Class Struggle
Official Organ of the Communist League of Struggle
(Adhering to the International Left Opposition)

Volume 1  Number 4                                        October-November 1931

What’s to be Done in Manchuria?
(Thesis of the Communist League of Struggle)

1. The invasion of Manchuria by imperialist Japan marks a critical moment in capitalist post-war history. It has shown most emphatically how correct the Communist League of Struggle was in declaring, as it did in its general thesis:

"11. …….The world crisis most seriously intensifies the uneven development of capitalism. The weaker countries become still weaker and further penetrated by the leading powers. The debtor countries become still more indebted, the colonies and semi-colonies still more enslaved, the struggle among the leading powers still more intense.”
"12. A greatly increased political instability is one of the direct results of the crisis. Here is the clearest indication of how transient and ephemeral the much-vaunted ‘stabilization’ of capitalism is. While we do not declare that this is the final basic crisis of capitalism, yet the political and revolutionary crisis in different parts of the world make it plain that such a final crisis of capitalism is not out of the question…….”
2. The new aggressive acts by Japan are not due to a sudden change of policy. On the contrary, they are but a culmination of carefully laid imperialist plans, plans that date from the Russo-Japanese war, from the emergence by Japan into a foremost world power. The seizure of Sakhaline, Korea, various Chinese concessions, Kiaochow, and the Manchurian Southern Railway, the all-rounded economic penetration of Manchuria and the support given ruling Manchurian militarists, all show that Japan was but waiting for the proper co-relation of forces in order to seize Manchuria outright as one of her possessions as she has done to Korea.

3. The Japanese militarists deem the present opportunity extremely ripe to act. In the first place, China is in a state of terrible chaos. Famine affects a territory covering some 56,000,000 people. Disastrous floods have ruined some of the richest parts of China (Yang tse Valley etc.). Constant civil war among the military generals has desolated the countryside and shattered any central unified power by the Nanking Government over all of China. Within the Nanking Government goes on a most corrupt and unprincipled intriguing for power by the various cliques, urged on and supported by the great imperialist powers (U.S.A., Great Britain, Japan, France, etc.) The struggles of these militarists both within and against the Nanking Government are only the forerunners of the open attempts of the main imperialist powers physically to dismember and to partition China. Such a partition would conceivably allocate the north of China to Japan, the coast and central parts to Great Britain, and sections of the south to France. Against these attempts stand two forces. On the one hand the imperialists are divided amongst themselves. Each fears to disturb the present equilibrium of forces in favor of the others. Particularly does the U.S. oppose this partition at this time. Having come into China late, having seized no large territory, having, on the other hand a great economic superiority, and burdened with “democratic” and “non-imperialist” pretensions, the U.S.A. supports the Nanking regime and temporarily fights for an “open door” policy.

The second great force opposing the partition of China by the imperialists is composed of the Chinese people who in their revolutionary movements have shown their hatred for all the military cliques and have raised the slogan: OUT WITH ALL THE IMPERIALISTS FROM CHINA. This revolutionary movement has now recovered from its crushing defeat in 1927. It is on the upgrade again. The monetary crisis in China and the pressure of the world crisis has enormously accentuated the terrible misery of the masses in the city as well as in the country. Side by side with a rising strike movement, a huge guerilla warfare led by Communists, is being successfully waged in the interior of China covering at least six provinces and 30,000,000 people. All the forces of the Nanking Government aided by the imperialists have not been able to crush this revolutionary movement.

In the second place, Japan is forced into adventurous tactics in order to ameliorate its economic position. The economic crisis has severely affected Japan. Its one-sided economy, with its reliance on the production of silk, and its relative underproduction of the means of production, has been hard hit. A budgetary deficit exists. The rigid militaristic monarchical government now faces an aroused working class. On the foreign front, Japan has received many defeats. Its alliance with Great Britain has been broken. Its attempt to raise its naval strength above 60% of that of U.S. has been frustrated. In China it sees its influence on Nanking diminishing. A huge effective boycott has been established in China on Japanese goods. Even within Manchuria Japan has seen the Manchurian government move closer to Nanking. It has seen its puppets lose in the fight to grab the Chinese-Eastern Railway from the Soviet Union and Soviet trade increase with leaps and bounds within Manchuria. More and more Japan, in spite of its strong position in Manchuria, is facing stiffer opposition. Under such conditions the Japanese militarist adventurers will deem outright seizure of Chinese territory necessary.

These brutal adventures of Japanese imperialism are made all the more inevitable by the form of government within Japan and the relationship of class forces there. In Japan the bourgeois democratic regime has been far from completed. In the saddle is an extremely reactionary military landlord clique supporting the Bonapartist regime of the Mikado. It is this unbridled military chauvinism that on all occasions rattles the sword and welcomes war.

In the third place, Japanese chauvinists conceive the present is ripe for action because they do not feel they will meet with united foreign resistance. During the present crisis especially the struggle for markets has reached a most acute stage. Each nation literally wars against the others. Acute political dissentions and conflicts at home mark the relationships of the various capitalist countries, the rivals of Japan, to each other. These dissentions among the capitalist nations give the Japanese imperialists their chance. It is possible that such foreign resistance may become so strong that Japan may be forced to yield. But such a retreat by Japan will be merely temporary and will even sharpen all antagonisms.

The present situation has again exposed the futility and bankruptcy of the League of Nations. The League of Nations cannot solve in the least degree the contradictions of capitalism. Far from stopping war, the League of Nations only increases the danger of war.

Nor does Japan believe that the Soviet Union will intervene to stop the seizure of Manchuria. The Japanese robbers evidently count on the national-socialists tendencies of the Stalin regime, on the fact that under the management of the Soviet bureaucracy the five year plan is being counterposed to the world revolution, and on the degeneration within the Communist International, to prevent the Soviet Union from actively checking the Japanese colonial expansion.

4. The latest outrage of Japan, precludes as it is to a general dismemberment of China by all the imperialists, should Japan be successful, must be resisted with all the force of the Chinese toiling masses, led by the Chinese proletariat whose vanguard are the Chinese Communists.

War by the Chinese people against Japan is the only form such resistance can take effectively. Such a war by the Chinese people against Japan can only be welcomed by the toiling masses and proletariat all over the world. A war by the Chinese people against Japan is not an imperialist war, but a war of a colonial country against an imperialist aggressor. It is the duty of the proletariat everywhere to aid and to support such a war with all its might. (Lenin) Such a war would have a most salutary effect on all the struggles of the oppressed colonial peoples for freedom (India, Philippines, Korea, Siam, etc.)

The victory by Japan over the Chinese people or Japanese seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia would be a terrific blow against every liberation movement throughout the East. It would hasten the dismemberment of China. It would result in a smashing attack against that part of China now under Soviets and strengthen all the Chinese village reactionaries. Reaction would triumph in Japan as well. The Japanese proletariat would be given a severe blow. The military landlord clique would rule more firmly than ever.

Victory by Japan, on the one hand would intensify all imperialist rivalry in China; on the other hand is a direct threat against the Soviet Union. The imperialists still smart under the stinging defeat the Red Army administered to the Chinese military generals and to imperialist diplomacy over the Chinese Eastern Railway. The seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia offers imperialism a consolidated base of attack against Russian-Chinese trade and against the Chinese Eastern Railway. It is a thrust to split Siberia, a menace to Outer Mongolia (under Soviets), a move at Turkestan, and a threat of outflanking the Communist forces within China. Victory by Japan imperils the whole Soviet Union, the Workers Fatherland. Against such a victory the proletariat of the world led by the Communist International, must fight.

5. In all their actions regarding the Sino-Japanese conflict the Communists must start from the understanding that the Chinese people must be supported against Japan. The Chinese Communist Party must take the lead in demanding support and in mobilizing the masses for war against Japan. But war against Japan must be only a starting point. In its seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia Japanese imperialism but carries into action the fondest dreams of other imperialisms, especially that of the U.S.A. War against Japan by the Chinese people must be coupled with the demand that ALL IMPERIALIST POWERS GET OUT OF CHINA. War against Japan must be a prelude to driving out all the imperialist powers, including the U.S.A. from Chinese soil.

The Chinese proletariat and Communist movement must thoroughly keep in mind that the puppet imperialist tools which compose the Chiang Kai Shek government can struggle effectively neither against Japanese nor against any other imperialism. War against Japan must be linked up with a drive to exterminate the Chiang Kai Shek Nationalist Government. Not the mercenary armies of Chiang Kai Shek but only the armed people can drive off the Japanese, the American and other bloodhounds. An armed Chinese people can make impossible any seizure by imperialists of extensive Chinese territory. The Chinese Communist Party must lead this struggle of the masses.

The demand to arm the Chinese toilers must go hand in hand with the demand for the convocation of a real Constituent Assembly, truly representative of the oppressed Chinese people. The struggles against Japan must be a struggle for the carrying out of a revolutionary agrarian program, for the legalization of the trade union movement, for the eight hour day, and social insurance for the workers, etc. War against Japan must be combined with civil war in town and country for Soviets. This combined struggle, starting with a vigorous boycott and confiscation of Japanese property and that of their agents, must end with the confiscation of all imperialist and capitalist property and a proletarian Soviet regime.

6. The proletariat of the whole world must support the Chinese masses in their war against Japan and other imperialists (U.S.A., Great Britain, France, etc.) First and foremost does the duty fall upon the proletariat of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union as the first victorious proletarian regime has the unconditional duty to aid the proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world.

As we have stated in our general theses:

"4…..The Soviet Union with its tremendous economic and political weight will be able to throw this weight at times so as to help break the economic and political power of different sections of the international bourgeoisie at critical moments.”

In the first place, the anti-Soviet aims of Japan and of the other imperialists must be clearly exposed. The proletariat of the whole world must rise to the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union. Such a defense, in turn, calls for unstinted aid to the Chinese masses. Material support of all kinds, to the maximum must be given the Chinese masses in their struggle for liberation. The right to give this support must be defended at all costs, BY MILITARY FORCE IF NECESSARY.

"4…..Today there has been raised to hitherto unheard degree the decisive importance of revolutionary organizations; first as factors maturing (creating) revolutionary situations, and second as factors changing revolutionary situations to actual revolutions (insurrections)….” (see general theses). These principles apply precisely to the present situation.
The aid of the Soviet Union to the Chinese people can be that act which will move the world revolution to a higher plane. The combined Chinese-Russian revolutions can not only defeat Japan but overthrow all the military cliques (Nanking, Canton, Wang Chin Wei “Left” etc) and drive out all imperialism from the colonial countries. It can be that stroke that can turn the economic crisis into the final basic crisis of world capitalism.

The aid of the Soviet Union to the Chinese masses, leading as it may to a declaration of war by Japan on the U.S.S.R. may well lead to a general conflagration and world war. In the beginning, war by Japan against the Soviet Union may find the imperialist nations split. However, it is far more probable that the other imperialist countries, especially the United States, will patch up their differences enough so as to unite against the Soviet Union. Should the Chinese people be successful against Japan and in overthrowing the Chiang Kai Shek government, and move against all the imperialists, there can be no question that a joint imperialist military attack will be launched both against the Chinese people and the Soviet Union both in Asia and in Europe. The inevitable capitalist attack will have been launched.

Under these circumstances only the firmest sort of Communist leadership and international policy can save the day. It is clear that the Soviet Union rests not only upon its gigantic internal strength but fundamentally upon the international proletariat. Those who have lulled the militant sections of the proletariat with theories of “peaceful co-existence” of the U.S.S.R. and the capitalist world, those who have developed national-socialist tendencies (Stalin and Co.) must be pushed aside. The proletariat must demand the reinstatement of L.D. Trotsky and his competent colleagues into the leadership of the proletarian forces. Only the internationalist policies of the Left Opposition can lead the proletariat successfully.

7. The international proletariat and Communist movement must raise the demands: ALL AID TO THE CHINESE TOILING MASSES-OUT WITH ALL IMPERIALISTS FROM CHINA. DEFEND THE SOVIET UNION. Should there be a war against the Soviet Union by Japan alone or by Japan together with other countries (for example, the United States) all forces must be directed to aid our Fatherland, the Workers Republic of the Soviet Union, and to change the imperialist war to civil war against the capitalists at home.

8. The proletariat and Communists in the United States have a particularly grave responsibility. First of all the working class must demand: HANDS OFF CHINA BY THE IMPERIALIST PLUNDERERS…..STOP THE DISMEMBERMENT OF CHINA. But the American proletariat must go further than this. It must demand the IMMEDIATE RESTORATION TO THE CHINESE PEOPLE OF ALL CONCESSIONS SEIZED BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. It must demand the IMMEDIATE LIBERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES AND OTHER COLONIES OF THE UNITED STATES and aid revolts there. It must explode the hypocrisy and chicanery of American pretensions and must thoroughly expose the imperialist aims of the United States Government. It must fight against the U.S.-Nanking or other militarist alliances and must raise the cry DOWN WITH THE NANKING AND OTHER MILITARIST PUPPET CLIQUES.

Secondly, the American workers must raise the slogan: FULL AID TO THE CHINESE MASSES (ESPECIALLY THOSE IN SOVIET CHINA) IN THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST IMPERIALISM (Japanese, American, and others). Supporting the Chinese people, the working class must demand the complete prohibition of Japanese trade to this country. Simultaneously the workers must demand that large military supplies be given the Chinese people (Soviet China). The shipment of these supplies must be defended at all costs even if necessary WITH THE WHOLE ARMED MIGHT OF THE NATION.

9. Due to conflicting imperialist interests in Manchuria war may result between the United States government and Japan, especially if the Soviet Union has not yet entered the conflict. It is clear that such a war between the United States and Japanese governments will be a war between two robber governments over the question which shall rob and plunder China. It is clear that the American government reeking with the blood of the Chinese masses cannot aid the Chinese masses. Not in the least fooled by the hypocritical phrases that will be employed by the United States government, the American working class must do all in its power to overthrow United States capitalism just as the Chinese toilers must overthrow Chiang Kai Shek and other military cliques. Only a workers government in the United States can effectively war against Japanese imperialism, can effectively support the Chinese and Russian revolutions.

War with Japan must not mitigate the class struggle at home. It must intensify the class struggle eventually to reach the stage of a struggle for state power. As a preliminary stage to this final struggle, the working class must demand the arming of the working population in time of war, the confiscation of all war industries and workers control over these industries, a 100% inheritance and profit tax and an extremely heavy general capital tax. Hand in hand with these demands must go the strongest demand for the immediate recognition of the Soviet Union and the extension of material support including the shipments of arms and munitions, in the largest possible way. We must demand that these shipments be fully protected so as actually to reach their destination.

We say clearly that no Communist organization can support the American capitalist government in either peace or war. In raising the demand for the support of the Soviet Union or the Chinese Revolution, the Communists strengthen those forces which will aid in overthrowing United States capitalism. Should the United States government declare war against a country warring against the Soviet Union or Chinese Revolution, it is the duty of the Communists, while not opposing such a war, to overthrow the United States imperialists and to establish the proletarian dictatorship.

Unless the workers take over power, the war of the U.S. government against Japan will be a war between two imperialist forces. In such a case the American soldiers must aid the Chinese people to defeat both American and Japanese imperialists. The American soldiers must fraternize with the Japanese. Both must refuse to shoot down each other or the Chinese people at the behest of their officers, and must take over control of affairs themselves.

War between the United States and Japanese capitalist governments may have two sets of results. On the one hand, it would tend to strengthen reaction at home and abroad. If prolonged up to a certain point, the war would liquidate the world economic crisis (by the enormous destruction of goods it would entail) and would give serious blows to the proletarian movement all over the world. American capitalism and its agent the U.S. government would not enter the war to free China. On the contrary, the American government intends to crush the Chinese even more completely. The American proletariat must struggle against these imperialist aims.

On the other hand, it is clear that such a splitting of the world imperialist forces can objectively aid the world revolution. It can relieve the pressure upon the Soviet Union. It can produce civil war within the warring countries. It can result in the stimulation of a tremendous movement for liberation in the colonies. In dismembering China, Japan is in a sense the representative and champion of all the imperialist robbers. If these robbers fall out, the result may be in the end no robbery at all. For Japan to be defeated by the Chinese people who may be partly aided by other imperialists, can well result in a checking of all imperialism. This defeat of Japan can come about only if both the American and Japanese proletariat together with the world proletariat aid the Chinese people in every way.

However, the participation of the Soviet Union would change completely the character of such a conflict. The entrance of the Soviet Union would strengthen all the forces of civil war of the toilers against their governments and oppressors. To carry on this civil war, to aid the Soviet Union would be the foremost task of the European and world proletariat. The proletariat of the United States can not be opposed to a war against Japan where Japan wars against the Soviet Union. All the more must it be the duty of the U.S. working class to see that it and it alone controls the government, that enters the war, to insure full support to the Soviet Union and the Chinese and colonial revolutionary movements.

10. An extraordinarily difficult task lies before the Japanese proletariat. Ruled by an all-powerful military caste allied with the bourgeoisie, relatively weak and untried, the Japanese proletariat must check the Japanese imperialist and transform the war into civil war. It must aid the Soviet Union. It must refuse to shoot the Chinese. It must fraternize with the American soldiers and both must agree not to shoot each other. The Japanese proletariat must do all in its power to stimulate revolt in Korea, Formosa, and in other Japanese colonies. It must work for the defeat of its government and for a Soviet regime. Just as the American workers must intensify their struggles at home, so must the Japanese.

11. The present critical moment demands all the more the building up of all the forces of truly internationalist Communists into a solid international grouping. Now more than ever must the opportunist position of the Stalin bureaucracy and its puppets in the United States and the various right wing Communist leaders be exposed. Now more than ever must a fighting Communist movement be built up in America.