By Eric Trevett
A reply to a letter published in last week’s New Worker
WE HAVE published Peter Savage’s letter in full and it reflects the position of many in the left of the labour movement but we find it necessary to refute the basic foundations of it. We must also stress that our ideological position is taken independently of any other party and we do not base our analysis on patronage from anyone.
The history of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been very turbulent. Up to and following the revolution the CPC strategy for developing socialism included strengthening relations with the Soviet Union.
But the rupture between the parties arose from Krushchov’s so-called secret speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. The CPC was correct in saying – which very few others apart from the Albanian Party of Labour saw at the time – that Krushchov’s speech was a betrayal of Marxism-Leninism and they condemned Krushchov correctly as a capitalist roader.
There was a direct link between Krushchov’s speech at the 20th Congress and the weakening of working class state power in the Soviet Union, which was further weakened by the ridiculous claim that the dictatorship of the proletariat had given way to the state of the whole people.
This pandered to the counter-revolutionary movement in Soviet society and with Gorbachov coming to office the counter-revolution was achieved. The CPSU was dissolved and socialism was abandoned.
As a consequence socialism was dismantled throughout Eastern Europe and the unity between the nations in the Soviet Union itself gave way to nationalism and a hierarchy scrambling to establish privatisation in the hands of the opportunists.
Whilst the Chinese communists were correct in condemning Krushchov, they took up a subjective analysis in which they perceived the Soviet Union as a greater threat than that of United States imperialism. This led to China playing a negative role in the struggle of the Afghan people for the improvements in their lives that were being achieved under the leadership of the Babrak Kamal government.
The CPC policy of that time squandered the budding relationship it enjoyed among the developing countries at the Bandung conference of 1954.
The CPC’s domestic policies were also undermined by the efforts of so-called self sufficiency during the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which embraced the ideas of backyard steelworks and so on.
The New Communist Party stands by the critical analysis it made of the CPC at that stage of its development.
The reason why it would be wrong to report the attacks made then by myself and the late Comrade Ernie Trory today is that the basis for such an analysis no longer exists.
Communists and communist parties have to make an ongoing analysis of global and domestic events and these take into account the developing situation.
In upholding the principles of Marxism-Leninism it is necessary sometimes to make major changes in policies. The basic mistake made in evaluating the situation of the CPC’s direction and international policies is to regard socialism in that country as being fully developed.
In fact China is a developing country with a communist leadership and its perspective for achieving a fully socialist state will stretch over decades.
In the shorter term its aim is to raise the living standards of the people, strengthen its trade relations with other countries and attract inward investment and new technology. It is also developing the size and influence of the working class, strengthening its state control and influence among the population, which is still largely peasant dominated.
In a way the tactics of the CPC are not dissimilar to those adopted by Lenin and Stalin in dealing with the kulaks and temporarily making concessions to them in order to boost production to feed the growing urban industrial proletariat.
The working class in the Soviet state was numerically small but highly concentrated in strategic areas. The industrial working class there developed on a mass scale because of commodity production, which was achieved by mechanical engineering and which required a labour-intensive quality to its development.
The Chinese problem is that to raise the level and number of its working class is complicated by its commodity production taking a much more capital intensive form.
You have only to see the use of robotics in the car industry to appreciate that.
The strategy of the CPC is to maintain working class state power with the Party maintaining and developing its influence. This includes countering the tendency of the peasants to look backwards to private ownership of land instead of looking forward to collectivisation, which provides a surer basis for prosperity.
The Chinese have taken advantage of their low wage economy and used divisions among the imperialist powers, while the country’s political stability can only be assumed by its expanding economic conditions.
The role of China, which is emerging as a major power, is extending international trade relations and expanding its internal market cannot be ignored, and therefore the Chinese are achieving access to a great deal of modern technology.
This fundamental change in the economic strategy has allowed China to achieve great advances and improvements in the interests of the Chinese people. This is all the more valuable when it is realised that the achievement has been made in spite of the population of China increasing by about 50 million every five years.
The advance on the domestic front has been accompanied by a major change in its foreign policy over the past few years as it strengthens its standing with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, some African countries, the Middle East and so on.
China has greatly assisted in the economic development of Cuba, Democratic Korea and the other remaining people’s democracies following the collapse of the Soviet Union. China has helped to thwart US imperialist intentions to stir up hostile actions against other developing countries that are making a stand against imperialism.
We live in a country where the survival of capitalism is dependent to some degree on denigrating China and negating the positive influence it now exercises in the world arena.
We stand by the analysis made by myself and Ernie Trory and the articles published at the time. But in the present stages of China’s global and domestic development it would be fundamentally wrong to say they apply to the current situation.
The position taken by Peter Savage is much too negative to be consistent with the current analysis.