Lu Xun

Reply to a Letter from the Trotskyites 1

Written: June 9, 1936
Source: Chinese Literature Number 3, 1977 pages 62-65
Online Version: Lu Xun Reference Archive, October 2005
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Mike B.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The Letter

June 3
Dear Mr. Lu Hsun,

After the failure of the 1927 Revolution, instead of withdrawing in order to prepare for a come-back, the Chinese Communists took to military adventurism. Abandoning work in the cities, they ordered Party members to rise everywhere although the tide of revolution had ebbed, hoping to make Reds out of the peasants to conquer the country. Within seven or eight years hundreds of thousands of brave and useful young people were sacrificed on account of this policy, so that now in the high tide of the nationalist movement there are no revolutionary leaders for the city masses, and the next stage of the revolution has been postponed indefinitely.

Now the Reds' movement to conquer the country has failed. But the Chinese Communists who blindly take orders from the Moscow bureaucrats have adopted a "New Policy". They have made a volte- face, abandoned their class stand, issued new declarations and sent representatives to negotiate with the bureaucrats, politicians and warlords, including those who slaughtered the masses, in order to form a "united front" with them. They have put away their own banner and confused the people's mind, making the masses believe that all those bureaucrats, politicians and executioners are national revolutionaries who will resist Japan too. The result can only be to deliver the revolutionary masses into the hands of those executioners for further slaughter. These shameless acts of betrayal on the part of the Stalinists make all Chinese revolutionaries blush for shame.

Now the bourgeois liberals and upper strata of the petty bourgeoisie of Shanghai welcome this "New Policy" of the Stalinists. And well they may. The traditional prestige of Moscow, the blood shed by the Chinese Reds and their present strength — what could play better into their hands? But the greater the welcome given to this "New Policy", the greater damage will be done to the Chinese revolution.

Since 1930, under the most difficult conditions, our organization has made unremitting efforts to fight for our ideal. Since the defeat of the Revolution we have opposed the recklessness of the Stalinists and advocated a "revolutionary democratic struggle". We believe that since the Revolution has failed, we must start all over again from the beginning. We have never ceased to gather together revolutionary cadres to study revolutionary theory, accepting the lessons of defeat to educate revolutionary workers so that during this difficult period of counter-revolution we may lay a firm foundation for the next stage of the revolution. The events of the past few years have proved the correctness of our political line and method of work. We were against the opportunist and reckless policies and bureaucratic party system of the Stalinists. Now we resolutely attack its treacherous "New Policy". But precisely because of this we are under fire from all sorts of careerists and party bureaucrats. Is this our good fortune or is it a misfortune?

For the last decade and more, sir, I have admired your scholarship, writing and moral integrity, for while many thinking men have fallen into the quagmire of individualism you alone have fought on without respite to express your own views. We should count it a great honour to hear your criticism of our political views. I am sending you a few of our recent publications, which I beg you to accept and read. If you are good enough to write a reply, please leave it with Mr. X — I shall go to his house within three days to fetch it.

With best wishes,
Chen X—X



The Reply 2

June 9
Dear Mr. Chen,

I have received your letter and the copies of Struggle and Spark which you sent me.

I take it that the main drift of your letter is contained in these two points: You consider Stalin and his colleagues bureaucrats, and the proposal of Mao Tsetung and others — "Let all parties unite to resist Japan" — as a betrayal of the cause of revolution.

I certainly find this "confusing". For do not all the successes of Stalin's Union of Soviet Socialist Republics show the pitifulness of Trotsky's exile, wanderings and failure which "forced" him in his old age to take money from the enemy? His conditions as an exile now must be rather different from conditions in Siberia before the revolution, for at that time I doubt if anyone so much as offered the prisoners a piece of bread. He may not feel so good, though, because now the Soviet Union has triumphed. Facts are stronger than rhetoric; and no one expected such pitiless irony. Your "theory" is certainly much loftier than that of Mao Tsetung; yours is high in the sky, while his is down-to-earth. But admirable as is such loftiness, it will unfortunately be just the thing welcomed by the Japanese aggressors. Hence I fear that it will drop down from the sky, and when it does it may land on the filthiest place on earth. Since the Japanese welcome your lofty theories, I cannot help feeling concern for you when I see your well-printed publications. If someone deliberately spreads a malicious rumour to discredit you, accusing you of accepting money for these publications from the Japanese, how are you to clear yourselves? I say this not to retaliate because some of you formerly joined certain others to accuse me of accepting Russian roubles. No, I would not stoop so low, and I do not believe that you could stoop so low as to take money from the Japanese to attack the proposal of Mao Tsetung and others to unite against Japan. No, this you could not do. But I want to warn you that your lofty theory will not be welcomed by the Chinese people, and that your behaviour runs counter to present-day Chinese people's standards of morality. This is all I have to say about your views.

In conclusion, this sudden receipt of a letter and periodicals from you has made me rather uncomfortable. There must be some reason for it. It must be because some of my "comrades-in-arms" have been accusing me of certain faults. But whatever my faults, I am convinced that my views are quite different from yours. I count it an honour to have as my comrades those who are now doing solid work, treading firmly on the ground, fighting and shedding their blood in the defence of the Chinese people. Excuse me for making this an open reply, but since more than three days have passed you will probably not be going to that address for my answer.

Yours faithfully,
Lu Hsun

1. This article was first published on July 1, 1936 in both Literary Anthology No. 4 and Realist Writing No. 1.

2. This letter was dictated by Lu Hsun and taken down by O. V. (Feng Hsuehfeng).

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