Like all really great social upheavals the Chinese Revolution has had more effect on human history than upon human understanding. Only thirteen years ago in the United States this revolution was considered so esoteric a subject that outside the pages of Workers World, the only serious approach to it was in the lucubrations of bourgeois scholars and State Department "China experts."
Even at the time of the communes and the "Great Leap Forward" (1958), there was little response in this country to the Chinese renaissance. Beginning in about 1963 or 1964, however, many years after the revolution of 1949, a trend of super-supporters of People's China, or at least of the Chinese CP leadership, began to appear in the U.S.
This trend not only gave Chairman Mao credit for being the sole and indispensable leader of the many millions who suffered and died between 1925 and 1949 to create the Chinese workers' state; it also followed uncritically every turn of Chairman Mao's political line -- or what is said to be his line -- in the foreign policy of the People's Republic.
The trend has now split in two, with one section having discovered that People's China is "capitalist" with Mao the greatest of historical villains, and another section repeating the old adulatory phrases in the face of new and grim conditions that require the most careful evaluation by all genuine friends of People's China.
This has helped to confuse and miseducate genuine revolutionaries -- especially those trying to overcome a purely academic background and devote themselves to the revolutionary interests of the working class.
The U.S. bourgeoisie, infinitely more class conscious than the U.S. working class and most of its political representatives at the time of the revolution (and now, too), did have great interest in the event, although the bourgeois that understood it best was very small indeed, and like Cassandra, was disbelieved and punished for making true predictions.
This faction was ideologically led by Owen Lattimore, who was called the leading Soviet agent in the United States (by Senator Joseph McCarthy) for his pains. The Lattimore line was to recognize the Chinese CP leadership, but wean it away from Moscow in what was then called the "Mao Tse-Tito" approach.
(Now President Nixon, who was a McCarthyite even before McCarthy, has adopted a modification of the Lattimore approach, but with a far more ruthless determination to destroy communism, both in China and the Soviet Union -- and everywhere else.)
The consistent record of understanding as well as defense of the Chinese revolution shown in the following pages should have an especial appeal for those who are serious about that revolution and who are determined to fight for its extension on the world arena.
The present work consists of a series of articles that appeared in the pages of Workers World newspaper over the last 13 years. All of them are written by Sam Marcy, with the exception of some in 1971 and 1972 which are by Naomi Cohen and Deirdre Griswold, co-editors of Workers World. The articles are dated and the significance of the dates should not be lost on the reader.
The pamphlet is not a critique of other political parties except in its implied comparison between their method and ours. But it does attempt a serious refutation of the bourgeois position and bourgeois theory on China. And even in condemning the Chinese invitation to Nixon and the recent Chou-Mao diplomacy, it shows the continuing validity of the Chinese Revolution.
It should be noted that the first article in the very first issue of Workers World (March, 1959) hailed the Chinese communes, which were then a new development, as a big shift to the left in the progress of People's China.
While various tendencies described the communes as spurious or unworkable (Nikita Khrushchev was not to publicly declare them "ultra-left" until several years later), we hailed them unequivocally as a great advance of the revolution.
In that first welcome to the communes, however, we also declared our differences with the comrades of the Chinese leadership. This leadership had not only given political support to the revisionist Khrushchev for the previous three years and endorsed Khrushchev's right-wing break with Stalin's line, but had followed the "co-existence" policy announced at the Bandung Conference of 1955, not to be repudiated until about 1961 during the dispute with the Soviet leaders. (The "co-existence" line of that time included the "non-interference in internal affairs" of countries with different social systems -- meaning non-support to the revolutionary forces in the capitalist countries.)
In the articles, as in our activities, we have generally shown understanding and sympathy with the Chinese leadership, and at all times we have defended People's China itself, unconditionally, against the imperialist world.
We have supported the leftist trends and the revolutionary accomplishments of the leadership more vigorously and more loyally than anybody. The articles on the Cultural Revolution in this pamphlet are especially unique in this respect. Other political parties attacked the Cultural Revolution, either openly or covertly. But we defended it. We regarded it as a struggle against capitalist restoration as well as against bureaucratism. And we did this in spite of having less concrete information about the actual factions in the Chinese CP than some of our opponents did. We were well aware of the bourgeois gossip about the factions, and also aware that not everything said in Peking Review was fully objective reporting about the situation. Nevertheless, we took the historically correct position that independently of all partisan commentary, this was a great victory for the world proletariat.
Furthermore, we understood that the CIA-backed massacre of the Indonesian Communist Party and defeat of the Indonesian Revolution in 1965 would ultimately lead to a right turn in Chinese foreign policy and above all that the China-Soviet split would force the Chinese leadership toward an alliance with the U.S. -- once the split was evident on the state and national level, as well as the ideological.
We purposely did not put such a grim prediction into writing, but Comrade Marcy armed our party with this understanding in various speeches, beginning with the one at our 1966 Labor Day Conference in New York.
Our credentials on the Chinese Revolution go back considerably farther than the first edition of our paper in 1959. As early as 1950 (before becoming an independent party), we insisted that People's China was in fact the "dictatorship of the proletariat," although "not chemically pure, as no social formation ever is." (Global Class War, September 1950, Sam Marcy.)
We were called "Stalinists" and "Maoists" for taking this position -- and the terms were not meant as compliments at that time. We had to struggle hard merely to maintain an ideological position, since the McCarthyite witch-hunt and the Korean War (which was itself a new phase of the Chinese Revolution and the U.S. counterrevolution), were just beginning at that time.
The Chinese leaders themselves denied they were leading the dictatorship of the proletariat at that time and they wrote into their first constitution a guarantee of those capitalist property relations that still existed in certain factories and other enterprises, partly because they felt they had to cement their alliance with the "national bourgeoisie."
Thus we had to resist attacks from the American "leftists" of those days, too, who were always ready and willing -- if not able -- to prove that China was capitalist. And this was more than two decades before the present renegade theories about China's "capitalism" were developed.
It is to be hoped that the following articles, in spite of a lack of editorial notation on the historical context, etc., will contribute to the understanding of the real People's China and the real Chinese Revolution.
It is also to be hoped that this pamphlet will help to popularize the genuine, independent Marxist method of analysis in this country and refute the sterile formalism that is passed off as Marxism in academic circles. While nothing can actually build the Marxist-Leninist party like the proletarian struggle itself, the sharpening of our theory in combination with that struggle will surely advance the cause of the authentic U.S. Marxist-Leninists -- Workers World Party.
-- Vincent Copeland
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