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A Picture of the Situation in China Today

(December 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 49, 3 December 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

SHANGHAI. – Let us dwell now on the labor movement in Shanghai after the Sino-Japanese conflict. Since millions in wealth were burned in ashes, production was contracted, unemployment increased, the hunger army swelled, the post-war crisis weighs heavily upon the people. The bourgeoisie lost no opportunity to dismiss the disgruntled workers, to lower wages, to intensify the exploitation of labor. The task of the day was to fight for the defense of the workers’ interests against the capitalist offensive. In spite of the unfavorable conditions of struggle, a strike wave developed, the postal workers’ strike, the newspaper printers’ strike, the strike in the silk filatures, the strike of part of the tramway workers, the telephone workers’ strike, the bus conductors’ strike, and other strike and labor disputes. Most of the strikes ended in defeat. The attitude of the employers was too resolute and intransigent, but the workers were also stubborn in their fight. The yellow leaders either sabotaged or betrayed the strikes. In these strikes, it could be seen that the yellow unions, could serve as the prop for the workers to start the strikes. Of all the strikes, the Stalinists had connections only with the telephone workers’ strike and the bus conductors’ strike. The Left Oppostion led the telephone workers’ strike at first, but the Stalinists used all means to break down our leadership. While the strike committee under our influence was really elected by the masses, the Stalinists set up a strike committee elected by their own men, most of whom were not workers. This committee they used to attack our strike committee. The Stalinists clamored that the strike must be ended only when a 100 percent victory ie secured, that they refuse help from any organization whatsoever (the yellow unions included). The telephone company is an American enterprise. When the foremen (under the influence of Nationalist feelings) offered to cooperate with the strikers, the Stalinists put up unreasonable demands to make this collaboration impossible. The employers, seeing the dissension among the strikers, stiffened their resistance. The workers returned to work unconditionally and many were later fired. The bus strike revealed even more clearly the failure of the Stalinist tactics. They at first obtained the leadership of the strike, but they do not know how to adapt themselves to the backward workers so as to draw them into the struggle. .When they declared that they refuse any help from the outside, their leadership was disclaimed by the strikers. The ultra-Leftist conduct of the Stalinists only isolated them from the workers and all the heroic efforts made to stop the strikebreakers were of no avail.

In spite of the revival of the labor movement in the post-war days, owing to the false tactics pursued by the Stalinists, the lack of political propaganda and struggle for democratic demands, the Communists did not entrench themselves in the labor movement. The organizing activities of the workers did not greatly increase. The disproportion between the leadership and the masses’ will to fight is still enormous.

To complete the picture of present Chinese political life, let us turn our attention to what is happening in the red army districts. The government troops have lately gained several victor-es in the Hupeh, Anwhei and Honan provinces. Direct and up-to-date information from those districts, we do not possess. We have read, not so long ago, two resolutions passed by the first delegated congress of the Communist party in the Southern Kiangsi Soviet district (the center of the Soviet districts). We quote the following parts from it to show the real situation in these districts:

The resolution starts by complaining against the line of Li Li San for “not confiscating the rich peasants’ superfluous and better land ... in every many Soviet districts, much of the landowners’ and rich peasants’ land was not confiscated and the land was left undivided for a long time; where it was divided according to the productive implements. It was absolutely a rich peasant line.”

“Proletarian consciousness in the party of the Soviet districts is weak, the backward ideology of the peasantry is reflected in the party...The activities of the workers and peasants are not developed, the alien elements, such as the rich peasants, the merchants and the youth of the landlords and gentry, penetrate into the government and into all the revolutionary organizations. Even the party cadres are filled with such alien elements ...

“The class struggle in the Soviet districts ... is hampered. From the government down to the mass organizations, the organizational relations are extremely loose and many organizations exist only on paper ...

“There are still mistakes and defects in the red army work. First of all, in the reorganization of the red army, the purging of the elements of the landowners, rich peasants and merchants, was not made the central task; rather the task was set of cleansing the army of tramps – quite vaguely – while all the soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the former white army are regarded as tramps ... Up till now, the red army has not yet rid itself of the traditions of the partisan warfare which expresses itself in loose organization, small groupings, undisciplined action, lack of scientific division of labor, ignorance of positional warfare ... The remnants of militarist caste still exist, its concrete expression lies in the fact that bad relations exist between commanders and commanded, between the army and the toiling masses ...

“After the August (1931) resolution of the Central Bureau on the” agrarian question ... there are still Right wing opportunist mistakes, which consist in the concessions made the landowners, gentry and rich peasantry ...

“Although repeated reorganizations are undertaken in the Soviet governmental institutions, there are still landowners, rich peasants and merchants mixed within them. The Soviet government thereby loses the class character of the workers and peasants power ... The basic organizations of the political power – the city and village Soviets – are not organized at all. The village government executive committee and government groups, replace them ... consistently ordering about the masses. The government institutions are busy with those non-governmental functions, such as the obtaining of transport coolies, the entertainment of passengers, etc.

“The former trade unions were not the class unions at all. The employers, the independent laborers, even the monks and oracles join the trade unions. The class struggle of the workers against the employers is not developed. Nothing has been done to improve the workers’ living conditions. The eight-hour day is generally not enforced. The struggles which the trade unions lead are the struggles of the Independent laborers against the peasants ... threatening to break the alliance with the peasantry. The anti-imperialist agitation is generally ignored.

“Very few workers and agricultural laborers are in the party, but the alien elements, like the rich peasants, the merchants, the youth of the landowners, still mix themselves up with it ...

“The militarist remnants still preserve the government as the Kuo Min Tang generals manifest towards the K.M.T. government. They think that the red army is the creator of the government, and the government institutions should be inferior to the red army.”

Thus, in spite of the passage of impotent resolutions condemning bureaucratism, the rich peasant tendency, militarist survivals, etc., for the last two years, matters in the Soviet districts continue to go from bad to worse. The partisan warfare inevitably degenerates when it is not supported by mass movements in the cities. The Stalinists want to deny this truth but, in the long run, they become its victims. Under the cover of Communism, the Stalinists are really converting the Chinese party into a peasants-workers party. The influence of Communism in Chinese politics is practically nil, what the Chinese Communist Party represents is the policy of the petty bourgeois turned desperate. The Manchurian crisis opened up broad possibilities for Chinese Communism to make progress. The KMT government has never been so discredited as in this crisis. The masses of the people are becoming radicalized, but Chinese Communism is paralyzed by its internal weakness and has let its chances go by. The KMT regime is regaining its lost positions and once again stabilizing itself.

We have to begin from the very beginning. The difficulties on the road are great. But under the leadership of the International Opposition and comrade Trotsky, we shall be able to find the correct path, to consolidate our own ranks, to move on slowly but steadily.

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