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


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


Chronicles of a revolution (8)

To be involved in “an uprising”, trying to develop it to its highest possible level, and making out of it the best possible step towards future revolution, fighting against recuperation.

“The articles by Mao Tsetung were popular for their vividness. He attacked every vice and evil in society, including the oppression of women. His style was then fervid, grandiloquent; the spirit of the times was epic exaltation.
'If the peasants are not liberated, then the nation will not be liberated,' Li Ta-chao had written. Marx had stated that movements of national liberation in colonial countries had their place in the socialist revolution to come. So had Lenin[1]. These ideas Mao propagated in his articles. The national, patriotic features of the 4 May movement he would later incorporate in his revolutionary strategy. 'Can a Communist, who is internationalist, at the same time, be a patriot? We hold that he not only can but must be. The specific content of patriotism is determined by historical conditions ... In wars of national liberation, patriotism is applied internationalism.[2]' In 1919, it was patriotism, on a national liberation surge, which led to the 'great unity' of the masses; it was on this base that Marxism progressed in China.[3]

The concrete example of the October-revolution, the concrete scientific way in which Lenin used Marxism to make his analyses and to develop the revolutionary strategy, promoted the attraction by the van-guard (of which Mao was one of them) of the 4 May movement for Marxism....It weaponed them against reformism and dogmatism.

“He gave an international dimension to the 4 May movement, an identification with all that was revolutionary in the world. And indeed the generation of 4 May did link events in China to revolution elsewhere. Beyond the scope of local events they felt the forceful, irresistible drive of history.
Mao pointed this out when he wrote and spoke against the views expounded by Bertrand Russell and John Dewey on their visit to China. Between 1919 and 1921, these two eminent men were invited by the more conservative groups in the Chinese universities to lecture and to present viewpoints to counteract the incipient Bolshevik influence. Russell and Dewey toured and lectured. They made an impression on so-called 'middle of the road' liberals, especially Russell, who denounced the arbitrariness of Soviet Russian methods. (He had visited Soviet Russia and was horrified by what he had seen.)
But however acclaimed they were, they could not stop the urgent march of history. John Dewey's influence persisted in some circles, promoted Hu Shih and other intellectuals. But these moderating influences had nothing to do with the irrepressible revolution. Revolution had begun but these men refused to see it. 'The soft non-violent kind of communism Russell preaches is good for capitalism, it can never achieve socialism,' said Mao Tsetung, refuting Russell at a public meeting held in the auditorium of the Teachers College in December 1919.[4]

An uprising has its limits, has its results and its defeats....but grasping its lessons, achievements and its moments of “practice of open struggle” to use them for the preparation for the final revolution - 'Once I had accepted Marxism as the correct interpretation of history, I did not afterwards waver.'

“As 1919 moved into 1920, splits, cliques, factions developed. They led to a dropping off in agitation. But subsidence did not mean a return to a previous situation.
China was changed forever. 'This kind of new culture movements reflects an unprecedented change among the intellectuals of China today ... The success of the revolution carried out by our party depends on a change of thought in China, just as the ancient book on strategy by Sun Tze says that to attack the mind is more effective than to attack a city, and as the old saying has it that a renovation of the mind is prerequisite to a revolution.' Thus wrote Sun Yatsen at the time. The movement, he said,' has brought us a good east wind to move our boat forward'. 'This is the deluge,' wrote Tsai Yuan-pei, then president of Peking University, in an article entitled The Deluge and the Beasts. He likened the warlords, militarists and reactionaries to beasts swept away by this deluge (the 4 May cultural revolution) now carving new channels, a new destiny for China. (...)
In December 1919 Chang Ching-yao sent soldiers to disperse students making a bonfire of Japanese goods. Mao then wrote a manifesto calling for Chang Ching-yao's overthrow; 13.000 students signed it. He organised a march on the provincial government; wrote to Sun Yatsen in Kuangchow and to the Student Union in Peking urging denunciation of Chang Ching-yao; organised a strike of all the students in the schools of Changsha.
Chang Ching-yao, who hated Mao so much he could neither sleep nor eat, decided to have him murdered, probably by hired thugs. The New People's Study Society now organised an 'anti-militarist League for the Reconstruction of Hunan Province', demanding autonomy – separation of Hunan province from the Peking pro-Japanese government – and the ousting of the governor. Mao sponsored himself to go to Peking to denounce Chang Ching-yao, travelling as a journalist for Hunan newspapers and magazines. He arrived in Wuhanin January 1920. There he issued a statement calling for the overthrow of Chang. Reaching Peking in February, he renewed his ties with Li Ta-chao, with Professor Yang Chang-chi, with other friends. He stayed about two months in Peking, trying to get people interested   in the Hunan autonomy movement. But provincial preoccupations were very secondary in Peking. By then the 4 May movement has gone underground, was giving birth to something far more radical. (...)
Li Ta-chao now looked at the erstwhile assistant librarian with new respect. He asked Mao Tsetung to help him; Marxist study groups were not enough, there must be more. The idea of establishing a Chinese Communist Party was already in the air. Li knew that Mao was an excellent organiser and had great influence on the students.
Mao spent these weeks in Peking making up his mind. It was a big decision he was about to take, and he studied the problem very seriously and solemnly. He read, he walked, he thought; it was not something to be undertaken without total dedication. 'Once I had accepted Marxism as the correct interpretation of history, I did not afterwards waver.' (...)
Mao Tsetung, too, now left Peking, but now to go to Shanghai to see Chen Tu-hsiu, to confer with him the organisation of a Chinese Communist Party. He sold his winter clothes to pay for the train fare, arrived in Changhai about mid-March, and there met Chen Tu-hsiu for the second time.[5]

So at that time the best form of a revolutionary van-guard organisation seemed to be a Communist Party – but only this name is not the guarantee that it would be “Bolshevik-like”

[1]     V.I. Lenin, On Revolutionary Tempests in the Far East, Peking, 1967.
[2]     Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War, October 1938, Selected Works, Vol II.
[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] 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
[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