Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Third Coming of Teng

U.S. Maoism: Peking Picks Its Flunkey

First Published: Young Spartacus, #57, September 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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When the smoke from the fireworks crackling across Peking cleared, the throngs of gong-clanging and banner bearing Chinese mobilized by the Stalinist bureaucracy to “joyously hail” the recent Eleventh Party Congress caught sight of a familiar little figure waving from the Olympian heights of the Forbidden City. It was wily old Teng Hsiao-ping – back once again from political purgatory. But the official “rehabilitation” of the durable 74-year-old Teng, twice-purged and vilified as a so-called “unrepentant capitalist roader,” came as no surprise despite the officially orchestrated fanfare.

His seemingly inexhaustible political fortunes have been on the rise ever since last October, when the Chiang Ching clique, which had been prominently associated with the earlier anti-Teng campaign, came out the sorry losers in the intra-bureaucratic power struggle which erupted after the death of Mao.

As was to be expected, much of the congress was given over to the ritual of vituperative denunciation of the “Gang of Four.” Adding new “quotations” from Mao to his repertoire, Hua regaled the assembled delegates with a new story about how the Chairman allegedly “summed up” Chiang Ching’s famous speech to the 1975 Tachai conference: “Shit.”

All that remained was to see how much power Teng would command at the remote summits of the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy. It was left to the Eleventh Party Congress to put its official seal on a new triumvirate consisting of Hua Kuo-feng as Party Chairman, 79-year-old Yeh Chienying as Minister of Defense and Teng Hsiao-ping as Deputy Prime Minister. In addition, Teng was given a number of other important party, military and administrative positions.

With the return of Teng, the new leadership line-up represents the victory of veteran Stalinist bureaucrats and technocrats once assailed as “capitalist roaders” by Mao during the misnamed “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” and later by the Mao-sycophantic Chiang Ching clique during their “anti-rightist” campaign.

More than half of the 90 new members of the Central Committee are officials who came under fire during the Cultural Revolution and have since been “rehabilitated.”

It is anybody’s guess at this point whether or not Hua will have only a transitional role, as did the ill-fated Beria in the Russian troika established after the death of Stalin in 1953. But Teng is unquestionably back in the saddle; the 23-member Politbureau “re-elected” at the Eleventh Congress is stacked with his septuagenarian cronies.

Unlike the new-boy Hua, Teng Hsiao-ping has the rough-and-tumble experience and long-standing bureaucratic connections which uniquely qualify him for the task of imposing discipline on the chaotic bureaucratic apparatus.

And “order” and “stability” were indeed the watchwords of the Eleventh Congress. To ensure the bureaucratic efficiency and work discipline needed to meet the new economic targets, the triumvirate has ordered “disciplinary commissions” to be set up at every level of the party. In addition, the congress restored the one-year probationary period for party membership which had been scrapped by Mao during the Cultural Revolution (to enable him to flood the party ranks with idealist teenagers who could be used as a battering ram to bring recalcitrant officials to heel).

Moreover, Hua and Co. have made it clear that the factional feuding which over the past period has disrupted. production would not be tolerated. At the Eleventh Congress Hua announced the “triumphant conclusion of our first Great Cultural Revolution.” And bureaucrats who don’t take the message seriously can expect to share the fate of the 12 alleged supporters of the “Gang of Four” in Honan who were recently paraded around the city in disgrace and then executed.

As for foreign policy, the Hua-Teng- Yeh leadership is determined to continue to pursue its alliance with U.S. imperialism against so-called “Soviet social-imperialism.” Thus, shortly after the Eleventh Congress, U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was warmly received by Teng, who reportedly joked about his most recent return from the political wilderness. (Unfortunately, Vance refused to disclose to the press some samples of Teng’s notoriously pungent wit.) Vance also met with Hua; he was the first U.S. official besides the disgraced Richard Nixon to do so.

Klonsky’s The One!

One month previously, however, another American was able to enjoy the rare “privilege” of shaking the hand that shook Richard Nixon’s. This dignitary-feted in the Great Hall of the People and pictured on the front page of the Peking People’s Daily was one Michael Klonsky, Chairman of the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist) [CP(ML) – formerly October League].

But no mere pilgrimage was this. By its protocol formalities and its prominent press coverage (the People’s Daily delayed publication by several hours in order to run a photo display of the Chinese reception for Klonsky) the Peking regime made it quite clear that Klonsky was “their man.” After years of competing with other American Maoist groups, the CP(ML) now has the Chinese “franchise.”

For years, the Klonsky outfit has demonstrated its cur-like loyalty to whatever line appeared in Peking Review and whoever was on top in the Forbidden City. No betrayal by the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy was too much for Klonsky to swallow.

The October League became notorious for shamelessly lauding every imperialist statesman and “Third World” dictator that found their way to the banquet tables in Peking – and a few that haven’t. After China sealed its rapprochement with the Shah of Iran in 1973, the October League fell virtually silent about the fierce repression in Iran and even came out against the slogan, “No Arms to the Shah!” Similarly, the CP(ML) denounced reports of ldi Amin’s savagery as simply “racist imperialist propaganda,” while attacking the reformist pro-Moscow Communist Party for calling Zaire dictator Joseph Mobutu “the CIA’s hit man in the murder of the martyred Patrice Lumumba” (The Call. 30 May 1977).

During the civil war in Angola the CP(ML) screamed about Russian so-called “imperialism,” but failed to call for the real imperialists – the South Africans – to withdraw from Angola. The pages of the Call are rife with reprints from the European Maoist press supporting NATO, while the CP(ML) recently went so far as to criticize Carter for “appeasing Soviet aggression to a great extent” by his “decision to drop the B-1 bomber” (The Call, 11 July 1977)!

Who’s Kidding Who?

But what secured the Chinese ̴franchise” for Klonsky was above all his slavish support for whoever comes out on top in Peking. When the Chiang Ching clique was purged last year, Klonsky hailed Hua without batting an eyelash (although cribbing everything from Peking Review for fear of committing a blunder).

Likewise, when Teng was officially restored, the CP(ML) fawned before the very Stalinist bureaucrat whom it had previously condemned as the arch-“revisionist” and “capitalist roader.” It was only last year that the Call categorically stated in its May Day edition that Teng “represented the bourgeois class in China” and that “The struggle [against Teng], initiated and led by the party and Chairman Mao Tse Tung, exposed attempts by Teng and his followers to restore capitalism through a reversal of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”

But now Klonsky has taken pen in hand to explain how the return of Teng represents “a great victory” (The Call, 1 August 1977). According to Klonsky, “Teng made some minor errors, but the ’gang of four’ fabricated a list of charges against him.”

What about his alleged attempt “to restore capitalism”? A mere “minor error”! And what about the list of charges against him “initiated and led by the party and Chairman Mao Tse Tung”? It was all the doing of the nefarious “Gang of Four”: It is some “socialist democracy” indeed where these alleged crypto-“capitalist roaders” can hoodwink not only Mao and the entire top leadership of the party but also 900 million Chinese people.

To keep up with the revolving door purges, the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy has been forced to keep closing the History Museum in Tien An Men Square in Peking in order to change its “history.” Unfortunately for Klonsky, the CP(ML) does not have the same resources for suppressing the “history” it scribbles in the Call.

Avakian Gets the “Main Blow”

Klonsky’s getting the Chinese “franchise” represents a watershed for the American Maoist movement. For years rival Maoist groups in this Country – in particular, the October League of Klonsky and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) led by Bob Avakian – have been able to claim the mantle of Maoist orthodoxy for their divergent lines and pronouncements on an entire range of political issues.

But the game is over. Peking has picked its flunkey. And the big loser is Avakian.

For some time the RCP has attempted to soft pedal the more scandalous aspects of Chinese foreign policy, while justifying each and every betrayal in its own more militant sounding verbiage. Moreover, the RCP even occasionally ventured into Maoist heterodoxy, claiming, for example, that Cuba was never “socialist.”

But despite his fancy footwork Avakian broke his political neck when he stumbled over supporting the purge of the “Gang of Four.” While Klonsky rushed into print to hail the purge, Revolution, the more-or-less monthly of the RCP, month after month maintained a stonewalling silence.

But this telling silence, duly noted in Peking, gave the death blow to the RCP’s claim to represent Chinese Stalinism in this country. And if a coup de grace were needed, the restoration of Teng is it, since the last recorded statement of the RCP on China was that “With the guidance of Mao’s line, the Chinese people were able to recognize the line and policies of the capitalist roaders, headed this time by Teng Hsiao-ping” (Revolution, 15 October 1976).

Where to Now?

No matter where it might turn, the RCP cannot escape a deep political crisis. To follow tiny Albania out of the Maoist fold would be political suicide for the RCP. Who would take seriously an organization which tells U.S. workers that the font of political wisdom flows from Tirana and that “Yugoslav hegemonism” is the main danger in the world today? Who could survive a steady diet of the blithering speeches of Enver Hoxha?

But to cling to Maoist ideology would sooner or later require the RCP to write off post-Mao China as “capitalist.” After all, Maoist dogma is based on the idealist fiction that under the dictatorship of the proletariat capitalism can be peacefully and gradually restored by cunning “revisionists” who “put profit in command.” It is not necessary therefore, to demonstrate that a civil war has taken place if one really believes that the class character of a state – in particular, a proletarian state – is based not on the existing property relations (the Marxist criteria) but rather on the class psychology of its rulers. Such a “theory” has more in common with the Hindu belief in Karma than with Marxist materialism.

In fact, within the framework of Maoist ideology it is difficult to conclude that China has not become “capitalist.” The economic policies adopted by the Eleventh Congress are not qualitatively different from the policies which were formerly denounced as “representing the bourgeois class in China.” Moreover, the Chinese are now considering how to incorporate into the Chinese economy certain aspects of Yugoslav enterprise decentralization and “profit incentives” which have always been held up by Maoists as the essence of “putting profits in command.”

But even if it were to break with Chinn while clinging to key aspects of Stalinism, the RCP will not be able to extricate itself from political crisis. Every Stalinist organization, if it is to politically survive, must have its “own” country somewhere; Stalinists without a country are doomed. And the RCP knows it. Today the RCP finds opening before it the ever-narrowing trail to political oblivion “blazed” already by the Progressive Labor Party (PL), which broke from China (and all the “socialist” countries) in the early 1970’s and has since dwindled into a Stalinoid sect.

Workerism in the Service of Social Reaction

But, in one sense, the RCP has already struck off on the PL road. As was the case with PL, the RCP is attempting to gain solely through nativist-workerist posturing what it has lost in the form of international connections with a “revolutionary regime.” Thus, the main activity of the RCP over the past period has been to tout its Potemkin-village “National Workers Organization,” which is a carbon copy of the happily defunct Workers Action Movement launched by PL in its heyday. In addition, the latest youth front group of the RCP (appropriately named “Youth In Action” – all action, no politics) made as its national campaign recently the staging of a publicity stunt on Wall Street that was reminiscent of the macho-exhibitionism which was passed off as “politics” by the Avakian/Klonsky-led Revolutionary youth Movement of vintage 1969-70.

But the RCP has even less going for it today than did PL when it broke from China. After its factional struggle in SDS, PL emerged with a sizable youth group that politically represented the most serious, pro working class wing of SDS – which was then the mass, hegemonic campus radical organization. But the RCP has only the isolated RSB, known for its infantile antics and little else.

Moreover – and more important – PL, while wallowing in philistine workerism, nevertheless championed as its all-purpose slogans, “Fight Racism:” and “Fight Anti-Communism!” Although its politics are of a piece with the minimalist economism of PL, the RCP has shamelessly capitulated to anti-communism and white racism within the working class.

The RCP’s refusal to defend the historic gains of the Russian Revolution by its writing off the USSR as capitalist, stems as much from a capitulation to the anti-communist backwardness of American workers as from its increasingly heretical Maoism. In the February 1977 Revolution the RCP explains that in the U.S. “more and more people will be drawn into struggle against the Soviet rulers before they grasp its capitalist and imperialist character,” that is to say, while they still regard the USSR as “socialist”! This capitulation came through clearly over Angola, when Revolution failed to call for the withdrawal of the South African forces, while ranting about “Cuban mercenaries” like any bourgeois anticommunist rag.

Similarly, the RCP crows about its super-militant opposition to fascists. But it capitulates to the very racist, sexist and anti-communist attitudes and movements which spawn such scum.

For the last several years, the RCP has opposed busing, that is, opposed black peoples’ democratic right of equal access to public education. It agrees with the racists that busing is necessarily an attack on the white working class. It hails the Louisville anti-busing backlash, led by the Klan, as “progressive”! The RCP also stands with groups like ROAR in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment – a simple statement of bourgeois-democratic equality – apparently believing that the organized working class doesn’t have the strength to prevent the capitalists from rolling back protective labor legislation. In addition, the RCP, which rivals the Vatican in its ranting against “deviant sexual behavior,” has lately given backhanded support to Anita Bryant’s reactionary, religious- fundamentalist campaign against the democratic rights of homosexuals. Despite a few hypocritical words about not scapegoating homosexuals, the RCP lines up with Bryant’s campaign to “Save Our Children” from homosexual teachers, “Parents should have the right to remove notorious homosexuals from any and all jobs working with children” (Chicago Worker, July 1977).

Trotskyism: The Only Road to Revolution

For RCP cadres who still have subjectively revolutionary impulses, the only way out of this anti-Marxist morass is the Trotskyist analysis of the SL/SYL. All the Stalinist regimes, from Belgrade to Peking, consist of nationalist bureaucracies which exclude the working class from political power and which parasitically distort the collectivized, planned economies of these states.

All revolutionary socialists must therefore unconditionally defend the property foundations of these bureaucratically deformed workers states from imperialist attack or internal counterrevolution.

But at the same time, we struggle for a workers political revolution against the Stalinist bureaucrats, whose doctrine of “socialism in one country” is a reactionary-utopian expression of the attempt to come to terms with world imperialism and preserve the global status quo by abetting counterrevolution – from Spain in 1936 to Indonesia in 1965. Defend the revolutionary gains! Defeat the counterrevolutionary Stalinist usurpers!

The RCP’s retreat into mindless activism vindicates the prediction made eight months ago by the SYL, when Young Spartacus wrote: “Insofar as it still aspires to orthodox Maoism the RCP has demonstrated that it cannot compete with the OL for the Chinese ’franchise’... the current power struggles in China may yet serve to sow some seeds of doubt, which cause subjectively revolutionary elements in the RCP/RSB to break with Maoism. Confronting the RCP is the revolutionary program and practice of the Spartacist League/Spartacus Youth League. Those who aspire to make a proletarian revolution in this country must break with Stalinist reformism and embrace Trotskyism – the continuation of Leninism.”.