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Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 19:27:51 -0500
From: Hari Kumar <hari.kumar@sympatico.ca>
To: marxist-leninist-list@egroups.com
Subject: [M-L L] EXTRACT 1 UPON Chairman Mao

Was Chairman Mao a Marxist-Leninist?

From Hari Kumar, marxist-leninist-list, February 1999





In this introduction, only one key comparison between Mao and Marxist-Leninists is needed. Let us compare the view of the STATE as seen by Lenin and that seen by Mao in his theory of the New Democratic State.

Whereas Mao states:

This new Democratic republic will be different from the old European-American form of capitalist republic under bourgeois dictatorship.. On the other hand it will also be different from the socialist republic of the Soviet type under the dictatorship of the proletariat.. However, for a certain historical period, this form is not suitable for the revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. During this period, therefore a third form of state must be adopted in the revolutions of all colonial and semi-colonial countries, namely, the new-democratic republic Mao Tse Tung Works: On New Democracy;

Here in contrast is Lenin:

The forms of bourgeois state are extremely varied, but their essence is the same: all these states whatever their form, in the final analysis are inevitably the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The transition from capitalism to communism certainly cannot but yield a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin: State and Revolution.

Only states that establish the dictatorship of the proletariat will make a transition from capitalism to socialism. All other states are variants of bourgeois states. If the state arising after a victorious national democratic revolution, does not move from the first stage of the revolution, to the second socialist stage, that state will only fulfill the democratic stage at best. Marxist-Leninists have always argued to go to the second stage uninterruptedly. Lenin said :

From the democratic revolution we shall at once and just in accordance with the measure of the our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, began to pass over to the Socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop half way. Lenin Two Tactics Cited in History of the CPSU(B) p. 74.




Once a self-confessed extreme Maoist (For The Unity of All Communists In Defence of Proletarian Internationalism; a speech and Report to the Seminary March 1995, 9-12; India; given by Ludo Martens for the Parti Du Travail of Belgium (PTB). Comrade Martens no longer feels that Mao is immune from critique. This is welcome. Honest and full self-criticism is a mark of genuine Marxist-Leninism. Despite this, Comrade Martens exhorts us that:

Facing the abyss of unemployment, poverty exploitation and violence which confronts the workers of the world, only Marxism-Leninism - Mao Zedong Thought can open the way to national and social liberation. (Martens; Ibid; p.4).



For the first time in history Mao developed the theory and strategy of the national-democratic revolution in a large oppressed Third World country, as a preparatory step leading to socialist revolution, and he led the Chinese revolution, through great difficulties until the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

After Khrushchev took over in the USSR, Mao Ze Dong led the struggle against modern revisionism and through the development of the cultural revolution enriched the theory of the continuation of the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat. (Martens Ibid; p.10.)




According to Comrade Martens:

For the first time in history Mao developed the theory and strategy of the national-democratic revolution in a large oppressed Third World country, as a preparatory step leading to socialist revolution. (See Martens, p. 14: In our Party it was generally acknowledged that in all realms the ideas of Mao Ze Dong were superior to those of Stalin or even Lenin .. Our party accepted the idea often stated in the Chinese texts that Stalin, as opposed to Mao did not understand that class struggle continued under socialism).


What attitude should Communists take to the bourgeoisie in a colonial-type country? On this, Lenin was divided from Trotsky; then Stalin and Trotsky were divided; then Stalin and Mao Ze Dong were divided!



Stalin, to the University of the Toilers of the East, noted that there were two wings in the native bourgeoisie :

The situation is somewhat different in countries like India. The fundamental and new feature of the conditions of life in countries like India is not only that the national bourgeoisie has split up into a revolutionary part and a compromising part, but primarily that the compromising section of the bourgeoisie has already managed, in the main, to strike a deal with imperialism. Fearing revolution more than it fears imperialism, and concerned with more about its money bags than about the interests of its own country, this section of the bourgeoisie is going over entirely to the camp of the irreconcilable enemies of the revolution, it is forming a bloc with imperialism against the workers and peasants of its own country. ( J.V.Stalin, Works Moscow; 1954; [Hereafter JVS W] Vol 7; Political Tasks of The University of The People's of The East. Speech Delivered to Students of The Communist University of The Toilers of The East, May 18, 1925; pp.135-46; 318). This is the Line developed by Lenin. Lenin modified his Theses on Revolution in Semi-Colonial Countries in debate with MABENDRA NATH ROY; (M.N.Roy). Roy stressed the vacillating role of the national bourgeoisie. Lenin accepted this as an important correction. The Theses On The National And Colonial Question Were Adopted At The 2nd Congress Of The Communist International (CI), [Petrograd and Moscow : July 19th to August 7th, 1920]. The Theses were adopted after intense study by The National and Colonial Commission of the Congress; of both Roy's Supplementary Theses; and Lenin's original Theses.


Roy had an unrealistic view of the strength of the workers movements in colonial countries. Roy concluded that the working class of colonial-type countries were in full conflict with the entire bourgeoisie; thus support of a liberation movement with any section of native bourgeoisie, must be rejected:

It would be a mistake to assume that the bourgeois nationalists movement expressed the sentiments and aspirations of the general population.. The CI must not find in them (ie the bourgeois nationalists elements -Ed) the media through which the revolutionary movements in the colonies should be helped... The bourgeois national democrats in the colonies strive for the establishment of a free national state, whereas the masses of workers and peasants are revolting, even though in many cases unconsciously against the system which permits such brutal exploitation. Consequently in the colonies we have two contradictory forces that cannot develop together. To support the colonial bourgeois movements would amount to helping the growth of the national spirit which will surely obstruct the awakening of the class consciousness in the masses.

(M.N.Roy: Draft Supplementary Theses On the National and Colonial Question, 2nd Congress CI, Cited in G.Adhikari(Ed); Documents of the History of the Communist Party of India, Volume 1; New Delhi; 1971 p.184, 186-8).


Lenin thought that in the first stage of the revolution, the bourgeois democrats had some useful role to play :

All the Communist parties must assist the bourgeois democratic liberation movement in these (ie colonial type countries-ed).. The Communist International (CI) must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in colonial and backward countries. (V.I.Lenin : Preliminary Draft of Theses on National and Colonial Questions, 2nd Cong. CI in Selected Works, Volume10, London, 1946; p. 236-7).

Lenin deleted Roy's premise from the Supplementary Theses before they were put to the Congress. Roy deviated in other ways from Marxism-Leninism in his Draft Supplementary Theses.

Firstly Roy declared the revolution in colonial-type countries was an economic struggle, rejecting the political national-liberation content. Lenin amended this.

Secondly Roy declared that colonial-type countries exploitation was the main strength of developed capitalist countries. Lenin amended this to read that colonial type exploitation was one of the principal sources of strength.

Thirdly Roy declared, that super-profits from a colonial type country could be used to give concessions to the entire working class of the dominant developed capitalist country.

Lenin amended this to read the super-profit from a colonial-type country was used to give concessions only to a stratum of workers in the developed dominant capitalist country.

Fourthly, Roy's Draft Supplementary Theses declared that socialist revolution was not possible in the developed capitalist countries, without prior successful national-democratic revolution in the colonial type countries. Lenin amended this :

The breaking up of the colonial empire, together with the proletarian revolution in the home country will overthrow the capitalist system in Europe, and Lenin added:

These two forces must be coordinated if the final success of the world revolution is to be guaranteed. (Suppl. Theses. Ibid, p. 181). Only one change to Lenin's original Draft Theses was adopted by the congress. This clarified that the working class in a colonial type country should support a bourgeois-led movement only if it was genuinely revolutionary. The term bourgeois democratic was replaced by nationalist-revolutionary :

I would like to particularly emphasise the question of the bourgeois democratic movements in backward countries. It was this question that gave rise to some disagreement. We argued about whether it would be correct, in principle and in theory, to declare that the CI and the CP's should support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. As a result of this discussion we unanimously decided to speak of the nationalist-revolutionary movements instead of the 'bourgeois-democratic' movement. There is not the slightest doubt that every nationalist movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement.. But it was agreed that if we speak about the bourgeois-democratic movement all distinction between reformist and revolutionary movements will be obliterated; whereas in recent times this distinction has been fully and clearly revealed in the backward and colonial countries, of the imperialist bourgeois is trying with all its might to implant the reformist movement also among the oppressed nations.. In the Commission this was proved irrefutably, and we came to the conclusion that the only correct thing to do was to take this distinction into consideration and nearly everywhere to substitute the term nationalist-revolutionary for the term bourgeois-democratic. The meaning of this change is that we communists should, and will, support bourgeois liberation movements only when these movement do not hinder us in training and organising the peasants and the broad masses of the exploited in a revolutionary spirit.. The above mentioned distinction has now been drawn in all the theses, and I think that, thanks to this, our point of view has been formulated much more precisely. (Lenin. Report Of Commission on the National and Colonial Questions, Ibid, p 241.)


Firstly he drew attention to the existence of the tendency within the bourgeoisie of these countries, to compromise with imperialism :

Afraid of revolution, the nationalist bourgeoisie would compromise with imperialism in return for some economic and political concessions to their class. The working class should be prepared to take over at that crisis the leadership of the struggle of national liberation and transform it into a revolutionary mass movement. ( M.N.Roy, Memoirs, Bombay, 1964; p.382).

Despite Roy's dismissal of ALL the bourgeoisie - a Trotskyite error - Lenin saw the positive factor in Roy's view. This was that a distinction had to be drawn within the bourgeoisie of a colonial-type country between a section which favoured national-revolutionary struggle against foreign imperialism (later called the national bourgeoisie) and a section which favoured compromise with imperialism and while it might profess support of the national liberation movement, in practice objectively served imperialism by damping down national-revolutionary struggle (later called comprador bourgeoisie).

Secondly Roy in his Draft Supplementary Theses, saw that if the revolutionary process in a colonial type country were under the leadership of the working class, such a country could avoid a period of capitalist development.

The supposition that owing to the economic and industrial backwardness the peoples in the colonies are bound to go through the stage of bourgeois democracy is wrong.. If from the beginning the lead of the revolution is in the hands of the Communist vanguard, the revolutionary masses.. would go straight ahead through the successive periods of revolutionary experience. (Roy, Draft Suppl Theses; Ibid. p.186).

Lenin agreed with this, a concept not in his own Draft Theses :

A rather lively debate on this question took place in the Commission, not only in connection with the theses which I signed but still more in connection with Cmde Roy's Theses which Cmde Roy will defend here and which with certain amendments were adopted unanimously.

The question was presented in the following way:

Can we recognise as correct the assertion that the capitalist stage of development of national economy is inevitable of those backward countries which are now liberating themselves?.. We reply to this question in the negative. If the revolutionary victorious proletariat carries on a systematic propaganda amongst them, and if the Soviet governments render them all the assistance they possibly can, it will be wrong to assume that the capitalist stage is inevitable for the backward nationalities. The CI must lay down and give the theoretical grounds of the proposition that, with the aid of the proletariat of the most advanced countries the backward countries may pass to the Soviet system and, after passing through a definite stage of development, to Communism, without passing through the capitalist stage of development. (Lenin, Report of the Commission, Ibid, p.243).

Hence Marxist-Leninists, see that if the working class gains leadership of the national-democratic revolution; this revolution can be transformed relatively uninterruptedly, into a socialist revolution. Mao disagrees with this key point.

Thirdly, Roy recognised that in some colonial-type countries - such as India and China - a significant native working class existed, objectively capable of gaining the leadership of the national-democratic revolution there:

A new movement among the exploited masses has started in India, which has spread rapidly and found expression in gigantic strike movements. This mass movement is not controlled by the revolutionary nationalists, but is developing independently in spite of the fact that the nationalists are endeavouring to make use of it for their own purposes. This movement of the masses is of a revolutionary character. (M.N.Roy. Speech 2nd Congress CI, Cited Adhikari, Ibid. p.191-2.)



Both in his speeches and his theses (at the 2nd Congress of CI-ed) Lenin has in mind the countries where:

'There can be no question of a purely proletarian movement,' where, 'There is practically no industrial proletariat.

Why were the Supplementary Theses needed? In order to single out from the backward colonial countries which have no industrial proletariat such countries as China and India, of which it cannot be said that they have 'practically no industrial proletariat'. Read the Supplementary Theses, and you will realise that they refer chiefly to China and India...

How could it happen that Roy's special Theses were needed to Supplement Lenin's theses? The fact is that Lenin's Theses were written and published long before the Second Congress opened.. prior to the discussion in the Special Commission of the Second Congress. And since the Second Congress revealed the necessity of singling out from the backward countries such countries as China and India the necessity of 'Supplementary Theses' arose. (JVS W: Questions of the Chinese Revolution, Vol 9; p.236-238).

In the absence of a significant working class in the colonial country, a different leadership was necessary. Lenin in his Report and Theses at the 2nd congress of the CI saw here, the leadership of the national democratic revolution being exercised by the working class of the developed capitalist countries, in particular by the working class of Soviet Russia :

If the revolutionary victorious proletariat carries on systematic propaganda among them, and if the Soviet governments render them all the assistance they possibly can.. the backward countries may pass to the Soviet system, and after passing through a definite stage of development to Communism without passing though the capitalists stage of development. (Lenin. Report on the Commission. Ibid, p.243).

Finally Roy thought that the whole bourgeoisie in colonial-type countries is counter-revolutionary. This was incorrect. But it contains an element of truth. i.e. When the working class is seen to win the leadership of the national-democratic movements, even the national bourgeoisie will desert the national democratic revolution and go over to the imperialist counter-revolution. They prefer even a subordinate exploiting position under imperialism, to the possibility that the working class will use its leading position, to transform the national-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution. This Marxist-Leninist position was put in the Theses on the Eastern Question, adopted by the 4th Congress of the CI in November 1922.

At first the indigenous (national-ed) bourgeois and intelligentsia are the champions of the colonial revolutionary movements, but as the proletarian and semi-proletarian peasant masses are drawn in, the bourgeois and bourgeois-agrarian elements begin to turn away from the movement in proportion as the social interests of the lower classes of people come to the forefront. (Theses on the Eastern Question, 4th Congress CI, J.Degras (ed) The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents, Volume 1; London; 1971; p.388).


Roy's contribution on the vacillations of the native bourgeoisie, was later to be ignored by Mao.


Stalin, in 1925, distinguished at least three categories of colonial and dependent countries:

Firstly countries like Morocco who have little or no proletariat, and are industrially quite undeveloped. Secondly countries like China and Egypt which are under-developed industries and have a relatively small proletariat. Thirdly countries like India.. capitalistically more or less developed and have a more or less numerous national proletariat. Clearly all these countries cannot possibly be put on a par with one another. (JVS W : Vol 7 : Political Tasks of the University of the People's of the East. Speech Delivered at a meeting of Students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, May 18th, 1925. pp. 135-146).

In each country the conditions were different and had to be concretely studied before deciding the exact tactic :

In countries like Egypt and China, where the national bourgeoisie has already split up into a revolutionary party and a compromising party, but where the compromising section of the bourgeoises is not yet able to join up with imperialism, the Communists can no longer set themselves the aim of forming a united national front against imperialism. In such countries the Communists must pass from the policy of a united national front to the policy of a revolutionary bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie. In such countries that bloc can assume the form of a single party, a workers and peasants' party, provided, however, that this distinctive party actually represents a bloc of two forces - the Communist Party and the party of the revolutionary petty bourgeois. The tasks of this bloc are to expose the half-heartedness and inconsistency of the national bourgeoisie and to wage a determined struggle against imperialism. Such a dual party is necessary and expedient provided it does not bind the Communist Party hand and foot, provided it does not restrict the freedom of the Communist Party to conduct agitation and propaganda work, provided it does not hinder the rallying of the proletarians around and provided it facilitates the actual leadership of the revolutionary movement by the Communist party. Such a dual party is unnecessary and inexpedient if to does not conform to all these conditions for it can only lead to the Communist elements becoming dissolved in the ranks of the bourgeoisie to the Communist Party losing the proletarian army.

The situation is somewhat different in countries like India. The fundamental and new feature of the conditions of life in countries like India is not only that the national bourgeoisie has split up into a revolutionary part and a compromising part, but primarily that the compromising section of the bourgeoisie has already managed, in the main, to strike a deal with imperialism, Fearing revolution more than it fears imperialism, and concerned with more about its money bags than about the interests of its own country, this section of the bourgeoisie is going over entirely to the camp of the irreconcilable enemies of the revolution, it is forming a bloc with imperialism against the workers and peasants of its own country. (JVS W; Tasks of University of People's of East, Ibid; May 18th, 1925. pp. 135-146).


The MANCHU DYNASTY of China obstructed democratic reforms along with the foreign imperialists who controlled China's economy. The so called enlightened bourgeoisie of China tried to change this. They were exemplified by SUN YAT SEN, who was himself influenced by Lenin and the USSR. A ferment followed the VERSAILLES TREATY of 1919. This granted Germany's former colony in SHANDONG TO JAPAN instead of granting autonomy. This further fuelled Japan's ambitions in China and especially in Manchuria. The 4 th May demonstration in Beijing was the signal for organised resistance.

Sun Yat Sen founded the KUOMINTANG (KMT) (National People's party) the party of the revolutionary bourgeoisie in 1912. This was the party that Stalin referred to. The CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY (CCP) was formed in July 1921, with assistance from the COMINTERN and its representative MARING. (Jonathan Spence : The Search For Modern China; 1990; New York; p. 325). Early on the CCP had a close relationship with the KMT. Sun Yat Sen asked ADOLF JOFFE (Soviet diplomat) for assistance in reorganising the KMT. The USSR supported the training of Chinese communists and revolutionary democrats, in the USSR itself: After founding the KMT Dr. Sun Yat Sen put forward the Three GREAT POLICIES, alliance with Russia, cooperation with the Communist Party, and assistance to the peasants and workers. He was the father of China's bourgeois democratic revolution. . In 1922 he began reorganising the Kuomintang (KMT).. As the First revolutionary War in China developed rapidly, both the CCP and the KMT felt the need for more revolutionary cadres and asked the Soviet Union to train more people. In response the Soviet Union founded Sun Yat-Sen University For the Toilers of the East solely for the Chinese students.. At the end of 1925, with the help of VASIL CONSTANTIN BORODIN, the Soviet political adviser to the National Government in Guangzhou, the KMT and the CCP jointly selected 310 students to be set to Sun Yat-Sen University.(Deng Mao Mao; Deng Xiaoping - My Father; New York; 1995; p.33; 82; 105).

After the death of Sun-Yat Sen, the KMT fell to the leadership of CHIANG KAI-SHEK, who reneged on the policy of Sun Yat-Sen. By 1927 China was a colonial state dominated by British and USA imperialism. The stages of the revolution flowed from the CI Theses. Stalin analysed the situation as follows :

What are the stages in the Chinese Revolution? In my opinion there should be three:

The first stage is the revolution of an all-national united front, the Canton period, when the revolution was striking chiefly at foreign imperialism, and the national bourgeoisie supported the revolutionary movement; The second stage is the bourgeois democratic revolution, after the national troops reached the Yangtze River, when the national bourgeoisie deserted the revolution and the agrarian movement grew into a mighty revolution of tens of millions of the peasantry. The Chinese revolution is now at the second stage of its development;

The third stage is the Soviet revolution which has not yet come, but will come. (J.V.Stalin; On the International Situation and the Defence of the USS; Joint Plenum of CC and the CPSU Control Commission; August 1 1927. Vol 10; p.16-17).

Stalin's First Stage And The Second Stage Together Constitute What Is Termed The Bourgeois Democratic Revolution. Stalin emphasised that the main axis was the agrarian movement:

The characteristic feature .. Of the Turkish revolution (The Kemalists).. is that it got stuck at the first step, at the first stage of its development, at the stage of the bourgeois liberation movement, without even attempting to pass to the second stage of its development, the stage of the agrarian revolution. (Stalin; Ibid; p.346).


It is necessary to adopt the course of arming the workers and peasants and converting the peasant committees in the localities into actual organs of governmental authority equipped with armed self-defence, etc.. The CP must not come forward as a brake on the mass movement; the CP should not cover up the treacherous and reactionary policy of the Kuomintang Rights, and should mobilise the masses around the Kuomintang and the CCP on the basis of exposing the Rights... The Chinese revolution is passing through a critical period, and.. it can achieve further victories only by resolutely adopting the course of developing the mass movement. Otherwise a tremendous danger threatens the revolution. The fulfilment of directives is therefore more necessary than ever before. (ECCI Directive to the CCP; February 1926; Cited JVS W : Vol 10; p.21).

Stalin repeatedly urged the CCP, through 1926 and early 1927 to break the bloc with the right KMT and move to a militant revolutionary struggle. The CCP did not heed :

The victory of the revolution cannot be achieved unless this bloc is smashed, but in order to smash this bloc, fire must be concentrated on the compromising national bourgeoisie, its treachery exposed, the toiling masses freed from its influence, and the conditions necessary of the hegemony of the proletariat systematically prepared. In other words, in colonies like India it is a matter of preparing the proletariat for the role of leader of the liberation movement, step by step dislodging the bourgeoisie and its mouthpieces from this honourable post. The task is to create an anti-imperialist bloc and to ensure the hegemony of the proletariat in this bloc. This bloc can assume although it need not always necessarily do so, the form of a single Workers and Peasants Party, formally bound by a single platform. In such centuries the independence of the Communist Party must be, the chief slogan of the advanced communist elements, of the hegemony of the proletariat can be prepared and brought about by the Communist party. But the communist party can and must enter into an open bloc with the revolutionary part of the bourgeoisie in order, after isolating the compromising national bourgeoisie, to lead the vast masses of the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism. ( J.V.Stalin Stalin's Letters to Molotov; Edited Lars T. Lih; Oleg V. Naumov; and Oleg V. Khlevniuk; Yale 1995; p.318-9.)

The EXECUTIVE COUNCIL CI (ECCI) adopted Stalin's view; in a directive sent to the CC of the CCP in February 1926. At the 7th Plenum of ECCI, (Moscow November 22nd to December 16th, 1926), the RESOLUTION ON THE CHINESE SITUATION followed Stalin. This declared the revolution in China was in transition to a new stage as the national bourgeois were about to desert the national-democratic revolution; so the revolutionary forces would be the working class, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie; and that the working class must become the LEADING force : Now the movement is on the threshold of the 3rd stage, on the eve of a new realignment of classes. In this stage the driving force of the movement will be a bloc of an even more revolutionary nature - of the proletariat, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie to the exclusion of the majority of the capitalists bourgeois... When the national bourgeoisie desert the revolution and conspire against it.. the proletariat is the dominating force of this bloc. (Resolution of the Chinese Situation; 7th Plenum ECCI; In R.C.North and X.J.Eudin:M.N.Roy's Mission to China: The Communist-KMT Split 1927; Berkeley; 1963; p.135.).

The ECCI emphasised the agrarian revolution:

In the present transitional stage of the development of the revolution, the agrarian stage of the development of the revolution, the agrarian question becomes the central question. The class which .. succeeds in giving a radical answer to it will be the leader of the revolution.(Ibid; p.137).

The ECCI made clear that the working class had a choice: Either attempt to maintain the alliance with the national bourgeoisie, who were on the point of desertion of the national democratic revolution; Or; cement an alliance with the peasantry through the agrarian revolution. Failing to choose the latter would be disastrous :

The fear that the aggravation of the class struggle in the countryside will weaken the united anti-imperialist front is baseless.. Not to approach the agrarian question boldly by supporting all the economic demands of the peasant masses is positively dangerous for the revolution. To refuse to assign to the agrarian revolution a prominent place in the national-liberation movement for the fear of offending the dubious and disloyal cooperation of a section of the capitalist class is wrong. this is not the revolutionary policy of the proletariat.

The present situation is characterised by its transitional nature when the proletariat must choose between allying itself with a considerable section of the bourgeoisie or further consolidating its own alliance with the peasantry. If the proletariat does not put forward a radical programme it will fail to attract the peasantry into the revolutionary struggle and will lose its hegemony in the national-liberation movement. Under direct or indirect imperialist influence, the bourgeoisie will regain the leadership of the movement once more. (Ibid; p.138).

As well as mass work, the CCP should work through the KMT government and the revolutionary army : The revolutionary armies will strike root in the peasant masses as the standard bearer of agrarian revolution.. The CCP and their revolutionary allies must penetrate the new government, so as to give practical expression to their agrarian programme by using the government machinery to confiscate land, reduce taxes, and invest real power in the peasant committees, thus carrying out progressive reforms on the basis of a revolutionary programme.

the Communist must enter the Canton government in order to support the revolutionary Left wing in its struggle against the weak and vacillating policy of the Right..

The Communists must stay in the Kuomintang and intensify their work in it.. The CCP must strive to develop the KMT into a real peoples' party.. a solid revolutionary bloc of the proletariat, peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the other oppressed and exploited strata of the population. For this the CCP must work along the following lines

a) Systematic and determined struggle against the .. right wing attempting to convert the KMT into a bourgeois party.

b) Definite formation of a Left wing in the KMT and establishment of close cooperation with it. (Ibid; p.140-41).

The ECCI representative in China GRIGORI VOITINSKY and the leader of the CPSU Mission in China MIKHAIL BORODIN, both opposed these directives. They were supported by the CC of CCP; then headed by General Secretary CHEN TU-HSIU. To help implement the ECCI 7th Plenum Theses by the CCP, in January 1927, M.N.Roy was sent as a special ECCI representative.

The CCP did not heed the warning signs and advice, to escape the struggle from the CI and Stalin. The Chinese national bourgeois led by Chiang Kai-Shek; launched its coup on April 12th, 192, viciously butcheringthe Shanghai workers, and the militants of the CCP. Stalin commented :

In the First period of the Chinese revolution.. the national bourgeoisie (not the compradors) sided with the revolution...Chiang Kai-Shek's coup marks the desertion of the national bourgeoisie from revolution. April, 1927. ( JVS W:'Question of Chinese Revolution' Vol 9; p. 226, 229)

Even now, Roy's arguments were rejected. But Roy managed to pressure the CCP to hold the 5TH CCP CONGRESS IN WUHAN (April 27th to May 9th 1927). Chen argued to delay the agrarian revolution. But Roy's pressure forced the CCP, to verbally accept the ECCI line; however this was short lived. The CCP leadership refused to follow even their own 5th Congress directives.

On May 21st, 1927 Colonel Hsu Ke-hsiang seized control of Changsha, and launched a White terror. 20,000 workers and peasants were killed. The CCP sabotaged the peasant army in its attempt to fight back, and forced a retreat. They were then of course easy fodder, and were slaughtered. Still, the CCP and Borodin refused to go to the masses. Chen Tu-hsiu's line was traitorous:

The basic point in all Chen Tu-hsiu's speeches has been the demand that the general leadership in the movement be handed over to the KMT. (Tsia Ho-sen: Istoriia opportunizma v Kommunisticheskoi Partii Kitaia (An account of Opportunism In the Chinese Communist Party) In :Problemy Kitaia (Chinese Problems); No. 1, 1929; p.35).


A reply telegram from the ECCI, on May 30th, 1927; buttressed Roy. Meanwhile the Wuhan Left KMT met Chiang Kai-Shek, and Feng Yu-hsiang and combined against the CCP. Roy warned the CCP a coup was imminent. Again this was ignored. The CCP refused to launch agrarian struggle. Instead Chen Tu-hsiu wrote a telegram to the ECCI :

90% of the National Army are.. opposed to excesses in the peasants' movement. In such a situation, not only the KMT but also the CCP is obliged to adopt a policy of concessions, It is necessary to correct excesses and to moderate the activities of the confiscation of land. (Chen Tu-hsiu: Telegram to ECCI; June 15th 1927; In M.N.Roy :Revolution and Counter revolution in China; Calcutta; 1946; p.482).

Now the CC dismantled the workers struggle and peasants struggles, fearing a rupture with the KMT. The two Communist ministers resigned, to make the government appear more respectable!! All to no avail. On July 15th, the KMT expelled members of the CCP from the KMT and the army. The ECCI Resolution of July 14th had noted that :

The revolutionary role of the Wuhan Government is played out; it is becoming a counter-revolutionary force. (ECCI: Resolution On the Present Situation on the Chinese Revolution, in: International press Correspondence, Volume 7, No. 44; July 28th; 1927; p.984).


Between January and August 1928 alone, more than 100,000 people lost their lives. The Party organisations suffered serious damage. By the end of 1927 Party membership had been reduced from more than 50,000 to some 10,000. (Deng Mao; Deng Xiaoping - My Father; New York; 1995; p.119). Stalin characterised the new development as the desertion of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia from the revolution:

The present period is marked by the desertion of the Wuhan leadership of the KMT to the camp of counter-revolutionary intelligentsia from the revolution.. This desertion is due firstly to the fear .. In face of the agrarian revolution and to the pressure of the feudal landlords on the Wuhan leadership, and secondly to the pressure of the imperialists in the Tientsin are who are demanding that the KMT break with the Communists as the price for permitting its passage Northwards.( J.V.S. W Notes on Contemporary Themes; Vol 9; p.366-67).

But Stalin pointed out that NOW it was correct to propagandise in favour of the formation of soviets :

If in the near future - not necessarily in a couple of months, but in 6 months or a year from now, a new upsurge of the revolution should become a fact, the question of forming Soviets of Workers and peasant' deputies may become a live issue as a slogan of the day, and as a counterpoise to the bourgeoisie. Why? Because if there has been an upsurge of the revolution in its present phase of development, the formation of Soviets will be an issue that has come fully mature. Recently a few months ago it would have been wrong for the CCP to issue the slogan of forming soviets, for that would been adventurism, which is characteristic of our opposition, for the KMT leadership had not yet discredited itself as an enemy of the revolution. Now on the contrary, the slogan of forming Soviets may become a really revolutionary slogan if (If!) A new and powerful revolutionary upsurge takes place in the near future. Consequently alongside the fight to replace the present KMT leadership by a revolutionary leadership it is necessary at once even before the upsurge begins to conduct the widest propaganda for the idea of Soviets among the broad masses of the working people, without running too far ahead and forming Soviets immediately, remembering that Soviets can only flourish at a time of powerful revolutionary upsurge. (J.V.S. W: Notes on Contemporary Themes; Vol 9; p.366-7).

Here Stalin rebuked Trotsky who had been calling for Soviet Now! for some time, quite incorrectly. The ECCI instructed the CCP to resign from the Wuhan Government apparatus whilst simultaneously staying within the KMT, and turn it into a bloc LED by the working class; that the arming of peasants and workers was crucial; that an illegal party apparatus be built up. Finally, the resolution attacked the CCP for its grave right opportunist errors:

The leaders of the CCP have pursued a policy of damming back the masses. The revolutionary instruction of the ECCI were rejected by the leaders of the CCP. Matters even went so far that the CCP ‘agreed' to the disarming of workers' (Resolution of the ECCI: 'On the Present Situation of the Chinese Revolution'; Ibid; Inprecorr July 28th; 1927)


They tried to organise an uprising in Nanchang, in July 1927. Zhou En Lai, Mao Ze Dong, Chu De, Li Li-San and others were involved. Stalin disavowed this military adventurism :

The whole business of the Southern revolutionary movement, the departure of the troops of Yeh Ting and Ho Lung from Wuhan, their march into Kwantung and so forth- I want to say that all this was undertaken on the initiative of the CCP. (J.V.S. W: The Political Complexion of the Russian Opposition; Vol 10; p.161-2).

The CCP eventually did launch agrarian struggle. But they were now consistently ultra-left in their theory and practice. Mao Ze Dong was one who preached at this stage :Socialism now. Stalin stated:

The COMINTERN was and still is of the opinion that the basis of the revolution in China at the present period is the agrarian -peasant revolution (J.V.S. W: The Political Complexion of the Russian Opposition; Vol 10; p. 161).

Yet Mao took a Trotskyite line. He argued that the line of the ECCI and Stalin had been wrong for some time. On August 20th Mao wrote to the CCP CC misrepresenting the ECCI position:

The international proposes the immediate establishment of Soviets of workers and peasants and soldiers in China. Objectively China has long since reached 1917, but formerly everyone held the opinion that we were in 1905. This has been an extremely great error. Soviets of workers, peasants, and soldiers are wholly adapted to the objective situation. In the period of soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers, we should no longer use the flag of the KMT. We must raise high the flag of the CCP to oppose the flag of the KMT. (Mao : In Chung -Yang tung-hsin (Central Newsletter) No.3; August 30th 1927, p.38-41).

It was in this Ultra-Left spirit that a hastily and ill prepared insurrection was carried out. The Canton Insurrection of December 11th, 1928 was an instance of a completely failed putsch, as opposed to a proletarian uprising. Here a major portion of blame lies with HEINZ NEUMANN an Ultra-Left ECCI representative. The Canton Commune, drowned in blood as the KMT smashed it. The ECCI again criticised the CCP, in February 1928 at the 9th Plenum of the ECCI:

The Canton Insurrection.. A heroic attempt of the proletariat.. Revealed a whole series of blunders by the leaders:- Insufficient work among the workers and peasants, and among the enemy forces, a wrong appraisal of the yellow trade unions; inadequate preparation of the party organisation and the Young Communist League... complete ignorance of the national party center of the Canton events, weaknesses in the political mobilisation of the masses. (Resolution On Chinese Question of the 9th Plenum of the ECCI In International Press Correspondence, Vol 8, No.16; March 15th, 1928; p. 322).

Mao helped plan this adventure. He also organised another putsch the military attack upon CHANGSHA. This was a part of a mission he was given to enter Hunan to carry out the AUTUMN HARVEST UPRISING.

In September 1927 Mao Ze Dong was entrusted by the Central Committee to go to Hunan as its special representative to organise the.. Autumn Harvest Uprising and to found the 5,000 strong 1st Division of the 1st Corps of the Chinese Workers and Peasants Revolutionary Army. (Deng Mao Mao; Ibid; p.121).

Unfortunately, Mao again would not apply Marxism-Leninism. Mao explained his Programme to Edgar Snow :

My programme there called for the realisation of 5 points:

  1. Complete severance of the provincial party from the KMT;
  2. Organisation of a peasant worker revolutionary army;
  3. Confiscation of the property of small and middle and as well great landlords;
  4. Setting up the power of the CP in Hunan independent of the KMT; and
  5. The organisation of the Soviets.

The fifth point at that time was opposed by the Comintern. (Mao Ze Dong: Cited E.Snow; Red Star Over China; London; 1937; p.163).

In fact only on points 1, 2 and 4, was Mao fully consistent with the ECCI. The other points were Leftist deviations. Stalin had pointed out that IF conditions were mature, Soviets were appropriate :

If in the near future - not necessarily in a couple of months, but in 6 months or a year from now, a new upsurge of the revolution should become a fact, the question of forming Soviets of Workers and peasant' deputies may become a live issue as a slogan of the day, and as a counterpoise to the bourgeoisie. Why? Because if there has been an upsurge of the revolution in its present phase of development, the formation of Soviets will be an issue that has come fully mature.... if (IF!) A new and powerful revolutionary upsurge takes place in the near future.(JVS W : Notes on Contemporary Themes Ibid; vol 9; p.366).

Given the 'putchism', and the decimation of forces, conditions were not ripe, as Mao alleged. As Stalin had pointed out to Trotsky :

The opposition does not understand that the point is not at all to be the 'first' in saying a thing; running too far ahead and disorganising the revolution , but to say it at the right time and to say it in such a way that it will be taken up by the masses and put into practice. (JVS W: Notes On Contemporary Themes; Vol 9; p.369).

The Autumn Harvest Uprising failed. The peasant bias of Mao had ensured that with the poor organisation, the urban proletariat was not prepared by the insurrectionists. As the official party history of the period says :

The peasants did not obtain any aid from the urban proletariat... At the time of the Hunan harvest uprising, Changsha simply had no workers' movement whatsoever. (Hua Kang: Chung-kuo Ta Ko-Ming-shi A History of the Great Chinese Revolution; 1932; p.366).

Consequently Mao was dismissed from the CCP CC in November 1927. (J.Spence; Ibid; p.370). Mao now took his surviving troops into the Jinggang mountain range bordering Jiangxi and Hunan. Having previously proclaimed Socialism Now; Mao encountered resistance from the rich peasantry, so he significantly changed his philosophy. (J.Spence; Ibid; p.371). This Right phase of Mao, was where he developed the so called New Democracy. Under KMT attack, Mao shifted camp to Ruijin with the remnants of his army; located between Jiangxi and Fujian. Mao now cultivated the rich peasantry. (J.Spence Ibid; p. 372). With ZHU DE the JIANGXI SOVIET was established. This was only one of about 12 set up across the country by other members of the CCP.

Despite these Soviets, the workers and peasants had been temporarily defeated. A period of battles between the various warlords followed. Chiang Kai-Shek leading the KMT emerged as victorious. By 1928 Chiang Kai-Shek ruled a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT that ruled from Canton to Mukden. (J.Spence Search For Modern China; Ibid; p.365). The official ideology was a virulent anti-communist, anti-imperialist nationalism.


i) Trotsky and Zinoviev argued it was incorrect to enter a bloc with the KMT Revolutionary Bourgeoisie. Stalin Replied:

What were the Kuomintang (KMT) and its government at the first stage of the revolution in the Canton period? They were a bloc of the workers, the peasants, the bourgeois intellectuals and the national bourgeoisie. Was Canton at that time the centre of the revolutionary movement, the place d'armes of the revolution? Was it correct policy to support the Canton Kuomintang as the government of the struggle for liberation from imperialism?... Yes it is true. (JVS W; The International Situation and the Defence of the USSR; Speech to Joint Plenum CC and Central Control Commission CPSU(B); Aug 1, 1927. Vol 10; p.16-17).

ii) Trotsky, Kamenev & Zinoviev alleged united front retarded the revolution. Stalin Replied :

But what does a united front with the national bourgeoisie at the first stage of the colonial revolution mean? Does it mean that the Communists must not intensify the struggle of the workers and peasants against the landlords and the national bourgeoisie, that the proletariat ought to sacrifice its independence? No.. A united front can only be of significance only where and only on condition that, it does not prevent the CP from conducting its independent political and organisational work, from organising the proletariat. From rousing the peasantry against the landlords, from openly organising a workers' and peasants' revolution and from preparing in this way the conditions for the hegemony of the proletariat. (JVS; Ibid; Vol 10; p. 17). Stalin was well aware that the CCP was hesitant :

I know that there are some Kuomintangists and even Chinese Communists who do not consider it possible to unleash revolution in the countryside, since they fear that if the peasantry were drawn into the revolution it would disrupt the united anti-imperialist front. That is a profound error comrades. The more quickly and thoroughly the Chinese peasantry is drawn into the revolution, the stronger and more powerful the anti-imperialist front in China. (Stalin; Ibid; Vol 10; p.20).

I know that among the Chinese communists there are comrades who do not approve of workers going on strike for an improvement of their material conditions and legal status and who try to dissuade the workers from striking. (A voice: That happened in Canton and Shanghai.) That is a great mistake, comrades. Its is a very serious under-estimation of the role and importance of the Chinese proletariat. This fact should be noted in the theses as something decidedly objectionable. It would be a great mistake if the Chinese Communists failed to take advantage of the present favourable situation to assist the workers to improve their material conditions and legal status, even through strikes. Otherwise what purpose does the revolution in China serve? ( Stalin; Ibid; Vol 10; p.20).

iii) Trotsky accused Stalin of not warning CCP against Wuhan Stalin referred back to documents sent to Wuhan.

As for the oppositions' assertions that the Comintern failed to warn the CCP of the possible collapse of the Wuhan KMT, that is one of the usual slanders..Permit me to quote some documents to refute the slanders of the opposition. First Document of May 1927:

The most important thing now in the internal policy of the KMT is to develop the agrarian revolution systematically in all provinces particularly in Kwangtung, under the slogan of All power to the peasant associations and committees in the countryside. This is the basis for the success of the revolution and of the KMT. This is the basis for creating in China a big and powerful political and military army against imperialism and its agents. Practically the slogan of confiscating the land is quite timely for the provinces in which there is strong agrarian movement, such as the Hunan, Kwangtung, etc. Without this the extension of the agrarian revolution is impossible.

It is necessary to start at once to organise 8 or 10 divisions of revolutionary peasants and workers with absolutely reliable officers. This will be a Wuhan guard force both at the front and in the rear for disarming unreliable units.. Disintegrating activities must be intensified in the rear and in Chiang Kai-Shek's units..

The Second Document of May 1927: (Ed: This formed the 1926 ECCI Directive referred to earlier)

Without an agrarian revolution victory is impossible, Without it the Central Committee of the KMT will be converted into a wretched plaything of unreliable generals. Excesses must not be combatted by means of troops, but through the peasant associations... You must not sever yourselves from the working-class and peasant associations.. Some of the old leaders of the CC of the KMT are frightened by events. An increased number of new peasant and working class leaders must be drawn in from the masses into the CC of the KMT. Their bold voices will either stiffen the backs of the old leaders or result in their removal. The present structure of the KMT must be changed... reinforced with new leaders who have come to the fore in the agrarian revolution.. Dependence upon unreliable generals must be eliminated. Mobilise about 20,000 Communists, add about 50,000 revolutionary workers and peasants.. Form several new army corps.. If this is not done there is no guarantee against failure... Punish officers who maintain contact with Chiang Kai-Shek or who incite the soldiers against the people.. Persuasion is not enough. It is time to act. If the Kuomintangists do not learn to be revolutionary Jacobins, they will perish as far as the people and the revolution are concerned.

As you see, the Comintern foresaw events it gave timely warning of the dangers and told the CCP that the Wuhan KMT would perish if the Kuomintangists failed to become revolutionary Jacobins. (Stalin; Ibid; Vol 10; p.33-5).

Despite this defeat the Marxist-Leninist tactics and strategy outlined was correct. Stalin pointed out, that the Opposition, with their ultra-left tactics, would not have even reached the current situation:

The fact that the CCP has in a short period grown from a small group of 5 or 6 thousand into a mass party of 60,000 members; the fact that the CCP has succeeded in organising nearly 3,000,000 proletarians in trade unions; the fact that the CCP has succeeded in rousing the many millions of the peasantry from their torpor and in drawing tens of millions of peasants into the revolutionary peasant associations; the fact that the CCP has succeeded during this period in converting the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat from an aspiration into a reality- the fact that the CCP had succeeded in a short period of time in achieving all these gains is due among other things, to its having followed the path (of) Lenin, the path indicated by the Comintern. (Stalin; Speech; Joint Plenum; Ibid; Vol 10; p.38).


A two stage National Democratic Revolution followed by the Socialist Revolution.

The allies for the First Stage would include the reforming National Bourgeoisie, in China Called the Kuomintang (KMT).

But as the National Democratic Revolution wins; and; the masses move to the Second Stage; inevitably this Revolutionary National Bourgeoisie will desert.

Leninist policy is to pre-empt the desertion; enter the Socialist phase, with agrarian revolt, before the bourgeoisie attacks.

But Stalin's advice was ignored by the CC of the CCP

In private STALIN was severely critical of the CCP

Stalin knew the lack of resolve and understanding of the leaders of the CCP including of course, MAO ZE DONG:

The main thing now is whether or not the current Chinese CP can manage to retreat with honour from this new period (the underground beatings, executions, betrayals and provocations among their own ranks etc) to come out hardened tempered, without splitting up, breaking into pieces, disintegrating and degenerating into a sect or a number of sects. We cannot exclude this danger at all, nor can we exclude the possibility of an interval between this bourgeois revolution and a future bourgeois revolution- analogous to the interval that we had between 1905 and 1917. Moreover I believe that such a danger is more real.. Why? Because unfortunately we don't have a real or, if you like, actual Communist Party in China. If you take away the middle-ranking who make good fighters but who are completely inexperienced in politics, then what is the current Central Committee of the Chinese CP (CCP)? Nothing but an amalgamation of general phrases gathered here and there not linked to one another with any line or guiding idea. I don't want to be very demanding to the CC of the CCP. I know that one can't be too demanding to it. But here is a simple demand: Fulfil the directives of the Comintern. Has it fulfilled these directives? No. No because it did not understand them, because it did not want to fulfil them and has hoodwinked the Comintern, or because it wasn't able to fulfil them. That is a fact.. the current CC was forged in the period of the nationwide (democratic) revolution and received its baptism by fire during this period and it turned out to be completely unadaptable to the new agrarian phase of the revolution. The CC of the CCP does not understand the point of the new phase of the revolution. There is not a single Marxist mind in the CC of the CCP capable of understanding.. The CCP CC was unable to use the rich period of the bloc with the Kuomintang in order to conduct energetic work in openly organising the revolution, the proletariat, the peasantry, the revolutionary military units, the revolutionizing of the army, the work of setting the soldiers against the generals. The CCP CC has lived off the KMT for a whole year and has.. done nothing to turn the conglomerates of elements (true, quite militant) into a party, into real party.. The CCP sometime babbles about the hegemony of the proletariat. But the intolerable thing is.. the CCP does not have a clue (literally not a clue) about hegemony - it kills the initiative of the working masses, undermines the unauthorized actions of the peasant masses, and reduces class warfare in China to lot of big talk about the 'feudal bourgeoisie'.. That is why I now believe the question of the party is the main question of the Chinese revolution?(No. 36; July 1927; Stalin's Letters; Ibid; p.140-41).

Stalin thought that the CC CCP was incompetent; that the CCP CC needed intense re-education and nannying. The CCP CC included Mao Ze Dong. Later, Stalin changed his opinion of the CC CCP. Instead of being incompetent; he thought they were anti-Marxist-Leninist. Despite his set back in Hunan, and his demotion from the CC of the CCP in 1927; Mao rapidly continued to capture leading positions in the CCP:

In November 1931, the First National Congress of the Chinese Workers and Peasants Soviet was held in Ruijin. That Congress elected Mao Ze Dong chairman of the Provisional Central Government of the Chinese Soviet Republic. (Deng MaoMao; Deng Xiaoping-My father; New York; 1995; p.203).

After the defeat of the 1927 revolution, and the criticism of -the ECCI, the CCP underwent a dramatic Ultra-Left shift. This was an equal, and opposite and equally disastrous turn in its own right. Hereafter the leaders of the CCP were WANG MING, and LI LI SAN in an ULTRA-LEFT FACTION; and MAO ZE DONG, DENG XIAOPING, LIU SHAOQI, LIN BIAO, P'ENG CHEN in the other major faction. The Mao faction won over the Ultra-Leftists. In so doing, at times it took some left-opportunist lines; but ultimately it established a RIGHT OPPORTUNIST line. This line was pro-petit bourgeois and pro-capital.

Mao accused STALIN of interference :

Without the demise of the Third International the Chinese Revolution could not have succeeded. When Lenin was alive, the Third International was well led. After Lenin's death, the leaders of the Third International were dogmatic leaders (for instance leaders [like] Stalin, Bukharin were not that good). Only the period under Dimitrov was well led. Dimitrov's reports were well reasoned. Of course the Third International had [its] merits as well, for instance, helping various countries to establish a [communist] party. Later on [however] the dogmatists paid no attention to the special factors of various countries [and] simply transplanted everything from Russia. China [for one] suffered great losses. We used the rectification pattern for more than 10 years, criticised dogmatism [and] did things independently, and on [our own] initiative according to the spirit and essence of Marxism. [Only then] did [we] achieve the victory of the Chinese revolution. Lenin 1ikewise did not recognise the Second International. As a result, the October revolution succeeded. I don't think we should have any more [communist] internationals. Ever since its foundation, the Cominform has done only one thing: that is to criticize Yugoslavia..

Kang Shen interjected : It also criticised France and Japan.

Chairman Mao: But it does not mean [we] do not want to have it forever; but [if we are to have it] we'd want to have the type in the initial stage of the 3rd International [when] various countries [had their own independence], exercised their own initiative and did things according to their own circumstances and not interfering with others' business. I've talked this way with many Soviet comrades, with Yudin and Mikoyan. (Mao Ze Dong Summary of a Talk With the Representatives of Press and Publishing Circles.; 10 March 1957; In The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao-From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward; Ed. Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek and Eugene Wu. Harvard, 1989, p. 255-256).