J. V. Stalin

Questions of the Chinese Revolution

Theses for Propagandists, Approved by the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.)

Source: Works, Vol. 9, December-July, 1927, pp. 224-234
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
First Published: Pravda, No. 90, April 21, 1927
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Basic factors determining the character of the Chinese revolution:

a) the semi-colonial status of China and the financial and economic domination of imperialism;

b) the oppression of feudal survivals, aggravated by the oppression of militarism and bureaucracy;

c) the growing revolutionary struggle of the vast masses of the workers and peasants against feudal and bureaucratic oppression, against militarism, and against imperialism;

d) the political weakness of the national bourgeoisie, its dependence on imperialism, its fear of the sweep of the revolutionary movement;

e) the growing revolutionary activity of the proletariat, its mounting prestige among the vast masses of the working people;

f) the existence of a proletarian dictatorship in the neighbourhood of China.

Hence, two paths for the development of events in China:

either the national bourgeoisie smashes the proletariat, makes a deal with imperialism and together with it launches a campaign against the revolution in order to end the latter by establishing the rule of capitalism;

or the proletariat pushes aside the national bourgeoisie, consolidates its hegemony and assumes the lead of the vast masses of the working people in town and country, in order to overcome the resistance of the national bourgeoisie, secure the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then gradually convert it into a socialist revolution, with all the consequences following from that.

One or the other.

The crisis of world capitalism and the existence in the U.S.S.R. of a proletarian dictatorship whose experience may be successfully utilised by the Chinese proletariat considerably enhance the possibility of the Chinese revolution taking the second path.

On the other hand, the fact that imperialism is attacking the Chinese revolution, in the main with a united front, that there is not at the present time that division and war among the imperialists which, for instance, existed in the imperialist camp prior to the October Revolution, and which tended to weaken imperialism—this fact indicates that on its path to victory the Chinese revolution will encounter far greater difficulties than did the revolution in Russia, and that the desertions and betrayals in the course of this revolution will be incomparably more numerous than during the Civil War in the U.S.S.R.

Hence, the struggle between these two paths revolution constitutes the characteristic feature of the Chinese revolution.

Precisely for this reason, the basic task of the Communists is to fight for the victory of the second path of development of the Chinese revolution.


In the first period of the Chinese revolution, at the time of the first march to the North—when the national army was approaching the Yangtse and scoring victory after victory, but a powerful movement of the workers and peasants had not yet unfolded—the national bourgeoisie (not the compradors1) sided with the revolution. It was the revolution of a united all-national front.

This does not mean that there were no contradictions between the revolution and the national bourgeoisie. All it means is that the national bourgeoisie, in supporting the revolution, tried to utilise it for its own purposes and, by directing it chiefly along the lines of territorial conquest, to restrict its scope. The struggle between the Rights and the Lefts in the Kuomintang at that period was a reflection of these contradictions. Chiang Kai-shek’s attempt in March 1926 to expel the Communists from the Kuomintang was the first serious attempt of the national bourgeoisie to curb the revolution. As is known, already at that time the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) considered that “the line must be to keep the Communist Party within the Kuomintang,” and that it was necessary “to work for the resignation or expulsion of the Rights from the Kuomintang” (April 1926).

This line was one directed towards further development of the revolution, close co-operation between the Lefts and the Communists within the Kuomintang and within the national government, strengthening the unity of the Kuomintang and, at the same time, exposing and isolating the Kuomintang Rights, compelling them to submit to Kuomintang discipline, utilising the Rights, their connections and their experience, if they submitted to Kuomintang discipline, or expelling them from the Kuomintang if they violated that discipline and betrayed the interests of the revolution.

Subsequent events fully confirmed the correctness of this line. The powerful development of the peasant movement and the organisation of peasant associations and peasant committees in the countryside, the powerful wave of strikes in the towns and the formation of trade-union councils, the victorious advance of the national army on Shanghai, which was besieged by imperialist warships and troops—all these and similar facts indicate that the line adopted was the only correct one.

This circumstance alone can explain the fact that the attempt made by the Rights in February 1927 to split the Kuomintang and set up a new centre in Nanchang failed in face of the unanimous resistance of the revolutionary Kuomintang in Wuhan.

But this attempt was a sign that a regrouping of class forces was taking place in the country, that the Rights and the national bourgeoisie would not desist, that they would intensify their work against the revolution.

The C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) was therefore right when it said in March 1927 that:

a) “at the present time, in connection with the regrouping of class forces and concentration of the imperialist armies, the Chinese revolution is passing through a critical period, and that it can achieve further victories only by resolutely adopting the course of developing the mass movement”;

b) “it is necessary to adopt the course of arming the workers and peasants and converting the peasant committees in the localities into actual organs of governmental authority equipped with armed self-defence”;

c) “the Communist Party should not cover up the treacherous and reactionary policy of the Kuomintang Rights, and should mobilise the masses around the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party with a view to exposing the Rights” (March 3, 1927).

It will therefore be easily understood that the subsequent powerful sweep of the revolution, on the one hand, and the imperialist onslaught in Shanghai, on the other hand, were bound to throw the Chinese national bourgeoisie into the camp of counter-revolution, just as the occupation of Shanghai by national troops and the strikes of the Shanghai workers were bound to unite the imperialists in order to strangle the revolution.

And that is what happened. The Nanking massacre served in this respect as a signal for a new demarcation of the contending forces in China. In bombarding Nanking and presenting an ultimatum, the imperialists desired to make it known that they were seeking the support of the national bourgeoisie for a joint struggle against the Chinese revolution.

Chiang Kai-shek, on the other hand, in firing upon workers’ meetings and engineering a coup, was, as it were, replying to the call of the imperialists and saying that he was ready to make a deal with them together with the national bourgeoisie against the Chinese workers and peasants.


Chiang Kai-shek’s coup marks the desertion of the national bourgeoisie from the revolution, the emergence of a centre of national counter-revolution, and the conclusion of a deal between the Kuomintang Rights and the imperialists against the Chinese revolution. Chiang Kai-shek’s coup signifies that in South China there will now be two camps, two governments, two armies, two centres—the revolutionary centre in Wuhan and the counter-revolutionary centre in Nanking. Chiang Kai-shek’s coup signifies that the revolution has entered the second stage of its development, that a swing has begun away from the revolution of an all-national united front and towards a revolution of the vast masses of the workers and peasants, towards an agrarian revolution, which will strengthen and broaden the struggle against imperialism, against the gentry and the feudal landlords, and against the militarists and Chiang Kai-shek’s counter-revolutionary group.

This means that the struggle between the two paths of the revolution, between those who favour its further development and those who favour its liquidation, will grow more acute from day to day and fill the entire present period of the revolution.

It means that, by waging a resolute struggle against militarism and imperialism, the revolutionary Kuomintang in Wuhan will become in fact the organ of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, while Chiang Kai-shek’s counter-revolutionary group in Nanking, by severing itself from the workers and peasants and drawing closer to imperialism, will in the end share the fate of the militarists.

But it follows from this that the policy of preserving the unity of the Kuomintang, the policy of isolating the Rights within the Kuomintang and utilising them for the purposes of the revolution, no longer accords with the new tasks of the revolution. It must be replaced by a policy of resolutely expelling the Rights from the Kuomintang, a policy of resolutely fighting the Rights until they are completely eliminated politically, a policy of concentrating all power in the country in the hands of a revolutionary Kuomintang, a Kuomintang without its Right elements, a Kuomintang that is a bloc between the Kuomintang Lefts and the Communists.

It follows, further, that the policy of close co-operation between the Lefts and the Communists within the Kuomintang acquires particular value and significance at this stage, that this co-operation reflects the alliance between the workers and peasants that is taking shape outside the Kuomintang, and that without such co-operation the victory of the revolution will be impossible.

It follows, further, that the principal source of strength of the revolutionary Kuomintang lies in the further development of the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants and the strengthening of their mass organisations—revolutionary peasant committees, workers’ trade unions and other mass revolutionary organisations—as the preparatory elements of the future Soviets, and that the principal pledge of the victory of the revolution is the growth of the revolutionary activity of the vast masses of the working people, and the principal antidote to counter-revolution is the arming of the workers and peasants.

It follows, lastly, that while fighting in the same ranks as the revolutionary Kuomintangists, the Communist Party must more than ever before preserve its independence, as an essential condition for ensuring the hegemony of the proletariat in the bourgeois-democratic revolution.


The basic error of the opposition (Radek and Co.) is that it does not understand the character of the revolution in China, the stage it is now passing through, and its present international setting.

The opposition demands that the Chinese revolution should develop at approximately the same pace as the October Revolution did. The opposition is dissatisfied because the Shanghai workers did not give decisive battle to the imperialists and their underlings.

But it does not realise that the revolution in China cannot develop at a fast pace, one reason being that the international situation today is less favourable than it was in 1917 (the imperialists are not at war with one another).

It does not realise that decisive battle must Hot be given in unfavourable conditions, when the reserves have not yet been brought up—just as the Bolsheviks, for example, did not give decisive battle either in April or in July 1917.

The opposition does not realise that not to avoid decisive battle in unfavourable conditions (when it can be avoided) means making things easier for the enemies of the revolution.

The opposition demands the immediate formation of Soviets of workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ deputies in China. But what would forming Soviets now mean?

In the first place, they cannot be formed at any desired moment—they are formed only when the tide of revolution is running particularly high.

In the second place, Soviets are not formed for the sake of talk—they are formed primarily as organs of struggle against the existing power, as organs of struggle for power. That was the case in 1905. It was also the case in 1917.

But what would forming Soviets mean at the present moment in the area of action, say, of the Wuhan government? It would mean issuing the slogan of a struggle against the existing power in that area. It would paean issuing a slogan for the formation of new organs of power, a slogan of struggle against the power of the revolutionary Kuomintang, which includes Communists working in a bloc with the Kuomintang Lefts, for no other power exists now in that area except the power of the revolutionary Kuomintang.

It would mean, further, confusing the task of creating and strengthening mass organisations of the workers and peasants—in the shape of strike committees, peasant associations and committees, trade-union councils, factory committees, etc.—on which the revolutionary Kuomintang already relies, with the task of establishing a Soviet system, as a new type of state power, in place of the power of the revolutionary Kuomintang.

It would mean, lastly, a failure to understand what stage the revolution in China is now passing through. It would mean placing in the hands of the enemies of the Chinese people a new weapon against the revolution, enabling them to spread new legends to the effect that what is taking place in China is not a national revolution, but artificially transplanted “Moscow Sovietisation.”

Hence, in advancing the slogan of the formation of Soviets at the present moment, the opposition is playing into the hands of the enemies of the Chinese revolution.

The opposition considers inexpedient the participation of the Communist Party in the Kuomintang. The opposition, consequently, considers expedient a withdrawal of the Communist Party from the Kuomintang. But what would withdrawal from the Kuomintang mean now, when the entire imperialist gang with all its underlings are demanding the expulsion of the Communists from the Kuomintang? It would mean deserting the battlefield and abandoning its allies in the Kuomintang, to the glee of the enemies of the revolution. It would mean weakening the Communist Party, undermining the revolutionary Kuomintang, facilitating the work of the Shanghai Cavaignacs and surrendering the banner of the Kuomintang, the most popular of all the banners in China, to the Kuomintang Rights.

That is precisely what the imperialists, the militarists and the Kuomintang Rights are now demanding. It follows, therefore, that by declaring for a withdrawal of the Communist Party from the Kuomintang at the present moment, the opposition is playing into the hands of the enemies of the Chinese revolution.

The recent plenum of the Central Committee of our Party therefore acted quite rightly in categorically rejecting the platform of the opposition.2



1. Compradors—part of the big native merchant bourgeoisie in the colonies and dependent countries who act as intermediaries between foreign capital and the local market. In China, the comprador bourgeoisie showed itself to be an agency of foreign imperialism and a bitter enemy of the Chinese revolution of 1925-27.

2. This refers to the plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) held April 13 to 16, 1927. It discussed a number of questions connected with the congresses of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. and R.S.F.S.R., and fixed the date for the convening of the Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.). On April 13, J. V. Stalin spoke on the question of agenda of the plenum and in the discussion on M. I. Kalinin’s report on “Questions of the Congresses of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. and the R.S.F.S.R.” After discussing a communication of the Political Bureau of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) on the decisions adopted by it in connection with international developments (events in China, etc.), the plenum approved the Political Bureau’s policy on international affairs and emphatically rejected the anti-Party platform of the Trotsky-Zinoviev opposition.