China: the Struggle Within: Stakes in China's Struggle (Part 1)

Stakes in China's Internal Struggle
(Part 1)

Revolution vs. Restoration

January 20, 1967


The Chinese Communist Party has been the strongest, truest, and most devoted of all the parties in the struggle for Marxism and socialism. It has courageously, energetically and with consummate skill and ability charted and carried through the greatest social and political transformation on behalf of more than a quarter of the human race. Its most formidable and enduring achievement has been the splendid adaptation of Marxism to the very difficult conditions of China.


Through all the trials and tribulations of the civil war and thereafter the party retained a truly remarkable continuity of its basic cadres and central leadership. No small achievement, when one considers what has happened elsewhere! To this should be added the fact that it has been relatively free from such purges as characterized the period of Stalin's leadership. Furthermore, the party has consistently encouraged and cultivated a high degree of criticism and self-criticism in its ranks, unequaled anywhere else.

When one remembers that the life of the party for most of its existence has been conducted in the very shadow, if not in the midst of war and threatened invasion, only then can one gauge what a truly monumental achievement this has been. Needless to say all of this has been achieved under the direct guidance and leadership of Mao Tse-tung.


Has the cultural revolution catapulted the party and the country into a historically reverse direction? Let us see:

The cultural revolution was launched last August by decision of the Central Committee of the Party. Since then, its general aims and objectives have become known in practically all corners of the globe. It proposes, among other things, to root out all "old ideas, cultures, customs and habits of the exploiting classes" -- and ". . . to transform education, literature and art and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist base . . ."

How can any genuine Communist quarrel with this? Has it not been an integral part of the understanding of all Communists that the old order, with its old ideas, old culture, and habits of the exploiting classes should be abolished and that new, revolutionary, socialist ideas, customs and habits be instituted to conform to the socialist foundation of the new regime? Isn't this one of the principal reasons why the socialist revolution was made in the first place? And as a matter of fact, has this not been the proclaimed goal in all socialist countries? Of course! What is really new about all this is the inflexible determination of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party to make an earnest effort to really bring it about in practice. That is what is new!


Had the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party merely confined itself to promulgating the cultural revolution in an abstract and pedagogical manner and let it go at that, it would have scarcely caused a ripple. But the Chinese CP went further. The August Decision of the Central Committee did more than just make a bold and courageous announcement. To its great credit, it launched a struggle for its success. That is a qualitatively different matter.

The August Decision proclaimed the necessity -- "to struggle against and crush those persons in authority" who are actively opposing the cultural revolution and in fact "are taking the capitalist road."

It is this that has evoked the frenzied hatred of the imperialist rulers, their lackeys and apologists and raised a storm of resistance from the rightist opposition at home.


What was the fundamental difference in approach to the Socialist Revolution between the classical Social Democrats and the Communists? The Social Democrats were for the revolution, too -- in words -- but they refused "to struggle against and crush those persons in authority" who were opposing the revolution! That in essence is precisely what the issue is today. One can talk and propagandize for the cultural revolution for decades. But to put up a serious, resolute struggle and at whatever cost to ensure its victory, is something else again.


Notwithstanding all that has been said, there is, nevertheless, grave and serious concern among many sincere and honest friends of the Chinese People's Republic over the form and method that the struggle has taken. They view with growing alarm what appears to them the extra-legal and extra-governmental activities of the Red Guards and they question the wisdom of having them assume political functions which normally would be exercised by the well-established mass organizations, party institutions and governmental authorities of the People's Republic.

It must, however, be remembered that the cultural revolution is after all a revolution, and as such, is subject to the same general laws as all revolutions. Rarest of all social phenomena is the revolution that can be fully developed strictly within the confines of the existing social and political framework!


Nor can it be said that there exists complete freedom of choice as regards either the method or form of the struggle, when once the battle has been joined. Indeed, much depends on the time, the concrete circumstance and the character of the adversary in the given struggle. This does not, however, mean that there is any solid ground for assuming, as the capitalist press would have us believe, that the great mass organizations of the Chinese people, their formidable party institutions and the numerous governmental organs including the army will not loyally support the cultural revolution and the leaders who are at its head.


The attainment of such a world historic victory for socialism as is envisioned by the architects of the cultural revolution could probably not be won without a serious internal struggle even under more favorable circumstances than prevail today. But in the context of the present historical conjuncture, it is made doubly difficult by the existence of revisionism as the dominant political tendency in the international Communist movement. Its definite triumph in the ruling stratum of the Soviet Union and the leadership of the principle parties of Western Europe and elsewhere could not but reverberate on the social soil of the People's Republic of China.

The difference is that the leadership of the Chinese CP has not only resisted the trend but has waged a struggle against it.

The cardinal fact that emerges from the sum and substance of the dispute is that -- the Chinese CP may be fighting the crucial battle for Socialism, which if lost would set the proletariat and the liberation movements of the world back for decades. The alternative to the present leadership and its political line -- it must be faced squarely -- is a neo-bourgeois restorationist regime. That is what really is at stake in the cultural revolution in China.


Here, in the U.S. such presumably polar opposites as The Militant, spokesman for the SWP, and The Worker, spokesman for the CP, find common ground in hostile attacks against the cultural revolution. The viewpoint from which they launch their attacks is not really what counts. What counts is that they lined up on the other side of the class line in this momentous struggle.

For our part, whatever the shortcomings and however serious and profound the differences over the problems that are raised by the overall character of the current struggle, we believe that no real progressive or socialist, let alone a genuine Communist, can fail to give unequivocal support to the cultural revolution and the leadership at its head.

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