriculture, Tang Ping-shan, cannot be called other than shameful,” it was charged long after the event. “He was silent on the agrarian revolution, on the confiscation of land, on the elimination of the power of the tuhao and the gentry in the villages. He spoke at length about the liberal reform of peasant conditions and inveighed against ‘excesses.’ After assuming his post, Tang Ping-shan immediately issued instructions to the peasants forbidding ‘rash acts’ against the tuhao and gentry, threatening ‘severe punishment.’ “[46]

“At present there is a crisis in the peasant emancipation movement,” said one of the first manifestoes of the Communist Minister of Agriculture. “(It is) a transitional period . . . a period of much struggle and chaos, of acts that are premature and of deeds that confuse the main issue. Some of this is attributable to excessive demands on the part of the peasants. While excessive demands must be attributed to, and are logical results of, the long suppression of the peasants . . . it remains a matter of necessity that they be checked and controlled. . . . The Government therefore announces its policy that all irresponsible acts and illegal deeds of the peasants be nipped in the bud in the interests of the majority (?) of the peasants and the larger phase of the peasant movement. . . . All elements in the village sympathetic to the cause of the revolution must be gathered and organized under its banner and to that end peace must reign in the villages. It must not be annihilated by the peasants’ excessive demands. As to the local tyrannical landlords and gentry, these must be left to be dealt with by the Government. Free action by the peasants resulting in their arrest or their execution is punishable by law.…”[47]

In the Ministry of Labour, the Communist, Hsu Chao-jen, sang the same tune. “There are many evidences of infantile activity on the part of the newly-liberated(?) sections of labour and the peasantry. This is causing a serious gap in the revolutionary alliance,” he wrote in a circular issued a few days after he took office. [48]

Thus spoke the voice of the landlords and the bourgeoisie through the megaphone of the “revolutionary” Government of the “revolutionary” Kuomintang—amplified and carried to the masses by the Communist Party!

“The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Labour were no different in any respect from the rest of the bureaucratic apparatus. . . They did not publish a single law to diminish the sufferings of the workers and peasants, not one decree to change the system of exploitation in the cities and villages. . . . No such decrees were even prepared for sub-mission to the Government. The work of these Communist Ministers . . . in practice turned into the most rotten bour-geois bureaucratic rule. To efface our Communist physiognomy before the masses, we did not make one revolutionary proposal. To cloak the counter-revolution, we did not criticize the errors of the Wuhan Government.”[49]

Throughout the mass organizations the effort was made to persuade the workers and peasants that their salvation lay in unity with those who oppressed them. Hsiang Chungfah, head of the Hupeh Provincial General Labour Union, later to become secretary of the Communist Party,[He was arrested in Shanghai and shot at Chiang Kai-shek’s orders in June, 1931.] busied himself with the organization of joint meetings between the trade unionists and the merchants and capitalists in an effort to carry out Wang Ching-wei’s instruction that the “small capitalists must unite with the labourers.”[50] Acting under the orders of the Ministry of Labour, the Hupeh General Labour Union abdicated the police powers it had assumed.[51]

Jen Hsu, general secretary of the All-China Peasant Association, complained that “the peasant movement in Hupeh developed too rapidly,” and announced that the association had decided to “moderate” the peasant upsurge in order to ensure protection of the land of the “revolutionary officers.” [52] The Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association obediently followed suit. “In compliance with the instructions of the Central Kuomintang and the Nationalist Government,” it ordered all branch associations “to prevent immature actions in the peasant movement. . . . Efforts must be made,” it urged, “to consolidate the front and to seek for closer co-operation between the propertyless peasants, the small landlords, the merchants, and the manufacturers. . . . Confiscation of the property of military men of the revolution or the property of those who are not local rowdies and bad gentry is banned.”[53] Wang Ching-wei, it is recorded, complained to Borodin that the peasants were not heeding these instructions and were seizing the land wherever they could. “Borodin denied that he was responsible for the movement. . . . Wang then asked Borodin what he proposed to do about it. Borodin could only answer to the effect that the only way was to modify the movement.”[54]

“Solidarity with the Kuomintang Left wing” was ordained from above. To maintain that solidarity the Communist Party had to abdicate its class role and abandon its historic mission. The impact of the class struggle drove the politicians of Wuhan into the arms of the bourgeoisie and the gentry, whose instrument the Wuhan Government had become—and to the Kuomintang and to this Government the Communists were bound by the direct instructions of the Communist International. The Communist leaders, “under the influence of the fright and hesitancy of the Kuomintang leaders, were unable to put forward a programme of revolutionary action to solve the land problem.[55]

“The infantile acts of the poor peasants,” complained the Communist Central Committee on May 15, “are making the petty bourgeoisie go away from us.” [56] Borodin, Roy, and the Communist leaders were busy in these critical days—”keeping the petty bourgeoisie with us.” By “petty bourgeoisie” they did not mean the great mass of artisans, petty traders, small shopkeepers, and the lower strata of the peasantry who could and would have swarmed to a truly proletarian banner. They meant the small landlords, the “revolutionary” officers, and the politicians of the Left Kuomintang. The great masses of the workers, the peasantry, and the petty bourgeoisie were left leaderless. Reactionary forces in the towns and in the country-side were materially strengthened thereby and they soon moved to reassert their supremacy.

While the Wuhan leaders and the Communists wailed at the “excesses” of the peasants and pleaded for the “restoration of order,” militarist forces soon emerged to restore “order” in their own way. The “revolutionary army” moved in to accomplish by force what the Wuhan politicians wanted but could not achieve by persuasion.

A few hours after nightfall on May 21 in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, rifle and machine-gun fire split the darkness. At one o’clock General Hsu Keh-chang, commander of the local garrison and subordinate of General Tang Sheng-chih, ordered his men, the 33rd Battalion of the 35th Army, to tie white bands around their arms. At their head he marched to the headquarters of the Hunan Provincial General Labour Union. Four pickets, two women, and a fifth man were shot down at the gate and the soldiers swarmed into the building. In quick succession raiding squads stormed the provincial Kuomintang headquarters, the Party school, and the premises occupied by all the many mass organizations of workers, peasants, and students. The headquarters were smashed and all their occupants either shot out of hand or arrested. The shooting continued almost until dawn.

The next morning the city was plastered with bills: “Down with the extremists!”. “Support Chiang Kai-shek!” Hsu Keh-chang announced that he had been “forced” to take action because the pickets and the peasant guards were planning to disarm his men, an explanation that was no longer original after the Shanghai events only six weeks previously. Hsu likewise announced that the Hunan provincial Kuomintang and Government would be “reorganized,” and a committee, appointed by the military, was set up for that purpose.

News of the events in Changsha on the night of May 21 trickled slowly into print in Wuhan. Not until four weeks later[57] did the Press carry full accounts, and that was when a delegation arrived from Hunan to petition the Government for protection from marauding troops who had established a reign of terror throughout the province. A whole month had already passed, a month of cowardly indecision and treacherous betrayal in Wuhan.

The raids on May 21 proved to be only the opening phase of the bloodiest chapter in the history of the disasters of 1927 in China. To the open space outside the west gate of Changsha at nightfall and at dawn, arrested workers, peasants, and students were marched and shot down in batches. The soldiers amused themselves with the women victims, despatching them with bullets fired upward into the body through the vagina.[58] The men were subjected to nameless tortures. Many who were not decapitated were sliced through the body at the hips. After the first wave of killings, Changsha settled down to a routine of at least ten, and often as many as thirty, executions daily. Once begun at the provincial capital, the terror spread and took a ghastly toll. Within a few days more than one hundred were killed at Henyang. On May 24, at Sangteh, six hundred active members of the local peasant association were mowed down by machine-guns. When the soldiers rose at Liuyang, the peasants fled towards Changsha. There Hsu Keh-chang met them with machine-guns, leaving one hundred and thirty men and women dead and dying in front of the city gate. During the course of the next few months no less than twenty thousand peasant men and women and village workers fell before this juggernaut. For the scores killed by the revolution, the reaction took the lives of thousands.

On the morrow of May 21, an attempt was made to mobilize the scattered guards for a counter-attack. Local leaders ordered the concentration of the armed detachments in the hills outside of Changsha. Peasant guards and pickets made their way with their rifles to the appointed place. Within a few days an army of several thousands, bitter with the loss of wives and sisters, fathers and brothers, stood ready to march on Changsha, which Hsu Keh-chang held with one thousand seven hundred men. The peasants counted on bottling up the Changsha garrison, reoccupying the city, and organizing their forces on a province-wide scale. They counted, above all, on quick aid from Wuhan.

They were already on the march when word came from the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Wuhan to cancel plans for the attack on Changsha and “to await action of the National Government for a settlement of the question.”[59] The All-China Trade Union Federation and the All-China Peasant Association sent a joint wire on May 27: “To the Provincial Peasant Union and the Provincial Labour Union, care of the Siangtan and Siangsang unions: The Central Government has appointed a committee of five which left here this morning for the settlement of the Changsha incident. Please notify all peasant and labour comrades of the province to be patient and wait for the Government officials in order to avoid further friction.”[60] The representative of the Communist Central Committee in Hunan issued orders for the retreat of all the peasant units. They reached all but two detachments of Liuyuanghsien fighters, who marched up to the gates of the city at the time stipulated and were there wiped out by Hsu Keh-chang’s machine-guns. The delay enabled Ho Chien, who was due to hold the province in fief from Chiang Kai-shek, to send two regiments down from Yochow to reinforce the Changsha garrison. In a few days the opportunity to strike back and mobilize the whole province was lost. Reaction gripped the pommel of the Hunan saddle and would not again be dislodged.[61]

The “committee of five” sent down from Wuhan was headed by Tang Ping-shan. Chiu Chiu-pei records that Borodin accompanied the party[62] that left Hankow on May 26 “to carry out the task of restoring order.” But they got no farther than the Hunan border. At Yochow they were turned back by the troops of General Ho Chien. The task of restoring “order” had already been undertaken by abler instruments of counter-revolution.[63]

The “reorganized” provincial Government ordered the immediate restoration of the lien pao system (collective family and village responsibility for the offences of individuals). Decrees were issued offering protection to those who would denounce Communists and active leaders of the mass organizations. In the process of “reorganizing” the tangpus and other bodies, all the former leaders, wherever caught, were shot without ceremony. All land seized from the landlords or from the temples was ordered restored to the “rightful” owners. The plan for calling a provincial delegates’ assembly was cancelled and the hundred-odd delegates already in Changsha awaiting the first session, scheduled for June , were executed en masse. Schools were closed down.[64] Girl students were subjected to frightful indignities. Reactionary newspapers which had been suppressed resumed publication. Haosen émigrés who had fled the peasants’ wrath returned in droves and filled the posts in the newly-reorganized Party and Government. With them they brought the money with which they filled the private coffers of Hsu Keh-chang and Ho Chien.”


1 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 53.

2 “Report of the Delegate of the Hunan Provincial Peasant Association,” Min Kuo Jih Pao, Wuhan, June 12, 1927. (Hereafter referred to as “Hunan Delegate’s Report.”)

3 Tsai Yi-tsen, “Report of the Delegate of the Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association,” Min Kuo Jih Pao, May 20-21, 1927. (Hereafter referred to as “Hupeh Delegate’s Report.”)

4 “Hunan Delegate’s Report.”

5 “Hupeh Delegate’s Report.”

6 Cf. Strong, “The People’s Food,” China’s Millions .

7 Chapman, Chinese Revolution, p. 91.

8 Ibid., p. 91.

9 For accounts of the revolution’s cultural achievements, especially in the liberation of women and the destruction of superstitions, see Strong, China’s Millions, and Chapman, Chinese Revolution.

10 String, China’s Millions, pp. 41-2.

11 “Hunan Delegate’s Report” ; see also “Resolution of the Hupeh Provincial Peasant Union,” People’s Tribune, July 2, 1927.

12 “Hupeh Delegate’s Report.”

13 Tsai Yi-tsen, “Difficulties and Recent Tactics of the Hupeh Peasant Movement,” Min Kuo Jih Fao, June 12-13, 1927.

14 Ibid.

15 The Hupeh Provincial Peasant Association estimated that at least 4,700 peasants, including 500 women, were slain in Hupeh province between February and June. Means of execution it listed as follows: Beheading, burying alive, shooting, strangling, burning . . . cutting into pieces.”— People’s Tribune, July 7, 1927.

16 “Report of Kuomintang Work in Hupeh,” People’s Tribune, June 24-25, 1927 ; cf. “Speech of Tung Pi-wu to the Hupeh Party Conference,” People’s Tribune, July 1, 1927.

17 Cf. “Reports to the Conference of Hupeh Kuomintang Representatives,” People’s Tribune, June 26, et seg.

18 Sydor Stoler, “The International Workers’ Delegation in Hunan,” Chinese Correspondence, Hankow, May 8, 1927.

19 ”Hupeh Delegate’s Report.”

20 Stoler, “The International Workers’ Delegation in Hunan.”

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 “The measures for suppression of counter-revolutionary factions were not carried out sufficiently rapidly or carefully. Also it was impossible to induce the Government to begin the immediate trial of the corrupt country gentry, local bullies, and other counter-revolutionaries who were under arrest.”—” Report of Kuomintang Work in Hupeh.”

24 People’s Tribune, May 12 and July 8, 1927.

25 “Manifesto of the C.E.C.,” May 20, 1927, People’s Tribune, May 22, 1927.

26 Strong, China’s Millions, p. 166.

27 “Report of the Hupeh Provincial Delegates’ Conference, Wuchang, June 25,” People’s Tribune, July 12, 1927.

28 “Hupeh Delegate’s Report.”

29 “Report of Kuomintang Work in Hupeh.”

30 Strong, China’s Millions, pp. 166-9.

31 Sydor Stoler, “The International Delegation in Hunan,” International Press Correspondence, July 21, 1927.

32 M. N. Roy, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in China,” International Press Correspondence, July 21, 1927.

33 “Report of the Hupeh Provincial Delegates’ Conference” ; see Note 27.

34 Tsai Yi-tsen, “Difficulties and Recent Tactics.”

35 “August 7 Letter.”

36 Tang Leang-li, Inner History, p. 276.

37 “August 7 Letter.”

38 Stalin, “Questions of the Chinese Revolution.”

39 Trotsky, Problems, p. 43

40 ”August 7 Letter.”

41 “Remarks of Earl Browder to a Meeting of Trade Union Leaders,” Chinese Correspondence, May 8, 1927.

42 Earl Browder, “The Chinese Revolution Turns Left,” Labour Monthly, London, July, 1927.

43 Ransome, Chinese Puzzle, p. 92.

44 People’s Tribune, May 21, 1927.

45 Ibid.

46 “August 7 Letter.”

47 “Manifesto of Tang Ping-shan,” People’s Tribune, May 29, 1927.

48People’s Tribune, June 12, 1927.

49 “August 7 Letter.”

50 People’s Tribune, May 25, 29, 1927.

51 Ibid., June 2, 9, 1927.

52 Ibid., June 11, 1927.

53 Ibid., June 9, 1927.

54 Tang Leang-li, Inner History, p. 273.

55 “August 7 Letter.”

56 Ibid.

57 Cf. Min Kuo Jih Pao, Hankow, June 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 1927 ; and People’s Tribune, June 4, 1927.

58 Min Kuo Jih Pao, June 18, 1927.

59 “August 7 Letter.”

60 People’s Tribune, May 28, 1927.

61 Cf. “August 7 Letter” ; Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 112 ; Chitarov, Speech to XV Congress, C.P.S.U., quoted in Trotsky, Problems, pp. 289-90 ; Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia, pp. 139-40.

62 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, pp. 112-13 ; see also People’s Tribune May 27, 1927.

63 According to Albert Treint, “Tang Ping-shan . . . accepted at the beginning of June the command of an armed expedition against the agrarian revolution.”—(”Declaration du Camarade Treint,” p. 63.) This statement also occurs in Max Shachtman, Ten Years, History and Principles of the Left Opposition, New York, 1933, p. 50, based upon Treint. When queried by the author on this point, Treint insisted his informant was Bukharin himself. The statement, however, is definitely erroneous.

64 Min Kuo Jih Pao, June 18-19, 1927.