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Maurice Spector

Indian Ferment and Chinese Lessons

(June 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 22, 7 June 1930, pp. 1 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Reports from subsidized sources minimize it but British imperialism is nevertheless unable to suppress the fact that the Indian ferment is still gaining in breadth and in depth. The insurgents have begun to pass over from breaking the government salt monopoly to the refusal to pay taxes. Simultaneously the civil disobedience campaign – which the petty bourgeoisie, in fear of real mass action strives to hold within the limits of pacifist non-resistance – is overflowing the barriers erected for it by the Nationalist Congress.

After generations of oppression and exploitation, the Indian masses moving in tidal waves of revolt are presenting the world with one of the grandiose spectacles of history. The uprising of the colonial Orient, precipitating the solution of the agrarian and national problems of the democratic revolution in conjunction with the international and socialist revolutionary whose class bearer is the proletariat – this is one of the outstanding features of the final stage of capitalism.

MacDonald – Bourgeois Agent

It is no less characteristic that the torch-carriers of the imperialist suppression of the Indian revolt, should be the “socialist” Labor government of the canting MacDonald.

How can any worker still cling to his last remnant of faith in the social democracy? The Indian situation fully confirms the justice of Lenin’s contention that the “socialists” are agents of the bourgeoisie. MacDonald is prepared to repeat a hundred Amritzar massacres to maintain the Empire. No revolutionary Marxist expected anything else from the Labor government but the continuation of the long chain of crimes and betrayals committed by the Second International since 1914. Socialist reformism inevitably becomes socialist imperialism.

But it would be a profound mistake and delusion to conceive of the present crisis in India as the decisive struggle for freedom from British imperialism. The movement of the masses still has no other leadership than the bourgeoisie and all historical experience bears out that the bourgeoisie will betray the struggle at the first opportune agreement that they reach with the foreign Imperialists and at the first sign that the masses are turning not only against the foreign but no less against the native exploiter. The bourgeoisie in the epoch of imperialism is incapable of carrying on a consistent struggle for the democratic revolution, and has no intention of peacefully allowing the proletariat to assume the leadership. Here the lessons of the Chinese Revolution are an invaluable source of instruction and guidance for the proletarian vanguard in India.

India and the Proletariat

The Indian Revolution will triumph under the leadership of the Indian proletariat or not at all. It will triumph as the dictatorship of the proletariat or not at all.

This means that there are certain indispensable pre-requisites for the revolution. That the Communist International, the world organization of the revolutionary working class, should have to enact the role practically of a passive onlooker in the present crisis, is one of the most damning indictments of the Stalin regime. That there is no Communist Party in India today worth its salt is the direct outcome of the tragic collaboration of the Stalin-Bucharin faction with the bourgeois Kuomintang in China and the connected theory of Workers and Peasants Parties as substitutes for the Communist Party in the colonial countries.

But instead of soberly recognizing their mistakes, the Stalin faction desperately clings to office by the sowing of illusions inside the official Communist parties. On May 30th, the Daily Worker dedicated almost its entire issue to heralding the convocation of the “First Soviet Congress of China”. There are no words strong enough to condemn the criminal and fantastic light-mindedness with which the Daily Worker misrepresents the actual situation in China. An eighth of the whole territory of the country, it is claimed, is under the sway of Soviet authority. Yet the fact is that there is not a single Communist daily in the country. Thanks to the consequences of the Stalin-Chiang Kai-Shek alliance in the Kuomintang the Communist Party first subordinated to bourgeois discipline for years, was then decimated by the executions of Hankow and Shanghai. The Red Trade Union movement was devastated by the White Terror. The Canton insurrection was drowned in blood.

Nevertheless, with that the adventurism which is the reverse side of Stalinist opportunism, the Sixth Congress refused to work out a series of transitional demands about which to rally the masses anew. As a substitute for the Communist Party and the requirements of mass action, recourse was now had to armed bands who roamed the country waging sporadic guerilla warfare. This expedient for throwing dust in the eyes of the workers was officially termed “a higher stage of development”. The Stalinist slogan for the period of the ebb of the revolutionary tide suddenly became Soviets. But the whole opportunism that is contained in the abuse of this slogan at this time is manifested by the general demands of the so-called First Soviet Congress. Provision is made for the expropriation of foreign capital. But not a word is said of the expropriation and nationalization of the means of production in the hands of the Chinese capitalists. Stalin’s slogan is still “democratic dictatorship” for China and the whole East. Such trifling with the Soviet idea was absolutely unheard of under the regime of Lenin.

The Centrists swing about erratically. They fear the criticism of the Left Opposition and make radical gestures calculated to disassociate them from the blunders of their bloc with the Comintern Right. But their oscillations and the confusion they sow only rebounds to the advantage of the Brandler groups. The latter consistently continue the “democratic dictatorship” and Kuomintang policy unabashed. In a manifesto on the Indian situation signed jointly by Brandler, Roy, Lovestone and others of the Right wing, they openly call upon the Indian bourgeoisie to organize themselves into a “national revolutionary Party” in other words an Indian Kuomintang – into which they can maneuvre the Communist Party – when formed.

The Left Opposition demands a return to the Marxist-Leninist theses on the colonial revolution.

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