Chronicles of a revolution (9)

Uprisings can develop into a contribution of a final revolution or can be just an uprising passing by, depending of the forces working IN those uprisings

“In May 1920 a pre-communist nucleus was organised in Shanghai, as well as a youth section known as the Socialist Youth Corps. The recruitment among workers was fairly successful. Mao's correspondence with Tsai Ho-sen, still in France, refers to the need for a nucleus organisation. (...)
Chen Tu-hsiu, famous then, later infamous in Communist Party annals, was the typical radical intellectual of those days of turmoil. Imprisoned for eighty-three days for distributing handbills on the street in June 1919, he came out of jail in September a national hero for the youth generation, declaring he had not changed his ideas.
By then, the intelligentsia was splitting up into three main factions, and each of these fragmented into small groups, all of which claimed to be the answer to China's salvation. There was a very large, so-called moderate group, which represented a certain liberalism but was afraid of decisive action. A right-wing group, definitely abjuring Marxism, pledged itself 'orderly reform', without changing anything. There remained what looked like a discouraged minority of 'hotheads' and 'radicals'; among them Chen Tu-hsiu. But this was only the pellicle lidding reality – the reality of a whole generation of the young who had changed, and the change affected boys and girls of twelve to fifteen as well, a source of revolutionaries-to-be. (...)
Two weeks after the October Revolution (1917), Lenin had published a declaration to all countries of Asia, relinquishing unjustified privileges and territorial gains which czarist invasions had acquired. This, where China was concerned, represented a considerable amount of territory, more than 1, 1 million square miles wrested by czarist expansion in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In early 1918 Chinese officials of the Peking government held talks in Moscow with the Soviet government regarding their common frontiers and previous czarist occupation of Chinese territory. These talks were suspended under pressure by the Western powers upon the Northern warlord coalition. The coalition of Southern warlords, which supported Sun Yatsen, was also approached by Lenin's government. Russian foreign commissar Chicherin, a brilliant, able diplomat who had met Sun in Europe in 1916 during one of Sun’s travels abroad to raise funds for the Tung Meng Hui, wrote to Sun Yatsen in 1918. In July 1919 the Soviet government issued a declaration on China (the Karakhan Manifesto) declaring that 'the Soviet Government has renounced the conquests made by the czarist government which deprived China of Manchuria and other areas’. Abolition of all privileges conferred by the unequal treaties and an offer of assistance to fight imperialist domination were embodied in this document[1]. The Karakhan declaration was ignored by the Northern warlord coalition government in Peking, but was published by Sun Yatsen's Southern government in Kuangchow. It had a deep effect upon the students in China. The popularity of Marxism during the 4 May movement was also due to this timely publication.
In April three members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union arrived in Peking, where they held with Li Ta-chao. Their names were Voitinsky, Yang Ming-chai and Sneevliet, alias Maring (Ma-lin). They were all three members of the Comintern[2]. They then proceeded to Shanghai to meet Chen Tu-hsiu and other Changhai intellectuals. It was Chen who, in May summoned a conference and organised a 'nucleus' or pre-Communist Party group. In May and again in September, the Soviet government again attempted to hold talks with the Peking government. But a China allied to the Soviet Union was intensely alarming to the colonial powers; the warlords were encouraged to expand their armies and to practise repression against 'Bolshevism'. The talks failed.

Mao Tsetung must have known of these Russian initiatives, of the contacts with Li Ta-chao and Chen Tu-hsiu. But there is no record of his having personally met the Russian delegation at any time, either in Peking or in Changai, though he was in Peking in February and in Shanghai in April and May. The odds are, however, that he did attend the May conference in Shanghai, and he seems to have returned briefly to Shanghai in September to attend another, together with Tung Pi-wu. 'By the summer of 1920,' said Mao, 'I had become in theory and to some extent in action a Marxist. And from this time I considered myself a Marxist.' (...)
Among Chinese students abroad the need for a Communist Party was as evident as it was in China. Mao kept in touch with the precursor group now started in France. The French precursor Communist Party group was created by Chou En-lai Tsai Ho-sen, his wife Hsiang Ching-yu, his sister Tsai Chang, her husband Li Fu-chun and Chen Yi joined the French group; so did Li Li-san, the non-committal Hunanese, and other worker-students. In Russia a pre-Communist group was formed that year by Chinese students, and another was created in Germany, to which Chu-Teh, the ex-warlord from Szechuan, would adhere. (...)

One night in May 1921 Mao Tsetung and his friend Ho Shu-heng left Changsha secretly for Shanghai. They travelled incognito and in disguise, going as traders. The precautions they took, the secrecy surrounding their departure, were not overdone. They were the earliest to arrive of the several delegates entrusted with the founding of the Chinese Communist Party
Those who came later, to meet in that simmering hot summer for the same purpose, where mostly young; their average age was twenty-six. Some had experience of organisation, like Mao; others nothing more than a vague smattering of Marxism. Among them would be opportunists and traitors, but at that time it looked as if a single dedication animated them. They had yet to fight their first battles as Communists, and chiefly against themselves. No one could then predict the outcome, either of their purpose or of their own lives.[3]

The label ”Communist Party” means NOT automatically a party along Bolshevik principles and a organisation of the real vanguard of the working class, united around a revolutionary strategy

“The Chinese Communist Party from its inception was far from monolithic; its delegates fell roughly into three different tendencies as to politics and methods.
One tendency, subsequently labelled the 'right' wing, headed by Li Han-chun, who spoke for Chen Tu-hsiu, considered the Chinese working class 'too young', 'not ready', 'to backward and stupid' to organise a 'vanguard of the proletariat' Communist Party. Li transmitted Chen Hu-hsiu marked aversion to the phrase 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. Chen's view was that it was best to organise a Marxist club for debate, and to advocate reform. Li Ta and Chen Kung-po upheld this line and voted for it. Li Ta, who seems to have withdrawn early from the Party, died of illness in Shanghai in 1968; Chen Kung-po was to become one of Chiang Kai-shek's adherents and to distinguish himself as a rabid anti-Communist.
The extreme ‘left' line, which would plague the young Party for years, was represented by Liu Jen-chung and Chuang Kuo-tao. They had gobbled theory at the expense of common sense and realism, considered the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' the immediate aim of the organisation, opposed all legal forms of struggle. They advocated a 'closed door policy'; that is no united front with any other party, the creation of a sectarian, rigid, dogmatic small group relying entirely on 'the Chinese proletariat' and rejecting everyone else. They denounced Sun Yatsen and his party, now renamed the Kuomingtang or Nationalist Party, as 'criminal' and 'counter-revolutionary', Pao Hui-seng also supported these views. (...)
No record of what Mao really said then has come to us. All we know for certain is that he supported neither of these two lines, was inclined to a united front policy, and from the start earned the animosity of Chang Kuo-tao. (...)
After another several days of dispute, the extreme left line predicated by Chang Kuo-tao gained the upper hand. The resolution adopted was against collaboration with Sun Yatsen's Kuomingtang and for a closed door policy, to keep membership 'secret and pure'. Yet the Comintern, in its Second Congress in 1920, had stated that alliance between Communist parties and 'revolutionary bourgeois parties' (a term under which Sun's party figured) in a common front against imperialism was the keynote of the struggle to come. This was Lenin's thesis, repeated at the Third Congress of the Comintern in June-July 1921. At this Third Congress a thirty-seven-member Chinese delegation, including both incipient Communists and Kuomingtang representatives, was present; a 'temporary and vigilant' alliance with the Chinese bourgeoisie had been suggested; Lenin's words of 1912 calling Sun Yatsen's party 'revolutionary although a bourgeois party' were recalled. But the young Chinese Communist Party in its First Congress voted against it, though the vote was not overwhelming.
Mao cast a contrary vote. He opposed the 'erroneous extreme left viewpoint, hostile to accepting intellectuals in the Party' which Chang Kuo-tao proposed. The term 'yellow intellectual class' was then coined by Chang Kuo-tao[4]. This extreme left line made it difficult to extend membership in the first two years of the CCP.
Mao, it is reported, also spoke against the right-wing adherents of Chen Tu-hsiu who advocated that no party should be constituted, only a debating club. In line with his article The Great Union of the Masses of the People, fresh from the brushes in Hunan, seasoned with organising experience, he advocated following the Leninist line, but was in the minority. Chang Kuo-tao carried the day.[5]

Although in minority on the Congress, Mao followed the Party guidelines decided majority against minority.

“To build the first workers' Party cell in Hunan, Mao Tsetung went to the coal mines of Anyuan in southern Hunan, thus following the line of 'the Party as vanguard of the working class'. (...)
The Anyuan coal mines were opened in 1898 by combined German and Japanese capital. In 1899 the Germans invested 400.000 marks to expand the coal mines; in 1913 Japanese capital led to further development. The living conditions of the workers at the Anyuan and Pingsiang mines were typical of the exploitation of the Chinese working class. They toiled fourteen to fifteen hours a day, for which they received twenty-six coppers (about eight cents). Not surprisingly the first workers' strikes in China occurred here, in April 1915 and again during the Great Hunan Famine in 1906, where three million people died. In May 1913 and October 1915 there were more strikes, also during the 4 May movement. (....)
Anyuan, with its appalling conditions, was an ideal base for Communist propaganda.[6]

Intermediary remark
To analyse these contradictions present in the CCP from the start (as you can read above), and to show how these contradictions could be handled in a way which would be in the best interests of the revolution and the making conscious of the masses of workers (and in a way extending the concept “who is a worker or who are those masses who have in fact objectively the SAME interests than the workers” ….in the most BROAD way), I make now a jump in the history of the Chinese revolution to autumn 1925. Then already existed the First United Front between the Kuomingtang and the Chinese Communist Party.
I come afterwards back on my steps.....

[1]     Allen Whiting, Soviet Politics in China 1917-1924, Oxford University Press, London, 1968.
[2]     The Third Communist International, founded in 1919, known for short as  Comintern.
[3] 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
[4]     At the Congress of the people of the Orient, held in November 1921 in Irkutsk, then in Leningrad in January 1922, which Chang Kuo-tao attended. There a common front and alliance with the Kuomingtang were again proposed.
[5] 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
[6] 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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