Frank Glass

Minutes of Meeting of Provisional Committee of the Communist League of China (Bolshevik-Leninists). First Meeting of Reconstituted Committee Tuesday Night, December 3, 1935.

Written: December 3, 1935
First Published: December, 1935, in an internal document of the US Socialist Workers Party.
Source: Document provided by the Prometheus Research Library, New York City. CFG is Glass, Cecil Frank Glass. It is cited by Baruch Hirson in his bibliography in his biography of Glass.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Ted Crawford and David Walters
Copyleft: Frank Glass Internet Archive ( 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Present —Wang Ming-yuen, Chen Chi-chang, Ying Kuan, Hu Hsi, Cheng Chia-tsi, Shao Loo, CFG.

Meeting called to order at 7:10 P.m. Wang Ming-yuen elected Chairman.

1. Endorsement of the Open Letter for the Fourth International.

There are two opinions regarding the writing of the letter stating that the Chinese Section of the I.C.L. subscribes to the Open Letter for the formation of the Fourth International. The first is that we write a brief letter merely stating that we adhere to the Fourth International. The other is that we write a long, inclusive letter, giving the history of the differences in the Chinese organization in the past, a discussion of the different points of view, etc. etc.

After a lengthy discussion it was decided that these two subjects are not inter-dependent and that therefore two letters should be written. CFG is to write a brief letter endorsing the Open Letter for the Fourth International. A long letter discussing the inner life of the organization is to be written by Ying Kuan, to be submitted to the Stand-ing Committee for approval before being despatched.

For reference, the following resolution submitted to the I.S by Lo-sen is quoted:

“August 9, 1935. “The Communist League of China announces its unqualified adherence to the Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organisations for the Fourth International and adds its signature thereto.

“For the C.C., C.L.C.:


“Per Lo-sen.”

2. Election of Representatives on the General Council of the Fourth International.

Ying Kuan says that he learned from Liu Chin-Liang’s wife that Niel Sih has written a confession and that he himself requested that he be sent to the Reformatory in Soochow so that he might be released soon, and that he has stated he is willing to capitulate to the Kuomintang. Although there is no proof of this, some of the comrades because of this rumor are unwilling to elect him to the General Council.

A long discussion about the advisability of electing Chen Tu-hsiu to the General Council. In view of the fact that comrade Trotsky saw fit to combat objections to the election of Chen Tu-hsiu in his letter to the Chinese comrades, Ying Kuan asks if any letters were written on this subject to the I.S.

CFG replies that so far as he knows no such letters have been written, but that LDT knew of the past disputes with Chen Tu-hsiu and that this undoubtedly motivated his combatt-ing any objections in advance. In spite of these differences CFG points out that comrade Trotsky nevertheless insisted that Chen Tu-hsiu be nominated.

Ying Kuan states: “Chen Tu-hsiu is not a Marxist. If we consider the advisability of his election from the point of view of his authority and influence only, then we welcome him as being a candidate. But we should discuss his political ideas to determine whether or not he is a Marxist. However, we should accept Trotsky’s nomination of Chen Tu-hsiu because of his (Chen Tu-hsiu’s) authority and influence.

Chen Chi-chang—”Among the Chinese comrades there is no one who is a 100% Marxist. We must separate these two questions. The first question is: Can we elect Chen Tu-hsiu to the Council. The second is: Is Chen Tu-hsiu a real Marxist. Now we should discuss only the first question, that is whether his nomination can be accepted.

All accept Trotsky’s proposal endorsing the nomination of Chen Tu-hsiu to the General Council.

Chang Chia-tsi states as his opinion that because of Chen Tu hsiu’s political opinions he cannot represent the Bolshevik-Leninists, and that this question is closely connected with the idea of whether or not he can be a representative. The two questions must be discussed together. Suggests the decision be postponed until after a discussion.

CFG points out that the creation of that Fourth International is not looked upon as a task including only B.L. groups, but that it should include all those who see the bankruptcy of 2d and 3rd Internationals and the need for the Fourth. The idea is to bring in all the elements who agree on the need for the Fourth International. Differentiations will undoubtedly take place afterwards, but at this stage secondary differences should not constitute a reason for excluding individuals, groups or parties. The purpose now is to unite all those revolutionary groups who advocate the forming of the Fourth International into a single organization.

Long discussion on (1) Do we accept Trotsky’s proposal; (2) The real position of Chen Tu-hsiu.

CFG formally proposes that the organization endorses the proposal of Trotsky that Chen Tu-hsiu be nominated by the I.B. to the General Council of the Fourth International.

Ying Juan makes the following formulation: “We accept Trotsky’s proposal, but at the same time we must inform Trotsky that we, the Chinese Bolshevik-Leninists, do not recognize Chen Tu-hsiu’s political leadership.”

Chen Chi-chang—”We accept Trotsky’s proposal of Chen Tu-hsiu as a candidate to the General Council. However, Chen Tu-hsiu has many differences with us on political questions. But we must consider the present proposal only from the point of view of the general principles of the Fourth International.”

CFG says we cannot yet say we do not accept Chen Tu-hsiu’s political leadership. No formulation of our position has yet been made. The resolution should simply endorse the nomination of Chen Tu-hsiu to the General Council without any reservations. We do not wish to alienate Chen Tu-hsiu from possible future work with us, particularly in view of the fact that we have not yet even formulated our position. It is not necessary to add any reservations to the acceptance. We should either accept it or reject it.

Ying Kuan reiterates that his idea is that we should accept the proposal, but with an explanatory clause regarding differ-ences.

CFG—”Acceptance of the proposal merely means that we agree that we have sufficient ideas in common with Chen Tu-hsiu to cooperate with him for the formation of the Fourth International

Ying Kuan again states his position: “We accept Trotsky’s proposal, and we hope that the differences between us may be resolved in the near future.”

Some comrades are opposed to this condition.

CFG—”Ying Kuan seems to think that by accepting, Chen Tu--hsiu’s nomination we are accepting his ideas on all questions. That is not at all the case. CFG proposes again that we endorse Trotsky’s proposal.”

Ying Kuan says that if it is voted in the Committee, then it must be submitted to all the comrades for ratification.

Vote taken. Resolution: “We endorse Trotsky’s proposal in nominating Chen Tu-hsiu to the General Council. Four in favor three opposed. Those in favor—Chen Chi-chang, Wang Ming, Shao Lao, CFG.

For reference, the following draft sent by Lo-sen is quoted:

“Draft for IS nominations for China to General Council:

“As delegates from China to the General Council of the Fourth International, the International Secretariat of the ICL proposes the nomination of Comrades Chen Tu-hsiu, Niel Sih, and Sze Chao-Seng. Since these comrades are now in prison and it has not been possible to confirm these nominations by direct communication with them, the International Secretariat proposes that the Communist League of China ratify this proposal and take the necessary steps for its close collaboration with the General Council of the Fourth International.”

Note—The name of Sze Chao-seng was subsequently deleted.

3. Appointment of a Committee to Draft:
(a) Declaration of Principles;
(b) Organizational Rules (a Constitution).

(a). Chinese comrades all agree that it is not desirable to draft a Declaration of Principles at the present time because they constitute only a Provisional Committee, and this task should be undertaken by a duly elected Central Committee. They feel that the most important task now is to draft a program of action. They also point out that the drafting of a Declaration of Principles is a long and difficult task.

CFG—”Yes it is a big task, but we aim to increase our num-bers, and in order to do this we must have a platform so that new members know what they are joining.”

Wang Ming-yuen points out that there was formerly a program drafted by Trotsky, and that this should now be brought up-to-date.

Wang Ming-yuen (after much discussion) “At this time we only want a brief Program of Action. At the same time we can nominate a committee to prepare a program on the basis of Trotsky’s forcer proposals.

CFG—”The action resolutions should be based on the program.”

Wang Ming-yuen—”We agree to appoint a committee to draft a declaration of Principles, but now we must have an outline of tasks.

Decided to draw up a Program of Action. This task is to be undertaken by one comrade and the program when completed submitted to the Standing Committee for approval.

Chen Chi-chang suggests Wan Ming-yuen. Chang Chia-tsi suggests Ying Kuan. CFG says they both should work together. Agreed that both Ying Euan and Wang Ming-yuen should draw up a Program of Action.

CFG suggests that before it is presented to the Provisional Committee, these two comrades should be in agreement as to the Program of Action.

(b) Drafting of Organizational Rules.

Wang states that the Chinese comrades consider that this also is a big task, and that at first they should draw up an organ-izational resolution to define only the most fundamental rules of organization, such as qualifications for membership, tasks of membership, etc. In addition we must describe the lessons of the past, particularly the conflict between the four groups, and the question of unprincipled splits

4. Name to be Used by Organization.

After a brief discussion it was agreed to continue using the name adopted by the last Central Committee. Official name of the organization is: “Communist League of China (Bolshevik-Leninists)”.

5-6. Election of Standing Committee and Distribution of Duties.

Ying Kuan says we should continue to publish “Iskra” as a theoretical organ, and that we should also publish a political weekly, which would be illegal, and an organ of the C.L.C.

Another opinion—we should publish a legal weekly to utilize the present relatively favorable situation to spread our poli-tical influence, but since legal it could not be published as an organ of the CCL. “Iskra” will also be published and will have both a political and theoretical character.

Opinion expressed that a legal weekly would be in the nature of a Left Bourgeois publication.

CFG states that whether or not it would have a Left Bourgeois character or a B-L character would depend on who was publish-ing it, and not merely on the fact that it was legal.

Ying Kuan—”Iskra” should be a theoretical organ which will be published irregularly, that is once a month or once in two months, depending upon the material, technical ability, etc. Besides this, we must publish a political weekly (illega1) to analyze current events. If it is possible we can also publish a legal weekly.

Chen Chi-chang—”Iskra” should be a theoretical and politi-cal organ which should be published twice a month, or weekly. In addition we should have a legal weekly in order to utilize present conditions to increase our influence.

All agree that emphasis must be on the secret organ. The differences arise, over the question of whether the second publication should be legal or illegal.

CFG – we must first try to secure the regular publication of “Iskra”. Through this medium we can attract new elements. The weekly paper is also important, but it must take second place in importance to “Iskra.” Certainly we must make every possible use of the opportunity which seems to exist at the present time to bring our ideas before a larger group of people, either through a legal or a semi-legal organ. But the question of bringing out a legal or semi-legal weekly depends largely upon our resources. The legal or semi-legal paper should be devoted to spreading our ideas on a democratic program. I think that in regard to a legal or semi-legal paper we can secure outside help. There is a group of people, formerly members of the C.P., who I understand are very much interested in publishing a legal or semi-legal organ which would be devoted to the popularization of democratic demands. However, instead of consuming more time on this subject tonight we should refer it to the Standing Committee. Meanwhile we should accept as our first task the publication of ’ Iskra,’ in which would appear discussions on international subjects and on Chines subjects. To abandon ’ Iskra’ in favor of a weekly would be a mistake.”

Ying Kuan—”We should publish two illegal organs, one a theoretical organ; the other a political organ. The theoretical organ is our regular publication (Iskra); the political organ is the weekly.

It is decided to publish a weekly paper, to be the size of a quarter sheet newspaper, and this is to be a political organ dealing with current events. The theoretical, fundamental documents must be published as special documents. The question of a legal weekly will be acted upon by the Standing Committee, and it will be decided upon according to our resources.

Question—Will the current issue of “Iskra” be published in its regular form? Yes, it is now ready to be published.

Question—What shall the weekly be called? “Workers’ Life” suggested by CFG. Yin Kuan thinks this is not a good name. Suggestion to refer this to the Standing Committee. Suggested (by CFG) to call it Struggle. Suggestion agreed upon. The name of the weekly will be Struggle.

Question is raised as to whether there should be a committee for propaganda separate from the committee charged with the publishing of “Struggle”. Decided to have two committees. One committee is to be the Propaganda Committee, one of its tasks being to publish documents of a general nature (Iskra, etc.); the other committee is to publish the weekly paper.

Elections for the Standing Committee -

(1) Secretary-Treasurer. CFG nominated by Chen Chi-chang. Dis-cussion CFG suggests that it might be better to have the post filled by one of the Chinese comrades, or possibly to have one of the Chinese comrades as his assistant. This suggestion was not approved, on the grounds that there is no common language between CFG and the others. Suggested the two posts might be separated.

Hu Hsi—Better to separate the positions, with CFG as treasurer and Ying Kuan as secretary.

Chen Chi-chang—During this time it is important that the secretary of the Standing Committee should be able to bring about unity between all the members of the committee. Therefore it is better that CFG should be the secretary.

Discussion on the character of the duties of the secretary—that is whether the secretary is really the political spokesman or whether his tasks are primarily of a technical nature such as writing letters, keeping minutes, etc.

Wang Ming-yuen says the position of secretary should be re-garded as one for performing technical tasks, and not as one which carries with it the deciding of the political line of the party.

Two candidates have been nominated for the poet of secretary-treasurer—Ying Kuan and CFG. CFG withdraws in favor of Ying Kuan. Chen Chi-Chang, who nominated CFG, refuses to withdraw his nomination, giving as his reason the fact that the secretary must have good relations with all the comrades. In this opinion Shao Lo concurs.

Vote taken. CFG elected Secretary-Treasurer. Three in favor of CFG. Two in favor of Ying Kuan. Those for CFG—Ying Kuan, Chen Chi-chang, Shao Loo. Those for Ying Kuan—Hu Hsi, Chong Chia-tsi.

(2) Committee for Propaganda (including publication of Iskra).

Yin Kuan and Wang Ming-yuan proposed. Wang Ming-yuan elected by vote of four—Chen Chi-chang, Shao Loo, CFG, Ying Kuan.

(3) Editor of “Struggle.” Shao Loo proposes Chen Chi-Chang. Cheng Chia-tsi proposes Ying Kuan. Chen Chi-Chang elected by a vote of three to two. Those voting for Chen Chi-chang—CFG, Shao Loo, Wang Ming-yuen. For Ying Kuan—Cheng Chia-tsi, Hu Hsi.

Embittered discussion both before and after voting, principally entered into by Chen Chi-chang and Ying Kuan, who strongly objected to Chen Chi-chang’s election as editor of “Struggle.”

Ying Kuan says that Chen is not qualified because he never expresses apolitical opinion. He asks if the election is final. He asks why CFG voted as he did. CFG says, no comrade should be called upon to give reasons for his vote, but that since the question has been asked his vote was cast on the basis of his past experience with the two comrades. Ying Kuan during the past few weeks in correspondence and conversation with CPG and with others has indicated an attitude of desiring to propagate his own ideas regardless of whether these were the ideas of the Organization. If Chen Chi-chang proves incapable in his job, then there will naturally be a change, as is also the case with the other comrades who have been elected to office. But since Chen Chi-chang was elected, it is Ying Kuan’s duty to cooperate as a loyal comrade in doing whatever work he is able to do. If he is unable to do this, then he is no communist.

Chang Chia-tsi says that there are two political lines in-volved, one a Bolshevik line, and one a Menshevik line.

Hu Hsi says that votes for the editor for “Struggle” should have been cast on the basis of the political ideas and that CFG should have voted according to his estimate of the rela-tive merits of the political ideas of the two nominees.

CFG says that while he has not had much opportunity to know exactly where the two nominees stand at the present time on political questions, he recalls quite clearly that only a few months ago Chen Chi-chang and Ying Kuan were in political agreement. That since he is not able to make a real political decision on the matter, he was forced to take other factors into consideration.

(4) Organiser. Nominated—Shao Loo; Ying Kuan; Hu Hsi. Ying Kuan is elected by three votes—Chen Chi-chang, Shao Loo, CFG.

The Standing Committee thus consists of the following four members:

1. Secretary-Treasurer—CFG.
2. Committee for Propaganda—Wang Ming-yuen.
3. Editor of “Struggle”—Chen Chi-chang.
4. Organizer—Ying Kuan.

7. Budget for Organization.

Referred to Standing Committee.

8. Other Business.

First meeting of Standing Committee to be attended by Ying Kuan, Chen Chi-chang and Wang Ying-yuen, and to be held December 4th or 5th. CFG unable to attend.

Second meeting to be held Saturday morning, December 7, at nine o’clock. All four members of the Standing Committee to be present.

Meeting ended 12:15 A.M.