Introduction to the Second Edition

This pamphlet was written early in 1976. That is not such a long time ago, but the world has changed so much in this short period that some further explanation is necessary, if only to remind the reader of the social and political context of those now distant times. The task of the writers was to show that the Soviet Union was indeed a socialist country rather than a "social-imperialist" state, as it was being characterized by the Chinese CP and its supporters in the United States. And secondarily, it was necessary to show what brought about this situation and to explain to some degree how and why the Chinese, and particularly so revolutionary a leader as Mao Tse-tung, could arrive at such a position.

But since the pamphlet was first written, Mao has died; his closest collaborators have been arrested and imprisoned; his bitterest opponents within the Chinese Communist Party have seized the party and state apparatus; and they have led a sharp turn to the right and accomplished a political rapprochement with United States imperialism that is almost overtly directed against the USSR in a de facto war alliance.

Today it is also necessary to show that People's China is still, in spite of the rightward turn of its leadership, a socialist country. In spite of its alliance with U.S. imperialism, the People's Republic has not thereby become an imperialist country itself. Nor has the dangerous anti-communist policy of the Teng-Hua leadership yet resulted in an actual counter-revolution in production relations, with the restoration of capitalist exploitation and its attendant miseries for the masses.

Sam Marcy, since writing the main part of the present pamphlet, has already dealt with this question. Beginning on October 18, 1976, directly after the arrest of the so-called "Gang of Four," he wrote a series of articles in Workers World newspaper explaining the Chinese leadership's right turn while it was still in the making. This series was later published under one cover with the title, Suppression of the Left in China (World View Publishers, 1977).

Before Teng Hsiao-ping was rehabilitated (for the second time!) but while the campaign against the four surviving top leaders of the Cultural Revolution was in full swing, Marcy wrote:

"The reactionary foreign policy features of Maoist ideology, especially in the last couple of years with the utterly unwarranted attacks on Angola and Cuba, not to mention the USSR, have obscured the monumental revolutionary domestic achievements of the Cultural Revolution.

"Now that the rewriting of history by the new Hua regime has begun, as can be seen with the vilification of Mao's closest supporters, it is more than ever necessary to bear in mind that while the reaction has triumphed it is strictly Thermidorian in character — that is, within the framework and on the social foundations of the new class power, in this case, of a workers' state. Both revolutionary revival as well as further regression are possible.

(Article of Oct. 26, 1976, in
Suppression of the Left)

Marcy's Suppression of the Left explains the significance of the fall of the "Four" and outlines the subsequent right turn in Chinese CP foreign and domestic policy.

The present work, written before the death of Mao and the fall of the "Four," has the task of defending the Soviet Union from what was then essentially an ultra-left attack upon the USSR — an attack which characterized it as a capitalist-imperialist country because of the policies of the Soviet leadership. Negative as some of these policies were at the time, they have never approached those of Teng Hsiao-ping and his collaborators in the Chinese CP today. It is one of the cruelest ironies of history that the very same false criteria used by the Chinese leadership to condemn the Soviet leaders are now being used against the Chinese by an oddly assorted collection of disillusioned leftist intellectuals in the West! (Due to mutual inconsistencies or to a priori national prejudices, some of these gentry apply their withering condemnation only to the Soviets and not to the Chinese, while others blithely reverse the procedure.)

Events have moved so rapidly that it may soon be forgotten that Mao Tse-tung was the initiator of the Cultural Revolution, that heroic attempt to level the bureaucrats and intellectuals while raising the masses to become active participants in working out their own destiny. It may soon be forgotten that Mao was for a considerable period to the left of the Soviet leadership (on the international arena from 1961-1968 and on the domestic arena even after 1968). Even Mao's unforgivable error on the class character of the USSR seemed to have arisen from ultra-left impatience rather than from the conciliation with imperialism now shown by his opponent-successors.

But even this proposition — that is, the personal responsibility of Mao for the false theory of "Soviet social-imperialism" — is open to question, as explained in the second part of this pamphlet.

In fact, as Marcy explains so clearly in Chapter 11 here, the Chinese CP leadership, which must have included Mao at the time, embraced Khrushchev's revision of Stalin — and of Lenin! — in 1956, at the time of the famous "secret speech," calling Khrushchev's line the very essence of .... communism. And only several years later did the CCP decide — in retrospect — that Khrushchev was a revisionist. It required a still longer period for the CCP to arrive at the anti-Marxist conclusion that political revisionism beginning in 1956(!) had turned into a capitalist social system, and capitalism into imperialism (and all by a series of epithets and verbal transmutation, rather than by a worked-out thesis showing how there could have been a social counterrevolution within the USSR).

These strange shifts in the CCP's estimate of the USSR, it is now clear from the rise of Teng, were due as much to the pressures of different factions within the Chinese leadership as to the history of the Soviet leaders' relations with the Chinese party. Nevertheless, this history is still essential to an understanding of at least the first stages of the anti-Sovietism of the Chinese leaders. In the earlier period — say up to 1963 or even somewhat later — the Soviet leaders bore most of the responsibility for the antagonisms. They did not always conduct themselves as real communists should have conducted themselves toward a brother party and a sister state. Nevertheless, considering the present U.S.-China alliance, so clearly directed against the USSR, our most important task is to emphasize the working class character of the Soviet Union. Our most important task theoretically is to explain it; and politically, to defend it. If we fail in this, we could be swept away by a wave of U.S. imperialist frenzy; we could be swept into an attack on the Soviet Union and thus inordinately strengthen our own imperialist masters. It is only by taking a firm position on the Soviet Union and its now classical revolution, that we can also understand the class character of the Chinese state. It is only thus we can prepare for the inevitable resurgence of the Chinese masses and the left wing of the Chinese Communist Party against the present usurpers. It is only thus that we can also be prepared in the future to defend People's China against its most fundamental class antagonist and therefore its most dangerous real enemy: U.S. imperialism.

January, 1979

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