Trotsky on China


May 7, 1927

The theses of Comrade Stalin, entitled "Questions of the Chinese Revolution," were published in Pravda on April 21, 1927, a few days after the close of the plenary session of the Central Committee to which these theses were never presented and at which they were never discussed (although all the members of the plenum were still in Moscow).

Moreover, the theses of Comrade Stalin are erroneous to such a point, they turn the matter upside down to such a degree, they are so permeated with the spirit of tailendism, they are so inclined to perpetuate the mistakes already made, that to remain silent about them would be a positive crime. Note: (The theses of Comrade Stalin are published in the name of the Central Committee. This does not change the fact that the theses were not examined by the plenum of the Central Committee. The Political Bureau charged three of its members, Comrades Stalin, Bukharin, and Molotov, to look over the theses of Comrade Stalin and in case of agreement, to publish them in the name of the Central Committee. Naturally, it is not a question of the formal side of the matter, which nobody raises. But it is quite clear that such a "simplified" method of deciding questions of world importance, after the mistakes made and the heavy defeats, in no way serves the interests of the party and of the Chinese revolution.)

The Lessons of the Chinese Events Must Be Drawn

1. The prohibition of an open discussion of the theoretical and tactical problems of the Chinese revolution has been motivated of late by the fact that such a discussion would delight the enemies of the USSR. Naturally it would be quite impermissible to make public facts that could be seized upon by enemies, who, incidentally, do not shrink from the direct invention of "facts" and "documents." But there is no need at all for such a discussion. It is only a question of determining the driving forces of the Chinese revolution and of estimating the basic line of its political direction. In other words, it is a question of discussing the same Questions to which the theses of Comrade Stalin are devoted. If these theses can be published, then why cannot a criticism of them be published? * The theses of Comrade Stalin are published in the name of the Central Committee. This does not change the fact that the theses were not examined by the plenum of the Central Committee. The Political Bureau charged three of its members, Comrades Stalin, Bukharin, and Molotov, to look over the theses of Comrade Stalin and in case of agreement, to publish them in the name of the Central Committee. Naturally, it is not a question of the formal side of the matter, which nobody raises. But it is quite clear that such a "simplified" method of deciding questions of world importance, after the mistakes made and the heavy defeats, in no way serves the interests of the party and of the Chinese revolution.

It is an unheard-of mistake to contend that a discussion of the problems of the Chinese revolution can injure our state interests. If this were so, then not only the Communist Party of the Soviet Union but every other party of the Communist International, including the Chinese, would have to abstain from any discussion. But the interests of the Chinese revolution, as well as the interests of the education of all the Communist parties in the world, demand an open, energetic, exhaustive discussion of all the problems of the Chinese revolution, especially those in dispute. It is not true that the interests of the Communist International conflict with the state interests of the USSR. The renunciation of discussion of the mistakes is not dictated by the interests of a workers' state, but by a false "apparatus like," bureaucratic attitude toward the Chinese revolution as well as toward the interests of the USSR.

2. The April defeat of the Chinese revolution is not only a defeat for the opportunist line but also a defeat for the bureaucratic methods of the leadership, through which the party is confronted with every decision as an accomplished fact: the decision, it is explained, does not justify criticism until facts demonstrate its annulment, whereupon it is just as automatically, that is, behind the back of the party, replaced by a decision which is frequently more erroneous, like the present theses of Stalin. Such a method, which, in and by itself, is incompatible with the development of a revolutionary party, becomes an especially heavy obstacle to young parties that can and should learn independently from the experiences of defeats and mistakes.

The theses of Comrade Stalin are published. At least within the limits of these theses, the questions of the Chinese revolution can and must be discussed openly and from every angle.

The Yoke of Imperialism and the Class Struggle

3. The peculiarity of the Chinese revolution-in comparison, for example, with our revolution of 1905 -- lies above all in the semicolonial position of China. A policy that disregarded the powerful pressure of imperialism on the internal life of China would be radically false. But a policy that proceeded from an abstract conception of national oppression without its class refraction and reflection would be no less false. The main source of the mistakes in the theses of Comrade Stalin, as in the whole leading line in general, is the false conception of the role of imperialism and its influence on the class relationships of China.

The imperialist yoke is supposed to serve as a justification for the policy of the "bloc of four classes." The yoke of imperialism leads allegedly to the fact that "all" (!) the classes of China look upon the Canton government as the "national government of the whole of China in the same way" (!) (speech of Comrade Kalinin, Izvestia, March 6, 1927). This is essentially the position of the right Kuomintang man Tai Chi-t'ao, who pretends that the laws of the class struggle do not exist for China-because of imperialist pressure.

China is an oppressed semicolonial country. The development of the productive forces of China, which is proceeding in capitalist forms, demands the shaking off of the imperialist yoke. The war of China for its national independence is a progressive war, because it flows from the necessities of the economic and cultural development of China itself, as well as because it facilitates the development of the revolution of the British proletariat and that of the whole world proletariat.

But this by no means signifies that the imperialist yoke is a mechanical one, subjugating "all" the classes of China in the "same" way. The powerful role of foreign capital in the life of China has caused very strong sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie, the bureaucracy, and the military to join their destiny with that of imperialism. Without this tie, the enormous role of the so-called militarists in the life of modern China would be inconceivable.

It would further be profound naiveté to believe that an abyss lies between the so-called comprador bourgeoisie, that is, the economic and political agency of foreign capital in China, and the so-called national bourgeoisie. No, these two sections stand incomparably closer to each other than the bourgeoisie and the masses of workers and peasants. The bourgeoisie participated in the national war as an internal brake, looking upon the worker and peasant masses with growing hostility and becoming ever readier to conclude a compromise with imperialism.

Installed within the Kuomintang and its leadership, the national bourgeoisie has been essentially an instrument of the compradors and imperialism. It can remain in the camp of the national war only because of the weakness of the worker and peasant masses, the lack of development of the class struggle, the lack of independence of the Chinese Communist Party, and the docility of the Kuomintang in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

It is a gross mistake to think that imperialism mechanically welds together all the classes of China from without. That is the position of the Chinese Cadet, Tai Chi-t'ao, but in no wise ours. The revolutionary struggle against imperialism does not weaken, but rather strengthens the political differentiation of the classes. Imperialism is a highly powerful force in the internal relation- ships of China. The main source of this force is not the warships in the waters of the Yangtze Kiang -- they are only auxiliaries- but the economic and political bond between foreign capital and the native bourgeoisie. The struggle against imperialism, precisely because of its economic and military power, demands a powerful exertion of forces from the very depths of the Chinese people. Really to arouse the workers and peasants against imperialism is possible only by connecting their basic and most profound life interests with the cause of the country's liberation.

A workers' strike -- small or large -- an agrarian rebellion, an uprising of the oppressed sections in city and country against the usurer, against the bureaucracy, against the local military satraps, all that arouses the multitudes, that welds them together, that educates, steels, is a real step forward on the road to the revolutionary and social liberation of the Chinese people. Without that, the military successes and failures of the right, semi-right or semi-left generals will remain foam on the surface of the ocean. But everything that brings the oppressed and exploited masses of the toilers to their feet inevitably pushes the national bourgeoisie into an open bloc with the imperialists. The class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the masses of workers and peasants is not weakened, but, on the contrary, it is sharpened by imperialist oppression, to the point of bloody civil war at every serious conflict. The Chinese bourgeoisie always has a solid rearguard behind it in imperialism, which will always help it with money, goods, and shells against the workers and peasants. Only woeful philistines and sycophants, who hope in their hearts to obtain freedom for China as an imperialist bounty for the good behavior of the masses, can believe that the national liberation of China can be achieved by moderating the class struggle, by curbing strikes and agrarian uprisings, by abandoning the arming of the masses, etc.

When Comrade Martynov proposes that strikes and the struggle in the countryside be replaced by a solution of the questions through the medium of governmental arbitration, then he differs in no way from Tai Chi- t'ao, the philosophical inspirer of Chiang Kai-shek's policy.

Democratic or Socialist Revolution?

4. The senseless contention is attributed to the Opposition that China now stands on the eve of a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. There is nothing original in this "criticism." On the eve of 1905 and later on, the Mensheviks frequently declared that Lenin's tactic would be correct if Russia were directly on the eve of the socialist revolution. Lenin, however, explained to them that his tactic was the only road to the radical victory of the democratic revolution which, under favorable conditions, would begin to grow over into a socialist revolution.

The question of the "noncapitalist" path of development of China was posed in a conditioned form by Lenin, for whom, as for us, it was and is ABC wisdom that the Chinese revolution, left to its own forces, that is, without the direct support of the victorious proletariat of the USSR and the working class of all advanced countries, could end only with the conquest of the broadest possibilities for the capitalist development of the country, with more favorable conditions for the labor movement.

5. No less basically false is the contention that the question as to whether the Chinese proletariat needs an independent party; whether this party needs a bloc with the Kuomintang or must subordinate itself to it; whether soviets are necessary, etc., must be solved in accordance with how we conceive the course and the tempo of the further stages of the Chinese revolution. It is quite possible that China will have to pass through a relatively prolonged stage of parliamentarism, beginning with a constituent assembly. This demand is inscribed on the banner of the Communist Party. If the bourgeois-democratic revolution does not grow into a socialist revolution in the near future, then in all probability the workers' and peasants' soviets will pass from the scene for a definite stage and give way to a bourgeois regime, which, depending on the progress of the world revolution, will in turn give way, at a new historical stage, to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

6. But first of all, the inevitability of the capitalist path has by no means been proved; and secondly -- this argument is now incomparably more timely for us -- the bourgeois tasks can be solved in various ways. The slogan of the constituent assembly becomes an empty abstraction, often simple charlatanry, if one does not add who will convoke it and with what program. Chiang Kai-shek can raise the slogan of a constituent assembly against us even tomorrow, just as he has now raised his "workers' and peasants' program" against us. We want a constituent assembly convoked not by Chiang Kai-shek but by the executive committee of the workers' and peasants' soviets. That is the only serious and sure road.

7. Basically untenable is the endeavor of Comrade Bukharin to justify the opportunist and compromising line by referring to the allegedly predominant role of the "remnants of feudalism in Chinese economy. Even if Comrade Bukharin's estimation of Chinese economy rested on an economic analysis and not on scholastic definitions, the "remnants of feudalism" would still be unable to justify the policy which so manifestly facilitated the April coup.

The Chinese revolution has a national-bourgeois character principally because the development of the productive forces of Chinese capitalism collides with its governmental customs, dependence upon the countries of imperialism. The obstruction of the development of Chinese industry and the throttling of the internal market involve the conservation and rebirth of the most backward forms of production in agriculture, of the most parasitic forms of exploitation, of the most barbaric forms of oppression and violence, the growth of surplus population, as well as the persistence and aggravation of pauperism and all sorts of slavery.

No matter how great the specific weight of the typically "feudal" elements in Chinese economy may be, they can be swept away only in a revolutionary way, and consequently not in alliance with the bourgeoisie but in direct struggle against it.

The more complicated and tortuous is the interlacing of feudal and capitalist relations, the less the agrarian question can be solved by legislation from above, the more indispensable is the revolutionary initiative of the peasant masses in close union with the workers and the poor population of the cities, the falser is the policy that clings convulsively to the alliance with the bourgeoisie and the large landowner and subordinates its work among the masses to this alliance. The policy of the "bloc of four classes" not only prepared the bloc of the bourgeoisie with imperialism, but also meant the preservation of all the survivals of barbarism in administration and in economy.

To invoke the bourgeois character of the Chinese revolution, in particular against the soviets, is simply to renounce the experiences of our bourgeois revolutions of 1905 and February 1917. In these revolutions, the immediate and essential objective was the abolition of the autocratic and feudal regime. This aim did not exclude, but demanded the arming of the workers and the formation of soviets. Here is how Lenin treated the subject after the February revolution:

No, if there is to be a real struggle against the tsarist monarchy, if freedom is to be guaranteed in fact and not merely in words, in the glib promises of Milyukov and Kerensky, the workers must not support the new government; the government must "support" the workers! For the only guarantee of freedom and of the complete destruction of tsarism lies in arming the proletariat, in strengthening, extending and developing the role, significance and power of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies.

All the rest is mere phrase-mongering and lies, self-deception on the part of the politicians of the liberal and radical camp, fraudulent trickery.

Help, or at least do not hinder, the arming of the workers, and freedom in Russia will be invincible, the monarchy irrestorable, the republic secure.

Otherwise the Guchkovs and Milyukovs will restore the monarchy and grant none, absolutely none of the "liberties" they promised. All bourgeois politicians in all bourgeois revolutions "fed" the people and fooled the workers with promises.

Ours is a bourgeois revolution, therefore, the workers must support the bourgeoisie, say the Potresovs, Gvozdyovs and Chkheidzes, as Plekhanov said yesterday.

Ours is a bourgeois revolution, we Marxists say, therefore the workers must open the eyes of the people to the deception practiced by the bourgeois politicians, teach them to put no faith in words, to depend entirely on their own strength, their own organization, their own unity, and their own weapons. [Collected Works, vol.27, pp.305- 06; from Pravda (March 21, 1917).)

The Chinese revolutionist who clears his mind of the over- cunning resolutions and comments on the bloc of four classes will firmly grasp the sense of these simple words of Lenin, will be sure not to go astray, and will attain the goal.

The School of Martynov on the Chinese Question

8. The official leadership of the Chinese revolution has been oriented all this time on a "general national united front" or on the "bloc of four classes" (cf., the report of Bukharin; the lead article in the Communist International, no.11; the unpublished speech of Stalin to the Moscow functionaries on April 5, 1927; the article of Martynov in Pravda on April 10; the lead article in Pravda of March 16; the speech of Comrade Kalinin in Izvestia of March 6, 1927; the speech of Comrade Rudzutak in Pravda of March 9, 1927; etc., etc.). Matters had gone so far on this track that on the eve of Chiang Kai-shek's coup, Pravda, in order to expose the Opposition, proclaimed that revolutionary China was not being ruled by a bourgeois government but by a "government of the bloc of four classes."

The philosophy of Martynov, which has the sorry courage to carry all the mistakes of Stalin and Bukharin in the questions of Chinese policy to their logical conclusion, does not meet a trace of objection. Yet it is tantamount to trampling underfoot the fundamental principles of Marxism. It reproduces the crudest features of Russian and international Menshevism, applied to the conditions of the Chinese revolution. Not for nothing does the present leader of the Mensheviks, Dan, write in the last number of Sotsialistichesky Vestnik:

"In principle" the Bolsheviks were also for retaining the "united front" in the Chinese revolution up to the completion of the task of national liberation. On April 10, Martynov, in Pravda, most effectively and, despite the obligatory abuse of the Social Democracy, in a quite "Menshevik manner" showed the "left" Oppositionist Radek the correctness of the official position, which insists on the necessity of retaining the "bloc of four classes," on not hastening to overthrow the coalition government in which the workers sit side by side with the big bourgeoisie, not to impose "socialist tasks" upon it prematurely. [No. 8 (April 23, 1927), p.4.)

Everyone who knows the history of the struggle of Bolshevism against Menshevism, particularly in the question of relations to the liberal bourgeoisie, must acknowledge that Dan's approval of the "rational principles" of the Martynov school is not accidental, but follows with perfect legitimacy. It is only unnatural that this school should raise its voice with impunity in the ranks of the Comintern.

The old Menshevik tactic of 1905 to 1917, which was crushed underfoot by the march of events, is now transferred to China by the Martynov school, much the same as capitalist trade dumps its most inferior merchandise, which finds no market in the mother country, into the colonies. The merchandise has not even been renovated. The arguments are the same, letter for letter, as they were twenty years ago. Only where formerly the word autocracy stood, the word imperialism has been substituted for it in the text. Naturally, British imperialism is different from autocracy. But the Menshevik reference to it does not differ in the slightest from its reference to autocracy. The struggle against foreign imperialism is as much a class struggle as the struggle against autocracy. That it cannot be exorcised by the idea of the national united front is far too eloquently proved by the bloody April events, a direct consequence of the policy of the bloc of four classes.

What the "Line" Looked Like in Practice

9. On the past period, which terminated with the April coup, the theses of Comrade Stalin announce: "The line adopted was the only correct line."

What did it look like in practice? An eloquent reply is supplied by T'an P'ing-shan, the communist minister of agriculture, in his report at the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI in December 1926.

Since the establishment of the national government in Canton last July, which is nominally a government of the left wing, the power has actually been in the hands of the right wing. . . . The movement of the workers and peasants cannot develop to its full breadth as a result of various obstacles. After the March putsch a military dictatorship of the center that is, Chiang Kai-shek was established, while the political power remained as before in the hands of the right wing. The whole political power, which should properly [!1 have belonged to the left wing, is finally lost.

So: the left "should have" had the power, but finally lost it; the state power belonged to the right, the military authority, which is incomparably more powerful, and was entirely in the hands of the "center" of Chiang Kai-shek, which became the center of the conspiracy. Under such conditions, it is not difficult to under- stand why "the movement of the workers and peasants" could not develop as it should have.

T'an P'ing-shan gives an even more precise characterization of what the "only correct line" looked like in reality:

We sacrificed the interests of the workers and peasants in practice. . . After lengthy negotiations with us, the government did not as much as promulgate a trade union law. . . . The government did not accept the demands of the peasantry, which we presented to it in the name of various social organizations. When conflicts arose between the large landowners and the poor peasants, the government always took the side of the former.

How could all this happen? T'an P'ing-shan cautiously gives two reasons:

10. Such are the political relations that received the pompous title of the "bloc of four classes." Such "blocs" abound in the revolutionary as well as the parliamentary history of bourgeois countries: the big bourgeoisie leads the petty-bourgeois democrats, the phrasemongers of the national united front, behind it, and the latter, in turn, confuse the workers and drag them along behind the bourgeoisie. When the proletarian "tail," despite the efforts of the petty-bourgeois phrasemongers, begins to stir too violently, the bourgeoisie orders its generals to stamp on it. Then the opportunists observe with an air of profundity that the bourgeoisie has "betrayed" the national cause.

11. But did not the Chinese bourgeoisie "nevertheless" fight against imperialism? This argument too is an empty common- place. The compromisers of every country, in similar cases, have always assured the workers that the liberal bourgeoisie is fighting against the reaction. The Chinese bourgeoisie utilized the petty-bourgeois democracy only in order to conclude an alliance with imperialism against the workers. The Northern Expedition only served to strengthen the bourgeoisie and weaken the workers. A tactic that prepared such a result is a false tactic. "We sacrificed the interests of the workers and peasants in practice," says T'an P'ing-shan. What for? To support the bloc of four classes. And the results? A colossal success of the bourgeois counterrevolution, the consolidation of shattered imperialism, the weakening of the USSR. Such a policy is criminal. Unless it is mercilessly condemned, we cannot take a step forward.

The Theses Justify a Line for Which There Is No Justification

12. The theses endeavor even now to justify the policy which united the party of the proletariat with the big bourgeoisie within the framework of one organization, the Kuomintang, where the whole leadership was in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The theses declare: "This was the line . . . for the utilization of the rightists, their connections and experiences, insofar as they submitted to the discipline of the Kuomintang." Now we know very well how the bourgeoisie submitted to "discipline" and how the proletariat utilized the rights, that is, the big and middle bourgeoisie, their "connections" (with the imperialists) and their "experiences" (in strangling and shooting the workers). The story of this "utilization" is written in the book of the Chinese revolution with letters of blood. But this does not prevent the theses from saying: "The subsequent events fully confirmed the correctness of this line." Further than this no one can go! From an enormous counterrevolutionary coup, the theses of Stalin draw the positively miserable conclusion that the policy of isolating the right" within the united Kuomintang must be "replaced" by a policy of "determined struggle" against the right. All this after the right-wing "comrades" have begun to speak in the language of machine guns.

13. The theses refer, to be sure, to a "previous prediction" on the inevitability of the bourgeoisie's withdraw from the revolution. But are such prophecies by themselves sufficient for a Bolshevik policy? The prediction that the bourgeoisie will quit is an empty commonplace unless definite political conclusions are drawn from it. In the already quoted article, which approves the semiofficial line of Martynov, Dan writes: "In a movement that embraces such antagonistic classes, the united front cannot of course last forever" (Sotsialistichesky Vestnik, April 23, 1927, p. 3).

So Dan also acknowledges the "inevitability of the bourgeoisie's withdrawal." In practice, however, the policy of Menshevism in the revolution consists of retaining the united front at any cost, as long as possible, at the price of adapting its own policy to the policy of the bourgeoisie, at the price of cutting down the slogans and the activity of the masses, and even, as in China, at the price of the organizational subordination of the workers' party to the political apparatus of the bourgeoisie. The Bolshevik way, however, consists of an unconditional political and organizational demarcation from the bourgeoisie, of a relentless exposure of the bourgeoisie from the very first steps of the revolution, of a destruction of all petty-bourgeois illusions about the united front with the bourgeoisie, of tireless struggle with the bourgeoisie for the leadership of the masses, of the merciless expulsion from the Communist Party of all those elements who sow vain hopes in the bourgeoisie or idealize them.

Two Paths and the Mistakes of the Past

14. The theses of Comrade Stalin, to be sure, seek to oppose to each other the two paths of development of the Chinese revolution: one under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, with its suppression of the proletariat and an inevitable alliance with foreign imperialism; the other under the leadership of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.

But in order that this second perspective of the bourgeois- democratic revolution should not remain an empty phrase, it must be said openly and plainly that the whole leadership of the Chinese revolution up to now has been in irreconcilable contradiction to it. The Opposition has been and is subjected to a rabid criticism precisely because, from the very beginning, it brought to the fore the Leninist manner of putting the question, that is, the path of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie for the leadership of the oppressed masses of city and country within the framework and on the foundation of the national democratic revolution.

That Chiang Kai-shek played the role of a republican-liberal Cavaignac has already become a commonplace. The theses of Stalin, following the Opposition, recognize this analogy. But the analogy must be supplemented. Cavaignac would have been impossible without the Ledru-Rollins, the Louis Blanes, and the other phrasemongers of the all-inclusive national front.26 And who played these roles in China? Not only Wang Ching-wei, but also the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, above all their inspirers of the ECCI. Unless this is stated openly, explained, and deeply impressed, the philosophy of the two paths of development will only serve to screen opportunism A la Louis Blanc and Martynov, that is, to prepare a repetition of the April tragedy at a new stage of the Chinese revolution.

The Position of the Chinese Communist Party

16. In order to have the right to speak about the struggle for the Bolshevik path of the democratic revolution, one must possess the principal instrument of proletarian policy: an independent proletarian party which fights under its own banner and never permits its policy and organization to be dissolved in the policy and organization of other classes. Without assuring the complete theoretical, political, and organizational independence of the Communist Party, all talk about "two paths" is a mockery of Bolshevism. The Chinese Communist Party, in this whole period, has not been in alliance with the revolutionary petty-bourgeois section of the Kuomintang, but in subordination to the whole Kuomintang, led in reality by the bourgeoisie, which had the army and the power in its hands. The Communist Party submitted to the political discipline of Chiang Kai-shek. The Communist Party signed the obligation not to criticize Sun Yat- senism, a petty-bourgeois theory which is directed not only against imperialism, but also against the class struggle. The Communist Party did not have its own press, that is, it lacked the principal weapon of an independent party. Under such conditions, to speak of the struggle of the proletariat for hegemony means to deceive oneself and others.

17. By what is the submissive, indistinct, and politically unworthy position of the Communist Party in Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang to be explained? By the insistence upon the unity of the national front under the actual leadership of the bourgeoisie which allegedly "could not" withdraw from the revolution (the school of Martynov); that is, the rejection in practice of the second, Bolshevik path of which the theses of Stalin speak as an afterthought, solely for camouflage purposes.

To justify such a policy by the necessity for an alliance of the workers and peasants is to reduce this alliance itself to a phrase, to a screen for the commanding role of the bourgeoisie. The dependence of the Communist Party, an inevitable result of the "bloc of four classes," was the main obstacle in the path of the workers' and peasants' movement, and therefore also of the real alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry, without which the victory of the Chinese revolution cannot even be thought of.

18. What should the Communist Party do in the future?

In the theses, there is only a single sentence on this, but one capable of sowing the greatest confusion and causing irreparable harm. ". . . While fighting in the ranks of the revolutionary Kuomintang," say Stalin's theses, "the Communist Party must preserve its independence more than ever before." Preserve? But to this day the Communist Party has had no such independence. Precisely its lack of independence is the source of all the evils and all the mistakes. In this fundamental question, the theses, instead of making an end once and for all to the practice of yesterday, proposes to retain it "more than ever before." But this means that they want to retain the ideological, political, and organizational dependence of the proletarian party upon a petty- bourgeois party, which is inevitably converted into an instrument of the big bourgeoisie. In order to justify a false policy, one is forced to call dependence independence, and to demand the preservation of what ought to be buried for all time.

19. Chinese Bolshevism can rise only under a merciless self criticism by the best elements of the Communist Party. To support them in this is our direct duty. The attempt to cover up the mistakes of the past by artificially curbing a discussion of them will cause enormous harm, primarily to the Chinese Communist Party. If we do not help it to purge itself, in the shortest period, from Menshevism and the Mensheviks, it will enter a prolonged crisis, with splits, desertions, and an embittered struggle of various groups. What is more, the heavy defeats of opportunism may clear a road to anarcho-syndicalist influences. If, in spite of a workers' mass movement, in spite of the powerful rise of the trade unions, in spite of the revolutionary agrarian movement on the land, the Communist Party should remain as before an integral appendage to a bourgeois party, and what is more, should it enter the national government created by this bourgeois party, it would be better to say frankly: the time has not yet come for a Communist Party in China. It is better not to constitute any Communist Party at all than to discredit it so cruelly at the time of a revolution, that is, just at the time when the party is being joined to the working masses with bonds of blood and when great traditions are being created that are destined to live for decades.

Who Was Mistaken on the Tempo?

20. In Stalin's theses there is of course a whole section devoted to the "mistakes of the Opposition." Instead of hitting out at the right, that is, at the mistakes of Stalin himself, the theses are intent upon striking at the left, thereby deepening the mistakes, piling up confusion, making the way out more difficult, and driving the line of the leadership down into the swamp of compromise.

21. The main accusation: the Opposition "does not understand that the revolution in China cannot develop at a rapid tempo." For some reason or other, the theses drag in here the tempo of the October revolution. If the question of tempo is' raised, it must not be measured with the external yardstick of the October revolution, but with the internal class relationships of the Chinese revolution itself. The Chinese bourgeoisie, as is known, paid no attention to the precepts about a slow tempo. In April 1927, it considered it quite opportune to throw off the mask of the united front, which had served it so well, in order to open an attack upon the revolution with all its strength. The Communist Party, the proletariat, as well as the left Kuomintang people, showed themselves completely unprepared for this blow. Why? Because the leadership counted upon a slower tempo, because it remained hopelessly behindhand, because it was infected with tailendism.

In these doleful and whining avowals there is revealed, against the will of their authors, a pitiless refutation of the Stalinist philosophy on the "tempo" of the Chinese revolution.

22. We continued to maintain the bloc with the bourgeoisie at a time when the working masses were driving toward independent struggle. We attempted to utilize the experiences of the "rights" and became playthings in their hands. We carried on an ostrich policy in the press by suppressing and concealing from our own party the first coup by Chiang Kai-shek in March 1926, the shootings of workers and peasants, and in general all the facts that marked the counterrevolutionary character of the Kuomintang leadership. We neglected to look after the independence of our own party. We founded no newspaper for it. "We sacrificed the interests of the workers and peasants in practice" (T'an P'ing- shan). We did not take a single serious step to win over the soldiers. We allowed the Chiang Kai-shek band to establish a "military dictatorship of the center," that is, a dictatorship of the bourgeois counterrevolution. On the very eve of the coup we blew the trumpets for Chiang Kai-shek. We declared that he had "submitted to discipline," and that we had succeeded "by a skillful tactical maneuver in forestalling an abrupt turn to the right that threatened the Chinese revolution" (Raskolnikov's foreword to the pamphlet by T'an P'ing-shan).
We remained behind the events all along the line. At every step we lost in tempo to the benefit of the bourgeoisie. In this way we prepared the most favorable conditions for the bourgeois counterrevolution. The left Kuomintang at least offers us its "sincere apology." The theses of Stalin, on the contrary, draw from this whole chain of truly unparalleled tailendist mistakes the remarkable conclusion that the Opposition demands . . . a too rapid tempo.

23. Ever more frequently one hears accusations at our party meetings against the "ultraleft" Shanghaiers and in general against the Chinese workers for having provoked Chiang Kai- shek by their "excesses." No one cites any examples; and what would they prove, anyway? Not a single real people's revolution, drawing millions into its vortex, proceeds without so-called excesses. A policy that seeks to prescribe for the masses just awakening a line of march that will not disturb the bourgeois "order" is a policy of incurable philistines. It will always break its head against the logic of civil war when, while pronouncing belated curses upon the Cavaignacs and Kornilovs, it denounces at the same time the alleged "excesses" of the left.
The "mistake" of the Chinese workers lies in the fact that the critical moment of the revolution found them unprepared, unorganized, and unarmed. But that is not their mistake, it is their misfortune. The responsibility for it falls entirely upon a bad leadership, which let every interval pass.

Does a New Revolutionary Center Already Exist or Must One First Be Created?

24. On the present state of the Chinese revolution, the theses proclaim:

Chiang Kai-shek's coup means that there will now be two camps, two governments, two armies, two centers in the South: a revolutionary center in Wuhan and a counterrevolutionary center in Nanking.

What an inexact, superficial, vulgar characterization. It is not simply a question of two halves of the Kuomintang but of a new grouping of class forces. To believe that the Wuhan government is already a finished center, which will simply continue the revolution from the point where it was brought to a stop and beaten to the ground by Chiang Kai-shek is to regard the counterrevolutionary coup in April as a personal "desertion," an "episode"; in a word, it is to understand nothing.
The workers were not simply crushed. They were crushed by those who led them. Can one believe that the masses will now follow the left Kuomintang with the same confidence that they accorded the whole Kuomintang yesterday? From now on the struggle must be conducted not only against the former militarists allied with imperialism, but also against the "nation- al" bourgeoisie which, as a result of our radically incorrect policy, has captured the military apparatus and considerable sections of the army.
For the struggle on a new, higher stage of the revolution, the deceived masses must above all be inspired with confidence in themselves, and the not yet awakened masses must be aroused. For this, it must first of all be demonstrated that not a trace has been left of that disgraceful policy that "sacrificed the interests of the workers and peasants" (cf. T'an P'ing.shan) in order to support the bloc of four classes. Anyone who will lean in the direction of this policy must be mercilessly driven out of the Chinese Communist Party.
The miserably superficial and bureaucratic idea must be thrown aside that now, after the sanguinary experiences, millions of workers and peasants can be set in motion and led if only the "banner" of the Kuomintang is waved around in the air a little. ("We will surrender the blue banner of the Kuomintang to nobody!" cries Bukharin.)
No, the masses need a revolutionary program and a fighting organization that grows out of their own ranks and contains within itself the guarantee of contact with the masses and of loyalty to them. The Wuhan authorities are not enough for this: workers', peasants', and soldiers' soviets are needed for this, soviets of the toilers.

Soviets and the Arming of the Workers and Peasants

25. After rejecting the vital and indispensable slogan of soviets, the theses of Comrade Stalin declare somewhat unexpectedly that the principal "antidote [?1 to the counterrevolution is the arming of the workers and peasants." The arming of the workers is undoubtedly a necessary thing. We will have no differences at all on this point. But how are we to explain why it was considered correct up to now to arm the workers to a "minimum" extent for the welfare of the revolution? that the representatives of the Comintern actually opposed the arming of the workers? (cf. the letter of the three comrades to the delegation of the AUCP in the Comintern25); that in spite of the full possibility of arming themselves the workers found themselves unarmed at the moment of the coup? All this is to be explained by the desire not to break with Chiang Kai-shek, not to offend Chiang Kai-shek, not to push him to the right. The marvelous "antidote" was lacking precisely on the day it was most needed. Today the workers are not arming themselves in Wuhan either-so as "not to drive away" Wang Ching-wei.

26. The arming of the workers and peasants is an excellent thing. But one must be logical. In South China there are already armed peasants; they are the so-called national armies. Yet, far from being an "antidote to the counterrevolution," they have been its tool. Why? Because the political leadership, instead of embracing the masses of the army through soldiers' soviets has contented itself with a purely external copy of our political departments and commissars, which, without an independent revolutionary party and without soldiers' soviets, have been transformed into an empty camouflage for bourgeois militarism.

27. The theses of Stalin reject the slogan of soviets with the argument that it would be a "slogan of struggle against the government of the revolutionary Kuomintang." But in that case, what is the meaning of the words: "The principal antidote to the counterrevolution is the arming of the workers and peasants"? Against whom will the workers and peasants arm themselves? Will it not be against the governmental authority of the revolutionary Kuomintang?

The slogan of arming the workers and peasants, if it is not a phrase, a subterfuge, a masquerade, but a call to action, is not less sharp in character than the slogan of workers' and peasants' soviets. Is it likely that the armed masses will tolerate at their side or over them the governmental authority of a bureaucracy alien and hostile to them? The real arming of the workers and peasants under present circumstances inevitably involves the formation of soviets.

28. Further: Who will arm the masses? Who will direct the armed men?

Why Is It Impossible to Form Soviets?

29. To this, the theses reply: "In the first place soviets cannot be created at every convenient moment, they are created only in the period of a special rise of the revolutionary wave. If these words have any sense at all, it is this: We let pass the favorable moment when we did not call upon the masses to create soviets at the beginning of the last period of powerful revolutionary rise.

Once again: the mistakes of the past are irreparable. If we are of the opinion that the Chinese revolution has been crushed for a long time, then the slogan of soviets will naturally find no echo in the masses. But all the more unfounded then is the slogan of the arming of the workers and peasants. We do not believe, however, that the consequences of the false policy pursued are so heavy and profound. There are many facts that speak for the possibility and the likelihood of a new revolutionary rise in the near future. Among other things, it is indicated by the fact that Chiang Kai- shek is forced to flirt with the masses, to promise the workers the eight-hour day, and all sorts of relief to the peasants, etc.

In the event of a further extension of the agrarian movement and a turning of the petty-bourgeois masses of the city against Chiang Kai-shek as an open agent of imperialism, more favorable conditions can arise in the near future under which the now battered proletarian vanguard will reassemble the ranks of the toilers for a new offensive. Whether this will take place a month sooner or later is of no concern; in any case we must prepare for it now with our own program and our own organizations. In other words: the slogan of soviets will henceforth accompany the whole further course of the Chinese revolution and reflect its destinies.

30. "In the second place," say the theses, "soviets are not formed for chattering; they are created primarily as organs of struggle against the existing state power, and for the conquest of power." That soviets are not created for chattering is perhaps the only correct point in the theses. But a revolutionist does not propose the arming of the workers and peasants for chattering either. Whoever says here: at the present stage only chatter can be the result of soviets, but on the contrary, something serious will come out of the arming of the workers and peasants, is either making fun of himself or of others.

31. A third argument: since there is now a series of left Kuomintang organizations in Wuhan, which in their solemn manifesto of April 23 apologized for having overslept Chiang Kai-shek's coup, the theses draw the conclusion: the creation of soviets would mean an insurrection against the left Kuomintang, "for there is no other governmental authority in this region at present than that of the revolutionary Kuomintang."

These words fairly reek with the apparatus like bureaucratic conception of revolutionary authority. The government is not regarded as the expression and consolidation of the developing struggle of the classes, but as the self-sufficient expression of the will of the Kuomintang. The classes come and go but the continuity of the Kuomintang goes on forever. But it is not enough to call Wuhan the center of the revolution for it really to be that. The provincial Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek had an old, reactionary, mercenary bureaucracy at its disposal. What has the left Kuomintang? For the time being, nothing or almost nothing. The slogan of soviets is a call for the creation of real organs of the new state power right through the transitional regime of a dual government.

32. And what will be the attitude of the soviets to the "government of the revolutionary Kuomintang," allegedly the "only" governmental authority "in this region"? A truly classic question! The attitude of the soviets to the revolutionary Kuomintang will correspond to the attitude of the revolutionary Kuomintang to the soviets. In other words: to the extent that the soviets arise, arm themselves, consolidate themselves, they will tolerate over them only such a government as bases itself upon the armed workers and peasants. What makes the soviet system valuable is the fact that, especially in directly revolutionary epochs, it furnishes the best means of guaranteeing agreement between the central and local government authorities.

33. Comrade Stalin, as far back as 1925, called the Kuomintang a "workers' and peasants' party" (!?) (Problems of Leninism, p.264). This definition has nothing in common with Marxism. But it is clear that with this incorrect formulation Comrade Stalin wanted to express the idea that the basis of the Kuomintang is an antibourgeois alliance of the workers and peasants. This was absolutely false for the period in which it was said: the workers and peasants, it is true, did follow the Kuomintang, but they were led by the bourgeoisie and we know where it led them. Such a party is called bourgeois, but not workers' and peasants'. After the "withdrawal" of the bourgeoisie (that is, after it massacred the unarmed and unprepared proletariat), the revolution, according to Stalin, passes over to a new stage, in which it is to be led by the left Kuomintang, that is, by one, at least so we are to assume, that will finally realize the Stalinist idea of the "workers' and peasants' party." The question arises: why then will the creation of workers' and peasants' soviets mean a war against the authority of the workers' and peasants' Kuomintang?

34. Another argument: To call for the creation of soviets "means to hand the enemies of the Chinese people a new weapon to combat the revolution, to manufacture new legends, and to pretend that there is no national revolution in China, but an artificial transplanting of Moscow sovietization."

This stupefying argument means that if we develop, extend, and deepen the revolutionary movement of the masses, the enemies of the Chinese people will redouble their efforts to calumniate it. This argument has no other sense. Therefore it has no sense at all.

Perhaps the theses have not in mind the enemies of the Chinese people, but the fear of the popular masses themselves of a Moscow sovietization? But on what is such a consideration based? It is well known that all the varieties of the "national" bourgeoisie, right, center, and left, zealously smear themselves with a protective Muscovite coloration in all their political work: they create commissars, political army posts, political departments, plenums of the central committee, control commissions, etc. The Chinese bourgeoisie is not at all afraid of transplanting Muscovite forms, which it carefully debases to serve its own class aims. But why do they apply them? Not out of love for Moscow, but rather because they are popular with the masses of the people.

The Chinese peasant knows that the soviets gave the land to the Russian peasant, and whoever does not know this ought to learn it. The Chinese workers know that the soviets guaranteed the liberty of the Russian proletariat. The experience of the counterrevolution of Chiang Kai-shek must have made the advanced workers understand that without an independent organization embracing the whole proletariat and assuring its collaboration with the oppressed masses in the city and on the land, the revolution cannot triumph. The creation of soviets follows for the Chinese masses from their own experience, and is far from being an "artificially transplanted sovietization" for them. A policy that is afraid to call things by their right name is a false policy. One must be guided by the revolutionary masses and by the objective needs of the revolution, but not by what the enemy will say.

35. It is said: The Hankow government is nevertheless a fact. Feng Yu~-hsiang is a fact, T'ang Sheng-chib is a fact, and they have armed forces at their disposal; neither the Wuhan government, nor Feng Yu-hsiang, nor T'ang Sheng-chih wants soviets.
To create soviets would mean to break with these allies. Although this argument is not openly formulated in the theses, it is nevertheless decisive for many comrades. We have already heard from Stalin on the Hankow government; the "revolutionary center," the "only governmental authority." At the same time an advertising campaign is launched for Feng Yu-hsiang in our party meetings: "a former worker," "a faithful revolutionist" "a reliable man," etc. All this is a repetition of the past mistakes under circumstances in which these mistakes can become even more disastrous. The Hankow government and the army command can be against the soviets only because they will have nothing to do with a radical agrarian program, with a real break with the large landowners and the bourgeoisie, because they secretly cherish the thought of a compromise with the right. But then it becomes all the more important to form soviets. This is the only way to push the revolutionary elements of Hankow to the left and force the counterrevolutionists to retire.

36. But even if the soviets do not carry on a war with the "only" government of Hankow, will they not still bring with them the elements of dual power? Without a doubt. Whoever is really for the course toward a workers' and peasants' government, not only in words but in deeds, must understand that this course leads through a certain period of dual power. How long this period will last, what concrete forms it will assume, will depend upon how the "only" government in Hankow conducts itself, upon the independence and initiative of the Communist Party, upon how rapidly the soviets develop, etc. It will be our task, in any case, to strengthen the element of the workers and peasants in the dual power and by that provide the genuine workers' and peasants' soviet government with a fully developed democratic program.

37. But dozens of foreign warships are anchored in the Yangtze river which can sweep away Shanghai, Hankow, etc. Is it not insanity to form soviets under such conditions? This argument too is of course not formulated in Stalin's theses, but it is paraded around everywhere in party meetings (Martynov, Yaroslavsky, and others). The school of Martynov would like to kill the idea of the soviets with fear of the British naval artillery. This artifice is not a new one. In 1917, the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks sought to frighten us by declaring that the seizure of power by the soviets would mean the occupation of Kronstadt and Petrograd by the Allies. We answered: only the deepening of the revolution can save it. Foreign imperialism will only reconcile itself to such a "revolution" as strengthens its own positions in China at the price of a few concessions to the Chinese bourgeoisie. Every real people's revolution that undermines the colonial foundation of imperialism will inevitably meet with the latter's furious resistance.

We did try to stop halfway, but this "only correct line" protected Nanking from the cannons of imperialism as little as it did the Chinese workers from the machine guns of Chiang Kai- shek. Only the transition of the Chinese revolution to the phase of real mass action, only the formation of workers', peasants', and soldiers' soviets, only the deepening of the social program of the revolution, are capable, as our own experiences prove, of bringing confusion into the ranks of the foreign army forces by arousing their sympathy for the soviets and thus really protecting the revolution from blows from without.

What Do the Theses of Stalin Propose in Place of Soviets?

38. The creation of "revolutionary peasant committees, workers' trade unions, and other mass organizations as preparatory elements for the soviets of the future." What should be the course of these organizations? We do not find a single word on this in the theses. The phrase that these are "preparatory elements for the soviets of the future" is only a phrase and nothing more.

What will these organizations do now? They will have to conduct strikes, boycotts, break the backbone of the bureaucratic apparatus, annihilate the counterrevolutionary military bands, drive out the large landowners, disarm the detachments of the usurers and the rich peasants, arm the workers and peasants, in a word, solve all the problems of the democratic and agrarian revolution that are on the order of the day, and in this way raise themselves to the position of local organs of power. But then they will be soviets, only of a kind that are badly suited to their tasks. The theses therefore propose, if these proposals are to be taken seriously at all, to create substitutes for soviets, instead of soviets themselves.

39. During all the preceding mass movements, the trade unions were compelled to fulfill functions closely approaching the functions of soviets (Hong Kong, Shanghai, and elsewhere). But these were precisely the functions for which the trade unions were entirely insufficient. They embrace a too small number of workers. They do not at all embrace the petty-bourgeois masses in the city that incline toward the proletariat. But such tasks as the carrying through of strikes with the least possible losses to the poorer population of the city, the distribution of provisions, participation in tax policy, participation in the formation of armed forces, to say nothing of carrying through the agrarian revolution in the provinces, can be accomplished with the necessary sweep only when the directing organization embraces not only all the sections of the proletariat, but connects them intimately in the course of its activities with the poor population in the city and country.

One would at least think that Chiang Kai-shek's military coup had finally hammered into the mind of every revolutionist the fact that trade unions separated from the army are one thing, and united workers' and soldiers' soviets, on the other hand, are quite another thing. Revolutionary trade unions and peasants committees can arouse the hatred of the enemy no less than soviets. But they are far less capable than soviets of warding off its blows.

If we are to speak seriously of the alliance of the proletariat with the oppressed masses in the city and country-not of an "alliance" between the leaders, a semiadulterated alliance through dubious representatives, but of a real fighting alliance built and steeled in the struggles of the masses against the enemy-then such an alliance can have no other organizational form than that of soviets. This can be denied only by those who rely more upon compromising leaders than upon the revolutionary masses below.

Should We Break with the Left Kuomintang?

From the foregoing remarks may be seen how ill-founded are the whispers about a break of the Communist Party with the Kuomintang. "This is tantamount," say the theses, "to deserting the field of struggle and leaving our allies in the Kuomintang in the lurch to the delight of the enemies of the revolution." These pathetic lines are quite out of place. It is not a question of a break but of preparing a bloc, not on the basis of subordination but on the basis of a genuine equality of rights. A revolutionary Kuomintang has yet to be formed. We are in favor of the communists working inside the Kuomintang and patiently drawing the workers and peasants over to their side. The Communist Party can gain a petty-bourgeois ally, not by prostrating itself before the Kuomintang at every one of its vacillations, but only if it appeals to the workers openly and directly, in its own name, under its own banner, organizes them around it, and shows the Kuomintang by example and by deed what a party of the masses is, by supporting every forward step of the Kuomintang, by relentlessly unmasking every vacillation, every step backward, and by creating a real revolutionary foundation for a bloc with the Kuomintang in the form of workers', peasants', and soldiers' soviets.

40. It is absurd to assert that the Opposition stands for the "political isolation" of the Communist Party. This assertion contains just as much truth as the one that the Opposition stood for withdrawing from the British trade unions. Both accusations have only served to mask the bloc with the right Kuomintang and with the traitorous General Council. The Opposition is energetically in favor of strengthening and developing the bloc with the revolutionary elements of the Kuomintang, for a compact fighting alliance of the workers with the poor population of the city and country, for the course toward the revolutionary dictatorship of the workers, peasants, and the urban petty bourgeoisie.

For this it is necessary:

(a) to establish as disastrous such forms of the bloc in which the Communist Party sacrifices the interests of the workers and peasants to the utopian aim of holding the bourgeoisie in the camp of the national revolution;
(b) to reject categorically such forms of the bloc which directly or indirectly hinder the independence of our own party and subordinate it to the control of other classes
(c) to reject categorically such forms of the bloc in which the Communist Party hauls down its banner and sacrifices the growth of its own influence and its own authority in the interest of its allies;
(d) to establish the bloc with clearly formulated common tasks, but not to base it upon misunderstanding, diplomatic maneuvers, sycophancy, and hypocrisy;
(e) to establish the conditions and limits of the bloc with thorough precision and let them be known to all;
(f) for the Communist Party to retain full freedom of criticism, and to watch over its allies with no less vigilance than over an enemy, without forgetting for a moment that an ally who bases himself upon other classes or depends upon other classes is only a temporary confederate who can be transformed by the force of circumstances into an opponent and an enemy;
(g) to set the connection with the petty-bourgeois masses higher than a connection with their party leaders;
(h) finally, to rely only upon ourselves, upon our own organization, arms, and power.

Only by observing these conditions will a really revolutionary bloc of the Communist Party with the Kuomintang become possible, not a bloc of the leaders, which vacillates and is subject to contingencies, but a bloc based upon all the oppressed masses of the city and country under the political hegemony of the proletarian vanguard.

The Problems of the Chinese Revolution and the Anglo-Russian Committee

41. In the direction of the Chinese revolution we are confronted not by tactical errors, but by a radically false line. This follows clearly from everything that has been presented above. It becomes still clearer when the policy in China is compared with our policy toward the Anglo-Russian Committee. In the latter case the inconsistency of the opportunist line did not express itself so tragically as in China, but no less completely and convincingly.

42. In Britain, as in China, the line was directed toward a rapprochement with the "solid" leaders, based on personal relations, on diplomatic combinations, while renouncing ~n practice the deepening of the abyss between the revolutionary or leftward developing masses and the traitorous leaders. We ran after Chiang Kai-shek and thereby drove the Chinese communists to accept the dictatorial conditions put by Chiang Kai-shek to the Communist Party. Insofar as the representatives of the All- Union Central Council of Trade Unions ran after Purcell, Hicks, Citrine, and Company and adopted in principle the position of neutrality in the trade union movement, they recognized the General Council as the only representative of the British proletariat and obligated themselves not to interfere in the affairs of the British labor movement.

4,3. The decisions of the Berlin conference of the Anglo-Russian Committee mean our renunciation of support in the future to the strikers against the will of averred strikebreakers. They are tantamount to a condemnation and a flat betrayal of the trade union minority, all of whose activity is directed against the traitors whom we have recognized as the sole representatives of the British working class. Finally, the solemn proclamation of "noninterference" signifies our capitulation in principle to the national narrowness of the labor movement in its most backward and most conservative form.

44. Chiang Kai-shek accuses us of interfering in the internal affairs of China just as Citrine accuses us of interfering in the internal affairs of the trade unions. Both accusations are only transcriptions of the accusation of world imperialism against a workers' state that dares to interest itself in the fate of the oppressed masses of the whole world. In this case as in others, Chiang Kai-shek, like Citrine, under different conditions and at different posts, remains the agent of imperialism despite temporary conflicts with it. If we chase after collaboration with such "leaders," we are forced ever more to restrict, to limit, and to emasculate our methods of revolutionary mobilization.

45. Through our false policy we not only helped the General Council to maintain its tottering positions after the strike betrayal, but, what is more, we furnished it with all the necessary weapons for putting impudent demands to us which we meekly accepted. Under the tinkling of phrases about "hegemony," we acted in the Chinese revolution and the British labor movement as if we were morally vanquished, and by that we prepared our material defeat. An opportunist deviation is always accompanied by a loss of faith in its own line.

46. The businessmen of the General Council, having received a guarantee of noninterference from the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, are undoubtedly persuading Chamberlain that their method of struggle against Bolshevik propaganda is far more effective than ultimatums and threats. Chamberlain, however, prefers the combined method and combines the diplomacy of the General Council with the violence of British imperialism.

47. If it is alleged against the Opposition that Baldwin or Chamberlain "also" wants the dissolution of the Anglo-Russian Committee, then one understands nothing at all of the political mechanics of the bourgeoisie. Baldwin justly feared and still fears the harmful influence of the Soviet trade unions upon the leftward developing labor movement of Britain. The British bourgeoisie set its pressure upon the General Council against the pressure of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions upon the traitorous leaders of the trade unions, and on this field the bourgeoisie triumphed all along the line. The General Council refused to accept money from the Soviet trade unions and to confer with them on the question of aid for the mine workers. In exercising its pressure upon the General Council, the British bourgeoisie, through its medium, exerted pressure upon the All- Union Central Council of Trade Unions and at the Berlin conference obtained from the latter's representatives an unprecedented capitulation in the fundamental questions of the class struggle. An Anglo-Russian Committee of this kind only serves the British bourgeoisie (cf. the declaration of the Times). This will not hinder it from continuing its pressure in the future upon the General Council, and demanding of it a break with the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, for by such a policy of pressure and blackmail the British bourgeoisie wins everything we lose by our senseless and unprincipled conduct.

48. The insinuations that Chiang Kai-shek is "in solidarity" with the Opposition, because he wants to drive the communists out of the Kuomintang, have the same value. A remark by Chiang Kai-shek is being circulated in which he is supposed to have said to another general that he agrees with the Opposition in the CPSU on this point. In the text of the document from which this "quotation" was picked out, the words of Chiang Kai- shek are not adduced as an expression of his views, but as a manifestation of his readiness and aptitude to deceit, to falsehood, and even to disguise himself for a few days as a "left communist" in order to be better able to stab us in the back. Still more, the document in question is one long indictment against the line and the work of the Comintern's representatives in China. Instead of picking quotations out of the document and giving them a sense contrary to that contained in the text, it would be better to make the document itself known to the Comintern.31

Leave aside, however, the misuse of alleged "quotations" and there remains the "coincidence" that Chiang Kai-shek has always been against a bloc with the communists, while we are against a bloc with Chiang Kai-shek. The school of Martynov draws from this the conclusion that the policy of the Opposition "generally" serves the reaction. This accusation is not new either.
The whole development of Bolshevism in Russia proceeded under the accompaniment of Menshevik accusations that the Bolsheviks are playing the game of the reaction, that they are aiding the monarchy against the Cadets, the Cadets against the SRs and Mensheviks, and so on without end. Renaudel accuses the French communists of rendering aid to Poincare when they attack the bloc of the Radicals and the Socialists. The German Social Democracy has more than once pretended that our refusal to enter the League of Nations plays the game of the extreme imperialists, etc., etc.

The fact that the big bourgeoisie, represented by Chiang Kai-shek, needs to break with the proletariat, and the revolutionary proletariat on the other hand needs to break with the bourgeoisie, is not an evidence of their solidarity, but of the irreconcilable class antagonism between them. The hopeless compromisers stand between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and accuse both the "extreme" wings of disrupting the national front and rendering assistance to the reaction. To accuse the Opposition of playing the game of Chamberlain, Thomas, or Chiang Kai-shek is to show a narrow-minded opportunism, and at the same time to recognize involuntarily the proletarian and revolutionary character of our political line.

49. The Berlin conference of the Anglo-Russian Committee which coincided with the beginning of British intervention in China did not even dare to allude to the question of effective measures to take against the hangman's work of British imperialism in the Far East. Could a more striking proof be found that the Anglo-Russian Committee is incapable of moving as much as a finger toward really preventing war? But it is not simply useless. It has brought immeasurable harm to the revolutionary movement, like every illusion and hypocrisy. By referring to its collaboration with the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in the "struggle for peace," the General Council is able to soothe and lull the consciousness of the British proletariat, stirred by the danger of war. 'The All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions now appears before the British working class and the working class of the whole world as a sort of guarantor for the international policy of the traitors of the General Council. The criticism directed by the revolutionary elements in Britain against the General Council thereby becomes weakened and blunted.

Thanks to Purcell, Hicks, and Company, the MacDonalds and Thomases get the possibility of keeping the working masses in a stupor up to the threshold of war itself, in order to call upon them then for the defense of the democratic fatherland. When Comrade Tomsky, in his last interview (Pravda, May 8), criticized the Thomases, Havelock Wilsons and the other hirelings of the stock exchange, he did not mention by a single word the subversive, disintegrating, lulling, and therefore much more pernicious work of Purcell, Hicks, and Company. These "allies" are not mentioned by name in the interview as though they do not even exist. Then why a bloc with them? But they do exist. Without them Thomas does not exist politically. Without Thomas there exists no Baldwin, that is, the capitalist regime in England. Contrary to our best intentions, our support of the bloc with Purcell is actually support of the whole British regime and the facilitation of its work in China. After all that has happened, this is clear to every revolutionist who has gone through the school of Lenin. In a like manner, our collaboration with Chiang Kai-shek blunted the class vigilance of the Chinese proletariat, and thereby facilitated the April coup.

The Theory of Stages and the Theory of Socialism in One Country

50. The tailendist theory of "stages" or "steps" repeatedly proclaimed by Stalin in recent times has served as the motivation in principle for the opportunist tactic. If the complete organizational and political independence of the Chinese Communist Party is demanded, it means that steps are being skipped over. If soviet organizations are demanded for drawing the worker and peasant masses into the civil war, it means that "stages" are being skipped over. If the dissolution of the political bloc with the traitors of the General Council, who are now carrying on the basest work, is demanded, it means that stages are being skipped over. The conservative bourgeois national Kuomintang government, the military command of Chiang Kai-shek, the General Council-in a word, any one of the institutions created by the pressure of the possessing and ruling classes, and constituting a barrier for the revolutionary class movement, becomes, according to this theory, a great historical stage, to which one's policy must be adapted until "the masses themselves" pass through it. Once we set out on this road, our policy must be inevitably transformed from a revolutionary factor into a conservative one. The course of the Chinese revolution and the fate of the Anglo-Russian Committee are an imminent warning in this regard.

51. Such facts as the defeat of the great strikes of the British proletariat last year, as the Chinese revolution this year, cannot go by without consequences for the international labor movement, just as the defeat of the German proletariat in the autumn of 1923 did not pass without leaving its traces. 32 An unavoidable temporary weakening of the revolutionary positions is in itself a great evil. It can become irreparable for a long time if the orientation is wrong, if the strategic line is false. Precisely now, in the period of a temporary revolutionary ebb, the struggle against all manifestations of opportunism and national limitedness and for the line of revolutionary internationalism is more necessary than ever.

By recognizing the principle of noninterference, our delegation, regardless of its intentions, promotes the most conservative, most defeatist tendencies in the working class. There is nothing perplexing in the fact that the most backward and weariest sections of the workers of the USSR consider interference in the British strike struggle or the Chinese revolution a mistake. Ever more frequently they argue: "Are we not taught that we can build up socialism in our country, even without the victory of the revolution in other countries, if only there will be no intervention? Then we must carry on such a policy as does not provoke intervention. Our interference in British and Chinese affairs is a mistake because without yielding positive results it drives the world bourgeoisie to the road of military intervention and thus threatens the construction of socialism in our country."

There is no doubt and there can be none that now, after the new defeats of the international revolutionary movement, the theory of socialism 1n one country will serve, independent of the will of its creators, to justify, to motivate, and to sanctify all the tendencies directed toward restricting the revolutionary objectives, toward quenching the ardor of the struggle, toward a national and conservative narrowness. The slightest digression toward the side of "noninterference," whether covered or not with the theory of socialism in one country, only increases the imperialist danger instead of diminishing it.

It is perfectly clear and incontestable with regard to the Chinese revolution that only a deeper mass impulsion, a more radical social program, the slogan of the workers' and peasants' soviets, can seriously shield the revolution against a military attack from without. Only a revolution on whose banner the toilers and oppressed write plainly their own demands is capable of gripping the feelings not only of the international proletariat but also of the soldiers of capital. We know this well enough from our own experiences. We saw and proved it in the years of the civil war at Archangel, Odessa, and elsewhere. The compromising and traitorous leadership did not protect Nanking from destruction. It facilitated the penetration of the enemy ships into the Yangtze. A revolutionary leadership, with a powerful social movement, can make the waters of the Yangtze too hot for the ships of Lloyd George, Chamberlain, and MacDonald. In any case, this is the only way and the only hope of defense.

The extension of the Soviet front is simultaneously the best defense of the USSR. Under the present circumstances, the talk that our international position has become worse or can in any way become worse as a result of some kind of "left" mistake sounds absurd. If our position has grown worse, it is a result of the defeat of the Chinese revolution, a historical and international event, regardless of whether or not we interfere in it. Were we not to interfere in the intervention of imperialism, we would only facilitate its work-against China, and against ourselves as well.

But there are different kinds of "interference." The falsest and most dangerous interference consists of the endeavor to halt the development of the revolution halfway. The struggle for peace occupies the center of our international policy. But even the most extreme representative of the Martynov school would never dare to contend that our policy of peace can be in contradiction to the development of the Chinese revolution, or conversely, that its development can be in contradiction to our policy of peace. The one supplements the other. The best way to defend the USSR is to vanquish the Chiang Kai-shek counterrevolution and to raise the movement to a higher stage. Whoever rejects soviets for China under such conditions, disarms the Chinese revolution. Whoever proclaims the principle of noninterference in the relations of the European proletariat, weakens its revolutionary vanguard. Both weaken the position of the USSR, the principal fortress of the international proletariat.

Thus we see how one mistake is heaped upon the others and together produce a line that digresses ever more from the line of Bolshevism. Critical voices and warnings are regarded as obstructions. The shifting of the official line toward the right is supplemented by blows at the left. To continue on this path would involve the greatest dangers for the Soviet state as well as for the Comintern. Were we to conceal these dangers from the international proletarian vanguard, we would be betraying the banner of communism.

We do not doubt for a moment that the mistakes can be repaired, the deviations overcome, and the line rectified without violent crises and convulsions. The language of facts is all too eloquent, the lessons of experience all too plain. It is only necessary that our party, of the Soviet Union as well as of the International, obtain the full possibility to weigh the facts and draw the proper conclusions from them. We firmly believe that they will draw these conclusions in the spirit of revolutionary unity.

Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu's Speech on the Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party

[Postscript, May 17, 1927]

52. What purpose does Marxism serve in politics? To under- stand that which is and to foresee that which will be. Foresight must be the foundation of action. We already know what has happened to the predictions of Comrade Stalin: one week before the coup d'etat of Chiang Kai-shek, he defended him and blew the trumpet for him by calling for the utilization of the right wing, its experiences, its connections (speech to the Moscow functionaries on April 5). In the theses analyzed by us, Stalin gives another example of foresight that has also been tested by life. The central question of our criticism of Stalin's theses was formulated by us above as follows: "Does there already exist a new center of the revolution or must one first be created?" Stalin contended that after Chiang Kai-shek's coup there were "two governments, two armies, two centers: the revolutionary center in Wuhan and the counterrevolutionary center in Nanking. ~' Stalin contended that no soviets can be built because that would signify an uprising against the Wuhan center, against the "only government" in South China. We called this characterization of the situation "false, superficial, vulgar." We called this so-called Wuhan government the "leaders of Wuhan" and showed that in South China, after the abrupt veering of the civil war to another class line, there is no government as yet, that one must first be created. In Pravda of May 15 the speech of Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu at the convention of the Chinese Communist Party (April 29) is reprinted.33

Neither Stalin nor we had this speech when Stalin wrote his theses and we wrote a criticism of them. Ch'en Tu-hsiu characterizes the situation not on the basis of a general analysis of the circumstances but on the basis of his direct observations. Now, what does Ch'en Tu-hsiu say of the new revolutionary movement? He declares plainly that "it would be a mistake" to consider the Wuhan government an organ of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship: "It is not yet a government of the worker and peasant masses but solely a bloc of leaders. But is this not word for word what we said against Stalin?

Stalin wrote: "There is now no other governmental power than the government of the revolutionary Kuomintang." We answered him on that: "These words fairly reek with the apparatus like and bureaucratic conception of revolutionary authority . . the classes come and go but the continuity of the Kuomintang government goes on forever [allegedly]. But it is not enough to call Wuhan the center of the revolution for it really to be that" (cf. above). Instead of making it clear to the Chinese revolutionists, to the communists primarily, that the Wuhan government will break its head against a wall if it imagines that it is itself already the only government in China; instead of turning relentlessly against the decorative hypocrisy of the petty-bourgeois revolutionists who have already destroyed so many revolutions; instead of shouting right into the ear of the uncertain, faltering, vacillating center of Wuhan: "Do not be misled by outward appearances, do not be dazzled by the glitter of your own titles and manifestos, begin to perform the hard daily work, set masses in motion, build up workers', soldiers', and peasants' soviets, build up a revolutionary governmental power"-instead of all this, Stalin hurls himself against the slogan of the soviets and supports the worst, the most provincial and bureaucratic prejudices and superstitious views of those ill-fated revolutionists who fear people's soviets, but for that, have faith in the sacred inkblots on the notepaper of the Kuomintang.

53. Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu characterizes the situation on the basis of his own observations with exactly the same words with which we characterized the situation on the basis of theoretical consideration. No revolutionary government but only a bloc of leaders. But this does not at all mean that Comrade Ch'en Tu- hsiu himself draws correct conclusions from the circumstances correctly characterized by him. Since he is bound hand and foot by false directives, Ch'en Tu-hsiu draws conclusions that radically contradict his own analysis. He says: "We have before us the task of beginning to build up a genuinely revolutionary and democratic government as soon as the situation in the sphere of the national government has changed and the threat of foreign intervention and the offensive of the militarists has disappeared."

Here we must say directly and openly: pose the question this way and you adopt the surest and shortest road to ruin. The creation of a genuinely revolutionary government basing itself on the popular mass is relegated to the moment when the dangers have disappeared. But the central danger consists precisely of the fact that instead of a revolutionary government in South China, there is for the time being only a bloc of leaders. Through this principal evil, all the other dangers are increased tenfold, including also the military danger If we are to be guarded to the highest possible degree against the foreign and our "own" militarist bands, we must become strong, consolidate ourselves, organize, and arm ourselves. There are no other roads. We should not stick our heads in the sand. No artifice will help us here. The enthusiasm of the masses must be aroused, their readiness to fight and to die for their own cause. But for this the masses must be gripped as deeply as possible, politically and organizationally.
Without losing even an hour, they must be given a revolutionary program of action and the organizational form of the soviets.
There are no other roads. Postpone the creation of a revolutionary government until somebody has eliminated the danger of war in some way or other, and you take the surest and shortest road to ruin.

54. With regard to the agrarian movement, Comrade Ch'en Tu- hsiu admits honestly that the agrarian program of the party (reduction of rent payments) is completely insufficient The peasant movement, he says, "is being transformed into the struggle for land. The peasantry arises spontaneously and wants to settle the land question itself." Further on, Comrade Ch'en Tu- hsiu declares openly: "We followed a too pacific policy. Now it is necessary to confiscate the large estates. . . ." If the content of these words is developed in a Marxist manner, it constitutes the harshest condemnation of the whole past line of the Communist Party of China, and the Comintern as well, in the agrarian question of the Chinese revolution. Instead of anticipating the course of the agrarian movement, of establishing the slogans in time and throwing them among the peasant masses through the workers, the revolutionary soldiers, and the advanced peasants, the Chinese Communist Party remained a vast distance behind the spontaneous agrarian movement. Can there be a more monstrous form of tailendism? "We followed a too pacific policy." But what does a pacific policy of a revolutionary party mean in the period of a spontaneous agrarian revolution? It signifies the most grievous historical mistake that a party of the proletariat can possibly commit. A pacific policy (the reduction of rent payments), while the peasant is already fighting spontaneously for land, is not a policy of Menshevik compromise but of liberal compromise. Only a philistine corrupted by an alleged statecraft can fail to understand this, but never a revolutionist.

55. But from his correct, and therefore deadly, characterization of the relations of the party to the agrarian movement, Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu draws not only false, but positively disastrous conclusions. "It is now necessary," he says, "to confiscate the large estates, but at the same time to make concessions to the small landowners who must be reckoned with." In principle, such a way of posing the question cannot be assailed. It must be clearly determined who, and in what part of China, is to be considered a small landowner, how and to what limits he must be reckoned with. But Ch'en Tu-hsiu says further:

"Nevertheless, it is necessary to await the further development of the military actions even for the confiscation of the large estates. The only correct decision at the present moment is the principle of deepening the revolution only after its extension.

This road is the surest, the most positive, the shortest road to ruin. The peasant has already risen to seize the property of the large landowners. Our party, in monstrous contradiction to its program, to its name, pursues a pacific-liberal agrarian policy. Ch'en Tu-hsiu himself declares that it is "now [?J necessary to confiscate the large estates," but he immediately recalls that we "must not fall into left extremism" (Ch'en Tu-hsiu's own words) and he adds that we must "await the further development of the military actions" for the confiscation of the property of the large landowners, that the revolution must first be extended and only later deepened.

But this is simply a blind repetition of the old, well-known, and outworn formula of national-liberal deception of the masses: First the victory, then the reform. First we will "extend" the country- for whom: for the large landownery-and then, after the victory, we will concern ourselves very tranquilly with the "deepening." To this, every intelligent and halfway sensible peasant will answer Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu: "If the Wuhan government today, when it finds itself encircled by foes and needs our peasant support for life and death-if this government does not dare now to give us the land of the large landowners or does not want to do it, then after it has extricated itself from its encirclement, after it has vanquished the enemy with our help, it will give us just as much land as Chiang Kai-shek gave the workers of Shanghai." It must be said quite clearly: The agrarian formula of Comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who is bound hand and foot by the false leadership of the representatives of the Comintern, is objectively nothing else than the formula of the severance of the Chinese Communist Party from the real agrarian movement which is now proceeding in China and which is producing a new wave of the Chinese revolution.

To strengthen this wave and to deepen it, we need peasants' soviets with the unfurled banner of the agrarian revolution, not after the victory but immediately, in order to guarantee the victory.

If we do not want to permit the peasant wave to come to naught and be splattered into froth, the peasants' soviets must be united with workers' soviets in the cities and the industrial centers, and to the workers' soviets must be added the soviets of the poor population from the urban trade and handwork districts.

If we do not want to permit the bourgeoisie to drive a wedge between the revolutionary masses and the army, then soldiers' soviets must be fitted into the revolutionary chain.

As quickly as possible, as boldly as possible, as energetically as possible, the revolution must be deepened, not after the victory but immediately, or else there will be no victory.

The deepening of the agrarian revolution, the immediate seizure of the land by the peasants, will weaken Chiang Kai-shek on the spot, bring confusion into the ranks of his soldiers, and set the peasant hinterland in motion. There is no other road to victory and there can be none.

Have we really carried through three revolutions within two decades only to forget the ABCs of the first of them? Whoever carries on a pacific policy during the agrarian revolution is lost.
Whoever postpones matters, vacillates, temporizes, loses time, is lost. The formula of Ch'en Tu-hsiu is the surest road to the destruction of the revolution.

Slanderers will be found who will say that our words are dictated by a hatred of the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders. Was it not once said that our position on the Anglo- Russian Committee signified a hostile attitude toward the British Communist Party? The events confirmed the fact that it was we who acted as loyal revolutionists toward the British communists, and not as bureaucratic sycophants. Events will confirm the fact-they confirm it every day-that our criticism of the Chinese communists was dictated by a more serious, more Marxist, revolutionary attitude toward the Chinese revolution than was the attitude of the bureaucratic sycophants who approve of everything after the fact, provided that they do not have to foresee for the future.

The fact that the speech of comrade Ch'en Tu-hsiu is reprinted in Pravda without a single word of commentary, that no article revealing the ruinous course of this speech is devoted to it-this fact by itself must fill every revolutionist with the greatest misgivings, for it is the central organ of Lenin's party that is involved.

Let not the pacifiers and flatterers tell us about "the unavoidable mistakes of a young Communist party." It is not a question of isolated mistakes. It is a question of the mistake of mistakes. It is a question of the false basic line, the consummate expression of which are the theses of Comrade Stalin.

The Necessary Final Accord

In the May 9 number of Sotsialistichesky Vestnik, it says in the article devoted to the theses of Comrade Stalin:

If we strip the envelope of words that is obligatory for the theses of a communist leader, then very little can be said against the essence of the "line" traced there. As much as possible to remain in the Kuomintang, and to cling to its left wing and to the Wuhan government to the last possible moment: "to avoid a decisive struggle under unfavorable conditions"; not to issue the slogan "all power to the Soviets" So as not "to give new weapons into the hands of the enemies of the Chinese people for the struggle against the revolution, for creating new legends that it is not a national revolution that is taking place in China, but an artificial transplanting of Moscow "sovietization"-what can actually be more sensible for the Bolsheviks now, after the "united front" has obviously been irremediably destroyed, and so much porcelain has been smashed under the "most unfavorable conditions"? [Sotsialistichesky Vestnik, no.9 (151), p.1.1

Thus, after the Sotsialistichesky Vestnik, in its April 23 number, acknowledged that Martynov analyzed the tasks of the Chinese revolution in Pravda "very impressively" and "entirely in the Menshevik manner," the leading article in the central organ of the Mensheviks declares in its latest number that "very little can be said against the essence of the 'line' traced" in the theses of Comrade Stalin. This harmony of political lines hardly requires special elucidation.

But still more: The same article in Sotsialistichesky Vestnik speaks further on in a mocking tone-we quote literally! -- of "the line of Radek which, covered with extreme 'left' slogans (withdrawal from the Kuomintang, 'propaganda of the soviet system,' etc.), simply desires in reality to give up the game and to step aside (ibid., p. 2). The line of Radek is characterized here with the words of the leading articles and the feuilletons of Pravda. After all, it cannot be otherwise: Radek cannot say anything openly in the press about his line, for otherwise the party would learn that Radek's line is being confirmed by the whole course of events. The editors of Sotsialistichesky Vestnik not only describe "the line of Radek" with the words of Pravda but also evaluate them in full accord with the articles of Pravda: The line of the Opposition, according to Dan, gives the possibility, "covered with extreme 'left' slogans," in reality "to give up the game and to step aside."

We have already read in the articles of Pravda that "a mass for the dead must be read" for the Chinese revolution, that the Chinese communists must "retire within themselves," that they must renounce "great deeds and great plans," and that all this is the "sermon of the liquidation of the Chinese revolution"-if the line of the Opposition is adopted. This was said literally, for example, in the leading article in Pravda of May 16, 1927. As we see, it is word for word the same thing that Dan says, or more correctly, Dan says of the Opposition word for word what Pravda has said in a series of its articles. Dan approves the theses of Stalin and derides the "liquidator" Radek, who covers his liquidation with extremely left phrases. Everything is clear now:

The liquidationism of Radek is the same liquidationism that is evaluated as such by the renowned revolutionist Dan. That is the lesson that the leading article in Sotsialistiehesky Vestnik presents to those who are still capable of learning anything. It is surely portentous that the quoted number of Sotsialistichesky Vcstnik should arrive in Moscow on the eve of the opening of the session of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, which must consider the problem of the Chinese revolution in its full scope.


Hosted by