L.D. Trotsky

Stalin and the Chinese Revolution

Facts and Documents


Source: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 37 (Whole No. 96), 26 December 1931, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2013. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The Chinese Revolution of 1925–1927 remains the greatest event of modern history after the Revolution of 1917 in Russia. Over the problems of the Chinese Revolution the basic currents of Communism came to clash. The present official leader of the Comintern, Stalin, has shown himself in full stature in the events on the Chinese Revolution. The basic documents pertaining to the Chinese Revolution are dispersed, scattered, have been forgotten, some are carefully concealed.

On these pages we want to reproduce the basic stages of the Chinese Revolution in the light of articles and speeches of Stalin and his closest aides, and also decisions of the Comintern, dictated by Stalin. For this purpose we use genuine texts from our archives. We particularly print the excerpts from the speech of Chitarov, a young Stalinist, at the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which were concealed from the Party by Stalin. The readers will convince themselves of the tremendous significance of the testimony of Chitarov, a young Stalinist functionary-careerist, a participant in the Chinese events, at present one of the leaders of the Y.C.I.

In order to make the facts and citations more comprehensible, we think it useful to remind the readers of the sequence of the most important events of the Chinese Revolution.

1. The Block of Four Classes

Stalin’s Chinese policy was based on a block of four classes. Here is how the Berlin organ of the Mensheviks evaluated this policy:

“Even on the tenth of April (1927) Martynov argued in Pravda quite comprehensively and ... altogether in Menshevik style the correctness of the official position, which persisted on the necessity of retaining the ‘block of four classes’, not to rush with the destruction of the coalition government, in which the workers are in session together with the big bourgeoisie, not to hang on to them prematurely ‘Socialist, tasks’.” (Socialistichesky Vestnick, No. 8, April 23, 1927, page 4)

What did the policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie look like? Let us bring an excerpt from the Communist International (theoretical organ – Ed.).

“On the fifth of January 1927, the Canton government made public a new law on strikes, in which the workers are prohibited from carrying weapons at demonstrations, from arresting merchants and industrialists, from confiscating their commodities, and which establishes compulsory arbitration for a series of conflicts. This law contains paragraphs limiting the interests of the workers ... But along with these paragraphs there are others, which limit the freedom of strikes more than is required by the interests of defence during a Revolutionary war.” (Communist International, 1927, No. 82, page 11)

In the rope placed upon the workers by the bourgeoisie the threads (“paragraphs”) favorable to the workers are traced. The shortcoming of the noose is in the fact that it is tightened more than is required by the interests of defence (of the Chinese bourgeoisie). This is written in the central organ of the Comintern. Who writes? Martynov. When does he write it? On the 25th of February, six weeks prior to the Shanghai blood bath.

2. The Perspectives of the Revolution According to Stalin

How did Stalin evaluate the perspectives of the revolution led by his ally Chiang Kai-Shek? Here are the least scandalous of the declarations of Stalin (the most scandalous were not published):

“The revolutionary armies in China (that is, the armies of Chiang Kai-Shek) are the most important factor in the struggle of the Chinese workers and peasants for their liberation. For the advancement of the Cantonese means a blow at imperialism, a blow at its agents in China, and the freedom of assembly, freedom of press, freedom of organization for all revolutionary elements in China in general, for the workers in particular.” (On the Perspectives of the Chinese Revolution, page 46)

The army of Chiang Kai-Shek is the army of workers and peasants. It carries freedom for the whole population, “for the workers in particular”.

What is needed for the success of the revolution? Little:

“The student youth (the revolutionary students), the working youth, the peasant youth, – all this is a force that can advance the revolution with seven league boots, if it should be subordinated to the ideological and political influence of the Kuo Min Tang.” (Ibid., page 55)

In this manner the task of the Comintern consisted not in liberating the workers and peasants from the influence of the bourgeoisie, but, on the contrary, in subordinating them to their influence. This was written in the days when Chiang Kai-Shek, armed by Stalin, marched, at the head of the workers and peasants subordinated to him, “with seven league boots” towards ... the Shanghai coup d’état.

3. Stalin and Chiang Kai-Shek

After the Canton coup d’état, engineered by Chiang Kai-shek in March 1926 and which our press passed in silence, when the Communists were reduced to the role of sorry supplements of the Kuo Min Tang and even signed an obligation not to criticize Sun-Yat-Senism, Chiang Kai-Shek – a remarkable detail indeed! – started to insist on the acceptance of the Kuo Min Tang into the Comintern: In preparing himself for the role of an executioner, he wanted to have the cover of world communism and – he achieved it. The Kuo Min Tang, led by Chiang Kai-Shek and Wu-Wan-min, was accepted into the Comintern (as a “sympathizing” party). While in the preparation of decisive counter-revolutionary action in April 1927 Chiang Kai-Shek at the same time took care to exchange portraits with Stalin. This strengthening of the ties of friendship was prepared by the journey of Bubnov, a member of the Central Committee and one of Stalin’s agents, to Chiang Kai-Shek. Another “detail”: Bubnov’s journey to Canton coincided with the March coup d’état of Chiang Kai-Shek. What about Bubnov? He obliged the Chinese Communists to submit and to keep quiet.

After the Shanghai overturn, the offices of the Comintern upon Stalin’s order, attempted to deny that the executioner Chiang Kai-Shek was still remaining a member of the Comintern. They had forgotten the vote at the political bureau, when all against the vote of one (Trotsky) sanctioned the admission on the Kuo Min Tang into the Comintern with a consultative voice. They had forgotten that at the VII plenum of the E.C.C.I., which condemned the Left Opposition, “comrade Shao-Li-Dzi”, a delegate from the Kuo Min Tang, participated. Among other things he said:

“Comrade Chiang Kai-Shek in his speech to the members of the Kuo Min Tang Party pointed out that the Chinese Revolution would have been inconceivable, if it could not correctly solve the agrarian-peasant question. What the Kuo Min Tang strives for is that there should not be created a bourgeois domination after the nationalist revolution in China, as happened in the West, as we see it now in all the countries, except the U.S.S.R. ... We are all convinced, that under the leadership of the Comintern, the Kuo Min Tang will fulfill its historic task.” (Russian Minutes, Vol. 1, page 459)

This is how matters stood at the VII plenum in the Autumn of 1926. After the member of the Comintern, “comrade Chiang Kai-Shek”, who had promised to solve all the tasks under the leadership of the Comintern, solved only one: precisely the task of a bloody crushing of the revolution, the VIII plenum, in May 1927, declared in the resolution on the Chinese question:

“The E.C.C.I. states that the events fully justified the programs of the VII enlarged plenum.” (Russian edition, page 219)

Justified, and even in full! If this is humor, it is at any rate not arbitrary. However, let us not forget that this humor is thickly colored with Shanghai blood.

4. The Strategy of Lenin and the Strategy of Stalin

What tasks did Lenin pose before the Comintern in relation to the backward countries?

“The necessity of a decisive struggle against the repainting of the bourgeois-democratic liberation currents in the backward countries into the color of Communism.”

In executing this the Kuo Min Tang, which had promised to establish in China “not a bourgeoisie regime”, was admitted into the Comintern.

Lenin, it is understood, recognized the necessity of temporary alliances with the bourgeois-democratic movement, but he understood by this, of course, not an alliance with the bourgeois parties, deceiving and betraying the petit-bourgeois revolutionary democracy (the peasants and the small city folk), but an alliance with the organizations and groupings of the masses themselves – against the national bourgeoisie. In what: form, then, did Lenin visualize the alliance with the bourgeois democracy of the colonies? To these, too, he gives an answer in his thesis written for the Second Congress:

“The Communist International could enter into temporary alliances with the bourgeois democracy of the colonies and backward countries, but should by no means fuse with it and must unconditionally retain the independence of the proletarian movement even in its most embryonic form.”

It seems that in executing the decisions of the Second Congress, the Communist Party was made to join the Kuo Min Tang and the Kuo Min Tang was admitted into the Comintern. All this in the aggregate is called Leninism.

5. The Government of Chiang Kai-Shek as a Live Refutation of the State

How the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union evaluated the government of Chiang Kai-Shek one year after the first Canton coup d’état (March 20, 1926) is well seen in the public speeches of the members of the Polit Bureau.

Here is how Kalinin spoke in March 1927 at the Moscow factory Gosznak:

“All the classes in China, beginning with the proletariat and ending with the bourgeoisie, hate the militarists as the puppets of foreign capital; all the classes in China equally consider the Canton government the national government of the whole of China.” (Isvestia, March 6, 1927)

Another member of the Polit Bureau, Rudzutak, spoke a few days later at a gathering of the street car workers. The Pravda report states:

“Pausing further on the situation in China, comrade Rudzutak points out that the revolutionary government has behind it all the classes of China.” (Pravda, March 9, 1927)

Voroshilov spoke in the same spirit more than once.

Truly in vain did Lenin clear the Marxian theory of the State from the petit-bourgeois garbage. The epigones succeeded in a short time to cover it with twice as much refuse.

Even on April 5 Stalin spoke in the Hall of Columns in defense of the Communists remaining in the Party of Chiang Kai-hek, and what is more, he denied the danger of betrayal on the part of his ally: “Borodin is on guard!” The overturn occurred exactly one week later.


(to be continued)

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Last updated on: 23.3.2013