Friday, February 18, 2011

One may be killed but millions will carry the revolution forward - A Message from the Chinese Revolution to the Uprisings in North Afrika and Middle East

Mao’s Fight Against Right and ‘Left’ Lines and Victory of the Chinese Revolution

The First Revolutionary Civil War : From 1924 till the beginning of 1926 the Chinese Revolution advanced rapidly with the proletariat and peasantry in great ferment. In 1925 the protest against the 30th May massacre of demonstrators by the British police in Shanghai turned into an anti-imperialist people’s movement involved all sections of the masses throughout the country. The country was on the verge of a decisive battle between revolution and counter-revolution.

However two deviations then plagued the CPC. The dominant Right opportunist clique was led by the then party General Secretary, Chen Tu-hsiu. He took the stand that the bourgeois-democratic revolution must be led by the bourgeoisie and the aim of the revolution should be to form a bourgeois republic. According to his line the bourgeoisie was the only democratic force with which the working class should unite. He did not consider any possibility of building an alliance with the peasantry. On the other hand, were the ‘Left’ opportunists who were represented by Chang Kuo-tao, the leader of the All-China Federation of Labour. He saw only the working-class movement. He argued that the working class is strong enough to make revolution alone. Thus his clique also ignored the peasantry.

While fighting these two deviations, Mao made his first major contributions to the development of Marxist theory. In March 1926, he brought out his famous Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society and in March 1927, he presented his Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan. In these works he tried to answer the most basic questions of the Chinese revolution. Who are the friends and enemies of the revolution, who is the leading force and who are the reliable and vacillating allies? He argued that it was the proletariat and not the bourgeoisie who would have to lead the revolution. However the proletariat would not be able to win by fighting alone. He stressed the role of the peasantry, which was the closest and most numerous ally of the proletariat. He also pointed out that the national bourgeoisie was a vacillating ally with the possibility of the Right wing becoming an enemy and the Left wing remaining a friend of the revolution. Mao also presented his ideas on how the masses were to be mobilised, a revolutionary government established and the peasant armed forces organised. This was Mao’s clear perspective for the direction the revolutionary forces should take.

This was the time of the Northern Expedition, which was a critical part of the first phase of the Chinese Revolution – the First Revolutionary Civil War. It was a march by the Revolutionary Army under the leadership of the revolutionary national united front (the Kuomintang-CPC united front). Starting in July 1926 from Kwantung in the south of China its aim was to smash the reactionary government of the imperialist-backed Northern warlords in a revolutionary war and achieve the independence and unity of China. The Northern Expedition was initially a major success with the whole of South China and many of the Southern warlords being defeated or won over. Under the influence of the Northern Expedition there was an upsurge among the peasantry. The proletariat staged many armed uprisings in cities to coincide with the advance of the Revolutionary Army. Even Shanghai the largest industrial and commercial city of China was liberated in March 1927 after three attempts at armed workers’ uprising.

After achieving major victories however the bourgeois clique represented by Chiang Kai-shek (the main Kuomintang leader after Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925), broke the united front. In April 1927 massacres, backed by the imperialists, were launched on the Communist cadre in various parts of the country. The Right opportunist Chen Tu-hsiu leadership of the CPC however, instead of mobilising the workers and peasants against the Kuomintang reactionaries, submitted to them. In July 1927 another Kuomintang clique launched massacres against the Communists. This resulted in the breaking up of the united front and defeat of the First Revolutionary Civil War.

The Right line of Chen Tu-hsiu, which dominated throughout the period of the First Revolutionary Civil War was one the important reasons for the failure of the revolution during this period. Though Mao struggled against this Right Line, he could not win the support of the majority in the Party. In fact at the Fifth National Congress held during this period, in April 1927, Chen succeeded in removing Mao from the Central Committee.

The Second Revolutionary Civil War Period : In August 1927, at the start of the next period—the Second Revolutionary Civil War Period—Chen Tu-hsiu was removed as General Secretary after a firm criticism of his Right opportunism. Mao was brought back on the Central Committee and made an alternate member of the Provisional Polit Bureau that was set up. However the correct criticism of the Right line gave way in November 1927 to the domination of a ‘Left’ line in the Central Committee, under the leadership of Chu Chiu-pai, an intellectual comrade returned after training in Russia. This line made the wrong assessment that the Chinese revolution was on a ‘continuous upsurge’, and therefore called for armed uprisings in many cities. The leadership criticised Mao for advocating and leading a peasant uprising and opposing uprisings in big cities. He was again removed from his Central posts. He was also removed from membership of the Hunan Provincial Committee. The ‘Left’ Line led to heavy losses and the abandonment of this line by April 1928.

The Sixth Congress of the CPC held in Moscow in June 1928 rectified this first ‘Left’ line and adopted a basically correct understanding, repudiating both the Right and ‘Left’ positions. Though Mao did not attend the Congress it basically upheld his position on many points. In his absence he was again elected on to the Central Committee. It was while implementing this understanding, and while building up the Red Army after the failures of the Northern Expedition and the city uprisings, that Mao made his further contributions to the development of Marxist-Leninist theory. He wrote Why is it that Red Political Power can exist in China? in October 1928, and The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains in November 1928. These historical works provided the theoretical basis for the historic process of building and developing the Red Army then under way. Mao, starting from a small group of worker and peasant fighters had after the failure of the peasant uprising in 1927 set up the first base in the Chingkang mountains in October 1927. Through the period from 1927 to the beginning of 1930 the area of armed peasant uprisings and rural revolutionary bases grew steadily. Many of the fighting sections under Communist leadership joined Mao’s forces. The Red Army grew to 60,000 soldiers and, a little later to 1,00,000 soldiers.

However ‘left’ ideas again started gaining ascendancy and from 1930 took over the leadership of the party. Two ‘Left’ lines led by Li Li-san in 1930 and Wang Ming in 1931-34 dominated the party and caused incalculable harm. Li Li-san in June 1930 drew up a plan for organising armed uprisings in the major cities throughout the country and for concentrating all the units of the Red Army for attacking these major cities. The attempt to implement this plan between June and September 1930 led to severe losses and a demand from cadres for its rectification. During this period Mao led an attack on Changsha but withdrew to prevent heavy losses in the face of superior imperialist and Kuomintang forces. After the withdrawal there was brutal repression in Changsha during which Yang Kai-hui, Mao’s wife, who was doing underground work there, was executed. Li Li-san did self-criticism at a plenum held in September 1930 and stepped down from leadership positions. Mao and Chu Teh (Commander of the Red Army) were taken on to the newly formed Polit Bureau.

This Polit Bureau was however bypassed by a plenum called in January 1931 by Wang Ming one of the group of twenty-eight so-called ‘Bolsheviks’ who had returned after training in Russia. They did not call Mao and Chu Teh for the plenum but removed them and others from the Central Committee. In August 1932 Mao was also removed from his posts as secretary of the Front Committee and political commissar of the Red Army. With the Party and Red Army in their full control the Wang Ming clique committed numerous errors which led to severe losses. Throughout, their main attack was on Mao, who was the representative of what was according to them right opportunism and the main danger within the Party. Mao’s correct line was called a ‘rich peasant line’. Sectarian and factional methods were used by the ‘Left’ Line leadership to attack not only Mao but also the leaders of the earlier ‘Left’ Lines, Li Li-san and Chu Chiu-pai. While the Wang Ming clique was creating havoc in the Party, Chiang Kai-shek was organising repeated campaigns of encirclement and suppression against the Red base areas. The first four campaigns were defeated because of Mao’s leadership and the influence of his strategic principles before the ‘Left’ leadership acquired full control over the Party and Red Army in the base areas. However when the ‘Left’ leadership actually moved into the base area their direct leadership led to serious errors and defeat of the Communist forces in the fifth campaign of the Kuomintang forces. In order to break through Chiang Kai-shek’s encirclement and win new victories it was decided from October 1934, to undertake the world-shaking strategic shift of the Red Army, known as the Long March. Mao was accompanied by his next wife, Ho Tzu-chen, a Party cadre from a local peasant family of the Kiangsi base area. They had married in 1931, after the death of Mao’s earlier wife, Yang Kai-hui. They had two children who were left behind with peasants in the Kiangsi base area at the start of the Long March.

It was during the Long March, at the Tsunyi Plenum of the CPC, in January 1935, that leadership of the party moved into the hands of Mao and his policies. This was a turning point for the Long March as well as for the Chinese Revolution. It was then decided to continue the Long March in the northward direction to be able to better co-ordinate the nation-wide anti-Japanese movement, which had been growing continuously since the Japanese attack and occupation of North-eastern China in 1931.

During the Long March, besides the repeated attacks of the Kuomintang troops, the Party had also to face the line of flightism and warlordism led by Chang Kuo-tao. Two conferences of the Central Committee held during the Long March defeated Chang Kuo-tao’s proposal to retreat to national minority areas of Sinkiang and Tibet. He however refused to follow the Party decision and tried to form a new Party Centre. He led a section of the Red Army in a different direction during which they were attacked and finished off by the Kuomintang forces. Chang himself became a traitor and joined the Kuomintang. The main force of the Red Army reached their destination in the Shensi province in Northern China in October 1935, one year after they had started the Long March. The Red Army which numbered around 3,00,000 just before the beginning of the fifth encirclement campaign had now been reduced to just over twenty thousand. It was this core that set up the Shensi-Kansu-Ninghshia (on the border areas of these three provinces of Northern China) base area. It became famously known as Yenan, the name of its capital. This was the base from which Mao led the Party and Red Army to victory by 1945 in the war against Japan.

It was during this period that Mao and Ho Tzu-chen were divorced in 1938. In April 1939 he married Chiang Ching. Chiang Ching was the party name of Lan Ping, a theatre and film actress, who had joined the Party in 1933 and moved to Yenan in1937 to teach drama at the Art Academy there and participate in the propaganda teams who went among the peasantry. Mao who took a keen interest in art and literature met her in the course of this work and they fell in love and decided to get married.

The Period of the War of Resistance Against Japan: Immediately after the completion of the Long March, Mao concentrated on the adoption and implementation of a new tactical orientation in order to end the Civil War and unite the maximum forces for a War of Resistance against Japan. His presentation On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism was a major development of Marxist-Leninist United Front tactics. This was later further developed in his May 1937 Report on The Tasks of the Chinese Communist Party in the Period of Resistance to Japan. Giving a brilliant exposition of the stage of development of China’s internal and external contradictions, Mao explained the change in the principal contradiction caused by Japan’s aggression and therefore the change in the United Front tactics necessary to face the new situation. He called for a united front with the Kuomintang in order to drive away the Japanese aggressors. Chiang Kai-shek however did not agree to enter a united front until he was forced to do so by the CPC’s propaganda and by the pressure of certain factions in his own party. He finally agreed, when he was arrested in December 1936 by two of his own generals who insisted that a united front should be built with the CPC. The Anti-Japanese United Front was set up in August 1937.

During the period of the War of Resistance, Mao had again to fight wrong trends though these did not grow to capture leadership over the Party and the struggle. One was a pessimistic trend of national subjugation present in some Kuomintang sections of the United Front. These people after some defeats at the hands of the Japanese felt that the Chinese was bound to be suppressed and ruled by the Japanese and other imperialists. One faction even prepared for surrender. On the other hand there was the trend in some sections of the CPC, who felt that since the united front had been formed there would be quick victory over the Japanese. These comrades overestimated the strength of the United Front and did not see the reactionary side of the Chiang Kai-shek clique. In order to correct these mistaken theories and to point out the correct course of the war, Mao in May 1938 brought out his book On Protracted War which pointed out that the War would finally end in victory but the victory would not be quick. He also in this and other writings laid down the military principles of the war.

Mao also wrote various philosophical works to help educate the Party cadre and remove the damaging effects of the earlier Right and ‘Left’ Lines. Basing on these writings, between 1941 and 1944, a lengthy Rectification Campaign was held to fight the main errors in the Party. This was combined with in-depth discussions to review the history of the Party. Chou En-lai, who had been a leading comrade throughout the period, particularly participated in this process. This led finally to an open and complete repudiation of the earlier wrong Lines. This understanding was adopted in the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party at Plenum of the CPC held in April 1945.

Armed with the correct line and correct tactics, the CPC led the Chinese people to victory, first in the War of Resistance against Japan and then against the reactionaries led by Chiang Kai-shek. From a fighting force of just over twenty thousand at the end of the Long March, the Red Army grew to a strength of one million towards the end of the anti-Japanese war in 1945. At that time, at the Seventh Congress of the CPC in April 1945, Mao in his Report On Coalition Government, presented a detailed summing up of the anti-Japanese war and an analysis of the current international and domestic situation. He gave a specific programme for the formation of a coalition government with the Kuomintang after the victory over the Japanese forces.

The Third Revolutionary Civil War Period: However after the victory over the Japanese, Chiang Kai-shek, because of the support of U.S. imperialism and the superior strength of his military forces, refused to agree to the formation of a coalition government on any reasonable terms. At that time even Stalin wanted the CPC to come to an agreement, saying that they should not have a civil war and should co-operate with Chiang Kai-shek, otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. Nevertheless the CPC under Mao went ahead and fought what came to be known as the Third Revolutionary Civil War. Relying on the full support of the masses and particularly the peasantry, the Red Army was able to change the military balance of forces and move in July 1947 from the strategic defensive to the strategic offensive. By October 1949 the CPC had, within a period of four years, won nation-wide victory over the U.S. backed Kuomintang.

As China gained victory, Marxist-Leninists and the proletariat throughout the world were filled with joy and pride at the formation of a seemingly invincible socialist camp encompassing one-third of humanity. Mao however gave an idea of the challenges ahead and dangers of the coming period. In 1949, on the occasion of the twenty-eighth anniversary of the founding of the CPC, in his speech ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship’, he said, “Twenty- eight years of our Party are a long period, in which we have accomplished only one thing—we have won basic victory in the revolutionary war. This calls for celebration, because it is the people’s victory, because it is a victory in a country as large as China. But we still have much work to do; to use the analogy of a journey, our past work is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who will stand up for the peasants of the world? Our voices will be heard. All the propaganda promoting America as a paradise don't see the record numbers of unemployed, food bank clients, broke and homeless the peasant reality and I am one we should stand and revolt! Deborah Jeffries