Chronicles of a revolution (10)

To stay revolutionary, a Communist Party has to fight ideologically and politically against opportunism IN her own ranks continuously.
Mao Tsetung disagreed with the two opportunist lines occurring IN (the leadership of) the Chinese Communist Party:
1. The working class was not ready for revolution. The actual revolution is a nationalist bourgeois one, so the communists have to wait until the nationalist bourgeois (together with the peasants) had done their revolution.
2. The peasants are not in favour of the revolution, the working class is the only force for the revolution. The communists as vanguard of the working class have to lead the working class to the revolution against the bourgeois (and the peasants)
....and was opposed by the leadership of his own Communist Party.
In the meantime was Mao Tsetung, in fact, just putting in practice the guidelines of the Third International (the Comintern), of which the Chinese Communist Party was member.

Autumn 1925...

“If Mao appeared neglected by his own party neglected by his own party, it was not so with his membership in the KMT[1]. He became secretary of the Propaganda Department of the Kuomintang, and he start a political weekly that September. The weekly was to run for eighteen months, till the spring of 1927. 'I became editor of the Political Weekly. It late played a very active role in attacking and discrediting the right wing of the KMT led by Tai Chi-tao' (head of the Society for Sun Yatsenism). He also took charge of the Peasant Institute for training cadres, housed in a Confucian temple on the main street of Kuanchow. He had already lectured at the institute in August 1924, invited to do so by Peng Pai, then running it. Now he called his own recruits from
Hunan to come to Kuangchow for training and proceeded to renovate the teaching programme. Among these recruits would be his brother Mao Tse-min. (...)
Arrangements for students at the Peasant Institute were Spartan. Their dormitories were in the building itself, and Mao too had a room there, sparsely furnished with plank bed, table and chair, and a bamboo bookcase. The work was far more thorough and painstaking than it had been. The students attended over 250 lectures, some lasting three to four hours. Among the lecturers were Chou En-lai, on military campaigns; Peng Pai on the peasant movement in the Haifeng and Lufeng areas and in the East river area; Teng Chung-hsia, Li Fu-chun. Mao Tsetung lectured on the problems of the Chinese peasants, on education in the countryside, on geography. He also prepared and later lectured on material forming the subject of his An Analysis of the classes in Chinese Society, the first essay in his Selected Works[2]. Mao lectured thirty-two to thirty-five hours a week; gave students military drill, lessons in hygiene; taught them the techniques of investigation into social conditions which he had now been practising for some years. He introduced debates, the independent study of books and articles, condensation by the students of what they read, and field teams.
'I was writing more and more, and now assuming special responsibilities in peasant work in the Communist Party.' Clearly Mao Tsetung was not training peasant cadres only for the Northern Expedition, but building the nuclei of countryside Communist peasant organisations.(....)

Mao's strategy was to rally as many people as possible within the revolutionary movement, including the petty-bourgeois members of the KMT as well as the workers and peasants, and those among the national capitalists as yet uncommitted to counter-revolution. Had he been followed in this, the CCP would have been stronger; but Chen Tu-hsiu never saw the problem at all.
'On the base of my study and my work in organisation the Hunan peasants', said Mao, 'I wrote two pamphlets called An Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society and the other called The Class Basis of Chao Heng-ti, the Tasks before us.' The Analysis is dated March 1926[3]; it was the result of months of field investigations, which also served for his lectures at the Peasant Institute. Mao emphasised the strategic importance of Hunan in the campaigns to come – Hunan was the key province to conquer in the Northern Expedition, hence the work of mobilising the Hunan peasantry was of great importance.
The essay on Chao Heng-ti was a warning against 'liberal' militarists who try to join the KMT and corrupt the national movement. Chao was even then continuing his persecution of trade union leaders.
But Chen Tu-hsiu interpreted the united front relationships as: Leave the leadership to the KMT leaders.
Mao spent those months arguing, disputing, writing about the necessity of peasant mobilisation, but was not always listened to; Chen Tu-hsiu refused to print his Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society in the Communist Party journals or periodicals because he 'opposed the opinion advocating a radical land policy and vigorous organisation of the peasantry under the Communist Party.' 'I began to disagree with Chen's right opportunist policy about that time, and we gradually drew further apart.' This is Mao's reserved description of the dispute with Chen. (...)
Chen was more anxious to placate and to reassure the landlords and compradores in the KMT than to proceed with the work of the Revolution. He was morally defeated even before the 1927 massacres began, because he refused to face the central question which Mao was now to pose 'Who is our enemy, who is our friend? He who cannot distinguish his enemies from his friends cannot be a revolutionary.'
On 13 March 1926, the sixth plenum of the executive committee of the Comintern, in Moscow, was to adopt a resolution: 'The most important question of the Chinese national liberation movement is the peasant question ... The victory of the revolutionary democratic tendency depends on the degree to which the 400 million peasants take part in the decisive revolutionary struggle together with the Chinese workers and under their leadership.' (...)
Mao may have thought for a moment that Chen would now change, but Chen paid no attention to Comintern resolutions not to his liking. (...)
It was not only Chen Thsiu that Mao had to do battle against. There was also the 'ultra-left' group in the Party, the leaders in the All-China Federation of Labour, Chang Kuo-tao and Li Li-san.
Chang Kuo-tao argued that it was the 'proletariat', the workers, who where the leadership of the Revolution, and therefore it was they and their strength alone which could win it. He persisted in his contempt for the peasantry. 'The working class is strong enough ... to make revolution alone.' Mao emphasised that the working class needed allies and friends; that the semi-proletariat, the peasantry, excluding rich peasants and landlords were its natural friends. Chang despised the peasants as 'backwards' and 'spontaneous capitalists', missing the obvious fact that a leadership also needs foot soldiers, numbers, masses, a potential of human content; it cannot fight alone. Thus between the lethargy of Chen and the sectarian euphoria of Chang, Mao was checked and hindered in his work. Even if the Comintern and Lenin had pointed out the role of the peasant masses of Asia in the Revolution, Chang Kuo-tao and Chen Tu-hsiu, from diametrically opposite stands, chose to ignore or fear peasant mass potential; this type of 'city thinking', dogmatic and unrealistic where China (with a population in which 85 percent were peasants) was concerned, was to bedevil the CCP for a long time.[4]

[1]     Kuomintang (KMT) the Nationalist Party founded by Sun Yatsen, but after the death of Sun Yatsen, - and in 1925 - coming under the control of Chiang Kai-shek, who changed the character of the KMT.
[2]     Selected Works, Vol. I.
[3]     It was first published in February 1926 in the Peasant Monthly, the magazine of the Peasant Institute in Kuangchow. It was also published in Chinese Youth, the publication of the League of Military Youth organised by Chou En-lai in Whangpoo Academy.
[4]     Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890

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