Li Fu-jen

Anna L. Strong Boosts CP Line in China

(7 March 1949)

From The Militant, Vol.13 No. 10, 7 March 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

by Anna Louise Strong
Committee for a Democratic Far Eastern Policy, New York, 1948, 128 pp., $.65.

One of the outstanding facts about the current policy of the Chinese Communist Party is its similarity in all essentials with the line of that party in the fateful years 1925–27. That line, as we know, led to the tragic defeat of the Chinese Revolution and the triumph of bourgeois counter-revolution. But whereas in 1925–27 the leadership pursued an opportunist, class-collaborationist policy in the mistaken belief that they were thus moving – even if gradually, by stages toward the conquest of power by the proletariat, today they flatly disavow the socialist struggle and proclaim themselves the architects of a “New Capitalism.” With a cynicism that would be unbelievable if we did not know from long experience what Stalinists are capable of, they parade this line of revolutionary betrayal under the banner of Marxism.

In all its crassness the Stalinist policy is outlined in Anna Louise Strong’s latest pamphlet Tomorrow’s China, published last December by a Stalinist front organisation. The author is one of the few remaining members of that once numerous tribe of American journalists who made a profession out of being “friends of the Soviet Union” – more correctly, friends of the Stalin regime and its Communist Party extensions in other countries. For more than 20 years she has been writing in defense of Stalinism. No crime of the Kremlin clique and its agents was too vile for her to stomach. All this adds an element of mystery to her recent arrfet in Moscow as an "American spy.”

In 1946–47 Miss Strong, a periodical visitor to China, toured the so-called “Red” areas in that country. Her pamphlet is largely a description of what she saw. But that, politically, is the least interesting part of it. What is most interesting is her popular summary of the program and policies of the Stalinists which she obtained in conversations with leaders of the Chinese CP and functionaries of their political regime. Her purpose in writing the pamphlet is to “sell” Chinese Stalinism to Wall Street and the State Department.

Beginning her summary, Miss Strong says, “China is today a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country. Her people’s goal is not the Socialist revolution but to secure national independence from foreign imperialism, to smash feudalism and establish modern industry under forms of capitalism and democracy.”

What Kind of Revolution

It was precisely this Menshevik conception which formed the guiding line which Stalin-Bukharin imposed on the Chinese Communist Party in 1925–27. From it arose the notorious “bloc of four classes” which required the subordination of the Communist Party to the Kuomintang and the proletariat to the bourgeoisie, enabling Chiang Kai-shek to strangle the revolution. Since the stated task was the “democratic revolution,” this required what? Lenin’s line of proletarian class independence? The struggle for the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat? On the contrary, said the Stalinists, a “united front” with the bourgeoisie (in reality subordination to it) for the accomplishment of the democratic tasks was proclaimed the correct Bolshevik policy.

Today, in a situation as revolutionary as that of 1925–27, we encounter again this self-same “bloc of four classes.” Miss Strong states it in so many words: "The democratic revolution in China will be led by the working class, with the peasantry as the main force, and with the participation of progressive people of many classes: the middle class of the small towns, the progressive bourgeoisie, and even ‘forward-looking landlords.’ There must be a correct approach to ail these classes, to bring about the democratic revolution with the least cost and pain.”

With commendable reserve, Miss Strong refrains from telling us what kind of animal a “progressive bourgeois” might be – or a “forward-looking landlord.” The reference to the leading role of the working class is just so much window-dressing to hide a reactionary policy, as we shall see presently.

Regulated Exploitation

The basic economic program of the Stalinists, she goes on to inform us, is “Land to the Tiller.” There can be no economic progress “until the soil-tiller is freed from crushing rents, taxes and feudal exactions. Feudalism on the land must be smashed.” No one will dispute the need for lifting the burdens of the rural toilers. The decisive question is what system is for replace this supposed feudalism. Is the dispossession of the landlords the prelude to a socialist reorganization of society?

Perish the thought! The plan is to introduce a “new capitalism,” the author says. “Capitalist enterprise must be encouraged to break down feudalism arid to develop industrial production rapidly.” There will be “collective agreements between workers and management,” a sort of regulated exploitation of the proletariat. In general, the workers will keep on doing as they are told – by the Chinese captains of industry.

Wherein this “new” capitalism will differ from the “old” variety with which workers in every land are familiar, is just one of the ineffable mysteries. But where is the “leading role” which the workers are supposed to play in the alleged new order of things? Perhaps some other journalistic wizard can explain how the proletariat can “lead” in a new society which is nothing more than a reformist version of the old, a society, in which they continue to be wage slaves! The leading role, it appears, is actually given to the bourgeoisie – as it was in 1925–27.

Preparing Disaster

Mystery piles upon mystery. Next we are told that “because of the general decline of capitalism and the weakness of Chinese capitalists in particular, and because of the existence of a strong Communist Party and an organized working class, one need not fear that the ‘new capitalism’ will develop beyond the powers of the workers to control it.”

Perhaps, again, some other journalistic wizard can explain the Marxist political logic of entrusting to a feeble bourgeoisie, in a period of the disintegration of world capitalism as a system, the main tasks of economic development. Under the rule of the Chinese bourgeoisie the economy has stagnated for more than twenty years. There is no reason whatever to expect any considerable economic growth within the continued framework of bourgeois property relations. What, then, must one conclude? That this farrago of Stalinist political nonsense is intended to hide ulterior aims which have nothing in common with the interests of the Chinese workers.

What emerges with crystal clarity from the current happenings is that the Stalinists, in a revolutionary situation, are conducting a reformist policy which can – unless a genuine revolutionary party soon grasps the reins of political leadership – lead to a bloody disaster even more frightful than that of 1927. The Stalinists are giving the bourgeoisie a new lease on life by holding back their revolutionary gravedigger – the proletariat. The bourgeoisie, we may he sure, will use this opportunity so obligingly given them by the “Communists” to prepare for the complete restoration of its political rule. Indeed, recent press dispatches report a series of ominous facts to show that the shaken capitalists are reassembling their forces in South China in preparation for a counter-revolutionary comeback.

Mao’s “Contribution”

Mao Tse-tung, Stalin’s collaborator in shackling the forces of the Chinese revolution, is held up by Miss Strong as an accomplished, nay brilliant, Marxist theoretician and politician. She talked with him in Yenan. Not about the socialist revolution, naturally, but about the “new capitalism” and its counterpart, the “new democracy.” Is this conceived, perhaps, as just a brief interlude before China enters the broad road to Socialism?

The brilliant Marxist leader has no such notion. According to a report which he gave at the 7th Party Congress in April 1945 (from which Miss Strong quotes), the “new democracy” will last for “several dozens of years,” which could be a century or more. For this “Marxist” the socialist revolution is at best a hazy utopia, not at all a realizable objective. Marx arid Lenin had the utmost scorn for “Marxists” of this kind, in reality political mountebanks of the very worst description. We venture to prophesy, however, that Mao’s prediction will be utterly confounded by the further course of revolutionary development. The “new Capitalism” and the “new democracy,” together with their “Marxist” inventor, will be swept into the trash-can by the workers and peasants of China before even one dozen years have elapsed.

The “New Capitalism”

The author had a chance to observe the “new capitalism” at close quarters in the Inner Mongolian city of Kalgan, which at the time of her visit was in the hands of the Stalinists. “People were easy to meet, ready to talk and informal. They reminded me of the early expanding days of the American West.” Like stepping back a whole century in time! She talked with the “dapper Finance Minister, H.C. Nan,” a man of stuff and substance “who could meet any Western business man on equal terms and talk his language.” The “Marxist” Mao, as we see, has fitting bedfellows who talk the language – of Marxism? No, the language of capitalist business.

Mr. Nan, we learn further, “wore a business suit, gray wool trousers and blue wool jacket, not like the shapeless clothes of Yenan.” Here is a businessman’s “Communist” who quite obviously is several notches above the common herd. “Tell Henry Wallace,” he said in his bluff, hearty, businessman’s manner, “that this is the only place where free enterprise still has meaning. Here capitalism is young; fighting its way out of feudalism. Here industry is not taxed and prices are not controlled.” Mr. Nan, it seems, had not heard of “the general decline of world capitalism and the weakness of Chinese capitalists in particular.” But then finance, not politics, is his department.

As a journalistic interpreter of “Marxism” à la Mao Tse-tung and Stalin, Miss Strong had a riproaring time in Kalgan, meeting the official “Communist” exponents of the “new capitalism,” and being wined and dined by them. Another on her list was Governor Sung, who wore blackrimmed spectacles and looked “benevolent” and “professional.” He was equally “explicit about the intent to develop a capitalist system.” Said he: “We aim to remove the obstacles that feudalism places in the way of capitalism, so that capitalism may thrive and grow. We don’t intend to let this private capitalism run away with us; publicly owned and cooperative industry Will be the leading forms. But there is plenty of room for private enterprise and profit and will be for a long time to come.”

The benevolent Mr. Sung was quite rattled by Wall Street’s preference for Chiang Kai-shek. “What is the matter with your American business men? I quite, understand that your warlords and monopoly capitalists prefer to deal with Chiang. They buy ownership of China’s natural resources and pay for it by financing the civil war. But haven’t you any free enterprise capitalists left who want to do honest business? Our Liberated Areas are their natural market. Farmers, owning their own land, produce surplus and, are eager for goods.” We might suggest that the worthy Miss Strong take the benevolent Mr. Sung by the, hand and lead him through Wall Street in quest of an “honest” free enterpriser who would prefer to do business with Mao Tse-tung rather than with Chiang Kai-shek.

Stalinist policy is a melange of class struggle and class conciliationism. Where class struggle methods are used (which is exclusively in the rural areas, arid: then only very sparingly and cautiously), they are designed, not to raise a new revolutionary class (the proletariat) to power. but to conciliate the classes by pressure methods. Thus the Chinese Stalinists stand revealed, at this critical turning point, not as Communists, but as vulgar opportunists, reformists and class conciliationists – betrayers of the revolution. Miss Strong’s, pamphlet is valuable if only for the fact that it makes this abundantly clear.

Last updated on 4 April 2024