China: the Struggle Within: A Preliminary Appraisal --What the China Trip Signifies

A Preliminary Appraisal --
What the China Trip Signifies

March 2, 1972


It has been apparent for several years now, and was confirmed by the publication of the Pentagon Papers that the great victories of the Vietnamese and Indochinese peoples marked the end of an era for U.S. imperialism. As Sam Marcy, Chairman of Workers World Party wrote in this newspaper last July: "That phase of American history which . . . saw aggressive American finance capital reach the pinnacle of its power on the world arena has forever vanished."

Nixon's trip to China reflects this new reality, and was an attempt to retrieve in the diplomatic and political arena what could not be won on the battlefield with the costliest and most modern weaponry. But the motives of the U.S. ruling class in underwriting the Nixon trip should be clear to all but the most brainwashed. The question troubling revolutionaries and those who side with the oppressed of all nations is: Why did China do it?

There are actually two separate questions to be considered. The first concerns China's natural desire to normalize state relations with the United States, which involves diplomatic recognition, an end to the embargo on trade, a broadening of travel, etc. Despite the absolutely irreconcilable character of the class antagonisms between capitalism and socialism, such normalization can be possible without sacrificing revolutionary internationalism, without yielding any ground in the struggle to raise the consciousness of the workers and oppressed. In the Soviet Union at the time of Lenin (when all other nations were either capitalist or colonized by them), Soviet diplomacy adhered to this principle.

In the joint communique issued by the U.S. and the People's Republic of China at the end of the discussions, a major breakthrough in the diplomatic recognition of China by the U.S. was announced. Taiwan, the island fortress where U.S. men and arms have kept alive the corrupt and repressive regime of Chiang Kai-Shek, is no longer called by Washington the "legitimate" government of all China, and U.S. troops are to be removed as the first step toward the reunification of Taiwan with mainland China without outside Interference. This is certainly a significant victory for People's China, one which brings the liberation of Taiwan that much closer. We hope that the People's Republic has also derived other benefits from these talks.

The crucial question, however, in this epoch of the transition on a world scale from capitalism to socialism, is what effect will the new relationship between China and the U.S. have on the national liberation movements and on proletarian revolutionaries throughout the world? At this writing, it is impossible to foresee what all the long-range effects will be, and Workers World will have more to say on this later. However, based on the spirit of the visit that has just taken place, one conclusion is irresistible: we are compelled to recognize that the principled foreign policy of revolutionary internationalism for which the People's Republic fought so hard in the international communist movement, and which was so reviled by the Soviet revisionists, has been revoked. The present relations with U.S. imperialism are being carried out in the revisionist spirit of peaceful coexistence, or class conciliation, instead of class struggle, which China so correctly denounced in the past.

This summit meeting was held in the "spirit of Camp David, when Khrushchev came to meet Eisenhower and called him a man of "peace." The Chinese leadership, while it is not guilty of such deceptive pronouncements, has allowed Nixon to appear in such a light without contradiction. The very fact that Nixon was allowed to use the territory of a socialist country to launch a gaudy, extravagant election campaign makes a mockery of what sounds good and revolutionary in the Chinese statement. The very fact that the Chinese leadership can toast the imperialist chief of state while his troops are still engaged in murder and plunder just on the other side of the border sows demoralization and pessimism in the hearts of dedicated fighters who have been willing to give their very lives in the struggle for a new world. Much, much more has been involved in this historic week than a movement to normalize state relations between China and the U.S. Such a development does not require face-to-face meetings between the two heads of state. Kissinger, or Rogers, or a dozen lesser officials could have made the necessary contacts for such an arrangement. The display, the pomp, the banquets and toasting, the 40 hours of private discussions between Richard Nixon and Chou En-Lai, all these features of the visit lead everyone to suppose, despite ail the official denials, that a secret agreement or at least the initial stages of such an agreement, much broader than the joint communique on Taiwan, was the result of the trip. One of the first moves of the new Soviet state in 1917 was to make public all the secret agreements made by the Czar. "Open diplomacy" was a principle of Leninism that received an immediate response from the masses all over the world, who have been the object of history for so many centuries. Thus principle was long ago abandoned by the revisionist Soviet leadership.

It is because any socialist country, and especially one with a great revolutionary tradition, carries such great moral authority with the progressive masses of the world that its every act must be judged first and foremost by these criteria does it help raise the class consciousness of the masses: does it inspire them to struggle against the class enemy -- in this case, the worst enemy of humanity as the Chinese themselves have so often called U.S. imperialism? Judged from this viewpoint, it is only too clear that the abrupt turn in China's attitude toward the U.S. can do nothing but confuse the masses and sap the energies of the vanguard.

(There is, of course, a plus in the fact that people in this country are finally getting a glimpse at the stunning accomplishments of the Chinese Revolution. Many of the lies about China were demolished by the photographic evidence of healthy, energetic people living in a modern society.)


Workers World's analysis of the revisionist turn in China's foreign policy should not be confused with the hysterical accusations being heaped on the People's Republic by those parties that do not support her socialist economic foundations nor have any respect for the great revolutionary accomplishments of her leaders. We have been unswerving supporters of China since the establishment of this great socialist state. We welcomed China's revolutionary criticism of the Soviet Union's revisionist role, and the pages of this newspaper have reprinted many of the most significant Chinese statements attacking class conciliation and capitulation to imperialism in the international communist movement.

We exposed India's attempts at aggression (encouraged by U.S. imperialism) in the border dispute, at a time when the Indian Communist Party (pro-Moscow) entirely supported the Nehru government. Workers World saw in the Cultural Revolution a mighty attempt to disintegrate a movement that would restore class privilege, and eventually capitalist rule.

Furthermore, our support of the People's Republic of China as a socialist state, as a society where the privileged ruling classes have been expropriated and their mechanism of rule shattered, remains unshakable despite our disagreement with the policies of the leadership.

But this new page in world relationships brought about under the tremendous pressure of imperialism, still so vastly wealthy even though in social eclipse, combined with the hostility of the Soviet revisionists -- demands more than ever that serious revolutionaries sharpen the tools of Marxism-Leninism, perceive the validity of the class struggle, and continue to prepare themselves and the masses for the social cataclysms that will inevitably accompany the breakup of this decaying system.

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At the 1966 Labor Day Conference of Workers World Party, Chairman Sam Marcy discussed the then-theoretical possibility that the Sino-Soviet split might drive China into an agreement with U.S. imperialism: "If the ideological struggle between the Chinese party and the Soviet revisionists deepens and becomes a struggle between states, then it is possible that People's China may make a pact with the U.S. against the USSR. This would be a modern version of the Stalin-Hitler Pact."

Comrade Marcy explained that such a development would not change the attitude of the WWP toward People's China itself. Workers World would defend China against imperialism even though we disagreed with the policy, just as we defended the Soviet Union while attacking the way in which the Stalin-Hitler Pact was carried out.

"What we opposed in Stalin at that time," said Comrade Marcy, "was not the principle of his right to enter into an agreement with an imperialist nation. What we opposed was the way it was done -- the secrecy, the shock to the proletarian forces, his painting up of the enforced agreement as a great thing and his softening of his previous position against Hitler as a result.

"Similarly, after Hitler broke the pact and turned has guns on the Soviet Union, we opposed Stalin's painting up the imperialist democracies. We opposed his demoralizing the world proletariat with the idea that the democratic imperialists were fundamentally superior to the fascist imperialists, although of course we defended the Soviet Union against the fascists. Stalin's position seriously weakened the conscious forces of world revolution and in the long run eroded the revolutionary role of the Soviet Union on the world arena."

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