J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol. 9, December
1926 - July, 1927
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
J. V. Stalin Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.
Comrades, unfortunately, I can devote only two or three hours to today's talk. Next time, perhaps, we shall arrange a longer conversation. Today, I think, we might confine ourselves to an examination of the questions which you have formulated in writing. I have received ten questions in all. I shall reply to them in today's talk. If there are additional questions—and I am told there are—I shall try to answer them in our next talk. Well then, let us get down to business.
"Why is Radek wrong in asserting that the struggle of the peasantry in the Chinese countryside is directed not so much against feudal survivals as against the bourgeoisie?
"Can it be affirmed that merchant capitalism predominates in China, or feudal survivals?
"Why are the Chinese militarists, who are owners of big industrial enterprises, at the same time representatives of feudalism?"
Radek does, indeed, assert something similar to what is stated in this question. As far as I recall, in his speech to the activists of the Moscow organisation, he either completely denied the existence of feudal survivals in the Chinese countryside, or attached no great importance to them.
That, of course, is a grave error on Radek's part.
If there were no feudal survivals in China, or if they were not of very great importance for the Chinese countryside, there would be no soil for an agrarian revolution, and there would then be no point in speaking of the agrarian revolution as one of the chief tasks of the Communist Party at the present stage of the Chinese revolution.
Does merchant capital exist in the Chinese countryside? Yes, it does. And it not only exists, but is sucking the blood of the peasantry no less effectively than any feudal lord. But this merchant capital of the type of primitive accumulation is peculiarly combined in the Chinese countryside with the domination of the feudal lord, of the landlord, and adopts the latter's medieval methods of exploiting and oppressing the peasants. That is the point, comrades.
Radek's mistake is that he has not grasped this peculiarity, this combination of the domination of feudal survivals with the existence of merchant capital in the Chinese countryside, along with the preservation of medieval feudal methods of exploiting and oppressing the peasantry.
Militarism, tuchuns, all kinds of governors and the entire present flint-hearted and rapacious bureaucracy, military and non-military, constitute a superstructure on this peculiar feature in China.
Imperialism supports and strengthens the whole of this feudal-bureaucratic machine.
The fact that some of the militarists who own landed estates are at the same time owners of industrial enterprises does not alter anything at bottom. Many of the Russian landlords, too, in their time owned factories and other industrial enterprises, which, however, did not prevent them from being representatives of feudal survivals.
If in a number of regions 70 per cent of the peasants' earnings go to the gentry, the landlords, if the landlord actually wields power both in the economic sphere and in the administrative and judicial sphere, if the purchase and sale of women and children is still practised in a number of provinces—then it must be admitted that the predominating power in this medieval situation is the power of feudal survivals, the power of the landlords and of the land-owning bureaucracy, military and non-military, in a peculiar combination with the power of merchant capital.
It is these peculiar conditions that create the soil for the peasant agrarian movement which is growing, and will continue to grow, in China.
In the absence of these conditions, in the absence of feudal survivals and feudal oppression, there would be no question in China of an agrarian revolution, of the confiscation of the landlords' land, and so forth.
In the absence of these conditions, an agrarian revolution in China would be incomprehensible.
" Why is Radek wrong in asserting that, since Marxists do not admit the possibility of a party of several classes, the Kuomintang is a petty-bourgeois party?"
This question calls for a few observations.
Firstly. The question is put incorrectly. We do not say, and never have said, that the Kuomintang is a party of several classes. That is not true. We have always said that the Kuomintang is the party of a bloc of several oppressed classes. That is not one and the same thing, comrades. If the Kuomintang were a party of several classes, that would mean that not one of the classes linked with the Kuomintang would have its own party outside the Kuomintang, and the Kuomintang itself would constitute one single and common party for all these classes. But is that the state of affairs in reality? Has not the Chinese proletariat, which is linked with the Kuomintang, also its own separate party, the Communist Party, which is distinct from the Kuomintang and which has its own special programme and its own special organisation? It is clear that the Kuomintang is not a party of several oppressed classes, but is the party of a bloc of several oppressed classes that have their own party organisations. Consequently, the question is put incorrectly. In point of fact, in present-day China the Kuomintang can be regarded only as the party of a bloc of oppressed classes.
Secondly. It is not true that Marxism does not in principle admit the possibility of a party of a bloc of oppressed, revolutionary classes, and that it is impermissible in principle for Marxists to belong to such a party. That, comrades, is absolutely untrue. In point of fact Marxism has not only recognised (and continues to recognise) the permissibility in principle of Marxists joining such a party, but in definite historical conditions has put this principle into practice. I might refer to the example of Marx himself in 1848, at the time of the German revolution, when he and his supporters joined the bourgeois-democratic league in Germany 1 and collaborated in it with representatives of the revolutionary bourgeoisie. It is known that, in addition to Marxists, this bourgeois-democratic league, this bourgeois-revolutionary party, included representatives of the-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 2 of which Marx was then the editor, was the organ of that bourgeois-democratic league. Only in the spring of 1849, when the tide of revolution in Germany had begun to recede, did Marx and his supporters resign from that bourgeois-democratic league, having decided to set up an absolutely independent organisation of the working class, with an independent class policy.
As you see, Marx went even further than the Chinese Communists of our day, who form part of the Kuomintang precisely as an independent proletarian party with its own special organisation.
One may dispute or not whether it was expedient for Marx and his supporters to join the bourgeois-democratic league in Germany in 1848, when it was a matter of waging, in conjunction with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, a revolutionary struggle against absolutism. That is a question of tactics. But that Marx recognised the permissibility in principle of such joining is something of which there can be no doubt whatever.
Thirdly. It would be fundamentally incorrect to say that the Kuomintang in Wuhan is a petty-bourgeois party, and to leave it at that. The Kuomintang can be characterised in that way only by people who have no understanding either of imperialism in China, or of the character of the Chinese revolution. The Kuomintang is not an "ordinary" petty-bourgeois party. There are different kinds of petty-bourgeois parties. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in Russia were also petty-bourgeois parties; but at the same time they were imperialist parties, because they were in a militant alliance with the French and British imperialists, and together with them engaged in the conquest and oppression of other countries—Turkey, Persia, Mesopotamia, Galicia.
Can it be said that the Kuomintang is an imperialist party? Obviously not. The Kuomintang party is anti-imperialist, just as the revolution in China is anti-imperialist. The difference is fundamental. To fail to see this difference and to confuse the anti-imperialist Kuomintang with the imperialist Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties means to have no understanding of the national revolutionary movement in China.
Of course, if the Kuomintang were an imperialist petty-bourgeois party, the Chinese Communists would not have formed a bloc with it, but would have sent it to all the archangels. The fact of the matter, however, is that the Kuomintang is an anti-imperialist party which is waging a revolutionary struggle against the imperialists and their agents in China. In this respect, the Kuomintang stands head and shoulders above all the various imperialist "Socialists" of the Kerensky and Tsereteli type.
Even Chiang Kai-shek, who is a Right Kuomintangist, Chiang Kaishek, who before he carried out his coup engaged in all sorts of machinations against the Left Kuomintangists and the Communists—even he was then superior to the Kerenskys and Tseretelis; for, whereas the Kerenskys and Tseretelis were warring for the enslavement of Turkey, Persia, Mesopotamia, Galicia, thus helping to strengthen imperialism, Chiang Kai-shek was warring—whether well or badly—against the enslavement of China, and was thus helping to weaken imperialism.
Radek's error, and that of the opposition generally, is that he disregards the semi-colonial status of China, fails to observe the anti-imperialist character of the Chinese revolution, and does not observe that the Kuo-mintang in Wuhan, the Kuomintang without the Right Kuomintangists, is the centre of the struggle of the Chinese labouring masses against imperialism.
"Is there not a contradiction between your appraisal of the Kuomintang (speech at the meeting of students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, May 18, 1925) as a bloc of two forces—the Communist Party and the petty bourgeoisie—and the appraisal given in the Comintern' s resolution on the Kuomintang as a bloc of four classes, including the big bourgeoisie?
"Would it be possible for the Chinese Communist Party to belong to the Kuomintang if there were a dictatorship of the proletariat in China?"
In the first place, it should be noted that the definition of the actual situation in the Kuomintang given by the Comintern in December 1926 (Seventh Enlarged Plenum) is reproduced in your "question" incorrectly, not quite accurately. The "question" says: "including the big bourgeoisie." But the compradors are also a big bourgeoisie. Does this mean that in December 1926 the Comintern considered the comprador bourgeoisie a member of the bloc within the Kuomintang? It obviously does not, because the comprador bourgeoisie was, and remains, a sworn enemy of the Kuomintang. The Comintern resolution speaks not of the big bourgeoisie in general, but of "part of the capitalist bourgeoisie." Consequently, what is referred to here is not every kind of big bourgeoisie, but the national bourgeoisie of the non-comprador type.
In the second place, I must say that I do not see any contradiction between these two definitions of the Kuomintang. I do not see any, because what we have here is a definition of the Kuomintang from two different standpoints, neither of which can be termed incorrect, for they are both correct.
When, in 1925, I spoke of the Kuomintang as the party of a bloc of the workers and peasants, I by no means intended to describe the actual state of affairs in the Kuomintang, to describe what classes were in fact linked with the Kuomintang in 1925. When I spoke of the Kuomintang then, I was thinking of it only as the type of structure of a distinctive people's revolutionary party in the oppressed countries of the East, especially in such countries as China and India; as the type of structure of such a people's revolutionary party as must be based on a revolutionary bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie of town and country. I plainly stated at that time that "in such countries the Communists must pass from the policy of a united national front to the policy of a revolutionary bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie" (see Stalin, "The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East," Problems of Leninism, p. 264 3).
What I had in mind, therefore, was not the present, but the future of people's revolutionary parties in general, and of the Kuomintang in particular. And I was absolutely right in this. For organisations like the Kuomintang can have a future only if they strive to base themselves upon a bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie, and in speaking of the petty bourgeoisie one should have in mind principally the peasantry, which constitutes the basic force of the petty bourgeoisie in the capitalistically backward countries.
The Comintern, however, was interested in a different aspect of the matter. At its Seventh Enlarged Plenum it regarded the Kuomintang not from the standpoint of its future, of what it should become, but from the standpoint of the present, of the actual situation within the Kuomintang, and of just what classes were in fact linked with it in 1926. And the Comintern was absolutely right when it said that at that moment, when there was not yet a split in the Kuomintang, the latter did in fact comprise a bloc of the workers, the petty bourgeoisie (urban and rural) and the national bourgeoisie. One might add here that not only in 1926, but in 1925 as well the Kuomintang was based upon a bloc of precisely those classes. The Comintern resolution, in the drafting of which I took a very active part, plainly states that "the proletariatforms a bloc with the peasantry, which is actively entering the struggle on its own behalf, with the urban petty bourgeoisie, and with part of the capitalist bourgeoisie," and that "this combination of forces has found its political expression in a corresponding grouping within the Kuomintang party and the Canton government" (see the resolution 4).
But inasmuch as the Comintern did not confine itself to the actual state of affairs in 1926, but also touched upon the future of the Kuomintang, it could not but state that this bloc was only a temporary one, that it was bound in the near future to be superseded by a bloc of the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie. It is precisely for this reason that the Comintern resolution goes on to say that "at the present time the movement is on the threshold of a third stage, on the eve of a new regrouping of classes," and that "at that stage of development the basic force of the movement will be a bloc of a still more revolutionary character—a bloc of the proletariat, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie, with the ousting of the greater part of the big capitalist bourgeoisie" (ibid.).
That is precisely the bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie (peasantry) upon which the Kuomin-tang should have relied for support, which is already beginning to take shape in Wuhan after the splitting of the Kuomintang and the desertion of the national bourgeoisie, and about which I spoke in my address to the Communist University of the Toilers of the East in 1925 (see above). Thus we have a description of the Kuomintang from two different aspects:
a) from the aspect of its present, of the actual state of affairs in the Kuomintang in 1926, and
b) from the aspect of its future, of what the Kuomin-tang should be, as the type of structure of a people's revolutionary party in the countries of the East.
Both these descriptions are legitimate and correct, because, embracing the Kuomintang from two different aspects, in the final analysis they give an exhaustive picture.
Where then, one asks, is the contradiction?
Let us, for the sake of greater clarity, take the "Workers' Party" in Britain (the "Labour Party"). We know that there is in Britain a special party of the workers that is based on the trade unions of the factory and office workers. No one hesitates to call it a workers' party. It is called that not only in British, but in all other Marxist literature.
But can it be said that this party is a real workers' party, a class party of the workers, standing in opposition to the bourgeoisie? Can it be said that it is actually the party of one class, the working class, and not a party, say, of two classes? No, it cannot. Actually, the Labour Party in Britain is the party of a bloc of the workers and the urban petty bourgeoisie. Actually, it is the party of a bloc of two classes. And if it is asked whose influence is stronger in this party, that of the workers, who stand in opposition to the bourgeoisie, or that of the petty bourgeoisie, it must be said that the influence of the petty bourgeoisie predominates in this party. That indeed explains why the British Labour Party is actually an appendage of the bourgeois liberal party. Yet it is called in Marxist literature a workers' party. How is this "contradiction" to be explained? The explanation is that when this party is defined as a workers' party, what is usually meant is not the actual state of affairs within the party at present, but the type of structure of a workers' party by virtue of which it should in the future, given certain conditions, become a real class party of the workers, standing in opposition to the bourgeois world. That does not preclude, but on the contrary, presumes the fact that actually this party is, for the time being, the party of a bloc of the workers and the urban petty bourgeoisie.
There is no more contradiction in this than there is in all I have just said about the Kuomintang.
Would it be possible for the Chinese Communist Party to belong to the Kuomintang if there were a dictatorship of the proletariat in China?
I think it would be inexpedient and, therefore, impossible. It would be inexpedient not only if there were a dictatorship of the proletariat, but also if Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies were formed. For what does the formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in China mean? It means the creation of a dual power. It means a struggle for power between the Kuomintang and the Soviets. The formation of workers' and peasants' Soviets is a preparation for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the proletarian revolution, to the socialist revolution. Can such preparation be carried out under the leadership of two parties belonging to one common revolutionary democratic party? No, it cannot. The history of revolution tells us that preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat and transition to the socialist revolution can be effected only under the leadership of one party, the Communist Party, if, of course, it is a genuine proletarian revolution that is in question. The history of revolution tells us that the dictatorship of the proletariat can be achieved and developed only under the leadership of one party, the Communist Party. Failing that, there can be no genuine and complete dictatorship of the proletariat under the conditions of imperialism.
Consequently, not only when there is a dictatorship of the proletariat, but even prior to such a dictatorship, when Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies are being formed, the Communist Party will have to withdraw from the Kuomintang, in order to conduct the preparations for a Chinese October under its own exclusive leadership.
I consider that in the period of the formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in China, and of preparation for the Chinese October, the Chinese Communist Party will have to replace the present bloc within the Kuomintang by a bloc outside the Kuomintang, on the pattern, say, of the bloc which we had with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in the period of transition to October.
"Is the Wuhan government a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and if not, what further ways of struggle are there for the establishment of a democratic dictatorship?
"Is Martynov right in asserting that the transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat is possible without a 'second' revolution, and if so, where is the border-line between democratic dictatorship and proletarian dictatorship in China?"
The Wuhan government is not yet a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. It may become one. It certainly will become a democratic dictatorship if the agrarian revolution develops to the full; but it is not yet the organ of such a dictatorship.
What is required for the Wuhan government to be converted into the organ of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry? Two things, at least, are required for that:
Firstly, the Wuhan government must become the government of an agrarian-peasant revolution in China, a government that gives the utmost support to that revolution.
Secondly, the Kuomintang must replenish its top leadership with new leaders of the agrarian movement from the ranks of the peasants and workers and enlarge its lower organisations by including in them the peasant associations the workers' trade-union councils and other revolutionary organisations of town and country.
At present, the Kuomintang has some 500,000 members. That is a small, a terribly small, number for China. The Kuomintang must include millions of revolutionary peasants and workers, and thus become a revolutionary-democratic organisation many millions strong.
Only under those conditions will the Kuomintang be in a position to set up a revolutionary government which will become the organ of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.
Whether Comrade Martynov did actually speak of a peaceful transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat, I do not know. I have not read Comrade Martynov's article; I have not read it because it is not possible for me to keep an eye on all our day-to-day literature. But if he really did say that a peaceful transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the proletarian revolution was possible in China—it is a mistake.
Chugunov once asked me: "What do you think, Comrade Stalin, wouldn't it be possible to arrange things so as, through the Kuomintang, without going roundabout, to pass at once to the dictatorship of the proletariat by peaceful means?" I, in my turn, asked him: "And what is it like, Comrade Chugunov, in China? Have you Right Kuomintangists, a capitalist bourgeoisie, imperialists?" He replied in the affirmative. "Well then," I said, "a fight is unavoidable."
That was before Chiang Kai-shek's coup. Theoretically, of course, the possibility of a peaceful development of the revolution in China is conceivable. Lenin, for example, at one time thought that a peaceful development of the revolution in Russia was possible through the Soviets. That was in the period from April to July 1917. But after the July defeat Lenin recognised that a peaceful transition to the proletarian revolution had to be considered out of the question. I think that still more must a peaceful transition to the proletarian revolution be considered out of the question in China.
Firstly, because the enemies of the Chinese revolution—both internal (Chang Tso-lin, Chiang Kai-shek, the big bourgeoisie, the gentry, the landlords, etc.) and external (the imperialists)—are too numerous and too strong to allow of thinking that the further development of the revolution can proceed without big class battles and without serious splits and desertions.
Secondly, because there is no reason to regard the Kuomintang form of state organisation as an expedient form for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the proletarian revolution.
Lastly, because if, for example, in Russia a peaceful transition to the proletarian revolution did not succeed through the Soviets, which are the classic form of the proletarian revolution, what grounds are there for assuming that such a transition can succeed through the Kuomintang?
I therefore think that a peaceful transition to the proletarian revolution must be considered out of the question in China.
"Why is the Wuhan government not conducting an offensive against Chiang Kai-shek, but is attacking Chang Tso-lin?
"Does not the simultaneous offensive of the Wuhan government and Chiang Kai-shek against the North blur the front of the struggle against the Chinese bourgeoisie?"
Well, comrades, you are asking too much of the Wuhan government. It would be very fine, of course, to beat simultaneously Chang Tso-lin and Chiang Kai-shek and Li Chi-shen and Yang Sen. But the position of the Wuhan government just now is such as not to permit it to launch an offensive simultaneously on all four fronts. The Wuhan government undertook the offensive against the Mukdenites for at least two reasons.
Firstly, because the Mukdenites are pushing towards Wuhan and want to annihilate it, so that the offensive against the Mukdenites is an absolutely urgent measure of defence.
Secondly, because the Wuhaners want to join forces with Feng Yu-hsiang's troops and to advance further in order to broaden the base of the revolution, which, again, is a matter of the greatest military and political importance for Wuhan at the present moment.
A simultaneous offensive on two such important fronts as against Chiang Kai-shek and Chang Tso-lin is at the present time beyond the strength of the Wuhan government. That is apart from an offensive westwards, against Yang Sen, and southwards, against Li Chi-shen.
We, the Bolsheviks, were stronger at the time of the Civil War, yet we were unable to develop successful offensive operations on all the fronts. What grounds are there for expecting more from the Wuhan government at the present moment?
Furthermore, what would an offensive against Shanghai mean just now, when the Mukdenites and Wu Pei-fu's supporters are moving on Wuhan from the north? It would mean making things easier for the Mukdenites and putting off union with Feng's troops for an indefinite period, without gaining anything in the east. For the time being, let Chiang Kai-shek rather continue to flounder in the Shanghai area and hobnob there with the imperialists.
There will be battles yet for Shanghai, and not of the kind that are now being waged for Chengchow, etc. No, the battles there will be far more serious. Imperialism will not so lightly relinquish Shanghai, which is a world centre where the cardinal interests of the imperialist groups intersect.
Would it not be more expedient first to join forces with Feng, acquire sufficient military strength, develop the agrarian revolution to the full, and carry on intense work to demoralise Chiang Kai-shek's rear and front, and then, after that, to tackle the problem of Shanghai in all its magnitude? I think that would be more expedient.
Consequently, it is not at all a matter here of "blurring" the front of the struggle against the Chinese bourgeoisie, because in any case it cannot be blurred if the agrarian revolution develops—and that the latter is developing and will continue to develop is now scarcely open to doubt. I repeat, it is not a matter of "blurring," but of developing appropriate fighting tactics.
Some comrades think that an offensive on all fronts is now the principal sign of revolutionary spirit. No, comrades, that is not true. An offensive on all fronts at this moment would be stupidity, not a sign of revolutionary spirit. Stupidity should not be confused with revolutionary spirit.
"Is a Kemalist revolution possible in China?"
I consider it improbable in China, and therefore impossible. A Kemalist revolution is possible only in countries like Turkey, Persia or Afghanistan, where there is no industrial proletariat, or practically none, and where there is no powerful agrarian-peasant revolution. A Kemalist revolution is a revolution of the top stratum, a revolution of the national merchant bourgeoisie, arising in a struggle against the foreign imperialists, and whose subsequent development is essentially directed against the peasants and workers, against the very possibility of an agrarian revolution.
A Kemalist revolution is impossible in China because :
a) there is in China a certain minimum of militant and active industrial proletariat, which enjoys enormous prestige among the peasants;
b) there is in that country a developed agrarian revolution which in its advance is sweeping away the survivals of feudalism.
The vast mass of the peasantry, which in a number of provinces has already been seizing the land, and which is led in its struggle by the revolutionary proletariat of China—that is the antidote against the possibility of what is called a Kemalist revolution.
The Kemalist Party cannot be put on a par with the Left Kuomintang party in Wuhan, just as Turkey cannot be put on a par with China. Turkey has no such centres as Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanking, Tientsin, etc. Ankara falls far short of Wuhan, just as the Kemalist Party falls far short of the Left Kuomintang.
One should also bear in mind the difference between China and Turkey as regards their international position. In relation to Turkey, imperialism has already secured a number of its principal demands, having wrested from it Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia and other points of importance to the imperialists. Turkey has now been reduced to the dimensions of a small country with a population of some ten to twelve million. It does not represent for imperialism a market of any importance or a decisive field of investment. One of the reasons why this has happened is that the old Turkey was an agglomeration of nationalities, with a compact Turkish population only in Anatolia.
Not so with China. China is a nationally compact country with a population of several hundred million, and constitutes one of the most important markets and fields for capital export in the world. Whereas in Turkey imperialism could content itself with severing from it a number of very important regions in the East, exploiting the national antagonisms between the Turks and the Arabs within the old Turkey, in China imperialism has to strike at the living body of national China, cutting it to pieces and severing whole provinces from it, in order to preserve its old positions, or at least to retain some of them.
Consequently, whereas in Turkey the struggle against imperialism could end with a curtailed anti-imperialist revolution on the part of the Kemalists, in China the struggle against imperialism is bound to assume a profoundly popular and distinctly national character and is bound to deepen step by step, developing into desperate clashes with imperialism and shaking the very foundations of imperialism throughout the world.
One of the gravest errors of the opposition (Zinoviev, Radek, Trotsky) is that it fails to perceive this profound difference between Turkey and China, confuses the Kemalist revolution with an agrarian revolution, and lumps everything indiscriminately into one heap.
I know that among the Chinese nationalists there are people who cherish Kemalist ideas. There are pretenders in plenty to the role of a Kemal in China today. The chief among them is Chiang Kai-shek. I know that some Japanese journalists are inclined to regard Chiang Kai-shek as a Chinese Kemal. But that is all a dream, the illusion of frightened bourgeois. In China victory must go either to Chinese Mussolinis like Chang Tso-lin and Chang Tsung-chang, only for them to be overthrown later by the sweep of the agrarian revolution, or to Wuhan.
Chiang Kai-shek and his followers, who are trying to hold a middle position between these two camps, are inevitably bound to fall and share the fate of Chang Tso-lin and Chang Tsung-chang.
"Should the slogan of immediate seizure of the land by the peasantry be issued in China at this moment, and how should the seizure of land in Hunan be assessed?"
I think that it should. Actually, the slogan of the confiscation of the land is already being carried out in certain areas. In a number of areas, such as Hunan, Hupeh, etc., the peasants are already seizing the land from below, and are setting up their own courts, their own penal organs and their own self-defence bodies. I believe that in the very near future the entire peasantry of China will go over to the slogan of the confiscation of the land. Therein lies the strength of the Chinese revolution.
If Wuhan wants to win, if it wants to create a real force both against Chang Tso-lin and against Chiang Kai-shek, as well as against the imperialists, it must give the utmost support to the agrarian-peasant revolution for the seizure of the landlords' land.
It would be foolish to think that feudalism and imperialism can be overthrown in China by armed strength alone. Without an agrarian revolution and without active support of the Wuhan troops by the vast masses of the peasants and workers, such forces cannot be overthrown.
Chiang Kai-shek's coup is often appraised by the opposition as the decline of the Chinese revolution. That is a mistake. People who appraise Chiang Kai-shek's coup as the decline of the Chinese revolution are in fact siding with Chiang Kai-shek, are in fact in favour of Chiang Kai-shek's being received back into the Wuhan Kuomintang. They apparently think that if Chiang Kai-shek had not split away, the cause of the revolution would be going better. That is foolish and unrevolution-ary. Chiang Kai-shek's coup has in fact led to the Kuo-mintang being cleansed of dross and to the core of the Kuomintang moving to the Left. Of course, Chiang Kai-shek's coup was bound to result in a partial defeat for the workers in a number of areas. But that is merely a partial and temporary defeat. In point of fact, with Chiang Kai-shek's coup, the revolution as a whole has entered a higher phase of development, the phase of an agrarian movement.
Therein lies the strength and might of the Chinese revolution.
The progress of a revolution must not be regarded as progress along an unbroken ascending line. That is a bookish, not a realistic notion of revolution. A revolution always moves in zigzags, advancing and smashing the old order in some areas, and sustaining partial defeats and retreating in others. Chiang Kai-shek's coup is one of those zigzags in the course of the Chinese revolution, one that was needed in order to cleanse the revolution of dross and to impel it forward towards a powerful agrarian movement.
But for this agrarian movement to be able to take shape, it must have its general slogan. That slogan is the confiscation of the landlords' land.
"Why is it incorrect to issue the slogan of the formation of Soviets at the present moment?
"Does not the Chinese Communist Party run the danger of lagging behind the movement in view of the formation of workers' Soviets in Honan?"
What kind of Soviets does the question refer to — proletarian Soviets, or non-proletarian Soviets, "peasants'" Soviets, "toilers'" Soviets, "people's" Soviets? In his theses at the Second Congress of the Comintern, Lenin spoke of the formation of "peasants' Soviets," "toilers' Soviets," in the backward countries of the East. He had in mind such countries as Central Asia, where "there is no industrial proletariat, or practically none." He had in mind countries such as Persia, Afghanistan, etc. That, indeed, explains why there is not a single word in Lenin's theses about the organisation of workers' Soviets in such countries.
But it is evident from this that what Lenin's theses were concerned with was not China, of which it cannot be said that it has "no industrial proletariat, or practically none," but other, more backward, countries of the East.
Consequently, what is in question is the immediate formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in China. Consequently, in deciding this question it is not Lenin's theses that must be borne in mind, but Roy's, which were adopted by the same Second Congress of the Comintern, and which speak of the formation of workers' and peasants' Soviets in countries such as China and India. But it is said there that workers' and peasants' Soviets should be formed in those countries when passing from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the proletarian revolution.
What are Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies? Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies are, chiefly, organs of an uprising against the existing power, organs of struggle for a new revolutionary power, organs of the new revolutionary power. At the same time, Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies are centres of organisation of the revolution.
But Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies can be centres of organisation of the revolution only if they are organs for the overthrow of the existing power, if they are organs of a new revolutionary power. If they are not organs of a new revolutionary power, they cannot be centres of organisation of the revolutionary movement. This the opposition refuses to understand, combating the Leninist conception of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies.
What would the formation at the present time of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in the area of action, say, of the Wuhan government mean? It would mean the creation of a dual power, the creation of organs of revolt against the Wuhan government. Should the Chinese Communists overthrow the Wuhan government at the present time? It is clear that they should not. On the contrary, they should support it and convert it into an organ of struggle against Chang Tso-lin, against Chiang Kai-shek, against the landlords and gentry, against imperialism.
But if the Communist Party at the present time ought not to overthrow the Wuhan government, what would be the sense of forming Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies now?
One or the other:
either Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies are formed immediately in order to overthrow the Wuhan government, which would be incorrect and inadmissible at the present moment;
or in setting up Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies immediately, the Communists do not work for the overthrow of the Wuhan government, the Soviets do not become organs of a new revolutionary power— and in that case the Soviets will wither and become a travesty of Soviets.
That is what Lenin always warned against when he spoke of the formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies.
Your "question" says that workers' Soviets are being formed in Honan, and that the Communist Party risks lagging behind the movement if it does not go to the masses with the slogan of the formation of Soviets. That is nonsense, comrades. There are no Soviets of workers' deputies in Honan at this moment. That is a canard spread by the British press. What we have there are "Red Spears" ; peasant associations are there, but of Soviets of workers' deputies there is so far not even a hint.
Workers' Soviets could, of course, be formed. That is not a very difficult matter. But the point is not the formation of workers' Soviets; the point is to convert them into organs of a new revolutionary power. Failing that, Soviets become an empty shell, a travesty of Soviets. To form workers' Soviets prematurely only in order to cause them to collapse and to turn them into an empty shell would indeed mean helping to convert the Chinese Communist Party from the leader of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into an appendage of all kinds of "ultra-Left" experiments with Soviets.
Khrustalyov, the first chairman of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies in St. Petersburg in 1905, likewise urged the restoration, and therefore also the formation, of Soviets of workers' deputies in the summer of 1906, believing that Soviets by themselves were capable of reversing the relationship of class forces, irrespective of the situation. Lenin at the time opposed Khrustalyov and said that Soviets of workers' deputies ought not to be formed then, in the summer of 1906, since the rearguard (the peasantry) had not yet caught up with the vanguard (the proletariat), and to form Soviets under such circumstances, and thereby to issue the slogan of an uprising, would be risky and inexpedient.
But it follows from this, firstly, that the role of Soviets in themselves should not be exaggerated, and, secondly, that when forming Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies the surrounding circumstances must not be ignored.
Is it necessary at all to form Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies in China?
Yes, it is necessary. They will have to be formed when the Wuhan revolutionary government has become consolidated and the agrarian revolution has developed, at the time of the transition from the agrarian revolution, from the bourgeois-democratic revolution, to the proletarian revolution.
The formation of Soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies will mean laying the foundations of Soviet power in China. But laying the foundations of Soviet power will mean laying the foundations of dual power and steering a course towards the replacement of the present Wuhan Kuomintang power by Soviet power.
I think that the time for that has not yet come.
Your "question" speaks of the hegemony of the proletariat and the Communist Party in China.
But what is required in order to facilitate the Chinese proletariat's role of leader, of hegemon, in the present bourgeois-democratic revolution?
This requires, in the first place, that the Chinese Communist Party should be a solidly united organisation of the working class, with its own programme, its own platform, its own organisation, its own line.
This requires, secondly, that the Chinese Communists should be in the front ranks of the agrarian-peasant movement, that they should teach the peasants, especially the poor peasants, to organise in revolutionary associations and committees and work for the confiscation of the landlords' land.
This requires, thirdly, that the Chinese Communists should strengthen their position in the army, revolutionise it, transform it and convert it from an instrument of individual adventurers into an instrument of revolution.
This requires, lastly, that the Chinese Communists should participate in the local and central organs of the Wuhan government, in the local and central organs of the Wuhan Kuomintang, and there pursue a resolute policy for the further extension of the revolution both against the landlords and against imperialism.
The opposition thinks that the Communist Party should preserve its independence by breaking with the revolutionary democratic forces and withdrawing from the Kuomintang and the Wuhan government. But that would be the sort of rather dubious "independence" which the Mensheviks in our country spoke about in 1905. We know that at that time the Mensheviks opposed Lenin and said: "What we need is not the hegemony, but the independence of the workers' party." Lenin rightly retorted that that was a negation of independence, for to counterpose independence to hegemony meant converting the proletariat into an appendage of the liberal bourgeoisie.
I think that the opposition, in talking today of the independence of the Chinese Communist Party and at the same time urging or hinting that the Chinese Communist Party should withdraw from the Kuomintang and the Wuhan government, slips into the line of advocating the Menshevik "independence" of the 1905 period. The Communist Party can preserve real independence and real hegemony only if it becomes the leading force both inside the Kuomintang and outside it, among the broad masses of the working people.
Not withdrawal from the Kuomintang, but ensuring the leadership of the Communist Party both inside and outside the Kuomintang—that is what is now required of the Chinese Communist Party, if it wants to be really independent.
"Is it possible at the present moment to raise the question of the formation of a regular Red Army in China?"
I think that as a perspective this question should certainly be kept in mind. But, considered practically, it is impossible just now, at this moment, to replace the present army by a new army, a Red Army, simply because there is so far nothing to replace it by.
The chief thing now is, while improving and revolutionising the existing army by all available means, to lay at once the foundations for new, revolutionary regiments and divisions, composed of revolutionary peasants who have passed through the school of the agrarian revolution and of revolutionary workers, to create a number of new and really reliable corps with reliable commanders, and to make them the bulwark of the revolutionary government in Wuhan.
These corps will be the nucleus of the new army which will subsequently develop into a Red Army.
That is necessary both for the fight on the battle-fronts and especially for the fight in the rear against all kinds of counter revolutionary upstarts.
Without this, there can be no guarantee against reverses in the rear and at the front, against desertions and betrayals.
I think that this course is the only possible and expedient course for the time being.
"Is the slogan of seizing the Chinese enterprises possible now, at a time of struggle against the bourgeoisie?
" Under what conditions will the seizure of the foreign factories in China be possible, and will it involve the simultaneous seizure of the Chinese enterprises?"
I think that, generally speaking, the time is not yet ripe for passing to the seizure of the Chinese enterprises. But the possibility is not excluded that the stubborn sabotage of the Chinese employers, the closing down of a number of such enterprises and the artificial creation of unemployment may compel the Wuhan government to begin to nationalise some of these enterprises even at the present time and to set them going by its own efforts.
It is possible that the Wuhan government may be compelled even at the present time to take such a step in individual cases, as a warning to particularly
malevolent and counter-revolutionary Chinese employers.
As to the foreign enterprises, their nationalisation is a matter for the future. To nationalise them means to declare direct war on the imperialists. But to declare such a war requires somewhat different, more favourable circumstances than exist at present.
I think that at the present stage of the revolution, when it has not yet acquired sufficient strength, such a measure is premature and therefore inexpedient.
One must not shoulder all the tasks at once and risk collapsing under the strain. Particularly so, since the Kuomintang and its government are not adapted to the accomplishment of such cardinal tasks as the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, Chinese and foreign.
For the accomplishment of such tasks a different situation, a different phase of the revolution and different organs of revolutionary power are required.
J. Stalin, The Revolution in China and the Errors of the Opposition, Moscow-Leningrad, 1927
1. This refers to the Cologne Democratic League, which was formed in the period of the German bourgeois revolution of 1848. The League included workers as well as bourgeois-democratic elements. Karl Marx was elected a member of the district co
The task just now consists not in that, but in fanning the flames of the agrarian revolution to the utmost, in ensuring the hegemony of the proletariat in this revolution, in strengthening Wuhan and converting it into a centre of struggle against all the enemies of the Chinese revolution.
mmittee of the democratic leagues of the Rhine region and Westphalia and was one of its leaders.
2. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung, published in Cologne from June 1, 1848 to May 19, 1849. It was directed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The editor-in-chief was Karl Marx. On the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, see K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow 1951, pp. 297-305.
3. See J. V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 149.
4. This refers to the resolution of the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, on the situation in China, adopted on December 16, 1926. For the resolution of the plenum see the book Theses and Resolutions of the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.