Stalinism: It's Origin and Future.

Andy Blunden 1993

The Sino-Soviet Split
The theory of 'socialism in one country' is not just a 'theory' - it is the theoretical expression of the interests of the bureaucracy of a workers' state. Thus, the theory, originated (for all intents and purposes) by Stalin, contained an unintended internal contradiction. This contradiction manifested itself in the development of relations between the Chinese and Soviet Communist Parties. At first, the significance of 'socialism in one country' for Communist Parties outside of the USSR was that they were obliged to subordinate their own interests to those of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, in order to defend and build socialism in the USSR. Thus, for Communist Parties outside the USSR, 'socialism in one country' was an expression of internationalism - the subordination of the interests of a national section of the working class to the needs of the working class internationally. Pretty soon however, it became apparent that it was equally possible to 'build socialism' in China, Italy or Britain. Indeed, in the early 1950s all the CPs adopted the “Our-land Road to Socialism” as their national program. The seeds of the disintegration of the world Stalinist movement had been sown. The apparently internationalist perspective of 'socialism in one country' became transformed into its opposite! In the wake of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, the Chinese and Soviet bureaucracies were more and more at odds with one another. After an intense exchange of insults over several years, Khrushchev withdrew Soviet aid from China in August 1960. The resulting Sino-Soviet split cut through the entire world Stalinist movement irrevocably. Although the content of the split was national differences (the interests of the Chinese bureaucracy as opposed to the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy), the form was a struggle over differences in political perspective (the political line of Mao Zedong as opposed to the political line of Khrushchev). Consequently, the Sino-Soviet split spawned splits over political perspective in the national CPs around the world, ultimately leading to the formation of two rival international formations adhering to rival programs and rival international centres. But fundamentally the split was national in its source. How does this help explain the adherence of parties to rival international centres? Is this explained by identifying something inherently 'Russian' or 'Chinese' in the rival political perspectives? The issue is not supposed national differences between the two leading parties, but the different historical development of the revolution in Russia and China, and its conjuncture with the development of the workers' bureaucracy in the different countries. The split manifested itself in the national parties of the Communist movement around the world in tendencies reflecting different phases in the historical development of the bureaucracy. [118] This observation does not contradict the thesis that splits in the workers' bureaucracy (or in the bourgeoisie or any social formation for that matter), reflect economic conflicts. For these economic differences themselves develop historically. The social development of a class, and its politics, rests upon the underlying historical development of the productive forces. Nor does the thesis that the Sino-Soviet split reflected national differences contradict the thesis that class differences lay behind the split. National differences could manifest themselves only on the basis of the petit-bourgeois nature of the bureaucracy and, particularly in China, the peasant masses. The main geo-political and historical differences between the Chinese and Russian Revolutions at this time, reflected through the standpoints of their bureaucratic leaderships were: 1. the different level of development of the productive forces - China was more backward. In 19561960, the USSR was at a stage in the development of the productive forces at which national resources were no longer able to develop the economy in isolation from the world economy, and the capacity of bureaucratic command to develop the economy was becoming exhausted, while China was at an earlier stage in the construction of a planned economy; 2. the dominant role of the peasantry in the Chinese revolution, as opposed to the Russian Revolution. The working class was the leading force in both cases, but the Russian Revolution was made in the cities, and was taken out to the countryside; the Chinese Revolution was made in the countryside, and rolled in from the countryside to the cities; 3. the different perspective in relation to imperialism - the USSR now felt less threatened, both

steel. The remaining Kuomintang on the mainland had been eliminated. the Communist Party and government officials were all graded on a twenty-six level hierarchy. and the uniquely Chinese policy of establishing communes as relatively selfsufficient economic units. it was too late to rescue the harvest. Forced collectivisation from Stalin’s “third period”. An estimated 30 million died of famine during the period of the Great Leap Forward. Mao Zedong was extremely alarmed by the turn taken by Khrushchev. and corrupted by the degeneration of the Russian Revolution.1961 During the 1950s the Chinese had carried out a program of land distribution coupled with industrialisation under state ownership. The perspective also expressed the desire of the Chinese to secure their national independence by overcoming the legacy of backwardness. ultra-centralisation expressed through an exaggerated cult of the leader. The collective farms were provided with ample food via communal canteens to ease the way. By the mid-1950s. 1958 . Despite these differences in the development of the Russian and Chinese revolution. in which no-one dared to tell the King . The “Great Leap Forward” policy borrowed elements from the history of the USSR in a uniquely Chinese combination.internally and externally. every one a figment of imaginative double-speak and collective self-deception. He perceived that the Soviet economy was being allowed to fall behind. and Khrushchev was seeking peace with imperialism. In 1953. However. The Chinese capitalists had been expropriated in 19523. schools and hospitals abandoned their work to smelt iron. The plan failed disastrously. the leadership of the Chinese Revolution was an integral and generic part of the Communist International created by the Russian Revolution. China seemed to have a strong and stable national government. and by the time food ran out. Ten million people died in one year as a result of the disastrous harvests. Unlike the European countries occupied by the Soviet Red Army. The USSR had definite economic. the Chinese were very much masters of their own destiny. but wanted trade with the West. symbolic of industrialisation . the peasants were collectivised. and that the time was ripe for a 'Great Leap Forward'. For the first time in history. I: The Great Leap Forward. privileges and salaries (in a ratio of 20:1) precisely graduated from top to bottom. However. factories. Simultaneously. The Chinese Revolution had achieved victory thanks to the Chinese Party’s readiness to empirically interpret Stalin’s directives (which were based on the requirements of the Soviet bureaucracy) according to the perceived needs of the Chinese revolution. the more so while the Cold War kept them isolated from the world market. incorporating light industry and construction projects. But stocks were soon exhausted. and the immediate threat from the imperialist wars in Korea and Vietnam had receded. The Soviet Union provided some technical assistance to China in its industrialisation program. with information. based as it was upon bureaucratic command and the utopian perspective of building Socialism in isolation in a backward country and having no regard for a planned development of all sectors of the economy. the situation in China had somewhat stabilised. Harvests were allowed to rot in the fields while peasants produced “turds” of cast iron made out of scrap. Fundamentally because it was misconceived. The success of the first 5 year plan led the Chinese leadership to believe that the perspective of 'catching up and overtaking' the capitalist powers could be achieved at break-neck speed. but this aid was grudging and insufficient. the leaders of the Chinese Revolution were trained in the Comintern during the 'struggle against Trotskyism' and the purging of the Chinese Left Opposition and never questioned the fundamental correctness of Stalin’s line. while the Chinese rightly felt immediately threatened by imperialism. [119] The already rampant “cult of the individual” around Mao Zedong was elevated to a level of national insanity in this period in order to force through the policy which was driving millions to death by starvation. and the Trotskyists (and their families) all rounded up and imprisoned at the same time. Stakhanovism from the early 30s and workers' brigades from the “military communism” period. political and military interests in aiding the Chinese. The entire population was mobilised to produce one commodity. uprisings had taken place in Europe. The steel project was extended to “socialist miracles” in every branch of industry. These policies meant for Mao that China had to be prepared to go it alone.

which was abandoned a few months later. They had united the country and freed China from foreign intervention. it is not easy to give a precise political characterisation of Maoism. And things were none too smooth in the Soviet Communist Party either. led by the Communist Party. Now. And there were a thousand million members of the Chinese Revolution. fragmentation had seemed to be the characteristic of formations to the left of Stalinism. “Soviet-Social imperialism” . and then withdrew as rapidly as they had entered a few days later. and by the end of 1962 China was relatively peaceful. the ideological dispute rapidly escalated into a split. there seemed to be no limit to the extent to which the Stalinist movement itself was capable of fragmenting. the Chinese economy was able to recover itself. This was the final blow for the Great Leap Forward. The policy of the “great Leap Forward” was imposing considerable hardship on the people. In 1964 China tested its first Atom Bomb. The Chinese army suddenly swept deeply into India. Also. Within a couple of years of the abandonment of the Great Leap Forward. This represented an enormous social force. The fundamental thesis of this book is that Stalinism is the political expression of the social interests of the bureaucracy of a workers' state. Maoism was clearly identifiable as a left tendency. However. based on a peasant army. science and technology. Mao and Khrushchev’s policies were heading off in entirely different directions. Consequently. When the Chinese challenged Khrushchev’s position and his proposed changes in economic policy. which grew over into the establishment of a deformed workers' state resting on the peasant masses. However. There is a considerable degree of commonality between the policies pursued by Khrushchev and Mao’s policies during this period. Nevertheless. but generically similar political creed. The failure of the Great Leap Forward was a huge blow for the CCP and Mao Zedong in particular.a national democratic revolution. it has embraced a wide range of political tendencies in its growth and differentiation. Whereas the split between Tito and Stalin did not lead to any significant and permanent splits [120] in the international movement. II: Maoism At the time of the international split in the Communist Parties. in the arena of ideology and international relations. The independent military strength of the Chinese which had been demonstrated so forcefully in Korea. Mao was attempting to adopt the cloak of Stalin. independent of imperialism and independent of the Soviet bureaucracy. just as Khrushchev was smearing this cloak with mud. The uprisings in Poland and Hungary was practical proof of the conclusions that workers could draw from Khrushchev’s statements. Its fundamental thesis is that the USSR was transformed into a capitalist state by means of the election of Nikita Khrushchev as its national leader. like any other Stalinist formation. Given that all varieties of Stalinism encompass a wide range of politics. The other distinguishing feature derives from the nature of the Chinese revolution . the Chinese CP made a virtue out of the necessity of their international isolation. Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin’s crimes was perceived by the Chinese Stalinist leadership as extremely threatening. given the fact that they were drawing the ideological justification for their policy from Stalin’s role in Soviet history. both Mao and Khrushchev were engaged in battles to establish their authority over their respective Parties. and it did not help them at all to have 'Comrade Khrushchev' encouraging other comrades to look critically at the historical dogma upon which it was justified.he had no clothes. the Chinese people had made their own revolution. and Khrushchev withdrew Soviet technical support to China in August 1960. The principle logic behind this challenge was to further the foreign policy objectives of the Chinese bureaucracy. and in 1967 the H-bomb. stable and economically sound. just as had been the case with the Comintern. the Sino-Soviet split triggered splits in virtually every national section of the movement. Hitherto. The Stalinist monolith was broken. was again dramatically proved in the border conflict with India in 1961. both sides found supporters within the other camp. The emergence of a new workers' state bureaucracy with its own powerful national base naturally spawned an independent. Much like Stalin when he invented the perspective of 'socialism in one country'. Mao now challenged Khrushchev for the leadership of the international Stalinist movement. particularly in the arenas of economics.

the continuators of the Russian Revolution. I am not aware of any substantial argument to justify the assertion that the USSR had suddenly become an imperialist country. rather than by a logical criticism of its theoretical positions. the Maoists' whole political rationale rested on just such a puerile distortion of Marxism. The USSR was not an imperialist country in the sense defined by Lenin. That Khrushchev’s policies threatened to open the way to capitalist restoration may well have been true. Therefore. not simply as 'mistaken'. For those claiming to be Marxists. Nor was China. That in Khrushchev Mao confronted the leader of a imperialist power is nonsense. For example. in this very work. was to tie the economies of other countries into markets and a division of labour dominated by its own statified economy. Debate is replaced by class struggle. However. it does not follow that trampling upon the national rights of other nations is tantamount to being 'imperialist'. but it also often sacrificed immediate material benefits in favour of other nations within its orbit. Marxism holds that political differences ultimately reflect class antagonisms. etc etc. that every difference of opinion . and in the propaganda of their sympathisers in the capitalist world. the possibility of Communists in a capitalist country maintaining a united front policy against the common enemy was scant indeed... but as representatives of an imperialist power . are nothing but a struggle for influence of antagonistic classes. the Chinese leadership felt obliged to carry their polemic against Khrushchev’s policies to the point of ascribing a bourgeois class origin to them. this tendency to revisionism may lead to absurdities which beggar belief. Trotsky warned: '[Some comrades] assert most flatly.a super-power representing a greater threat than US imperialism itself! Under these conditions. Their political perspectives run counter to the perspectives of Marxism. But this is not the same thing as “imperialism” in the very specific meaning of the word as understood by Marxism. and the blood of the leaders of the Russian Revolution is on their hands. The result of this contradiction is that Stalinism manifests itself as 'revisionism'.. . in the sense understood by Marxism. Communists in the capitalist countries who sympathised with the Chinese CP and split from the proMoscow factions. arrived at the point of regarding each other as 'the main enemy'. That the USSR subordinated countries to its own interests is true.. In its foreign policy.. other than criticisms of the policies of the government. while rationalising political positions which are at odds with Marxism. [121] Not heeding these warnings. it would hardly be satisfactory to reduce characterisation of the social relations of a country to analysis of the policies of the government of the day. That is. Its very legitimacy rests upon its claim to be the inheritor of Marxism. arguing on the basis of a shared interpretation of history. The Chinese characterised Khrushchev as a 'capitalist roader' and the Soviet Union as a 'social-imperialist' state..One of the central contradictions of Stalinism in the theoretical domain is this. the USSR was portrayed as a worse enemy of the working class than imperialism itself. And yet.. That the USSR was not 'socialist' was of course true. or as Communists belonging to a different tendency. but that does not necessarily mean that you have there two class positions'. What it did do. . In the case of disputes within Stalinism. the 'greatest danger to world peace' (read 'number one target for war'). Stalinism seeks to validate itself by drawing upon and utilising Marxist language and theory. I have tried to explain the nature of Stalinism in terms of the social position of the bureaucracy. with the greatest insistence and sometimes most brutally. and differences arise as to which of these means is the better . The party is able to resolve a problem by different means. The way in which finance-monopoly capital dominates the economies of other countries is quite different from the way in which the degenerated workers' state did.. is an expression of the interests of classes opposed to the proletariat' but 'there should be no over-simplification and vulgarisation in the understanding of the thought that party differences . Once a socialist has publicly ascribed bourgeois class origins to an opposing argument. it is worth a short diversion to investigate how fraternal parties. were encouraged to regard their former comrades. and yet the very existence of the bureaucracy belies this. Given that this dispute within the ranks of the Communist International lead to the rupture of the Comintern and military conflict. but that he actually did restore capitalism is patent nonsense.and what is more . all possibility of compromise or fraternal discussion has been closed off. and the representatives of the international working class.

because it has ushered in all the pre-requisites of socialism . Thirdly. it was not long before the need to fight 'Soviet social imperialism' meant making diplomatic overtures to the US. living off the proceeds of exported capital. 3. in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun. and the creation on the basis of this “finance capital”. but by the degeneration of a workers state. and 5. not through the concentration of capital but through its expropriation. in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance. Lenin gave a very precise definition of imperialism: 1. The contradiction between the private ownership of the means of production.e. the transcendence of the nation-state . the possibility of centralised planning. 2. in exchange for manufactured goods and machinery. The Highest Stage of Capitalism. the merging of bank capital with industrial capital. the penetration of the products of the USSR into the countries it dominated did not take place by export of capital (investment in local industries and repatriation of profits). Secondly. the post-war USSR arose not out of a colonial power or out of capitalism. which had forcibly dragged the peoples of all continents into the world-wide system of capitalist production and distribution. the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life. 4. oil and gas. and the socialised character of the forces of production developed on a world scale has become absolute. but in the Middle East. The majority of capital investment in the economies of other countries made by the USSR was not in Eastern Europe for instance.world market. The USSR’s relation to these Middle Eastern countries was not that of an imperialist power. the backward nature of the Soviet economy meant that it was the USSR that supplied raw materials. The economy of each country was planned independently. not by a “financial oligarchy” exporting and importing capital. world-wide division of labour. the formation of international monopolistic capitalist associations which share the world among themselves. the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance.e. What was the real meaning of this gross mis-application of Marxist terminology on the part of the Chinese Stalinists? On the arena of international diplomacy. Imperialism grew out of colonialism. The isolation of a country from the world market and the world-wide division of labour is not the method of imperialism. This policy was dictated by the military need to maintain friendly relations with neighbouring capitalist countries. 'Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established. other than in the narrow military sense. stage of capitalism.In his famous work. and interconnected through trade.and at the same time it has taken humanity into an epoch of decay and destruction.i. colonialism gave way to the decline of the 'home' states into rentier states. [122] Lenin described imperialism specifically as the highest. This economic domination of a country was certainly a feature of colonialism. How does this definition of imperialism compare with the nature of the USSR? In the first place. or last. . and making deals with the US aimed against any national liberation movement which chose to remain within the orbit of 'social imperialism' . rather than the other way around. This is quite different from the penetration of the economy of the dominated country through foreign ownership of the means of production and the extraction of surplus value in the form of repatriated profits or products. Trade between the USSR and its “satellites” was organised by bureaucrats by means of planned export and import of products. Based on the most modern forces of production built up in the 'home' country. is not the same as imperialism. the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. COMECON) dominated by trade with the USSR. in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed'. to the countries it dominated. The tying of a country’s economy instead into a common market (i. of a financial oligarchy. Imperialism. but imperialism corresponds to the breaking down of this exclusive colonialist relation (such as pertained to the way Portugal maintained its colonies up until 1974) and its replacement by domination which is founded on “free trade” and capital investment.

“Socialism in one commune” The leadership of the Chinese bureaucracy was recruited from the working class and urban intelligentsia. the same article quoted also refers to the leadership of the working class. they enforce their dictatorship over the running dogs of imperialism . Who are the people? At the present stage in China they are the working class. These classes. the Chinese CP devised a unique solution to the problem of industrialisation which would avoid increasing the political power of the urban workers. it progressed to complete indifference to principle when it came to the formation of blocs and alliances. One of the most scandalous episodes in this saga was the aid that never seemed to be able to reach the Vietnamese from the USSR because it travelled through China. association and so on'. the people’s democratic dictatorship . led by the working class and the Communist Party. to forming close pacts with US imperialism to betray and undermine the anti-imperialist struggle. it meant forming political blocs with bourgeois governments at the expense of the working class. Democracy is practiced within the ranks of the people. The nationalism of the people of an oppressed nation is progressive in so far as it strives for national liberation and is directed against imperialism. But the peasantry demanded of the Communists leaders a solution to the principle problems facing the peasantry. within the alliance between workers and peasants. it meant the shackling of the urban proletariat and their subordination to the peasantry. the Kuomintang reactionaries and their accomplices. Once the CCP had taken power. Each commune would establish a miniature self-contained economy with its own steel manufacturing. But the fuzziness in Maoist theory on these questions in the 1940s developed over time.continue to accept aid from the USSR to fight the US. it meant limiting calls for expropriation of capitalists to 'foreign monopoly capitalism'. The Chinese Communist Party was obliged to engage in very complex political manoeuvring during the 30-year-long national liberation and civil war struggle. This diplomatic struggle led to a division of the world’s national liberation movements into rival pro-China and pro-Soviet camps. unite to form their own state and elect their own government. who enjoy the rights of freedom of speech. the urban petit-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. Having been obliged to make a virtue of national self-sufficiency.. [123] Just as the declarations in favour of 'freedom of association' in the above passage cannot be taken at face value. In the 1960s. and the urban workers and professional people would be dispersed into the countryside to 'learn from the peasants'. Maoism is 'Popular Front-ism' par excellence. The tactic of uniting as broad a front as possible against the common enemy is habitually and mechanistically taken to an extreme .. the peasantry.. took place over approximately a decade from 1960.the landlord class and the bureaucraticbourgeoisie. to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right. but it rested on the peasantry.. The USA was then able to chose to make it a three-way fight or lend support to one or another party in the internal struggle.an extreme which has no regard for class divisions. . Mao defined the nature of the Chinese Revolution and its task as follows: '. . “Bloc of four classes” In 1949. In other words the Popular Front policy which proved so disastrous for the communist movement in Europe and China in the 1930s. When this nationalism is transplanted to an imperialist country such as Australia. In the early 1950s. Industrialisation would be delivered directly to the rural communes. and refuse to bite the hand that fed it. light industry and so on. in the interests of maintaining a bloc with the 'national bourgeoisie'.. it becomes down-right reactionary. assembly. as well as the representatives of those classes.. choosing their tactics solely in order to maximise the advantage for imperialism and most weaken the liberation struggle. The rapid transition from the apparently ultra-left denunciation of Khrushchev in favour of a harder antiimperialist line. within the 'bloc of four classes'. In international relations. [124] One of the most repulsive characteristics of Maoism is its promotion of chauvinism. that they could not resolve on their own: national liberation and industrialisation. the “bloc of four classes” meant attempts to incorporate bourgeois representatives in the government.

O’shea was sent to jail. The M-L’s tendency towards dogmatism verged on being a serious problem with the English language. rather than directing the work of activists in the trade union and social movements. Chiang Kai Shek remained with his Army just across the Formosa Straits. But it was a mistaken policy. the CPA(M-L) had begun to establish itself in the other states. political liberalisation was incompatible with maintenance of the Stalin myth. and more were pouring into Vietnam. the Maoists still held some key positions in militant industrial unions. Clarrie O’shea defied the penal laws which had been put in place by Menzies to crush the militancy of Stalinist-led trade unions in the 1950s. Clarrie O’shea and a significant number of Communist Party members prominent in the trade union movement in Victoria. This meant doing whatever was necessary to soften the Cold War isolation policy of imperialism. felt personally threatened by the leader of the world Stalinist movement condemning Stalin in the most extreme terms . the CPA split along geographical lines. the Communist Party of Australia had had quite close contacts with the Chinese Communist Party. the majority of the CPA leadership sided with the Soviet Communist Party. supported the Chinese position. there was always the danger that by opening the possibility of criticism of Stalin. in August 1963. the CPA(M-L) followed the Mao Zedong line.“despotism”. as it happened). the bureaucratically controlled Soviet economy was going down the tube. and was the beginning of the end for the Liberal-National regimes which had held power in Australia since 1949. especially in science. But as the split became inevitable. As is common in Australian working class politics. Support for the CPA(M-L) was minimal outside of Melbourne. The Chinese bureaucracy felt no such need. etc etc. III: A conflict of interests For the Soviet Union. Secondly. by raising the technical level of the rural economy. won the leading position in the Wharfies union. Ted Hill. Khrushchev believed that it was necessary for the Soviet Union to open up trade with the West. Initially. “mass terror”. with the support of Flo Russell. but upon the bureaucracy turning to the peasantry to maintain the subordination of the urban working class and the intelligentsia to the bureaucracy. The more so because 'communists'. Khrushchev had legitimised criticism of the revolution itself. “criminal murder”. It was not surprising then that they were initially more than sympathetic to China’s condemnations of Khrushchev following his 1956 'secret speech'. The Split in the CPA Since 1949. based not upon the proletariat turning to the countryside to lead the peasantry. and decentralisation of planning was essential. A small party like the CPA depended more than any on the unity of the Stalinist movement. There was reason to fear that this may open the way to counter-revolution. By 1966. who had maintained the faith for so long by way of unquestioning belief in the infallibility of Comrade J V Stalin. a degree of liberalisation. The prospect of a split was horrific for them. especially Lance Sharkey hesitated for a long time. and the split was consolidated into two rival CPAs. Communist Parties and liberation movements relying on Soviet support. and a million workers came out in his support in a powerful general strike movement. From the end of 1964 however. “monstrous falsification”. Just as the CPA had slavishly followed the Stalin line since 1923. The polemic inside the CPA during the period from 1956 to 1963 was one of “unity” versus the “purity” of . Otherwise. Victorian State Secretary of the Party. whatever that meant for the governments. He was able. From every point of view these policies were extremely threatening for the Chinese. a vast American Army was garrisoned in Korea. Shortly after the split. a CPA(M-L) member in Melbourne.Decentralisation of industry. to leave the CPA and establish a pro-Chinese Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). The CPA did not finally commit itself to support of the CPSU until the end of 1961. it combined its propaganda with serious work in the trade union movement. The leadership. Ted Bull. This movement destroyed the penal laws. Since Stalin had been made into the personification of the Revolution. the CPA(M-L) concentrated on propaganda. education and technology. Nevertheless. In 1969. The economy of China was extremely backward. The rival workers' state bureaucracies maintained their political [125] sponsorship of the two factions. Furthermore. seemed to make sense in a country as vast and as backward as China. and political liberalisation was a million miles away from the thoughts of the Chinese bureaucracy (and none too close to the hearts of the Soviet bureaucracy either. even as it reached about 200 members by mid-1964.

In fact. 'the Movement was totally isolated from any upsurge of the masses'. and supported Sukharno’s principle of Manipol . Many left the CPA in the years after 1956. of the theoretical and political soundness of the regime in the Soviet Union itself' reflected Eric Aarons in his autobiography. While some PKI leaders had supported the coup. made no resistance. Asked whether Communists could support a petit-bourgeois military coup such as that of the September 30th Movement. Four of the five leading figures of the PKI’s Politburo were summarily shot. In fact. as a result of its failure to take the leadership of the national liberation struggle. many in the leadership of the CPA never reconciled themselves to this denunciation. But 'once the September 30th Movement broke out. Sudisman said “Both Yes and No”. The confusion of class-lines propagated by the Chinese led in 1965 to one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall the Communist movement. defeated and demoralised Party into a large and dynamic force with three million members and more than 20 million supporters in affiliated organisations. 'In fact the PKI once even put forward the slogan “Two in One. . The PKI declared that it was not anti-Army. a new group of young leaders inspired by the victory of the Chinese Revolution.Stalinist theory. Having destroyed the mass organisations of the working class. the PKI collaborated with the government through the system known as Nasakom . but Sudisman was put on trial. the PKI was passive. An unsuccessful coup by Lt. but the cloth had already begun to unravel in Europe and elsewhere. the Indonesian Communist Party had been reduced to a relatively marginal force. In the urban centres however there was a working class numbering tens of millions. Beginning in 1950 . In reality however. The seeds of a later split were already present. the initiative had not come from them. criticise its hesitant policies. the PKI believed that 'the People would be made more prepared and capable of defending themselves' as a result of the action. [127] Sudisman explained the PKI’s policy in relation to the government of Sukharno: 'to support its progressive policies. and supported the 30th September Movement. provided the pretext for devastating repression of the Party. Massacre in Indonesia One of the Communist Parties under Chinese influence was the Communist Party of Indonesia. [although] the PKI disagreed with the right-wing policy of certain Army generals'. and even became a ready victim of arrests . before he was sentenced to death. Col. While the PKI was tied into this 'power sharing' arrangement. While many CPA members were attracted by the political liberalisation implicit in Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin. Sudisman’s final address.the equal representation of nationalist. But by the early 1960s it had become reliant on the ability of the ageing President Sukharno to protect it from the CIA-supported right-wing leadership of the Army. [126] The split had broken the monolith. Hundreds of thousands of Communists and others were killed in the following months and equally large numbers imprisoned. The overthrow of the pro-imperialist regime in Iraq by Kasim was cited as an example of a coup which Communists rightly supported. By the early 1950s. The authority of the leadership was undermined. the military was plotting its overthrow.. after the events of 1956. But this polemic was but the outer form for the struggle over the issues of political perspective posed by Khrushchev. religious and communist groups in each sector of government. Thus.1951. In this speech. and oppose those policies which harmed the people'. turned the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) from a small. The PKI 'believed that action by the progressive officers would be the thing to safeguard President Sukharno’s left-wing policies particularly as we regarded the political situation' as 'steadily developing into a revolutionary offensive'.. we were unsure what to make. Brezhnev put the lid back on in the Soviet Union. the Army removed President Sukharno and installed General Suharto in early 1966. and “For Civil Order Help the Police” . the Armed Forces and the People”. analysed why the strategies of the PKI led to the terrible debacle of 1965.'guided democracy'.as a result of Army orders to “take action on the pretext of the PKI being directly involved”'. 'Even though we now rejected the substance of Chinese attacks on Soviet policy. the faith was weakened. the Army moved swiftly and ruthlessly to liquidate the PKI and every person even remotely connected with it. Untung’s September 30th Movement in 1965. delivered on July 21 1967. notably among the CP’s most prominent intellectuals.

The youth particularly were mobilised against any and all tendencies towards independent thought or action in every sphere of Chinese life. on the side of the PKI and on that of its adversaries. scientific and educational work was paralysed. He frankly exposes how the Maoist policies of 'People’s Democratic Dictatorship'. blamed the defeat on China’s ultra-left over-estimation of the revolutionary situation in the mid-60s. which completely abolishes the exploitation of man by man. Deng Xiaoping. not as a whole. and then the Moscow Trials to liquidate the entire leadership of the Revolution and the Red Army. All cultural. He also totally accepts responsibility for these policies. On the one hand. the workers. Manipol also makes room for the interests of the capitalist class (the bourgeoisie).. working peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie. the work of the front comes alive. rather than the peasantry). forgot that the imperialists and the reactionaries here at home could become consumed by a rage to strike.. In the first phase of the Cultural Revolution. IV: The Cultural Revolution In September 1965.' Sudisman’s speech is inspirational. Sudisman said: 'First: In the field of ideology the mistake was subjectivism. but at the same time expresses total confidence in the future of the Indonesian Revolution. . This means looking at something from one point of view. In the frenetic campaign which ensued. such as the CPA. and re-building an administration owing allegiance to Mao alone. But it became incorrect when it was expanded to run: “If Manipol as a common programme is carried out consistently. The politically uneducated youth and the peasants were to be his battering ram against the Party that had made the Revolution.. . the head of state from 1959 (accused of the 'heresy' of asserting the primacy of the working class.. this resulted in liberalism. one-sidedly. the work of the front is dead. it is interesting to note that pro-Soviet Stalinists. But in practice the PKI sank deeply into the sea of unity and did not pay enough attention to struggle. This particular formulation was correct. the PKI leaders were also infected with modern revisionism. and General Secretary of the Party. Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” was aimed at smashing the Chinese Communist Party. made a speech urging school pupils to criticise 'bourgeois liberalism and Khrushchevism'. 'Second: In the field of politics. Mao’s closest associate. Without struggle. with struggle. which comes from the embourgeoisement caused by attaining official positions in the state. at the height of its power. the PKI forgot to be vigilant. originating socially from the ocean of the petty bourgeoisie. Working in a front means working with other classes: consequently it is only proper to wage a class struggle in the interests of the driving forces of the revolution. the programme of the PKI is Socialism. Production plummeted as workers spent long sessions in the study of Mao’s 'thoughts'. 'Third: In the field of organisation the PKI leadership did not consistently put into practice the proper method of settling contradictions in the Party through criticism and self-criticism. Thus the Indonesian capitalists cannot possibly be brought along to Socialism . the urban youth were mobilised against the intelligentsia and . the PKI leadership correctly stressed the importance of unity and struggle in carrying out a popular front policy. As a common programme. One example was the slogan “Manipol is a common programme”. . on the other in commandism.. army leader Lin Biao. Without criticism and self-criticism we became uncritical and criticism from below did not flourish. 'Aside from subjectivism. While Sudisman identified the right-opportunist aspects of Maoist policies as being the main source of their defeat. and therefore maintains the existence of exploitation of the working class. Popular Front-ism..Summing up the ideological errors of the PKI.they will certainly resist Socialism. and Stalinist organisational methods led to disaster for the Indonesian workers. These ideological weaknesses were the origins of certain theoretical conceptions of [co-operation] with the bourgeoisie. 'Consequently. [128] Prime targets of the campaign were Liu Shaoqi. the cult of Mao was elevated to a pitch surpassing even Stalin’s cult. Just as Stalin had used “Lenin levy” to defeat the leadership of the Revolution in the Party. On the other hand. with the result that reality is faced not as a coherent totality but as a cluster of discrete fragments. and based on the narrow minded working methods of the petty bourgeoisie. What was required under such conditions was essentially the Marxist-Leninist skill to calculate scientifically the concrete balance of forces on each side. in other words. it will be identical with the programme of the PKI”.

and launched holy war. China once more degenerated into the chaos of factional fighting which had afflicted China for centuries. Less than a month after Mao’s death. the general population was simply a passive base of support for campaigns waged inside the Party. Isn't that exactly what Marxists should be doing? And haven't they been proved right by what has taken place in China since Mao’s death? Quite frankly.generally the best elements of the Party . were denounced as 'counter-revolutionaries' and jailed indefinitely. science [130]. Only four of the seventeen members of the 1956 Politburo survived to the Ninth Congress in April 1969 Mao himself. most notably Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping. friends and family members. and which the Revolution had only just succeeded in overcoming. grass and trees. the urban youth which were out of control in the cities were broken up into small groups and sent to the countryside to “learn form the peasants”. In the second phase of the Cultural Revolution. they were kept out of harm’s way. By contrast. Marxist analysis and truthfulness. although from 1971 onwards there was a gradual return to 'normality'. and the other members of the Gang of Four. Scattered around to vast hinterland of China. Mao faced again the objective fact that his policy had brought the country to the brink of destruction. To this end. As a result. Mao had no mechanism for controlling or directing the “revolution”. anyone who cannot distinguish between a revolution and a witch-hunt should stay out of politics. Mao’s war against the Chinese Communist Party. The means of Mao’s war against the Party was quite different from Stalin’s. Mao’s wife Jiang Jing. Food production was maintained (at a primitive level. did not really end until Mao’s death in September 1976. because the workers were engaged in 'revolution' rather than production). his acolyte Lin Biao. art. the pragmatic and revered Zhou Enlai and Li Xiannian. Deng Xiaoping was eventually to succeed in taking Chinese Stalinism over to the policy of the restoration of capitalism under the political control of the Communist Party. So discredited were the slogans of the 'cultural revolution' that in a short time the 'capitalist roaders'. rapidly consolidated their power. Mao appealed to all the most anti-social and backward aspects of the youth. To this end. The Cultural Revolution. Lessons were stopped. once the ranks of the revolutionaries had been diluted in the “Lenin Levy”. the atomised and terrorised population was mobilised against the Party [129]. For Stalin. who had led the Cultural Revolution against the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese working class. and 'politics' reduced to mindless repetition of 'Mao’s Thoughts' and the witch-hunting of anyone unwilling or unable to reduce themselves to the same idiotic level. to ensure that there was energy left over for witch-hunting. under the control of the conservative Chinese peasantry. let alone reasoned argument. By-passing the Party apparatus in this way (something Stalin never dared do). Some way had to be found to halt the disintegration. being without the support of industry.better-off or educated sections of the working class (equated with the intelligentsia). put to manual work under back-breaking and primitive conditions. love and affection. and were supplemented by very effective social control through the eyes and ears of a thousand million neighbours. In December 1966. that is. are “bourgeois”? How is the working class to raise the cultural level of society and “catch up and overtake the West” by idealising backwardness? In the long run. by the public. in China torture and murder were carried out quite publicly. And how does it educate the youth (or anybody else) to tell them that education. In the third phase of the Cultural Revolution. in all areas of the country. and called on the population itself to overthrow the Party administration in their area. and taught the youth to regard all manifestations of culture as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary. What do we make of the Cultural Revolution? To its supporters in the West. Mao mobilised the general population rather than the secret police as the actual weapon of terror. He encouraged and let loose a gigantic force. Mao declared that the 'bourgeois headquarters' was in the top leadership of the Party itself. nice clothes. all entertainment and social life other than 'politics' denounced. rival groups claimed the mantle.but against each other. isn't that just going to convince people that capitalism . while there was no force capable of restraining it. while the surviving Party apparatus was given limited “rehabilitation” to get the cities back into working order. it was it a brave effort by the ageing and isolated Mao to rouse the urban youth against reactionary government and Party bureaucrats who wanted to restore capitalism. . not only against the “capitalist-roaders” . Mao appealed to the loyalty of the youth to the Revolution.

confusion and disorientation? Undoubtedly the latter. sweeping the US and local capitalist forces before them. the Revolution itself still remained an inspiration to national liberation movements in Asia. The Victory of the Vietnamese Revolution The victory of the Vietnamese people in their 30 year war against first French and then US imperialism is of significance comparable to that of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in 1945. The accusation that these leaders wanted to follow Khrushchev’s path is equally tenable. By the time that the Chinese government enjoyed negligible support among revolutionary or national liberation movements.opened up contact with the US. as did the Albanians. the teenage soldiers of the NLF drove their tanks into the grounds of the US Embassy as the last helicopter took off. The People’s Republic of China was admitted to the UN October 1971. The day before May Day 1975. In 1945. withdrawing 3 weeks later. China comes in from the cold From early in 1969. overflowing with collaborators clutching their suitcases of banknotes. and made it all the more secure when it came. The US military gradually withdrew. This agreement divided the South into a checkerboard of US and NLF-controlled areas. that was eventually the conclusion that many urban youth drew from the experience. The Maoist movement in Australia has since largely disintegrated. their self-organisation. Such was the fraternal support given by their Chinese neighbours.must be better than socialism? Unfortunately. and alert them to the dangers of capitalist restoration. Every new diplomatic contact or trade agreement was now hailed as a 'victory' along the road to 'Socialism'. The NLF eventually burst through. Did the Cultural Revolution raise the level of consciousness. The Chinese have collaborated to this day with the US in punishing the Vietnamese people for their victory over the imperialist super-power. As a political leading centre China was past its use-by date by the mid-1970s so far as the workers in the advanced capitalist countries were concerned but China remained a potential source of political and material assistance for national movements unable to get support from imperialism. and Nixon visited China in February 1972. independence and combativity? Or did it sow fear. If the Cultural Revolution was intended to empower the working masses. deceiving themselves with the illusion that the puppet Saigon regime could take over the War. he collaborated in the reimposition of French colonial rule and the . If the only means the masses have of expressing their own aspirations and interests is to tear each other to pieces under the banner of total. then it patently failed to do so. China invaded Vietnam in February 1979. The 'Gang of Four' had their followers. as part of a protracted campaign of harassment and isolation against the Vietnamese Republic. China began to take a rightward course in its foreign policy. The evidence of the policies of the Chinese Government today would seem sufficient evidence to justify Mao’s warning that top leaders in the Party wanted to restore capitalism. an epithet they formerly reserved for Trotskyists.namely to elucidate the nature of Stalinism. And the masses who responded in such an awesome way to the call of their Leader can hardly be blamed for that failure. The massacre in Tien An Min Square in 1989 brought the spectacle of Australian Maoists denouncing the Chinese government as 'fascists'. In 1944. blind and unqualified support for the Leader and Great Helmsman . an economic bloc joining nations on the other side of the world from them. that within three years Vietnam had joined COMECON. China was instrumental in pressuring the Vietnamese into the hopeless peace agreement eventually signed in Paris in January 1973. still under Mao’s leadership.is this anything to do with the emancipation of the working class? Let us accept that Deng Xiaoping was a 'capitalist roader'. It is also considerable significance in relation to the task of this work . Africa and Latin America. Ho Chi Minh went into the countryside and regrouped the young revolutionaries fleeing the Japanese repression in Hanoi. 'Ping-pong diplomacy' beginning with an exchange of ping-pong teams . The ineffectiveness of the Cultural Revolution is proved by the fact that it only delayed the triumph of the 'capitalist roaders' a few years. Even this role declined over the decade of the 1970s. Chinese Stalinism in the National Liberation Struggle Vietnam Along with the USSR.

Stalinism is a political creed. it appears that the Vietnamese leadership swore never again to be betrayed as they had been in 1945 and 1955. The USSR . as apt as such epithets may appear from time to time. He continued however. young and old alike. by the time national liberation had been achieved in 1975. extreme chauvinism and in particular anti-Vietnamese racism. but ranks as one of the greatest atrocities that a regime has ever perpetrated against its own people. and then be left to it own devices. the Vietnamese Stalinists built on the lessons of the earlier struggle and won a stunning victory. [131] In April 1975. military involvement in Cambodia and above all the US embargo would keep it one of the poorest countries in the world for a further 20 years. Sihanouk returned to Phnom Penh in September but resigned as head of state seven months later. which facilitated the US and China using their veto on the Security Council to continue recognition of the Pol Pot government as the only legitimate government of Cambodia until the UN intervention in 1991. including systematic destruction of any machine or tool more advanced than an axe (apart from guns and instruments of torture). both in prolonging their war and in shaping the world into which liberated Vietnam was born. facilitating the setting up of a US protectorate in the South. In the anti-American war of 1955-75. national self-sufficiency. 'treachery' and such like to Stalinism is of little value in understanding the role of Vietnamese Stalinism. a creed which was learnt by the leaders of the Vietnamese Revolution who were trained in the Comintern of Stalin. By its very nature Stalinism was able to “marry” with the revolutionary aspirations and energy of the workers and peasants of Vietnam. From his base in the countryside. abhorrence of all manifestation of independent thought or action. The victory was won despite the attempts of Moscow and Beijing to pressure them into a “peace” with the puppet Saigon regime. the Stalinist Khmer Rouge began to grow in strength. the specific influence of the bureaucratic usurpers of the Russian Revolution.massacre of the Saigon workers. Ho then led a 10 year long successful struggle against the French. Cambodia After the overthrow of the 'neutralist' Prince Sihanouk in a US-organised coup. shortly before the victory in Vietnam. Invasion and blockade by China. despite the pacificistic line of Moscow Stalinism in the West. After 1975. has been responsible for untold suffering for the Vietnamese people. Pol Pot took up the principles of the Chinese Revolution and pushed them to the extreme: adulation of the 'simple peasant' as the sole source of wisdom (apart from the Great Leader). were marched into the countryside and put to work under inhuman conditions of Stalinist repression. to the point of systematically liquidating not only the bourgeoisie. to represent the Pol Pot government at the United Nations. Stalinism. The generic attribution of 'cowardice'. the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh without facing any significant resistance. antipathy to the 'West' translated into hatred of the Twentieth Century. Vietnam had been devastated. to the point of self-isolation. The heroism of the Vietnamese workers and peasants and their leadership is legendary. Saturation bombing of Cambodia by the US on a scale which is unprecedented in history (and never officially sanctioned by the US legislature) led to a total breakdown in the social fabric of Cambodia. The Stalinists then again accepted a US promise and withdrew their forces to the north of the 17th parallel. Escalating conflict across the border with Vietnam eventually led to war in December 1977. Cambodia was the first ex-colonial country to be subjected to the full might of modern warfare. on the basis of a promise of Vietnamese independence from the US. in a period of crisis for imperialism and upsurge in working class struggle internationally. and a creed which guided the leadership of the Revolution’s allies in the Chinese and Soviet bureaucracy. sick and injured. The source of the victory was the marriage of the gains of the Russian and Chinese Revolution with the revolutionary spirit of the Vietnamese masses. in which the tactics and strategy of the Viet Minh were closely modelled on those of the Chinese Communist Party in their war against the imperialist agent Chiang Kai Shek. and that they remained convinced of victory. but also the urban middle-class and working class. What then took place was unknown outside of Cambodia for four years. The entire population of the capital. Nevertheless. Sihanouk moved to Peking and allied himself with the Khmer Rouge which was sponsored by the Chinese. despite a deliberate denial of sufficient arms from China and the USSR.

as does the cynicism of governments such as the Chinese. Maoism . However the MPLA. Angola and Cambodia. Why did China support an imperialist creature against a national liberation movement? One can only presume that it did so because the MPLA was supported by 'Soviet social-imperialism'. From being the principal source of inspiration for national liberation movements across the world for the first two decades after World War Two. after 320 years of Portuguese rule.withdrew support and the Vietnamese invaded in alliance with pro-USSR Heng Samrin forces on Xmas Day 1978. Maoism grew to become an equal rival of “Moscow Stalinism” partly due to the specific features of the Chinese Revolution. and the South African Army which intervened across the border from Namibia. the MPLA was able to claim victory. There is now no international centre of proletarian revolution and capitalism is being restored in both the USSR and China. has had to wage a debilitating war on several fronts. The colonial regime had long been in decay. Table of Contents .a “Brand” of Stalinism Stalinism came into the world as the leadership of the first world political party . Pol Pot also tests to the utmost the concepts by which we understand the nature of Stalinism. and economically isolated by the US embargo. Angola Angola gained its independence on 10 November 1975.Next Chapter . now the effective government in Angola. Support from the Chinese was indispensable in providing UNITA legitimacy as a nationalist force. Under crushing pressure from China. an 'even worse enemy than imperialism'. the weaker FLNA forces. Despite a UN sponsored settlement in December 1988 the war continues to this day.it was the Cambodian section of the Communist International. following the collapse of the Caetano regime. leaving behind a government sympathetic to its own Soviet version of Stalinism. but also UNITA. The MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) had been fighting Portuguese colonialism since 1960. Unlike “Titoism”. and thus have their origin not in internationalism. the negation of internationalism.the Comintern. but mainly due to the awesome base upon which it rested. still wreaking havoc in Cambodia to this day. but in the narrow outlook of 'socialism in one country'. an outfit created by imperialism and led by foreign mercenaries. and initiated a process of disintegration. sustained by neighbouring African governments. The support of Cuban soldiers and Soviet arms was vital to their victory. China became by 1975 the chief military and political opponent of national liberation struggles in counties such as Vietnam. even more bloody since Soviet aid has been cut off. The depth of inhumanity manifested in Pol Pot’s movement beggars the imagination. who supported Pol Pot solely to further their diplomatic-military strategies in the region. essentially against foreign intervention.Footnotes . China supported UNITA! Within three months. How can we describe as a tendency in the working class a political tendency which adopts as its task the physical annihilation of the working class? The genealogy of the Khmer Rouge is clear enough . the Vietnamese withdrew June 1988. It is an irony of history that all the negative features that we associate with international political organisation which could be summarised as bureaucratic centralism . Pol Pot. Viewed within the context of the historical development of Stalinism one cannot avoid the conclusion that Pol Pot is indeed accurately described as a Stalinist. and the MPLA had been fighting a civil war against not only the colonialists. However. The appearance of Maoism broke the monolith of Stalin’s hold on the communist movement. aided by the US via Thailand and by China remained an ever-present threat.were introduced by Stalinism.

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