LETTER FROM THE ECCI TO THE CENTRAL COMMITTEES OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
26 October 1929* Strategiya i Taktika Kominterna, p. 252
Recent events in China compel us, without waiting for reports from you on the activities and policy of the party in the present circumstances, to give our appraisal of the situation now being created in China, and our preliminary proposals on the most important tasks of the communist party.
China has entered a phase of deep national crisis, reflected in
(a) a new outbreak of internecine wars between military cliques, behind whom stand the imperialist Powers, among whom contradictions are growing more acute;
(b) the formation—as a rival to the Nanking Kuomintang—of the 'party for KMT reorganization'
. . .
(c) the aggravation of this situation by the anti-Soviet adventure and the consequent sharpening of all contradictions;
(d) the failure of all efforts to attract substantial foreign capital investments and to have the unequal treaties reviewed;
(e) the obvious collapse of all the Kuomintang's internal policies, which have failed to suppress the revolutionary mass movement (despite the unparalleled white terror)
. . .
(f) depression in a number of industries, while at the same time the role of foreign capital in the country's economic life is growing;
(g) the prolongation and deepening of the agrarian crisis, from which there is no escape within the framework of the present bourgeois-landlord regime;
(h) the general worsening of the position of the working class and the basic peasant masses, already intolerable;
(i) the rise of a new wave of the workers' movement, advance signals of a new revolutionary upsurge;
(j) the revival of the peasant movement, in particular of the guerrilla movement.
The attempt of the alliance of bourgeoisie and landlords to create and consolidate a national bourgeois centralized State on the basis of a victorious counter-revolution has failed. If, in the early stages of the Nanking Government, it might have appeared that a stable bourgeois development for China was possible, today the old contradictions are being reproduced on an enlarged scale, the result of the strengthening of imperialist influence, the deepening of the economic crisis, the new split among the rulers, and the revival of the mass revolutionary movement of workers and peasants. It is impossible to predict when the national crisis will develop into a directly revolutionary situation. But we must already begin to prepare the masses for the revolutionary overthrow of the power of the bourgeois-landlord bloc, for the establishment of the dictatorship of the working class and peasantry in the form of Soviets by actively promoting and energetically extending revolutionary forms of the class struggle (mass political strikes, revolutionary demonstrations, guerrilla activities, etc.).
In the counter-revolutionary bloc of imperialists, landlords, and the entire bourgeoisie . . . internal contradictions and dissensions are growing and becoming deeper. Counter-revolutionary as all the exploiting classes are, and little difference as there is in their respective attitudes to the basic contradictions both within China, and between China and imperialism, the bloc is nevertheless breaking up into two main political groups.
The first group consists of the warlords, feudal landowners, and the native big bourgeoisie (primarily, but not exclusively, the compradores and bankers).
Politically this group is represented by the ruling landlord-bourgeois cliques, Kuomintang and non-Kuomintang.
. . .
All are helping to subject the country to foreign capital. Feudal fragmentation, and the fact that China is the scene and object of struggle among various imperialist Powers, explain the absence of internal peace within this political camp and the unceasing wars among the militarists.
The second group represents the attempt to form by political means a bourgeois national-reformist centre, representing the interests of the middle ranks of the Chinese national bourgeoisie, i.e. part of the industrial capitalists and merchants. It is in opposition to the present government KMT and is extending its influence among the medium and small capitalist entrepreneurs, among the dissatisfied small landowners and the upper (exploiting) strata of the petty bourgeoisie of town and village. Politically it is represented by the 'party for KMT reorganization'.
. . .
This party, which makes extensive use of social demagogy and deceitful slogans about the struggle for national unity and democracy, is trying to exploit the growing discontent of the urban petty-bourgeoisie and the broad popular masses with the aim of renovating the Nanking Government and preventing a new revolutionary explosion. This group, and the 'reorganization' party representing it, is counterrevolutionary, deeply hostile to the revolutionary movement of workers and peasants, hostile to the USSR, compromising through and through, servile to imperialism and the warlords.
. . .
But since, at the present moment, when the revolutionary wave is beginning to rise, these 'reorganizes' (whose party still reflects what hopes have survived for a 'renovation' of the KMT) have not yet been finally exposed in the eyes of the working masses, the most determined struggle against their reactionary compromising influence is an essential prerequisite to the further development of the revolutionary struggle and the maintenance of proletarian hegemony.
. . .
In fact the emergence of this national-reformist wing among the middle rank of the bourgeoisie after the complete bankruptcy of Nanking represents no more than a new attempt by the Chinese bourgeoisie to paralyse or delay the revolutionary outbreak by presenting the reorganization of the KMT as a way out of the political impasse.
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The effect of the war between the militarist cliques, which directly continue the counter-revolutionary policy of the bourgeois-landlord bloc, is objectively to weaken the regime, to draw the masses into political struggle, to strengthen their ever more active resistance to imperialist war and its consequences, and to promote the independent workers' and peasants' movement. Another peculiarity of the national crisis and the revolutionary surge in China is the peasant war. The bourgeois-landlord counter-revolution has not been able to crush the revolutionary peasant movement. The revolts of the Moslems, of the 'Red Lances', etc. Which, though led by reactionaries, are by virtue of their mass character objectively revolutionary, and especially the all-round extension of the mass agrarian movement in most of the provinces of China, the existence of areas still under Soviet rule, which has recently been extended and strengthened, as well as the continuing guerrilla warfare in the south— all this represents one of the streams along which in the future the mighty surge of the revolutionary movement throughout the whole of China will make its way.
But the most substantial and reliable sign of the swelling surge is the revival in the labour movement, which has risen clear of the depression into which it fell after the severe defeats of 1927. The strike movement among the industrial proletariat is spreading, and is showing a tendency to grow into political battles, street demonstrations. These processes in the workers' movement have already led to a strengthening of the communist party, which led revolutionary demonstrations and strikes on 30 May, 1 August, and 1 September.
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Nevertheless the ideological and political influence of the CCP and the level of working-class organization lag behind the growth of mass discontent, the mounting revolutionary energy, and the spontaneous movement. Few of the red trade unions are mass organizations, while the influence of the yellow KMT unions is still great.
. . .
The communist party is far from having rallied to its side the revolutionary cadres of the industrial workers; still less has it accomplished the task of winning the majority of the working class, or, what is of cardinal importance at the present moment, winning the leadership of the spontaneous economic and political struggles of the proletariat. The party has not yet become the pioneer, organizer, and leader of the directly revolutionary struggle of the broad masses.
In the communist party itself there are serious vacillations about basic questions of its tactics and policy (the liquidationist group of Chen Tu-hsiu, the tendency in favour of a bloc with the 'reorganizers' and the yellow trade union bureaucrats, the tendency to deny the necessity of supporting and leading the peasant war), which prevent it from taking the lead of the independent mass struggle in the new conditions of the approaching revolutionary surge.
This lagging behind of the party's influence on the working masses, of the level of organization in the revolutionary trade union movement and the party itself, in the rear of the growing spontaneous struggle of the working class, is the most serious danger for the entire future development of the revolutionary struggle in China.
What has been said indicates the immediate tasks of the party. In addition to our earlier letters on the peasant and trade union questions, we think it necessary to direct your attention to the following basic tasks now confronting the party:
(a) to exploit to the utmost the fighting which has already begun and use it to develop further the independent revolutionary mass movement... and to expose the counter-revolutionary role of all KMT groups. The party's cardinal topical slogans in its mass agitation must be 'turn the wars of the warlords into class war, civil war'; and 'overthrow the government of the landlord-bourgeois bloc'. . .;
(b) at the same time the fight to win mass influence, the fight for proletarian hegemony, must be intensified, and directed in the first place against the so-called
'reorganizers', who are trying to exploit the mass discontent and at the present moment represent the chief danger to the further development of the revolutionary movement.
. . .
It is especially important to demonstrate to the masses their servility to imperialism, particularly evident in their rabid and truly fascist campaign against the USSR in connexion with the conflict over the Chinese Eastern Railway. ... It is obvious that any kind of bloc with the 'reorganizers' cannot be tolerated. If such blocs were permitted, they would mean the subordination of the independent movement of the proletariat to the leadership of the counter-revolutionary national-reformist bourgeoisie and would unquestionably lead to the defeat of the revolutionary movement. Now more than ever before we must concentrate on the independent struggle of the workers and peasants under the leadership of our party;
(c) particular attention must be paid to the strike movement. As the industrial and political struggles merge, every effort must be made to develop political strikes, designed to lead up to a general political strike...;
(d) the party must pay more attention to the fight to win the leadership of the antiimperialist movement against all the imperialist Powers, particularly the United States.
. . .
In connexion with the conflict in Manchuria it is necessary to organize a campaign under the slogan of defence of the USSR, exposing all sections of the KMT, including the 'reorganizes', as agents of imperialism;
(e) reinforce and expand the partisan movement, particularly in Manchuria, in the areas where Mao Tse-tung and Ho Lung are active. Repel decisively those tendencies in the party which underestimate the revolutionary significance of the peasant struggle, in particular the guerrilla movement. Pay more attention to work among the soldiers. Try to the utmost to arm the worker and peasant detachments at the cost of the warlords' troops.
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Occupy the areas evacuated by the militarists and consolidate your position there. Where the revolutionary mass struggle of the peasants is growing, try to form Soviet centres; you must be there. Where Soviet power is established, you must set actively about confiscating the land of the big landowners, arming the peasants, and organizing Soviets. Try to co-ordinate the scattered actions of the worker and peasant armies.
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It will be possible to accomplish these tasks successfully only with an enhanced fighting capacity and by the greater activity of the communist vanguard of the proletariat. In the new conditions the primary and fundamental task of the CP is to win the leading role in the revolutionary movement. While not permitting any repetition of past putschist mistakes, which have in the main been overcome, the party must do all it can to stir up and sharpen class conflicts, lead and guide the indignation of the masses, and as the conflicts develop raise correspondingly higher demands, carrying the revolutionary struggle to even higher stages.
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It is necessary to expose more forcefully the counter-revolutionary nature of Trotskyism, revealing how its attitude on the 'socialist' revolution in essentials merely supplements the views of the right-wing liquidators. The party must cleanse its ranks of disguised Trotskyists and liquidators. But at present the chief dangers in the party are the right opportunist views and trends—tending to tone down the struggle against the 'reorganizes', mistakenly regarding them as representing the petty bourgeoisie, to underrate the importance of peasant wars, to underrate and put a brake on the revolutionary energy and initiative of the masses, to minimize the independent and leading role of the proletariat and the communist party. Such tendencies have nothing in common with Leninism and are a denial of proletarian hegemony in the Chinese revolution.