Leon Trotsky on China


To the Memory of the Murdered Workers and Students of Shanghai

From International Press Correspondence, vol. 5, no. 51, June 15, 1925.
June 6, 1925

The Times, the leading newspaper of the English bourgeoisie, writes that the movement of the Chinese masses reveals a "Moscow spirit." Well, for once in a way we are prepared to agree with the conservative denunciators. The English press in China and in the British Isles brands the striking workers and students as Bolshevists. Well, we are prepared to a certain extent to support even this terrible revelation. The fact is the Chinese workers object to being shot down by the Japanese police, so they have declared a protest strike and are proclaiming their indignation in the streets. Is it not evident that here the "Moscow spirit" prevails? The Chinese students, filled with sympathy for the workers in their struggle, have joined in the strike against the exercise of violence by foreigners. It is evident, as far as the students are concerned, that we have to deal with Bolshevists.

We of Moscow are prepared to accept all these accusations and revelations. We should like however to add that the best agents for spreading the "Moscow spirit" in the East are the capitalist politicians and journalists. To the question of the ignorant coolie: "What is a Bolshevist?" the English bourgeois press replies: "A Bolshevist is a Chinese worker who does not wish to be shot by Japanese and English police; a Bolshevist is a Chinese student who stretches out a brotherly hand to the Chinese worker who is streaming with blood; a Bolshevist is a Chinese peasant who resents the fact that foreigners, whose arguments are deeds of violence, behave on his land as though they were lord and master." The reactionary press of both hemispheres gives this excellent description of Bolshevism.

Is it possible to carry on in the East a better, more convincing, more stirring propaganda? And to what purpose, may we ask, do we need in the East or, for that matter, in the West either, secret agents with Moscow gold in one pocket and with poison and dynamite in the other? Would any trained agents be capable of doing a thousandth part of the educational work which the Times and its companions carry on gratuitously-this must be acknowledged-throughout the world? If a so-called Moscow agent were to tell the oppressed Chinese that the policy of Moscow is a policy of the liberation of the oppressed classes and subjugated nations, the Chinese would very likely not believe him-has he not often been deceived by foreigners! But when Moscow's worst enemy, in the form of the English Conservative newspapers, tells him the same about Moscow, he will believe it implicitly.

When the half-naked and half-starved Chinese worker who is oppressed and degraded begins to become conscious of his dignity as a human being, he is told: Moscow agents have egged you on! If he allies himself with other workers to defend his elementary human rights, he is told: this is the "Moscow spirit." If in the streets of his own town, he tries to defend his right to existence and development, he hears cries of: This is Bolshevism!

Thus the course of revolutionary education advances step by step under the direction of the foreign police and of the journalists, whose attitude of mind is similar to that of the police. And in order to imprint the political lessons deeply on his memory, the English police, after having shot down dozens and hundreds of Chinese workers and students, drags him into the cellars of the English prisons in Shanghai. Thus a shortcut to political knowledge is accomplished. From now onwards every Chinese will know that the "Moscow spirit" is the spirit of revolutionary solidarity which unites the oppressed in the fight against the oppressors; and that on the other hand the atmosphere which pervades the cellars of the English prisons of Shanghai incorporates the spirit of "British freedom."

We would have concluded at this point, for, is there much to add to this eloquent and convincing propaganda of the capitalist press on behalf of Moscow? But it occurs to us that liberal Labour politicians of the MacDonald type are eagerly listening to our conversation with the Conservatives. "You see," they say, pointing didactically at the chief editor of the Times, "we have always said that our Conservatives work for Bolshevism." And this also is true. The Conservatives, or rather the reactionaries- all capitalist parties are now reactionary~represent an enormous historical force which is supported by capital and gives expression to its chief interests. MacDonald is right in that there would be no Bolshevism, either in the East or in the West, if the forces of capital did not exist. As long, however, as the force and the yoke of capital does exist, the "Moscow spirit" will make its way throughout the world.

For the "adjustment" of events in Shanghai, and in order to counteract the influence of "Moscow," the liberals and Menshe viks suggest the idea of an international conference on the Chinese question, but they are shutting their eyes to the fact that at this conference the decision would lie in the hands of the same gentlemen at whose command workers and students are shot down in Shanghai.

Possibly MacDonald has a program ready for this conference. If not, we can submit our own to him. It is very simple. The Chinese house belongs to the Chinese. No one has a right to enter this house without knocking at the door. The owner has the right to admit none but friends and to refuse entrance to those whom he considers his enemies. This is the beginning of our program. You will certainly reject it, because to your nostrils it seems to be thoroughly saturated with the explosive "Moscow spirit." But just for this reason it will penetrate into the consciousness of the oppressed Chinese and of every honest English worker. This program contains in itself the most powerful innate force. This is the banner under which the workers and students of Shanghai are dying. The blood which has been shed in the streets of Shanghai will infect the masses with the "Moscow spirit." This spirit penetrates everywhere and is invincible. It will overcome the whole world by liberating it.



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