An important document in the history of Chinese Communism. Chen Duxiu, founder and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1921-1928, looks back at the last years of failure and bloodshed (the alliance with the KMT, the KMT massacres in Shanghai, the repressed Guangzhou Uprising, etc), and regrets his role in carrying out the Comintern, then led by Bukharin, mandate during the revolutionary crises of the 1920s. Written shortly after Chen was expelled from the party and the Comintern for ‘Trotskyism’ and published over five issues of the Militant in late 1930.
‘How Stalin-Bucharin Destroyed the Chinese Revolution: An Appeal to all the Comrades of the Chinese Communist Party’ by Chen Duxiu from The Militant. November-December, 1930.
Since I followed our comrades to found the Chinese Communist Party, I sincerely executed the policy of opportunism of the international leaders, Stalin. Zinoviev, Bucharin and others making the Chinese revolution suffer a shameful and sad failure. Though I have worked night and day, yet my demerits exceed my merits. Of course, I should not imitate the hypocritical confessions of some of the ancient Chinese emperors: “I, one person, am responsible for all the sins of the people,” take upon my own shoulders all the mistakes that caused the failure. Nevertheless I feel ashamed to adopt the attitude of some responsible comrades at times – only criticizing the past mistakes of opportunism and excluding oneself. Whenever my comrades have pointed out my past opportunist errors, I earnestly acknowledged them. I am absolutely unwilling to ignore the experiences of the Chinese revolution obtained at the highest price paid by proletarians in the past. From the “August 7” conference to the present time, I not only did not reject proper criticism against me, but I even kept silent about the exaggerated accusations against me.
Not only am I willing to acknowledge my past errors, but now or in the future. If I have or should have any opportunist errors in thought or action; likewise, I expect comrades to criticize me mercilessly with theoretical argument and fact. I humbly accept or shall accept all criticism but not rumors and false accusations. I cannot have such self-confidence as Chi-Chlu Bai and Lee Li San. I clearly recognize that it is never an easy thing for anybody or any party to avoid the errors of opportunism. Even such veteran Marxists as Kautsky and Plechanov committed unpardonable opportunism when they were old; those who followed Lenin for a long time like Stalin and Bucharin, are now also committing shameful opportunism; how can superficial Marxists like us be self-satisfied? Whenever a man is self-satisfied, he prevents himself from making progress.
Even the banner of the Opposition is not the incantation of the “Heavenly Teacher” Chang (the head of the Tao-ist religion who has the “power” of driving out devils). If those who have not fundamentally cleared out the ideology of the petty bourgeoisie, plainly understood the system of past opportunism and decisively participated in struggles, merely stand under the banner of the Opposition to revile the opportunism of Stalin and Lee Li San, and then think that the opportunist devils will never approach they are under an illusion. The only way of avoiding the errors of opportunism is continually and humbly to learn from the teachings of Marx and Lenin in the struggles of the proletarian masses and in the mutual criticism of comrades.
I decisively recognize that the objective cause of the failure of the last Chinese revolution is second in importance, and that the chief point is that the error of opportunism is the error of our policy in dealing with the bourgeois Kuo Min Tang. All the responsible comrades of the Central Committee at that time, especially myself, should openly and courageously recognize that this policy was undoubtedly wrong.
But it is not enough merely to recognize the error. We must sincerely and thoroughly acknowledge that the past error was the internal content of the policy of opportunism, what were the causes and results of that policy, and reveal them clearly. Then we can hope to stop continuing the errors of the past, and the repetition of former opportunism in the next revolution. When our Party was first founded, though it was quite young, yet, under the guidance of the Leninist International, we did not commit any great mistakes. For instance, we decisively led the struggle of the workers and recognized the class nature of the Kuo Min Tang. In 1921, our Party induced the delegates of the Kuo Min Tang and other social organizations to participate in the Far Eastern Toilers’ Conference, which was called by the Third International. The resolutions of the conference was that in the colonial countries of the East, the struggle for the democratic revolution must be carried out, and that in this revolution peasant Soviets should be organized.
In 1922, at the second conference of the Chinese Party the policy of the joint front in the democratic revolution was adopted, and based upon this we expressed our attitude towards the political situation. At the same time, the representative of the Young Communist International, Dalin, came to China and suggested to the Kuo Min Tang the policy of a joint front of the revolutionary groups. The head of the Kuo Min Tang, Sun Yat Sen rigidly refused it only allowing the members of the Chinese Communist Party and the Youth League to join the Kuo Min Tang and obey it, denying any union beyond the Party.
Soon after the adjournment of our Party conference the Communist International sent its delegate, Maring, to China inviting all the members of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party to hold a meeting at the West Lake of Hangchow, in Chekiang Province, at which he suggested to the Chinese Party that it join the Kuo Min Tang organization. He strongly contended that the Kuo Min Tang was not a party of the bourgeoisie, but the joint party of various classes and that the proletarian party should join it in order to improve this party and advance the revolution.
At that time, all the five members of the Central Committee of the Chinese C.P. – Lee-Shu Chang, Chang Teh Li, Tsai Ho Sung, Kan Chiun Yu and I – unanimously opposed the proposal. The chief reason was: To join the Kuo Min Tang was to confuse the class organizations and curb our independent policy. Finally, the delegate of the Third International asked if the Chinese Party would obey the decision of the International.
Thereupon, for the sake of respecting international discipline the Central Committee of the C.P.C. could not but accept the proposal of the III International and agree to join the Kuo Min Tang. After this, the international delegate and the representatives of the Chinese Party spent nearly a year to carry on the reorganization movement of the Kuo Min Tang. But from the very outset the Kuo Min Tang entirely neglected and refused it. Many times Sun Yat Sen said to the delegate of the International:
“So far the Chinese CP has joined the Kuo Min Tang; it should obey the discipline of the KMT and should not openly criticize it. If the Communists do not obey the Kuo Min Tang, I shall expel them from it; if Soviet Russia stands on the side of the CPC I shall oppose Soviet Russia at once.”
At this period the Chinese Communists were not very much tainted with opportunism so that we could conduct the strike of the railroad workers on February 7, 1923, and the “May 30th” movement of 1925, since we were not hindered by the policy of the K.M.T. and at times severely criticized the compromising policy of the K.M.T. As soon as the proletariat raised its head in the “May 30th” movement, the bourgeoisie was immediately aroused.
At the enlarged conference of the Central Committee of the C.P., held in Peking in October of the same year, I submitted the following proposal to the Political Resolution Committee; Tai Chi Sao’s pamphlets were not accidental but the indication that the bourgeoisie attempted to strengthen its own power for the purpose of checking the proletariat and going over to the counter-revolution. We should be ready immediately to withdraw from the Kuo Min Tang. We should maintain our political countenance, lead the masses and not be checked by the policy of the Kuo Min Tang. At that time both the delegate of the III International and the responsible comrades of the Central Committee unanimously opposed my suggestion, saying that it was to propose to the comrades and the masses to take the path of opposing the Kuo Min Tang. I, who had no decisiveness of character, could not insistently maintain my proposal and respect international discipline and the opinion of the majority of the Central Committee.
Chiang Kai-Shek’s coup d’état on March 20, 1926, was made to carry out Tai Chi Sao’s principles. Having arrested the Communists in large numbers, disarmed the guards of the strike committees of Canton and Hong Kong of the visiting Soviet Russian group (most of the members of this group were members of the Central Committee of the U.S.S.R.) and of the Soviet advisors, the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang decided that all Communist elements retire from the supreme party headquarters of the K.M.T., that criticism of Sun Yat Senism by Communists be prohibited, and that the list of the names of the members of the Communist Party and of the League, who joined the K.M.T. be handed over to the latter. All these we accepted.
At the same time we resolved to prepare our independent military forces in order to be equal to the forces of Chiang Kai-Shek. Comrade Peng Shu Chin was sent to Canton as representative of the Central Committee of the Chinese Party to consult the International delegate about our plan. But the latter did not agree with us, and endeavored his best constantly to enforce Chiang Kai-Shek. He rigidly advocated that we exhaust all our strength to support the military dictatorship of Chiang Kai-Shek, to strengthen the Canton government, and to carry on the Northern Expedition. We demanded that he take 5,000 rifles out of those given to Chiang Kai Shek and Lee Chi Shing, so that we might arm the peasants of Kwantung province. He refused, saying: “The armed peasants cannot fight with the forces of Chen Chuin Ming nor take part in the Northern Expedition, but they can incur the suspicion of the Kuo Min Tang and make the peasants oppose it.”
This was a most critical period. Concretely speaking, it was the period when the bourgeois K.M.T. openly compelled the proletariat to follow its guidance and direction, that the proletariat was formally declared by us to surrender to the bourgeoisie, to follow it, and be willing to be subordinates of the bourgeoisie. (The international delegate said openly: “The present period is a period in which the Communists should do the coolie service for the Kuo Min Tang.”) By this time, the Party was already not the party of the proletariat, having become completely the extreme Left wing of the bourgeoisie, and beginning to fall into the deep pit of opportunism.
After the coup of March 20, I stated in a report to the III International my personal opinion that cooperation with the Kuo Min Tang by means of joint work within it should be changed to cooperation outside the K.M.T. Otherwise, we would be unable to carry out our own independent policy or secure the confidence of the masses After having read my report, the international put an article by Bucharin in Pravda, severely criticizing the Chinese Party on withdrawing from the Kuo Min Tang, saying: “There have been two mistakes: the advocacy of withdrawal from the yellow trade unions and from the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee; now the third mistake has been produced: the Chinese Party advocates withdrawal from the Kuo Min Tang.” At the same time, the head of the Far Eastern Bureau, Wu Ting Kong was sent to China to correct our tendency to withdraw from the KMT: At that time, I again failed to maintain my proposal strongly, for the sake of honoring the discipline of the International and the opinion of the majority of the members of the Central Committee. Later on, the Northern Expedition, Army set out. We were very much persecuted by the K.M.T. because in The Guide we criticized the curbing of the labor movement in the rear, and the compulsory collection of the military fund from the peasants for the use of the Northern Expedition. In the meantime the workers in Shanghai were about to rise up to oust the Chihili-Shantung troops. If the uprising were successful, the problem of the ruling power would be posed. At that time, in the minutes of the political resolution of the Enlarged Conference of the Central Committee, I suggested:
“The Chinese revolution has two roads: One is that it be led by the proletariat, then we can reach the goal of the revolution; the other is that it be led by the bourgeoisie, and thus the latter must betray the revolution on the road. And though we may cooperate with the bourgeoisie at the present we must nevertheless seize the leading power.”
However, all the members of the Far Eastern Bureau of the III International residing in Shanghai unanimously opposed my opinion, saying that such an opinion would influence our comrades to oppose the bourgeoisie too early. Further, they declared, if the Shanghai uprising succeeds the ruling power should belong to the bourgeoisie and that it was unnecessary to have any delegates of the workers to participate. At that time, I again could not maintain my opinion because of their criticism.
About the time the Northern Expeditionary took Shanghai in 1927, what Chi-Chai paid great attention to was the selection of the Shanghai municipal government and how to unite the petty-bourgeoisie (the middle and small traders) for opposing the big bourgeoisie; Peng Shu Chih, Lo Yih Nieng became very angry, and tore it to the Shanghai municipal government was not a central problem. The central problem was that if the proletariat did not overpower the military forces of Chiang Kai-Shek, the petty bourgeoisie would not stand for us and that Chiang Kai-Shek must, under the direction of the imperialists, massacre the masses. The Shanghai municipal government would not only be a phrase then, but a defeat throughout China would take place, for when Chiang Kai-Shek openly betrayed the revolution it would never be an individual action, but the signal for the bourgeoisie in the whole country to go over to the reactionary camp. At that time, Peng Shu Chih went to Hankow to state our opinion before the International delegate and the majority of the members of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and to consult them on how to attack the forces of Chiang Kai-Shek. But they did not care very much about the coup of Shanghai, but telegraphed to me several times urging me to go to Wuhan, in Hupeh province. They thought that the nationalist government was at Wuhan at that time, so all important problems should be solved there. At the same time, the International telegraphed to us instructing us to hide or bury all the weapons of the workers to avoid the military conflict between the workers and Chiang Kai-Shek, in order not to disturb the occupation of Shanghai by the armed forces. Having read this telegram, Lo Yih Nung became very angry, and tore it to bits. At that time I again obeyed the order of the International and could not maintain my own opinion. Based upon the policy of the International towards the Kuo Min Tang and the imperialists, I issued a shameful manifesto with Wang Chin Wei.
The Proposal to Withdraw from the K.M.T.
In the beginning of April I went to Hankow. When I first met Wang Chin Wei I heard from him some reactionary words, far different from what he said while in Shanghai. I told this to Borodin; he said that my observations were right and that as soon as Wang Chin Wei reached Wuhan he was surrounded by Hsu Chien, Kuo Meng Yu, Chen Pung Po, Tan Yien Kai and others, and became gradually colder. After Chiang Kai-Shek and Lu Chi Shung continually massacred the workers and peasants, the Kuo Min Tang hated the power of the proletariat more every day, and the reactionary attitude of Wang Chin Wei and of the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang developed rapidly. At the meeting of our Political Bureau, I made a report on the status of the joint meeting of our Party and of the Kuo Min Tang: “The danger of co-operation between our Party and the Kuo Min Tang is more and more serious. What they tried to seize on seemed to he this or that small problem; what they really wanted was the whole leading power. Now there are only two roads before us: either to give up the leading power or to break with them.” The attendants answered my report with silence. After the coup of May 21 at Changsha, in Huhan province, I twice suggested withdrawal from the Kuo Min Tang. Finally, I said: “The Wuhan Kuo Min Tang has followed the steps of Chiang Kai-Shek!” At that time only Yen Pih Si said: “Indeed!” and Chow Eng Lai said: “After we withdraw from the Kuo Min Tang the labor and peasant movement will be freer but the military movement will suffer too much.” All the rest still answered my suggestion with the attitude of quiet. At the same time I discussed this with Chi-Chiu Bai. He said: “We should let the Kuo Min Tang expel us, we cannot withdraw by ourselves.” I consulted Borodin. He said: “I quite agree with your idea but I know that Moscow will never permit it.” At that time I once more observed the discipline of the International and the opinion of the majority of the Central Committee and was unable to maintain my own opinion. From the beginning I could not persistently maintain my opinion; up to this time I could no longer bear it. Then, I tendered my resignation to the Central Committee. The chief reason for the resignation was: “The International wishes us to carry out our own policy, on the one hand, and does not allow us to withdraw from the Kuo Min Tang on the other. There is really no way out and I cannot continue with my work.”
From the beginning to the end, the International recognized the Kuo Min Tang as the main body of the Chinese national democratic revolution. In the mouth of Stalin the words “leadership of the Kuo Min Tang” were shouted very loudly. So it wished us throughout to surrender in the organization of the Kuo Min Tang and to lead the masses under the name and the banner of the Kuo Min Tang. Up to the time when the whole Kuo Min Tang of Feng Yu-Hsiang, Wang Chin Wei, Lang Lin Chih, Ho Chin etc., were openly reactionary and abolished the so-called three points policies: to unite with the Soviet Union, to allow the C.P. to join the Kuo Min Tang and to help the labor and peasant movement, the International instructed us by telegram: “Only withdraw from the Kuo Min Tang government not from the Kuo Min Tang.” So, after the “August 7” Conference, from the Nanchang uprising to the capture of Swatow, the Communist party still hid under the blue-white banner of the Left clique of the Kuo Min Tang. Among the masses it seemed that there was trouble within the Kuo Min Tang, but nothing more.” The young Chinese Communist Party, produced by the young Chinese proletariat, had not had a proper period of training in Marxism and class struggles. In the beginning of the founding of the Party, it was confronted by the great revolutionary struggle. The only hope of avoiding any very grave error was the correct guidance of the proletarian policy of the International. Under the guidance of such a continuously opportunist policy how could the Chinese proletariat and the Communist Party clearly observe their own future? And how could they have their own independent policy? They only surrendered to the bourgeoisie step by step and subordinated themselves to the bourgeoisie. So when the latter suddenly massacred us we did not know what to do about it. After the coup of May 21 at Changsha, the method given to us by the International was:
1. Confiscate the land of the landowners from the lower strata, not to use the name of the nationalist government, but do not touch the land of military officers. (Not a single one of the bourgeoisie, landlords, tuchuns, and gentry of Hunan and Hupeh provinces but was the kinsman, relative or old friend of the officers of that time. All the landowners were directly or indirectly protected by the officers. To confiscate the land is only empty words if it is conditioned by “do not touch the land of the military officers.”)
2. Check the peasants’ “over-zealous” action with the power of the Party headquarters. (We did execute this shameful policy of checking the peasants’ over-zealous action; afterwards the International criticized the Chinese Party as having “often become the obstacle of the masses” and considered it as one of the greatest opportunist errors.)
3. Destroy the present unreliable generals, arm twenty thousand Communists and select fifty thousand worker and peasant elements from Hunan and Hupeh provinces for organizing a new army. (If we could get so many rifles, why should we not directly arm the workers and peasants and why should we still enlarge the new troops of the Kuo Min Tang? Why could not we establish the Soviet of workers, peasants and soldiers? If there are neither armed workers and peasants nor Soviets who and how can we destroy the said unreliable generals? I suppose that we should still pitifully beg the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang to discharge them. That the delegate of the International, Lois, showed Wang Chin Wei the instruction of the III International, was of course for this purpose.)
4. Put new working and peasant elements into the Central Committee of the Kuo Min Tang to take the place of old members. (If we have power to deal freely with the old Committee and reorganize the Kuo Min Tang, why could we not organize Soviets? Why must we send our worker and peasant leaders to the bourgeois Kuo Min Tang, who have already been massacring the workers and peasants? And why should we decorate such a Kuo Min Tang with our leaders?)
A “Revolutionary” Court
5. Organize a Revolutionary Court with a well-known member of the Kuo Min Tang as its chairman in order to judge the reactionary officers. How can the already reactionary leader of the Kuo Min Tang judge the reactionary officers in the Revolutionary Court?
Those who attempted to execute such a policy within the Kuo Min Tang were still opportunists of Left tendency. There was no change at all in the fundamental policy; it was like taking a bath in a urinal vessel! At that time, if we wanted to carry out the Left policy of revolution, the fundamental policy had to be changed. That is, the Communist Party had to withdraw from the Kuo Min Tang and be really independent. It had to arm the workers and peasants, as many as possible, establish the Soviet of workers, peasants and soldiers and seize the leading power from the Kuo Min Tang; otherwise, no matter what kind of Left policy was adopted, there was no way to realize it. At that time the Central Political Bureau wired to the Communist International to answer its instruction: we accept the instruction and will work according to its direction but it cannot be realized immediately. For all the members of the Central Committee recognized that that instruction was an impractical method. Even the participant of the meeting of the Central Committee, Fanck (it was said that he was the private deputy of Stalin), also thought that there was no possibility to carry it out. He agreed with the telegraphic answer of the Central Committee, saying: “We can only say so in our answer.” After the “August. 7” Conference, the Central Committee endeavored to propagate that the cause of the failure of the Chinese revolution was that the opportunists did not accept the instructions of the Communist International (of course, the instructions were the above mentioned one; besides these, there were no instructions!) to change the tactics at once; we did not know how they could change the policy within the sphere of the Kuo Min Tang and who were the so-called opportunists.
Where Responsibility Lies
As the Party has committed such a fundamental error, the other bigger and smaller subordinate errors, of course, would continually take place. I, whose perception was not clear, whose opinion was not decisive, sank deeply in the atmosphere of opportunism, sincerely carried out the opportunist policy of the Third International; I unconsciously became the tool of the narrow faction of Stalin; I could not save the Party; and the revolution. All this, both I and other comrades should be responsible for. The present Central Committee said: “You attempt to put the failure of the Chinese Revolution on the shoulders of the Third International in order that you might throw off your own responsibility!” This statement is ridiculous. Nobody can permanently withhold his right to criticize the opportunism of the Party leadership, or to return to Marxism and Leninism because he has himself committed opportunism. At the same time, nobody can take the liberty of avoiding his responsibility for executing an opportunist policy because opportunism came from high places. The source of the opportunist policy is the Third International; but why did not the leaders of the Chinese Party make a protest against the Third International, but sincerely carried out its policies? Who could remove this responsibility? We should very frankly and objectively recognize that all the past and present opportunist policies come from the Third International. The Third International should bear the responsibility. The young Chinese Party has not yet the ability of itself to invent any theories and settle any policy; but the leading organ of the Chinese Party ought to bear the responsibility for blindly executing the opportunist policy of the Third International without a little bit of judgment and protest. If we mutually excuse each other and all of us think that we have committed no mistakes, was it then the error of the masses? This is not only too ridiculous but also does not take any responsibility towards the revolution! I strongly believe that, if I, or other responsible comrades, could at that time have had a clear recognition of the falsity of the opportunist policy; a strong argument against it, even to the point of mobilizing the entire Party for an ardent discussion and debate, as comrade Trotsky has been doing, the result would inevitably have been a great help to the revolution and would not have made the revolution such a shameful failure, though I might have been expelled from the Third International and a split in the Party might have taken place. I, whose perception was not clear and opinion was not decisive, did not do so after all! If the Party were to base itself on such past mistakes of mine or on the fact that I strongly maintained the former erroneous line, in order to give me any severe punishment, I would earnestly accept it without uttering a word.
But the reasons given by the present Central Committee for expelling me from the Party are:
1. They said: “Fundamentally, he is not sincere in recognizing his own mistake in the opportunist leadership of the period of the great Chinese revolution, and has not decided to recognize where is his real past error, so that he must inevitably continue his past erroneous line.” In reality, I was expelled because I sincerely recognized where the error of the former opportunist leadership lay, and decided to oppose the present and future continuation of wrong lines.
2. They said: “He is not satisfied with the decisions of the Communist International. He is fundamentally unwilling to come to Moscow to be trained by the International.” I have been trained enough by the Communist International. Formerly, I made many mistakes because I took the opinions of the Third International. Now I am expelled because I am not satisfied with those opinions.
3. Last August 5, I wrote a letter to the Central Committee in which there were the following sentences:
“Besides, what is the fundamental contradiction between the economic class interests of these two classes? Before and after the Canton uprising, I wrote several letters to the Central Committee pointing out that the ruling power of the Kuo Min Tang would not collapse as quickly as you estimated. At present, though, there are some mass struggles it is not enough to take them as the symptoms of the coming revolutionary wave.”
“The general legal movement, of course, is to give up the attempt at revolution. But under certain circumstances, when it is necessary to develop our power, ‘all possible legal measures, without a burning character’ (Lenin) should also not be given up in this (the transition) period.”
The Central Committee changed these sentences to read ambiguously:
“There is no contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the feudal forces. The present ruling class is not going to be overthrown and the revolutionary struggle is not beginning to revive but to decline more and more. He advocates the adoption of legal forms.”
Furthermore, they put a quotation mark around each sentence so as to make them seem like my original statement. This is another reason for my expulsion.
The Need for Democratic Slogans
4. I wrote another letter to the Central Committee on October 10 saying:
“The present period is not a period of the revolutionary wave, but a period of counter-revolution. We should elaborate democratic slogans as our general ones. For instance, besides the eight hour day demand, the confiscation of land, we should issue the slogans ‘Nullify the unequal treaties,’ ‘Against the military dictatorship of the Kuo Min Tang,’ ‘Summon the National Congress,’ etc., etc. It is necessary to make the broad masses active under these democratic slogans; then we can shake the counter-revolutionary regime, go forwards to the revolutionary wave, and make our fundamental slogans ‘Down with the Kuo Min Tang government,’ ‘Establish the Soviet regime,’ etc., the slogans of action in themass movement.”
On October 26; comrade Peng Shu Chi and I wrote a letter to the C.C. saying:
“This is not the transitional period to direct revolution, and we must have general political slogans adapted to this period; then we can win the masses. The workers and peasants Soviet is merely the propaganda slogan at present. If we take the struggle to organize Soviets as a slogan of action, we will certainly get no response from the proletariat.”
But the C.C. stated that we substitute for the slogans “Down with the Kuo Min Tang government” and “Establish the Soviet regime” the present general political slogan of “Summon the National Congress”. This is also one of the reasons for my removal.
5. I said in a letter that we should point out “the policy of treason or spoliation of the country by the Kuo Min Tang in the Chinese Eastern Railway”, making the “broad masses still imbued with nationalist spirit able to sympathize with us and oppose the maneuver of the imperialists to attack the Soviet Union by utilizing the Kuo Min Tang and making the Chinese Eastern Railway problem an excuse.” This was to help the slogan of defense for the U.S.S.R. penetrate the masses. But the C.C. said I wanted to issue the slogan of opposing the spoliation of the country by the Kuo Min Tang in place of the slogan of supporting the U.S.S.R. That is another reason why I was expelled.
6. I wrote the C.C. several letters dealing with the serious political problems within the Party. The C.C. kept them from the Party for a long time. Further, the delegate of the Comintern and the C.C. told me plainly that the principle is that different political opinions cannot be pronounced in the Party. Because there is no hope of correcting the mistakes of the Central Committee by means of a legal comradely discussion, I should not be bound by the ordinary discipline of the organization, and it is not necessary to prevent comrades from passing my letters to others for reading. This is also one of the reasons why I am expelled.
The Correctness of Trotsky’s Views
7. Since the “August 7” conference, the C.C. has not permitted me to participate in any meetings, nor has it given me any work to do. Still, on October 6 (only forty days before my expulsion), they suddenly wrote me a letter saying: “The C.C. has decided to ask you to undertake the work of editing in the C.C. under the political line of the Party, and to write an article Against the Opposition within a week.” As I had criticized the Central Committee more than once for continuing the line of opportunism and putschism, they tried to create some excuse for expulsion. Now I have recognized fundamentally that comrade Trotsky’s views are identical with Marxism and Leninism. How would I be able to write false words, contrary to my opinions?
8. We know that comrade Trotsky has decisively opposed the opportunist policy of Stalin and Bucharin. We cannot listen to the rumors of the Stalin clique and believe that comrade Trotsky, who created the October revolution hand in hand with Lenin, really is a counter-revolutionist (it may be “proved” by the rumors created about us by the Chinese Stalinist clique, Lee Li-San, etc.) Because we spoke of Trotsky as a comrade, the Central Committee accused us of “having already left the revolution, left the proletariat and gone over to the counter-revolution”, and expelled us from the Party.
Comrades! The Central Committee has now created these false reasons in order to expel me from the Party and put the name of “counter-revolutionist” upon me without any proofs. I believe that most of the comrades are not clear about this case. Even the C.C. itself has said: “There may be some who do not understand it!” But they expelled me and said I went over to the counter-revolution when some comrades do not understand it. Nevertheless, I understand quite well why they falsely accuse us as “counter-revolutionists.” This is the weapon created by the modern Chinese for attacking those who do not belong to them. For instance, the Kuo Min Tang accuses the Communists of being “counter-revolutionists” in order to cover their own, sins. Chiang Kai-Shek tries to deceive the masses with the signboard of revolution, considering himself as the personification of revolution. Those who oppose him are “counter-revolutionists” and “reactionary elements.”
Many comrades know that the above-mentioned false reasons given by the C.C. for expelling me are only the formal and official excuse. In reality, they have become tired of hearing my opinions expressed in the Party and of my criticism of their continued opportunism and putschism of the past and their execution of a policy of bankruptcy:
The Question of “Feudal Remnants”
In any number of the bourgeois countries of the entire world, there are feudal relics and methods of semi-feudal exploitation (Negroes and slaves of the South Sea archipelago are like those of the pre-feudalist slave system), and there exist remnants of feudal forces. China is even more like this. In the revolution, of course, we cannot neglect this; but the Comintern and the C.C. unanimously recognize that in China the feudal remnants still occupy the dominant position in economy and politics and hold the ruling position. Therefore, they consider these relics as the object of the revolution and let the enemy, the oppressor of the revolution – the forces of the bourgeoisie – be passed over and regard all reactionary actions of the bourgeoisie as those of the feudal forces.
They say that the Chinese bourgeoisie is still revolutionary, that they can never forever be reactionary, and that all those who are reactionary cannot be the bourgeoisie. Thus, they do not recognize that the Kuo Min Tang represents the interests of the bourgeoisie or that the national government is the regime representing the interests of the bourgeoisie. The conclusion must be that besides the Kuo Min Tang, or the Nanking section of it, there is or will be, now or in the future, a non-reactionary and revolutionary bourgeois party. Therefore, in tactics and in practical actions, they simply follow the Reorganizationists at present, and do the military work of overthrowing Chiang Kai-Shek; in the platform they say that the character of the third revolution in the future must still be that of a bourgeois-democratic revolution, opposing any antagonization of the economic forces of the bourgeoisie and the issuance of the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Such an illusion concerning the bourgeoisie and such continual longing for it, are not only calculated to continue the opportunism of the past, but to deepen it. It must lead to a more shameful and sad failure in the future revolution.
The Slogan of Soviets
If we consider the slogan “Establish the Soviet regime” as the slogan of action, we can issue it only when the objective conditions have ripened into a revolutionary wave. It cannot be issued at any time at pleasure. In the past, during the revolutionary wave, we did not adopt the slogans “Organize Soviets” and “Establish the Soviet regime”. Naturally, it was a grave error. In the future, when the revolution takes place, we shall immediately have to organize the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ Soviets. Then we shall mobilize the masses to a struggle for the slogan of “Establish the Soviet regime.” Furthermore, it would be the Soviet of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and not the Soviet of the workers and peasants democratic dictatorship. In the present period when the counter-revolutionary forces are entirely victorious and when there is no wave of mass revolutionary movement, the objective conditions for “armed uprising” and “Establishment of Soviets” are not matured. At the present time “Establishment of Soviets” is only the propaganda and educational slogan. If we use it as a slogan of action, and mobilize the working class at once to struggle practically for the “Establishment of Soviets” we will certainly be unable to [to win leadership] of the masses.
In the present situation, we should adopt the democratic slogan of “Struggle for the convocation of the National Assembly”. The objective conditions for this movement have matured and at present only this slogan can move large masses to issue out of the legal political struggle towards the revolutionary rise and the struggle for the “armed uprising” and the “establishment of the Soviet regime.” The present C.C., continuing its putschism, does not do this. They consider that the rebirth of the revolution has matured, and reproach us for regarding the slogan of the “establishment of workers and peasants Soviets” as only a propaganda slogan; thus, they logically consider it a slogan of action. Therefore, they constantly compel the Party members to come to the streets for demonstrations in workers’ quarters, and compel employed comrades to strike. Every small daily struggle must be artificially enlarged to a big political struggle, making the working masses and working comrades leave the Party more and more.
More than that, at the Kiangsu representative conference recently, it was resolved “to organize the great strike movement”, and “local uprisings”. From last summer to the present day, there have been signs of small struggles among the Shanghai workers, but when they appeared they were crushed by the policy of putschism of the Party, and afterwards, of course, they will be constantly crushed. If the resolutions of the Kiangsu representative conference are executed, they will be destroyed. Our Party is already not the guide who helps the wave of the workers’ revolutionary struggles to come, but is becoming the executioner rooting up the branches of the workers’ struggles.
The present Central Committee, sincerely basing itself upon the bankrupt line of the Sixth Congress, and under the direct guidance of the Comintern, is executing the above bankrupt policy and capping the opportunism and putschism of the past by surrendering the party and the revolution. No matter if it was the Comintern or the Chinese Communist Party which committed the errors of opportunism in the past and made the revolution fail, it was a crime; now these errors have been pointed out plainly by the comrades of the Opposition, but they still do not acknowledge their past mistakes and consciously continue their past erroneous line. Moreover, for the sake of covering up the errors of a few individuals, they deliberately violate the organizational policy of the Bolsheviks, abuse the authority of the supreme party organs, prevent self-criticism within the party, expelling numerous comrades from the party for expressing different political opinions and deliberately splitting the party. This is the crime of crimes, most stupid and most shameful. No Bolshevik should be afraid of open self-criticism before the masses. The only way for the party to win the masses is to carry out self-criticism courageously, never losing ithe masses for fear of self-criticism. To cover up one’s own mistakes, like the present Central Committee, is certainly to lose the masses.
Comrades! All we know is that whoever opens his mouth to express some criticism of the errors of the party is himself expelled, while the mistake remains uncorrected. But we should draw a balance. Which is more important: to save the party from danger or save ourselves from having our names dropped from the party list?
The Policy of Armed Uprisings
Since the “August 7” conference, which determined upon the “general direction of the armed uprising”, and the uprisings were carried out in several places, I wrote many letters to the Central Committee at that time, pointing out that the revolutionary sentiment of the masses then was not at a high point, that the regime of the Kuo Min Tang could not be quickly exploded, that the unconditional uprisings only weaken the power of the party and isolate it more from the masses; that we should change the policy of uprisings into that of winning and uniting the masses in their daily struggles. The Central Committee thought that widespread uprisings were an absolutely correct new line for correcting opportunism, and that to estimate the condition of the uprisings and to consider how to insure the success of the uprising, is opportunism. Of course, they never took my opinion into consideration and regarded my words as a joke. They propagated them everywhere, saying that it was proof that I had not corrected my opportunist mistakes. At that time, I was bound by the discipline of the party organization, and took a negative attitude, being unable to go over the head of the organization to struggle determinedly against the policy of the Central Committee in destroying the party.
I am to be held responsible for this. After the Sixth Congress, I still had a false comprehension and still entertained the illusion that the new Central Committee had received so many lessons from events that they themselves would awaken to the fact that it was not necessary to follow blindly the erroneous line of the Comintern after all. I still continued my negative attitude and did not retain any different theories so as to involve a dispute within the party, though I was fundamentally dissatisfied with the line of the Sixth Congress. After the war between the Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kwangsi cliques, and the “May 30” anniversary movement, I felt deeply that the Central Committee would obstinately continue its opportunism and putschism, and manifestly could not change by itself: that except through an open discussion and criticism by the party members, from the lowest to the highest ranks, the seriously false line of the leading organ could not be corrected. But all the party members are under the domination and restriction of party discipline, in a state of “daring to be angry but not daring to speak”.
At that time, I could not bear to see the party (created by the warm blood of innumerable comrades) destroyed and ruined under the lasting and essentially false line. Thus I could do nothing but begin to express my opinion from August onward, in order to fulfill my responsibility. Some comrades sought to dissuade me, saying that the people in the Central Committee regard the interests of a few leaders as more important than the interests of the party and the revolution, that they attempted everywhere to cover up their mistakes, and could never accept the criticism of comrades: that since I was criticizing them so frankly, they would use it as an excuse for expelling me from the party. But my regard for the party compelled me to adopt resolutely the path of not caring for my own interests.
The Communist International and the Central Committee have for a long time opposed any review of the record of failure of the Chinese revolution. And now, because I have constantly criticized them, they have suddenly invented the following declaration: “He (i.e., I) is not sincere in recognizing his own error of opportunist leadership in the period of the great revolution and has not decided to recognize where his real past errors lay; therefore, he must inevitably pursue his past erroneous line.” These words are a self-revelation. In reality, if I were to stultify my mind, and care nothing about the interests of the proletariat; if I had not decided to recognize my real past errors, and had been willing to do their dirty work and have them continue with their past false line, they would nevertheless, as before, depend upon the old opportunist’s (i.e., my) pen and mouth to attack so-called Trotskyism in order to cover up their errors. How could they expel me from the party? Am I, who have struggled against evil social forces for the greater part of my life, willing to do such a base work – to confuse right and wrong? Lee Li San said: “The Chinese opportunists are unwilling to absorb accurately the lessons of the failure of the past great revolution, but try to hide behind the banner of Trotskyism in order to cover up their own mistakes.” In reality, the documents of comrade Trotsky accuse me much more severely than do those of Stalin and Bucharin; and I could not but recognize that the lessons of the past revolution pointed out by him are one hundred percent correct, and I could never reject his words because he criticizes me. I am willing to accept the severest criticism of my comrades, but unwilling to bury the lessons and experiences of the revolution. I would rather be expelled now by Lee Li San and a few others than to see the party crisis without attempting to save the party and be blamed in the future by the masses of the party members.
Comrades! I know that my expulsion from the party by the Central Committee is the act of a few men for the purpose of covering up their errors. They not only want to save themselves the “trouble” of hearing my opinions expressed within the party and advocating an open discussion on political problems, but also to demonstrate by my expulsion that all the comrades must keep their mouths closed. I know that the masses of the party members never entertained the idea of expelling me. Though I have been expelled by a few leaders at the top of the party, yet there has never been any hostility or bad feeling between the masses in the ranks and myself. I shall continue to serve the proletariat hand in hand with all those comrades who are not following the opportunist policy of Stalin’s clique both in the International and in China.
Comrades! The present errors of the party are not partial or accidental problems: like in the past, they are the manifestation of the whole opportunist policy conducted by Stalin in China. The responsible heads of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, who are willing to be the phonograph of Stalin, have never shown any political consciousness and are growing worse and worse: they can never be saved. At the Tenth Conference of the Russian party, Lenin said: “It is better to have a small organization if there are fundamentally different political opinions and there is no way of solving the problem.” Based on this theory, he led the faction of the Bolshevik movement. Now, in our party, there is no other way permitted (legal or open discussion in the party), to overcome the party crisis. Every party member has the obligation of saving the party. We must return to the spirit and political line of Bolshevism, unite together solidly, and stand straightforward on the side of the International Opposition led by comrade Trotsky, that is, under the banner of real Marxism and Leninism, and decisively, persistently and thoroughly fight against the opportunism of the Comintern and the Central Committee of the Chinese party. We are opposed not only to the opportunism of Stalin and his like, but also to the compromising attitude of Zinoviev. We are not afraid of the so-called “jumping out of the ranks of the party” and do not hesitate to sacrifice everything in order to save the party and the Chinese revolution!
December 10, 1929. Tchen Du-Hsiu