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Cantonese Continue Capitalist Policy

Chinese Proletariat Must Develop Struggle for Democratic Rights

(December 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 37 (Whole No. 96), 26 December 1931, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The scene of Far Eastern affairs has shifted to China proper with the resignation of Chiang Kai-Shek as president of the Chinese Nationalist Government and the rise to power of the southern Cantonese faction of the Kuo Min Tang, headed by Wang Chin Wei, Eugene Chen and Sun Fo. The vacillation and impotence of Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nanking faction in the face of the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, and the pressure from the rising wrath of the workers, peasants and students hastened the downfall of Chiang and Nanking. The immediate basis of the differences between the Canton and Nanking factions, apart from opinions as to how best to continue the exploitation of the Chinese masses, was the dissatisfaction of the Cantonese clique of militarists and politicians with the complete domination of the government by general Chiang Kai-Shek and Finance Minister T.V. Soong, who between them controlled all the guns and all the money – and therefore all the power.

The Canton Bourgeois Clique

The Cantonese already last May set up their style of “Nationalist Government of China”, but onrushing events, especially the Manchurian war, forced the Nanking and Canton cliques to discuss “Unification” of the Kuo Min Tang. Since October “terms” have been discussed, and now, according to declarations, these have been satisfactorily arranged. The Cantonese group of the Kuo Min Tang becomes the open face of the capitulator before the foreign imperialists and the oppressor of the masses of China. Chiang Kai-Shek and others of his faction are to be adequately cared for, however, in the redistribution of the spoils, offices and honors.

With this change of rule in China to another faction of the bourgeois Kuo Min Tang, nothing essential, as we pointed out before in the Militant, has been changed. Wang Chin Wei, Eugene Chen & Co. will talk about a more “determined” stand against the Japanese, but actually it will consist only of phrases. Their real color was again stamped when, within a day after the Cantonese were in control, troops in Nanking were shooting and killing demonstrating workers and students. Chiang Kai-Shek, of course, was particularly reluctant to proceed against the Japanese bourgeoisie, with whom he had maintained friendly relations. Most of his wealth is deposited in banks of Tokyo, Japan. Chiang loves his money most of all. It is fitting that the Cantonese propose Chiang Kai-Shek as Chairman of the Military Council. He is the most accomplished artist, thanks to Stalin, of murder of the Chinese proletariat.

In brief, the Cantonese will continue the policies of Chiang Kai-Shek, endeavoring to change the forms to meet a changing situation. There will be more talk of “democratic rights”, etc., but these will only be achieved if the working masses of China develop a struggle to win them and succeed in drawing the poor peasants and students into such a struggle under their leadership. A Chinese Communist Party that recognizes the necessity for the struggle for democratic rights in this period and prepares to fight for them, must lead and direct the whole movement.

The “Achievements” of Stalin and the Browders

It is necessary to point out that the Chiang Kai-Sheks, the Wang Chin Weis and Eugene Chens, the Right, Center and Left of the Kuo Min Taug in the period of 1925-1927, all united in the destruction and massacre of the Chinese workers and peasants. It is equally necessary to point out “that the cruel massacre of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese Revolution at its three most important turning points ... the party owes principally and above all to comrade Stalin” and to the lesser Stalinites, the Earl Browders, et al.

Stalin and Stalinism sowed the roots of illusion and belief of the Chinese masses in the Kuo Min Tang by demanding the subordination, politically, ideologically and organizationally of the Communist Party and the proletariat to the bourgeois Kuo Min Tang. The bloodbath of the Chinese proletariat was the price paid. Behind the sword of Chiang Kai-Shek, Wang Chin Wei and Company was the approving head of Stalin and his Menshevik supporter and advisor, Martynov.

In another section of the Militant there begins the publication of Facts and Documents on Stalin’s Role in the Chinese Revolution, which comrade Trotsky has assembled. These further serve to demonstrate the terrible degradition and horror to which Stalin subjected the Chinese Communist Party and the proletariat. It is proper that an Earl Browder, who assisted in the betrayals of the Chinese workers as an agent of Stalin should condemn (Daily Worker, 12-19-31) Chen Du-Shu, who, becoming conscious of the crimes of Stalinism and the correctness of the criticism and program of the Left Opposition, honestly declared himself in support of the Opposition.

The Struggle For Democratic Rights

Illusions concerning the Cantonese Kuo Min Tang must be destroyed completely in the minds of the Chinese masses. In this period of capitalist domination of China, but with a ferment constantly deepening among the Chinese masses, the struggle for democratic rights – for free speech, free press, free Assemblage, for the right to organize in labor unions and political parties, for the right of legal existence of the Communist Party of China and the Left Opposition, for the convening of a Constituent Assembly, democratically elected, with the extension of the right to participate in the elections of all workers and exploited peasants and a safeguarding of their voting rights – such a struggle will help swiftly to disillusion the workers and peasants of China in the new Nationalist Government.

The student demonstrations must be deepened socially and politically against the regime of capitalism itself rather than only its worst manifestations. The proletariat and the Communist Party must be responsible for this task.

There must be demanded an unconditional cessation of the White Terror which has continued unabated. There are other phases of the struggle, but these must be placed in the forefront. This movement must be directed by the Chinese Communist Party, and the Communist International must give it full support. The lessons of 1925–1927 must be learned, not only by the Chinese Communists but by the Communists in every country. In one form or another these questions will arise sharply, as they did in England, in Germany, in Spain, etc. In each instance the Stalinized Comintern failed to permit the development of an independent Communist Party policy that could lead the struggles of the masses.

The Soviet Union and the Imperialists

While the change of regime in China overshadows for the moment the events in Manchuria, nevertheless they must not be overlooked for one instance. The covetous eyes of American Imperialism note with dismay Japan’s swift moves to control Manchuria, and are also apprehensive concerning the situation in China proper. It will work with might and maintain to maintain its influence over the Kuo Min Tang led by the Canton faction, even as it did over Nanking.

The provocations against the Soviet Union by the Japanese and other capitalist powers have not abated, and the Soviet Union is being pressed sorely. As we have said before, the Soviet Union does not want war, but will not indefinitely, assuming a revolutionary proletarian policy on its part, permit itself to be provoked and to be placed in a defensive position. The proletariat does not fear the clash with imperialism. The Soviet Union, as the first fortress of the world revolution, may yet be compelled to take an offensive step in the maintenance of its proletarian power and in furtherance of the international proletarian revolution. It is unfortunate that the Stalinist leadership leads to defeat after defeat of the proletariat, but the Bolshevik core everywhere is gradually asserting its demands for a correct line.

That the imperialists of the world have in mind a concentrated drive against the Soviet Union cannot be doubted. They bide their time and prepare their forces. The Manchurian war is a phase, both of the contradictions between the imperialist powers and a move against the Soviet Union. The visits of Premier Laval of France and Foreign Minister Grandi of Italy are likewise, as is the developing force of Fascism in Germany, before which the Communist Party of Germany with its adopted policy of national socialism is impotent. The Daily Worker, reviewing the Manchurian and Chinese events, the war danger, etc., and raising slogans thereon, adds confusion upon confusion with its 36 slogans on the war danger, covering literally every issue before the working class. It makes it more difficult to bring before the workers the essence of the problems both in China and the American workers’ duty in the situation.

For Communist Unity

The workers and Communists in the United States have to understand the imperialist aims of American capitalism in China and against the Soviet Union; to demand that American ships and troops get out of China; to realize that the powder of world war is being mixed by the imperialist powers, and an explosion can easily occur. But before all there must be, if our work is to be effective, a repudiation of the Stalinist policies, a clarification of program, strategy and tactics, the reinstatement of the Left Opposition into the ranks of the Comintern, and a unification of all genuine Communist forces. This is the pre-condition of a successful revolutionary struggle.

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