First Published: Lines of Demarcation Nos. 3-4, n.d. [early 1977]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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There has been much speculation, particularly in the bourgeois press, about the events surrounding the purge of the so-called “gang of four”. To Marxist-Leninists there can be no doubt that these events represent a continuing class struggle in China. As Mao has said:
Class contradiction, the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, exist throughout the transitional period. We shall go astray if we forget this fundamental theory and practice of our Party over the last dozen years or so. (Peking Review, March 26, 1976, p. 10)
The bourgeoisie in capitalist countries in its own way has a certain understanding of this and thus the bourgeois press is, at every turn, trying to sow doubts about the continuing rule of the dictatorship of the proletariat in their fervent hope that China will go the path of the Soviet Union – the path of capitalist restoration.
It is easy to engage in idle speculation when we are so far removed from the scene of the events, but we can make a grave mistake if we do not keep formost in our minds that the struggle between classes in China is a life-and-death struggle for one-quarter of the human race – for them it is a question of moving on towards communism or moving backwards to capitalist dictatorship and exploitation. It is a life-and-death struggle that also effects the entire human race. If China continues on the path to communism, it is a great victory for the workers of all countries and the oppressed nations and peoples in the world. If, however, China goes down the path of capitalist restoration, it would be a victory for the forces of imperialism, social-imperialism, and reaction all over the world.
Because of what is at stake in the class struggle in China, it gives us great concern that some people in the Marxist-Leninist movement seem to be taking these events rather lightly. At any particular nodal point in the class struggle it is not inevitable that the proletariat will win.
As Mao has pointed out, “If people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up a capitalist system. That is why we should do more reading of Marxist-Leninist works.
In other words, we cannot assume that the proletariat will always win in every struggle in China.
Then why is it that there are people in the Marxist-Leninit movement who have instantly accepted any declaration that has come out of China? If the “gang of four” had carried out the coup d’etat which China now says they were planning as Lin Piao had attempted to do, what would these people have to say? The “gang of four” would not have announced to the world that they represent the bourgeoisie and its desire to restore capitalism in China. They would have said that they represented the dictatorship of the proletariat and that the elements they purged from the party represented the bourgeoisie. They would have “waved the red flag to oppose the red flag.” But, if the opposite is true – if the “gang of four” were the true proletarian leaders, and their opponents are the true capitalist-roaders – then it would be their opponent who are “waving the red flag to oppose the red flag.”
Would these people follow China down the revisionist path just as quickly as they would follow it down the communist path? Since we know that many people in the Marxist Leninist movement don’t know how to wage the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat in Canada, it seems likely that these same people would not understand the struggle lithe dictatorship of the proletariat in China.
Mao has made it clear that if the people of China do not understand classes, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat “it would not be long, perhaps only several years or a decade, or several decades at most, before a counterrevolutionary restoration on a national scale would inevitably occur, the Marxist-Leninist party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party, a fascist party, and the whole of China would change its colour.”
If Marxist-Leninists in Canada do not understand classes, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat in Canada, they will form a revisionist, social-fascist party in Canada. They will also end up siding with a revisionist take-over in China, if that should happen, since if they do not understand these questions in Canada they certainly will not understand them in China.
“This is why we should do more reading of Marxist-Leninist works”, so that we can understand classes, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat in its application to Canada, China and the entire world. It is only in this way that we can avoid following in blind faith those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists but who in reality represent the bourgeoisie, be it in China or in Canada. It is only in this way that we can be sure that we are following the path of proletarian revolution and proletarian internationalism.
As Mao has said, “the correctness of incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything” and that means it decides whether China is communist or revisionist or whether any Marxist-Leninist group is communist or revisionist. The question of which line is correct is a matter of science, not a matter of self-declaration or faith.
We think that it is premature to come to definitive conclusions about recent events in China. When Stalin died it was not immediately obvious in the ensuing class struggle who was carrying the proletarian line and who was carrying the bourgeois line in the Party. In fact, the Khruschevite revisionists hid their bourgeois line in a great deal of Marxist-Leninist rhetoric and sang praises about Stalin while they were going about destroying the dictatorship of the proletariat On the other hand, we are also familiar with ultra-rightists like Lin Piao that can take on a “left” appearance to carry out their counter-revolutionary work.
Although we have to be careful in drawing conclusions at any nodal point of class struggle in China or elsewhere, this particular point requires the utmost caution because
(1) Mao is no longer alive to lead the struggle against the bourgeoisie in the Party.
(2) The “gang of four” is made up of key leaders from Chairman Mao’s Proletarian Headquarters in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. All of them were leaders in the struggles against Lin Piao and Teng Hsiao-ping.
(3) If in fact they represent the bourgeoisie in “left” form then their defeat opens up large possibilities for the bourgeoisie in right form to take advantage of the situation.
As it would be incorrect to make snap judgments based on faith about recent events in China, it would also be incorrect to make judgments on the basis of unconfirmed rumours in the bourgeois press. China is a socialist society that is in motion – it is either moving towards communism or it is moving back to capitalism. Which direction China will be moving after the recent events in the class struggle will reveal itself clearly if we understand the correct Marxist-Leninist line on classes, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat before and after the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Until scientifically investigated and proven otherwise, we will assume that China remains a socialist counrty under the dictatorship of the proletariat led by an authentic Marxist-Leninist Party. This, however, does not mean that at this, or any other time, the Communist Party of China is infallible and above criticism.
But above all, we should not become cynical, because the class struggle is inevitable in socialist society. Mao has said that:
If the Rightists stage an anti-Communist coup-d’etat in China, I am sure they will know no peace and their rule will most probably be short-lived.