Harold R. Isaacs

The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution

XII. The “Revolutionary Centre” at Work

The Communist International declared that Chiang Kai-shek’s Shanghai coup d’état was entirely in accord with its own predictions. It went further. It declared that the slaughter of the Shanghai workers “could not have been prevented.”

In Wuhan the Left Kuomintang could not quite approximate this blandness. “A long time ago we knew of this intrigue,” said the Kuomintang Executive Committee in a manifesto anathematizing Chiang, “and now we regret that we failed to act until it is too late. For this we offer sincere apology.”[1]

“It is to be regretted that the wrong choice of a military commander has led to such difficulties,” it also said. “The comrades of the Party, prompted by the spirit of leniency, have again and again, for the sake of saving the Party, overlooked, though reluctantly, many irregularities.”[2]

The fact of the matter was that the Comintern, too, had watched Chiang’s progress, paralysed, helpless, and silent, hoping against hope that he would not take it by the throat. But now, contrary to their best advice, he had done so. Now, and now only, the representatives of the Comintern publicly described the terror launched by Chiang from the very beginning of the Northern Expedition. They listed now as facts the charges against which the Communist Press all over the world had hotly defended Chiang as a victim of imperialist slander. Earl Browder, who only three weeks ago had enthusiastically described the idyllic relations between the army and the masses in Kiangsi, now gave names, dates, and places in describing the ruthless terror waged by Chiang Kai-shek throughout the province, beginning as early as February.[3]

“Chiang Kai-shek’s counter-revolutionary activities have culminated in the establishment of a rival ‘nationalist government’ at Nanking,” declared the Hankow delegation of the Communist International. “This act of his is more unpardonable than his previous numerous acts of violation, namely, the coup d’état of March 20, attacks upon the revolutionary wing of the Kuomintang, suppression of the workers’ and peasants’ movement in Kiangsi and Chekiang, and finally the murder of Shanghai workers. We watched all these violent actions of Chiang Kai-shek and his agents with great anxiety, but hoped that he would hesitate to turn a barefaced traitor to the nationalist movement. At this critical period of the nationalist revolution preservation of the united front is so imperative that all crimes of those who fight against imperialism can be temporarily overlooked. But ... Chiang Kai-shek’s crimes did not stop at the massacre of Kiangsi and Shanghai workers. They culminated in a revolt against the People’s party and the People’s government.”[4]

Like the leaders of the Left Kuomintang, the Comintern delegates were quite prepared to “overlook” negligible backslidings like the repression of the mass movement and the ruthless slaughter of workers and peasants. Had Chiang been willing to preserve the external appearances of “unity,” he would have been accorded every support, every concession he demanded. This the Comintern delegation had already made plain in their telegram of April 13, to which we have already referred, and which they now once more cited as proof of their readiness to conciliate. News of Chiang’s call for a rump conference at Nanking reached Hankow, apparently, on the eve of the delegation’s scheduled departure for a visit to the Generalissimo.

“We immediately telegraphed him to call off the meeting and stand by the agreements he had made in Shanghai with Comrade Wang Ching-wei, to bring all the disputed questions before a plenary session of the Central (Executive) Committee, in which he should participate. In the same telegram we informed him that should he take our advice we would visit him in order to discuss ways and means of preserving the unity of the revolutionary forces in the face of the imperialist attack. He did not answer our telegram and proceeded with his plan to disrupt the Party.”[5]

Chiang Kai-shek, it seems, did not hesitate to “turn a barefaced traitor.” That was his “most unpardonable” crime of all, for on that hinged the entire strategy of the Comintern. They had simply hoped he would not do so. They were wrong. The “hopes” of the bourgeoisie and the imperialists proved to be better founded. The workers of Shanghai paid with their heads for this “error” in judgment.

Wang Ching-wei, too, belonged to the Coué school of revolutionary politics. He now had to explain what had transpired in April during his meeting in Shanghai with Chiang Kai-shek. “I still hoped for the awakening,” he related after April 12, “I still hoped that he would sever his connections with reaction ... I promised him to propose to the Central Kuomintang the calling of a conference to settle all outstanding disputes ... When I arrived here, I was still hoping against hope for a change. I made no attack against Chiang in my report ...”[6]

So Wang also in Wuhan now nursed the shattered fragment of lost hopes. He had left Shanghai apparently convinced that he had persuaded Chiang to put off drastic action and await the “peaceful and legal” liquidation of his grievances. The events of April 12 showed that Chiang had merely used Wang to cover the preparations for his coup, knowing that the time for formal niceties had come to an end. Wang, only two days back in Wuhan, was first confounded and then furious. He too wanted the mass movement checked. Only he wanted it done “lawfully.” Now matters had been taken out of his hands.

There was nothing of the irreducible antagonism between Wang Ching-wei (”the revolutionary centre”) and Chiang Kai-shek (”the counter-revolutionary centre”), in which Joseph Stalin now so fondly believed. Wang had been ready enough in Shanghai to bow before Chiang’s demand for a further ban on the Communists (i.e. the mass movement), and the recognition of Chiang’s virtual dictatorship. But Wang Ching-wei visualized himself as the heir and successor of Sun Yat-sen, as the chief standard-bearer of the national revolution. And nothing smelled sweeter in his nostrils than the prerogatives of office. Chiang’s act in setting up a rival Government at Nanking mortally affronted these pretensions. Wang was dismayed to discover that the bourgeoisie preferred Chiang’s services and Chiang’s methods to his own. His chief concern was not the desire gratuitously attributed to him by Stalin and the Comintern, to further the struggle of the masses against imperialism, feudalism, and even the bourgeoisie. Wang was concerned now, as Chiu Chiu-pei later admitted, with ascertaining the ways and means “of competing with Chiang for the sympathy of the south-eastern (Chekiang-Kiangsu) bourgeoisie.”[7] Wang, the petty bourgeois radical leader on whom the Comintern now pinned its faith, hoped to prove to the bourgeoisie that Chiang “oppressed” them and that he, Wang, would save them from the mass movement and the impositions of the militarists. For this it was necessary to discredit Chiang, if he could, and it was to this end that the Wuhan Kuomintang issued its mandate of April 17 anathematizing Chiang and all his associates, cataloguing their crimes, expelling them from the Party, and depriving them of all their Government posts.[8]

But while it was willing to go this far, Wuhan tacitly recognized the essential affinity between itself and Nanking by refusing to reinforce its mandate with a declaration of war against Chiang, the only possible means of making it effective. Indeed, on the morrow of his coup, Chiang Kai-shek was especially vulnerable. His troops were demoralized and his military position was precarious. But when asked if they would smash the rebel, Wuhan leaders blandly indicated that they would leave that task to the workers and peasants in Chiang’s own territory. They would soon rise against Chiang and his friends, promised the Kuomintang leader, Tan Yen-kai, “so the Nationalist Government does not consider their revolt of serious importance, because they are bound to fail.”[9] Borodin, too, dutifully echoed this pious hope. He was asked by a Japanese correspondent if the Nanking militarists would be suppressed by force of arms. “This will hardly be necessary,” he answered, “the process of disintegration has already set in in Nanking. Allow them a little time to run their course and they will be finished from within.”[10] So sure was Chiang of his seeming enemies in the Wuhan Government that he made no attempt, for the time being, to attack them by military means. He had his own ideas about who would be “finished from within.”

“All hostility and personal accounts notwithstanding and despite the actual break, some ties with Chiang Kai-shek remained intact ...” writes Fischer, giving Borodin’s post-factum analysis of the relationships that existed on the morrow of Chiang’s coup. “Much divided Hankow from Nanking. But something (!) drew them together.”[11] To regain the confidence of the bourgeoisie, Wuhan knew it would get nowhere by fighting Chiang. It had first to disembarrass itself of the mass movement and the Communists. Wang Ching-wei, Tang Sheng-chih, and Co., figured that if they could first wrest Honan province from the Fengtien armies, again in the words of Fischer-Borodin, “they could come to terms with Chiang Kai-shek.”[12] A military victory culminating in the occupation of Peking, that was the thing. Assuredly it would send their stock up and Chiang’s down on the bourgeois exchanges of the country. If they could swing it (and the success of their plan depended entirely, as we shall see, on the military cooperation of Feng Yu-hsiang), they would become the undisputed rulers of the country and Chiang would have to tail along behind. Such were the real calculations of the “revolutionary” leaders of the “revolutionary” Kuomintang. That they jibed perfectly with the private Napoleonic aspirations of Tang Sheng-chih was, moreover, no accident. The Hunan general, now daily protesting his revolutionary loyalty, dreamed of the day when he too would have completely in his hands a movement powerful enough to betray in his own interests. So simultaneously with the expulsion of Chiang Kai-shek, the Wuhan Government issued orders for the advance into Honan and troops were immediately set in motion. But Peking could not be taken in a day, and in the interim the Wuhan leaders had to face the multifold difficulties created for them by Chiang’s coup and, what was more difficult still, they had to cope with the mass movement.

The Shanghai events had enormously emboldened the reactionary forces throughout the country. They had occurred at the time when the mass movement was reaching its highest point in the central provinces. In Hunan and Hupeh the peasants, in their own plebeian way, were beginning to translate words into action. They were beginning to strike out for themselves. The Wuhan leaders tried to stand between the forces which were coming face to face with each other for the final reckoning. While the issue was being decided in the fields and towns, the petty bourgeois radicals of Wuhan continued to feed upon the delusion that with their committees, their pompous decrees and pronouncements, they were settling the fate of the nation. Actually the gap between the professions and the practices of these flabby politicians was being rapidly closed by events over which they exercised no control. The Wang Ching-weis were not Chiang Kai-sheks. Between these closing clamps they would not strike out boldly, but would squirm and wriggle, check and demoralize, vacillate and temporize—until more aggressive class agents than they seized the reins from their hands.

Even as they declaimed their defiance of the Right, the heat of the class struggle scorched the filmy wings of their “Leftism.” Before long, they would fly and flit no more. But to the last flutter they would try to prove that they, too, could show pertinacity in one thing, the protection of bourgeois property. Wuhan would try to show the imperialists, the factory owners and shopkeepers, the landlords and the gentry, that not Chiang alone spoke in their name.

The Shanghai events had put an entirely different complexion on things as far as the imperialist Powers were concerned. They understood clearly that the balance of forces had shifted in their favour. Until now they had been giving way, step by step, before the advance of a mass movement they knew they could not smash themselves. They probed gingerly for the point at which they could come to terms with the Chinese bourgeoisie. The bombardment of Nanking hastened the bargain. On April 12 it was sealed. Now their tone stiffened. The flow of foreign armed forces to strategic ports increased. On April 21, the 9,750-ton cruiser “Vindictive,” largest British warship in Chinese waters, joined a line of thirty-five foreign warships stretching for a mile and a half along the Hankow Bund. Within a week additional vessels arriving from Shanghai increased the total to forty-two, drawn from the navies of Britain, Japan, the United States, France, and Italy.

In Tokyo the newly-installed premier, Baron Tanaka, “clearly indicated that the period of leaning back in China affairs was at an end.”[13] Correspondents in Tokyo reported that “Chiang Kai-shek’s successful stroke against the Reds brings that change in the Chinese situation which Japanese observers have been hoping for.”[14] In London it was joyfully announced that “the diplomatic situation as regards China ... has undergone a change ... The situation has completely changed. (The Wuhan Government) is no longer in the saddle and in a few weeks may have faded from the picture altogether.”[15] In the United States an abrupt easing of the official pulse was reflected in the disappearance of China news from the front pages of the metropolitan Press.[16]

From an attitude of cool defiance toward the foreign Powers, nourished by the diplomatic successes which had followed the seizure of the British concession by the Hankow workers in January, the Wuhan leaders abruptly resumed the posture of respectful supplication. Anti-imperialist posters were torn off Hankow’s walls. Foreign missions and church buildings, occupied by workers, peasants, and soldiers, and used as headquarters for mass organizations, were restored to their owners. “The foreign office, instead of being merely courteous and sympathetic, had now become energetic and even decisive in foreigners’ difficulties,” wrote a delighted Hankow resident.[17]“The topic everywhere,” wired the correspondent of the New York Times on April 25, “is the metamorphosis which has occurred in the last two or three days.”[18]

New edicts were issued by the Government and in duplicate by the Hupeh General Labour Union restraining the police powers of the pickets and forbidding any actions which might irritate foreigners or prejudice foreign property and trade. Detailed penalties were prescribed for workers guilty of disobeying these orders.[19] Foreign Minister Eugene Chen cited these decrees in a personal appeal to the U.S. Consul-General and a delegation of business men whom he saw on April 23. “The Minister outlined the measures which are being taken to assist the restoration of conditions for the conduct of foreign business and trade, and he emphasized the fact that Labour had resolved to impose on itself revolutionary discipline in order to carry out these measures of the Government.”[20]

The Government sharply called to task workers in Changsha who had called a general strike against American enterprises because of the U.S. Navy’s role in the bombardment at Nanking. The workers were ordered to evacuate the Y.M.C.A. they occupied and to suspend their strike against American coal and oil firms in the Hunan capital on the grounds that “any free and unrestrained action, no matter whether in itself good or bad (!), must seriously interfere with the unification policy of the Party and at the same time inflict a heavy blow upon the anti-imperialist movement ... Any undue action ... must now be rectified and its recurrence in the future must be prevented.”[21]

While the Wuhan Press began explaining at length the need for “adapting” the Government’s foreign policy,[22] the Wuhan leaders crudely attempted to apply the traditional Chinese policy of playing off one barbarian against the other. The hopes aroused in Nationalist breasts by the seemingly contradictory zigzags of American policy had been dashed by the events at Nanking, where American guns had spoken louder than all the rest. But Japan’s guns had kept silent, and a Japanese subaltern had even sought refuge in hara-kiri from the shame of his Government’s forbearance. The Wuhan anti-imperialists turned disingenuously to Japan with special appeals.

“Whereas the Chinese revolution is affecting the very roots of British imperialism,” wrote the official organ of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee, “it assists a friendly Japan in stabilizing her position as a world power and can offer her all possibilities for unprecedented development of her trade and prosperity ...” The British and American imperialists, they went on, were trying everywhere to block Japan’s expansion. “The best course for Japan’s politicians would be to take sides with the Chinese nation against her enemies, to prove that Japan does not approve or assist either the militarists or the imperialist policy of intervention ... Japan and China must combine to oppose British imperialism.”[23]

Within a few weeks Japan replied in her own way to Wuhan’s attempt at a flirtation. Japanese troops thrust suddenly into Shantung, occupying Tsinan and taking over the railway to the sea.

Great Britain, on its part, was thoroughly content. On May 9 in the House of Commons, Sir Austen Chamberlain, the Foreign Secretary, gave official voice to the delight of the Powers with Chiang’s coup and the subsequent turn of events. Eugene Chen’s note sent in reply to the Powers’ protests concerning the Nanking “outrages” was rejected as “unsatisfactory in substance and detail.” When the Powers’ notes were presented, said Sir Austen, “China south of the Yangtze was apparently united under the Nationalist Government, whose seat was in ... Hankow ... Within four days after the date of Mr. Chen’s reply that united government in South China no longer existed ... Not two months ago it seemed as if the southern party and the Nationalist armies would sweep China from the south to north. Nanking has already checked this victorious career, if it has not wrecked it altogether.” The Communists, he exulted, “have been punished by the Chinese Nationalists themselves with a severity and effectiveness of which no foreign Power was capable. In Shanghai, Canton, and other towns the extremist organizations have been broken up and their leaders executed. The Nationalist Government at Hankow has lost its dominating position and is at present little more than the shadow of a name.”[24]

To the outraged astonishment of the Shanghai British community, which wanted swift and direct and terrible military reprisals, Chamberlain made it plain that British imperialism was content for the moment to let Chiang Kai-shek act as its deputy. A week later the British diplomatic representative at Hankow was withdrawn.[As if to emphasize the nature of this withdrawal, the British Government chose the same day, May 17, to announce the award of decorations to the “heroes” of the infamous bombardment of Wanhsien eight months earlier.]

The same week in London occurred the Arcos raid, and two weeks later, on May 26, Britain severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Moscow had counted on Chiang Kai-shek to lead the Chinese masses in their struggle for liberation and had counted on that struggle to checkmate Britain, the leader of the anti-Soviet capitalist world. Chiang Kai-shek’s coup proved the bankruptcy of all these hopes. Not Britain, but the mass movement in China was dealt a mortal blow, and simultaneously the international position of the Soviet Union was seriously worsened. London understood that Wuhan offered no serious threat, that it was but the “shadow of a name” and acted accordingly in its own interests. Not as much could be said of the Communist International which continued to see substance where, indeed, there was only shadow.

The foreign warships in the Yangtze, which had hitherto seemed only a puny threat when set against the mass movement and had served little better purpose than to supervise the hasty, frightened exit of foreigners, now became prim sea dragons laden with menace. Wuhan’s Left Kuomintang leaders acutely felt the new pressure of that long grey line. Roy, the delegate of the Comintern, felt it no less. “Not only Shanghai,” he wrote, “but the entire Yangtze River is packed with war vessels. The Yangtze Valley, the main artery of trade in China, is under the direct control of imperialist puns. This is a ‘hold up’ on a grand scale. The imperialist bandit is crying ‘Hands up!’ to revolutionary China. The seat of the Nationalist Government, Hankow, is practically a beleaguered city. A formidable array of cruisers, destroyers, and gunboats arrogantly challenges the right of the Chinese people to govern this country in their own way. English, American, French marines crowd the streets of the Nationalist capital. The Nationalist Government smarts under this indignity, for on the slightest provocation the bandit will blow out his brains ...”[25]

Wuhan had indeed lost its “dominating position.” Thanks to Chiang’s coup and the pusillanimity of the Left Kuomintang, British imperialism which had come to Wuhan in January with hat in hand, left it in May with a contemptuous shrug. What there had been in the Nationalist capital of “youthful optimism, superb confidence, and bold aggressiveness”[26] collapsed. Only fearful uncertainty remained.

“Before three months are ended,” blustered Eugene Chen, “we shall conquer our way across Honan to Peking where, in the name of Nationalist China and the Kuomintang, I will speak a language which cannot be ignored by Sir Austen Chamberlain ... the revolutionary armies under Feng Yu-hsiang and Tang Sheng-chih, together with the forces under Yen Hsi-shan, are now closing in on the bandit soldiery of Chang Tso-lin ...”[27]

But Feng failed him. Tang failed him. Yen failed him. Eugene Chen never again had a chance to be ignored by Sir Austen Chamberlain. [Six years later while he was Foreign Minister of the short-lived and feeble Fukien Government, established in Foochow in revolt against Chiang Kai-shek’s rule, Eugene Chen ruminated over the past: “Then, then, I could speak with authority because I had the masses with me!” he told the writer. He never understood that he lost that authority because he failed, himself, to go with the masses. Driven to flee from Foochow, as he was from Wuhan, by Chiang Kai-shek, Eugene Chen faded into well-deserved obscurity.]

For employers of labour in the factories and shops the emergence of the Nanking Government had heralded the appearance of a political instrument which specifically and energetically served their interests against those of the workers. This service was worth whatever it cost. The fact that in Wuhan’s territory the trade unions were still legal and the workers still enjoyed at least the opportunity to voice their demands was enough to throw the sympathies of the capitalists, big and small, into Nanking’s scales. The Shanghai events gave the employers in Wuhan new heart to resist the shattering wave of strikes in that city. They passed over to the counteroffensive with renewed vigour. They closed down factories and shops. They deliberately organized runs on local banks, accelerated the flow of silver down to Shanghai,[28] and made every effort to sabotage and paralyse economic life.[29] Out in the countryside the usurers hoarded their money or smuggled it down river to Shanghai. The peasants were refused loans on any terms. There was no other ready cash available anywhere, and in many places the peasants were consequently unable to buy seed and other necessary supplies to tide them over the spring months until harvest time. Speculators deliberately drove the price of rice up to unreachable levels. In this economic sabotage the foreigners co-operated by closing down their enterprises, curtailing their river-steamer schedules, and instituting a virtual blockade of Wuhan. In May there were nearly 100,000 workers locked out of factories and shops, and within a brief time this figure almost doubled.[30]The bourgeoisie preferred to risk ruin rather than meet the demands of the workers.

This counter-offensive could be met only if the mass movement was carried through to its logical conclusion. The seizure and operation of the closed factories and shops under a system of workers’ control could have in large part even under the conditions of civil war alleviated the stringency resulting from sabotage and the blockade. Confiscation of rice hoards, the establishment of peasant co-operatives fed with capital secured by confiscatory measures, and support of the peasants’ own drive toward seizure of the land marked the road towards drastic reorganization of village life. But for these measures a revolutionary power was needed. Workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ councils in town and country-side were needed. For the Wuhan Government such measures were unthinkable, because they involved the violation of bourgeois property. The Communist International “advised” the Left Kuomintang to take over the banks, the factories, and shops. But the Left Kuomintang leaders went hat in hand to the Hankow Chamber of Commerce and begged it to let trade resume its normal course, promising to rein in the mass movement. The Communist Party was unable to move on its own. It was bound within the Kuomintang and could not, at any price, dispense with its co-operation. The Wuhan leaders blamed not the sabotage of the capitalists for their economic difficulties, but the “excesses” of the workers. The demands of factory and shop employees were ruining trade and industry, they cried. What were these excessive demands?

Between January and April the strike struggles of the wharf workers had brought their wages up from three to seven Chinese dollars a month. (One Chinese dollar was at that time worth about two shillings or fifty cents in U.S. currency.) In the textile mills women and children workers, who formerly earned 12 cents a day, fought for and won increases to 20 cents a day, that is, a raise from a monthly wage of $3.60 to $6. In the match factories the strikers won increases from 17 to 40 coppers for a 12-hour day.[According to The China Year Book, 1929-30, in 1925 it took 240 coppers to make up one Chinese dollar in 1928, 285 coppers were equal to one dollar. No figures are given for 1926 and 1927.s] In the silk filatures they won a 12-hour day. Formerly they had worked 17 hours a day. In some dyeing plants, not all, wage increases from 18 to 50 coppers a day were won. The highest wage paid to industrial workers was still $20 a month. The general average had been raised from about $10 a month to about $14. Yet a wage and living cost survey conducted under Government auspices fixed $27.46 as the minimum subsistence budget for a family of four. In the matter of hours conditions had been little bettered. Children of seven and eight were still working as long as adults for 10 cents a day. The demand for an 8-hour day for children remained on paper. A survey by the labour department of the Kuomintang at the end of June revealed that most shop employees in the city were still working 12 and 14 hours a day.[31]The workers were asking to have hours reduced from 17 a day to 15, from 16 to 14, from 14 to 12. Still unsatisfied were the demands of apprentices for liberation from conditions far worse than bond slavery.

An interviewer saw some union leaders in March when the cry of “unreasonable” demands was already on Kuomintang lips.

“At the mention of the word ‘unreasonable,’ the union leaders smiled. They were mill workers themselves. All their lives they had been wondering about ‘reasonableness.’ They asked me about it. All their lives, they said, they had been looking for some ‘reason’ for their existence. So far, unless to starve that others might be clothed and fed, they had found none. Where, they asked, was the reason in this?”[32]

None of the gains made by the Wuhan workers enabled them as yet to come within “reasonable” reach of the minimum cost of minimum living. Was it an “excess,” then, when the workers dragged before their own tribunals shopkeepers who speculated in grain and food? Was it an “excess” when the workers of Hanyang decided to meet the sabotage of their employers by forcibly opening the factories and running them? Or when the shop employees of Puchih and other Hupeh towns took over shops which had been deliberately closed down? Or when the peasants in Hunan and Hupeh placed regional embargoes on the export of grain in order to counter the activities of speculators who were trying to starve them into submission? Or when they seized the rice hoards of the landlords to feed their families?

Yes, screamed the leaders of the Left Kuomintang, these were “excesses.” They were ruining trade and disrupting economic life. They were attacks on property and they had to stop. One of Wang Ching-wei’s first official acts upon his return to Wuhan was to break up the workers’ co-operative which was operating fifteen factories in Hanyang, force the surrender of the plants, and order the dissolution of the Hanyang party branch which had supported the workers.[33]

At the end of April regulations were issued abolishing the judicial and police functions assumed by the trade unions, authorizing them to inflict penalties only on their own members. These regulations were issued by the Government and the Hupeh General Labour Union in duplicate. Arbitration courts were to be set up and “unjust demands” for money prohibited.[34]

Hsiang Chung-fah, Communist secretary of the General Labour Union, issued a proclamation, posted on all the walls of the city, asking the workers to make a “supreme effort”, and ordering that “new struggles against the capitalists should temporarily be suspended.”[35]

On May 20, the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang published a manifesto on “the all-class nature of the revolution,” in which it fully exposed the particular class nature of the Wuhan Left Kuomintang:

“Whether or not the revolution will be a success will depend on the measure of support given to it by the manufacturers and merchants. Whether or not they can effectively support the revolution will depend upon the willingness of the peasants and labourers to treat them as their allies.

“Since the Northern Expedition was launched ... it is regrettable that the peasant and labour organizations in the Yangtze Valley, by reason of their rapid development, have been unaware of their blunders ... They have not considered the future of the revolution as a whole and have belittled their allies, the manufacturers and the merchants. Excessive demands, for instance, have been made to the employers by the peasant and labour bodies through their own ignorance of the economic aspect of the situation. Factories and shops have been closed by armed pickets and exorbitant demands, impossible to carry out, have been forced upon the employers or owners. Consequently the manufacturers and merchants have felt that they have been denied protection by the Government and that they cannot enjoy freedom in respect to both person and property. They have also felt that not only has the revolution failed to benefit them in any way, but that it has endangered and jeopardized their welfare and safety. Therefore they have stayed away from the battle-line of the revolution and bitterly hate the peasants and labourers who should be their revolutionary allies. As a result the peasants and labourers may find themselves in a state of isolation and committing suicide, and the very foundation of the revolution may be shaken.

“The Party ... cannot ignore the isolated condition of the peasants and labourers lacking guidance; and especially cannot neglect the interests of the revolutionary allies, the manufacturers and the merchants, and deny them adequate protection. It is our policy to unite them all on the same battle front, never to be torn asunder, and enable them all to benefit equally from the revolution. In order to carry out this policy, the National Government is ordered to put in effect the following:

“1. The Labour Ministry and the provincial authorities shall adopt arbitration rules and organize arbitration boards for the settlement of disputes between labourers and factory owners;

“2. Enact a Labour Law, regulate workers’ hours, ... fix the scale of wages in accordance with living conditions, ... and provide for the protection of the labourers;

“3. Prohibit labourers and employees from making excessive demands and interfering with the administration of factories and shops; all demands made to be examined by a special joint committee to be organized by the labour union and the merchants’ union, which committee shall impose suitable limitation on the demands;

“4. No labour union or picket corps is permitted to threaten, impose fines upon, or adopt any mode of oppression against shopkeepers or factory owners ...”[36]

Dutifully, in its turn, the Communist General Labour Union “co-operated” with the “revolutionary government.” A few days later it proclaimed “revolutionary discipline” for the workers, urged them “not to forget the interests of their allies, the manufacturers and the merchants,” and issued the following regulations: (1) Workers who violated revolutionary discipline were to be punished; (2) serious offenders were to be handed over to the Government for trial and punishment; (3) unions were prohibited from arresting, fining, “or in any way oppressing persons other than labourers.”[37]

It was in the order of things that the exploited should give up their freedom so that the exploiters might feel free. It was also in the order of things, however, that the exploited came unavoidably into conflict with the exploiters. That was the hard fact that insistently intruded itself. The Wuhan Government and the Left Kuomintang, with the support of the Comintern, imagined that it was finding common ground for classes in conflict. In practice this meant asking the workers to submit peacefully and in silence to their continued subjection. It never occurred to them to demand and, if necessary, compel the employers to submit to the workers’ demands. After all, they represented the bourgeoisie, Joseph Stalin to the contrary notwithstanding, no matter how little confidence the bourgeoisie reposed in them. The economic impasse created at Wuhan by the capitalist counter-offensive could have been met in the workers’ interest only by bold revolutionary measures. When the Wuhan Government proved incapable of taking the necessary steps, the workers had to find some means of their own of putting them into effect. That meant councils of the workers, peasants, and soldiers (Soviets), which would have been prepared to lead the way in applying political and economic policies which guarded the interests of the masses and not the property of the bourgeoisie. But the formation of such councils would have meant “struggle against the revolutionary Kuomintang,” the “only governmental authority.” That would have been “counterrevolutionary.” So in the name of revolution there was no economic policy at all, except the fervid protection of bourgeois property at the cost of the strangulation of Wuhan and the gradual dissipation of the fresh force of the masses who were never shown their own way out.

The same yard-stick of property measured the position taken by the Left Kuomintang on the cardinal question of the land. All the determination which Stalin had promised the Left Kuomintang would display in the solution of the agrarian problem came to light in the form of evasions of the land issue, developing into complaints against the “excesses” of the peasants, and passing relentlessly over to forcible repression as soon as the peasants undertook on their own initiative to deal with their problems in their own way.

As petty bourgeois radicals, the leaders of Wuhan were by no means insensible to the motive power of the masses. So long as warmly spoken phrases placed that motive power at their disposal they were more than free with them. Earlier pronouncements from Wuhan on the subject of the agrarian revolution left nothing to be desired—nothing, that is, but their translation into action. For example: “The realization of the aims of the national revolution depends upon the awakening of the peasants of all China. Our Party will always defend and struggle for the interests of the peasants in order that all privileged classes oppressing them be deprived of support ... in order that the oppressed peasants be really emancipated.” Again, as late as March 19, a Government manifesto affirmed that the “revolution must work great changes in the village ... in order to suppress finally the activities of the local parasites, lawless gentry, landlords, and counter-revolutionaries, under the power of the peasants ... This is the only road ... If the peasants are not given the possibility of possessing their own land they will not be able to support the revolution to the victorious end ...” [38]

In words no less radical than those employed in the resolutions of the Communist International, the Kuomintang had even proclaimed the slogan: “Arms for the peasants!” In its “declaration to the peasants,” the Kuomintang Executive Committee in March had said: “In order to ensure ... victory ... the peasants will need arms for their protection. The armed forces employed by the feudal landlords ... should be disarmed and their munitions should be handed over to the peasants. In addition the Party should devise measures to enable the peasants to buy arms at cheap prices. In short, it should enable the peasants to have ample arms for self-protection. This is to ensure the permanence of the victory of the rural revolution and to ensure that democratic influences overthrow the old feudal influences.”[39]

These were exciting words, but words alone would not give the peasant his land; and because they were only words and nothing more, the difficulties began for those who uttered them as soon as the peasants of Hunan and Hupeh began to show in action that they took them seriously. To this pitiful little handful of phrase-mongers history could not assign the role of Jacobins, not even to please Joseph Stalin. They could not lead, nor support, nor even condone the actual realization of the agrarian revolution because it meant the destruction of the economic and class base to which they were rooted. Their bonds to the “feudal landlords” against whom they railed were infinitely more compelling than the claims of the peasantry whose cause they theoretically espoused. They knew that the victory of the agrarian revolution meant the end of their political power. If they had to go down, they would go down defending property, not violating it.

Sun Yat-sen’s programme still revolved around the vague and meaningless phrase “equalization of rights in the land.” The Kuomintang Platform for Workers and Peasants adopted in October, 1926, actually promised the peasants nothing more than a 25 per cent reduction in land rent and the “prohibition” of usury with the proviso that interest on loans should not exceed 20 per cent per annum![40] Not only was the rent reduction plank still wholly ineffective, but the course of the peasants’ own struggle had brought them swiftly to the realization that the issue was not one of partial reforms but of the land itself. The Kuomintang Plenary Session in March, 1927, admitted that “the cardinal question in the problem of poor farmers is the land question,” but the only practical solution it could offer was a proposal to set up farmers’ banks to make loans at 5 per cent per annum in order to solve the problem of lack of capital among the poor peasants.[41] The plenary session created a Land Commission which was supposed to marshal statistical and other material with a view to concretizing the Kuomintang’s land policy. This Commission began its sessions on April 27. It was composed of the principal Kuomintang leaders, with Tang Ping-shan representing the Communist Party.

Starting out with the general proposition that the peasant had to be made master of the land—to which everyone agreed in principle—the Commission stopped to inquire: Which peasants should be made masters of what land?[42] “Land to the tillers!” had a nice, radical ring to it. But whose land? Certainly not the land of the small landlords, said Wang Ching-wei. The Party’s duty was to protect the small land-lords, for were they not the Party of the petty bourgeoisie? Certainly not the land belonging to the officers of the Army, said Tang Sheng-chih. The peasants in Hunan, he complained, were already seizing the estates of army officers or of their relatives. Why, in Chienchih, they had even taken a regimental commander who also happened to be the owner of a large local estate, bound him, put a dunce cap on his head, and paraded him through the streets! And the sister-in-law of Chen Cheng, a Kuomintang general, had actually been forced to bob her hair to show her solidarity with the new order of things! This would never do. Maybe the rank and file soldiers, landless peasants all of them, would approve, but the officers would never stand for it. The army, mind you, would be split on the question of the land, and, after all, we cannot afford a split in the army, can we?

No, by no means, quickly agreed the commissioners.

Well, then, the land of the big landlords? Yes, the land of the big landlords! But then again, how are we to know which landlords are big and which small? Moreover, if, as Tang Sheng-chih demanded, “we have to think out concrete means for guaranteeing intact the land belonging to the officers of the national revolutionary army,” then we also have to distinguish between those “big” landlords related to the officers and those who are so unfortunate as not to have a son or brother in a Sam Browne belt.

“We must establish the criterion of confiscation,” echoed Wang Ching-wei and Sun Fo.

Hsu Chien had a solution all his own. He discovered somewhere that only 15 per cent of the land in all China was under cultivation. “Then there is no purpose,” said he, “in taking the land from the landlords when we can give the peasants the land which nobody cultivates.” But Hsu Chien was unable to verify his figure and, anyway, most of the uncultivated land was out in Tibet and Turkestan and up in the north-west. The wholesale transportation of the peasants of Hunan and Hupeh did not sound like a particularly practicable proposition. So later Hsu Chien agreed with Tan Yen-kai that it might be possible to confiscdate only the land of the “especially malicious or evil landlords and the evil business men.” Now then, which landlords were evil or (we shudder to think of such people) especially malicious?

Hm, said everybody.

When the idea of buying the land from the small landlords was discussed, Tan Yen-kai rubbed his chin. “That will not satisfy the small landlords,” he said, “because they still have very little faith in the National Government. If we give them our bonds, they cannot live by eating the paper. The land will have to be left in their hands.”

On behalf of the Communists, Tang Ping-shan timidly suggested that only the land of the counter-revolutionary landlords be confiscated. Wang Ching-wei leaped into the breach. “Political confiscation!” he snorted, “that is an extremely general phrase which says nothing. If the peasants in any given district are strong enough, they consider every landowner to be counter-revolutionary in order to expropriate his land. Under political confiscation there is no criterion. Where the peasants are strong, they go straight ahead to economic confiscation. Where they are weaker, ... they fall first on the small landlords who thus suffer before anyone else, and we want to keep the small landlords on our side.”

Completely confounded, the Communists withdrew their proposal.

After three weeks of this it was finally decided, with a general sigh of relief all round, that the revolution was still in its military period and that according to Sun Yat-sen the solution of such problems as the land would have to await the final military victory and the unification of the country which would usher in the period of “political tutelage.” A resolution was accordingly adopted recognizing in principle the desirability of confiscating big landed properties, but recommending that for the time being land rents should not exceed 40 per cent of the harvest.

This decision represented a retreat even from the plank for a 25 per cent rent reduction since land rents averaged from 50 per cent to 60 per cent, although in places it did amount to 70 per cent of the harvest or even more. Nevertheless the Communists accepted the resolution, and when the Commission further decided not to publish an account of its deliberations “for fear of creating confusion,” the Communists again concurred. The army was saved. The landlord was saved. The Kuomintang was saved. The issue was settled to the satisfaction of everyone but the peasants. They had to be patient. If they would only keep on supporting the National Government, all would be well.

How the peasants would receive this “solution” of their problems remained to be seen. Meanwhile new threats from other quarters rose to plague the “revolutionary centre.” Inspired by the success of Chiang Kai-shek and directly instigated by him, militarist rebellions against Wuhan’s authority rose on all sides. In northern Hupeh, Yu Hsueh-chung defied the Government. In the west, Yang Sen started moving his troops against the Nationalist capital. Hsia To-yen, who held the western front against Yang, abruptly mutinied and with a handful of troops careered through the country south and west of Wuhan, burning, looting, and coming to the aid of the landlords and gentry against the peasants. The failure of the Wuhan regime to support the demands of the peasants had already so far alienated their confidence that efforts to recruit them and organize resistance to Hsia brought little or no response.[43] Although Yeh Ting, a Communist officer, by heroic measures was in the end able to stave off Hsia’s threat to Wuchang, Wuhan remained beset on all sides, militarist revolts threatening from without and economic stagnation within.

The editor of the People’s Tribune watched frightened people “with laden carts, bearing household goods, going by our windows,” and heard “whisperings of woe in the air.” “Disaster is impending, say panic-stricken people in the city ... Foreigners have been half-frenzied, half-elated. They have seen the end of the hated rule of Nationalist Hankow ...To-morrow morning they expect to see the dawn of a new regime in Wuhan ...”[44] The editor scoffed at both the frightened and the hopeful and prophesied an early victory for the Nationalist cause on all fronts.

The clamps were, nevertheless, closing in. The revolutionary way out lay in a vigorous unleashing of the masses on the basis of a thorough-going agrarian revolt. Such a course alone gave promise of ameliorating the economic difficulties and dissolving the armies of the rebellious militarists. If the Left Kuomintang could not take this course, the Communists had to be ready to do so. The Comintern spoke, too, to be sure, of the agrarian revolution, but in the next breath ordered the Chinese Communists to concede all power to the Left Kuomintang for, in Stalin’s words, “without a policy of close collaboration of the Left and the Communists inside the Kuomintang ... the victory of the revolution is impossible.” It was not at all surprising, therefore, that Wang Ching-wei could appear as guest of honour at the opening of the Fifth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Hankow on April 27 and announce that he and his colleagues “gladly accepted the perspectives of the Communist International,”[45] and declare his “complete agreement” with the report of the Comintern delegate, M. N. Roy.[46]

The spiritual leadership of the Fifth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was provided by the Communist International in the person of the Indian Communist, M. N. Roy. It was Roy, Mif tells us, who gave the young Chinese Party “for the first time”—(Is Mif here, perchance, casting aspersions on the previous directives and resolutions of the Comintern?)—”a really Leninist prognosis” of the events taking place. From Roy the Party heard, “for the first time,” “a thoroughly thought-out perspective of the movement” and “received directives on a series of cardinal questions.” Roy “gave the young Chinese Party ... the experience of world Bolshevism.”[47] Before Long the position of the Chinese Communist Party at the time of the Fifth Congress was going to be described in Moscow as being in direct contradiction to the directives of the Comintern. Somewhat later Roy himself was scheduled to become the object of vicious attack. But now listen to Roy’s own report of the Congress, published with full responsibility and without adverse comment in the official organ of the Comintern:

“The Fifth Congress had a great many complex and difficult questions to solve ... a clear perspective for the future development of the revolution had to be traced and firm leadership given to it. It was the historic role of the Fifth Congress to give this perspective, to trace the line of conduct for the proletariat, and to help create clear-thinking, devoted, and energetic leaders indispensable to the victorious march of the revolution. The Congress fulfilled this task.” [48]

How did Roy estimate the situation? “The differentiation of the classes within the Kuomintang has strengthened the bonds between its Left wing and the Communist Party. The departure of the big bourgeoisie has permitted the transformation of the Kuomintang into a revolutionary bloc composed of the industrial proletariat, the peasants, and the petty bourgeoisie (in addition to several strata of the bourgeoisie) ... The Chinese revolution continues to develop on the basis of a class coalition and cannot yet be submitted to the exclusive leadership of the proletariat ... The leading members of the Kuomintang participated in the opening meeting of the Congress and declared that they were ready to fortify the bloc with the Communist Party.” [49]

What was Roy’s practical lead to the Chinese Communists? Listen to Chiu Chiu-pei, a member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Chiu is writing one year after the rude jolt of events had smashed both the revolution and Roy’s untouchability in the ranks of the Comintern:

“Roy’s political view was that the Lefts and the petty bourgeoisie had no other way out but by following us. He did not point out the possibility of new betrayals and the concrete, complicated tasks the Communist Party should have undertaken against the possibility of such new betrayals. Therefore the atmosphere of the Fifth Congress was governed by the slogan: ‘Long Live the Co-operation of Communism with the San Min (Three People’s) Principles to the End!’ “[50]

In his report to the Congress, Chen Tu-hsiu admitted that although the peasants were driving forward on their own initiative to the seizure of the land, “we have carried out too pacific a policy.” He agreed that large estates should be seized, but added: “At present the alliance with the small landholders is still necessary. We must not fall into extreme Leftism, but follow a Centrist line. We must also wait for the development of the military movement before seizing the large and middle land-holdings. The only correct solution at the present moment is that the extension of the revolution must take place before it is deepened.”[51]

When this extract was published by Pravda in Moscow, Trotsky added a postscript to his criticism of Stalin’s thesis: “This road is the surest, most positive, the shortest road to ruin. The peasant has already risen to seize the property of the large landowners. Our Party, in monstrous contradiction to its programme, its name, pursues a pacific-liberal agrarian policy ... The agrarian formula of Comrade Chen Tu-hsiu, who is bound hand and foot by the false leadership of the representatives of the Comintern, is objectively nothing else than the formula of severance of the Chinese Communist Party from the real agrarian movement.”[52]

And Pravda printed Chen’s report without comment. How otherwise? On May 13, Stalin, in full accord with the spirit of Chen’s views, declared in Moscow that Soviets could be formed in China only “after the strengthening of the Wuhan Revolutionary Government.”[53] Chen’s report was published, similarly without criticism, throughout the Communist International. Only later, after events had hit them between the eyes, did Comintern spokesmen begin to echo Trotsky’s warning to the Chinese Communist Party.

The deliberations of the Congress on the question of the land followed the course of the discussions at the Kuomintang Land Commission meetings. Like that Commission, the Communist Congress approved, in principle, the confiscation of large land-holdings. But, it added, “land belonging to the small landowners and land belonging to the officers of the revolutionary army is not subject to confiscation.”[54]

To refuse to touch the land of the officers meant to refuse to touch the agrarian question altogether because there was scarcely a subaltern in the armies of Wuhan, to say nothing of the generals, who was not the kin of landowners in Hunan or Hupeh. In his report, Chen himself pointed out that “the officers (of the Nationalist armies) are young men from the landlord class.”[55] But did this resolution differ in any respect from the instructions of the Communist International? Had not Stalin wired, as far back as October, 1926, to check the peasants in order not to alienate the generals?[56] Was not the Comintern, in these very days, opposing the creation of workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ Soviets precisely on the grounds that the creation of such Soviets “would be consciously to accelerate the conflict with the generals in the most disadvantageous conditions (?) for the Communist Party and its allies?”[57] Would not Stalin, in a few weeks, wire specific directives reiterating, word for word, the same instructions to protect the land of the generals? In Wuhan, at the other end of wires from Moscow, were Borodin, Roy, Mif, Lozovsky, Browder, Doriot, and a host of other “Bolshevik” advisers. Not one among them raised his voice—in time. None of the contemptible evasions and falsehoods with which Moscow later sought to thrust full responsibility for the debacle on the shoulders of Chen Tu-hsiu and the Chinese Central Committee can conceal the identity of the political path designated by the Communist International and followed by the Chinese Communist Party.

The land resolution of the Fifth Congress was the first direct pronouncement of the Communist Party on the agrarian question. It amounted to evasion of the issue which the peasants of Hunan and Hupeh were already taking into their own hands. In practice the Communists were compelled to take up the cudgels of active opposition to the “excesses” of the peasantry. If the victory of the revolution was “impossible” without the collaboration of the Left Kuomintang, as Stalin and the Comintern affirmed, then collaboration with the Left Kuomintang was unthinkable, in terms of agrarian revolt. Therefore the agrarian revolt had to be scrapped and the peasants abandoned to their fate. So long as Stalin’s instructions were followed, there was no reason why the Fifth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, convening at the most acutely critical juncture of the revolution, should not have met under the √¶gis of the treacherous slogan: “Long Live the Co-operation of Communism with the Three People’s Principles to the End!” It was perfectly in order for the manifesto of the Congress to declare: “Unite all democratic elements under the banner of the Kuomintang. Strengthen this revolutionary alliance. This is the important task of the proletariat in this stage of the revolution. The revolutionary democratic alliance is the leader of the national revolution.”[58]

Behind the scenes of the Fifth Congress there were differing tendencies. Here is how Chiu Chiu-pei describes them:

“Borodin’s line was retreat and the slackening of the agrarian revolution ... concessions to the petty bourgeoisie ... concessions to the so-called industrialists and merchants; concessions to the landlords and gentry; ally with Feng Yu hsiang to overthrow Chiang Kai-shek; and with such a policy lead the Left leaders against the Right reactionary forces of Wuhan and Nanking.

“Roy was for relative concessions to the business men ... against conceding anything to the landlord and gentry class .. . for small concessions to the small landlords and the revolutionary generals.”

The Central Committee of the Party was for “complete concessions to the business men, complete concessions to the landlords and gentry, considering that the agrarian revolution could not be realized immediately, but required an adequate period of propaganda ... considering it best to let the Left (Kuomintang) lead and for us to go off the path a bit so that the revolution should not be prematurely advanced ... ”[59]

These three tendencies were in reality one—the tendency to retreat. In practice, they became one, for, as Chiu correctly sums them up: “The policy practised at that time was to make concessions in order to overcome the difficulties after Chiang’s betrayal.”[60]

“Concede, concede!” cried Borodin, Roy, and all the minions of the Communist International when as never before the Chinese revolution needed to unfurl upon its banners the immortal slogan of Danton, “de l’audace, de l’audaoe, encore de l’audace.” But Moscow ordered the Chinese Communists to bow before the Left Kuomintang. The Left Kuomintang kow-towed before the militarists, the landlords and the bourgeoisie. This treachery would in the end strangle the Chinese revolution, but not all the vacillation and cowardice of these leaders could cloud the grandeur and the might of the masses in action.


1 “Manifesto of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang,” People’s Tribune, Hankow, April 24, 1927.

2 “Declaration of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang.” People’s Tribune, April 319, 1927.

3 See Chapter IX, “The Conspiracy of Silence.”

4 “Declaration of the Delegation of the Communist International,” Chinese Correspondence, Hankow, May 1, 1927.

5 Ibid.

6 People’s Tribune, April 17, 1927.

7 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 114.

8 “Declaration of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang,” People’s Tribune, April 19, 1927.

9 People’s Tribune, May 6, 1927.

10 “Interview of Mr. Borodin with a Representative of the Rengo News Agency,” Chinese Correspondence, May 8, 1927.

11 Fischer, Soviets in World Affairs, v. II, pp. 667-8.

12 Ibid.

13 New York Times, April 23, 1927.

14 Ibid., April 14, 1927.

15 Ibid., May 5, 1927.

16 The New York Times is a fair barometer of the official American pulse. After months as a front-page feature, China disappeared from its front page for the first time on May 6. A few days later the Lindbergh exploit and a sex murder in New York completely engrossed Press and public alike.

17 Chapman, Chinese Revolution, p. 136.

18 New York Times, May 3, 3927.

19 People’s Tribune, April 24 and 29, 1927.

20 “Communique of the Waichiapu (Foreign Office),” Chinese Correspondence, May 1, 1927.

21 People’s Tribune, April 27, 1927.

22 Cf. People’s Tribune, April 23, 1927.

23 Chinese Correspondence, May 1, 1927.

24 Reuter’s (British) News Agency, May 9, 1927, published in the China Year Book, 1928, pp. 735-6.

25 M. N. Roy, “Imperialist Intervention in China,” Chinese Correspondence, May 1, 1927.

26 Chapman, Chinese Revolution, p. 129.

27 People’s Tribune, May 14, 1927.

28 Silver had been flowing to the coast throughout the preceding year. Silver stocks in Shanghai rose from about Tls. 102,000,000 at the beginning of 1926 to Tls. 138,600,000 in April, 1927. Cf. Capital and Trade, Shanghai, March 18, 1927, and China Weekly Review, Shanghai, April 2, 1927.

29 Cf. “Finance Situation Due to Panic and Sabotage,” People’s Tribune, May 21, 1927.

30 According to a report of the Hupeh Unemployed Bureau, there were 360,000 jobless in Wuhan at the end of June.— People’s Tribune, July 1927.

31 Cf. Reports to the Fourth All-China Trade Union Congress, People’s Tribune, June 30, 1927, et seq.

32 People’s Tribune, March 12, 1927.

33 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 58; Tang Leang-li, Inner History, p. 271.

34 People’s Tribune, April 24, 1927.

35 Text in Chinese Correspondence, May 8, 1927.

36 “Manifesto on the All Class Nature of the Revolution,” People’s Tribune, May 21, 1927.

37 “Regulations of the Central Executive Committee of the Hupeh General Labour Union,” People’s Tribune, May 25, 1927.

38 Quoted by Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia, p. 101.

39 “Declaration to the Peasants” of the Third Plenary Session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee, Chinese Correspondence, May 8, 1927.

40 “Kuomintang Platform for Workers and Peasants,” (October, 1926), Chinese Correspondence, May 8, 1927.

41 “Declaration to the Peasants.”

42 Details of the proceedings of the Land Commission were culled and combined from accounts given in the following: Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution; Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia; “August 7 Letter.” All direct quotations used by the author are cited textually by these sources. A vividly stylized account will be found under the title “The Night of August the Fourth,” in Oskar Erdberg, Tales of Modern China, Moscow, 1932.

43 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 112.

44 People’s Tribune, May 19, 1927.

45 Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia, p. 118.

46 M. N. Roy, “Le Ve Congrès du Parti Communiste de Chine,” La Correspondance Internationale, Paris, July 13, 1927.

47 Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia, p. 118

48 Roy, “Le Ve Congrès”

49 Ibid.

50 “Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, p. 100 ff.

51 Chen Tu-hsiu, “Rapport au Ve Congrès du P.C. de Chine,” La Correspondance Internationale, June 4, 1927.

52 Trotsky, Problems, pp. 77-8.

53 Quoted by Trotsky, Problems, p. 284.

54 Quoted by Mif, Kitaiskaya Revolutsia, p. 120 ff. Text also in Asiaticus, Von Kanton bis Schanghai, Berlin, 1927, p. 265.

55 Chen Tu-hsiu, “Rapport au Ve Congres.”

56 see p. 133

57 N. Lenzner, “La Question Chinoise,” La Correspondance Internationale, June 29, 1927.

58 “Manifesto of the Fifth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” Min Kuo Jih Fao, Hankow, May 23-26, 1927.

59 Chiu Chiu-pei, Chinese Revolution, pp. 104-5.

60 Ibid., p. 108.