‘It’s Glorious To Get Rich’

CPC Turning 100

Harsh Thakor

On July 1st the communist Party of China (CPC) turns 100. The founding of Communist Party in China was one of the greatest turning points in the history of mankind. It shaped the political course of China being a precedent to many a historic episode, be it the Long March of 1935, the anti-Japanese War from 1937-45, the Civil War of 1946-1949, the New Democratic Revolution of 1949, the Socialist Re-construction from 1949-56—the Great Leap Forward, the Socialist Education Movement of 1962, and finally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. All these world-shaking events enriched the ideology of Marxism- Leninism to a pinnacle with symmetry and continuity and unprecedented penetration of practice of mass line but it is a great travesty that at the very time of celebration with a lot of fanfare across China the CPC has completely betrayed the path it undertook from the 1930’s itself to morally make it an anti-thesis of Marxism- Leninism. With the very induction of Four Modernisations by Deng Xiaoping, the very backbone of Socialism was destroyed in China and seeds planted for capitalism to bloom. 

China from 1949-76 took social equality or revolutionary democracy to unprecedented realms, surpassing every newly independent third world country in literacy, health, agricultural and industrial production. Edgar Snow, William Hinton, Joan Robinson, Felix Greene, Maria Antonietta Macciocchi, Rewi Alley, Charles Bettelheim etc visited the very heart of China to discover the magical strides and expose the lies and pretensions of the Western media. It is hard to describe the intensity of how the hearts of people reverberated at the very core, after reading about the realities of China. Never in the history of the world was a set up constructed with factories created just besides farms and schools. Experiments in the field of medicine traversed unparalleled regions. Manual and mental labour was integrated as never before. Technicians were sent to work in factories, intellectuals to toil in the fields, students made to learn from the peasants. All commodities were more affordable than in any third world country before, unemployment unheard of, and price rise controlled as nowhere else. No army in the world was more democratic or ethical, exchanging roles of the workers and peasantry and aiding them in labour as the People’s Liberation Army. The workers controlled and revolutionised production decisions and methods in factories to an extent no country ever did. Through revolutionary committees peasants exercised rights. Forms of mass movements were innovated and undertaken to enable the masses to exercise their rights unparalleled in history, with the big character posters a concrete example.

Revolutionary democratic power reached unprecedented heights through the democratic methods of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, outpacing the democratic levels of the earlier campaigns. Path breaking experiments were made by the CPC penetrating regions untouched before.

Inventiveness or creative energy of the workers and peasants in production methods and movements touched mythical heights. Emphasis was placed on creating an inner change in people or transforming thought process through re-moulding, instead of coercion.

For the first time in history of man were ranks abolished in the army. In the pre-revolutionary period the CPC reminded people of a womb in a mother’s stomach in the manner it weaved its path. The CPC evolved in the most endangered path or precarious situations, when confronted with the overwhelming power of Chiang Kai Shek on one hand and Japan on the other. The 365 day and 6000 mile Long March was an achievement in the magnitude of a pinnacle reached. The manner the Long March was executed from Kiangsi to Yenan by initially a small bunch of cadres to turn into a mighty army, braving every possible hazard or obstacle is unprecedented in history of social movement.

It was must for every cadre to study Chairman Mao’s revolt against the urban putchist line of Wang Ming and Li Li San and advocate the line of agrarian revolution which was rural based. What was relevant was within the very Communist Party itself Mao challenged the line of urban based insurrection, which emerged victorious in the Tsunyi conference of 1935.

Chairman Mao made many a path breaking contribution to Leninism whether in philosophy or in practice. Lenin’s writings on dialectical materialism and democracy were developed even further and Mao was the pioneer of the first military theory ever for a third world country. It is notable that from the 1920’s to the 1960’s Chairman Mao held a position of a minority within the Chinese Communist Party when waging his struggle for Mass Line. This was apparent in the early 1930’s, 1956 or even 1966.

The practice of the CPC before 1949 also elevated democratic prac-tice within a Communist party to an unequalled magnitude. William Hinton’s experience in Long Bow Village in book ‘Fanshen’ in 1937 itself is a must read. So is Edgar Snow’s China which most illustratively recounts how the CPC established genuine democratic institutions through building base areas in Hunan, Shanghai or Kiangsi and portrays how the red army was built and based in the very heart of the people. It narrates how land distribution was undertaken by the red army applying the mass line. It is most intriguing how the CPC adapted Leninism in respect to the very condition s prevailing, understating the very idioms of the masses. It is a revelation reading about how the Communists established genuine democracy in base areas with the peasants controlling production after confiscation of land from warlords and schools built for villagers’ children.

The construction and functioning of the Tachai brigade formed in 1963, took revolutionary power of the peasants to new heights, unexplored or unprecedented in history. Two major conferences were launched there in 1975 and 1976. Similarly, the students’ capture of Tsinghua University in 1968 was another unique experiment as well as the workers capturing the Municipal headquarters in Shanghai in 1967.

China exhibited no degree of big nation Chauvinism from 1949-76, supporting every national liberation movement and confronting the hegemony of both superpowers, America and Russia. It never intervened or imposed itself on the foreign policies of other countries, not even Communist parties. It is fascinating that CPC even opposed the formation of a Communist International in the 1960’s. Most unfairly China was blamed for the 1962 war when the fault lay with India .China played a major role in Vietnam’s triumph over America. Its behaviour with North Korea in 1954 in the war was an exemplary example of its foreign policy exhibiting no chauvinist tendencies. In truth CPC gave no big brotherly treatment to the Indian CPI (M-L) and in fact advised it not to imitate the Chinese path.

Apart from Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou En Lai the most notable contribution from 1949-76 was made by Chang Chun Chiao who was the biggest crusader in challenging the revisionist line ,as well as Chiang Ching who revolutionised art to give it a proletarian form, at a degree never paralleled. They both comprised the ‘Gang of four’ with Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan. Lin Biao made a historic contribution at one juncture as a military commander in the 1940’s, when abolishing ranks and revolutionising the People’s Liberation Army in 1962 and enforcing the Socialist Education Movement but after 1969 made a 360 degree turn to give a blow to the Socialist Road.

Irrespective of its great achievements, there is no doubt the Chinese Communist Party displayed considerable flaws and made serious mistakes. CPC erred in not condemning assassination of Salvador Allende by America in Chile, becoming a part of the United Nations in 1971, placing more emphasis on confronting Soviet Social Imperialism than US imperialism, dismantling revolutionary Committees after 1969,delaying the Socialist transformation and Great debate, converting the Shanghai Commune system into Revolutionary Committees and in assessing 2-line struggle within a Communist Party to be sufficient for the victory of revolutionary democracy.

No doubt left sectarian tendencies were predominant during the Cultural Revolution as well as excessive power awarded to the military. Most regrettable excesses were committed on intellectuals, writers and artists and arguably even the revisionists were meted out too harsh treatment. The Red Guard depredations too abused human rights. There was deep penetration of rightist commanders in the People’s Liberation Army and insufficient practice of the masses checking the party. William Hinton explained how the ‘Gang of Four’ failed to properly establish the united front by winning over the middle sections, and thus properly applying mass line.

CPC actually failed to give sufficient respect to the inner or spiritual aspect of man or human psychology. It did not sufficiently build institutions of revolutionary democracy independent of the Communist Party .It solely depended on struggle within the frame-work of a Communist Party itself, instead of completely broadening base of democracy. Mass movements were not launched independent of the Communist Party, leading to factional tendencies resembling tussle of many characters in a plot.

It is most challenging for Marxist historians to critically study the phenomenon of the rise of Lin Biao in the late 1960’s to position of head of state, or earlier Liu Shao Chi in 1956.Similarly the rally of the Chinese people in a counter revolutionary rally in 1976 supporting Hua Kuofeng and condemning the Gang of four testifies the weakness in practice of mass line. To completely develop proletarian revolutionary power movements and organisations should be created outside the orbit of the Communist Party.

True Zhou En Lai made a monumental contribution but made a major error in re-instating Deng Xiaoping into the Communist Party. If anything CPC from 1949-56 did not adequately sharpen the sword against capitalism or revisionism allowing revisionists like Liu Shao Chi to exercise authority. In the Great Leap Forward it displayed most haphazard planning. Unintentionally Confucian thinking affected the political work of leaders and cadres. Intervention of the People’s Liberation army was excessive in preventing mass movements to blossom to the full.

There is a tendency for intellectuals across the world to solely blame Lin Biao or make him a scapegoat without being properly self-critical of the overall political conduct of the CCP On the other hand certain Maoists unfairly tag Premier Zhou En Lai as a capitalist roader, giving him no credit for being Chairman Mao’s close associate till the very end. Arguably the CPC also was unable to sufficiently mobilise the working class or penetrate the proletarian headquarters.

It is debatable whether one can analyse CPC in Mao’s time as a protagonist of Stalinism. In important ways it did continue Stalin’s legacy but on crucial issues extricated from it.CPC lacked the methodology or planning of USSR under Stalin and failed to completely overpower the capitalist roaders within the party. However, till 1976 it consistently initiated 2- line struggles against revisionism and maintained the legacy of the party as a vanguard. Unlike Stalin’s party CPC did not execute enemies or opposition in purges but galvanised masses into struggles to fight capitalist roaders through movements like the Cultural Revolution. To some extent CPC under Mao exhibited vanguardist Stalinist tendencies that did not enable mass revolutionary movements to flower at their full bloom or facilitate the masses to supervise the party. CPC under Mao did not completely fulfil the democratic aspirations or visions of Karl Marx or even Lenin, which was testified in the factional tendencies.

For one thing the old thinking process of Confucian tradition was strongly embedded in the Chinese culture and it was very challenging to completely extricate from it. The Sino-Soviet conflict too considerably affected the CPC’s political line and mass movement, diverting public attention to border disputes with USSR.

Sadly after 1978 China reverted its policies and followed a path in a directly opposite direction to that of 1949-76. It made phenomenal achievements in production, but to serve the ruling elites or create billionaires. It is ironic that today many Communist party members in China have become millionaires and corruption has reached a scale on par with countries like even India, Latin American countries and African nations. Workers are subjugated to misery in sweat shops and denied ‘reasonable wages’. After 1978 China made a 360 degree turn from its Socialist path, changing its earlier Socialist path completely. It dismantled all the communes, re- introduced ranks in the armies, introduced Special Economic Zones, privatised health and education and at an international level abandoned all support to national liberation Struggles. Today China is a major imperialist country which is a contender for world hegemony over markets and pursues expansionist military policies while maintaining a colo¬nial approach to Tibet. It has exhibited considerable nation chauvinism in recent years. Morally a free-market economy has been installed. The priority leaders like Liu Shao Chi, Lin Biao and later Deng Xiaoping placed on development of productive forces is dubious by any standard. They all advocated ‘It does not matter whether the cat is white or black as long as it catches the mice.’ Deng Xiapong raised the slogan ‘It is glorious to get rich.’ It is notable today that the present CPC smashed every brick in the wall to suppress the Maoist resurgence in China. It has suppressed or censored many a writing of the Cultural Revolution period. Its persecution of the sup-porters of Mao in 1981 was like a fascist sentence, Workers strikes have been brutally suppressed in recent times. Consumerism has virtually reached a crescendo. Still in China large volumes of sympathy are demonstrated for Mao’s policies.


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Vol. 54, No. 14-17, Oct 3 - 30, 2021