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Maurice Spector

What’s Going On in China?

(August 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 28, 15 August 1930, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Daily Worker, through its great Orientalist Doonping, announces that “the Chinese Revolution advances by leaps and bounds towards the establishment of a Soviet Republics” and that “the red armies grow like snowballs”. (D.W., August 9). The stimulant to this latest effusion is the reported operation of the so-called “Communist armies” in the Yangtse Valley (Hunan, Hupeh, Kiangsu and Fukien).

A couple of months ago, its pages plastered with maps and rhetoric, an issue of the Daily Worker appeared greeting the convocation of the “All-Chinese Congress of Soviets”. Thereafter with the same startling legerdemain this all-Chinese Congress completely disappeared from the eyes of men, “sunk without a trace”. Long, weary weeks afterwards, with the intelligence service of a great state at his disposal, Stalin vaguely referred to this “Soviet Congress” in such terms as “it is said” and “if it is true, it would not surprise us”.

Sands of Illusion

The Communist International cannot be built on the shifting sands of illusion. Such scruples however play small part in the factional calculations to those for whom the rising of a Bolivian military clique is a social revolution, a tribal raid is a war against imperialism, five thousand in Union Square are fifty thousand, water turns into wine and the wafer into the body of Christ. Wishes are not facts and we do not propose to replace Marxism by journalistic bally-hoo. We adhere to Lenin’s “old-fashioned” practise of calling a spade a spade, and a putsch a putsch. To avoid mere emotionalism, one must retain a clear picture of the character and the perspectives of the Chinese Revolution.

The theses of the Second Congress of the Comintern energetically warned against the danger of permitting petty-bourgeois democratic movements in the colonial countries to masquerade as Communist. What shall we say today when amorphous guerilla bands of socially uprooted soldiery and peasantry have only to use the insignia of the hammer and sickle to be proclaimed as the genuine Soviet emancipators of China? Yet in this confusion for which the Stalin bureaucracy is responsible there is a certain logic. Here is more testimony to the political consequences that flow from the reactionary idea that the next stage in the social development of China is the “democratic dictatorship”, in theory the peasant democracy” – in fact, the regime either of a Kerensky or Chiang Kai-Shek. Yesterday this famous “democratic dictatorship” was to be realized through the bourgeois Kuomintang; today it is slated to emanate from peasant guerilla warfare. But what of the industrial proletariat ... and the Communist Party? In 1925–6–7, the Communist Party was turned into a mere appendage of the Chinese bourgeoisie; in 1930, the fragment of the Communist Party left after the massacres of Chiang Kai-Shek, has become a red-tinctured edition of the “green” peasant parties of Raditch and Stambulisky.

The Third Chinese revolution is inevitable – if its strategy is Marxist, if its leadership is actuated by the recognition of its real driving forces. Between opportunism and putschism the Stalin machine has shown that it can only retard and ruin revolutionary possibilities. In 1925–6–7 the conditions in China cried out for independent Communist leadership, for the arming of the workers and peasants, for the unleashing the forces of revolt in the cities and the country-side against both tine Chinese and the foreign bourgeoisie. In the name of the “democratic dictatorship” which “could not be skipped” and the bloc of all classes, the Stalin-Bucharin regime worked hand in hand with the Chiang Kai-Sheks and Wang Chin-Weis to stifle the mass movement. To the extent that the Stalin regime is responsible for the leadership of the present “Communist armies” (“Communist” today and with Feng or Chiang tomorrow) it is guilty of hindering the real mobilization of the masses for the class struggle.

The Correctness of the Opposition

There is deep discontent and acute suffering in the country. How great the revolutionary tidal wave was when the Russian Opposition wrote its platform, and how correct was its prognosis is evidenced by the fact that three years after the crushing of the Canton insurrection and the industrial proletariat, the movement of 1925–6–7 still finds a belated echo on the countryside. But the peasantry is no independent social force. Its liberation from landlordism and feudal elements, the nationalization of the land and its redistribution can be achieved as the Russian revolution demonstrated, neither in alliance with the bourgeoisie nor by its own independent action, but in alliance with and under the leadership of the industrial proletariat. The democratic revolution, the essence of which is the agrarian revolution, can, in other words, be realized only by the socialist dictatorship, which nationalizes the basic industries and establishes workers’ control. The agrarian revolution by itself cannot solve the problems of the Chinese revolution It can only be one phase of the struggle against world imperialism. The national unification of China and its customs independence – that it the monopoly of foreign trade, will be ushered in under the dynamic action of the proletarian

There is no “short cut” to the revolution. The “easy” ways of opportunism and putschism prove in the end the longest ways. The need of the hour in China is to rally the masses against the counter-revolutionary ruling bourgeois cliques. The Communist Party must root itself again in the industrial proletariat, cement its alliance with the poor peasantry and organize the great masses around a program of partial demands with the Constituent Assembly as the focal point. And the struggle against foreign imperialist intervention, a hindrance to any revolutionary progress, must be taken up in earnest.

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