Markin comment (repost from 2012):
Problems of the Chinese Revolution
First Speech on the Chinese Question
Yesterday a decision of the Editorial Committee, signed by comrade Kurella, was distributed here. It relates to information on our proceedings. What is meant by this is not quite clear to me. In any case, the Executive Committee is meeting in a strange atmosphere of silence by the press. Only one article in Pravda has been devoted to the Plenum and this article contains a phrase of unheard-of impudence: “He would be a criminal who would think of shaking the unity of the ranks of the Comintern”, etc., etc. Everyone understands what is meant by this. Even before the drafts of the resolutions have been published, Pravda brands as a criminal whoever argues against the future resolutions. One can imagine how Pravda will inform the Party tomorrow about what is taking place here. Meanwhile, here in Moscow every expression of opinion, oral or written, in favour of the Opposition on the basic problems of the Chinese revolution is treated as a crime against the Party. The completely false theses of comrade Stalin have been declared de facto inviolable. Still more, in the very days of the proceedings of the Executive, those comrades who, in the discussions in their Party cells, protested against the baiting of comrade Zinoviev, are simply expelled from the Party or are at least threatened with expulsion. It is in this atmosphere, comrades, that you are acting and deciding. I propose that the Executive decide that every party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union included, shall publish completely exact and objective reports on our deliberations, supplemented by all the theses and documents distributed here. The problems of the Chinese revolution cannot be stuck into a bottle and sealed up.
Comrades, the greatest of all dangers is the ever-sharpening Party régime. Every mistake of the leadership is made “good”, so to speak, through measures against the Opposition. The day the telegram on Chiang Kai-shek’s coup d’état was made known in Moscow, we said to each other: The Opposition will have to pay dearly for this – especially as demands for payment on their part have not been lacking recently.
The opportunity is always found to frame up a new “case” of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Piatakov, Smilga, etc., so as to distract the attention of the Party from the most burning questions; expulsions of the Opposition, despite the approach of the Party congress – or rather just because of it – constantly increase. The same methods in every section of the Party: in every factory, in every district, in every city. In this situation there frequently emerge, of necessity, those elements who are always ready to accept in advance everything from above, because nothing is difficult for them. They lull themselves into the hope that after Trotsky or Zinoviev have been overcome, everything will be in order. On the contrary: the régime has its own inner logic. The list has only been opened, not closed. Along this road there are only difficulties and further convulsions.
This régime weighs heavily on the International. Nobody trusts himself to speak a word of criticism openly, on the false pretence of not wanting to harm the Soviet Union. But that is exactly how the greatest harm is done. Our internal policy needs revolutionary international criticism, for the wrong tendencies in foreign policy are only an extension of the incorrect tendencies in our internal policy.
I now turn to the draft resolution of comrade Bukharin. First, a question which directly touches the point on the agenda already acted upon. Listen, comrades:
Let us listen further to Bukharin’s resolution:
But the kernel of the question is the following: To say that the bourgeoisie must separate itself from the national revolution is one thing. But to say that the bourgeoisie must take hold of the leadership of the revolution and the leadership of the proletariat, deceive the working class and then disarm it, smash it, and bleed it to death, is something quite different. The whole philosophy of Bukharin, in his resolution, is founded on the identity of these two prognoses. But this means that one does not want to make any fundamental contrast between the Bolshevik and Menshevik perspectives.
Let us listen to what Lenin said on this question:
It is not the same thing, comrades, whether the bourgeoisie is tossed to one side or it tosses the proletarian vanguard to one side. These are the two roads of the revolution. On what road did the revolution travel up to the coup? The classic road of all previous bourgeois revolutions, of which Lenin said:
I have not time enough to present a historical description of the development of the revolution and of our differences, which Bukharin had full opportunity to do – extensively and falsely. I am prepared to undertake this retrospective treatment in the theoretical organ of the Party or of the International. Unfortunately, Bukharin touches on this question only where we have no opportunity to answer him properly, that is, with facts and quotations.
The following will suffice for today:
Read further in the resolution:
The question of the Guomindang has the closest connection with this. What Bukharin makes out of it is real political trickery. The Guomindang is so “special”, something unprecedented, something that can only be characterized by the blue flag and blue smoke – in a word: whoever does not understand this highly complicated “special thing“ – and it cannot be understood for, according to Bukharin, it is just too “special“ – understands nothing about the Chinese revolution. What Bukharin himself understands about it, however, is not to be understood at all from Bukharin’s words. The Guomindang is a party, and in time of revolution, it can be understood only as a party. In the recent period, this party has not embodied the “bloc of four classes”, but the leading role of the bourgeoisie over the masses of the people, the proletariat and the Communist Party included. The word “bloc” should not be misused, especially not in the this case where it is done only for the good of the bourgeoisie. Taken politically, a bloc is the expression of an alliance of sides “with equal rights”, who come to an understanding on a certain joint action. Only, this was not the case in China, and still is not to this day. The Communist Party was a subordinated part of a party at whose head stood the national-liberal bourgeoisie. Last May, the Communist Party bound itself not to criticize even the teachings of Sun Yat Sen, that is, the petty-bourgeois doctrine which is aimed not only against imperialism but also against the proletarian class struggle.
This “special” Guomindang has assimilated the lesson of the exclusiveness of the party which exercises the dictatorship and draws from this the conclusion as regards the Communists: “Hold your tongue!”, for in Russia – they say – there is also only one party at the head of the revolution.
With us the dictatorship of the party (quite falsely disputed theoretically by Stalin) is the expression of the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. In China we have the bourgeois revolution, and the dictatorship of the Guomindang is directed not only against the imperialists and the militarists but also against the proletarian class struggle. In that way, the bourgeoisie, supported by the petty bourgeoisie and the radicals, curbs the class struggle of the proletariat and the uprisings of the peasantry, strengthens itself at the cost of the masses of the people and the revolution. We stood for this, we made it easier for them to go on with it, we want to sanction it now also by talking nonsense about the “special nature” of the Guomindang without showing the proletariat the vicious class manoeuvres that have been and are concealed behind this “special nature”.
Let us read further:
Comrade Bukharin has already made the attempt to refer to the fact that Chamberlain broke off diplomatic relations. We were – I have already observed – in a very difficult situation, where we were surrounded by enemies, and Bukharin and other comrades participated then in a great party discussion to find the correct way out of the difficult situation. A revolutionary party can renounce its right to analyse the situation and draw the necessary conclusions for its policy just as little in a difficult situation as in a favourable one. For I repeat again, if a false policy can be harmless in a favourable situation it can become fatal in a difficult situation.
Are the differences of opinion great? Very great, very significant, very important! It cannot be denied that they have become deeper in the course of the last year. No one would have believed in the possibility of the Berlin decisions of the Anglo-Russian Committee a year ago, no-one in the possibility that the philosophy of the bloc of four classes would be flaunted in Pravda, that Stalin would present his squeezed-out lemon on the eve of Chiang Kai-shek’s coup d’état, just as Kuusinen yesterday presented his customs certificate. Why did this quick development become possible? Because the incorrect line was checked by the two greatest events of the last year, the great strikes in Britain and the Chinese revolution.
Comrades have come forward – and we shall certainly hear such voices again – who said: since the contradictions have become sharpened, the road leads necessarily to two parties. I deny this. We live in a period where contradictions do not ossify, because great events teach us better. There is a great and dangerous push towards the right in the line of the CI. But we have enough confidence in the force of the Bolshevik idea and the power of great events to reject decisively and determinedly every prophecy of split.
The theses of comrade Bukharin are false. And, moreover, in the most dangerous manner. They suppress the most important points of the question. They contain the danger that we shall not only fail to make up for lost time but that we shall lose still more time.
The Chinese revolution cannot be advanced if the worst right deviations are abetted, and smuggled Menshevik goods are allowed to be circulated under the customs seal of Bolshevism – comrade Kuusinen did this for a whole hour yesterday – while on the other hand the really revolutionary warnings of the left are mechanically smothered.
Bukharin’s resolution is false and dangerous. It directs the attack towards the left. The Communist Party of China, which can and must become a really Bolshevik Party in the fire of the revolution, cannot accept this resolution. Our party and the entire Comintern cannot declare this resolution their own. The world historical problem must be openly and honestly discussed by the whole International. The discussion, may it be ever so sharp politically, should not be conducted in the tone of envenomed, personal baiting and slander. All the documents, the speeches, the theses, the articles must be made available to the membership of the International.
The Chinese revolution cannot be stuffed into a bottle and sealed from above with a signet.