Chronicles of a revolution (9.3)

Mao as known Communist became cadre in the Kuomintang as was foreseen in the agreements between the KMT and the CCP. Although principally working following the agreed guidelines Mao was marginalised IN the CCP by a part of the leadership which had, as was proved later, another ideological agenda......
In February Mao returned to Shanghai, to become secretary of the Organising Department (Propaganda) of the Shanghai branch of the KMT, in charge of liaison. (...)
He was involved in a multiplicity of details and they drained his mind and his strength. He was appointed one of the three Communists to serve on the committee to examine and draw up the new Kuomintang Party constitution. Painstaking he drew up a structure, showing a shrewd grasp of its weaknesses.
'There are too many high-level functionaries sitting in posts in Kuanchow and doing little, whereas there are too few outside of the capital city.' Where was the strength of the national movement? Among the masses; but the decisive organisations, which gave the leadership to the members, were in the cities, or at the county town level, and the latter were much too remote. There was no contact between the people and the high bureaucrats who put orders on paper, order 'empty of significance'. The people were enthusiastic and patriotic, but they get no real directives from the KMT. (...)
It was on Mao's proposal that the Kuomintang established a Peasant Department in its Central Executive Committee. The scheme was submitted in February 1924, and by the summer the institute for training peasant cadres was working. From its inception the institute would be in Communist hands.
That Mao should be the only one out of that galaxy of intellectuals to work out a complete KMT reorganisation plan is puzzling. No one else really seemed to want to do the arduous groundwork involved in such a overhaul. Liao Chung-kai praised Mao Tsetung and his 'extraordinary talent' and recommended his report to Sun Yatsen. But the Kuomintang was too full of dissension and venality to be able to reform itself. By April 1924 already the first attacks against 'Communist orientation' were becoming vocal. The accusation of 'creating a bloc within the KMT' was launched; the alliance with Russia was not attacked, only the alliance with local Communists. (...)
Hence 1924 was a year of great mental and physical strain for Mao. He found men of repute, men whom he had revered and respected, utterly disillusioning at close range. The admired Wang Ching-wei, who had thrown a bomb at the Manchu regent in 1906, and been at one time the idol of progressive students, would turn out to be an intriguer, an opportunist, a weak man with a big mouth. Hu Han-min, who also had the reputation of a revolutionary, was weak, vain and corrupt. And there was Chen Tu-hsiu, perhaps the greatest disillusionment of all. Mao had thought highly of him, acknowledged how much Chen had influenced him, both in personal meetings and through his New Youth magazine, Mao had looked up to him with all the ardour of a young man seeking a model to emulate. But affection, respect, could not blind him, as increasingly he saw Chen Tu-hsiu evade, compromise, prevaricate. To those whose dedication is revolution, there are bound to be such traumatic experiences. For them everything is measured by that supreme and rigorous passion which takes all of a man's life, the sinews of his body and the strength of his spirit, and wrings him dry and wrecks him often. All other relationships, emotions, passions, are removed from the soul's centre; all must inevitably be sifted and weighed in the pitiless measure of sacrifice. For such a revolutionary there can be no loyalty, no love, except that 'based on principle', which means revolution.
When Mao began to doubt Chen as a Communist, then he had to oppose him, however much it cost him in personal anguish. By the end of 1924, Mao was seeing another Chen Tu-hsiu, no longer a tower of strength bit more like a weak bamboo; a vapid, arrogant and yet pusillanimous man to whose elegant intellect workers' demonstrations, strikes, the very idea of peasant uprisings were repugnant. Chen's fear of violence was an atavistic panic, a class reaction, backed by long centuries of elitism, of the almost ineradicable superiority of scholars above manual labourers. (...)
Mao Tsetung was present at the Fourth Congress, contrary to reports that he did not attend because of illness. He was ill, though the cause may have been overwork, but he was there, and he gave warning that 'organisationally within the CCP, and also in mass organisations, we must be prepared'. For the worst. He asked for workers' and peasants' alliances, to take part in the national revolutionary movement. Resolutions to strengthen and expand peasants' and workers' unions were passed, but little was done to implement these. The complacency of the secretary-general Chen, studiously avoiding 'friction' with the Kuomintang, was unshaken. In fact, at the Congress, a tendency to speak in terms of 'restraining' the peasants was evidenced in his speeches. Emphasis on the importance of the workers dominated the Congress, due to the strong representation of the 'left' wing, Chang Kwo-tao, Li Li-san, in the All-China Labour Federation and in the Central committee. Mao seems pretty much a lone figure, and a very underestimated one, at this Congress. Dissent between himself and the 'city-oriented' Communists gave rise to sharp arguing. Mao's repeated proposals that the Communist Party should train its own peasant cadres and mobilise the peasantry, that the training should be extended all over China, to provide a rear base in any province and not to be confined merely to the area where the Kuomintang government held away, were watered down in the bland rotundity of resolutions. It was not till 1926 that CCP would organise its own Peasant Department.
At the end of January 1925, an exhausted Mao went back to his own province of Hunan. He went under an official cloud; for had he not proved 'unsatisfactory' in liaison work? So write some biographers1, more intent on faulting Mao's performance in his impossible job than in grasping the essence of his disgust. He returned not to rest but to organise the peasantry. So secret, so quiet was he in beginning his work that for a long time nothing was known of his activities from January to August 1925. And because he was considered 'right'-wing by the city-oriented leftists in the Party, he had not been re-elected to the Central Committee of the CCP.2

The bourgeois part of the KMT was AGAINST the revolutionary alliance of peasants and workers; the “right” AND “left” opportunists in the CCP ALSO. Mao was marginalised in his own party, just because he followed the best as he can the concluded congress-decisions AND the advices of the COMINTERN.
As he went among the peasantry, the puzzles and confusions of the slick city intellectuals fell into place. To serve a spurious 'unity' in the councils of the alliance of the Kuomintang, the peasants and workers were in danger of being sacrificed. Already it had been suggested that the lowering of land tenure rents should not be left to peasant associations, but to 'collective bargaining' process. Yet all around him the reality of China was peasant revolution. How would he now proceed? Obedience to the 'leadership' against what his mind and conscience cried out to him was the right course, or defiance? But never for a moment did he think of abandoning the Revolution, for that would be abandoning the peasants, the workers. He could never do it.
In February and March, the tall, thin young Mao went walking from village to village, staying with peasants in their farmhouses, working with them for his meals and lodging, in the evenings sitting with them and listening. 'I have so much yet to learn from them, they know so much more than I do3'. 'Three old cobblers equal one Wise Man!4' Once again exalted, informed, vitalised by his immersion in the vibrant, enormous life of the working people of China, once again, like Antaeus touching earth, Mao was filled with creative power and vision. He wrote, analysed, investigated, planned. He went back to Changsha, and from there moved around the countries to establish peasant unions, peasant Party cells. His investigations in the countryside during the spring planting season revealed that 10 percent of the population consisted of landlords and rich peasants, 70 percent of poor peasants, and 20 percent of middle peasants. By the end of the following year, 1926, 37 out of 75 countries in Hunan had peasant unions. In the district of Hengshan, where Mao placed some of his recruits and where his adopted sister also worked for the Party, 85 percent of the peasant union membership was of poor peasant origin.
In the attic of the Mao farmhouse in Shaoshan, above his parents' bedroom, meetings were held. It was there that the first peasannt Party branch was organised in August 1925. During these seven months form the end of January to August, Mao elaborated a science investigation technique which laid the foundations for Marxist social research in China;(...)

In Kuangchow, the Peasant Department at the First Congress of the Kuomintang in 1924 had taken shape as a Peasant Institute in April 1924.
The Kuomintang Party, with his disparate composition and varied cliques, was wholly agreed on the necessity for rallying the peasantry, the 'foot soldiery' of any military expedition. There had never been an overthrow of dynasty without peasant armies. It was they, the many-millioned, who made empires and destroyed them, but the power had always fallen back into the hands of the mandarinate and the landlord class, and after reforms by the new rulers – tax and rent remissions – the peasantry was again exploited. This repeated betrayal was the feudal pattern for two millennia. The KMT military unification of Chine would need soldiers, armies, food; only the peasantry could fulfil those needs. Chiang Kai-shek summed it up: 'The task of the peasantry is to provide us with information concerning the enemy, food and comfort in our encampments, and soldiers for our armies.' Not a word about the duties of the Kuomintang, once it came to power, towards the peasantry! It was taken for granted that the peasants would serve a purpose and die unprotestinhly, or be beaten back into submission should they revolt. Mao Tsetung was not prepared to accept this repetition of Chinese history, but Chen Tu-hsiu was; hence Chen's reluctance to see the peasantry really armed, really taking power.
This was the heart of the matter. And yet since 1919 Lenin had stressed the importance of the peasants to the revolutions in Asia.

The national revolution in China, and the creation of the anti-imperialist front, will necessary be followed by an agrarian revolution of the peasantry against the remnants of feudalism. The revolution can be victorious only if it become possible to draw into the movement the basic masses of the Chinese population; i.e., the peasants with small holding ... Thus the peasant problem becomes the central point of the entire policy of the Chinese Communist Party5.
Far from obeying the directives of the Comintern, Chen was actually paying no attention to them where the peasants were concerned.(...)
Chen Tu-hsiu had retorted: 'Farmers are petty bourgeois ... how can they accept Communism? How can a Communist movement extend itself successfully in rural China?' Peasant revolutionary excesses would 'disrupt' the national revolution, bring about 'splits' and 'misunderstandings' with the bourgeoisie. These slurs upon peasant potential expressed the same fear as that of the feudal landlords. Chang Kuo-tao also wrote that the peasantry was 'conservative', 'demanding only a good harvest under an emperor' and 'scattered, individualistic, unreasonable'.Both the 'right' and 'left' wings in the CCP were united in their contempt of the peasantry.(...)
In December 1924 a warlord named Chen Chiung-ming marched against Kuangchow to oust Sun Yatsen once again. But Sun Yatsen was no longer at the mercy of a militarist coup. The Whangpoo Military Academy cadets and the workers' battalions organised by the Communists defeated Chen Chiung-ming, who fled to Hongkong. In their subsequent pursuit of his troops through the countryside, the cadets were astonished by the enthusiastic help they received from the peasantry when they crossed Haifeng county. 'We had never seen such things before.'
The peasants organised militia battalions, took the small towns while the landlords fled; supplied stretcher bearers for the wounded, carriers, an intelligence service. This demonstration of peasant power won admiration but increased panic; the mobilisation of the peasantry, though essential for the military expedition planned, was 'dangerous'. If peasants were capable of such formidable initiative, they could seize power – and keep it. How was one to utilise them and then discard them? This was the task Chiang Kai-shek would perform. While despondency settled upon the big landlords of the Kuomintang, Chiang play the leftist, for he needed peasant and worker support to hoist himself to power.
Only Sun's personal prestige, by the end of 1924, was keeping the Kuomintang Party from open dissension. But Sun died of cancer in March 1925 in Peking, where he had gone for talks on a possible peaceful unification with the militarist Feng Yu-hsiang, then in power in a North China warlord coalition. No sooner was Sun dead than a covert power struggle began between Chaing Kal-shek and Wang Ching-wei,each claiming to be Sun's chosen disciple. Chiang was a poor militarist but a master in intrigue. Wang was to be no match for him. (...)
After Sun Yatsen's death, a triumvirate was organised to tule the Kuomintang. It was composed of Hu Han-min, Wang Ching-mei and Liao Chung-kai. On 23 May 1925 a resolution by the KMT Central Executive Committee announced the goal of a Northern Expedition – as the military campaign to reunify China was called- to be led by Chiang Kai-shek as commander-in-chief of the Nationalist armies, as well as director of the Whangpoo Academy. This reinforced the popular image of a revolutionary party; it also appeared a victory for the Communists, since the revolution added that 'the only government in the world with which the Kuomintang can work hand in hand is that of Soviet Russia'. Borodin's prestige was enhanced, and the Kuomintang appeared to be more and more left-inclined. High-sounding declarations lulled the doubts of some Communist Party members and reinforced their desire to 'cooperate'.(...)
There had been in that summer a sudden upsurge in Communist strength, in response to the killing of Chinese by British and Japanese soldiers garrisoned in Shanghai and Kuanchow. On 15 May a Chines worker had been killed by a Japanese foreman in a textile mill in Shanghai. On 30 May the students demonstrated in the International Settlement; British soldiers fired and killed a dozen of them. In Kuanchow, on 23 June, workers, students and cadets of Whangpoo demonstrated in front of Shameen, an islet on which Brittish, French and other European commercial firms had installed their personnel. The British fired upon the demonstrators and fifty-sex people were killed. This gave rise to a monster protest movement throughout China. Strikes and demonstrations occurred in every city; walls were plastered with pamphlets denouncing Western imperialism. The withdrawal of all foreign troops, abolition of extra-territoriality, the return of foreign concessions to China were demanded by the Communist-led Federation of Labour. Already in 1922, the big strikes on the mainland had been followed by a strike of 100.000 workers in the British colony of Hongkong. This time, 150.000 striking workers from Hongkong came into Kuanchow, and a strike committee was formed. Hongkong was paralysed. The Communist labour unions found their membership growing with amazing speed; the workers organised revolutionary committees for militia, security, welfare, education and cultural activities; 'power to the working class' became a daily slogan. The Communist Party all-China membership, only 995 in January 1925, was 10.000 by November, with another 9.000 members in the various Youth Corps. The All-China Labour Federation counted 540.000 members in 1925, and 1.240.000 members in May 1926. By 1927 there were to be 2,8 million members, including dock workers and handicrafts men.
It was this sudden vast increase in Communist manpower and influence, the appearance in Kuanchow of armed workers' militia in May and June 1925, which alarmed the Kuomintang right wing and precipitated the murder of Liao Chung-kai,who had sided with the workers. But this intrigue was masked by an apparent split of the Kuomintang itself into conservative and progressive factions; with the right wing apparently cast out, in exile outside Kuangchow ( it was to form what became as the Western Hills group because it held a conclave in the Western Hills near Peking). In the end there would be little difference between the two factions; both would be recuperated by the same landlord and compradore capitalist6 interests. The national capitalist class and the petty bourgeoisie, fearful and leaderless, would follow where they were led by the big capitalists and big landlords, because no valid leadership had seized the occasion to produce a new orientation which they could follow.
It was in the middle of this tangle of intrigue and deception that Mao Tsetung returned to Kuangchow in September 1925.7

The intrigues of the bourgeois part of the KMT and the “left” AND “right” opportunism in the CCP lead to an OBJECTIVELY identical counterrevolutionary practice.....costing the life of thousand workers and peasants and a temporarily downfall of the revolution and giving the initiative in the hands of the bourgeoisie
The Ways Divide
When Mao got back to effervescent Kuangchow, Communist influence was at a peak. Everyone talked of the workers' battalions, of the impressive growth of the worker movement. Mao, erstwhile trade union organiser, founder of workers' evening schools and clubs, looked shunted to a side way - peasant associations and peasant Party cells in Hunan seemed very remote and unimportant in the general excitement of the southern city, with soldiers marching, drums beating, red flags everywhere.
After the May and June killings by the British and Japanese, other shooting incidents had taken place in Shanghai in September. Every bullet, every corps brought more adherents to the Communist cause, more defiance of Western imperialism and its aggressive outlawry. The walls of Kuanchow screamed denunciations; milling crowds cheered orators at every street corner. The workers' militia drilled at dawn to the sound of trumpets; the Whangpoo cadets were acclaimed and mobbed; the excited population roared its approval of the Northern Expedition to 'smash both feudalism and foreign imperialism'.
But within the Kuomintang the counter-revolution was being organised. Chiang Kai-shek's rise to power had begun. (...)
Chiang was far more worried about the worker militancy than he was about the peasants, although the Haifeng and Lufeng experiences had disturbed him. The peasants were now dispossessing landlord families, and 70 percent of the Whangpoo cadets, and Chiang himself belonged to landlord or rich peasant families. Thus the Whangpoo cadets were confronted with social revolution within the national war for unification of China. Some wanted to 'punish' the peasants, others took the peasants' side. This caused open quarrels and even fisticuffs between the cadets. Chiang mediated, and made revolutionary speeches which pleased Borodin. He was called 'the red hope of the revolutionary army'; the 'dark-haired darling' of Borodin. He declared he would kill his own brother should the latter 'betray' the Revolution. He shouted: 'Long live the world revolution' and 'Down with the imperialists' as heartily as any worker.
In that autumn of 1925 the Kuanchow-Hongkong Workers' Strike Committee was very powerful. Strength lay in the workers' councils, in the peasant associations (also beginning to arm themselves), in the left-wing groups of Whangpoo cadets, the League of Military Youth under Chou En-lai. 'They raised the KMT nationalist leaders on their shoulders,' writes Isaacs. 'They were to carry Chiang to victory.' Such was their power that even after Chiang began to deliver telling blows to the Communist leadership, he had still to pretend to be a radical. This appeared scarcely credible by the ineffectual, flabby non-leadership of the CCP secretary general Chen Tu-hsiu.8
1See Jerome Chen, Mao and the Chinese Revolution, trs. M. Bullock and J.Chen, Oxford University Press, London and New York, 1961.
2Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890
3In 1967.
4The Wise Man alluded to is the renowned strategist of the Three Kingdoms, Chuke Liang.
5Comintern resolution received by the CCP before the Third Congress in 1923.
6The Chinese Communists distinguish between 'national' capitalists, whose money and resources do not serve outside monopolies or interests, and who therefore may form part of the united front and can and must be rallied to the revolutionary cause, and 'compradore' capitalists, who serve as middlemen for the invasion and exploitation of China by imperialist powers.
7Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890
8Out “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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