In order to win a people’s war, it is imperative to build the broadest possible united front and formulate a series of policies which will ensure the fullest mobilization of the basic masses as well as the unity of all the forces that can be united.
The Anti-Japanese National United Front embraced all the anti-Japanese classes and strata. These classes and strata shared a common interest in fighting Japan, an interest which formed the basis of their unity. But they differed in the degree of their firmness in resisting Japan, and there were class contradictions and conflicts of interest among them. Hence the inevitable class struggle within the united front.
In formulating the Party’s line of the Anti-Japanese National United Front, Comrade Mao Tse-tung made the following class analysis of Chinese society.
The workers, the peasants, and the urban petty bourgeoisie firmly demanded that the War of Resistance should be carried through to the end; they were the main force in the fight against Japanese aggression and constituted the basic masses who demanded unity and progress.
The bourgeoisie was divided into the national and the comprador bourgeoisie. The national bourgeoisie formed the majority of the bourgeoisie; it was rather flabby, often vacillated and had contradictions with the workers, but it also had a certain degree of readiness to oppose imperialism and was one of our allies in the War of Resistance. The comprador bourgeoisie was the bureaucratic-capitalist class, which was very small in number but occupied the ruling position in China. Its members attached themselves to different imperialist powers, some of them being pro-Japanese and others pro-British and pro-American. The pro-Japanese section of the comprador bourgeoisie were the capitulators, the overt and covert traitors. The pro-British and pro-American section of this class favoured resistance to Japan to a certain extent, but they were not firm in their resistance and very much wished to compromise with Japan, and by their nature they were opposed to the Communist Party and the people.
The landlords fell into different categories; there were the big, the middle and the small landlords. Some of the big landlords became traitors, while others favoured resistance but vacillated a great deal. Many of the middle and small landlords had the desire to resist, but there were contradictions between them and the peasants.
In the face of these complicated class relationships, our Party’s policy regarding work within the united front was one of both alliance and struggle. That is to say, its policy was to unite with all the anti-Japanese classes and strata, try to win over even those who could be only vacillating and temporary allies, and adopt appropriate policies to adjust the relations among these classes and strata so that they all served the general cause of resisting Japan. At the same time, we had to maintain our Party’s principle of independence and initiative, make the bold arousing of the masses and expansion of the people’s forces the centre of gravity in our work, and wage the necessary struggles against all activities harmful to resistance, unity and progress.
Our Party’s Anti-Japanese National United Front policy was different both from Chen Tu-hsiu’s Right opportunist policy of all alliance and no struggle, and from Wang Ming’s “Left” opportunist policy of all struggle and no alliance. Our Party summed up the lessons of the Right and “Left” opportunist errors and formulated the policy of both alliance and struggle.
Our Party made a series of adjustments in its policies in order to unite all the anti-Japanese parties and groups, including the Kuomintang, and all the anti-Japanese strata in a joint fight against the foe. We pledged ourselves to fight for the complete realization of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary Three People’s Principles. The government of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia revolutionary base area was renamed the Government of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Special Region of the Republic of China. Our Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army was redesignated the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army of the National Revolutionary Army. Our land policy, the policy of confiscating the land of the landlords, was changed to one of reducing rent and interest. In our own base areas we carried out the “three thirds system”(1) in our organs of political power, drawing in those representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie and the enlightened gentry and those members of the Kuomintang who stood for resistance to Japan and did not oppose the Communist Party. In accordance with the principles of the Anti-Japanese National United Front, we also made necessary and appropriate changes in our policies relating to the economy, taxation, labour and wages, anti-espionage, people’s rights, culture and education, etc.
While making these policy adjustments, we maintained the independence of the Communist Party, the people’s army and the base areas. We also insisted that the Kuomintang should institute a general mobilization, reform the government apparatus, introduce democracy, improve the people’s livelihood, arm the people, and carry out a total war of resistance. We waged a resolute struggle against the Kuomintang’s passive resistance to Japan and active opposition to the Communist Party, against its suppression of the people’s resistance movement and its treacherous activities for compromise and capitulation.
Past experience has taught us that “Left” errors were liable to crop up after our Party had corrected Right errors, and that Right errors were liable to crop up after it had corrected “Left” errors. “Left” errors were liable to occur when we broke with the Kuomintang ruling clique, and Right errors were liable to occur when we united with it.
After the overcoming of “Left” opportunism and the formation of the Anti-Japanese National United Front, the main danger in our Party was Right opportunism or capitulationism.
Wang Ming, the exponent of “Left” opportunism during the Second Revolutionary Civil War, went to the other extreme in the early days of the War of Resistance Against Japan and became the exponent of Right opportunism, i.e., capitulationism. He countered Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s correct line and policies with an out-and-out capitulationist line of his own and a series of ultra-Right policies. He voluntarily abandoned proletarian leadership in the Anti-Japanese National United Front and willingly handed leadership to the Kuomintang. By his advocacy of “everything through the united front” or “everything to be submitted to the united front”, he was in effect advocating that everything should go through or be submitted to Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang. He opposed the bold mobilization of the masses, the carrying out of democratic reforms and the improvement of the livelihood of the workers and peasants, and wanted to undermine the worker-peasant alliance which was the foundation of the united front. He did not want the Communist-led base areas of the people’s revolutionary forces but wanted to cut off the people’s revolutionary forces from their roots. He rejected the people’s army led by the Communist Party and wanted to hand over the people’s armed forces to Chiang Kai-shek, which would have meant handing over everything the people had. He did not want the leadership of the Party and advocated an alliance between the youth of the Kuomintang and that of the Communist Party to suit Chiang Kai-shek’s design of corroding the Communist Party. He decked himself out and presented himself to Chiang Kai-shek, hoping to be given some official appointment. All this was revisionism, pure and simple. If we had acted on Wang Ming’s revisionist line and his set of policies, the Chinese people would have been unable to win the War of Resistance Against Japan, still less subsequent nation-wide victory.
For a time during the War of Resistance, Wang Ming,s revisionist line caused harm to the Chinese people’s revolutionary cause. But the leading role of Comrade Mao Tse-tung had already been established in the Central Committee of our Party. Under his leadership, all the Marxist-Leninists in the Party carried out a resolute struggle against Wang Ming’s errors and rectified them in time. It was this struggle that prevented Wang Ming’s erroneous line from doing greater and more lasting damage to the cause of the Party.
Chiang Kai-shek, our teacher by negative example, helped us to correct Wang Ming’s mistakes. He repeatedly lectured us with cannons and machine-guns. The gravest lesson was the Southern Anhwei Incident which took place in January 1941. Because some leaders of the New Fourth Army disobeyed the directives of the Central Committee of the Party and followed Wang Ming’s revisionist line, its units in southern Anhwei suffered disastrous losses in the surprise attack launched by Chiang Kai-shek and many heroic revolutionary fighters were slaughtered by the Kuomintang revolutionaries. The lessons learned at the cost of blood helped to sober many of our comrades and increase their ability to distinguish the correct from the erroneous line.
Comrade Mao Tse-tung constantly summed up the experience gained by the whole Party in implementing the line of the Anti-Japanese National United Front and worked out a whole set of policies in good time. They were mainly as follows:
1. All people favouring resistance (that is, all the anti-Japanese workers, peasants, soldiers, students and intellectuals, and businessmen) were to unite and form the Anti-Japanese National United Front.
2. Within the united front, our policy was to be one of independence and initiative, i.e., both unity and independence were necessary.
3. As far as military strategy was concerned, our policy was to be guerrilla warfare waged independently and with the initiative in our own hands, within the framework of a unified strategy; guerrilla warfare was to be basic, but no chance of waging mobile warfare was to be lost when the conditions were favourable.
4. In the struggle against the anti-Communist die-hards headed by Chiang Kai-shek, our policy was to make use of contradictions, win over the many, oppose the few and destroy our enemies one by one, and to wage struggles on just grounds, to our advantage, and with restraint.
5. In the Japanese-occupied with Kuomintang areas our policy was, on the one hand, to develop the united front to the greatest possible extent and, on the other, to have selected cadres working underground. With regard to the forms of organization and struggle, our policy was to assign selected cadres to work under cover for a long period, so as to accumulate strength and bide our time.
6. As regards the alignment of the various classes within the country, our basic policy was to develop the progressive forces, win over the middle forces and isolate the anti-Communist die-hard forces.
7. As for the anti-Communist die-hards, we followed a revolutionary dual policy of uniting with them, in so far as they were still capable of bringing themselves to resist Japan, and of struggling against and isolating them, in so far as they were determined to oppose the Communist Party.
8. With respect to the landlords and the bourgeoisie — even the big landlords and big bourgeoisie — it was necessary to analyse each case and draw distinctions. On the basis of these distinctions we were to formulate different policies so as to achieve our aim of uniting with all the forces that could be united.
The line and the various policies of the Anti-Japanese National United Front formulated by Comrade Mao Tse-tung stood the test of the War of Resistance and proved to be entirely correct.
History shows that when confronted by ruthless imperialist aggression, a Communist Party must hold aloft the national banner and, using the weapon of the united front, rally around itself the masses and the patriotic and anti-imperialist people who form more than 90 per cent of a country’s population, so as to mobilize all positive factors, unite with all the forces that can be united and isolate to the maximum the common enemy of the whole nation. If we abandon the national banner, adopt a line of “closed-doorism” and thus isolate ourselves, it is out of the question to exercise leadership and develop the people’s revolutionary cause, and this in reality amounts to helping the enemy and bringing defeat on ourselves.
History shows that within the united front the Communist Party must maintain its ideological, political and organizational independence, adhere to the principle of independence and initiative, and insist on its leading role. Since there are class differences among the various classes in the united front, the Party must have a correct policy in order to develop the progressive forces, win over the middle forces and oppose the die-hard forces. The Party’s work must centre on developing the progressive forces and expanding the people’s revolutionary forces. This is the only way to maintain and strengthen the united front. “If unity is sought through struggle, it will live; if unity is sought through yielding, it will perish. ” (2) This is the chief experience gained in our struggle against the die-hard forces.
History shows that during the national-democratic revolution there must be two kinds of alliance within this united front, first, the worker-peasant alliance and, second, the alliance of the working people with the bourgeoisie and other non-working people. The worker-peasant alliance is an alliance of the working class with the peasants and all other working people in town and country. It is the foundation of the united front. Whether the working class can gain leadership of the national-democratic revolution depends on whether it can lead the broad masses of the peasants in struggle and rally them around itself. Only when the working class gains leadership of the peasants, and only on the basis of worker-peasant alliance, is it possible to establish the second alliance, form a broad united front and wage a people’s war victoriously. Otherwise, everything that is done is unreliable, like castles in the air or so much empty talk.
1. The “three thirds system” refers to the organs of the political power which were established according to the principle of the Anti-Japanese National United Front and in which the members of the Communist Party, non-Party progressives and the middle elements each occupied one-third of the places.
2. Mao Tse-tung, “Current Problems of Tactics in the Anti-Japanese United Front”, Selected Works, Eng. Ed., FLP, Peking, 1965, Vol. II, p. 422.
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