Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Workers’ Headquarters

Red Papers 8: China Advances on the Socialist Road: The Gang of Four, Revolution in the US, and the Split in the Revolutionary Communist Party

The Central Committee Report on China is a Counter-Revolutionary Document and Must be Criticized

The report on China put out in the name of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) by Avakian and his Central Committee (CC) is counter-revolutionary and must be criticized and repudiated by all comrades. The line of the report is wrong–dead wrong. The Gang were not revolutionary heroes. They were counter-revolutionary traitors and enemies, and their fall is a workers’ victory. To uphold them is to replace revolution with counter-revolution in the RCP. The Chinese Communist Party headed by Comrade Hua Kuo-feng is not a revisionist Party. China is still on the socialist road, it is still a beacon light for the working class and all oppressed people around the world. To deny this is to set our Party against the revolutionary tide of history. This must be opposed on all fronts.

The CC bulletin marks a complete break with Marxism. The wrong line was arrived at and is set out with anti-Marxist methods. It is being pushed throughout the RCP with equally anti-Marxist methods of inner-Party struggle. The unity of line, method of investigation, and method of inner-Party struggle shows how fully counter-revolution has been embraced by Avakian and his CC.

Uphold The Marxist Method

Seek truth from facts. The correct line develops in opposition to the incorrect line.

These Marxist principles should guide all comrades in dealing with the situation we face. The incorrect line of the CC bulletin will be held up, criticized and defeated. The correct line and truth about the situation in China will be developed and deepened in this struggle and through consciously applying Marxism to the situation in China.

This paper by the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWH) represents the beginning stages of both aspects of this process. Our approach has been to examine the general features and general conditions of China to determine if revisionism has in fact triumphed. And we have used Marxism to evaluate the CC paper. The contention that China is on the capitalist road is not proved– either by study of the facts or by Avakian’s “theoretical” meanderings. The CC bulletin sets itself the task of demonstrating that revisionism won. It fails utterly. Although this is basis enough, and more, for rejecting the bulletin, the question of what road China is taking cannot be dispensed with by blowing the CC’s line out of the water. Avakian’s arguments are basically a variant of a widespread line which the bourgeoisie has worked overtime to push–the “hard-line Maoists” purged by the “pragmatic, moderate bureaucrats,” etc. Only a thoroughgoing analysis of the class struggle in China in recent years can answer the various bourgeois lines on China currently being floated. The main section of this document, entitled “Smashing The Gang Was A Victory For Socialism and The Working Class,” sums up the initial investigation of the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters, which demonstrates conclusively that China is still socialist, that the working class, led by its Party, still holds power, that Chairman Hua Kuo-feng deserves the support of all Marxist-Leninists as a follower and developer of the correct line of Mao Tsetung.

This introductory section on the counterrevolutionary methodology of the CC paper opens the criticism of that document. The criticism section is followed by an entire part on the Gang’s counter-revolutionary role in China and an analysis of the current situation, including a discussion of agricultural modernization and the development of socialist new things. This then is followed by sections on the class struggle, how the CC explains the “triumph of revisionism,” Chou En-lai, and the Constitution adopted at the 11th Party Congress. Through the active participation of many comrades across the country, and through summing up with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, both the correct line and our understanding of the nature of the incorrect line will be deepened in the course of struggle. We will unite around proletarian revolution here and in China, and through this class struggle, move forward the cause of the working class.

Bourgeois Methods Only Serve The Bourgeoisie

The position paper offered by Avakian and accepted by his remnant CC, called “Revolutionaries Are Revolutionaries And...” is a disgrace to Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist Party. It is a qualitative leap – backwards. Comrades need only compare it to the past work of the RCP and the RU to see how shallow and empty of Marxism it is. There is precious little analysis, but instead subjectivism and egocentrism. This paper spits on the high level of polemic that the RCP struggled to develop within this country.

Why did this happen? There is only one reason. The CC paper was guided by an incorrect line. It is not true that material about China is so difficult to come by that all anyone could do is offer up superficialities. The class struggle in China, including the contending lines and roads, are not so hidden that one can only guess at them. If this was the case, why in hell was the RCP forced to take a position right now? The class struggle in China, like any other process, is knowable. The RCP could have set itself the task of using Marxism to learn its laws and their actual development. A Marxist-Leninist Party employing the science of the working class is the best instrument to carry out this task. But Avakian and his CC would have none of it, and they still won’t. This cannot stop us. The Revolutionary Workers Headquarters will not let the banner of Marxism be dropped. We have taken up this task as part of a righteous rebellion against counter-revolution and as part of fulfilling our duty to the international working class.

Starting At The End And Ending Where He Started

When comrades first heard about the arrest of the Gang in October, 1976, there was general and genuine confusion in our ranks. Something momentous was happening in China, fast upon the death of Mao. But only one among us was certain what was happening. Only one knew the answer before the question was even fully asked. Avakian had it down from the first day. He was not entirely alone. As was to be expected, Mike Klonsky of the CP(ML) also knew it all from the start, continuing his record of consistent slavishness and opportunism. It is a bitter shame that Avakian chose to adopt his approach (regardless of the fact that their lines were opposites.) But the ugly fact remains that Avakian knew “the truth.” There was no question to investigate. Revisionism had won, capitalism would soon follow. His only task remained to prove it.

As a result of knowing the result before the investigation–apriorism pure and simple– Avakian could dispense with real Marxist analysis. He did not have to seek truth from facts. He already had truth, and the only things he would call facts were whatever could be twisted to help show it. An open, deep, concrete analysis would just postpone the inevitable verdict in support of the Gang, so why bother?

Metaphysics, Idealism And A Legal Brief For The Gang

Avakian’s approach determined that the CC would adopt as the line of the RCP a 78 page mimeographed paper that really doesn’t teach or lead comrades in understanding the class struggle and Marxism, The CC paper is divided into 3 main sections, and the very division itself exposes the anti-Marxist method of its author.

Section 1: This is supposed to prove the entire case. After it, we are told “From all that has been said I believe it is very clear that the present rulers have betrayed Mao’s line and are implementing a revisionist line. As for how to view the Four, on a certain level that should be very easy in light of what has been shown...However, I believe that it has been shown in a deeper, more thorough way, by examining the line of the Four themselves in opposition to that of the current rulers on a number of crucial questions, that the Four were carrying out a correct line and fighting for the interests of the proletariat.” (see page 125)

Section 1 is the section of the paper most empty of facts, of analysis of the situation in China, however fanciful. And yet it is the one that is supposed to prove the case. This is the section of lifting quotes, measuring them and throwing them away. Lifting them means taking them out of context, offering quotes without regard to time, place and conditions, although without these there is no Marxism. Section 1 is a dozen different ways to restate the original conclusion. The words and deeds of the current leadership are evaluated by asking, “Why would a revisionist want to do this?” This absolute subjectivity is coupled with metaphysics. Anything appearing in Peking Review since the Gang’s fall is not only automatically considered revisionist, but treated as the line of a Party leadership 100% unified on all questions, as if two line struggle had ceased to take place in the CP there. (Avakian’s general approach to Peking Review is, like much of the rest of his line, practically a carbon copy of the Progressive Labor Party’s notorious 1971 attack on China and Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought entitled Road to Revolution III: “Material incentives are reappearing as the emphasis shifts overwhelmingly in publications and propaganda to technical innovations (see any recent Peking Review).” (This article appeared in PL magazine in November 1971 and was subsequently reprinted as a pamphlet.)

The Gang of Four on the other hand is always presumed to be right; the rest is easy. Quotes from their writings are triumphantly declared to be Mao’s line, but then again, that was the starting point for this section. This section and the entire paper passively reflect the line and thought of the Gang. Nowhere is there an analysis of whether Gang thought, or Chang Chun-chiao Thought, really is the same as Mao Tsetung Thought. It is just assumed, and this assumption is used to prove itself.

Section 2: This has far more “facts” than Section 1. To Avakian, facts are things you need in arguments with people who don’t agree with you, but they are not necessary to formulate your own line. Section 2 is the legal brief, cross examination, following the Section 1 opening argument. It is the debating tricks, the hunt for loopholes, the emotional appeals and fast talk. Section 2 is where the major questions have to be decided with “I believe” and “In my opinion” not once, but literally dozens of times. Whether this is to substitute for facts or to conceal facts is immaterial. It is no wonder that one comrade commented, after reading this legal brief for the Gang, that the lawyers should plead insanity.

Section 3: This is in many ways the most disgusting of all. Here, for the first time, the full objective situation is brought into play. Here the Chinese masses make their first appearance. Only by now, they are too tired to resist revisionism and fair game for whatever goulash Hua dishes up. Section 3 blames the objective situation and the masses for what Avakian thinks happened in China. The Trotskyism of this section will be dealt with later.

Section 4: This brief follow-up can be summed up in a few words. Lie to the masses, and tell the truth to our friends only if they promise to lie to the masses. It is a fitting conclusion to the entire method of the paper.

Mao Tsetung was confronted with similar arguments some 40 years ago. His response to them hits the mark today, and serves both to expose the CC bulletin and to guide communists in a correct approach.

The most ridiculous person in the world is the ’know all’ who picks up a smattering of hearsay knowledge and proclaims himself the ’world’s Number One authority’; this merely shows that he has not taken a proper measure of himself. Knowledge is a matter of science, and no dishonesty or conceit whatsoever is permissible. What is required is definitely the reverse–honesty and modesty.[1]

Only those who are subjective, one-sided and superficial in their approach to problems will smugly issue orders or directives the moment they arrive on the scene, without considering the circumstances, without viewing things in their totality (their history and their present state as a whole) and without getting to the essence of things (their nature and the internal relations between one thing and another). Such people are bound to trip and fall.[2]

What The Chair Leaves Out Is Marxism

The method of the CC paper stands exposed both for what is in it, and for what is missing. There is no real analysis of the objective situation in China and how it developed. There is no discussion of the role of the masses in making history, where they stood and why on the key questions. The mass line is never mentioned. How the line of the Party was grasped by the masses, or not grasped, and how on that basis the masses changed the objective conditions, none of this is present.

The continued application of the united front under socialism, both in society as a whole and, on a tactical level, in the ranks of the Party, is never mentioned, although without such an approach the working class cannot maintain its rule. No, the masses make their appearance only in Section 3 and then only to have the burden of blame for capitalist restoration heaped on their shoulders. After 78 pages, we are as lacking in an all-around Marxist analysis of the struggle in China as we were on page 1. Comrades here are given the same treatment Avakian gives the Chinese masses. We too, are too undeveloped (they mean, and often say, stupid) to figure out which line is correct in a two line struggle. The masses, here and there, are reduced to passive onlookers to a battle of titans at the top levels of the Party. This is the real politics Avakian practices. He saw his heroes fall in China, and redoubled his efforts to stage the coup here they could not stage there. Bourgeois power politics replaces proletarian politics, both in the CC bulletin and in the CC meeting.

In its place there is only supposition and bourgeois logic. This is why comrades cannot learn from the CC paper. Mao spoke to this point very sharply: “One cannot acquire much fresh knowledge through formal logic. Naturally one can draw inferences, but the conclusion is still enshrined in the major premise. At present some people confuse formal logic and dialectics. This is incorrect.”[3]

It would take a book to unravel every syllogism and twisted “If A is like B, then Hua is a revisionist” argument. One stark example serves to indict them all. “As a general characterization of Hua’s speech it can be said that it is boring–which is not merely a criticism of style, but of political content and basic method. Mao’s comment on the Soviet Political Economy Textbook...is directly relevant here: ’It lacks persuasiveness and makes dull reading. It does not start from a specific analysis of the contradictions between productive forces and productive relationship and the contradictions between the economic basis and the superstructure.”(see p.126) Watch Avakian at work–Mao’s comment is reduced to a major premise, and a metaphysical one at that, “Everything dull is revisionist.” Along with it the minor premise is introduced: “I think Hua’s speech is dull.” And the inevitable conclusion, “Therefore, Hua’s speech is revisionist.” The conclusion is most logical– providing of course you accept both the major and minor premises. This powerful combination of Chairman Mao and Avakian could “prove” just about anything. But Avakian’s argument is flawed not only because it is bourgeois logic. Its other failing is that it ignores the fact that Mao did something that is even more “directly relevant here.” He got the text of Hua’s speech the day Hua gave it at the Tachai Conference. He read it, he approved it, and he had it distributed all across China to lead the Learn From Tachai Movement. So much for Avakian’s logic. One last point–those members of the current CC guiding the RCP’s propaganda work should think twice before they popularize the argument that boring means revisionist.

Avakian plays fast and loose even with bourgeois logic. For instance, should the current leadership call for attention to be paid to, or even mention, such things as training experts, studying foreign technology, etc., the CC bulletin instantly transforms this into “relying on” experts, foreign technology, etc. This is particularly glaring when the bulletin deals with science, education, culture and socialist new things in general. When the Central Committee of the Chinese Party says, in the only paragraph dealing with studying the experience of foreign countries in a long document on science, “Only by learning what is advanced can we catch up with and surpass the advanced,”[4] Avakian quotes it and provides a translation: “In other words, they mean that it is necessary to rely on experts, studying foreign experience in isolation from the actual struggle for production in China and the actual masses who carry out that struggle, in order to develop ’new techniques’ that will bring about ’great increase in labor productivity.’”(see p.115) Likewise, the fact that works by Bach, Shakespeare, Heine, Rembrandt and others are once again being allowed into China after the Gang repressed them gets an absolutely spectacular display of Avakian’s gymnastics. Since the current leadership has “a whole line of relying on intellectuals” and since intellectuals will by their nature “uncritically swallow down bourgeois works of art,” these works will more and more be “actually upheld as the ’model’.”(see p.120) There is not an iota of Marxism, of science, of materialism, in such arguments, yet their shoddiness, apriorism and circular reasoning are only a microcosm of the CC bulletin as a whole.

Materialists Have Nothing To Fear From The Truth

Avakian and the current CC have resorted to the basest dishonesty in preparing and accepting the CC report. They cannot plead ignorance, since material showing the truth about the situation was sent to them well in advance of the CC meeting by comrades struggling for a correct line.

*They knew that Hua Kuo-feng played a significant and very positive role in the Cultural Revolution, that he led a province to unite around Mao’s line in opposition to the right and the ultra-left. They knew he wrote reports about this struggle that were circulated nationwide for all to learn from. They knew he had played a similar role during the Great Leap Forward. Still, they sum up his history in one distorted sentence implying he was a target of rather than a leader in the Cultural Revolution.[5] Again, a lawyer looking for a loophole instead of a Marxist looking for the truth.

*They knew that the workers cultural teams and many other such forms have not been abolished, and that the position of the Chinese leadership in the face of sharp class struggle is to adjust and develop them, to correct abuses and preserve the strengths. But the current CC does not stoop to analyze the actual class struggle. It is better to say that Hua and his forces are riding roughshod over the Socialist New Things and hope that the comrades get blind with fury at Hua. We are not blind, and our fury is at the deceit of the current CC.

*They knew that the foreign trade policy developed under Mao has not been changed, and that the class struggle over it continues to be sharp. They knew that at the recent Trade Fairs, the Party leadership said “no” to any major changes.[6] Still they say that these wholesale changes are being implemented. Anything goes if it can help boost the Gang and tear down Hua.

*They knew that there were serious problems in the educational system in China. But to admit it would open the Gang’s role up for questioning. So of course they refuse to admit the truth.

*They have said in private for the past year that China’s foreign policy under Hua is, if anything, a little better in its handling of the two superpowers. Now, after Peking Review 45 of 1977 comes out with not one new and significant difference from the foreign policy for the past several years, they suddenly call it a marked departure from Mao, and so lay the basis for an attack on China’s foreign policy without having to openly attack Mao.

The current CC will stop at nothing to uphold the Gang. They have to try and knock down real revolutionaries like Chou En-lai. If he was a revolutionary, the Gang could not have been heroes, not the way the Gang made him the main target of attack for years. So the apriorism of the CC sends them scurrying to find something Chou said or did to attack. It would have been naive to expect them to turn back when they could not find anything. Instead, they just make it up along with an entire made-up private history of Mao’s relationship with Chou. To raise the Gang up to the heavens, the red flag has to be dragged in the mud.

It would have been impossible for the current CC and Avakian to uphold Marxism in the service of the Gang. Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought is a partisan science. It belongs to the working class, and only the working class can use it to change the world. The current CC repudiates the Marxist method, and the principles and line of our Party. They abandon all of this to make a home for the Gang here in the US. Our task is to stop this before the Gang moves in and settles down!

This paper by the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters starts to do this. In both the sections criticizing the CC bulletin and analyzing the situation in China, the reactionary line and method of the CC and their models, the Gang of Four, will become clearer and more concrete. The masses in China are today enthusiastically criticizing the line of the Gang. We must do no less. The two line struggle and rebellion in the RCP has released the initiative of comrades everywhere, who have started to carry through and deepen the criticism and repudiation of the counter-revolutionary line of the current CC.


[1] Mao Tsetung, “On Practice,” Selected Works, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, vol.1, p.300

[2] ibid p.302

[3] Mao Tsetung, “Speech at Hangchow, December, 1965,” Chairman Mao Talks to the People, edited by Stuart Schram, pub. Random House, p.241. Also worth studying on this question and its relationship to the Marxist theory of knowledge is Mao Tsetung, “Reading Notes on the Soviet Text Political Economy,” A Critique of Soviet Political Economy, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1977, especially chapters 33, 39 and 67.

[4] “C.P.C. Central Committee Circular on Holding National Science Conference,” (September 18, 1977), Peking Review, vol.20, no.40, September 30, 1977, p.9

[5] Hua Kuo-feng’s background and the points on socialist new things and the education system which follow are addressed in the next section, “Smashing the Gang Was a Victory for Socialism and the Working Class.”

[6]The major “new” features of Chinese foreign trade policy during the 1970’s have been the decision to export significant amounts of oil and coal; the decision to import technology, including “turn-key” plants from capitalist countries; and the gradual shift in exports from primarily unprocessed raw materials to finished commodities as the single largest export category. The first two decisions were made by the Central Committee, with Mao’s approval (and with the approval by vote of all of the Gang of Four). Oil exports and technology imports were begun, with sales figures in the billions of dollars, in the 1972-1974 period. All indications point to a continuation of all three of these “trends.” China has signed a trade agreement for the export of coal and oil to Japan in exchange for steel and other heavy industrial products. To date there has been no significant import of foreign technology since the fall of the Gang, but such trade is expected soon. Despite much lip-licking by the bourgeoisie, there has been no change in the methods by which China finances its trade–primarily two and three year time payments rather than borrowing on foreign money markets. All this information and much more detail is available from Far Eastern Economic Review, a Hong Kong weekly magazine with regular China business coverage, and from China Business Review, (formerly US-China Business Review) a Washington, D.C. bi-monthly magazine.