LETTER FROM THE ECCI

TO THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY

ON LI LISAN'S POLICY


EXTRACTS

16 November 1930* Strategiya i Taktika Kominterna, p. 283




The ECCI noted with satisfaction the report of the political bureau of the Chinese central committee that, after the report of Comrade M[if] it annulled its previous decisions and adhered to the decision worked out in full agreement with the delegation of the CC of the CCP. The ECCI trusts that the CC of the CCP will, with bolshevik firmness and consistency, put into effect the political line contained in the resolutions, decisions, and political directives of the ECCI, thereby ensuring the further progress of the anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution in China.

But since, at a historically important moment in the Chinese revolution, the most serious differences have arisen between the ECCI and a number of members of the politbureau of the CC of the CCP on the one hand, and other members of the politbureau, including Li Li-san, on the other, we think it our duty, in elaboration of the resolutions and decisions of the political secretariat and political commission of the ECCI, to dwell on the substance of these differences.

. . .

What was the content of the political line of Li Li-san, supported by several comrades in the party leadership? From what appraisal of the factors and distribution of forces did he start when he put forward his line in opposition to the ECCI political line ?

Comrade Li Li-san did not start from an analysis of the objective situation, of the balance of conflicting forces obligatory for every Marxist-Leninist, and therefore he made not only particular mistakes, but created an entire system of erroneous views, worked out an anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist position. Since it turned aside from the concrete reality, from the masses, from the organization and mobilization of the masses, this position was bound to lead to putschist, adventurist tactics. Though it concealed its passivity behind allegedly 'left' phrases, this position was just as opportunist as, for example, Trotskyism. From this non-Marxist, non-Leninist position, he derived the theory that in China a revolutionary situation had already matured on an all-national scale and was developing on a world scale. Armed risings in Wuhan, Nanking, Shanghai, Tientsin, Peiping, Harbin, Canton, Hong Kong, Dairen, the advance of the Red Army on Changsha, Nanchang, Hankow—this was the upshot of Li Li-san's conception of the situation. He adhered to his thesis that victory in one or several provinces meant an immediately insurrectionary situation in the whole country, and to this he added the clearly Trotskyist thesis that once the revolution achieved some success, once a revolutionary regime had been set up, this signified the immediate transition of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, without a break, into the proletarian revolution.


This was the political line advanced by Li Li-san.

What were its errors, dangers, harmfulness?



1.


Comrade Li Li-san ignored one of the most important features of the present revolutionary surge in China—the unevenness of the development of the revolutionary movement in the country. The scope, level, degree of consciousness and organization of the workers' movement varies widely in different parts of the country.

. . .



2.


The views of Li Li-san, in opposition to the ECCI analysis, entirely overlook the fact that the peasant movement has far outpaced, in speed and scope, the movement of the industrial workers. This is not an invention. The workers' struggle has already spread to the most remote, most backward parts of the country, but it must be remembered that as a whole it lags behind the peasant movement even in the decisive industrial centres.

. . .

Even in Shanghai and Wuhan the spontaneous strike struggle is developing slowly; our party was unable to become organizer and leader of powerful economic and political strikes; in the May and August actions in Shanghai and Wuhan only the vanguard of the vanguard took part; the proletariat was poorly organized.

. . .



3.


A Marxist-Leninist analysis of the Chinese situation should take into account the immense role of imperialism in China. The most important industrial—and therefore proletarian—centres are not only exposed to the direct and immediate blows of imperialist intervention; the imperialists exercise direct military and political control of the most important industrial, commercial, and administrative centres. Translating this into concrete terms, it means that when Comrade Li Li-san proposed an armed rising in Wuhan, the CCP had 200 members in Wuhan, the red trade unions 150 members, and every subsequent action in Wuhan revealed how poorly organized and how unprepared was the proletariat, whereas the imperialists, according to reliable data, disposed of forces equal to ten European divisions. Nor was the position in Shanghai any better, not to mention the fact that the KMT counter-revolution also disposed of certain armed forces, not yet in a state of disintegration. In these conditions an armed rising would have subjected the flower of the Chinese proletariat to direct imperialist attack, would have bled white the working class of the decisive industrial centres for the approaching big battles, bled white the Red Army and thrown our movement back.

The road of armed rising is taken. The creation of a Soviet Government means that the CCP sets out on armed risings in the big industrial centres. But to organize a rising without taking the concrete situation into account, without analysing the relation of forces in the big industrial centres at a time when the balance of forces favours the class enemy is not Leninism but putschism.

. . .



4.


Every communist must soberly weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet movement in China. There is not yet a real Soviet Government in China, and in so far as it does exist, it does so only in manifestos, on paper, but not as a real government, as organizer and leader of insurgent masses. The Soviet areas are not yet organized. Soviet power is not consolidated. Even in the Soviet districts the agrarian revolution has not been carried through in the sense of accomplishing the most important tasks.

. . .

We can say that in actual fact, in the bolshevik sense, the fulfilment of these tasks has not even been approached. And in such circumstances real Soviets cannot be created, the middle peasant cannot be detached from kulak influence, no firm and strong alliance with the middle peasant can be established.

There is not even a new machinery of government; in many places the Soviets are not elected. Side by side with these weaknesses, we find premature and mistaken attempts to create collective and State farms, to introduce a planned economy, to establish monopolies, to regulate economic life where such regulation is not called for by military needs. The first conference of Soviets adopted a provisional agrarian code which at bottom represents incorrect decisions on a number of questions. It is not true that equal distribution should be applied only for confiscated landlord estates. It is not true that large farms should not be split up but turned into state farms. It is not true that the holdings shared out among agricultural labourers should be united into collective farms at this stage. It is incorrect, and extremely harmful, that Red Army soldiers should receive land only after the establishment of Soviet power in China as a whole. The published programme of the Soviet Government has a clearly Trotskyist spirit. The reports of this programme that we have received show that the Soviet Government has set itself the aim of the immediate introduction of socialism, instead of creating a strong Soviet Government, strong Soviet authority, instead of concentrating on organizing and consolidating the territorial basis of the revolution, uniting the Soviet areas, reinforcing the successes already won, carrying through a real middle and poor peasant agrarian revolution, organizing the rear and tightening up the reserves. Comrade Li Li-san devoted not a thought to these fundamentally important tasks.



5.


We will not go into detail about the monstrous exaggeration of the armed forces of the revolution permitted by Comrade Li Li-san (5 million workers, 30 million peasants, a workers' guard in every town, 5 million members of the young guard, etc). But it must be pointed out that he simply does not understand that we have not yet got a real workers' and peasants' Red Army, with an officers' corps composed of workers built around a strong party frame. The Red Army has had great successes, and the entire world proletariat admires its heroic deeds. But it is still weak, inadequately organized, and not sufficiently in the hands of the CCP.

. . .

For these reasons the capture of large cities, frontal attacks on the imperialist armies, advances on large centres, are still beyond the powers of the Red Army.

Experience has shown that the capture of Changsha and the assault on Hankow demanded greater strength than the Red Army possesses.

. . .

The ECCI thought and still thinks that this line is non-Marxist and non-Leninist, and it condemned and rejected it. It leads to passivity, to defeats, and might lead to dangerous adventures. Against this line there is the line of the ECCI, worked out jointly with the delegation of the CC of the CCP. The ECCI considers the central, practical tasks of the CCP, tasks whose immediate fulfilment is demanded by the entire situation, to be the following:



1.


The immediate formation of a real workers' and peasants' Red Army, consisting for a start of 40,000-50,000 men; it should be by social composition a workers' and peasants' army, with its officers' corps made up of workers, with a strong communist framework, and at the top the best and most reliable leaders, with iron discipline. This army, wholly and completely in the hands of the CCP, should have a strong physical base in one or several Soviet areas, which should also serve as the territorial basis of the revolution.

. . .



2.


The immediate creation of a strong and capable Soviet Government with a communist majority, drawing in the most outstanding non-party workers, peasants, and Red Army soldiers.

. . .

It should draw up and announce its programme of antiimperialist and agrarian revolution, start on the carrying out of its programme, and show the working masses in practice that the Soviet Government can build a new life for them without the imperialists and landlords.

. . .



3.


Real revolutionary mass work, organizing in bolshevik fashion the masses in the Soviet areas, developing the economic and political mass struggle, and organizing the masses in the course of that struggle, in the non-Soviet areas. The CCP must grasp that every economic struggle, every strike, every mass action in the non-Soviet areas is not only a step in the organization of the masses, and hence a step on the road of armed insurrection, but is also of direct and immediate help to the Soviet areas. To neglect the daily needs and demands of the workers and peasants is objectively to serve the imperialists and the Kuomintang.

. . .

At the same time the ECCI thinks it not only permissible, but even necessary, to manoeuvre in regard to the imperialists. We warn the party that illusions in regard to so-called coexistence with imperialism are harmful and dangerous. But at the same time we must do everything we can to exploit the contradictions between the imperialists in order to weaken the bloc of the imperialists and Chinese counterrevolutionaries, to avoid head-on collisions until we are stronger, to postpone the decisive battle with imperialism. At the same time the CCP must step up its struggle against imperialist intervention, mobilize and educate the workers and peasants, make the peasants understand the national task of fighting imperialism.

These are the basic features of the ECCI political line, worked out in full agreement with the CC/CCP delegation.

Only those who have nothing in common with bolshevism can interpret this line as a retreat. In following this line the CCP will not retreat, but advance.

. . .

The road of insurrection is taken. The insurrection must be prepared, organized with bolshevik determination and consistency.

. . .

The ECCI notes with satisfaction that the politbureau and, we hope, the entire party have accepted this line, and rejected the fundamentally different Li Li-san line.

. . .

The ECCI thinks that a discussion of these questions at the present time would paralyse the party's work and divert its forces from the decisive tasks of the revolution. But it is essential to explain clearly to all active party members, using bolshevik self-criticism, the substance of the two political lines, to explain the anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist character of Comrade Li Li-san's position, and to rally the members around the correct bolshevik policy.

This is the more necessary since some dangerous notes were sounded in Comrade Li Li-san's speeches. He allowed himself to play with the outworn theory of all right and 'left' renegades from communism that the Comintern is ill-informed, that China has a special position, that the Comintern does not understand the trend of the Chinese revolution. He was bold enough to oppose loyalty to the Comintern to loyalty to the Chinese revolution . . . saying that after the capture of Hankow it would be possible to take a different tone with the Comintern.

. . .

The ECCI is convinced that all members of the CCP will decisively reject this anti-Comintern attitude, that all Chinese bolsheviks will rally as one man around the ECCI policy.










 

Comintern

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