Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Shifting lines in the Maoist camp

China: Twice-purged Teng returns

First Published: Spartacist Canada No 20, October 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Mao Tse-tung’s body was barely cold when his heirs in the Forbidden Palace unleashed a mopping-up campaign against his wife and former“comrades-in-arms” during the Cultural Revolution, the “gang of four,” denouncing them as “ultra-rightist capitalist roaders” who had committed unforgiveable crimes against the people. Mao’s death was also followed by the opening of a widening rift between China and its long-time ally, Enver Hoxha’s Albania. In the July issue of Zeri i Popullit, official organ of the Albanian Party of Labour, an unsigned article entitled “The Theory and Practice of Revolution” attacked China’s foreign policy and the Maoist theory of “three worlds” as “opportunist” and “anti-Leninist.”

Then, hard on the heels of the Albanian attack, who should officially return from political purgatory but that irrepressible “demon and freak” Teng Hsiao-ping. Purged during the Cultural Revolution as the “number two man in the Party on the capitalist road” and again follow ing the death of Chou En-lai in early 1978 Teng was resurrected to the post of Deputy Premier at the llth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) this August.

With Mao no longer around to distinguish the “capitalist roaders” from the “friends of the people,” the events of the past year have left Peking’s international “Marxist-Leninist” followers confused and disoriented. While united in the belief that the recent power struggle in China was a decisive “class battle,” foreign Maoists have been unable to decide just who represents what “class.”

Will the Real Capitalist Roader Please Stand Up?

Take the Peking-worshippers of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)(CCL M-L). A letter of condolence sent by CCL(M-L) to the CCP Central Committee following Mao’s death went to great lengths in praising the struggles of the Chinese people against the “revisionist” Teng:

The struggles against Lin Piao and Confucius and against Teng Hsiao-ping’s right deviationist wind, initiated under the leadership of Chairman Mao, contributed greatly to the prevention of the restoration of capitalism in China. Forge, 9 September 1976.

Now, however, The Forge tells a different tale. Not quite so unabashed in hailing the return of Teng as its American fraternal group (the Communist Party [Marxist-Leninist] – CP [M-L]), CCL(M-L) is nevertheless every bit as willing to accept the one-time “capitalist roader” Teng as its new leader in Peking. Immortalized on the front page of People’s Daily during his recent pilgrimage to China, CP(M-L) leader Mike Klonsky wrote himself a free ticket to more lavish banquets in the Great Hall of the People through an article heralding Teng’s resurrection. For its part, CCL(M-L) initially ventured only so far as to reprint the text of a Peking press communique on the events of the 11th Congress. But these are differences of style and emphasis only. Committed above all else to parroting whatever line emanates from the Heavenly Palace, CCL(M-L)– like Klonsky’s gang south of the border – has, for now, the “official” Peking franchise sewn up.

After Teng had been snuck back into the pages of The Forge, an article in the September 2 issue found CCL(M-L) showering accolades on the “new Central Committee led by Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, Mao’s worthy successor, ” and saluting the “correct decisions” taken at the Congress. But these decisions are substantially identical to those policies which were once denounced as “representing the bourgeois class in China” – the emphasis on technological development and economic planning promoted by Liu Shao-chi and Teng during the Cultural Revolution. No doubt CCL(M-L) will be treating the readers of its press to an even more extraordinary exhibition of feinting and dodging as it continues to “reverse” what were formerly “correct verdictS. ”

Today vituperative denunciations of the “Gang of Four” pass for home-truths among these Peking sychophants. They claim that “this massive struggle should not surprise us.” And why should it? Rubber-stamping whatever line appears in Peking Review, CCL(M-L) is beyond surprise and beyond embarrassment. Thus we are informed that:

The ’gang of four’ completely perverted Chairman Mao’s great theory and the Party’s basic line for the entire historical period of socialism... They slanderously alleged that there was a ’bourgeois class’ inside the Party... Forge, 2 September.

So is “explained” Teng’s fall into disgrace. But poor Teng was not the only hapless victim of the insidious and all-pervasive influence of Chiang and her clique. After all, only last year the Forge reported that Chairman Mao himself initiated the “anti-revisionist” struggle against Teng! And what about the Chinese masses, who, armed with Mao Tse-tung thought, supposedly struggled vigorously against Teng’s attempt to restore capitalism? It is a fitting tribute to the reality of Stalinist “mass democracy” that four people can hoodwink not only Mao and the entire party leadership, but 900 million Chinese people as well!

Having reaffirmed its cur-like loyalty to whatever masters rule in Peking, CCL(M-L) has turned its guns against those Maoist competitors who are not so willing to throw their lot in with Hua. In the September 2 Forge, an article entitled “In Struggle now turns to direct attacks on socialist China,” assails In Struggle for making only “token references” to “Mao’s worthy successor.” Moreover, according to the Forge, In Struggle “has said not a word about the ’gang of four,’ something which is unacceptable in Canada today.” Since it finally came out in tentative support of Hua last December, In Struggle’s response has been: No Comment.

In Struggle’s Two, Three, Many Worlds

But these are not the least of In Struggle’s “crimes” against “socialist” China. In a document issued for its recent “Third Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists”entitled “Against Right Opportunism in International Questions,” In Struggle rejects the theory of three worlds, stating that: “Arguments’ which consist of saying we should believe that the ’three worlds’ theory was elaborated by Mao... don’t carry much weight.”

But only a few months ago In Struggle itself gave Mao’s party credit for the “three worlds” theory, saying that the rise of “Soviet social-imperialism”:

... led the Chinese Communist Party to put forward that the universe [!] is divided into three worlds, the first being composed of the two superpowers, the third (the Third World) of the developing countries, and the second of all the advanced capitalist countries other than the superpowers... – In Struggle, 7 July (emphasis in original).

While as recently as July In Struggle was still heralding Peking’s counter-revolutionary foreign policy as “a policy that supports the revolutionary struggles of the people,” it has always tried to soft-pedal or ignore the more scandalous aspects of this policy – in particular China’s overt alliance with U. S. imperialism. Denying that “Soviet social-imperialism” is the “main danger,” In Struggle recently wrote:

But to state that social imperialism is an aggressive superpower all the more dangerous because it hides behind a socialist mask, must not lead us to see it as the main enemy of the liberty, peace and progress of the peoples of the world...

To make such cutting remarks has heavy consequences it is like beautifying the nature of one superpower, that is U. S. imperialism...–In Struggle, 7 September.

However the elevation of the Soviet Union to the status of the “main danger” occurred during the last years of Mao’s life. In 1971 Mao and Nixon toasted to China’s grand alliance against “Soviet social-imperialism” and to “uniting all those who could be united” in holy war against the USSR. The latter category has proved to be quite broad – incorporating such “anti-imperialists” as the Shah of Iran, General Pinochet and the European NATO powers. Another recent addition is American cold-war senator Henry Jackson – who, impressed by the housecleaning in the Forbidden Palace, recently came out for U.S. arms shipments to China.

Hardial Bains goes to Tirana

While the ideological legacy of Maoism has left In Struggle in a hopeless muddle, the crazed cultists of Hardial Bains’ Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (CPC [M-L]) have taken a firm stand – China is on the “capitalist road”:

Since the right opportunists took over in China in October 1976, they have been straight forwardly using lies and deceit and sophistry in order to push their revisionism and lead China onto the capitalist road. They call themselves ’successors’ to Chairman Mao and his ’loyal’ followers in order to deceive world public opinion, create ideological confusion and bring about capitalist restoration.–People’s Canada Daily News, 9 September.

Having little left to choose from in the way of a “socialist fatherland,” CPC(M-L) has turned to that tiny “socialist paradise” on the shores of the Adriatic – Enver Hoxha’s Albania. Hardial Bains recently led a CPC(M-L) delegation on a visit to Tirana, and came back with the new commandment:

Whosoever does not defend the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania is not a proletarian internationalist but a national and social chauvinist.–PCDN, 5 September.

Proletarian internationalism! CPC(M-L)’s loyalty to impoverished, backward Albania is Stalinist nationalist “socialism in one country” in its most degenerate and ludicrous form.

Touting Enver Hoxha as the last of the “anti-revisionist” strugglers, CPC(M-L) has had to tailor its line to fit the politics of its new “Marxist-Leninist” pope. Lately the pages of PCDN have been filled with renunciations of the theory of three worlds. A former touchstone of CPC(M-L)’s campaigns against “Soviet social-imperialism,” the theory of three worlds is now attributed to Hua and his pack of right opportunists:

Internationally, the right opportunists have advanced the anti-Leninist thesis of ’three worlds’ and are deceiving world public opinion by continously repeating the lie that it is Chairman Mao’s theory.–PCDN, 9 September.

But the Hoxha regime’s disagreement with China’s line on the “superpowers” is not part of a struggle for Stalinist ideological purism, as CPC(M-L) would have us believe. Rather, for Albania there is only one superpower – Yugoslavia. About one million Albanians (roughly one-third of the Albanian people) inhabit the Losove region of Yugoslavia. China’s rapprochement with Yugoslavia–which included a recent state visit by Tito to Peking–is a direct threat to Tirana’s Stalinist nationalism.

Trotskyism: The Leninism of Our Time

Many New Leftists won to Maoism during the mid-1960’s saw China as a revolutionary force in world politics–the self-proclaimed vanguard of the struggles of colonial peoples against their oppressors.

Drawn to Mao’s espousal of “third world” militancy, they rejected the Kremlin’s policy of “peaceful co-existence” and its betrayals of the colonial masses for the sake of conciliation with U. S. imperialism.

But even while Maoist rhetoric was at its radical zenith there was nothing revolutionary about Mao’s policies. The theory of “socialism in one country” is the justification used by Stalinist bureaucracies from Moscow to Peking to Tirana in order to protect their own fiefdoms by sacrificing international revolution in favor of deals with imperialism. The foreign policy aspirations of the Chinese were never basically any different from the USSR’s. And even the rhetoric was dropped with the opening of diplomatic channels by the U.S. imperialists in the early 1970’s.

Those who followed Mao through all his betrayals and now line up with Peking behind U.S. imperialism have had to abandon the values and attitudes which first drew them to revolutionary politics. Once cheerleaders for the struggles of “third world” peoples against imperialism, today’s Maoists must back “third world” despots like the Shah of Iran, call for strengthening NATO and stand on the side of the U.S. and South Africa during the invasion of Angola–all out of loyalty to Peking.

Of the competing Maoist sects in Canada, In Struggle is today being forced to the sidelines, while the vicarious would-be bureaucrats of CCL(M-L) and CPC(M-L) line up to toady for the Stalinist rulers of their choice. In Struggle’s future is not bright–for a Stalinist must have his “country” to survive or suffer the fate of the nationally-parochialist Canadian Party of Labor. Edged out of the running for the Peking and Albanian franchises, In Struggle is headed down the road to political oblivion–to becoming an eclectic, isolated Stalinoid sect.

CCL(M-L) counsels that “the friends and sympathizers of In Struggle must wake up and act firmly.” But for those who aspire to make proletarian revolution, CCL(M-L)’s slavish loyalty to the Peking bureaucrats is no alternative. Only the program of Trotskyism–which combines unconditional defense of the property forms of the deformed and degenerated workers states with the call for political revolution to oust the parasitic Stalinist bureaucracies–offers a true revolutionary alternative. For those Maoists sufficiently shaken by the recent events in China to reconsider their Stalinist premises, the Trotskyist politics of the international Spartacist tendency show the way forward–the Leninism or our time.