Li Fu-jen, End of the Chinese Soviets, New International, January 1938, pp.16-20.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
The historian who undertakes to trace and explain the abrupt about-face which projected the Communist International and its sections from the “Third Period” of adventurism and irresponsible phrase-mongering into the “Fourth Period” of Popular Frontism, class collaboration and social-patriotic betrayal of the international proletariat, will encounter in his study of the Chinese political scene a record of what is probably the most crassly cynical treason ever to disgrace the pages of revolutionary history.
In the so-called democratic countries, the Stalinist about-face was marked by the abandonment of the dominant “theory of social-fascism” which led to the tragic defeat of the German and Austrian proletariat, in favor of diametrically opposite theories supporting the line of the Popular Front, organic fusion with the social democracy, and support of the bourgeois-democratic governments. But in China, the only country in the Far East where Stalinism has exerted any real influence during the past decade, the switch has been even more startling. Here the “new line” has involved, as an integral part of the act of theoretical and political self-repudiation, the voluntary abandonment of an armed struggle against the Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai-shek which raged across the face of China for nearly ten years, a struggle which was declared by the Stalinists to be part and parcel of the struggle against imperialism.
Those who have made a practise of following the Stalinist press will not easily forget the extravagant language in which an expectant world was informed that a Soviet revolution, assuming the state form of a “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”, had been victorious on a considerable portion of the territory of China. At the Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in December 1933, Wang Ming, Chinese representative, told his auditors that “the total area of the Chinese Soviet Republic is 1,348,180 square kilometers, while the area of the stable districts takes in 681,255 square kilometers”. To emphasize the magnitude of this Soviet republic, the speaker declared that it was “vaster than any of the big capitalist countries of Western Europe”. With such a head start, it was not surprising to find Wang Ming stating that the main political task of the Chinese Communist Party was the extension of the Soviet revolution to the rest of the country. Said he:
... we, of the C.P.C., consider the following to be our basic task: A struggle for the decisive victory of the Soviet revolution in all China, or in other words, in the words of Comrade Molotov, “the complete defeat of the enemy and the victory of the Red Army”.
So that we may have clearly fixed in our minds who the enemy really was, let us listen to him further:
... our party is succeeding step by step in converting its slogans that “the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime is a condition of the successful prosecution of the national-revolutionary war against Japanese and other imperialisms” and that “the Soviet government and the Red Army of China are the only consistent fighters of the national-revolutionary war”, from party slogans into slogans of the masses.
In making this declaration, Wang Ming reaffirmed what was written in the colonial thesis adopted by the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International in 1928, which states that “the party must explain to the masses the impossibility of a radical improvement in their position, the impossibility of the overthrow of imperialist domination and solution of the tasks of the agrarian revolution, without the overthrow from power of the Kuomintang and militarists and the creation of the rule of Soviets”. This line was conceived, too, as having a great international significance, for at that same Thirteenth Plenum Wang Ming declared: “Therefore it is quite clear that one must realize that the question of defending the Chinese Soviets is the question of defending the world proletarian revolution ...”
That, however, was in December 1933. Without pausing to dwell on the vain Stalinist notion that elemental peasant uprisings and land seizures in a period of revolutionary ebb constituted a “Soviet revolution”, let us note that today “Soviet China” and the “Red Army” have disappeared totally from the scene. Soviet China has become a “Special Administrative District” under the jurisdiction of the Kuomintang government at Nanking, and the Red Army is now the “Eighth Route Army” subordinated to the high command of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. No longer is it asserted that the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime is the condition of a successful national-revolutionary war. Indeed, anyone who ventures to state this elementary truism is branded as an “enemy, of the Chinese people” and an “agent of Japanese imperialism”. The policies of the class struggle and the agrarian revolution have been publicly jettisoned. Today, the keynote of the Stalinist position is the “People’s Anti-Japanese United Front” embracing “all parties and groups” (which in practise means the C.P. and the Kuomintang), leading to the establishment of an “All-Chinese Government of National Defense”.
The naive, who still retain a measure of faith in Stalinist political probity, may ask: But does not the call for an “All-Chinese Government of National Defense” imply the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime, even if only as a distant aim? Perish the thought! Spokesman Wang Ming declares (Communist International, Vol.14, No.10, Oct. 1937) any such suggestion to be “an absolutely false and unfounded legend spread by pro-Japanese elements ... It is slander, provocation!” And to make the Stalinist position thoroughly clear, he adds: “We, Chinese Communists, openly declare that we support the Kuomintang and the Nanking Government, and will fight shoulder to shoulder with them against Japanese imperialism.” Only practical, military support in the war against Japan? There is no hint of it. Critical support, perhaps? But what foundation can there be for revolutionary criticism when the Stalinists have furled the revolutionary banner and embraced Sun Yat-senism, which is the Kuomintang’s own political doctrine?
Before proceeding to study the real factors which have made for the startling about-face of the Chinese Stalinists, let us examine the official motivations for the new line. It is not unusual to discover that Stalinist turns in the realm of policy are put over on a stifled party under the pretext of correcting “errors” in the carrying out of the “general line”, and this regardless of the fact that, a little while previously, tribute may have been paid to the correct and unimpeachable carrying out of the line by the Communist party concerned. Thus Wang Ming, referring at the Thirteenth Plenum of the E.C.C.I. to the “Bolshevization” of the Chinese Communist Party, declared under the heading of The Unquestionable Loyalty to the Leninist General Line of the Communist International, as follows:
This further Bolshevization finds expression, first, in the fact that the C.P.C. headed by its C.C. firmly and undeviatingly carried out its general line, which had been worked out and defined by the Fourth Plenum of the C.C. held on January 7, 1931, under the leadership of the E.C.C.I., and that it does not fear any difficulties or complications that may arise in its path. What is the content of our general political line at the present stage of the Chinese Revolution? The struggle for every possible timely combination of the revolutionary mass movement in Soviet and non-Soviet China under the uniform leadership of the proletariat to overthrow the rule of the imperialists and their lackeys, the Kuomintang, and establish the power of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the working class and the peasantry in the form of Soviets throughout all China.
Yet less than two years later the redoubtable Wang Ming was to discover that the Chinese Communist Party, far from carrying out the general line “firmly and undeviatingly”, had for quite some time been committing very serious political errors. Addressing the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International on August 7, 1935, he said:
Now it is clear to everyone that if the Communist Party had applied the tactics of the anti-imperialist united front in a really serious, consistent and correct manner ... the political situation in China would have shaped itself even more favorably for the development of the revolutionary struggle of the broadest masses of the people against imperialism and its agents.
But had not the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime and the “struggle for the decisive victory of the Soviet revolution in all China” been the “basic task” of the party, from which flowed its entire strategy and tactics? Was it not precisely that struggle which was to insure the success of the national-revolutionary war against imperialism? What need was there for any kind of “united front” when the forces of the “Soviet revolution” were deemed ample to carry that struggle to fruition?
As a matter of fact, despite all their ballyhoo concerning “Soviet China”, the Stalinists were far from feeling that its forces were ample for anything. That is why, during 1932-1933, the Chinese Communist Party, as Wang Ming stated at the Seventh World Congress, “repeatedly addressed itself to all the military units of Kuomintang China with offers of concluding a fighting alliance for a joint struggle against imperialism, stipulating only the following elementary, strictly business-like conditions: the cessation of the offensive against the Soviet districts, the extension of democratic rights to the people (freedom of the press and of speech, the right to have unions, the right to organize, to hold demonstrations, to strike, etc.) and the right to organize and arm volunteer anti-Japanese detachments”. Appeals of this kind were clearly designed, not to pave the way for any surrender agreement with the Kuomintang, but, and quite properly, to tear the supports from under the Kuomintang, thereby relieving the pressure on the Soviet districts, promoting the anti-imperialist struggle, and preparing the vanquishment of Chiang Kai-shek’s regime.
This was the sense of party policy at that time, a fact which Wang Ming himself confirmed at the Thirteenth Plenum of the E.C.C.I., when, referring to the anti-imperialist struggle, he emphasized the need for a vigorous class struggle policy having as its aim the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime, “especially today when on the one hand Chiang Kai-shek and the whole Kuomintang have completely unmasked themselves in word and deed as the open carriers of national betrayal and when on the other hand the further advance of the Japanese and other imperialists continues without a halt for the purpose of partitioning China”. Interpretation of the united front tactics to mean, not practical agreements with anti-Kuomintang elements, but an unprincipled political deal with the Kuomintang itself, was to come later. The theoretical groundwork for the deal was prepared at the Seventh World Congress, at which, in accord with established rule, the Chinese Stalinists were discovered to have been in error. And their error was “first of all a consequence of the fact that many of our comrades did not understand and do not understand [They have, of course, been properly instructed since – LFJ] the new situation which has arisen in China in recent years. They do not understand how to advance the subject of the anti-imperialist front in a new manner” (Emphasis is by Wang Ming – LFJ).
What was the “new situation” which the Chinese Stalinists “did not understand”? According to Wang Ming it consisted, first, in the “universal indignation of the people” evoked by the “unprecedented national crisis” which, in its turn, was caused by “the Japanese expansion and the treachery of the Kuomintang”. The whole Chinese population, it seems, was turning to the idea of “a national-defensive war ... against imperialism”. Wang also claimed that “a considerable section of the national bourgeoisie ... are freeing themselves more and more from the illusions they held concerning the Kuomintang and are turning for a way out to the toiling masses who are carrying on the struggle against Japanese imperialism and its agents” (Communist International, Vol.13, Special No., Feb. 1936).
Secondly, the Red Army had grown into “a mighty military factor throughout China” and therefore could not but be considered by “all the anti-Japanese and anti-Chiang Kai-shek political and military groupings ... as the greatest factor in the armed struggle against Japan and against Chiang Kai-shek” who, incidentally, was referred to as “this arch-traitor to the Chinese people”. Thirdly, “for the organization and the successful carrying out of the national-revolutionary war of the armed people against the Japanese imperialists, the participation in this war not only of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, not only of all revolutionary-minded, class-conscious toilers, but also of the various political and military forces, who are temporary, unstable and vacillating allies, is necessary and unavoidable”.
The student of Stalinist metaphysics will be pardoned if he fails to discern in this mass of verbiage any real evidence of a “new situation”. Public manifestations of popular indignation against Chiang Kai-shek’s policy of non-resistance to Japan were at their all-time high in 1931-1932 when Japan seized Manchuria. Could Wang Ming have failed to remember this at the 1933 Plenum? And was not the Red Army a much mightier military factor at the time of that Plenum than it was at the time of the Seventh World Congress, when it had already been driven from its stronghold in Kiangsi province and was wandering in the far interior without any fixed base? As for the national bourgeoisie, what “illusions” have they ever had concerning the Kuomintang? The Kuomintang is their own government and they learned in 1925-1927 that the only alternative to that government is a government of proletarian dictatorship. They have maintained it, despite the damage to their interests caused by sell-outs to Japan, because they know that whereas to imperialism they lose only a part of their wealth and privilege, to the proletariat they would have to surrender the whole. Illusions? Where?
In any event, the “new situation”, mythical as it turns out to be, called for new tactics. How was the Chinese Communist Party to advance the anti-imperialist front (shortly due to be rebaptized as the “People’s Anti-Japanese United Front”) in a new manner? Let us page Wang Ming again. Said he at the Seventh World Congress:
In my opinion and in the opinion of the entire Central Committee of the Communist Party of China our tactics should consist to a joint appeal with the Soviet Government of China to all the people, to all parties, groups, troops, mass organizations and to all prominent political and social leaders to organize together with us an All-Chinese United People’s Government of National Defense and an All-Chinese United Anti-Japanese National Defense Army.
“All parties ... all prominent political and social leaders” – thus was the way prepared for surrender to the Kuomintang and to the “arch-traitor Chiang Kai-shek”.
There was, as a matter of fact, a “new situation”, although it bore no resemblance whatever to the one conjured up by Wang Ming. And this new situation had arisen precisely in the interval between the Thirteenth Plenum and the Seventh World Congress. It consisted in the expulsion of the Chinese Red Army from Kiangsi, the virtual extinction of the Chinese Soviet Republic which had its seat there, and – on the international arena – the growing isolation of the Soviet Union in a sea of fascist and military states. These were the real factors which precipitated the Chinese Communist Party into the “Fourth Period” of decline and degeneration.
What was the “Chinese Soviet Republic”? Shorn of the trimmings in which its true character was obscured by Stalinist propagandists, it was simply a peasant power erected on the foundations of what was essentially an agrarian revolution led by the Communist Party. It arose as a belated echo of the great revolution of 1925-1927, which Chiang Kai-shek and Stalin succeeded in strangling through the policy of the “bloc of four classes”, earlier version of the “anti-imperialist united front”.
In the remote, inaccessible interior of China the peasants rose, seized the land, and banded themselves together into military formations for the purpose of defending and extending their conquests. Red armies emerged as the spearhead of the peasant revolt over wide areas of South and Central China, but the “Soviet districts” which they created suffered from the beginning from all the limitations of a peasant movement. Rising in the period of ebb following upon a crushing revolutionary defeat, they were cut off from the working class in the cities and remained confined within isolated, economically poor areas. The inaccessibility of these districts afforded a certain military advantage and enabled the Red armies, with a large measure of support from the peasant population, who formed themselves into auxiliary bands of partisans, to resist successfully over a period of years the repeated offensives of the Kuomintang. But this same isolation and inaccessibility created for them economic difficulties which they were powerless to overcome.
By enforcing a blockade, the Kuomintang was able in the end to cut them off almost entirely from certain vital supplies, to say nothing of military equipment, for which they were dependent upon what they could seize from their enemies. Within the Soviet districts, moreover, class contradictions were fuel for constant struggles and difficulties against which the Communist Party, whose own land policies reflected these conflicts, was powerless. The land of the landlords was confiscated and divided. The crushing burden of taxation was lifted and eased. But the chief advantage fell with relentless inevitability to the rich peasants (independent small landholders with a small surplus) whose land was left untouched, who continued to exploit agricultural laborers and poor peasants, and who managed to secure a dominant hold in the Soviet administrative organs themselves.
Lacking the indispensable aid and unifying leadership of a powerful labor movement in the cities, the peasant armies and Soviet districts were doomed to continued isolation and ultimate defeat, or, what amounts to the same thing, political degeneration. It proved only a matter of time before the Kuomintang, unchallenged by the proletariat, whose wounds were still unhealed, with an inexhaustible source of military supplies from the foreign powers, with the more effective use of aviation and the application of shrewder military tactics, was able to drive the hard-fighting, hard-pressed peasant armies from their embattled territories. In November 1934 the Red armies were finally expelled from Kiangsi, and the “Central Soviet District”, their main stronghold, was liquidated. The retreating Red forces marched and fought their way thousands of miles through the heart of China. Those who were left after this gruelling trek finally established themselves in northern Shensi, where they are located today. But what still remained of “Soviet China” was shortly to be liquidated in the Comintern policies of the “Fourth Period”.
In the style so well beloved by the “beloved leader”, the exit of the Red armies from Kiangsi, far from being acknowledged a defeat, was heralded as a great victory by the Stalinists. For them, it was a grand move of pre-arranged strategy designed to remove “Soviet China” to a safer place and there prepare the “complete victory”. Facts, however, are stubborn things which even the Moscow strategists have occasionally to recognize. At the Thirteenth Plenum in December 1933 Wang Ming could still speak boldly of an extension of the Soviet revolution to all China. But the indubitable defeat of “Soviet China” less than a year later had to lead to a change in policy. In which direction -towards a policy of revolutionary realism based on principle, or towards opportunist degeneration? The general direction of Stalinist policy on a world scale had inevitably to exert a decisive pull on the Chinese Communist Party as well. Thus the united front against Japanese imperialism which the Chinese Stalinists tried but were unable to construct on a principled basis in 1932-1933, in the heyday of their “Soviets”, was realized after the “Soviets” had been wiped out – but then in the horribly distorted shape of abject political surrender to the Kuomintang.
As we have seen, the new policy of the Chinese Communist Party, as outlined by Wang Ming at the Seventh World Congress, called for a united front of “all parties” against Japanese imperialism. In accordance with this directive, the Chinese Stalinists started on a hunt for political allies. But under the military dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek, as under the fascist dictatorships of Mussolini and Hitler and the totalitarian regime of Stalin, there existed only one party – the Kuomintang. True, there was the small underground organization of the “counter-revolutionary” Trotskyists, but with them a united front was simply unthinkable. Then there was the insignificant “Third Party”, a small underground Populist grouping, and the various petty bourgeois “patriotic” societies. These, however, were of little account. What was left? Only the Kuomintang. “Soviet China” was now little more than a legend. Moscow’s problem was to prevent bourgeois China from allying itself with imperialist Japan against the Soviet Union, and if possible to get China to fight Japan, so that Japan would be unable to make war on the Soviet Union. A new Communist-Kuomintang “alliance” was placed squarely on the order of the day.
Mao Tse-tung, chairman of the “Soviet Government” of China, and Chu Teh, commander-in-chief of the Red armies, made the first formal overtures in an appeal addressed to the Nanking government and the Military Affairs Commission (of which Chiang Kai-shek is chairman) on May 5, 1936. This appeal called for the cessation of hostilities between the Red Army and the Nanking troops and the summoning of a “peace conference in order to realize our common aim of resisting the Japanese”. Chiang, having driven the Red Army out of Kiangsi into the relatively inconsequential region of barren Shensi, received these overtures coldly. He felt he had nothing to gain from discussing terms with a vanquished adversary. Moreover, despite the subtle suggestion that he held in common with the Stalinists the aim of “resisting the Japanese”, Chiang in fact had no stomach for any such resistance. Had he not proved it by allowing Japan to take all Manchuria, Jehol and northern Chahar without lifting a finger to defend those territories? The Chinese Stalinists would have to do a lot more belly-crawling before they could get near enough to shake Chiang’s bloodstained hand. This was not long in coming, for Moscow’s insistence on Chinese “unity” grew with each passing day.
A few short weeks later, in a communication to the All-China National Salvation Association, a petty bourgeois “patriotic” body with headquarters at Shanghai, Mao Tse-tung announced:
We have already adopted a decision not to confiscate the land of the rich peasants, and, if they come to us to fight against Japan, not to refuse to unite with them. We are not confiscating the property and the factories of the big and small Chinese merchants and capitalists. We protect their enterprises and help them to expand so that the material supply in the Soviet districts, so necessary for the anti-Japanese campaign, may be augmented in this way.
To cap this, Mao added the assurance that the scattered Red Army guerrilla bands who, not having heard of the new party line, might still be confiscating landlords’ land, would soon be brought to heel.
In the language of revolutionary politics this declaration, obviously intended to reach Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang, was nothing less than an open renunciation of the class struggle and abject surrender of all that the Communist Party had ever stood for. Wang Ming, quite unconsciously, gave a fairly adequate advance characterization of this ignominious capitulation when, at the Seventh World Congress, less than a year previously, he criticized the “opportunist leadership” of the Chinese Communist Party in 1927. His criticism, however, should have been directed against the Stalin-Bukharin leadership of the Comintern which furnished the opportunist directives followed at that time by the Chinese Communists. Said Wang Ming:
We know from the history of the struggle of the Communist Party of China that when the opportunists in its leadership, headed by Chen Tu-hsiu, counterposed the tactics of the united national front to the task of the class struggle at the critical moment of the revolutionary movement in 1927, when for the sake of retaining a united national front with a part of the national bourgeoisie these opportunists renounced the revolutionary struggle of the working class in defense of their interests, renounced the agrarian revolution of the peasantry, renounced the struggle for winning over national revolutionary armies and for arming the workers and peasants and, finally, when these opportunists rejected an independent policy in regard to our temporary allies ... they brought the 1927 revolution to defeat.
This accusatory passage is a deadly commentary on the current Stalinist line in China. It condemns the Stalinists out of their own mouths.
Consummation of the Stalinist “united front” with the Kuomintang was accelerated in December 1936 when Chiang Kai-shek was taken prisoner in Sian as the result of a plot by young officers in the ranks of the Tungpei (Manchurian) armies which had been driven into China proper by the Japanese invaders in 1931-1932. The first reaction which the Stalinist press (including the Daily Worker) manifested to this incident was to hail it as a sign of rising anti-imperialist sentiment in China. Then the Moscow wires started to hum and the seizure of Chiang was denounced as a Japanese plot. Today, Harry Gannes, “foreign expert” of the Daily Worker, in his newly-published book (When China Unites) is able to boast that the Chinese Red Army used “all of its great influence with the Tungpei to preserve Chiang and send him back as national leader to Nanking”.
How were the “Reds” rewarded for this touching display of magnanimity towards Chiang? Gannes tells us Chiang promised “to modify his policies to conform to the program of national salvation by complete unification and anti-Japanese resistance”.
Be that as it may, the Generalissimo, on his return to Nanking, remained decidedly cold to the Stalinist overtures. Nanking was bombarded with Stalinist telegrams. Political toadying could scarcely reach any lower depths. Says Gannes: “The Chinese Communists offered to support Chiang as leader of the Central Government in order to complete the united national front against Japan”. But even this abject bootlicking brought no encouraging response. It was repeated at the plenum of the C.E.C. of the Kuomintang early this year.
The main resolution of the Kuomintang plenum, however, seemed like a veritable slap in the face for the kow-towing Stalinists. It affirmed that the government had done all in its power to resist the Japanese invasion and that there would be no change of policy in this respect. Referring to the “Red Army” and the “Chinese Soviet Government”, it declared “the cardinal policy of the Central authorities must be to root out such elements”. Nanking was still, we observe, a little skeptical of Moscow’s intentions.
Nevertheless, negotiations between Nanking and the Stalinists were initiated. And why not? Had not the Stalinists themselves already done the “rooting out” which the Kuomintang demanded, by throwing their entire program overboard? In any case, Nanking calculated, the Stalinists were too weak to carry through any hostile maneuvers. Moreover, the legions of Imperial Japan were marching again, this time in Suiyuan. Perhaps Nanking would be unable to avoid fighting Japan. A deal with the Chinese Stalinists might, in that case, bring military aid from Moscow. As the price of “unity” Nanking laid down four conditions:
The Stalinists hesitated only a short time before accepting these terms which involved the adding of their organizational surrender to the already-announced political surrender. The “deal” was made public in an Associated Press dispatch from Nanking on September 22 of this year, as follows:
The “Government of the Soviet Republic of China” dissolved itself today and ordered its armies, large forces that have disturbed China’s internal affairs for ten years, to serve Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Nanking Central Government.
In a manifesto the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Communist Party announced support of and unity with the present Chinese administration. Reorganization of the Communist army as a Nationalist revolutionary army under General Chiang’s Military Affairs Commission was announced.
“The Chinese Communist Party, realizing that the principles of Sun Yat-sen are indispensable to the reconstruction of China, has decided to abandon all measures aimed at the overthrow of the Kuomintang government by force, propagation of Communist doctrines and the forcible expropriation of the land,” the committee’s manifesto declared. (N.Y. Times, Sept. 22, 1937.)
And what of the grandiose perspective of a Soviet China, to which, through so many years, the Stalinists clung? Was it, perhaps, all a joke or – a “comic misunderstanding”? According to Harry Gannes it could scarcely have been anything else. In his book, he writes:
Kuomintang-Communist unity was first achieved during 1925-27. After reaching an unprecedented high point in effective anti-imperialist battles, unity was violently ruptured, but not without the foundation being laid for its reestablishment on an entirely different plane and for a more specific objective. The beginning of the destruction of the original national collaboration was already discernible in 1926, at the very first stages of preparation for the military campaign for national unification. And yet the seeds of a newer, stronger understanding were undoubtedly sown in the very split which concluded the first stage of Kuomintang-Communist unity in the latter part of 1927.
Thus the sanguinary undoing of the Chinese revolution in 1927, the countless battles of the heroic Chinese peasants to regain the land and consolidate their rights under a new social order, battles which cost many thousands of peasant lives and untold suffering and misery – all this was merely part of a pre-ordained plan which was to enable the Stalinist chieftains to grasp once again the hand of executioner Chiang Kai-shek!! And the ponderous Plenum speeches of Wang Ming, heavy with vainglory – what were they? Just grist for gullible followers to chew upon?
But is not Chiang Kai-shek nevertheless fighting against Japanese imperialism? Is not that war a progressive one which it is the bounden duty of all revolutionists to support? Are not the Stalinists right, then, in making a united front with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang? These questions demand an answer. Chiang is fighting against Japanese imperialism and, regardless of his motives for so doing, the war, being that of an oppressed semi-colonial country against an imperialist oppressor, possesses an unquestionably progressive character. The progressive character of the war is modified not one whit by the fact that the struggle is led and directed by Chiang Kai-shek, hangman of the Chinese revolution. Marxists, however, having studied the lessons of history (particularly those afforded by the recent history of China), do not believe that China can win true national independence under Chiang’s leadership. The Chinese bourgeoisie and its government are quite incapable, principally because of their ties with imperialism and their fear of the masses, of carrying the war to a successful conclusion. They will compromise with Japan, or, what will amount to the same thing from the point of view of China’s independence, make a deal with Japan’s imperialist rivals.
It is the duty of revolutionists to support China’s struggle by all means possible, including agreements of a strictly practical nature with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang – but by no means to abandon their own program, to dissolve themselves in a “People’s Front”, to relinquish the right of criticizing and condemning the Kuomintang’s conduct of the war. The Stalinists, spurning the Leninist united front tactic, have done just this latter. Thereby they are aiding and becoming parties to the betrayal of China’s struggle, which Chiang Kai-shek is already preparing through “friendly” powers. The Bolsheviks under Lenin’s leadership “supported” Kerensky against Kornilov, while at the same time preparing to overthrow Kerensky and establish workers’ power. The Chinese Stalinists, however, accord Chiang Kai-shek unconditional political support (without quotes) thereby betraying the revolution and the national struggle which is indissolubly bound up with it.
Just as in 1925-1927 Kuomintang-Communist “unity” (which meant the political subordination of the Communist Party to the Kuomintang and the workers to the bourgeoisie) led to the strangling of the Chinese revolution and the slaughter of the revolutionists, so today it is directed – this time quite consciously – against the infant beginnings of the new revolution. We have Wang Ming’s assurance for that. Writing in the Communist International, Vol.14, No.10, Oct. 1937) he declares:
The Chinese people and world public opinion will judge of the degree of determination and readiness of the Kuomintang and Nanking government, and also of the local military and political authorities, to undertake the armed struggle against the Japanese aggressors, by their attitude to all Japanese agents and national traitors and, in particular, to these Japano-Trotskyist fascist agents. The government and peoples of the U.S.S.R. are setting us an example of how to fight against foreign secret services and to purge the state, military and party apparatus of these vipers, thereby strengthening its defensive power and safeguarding the rear in the event of an attack by foreign aggressors.
Ominous words! Already there is evidence that the G.P.U. is operating with frame-up methods against the Bolshevik-Leninists in China, as it has done and is doing in the Soviet Union and in Spain. Let every revolutionist stand on guard!
Last updated on 15.8.2004