EiLE - English

The role of Chinese revolution in the world communist movement

Article from La Voce del (nuovo) Partito comunista Italiano,
n. 22, March 2006

In next September, thirty years will be passed since the death of Mao Tse - Tung (1893-1976). Thirty years will be passed as well since a month after the death of Mao, in Pecking, when the ruling groupís members of Great Cultural Proletarian Revolution (GCPR), begun in August 1966, were all arrested: Chiang Ching, dead in prison in 1991, Wang Hong wen, dead in 1992, Chang Chung chiao, dead in prison in April 2005 and Yao Wen yuan, dead in December 2005. With this coup de main, a direction formed by enemies and declared targets of the GCPR, settled in Chinese Communist Party (CPP): we need only to mention one among them, Teng Hsiao - ping (1904 1997). The CCP and Chinese Popular Republic (PRC) went a way clearly opposite to the one followed till 1976.

Therefore, the line followed by CCP and PRC since then till now, that is in last thirty years, in political, economic, and cultural field, at home and abroad, is not the continuation of Chinese revolution synthesized in the direction given by Mao and Maoism. On the contrary, it is the breakdown with Maoism.

The present China and the role by it carried out in the world are the result of thirty years of this line of breakdown with Maoism. The defamers of Maoism, and generally the defamers of communist movement, hide, deny, or tone down this breakdown with Marxism- Leninism and with the line personified by Stalin, to build a new society in Soviet Union and develop communist movement in the world: the breakdown done by Khrushchev and his fellows twenty years before, in 1996. The anticommunists are interested to hide the successes got by socialist countries in the first phase of their existence, without distinguishing it from decline and regression of the second phase(1). Anticommunists charge to Marxism - Leninism the USSR decline of the sixties and seventies and its downfall at the end of the eighties. On the contrary, those events are outcomes of the breakdown with Marxism - Leninism done by Khrushchev and his fellows in the fifties and continued by Breznev. Similarly, anticommunists are interested to charge the present state and role of PRC to Maoism, while, on the contrary, they are consequences of the breakdown with Maoism, done in the seventies.

Naively, for ignorance or silly and passive subjugation to the commonplaces of bourgeois culture and "science", some people ignore the breakdown of 1956 and 1976 (as many Italian subjective forces of socialist revolution do, and among them a most arrogant and ignorant one, named Costanzo Preve). Otherwise, they donít consider it in their analyses and formulations. Therefore, they turn out nothing but leftovers of bourgeois "science", that is of the anticommunist propaganda with which the bourgeois class defends private property and privileges.

The CCP turnabout in 1976 is exposed in the Resolution on the history of CCP, adopted in 1981 by its Central Committee. With this breakdown the CCP has inaugurated a new political, economical and cultural course of Chinese society and a new role of China in the world.

Both the one and the other unfolded little by little. They couldnít take the place of old course and old role suddenly, because of the wavering of CCPís ruling group about the peculiar lines to adopt in various fields, about times, methods, and more proper tactical operations to be accepted or, at least, swallowed by Chinese popular masses. They couldnít do it also for the nature itself of the mutations and resistance the working class and popular masses opposed and still oppose, either in open order, without strategic and organized centralization. The changes imposed by modern revisionists requested that some millions of intermediate cadres change line, mentality, attitudes, methods and manners. They requested that they learn to oblige hundreds of millions of workers with kindness or harshly to stream towards the other way (it seems that, in these thirty years, more than 40 millions of workers, twice as the active Italian population, had been dismissed from the public firms). They ought to learn how combining operations of persuasion, division, manipulation, confusion, selection, repression, rewards and punishments. Since then, the CCP has given up the purpose of developing the role of a new world centre of the communist movement, as that the Soviet Union Communist Party had after the October Revolution (1917) till the fifties of the last century. The PRC ceased to be the proletarian revolution background. So, the worldwide crisis of the communist movement was further quickened.

The future of Chinese nation was no more bound to the development and success of mobilizing classes and all other countriesí oppressed people, but to its ability of competing with the great imperialist powers. China gradually began to join the imperialist word system. At the end of 2001, the imperialists let it join WTO (World Trade Organization): Putinís Russia hasnít yet obtained such a promotion. Obviously, this fact already produced and is still producing deep alterations and new contradictions in world imperialist system: China has about the 20% of world population (more than four times that of USA), concentrated within only State, provided with the enormous technical, cultural and economic potential inherited by Socialist China. The turning done by CCP and PRC in 1976 was a heavy defeat for the world communist movement. Nevertheless, it didnít surprised Communists as instead the turning of Soviet Union Communist Party and USSR did in the fifties. It isnít a refutation of the communist conception of the world. On the contrary, it is a confirmation of it. Thanks to that conception, Communists had seen the imminent danger long before the catastrophe took place. During all the period 1966 - 1976, the CCP left wing, led by Mao- Tse Tung, gave the alarm with GCPR against the danger of PRCís turning towards capitalism. The GCPR pointed out the general lines the turning would follow, completely confirmed by events after 1976. It also pointed out the components of the Chinese society, which the CCPís right wing levered on. It also showed who the new Chinese bourgeoisie trying to impose the turning was: they were the managers of CCP and of other PRCís institutions, who already then supported bourgeois solutions for the problems of China development: the way towards capitalism. The last volumes of Mao Tse Tungís Works, published during the years 1990 1993 by Social Relations Editions, include the main documents of the struggle led by the CCPís left wing(2)

Then, why the announced catastrophe wasnít avoided? What does this catastrophe mean to the international communist movement and mankindís history? What does it mean to Chinese people?

Since thousands years to now humanityís history has been the history of oppressed classesí struggle against oppressorsí classes, as shown by the Communist Partyís Manifesto (1848). The humanity has progressed materially, intellectually and morally from her animal condition of some hundred of thousand of years ago to the present condition. Thanks to her technical innovations, she was more strengthened in his struggle to tear up from the rest of nature enough to live on and reproduce and to transform it, compliance with his own needs and thanks to the oppressed classesí struggle which imposed the corresponding social ordersí transformations. With communist movement, finally the humanity reached the consciousness of this general line of development she, as a matter of fact: followed unconsciously, spontaneously, induced by needs, by the instincts to solve the problems limiting her life.

A better comprehension of the current struggle, of its condition and of the forms it assumes and of its results, has surely favoured the proletariat led from the communists in the struggle against the bourgeois class, but it has not given (neither it could give soon, as if by magic) such an overwhelming superiority over bourgeoisie to make it abandon the struggle and accept to lose its privileges and its "civilization". On the contrary, during the about 200 years passed since the beginning of the communist movement, the bourgeoisie has defended and still defends its system of private ownership and privilege furiously, without limits of means, without stopping in front of any crime and slaughter. Still today, the bourgeoisie class claims and proclaims it as the ne plus ultra of human civilization, as the highest and insuperable point reached by humanity ("the end of history"), or rather as the eternal and indelible essence of human nature, as its apostles tell: Bush and the Roman Pope, Marcello Pera, former president of Italian Senate, and Costanzo Preve (see above). And it makes every kind of crazy efforts to impose its conservation. The class struggle of the classes became more violent, the more the victory of the proletariat approaches, the more the freedom of movement of bourgeoisie diminishes, the more its system becomes historically surpassed, the more the reasons that justified its birth and development disappear: those ones that historically legitimated it. The historical determinism, the conception according to which Communism would impose itself by necessity, that capitalism would change in Communism for itself, because of its intrinsic contradictions, isnít part of the communist conception of the world. It is one of the convenient deformations used by cheating polemists to get through Marxism easily. It is a quietist and liquidating deviation in the communist movement. On the contrary, the essence of Communism conception is just in the theses that class struggle takes and must take to the establishment of proletarian dictatorship as a necessary passage from the present society towards the future society without classes.

Even if the Chinese Communists realized that a turning toward capitalism threatened proletariat and all other Chinese workers, they didnít succeed in ensuring their victory upon turning supporters. Foreseeing that a flood threatens to sweep away dikes and submerge the town isnít enough to ensure the necessary work to prevent it would be arranged. Errors and limits in forcesí evaluation, in definition of aims and particular lines, in the management of particular lines that led Chinese comrades to the defeat, could be understood only by Chinese Communists themselves, when theyíll have reconstituted their forces in a sufficient measure, so as, sooner or later, they will surely do. It may be astonishing that millions of men someway raised to a higher life could be driven back. However, this happened many times in mankindís history, and itís happening again in this period, just among us, involving every one of us. Among us, in imperialist countries, this driving back is the elimination by bourgeoisie of all the popular massesí conquests since the end of the Second World War. The human beingsí social processes slip from the hands of single persons. Only the organization allows to direct them and, at this level, the war has been fought in the period since 1966 to 1976: the coup dí Ťtat of 1976 was only its conclusion. Surely, two important factors settled against the success of the opera that the Chinese Communists carried out for preventing and stopping the turning: 1) the Chinese societyís backwardness, 2) the declining phase of the international communist movement, by which the Chinese revolution was inspired and strengthened for its success. Indeed, the principal force of the Chinese revolution had been the peasants in revolt for democratic revolution, but the ruling force came from the communist movement.

1 The Chinese societyís backwardness

The building of first socialist countries began with October Revolution in 1917. It took place in the Russian Empire, that was midway between oppressed (colonial and semi-colonial) countries and imperialist countries, where the capitalistic way of production was, by then, completely developed, and subjective and objective conditions for the establishment of socialism were already created(3). In the oppressed countries, on one side the imperialist domination had completely broken the old ways of production and the social order based on them. On the other side, it preserved them by force, as means for its own exploitation, which was added to old one and took away from it the limits that had enabled its reproduction for a long period. The Tsarist Empire was the weakest link of imperialist chain, but a link of that chain all the same(4). On the contrary, China was indisputably an oppressed and semi-colonial country, crushed by imperialism and so, by then, part of the world imperialist system. But its social order still rested on a feudal, patriarchal, or even slave economical basis. The weft of Chinese society was still formed by relations of personal dependence: the commercial and capitalistic relations were supplementary, secondary, and auxiliary.

Just because of backwardness (and greatness) of the country, the proletarian revolutionís victory in China in 1949, and the establishment of PRC, confirmed by success in practice, showed a general line of the communist movement in proletarian revolution for the oppressed countries. The line of new democracy revolution: it was a democratic revolution, because it had the duty to remove the relations of personal dependence and the ways of production based on them, but, by then, given the world imperialist system, could no more be carried out under bourgeois classí direction. This democratic revolution must have been carried out under the proletariatís and its communist partyís direction. It was part of world proletarian revolution and opened a road for socialist transformation of society(5). This transferred on a planetary scale, what Marx in 1882 stated in the preface to a new Russian translation of the Manifesto of the Communist Party as regards to Russia: he pointed out the possibility that a democratic revolution of peasants in Russia, could combine with socialist revolution in Europe. It was an important widening of Marxism-Leninism. It was the more precious and universal contribute the Chinese revolution gave to the communist movement, in 1949. It outlined the way to follow for extending the proletarian revolution in the countries oppressed by the world imperialist system, which constitute the great majority of the humanity. Then, that changed the balance of forces between socialist and imperialist field at a worldwide level. In 1959, Mao-Tse Tung synthesized: "The East wind prevails on West wind ". Objectively, the terms of the collision between the two fields were changing. Nevertheless, the backwardness of China constituted the greater factor of weakness, when the course of events of international communist movement obliged CCP and PRC to assume the role of communist movementís world centre, that PCUS and USSR abandoned when modern revisionists (first Khrushchev and then Breznev) took PCUS direction. The supporters of PRCís turning of towards the capitalism, led by Liu- Shao- chi (1898-1969), and by Teng-Hsiao-Ping, reflected opinions and experience of some socially important sectors of Chinese society. Then, they found a favourable echo in other people after 1949, after the release of Chorea and the defeat of old reactionary Chinese classes, when they proclaimed that commercial and capitalistic relations presented perspective of development for China, that was going out from its Middle Ages, looking at the diffused relations on which the life of a great part of the population was been developing. Not by chance, Chinese Communists tried to induce Russian Communists to continue to carry out, in the world communist movement, the central role they still maintained after the conclusion of the Second World War, in spite of the vast improvement done by the communist movement at a worldwide level (creation of socialist field, collapse of colonial system, development of communist movement in the imperialist countries).

2 The phase of decline of international communist movement, from which the Chinese revolution took inspiration and force for its success.

As to the vicissitudes of international communist movement, many aspects related to results, forms and conditions of class struggle in the years following the Second World War have to be considered. If we consider the beginning of the fifties, the successes conquered by the communist movement were such majestic to arouse enthusiasm and trust among the oppressed popular masses and terror among the exploiting classes.

1. With the October Revolution (1917) the communist movement took the direction of a big country, nearly a continent. It kept and consolidated it, in spite of the furious attacks of all the world powers and of the obstinate fight (not only open, but deaf and shifty, with sabotage and boycott, and by levering on every difficulty of the new Soviet regime) of all the forces, classes and reactionary ranks within the country.

2. It created out of nothing (without experience, without any but negative references, with the only precedents of communist movementís cooperatives, circles, schools, etc) a line and a method of organization, mobilization and development in economical and cultural field for the first socialist country. Those efficacious line and method, even if tied to their countryís particular conditions, should serve as example and reference to the Communists that ought to face the same task in other countries.

3. It made Soviet Union the world background and freed red base of proletarian revolution. Its mere existence lighted hopes, nourished trust and drove popular masses to the revolutionary action at all four corners of the world. If Russian people were able to do it, we can do it as well! Moreover, at last, the proletariat had a territory, its armed forces and a State in the world. It operated and managed (on political, diplomatic, military, commercial, financial level) among hostile states. It utilized their contradictions .The bourgeois states had necessarily to reckon with it. By then, the communist movement had become a world power much more than in the period of First and Second International. It was a new phase of the communist movement.

4. It created communist parties practically in every country. In some countries, the communist party had already conquered, if not the whole, at least a significant part of proletariatís and revolutionary massesí vanguard. Through them, it some way influenced the whole popular massesí movement. Then, it had become a force all political forces and authorities had to reckon with.

5. It tested a revolutionary strategy for countries oppressed by the world imperialist system. The victory of revolution in China in 1949 tested this strategy. Its success imposed itself to the attention of revolutionary people all around the world. In all the oppressed countries, popular massesí eyes and feelings of all the oppressed countries were turned to it and, sooner or later, they would absorb it.

6. The creation of popular democracies in Eastern Europe, the war in Chorea (1950-1953), and the first war in Vietnam (1946-1954) did not conclude with a full victory, but nevertheless they proved that the imperialist system was no more able to lay down the law. Never, in history, an enterprise had been so much revolutionary for its contents against the existing orders. No one ever had such a wide ray of action. In the beginning of the fifties, the communist movement had unified the human gender, from end to end of earth: it was all involved in one only fight, between the communist movement and the imperialist system. It was a fight carried out in every country. This fight dominated every countryís political and cultural life.

Opposite of these great and unexpected results, there were some important negative factors the communist movement had to reckon with in order to further advance. The principal ones were three.

1. The communist movement hadnít yet elaborated and even less tested a strategy for the conquest of power (for the socialist revolution) in imperialist countries.

2. The communist movement hadnít a general line to combine the advancement of socialist transformation in the countries of the socialist field, the revolution of new democracy in oppressed countries, the socialist revolution in imperialist countries.

3. The communist movement hadnít an enough right comprehension of capitalismís general crisis. At the beginning of the fifties, all the communist parties shared the opinion that, as the war ended, in the capitalistic world the economical crisis interrupted by war would restart. On the contrary, the first capitalismís was just ended. A period of widening of the economical activity and of the renewal of the accumulation of capital began. It was also ended the long lasting revolutionary situation in development, determined by the general crisis. In the first half of century, the war among imperialist states and groups provoked the proletarian revolution. From the end of Second World War on, the proletarian revolution would proceed only if revolutionary forces had gone on themselves to the offensive.

These were the three most important negative factors, and the first was the principal one.

During its 7th congress (1935), the Communist International (CI) elaborated the strategy of the Popular Anti- Fascist Front (PAF). In various countries, the communist parties began able to influence the popular massesí orientation. Thanks to it and to the role of USSR in world politics, the communist parties had to carry out a wide-ranging manoeuvre in bourgeois politicsí field. They had to promote all anti fascist forcesí mobilization and alliance, whatever proletarian or bourgeois they were. They could be sure that in every serious collision, as a matter of fact and whether you like it or not, the struggle should be directed by who had the righter and firmer ideological position, who pointed out the way to follow to other people and, with the forces he, already, also organizationally was directing, opened the way, which, even the other companions would follow, whether they like it or not, with more or less resolution. With the line of PAF, as a matter of fact, the CI took the direction of the popular masses in every country in which the communist party was already a political force, able to influence the popular massesí behaviour. Through its influence over popular masses, the communist movement conditioned the conduct of intermediate forces and also of bourgeois forces and of their States. The bourgeois class either was broken in two factions opposite in a civil war (as it happened, on a large scale, especially in Spain, France and then, during the war, in Norway, Belgium and Italy), or was obliged to publicly simulate an anti fascist conduct, in order to not irritate and to manipulate the large part of anti fascist public opinion (as especially happened in Great Britain and USA)(6) With the line of PAF, the communist movement induced British and US imperialist bourgeoisie to go to war against Nazis Germany and militarist Japan rather then to side with them against USSR, as it was inclined to do, according to its nature. In other European countries above indicated, it succeeded in causing the explosion of civil war in conditions favourable for the proletariat, and, in the course of war, even succeeded in constituting its own armed forces (the Resistance). But in no one of imperialist countries, the communist movement succeeded in developing the line of PAF in order to seize the power and to establish socialism. The greater part of communist parties in the imperialist countries adopted a narrow, defensive and right wing conception of the line of PAF. They limited their activity to the liquidation of fascism, sacrificed the partyís autonomy pretending to strengthen the PAF, which, on the contrary, just because of it, lost its authority among the popular masses. They made the communist party the left wing of the anti-fascist rank, and then, they left its direction to bourgeoisie, which eliminated the PAF, in the requisite forms and times. The communist partiesí left wing opposed only a resistance dispersed, related to single aspects and events, and so ineffective. In the communist movement, it was still lacking the conception of the protracted revolutionary popular war, one of the five principal Maoismís contributions to the communist thought.

These limits strengthened the right wing of communist movement. If we consider the conditions of the communist movement in the fifties, we see that the right wing was having a strategic proposal: the great success obtained by the communist movement made no more necessary a revolution (a civil war) to establish socialism. Revolution and proletariatís dictatorship of the, by then, were superfluous. They carried out the main items of their strategy and propaganda: the reconciliation with bourgeoisie, the convergence of two systems (socialist and imperialist), the gradual and pacific passage to socialism, the imitation of productive and organizational methods of capitalism, the interdependence. There wouldnít be any more economical crisis. They were saying such and other things. On the contrary, the communist movementís left wing hadnít a strategic proposal, even if it refused each one of the points the right wing was proposing. But, in the progress of a revolution it isnít possible to keep still. Without a strategy for advancement, the communist movement fell into modern revisionistsí hands, one party after another. First, it slackened its run, and lost impetus. Afterwards, it began to decline: in Eastern Europe, in USSR, in imperialist countries, all over world. The CCP and the PRC found themselves at the front-line, facing the necessity to raise the communist movement destiny when the process was already on an advanced stage. Chinese comrades werenít able to do it, so the supporters of the turning towards the capitalism, dead Mao, took advantage of it.

Ernesto V.


NOTE 1. About division of the first socialist countriesí existence in phases, see the article ďOn the historical experience of the socialist partiesĒ, in the review Social Relations, n. 11, November 1991).

NOTE 2. Mao Tse Tungís Works are available as books (25 volumes) and as CD. You can request it to Social Relations Editions, via Tanaro 7, 20128 Milan, tel. and fax 02.26306454, e - mail resistenza@carc.it.

NOTE 3. The objective (economical) condition for establishing socialism is that the availability of necessary condition for production and reproduction of mankind and of his social life depends on social settlement, and doesnít depend anymore on the struggle against the rest of the nature. The subjective conditions for establishing socialism are such an organizational grade and a level of political consciousness of proletarian as to enable it to assume the ruling role of entire society. As regards the more advanced European countries, these conditions were already reached about the middle of the XIX century.

NOTE 4. Stalin exhaustively explained this characteristic of Tsarist Empire in its Principles of the Leninism (1924).

NOTE 5. The line of the revolution of the new democracy is one of the five principal Maoismís contributions to communist thought. On this subject, you can see the article ďThe eight discriminantĒ in the La Voce, n. 10, March 2002).
With the theory of the new democracy revolution, the communist movement passed from the very general statements of Marxís and Engelsí First International, to the more circumstantial but still wavering theses of the Second International, to the revolutionary but still uncertain theses as regards direction, to an explained and circumstantial theory as regards the ruling force, the contents and the principal force of revolution in oppressed countries and to its relations with the socialist revolution.

NOTE 6. For more exhaustive information on this subject see the article by Marco Martinengo, ďThe political movement in the thirties in Europe Ē, in Social Relations, n 21, February 1999 _. The American and British imperialist bourgeoisie had a conduct of hidden cooperation and support and of publicly declared hostility towards Nazis Germany, militarist Japan, fascist Italy etc. So, in these years, the imperialist bourgeois does in France, Germany, Spain and other countries, where the authorities donít feel so strong to challenge the public opinion with an open and declared participation to the US bourgeois classí " preventive war " against Arabsí and Muslimsí anti imperialist democratic revolution (Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc.).