RESOLUTION OF THE SEVENTH ECCI PLENUM
ON THE CHINESE SITUATION
16 December 1926 Puti Mirovoi Revoliutsii, ii, p. 435
IMPERIALISM AND THE CHINESE REVOLUTION
The Chinese revolution is one of the most important and powerful factors disrupting capitalist stabilization. In the course of the last two years imperialism has suffered serious defeats in China, the results of which have made the world capitalist crisis far more acute. As a result of the victorious advance of the nationalist armies to north China the rule of the imperialists has been in fact broken over half the country's territory.
The further victories of the Canton revolutionary armies, supported by the broad masses of the Chinese people, will lead to victory over the imperialists, to the independence of China, and to its revolutionary unification, which will immensely enhance the forces of resistance to imperialist influence.
Sun Chuan-fang's inability to hold up the advance of the Canton armies has convinced the imperialist powers that the traditional method of using the native militarists as tools to defeat the national-revolutionary movement no longer meets the requirements of the situation. At the same time mutual rivalries prevent the imperialist powers from uniting for open military intervention. Imperialism is seeking new methods more in keeping with the new situation. The new policy shows an inclination to recognize the Canton Government; the initiative in this is being taken by American imperialism. Even England and Japan regard recognition of Canton as a permissible political step. But these are only diplomatic manoeuvres hiding the hostile intentions of the imperialists towards the revolution.
Imperialism's basic strength in China is its virtual monopoly of the financial and industrial life of the country.
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If it retains this base, it will find in China an important prop for stabilizing capitalism. Because of its colossal population, China offers a market with unlimited possibilities. With the necessary political guarantees, it can be a highly profitable field for investment. Its huge raw-material resources are practically untapped. Therefore imperialism will make the utmost efforts to defeat the Chinese revolution which threatens to overthrow it.
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In the present situation imperialism prefers to intervene against the revolution by organizing civil war and financing the counter-revolutionary forces. At the moment it is trying to unite the forces of Chang Tso-lin, Wu Pei-fu, and Sun Chuan-fang to hold up the advancing national armies.
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Considered in its external aspect the Chinese revolution, because of its antiimperialist character, forms an inseparable part of the world revolution. This state of affairs in China coincides with the following important factors favouring the further development and deepening of the Chinese revolution:
Competition among the imperialist Powers in China, which weakens the position of world imperialism;
the world capitalist crisis;
the growth of the proletarian movement in Western Europe. Armed intervention in China would undoubtedly be resisted by the working class of the imperialist countries;
the development of the national-revolutionary movement in the colonies, which will certainly become stronger as the Chinese revolution develops;
the existence of the proletarian dictatorship in the USSR, which is geographically close to China, while the chief centres, economic, military, and political, of the imperialist Powers are geographically remote.
Parallel with the rapid development of the national-revolutionary movement, the social forces taking part in it are involved in a no less rapid process of regrouping.
The national revolution in China is developing in such peculiar conditions that it differs in substance both from the classic bourgeois revolutions of Western European countries in the last century, as well as from the 1905 revolution in Russia. The most significant of these peculiarities is China's semi-colonial status, its dependence on foreign imperialism. Another characteristic which distinguishes the Chinese revolution from earlier bourgeois-democratic revolutions is that it is taking place in the era of world revolution and is an inseparable part of the world movement to abolish the capitalist system.
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The most important peculiarity of China's economic situation today is the variety of forms existing side by side in the Chinese economy, beginning with financecapital and ending with patriarchal survivals.
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This determines both the weak class differentiation of the Chinese population and the low degree of organization of the basic social forces in the national revolution.
Added to this is the immense importance ... of the disintegration of the central machinery of government and the establishment over large parts of the country of the rule of militarist organizations.
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Their existence is conditioned by China's semi-colonial status, the dismemberment of the country, the backwardness of its economy, and the existence of vast agricultural over-population.
The development of the national-revolutionary movement in China at the present time depends on the agrarian revolution.
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For objective reasons, the class struggle in the Chinese village has a tendency to develop in opposition to foreign imperialism and Chinese militarism, to what is left of large landownership, to the gentry and merchant money-lending capital, and in part to the kulak peasants.
Consequently the stage of development reached by the revolutionary movement in China is characterized by a significant regrouping of social forces. In its first stage the driving force of the movement was the national bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intelligentsia, who sought support among the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie. In the second stage the character of the movement changed, and its social basis shifted to another class group. New and more revolutionary forms of struggle developed. The working class made its appearance on the Chinese stage as a political factor of the first order.
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The proletariat formed a bloc with the peasants, who were taking militant action in their own interests, with the urban petty bourgeoisie, and with part of the capitalist bourgeoisie. This concentration of forces found its political expression in a corresponding grouping within the KMT and the Canton Government. At the present moment the movement is on the road to the third stage, on the eve of a new class regrouping. At this stage of development the basic force of the movement is a bloc of a still more revolutionary character—the bloc of the proletariat, peasantry, and urban petty bourgeoisie, excluding the greater part of the big capitalist bourgeoisie. This does not mean that the entire bourgeoisie as a class stand aside from the national liberation struggle. Besides the petty and middle bourgeoisie, some forces of the big bourgeoisie may still go along with the revolution for a certain time.
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In this period of transition the big bourgeoisie see that the [anti-]imperialist struggle, proceeding under proletarian leadership, is slipping from their control and objectively threatens their class interests. They are trying to win back their leading role with the object of crushing the revolution. They are trying to influence the revolutionary movement by using the ideology of bourgeois nationalism to counter the ideology of class struggle.
A parallel regrouping of the forces of the counter-revolution is taking place, closely connected with imperialist policy and under its influence, just as the development of the revolutionary forces is connected with the world revolution and is proceeding under its influence (the USSR and the world proletariat).
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The big industrial bourgeoisie are hesitating more and more and inclining towards agreement with foreign capital, granting it the dominating role. Convinced that the militarists are no longer a wholly suitable instrument to crush the revolutionary movement, imperialism is seeking other allies within the national movement by adopting a policy of conciliation. It is trying to induce the national bourgeoisie to break with the revolutionary bloc. To strengthen the position of the imperialist agents within the ranks of the national movement, some strata of the big bourgeoisie, and even some militarists who have up to now stood aside from the national-revolutionary struggle and were even hostile to it, are beginning to go over to the side of the Canton Government. The object of this manoeuvre is to wrest the leadership of the movement from the revolutionary bloc of the proletariat, peasantry, and urban petty bourgeoisie, and so arrest the development of the revolution.
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At this moment of transition, when the historically inevitable breakaway of the big bourgeoisie from the revolution is gradually taking place, the proletariat must clearly make as much use as possible of all those strata of the bourgeoisie which at the given moment are still in fact conducting a revolutionary struggle against imperialism and militarism.
On the other hand the proletariat and its party must tactically exploit an the contradictions among the bourgeois strata withdrawing from the revolution, and among the various imperialist groups, never losing sight of their basic aims and subordinating to them all their strategic manoeuvres and tactical steps.
GENERAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE CHINESE REVOLUTION
The general perspectives of the Chinese revolution will become clear, if regarded in the light of the class groupings in both camps. Although, at this present stage of development, the Chinese revolution is historically bourgeois-democratic in nature, it is bound to acquire a broader social character. Its results will not necessarily create those sociopolitical conditions which lead to a capitalist development of the country. The Chinese revolution, occurring in the period of capitalist decline, is part of the universal struggle for overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism. The structure of the revolutionary State will be determined by its class basis. It will not be merely a bourgeois-democratic State. It will represent the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, the peasantry, and other exploited classes. It will be a revolutionary anti-imperialist government in the period of transition to non-capitalist (socialist) development.
The Chinese Communist Party should concentrate all its efforts on making a reality, in the long run, of this revolutionary perspective of transition into noncapitalist channels of development.
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The further development and prospects of the Chinese revolution depend primarily on the part played by the proletariat. The events of the last few years have shown that the fighting revolutionary national front can be organized only under proletarian leadership.
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That is the basic principle determining the tactics of the Chinese revolution.
The feudal-militarist cliques, exercising political power in a large part of the country, represent the forces of reaction and are the agents of imperialism. The native bourgeoisie, as a class, are relatively ill-developed and weak. The economically stronger strata of the bourgeoisie (financial bourgeoisie and compradores) are so closely connected with foreign capitalism by commercial and financial ties that they have never taken any part at all in the anti-imperialist struggle. The industrial bourgeoisie went along with the national-revolutionary movement so long as it bore a purely bourgeois-democratic character, but at the first signs of revolution they either stood aside or tried to sabotage it. The petty bourgeoisie (petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, students, artisans, small traders, etc.) are in a country such as China a revolutionary factor. They played an important part in the past, and will play it in the future, but they are incapable of acting independently—they must go either with the bourgeoisie or with the proletariat.
When the bourgeoisie desert the revolution or conspire against it, the exploited middle classes fall under the revolutionary influence of the proletariat. In these circumstances the moving force of the Chinese revolution at its present stage is the revolutionary bloc of the proletariat, the peasantry, and the petty bourgeoisie, the proletariat being the dominant factor in the bloc.
THE NATIONAL REVOLUTION AND THE PEASANTRY
At the present transitional stage the agrarian question begins to take on acute forms. It is the central problem of the present situation. The class which decisively tackles this basic question and is able to give a radical answer will become the leader of the revolution. In the given situation in China the proletariat is the only class able to pursue a radical agrarian policy.
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To overthrow the militarists for good, it is essential to develop, as part of the struggle against imperialism, the economic and political struggle of the peasantry, who form the overwhelming majority of the population. The fear that intensification of the class struggle in the village will weaken the united anti-imperialist front is unfounded. The defeat of the Second People's Army, brought about not by the forces of counter-revolution but by the rebellion of dissatisfied peasants, bears witness to the dangers inherent in this situation. If we fail to approach the agrarian question boldly, to give the required support to the practical economic and political demands of the peasant masses, the revolution is endangered. The refusal to place the question of the agrarian revolution in the foreground of the national liberation movement's programme, for fear of losing the indecisive and uncertain co-operation of one stratum of the capitalist class, is incorrect.
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The communist party must not make such mistakes.
The specific peculiarity of the present situation is its transitional character, when the proletariat has to choose between a prospective bloc with large strata of the bourgeoisie and reinforcing its alliance with the peasantry. If the proletariat does not advance a radical agrarian programme it will not be able to draw the peasantry into the revolutionary struggle and will lose the hegemony of the national liberation movement.Under direct or indirect imperialist influence, the bourgeoisie will again begin to play a leading part. In the present situation this would strengthen the position of foreign capital in China, and promote capitalist stabilization.
The Canton National Government will not be able to retain power in the revolution, will not achieve complete victory over imperialism and native reaction, so long as the cause of national emancipation is not identified with the agrarian revolution.
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While recognizing . . . land nationalization as the basic demand of a proletarian agrarian programme, the Chinese Communist Party must at the present time differentiate its agrarian tactics and adapt them to the economic and political peculiarities in different parts of China.
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In territory under the Kuomintang National Government the programme of agrarian revolution should be given practical form. The Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang should immediately carry out the following measures to draw the peasantry over to the side of the revolution:
maximum reduction of rents;
abolition of the various forms of taxes weighing on the peasantry and their replacement by a single progressive agricultural tax.
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confiscation of church and monastery lands, and of land belonging to reactionary militarists and compradores, and those landlords and gentry who are waging civil war against the Kuomintang National Government;
securing to tenants the right to a perpetual lease on the plots of land they cultivate.
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all-round support by the Canton Government of peasant interests; in particular, protection of the peasants against oppression and persecution by landlords, gentry, and usurers;
disarming the Min Yuan and all other landlord forces;
arming the poor and middle peasants and subordinating all armed forces in the village to the local agencies of the revolutionary Government;
maximum support by the Government for all peasant organizations, including the Peasant Unions;
provision of cheap government credits, fight against the usurers, support of peasant mutual-aid associations;
government help for co-operatives and mutual-aid associations.
It is the task of the communist party to get these measures put into operation by the Canton Government as steps towards a more developed phase of the agrarian revolution. This highly important task will be carried out by creating peasant committees under communist leadership. As the revolution develops, the peasant committees will acquire the authority and strength required to fulfil the demands enumerated above and to reinforce the struggle, advancing more radical demands.
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In the parts of the country still controlled and ruled by reactionary militarists, the communist party must lead the peasants in the fight against feudalism, militarism, and imperialism. Work among the peasantry ... is the surest way to distintegrate the reactionary armies. Communists should make use of every peasant organization that springs up spontaneously, such as the 'Red Lances', and strengthen communist influence in them.
The peasants' attitude to the revolution is determined largely by the conduct and actions of the national armies.
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It is true that the peasantry everywhere welcomed the revolutionary army with enthusiasm, but it is equally true that this enthusiasm declined in the course of time. The demands of a prolonged and difficult military campaign mean new burdens for the peasants. The enthusiasm with which they greeted the revolutionary armies will be made strong and firm if the communists and other revolutionary elements leading the movement realize that the peasantry must be compensated for their temporary burdens by a correct and bold agrarian policy.
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THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND THE KUOMINTANG
The imperative necessity of gaining influence among the peasantry also determines the attitude of the communist party to the Kuomintang and the Canton Government. The machinery of the national-revolutionary Government provides an extremely effective channel for approaching the peasantry, and the communist party must make use of it. In the recently liberated provinces a State apparatus of the Canton type will be established. The task of communists and their revolutionary allies is to permeate the new government apparatus in order to give practical expression to the agrarian programme of the national revolution. This can be achieved by using the State machine to confiscate lands, lower taxes, and give real powers to the peasant committees, thus gradually introducing reforms based on a revolutionary programme.
For this and many other equally cogent reasons, the idea that the communist party should abandon the Kuomintang is mistaken. The entire process of development of the Chinese revolution, its character, and its prospects demand that the communists stay in the Kuomintang and reinforce their work in it. In order to intensify their activities in the ranks of the Kuomintang with the object of influencing the further development of the revolutionary movement, communists must enter the Canton Government. Since the establishment of the Canton Government, real power in it has been in the hands of the right-wing Kuomintang (of six commissars, five belong to the right wing). Although the Canton Government could not exist without the support of the working class, the workers' and peasants' movement even in Kwantung province has had to overcome various obstacles. The most recent events have shown that the communists ought to enter the Government in order to support the revolutionary left wing in its struggle against the feeble and hesitating policy of the right. The extension of the Canton Government's power to large areas gives this question of communist participation in the National
Government greater urgency than ever.
The Communist Party of China should seek to make the Kuomintang a genuinely national party, a firm revolutionary bloc of the prole-tariat, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and other oppressed strata who are waging an energetic struggle against imperialism and its agents. To do this the communist party should take action in the following directions:
Systematic and resolute struggle against the right wing in the Kuomintang . . . and their attempts to transform the Kuomintang into a bourgeois party;
consolidate the left wing and establish close collaboration with it without attempting to get the leading positions in it for communists;
consistent criticism of the centre, wavering between the right and the left wing, between the further development of the revolution and compromise with imperialism.
THE TASKS OF THE CHINESE REVOLUTION AND THE CHARACTER OF THE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT
'Before the epoch of world revolution, the movements for national liberation formed part of the general democratic movement; now, however, after the victory of the Soviet revolution in Russia and the opening of the era of world revolution, the movement for national liberation forms part of the world proletarian revolution.'
The programme of the Chinese revolution and the structure of the revolutionary State which it creates should be determined from this point of view. The process of class differentiation which accompanies the development of the revolutionary movement confirms this conception. The Canton Government, despite its bourgeois-democratic character, basically and objectively contains within itself the germ of a revolutionary petty-bourgeois State, of the democratic dictatorship of the revolutionary bloc of proletariat, peasantry, and urban petty bourgeoisie. The petty-bourgeois democratic movement is becoming revolutionary in China because it is an anti-imperialist movement. The Canton Government is a revolutionary one primarily in virtue of its anti-imperialist character. Being, above all, anti-imperialist, the Chinese revolution and the Government which it has created must strike at the very root of imperialist power in China. Rejection of unequal treaties and abolition of territorial concessions are not enough to shatter imperialism's position. The blow must be dealt at the economic foundations of imperialist power. This means that the revolutionary Government must gradually nationalize the railways, concessions, factories, mines, banks, and other undertakings owned by foreign capital. By these acts it will quickly extend the narrow limits of bourgeois -democracy and enter the stage of transition towards revolutionary dictatorship. It would thus be a mistake to restrict the tasks of the Chinese revolution to
(1) the defeat of imperialism, and
(2) the liquidation of feudal survivals, on the ground that in its early stages this revolution has a petty-bourgeois character. The Chinese revolution cannot defeat imperialism without overstepping the limits of bourgeois democracy. In existing conditions the proletariat will lead the peasantry to revolutionary struggle. The movement to liquidate feudalism, proceeding under proletarian hegemony, must necessarily turn into an agrarian revolution.
Because of these peculiar circumstances, the tasks of the Chinese revolution are:
To nationalize the railways and water transport;
to confiscate all large undertakings, mines, and banks which fall into the category of foreign concessions; and
to nationalize the land, by means of a series of radical reforms put into operation by the revolutionary State.
VI. THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND THE PROLETARIAT
To play the leading role in the revolution, the Chinese proletariat must strengthen its class organizations, political and industrial. The first task of the communist party is to organize and educate for this historical role. The small numbers and youth of the Chinese proletariat should be compensated by a high level of organization and the clarity of its ideology.
The trade union federation, embracing hundreds of thousands of industrial workers, as well as the national unions of railwaymen and seamen, are the basis for the communist party. The immediate task of the CP should be to strengthen these organizations by drawing the broad working masses into them. In the course of the national-revolutionary struggle in these last two years the working class has developed tremendous strength; it has won hegemony in the revolutionary movement.
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In order to draw the working-class masses into the movement and strengthen its position in the national revolution, the Chinese Communist Party should agitate for the following demands:
complete liberty of action for revolutionary peasants' and workers' organizations, legalization of trade unions, introduction of advanced laws on trade unions, the right to strike;
labour legislation: the eight-hour day, the six-day week, minimum wages;
social legislation: inspection of health and labour conditions; the housing question; insurance for sickness, old age, invalidity, unemployment; protection of female and child labour; prohibition of night work for women; prohibition of labour in factories for children under fourteen;
establishment of factory inspection;
abolition of the system of fines and corporal punishment;
removal of all kinds of military or police detachments from factory buildings;
fight against unemployment: inclusion of the unemployed within the trade unions, organization of trade union employment exchanges....
ORGANIZATIONAL TASKS OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
The Communist Party of China is an organized force. It has leaders, is creating its cadres, and has mass support. The work of the CP has already assumed fairly substantial proportions and stable organizational forms. In the last six months it has made great advances in expanding its ranks, this growth being largely of working-class elements.
There are too few peasants in the party; nevertheless the party is already conducting work among the peasantry on an expanding scale.
One of the most important tasks now confronting the party is to extend and deepen, improve and strengthen its work of training the party membership.
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One of the most important tasks of the party is the struggle for its open existence.
New members must be recruited, particularly in industrial areas.
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The best working-class members of the party must be drawn into leading party work.
Persistent work must be done to enlarge and strengthen party cadres. Special attention must be paid to training cell secretaries, fraction leaders in mass organizations, the leading personnel in district party committees. The CC and district committees should have permanent travelling instructors drawn from the best local party workers.