Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Party

Chinese working people will rise again!

Condemn the brutal capitalist rulers of China!

First Published: The Workers’ Advocate, Vol. 19, No. 7, July 1, 1989.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Deng Xiaoping regime is continuing its bloody crackdown on the mass upsurge which swept across China this spring. On June 3-4, the Chinese rulers murdered hundreds of people in the streets of Beijing. Since then they have executed 27 workers, and nearly 2000 people have been jailed. More are being hunted down every day.

Meanwhile the Chinese revisionists– who are already infamous for revising Marxism by glorifying capitalist profit-making and methods – are now unashamedly revising the record of what happened the last few weeks. They claim that there was no massacre by their troops, that instead it was the troops who were the real victims. And they make the absurd claim that they have saved socialism in China from the threat of a counterrevolution.

The facts remain: the regime came down with tanks and machine guns against unarmed protesters. Even discounting exaggerations of the death toll that took place in the heat of events, it is clear that hundreds of protesters and bystanders were killed. It is true that some soldiers were killed, but this was the justified resistance of angry students and workers against a brutal assault upon them.

The Workers’ Advocate condemns the brutal repression by the Deng Xiaoping regime. We have always opposed the revisionist Deng group in China as an enemy of socialism and revolution. The crimes today of the Deng group, in power for over a decade, confirm its counterrevolutionary character. This is not the result of communism but of abandoning it. The terror against the masses is another sign that China has become a capitalist tyranny similar to such regimes as South Korea and Indonesia.

Deng Represents Capitalism, Not Communism

Deng Xiaoping claims today that he has saved socialism from counterrevolution. But it is Deng Xiaoping who is the chief representative of capitalist counterrevolution in China. It was he who coined such infamous dictums as “Build socialism with capitalist methods,” and “To get rich is glorious.” These are not Marxist-Leninist ideas, but unabashed capitalist views.

Today the news media may be screeching about “communist tyranny” in China, but it was not too long ago that Deng was their darling. Over and over again, they would report with glee that Deng had buried Marxism in China and that the rulers of China, despite their communist labels, really didn’t believe in those old-fashioned ideas any more.

And true enough, under Deng, it is a capitalist system which is being consolidated in China.

The Chinese revolution of 1949 brought a new day for the long-oppressed working people of this huge country. The peasants were freed from cruel landlord oppression, China was liberated from imperialist domination, and conditions of the workers improved. There were many reforms in favor of the toilers. Unfortunately progress towards working class socialism was stymied because the Chinese leaders failed to chart a revolutionary socialist course. Instead they vacillated between a program of state-capitalism and the petty-bourgeois socialism of the Maoist left.

In the mid-70’s the Maoist platform ran its course and the left lost out to the right-wing capitalist roaders headed by Deng. Since then, Deng has been turning the clock back by embracing a “market socialist” road – which is in reality the capitalist model of “mixed economy.” He has privatized agriculture, encouraged the growth of a class of cut-throat private capitalists, opened the doors wide to exploitation of Chinese labor by foreign multinationals, and joined hands with U.S. imperialism in promoting reactionary forces abroad.

The results of all this “glorious” capitalism? While some industrial growth has taken place, the gulf between rich and poor has grown big and the poor are groaning under a new oppressive yoke. Deng has brought back child labor and atrocious working conditions. He has brought Chinese agriculture near collapse. He has destroyed the system of mass medical care, causing infant mortality to rise and life expectancy to fall.

After all this, we are to believe that Deng is a communist? No, let the facts speak for themselves. Deng Xiaoping may still maintain the communist label, but he is nothing but the chieftain of a rotten capitalist regime.

And it’s not out of any conviction that they still hold the communist label, it’s because they have yet to devise an alternative to it. But they have been reportedly working on one. The Chinese ruling party and its think tanks have been lately discussing the idea of “neoauthoritarianism” as their official ideology. Many Chinese officials, including Deng, are reported to have endorsed this concept, which emphasizes the need for order and stability and points to the economic miracles achieved under such tyrannical and openly capitalist regimes as South Korea and Taiwan. (See New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 4)

The Popular Upsurge

What then was the “pro-democracy” movement all about? The U.S. media has tried to portray it as a movement against communism, but it defies such simplistic explanations. It had many contradictory features. On the one hand the protesters sang the communist anthem the Internationale and at the same time they rigged up a replica of the U.S. Statue of Liberty.

At heart, this movement represented an awakening of the masses, with grievances accumulated after a decade of capitalist reform. It was a movement of protest. It was clearer about what it opposed – corruption, a lying strait-jacketed press, the lack of democracy – than about what system it thought could ensure its ideals.

This was a movement against the results of capitalist reform, although its participants were not necessarily conscious of this. Unlike what the Chinese leaders say, it was not a conspiracy of a handful but a movement that touched a chord of discontent deep in the society. That’s why it drew millions into the streets; that’s why it brought out not just students, but also workers and even appeared to get sympathy from sections of the soldiers.

Despite sharing common slogans for democracy and against corruption, the movement was made up of forces with a wide range of views. There are clearly forces who only want to speed up the capitalist reforms – some towards a Western-style bourgeois order, others towards a Gorbachev-type system. But the movement also encompassed those who have suffered from the capitalist reforms. It drew in students connected to the toiling people, and even workers were beginning to come out in force. As the movement develops, different strata and trends are bound to develop their own demands and trends more clearly.

Regime Fears Workers

Why such a brutal crackdown? It can’t be explained, as the bourgeois media does, by such nonsense about the “Marxist tradition of tyranny” or the detachment from the people of a regime of “old men.”

There may have been reasons connected to dealing with the sharp crisis that developed in the factional fighting in the ruling party. But a host of facts suggest that the real, underlying cause for the terror lies in the same reason why the Chinese leaders are talking of the need for a “neo-authoritarian” ideology. It lies in the road of capitalist reforms itself.

You can’t pursue the road of capitalist development without giving rise to social discontent. You can’t avoid class struggle. And in China, a decade of capitalist reform has created the conditions for massive social unrest. The regime sits on a powderkeg. To ensure capitalist exploitation, the regime is inclined to a system of rule through “authoritarianism” – i.e., the iron fist.

The scale of social unrest in China has been deliberately covered up. But one sees glimpses of it, even from afar. Just take one small fact that was recently reported: during February and March alone, more than 2.5 million laborers flooded into Canton. What misery must exist in the countryside for such a, large flood coming to the city to look for work? And that’s just one city. (New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 4)

In the final analysis, the regime was forced into such a brutal crackdown because it is deathly scared of rebellion by the workers and other working people. Thus, it was after the workers joined the Tienanmen demonstrators on May 17 that the regime initially declared martial law. There are reports from such places as the industrial city of Wuhan claiming that the regime’s forces selectively attacked workers. This is also the same reason why the first 27 to be executed have been either workers or unemployed.

The Regime Will Not Last

Deng Xiaoping thinks that repression and lying to the people will ensure stability. By unleashing such a bloody crackdown, the regime has let it be known that it will rule by force. It knows that it has alienated the urban workers and youth, but it thinks repression will be enough. At the same time, it believes that it can swindle the vast ocean of peasants in the countryside with its lies and propaganda.

While the movement may have subsided for now, it cannot however be kept bottled up. It will emerge again. The masses have had a taste of mass action. They have been deeply alienated from the ruling party. The heroic resistance to the military in late May and early June will be remembered.

The cities are hotbeds of rebellion. But no matter what the regime thinks, the countryside isn’t immune either. Capitalist reforms have given rise to class differentiation and dispossession of millions.

The force that can turn China around is a combination of workers, radical students, and poor peasants. What’s also needed in China today to take the masses forward is the development of class consciousness and revolutionary Marxist-Leninist theory. It is necessary to develop a platform of struggle in the interests of those who labor.

This work will chart out the path to a socialist revolution which alone can liberate the Chinese toilers. A revolution that learns from the experience of the history of the toilers’ struggle, but that is able to meet the challenge of the present. A revolution that emerges in fighting against Deng’s revisionist capitalism, and that is able to surpass the petty bourgeois socialism of Mao. A revolution which will create a new proletarian socialism.

The times cry out for the rebirth of a new communist movement in China.