Leon Trotsky on China


March 22, 1927

I confess that at the present time the situation in China arouses in me far greater concern than does any other problem. I have just received a telegram to the effect that Shanghai has been occupied by Nationalist troops. The wider the territory under Nationalist rule and the more the Kuomintang takes on the character of a governing party, the more it becomes bourgeois. In this regard, the inclusion of Shanghai in the territory of the Nationalist government has an out-and-out decisive character.

At the same time we read Kalinin's and Rudzutak's speeches, in which they expound and repeat the idea that the Nationalist government is the government of all the classes of the Chinese people (those are their words!). Thus, it seems that in China a government can exist that transcends class lines. Marxism has been completely forgotten. Forgotten too have been Lenin's theses on democracy (the First Congress of the Comintern). When you read such things in Pravda, at first you do not believe your eyes, you reread it and reread it again. . . But then, on this question Kalinin and Rudzutak are expressing in full the policy of the Chinese Communist Party, i.e., to put it more accurately, the Comintern's present policy on the Chinese question. The greater the successes of the national revolution in China, the greater are the dangers that await us with the present policy. (There will be some wise soul who will conclude from these words that I am against reaping the Chinese "harvest"-in other words, against the victory of the national revolution in China.)

The present policy is incorrect, even if we approach the matter from a "purely national" point of view, "abstracted" from the international revolution. There can be no doubt that the Nationalist government in China, upon seizing huge territories and finding itself face to face with gigantic and extremely difficult problems, upon experiencing the need for foreign capital and clashing daily with the workers, will make a sharp turn to the right, toward America to a certain extent and Britain. At this moment the working class finds itself without leadership, for it is quite impossible to consider as an independent leadership of the working class the "communist" appendage of the Kuomintang, which puts into the workers' heads the idea that the Nationalist government is a government of all classes. We find ourselves in the position of a hen who has hatched a duckling. .

Evidently those who are in charge of this policy conceive of the following course of development: first we will carry things to a complete victory for the Nationalist troops, i.e., the unification of China; then we will begin to remove the Communist Party from the Kuomintang. The concept is Menshevik through and through. First we complete the bourgeois revolution, and then, . . . etc. With this concept, we are turning ourselves into not a class force of history, but some sort of classless inspectorate above the historical process as a whole. And, of course, we will fall flat on our faces at the very first turn. This turn will in all likelihood be the occupation of Shanghai. 12

The communists cannot, of course, relinquish support for the Nationalist army and the Nationalist government, nor, it appears, can they refuse to become part of the Nationalist government. But the question of the complete organizational independence of the Communist Party, i.e., of its withdrawal from the Kuomintang, must not be put off one day longer. We have lost far too much time as it is. The communists can form a united government with the Kuomintang on the condition of the total separation of the parties forming the political bloc. So it was with us and the left SRs."" Vladimir Ilyich demanded that the Hungarian communists follow the same course and reproached them for having entered into an amalgamation of parties-that act having been, incidentally, one of the reasons the Hungarian revolution was crushed so quickly. 14

Is it permissible to continue any longer the flirtation with Sun Yat-senism, which is turning into the ideological shackles of the Chinese proletariat and tomorrow will become (is already becoming today) the main instrument of the Chinese bourgeois reaction! I believe that this sort of flirtation is criminal. But in order to cut the umbilical cord of Sun Yat-senism, there must be someone to cut it. An independent Communist Party is needed. Revolutionary selection within the Communist Party itself, i.e., its Bolshevization not in word but in deed, will undoubtedly occur around this question.

References to national oppression as a justification for a Menshevik policy are absolutely untenable. First of all one must remember that the whole Second International (Jaurès, Vandervelde, and the others) in demanding the unity of the Bolsheviks not only with the Mensheviks but also with the SRs was taking as its starting point the oppression of tsarism. As if a struggle against tsarism or against national oppression is not the class struggle! In Georgia, Finland, Latvia, etc., the yoke of tsarism took the form of the most savage national oppression, more complete than Britain's or even Japan's oppression of China. However, from this it did not follow that the Georgians, Finns, or Latvians should not build an independent party.

It seems to me that we must again, in one way or another, present this question to the Politburo. Of course, there is the danger that instead of a serious discussion of this problem in the Central Committee, there will be factional slander. But can we be silent when nothing less than the head of the Chinese proletariat is at stake?



Hosted by www.Geocities.ws