11. What is Chinese Stalinism? Notes on the new state party

Submitted by cathy n on 8 October, 2009 - 2:49 Author: Jack Brad

Throughout Asia the post-war period has been one of vast social upheaval. What happened in Europe after the First World War is now happening in Asia after the second.

Without the organising technology of modern society which links together great areas and peoples and without extensive industry which creates a more homogeneous and substantial working class, Asia’s revolutions have taken varied forms.

In no case have these changes been organised by a socialist revolutionary party basing itself on the workers. Leadership has fallen to national bourgeois classes, social democrats (Burma) or to mixed elements of the bourgeoisie and nationalist landlords.

Though in most instances these elements have sought and obtained mass support from the peasantry and the working class, the leadership has never passed to these latter. Thus the great transformation is taking place under conservative auspices and with limited objectives.

While Stalinist parties exist in almost all the countries of Asia, in only two of them is the nationalist movement operative in the name of Stalinism as such, and only here does Stalinism so completely dominate the movement as to clearly stamp its own character on it in exclusive fashion — in China and in North Korea. Elsewhere national bourgeois groups (India, Indonesia, Siam, Ceylon), social-democrats (Burma) or landlord elements (South Korea) are in the forefront.

Pattern in China and Korea

In several of these countries social-democracy is active (India, Indonesia, Viet Nam). This is a new phenomenon which deserves examination, since Social Democracy in colonial areas on a large scale is something new.

Trotskyist or left anti-Stalinist groups exist on a larger scale then they do anywhere in the West in Ceylon, India, Burma, Indonesia and possibly Indo-China.

The exception to the above pattern is Indo-China, where the CP is a leading but not exclusive or completely dominant force. The reason for this is the protracted struggle which forces Indo-Chinese nationalism to seek international allies; that is, the national struggle is forced into the inter-imperialist framework. If warfare is renewed in Indonesia, as seems likely, the movement there may also be forced onto the alien tracks of Stalinism. Wherever imperialism has been too weak and has made serious concessions Stalinism has had to take second place.

Both China and Korea have this feature in common: in both countries the two world powers face each other directly, creating a fixed inter-imperialist limitation to to the struggle unless it took the road of social revolution. Without that alternative (and the reason for its failure in Asia needs to be studied) middle elements between the powers were doomed. In the revolt of Asia, which is one of the great new forces of the post-war period and which is the most dynamic progressive factor in the world today, only in China and North Korea has Stalinism become dominant; these two instances are deviations from the general pattern, for they represented a new tyranny and enslavement.

Thus in China, the US supported Kuomintang rule, but at the same time tried to strengthen the “liberals.” This was the essence of Marshall’s proposals. But neither the Kuomintang nor the CP wanted the liberals as US spokesmen, and the liberals were too weak to accept such a role. The dolorous fate of the Democratic League is the full history of Chinese liberalism.

The Kuomintang is no longer and has not been for many years the party of nascent capitalism. Unable to make headway against the continuous warfare and conquests of the Japanese, the bourgeoisie lost political power. Never fully emancipated from imperialism, part of it under Wang Ching-wei sold itself completely to Japan. Never fully divorced from usury and landlordism, it could not resist the growing dominance of feudalism over the Kuomintang during the war, when the state was in the interior removed from the seats of power of the bourgeoisie and dependent on the landlords.

The Kuomintang, during the Chungking period, became a narrow dictatorship resting on local landlord alliances in the distant provinces and on the Whampon clique of militarists who were personally sworn to Chiang. The top families of the state utilised their monopoly of political and military power to take over the nation’s economy. When the government moved back to Nanking this economic power was extended to the entire country. This bureaucratic state capitalism was anti-bourgeois, its methods and practices were aimed at limiting and hampering the capitalist class. The Kuomintang had gone full cycle and become a brake on capitalist development.

The Democratic League was largely representative of the intellectuals, the university professors and the students. The key programme was prevention of of civil war through establishment of a national congress in which all parties would he represented. This coincided with the programme of the US for China, and Marshall later singled out these men of the Democratic League as “the splendid body of men” with whom alone he to wished to work. Today the Democratic League is underground in Kuomintang China; its main center is in exile in Hong Kong. Its greatest aspiration is to enter a coalition with the CP in an attempt to win minimal conditions for the survival of the bourgeoisie.

The Democratic League is the last effort of a capitalist political party to play a role in China. Its present condition is a good measure of the miserable insignificance of capitalism. There can be no capitalist development without a capitalist state power and political party; these the enfeebled, demoralised, compromised, economically shattered bourgeois have been unable to create.

Chinese capitalism

The historic failure of Chinese capitalism is the fundamental underlying cause of the failure of American policy there.

It was the only possible counterweight to socialist or Stalinist development. Its failure opened the dikes to Stalinism as the leader of the “national revolution.” It is Stalinism which has fallen heir to the unfinished tasks of the bourgeois revolution begun in 1911. War since 1938 and five years under puppet rule have exhausted the capitalist class so that today, like the proletariat, it is a spectator in the civil war, unable to determine its own future. Neither of the two great classes of modern society is a leading factor in the present civil war.

Capitalism failed in China because it was unable to solve a single one of its pressing problems. It could not oust the imperialists; it could only shuttle between them to sell itself to the highest bidder. It did not unify the country geographically, politically or economically. It failed to develop a centralised state of representative character. It could not even begin to introduce the most moderate land reform because it was itself corrupted by usury-land relations. Nor did it succeed in achieving the basic requisite of modern national existence — industrialisation. Having failed in every one of these essentials, it could not hold power against the landlords or the Stalinists: nor did it have the strength to effectuate a new alliance with US imperialism independent of the Kuomintang.

Chinese capitalism is not alone in this defeat. It is doubtful indeed if any native capitalism will succeed in making itself the dominant force anywhere in Asia. In none of the new states emerging out of the disintegration of capitalist imperialism is there a bourgeoisie strong enough to rule by itself; this class tends to develop its power through state-controlled economy and it is not likely that it will be able to assert itself on a purely economic basis. This is certainly one aspect of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution which remains valid. It is unlikely that classical capitalism has any more of a future in Asia than anywhere else. What forms will arise out of the dissolution of Oriental society are not clear as yet.

Between Chinese feudalism and Stalinism, “liberal” capitalism is being crushed. (The same is true in Korea.) The inter-imperialist conflict is precisely what creates the greatest difficulties for the native capitalists in these two countries. Thus the inter-imperialist conflict establishes narrows limits for the national struggle, distorting it in its own interest. And where the US intervenes it forces the national leadership into Stalinist channels. All over Asia the desire for national freedom goes hand in hand with the struggle against feudalism and the creation of modern industrialism. These are the social aspirations of the rising classes. Chinese Stalinism is an indigenous movement in the sense that it has secured to itself a monopoly of the leadership for these ends in China. Its party, programme and leadership are known and have established deep roots in the historic struggles of the last 20 years.

Its name is linked with the desires of the peasantry. Its armies are Chinese and nowhere in these armies is there an important amount of Russian power or Russian armaments — at least none has been revealed to this time. Like the Yugoslavs, the Chinese Stalinists are conquering without the Russian armies. They are establishing their own tradition of victories and their own patriotism.

A native Stalinism

This means that while the Chinese CP is part and parcel of international Stalinism and takes its lead in all matters from the Kremlin, it is not a movement of Russian expansion in a simple sense but the growth of a native Stalinism, which carries out the needs of Russian foreign policy on its own. It is more like the Yugoslav CP in this sense than (say) like the Polish.

Its leadership has not been Russified by long years of residence in Moscow, although the Russians did bring their own Chinese commissars to Manchuria, who are now major factors in the leadership of the Chinese CP (CCP); and Chu Teh and Chou En-lai have been to Moscow. This party has fought its battles largely without Russian material or even diplomatic help. Not that it has had no help. But its kind and quantity is as nothing compared with US help to the Kuomintang or Russian “aid” to the Polish CP. These distinctions are important for the future.

Thus while the Chinese civil war takes place within the context of the inter-imperialist struggle, this context distorts it but does not so dominate it as to replace or overshadow the elements of national and social conflict. Only if the US altered its policy to one of full intervention and thus precipitated active Russian measures could the civil war become subordinated.

But the inverse is not true either. The CCP is part and parcel of world Stalinism. Its attitudes have always been governed by the latest requirements of Russian foreign policy just like every other CP. Its internal regime of hierarchy, discipline, bureaucracy and idolatry for the Leaders, including the entire Russian hagiography, as well as its slogans and foreign policy have followed every zig and zag of the Stalintern. When Trotskyists were being purged in Moscow they were also being purged in China. When the Bukharinists’ turn came in Moscow, it came in China too.

One of the major crimes of Chinese Stalinism is its utilisation of the great agony of the 400 million to the purposes of Russian foreign policy. Victory for the CP does not remove China from the inter-imperialist struggle, as socialist victory would, but transfers the alliance to Russia. This is one of the major reasons why revolutionary socialists cannot support Chinese Stalinism any more than they can support it anywhere else. Far from bringing peace to China, the CP (no less than the Kuomintang) will involve China in vast international imbroglios and eventually in a war in which it has no possible interest. This is the terrible price Stalinism exacts for its conquests.

The British historian R H Tawney has written that he who achieves an alleviation of the abysmal human degradation which is the lot of the Chinese peasant will win the support of half a million villages. This is the limitless source which feeds the Stalinist flood.

The CP has become a peasant party in the sense that it seeks its base primarily in the countryside and that it has developed a theory which gives leadership of the Chinese social revolution to the peasant class through the instrumentality of the CP. It has not been connected with the struggles of the workers for over a decade. It has not had power in any sizeable city. It is a rural party and its entire outlook and membership is rural, as is most of its leadership. The problems of workers and cities are foreign to it.

Stalinism and the peasantry

Nowhere else in modern history has a national revolution been led by a party based on the peasantry. The unique Chinese experience is possible because Stalinism is that unifying ingredient which is absent in the peasantry as a class. With its discipline, ideology, leadership and indefatigable organisational labours it creates cohesion and gives unified direction.

An extremely revealing and frightening statement of the Stalinist theory of the Chinese revolution has been made by Liu Hsiao-chi, member of the Central Committee, and next to Mao Tse-tung, the leading theoretician; it is worth quoting at length.

A L Strong, the reporter of his remarks, paraphrases Liu: “Even the concept of the ‘proletariat’ [quotation marks in original] as a base for the Communist Party is given a new meaning.” And Liu says:

“All this [proletarian leadership] applies to the western world. But in China we have only a few such people. Of our 500 million people only two or three million can be called industrial workers, whom the imperialists and capitalists are the training to be the reserves of the CP some day. Meanwhile Mao Tse-tung is training two or three million from another kind of people who are not only no less disciplined and devoted but in fact perhaps even more disciplined and devoted than the industrial workers. China has only a few industrial workers to be the foundation but we have millions of kids [CP youth!] like this. Such people have never known Marx, but they are brought up in the spirit of communism. Their discipline and devotion to public affairs is no less than that of the industrial workers. They give their lives to the light against foreign imperialism and native oppressors even when very young. They fight now for the ‘new democracy’ but if in the future it is time to build socialism, they will be ready to build it. If it is time for communism, they will be ready for that also. Only one thing they will not build or accept — the old forms of capitalism. Today we are building capitalism but it is a ‘new capitalism’. As the core of this ‘new democracy’ and ‘new capitalism’ we have three million people — the army, the party, and the government — who have lived for 20 years in what might be called ‘military communism’. It is not the ‘military communism’ they had in Russia, for here it is applied only to this leading group [the army, the party, and the state of three millions].” [Amerasia, June 1947, page 163]

In her comment on this statement, Anna L Strong adds: “China’s revolution is a peasant revolution. Its basic characteristic is that the peasants (not the workers) form the principal mass that resists the oppression of foreign capital and left-over Medieval elements in the countryside. In the past, Marxist analysis has not been applied to guide such a revolution.”

CP as embryo state

Since 1927 Stalinism has not been a political party in China but an armed camp, an embryo state. Party members and leaders were equivalent to state officials.

Sometimes the fortunes of the state party were low indeed, as after the Long March when it was reduced to 40,000. In those days, and even today, not only were and are party andstate identical, but the two are coefficients of the army’s power and are identical with it too.

Liu is exaggerating when he says “we have three million people who have lived 20 years in what might be called “military communism”, for the present CP and army of two and a half to three million are post-war developments. But the process he so clearly describes is important.

For 20 years this group, acting as a state and military and political power. isolated from the working class and the cultural influences of the coastal cities, has developed a hard bureaucratic corps. Carefully selected through numerous purges, the leadership is a tight homogeneous hierarchy. Not part of the peasantry, its self-arrogated role is to lead, organise, discipline and provide policy for the peasant but never to become part of his class. While the peasantry remains the atomised mass it naturally is, the CP takes its best sons to itself and manipulates the real needs of the masses in its struggle for power. All this it does consciously. Relations between party and class are fixed from above.

The bureaucracy for the entire country is developed in advance, in isolation, almost in laboratory fashion. This is the cadre of the state, which advances with military victory, carries through the agrarian policy and organises the new citadels of political power. It deals with social groupings as a separate entity and by retention of its social independence determines the relationship between classes on the basis of the needs of its own rule. Thus Liu informs us that the policy for today is construction of a “new capitalism” but that the party retains the liberty to move against this “new capitalism” and its economic classes when it decides the time has come for “socialism.” It is the party — or more accurately, the state-party-army — which is the bearer of historic change, no matter in whose name it acts at the moment.

Distortion of revolution

A close study of Mao Tse-tung’s writings indicates, as Liu implies in the opening sentences above, that the CP considers itself the leader of the nation, of all classes in Chinese society and as such it fulfils a programme which is above classes, i.e., in its own interests as the state power.

This Bonapartist conception gives the CP great tactical flexibility. At the same time it is a theory of social revolution, but not of the bourgeois-democratic revolution nor of the proletarian socialist revolution; it is the theory of the bureaucratic-collectivist revolution.

The social revolution which is clamouring for birth in China, as elsewhere in Asia, is conquered and distorted. As Liu puts it: “Today we are building capitalism, but it is a ‘new capitalism’” like the “new democracies” of Eastern Europe, and for this a national alliance of classes eases the ascent to power and also serves to keep the masses quiescent.

But as Mao put it so succinctly: “The United Front must be under the firm leadership of the CP” (Turning Point, p20) But when “it is time to build socialism [read Stalinism — J.B.]” after the consolidation of power, the CP “will be ready for that also.” This is the answer to those who speculate about the Chinese CP following a path different from that of Stalinism elsewhere.

When placed against the background of the Great Revolution of 1925–27 the most striking feature of current events in China is the absence of the working class in an active role. Where are Canton’s millions who in 1925 challenged the might of foreign gunboats and Kwangtung warlords, gave the power to the Kuomintang and forced their way into the CP by tens of thousands? Where are the heroic masses of workingmen who paved the way for the Northern Expeditions by their independent militancy?

The steel workers and coal miners of Hankow and Wuhan are silent today but in the turbulent years two decades ago they performed miracles, defied the British gunboats, organised mass unions in the cities and organisations of the poor peasants on the countryside, and still had enough left to man the armies of the Kuomintang, later the “left” Kuomintang. And still later, when Chiang’s terror had wounded and bled the aroused giant of China’s revolution and Stalinism had eviscerated its spirit, this proletariat was still capable of the final defiance of the Canton commune.

It was under the leadership of this great urban class that the peasantry organised the struggle against medieval leftovers and militarist tyranny. The democracy of the upheaval was self-evident in the rise of local leaderships everywhere, freedom from traditional restraints, the enormously rapid progress in political education of millions of the submerged and illiterate.

The people held the stage and the workers took the lead, allying themselves with and creating political groups which acted on the people’s needs. The masses taught the leaders, very often marching far ahead of them. The revolution in the villages was not a peasant revolt in geographic or social magnitude but, under the advanced lead of the proletariat, it took on the radical character of an agrarian revolt, not reform. Ties between urban and rural masses were indissoluble in the common struggle.

This heroic popular social movement of 20 years ago is a measure of the conservative, manipulated, primarily military march of Stalinism today.

Position of working class

Today the Chinese proletariat does not have a party of its own; it is not an active, organised, cohesive social class. It does not have a programme of leadership to express its desires in the present situation.

The intervening decades have brought cumulative disasters. When the Canton commune was suppressed thousands of workers were slaughtered. and in the Kuomintang reaction in every city followed the massacre of the militants. Police terror, assisted by underworld hoodlumism and secret police, established a regime over the working class which did not permit widespread organisation. With the best militants assassinated or in hiding, the proletariat was left leaderless and beheaded, The links with the peasantry were broken. Political organisation was non-existent.

The treason of Stalinist policy culminated in the exodus to the South. The workers were abandoned is to the Kuomintang; many of the surviving militants left with the CP peasant armies in the hills and in mountains of South-central China.

The CP desertion of the cities was a betrayal from which the workers never recovered. After these shattering defeats even an underground of serious proportions could not develop. On occasions since 1927 the CP has raided the cities and universities for new leadership elements which had aroused the police of the Kuomintang. This has been the only relationship the CP has had with the urban workers.

In addition to police terror and gangsterism the Kuomintang organised the workers into its own “blue unions.” When after the war even these “unions” became restive, Chu Hsen-fan, Kuomintang-appointed president of the Chinese Federation of Labour, was driven to exile in Hong Kong. Chu joined with Marshal Li in the “Kuomintang-Revolutionary League” and is now a Stalinist front in their recently launched Labour Federation.

Under Japanese and puppet rule the workers were unable to raise their heads. They were cut off from the anti-Japanese struggle. It is a weakened class which has not recovered from the disasters of 1927 and the subsequent 20 years of oppression. These were the cumulative disasters which permitted the control of the revolution and its transformation into a new reaction by the CP.

CP and proletariat

The CP of 1948 is not the party of 1928. It does not look upon the workers as the leading class. Its attitude toward the workers is that they are necessary for production and to carry out directives, but its politics are not directed toward the workers.

Piece work and speedup have been made universal. Production quotas for the individual worker as well as for each productive unit are established. Payment is made according to achievement. The entire Stalinist incentive system has been introduced under oppressive conditions.

Stakhanovism and “labour heroes” are the means of establishing fear on the job, for it is not well to fail to meet the goals set by the pace-setters. “Labour heroes” receive public awards and state recognition in the presence of their fellow workers. Congresses of “labour heroes” are held at which methods of speedup are discussed. The process of differentiation in the factory is begun with the new “labour heroes” being set above their class.

Since the CP is tied to its agrarian base it will project the cost of industrialisation onto the workers as the only class from which the tremendous burdens that are inevitable in such a programme can be safely extracted. From this indicated assumption we may conclude that Stalinism will from the beginning be especially oppressive to the workers of China. With the their first contact with cities, there are already reports of declining standards of living.

In its relation to the working class the CP acts as a ruling bureaucracy exercising state power. Its separation from urban culture and urban classes and its complete Stalinisation in the last 20 years has transformed it into it party alien to the proletariat; it is a bureaucratised agrarian party, It does not even manipulate the workers through detailed control of its organisations because its estrangement is so complete.

During August 1947 in the Manchurian city of Harbin the CP began to re-establish connections with the urban working class through an All-China Labour Congress. Delegates are supposed to have come from Kuomintang cities representing underground unions. It is significant that it is three years after the war, and after after almost an equal period of Manchurian rule, that such a congress is called. The scanty reports available on this meeting are all from official Stalinist sources sources. What comes through clearly is that the workers were given no role in the overthrow of the Kuomintang — except to “prepare to welcome the People’s Liberation Army; and to support and take part in revolutionary movements of the people [the CP, that is — J.B.].”

Relation to capitalist class

Relations to the capitalist class are carefully defined: “...workers should make a distinction between the ‘comprador’ capitalists of the ruling bureaucracy and national capitalists who are also oppressed. They should endeavor to win the latter for struggle against imperialism and the Kuomintang.” (Above quotations from China Digest, August 24, 1948.)

The final official resolutions of the congress established two programmes for labour, one for Kuomintang areas and one for the “liberated areas.” These statements are important statements of policy. In Kuomintang areas :

“(1) The consolidation of their [workers’] own strength and the expansion of their fighting ranks so as to prepare for the arrival of the Liberation Army. (2) Cooperation with national industrialists in their common fight against the bureaucratic capitalists. (3) The dispatch of skilled technicians into Liberated Areas ...(4) The protection of all factories and machines.” [China Digest, August 21, 1948].

The relation of the workers to the CP armies clearly defined as a passive one of “preparing” for the CP armies to take power. If there is to be “liberation” the CP will bring it, and this task is exclusively and uniquely the CP’s.

In the directive on administration of newly conquered cities (China Digest, August 13, 1948) the Central Committee orders:

“All law-abiding enemy functionaries, personnel of economic and educational organs and policemen should not be taken prisoner or arrested. They must be given duties and remain their original posts under the orders of definite organs and personnel, to watch over their original organs.”

The directive very carefully states the role of each section of the bureaucracy and bourgeoisie but has not one single word on the part workers or their organisations are to have in the “liberation” and reorganisation of the cities. On the contrary every effort is made, as the above quotation shows, to keep the administration intact until the CP political commissars arrive to take over; Those “who violate these policies must be thoroughly taken to task...” The policy is fixed and imposed, and woe to him of any class who dares to struggle against it.

In relation to the civil war the CP pursues a conservative military policy. Popular activities independent of its own troops are frowned upon. There is no call for workers or peasants to rise in revolt in Kuomintang areas. Social policy is likewise a function arrogated by the CP and carefully imposed by advance bureaucratic determination of its limits, stages and methods.

No surrender to capitalism

Every last element of spontaneity or mass participation is strained out of the movement. In this way the entire direction of the real social revolution which is the profoundest desire of the people is transformed into a new tyranny of bureaucratic collectivism.

The “new democracy” of Stalinism does not aim at eliminating the bourgeoisie or the agrarian rich at this time. The only group put out of the pale of acceptance by the CP is the Kuomintang itself. With all other classes it proposes a period of “joint reconstruction.”

In order to carry through such a programme the CP must guarantee the quiescence of the masses. However, this does not constitute a surrender by the CP to native capitalism. Nothing would be further from the mark. For the power of all classes is strictly defined and limited by the CP, which retains all real power. Through its control of the peasant unions and the village poor, the CP can and will launch an offensive against the new kulaks which its present policy is producing. Through similar control in the cities the CP will (when it is decided) be able to use the workers and petty bourgeois against the capitalists. The CP, by its position above the classes manipulates all of them to its own state needs. The class struggle is replaced by class manipulation.

This is the actual relationship which is emerging under the “new democracy”. Instead of a pro-labour state we have the emergence of an anti-labour state; instead of a peasant power, an anti-peasant power; in the name of democracy the new tyranny of Stalinism arises out of the failure of capitalism and proletarian independence.

It is hardly likely, since no serious alternative exists, that the urban working class will be able to avoid the fatal embrace of the CP. Yet it will take a long time before this party’s roots are secure among the workers. Memories of the betrayal of ’27 persists among older workers, and tendencies to reject the labour-capitalist collaboration policy of the CP are inevitable. A period of economic chaos is probable and restlessness with CP rule and with the bourgeoisie will develop. Also, Stalinism’s labour policy is one intensified work and increasing production at labour’s expense. The agrarian policy of Stalinism tends to create a newly rich kulak in the village who will threaten the food supply of the cities. All this is in prospect and the sailing will not be easy for the new masters.

That the present Stalinist revolution in China is led from and gives prior leadership to the village is of enormous importance. Much of the peculiar political manoeuvring in China today — the coalition programme of the CP, its hesitancy to utilise the masses except under closest control, its slogan of “return the factories to their owners” — arise from this original difficulty. The CP may actually be unable to organise and administer all of China because of this alienation; The key to the uprooting of feudalism, to a modern revolution in the village as well as national unification, lies in the cities. Unless modern transport and communications are constructed the country cannot be held together physically. Unless agriculture is reorganised to the needs of industry city and country will not be integrated. Only an industrially-oriented agriculture can create the mentality which will accept sharp breaks from traditional peasant patterns and introduce new methods adapted to local use as well as deal with such otherwise “insoluble problems” as land fragmentation.

The lesson of the Great Revolution of 1927 is the very opposite of that stated by Liu above. The revolutionary urban masses, at the head of which was the working class, did prove sufficient to take and organise the power. The Stalinists have put this tremendous dynamic force in fetters, substituting themselves for it. lt may well be that its alienation from the working class will prove to be the Achilles heel of Chinese Stalinism.

Notes for a programme

At this moment a socialist programme must begin with this working class which is not yet committed to or permeated by Stalinism. This working class can still be imbued with independence.

The CP is, as we have stressed, an agrarian party primarily. An independent proletariat could eventually organise its own organs, take the power in the rich coastal cities, organise an independent democratic movement which could call the peasants to revolutionary action. It could organise under the programme of ousting the capitalists regardless of party; for social and political democracy, not a new one-party regime; for maximum freedom to organise freely, without CP direction, through the democratic activities of the masses; against the CP doctrine of revolution by “stages”; restoration of the revolutionary leadership to the workers; for full freedom of speech and press. Such a movement could extend its hand in comradeship to the peasantry with the call to arms for an immediate arming of all the people in fighting units of their own under elected officers of their own.

Against the central national political slogan of Stalinism (bureaucratic party coalitions in a new political consultative conference) can be posed the call to democratic assemblies of freely elected delegates, first in each city and province and then nationally; rejection of a new political consultative conference as a coalition of leaders in which the CP is bound to establish one-party rule, since the other leaders represent nothing. And above, all peace to China, not the “new democracy” of Stalinist totalitarianism but the socialist democracy of the workers and peasant poor.

The struggle against imperialism is the fight against imperialism and its agents, American and Russian. Drive American dollars out of Kuomintang China and renounce Russian control of Manchuria through its control of the South Manchurian Railway. Free the cities of Dairen and Harbin from the Russian army; national freedom requires an end to Russian as well as American rule and spheres of influence.

These are points in broad outline for a revolutionary socialist programme. The chief need is for a party, an independent workers’ party. For the social bases of the proletariat remains untapped. It is still possible to reorient the Chinese revolution by a leadership which believes in the ability and necessity of proletarian hegemony, which believes that the cities must lead the villages.

Such an orientation strikes at the heart of Chinese Stalinism and is the basis of democracy. The workers of China need a party of their own. That is the beginning of a programme.

However, Chinese Stalinism has prepared the repressive machinery with which to prevent activities designed to undermine its rule. Whatever temporary liberties are allowed to the small bourgeoisie of the cities it will not permit any expression whatsoever the working class outside of its own fully controlled organs. For it is a universal characteristic of Stalinism that it fastens itself on the working class and this class is its first victim.

This means that what is most necessary, the closest relations between revolutionary anti-Stalinist socialists and the workers, is the most hazardous and most difficult and will be met by the severest counter-measures. The programme described above is an orientation fraught with enormous difficulties and it is by no means certain that it can be effectuated in the immediate future. For the attack on all socialist and left opponents is already under way and it is a campaign of extermination.

In these circumstances the problem of survival is of chief importance; the vigilant assistance of socialists everywhere will be necessary if these cadres are to be saved. All manner of special forms of organisation and struggle will be necessary and these very instruments of survival can also become the means of making connection with the workers and organising the struggle with them.

New International, February 1949