Peng Shuzi

What Our Position Should Be On The Factional Struggle Inside The CCP

Written: 1968
Source: International Information Bulletin, Volume 1968 No. 1. Published as a fraternal courtesy to the United Secretariat of the Fourth International by the (US) Socialist Workers Party
HTML Markup/Transcription/Proofing: Andrew Pollack
Public Domain: Peng Shuzi Internet Archive 2005. This work is completely free to copy and distribute. Please cite the Marxists Internet’s Peng Shuzi Internet Archive if the contents herein are reproduced.

(This is part of the series on the Chinese Cultural Revolution authorized by the IEC at its Spring 1967 meeting)

In November 1965, when Mao Tse-tung launched the so-called Great Cultural Revolution, a tremendous struggle broke out between two major factions represented by Mao Tse-tung and Liu Shao-chi. During the subsequent two years, this struggle has intensified and made itself felt in every fiber of Chinese society. Not only the party and its youth, but also the trade unions and the government at all levels have been thrown into the greatest confusion. Deep going divisions have even developed in the People’s Liberation Army. Bloody clashes have taken place throughout China, and the country as a whole still remains today under the threatening clouds of this great political storm.

In the last two years the International has not only found itself without any common position with which to intervene in the Chinese events, but also in a state of confusion and with serious conflicting political positions. To clarify this confusion in order to arrive at a correct and common position, let me first enumerate the three major political differences which have developed.

1. Comrade George Novack in his article, “The Political Crisis in China,” (International Socialist Review, Fall 1966) after analyzing the Chinese events, stated in the name of the SWP:

“At the same time we have a responsibility to the revolutionary Communists, intellectuals, students and youth in China who are being unjustly victimized and slandered for demanding more freedom of thought and expression and the rectification of errors committed by the present leadership. We are on their side in the struggle for greater democracy and a more correct course.” (p. 144)

2. The statement on the Chinese events adopted by the IEC plenum, March 1967, stated:

“But the information is not sufficiently clear to permit the International to identify itself with any of the tendencies or factions in the Chinese CP now contending with each other.” (World Outlook, May 19, 1967, p. 523)

3. The Argentinian comrades in their statement on the March 1967 IEC discussion resolution stated:

“The Maoist bonapartism has played, by launching the cultural revolution, a progressive role, leaving aside all its grotesque, bureaucratical aspects, because it initiated a mass mobilization against bureaucracy, which has its own dynamics, despite the bonapartist plans of Mao-Lin Piao.

“That this mobilization has to be supported, conditionally to make its anti-bureaucratical motive more precise and to criticize its terrible Maoist limitations, leadership and ideology;

“That this critical support must not limit our active intervention in the mobilization which provoked the cultural revolution, “because only this intervention, united to that of the masses, will prove to be able to overcome in the facts the Maoist leadership;” (Internal Bulletin of the United Secretariat of the 4th International, Vol. 196? No. 7, Oct. 1967. International Discussion Bulletin on the Chinese Cultural Revolution No. 4)

These three positions are quite clearly in contradiction with each other, especially numbers 1 and 3. The task we are faced with now is to decide which of these interpretations conforms closest to the actual development of the Chinese events, in order that we might adopt it as a common basis for the International’s work. To make this decision, we must begin by examining and analyzing each of the above interpretations.

Siding with those who are unjustly victimized

Comrade Novack’s article, quoted above, was originally given as a speech on July 1, 1966; that is, over one year ago. At that time there was much less information available on the Chinese events than now. Nevertheless, even then Comrade Novack was able to say:

“From the accusations against the dissident intellectuals and other sources, it is possible to discern the vague contours of their criticism and the trend of their thinking.

“1. They doubt the infallibility of Mao Tse-tung.

“2. They claim to be better Communists than the present leaders.

“3- They display ‘sympathy’ for the Krushchev revisionists; that is, they want to unite the “socialist countries’ in face of a possible attack by the United States, heal the breach, and renew the Russian alliance.

“4. They have criticized the excesses of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and such wasteful efforts as attempting to produce steel in backyard furnaces.

“5. They seek changes in economic policy and agrarian reforms .

“6. They demand more intellectual liberty, freedom of expression and the right to dissent from the official line.

“7. They may even have dared to suggest that Mao step down on grounds of health or age.

“Taken together, these positions would constitute a serious oppositional program....” (p. 142)

The tumultuous events of the last year have proven, in general, the correctness of these points as well as Comrade Novack’ s view of their seriousness. These events have also proven correct Comrade Novack’s insight that “The publicly assailed writers, experts and scholars may be surrogates for the real targets in the commanding heights of the party and the army, embracing those dissidents who are discontented with the results of the foreign and domestic policy in recent years...” The events have certainly shown that Wu Han, Teng To, Liao Mo-sha, Tien Han and others were the surrogates for the real targets in the commanding heights of the party and army, such as, Liu Shao-chi, Teng Hsiao-ping, Peng Chen, Lo Jui-ching, Lu Ting-yi and others.

How is it that Comrade Novack was so accurate in his analysis? In my opinion, such accuracy was not accidental. Nor was it an accident that Comrade Novack’s conclusion was similar to that of the Chinese section’s, even though there was no collaboration between them. Comrade Novack as well as the Chinese section merely considered the objective facts and applied to them the method of Marxism.


The body of the March 1967 IEC discussion resolution was taken from the draft prepared by Comrade Livio Maitan, and was published with corrections by the United Secretariat nine months after Comrade Novack’s article. During that nine months, the struggle between Mao’s and Liu’s factions escalated to new heights, and the basis of the conflict became increasingly clear, especially from the information in the wall posters and articles published by the Maoists attacking their opponents. Nevertheless, the IEC document still maintained that the information was “not sufficiently clear.” This would tend to show that either the author of the document was prejudiced or he had not grasped the essence of what was taking place

Immediately following the above quote, the IEC document tries to justify its position of neutralism in the following way:

“The lack of information is largely due to the Stalinist methods employed by the Mao faction against its opponents, which we energetically condemn. As for Mao’s opponents, such as Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping, who held and who still hold considerable means of making known their political line had they so desired, their silence on this subject compels us to be relatively cautious concerning the contents of their policies.”

This justification is misleading in two ways:

1. In October 1966 during a work meeting of the central committee of the CCP, Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping were subjected to serious attacks by the Maoists and were forced to make self criticism. Since then, not only have they lost all “means of making known their political line,” but also, they have been held in the custody of their residences under close supervision. Under these conditions, one can easily understand that they have no possibility, whatsoever, to put forward their political line nor to answer the many attacks and slanders levelled at them by the Maoists. If the IEC document’s condemnation of Liu’s and Teng’s silence is not irony, then it can only reflect an absurd ignorance of the Chinese events.

2. We should of course, “energetically condemn” “the Stalinist methods employed by the Mao faction against its opponents.” But this does not mean there is insufficient information. We should also examine and analyze the attacks of the Maoists in order to determine “the contents of their (Liu’s and Teng’s) policies.” This has been a traditional procedure in the Trotskyist movement when examining a struggle inside a Stalinist party since the days when Trotsky himself used it in making his analysis of the events inside the Soviet Union. But nowhere in the IEC document does one find even an attempt at such an analysis.

It seems the idea of the IEC document is to put off taking a position before Liu and Teng have formally put forth their position. If this is the case, then it will be necessary to wait until Liu and Teng have captured power and the struggle is ended. But as Marxists, it is our obligation to intervene in the present struggle in order to help determine its outcome. We must, therefore, examine the Maoist attacks and accusations. For example, let us consider the following points:

1. The fundamental difference between Mao and Liu developed in 1958, when Mao arbitrarily instituted and carried out the Great Leap Forward and People’s Commune policies. Comrade Novack noted in his article cited above, the difference on these policies. I myself, noted it more concretely in my interviews with Comrade Antonio Farien, especially the last one, “The Relationship and Differences Between Mao Tse Tung and Liu Shao-chi”—submitted to World Outlook last August—in which I gave an accounting in some detail of this as well as the other major differences. (See W.O., August 12, 1966, and Feb. 10, 1967) The development of the events over the past six months has more than confirmed this judgment.

Mao’s attack against Wu Han’s drama, Hai Jui Dismissed which began the Cultural Revolution, was not by accident. Wu Han’s drama of Hai Jui was really about Peng Teh-huai who Mao had purged in August 1959 at the Lushan meeting for opposing the Great Leap Forward and especially the People’s Communes. Because of his opposition, Peng Teh-huai became a symbol for all those who were opposed to Mao’s policies.

Here we must note the position taken by Liu Shao-chi during and after the Lushan Meeting. The Red Guard newspaper, Red Guards in the Capital had this to say about Liu Shao-chi:

“At a meeting called by the central committee, which was attended by 78 cadres in January 1962, he made a revisionist report. He violently attacked the Three Red Banners (The Three Red Banners are: 1. General Line, 2. Great Leap Forward, and 3. Peoples Communes), and exaggerated to the utmost errors and mistakes in our work. He felt that the temporary economic difficulties were due to these errors and mistakes—‘30% due to natural disasters, 70% due to artificial disasters’. He attacked the 1959 struggle against the Rightist (Peng Teh-huai) as being excessive, and even said, in an attempt to rehabilitate the Rightists, that the struggle itself was a mistake. He maliciously said that the party lacks democracy and that party life is a ‘brutal struggle’ and a ‘pitiless fight’, attacking Chairman Mao’s correct leadership of the central committee.” (Feb. 22, 1967—“The Crimes of Liu Shao-chi”)

This shows that Liu was not only against Mao’s policies, “but he was also for the rehabilitation of Peng Teh-huai and his followers and for more democratic measures in the party.

The People’s Daily and Red Flag in August 1967 (see Peking Review, No. 34, 1967), published excerpts from a resolution on Peng Teh-huai’s case adopted at the Lushan Meeting in 1959. This resolution condemned Peng Teh-huai for branding the Great Leap Forward and Peoples Communes policies as adventurism and “petty bourgeois fanaticism”. These words clearly reveal Peng Teh-huai’s position.

More important is the People’s Daily editorial of August 16, 1967, which stated:

“It was this person (Liu Shao-chi) who at the Lushan Meeting put his utmost efforts into a counterrevolutionary double dealing tactic, and actively backed Peng Teh-huai’s anti-party activities... After the Lushan Meeting he came out into the open, slandering the general line as having been put forward blindly, the Great Leap Forward as being ‘brought about in a rush’ causing ‘disproportions in the economy’, alleging that the ‘people’s communes were set up too early’, and ‘there is danger of disintegration.’ He even made the absurd assertion that ‘the Lushan Meeting made a mistake’ and that ‘it was wrong to oppose Right opportunism.’” (Peking Review, No. 35, 1967, p. 7)

If the above ideas expressed by Liu Shao-chi are not completely correct, they are, nonetheless, progressive and reflect the moods of the worker and peasant masses in China as well as the opinions of the overwhelming majority of the CCP’s cadres.

2. De-Stalinization and opposition to Mao’s own cult and personal dictatorship are the most uncompromising questions dividing the Mao-Lin and Liu-Peng factions.

During the discussion at the 8th Congress of the CCP in September 1956 on Krushchev’s 20th Congress speech in which he denounced Stalin’s personal cult and some of his crimes, Liu Shao-chi, Teng Hsiao-ping, and many other leaders voiced their agreement with Krushchev’s actions. It was for this reason that the 8th Congress acting on the initiative of Liu Shao-chi (see the Red Guard newspaper, Chingkangshan, “See the Ugly Face of Liu-Shao chi,” reprinted in Ming Bao, Jan. 18, 19, 1967) changed the CCP’s statutes by omitting all references to Mao Tse-tung’s thought. Teng Hsiao-ping gave the report motivating the change of the statutes in which he stated:

“The significance of opposing the personal cult was explained energetically at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. This will make a great impression on every communist party throughout the world.” “The important contribution of the 20th Congress of the CPSU is to inform us that regarding a person as a god has led to very criminal results.” “The personal cult is an old, historical, and social phenomenon, and it is to a certain degree reflected in the life of our party and society. Our task is to carry out successfully, consistently, and with determination the directives of the central committee against individual prominence and personal glorification...” (see Red Guard newspaper, The Red Flag Battle, “Teng Hsiao-ping Is One of the People in Authority Taking the Capitalist Road”, reprinted in Ming Bao, Jan. 21, 1967)

The above is a reflection of the atmosphere inside the CCP on the question of de-Stalinization. Under the pressure of this atmosphere, Mao was forced to tolerate the de-Stalinization measures even though they meant severe personal blows. Nevertheless, it is clear from the history since the 8th Congress that Mao never accepted the de-Stalinization measures. He held Liu and Teng responsible for his personal loss and took every opportunity to retaliate against them and regain his old prestige. It is for this major reason that Mao’s Cultural Revolution has singled out Liu and Teng as the major enemies, and exulted Mao’s cult to unbelievable heights.

3. Mao’s policies in the literature, art and educational fields are comparable to, if not stricter than, those put into practice in the Soviet Union by Zhdanov. Hence criticism continually arose among the cultural and educational workers. Often there were sharp antagonisms between Mao and leaders in the cultural and educational fields, and these antagonisms are the origin of Mao’s accusation that these people were the Chinese version of the Hungarian “Petofi circles.”

Basing herself on many reliable and varied sources, Chen Pi-Ian in an interview has described in some detail a few of the most important struggles that have taken place on the questions related to literature, art, and education, (see W.O., July 14, 1967) I will not repeat here the rich and pertinent information contained in this interview, but will draw to the comrades’ attention one important fact. In his political report to the 8th Congress of the CCP, Liu Shao-chi emphasized the point that the. party should not interfere arbitrarily in the work of the scientists or artists. On the basis of Liu’s report, the Congress adopted a resolution which stated:

“In order to assure the prosperity of the sciences and arts, we must firmly insist on the perspectives of ‘Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom and Hundred Schools Contend’ policy. It would be a mistake to use administrative methods to interfere arbitrarily in the sciences and arts.”

The above shows that the ideas of Liu on the questions of literature, art and education are much different than those of Mao. Because of Liu’s more tolerant position on these questions, most of the cadres in the cultural, educational, and scientific fields have sided with him against Mao. It was for this reason that Mao singled out the leading cadres in the cultural and educational fields as the first targets of attack in his Cultural Revolution.

4. Although there is much less information concerning the differences of foreign policy, one can generally agree with Comrade Novack’s observation that “they (the opposition) want to unite the ‘socialist countries’ in face of possible attack by the United States, heal the breach and renew the Russian alliance.” This has been confirmed by the exposure of the ideas of Lo Jui-ching, the ex-chief of staff of the army. From the military point of view, Lo opposed the break with the Soviet Union.

After launching the Cultural Revolution, Mao pushed China’s relations with the Soviet Union to a point just short of a complete break. At the same time he made clear his point of refusing to unite with other “socialist countries,” especially the Soviet Union, for the defense of Vietnam against US imperialism. This shows, if only in the negative, that differences exist between Mao and Liu on foreign policy, especially in regards to the Soviet Union.

5. It seemed that the Shanghai events raised even new differences between Mao’s and Liu’s factions, mainly the question of the people’s living standards. Yet this difference has existed for a long time.

Soon after the CCP took power, Mao put forward a program to build socialism by appealing to the revolutionary spirit of the masses in the name of his thought. Hence, he created the atmosphere of sacrifice, severely limiting the improvement of the masses’ standard of living. Liu, on the other hand, felt it was impossible to build socialism by not improving the living standards of the masses, that is, to ask the masses to sacrifice without compensation. Therefore, Liu emphasized, as well, in his political report to the 8th Congress, the necessity of improving the living standards of the people. And in the same resolution based on Liu’s report cited above, we find the following:

“If the state takes for itself too large a proportion of the national income and does not pay proper attention to improving the people’s living standards not to their interests and personal needs, then harm will be done to raising the productivity of labor and to the activity of the masses in building socialism, i.e., harm to the interests of socialism.”

From Mao’s point of view, to improve the living standards of the people, is to promote material incentives, which is for him the revisionist road. Mao arbitrarily instituted the Great Leap Forward and the People’s Communes policies in order to exploit to the utmost the labor of the masses; they were forced to work longer hours than before for less pay. The dissatisfaction and resentment this produced among the masses is still a major factor in Chinese life, and it was around these very feelings that the opposition to Mao was able to organize the masses to defend themselves from the attacks of Mao’s Red Guards. By giving concessions to the workers and peasants such as increasing wages and other benefits, the opposition induced the workers and peasants to resist and even strike against Mao’s policies. This culminated with the massive strikes last January (1967) in Shanghai, Nanking, Nanchang, Canton and many other places. After Mao took the power in Shanghai with the army and put down the strikes, he withdrew all the concessions and accused the opposition of corrupting the masses, i.e., “economism” and “revisionism”. Since these events the question of the people’s living standards has become a major difference between the two contending factions.

* * *

The above five points are thoroughly documented in the many Maoist articles attacking Liu, Teng, and other important figures in the Opposition. If these five points together with comrade Novack’s seven points noted above and others outlined in my interviews are not enough to “constitute a serious oppositional program,” they do show that the opposition represented by Liu and Teng is a reformist tendency within the CCP which reflects more or less the aspirations of the masses and is, therefore, progressive.

The IEC document did not examine or analyze the difference between the two factions. We must ask why? The main reason is the failure of the author to employ the Marxist method. On this point the Argentinian comrades have correctly criticized the IEC document in their “Statement on the March 1967 IEC Resolution.” They stated:

“That this resolution contains ommissions and dangerous methodological errors,... it does not say that all interbureaucratical differences, when they receive such a dramatic and grievous character, reflect in themselves deep class pressures and not the other way around; that merely political or tactical inner bureaucratic differences receive afterwards a class character;”

In the IEC document the method of Marxism was abandoned for that of impressionism. The struggle was only superficially analyzed, hence, the assertion that it was only an “interbureaucratic conflict.” (see comrade Maitan’s article, “Stormy Internal Conflicts in China —1,” W.O., Oct. 7, 1966) With this abstract formula—“interbureaucratic conflict”—one is not obliged to analyze the differences separating the contending factions nor the social origins of those differences. This abstract formula presupposes that the two factions are essentially the same and therefore demands a position of neutralism, i.e., no support for either side. This was the theme of the United Secretariat’s statement of November 1966.

Although the IEC document (March 1967) dropped all mention of the “interbureaucratic conflict” formula, it proceeded along the very same lines as those of the U.S. statement of November. Describing different phases of the development of the Chinese events the IEC document never mentions what the struggle is about nor the different political positions involved.

The IEC’s analysis is not only superficial, but in several places it distorts the facts. For example, it gives credit to the Maoists for having initiated the Shanghai strikes. It then states that the Maoists split in face of the strikes over the question of giving concessions to the masses. This idea was developed by both comrades Livio Maitan and Pierre Frank in several articles. (see W.O., March 10, 1967 and August 25, 1967) Comrade Maitan states in one of his articles:

“... the Shanghai leadership has been Mao’s main support when the crisis was touched off and ... the city committee of the party decided unanimously to publish the famous article against Wu Han.”

The fact is that the Shanghai leadership were not “Mao’s main support.” Their position can be described as neutralism. When Mao ordered Yao Wen-yuan;s article attacking Wu Han’s drama to be published in Wenhui Bao and Jiefang Ribao, the Shanghai leadership did not consider the matter that important, since it only involved the criticism of one individual. Therefore, they did not oppose Mao’s order. However, the serious development of the events following Wu Han’s disgrace, especially the dismissal of the entire Peking Municipal leadership and the Red Guards attacks on many high ranking officials of the party as well as on local party committees throughout the country, forced the Shanghai committee to adopt certain measures in order to protect themselves. Hence they began to organize the masses and to give them concessions. This resistance on the part of the Shanghai leadership forced Mao to utilize the loyalty of the army to suppress the strikes of the workers. Almost the entire leadership of the Shanghai Municipal party committee as well as the leading cadres of the party in the unions, factories, and other economic institutions, along with the editors and staffs of Wenhui Bao and Jiefang Ribao, were subsequently purged. The concessions which had been given to the workers were then rescinded by the Maoists. All of this resulted in an economic paralysis, which prompted Chou En-lai to criticize the exclusion of all the original cadres from the new leading committees. An alliance between the army, Red Guards, and certain original cadres—the “triple alliance”—was then put forward as the correct means of constituting the new leading bodies and carrying out the Cultural Revolution.

The description of the Shanghai events by comrades Maitan and Frank were not based upon the concrete events, but rather upon fictions of their imagination. Their claim that the Shanghai leadership supported Mao, that the Maoists split in the face of the workers’ strike, are absolutely contrary to the facts.

When the Cultural Revolution was launched, many regional, provincial, and local leaderships took a neutral or wait and see attitude. It was only after the struggle had developed to the stage where their own positions were threatened, that they began to take a definite position of resisting Mao. The Shanghai leadership is a good example as well as the provincial leaderships in Kwangtung and Hupeh.

Many of the army leaders also took a neutralist position at the beginning. For example, Chen Tsai-tao, the commander in Wuhan, after witnessing the severe and slanderous attacks against people like Liu Shao-chi, Teng Hsiao-ping, Tao Chu etc., and after seeing the Red Guard attacks in Wuhan, changed his original position of neutralism to that of resisting the attacks by the Red Guards and Maoists.

It is unfortunate that the authors of the IEC document did not take such important information into consideration.

Critical Support to the Cultural Revolution

The demand by the Argentinian comrades to give critical support to Mao’s Cultural Revolution, is in reality, a demand that we support Mao’s purge of the Liu-Teng faction. The “16 Points” resolution adopted by the 11th plenum of the CCP’s central committee on August 8, 1966, pointed out that the main object of the Cultural Revolution was to “struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road.” The subsequent events have clearly shown that this meant the purge of the leaders in Liu’s faction, such as Liu himself, Teng Hsiao-ping, Tao Chu, Peng Chen, Lu Ting-yi, Lo Jui-ching, as well as many regional and provincial leaders, such as the first secretary of the North bureau Li Hsueh-feng, the first secretary of the Northwest bureau Liu Lan-tao, the first secretary of the Shanghai Municipal committee Chen Pai-chen, the Mayor of Shanghai Tsao Ti-chiu, and almost all the leaders in the provincial committees of Kiangsi, Shansi, Heilungkiang, Shantung, Chinghai, and Kweichow.

The only reason the Argentinian comrades give to justify their demand for critical support to Mao’s Cultural Revolution is the following:

“—The Maoist bonapartism has played, by launching the cultural revolution, a progressive role, leaving aside all its grotesque, bureaucratical aspects, because it initiated a mass mobilization against bureaucracy... ” (emphasis added)

The argument was advanced much earlier by comrade Frank in his article on the Shanghai events in which he said:

“...we cannot at all condemn an appeal to the masses against a bureaucraticized party and apparatus, even if this appeal originates from a wing of the bureaucracy... We already noted the possibility that certain appeals of the Maoists along the lines of equalitarian demands, even if they were demogogic, would not fail to have consequences.” (W.O. March 10, 1967) If the Maoists actually appealed “to the masses against a bureaucratized party and apparatus ... along the lines of equalitarian demands,” then one must admit that such appeals are progressive, and therefore, we should give critical support to those who voice them i.e. the Maoists.

The opinion clearly stated by comrade Frank above was also one of the themes of the statement issued by the United Secretariat in November 1966. I already made a short criticism of that statement in a letter to the March 1966 IEC plenum in which I stated:

“Moreover, if the ideas expressed in the statement that the struggle is only an ‘interbureaucratic struggle’ and that Mao faction has appealed to the masses against bureaucracy using equalitarian slogans, are really considered to be true, then, it is necessary to ask why the statement did not give critical support to Mao’s faction rather than take a neutralist position? Why did the statement hold back from adopting clearly the logical conclusion of the ideas it put forward?”

The Secretariat’s statement did not say that we should give critical support to Mao’s Cultural Revolution, nevertheless, the ideas it expressed definitely imply that we should or, at least, lead to that position, and now the Argentinians are only logically demanding that we adopt it.

The fundamental analysis advanced by the Argentinian comrades is essentially the same as Healy’s group and not much different from Swabeck’s or Huberman’s and Sweezy’s of Monthly Review. They too, started from the assumption that Mao organized the student masses to fight bureaucracy. This assumption, however, raises two very important questions: How were the Red Guards organized and what means were employed in the fight against bureaucracy? These two aspects ware dealt with by comrades Novack and Hansen in their answer to Monthly Review:

“Schools were shut down and millions of youth were turned loose. They were then offered a special privilege that would be attractive even in a wealthy capitalist country; namely, taking a trip at government expense to Peking. Transportation, free lodging and free meals were provided to a large proportion of these prospective candidates for the new organization.

“The policy was to line up these youth on the side of one of the contending factions by such means and inveigle them into adopting its factional platform without being informed of what was intended, without giving the opposition currents an opportunity to present their views in a fair debate, and, in fact, with the opposition smeared and branded from the beginning without a hearing as disloyal and even counterrevolutionary, a ‘miserable handful’ of monsters, demons, and ghosts.”

“The real ‘crime’ of the accused leaders is not that they have been plotting to bring back capitalism but that they have serious differences with the Mao-Lin faction. Their views are falsified to discredit them in the eyes of the masses and to destroy them politically, if not physically.

“These polemical methods which Mao and his men learned in the school of Stalinism, first applied against the Trotskyists... There are no innovations in the pattern beyond peculiarities of style in applying it and even these are not very novel.” (See the pamphlet Behind China’s “Great Cultural Revolution”, Merit Publishers, p. 47-48 and 52)

This explains very well how “Maoist bonapartism ... initiated a mass mobilization against bureaucracy” and the methods that were used. If the Argentinian comrades have come to the conclusion that Mao’s actions have been progressive, then, they are on the same path which has already been blazed by Monthly Review, Healy, and Swabeck.

The Argentinian comrades made a valuable contribution to the discussion when they criticized the IEC’s “dangerous methodological errors.” However, they themselves have failed to utilize the methodological procedures which they advocated. They failed to mention let alone describe and prove what “class pressures” are reflected by either the Mao-Lin faction or the Liu-Teng faction. It is only implied that the Liu-Teng faction represents the hardened bureaucratic elements who have been purged by the Maoists, the more progressive elements among the bureaucracy, and therefore, we are asked to give critical support to Mao. If the Argentinian comrades continue to insist on their position, using such methods and taking such light minded attitude, then, one cannot seriously discuss with them, and can only express regret.

Political Revolution and Neutralism

The second paragraph in the IEC document of March 1967 reads:

“In the course of the violent struggle which resulted from this crisis of leadership, and in particular due to the forms taken by the “Great Cultural Revolution” the party, state, trade union, youth apparatuses, etc., were upset from top to bottom. For the same reasons, the relationships among the leaders, the apparatuses, and the masses also underwent fundamental changes. For the first time since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the masses, and in particular the proletarian masses of the large cities, were mobilized in a process the logical culmination of which is an anti-bureaucratic political revolution.”

This description and perspective of the Chinese events should be emphasized, especially the perspective of the “anti-bureaucratic political revolution.” This is the first time since reunification that the International has formally taken a position in favor of political revolution in China. However, the IEC document in no way showed why political revolution was necessary. It did not characterize the CCP as a Stalinist party nor its regime as a bureaucratic dictatorship. If one does not illustrate these two points, then he has no theoretical “basis for a demand of political revolution.

In the International there are several differing opinions as to the nature of the CCP and its regime. As far as I know, however, only the SWP and the Chinese section have extensively discussed the Chinese question and adopted a definite position—for political revolution. (see the SWP resolution, The Third Chinese Revolution and Its Aftermath, Discussion Bulletin A-31, Oct. 1955; and On the Nature of the Chinese Communist Party and its Regime—Political Revolution or Democratic Reform? by S.T. Peng, SWP Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 4, March 1961) It seems as though the overwhelming majority of the other sections in the International have yet to seriously discuss and adopt a definite position.

The majority of the leading comrades in the International following the 1949 Chinese revolution, took the position that with the capture of power by the CCP it was no longer a Stalinist party, and the subsequent government established by it was not a bureaucratic dictatorship. This analysis, of course, ruled out any need for a political revolution. Now the IEC document puts forth the perspective of an “antibureaucratic political revolution.” Therefore, if the nature of the CCP and its regime are not clarified in the present discussion, it is inevitable that only confusion and new contradictions will develop.

In addition and even more important, the IEC document put forth the perspective of political revolution without mentioning the social basis of the two contending factions. The lack of such an analysis cannot direct the masses onto the road of political revolution, but on the contrary, only confuse them and objectively help the more reactionary elements—the Maoists.

What does the neutralism actually mean? In essence, it means that it is not necessary to intervene in the present struggle. In other words, it is not necessary to give critical support to one side against the other. In the light of such tumultuous and historical events which are taking place in China today, neutralism that is, standing by and regarding the events as a spectator—can only be described as the most irresponsible position for revolutionaries. And any objection to the effect that we are not interested in the struggle between Mao’s and Liu’s factions, but rather interested in directing the masses onto the road of political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy as a whole, can only reflect either an ignorance of Marxism or a manifestation of sectarianism. It is not the nature of any mass movement to realize at the outset the nature of a bureaucratic regime and the necessity of a political revolution. Such a realization comes only through direct experiences. At the present the masses in China are only coming to realize which of the two contending factions is more in tune with their own interests.

The masses, at first, always support the reformist tendencies, and it is only after they have gone through certain experiences with them, will they realize that even the reformists are unable to solve the urgent problems at hand. In other words, the masses in China will come to realize the necessity of political revolution mainly through their own experiences and not from someone standing on the side lines propagating for political revolution.

The present differences between Mao and Liu are becoming very clear. On the one hand, Mao still maintains that the Great Leap Forward and Peoples Communes policies were correct; demands the utmost servility in the scientific, educational and cultural fields; absolutely refuses any concessions to improve the living standards of the masses; refuses to allow the masses any freedom of expression, but demands that they abide completely in accordance with his thought; and categorically rejects any united front with the other workers states, especially the Soviet Union with whom he had strained relations just short of a complete break. The opposition led by Liu, on the other hand, opposes the Great Leap Forward and People’s Commune policies; energetically opposes Mao’s policies in the fields of science, education, and culture; supports de-Stalinization and opposes Mao’s personal cult and dictatorship, and thereby is in favor of freedom of expression; proposes to improve the living standards of the masses; and wants to improve relations with the Soviet Union in order to help the Vietnamese. These differences rule out any position of neutralism, i.e., being only bystanders. We, as Trotskyists, are forced to intervene by taking a definite position based on a transitional program, that is, we must give critical support to Liu’s faction against Mao and his followers. Only by doing so, will it be possible to win the masses and those attacked by Mao to a revolutionary program. Only by supporting Liu’s faction can we show the masses that Liu and his collaborators are incapable of solving China’s fundamental problems. This is the only road to convincing the masses that it is necessary to overthrow the bureaucracy as a whole in order to build a democratic socialist China.


The October revolution and Stalin’s seizure of power have proved to be the acid test of many groups and individuals claiming to be revolutionaries. Historically as well as today the Chinese question is only second to that of the Soviet Union. Especially since the Chinese revolution in 1949, many groups and individuals have been tested by the Chinese events. In our movement we have seen the outstanding examples of Pablo and Swabeck. Therefore, I hope the International takes a serious attitude in adopting its position on China. I sincerely hope the comrades in each section will actively participate in the discussion in order to help the International arrive at a correct position to intervene in the Chinese events and put the Chinese political revolution on History’s coming agenda.

November 19, 1967


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