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Ian H. Birchall

Permanent Betrayal

(Summer 1966)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.25, Summer 1966, p.32.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

La Question Chinoise dans l’Internationale Communiste (1926-1927)
(presented by) Pierre Broué
Études et Documentation Internationales, 16.10F

Readers of French will find great interest in this collection of documents on the Chinese question in the Communist International in the period 1926-1927. It contains texts by Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, the Chinese left oppositionist Chen Du-xiu, and others, as well as the letter from Shanghai by the mission of the Communist International to China. Stalinist opportunism during this period meant neglect of building an independent workers’ movement in favour of work within the Kuomintang. The Chinese Communist Party opposed strikes by non-industrial workers so as to preserve a front with the petty-bourgeoisie, and the German Communist Press even presented Chiang Kai-schek as the leader of the Chinese workers. The outcome was the massacre and destruction of the Chinese proletarian movement.

The texts by Stalin are an object-lesson in how to transform dialectics into bourgeois relativism; any opportunism or betrayal is justified by ‘specific national conditions.’ Trotsky, on the other hand, makes a lucid adaptation of the permanent revolution theory to Chinese conditions. The Chinese question posed internationalism in a concrete form, for the betrayal of the Chinese workers was closely linked to the smashing of the left opposition in Russia. Two questions remain with the reader. Firstly, have those Maoists who today revere the memory of Stalin any knowledge of this period? Second, how many revolutionaries in underdeveloped countries will be betrayed because they trust Mao in the way the Chinese Party trusted Stalin?

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Last updated: 24 April 2010