LETTER FROM THE ECCI

TO THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE

CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY


EXTRACTS

8 February 1929 Strategiya i Taktika Kominlerna, p. 221




Having studied the report of your politbureau ... we can state that the new tactical line, adopted in accordance with the changed situation in China . . . has by and large been mastered by the new GC, but is being carried through only in a very weak fashion by the party as a whole. As can be seen from your report and circular letters, there is still in the ranks of the party a certain confusion and disorganization which seriously hampers the development of its activity.

. . .

The most essential job is to ward off the danger . . . that part of the party masses and sympathizing workers who during the period of rising revolution fought under CP leadership will, because of disappointment, lose the revolutionary perspective.

In the present circumstances, extremely difficult for the revolutionary labour movement, this danger is very real. Disarray and depression after the defeat of the revolution in circumstances of crushing terror wear off only very slowly ... for some of the fainthearted the picture may easily appear more desolate than it actually is, may even suggest the hopeless annihilation of the revolutionary movement. On the other hand, the partial economic revival which is beginning in the country after the end of the civil war creates a certain basis for the illusion that an era of capitalist 'recovery' has begun, opening the road to peaceful political and economic development which will make any new rise of the revolutionary wave impossible or at least deflect it into indeterminate channels.

This leaves entirely out of account what a Marxist analysis shows, that the basic contradictions which generated the earlier wave of the Chinese revolution have not been resolved, nor can they be resolved by measures introduced by the ruling exploiting classes.

. . .

The Kuomintang and the Nanking Government are trying to create among the people the illusion of a gradual peaceful liberation from the yoke of foreign imperialism. Nevertheless . . . England in the south and Japan in the north have recently extended their 'spheres of influence' and strengthened their commanding positions, so that, judging from the facts, it would be more correct to talk of the division of China and the consequent prospect of imperialist war and of civil war among the militarists than of the Utopian liberation of China by 'diplomatic means'.

Of course the front of the imperialist powers in regard to China is not and cannot be solid. There is first of all the rivalry between the United States and the Anglo-Japanese bloc. If it were not for this, Japan would not have hesitated halfway at the time of its military expedition to the north, nor would England (and a number of other States) have promised China tariff autonomy and the annulment of the unequal treaties. That is a fact.

But its importance should not be exaggerated.

It would be incorrect to assert, as is done in one of the CC's circular letters, that the 'basic policy' of the United States is 'directly opposed' to the policy of England and Japan. That is not true. United States policy in China is just as imperialist as England's or Japan's. It differs in the means of applying that policy. The 'open door' principle does not reflect a tendency towards a policy of decolonization; it is a liberal mask which now, and possibly in the future too, can camouflage the imperialist policy of expansion pursued by the United States.

. . .

Relying on its economic power, the United States concentrates its attention on winning the commanding economic heights, on bringing the central Government into financial and diplomatic subjection, hoping by those means to compensate for the absence of territorial spheres of influence such as are held by England and Japan—

The Chinese bourgeoisie are not in a position to conduct an independent national policy in regard to imperialism. They hope, by using the rivalries among the imperialist Powers, and with the support of the United States, to achieve significant successes in the matter of China's independent capitalist development. But that is an illusion. They can only win those 'rights' which correspond at any given moment with the aims of one great Power or another.

. . .

At the present moment there is no special American imperialist interest which would be adversely affected by a certain consolidation and strengthening of the central Government. On the contrary, this is even desirable as a guarantee of old foreign loans and of the proposed new ones.

But every Chinese guarantee agreement on such loans only squeezes China more closely in the grip of colonial enslavement.

. . .

It would be incorrect to assume that, having gone over to the camp of counterrevolution, the entire Chinese bourgeoisie have taken over in toto the policy of the old landlord-warlord Government of China. Because of the irreconcilable conflict of interests between the independent capitalist development of national industry, and the interests of imperialism, the national bourgeoisie cannot wholly abandon their national-reformist platform. But that very platform presupposes a policy of constant compromise with imperialism, which leads in practice to the capitulation of the national bourgeoisie to imperialism.

. . .

It is the task of the communist party to expose the counter-revolutionary character of bourgeois national-reformism, and, mobilizing the broad masses of the working people and petty-bourgeoisie for irreconcilable anti-imperialist struggle, to liberate them from the influence of the national bourgeoisie, at the same time revealing the anti- revolutionary role of the KMT Government, which conceals its subservience to imperialism by verbal opposition to it.

. . .

The task of uniting China and freeing it from imperialism is indissolubly bound up with the agrarian revolution and the destruction of all feudal survivals. But to accomplish this third great task of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in China is an undertaking which can be carried through only by a government of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.

. . .


Thus there is no doubt that the basic problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in China are not only not solved, but are wholly insoluble by the Chinese bourgeoisie and KMT Government. All the talk about the possibility of a 'Kemalist' development in Chinese affairs is empty chatter. The basic contradictions are not being overcome; they are growing more acute, and this is bound to stimulate the process of ripening of a new general revolutionary crisis, broader and deeper than the earlier one.

. . .

It is essential to prepare the party and the masses, in particular the proletarian masses, for the forthcoming struggle to overthrow the feudal-bourgeois bloc, to establish the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.

If the communist party does not succeed in consolidating its own ranks in good time, in strengthening its influence over the industrial proletariat, reinforcing the leadership of the peasants' struggle by the organized proletariat, then when the revolutionary crisis breaks, it will not be able adequately to exploit the objectively revolutionary situation and ensure the victory of the revolution.

Over the past year the Chinese Communist Party was not able adequately to adapt its revolutionary work to the changing objective conditions, and this is still its greatest weakness. It was born and grew up in conditions of a revolutionary mass offensive . . . and open legal work. It was not prepared for underground work in conditions of atrocious terror. Thus the blows of the counter-revolution shook the party severely and produced a state of disorganization which has still to be overcome and which presents great difficulties. The unusually great weight of the intelligentsia in the active party cadres does not make this task any easier.

. . .

The first and basic task in the present period is to strengthen the illegal communist party, to reinforce its organizations and its authority and its dominant influence—the importance of which was at first underestimated by the legalists, who at first put on the brakes and then resisted and rejected this line.

The right danger is the more serious for the Chinese revolutionary movement as the ruling Kuomintang party is doing all it can to attract into its orbit large masses of the petty bourgeoisie and also the working class. With this end in view, while continuing its bloody repression of communists, it is proposing certain social reforms (shorter working day, profit sharing, etc.) ... in the attempt to create the illusion that some so-called 'left-wing' KMT leaders wish to fight the reactionary feudalists and warlords, to defend the cause of national freedom against the imperialists, etc.

This fraudulent ruse can have no lasting influence on the masses, for the contrast between words and deeds is too striking. But for a certain time it may have some effect on them, and we should not underrate this danger.


In view of the present weakness of communist organizations and the difficulties of their work, the KMT, by making use of all the means afforded by the State apparatus, and with the support of the exploiting classes, may succeed for some time in leading part of the working masses by the nose. If even among the communists some voices (however few) are raised in favour of a capitulatory policy of dragging behind the KMT, then it is clear that outside the ranks of the communist party some working people are far from having outlived their illusions about KMT policy.

. . .

The cases in the past year—not few in number—of members leaving the party (and there were even cases of voluntary self-denunciation to the KMT authorities) indicate the seriousness of the right danger in the party. But the danger is still greater outside the party, for example in the trade unions. It is absolutely essential to take a strong and determined line of struggle against petty-bourgeois vacillations in the party and among the masses, wherever and in whatever form they manifest themselves.

. . .

The sixth congress of the CCP summoned the party to correct its 'left' deviations (putschism, military adventurism, individual terrorism) and its so-called 'Kuomintang-like' approach to the masses ('decrees'). As a result of objective conditions, putschist actions and military adventurism have to a large extent lost their basis over the past year, but it would be incorrect to assume that the 'left' illness has been entirely overcome in the party.

. . .

All party members must realize that without deep and strong roots in the masses of the working class, without a broad organizational basis in the factories and trade unions, the party will not be in a position to play the leading part in the Chinese revolution. They must realize that the stronger the position they succeed in winning at the present time in the factories, the trade unions, the strike movement, the greater the forces they will be able to dispose of during the approaching class battles. On the eve of the sixth CCP congress, the CC noted that the number of revolutionary trade unions under communist influence had fallen from 734 in the Wuhan period to 81.

. . .

Since then the position has got worse as a result of unremitting persecution, while the KMT unions have continued to grow.

. . .

It would be wholly incorrect to underrate the significance of this growth as a factor hampering the development of the revolutionary movement among the Chinese workers. By these means the ruling counterrevolutionary party is trying to create for itself among the working class a firm organizational foundation for its power and its policy, to make the union leadership a monopoly of its own agents, to terrorize and destroy the class trade unions. Against this KMT trade union fascism, communists must wage a vigorous, systematic, and stubborn struggle, both inside and outside the yellow unions.

As far as circumstances allow, every effort must be made to re-establish and strengthen the revolutionary class trade unions. Illegality naturally creates great difficulties for these unions, and it is therefore important to find a legal cover for them, or to develop their organizations and activities in forms in which they can maintain in practice a semi-legal existence.

. . .

A firm basis for every union must be laid in the factories, under the leadership of the communist party cell. But the communist fractions (even those in the red unions) should not appear as such, if they do not wish to facilitate the work of the KMT spies.

. . .

But it would be a crude error to think that strengthening the illegal and semi-legal revolutionary unions exhausted the trade union work of communists. It should not be forgotten that besides these unions there are mass legal yellow KMT unions. It is our task to penetrate these unions and win the masses away from the yellow leaders... and rally them around the conspirative communist fractions. In every dispute and strike it is necessary to expose the compromising and treacherous role of the yellow leaders, to mobilize the workers against the Kuomintang, against the nomination by the KMT of trade union officials, against KMT orders and intervention.

. . .

The workers must be convinced, from their own experience, that the KMT regime is a regime of oppression.

Only by such means can the KMT system of trade union fascism be undermined, and a firm basis for the revolutionary trade union movement be created even in the yellow unions. At the same time propaganda must be conducted against the League of Nations' Labour Office, against the Amsterdam International, against the convening of the Asian trade union congress in Calcutta by the Japanese reformists.

. . .

The organizational state of the party, as it emerges from the CC documents, is wholly unsatisfactory. 'A large proportion of the urban cells are in a state of dissolution', says one of the CG circulars, 'and a substantial part of the industrial worker aktiv cannot find the party and so automatically drop out of our organization.

The majority of active members have lost their jobs, have lost contact with the masses, are living at the party's expense...' According to the politbureau's report 'the maximum number of industrial workers in the party does not exceed 4000'.

. . .

Faced with this situation, the CC has issued a number of concrete and correct instructions: to concentrate attention primarily on industrial areas, large towns, and important occupational groups; to draw industrial workers into active party work.

. . .

The task now is to see that these instructions are really put into effect.

Among the tasks indicated by the CC two are of such importance for the CCP that we wish to emphasize them here. The first is the creation of production cells, and their correct operation.

. . .

There are at present very few such cells, and their number is diminishing; there are none or virtually none in the main industrial enterprises.

. . .


The second task is to see to the ideological equipment of the party. For this it is necessary to undertake a serious study of Marxism. It should be borne in mind that without serious Marxist-Leninist theoretical preparations, not only of the leading party nucleus but also of propagandists and agitators, the party runs the risk of depriving itself of that essential ideological basis which alone will enable it to make the correct moves in changing situations and on complex political problems which are of great importance both for the party and for the course of the revolution.






 

Comintern

III. International