National Sections of the L5I:

Maoism and the Chinese Revolution

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Exert from the Degenerated Revolution

The history of the CCP as the leadership of a peasant based and largely guerrilla army began with the historic defeats of the Chinese proletariat in the years 1926-30. The CCP had entered the Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang (KMT) in a subordinate role in 1923-24 having been under pressure to do so from representatives of the Communist International (CI) since 1922. On 20 March 1926 Chiang Kai-shek led a coup d'Ètat in Canton, at that time the centre of CCP influence. Through the coup Chiang, with communist compliance, disarmed the workers' militia controlled by the CCP-led Hong Kong-Canton General Strike Committee.

He also forced the CCP to relinquish its posts in the government and KMT administrations. In March 1927, Chiang's troops entered Shanghai, after the workers had seized the city. Again Chiang disarmed the workers and again the CCP called for acceptance of this measure. On 12 April Chiang's troops aided by the underworld gangs of Shanghai, unleashed a pogrom against the workers' districts in which thousands were killed.

Under CI instructions, the CCP launched a series of insurrections. Each of these, at Changsha, Nanchang, Canton and Haifeng was put down by Chiang's troops with great loss of life amongst the CCP and the workers. The CCP responded to these defeats by withdrawing the remnants of its forces to the isolated and mountainous Chinese interior.

The changed material circumstances of the communist forces after they had fled from the towns, together with the disastrous consequences of attempted urban insurrections (e.g. Changsha 1930), were the material basis for the development of that variant of Stalinist class collaboration identified with Mao Zedong.

The Maoist current, initially centred on the Front Committee in the Soviet Base Area in the Jing Gang Mountains and opposed to the Shanghai based Central Committee, rationalised the rural and distinctly non-proletarian base of the CCP. They developed a strategy for fighting the imperialists and "compradors" that centred on the mobilisation of the peasantry, rather than the proletariat, within the framework of the Stalinist policy of the bloc of four classes.

From November 1930, Chiang led a series of five extermination campaigns against the communist-held Soviet Base Areas. The first four of these failed signally but the fifth, with the assistance of German advisers such as Von Seeckt (later Nazi commander of Belgium) and a force of a million well armed men, forced the CCP to leave the Jiangxi Soviet and undertake the perilous Long March.

This 8,000 mile trek across some of the worst terrain in China under almost daily attack, in which 70,000 of the original 100,000 communist troops were lost, brought the remaining 30,000 to the future Maoist stronghold of Yenan in North West China. After the confused and demoralising first stage of the Long March the Maoist current gained control of the Party from the clique around Stalin's protege Wang Ming at the Zunyi Conference of January 1935.

The establishment of the Maoist forces in the already existing Yenan Base Area marked the consolidation of the hold of the Maoists within a continuing period of territorial dual power in China that constantly threatened to develop into civil war and which lasted until 1949. Although land reform and other much needed reforms were carried out in the Base Areas in the early 1930s and later in Yenan, private property as such was protected.

This was an essential element in the Maoist strategy and conception of the Chinese Revolution:

"the spearhead of the revolution will still be directed at imperialism and feudalism, rather than at capitalism and capitalist private property in general. That being so, the character of the Chinese Revolution at the present stage is not proletarian-socialist but bourgeois democratic."8

This commitment to a "stagist" conception of the revolution, the first stage being purely "bourgeois-democratic", defined the CCP's relations with the KMT and the Chinese bourgeoisie.

Following the policies pioneered by Stalin and Bukharin in the mid-1920s, the CCP viewed the bourgeoisie as a fundamentally revolutionary class, which was committed to a struggle against imperialism. It would therefore make an important component of a long term political alliance involving the proletariat, peasantry and petit-bourgeoisie  the "bloc of four classes" which were welded together by their common hostility to imperialism.

However as sections of the bourgeoisie were clearly colluding with the imperialists, it was necessary to distinguish between "good" national sectors of the bourgeoisie and "bad" comprador or bureaucratic sectors. Which of these sectors a bourgeois grouping or party belonged to depended largely on whether it was willing to enter into an alliance with the CCP.

Trotsky attacked this notion of the revolutionary nature of the bourgeoisie in imperialised countries in his polemics on the Chinese question. He pointed out that the bourgeoisie of an imperialised country might well enter into a struggle with the imperialists in defence of its own interests, in order to "deepen and broaden its possibilities for exploitation", but such actions would be sporadic and aimed at compromise.

The willingness of the bourgeoisie to enter such a struggle depended on the degree of threat to its power posed by the proletarian and peasant mobilisations necessary to confront the imperialists. Without the masses behind it this bourgeoisie had no chance of defeating imperialism. With the masses aroused its very power was threatened, inevitably leading it to go scuttling back into the arms of imperialism.

It was this understanding of the cowardly and feeble nature of the bourgeoisie of the imperialised countries that led the still revolutionary Comintern to develop the Anti-Imperialist United Front, not as a long term, general agreement with the bourgeoisie, but as a series of episodic, practical agreements with definite aims. Agreements entered into which did not for one moment mean abandoning the independent position and programme of the communists  the overthrow of capitalism and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

In contrast for the CCP, (as for all the Stalinist parties in the imperialised world) the "united front", the bloc of four classes, meant precisely abandoning, "for the time being", the communist programme in order to woo the bourgeoisie into an alliance. It meant holding back the peasantry from pursuing too radical reforms and explicitly committing the CCP to defend capitalism, to limit its fight to the goal of a bourgeois democratic phase. This of course was not a united front but a popular front, an alliance which subordinated the independent demands of the workers and peasants, and the programme of socialist revolution, to an alliance with the bourgeoisie on its programme. That this alliance was not completely fulfilled in China was not the fault of the CCP, which conscientiously carried out its side of the bargain, but because of the hostility and treachery of the KMT.

In September 1931, the Japanese began an invasion of Manchuria from bases established in the 1920s. On 9 March Pu Vi, the last Chinese Emperor and himself a Manchu, was installed as the Japanese puppet in "Manchuguo". During the following five years repeated incursions and raids into North China signalled Japan's intentions but Chiang refused to send his troops to the defence of North China, preferring to maintain his blockade of the CCP held areas. This antagonised many nationalists in China. The long expected full-scale invasion of China by Japanese imperialism in 1937 provided ample proof of the continuing Stalinist nature of the Maoist CCP.

As in the 1920s the CCP strategy was to subordinate everything to the formation of an alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek and the KMT. To this end the CCP dropped all the radical elements of its programme, including land reform, renounced the class struggle against the KMT, accepted the dissolution of its armies into the Nationalist Army and recognised the leadership of the KMT in general and Chiang in particular.

In the original version, later withdrawn, of Mao's report to the sixth plenum of the Central Committee, he wrote:

"Without the KMT it would be inconceivable to undertake and pursue the war of resistance. In the course of its glorious history, the KMT has been responsible for the overthrow of the Oing (Ch'ing Dynasty-Eds), the establishment of the Republic, opposition to Yuan Shih-kai, establishment of the three policies of uniting with Russia, the communist party and with the workers and peasants, and the great revolution of 1926-27. Today it is once more leading the great anti-Japanese war. It has had two great leaders in succession. Mr Sun Yat-sen and Mr. Chiang Kai-shek."9

So important was Chiang in the CCP's schema that, in Xian in December 1936 they saved him from execution by his own troops who were enraged by his refusal to move against the Mongolian allies of the Japanese and his attempt to send them into battle against the CCP. In exchange for acceptance by Chiang of the self-effacing "united front" of the CCP, Zhou Enlai secured his release.

The popular front against Japan

The Second United Front between the CCP and the KMT was used by Chiang in precisely the same way as the first, to prepare his forces for an attack on the CCP and the workers and peasants of China. Once again the CCP maintained the alliance and kept quiet about Chiang's "excesses". In Spring 1939, for example, Chiang attacked the CCP bases in Hunan, Hubei and Hebei. In early 1941, the new Fourth Army (a renamed communist unit) attacked and defeated the Japanese in Anhui, thereby allowing access to the lower reaches of the Yangzi, China's largest river system. Chiang, commander in chief of all forces, ordered them to retreat through enemy held territory and, when they nonetheless managed to return to their base, attacked with his own forces killing several leading commanders and cadre. Despite its policy toward the KMT the CCP did wage a determined and increasingly effective war against Japanese imperialism. By the end of the war the Party and its forces controlled nineteen regions of China, led an army of three million regular and militia troops drawing support from a population of some 100 million in a total area of 950,000 square miles  an area approximately twice the size of France.

Although the CCP opposed land redistribution in its areas during the Second United Front, its policies of reducing rents and interest rates, of establishing a new, efficient and honest local administration, of strengthening traditional forms of seasonal cooperation in agriculture into mutual aid teams throughout the year, of basing its anti-Japanese militia on these teams and of elected local government, won the support of the vast majority of the population in these areas.

Communist control of these elected bodies was ensured by the "three-thirds" system whereby one-third of the elected had to be party members, one-third supporters and the remaining third, "middle of the roaders". By comparison with the KMT-held areas where punitive taxation went alongside blatant corruption and even collaboration with the enemy, the "liberated zones" were a shining example of the "New China" and attracted considerable numbers of youth and intellectuals to the communist ranks. With the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945 the CCP continued to pursue its aim of an alliance with the bourgeoisie.

Now, with the defeat of the Japanese, this meant the priority was to establish a Popular Front Government. All efforts were bent to establish a stable coalition with the KMT, with the Americans acting as mediators. The CCP launched its political offensive under slogans calling for internal peace and national reconstruction. By October 1945 the Chongqing Negotiations had achieved an agreement. The CCP would withdraw from eight liberated zones in the south and reduce its army to twenty divisions (a tenth of its strength). In return it was agreed that a Political Consultative Conference would be convened, which would be open to the Communists and centre parties e.g. the Democratic League.

This policy was fully endorsed and encouraged by the USSR which was firmly convinced of the need for the Chinese to make virtually any compromise to achieve a coalition with the KMT. At the end of the war the Government had immediately signed a friendship treaty with the KMT. A delegation of CCP leaders who went to the USSR at the end of the war were told in no uncertain terms by Stalin what was expected of them, as he later recounted to Dimitrov:

"after the war we invited the Chinese comrades to come to Moscow and we discussed the situation in China. We told them bluntly that we considered the development of an uprising in China had no prospects, that the Chinese comrades should seek a modus vivendi with Chiang Kai Shek, that they should join the Chiang Kai Shek government and dissolve their army."10

Stalin even complained, when the CCP was forced by KMT attacks to take up arms, that they had not followed his instructions. But in 1948 when the conversation with Dimitrov took place and the communists were clearly winning the civil war he could ruefully admit: "Now in the case of China we admit we were wrong."11 Again it was the KMT, with American connivance, which reneged on the agreements. The Japanese were ordered in August to surrender only to the KMT and to "keep order" until KMT forces arrived. In Autumn 1945 shortly after the Political Consultative Conference met, Chiang reissued his 1933 Manual on the Suppression of Communist Bandits and launched offensives against several communist bases.

Political repression continued, student meetings were broken up, Democratic League offices were raided, Communists newspaper offices were destroyed. In March 1946 the KMT central committee disavowed the Consultative Conference resolutions which called for a democratic constitution and the convening of a national assembly. Despite this the CCP clung to its policy of alliance until the summer of 1946 when the KMT started moving its troops into Manchuria, in clear violation of the agreements, as Russian forces withdrew.

After the failure in June 1946 for a joint commission including American representatives, when the KMT demanded the CCP hand over all the areas it controlled first, the CCP was subject to an all-out attack by Chiang's forces. The Americans stepped up their aid to the KMT considerably. After the war, in what the American supremo, Wedemeyer, called "the greatest air and sea transportation in history"12 the US transported 540,000 KMT troops into formerly Japanese held territory. In addition all the supplies and munitions of the 1.2 million strong Japanese army were handed over to Chiang. On top of this 56,000 US marines joined the KMT armies as advisors. Between 1945 and 1948, the US gave Chiang some three billion dollars in direct cash aid.13

With this support Chiang's armies rapidly gained control of former Soviet Areas, even including their capital, Venan, as the CCP withdrew before them.

This policy of retreat did allow the CCP to avoid great losses and to regroup in Northern China. Despite US warnings of the consequences, Chiang followed the retreating communist forces, thereby severely over-stretching his lines of supply and communication. In preparation for what would be the final offensive of the civil war, the CCP now reintroduced land reform which had been held back during the agreements with the KMT. Although the expropriation of the landlords was most extensive in the communist held North, it was not confined to this area, and was not, even in the North entirely under Communist control.

In June 1947, the CCP led People's Liberation Army (PLA) now reinforced with new recruits and the Japanese armaments seized by the armies of the Soviet Union when they entered Manchuria in 1945, abandoned guerrilla warfare and began to advance southwards. By this time disaffection had penetrated into the KMT itself. A number of prominent generals, such as Li Jishen had left the KMT and fled to Hong Kong, there to establish the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT on a programme of coalition with the CCP to oust Chiang and the establishment of a republic based on a mixed economy.

Indeed, General George Marshall, the US special envoy, expressed the opinion that,îNo amount of military or economic aid could make the present Chinese Government capable of re-establishing and then maintaining its control over China.î14 Demonstrations and strikes swept all of Nationalist China at this time. In Shanghai, a virtual general strike raged as workers fought to maintain a sliding scale of wages to protect them from hyperinflation. The price index that had been 100 in 1937 rose to the staggering level of 10,300,000 by mid-1947 and was to continue upwards until it reached 287 million before the final victory of the CCP/PLA in 1949.

KMT repression kept pace with the escalating militancy and inflation:

"Suspected communists and others believed to be conspiring against the state were dragged before drum head courts and then out to some public place to be shot through the back of the head. Scenes of this kind were a daily occurrence in Shanghai, the busiest street corners being invariably chosen for the execution of the victims, who were nearly all young men." 15

At the same time the corruption of the Four Great Families (the Soong,Kung, Chen and Chiang families owned a large proportion of modern industry in China) became ever more blatant. In October 1947, one of Chiang's principal economic advisers (and brother-in-law) T. V. Soong, bought the governorship of Canton Province with a donation of ten million dollars to the KMT (of which, of course, he was a leading member). A resolution passed by the National Federation of Chamber of Commerce in November 1948 summed up the feelings of those capitalists who were excluded from the inner circle of the KMT:

ì … our people have lost confidence in our government leaders who are only interested in their personal gain at the expense of public welfare. We businessmen stand firm and united in fighting against corruption and despotism."16

In a clear attempt to win over the petty bourgeoisie of the cities and to hold back the tide of peasant revolt, the CCP reversed its policy on expropriation of the landlords. In a report to the Central Committee in December 1947, Mao criticised the land reform already taking place as, "Ultra left and adventurist." In February and May 1948, further directives were issued which called for greater moderation in the newly conquered areas of central China. The movement for land reform was stopped entirely when the CCP/PLA took control of Southern China where the landlords were, traditionally, verly closely connected to the urban bourgeoisie.

On 1 May 1948, the Central Committee of the CCP formally called upon all anti-Chiang parties to take part in a new Political Consultative Conference at which the form of a future coalition government could be discussed and decided upon. The call was primarily aimed at the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT and the Democratic League.17 Both these parties accepted the invitation and preliminary work began. An agreement was signed in November 1948 which provided for a preparatory committee to be established prior to the convening of a national conference.

The Chinese degenerate workers' state

By Spring 1949, the PLA had reconquered China North of the Yangzi river. After the collapse of the KMT armies in Manchuria in late 1948, most KMT-held territory and towns were surrendered without any fighting. Fu Tso-yi, for example, surrendered Peking in January 1949 as soon as the PLA advanced towards the city, indeed, he joined them in the march South.

In April 1949, after the expiry of a last deadline for Nationalist surrender, the PLA crossed the Yangzi and entered South China.

They met little resistance and disarmed some two million KMT troops in a period of six months. In September, the Political Consultative Conference met in Peking and established a central government headed by Mao Zedong, leader of the CCP, Zhu De, a principal commander of the PLA, Soong Ching-ling (the widow of Sun Yat-sen and sister in law of Chiang Kai-shek), Li Jishen, leader of the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT (and the butcher of the Canton Commune in 1927) and Zhang Lan, President of the Democratic League.

The CCP had achieved its aim of establishing a popular front coalition government. Mao Zedong had outlined the policy that such a government would follow in 1945:

"The task of our New Democratic system is to promote the free development of a private capitalist economy that benefits instead of controlling the peoples' livelihood, and to protect all honestly acquired private property."18

This was the policy which was followed between 1949 and 1952, which meant both defending capitalism and containing and if necessary repressing the demands of the workers and peasants. When in 1952 the CCP decisively struck out at the bourgeoisie, expropriating their property, it was a moment not of the CCP's choosin. It was a vital defensive measure forced on the Stalinists by the onslaught of US imperialism. As Mao was to declare in 1957 "socialism": "came to our country too suddenly."19

The economic life of China at the time of the accession to power of this government was only one step away from complete paralysis. The collapse of the central administration, soaring inflation and the displacement of millions of people from the areas of military operations were accompanied by floods and droughts that affected 20 million acres and threatened 40 million people with starvation. Coal production stood at 50 per cent of its previous highest point, iron and steel were down by 80 per cent, cotton goods down by 25 per cent, grain 25 per cent, raw cotton 48 per cent and livestock 16 per cent.

To make matters yet worse the railway network was out of operation with 50 per cent of the track destroyed and most of the maritime fleet was in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore.20 The first priority of the People's Government was expressed in the Common Programme of October 1949:

"A policy that is concerned with private and public interests, that benefits the bosses and the workers, that encourages mutual aid between our country and foreign countries in order to develop production and bring prosperity to the economy."21

In other words, the existing framework of capitalist property relations was to be maintained. The policy of tolerance and encouragement extended to the "national" capitalists was not extended to the "bureaucratic" capitalists. Their possessions were immediately nationalised, giving the state control of nearly one-third of all industrial production.

While the state had majority holdings in heavy industry (70 per cent of coal, 90 per cent of steel and 78 per cent of electricity)22 heavy industry was historically chronically underdeveloped in relation to light industry, much of which was often dependent on imported materials.23 It was in light industry that the "national" capitalists now dominated along with the distribution and transport networks. This group owned two-thirds of all industrial capital in 1949.24

The modern sector of the economy was, however, a small percentage of the economy as a whole. In 1945 it had been calculated at between 10 and 15 per cent.25 Largely because of its years of control in the "liberated zones" the CCP/PLA already had within it a relative experienced administrative cadre. However, with the partial exception of those who had been in Manchuria this cadre lacked experience of urban and industrial administration. This lack was partly made up by the entry into the CCP of ex-officials of the KMT regime and educated elements of the middle classes in the cities. At the time of liberation, a sample of 6,000 cadres had the following composition: 2,500 middle class, 1,150 ex-KMT officials, 400 liberal professionals, 150 members of the privileged classes, 140 from the working class.26

Workers made up a mere 2 per cent of party members in 1949.27 With a membership of this sort it was possible for the CCP-dominated government to take state capitalist economic measures such as nationalisation and statification, primarily aimed at the universally hated "bureaucratic" capitalists, so long as this remained within the general framework of capitalist property relations.

In March 1949, the state formed six major trading corporations for the distribution and procurement of Food, Textiles, Salt, Coal, Construction materials and "miscellaneous" goods. In addition, a network of state owned retail outlets was established. These two measures, coupled with the introduction of a new currency, a sliding-scale of wages linked to the monetary value of essential foods, an enforced loan at 5 per cent interest from capitalists and the state distribution of goods that had been hoarded by the KMT and its supporters, allowed a rapid improvement in the living conditions of the masses and brought inflation under control. By mid-1951 it was down to 20 per cent and prices were essentially stable in 1952.

That, despite this statification of essentials, the popular front government was anxious not to scare the "national" bourgeoisie into fleeing, can be seen from the assurances given them by Chen Yun the Chairman of the Financial and Economic Commission, in August 1950, "… industrial investments undertaken for a long time by the national capitalists, if they remain progressive in character, will be useful to the state and the people."28 The Agrarian Reform of June 1950 shows the same clear intention of maintaining friendly relations with the capitalists in order to maintain production. Article 4, dealing with whose lands could or could not be expropriated, said:

"Industry and commerce shall be protected from infringement, industrial and commercial enterprises operated by landlords, and the land and other properties used by the landlords directly for the operation of industrial and commercial enterprises, shall not be confiscated."29

The new land reform was only applicable in the south where, as we have noted, the ties between landlords and the urban bourgeoisie were stronger than in the north. In addition to the strictures on landlords' lands, it was also expressly forbidden to confiscate all the "surplus" lands of the wealthiest peasants and that of the "richer middle peasants" was to be left alone entirely. Mao explained why at the third session of the Central Committee, 6 June 1950:

"… our policy towards the rich peasants ought to be changed. Their excess land must no longer be confiscated, but their life must be preserved to speed up the restoration of production in rural areas."30

Despite these limitations imposed by the state, the land reform did involve a massive transfer of land in South China, some 7 million acres out of a Chinese total of 17 million. On average all individuals over sixteen held one-third of an acre after the reform.31 As in the country generally, so in the cities the chief priority of the new government was to re-establish order Far from utilising the entry of the Liberation Army to ensure a proletarian takeover of the towns and industrial plant, Un Biao, commander of the Fourth Army, issued the following proclamation in January 1949:

"The people are asked to maintain order and to continue their present occupations. KMT officials or police personnel of provincial, city, county or other level of governmental unit district, town, village, or Bao Jia personnel32 are enjoined to stay at their posts".33

In addition, whilst granting statutory rights to workers' organisations the People's Government showed in its Labour Law of 1950 that its interest lay solely in regularising the labour-capital relationship, not in abolishing it. With regard to disputes, for example, it laid down the following procedures:

"the first step in procedure for settling labour disputes shall be consultation between the parties the second step shall be mediation between the parties by the Labour Bureau [a state department-Eds] and the third step shall be arbitration by the arbitration committee established by the Labour Bureau."34

The nature of the unions set up by the government, and modelled on those of the Soviet Union, can be judged from the fact that one of the Vice Chairmen of the All China Federation of Trade Unions was Chu Xuefan, previously the head of the yellow unions of the KMT, the Association of Labour.35 In addition, the Minister of Labour, U Lisan was simultaneously vice- president of the ACFTU. The Chairman of this body made perfectly clear what the priorities of the government were:

"The immediate and sectional interests of the working class must be subordinated to the long term and over all interests of the state led by the working class."36

That "subordination" was to be taken absolutely literally was shown by Un Biao when he sent his troops against the workers of the Sun Sun Textile plant in Shanghai who had occupied their plant to prevent its removal to Manchuria, under the government's policy of thinning out industry. Ten workers were killed or wounded in the clash.37 While capitalist representatives shared the government with the CCP, between 1949 and 1951 and the policy of that government was clearly to defend capitalism, the repressive apparatus of the state-the police, army, secret police etc., remained firmly in the hands of the Stalinists.

This special form of dual power already witnessed in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, continued to exist until it was resolved decisively against the capitalists. The popular front period played an important role for the Chinese Stalinists in demobilising the aroused workers and peasants. At the time when capitalism was at its weakest and the mobilisations of the workers and peasants at their strongest, the CCP acted to limit those mobilisations and to restrain them within the limits of capitalist property relations. The dangers of this policy of maintaining and strengthening the capitalists swiftly became apparent. The utopian goal of the Stalinists  a stable New Democracy where capitalists and Stalinists worked in harmony was never a possibility. The onslaught of American imperialism in the Korean war produced a growing threat of capitalist counter-revolution inside China amongst sections of the remaining bourgeoisie. America and Chiang Kai Shek were ready to act as their heavily armed allies.

This forced the CCP towards the close of 1951 to move swiftly to resolve the situation of dual power in its favour through a bureaucratic, anti-capitalist workers' government. As in the other Stalinist social overturns this necessitated striking out at both the capitalists and suppressing the last remnants of the independent workers' movement.

The immediate cause of the change of policy and, eventually, the nature, of the government, was the outbreak of the Korean war in June 1950. As American armies (supposedly UN) advanced towards the Yalu River (the border between Manchuria and Korea) under the rabid anti-communist, MacArthur, the People's Government was forced to change its policy both internationally and domestically.

The initial victories of the PLA under Peng Dehuai, which forced the US back beyond the 38th parallel, were met by Washington with the rearmament of Chiang Kai-shek and the delivery of considerable economic aid to Taiwan. The US Seventh Fleet took up station between Taiwan and the mainland, thereby forcing the Chinese to divert troops from Korea to the coastal province of Fujian. In addition a total economic blockade of China was instituted. The New York Times, 5 April 1951, reported that, "MacArthur favours a Nationalist second front on the Chinese mainland and is convinced that the fate of Europe will be decided in the war against communism in Asia."38 Now, under both economic and military pressure from imperialism and fully aware of the potential alliance between foreign, Taiwan based and domestic capital, the CCP took steps to mobilise the masses against the "national" capitalists. In the countryside, the Agrarian Reform was accompanied by the building of the People's Tribunals, organised by the Party cadres with the purpose of applying a degree of terror and intimidation to the landlords. Although the campaign was limited to the terms of the Agrarian Reform, the wave of executions, fines and expropriations both broke the class power of the landlords and served to bind the peasantry yet closer to the regime.

At the same time the control of the CCP ensured that this did not go beyond its own predetermined limitations. Indeed, so bureaucratic was the procedure for ratifying redistribution of land that, in Canton province it still had not been completed by December 1952.39 A parallel movement was set in train in the cities for similar purposes. The so called "three anti's" campaign, introduced alongside the "five anti's" campaign at the end of 1951, was aimed at CCP and government functionaries. The masses of members who had been recruited to the CCP on the basis of its popular front programme, were now considered unreliable  a massive purge took place in the party, involving the expulsion of over one million members (a fifth of the party) between 1951 and 1952.40 It was also in this period that the Stalinists struck out against the left. Chinese Trotskyists, many members of the 'nternationalist Workers Party had been active leading strikes in Canton and Shanghai. They had suffered repression before 1952 at the hands of the CCP, but at the end of that year a nation wide raid by the secret police completely decimated the Chinese Trotskyists  two or three hundred were thrown into gaol41. Leading members Cheng Ch'ao-Un and eleven others were only released 27 years later in June 1979.42 The "Five anti's" campaign which ran parallel with the "three" was aimed at weakening and intimidating the bourgeoisie. Mass meetings were held throughout the country to whip up feelings against the capitalists. Businesses were investigated for fraud and corruption. In the first six months of 1952 nearly half a million businesses were inspected and over three quarters found guilty of infractions.43

Many were heavily fined, contributing $850m to state coffers. Those who could not pay were nationalised instead. By these bureaucratic methods, albeit backed up by mass mobilisations and denunciation sessions, the CCP-led government, a bureaucratic anti- capitalist workers' government came to control 64 per cent of wholesale trade and 42 per cent of retail trade by mid 1952.44 Initially, this led to a fall in production as the bourgeoisie retaliated by closing down plants. Between January and February 1952, at the height of the campaign, production fell by 34 per cent and the state was obliged to slow down the campaign.45

Once again Chen Yun offered reassurance: "Private factories will, according to concrete conditions, be guaranteed a profit of around 10, 20 or up to 30 per cent on their capital."46 Once again private capital survived in China, but it was now severely curtailed in its freedom, state control of orders placed with private industry, for example, was a powerful weapon for ensuring that the capitalists did not step out of line.47 This respite was short lived however and in 1953 at a government convened National Congress of Industry and Commerce the remaining capitalists were told that the first aim of the government was to have a fully socialist economy in which private industry would have no place.48

After 1951 primarily under pressure from imperialism, the popular front government was transformed into a bureaucratic, anti-capitalist workers' government which removed the foundations of the class rule of the capitalists, "not by decree but by relentless, high-pressure gradualism". In this way it ensured that its prime enemy, the independently organised revolutionary working class, remained firmly excluded from political power within China. Because the fundamental bastion of the bourgeois state  its bodies of armed men  had already been smashed, the CCP was able to carry out the military-bureaucratic overthrow of the Chinese bourgeoisie relatively peacefully.

It was against a background of economic blockade by the West, majority state control of heavy industry and effective control of trade in the modern sector that the government of the People's Republic moved against the essential foundations of capitalism with the introduction of planning in 1953. At first this took the form of annual plans for 1953 and 1954, these were then incorporated into, and used as a basis for, the First Five Year Plan 1953-57. This was not published until late 1955.

The introduction of planning in 1953 on the clear basis of subordinating the operation of the law of value, marks the establishment of a degenerate workers' state in China. The plan was modelled on the Five Year Plans of the Soviet Union. Planners exhorted plant managers to take careful heed of the "advanced experience" of the Soviet system. The ability of the plan to even begin the industrialisation of China was, in a large measure, due to the aid provided by the USSR. Since 1950 China had been in receipt of an annual $300m loan from the Soviet Union. In March 1953 this was added to by a commercial agreement with the USSR, supplying China with many of the materials necessary for industrial expansion.

The plan revealed the dynamic lodged within the post capitalist property forms, and, at the same time, the way in which the bureaucracy acts as a fetter on the full realisation of this dynamic. The bureaucracy claimed that 1953 saw a 13 per cent increase in industrial output over the 1952 level, while in 1954 output rose a further 17 per cent higher than the total for 1953.

However, the exclusion of the masses from political control of the plan meant that these advances were undermined by the bureaucracy's tendency to plan blind. In 1955, when the collection of statistical data took place on a national scale, the figures often disguised the problems of the plan. In 1956 these surfaced. On March 18th 1956 the People's Daily was forced to admit that only just over 50 per cent of the capital construction programme had been fulfilled. Shortages, particularly in construction materials, began to block the fulfilment of targets. Inflationary pressures mounted and the bureaucracy was forced to reduce its targets in heavy industry.

As usual with bureaucratic plans the fulfilment of targets did not mean that the goods produced were of a high quality.

The tyranny of the "target" in fact meant that workers often took little care with their products, and ended up producing shoddy goods, but at a faster rate! These features of bureaucratic planning have been apparent in the Chinese economy since 1953. They are an inevitable product of a regime under which the working class is excluded from political power. In China the economic power of the bourgeoisie was destroyed, bureaucratically, through induced bankruptcies and, after 1955, by state purchases of majority shareholdings. In 1956 the modern sector of the Chinese economy was virtually 100 per cent nationalised, and the bourgeoisie as a class was eliminated. But perched at the top of this workers' state was a Stalinist bureaucracy, ruling over the working class.

The independent base of the CCP, built up over years of war, provided the Chinese Stalinists with the means to pursue their own policy, independently of Stalin, at certain decisive moments. This did not mean that the CCP was not Stalinist.

It merely confirmed the ability of certain indigenous Stalinist parties to prosecute Stalinist polices in spite of the wishes of the Kremlin. The initial hostility of Stalin to Mao's seizure of power was in reality a hostility to an independent Stalinist force, similar to Tito's YCP. The Sino-Soviet split in 1963 brought these hostilities once more to the surface. It illustrated the tendency of Stalinism to fracture along national social patriotic lines. In no way was it a sign of the CCP's transformation into a non-Stalinist party.


8. Quoted in S.R.Schram, The Political Thought of Mao Tse Tung system, (Harmondsworth 1969) p230

9. Ibid, p 228. .

10. F. Claudin, From Comintern to Cominform (Harmondsworth 1975)

11. Ibid, p 551.

12. H. A. McAleavy, A Modern History of China (New York 1967) p 320.

13. J. Chesnaux, F. Le Barbier, Marie-Claire Bergere, China from. ?

14. A. Thornton, China: The Struggle for Power (1976) p 210.

15. McAleavy op. cit. p

16. Cited in Y. Gluckstein, Mao's China (London 1957) p 192.

17. The Democratic League was formed during the war to oppose the corruption and authoritarianism of the KMT. Originally based on intellectuals and the professional classes, it had some 50,000 members by 1949

18. Quoted in C. Brandt., Documentary History of Chinese Communism (Cambridge. Mass. 1952) p 303.

19. J. Chesnaux, China: The People's Republic 1949-76 (Sussex 1979) 1951

20. Ibid p 17. 1953 63

21. Ibid, p 9. 1954 79

22. In 1937 only about 9 per cent of the industrial resources of China could be classified as capital or heavy industry. Most of this was concentrated in Manchuria - see Hughes and Luard, The Economic Development of China 1949. Ecksteln op. cit. p 217. .

23. Chesnaux op cit. p45

24. Ibid p48

25. Ibid, P 19.

26 Ibid p10

27. A. Eckstein, China's Economic Revolution (Cambridge 1977) p 168

28. Gluckstein, op. cit. p 89.

29. J. Guillermaz, The Chinese Communist Party in Power (Westview 1976). p 26 (New York 1949)

30. Eckstein op. cit. P 68

31. Gluckstein op. cit. p 212.

and M.Pablo, "Yugoslavia and the Rest of the Buffer Zone", ibid (New York,1950)

32. The Bao Jia was the name of the KMT secret police and their net work of inforners modelled on the Nazi (and Stalinist) model, i.e. one informer per housing block.

33. Gluckstein, op. cit. p 214.p 551,

34. Ibid, P 235

35. Ibid, p 235.

36. Ibid, P 235.

37. C. L. Liu, "China, An Aborted Revolution" in Fourth International (New York January/February 1950) p 6.

38. H. Foster Snow, The Chinese Communists (Westport Connecticut

Revolution to Liberation (Sussex 1977) p 331. 1972) P 385.

39. Gluckstein p 92.

40. Chesnaux, Op. Clt. P 35. .

41. Wang Fan. HSI, Chinese Revolutionary (Oxford 1980).

42. Intercontinental Press (New York October 1st 1979).

43. Chesnaux, Op cit. p 50.

44. Gluckstem op. cit. p 197 .

45. The percentages of private sector output ordered by the state were:

1950: 29, 1952: 56, 1955: 82 (Cited by Gluckstein, op. cit. p 197).

46. Figures from Guillermaz op. cit.

47. Eckstein op cit p 217

48. Hughes and Luard op. cit. p 91.