1. On the Nature of the Colonial Bourgeoisie
2. The Stages of the Chinese Revolution
3. Democratic Dictatorship or a Dictatorship of the Proletariat?
4. Adventurism as the Product of Opportunism
5. Soviets and Revolution
6. The Question of the Character of the Coming Chinese Revolution
7. On the Reactionary Idea of "Two-Class Workers' and Peasants' Parties" for the Orient
8. The Advantages Secured from the Peasants' International Must Be Probed
Bolshevism and Menshevism and the left wing of the German and international Social Democracy took definite shape on the analysis of the experiences, mistakes, and tendencies of the 1905 revolution. An analysis of the experiences of the Chinese revolution is today of no less importance for the international proletariat.
This analysis, however, has not even begun-it is prohibited. The official literature is engaged in hastily selecting facts to suit the resolutions of the ECCI, the hollowness of which has been completely revealed. The draft program dulls the sharpest points of the Chinese problem whenever possible, but it sets the seal of approval upon the essential points of the fatal line followed by the ECCI on the Chinese question. The analysis of the great historical process is replaced by a literary defense of bankrupt schemes.
The draft program states: "Temporary agreements [with the national bourgeoisie of colonial countries] are admissible only insofar as the bourgeoisie does not obstruct the revolutionary organization of the workers and peasants and wages a genuine struggle against imperialism."
This formula, although it is deliberately tacked on as an incidental proposition, is one of the central postulates of the draft, for the countries of the Orient, at any rate. The main proposition deals, naturally, with the "emancipation [of the workers and peasants] from the influence of the national bourgeoisie." But we judge not from the standpoint of grammar but politically and, moreover, on the basis of experience, and therefore we say: The main proposition is only an incidental one here, while the incidental proposition contains what is most essential. The formula, taken as a whole, is a classic Menshevik noose for the proletariat of the Orient.
What "temporary agreements" are meant here? In politics, as in nature, all things are "temporary." Perhaps we are discussing here purely practical agreements from one occasion to the next? It goes without saying that we cannot renounce in advance such rigidly delimited and rigidly practical agreements as serve each time a quite definite aim. For example, such cases as involve agreements with the student youth of the Kuomintang for the organization of an anti-imperialist demonstration, or obtaining assistance from the Chinese merchants for strikers in a foreign concession, etc. Such cases are not at all excluded in the future even in China. But in that case why are general political conditions adduced here, namely, ". . . insofar as the bourgeoisie does not obstruct the revolutionary organization of the workers and peasants and wages a genuine [!] struggle against imperialism"?
The sole "condition" for every agreement with the bourgeoisie for each separate, practical, and expedient agreement adapted to each given case, consists in not allowing either the organizations or the banners to become mixed directly or indirectly for a single day or a single hour; it consists in distinguishing between the red and the blue, and in not believing for an instant in the capacity or readiness of the bourgeoisie either to lead a genuine struggle against imperialism or not to obstruct the workers and peasants. For practical and expedient agreements we have absolutely no use for such a condition as the one cited above. On the contrary it could only cause us harm, running counter to the general line of our struggle against capitalism, which is not suspended even during the brief period of an "agreement." As was said long ago purely practical agreements, such as do not bind us in the least and do not oblige us to anything politically, can be concluded with the devil himself if that is advantageous at a given moment. But it would be absurd in such a case to demand that the devil should generally become converted to Christianity, and that he use his horns not against workers and peasants but exclusively for pious deeds. In presenting such conditions we act in reality as the devils advocates, and beg him to let us become his godfathers.
By its absurd conditions, which serve to paint the bourgeoisie in bright colors in advance, the draft program states clearly and definitely (despite the diplomatic and incidental character of its thesis) that involved here are precisely long-term political blocs and not agreements for specific occasions concluded for practical reasons and rigidly confined to practical aims. But in such a case, what is meant by demands that the bourgeoisie wage a "genuine" struggle and that it "not obstruct" the workers? Do we present these conditions to the bourgeoisie itself, and demand a public promise from it? It will make you any promises you want! It will even send its delegates to Moscow, enter the Peasants, International, adhere as a "sympathizing" party to the Comintern, peek into the Red International of Labor Unions. In short, it will promise anything that will give it the opportunity (with our assistance) to dupe the workers and peasants, more efficiently, more easily, and more completely to throw sand in their eyes until the first opportunity, such as was offered in Shanghai.
But perhaps it is not a question here of political obligations exacted from the bourgeoisie which, we repeat, it will immediately agree to in order thus to transform us into its guarantors before the working masses? Perhaps it is a question here of an "objective, and "scientific" evaluation of a given national bourgeoisie, an expert a priori "sociological" prognosis, as it were, of its capacity to wage a struggle and not to obstruct? Sad to say, as the most recent and freshest experience testifies, such an a priori prognosis makes fools out of experts as a rule. And it would not be so bad, if only they alone were involved. . . .
There cannot be the slightest doubt on the matter: the text deals precisely with long-term political blocs. It would be entirely superfluous to include in a program the question of occasional practical agreements. For this purpose, a matter-of-fact tactical resolution "On Our Current Tasks" would suffice. Involved here is a question of justifying and setting a programmatic seal of approval upon yesterdays orientation toward the Kuomintang, which doomed the second Chinese revolution to destruction, and which is capable of destroying revolutions in the future.
According to the idea advanced by Bukharin, the real author of the draft, all stakes are placed precisely upon the general evaluation of the colonial bourgeoisie, whose capacity to struggle and not to obstruct must be proved not by its own oaths but in a rigorous "sociological" manner, that is by a thousand and one scholastic schemes adapted to opportunist purposes.
To bring this out more clearly let us refer back to the Bukharin evaluation of the colonial bourgeoisie. After citing the "antiimperialist content" of colonial revolutions, and quoting Lenin (without any justification whatever), Bukharin proclaims:
"The liberal bourgeoisie in China played an objectively revolutionary role over a period of a number of years, and not months. Then it exhausted itself. This was not all a political 'twenty-four hour, holiday of the type of the Russian liberal revolution of 1905."
Everything here is wrong from beginning to end.
Lenin really taught us to differentiate rigidly between an oppressed and oppressor bourgeois nation. From this follow conclusions of exceptional importance. For instance, our attitude toward a war between an imperialist and a colonial country. For a pacifist, such a war is a war like any other. For a communist, a war of a colonial nation against an imperialist nation is a bourgeois-revolutionary war. Lenin thus raised the national liberation movements, the colonial insurrections, and wars of the oppressed nations, to the level of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions, in particular, to that of the Russian revolution of 1905. But Lenin did not at all place the wars for national liberation above bourgeois-democratic revolutions as is now done by Bukharin, after his 180 degree turn. Lenin insisted on a distinction between an oppressed bourgeois nation and a bourgeois oppressor nation. But Lenin nowhere raised and never could raise the question as if the bourgeoisie of a colonial or a semicolonial country in an epoch of struggle for national liberation must be more progressive and more revolutionary than the bourgeoisie of a noncolonial country in the epoch of the democratic revolution. This does not flow from anything in theory; there is no confirmation of it in history. For example, pitiful as Russian liberalism was, and hybrid as was its left half-the petty-bourgeois democrats, the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks-it would nevertheless hardly be possible to say that Chinese liberalism and Chinese bourgeois democracy rose to a higher level or were more revolutionary than their Russian prototypes.
To present matters as if there must inevitably flow from the fact of colonial oppression the revolutionary character of a national bourgeoisie is to reproduce inside out the fundamental error of Menshevism, which held that the revolutionary nature of the Russian bourgeoisie must flow from the oppression of feudalism and the autocracy.
The question of the nature and the policy of the bourgeoisie is settled by the entire internal class structure of a nation waging the revolutionary struggle; by the historical epoch in which that struggle develops; by the degree of economic, political, and military dependence of the national bourgeoisie upon world imperialism as a whole or a particular section of it; finally, and this is most important, by the degree of class activity of the native proletariat, and by the state of its connections with the international revolutionary movement.
A democratic or national liberation movement may offer the bourgeoisie an opportunity to deepen and broaden its possibilities for exploitation. Independent intervention of the proletariat on the revolutionary arena threatens to deprive the bourgeoisie of the possibility to exploit altogether.
Let us observe some facts more closely.
The present inspirers of the Comintern have untiringly repeated that Chiang Kai-shek waged a war "against imperialism" whilst Kerensky marched hand in hand with the imperialists. Ergo: Whereas a ruthless struggle had to be waged against Kerensky, it was necessary to support Chiang Kai-shek.
The ties between Kerenskyism and imperialism were indisputable. One can go even still further back and point out that the Russian bourgeoisie "dethroned" Nicholas II with the blessings of British and French imperialism. Not only did MilyukovKerensky support the war waged by Lloyd George-Poincaré, but Lloyd George and Poincaré also supported Milyukovs and Kerenskys revolution first against the tsar, and later against the workers and peasants. This is absolutely beyond dispute.
But how did matters stand in this respect in China? The "February" revolution in China took place in 1911. That revolution was a great and progressive event, although it was accomplished with the direct participation of the imperialists. Sun Yat-sen, in his memoirs, relates how his organization relied in all its work on the "support" of imperialist states-either Japan, France, or America. If Kerensky in 1917 continued to take part in the imperialist war, then the Chinese bourgeoisie, the one that is so "national", so "revolutionary", etc., supported Wilson's intervention in the war with the hope that the Entente would help to emancipate China. In 1918 Sun Yat-sen addressed to the governments of the Entente his plans for the economic development and political emancipation of China.8' There is no foundation whatever for the assertion that the Chinese bourgeoisie, in its struggle against the Manchu dynasty, displayed any higher revolutionary qualities than the Russian bourgeoisie in the struggle against tsarism; or that there is a principled difference between Chiang Kai-sheks and Kerenskys attitude toward imperialism.
But, says the ECCI, Chiang Kai-shek nevertheless did wage war against imperialism. To present the situation in this manner is to put too crude a face upon reality. Chiang Kai-shek waged war against certain Chinese militarists, the agents of one of the imperialist powers. This is not at all the same as to wage a war against imperialism. Even T,an P,ing-shan understood this. In his report to the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI (at the end of 1926) T,an P,ing-shan characterized the policy of the Kuomintang center headed by Chiang Kai-shek as follows:
In the sphere of international policy it occupies a passive position in the full meaning of that word.... It is inclined to fight only against British imperialism; so far as the Japanese imperialists are concerned, however, it is ready under certain conditions to make a compromise with them. [Minutes of the Seventh Plenum ECCI vol. I p. 406.]
The attitude of the Kuomintang toward imperialism was from the very outset not revolutionary but entirely opportunist. It endeavored to smash and isolate the agents of certain imperialist powers so as to make a deal with the self-same or other imperialist powers on terms more favorable for the Chinese bourgeoisie. That is all. But the gist of the matter lies in the fact that the entire formulation of the question is erroneous.
One must measure not the attitude of every given national bourgeoisie to imperialism "in general", but its attitude toward the immediate revolutionary historical tasks of its own nation. The Russian bourgeoisie was the bourgeoisie of an imperialist oppressor state; the Chinese bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie of an oppressed colonial country. The overthrow of feudal tsarism was a progressive task in old Russia. The overthrow of the imperialist yoke is a progressive historical task in China. However, the conduct of the Chinese bourgeoisie in relation to imperialism, the proletariat, and the peasantry, was not more revolutionary than the attitude of the Russian bourgeoisie toward tsarism and the revolutionary classes in Russia, but, if anything, viler and more reactionary. That is the only way to pose the question.
The Chinese bourgeoisie is sufficiently realistic and acquainted intimately enough with the nature of world imperialism to understand that a really serious struggle against the latter requires such an upheaval of the revolutionary masses as would primarily become a menace to the bourgeoisie itself. If the struggle against the Manchu dynasty was a task of smaller historical proportions than the overthrow of tsarism, then the struggle against world imperialism is a task on a much larger scale. And if we taught the workers of Russia from the very beginning not to believe in the readiness of liberalism and the ability of petty-bourgeois democracy to overthrow tsarism and to destroy feudalism, we should no less energetically have imbued the Chinese workers from the outset with the same spirit of distrust. The new and absolutely false theory promulgated by Stalin-Bukharin about the "immanent" revolutionary spirit of the colonial bourgeoisie is, in substance, a translation of Menshevism into the language of Chinese politics. It serves only to convert the oppressed position of China into an internal political premium for the Chinese bourgeoisie, and it throws an additional weight on the scale of the bourgeoisie against the scale of the trebly oppressed Chinese proletariat.
But, we are told by Stalin and Bukharin, the authors of the draft program, Chiang Kai-sheks Northern Expedition roused a powerful movement among the worker and peasant masses. This is incontestable. But did not the fact that Guchkov and Shulgin brought with them to Petrograd the abdication of Nicholas II play a revolutionary role? Did it not arouse the most downtrodden, exhausted, and timid strata of the populace? Did not the fact that Kerensky, who but yesterday was a Trudovik, became the president of the Council of Ministers and the commander in chief rouse the masses of soldiers? Did it not bring them to meetings? Did it not rouse the village to its feet against the landlord?
The question could be posed even more widely. Did not the entire activities of capitalism rouse the masses, did it not rescue them, to use the expression of the Communist Manifesto, from the idiocy of rural life? Did it not impel the proletarian battalions to the struggle? But does our historical evaluation of the objective role of capitalism as a whole or of certain actions of the bourgeoisie in particular become a substitute for our active class revolutionary attitude toward capitalism or toward the actions of the bourgeoisie? Opportunist policies have always been based on this kind of nondialectical, conservative, tailendist "objectivism." Marxism on the contrary invariably taught that the revolutionary consequences of one or another act of the bourgeoisie, to which it is compelled by its position, will be fuller, more decisive, less doubtful, and firmer, the more independent the proletarian vanguard will be in relation to the bourgeoisie, the less it will be inclined to place its fingers between the jaws of the bourgeoisie, to see it in bright colors, to overestimate its revolutionary spirit or its readiness for a "united front" and for a struggle against imperialism .
The Stalinist and Bukharinist appraisal of the colonial bourgeoisie cannot stand criticism, either theoretical, historical, or political. Yet this is precisely the appraisal, as we have seen, that the draft program seeks to canonize.
One unexposed and uncondemned error always leads to another, or prepares the ground for it.
If yesterday the Chinese bourgeoisie was enrolled in the united revolutionary front, then today it is proclaimed to have "definitely gone over to the counterrevolutionary camp." It is not difficult to expose how unfounded are these transfers and enrollments which have been effected in a purely administrative manner without any serious Marxist analysis whatever.
It is absolutely self-evident that the bourgeoisie in joining the camp of the revolution does so not accidentally, not because it is light-minded, but under the pressure of its own class interests. For fear of the masses the bourgeoisie subsequently deserts the revolution or openly displays its concealed hatred of the revolution. But the bourgeoisie can go over "definitely to the counterrevolutionary camp", that is, free itself from the necessity of "supporting" the revolution again, or at least of flirting with it, only in the event that its fundamental class aspirations are satisfied either by revolutionary means or in another way (for instance, the Bismarckian way). Let us recall the history of the period of 1848-71. Let us recall that the Russian bourgeoisie was able to turn its back so bluntly upon the revolution of 1905 only because the revolution gave it the State Duma, that is, it received the means whereby it could bring direct pressure to bear on the bureaucracy and make deals with it. Nevertheless, when the war of 1914-17 revealed the inability of the "modernized" regime to secure the basic interests of the bourgeoisie, the latter again turned toward the revolution, and made its turn more sharply than in 1905.
Can anyone maintain that the revolution of 1925-27 in China has at least partly satisfied the basic interests of Chinese capitalism? No. China is today just as far removed from real national unity and from tariff autonomy as it was prior to 1925. 82 Yet, the creation of a unified domestic market and its protection from cheaper foreign goods is a life-and-death question for the Chinese bourgeoisie, a question second in importance only to that of maintaining the basis of its class domination over the proletariat and the peasant poor. But, for the Japanese and the British bourgeoisie the maintenance of the colonial status of China is likewise a question of no less importance than economic autonomy is for the Chinese bourgeoisie. That is why there will still be not a few leftward zigzags in the policy of the Chinese bourgeoisie. There will be no lack of temptations in the future for the devotees of the "national united front." To tell the Chinese communists today that their alliance with the bourgeoisie from 1924 to the end of 1927 was correct but that it is worthless now because the bourgeoisie has definitely gone over to the counterrevolutionary camp, is to disarm the Chinese communists once again in face of the coming objective changes in the situation and the inevitable leftward zigzags of the Chinese bourgeoisie. The war now being conducted by Chiang Kai-shek against the North already overthrows completely the mechanical schema of the authors of the draft program.
But the principled error of the official formulation of the question will doubtless appear more glaringly, more convincingly, and more incontrovertibly if we recall the fact which is still fresh in our minds, and which is of no little importance, namely, that tsarist Russia was a combination of oppressor and oppressed nations, that is of Great Russians and "foreigners", many of whom were in a completely colonial or semicolonial status. Lenin not only demanded that the greatest attention be paid to the national problem of the peoples in tsarist Russia but also proclaimed (against Bukharin and others) that it was the elementary duty of the proletariat of the dominant nation to support the struggle of the oppressed nations for their selfdetermination, up to and including separation. But did the party conclude from this that the bourgeoisie of the nationalities oppressed by tsarism (the Poles, Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, Armenians, and others) were more progressive, more radical, and more revolutionary than the Russian bourgeoisie?
Historical experience bears out the fact that the Polish bourgeoisienotwithstanding the fact that it suffered both from the yoke of the autocracy and from national oppressionwas more reactionary than the Russian bourgeoisie and, in the State Dumas, always gravitated not toward the Cadets but toward the Octobrists. The same is true of the Tatar bourgeoisie. The fact that the Jews had absolutely no rights whatever did not prevent the Jewish bourgeoisie from being even more cowardly, more reactionary, and more vile than the Russian bourgeoisie. Or perhaps the Estonian bourgeoisie, the Latvian, the Georgian, or the Armenian bourgeoisie were more revolutionary than the Great Russian bourgeoisie? How could anyone forget such historical lessons!
Or should we perhaps recognize today, after the event, that Bolshevism was wrong whenin contradistinction to the Bund the Dashnaks, the Polish Socialist Party, the Georgian and other Mensheviksit called upon the workers of all the oppressed nationalities, of all the colonial peoples in tsarist Russia, at the very dawn of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, to dissociate themselves and form their own autonomous class organizations, to break ruthlessly all organizational ties not only with the liberal bourgeois, but also with the revolutionary petty-bourgeois parties, to win over the working class in the struggle against these parties, and through the workers, fight against these parties for influence over the peasantry? Did we not commit here a "Trotskyist" mistake? Did we not skip over, in relation to these oppressed, and in many cases very backward nations, the phase of development corresponding to the Kuomintang?
As a matter of fact how easily one could construct a theory that the Polish Socialist Party, Dashnaktsutinn, the Bund, etc., were "peculiar" forms of the necessary collaboration of the various classes in the struggle against the autocracy and against national oppression! How can such historical lessons be forgotten?
For a Marxist it was clear even prior to the Chinese events of the last three yearsand today it should be clear even to the blindthat foreign imperialism, as a direct factor in the internal life of China, renders the Chinese Milyukovs and Chinese Kerenskys in the final analysis even more vile than their Russian prototypes. It is not for nothing that the very first manifesto issued by our party proclaimed that the further east we go, the lower and viler becomes the bourgeoisie, the greater are the tasks that fall upon the proletariat. This historical "law" fully applies to China as well.
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 practised hy 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. [Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 27 pp. 305-06]
This Leninist thesis is compulsory for the Orient as a whole. It must by all means find a place in the program of the Comintern.
The first stage of the Kuomintang was the period of domination of the national bourgeoisie under the apologetic label of a "bloc of four classes." The second period, after Chiang Kai-shek's coup d'etat, was an experiment of parallel and "independent" domination of Chinese Kerenskyism, in the shape of the Hankow government of the "left" Wang Ching-wei. While the Russian Narodniks, together with the Mensheviks, lent to their short-lived "dictatorship" the form of an open dual power, the Chinese "revolutionary democracy" did not even reach that stage. And inasmuch as history in general does not work to order, there only remains for us to understand that there is not and will not be any other "democratic dictatorship" except the dictatorship exercised by the Kuomintang since 1925. This remains equally true regardless of whether the semiunification of China accomplished by the Kuomintang is maintained in the immediate future or the country is again dismembered. But precisely at a time when the class dialectics of the revolution, having spent all its other resources, clearly and conclusively put on the order of the day the dictatorship of the proletariat, leading the countless millions of oppressed and disinherited in city and village, the ECCI advanced the slogan of a democratic (i.e., bourgeois-democratic) dictatorship of the workers and peasants. The reply to this formula was the Canton insurrection which, with all its prematurity, with all the adventurism of its leadership, raised the curtain of a new stage, or, more correctly, of the coming third Chinese revolution. It is necessary to dwell on this point in some detail.
Seeking to insure themselves against their past sins, the leadership monstrously forced the course of events at the end of last year and brought about the Canton miscarriage. However, even a miscarriage can teach us a good deal concerning the organism of the mother and the process of gestation. The tremendous and, from the standpoint of theory, truly decisive significance of the Canton events for the fundamental problems of the Chinese revolution is conditioned precisely upon the fact that we have here a phenomenon rare in history and politics, a virtual laboratory experiment on a colossal scale. We have paid for it dearly, but this obliges us all the more to assimilate its lessons.
One of the fighting slogans of the Canton insurrection, according to the account in Pravda (no. 31.), was the cry "Down with the Kuomintang!" The Kuomintang banners and insignia were torn down and trampled underfoot. But even after the "betrayal" of Chiang Kai-shek, and the subsequent "betrayal" of Wang Ching-wei (betrayals not of their own class, but of our . . . illusions), the ECCI had issued the solemn vow that: "We will not surrender the banner of the Kuomintang!" The workers of Canton outlawed the Kuomintang, declaring all of its tendencies illegal. This means that for the solution of the basic national tasks, not only the big bourgeoisie but also the petty bourgeoisie was incapable of producing a political force, a party, or a faction, in conjunction with which the party of the proletariat might be able to solve the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The key to the situation lies precisely in the fact that the task of winning the movement of the poor peasants already fell entirely upon the shoulders of the proletariat, and directly upon the Communist Party; and that the approach to a genuine solution of the bourgeois-democratic tasks of the revolution necessitated the concentration of all power in the hands of the proletariat.
Pravda carried the following report about the policies of the short-lived Canton Soviet government:
"In the interests of the workers, the Canton Soviet issued decrees establishing . . . workers' control of industry through the factory committees . . . the nationalization of big industry, transportation, and banks."
Further on such measures are mentioned as: "The confiscation of all dwellings of the big bourgeoisie for the benefit of the toilers. . . ."
Thus it was the Canton workers who were in power and, moreover, the government was actually in the hands of the Communist Party. The program of the new state power consisted not only in the confiscation of whatever feudal estates there may be in Kwangtung in general; not only in the establishment of workers' control of production; but also in the nationalization of big industry, banks, and transportation, and even the confiscation of bourgeois dwellings and all bourgeois property for the benefit of the toilers. The question arises: if these are the methods of a bourgeois revolution then what should the proletarian revolution in China look like?
Notwithstanding the fact that the directives of the ECCI had nothing to say on the subject of the proletarian dictatorship and socialist measures; notwithstanding the fact that Canton is more petty bourgeois in character than Shanghai, Hankow, and other industrial centers of the country, the revolutionary overturn effected against the Kuomintang led automatically to the dictatorship of the proletariat which, at its very first steps, found itself compelled by the entire situation to resort to more radical measures than those with which the October revolution began. And this fact, despite its paradoxical appearance, flows quite lawfully from the social relations of China as well as from the entire development of the revolution.
Large and middle-scale landed estates (such as exist in China) are most closely interlinked with city capital, including foreign capital. There is no caste of feudal landlords in China in opposition to the bourgeoisie. The most widespread, common, and hated exploiter in the village is the kulak-usurer, the agent of finance capital in the cities. The agrarian revolution is therefore just as much antibourgeois as it is antifeudal in character. In China, there will be practically no such stage as the first stage of our October revolution in which the kulak marched with the middle and poor peasant, frequently at their head, against the landlord. The agrarian revolution in China signifies from the outset, as it will signify subsequently, an uprising not only against the few genuine feudal landlords and the bureaucracy but also against the kulaks and usurers. If in our country the poor peasant committees appeared on the scene only during the second stage of the October revolution, in the middle of 1918, in China on the contrary, they will, in one form or another, appear on the scene as soon as the agrarian movement revives. The drive on the rich peasant will be the first and not the second step of the Chinese October.
The agrarian revolution, however, is not the sole content of the present historical struggle in China. The most extreme agrarian revolution, the general division of land (which will naturally be supported by the Communist Party to the very end), will not by itself provide a way out of the economic blind alley. China requires just as urgently national unity and economic sovereignty, that is, customs autonomy, or more correctly, a monopoly of foreign trade. And this means emancipation from world imperialismimperialism for which China remains the most important prospective source not only of enrichment but also of actual existence, constituting a safety valve against the internal explosions of European capitalism today and American capitalism tomorrow. This is what predetermines the gigantic scope and monstrous sharpness of the struggle that faces the masses of China, all the more so now when the depth of the stream of the struggle has already been plumbed and felt by all of its participants.
The enormous role of foreign capital in Chinese industry and its way of relying directly in defense of its plunder on its own "national" bayonets, render the program of workers' control in China even less realizable than it was in our country. The direct expropriation first of the foreign capitalist and then of the Chinese capitalist enterprises will most likely be made imperative by the course of the struggle, on the day after the victorious insurrection.
Those objective sociohistorical causes that predetermined the "October" outcome of the Russian revolution rise before us in China in a still more accentuated form. The bourgeois and proletarian poles of the Chinese nation stand opposed to each other even more irreconcilably, if this is at all possible, than they did in Russia, since, on the one hand, the Chinese bourgeoisie is directly bound up with foreign imperialism and the latter's military machine, and since, on the other hand, the Chinese proletariat has from the very beginning established a close bond with the Comintern and the Soviet Union. Numerically the Chinese peasantry constitutes an even more overwhelming mass than the Russian peasantry. But being crushed in the vise of world contradictions, upon the solution of which in one way or another its fate depends, the Chinese peasantry is even less capable of playing a leading role than the Russian. At present this is no longer a matter of theoretical forecast, but a fact verified completely in all its aspects.
These fundamental and, at the same time, incontrovertible social and political prerequisites of the third Chinese revolution demonstrate not only that the formula of the democratic dictatorship has hopelessly outlived its usefulness, but also that the third Chinese revolution, despite the great backwardness of China, or more correctly, because of this great backwardness as compared with Russia, will not have a "democratic" period, not even such a six-month period as the October revolution had (November 1917 to July 1918); but it will be compelled from the very outset to effect the most decisive shake-up and abolition of bourgeois property in city and village.
To be sure, this perspective does not harmonize with the pedantic and schematic conceptions concerning the interrelations between economics and politics. But the responsibility for this disharmony so disturbing to the prejudices which have newly taken root and which were already dealt a not inconsiderable blow by the October revolution must be placed not on "Trotskyism" but on the law of uneven development. In this particular case this law is especially applicable.
It would be unwise pedantry to maintain that, had a Bolshevik policy been applied in the revolution of 1925-27, the Chinese Communist Party would unfailingly have come to power. But it is contemptible philistinism to assert that such a possibility was entirely out of the question. The mass movement of workers and peasants was on a scale entirely adequate for this, as was also the disintegration of the ruling classes. The national bourgeoisie sent its Chiang Kai-sheks and Wang Ching-weis as envoys to Moscow, and through its Hu Han-mins knocked at the door of the Comintern, precisely because it was hopelessly weak in face of the revolutionary masses; it realized its weakness and sought to insure itself. Neither the workers nor the peasants would have followed the national bourgeoisie if we ourselves had not dragged them by a rope. Had the Comintern pursued any sort of correct policy, the outcome of the struggle of the Communist Party for the masses would have been predeterminedthe Chinese proletariat would have supported the communists, while the peasant war would have supported the revolutionary proletariat.
If at the beginning of the Northern Expedition we had begun to organize soviets in the "liberated" districts (and the masses were instinctively aspiring for that with all their might and main) we would have secured the necessary basis and a revolutionary running start, we would have rallied around us the agrarian uprisings, we would have built our own army, we would have disintegrated the enemy armies; and despite the youthfulness of the Communist Party of China, the latter would have been able thanks to proper guidance from the Comintern, to mature in these exceptional years and to assume power, if not in the whole of China at once, then at least in a considerable part of China. And above all, we would have had a party.
But something absolutely monstrous occurred precisely in the sphere of leadershipa veritable historical catastrophe. The authority of the Soviet Union, of the Bolshevik party, and of the Comintern served entirely, first, to support Chiang Kai-shek against an independent policy of the Communist Party, and then to support Wang Ching-wei as the leader of the agrarian revolution. Having trampled underfoot the very basis of Leninist policy and after breaking the spine of the young Communist Party of China, the ECCI predetermined the victory of Chinese Kerenskyism over Bolshevism, of the Chinese Milyukovs over the Kerenskys, and of British and Japanese imperialism over the Chinese Milyukovs.
In this and in this alone lies the meaning of what took place in China in the course of 1925-27.
But how did the last plenum of the ECCI evaluate the experiences of the Chinese revolution, including the experience of the Canton insurrection? What further perspectives did it outline? The resolution of the February (1928) plenum; which is the key to the corresponding sections of the draft program on this subject says concerning the Chinese revolution:
It is incorrect to characterize it as a "permanent" revolution [the position of the representative of the ECCI]. The tendency to skip [?] over the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution while simultaneously [?] appraising the revolution as a "permanent" revolution is a mistake analogous to that committed by Trotsky in 1905 [?].
The ideological life of the Comintern since Lenin's departure from its leadership, that is, since 1923, consisted primarily in a struggle against so-called Trotskyism and particularly against the "permanent revolution." How is it, then, that in the fundamental question of the Chinese revolution not only the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, but also the official delegate of the Comintern, i.e., a leader who was sent with special instructions, happen to commit the very same "mistake" for which hundreds of men are now exiled to Siberia and put in prison? The struggle around the Chinese question has been raging for some two and a half years. When the Opposition declared that the old Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (Chen Tu-hsiu), under the influence of the false directives from the Comintern, conducted an opportunist policy, this evaluation was declared to be "slander." The leadership of the Communist Party of China was pronounced irreproachable. The celebrated T'an P'ing-shan declared amid the general approval of the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI that "At the very first manifestations of Trotskyism, the Communist Party of China and the Young Communist League immediately adopted a unanimous resolution against Trotskyism" (Minutes, p. 205).
But when, not withstanding these "achievements," events unfolded their tragic logic which led to the first and then to the second and even more frightful debacle of the revolution, the leadership of the Communist Party of China, formerly flawless, was rebaptized as Menshevik and deposed in the space of twenty four hours. At the same time a decree was promulgated that the new leadership fully reflected the line of the Comintern. But no sooner did a new and a serious test arise than it was discovered that the new Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was guilty (as we have already seen, not in words, but in actions) of swerving to the position of the so-called permanent revolution. The delegate of the Comintern took the very same path. This astonishing and truly incomprehensible fact can be explained only by the yawning "scissors" between the instructions of the ECCI and the real dynamics of the revolution.
We shall not dwell here upon the myth of the "permanent revolution" of 1905 which was placed in circulation in 1924 in order to sow confusion and bewilderment. We shall confine ourselves to an examination of how this myth broke down on the question of the Chinese revolution.
The first paragraph of the February resolution, from which the above-quoted passage was taken, gives the following motives for its negative attitude toward the so-called permanent revolution:
The current period of the Chinese revolution is a period of a bourgeois-democratic revolution which has not been completed either from the economic standpoint (the agrarian revolution and the abolition of feudal relations), or from the standpoint of the national struggle against imperialism (the unification of China and the establishment of national independence), or from the standpoint of the class nature of the state (the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry)....
This presentation of motives is an unbroken chain of mistakes and contradictions.
The ECCI taught that the Chinese revolution must secure for China the opportunity to develop along the road to socialism. This goal could be achieved only if the revolution did not halt merely at the solution of the bourgeois-democratic tasks but continued to unfold, passing from one stage to the next, i.e. continued to develop uninterruptedly (or permanently) and thus lead China toward a socialist development. This is precisely what Marx understood by the term "permanent revolution." How then can we, on the one hand, speak of a noncapitalist path of development for China and, on the other, deny the permanent character of the revolution in general?
Butinsists the resolution of the ECCIthe revolution has not been completed, either from the standpoint of the agrarian revolution or from the standpoint of the national struggle against imperialism. Hence it draws the conclusion about the bourgeois democratic character of the "present period of the Chinese revolution." As a matter of fact the "present period" is a period of counterrevolution. The ECCI doubtlessly intends to say that the new resurgence of the Chinese revolution, or the third Chinese revolution, will bear a bourgeois-democratic character because the second Chinese revolution of 1925-27 solved neither the agrarian question nor the national question. However, even thus amended, this reasoning is based upon a total failure to understand the experiences and lessons of both the Chinese and the Russian revolutions.
The February 1917 revolution in Russia left unsolved all the internal and international problems that had led to the revolutionserfdom in the villages, the old bureaucracy, the war, and economic debacle. Taking this as a starting point, not only the SRs and the Mensheviks, but also a considerable section of the leadership of our own party tried to prove to Lenin that the "present period of the revolution is a period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution." In this, its basic consideration, the resolution of the ECCI merely copies the objections that the opportunists raised against the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat waged by Lenin in 1917.
Furthermore, it appears that the bourgeois-democratic revolution remains unaccomplished not only from the economic and national standpoint, but also from the "standpoint of the class nature of the state (the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry)." This can mean only one thing: that the Chinese proletariat is forbidden to struggle for the conquest of power so long as no "genuine" democratic government stands at the helm in China. Unfortunately, no instructions are forthcoming as to where we can get it.
The confusion is further increased by the fact that the slogan of soviets was rejected for China in the course of these two years on the ground that the creation of soviets is permissible presumably only during the transition to the proletarian revolution (Stalin's "theory"). But when the soviet revolution broke out in Canton and when its participants drew the conclusion that this was precisely the transition to the proletarian revolution, they were accused of "Trotskyism." Is the party to be educated by such methods? Is this the way to assist it in the solution of supreme tasks?
To save a hopeless position, the resolution of the ECCI (without any connection whatever with the entire trend of its thought) rushes in posthaste to its last argumenttaken from imperialism. It appears that the tendency to skip over the bourgeois democratic stage ". . . is all the more [!] harmful because such a formulation of the question eliminates [?] the most important national peculiarity of the Chinese revolution, which is a semicolonial revolution."
The only meaning that these senseless words can have is that the imperialist yoke will be overthrown by some sort of nonproletarian dictatorship. But this means that the "most important national peculiarity" has been dragged in at the last moment in order to paint the Chinese national bourgeoisie or the Chinese petty-bourgeois "democracy" in bright colors. This argument can have no other meaning. But this only "meaning" has been adequately examined by us in our chapter "On the Nature of the Colonial Bourgeoisie." There is no need to return to this subject.
China is still confronted with a vast, bitter, bloody, and prolonged struggle for such elementary things as the liquidation of the most "Asiatic" forms of slavery, national emancipation, and unification of the country. But as the course of events has shown, it is precisely this that makes impossible in the future any petty-bourgeois leadership or even semileadership in the revolution. The unification and emancipation of China today is an international task, no less so than the existence of the USSR. This task can be solved only by means of a desperate struggle on the part of the downtrodden, hungry, and persecuted masses under the direct leadership of the proletarian vanguarda struggle not only against world imperialism, but also against its economic and political agency in China, against the bourgeoisie, including the "national" bourgeoisie and all its democratic flunkies. And this is nothing else than the road toward the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Beginning with April 1917, Lenin explained to his opponents, who accused him of having adopted the position of the "permanent revolution," that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry was realized partially in the epoch of dual power. He explained later that this dictatorship met with its further extension during the first period of soviet power from November 1917 until July 1918, when the entire peasantry, together with the workers, effected the agrarian revolution while the working class did not as yet proceed with the confiscation of the mills and factories, but experimented with workers' control. So far as the "class nature of the state" was concerned, the democratic SR-Menshevik "dictatorship" gave all that it could givethe miscarriage of dual power. As to the agrarian overturn, the revolution gave birth to a perfectly healthy and strong baby, but it was the proletarian dictatorship that functioned as the midwife.
In other words, what the theoretical formula of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry had combined, was dissociated in the course of the actual class struggle. The hollow shell of semipower was provisionally entrusted to Kerensky Tseretelli, while the real kernel of the agrarian-democratic revolution fell to the share of the victorious working class. This dialectical dissociation of the democratic dictatorship, the leaders of the ECCI failed to understand. They drove themselves into a political blind alley by condemning mechanically any "skipping over the bourgeois-democratic stage" and by endeavoring to guide the historical process in accordance with circular letters. If we are to understand by the bourgeois-democratic stage the accomplishment of the agrarian revolution by means of a "democratic dictatorship," then it was the October revolution itself that audaciously "skipped" over the bourgeois-democratic stage. Should it not be condemned for it?
Why is it then that the historically inevitable course of events that was the highest expression of Bolshevism in Russia must prove to be "Trotskyism" in China? No doubt owing to the very same logic that declares to be suitable for China the theory of the Martynovs, a theory fought by Bolshevism for two decades in Russia.
But is it at all permissible to draw here an analogy with Russia? Our answer is that the slogan of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry was constructed by the leaders of the ECCI exclusively and entirely in accordance with the method of analogy, but a formal and literary analogy and not a materialist and historical analogy. An analogy between China and Russia is entirely admissible if we find the proper approach to it, and Lenin made excellent use of such an analogy. Moreover he did so not after but before the events, as if he had foreseen the future blunders of the epigones. Hundreds of times Lenin had to defend the October revolution of the proletariat that had the audacity to conquer power notwithstanding the fact that the bourgeois-democratic tasks had not been solved. Precisely because of that, and precisely in order to do that, replied Lenin. Addressing himself to the pedants, who in their arguments against the conquest of power referred to the economic immaturity of Russia for socialism, which was "incontrovertible" for him ["Our Revolution," Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 478], Lenin wrote on January 16, 1923:
For instance, it does not even occur to them that because Russia stands on the border-line between the civilised countries and the countries which this war has for the first time definitely brought into the orbit of civilisationall the Oriental, non-European.countriesshe could and was, indeed, bound to reveal certain distinguishing features; although these, of course, are in keeping with the general line of world development, they distinguish her revolution from those which took place in the West-European countries and introduce certain partial innovations as the revolution moves on to the countries of the East. [Ibid., p. 477.]
The "distinguishing feature" that brings Russia closer to the countries of the Orient was seen by Lenin precisely in the fact that the young proletariat, at an early stage, had to grasp the broom and sweep feudal barbarism and all sorts of rubbish from its path toward socialism.
If, consequently, we are to take as our starting point the Leninist analogy between China and Russia, then we must say: from the standpoint of the "political nature of the state," all that could have been obtained through the democratic dictatorship in China has been put to the test, first in Sun Yat-sen's Canton then on the road from Canton to Shanghai, which culminated in the Shanghai coup, and then in Wuhan where the left Kuomintang appeared in its chemically pure form, i.e., according to the directives of the ECCI, as the organizer of the agrarian revolution, but in reality as its hangman. But the social content of the bourgeois-democratic revolution will fill the initial period of the coming dictatorship of the Chinese proletariat and the peasant poor. To advance now the slogan of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry after the role not only of the Chinese bourgeoisie, but also of Chinese "democracy" has been put to a thorough test, after it has become absolutely incontestable that "democracy" will play even a greater hangman's role in the coming battles than in the pastto advance this slogan now is simply to create the means of covering up the new varieties of Kuomintangism and to prepare a noose for the proletariat.
Let us recall for the sake of completeness what Lenin tersely said about those Bolsheviks who insisted upon counterposing to the SR-Menshevik experience the slogan of a "genuine" democratic dictatorship:
The person who now speaks only of a "revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry" is behind the times consequently, he has in effect gone over to the petty bourgeoisie against the proletarian class struggle; that person should be consigned to the archive of "Bolshevik" pre-revolutionary antiques (it may be called the archive of "old Bolsheviks"). ["Letters on Tactics," April 1917, Collected Works. vol. 24, p. 45.]
These words ring as if they were actually spoken today.
Of course it is not at all a question of calling the Communist Party of China to an immediate insurrection for the seizure of power. The pace depends entirely upon the circumstances. The consequences of defeat cannot be removed merely by revising the tactic. The revolution is now subsiding. The half-concealing resolution of the ECCI, the bombast about imminent revolutionary onslaughts, while countless people are being executed and a terrific commercial and industrial crisis rages in China, are criminal light-mindedness and nothing else. After three major defeats an economic crisis does not rouse, but on the contrary, depresses the proletariat which, as it is, has already been bled white, while the executions only destroy the politically weakened party. We are entering in China into a period of reflux, and consequently into a period in which the party deepens its theoretical roots, educates itself critically, creates and strengthens firm organizational links in all spheres of the working class movement, organizes rural nuclei, leads and unites partial, at first defensive and later offensive, battles of the workers and the peasant poor.
What will turn the tide in the mass movement? What circumstances will give the necessary revolutionary impulsion to the proletarian vanguard at the head of the many-millioned masses? This cannot be predicted. The future will show whether internal processes alone will be sufficient or an added impulsion will have to come from without.
There are sufficient grounds for assuming that the smashing of the Chinese revolution, directly due to the false leadership, will permit the Chinese and foreign bourgeoisie to overcome to a lesser or greater degree the frightful economic crisis now raging in the country. Naturally, this will be done on the backs and bones of the workers and peasants. This phase of "stabilization" will once again group and fuse together the workers, restore their class self-confidence in order subsequently to bring them into still sharper conflict with the enemy, but on a higher historical stage. It will be possible to speak seriously about the perspective of an agrarian revolution only on the condition that there will be a new mounting wave of the proletarian movement on the offensive.
It is not excluded that the first stage of the coming third revolution may reproduce in a very abridged and modified form the stages that have already been passed, presenting, for instance, some new parody of the "national united front." But this first stage will be sufficient only to give the Communist Party a chance to put forward and announce its "April" thesis that is, its program and tactics of the seizure of power, before the popular masses.
But what does the draft program say on this?
The transition to the proletarian dictatorship is possible here [in China] only after a series of preparatory stages [?], only as a result of a whole period of the growing over [??] of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into the socialist revolution.
In other words, all the "stages" that have already been gone through are not to be taken into account. The draft program still sees ahead what has already been left behind. This is precisely what is meant by a tailendist formulation. It opens wide the gates for new experiments in the spirit of the Kuomintang course. Thus the concealment of the old mistakes inevitably prepares the road for new errors.
If we enter the new upsurge, which will develop at an incomparably more rapid tempo than the last one, with a blueprint of "democratic dictatorship" that has already outlived its usefulness, there can be no doubt that the third Chinese revolut1on, like the second, will be led to its doom.
The second paragraph of the same resolution of the February plenum of the ECCI says:
The first wave of the broad revolutionary movement of workers and peasants which in the main proceeded under the slogans and to a considerable extent under the leadership of the Communist Party is over. It ended in several centers of the revolutionary movement with heaviest defeats for the workers and peasants, the physical extermination of the communists and revolutionary cadres of the labor and peasant movement in general. [Our emphasis.]
When the "wave" was surging high, the ECCI said that the whole movement was entirely under the blue banner and leadership of the Kuomintang, which even took the place of soviets. It is precisely on that ground that the Communist Party was subordinated to the Kuomintang. But that is exactly why the revolutionary movement ended with "heaviest defeats." Now when these defeats have been recognized, an attempt is being made to erase the Kuomintang from the past as if it had never existed, as if the ECCI had not declared the blue banner its own.
There have been no defeats either in Shanghai or in Wuhan in the past; there were merely transitions of the revolution "into a higher phase"that is what we have been taught. Now the sum total of these transitions is suddenly declared to be "heaviest defeats for the workers and peasants." However, in order to mask to some extent this unprecedented political bankruptcy of forecasts and evaluations, the concluding paragraph of the resolution declares:
"The ECCI makes it the duty of all sections of the CI to fight against the Social Democratic and Trotskyist slanders to the effect that the Chinese revolution has been liquidated [?]."
In the first paragraph of the resolution we were told that "Trotskyism" was the idea of the permanent Chinese revolution, that is, a revolution that is precisely at this time growing over from the bourgeois to the socialist phase; from the last paragraph we learn that according to the "Trotskyists," "the Chinese revolution has been liquidated." How can a "liquidated" revolution be a permanent revolution? Here we have Bukharin in all his glory.
Only complete and reckless irresponsibility permits of such contradictions which corrode all revolutionary thought at its roots.
If we are to understand by "liquidation" of the revolution the fact that the labor and peasant offensive has been beaten back and drowned in blood, that the masses are in a state of retreat and decline, that before another onslaught there must be, apart from many other circumstances, a molecular process at work among the masses that requires a certain period of time, the duration of which cannot be determined beforehand; if "liquidation" is to be understood in this way, it does not in any manner differ from the "heaviest defeats" which the ECCI has finally been compelled to recognize. Or are we to understand liquidation literally, as the actual elimination of the Chinese revolution, that is, of the very possibility and inevitability of its rebirth on a new plane? One can speak of such a perspective seriously and so as not to create confusion only in two casesif China were doomed to dismemberment and complete extirpation, an assumption for which there is no basis whatever, or if the Chinese bourgeoisie would prove capable of solving the basic problems of Chinese life in its own nonrevolutionary way. Is it not this last variant that the theoreticians of the "bloc of four classes," who directly drove the Communist Party under the yoke of the bourgeoisie, seek to ascribe to us now? History repeats itself. The blind men who did not understand the scope of the defeat of 1923, for a year and a half accused us of "liquidationism" toward the German revolution. But even this lesson, which cost the International so dearly taught them nothing. At present they use their old rubber stamps only this time substituting China for Germany. To be sure, their need to find "liquidators" is more acute today than it was four years ago, for this time it is much too obviously apparent that if anybody did "liquidate" the second Chinese revolution it was the authors of the "Kuomintang" course.
The strength of Marxism lies in its ability to foretell. In this sense the Opposition can point to an absolute confirmation in experience of its prognosis. At first concerning the Kuomintang as a whole, then concerning the "left" Kuomintang and the Wuhan government, and, finally, concerning the "deposit" on the third revolution, that is the Canton insurrection. What further confirmation could there be of one's theoretical correctness?
The very same opportunist line, which through the policy of capitulation to the bourgeoisie has already brought the heaviest defeats to the revolution during its first two stages, "grew over" in the third stage into a policy of adventurous raids on the bourgeoisie and thus made the defeat final.
Had the leadership not hurried yesterday to leap over the defeats which it had itself brought about, it would first of all have explained to the Communist Party of China that victory is not gained in one sweep, that on the road to the armed insurrection there still remains a period of intense, incessant, and savage struggle for political influence on the workers and peasants.
On September 27, 1927, we said to the Presidium of the ECCI: struggle for political influence.
Today's papers report that the revolutionary army has occupied Swatow. It is already several weeks that the armies of Ho Lung and Yeh Ting have been advancing. Pravda calls these armies revolutionary armies.... But I ask you: What prospects does the movement of the revolutionary army that captured Swatow raise before the Chinese revolution? What are the slogans of the movement? What is its program? What should be its organizational forms? What has become of the slogan of Chinese soviets, which Pravda suddenly advanced for a single day in July?
Without first counterposing the Communist Party to the Kuomintang as a whole, without the party's agitation among the masses for soviets and a soviet government, without an independent mobilization of the masses under the slogans of the agrarian revolution and of national emancipation, without the creation, broadening, and strengthening of the local soviets of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies, the insurrection of Ho Lung and Yeh T'ing, even apart from their opportunist policy, could not fail to be only an isolated adventure, a pseudocommunist Makhno feat;85 it could not fail to crash against its own isolation. And it has crashed.
The Canton insurrection was a broader and deeper repetition of the Ho Lung-Yeh T'ing adventure, only with infinitely more tragic consequences.
The February resolution of the ECCI combats putschistic moods in the Communist Party of China, that is, tendencies toward armed uprisings. It does not say, however, that these tendencies are a reaction to the entire opportunist policy of 192527, and an inevitable consequence of the purely military command issued from above to "change the step," without an evaluation of all that had been done, without an open revaluation of the basis of the tactic, and without a clear perspective. Ho Lung's campaign and the Canton insurrection wereand under the circumstances could not fail to bebreeders of putschism.
A real antidote to putschism as well as to opportunism can be only a clear understanding of the truth that the leadership of the armed insurrection of the workers and poor peasants, the seizure of power, and the institution of a revolutionary dictatorship fall henceforth entirely upon the shoulders of the Communist Party of China. If the latter is permeated thoroughly with the understanding of this perspective, it will be as little inclined to improvise military raids on towns or armed insurrections in traps as to chase humbly after the enemy's banner.
The resolution of the ECCI condemns itself to utter impotence by the fact alone that in arguing most abstractly concerning the inadmissibility of leaping over stages and the harmfulness of putschism, it entirely ignores the class content of the Canton insurrection and the short-lived soviet regime that it brought into existence. We Oppositionists hold that this insurrection was an adventure of the leaders in an effort to save their "prestige." But it is clear to us that even an adventure develops according to laws that are determined by the structure of the social milieu. That is why we look to the Canton insurrection for the features of the future phase of the Chinese revolution. These features fully correspond with our theoretical analysis made prior to the Canton uprising. But how much more imperative it is for the ECCI, which holds that the Canton uprising was a correct and normal kink In the chain of struggle, to give a clear class characterization of the Canton insurrection. However, there is not a word about this in the resolution of the ECCI, although the plenum met immediately after the Canton events. Is this not the most convincing proof that the present leadership of the Comintern, because it stubbornly pursues a false policy, is compelled to occupy itself with the fictitious errors of 1905 and other years without daring to approach the Canton insurrection of 1927, the meaning of which completely upsets the blueprint for revolutions in the East that is set down in the draft program?
In the February resolution of the ECCI the representatives of the Comintern, "Comrade N. and others," are made responsible for the "absence of an elected soviet in Canton as an organ of insurrection" (emphasis in the original). Behind this charge in reality lies an astounding admission.
In the report of Pravda (no. 31), written on the basis of first-hand documents, It was stated that a soviet government had been established in Canton. But not a word was mentioned to indicate that the Canton Soviet was not an elected organ, i.e., that it was not a sovietfor how can there be a soviet that was not elected? We learn this from the resolution. Let us reflect for a moment on the significance of this fact. The ECCI tells us now that a soviet is necessary to effect an armed insurrection, but by no means prior to that time. But lo and behold! When the date for the 1nsurreCtion 1S set, there is no soviet. To create an elected soviet is not an easy matter. It is necessary that the masses know from experience what a soviet is, that they understand its form, that they have learned something in the past to accustom them to an elected soviet organization. There was not even a sign of this in China, for the slogan of soviets was declared to be a Trotskyist slogan precisely in the period when it should have become the nerve center of the entire movement. When, however, helterskelter, a date was set for an insurrection so as to skip over their own defeats, they simultaneously had to appoint a soviet as well If this error is not laid bare to the core, the slogan of soviets can be transformed into the hangman's noose of the revolution.
Lenin in his time explained to the Mensheviks that the fundamental historical task of the soviets is to organize, or help organize, the conquest of power so that on the day after the victory they become the organ of that power. The epigonesand not the disciplesdraw from this the conclusion that soviets can be organized only when the twelfth hour of the insurrection has struck. Lenin's broad generalization they transform post factum into a little recipe which does not serve the interests of the revolution but imperils it.
Before the Bolshevik soviets in October 1917 captured power, the SR and Menshevik soviets had existed for nine months. Twelve years before, the first revolutionary soviets existed in Petersburg, Moscow, and scores of other cities. Before the soviet of 1905 was extended to embrace the mills and factories of the capital, there was created in Moscow, during the strike, a soviet of printers' deputies. Several months before this, in May 1905, a mass strike in Ivanovo Voznesensk set up a leading body that already contained all the essential features of a soviet of workers' deputies. Between the first experiment of setting up a soviet of workers' deputies and the gigantic experiment of setting up a soviet government, more than twelve years rolled by. Of course, such a period is not at all required for all other countries, including China. But to think that the Chinese workers are capable of building soviets on the basis of the little recipe that has been substituted for Lenin's broad generalization is to substitute impotent and importunate pedantry for the dialectic of revolutionary action.
Soviets must be set up not on the eve of the insurrection, not under the slogan of immediate seizure of powerfor if the matter has reached the point of the seizure of power, if the masses are prepared for an armed insurrection without a soviet, it means that there have been other organizational forms and methods that made possible the performance of the preparatory work to insure the success of the uprising. Then the question of soviets becomes of secondary importance and is reduced to a question of organizational technique or merely to a question of denomination. The task of the soviets is not merely to issue the call for the insurrection or to carry it out, but to lead the masses toward the insurrection through the necessary stages. At first the soviet rallies the masses not to the slogan of armed insurrection, but to partial slogans, so that only later, step by step, the masses are brought toward the slogan of insurrection without scattering them on the road and without allowing the vanguard to become isolated from the class.
The soviet appears most often and primarily in connection with strike struggles that have the perspectives of revolutionary development, but are in the given moment limited merely to economic demands. The masses must sense and understand while in action that the soviet is their organization, that it marshals the forces for a struggle, for resistance, for self-defence, and for an offensive. They can sense and understand this not from an action of a single day nor in general from any single act, but from the experience of several weeks, months, and perhaps years, with or without interruptions. That is why only an epigonic and bureaucratic leadership can restrain the awakening and rising masses from creating soviets in conditions when the country is passing through an epoch of revolutionary upheavals and when the working class and the poor peasants have before them the prospect of capturing power, even though this is a perspective of one of the subsequent stages and even if this perspective can be envisaged in the given phase only by a small minority. Such was always our conception of the soviets. We evaluated the soviets as that broad and flexible organizational form that is accessible to the masses who have just awakened at the very first stages of their revolutionary upsurge; and which is capable of uniting the working class in its entirety, independent of the size of that section which, in the given phase, has already matured to the point of understanding the task of the seizure of power.
Is any documentary evidence really necessary? Here, for instance, is what Lenin wrote about the soviets in the epoch of the first revolution:
The R.S.D.LP. [Russian Social Democratic Labor Partythe name of the party at that timeLT.] has never renounced its intention of utilising certain non-party organisations, such as the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, in periods of more or less intense revolutionary upheaval, to extend Social-Democratic influence among the working class and to strengthen the Social Democratic labour movement. ["Non-Party Workers' Organizations and the Anarcho-Syndicalist Trend Among the Proletariat," Draft Resolution for the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP, written February 15-18, 1907, Collected Works, vol. 12, p. 143.]
One could cite voluminous literary and historical evidence of this type. But one would imagine that the question is sufficiently clear without them.
In contradistinction to this the epigones have converted the soviets into an organizational parade uniform with which the party simply dresses up the proletariat on the eve of the capture of power. But this is precisely the time when we find that the soviets cannot be improvised in twenty-four hours, by order, for the direct purpose of an armed insurrection. Such experiments must inevitably assume a fictitious character and the absence of the most necessary conditions for the capture of power is masked by the external ritual of a soviet system. That is what happened in Canton where the soviet was simply appointed to observe the ritual. That is where the epigone formulation of the question leads.
During the polemics on the Chinese events the Opposition was accused of the following alleged flagrant contradiction: whereas from 1926 on the Opposition advanced the slogan of soviets for China, its representatives spoke against the slogan of soviets for Germany in the autumn of 1923. On no other point perhaps has scholastic political thought expressed itself so glaringly as in this accusation. Yes, we demanded for China a timely start for the creation of soviets as independent organizations of workers and peasants, when the wave of revolutionary upsurge was mounting.
The chief significance of the soviets was to be that of opposing the workers and peasants to the Kuomintang bourgeoisie and its left Kuomintang agency. The slogan of soviets in China meant above all the break with the suicidal and infamous "bloc of four classes" and the withdrawal of the Communist Party from the Kuomintang. The center of gravity consequently lay not in bare organizational forms, but in the class line.
In the autumn of 1923 in Germany it was a question of organizational form only. As a result of the extreme passivity, backwardness, and tardiness of the leadership of the Comintern and the Communist Party of Germany, the moment for a timely call for the organization of soviets was missed. The factory committees, due to pressure from below and of their own accord, had occupied in the labor movement of Germany by the autumn of 1923 the place that would no doubt have been much more successfully occupied by soviets had there been a correct and daring policy on the part of the Communist Party. The acuteness of the situation had in the meantime reached its sharpest point. To lose any more time would have meant definitely to miss the revolutionary situation. The insurrection was finally placed on the order of the day, with very little time left.
To advance the slogan of soviets under such conditions would have been the greatest pedantic stupidity conceivable. The soviet is not a talisman with omnipotent powers of salvation. In a situation such as had then developed, the hurried creation of soviets would only have duplicated the factory committees. It would have become necessary to deprive the latter of their revolutionary functions and to transfer them to the newly created and still utterly unauthoritative soviets. And when was this to be done? Under conditions in which each day counted. This would have meant to substitute for revolutionary action a most pernicious game in organizational gewgaws.
It is incontestable that the organizational form of a soviet can be of enormous importance; but only at a time when it furnishes a timely reflection of the correct political line. And conversely, it can acquire a no less negative meaning if it is converted into a fiction, a fetish, a bagatelle. The German soviets created at the very last moment in the autumn of 1923 would have added nothing politically; they would only have caused organizational confusion. What happened in Canton was even worse yet. The soviet that was created in a hurry to observe the ritual was only a masquerade for the adventurist putsch. That is why we discovered, after it was all over, that the Canton Soviet resembled an ancient Chinese dragon simply drawn on paper. The policy of pulling rotten strings and paper dragons is not our policy. We were against improvising soviets by telegraph in Germany in September 1923. We were for the creation of soviets in China in 1926. We were against the masquerade soviet in Canton in 1927. There are no contradictions here. We have here instead the profound unity of the conception of the dynamics of the revolutionary movement and its organizational forms.
The question of the role and significance of the soviets, which had been distorted and confused and obscured by the theory and practice of recent years, has not been illuminated in the least in the draft program.
The slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which leads behind it the peasant poor, is inseparably bound up with the question of the socialist character of the coming third revolution in China. And inasmuch as not only history repeats itself but also the mistakes that people counterpose to its requirements, we can already hear the objection that China has not yet matured for a socialist revolution. But this is an abstract and lifeless formulation of the question. For has Russia, taken by itself, matured for socialism? According to Leninno! It has matured for the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only method for solving unpostponable national tasks. But the destiny of the dictatorship as a whole is determined in the last analysis by the trend of world development, which, of course, does not exclude but rather presupposes a correct policy on the part of the proletarian dictatorship, the consolidation and development of the workers' and peasants' alliance, an all-sided adaptation to national conditions on the one hand, and to the trend of world development on the other. This fully holds true for China as well.
In the same article, entitled "Our Revolution" (January 16, 1923), in which Lenin establishes that the peculiarity of Russia proceeds along the lines of the peculiar development of the Eastern countries, he brands as "infinitely stereotyped" the argument of European Social Democracy to the effect "that we are not yet ripe for socialism, that, as certain '[earned' gentlemen among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country" [Collected Works, vol. 33, pp. 477-78]. But Lenin ridicules the "learned" gentlemen not because he himself recognized the existence of the economic prerequisites for socialism in Russia but because he holds that the rejection of the seizure of power does not at all follow, as pedants and philistines think, from the absence of these prerequisites necessary for an independent construction of socialism. In this article of his, Lenin for the hundred and first time, or, rather, for the thousand and first time replies to the sophisms of the heroes of the Second International: "They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is the decisive criterion of our revolution" [ibid., p. 478]. That is what the authors of the draft program refuse and are unable to understand. In itself the thesis of the economic and cultural immaturity of China as well as RussiaChina, of course, more so than Russiais incontrovertible. But hence it does not at all follow that the proletariat has to renounce the conquest of power when this conquest is dictated by the entire historical context and the revolutionary situation in the country.
The concrete, historical, political, and actual question is reducible not to whether China has economically matured for "its own" socialism, but whether China has ripened politically for the proletarian dictatorship. These two questions are not at all identical. They might be regarded as identical were it not for the law of uneven development. This is where this law is in place and fully applies to the interrelationship between economics and politics. Then China has matured for the dictatorship of the proletariat? Only the experience of the struggle can provide a categorical answer to this question. By the same token, only the struggle can settle the question as to when and under what conditions the real unification, emancipation, and regeneration of China will take place. Anyone who says that China has not matured for the dictatorship of the proletariat declares thereby that the third Chinese revolution is postponed for many years to come.
Of course, matters would be quite hopeless if feudal survivals did really dominate in Chinese economic life, as the resolutions of the ECCI asserted. But fortunately, survivals in general cannot dominate. The draft program on this point, too, does not rectify the errors committed, but reaffirms them in a roundabout and nebulous fashion. The draft speaks of the "predominance of medieval feudal relations both in the economics of the country and in the political superstructure...." This is false to the core What does predominance mean? Is it a question of the number of people involved? Or the dominant and leading role in the economics of the country? The extraordinarily rapid growth of home industry on the basis of the all-embracing role of mercantile and bank capital; the complete dependence of the most important agrarian districts on the market; the enormous and ever-growing role of foreign trade; the all-sided subordination of the Chinese village to the cityall these bespeak the unconditional predominance, the direct domination of capitalist relations in China. The social relations of serfdom and semiserfdom are undeniably very strong. They stem in part from the days of feudalism; and in part they constitute a new formation, that is, the regeneration of the past on the basis of the retarded development of the productive forces, the surplus agrarian population, the activities of merchants' and usurers' capital, etc. However, it is capitalist relations that dominate and not "feudal" (more correctly, serf and, generally, precapitalist) relations. Only thanks to this dominant role of capitalist relations can we speak seriously of the prospects of the proletarian hegemony in the national revolution. Otherwise, there is no making the ends meet.
The strength of the proletariat in any capitalist country is far greater than the proportion it represents of the total population. That is because the proletariat economically dominates the centre and nerve of the entire economic system of capitalism, and also because the proletariat expresses economically and politically the real interests of the overwhelming majority of the working people under capitalism.
Therefore, the proletariat, even when it constitutes a minority of the population (or when the class-conscious and really revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat constitutes a minority of the population), is capable of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and, after that, of winning to its side numerous allies from a mass of semi-proletarians and petty bourgeoisie who never declare in advance in favour of the rule of the proletariat, who do not understand the conditions and aims of that rule, and only by their subsequent experience become convinced that the proletarian dictatorship is inevitable, proper and legitimate. [Lenin, "The Constituent Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of' the Proletariat," December 16, 1919, Collected Works, vol. 30 p 274.]
The role of the Chinese proletariat in production is already very great. In the next few years it will only increase still further. Its political role, as events have shown, could have been gigantic. But the whole line of the leadership was directed entirely against permitting the proletariat to conquer the leading role.
The draft program says that successful socialist construction is possible in China "only on the condition that it is directly supported by countries under the proletarian dictatorship." Thus, here, in relation to China, the same principle is recognized that the party has always recognized in regard to Russia. But if China lacks sufficient inner forces for an independent construction of socialist society, then according to the theory of Stalin-Bukharin, the Chinese proletariat should not seize power at any stage of the revolution. Or it may be that the existence of the USSR settles the question in just the opposite sense. Then it follows that our technology is sufficient to build a socialist society not only in the USSR but also in China, i.e., in the two economically most backward countries with a combined population of 600 million. Or perhaps the inevitable dictatorship of the proletariat in China, is "inadmissible" because that dictatorship will be included in the chain of the worldwide socialist revolution, thus becoming not only its link, but its driving force? But this is precisely Lenin's basic formulation of the October revolution, the "distinguishing feature" of which follows precisely along the lines of development of the Eastern countries. We see thus how the revisionist theory of socialism in one country, evolved in 1924 in order to wage a struggle against Trotskyism, distorts and confuses matters each time a new major revolutionary problem is approached.
The draft program goes still further along this same road. It counterposes China and India to "Russia before 1917" and Poland ("etc.,"?) as countries with a "certain minimum of industry sufficient for the triumphant construction of socialism," or (as is more definitely and therefore more erroneously stated elsewhere) as countries possessing the "necessary and sufficient material prerequisites . . . for the complete construction of socialism." This, as we already know, is a mere play upon Lenin's expression " necessary and sufficient" prerequisites, a fraudulent and impermissible jugglery because Lenin definitely enumerates the political and organizational prerequisites, including the technical, cultural, and international prerequisites. But the chief point that remains is: how can one determine a priori the "minimum of industry" sufficient for the complete building of socialism once it is a question of an uninterrupted world struggle between two economic systems, two social orders, and a struggle moreover, in which our economic base is infinitely the weaker?
If we take into consideration only the economic lever, it is clear that we in the USSR, and all the more so in China and India have a far shorter arm of the lever than world capitalism. But the entire question is resolved by the revolutionary struggle of the two systems on a world scale. In the political struggle, the long arm of the lever is on our side, or, to put it more correctly, it can and must prove so in our hands, if our policy is correct.
Again, in the same article, "Our Revolution," after stating that "a definite level of culture is required for the building of socialism," Lenin adds: "although nobody can say just what that definite 'level of culture' is...." Why can no one say? Because the question is settled by the struggle, by the rivalry between the two social systems and the two cultures, on an international scale. Breaking completely with this idea of Lenin's, which flows from the very essence of the question, the draft program asserts that in 1917 Russia had precisely the "minimum technology" and consequently also the culture necessary for the building of socialism in one country. The authors of the draft attempt to say in the program that which "nobody can say" a priori.
It is impermissible, impossible, and absurd to seek a criterion for the "sufficient minimum" within national states ("Russia prior to 1917") when the whole question is settled by international dynamics. In this false, arbitrary, isolated national criterion rests the theoretical basis of national narrowness in politics, the precondition for inevitable national-reformist and social-patriotic blunders in the future.
The lessons of the second Chinese revolution are lessons for the entire Comintern, but primarily for all the countries of the Orient.
All the arguments presented in defense of the Menshevik line in the Chinese revolution must, if we take them seriously, hold trebly good for India. The imperialist yoke assumes in India, the classic colony, infinitely more direct and palpable terms than in China. The survivals of feudal and serf relations in India are immeasurably deeper and greater. Nevertheless, or rather precisely for this reason, the methods that, applied in China, undermined the revolution, must result in India in even more fatal consequences. The overthrow of Hindu feudalism and of the Anglo-Hindu bureaucracy and British militarism can be accomplished only by a gigantic and indomitable movement of the popular masses that precisely because of its powerful sweep and irresistibility, its international aims and ties, cannot tolerate any halfway and compromising opportunist measures on the part of the leadership.
The Comintern leadership has already committed not a few mistakes in India. The conditions have not yet allowed these errors to reveal themselves on such a scale as in China. One can, therefore, hope that the lessons of the Chinese events will permit of a more timely rectification of the line of the leading policy in India and in other countries of the East.
The cardinal question for us here, as everywhere and always. is the question of the Communist Party, its complete independence, its irreconcilable class character. The greatest danger on this path is the organization of so-called workers' and peasants' parties in the countries of the Orient.
Beginning with 1924, a year that will go down as the year of open revision of a number of fundamental theses of Marx and Lenin, Stalin advanced the formula of the 'two-class workers' and peasants' parties for the Eastern countries." It was based on the self-same national oppression that served in the Orient to camouflage opportunism, as did "stabilization" in the Occident. Cables from India, as well as from Japan, where there is no national oppression, have of late frequently mentioned the activities of provincial "workers' and peasants' parties," referring to them as organizations that are close and friendly to the Comintern, as if they were almost our "own" organizations, without, however, giving any sort of concrete definition of' their political physiognomy; in a word, writing and speaking about them in the same way as was done only a short while ago about the Kuomintang.
Back in 1924, Pravda reported that: "There are indications that the movement of national liberation in Korea is gradually taking shape in the form of the creation of a workers' and peasants' party" (March 2, 1924).
And in the meantime Stalin lectures the communists of the Orient that They [the communists!] will have to transcend the policy of the united nationalist front, and adopt the policy of forming a revolutionary coalition between the workers and the petty hourgeois. This coalition may find expression in the creation of a single party whose membership will be drawn from among the working class and the peasantry, after the model of the Kuomintang. [Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 264. 86]
The ensuing tiny "reservations" on the subject of the independence of the Communist parties (obviously, "independence" like that of the prophet Jonah inside the whale's belly) served only for the purpose of camouflage. We are profoundly convinced that the Sixth Congress must state that the slightest equivocation in this sphere is fatal and will be rejected.
It is a question here of an absolutely new, entirely false, and thoroughly anti-Marxist formulation of the fundamental question of the party and of its relation to its own class and other classes.
The necessity for the Communist Party of China to enter the Kuomintang was defended on the ground that in its social composition the Kuomintang is a party of workers anti peasants. that nine-tenths of the Kuomintangthis proportion was repeated hundreds of timesbelonged to the revolutionary tendency and were ready to march hand in hand with the Communist Party However, during and since the uprising in Shanghai and Wuhan, these revolutionary nine-tenths of the Kuomintang disappeared as if by magic. No one has found a trace of them. And the theoreticians of class collaboration in ChinaStalin, Bukharin, and othersdid not even take the trouble to explain what has become of the nine-tenths of the members of the Kuomintangthe nine-tenths workers and peasants, revolutionists, sympathizers, and entirely our "own." Yet, an answer to this question is of decisive importance if we are to understand the destiny of all these "two-class" parties preached by Stalin; and if we are to be clarified upon the very conception itself, which throws us far behind not only of the program of the RCP of 1919, but also of the Communist Manifesto of 1847.
The question of where the celebrated nine-tenths vanished can become clear to us only if we understand, first, the impossibility of a bicomposite, that is a two-class party, expressing simultaneously two mutually exclusive historical linesthe proletarian and petty-bourgeois lines; secondly, the impossibility of realizing in capitalist society an independent peasant party, that is, a party expressing the interests of the peasantry, which is at the same time independent of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
Marxism has always taught, and Bolshevism, too, accepted, and taught, that the peasantry and proletariat are two different classes, that it is false to identify their interests in capitalist society in any way, and that a peasant can join the Communist Party only if, from the property viewpoint, he adopts the views of the proletariat. The alliance of the workers and peasants under the dictatorship of the proletariat does not invalidate this thesis, but confirms it, in a different way, under different circumstances. If there were no different classes with different interests, there would be no talk even of an alliance. Such an alliance is compatible with the socialist revolution only to the extent that it enters into the iron framework of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In our country the dictatorship is incompatible with the existence of a so-called Peasants' League precisely because every "independent" peasant organization aspiring to solVti all national political problems would inevitably turn out to he an instrument in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
Those organizations that in capitalist countries label themselves peasant parties are in reality one of the varieties of bourgeois parties. Every peasant who has not adopted the proletarian position, abandoning his proprietor psychology. will inevitably follow the bourgeoisie when it comes to fundamental political issues. (if course, every bourgeois party that relies or seeks to rely on the peasantry and, if possible, on the workers. is compelled to camouflage itself, that is, to assume two or three appropriate colorations. The celebrated idea of 'workers' and peasants' parties" seems to have been specially created to camouflage bourgeois parties that are compelled to seek support from the peasantry but are also ready to absorb workers into their ranks. The Kuomintang has entered the annals of history for all time as a classic type of such a party.
Bourgeois society, as is known, is so constructed that the propertyless, discontented, and deceived masses are at the bottom and the contented fakers remain on top. Every bourgeois party, if it is a real party, that is, if it embraces considerable masses, is built on the self-same principle. The exploiters, fakers, and the despots compose the minority in class society. Every capitalist party is therefore compelled in its internal relations, in one way or another, to reproduce and reflect the relations in bourgeois society as a whole. In every mass bourgeois party the lower ranks are therefore more democratic and further to the "left" than the tops. This holds true of the German Center, the French Radicals, and particularly the Social Democracy. That is why the constant complaints voiced by Stalin, Bukharin, and others that the tops do not reflect the sentiments of the 'left" Kuomintang rank and file, the "overwhelming majority," the ' nine-tenths," etc., etc., are so naive, so unpardonable. That which they represented in their bizarre complaints to be a temporary, disagreeable misunderstanding which was to be eliminated by means of organizational measures, instructions, and circular letters, is in reality a cardinal and basic feature of a bourgeois party, particularly in revolutionary epoch.
It is from this angle that the basic arguments of the authors of the draft program in defense of all kinds of opportunist blocs in generalboth in England and Chinamust be judged. According to them, fraternization with the tops is done exclusively in the interests of the rank and file. The Opposition, as is known, insisted on the withdrawal of the party from the Kuomintang:
"The question arises," says Bukharin, "why? Is it because the leaders of the Kuomintang are vacillating? And what about the Kuomintang masses, are they mere 'cattle'? Since when is the attitude to a mass organization determined by what takes place at the 'high' summit!" ( Th e Present Situation in the Chinese Revolution).
The very possibility of such an argument seems impossible in a revolutionary party. Bukharin asks, "And what about the Kuomintang masses, are they mere cattle?" Of course they are cattle. The masses of any bourgeois party are always cattle, although in different degrees. But for us, the masses are not cattle, are they? No, that is precisely why we are forbidden to drive them into the arms of the bourgeoisie, camouflaging the latter under the label of a workers' and peasants ' party. That is precisely why we are forbidden to subordinate the proletarian party to a bourgeois party, but on the contrary, must at every step, oppose the former to the latter. The "high" summit of the Kuomintang of whom Bukharin speaks so ironically, as of something secondary, accidental, and temporary is in reality the soul of the Kuomintang, its social essence. Of course, the bourgeoisie constitutes only the "summit" in the party as well as in society. But this summit is powerful in its capital, knowledge, and connections: it can always fall back on the imperialists for support, and what is most important, it can always resort to the actual political and military power that is intimately fused with the leadership in the Kuomintang itself. It is precisely this summit that wrote laws against strikes, throttled the uprisings of the peasants, shoved the communists into a dark corner, and, at best, allowed them to be only one-third of the party, exacted an oath from them that petty-bourgeois Sun Yat-senism takes precedence over Marxism.
The rank and file were picked and harnessed by this summit, serving it, like Moscow, as a "left" support, just as the generals, compradors, and imperialists served it as a right support. To consider the Kuomintang not as a bourgeois party, but as a neutral arena of struggle for the masses, to play with words about nine-tenths of the left rank and file in order to mask the question as to who is the real master, meant to add to the strength and power of the summit, to assist the latter to convert ever broader masses into "cattle," and, under conditions most favorable to it, to prepare the Shanghai coup.
Basing themselves on the reactionary idea of the two-class party, Stalin and Bukharin imagined that the communists, together with the "lefts," would secure a majority in the Kuomintang and thereby power in the country, for, in China`" power is in the hands of the Kuomintang. In other words, they imagined that by means of ordinary elections at Kuomindang congresses power would pass from the hands of the bourgeoisie to the proletariat.C an one conceive of a more touching and idealistic idolization of "party democracy" . . . in a bourgeois party? For indeed, the army, the bureaucracy, the press, the capital, are all in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Precisely because of this and this alone it stands at the helm of the ruling party.
The bourgeois "summit" tolerates or tolerated "nine-tenths" of the lefts (and lefts of this sort), only insofar as they did not venture against the army, the bureaucracy, the press, and against capital. By these powerful means the bourgeois summit kept in subjection not only the so-called nine-tenths of the "left" party members, but also the masses as a whole. In this the theory of the bloc of classes, the theory that the Kuomintang is a workers' and peasants' party, provides the best possible assist ance for the bourgeoisie. When the bourgeoisie later comes into hostile conflict with the masses and shoots them down, in this clash between the two real forces, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, not even the bleating of the celebrated nine-tenths is heard. The pitiful democratic fiction evaporates without a trace in face of the bloody reality of the class struggle.
Such is the genuine and only possible political mechanism of the" two-class workers' and peasants' parties for the Orient." There is no other and there will be none.
Although the idea of the two-class parties is motivated on national oppression, which allegedly abrogates Marx's class doctrine, we have already heard about "workers' and peasants"' mongrels in Japan, where there is no national oppression at all. But that isn't all, the matter is not limited merely to the Orient. The "two-class" idea seeks to attain universality. In this domain the most grotesque features were assumed by the above mentioned Communist Party of America in its effort to support the presidential candidacy of the bourgeois, "antitrust" Senator La Follette, so as to yoke the American farmers by this means to the chariot of the social revolution. Pepper, the theoretician of this maneuver, one of those who ruined the Hungarian revolution because he overlooked the Hungarian peasantry, made a great effort (by way of compensation, no doubt) to ruin the Communist Party of America by dissolving it among the farmers. Pepper's theory was that the superprofit of American capitalism converts the American proletariat into a world labor aristocracy, while the agrarian crisis ruins the farmers and drives them onto the path of social revolution. According to Pepper's conception, a party of a few thousand members, consisting chiefly of immigrants, had to fuse with the farmers through the medium of a bourgeois party and by thus founding a "two-class" party, insure the socialist revolution in the face of the passivity or neutrality of the proletariat corrupted by superprofits.
This insane idea found supporters and half-supporters among the upper leadership of the Comintern. For several weeks the issue swayed in the balance until finally a concession was made to the ABCs of Marxism (the comment behind the scenes was: Trotskyist prejudices). It was necessary to lasso the American Communist Party in order to tear it away from the La Follette party which died even before its founder.
Everything invented by modern revisionism for the Orient is carried over later to the West. If Pepper on one side of the Atlantic Ocean tried to spur history by means of a two-class party then the latest dispatches in the press inform us that the Kuomintang experience finds its imitators in Italy where, apparently, an attempt is being made to foist on our party the monstrous slogan of a "republican assembly on the basis [?!] of workers' and peasants' committees." In this slogan the spirit of Chiang Kai-shek embraces the spirit of Hilferding.88 Will we really come to that?
In conclusion there remains for us only to recall that the idea of a workers' and peasants' party sweeps from the history of Bolshevism the entire struggle against the Populists (Narodniks), without which there would have been no Bolshevik party. What was the significance of this historical struggle? In 1909, Lenin wrote the following about the Social Revolutionaries:
The main idea in their programme was not that an "alliance of the forces" of the proletariat and the peasantry was necessary, hut that there was no class gulf between them, that no class distinction should he drawn between them, and that the Social-Democratic idea concerning the petty-bourgeois character of the peasantry, as distinct from the proletariat, is utterly false. [How the Social Revolutionaries Sum Up the Revolution and How the Revolution Has Summed Them Up," January 7, 1909, Collected W orks. vol.15. p.331. Emphasis in original.]
In other words, the two-class workers' and peasants' party is the central idea of the Russian Narodniks. Only in the struggle against this idea could the party of the proletarian vanguard in peasant Russia develop. Lenin persistently and untiringly repeated in the epoch of the 1905 revolution that it was necessary to be wary of the peasantry, to organise separately from it, to he ready to combat it, insofar as this peasantry acts in a reactionary or anti-proletarian manner. ["The Proletariat and the Peasantry," March 23, 1905, Collected Works, vol. 8, p. 234.]
In 1906 Lenin wrote:
The third and last advice is: proletarians and semi-proletarians of town and country, organise separately. Don't trust any petty proprietorsnot even small, or "working", proprietors.... We stand by the peasant movement to the end; but we have to remember that it IS the movement of another class, not the one which can and will bring about the socialist revolution. ""Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers' Party," March 1906, Collected Works, vol.
This idea reappears in hundreds of Lenin's major and minor works. In 1908, he explained:
"The alliance of the proletariat and the peasantry" let us note in passing, should not in any circumstances be understood as meaning the fusion of various classes, or of the parties of the proletariat and the peasantry. Not only fusion, but any prolonged agreement would be destructive for the socialist party of the working class, and would enfeeble the revolutionary-democratic struggle. ["The Assessment of the Russian Revolution," April 1908, Collected Works, vol. 15, p. 57. First two emphases added.]
Could one condemn the very idea of a workers' and peasants' party more harshly, more ruthlessly, and more devastatingly?
Stalin, on the other hand, teaches that "The revolutionary anti-imperialist bloc . . . must, though not always necessarily [!], assume the form of a single workers' and peasants' party, bound formally [?] by a single platform." [Problems of Leninism, p. 265.]
Lenin taught us that an alliance between workers and peasants must in no case and never lead to merger of the parties. But Stalin makes only one concession to Lenin: although, according to Stalin, the bloc of classes must assume "the form of a single party," a workers' and peasants' party like the Kuomintangis not always obligatory. We should thank him for at least this concession.
Lenin put this question in the same irreconcilable spirit during the epoch of the October revolution. In generalizing the experience of the three Russian revolutions, Lenin, beginning with 1918, did not miss a single opportunity to repeat that there are two decisive forces in a society where capitalist relations predominatethe bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Owing to their economic status in bourgeois society the peasants must follow either the workers or the bourgeoisie. There is no middle way. [Deception of the People with Slogans of Freedom and Equality," speech to the First All-Russian Congress on Adult Education, May 19, 1919, Collected Works, vol. 29, p. 370. Emphasis in original.]
Yet a "workers' and peasants' party" is precisely an attempt to create a middle way.
Had the vanguard of the Russian proletariat failed to oppose itself to the peasantry, had it failed to wage a ruthless struggle against the all-devouring petty-bourgeois amorphousness of the latter, it would inevitably have dissolved itself among the pettybourgeois elements through the medium of the Social Revolutionary Party or some other "two-class party" which, in turn, would inevitably have subjected the vanguard to bourgeois leadership. In order to arrive at a revolutionary alliance with the peasantrythis does not come gratuitouslyit is first of all necessary to separate the proletarian vanguard, and thereby the working class as a whole from the petty-bourgeois masses. This can be achieved only by training the proletarian party in the spirit of unshakable class irreconcilability.
The younger the proletariat, the fresher and more direct its "blood ties" with the peasantry, the greater the proportion of the peasantry to the population as a whole, the greater becomes the importance of the struggle against any form of "two-class" political alchemy. In the West the idea of a workers' and peasants' party is simply ridiculous. In the East it is fatal. In China, India, and Japan this idea is mortally hostile not only to the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution but also to the most elementary independence of the proletarian vanguard. The workers' and peasants' party can only serve as a base, a screen, and a springboard for the bourgeoisie.
It is fatal that in this question, fundamental for the entire East, modern revisionism only repeats the errors of old Social Democratic opportunism of prerevolutionary days. Most of the leaders of European Social Democracy considered the struggle of our party against SRs to be mistaken and insistently advocated the fusion of the two parties, holding that for the Russian "East" a two-class workers' and peasants' party was exactly in order. Had we heeded their counsel, we should never have achieved either the alliance of the workers and the peasants or the dictatorship of the proletariat. The "two-class" workers' and peasants' party of the SRs became, and could not help becoming in our country, the agency of the imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e., it tried unsuccessfully to fulfill the same historic role that was successfully played in China by the Kuomintang in a different and "peculiar" Chinese way, thanks to the revisionists of Bolshevism. Without a relentless condemnation of the very idea of workers' and peasants' parties for the East, there is not and there cannot be a program of the Comintern.
One of the principal, if not the principal, accusations hurled against the Opposition was its "underestimation" of the peasantry. On this point, too, life has made its tests and rendered its verdict along national and international lines. In every case the official leaders proved guilty of underestimating the role and significance of the proletariat in relation to the peasantry. In this the greatest shifts and errors took place, in the economic and political fields and internationally. At the root of the internal errors since 1923 lies an underestimation of the significance, for the whole of national economy and for the alliance with the peasantry, of state industry under the management of the proletariat. In China, the revolution was doomed by the inability to understand the leading and decisive role of the proletariat in the agrarian revolution.
From the same standpoint, it is necessary to examine and evaluate the entire work of the Krestintern,Y!' which from the beginning was merely an experimentan experiment, moreover, that called for the utmost care and rigid adherence to principles. It is not difficult to understand the reason for this.
The peasantry, by virtue of its entire history and the conditions of its existence, is the least international of all classes. What are commonly called national traits have their chief source precisely in the peasantry. From among the peasantry, it is only the semiproletarian masses of the peasant poor who can be guided along the road of internationalism, and only the proletariat can guide them. Any attempt at a shortcut is merely playing with the classes, which always means playing to the detriment of the proletariat. The peasantry can be attracted to internationalist politics only if it is torn away from the influence of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat and if it recognizes in the proletariat not only its ally, but its leader. Conversely, attempts to organize the peasants of the various countries into an independent international organization, over the head of the proletariat and without regard to the national Communist parties, are doomed in advance to failure. In the final analysis such attempts can only harm the struggle of the proletariat in each country for hegemony over the agricultural laborers and poor peasants.
In all bourgeois revolutions as well as counterrevolutions, beginning with the peasant wars of the sixteenth century and even before that time, the various strata of the peasantry played an enormous and at times even decisive role. But it never played an independent role. Directly or indirectly, the peasantry always supported one political force against another. By itself it never constituted an independent force capable of solving national political tasks. In the epoch of finance capital the process of the polarization of capitalist society has enormously accelerated in comparison to earlier phases of capitalist development. This means that the specific gravity of the peasantry has diminished and not increased. In any case, the peasant is less capable in the imperialist epoch of independent political action on a national, let alone international scale, than he was in the epoch of industrial capitalism. The farmers of the United States today are incomparably less able to play an independent political role than they were forty or fifty years ago when, as the experience of the populist movement shows, they could not and did not organize an independent national political party.
The temporary but sharp blow to agriculture in Europe resulting from the economic decline caused by the war gave rise to illusions concerning the possible role of the "peasant," i.e., of bourgeois pseudopeasant parties demagogically counterposing themselves to the bourgeois parties. If in the period of stormy peasant unrest during the postwar years one could still risk the experiment of organizing a Peasants' International, in order to test the new relations between the proletariat and the peasantry and between the peasantry and the bourgeoisie, then it is high time now to draw the theoretical and political balance of the five years' experience with the Peasants' International, to lay bare its vicious shortcomings and make an effort to indicate its positive aspects.
One conclusion, at any rate, is indisputable. The experience of the "peasant" parties of Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia (i.e., of all the backward countries); the old experience of our Social Revolutionaries, and the fresh experience (the blood is still warm) of the Kuomintang; the episodic experiments in advanced capitalist countries, particularly the La Follette-Pepper experiment in the United Stateshave all shown beyond question that in the epoch of capitalist decline there is even less reason than in the epoch of rising capitalism to look for independent, revolutionary, antibourgeois peasant parties.
The town cannot be equal to the country. The country cannot be equal to the town under the historical conditions of this epoch. The town inevitably leads the country. The country inevitably follows the town. The only question is which class, of the "urban" classes, will succeed in leading the country, will cope with this task, and what forms will leadership by the town assume? ["The Constituent Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat." December 16, 1919, Collected Works, vol. 30, p. 2.57.]
In the revolutions of the East the peasantry will still play a decisive role, but once again, this role will be neither leading nor independent. The poor peasants of Hupeh, Kwangtung, or Bengal can play a role not only on a national but on an international scale, but only if they support the workers of Shanghai, Canton, Hankow, and Calcutta. This is the only way out for the revolutionary peasant on an international road. It is hopeless to attempt to forge a direct link between the peasant of Hupeh and the peasant of Galicia or Dobruja, the Egyptian fellah and the American farmer.
It is in the nature of politics that anything which does not serve a direct aim inevitably becomes the instrument of other aims, frequently the opposite of the one sought. Have we not had examples of a bourgeois party, relying on the peasantry or seeking to rely upon it, deeming it necessary to seek insurance for itself in the Peasants' International, for a longer or shorter period, if it could not do so in the Comintern, in order to secure protection from the blows of the Communist Party in its own country? Like Purcell, in the trade-union field, protected himself through the Anglo-Russian Committee? If La Follette did not try to register in the Peasants' International, that was only because the American Communist Party was so extremely weak. He did not have to. Pepper, uninvited and unsolicited, embraced La Follette without that. But Radic, the banker-leader of the Croatian rich peasants, found it necessary to leave his visiting card with the Peasants' International on his way to the cabinet. The Kuomintang went infinitely further and secured a place for itself not only in the Peasants' International and the League Against Imperialism, but even knocked at the doors of the Comintern and was welcomed there with the blessing of the Politburo of the AUCP, marred by only one dissenting vote.90"
It is highly characteristic of the leading political currents of recent years that at a time when tendencies in favor of liquidating the Profintern 91 were very strong (its very name was deleted from the statutes of the Soviet trade unions), nowhere, so far as we recall, has the question ever been raised in the official press as to the precise conquests of the Krestintern.
The Sixth Congress must seriously review the work of the Peasants' "International" from the standpoint of proletarian internationalism. It is high time to draw a Marxist balance to this long drawn-out experiment. In one form or another the balance must be included in the program of the Comintern. The present draft does not breathe a single syllable either about the "millions" in the Peasants' International, or for that matter, about its very existence.
We have presented a criticism of certain fundamental theses in the draft program; extreme pressure of time prevented us from dealing with all of them. There were only two weeks at our disposal for this work. We were therefore compelled to limit ourselves to the most pressing questions, those most closely bound up with the revolutionary and internal party struggles during the recent period.
Thanks to our previous experience with so-called discussions, we are aware beforehand that phrases torn out of their context and slips of the pen can be turned into a seething source of new theories annihilating "Trotskyism." An entire period has been filled with triumphant crowing of this type. But we view with utmost calm the prospect of the cheap theoretical scorpions that this time, too, may descend upon us.
Incidentally, it is quite likely that the authors of the draft program, instead of putting into circulation new critical and expository articles, will prefer to resort to further elaboration of the old Article 58.92 Needless to say, this kind of argument is even less valid for us.
The Sixth World Congress is faced with the task of adopting a program. We have sought to prove throughout this entire work that there is not the slightest possibility of taking the draft elaborated by Bukharin and Stalin as the basis of the program.
The present moment is the turning point in the life of the AUCP and the entire Comintern. This is evidenced by all the recent decisions and measures of the CEC of our party and the February plenum of the ECCI. These measures are entirely inadequate, the resolutions are contradictory, and certain among them, like the February resolution of the ECCI on the Chinese revolution, are false to the core. Nevertheless throughout all these resolutions there is a tendency to take a turn to the left. We have no ground whatever for overestimating it, all the more so since it proceeds hand in hand with a campaign of extermination against the revolutionary wing, while the right wing is being protected. Notwithstanding all this, we do not for a moment entertain the notion of ignoring this leftward tendency, forced by the impasse created by the old course. Every genuine revolutionist at his post will do everything in his power to facilitate the development of these symptoms of a left zigzag into a revolutionary Leninist course, with the least difficulties and convulsions in the party. But we are still far removed from this today. At present the Comintern is perhaps passing through its most acute period of development, a period in which the old course is far from having been liquidated, while the new course brings in eruptions of alien elements. The draft program reflects in whole and in part this transitional condition. Yet, such periods, by their very nature, are least favorable for the elaboration of documents that must determine the activity of our international party for a number of years ahead. Difficult as it may be, we must bide our timeafter so much time has been lost already. We must permit the muddied waters to settle. The confusion must pass, the contradictions must be eliminated, and the new course take definite shape.
The congress has not convened for four years. For nine years the Comintern has existed without a definitive program. The only way out at the present moment is this: that the Seventh World Congress be convened a year from today, putting an end once and for all to the attempts at usurping the supreme powers of the Comintern as a whole, a normal regime be reestablished, such a regime as would allow of a genuine discussion of the draft program and permit us to oppose to the eclectic draft, another, a Marxist-Leninist draft. There must be no forbidden questions for the Comintern, for the meetings and conferences of its sections, and for its press. During this year the entire soil must be deeply plowed by the plow of Marxism. Only as a result of such labor can the international party of the proletariat secure a program, a beacon that will illuminate with its penetrating rays, and throw reliable beams far into the future.
From The Third International After Lenin .Translated by John G. Wright.