What do socialists defend in China today?

May 31, 2007

For almost two years, members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation undertook an internal educational campaign, discussion and review of the current government of the People’s Republic of China from the perspective of the struggle for socialism and the interests of the world working class. This discussion was in preparation for the possibility of a major struggle—waged from within and without—against the Chinese government, which is led by the Communist Party of China.

The following article is a summary of that discussion. The formal PSL resolution adopted by the party’s National Committee, including a thorough review of the history of the Chinese Revolution and Mao Zedong’s struggle against the elements known as “capitalist roaders,” can be read here.

The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China closed in October 2007. Its final summary resolution restated the ruling party’s goal of building “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” although it claims that China “is still in the primary stage of socialism.”1

When Frederick Engels outlined the goal of the fledgling communist movement in 1847, he noted that communism will be achieved “by the elimination of private property and its replacement by community of property.”2 Engels, like Marx, identified the abolition of private property as a foundational feature for the transition from class society to communism.

He further explained: “The abolition of private ownership is indeed the most succinct and characteristic summary of the trans-formation of the entire social system necessarily following from the development of industry, and it is therefore rightly put forward by the Communists as their main demand.”3

By that definition, it is clear that the road taken by the Communist Party of China since 1978, following the death of Mao Zedong and the defeat of his supporters within the CPC, has been in the opposite direction from communism—notwithstanding all the party’s public declarations.

The 1949 Chinese Revolution placed China squarely on the path toward socialist development. While elements of that revolution remain, the country and the ruling social order have dynamically moved toward the restoration of capitalist property relations.

Capitalist private property has been legalized and encouraged. Tens of thousands of privately owned enterprises co-exist along with state-owned enterprises. The official monopoly of foreign trade has been gradually reduced, with many of the largest western transnational capitalist corporations and banks setting up operations in cities throughout China. Large numbers of Chinese workers are employed by these foreign firms, producing vast surplus value for western investors. The Chinese government considers this to be a necessary development strategy.4

That is not to say that private capital—or foreign capital in particular—has the decisive upper hand in the Chinese economy. The gradual dissolution of the monopoly of foreign trade obscures the still-powerful mediating role of the Communist Party-led state that acts to safeguard China’s evolving industrial and scientific apparatus from the encroachments of western imperialist corporations.

There are some recent signs that the Chinese state is increasing restrictions on foreign capital so as to safeguard the position of Chinese enterprises. Each move in this direction sets off alarms among western capitalists.

The New York Times reported in November 2007: “‘There is clearly a growing economic nationalism in China that is leading to discrimination against foreign investors in pillar sectors of the economy,’ said Myron Brilliant, vice president for Asia at the United States Chamber of Commerce. ‘It’s not only a threat to foreign investors but it also undermines China’s transition to a market-based economy.’”5

Given that it is the Communist Party itself that inaugurated the restoration of capitalist property relations and opened the country to foreign transnational corporations, does the party’s hold on state power in China really matter? Or is the Communist Party of China’s continued political control over the government essentially the same as the political control of any ruling political party in a capitalist country?

Has the adoption of a market-driven economy eviscerated all that was achieved by China’s socialist revolution? And conversely, if the CPC loses political power, are there foreseeable negative consequences for the Chinese working class and peasantry in a country that is still emerging from the cruel legacy of underdevelopment?

It is our assertion that if the overthrow of the Communist Party of China were carried out by forces of domestic counterrevolution—forces that would be vigorously supported by U.S. imperialism—it would represent a historic setback for China.

The negative consequences of such an overthrow by any force other than a revolutionary communist party would fall into two broad categories. First, China’s dynamic forward economic development would come to a screeching halt. The country would be re-enslaved by the forces of western neo-colonialism—and very possibly dismembered as a national entity, as happened in the course of counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Secondly, the overthrow of the CPC would culminate the process of capitalist restoration in China. Although the restoration of capitalism is currently a process that is far advanced, it is still unfinished. The CPC’s continued hold on political power leaves open the possibility, however remote, that the present pro-capitalist course can be slowed, halted and even reversed.

If the Communist Party of China were to be replaced by another party or group dedicated to the transition to socialism and com-mun-i-sm-, repudiating the “capitalist road” reforms of the past 29 years, that would be a welcome development. No such development is apparent in the near future.

The starting point for any socialist or progressive person who honestly hopes for China’s return to a revolutionary socialist orientation must be where the pro-communist forces in China can be found. Any left wing and truly pro-communist forces that exist in China are almost certainly located within the 73 million members of the CPC, not in some other political formation.

Overview of China’s revolution

The 1949 Chinese Revolution took place in an economic landscape far different than that envisaged by the founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, in the late 1840s. Marx and Engels foresaw the proletarian or socialist revolution taking place first in industrially advanced capitalist countries. They believed that the success of building socialism would be possible based on the revolutionary movement initially succeeding in at least two or more industrially advanced countries, which would then allow for economic cooperation.6

China’s socialist revolution took place in an impoverished country with a predominantly peasant population. China was rife with mass starvation and famine. The Chinese people lived under the humiliating boot of western imperialism, facing mass opium addiction promoted by British colonialism. The people had withstood 22 years of fierce countrywide civil war and 15 years of Japanese military occupation.

Given this backdrop, the sheer heroism of the Chinese Revolution was breathtaking in scope. The leadership, especially Mao Zedong, had to navigate a path to revolution through the most complex and difficult problems. It is a truly amazing, larger-than-life story of human beings forging together a communist party and uniting hundreds of millions of destitute workers, peasants and peoples from many nationalities who together overcame the brutality of war and repression.

China’s revolution was socialist in the sense that its leaders in the CPC had a socialist orientation toward fulfilling the historic interests of the working class—even though the working class itself was still relatively small and immature. The old capitalist state was smashed, and the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) army led by Chiang Kai-shek fled the mainland for Taiwan.

The revolution created a new state—a new instrument of coercion against the former ruling class based on a new class power. The communist-led Red Army, made up of millions of peasants and workers, became the anchor of the new state power. The workers and poor peasants were elevated, at least in a sociological sense, to be the new ruling power.

Between 1949 and 1955, the Chinese people—with the leadership of what appeared on the surface to be a unified Communist Party—eradicated mass starvation, opium addiction and prostitution. They made huge advances toward wiping out illiteracy, providing health care for the hundreds of millions of people and stable employment for the urban working class. Landlordism was eradicated in the countryside. Social change of this character was virtually unprecedented in history. By 1955, core industries had been nationalized and the beginnings of a planned economy began to take shape.

Twin tasks of the Chinese Revolution

Despite the Chinese Revolution’s socialist character, many of the tasks that had been accomplished in the process of the bourgeois democratic revolutions in Europe were unaddressed in China as of 1949. The flourishing of modern industry, urbanization and the dissolution of the patriarchal village, the break-up of feudal estates, separation of church and state, the ascendancy of science, formal and legally recognized individual rights—these characteristic features of the bourgeois democratic revolution were undone tasks as of 1949.

These basic historical tasks had been thwarted in China by the combined forces of western imperialism, operating in and through their Chinese proxies, the semi-feudal dynastic establishment, and the comprador capitalist ruling class. Despite Marx and Engels’ original prognostications, the Chinese communists led a social revolution under circumstances far different from those that existed in the west.

The inter-tangled bourgeois and socialist revolutions, with historically contradictory tasks, appeared at the same juncture in China’s transformation. The CPC, in turn, although its true base was the revolutionary peasantry and urban working class, would ultimately become the political chamber where various and conflicting class currents competed for influence.

China’s development since the revolution is filled with a historical irony: The period of socialist tasks, roughly corresponding to the years 1950-78, has since 1978 been replaced by a period where the bourgeois task of national capitalist development has been primary. This is the reverse of what the earliest communist theorists had anticipated.

The same economic backwardness that retarded the growth of the working class also stunted the growth of the bourgeoisie in China. In Europe, the vanguard sectors of the bourgeoisie became a revolutionary force against feudalism and the nobility of medieval Europe. Ironically, it fell to the Chinese workers’ and peasants’ revolution to sever the debilitating connection to western imperialism. This, in turn, was the prerequisite for the elimination of semi-feudal-ism and comprador capitalism. By reclaiming the sovereignty of the country China was able to rapidly address the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution.

The process by which the leadership of China’s bourgeois democratic revolution fell to the working class and the communist party is succinctly described by William Hinton, the author of “Fanshen,” the classic study of village life in post-revolutionary China.

China’s independent national bourgeoisie, the revolutionary sector of the bourgeois class, was weak and vacillating. It could not possibly take on both the Chinese landlords and the imperialists plus their Chinese comprador partners without fully mobilizing both the working class and the peasantry. But mobilizing the working class meant putting certain limits on managerial powers and meeting certain working-class demands—job security, retirement pay, and health care—while mobilizing the peasantry meant carrying out land reform. This could not be done without confiscating the wealth of the landlord class, from which the bourgeoisie had, in the main, arisen and to which it still maintained myriad ties. Furthermore, the confiscation of property and land threatened the foundations of all private property and caused capital-ists—much as they desired liberation from feudalism and imperialism—to vacillate. Over and over again, the na-tional bourgeoisie proved incapable of firm national leadership against the people’s enemies, foreign and domestic. Leading the Chinese democratic revolution thus shifted by default to the working class, more numerous by far and older and more experienced than the bourgeoisie, and to the Communist Party that had established itself as spokes-man for all the oppressed.7

The Russian experience

It was not the first time the historic tasks of the bourgeois democratic and socialist revolutions were combined. The process of combined and uneven development explains the reality not only for China’s development but also for Russia’s at the time of its socialist revolution in 1917. Lenin, writing in 1899 about the future path of the revolution in backward and semi-feudal Russia, came to the conclusion that the stifling of Russia’s democratic revolution would lead to the working class—rather than the liberal bourgeoisie—becoming the vanguard of a revolution that he still believed would be essentially bourgeois democratic in character.8

After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the new revolutionary government inherited a capitalist economy that was brutally backward. It had less than one-twelfth the level of U.S. economic output. The Russian people were largely illiterate peasants using tools of production that were a century behind those in the advanced capitalist world.

Yet during the 1930s—when the industrially advanced capitalist economies of the United States and Western Europe were paralyzed by the Great Depression—the Soviet planned economy experienced tempestuous rates of industrial growth. Having removed private ownership and the anarchy of a system of production chasing profits in the “market,” the Soviets experienced a labor shortage rather than mass unemployment.

In fact, with the exception of the years of the German invasion during World War II, the Soviet planned economy avoided any period of economic recession or depression. Its economy had full employment—unemployment was nonexistent. Even in the years between 1978 and 1990, when Soviet economic growth slowed dramatically, it did not fall into the negative growth that characterizes economic recession.

By comparison with the United States, England, France, Germany, Japan and the other imperialist and colonizing countries, the standard of living of the Soviet worker was relatively low. But compared with Russia’s pre-1917 quality of life—not to mention the quality of life of workers in the oppressed countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia—Soviet workers experienced a much higher standard of living by any measure.

What is a workers’ state?

In fact, the experience of the first socialist revolution in Russia helped communists around the world learn, in practice, the necessary measures for building a society free from capitalist exploitation in a world dominated by imperialism.

Four basic features of the Soviet Union constituted the foundation for the Soviet workers’ state, which, despite bureaucratic flaws and deformities, distinguished it as a viable and superior social system in comparison to the capitalist system that preceded it in Russia.

First, the state and government were created following the smashing of the old state power of the bourgeoisie by a revolution of the workers and peasants. Second, there was public ownership of the means of production. Third, there was centralized economic planning rather than the commodity market as the engine driving economic production—production for needs instead of private profit. Fourth, the government administered a monopoly of foreign trade, preventing world imperialism from linking up with local Russian capitalists to create a “fifth column” within Soviet society.

These objective criteria help to explain what makes the workers’ state fundamentally different from a traditional bourgeois state, which is a state that exists to defend capitalist interests against other potentially threatening classes that are oppressed by the capitalists. Marx and Lenin understood, however, that the workers’ state in the early stage of socialism was not a pure workers’ organization. To the extent that the new state’s laws and enforcement mechanisms defended a system that allowed for inequality in the distribution of the economic and social surplus, it retained vestiges of a “bourgeois state but without a bourgeoisie.”9

During most of its 74 years, the Soviet Union maintained these four key features that shaped the economic system constructed -following the 1917 workers’ and peasants’ revolution. They distinguished the Soviet economic system from the capitalist mode of production.

That is not to say that the Soviet Union’s economy represented a fully developed socialist system. On the contrary, it could be argued that the Soviet Union never evolved past the very first stage of socialist “social relations.” There was inequality and many holdovers from centuries of underdevelopment. But the Soviet Union was clearly functioning according to an economic mechanism that was far different from capitalism, where the market and production are based on private bourgeois profit.

Using these preliminary socialist economic methods, the Soviet Union developed into the second-largest economy in the world. It eliminated unemployment. The Soviet system had no need for an industrial reserve army of the unemployed because production was no longer based on squeezing surplus value out of the working class. The paramount requirement of satisfying the profit needs of the capitalist and investor class was gone because the capitalists were deposed as a ruling class.

The Soviet Union did not just grow into a major world power. Soviet workers and peasants achieved unheard of social and economic rights and benefits. These rights were legal rights guaranteed by the state—a sharp contrast to the capitalist state, which defends first and foremost the right of capital to exploit labor. For the first time in history, the so-called “rule of law” was applied to the needs of the oppressed class for employment, housing, health care, education, child care, recreation and relaxation.

Phases of the Chinese Revolution

The contradictions caused by the impact of China’s socialist revolution taking place in a social environment that pre-dated the bourgeois democratic revolution imprinted themselves on all the political and factional struggles within the CPC following 1949. As Karl Marx noted in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” in 1852: “[People] make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please … but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.”10

The 1949 seizure of state power by the communists in China did not eliminate class conflict. In assessing the problems faced by the new revolutionary regime, the starting point is the existence of classes and strata of workers, peasants, large landowners, and big and small capitalists.

The expropriation of the big capitalists between 1952 and 1955, the establishment of socialist planning for economic production and distribution, and the establishment of a state-based monopoly of foreign trade served a twofold function. First, China reclaimed its economic and political sovereignty and independence—expressed most succinctly in Mao’s first speech in 1949 at Tiananmen Square, when he announced that “China has stood up.” Second, society and its productive powers were placed at the disposal of the individual and social needs of the workers and peasants of China, who had emerged as the new ruling class.

All these factors corresponded to the sociological definition of a workers’ state that had emerged following the experience of the Soviet Union.

The communists of China could take power, but they could not immediately make China ready to rapidly progress toward communism and a classless society. Communism presupposes vast material abundance and the elimination of scarcity. Society must not only be able to provide all the food, clothing and shelter necessary to distribute “to each according to their need.”11 The industrial, scientific, transport and communications apparatus must also be able to produce industrial and consumer goods in such abundance that not only are immediate human needs satisfied but society has the wherewithal to continue on a path of dynamic and ecologically sustainable economic development.

In the case of an underdeveloped country, whose assets and prospective wealth have been siphoned off for the enrichment of foreign investors, the issue of building socialism is additionally complicated. Income redistribution and nationalized property present themselves as coinciding tasks after the revolution in the relatively “affluent” imperialist countries. In a poor country like China, underdeveloped because of colonialism and semi-colonialism, the task is to find a path of economic development that begins the process of the primary accumulation of the means of production.

That problem was compounded by the absence of adequate public education and a weak scientific and industrial infrastructure, creating the phenomena of mass illiteracy and a work force untrained for the task of taking over the management of the factories, mines, and the transport and communications apparatus. Thus, the privileged classes who were favored with greater opportunity for training and education in the old society become sorely needed as the “experts” by the new socialist regime.

Immediately after its victory in 1949, the leadership of the Communist Party, by necessity, focused on the question of China’s economic development. Affecting the day-to-day lives of more than 500 million people, no task was more urgent than economic and social development. On this all wings of the Communist Party agreed.

How this development would take place in the context of the continued class struggle, however, became the pivot for what became known in China as the “two-line struggle” between elements of the party centered around Mao Zedong and those led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. The Mao grouping advocated socialist methods for development, including nationalized public property in the core industries and banking, centralized planning, collectivized agriculture, mobilization of the workers and peasants, and a monopoly of foreign trade. The wing led by Liu and Deng was essentially pragmatic rather than Marxist in their approach, utilizing material incentives, capitalist-style accounting methods and elements of the capitalist market—all while professing allegiance to the goal of building socialism.

In 1966, this struggle led to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a mass campaign initiated by Mao and his allies that aimed to rally the poor and the young to dislodge from positions of authority Liu, Deng and thousands of others castigated as favoring the “capitalist road” for China’s economic development.

Contrary to the presentation by bourgeois historians, the two-line struggle was not primarily over the pace of economic development in China, with Mao favoring a slower approach and Liu and Deng favoring a faster tempo. Both sides in the two-line struggle put the rapid economic development of China as a top priority.

In fact, the Chinese economy increased at a breakneck pace during the Mao era. Industrial output increased at an annual rate of 11.2 percent between 1952 and Mao’s death in 1976. Even during the most intensive upheavals and disruptions to production caused by the civil strife associated with the Cultural Revolution, industrial production grew at an annual average rate of 10 percent.12 This was done with almost no foreign aid or assistance. Soviet economic aid, assistance and advisors had been withdrawn by 1961 in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split. China received few international bank loans.

While China’s tenfold increase in industrial production during the Mao era was a stunning advance, the progress in the impoverished rural villages and countryside was significantly slower. Overall agricultural production increased twofold during the same period.

Although the annual living standards among the rural population only increased by about 1 percent during the 1952-76 period,13 Chinese peasants enjoyed huge advances in public health, free public education, affordable housing and social security as a result of collectivization and the commune system. The extreme cleavage between rich and poor in the countryside was reduced. Although the growth in agriculture lacked the tempestuous growth of the industrial sector, it is noteworthy that “China grew 30-40 percent more food than India on 14 percent less arable land than India” during the same time period.14

Despite the historic achievements on the road to socialism during this period, a series of international events and their reflection within the Communist Party weakened the strength of the revolutionary wing of the party. The defeat of the Indonesian Revolution in 1965, the escalation of the Sino-Soviet split and the ultimate rapprochement between China and U.S. imperialism, the corresponding death of People’s Liberation Army leader Lin Biao, and the purge of other leftists—all these events laid the basis for the reemergence of the “capitalist road” grouping following Mao’s death in 1976.

At the time, some observers of the Chinese Revolution considered the accusation that certain party leaders were “capitalist roaders” to be one more rhetorical flourish or excess of the Cultural Revolution. But the accusation, as it turned out, was not overheated rhetoric at all. It was a precise and accurate description of Mao’s political opponents inside the leadership of the Communist Party.

Following Mao’s death in 1976, the left wing of the party was routed and its leaders were arrested. By 1978, the “capitalist roaders,” galvanized under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, introduced sweeping economic reforms under the newly concocted and theoretically unfounded label of “market socialism.”

These reforms led over the course of several steps to the “opening up” of China to imperialist banks and corporations. The development strategy was premised on a strategic assumption: The lure of super profits from the employment of low-wage labor in China would lead to massive capital investment by the industries and banks that possessed the most advanced technology. China would benefit in its “development” by accessing and acquiring the latest technologies.

The Chinese commune system of collectivized agriculture was also dismantled. The Chinese countryside, known throughout Asia in the decades prior to the 1970s for its egalitarian achievements and social gains for the poorest peasants, became severely stratified again.

While millions of more well-to-do peasants saw a sharp rise in their living standards, a huge mass of rural dwellers lost everything. Left to fend for themselves, they migrated by the tens of millions to urban areas seeking employment in newly created factories—many in special economic zones set aside for foreign capitalist investors. This migrant labor force, uprooted from the land, became the source of human material necessary for the establishment of a new market-based private capitalist sector.

Within 25 years, the People’s Republic of China was fully integrated into the capitalist world economy. Foreign direct investment skyrocketed as U.S., European and Japanese capital set up in China to take advantage of the huge labor pool. Transnational corporations helped create the largest industrial work force in the world.

Contradictions in China today

The reforms initiated by the Deng Xiaoping-led government and expanded by subsequent leaderships within the Communist Party of China have given rise to a new bourgeoisie inside China—a class of Chinese with interests opposite those of the Chinese working class, but also distinct from the interests of world imperialism. The CPC-led state has functioned as the protector of this bourgeoisie both in its relations with the Chinese working class and in its relations with the imperialist bourgeoisie.

To the extent that the Chinese state has promoted and enforced the rights, the interests and the needs of the Chinese bourgeoisie and the transnational corporations functioning within China, the state assumes the tasks of a bourgeois state. Since it is a state that originated from a working-class revolution and enjoyed an immense base of support from within the working class and peasantry, the Chinese state has only been able to incrementally, and over a time frame of several decades, diminish its historic obligations to and defense of its original social base.

The Chinese state and the Communist Party of China have essential elements of what is known as Bonapartism. The ruling party has to a degree straddled the class divide and has a foot within both the bourgeoisie and the working class.

The actual living experience of China in its evolution since 1949 is without precedent. Its differences with the Soviet Union’s historical experience require us to acknowledge that it is no longer an exactly analogous social formation.

The destruction and incremental dissolution of public ownership, centralized planning and the monopoly of foreign trade constitutes a historic setback for the Chinese working class. Its rights and interests have either been stripped or seriously eroded while the rights of capital, including foreign capital, have been elevated.

The advancement of the Chinese bourgeoisie has been at the expense of the political and social primacy of the working class. To the extent that a larger section of the Chinese population, including the working class, has additional access to goods, it comes as a form of personal or individual acquisition and cannot mask the fact that the status of the working class as a class has been seriously downgraded in terms of its social rights and political weight within the state and party.

The working class and the poor and middle peasants are not equipped as a class to be the link to world capitalism with its needs for super-exploitation on a large scale in China. In fact, the working class and peasantry have antagonistic interests to the needs of capital.

The country of origin for investment capital is completely immaterial to the proletariat. Capital, above all else, is a social relationship between exploiters and exploited. Capital thrives only through exploitation—through the private appropriation and accumulation of surplus value created by collective, living labor. Whether Chinese workers are employed by capitalists from the United States, Germany or Japan, or whether the factory owner is a Chinese capitalist, the relationship is based on exploitation.

Moreover, the class instinct of the Chinese proletariat—no different from any working class—is to resist the demands of globalized international capital and its agents inside of China, who pursue a path of relentless cost-cutting to remain competitive, whether in the world capitalist market, the Asia-wide regional market or in the emerging internal Chinese market.

Cutting wages and social benefits, uprooting working-class neighborhoods for commercial development, and grabbing land in the countryside for capitalist development are typical features of the march of capital. The working class as a class is compelled to resist these incursions, and the phenomenon of class resistance is becoming widespread throughout China.

The economic reforms instituted since 1978 have eviscerated many of the social insurance guarantees previously enjoyed by the workers and even more numerous peasantry. Basic social rights—healthcare coverage for all, the right to a job, free public education, affordable housing—have been severely cut back for millions.

Although it is impossible to say with 100 percent certainty where in this process China is, it is indisputable that the basic trend toward more entrenched capitalist class relations has only deepened since 1978. This process is, however, unfinished. As long as the Communist Party of China retains its hold on political power, there is a possibility, however great or small, that this trend can still be reversed.

The process could also be slowed and stalled in the face of unanticipated developments, such as a global capitalist economic crisis that would likely shake China’s export-driven economy to its core, or an internal class or intra-class confrontation—or even a large-scale confrontation with U.S. or Japanese imperialism. It is worth recalling that Yugoslav communists reversed decades of capitalist-oriented economic reforms between 1989 and 1999 in the face of imperialist intervention, dismemberment and internal civil war.

To the extent that workers and peasants in China rebel or resist capitalist encroachments and abuses, they deserve the support of the world working-class movement—especially to the extent that these protests lead toward reversing the gains of capital. The rightful place of the Communist Party of China is with these workers and peasants in their confrontation with the Chinese government and with the domestic and foreign capitalists. When the communists stand aside, they lose credibility with their historic social base.

However, to the extent that these struggles move from spontaneous battles for economic and social justice to movements that are taken over politically by leadership groupings that seek to overthrow the political rule of the Communist Party—as, for instance, occurred with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests—these struggles can only, under the current political circumstances and absent an organized revolutionary communist leadership current, move into the camp of reactionary counterrevolution. They will be organically connected to and nourished by the forces of world imperialism.

The overthrow of the Communist Party of China in these circumstances would not only lead to the absolute destruction of what is remaining of the old socialist revolution, it would suspend China’s bourgeois democratic revolution.

Such an overthrow by non-revolutionary forces would hurl China backward in its epoch-making struggle to emerge from underdevelopment. It would return China to the semi-slavery of comprador neo-colonial rule. China would then also face the possibility of splintering, as happened in Yugoslavia and as may happen in Iraq under the impact of foreign occupation.

In the face of this threat, it is the responsibility of all revolutionaries and progressive people to resist the imperialist offensive and offer militant political defense of the Chinese government—de-spite profound differences with the theory and practice of so-called “market socialism.”


1. “Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC constitution,” People’s Daily Online, October 22, 2007, English.people.com.cn.
2. Frederick Engels, “Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith,” written June 9, 1847. Published in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Collected Works vol. 6 (International Publishers, New York, 1976), 96.
3. Frederick Engels, “The Principles of Communism,” written in October 1847. Published in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Collected Works vol. 6, 348.
4. See for example, “Market Profile on Chinese Mainland,” Hong Kong Trade Development Council, November 7, 2007.
5. Steven R. Weisman, “China Stand on Imports Upsets U.S.,” New York Times, November 16, 2007.
6. Frederick Engels, “The Principles of Communism,” written in October 1847. Published in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Collected Works vol. 6, 351-2.
7. William Hinton, “On the Role of Mao Zedong,” Monthly Review Volume 56, Number 4, September 2004.
8. For a succinct summary of the Lenin’s early view on the centrality of the working class’s leadership in Russia’s bourgeois democratic revolution, see A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy, written in 1899, especially pages 270-2 in Lenin’s Collected Works vol. 4; and the Preface to the Second Edition of The Development of Capitalism in Russia (originally written in 1899, second edition in 1907), on pages 31-4 of Lenin’s Collected Works vol. 3.
9. “Instead of scholastically invented, ‘concocted’ definitions and fruitless disputes over words (What is socialism? What is communism?), Marx gives an analysis of what might be called the stages of the economic maturity of communism. In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fully mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism. Hence the interesting phenomenon that communism in its first phase retains ‘the narrow horizon of bourgeois law.’ Of course, bourgeois law in regard to the distribution of consumer goods inevitably presupposes the existence of the bourgeois state, for law is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing the observance of the rules of law. It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!” V.I. Lenin, State and Revolution, written in 1917. Published in Collected Works vol. 25 (Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1973), 476.
10. Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” written in 1852. Published in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Collected Works vol. 11, 103.
11. “The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,’ i.e., when people have become so accustomed to observing the fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their labor has become so productive that they will voluntarily work according to their ability. ‘The narrow horizon of bourgeois law,’ which compels one to calculate with the heartlessness of a Shylock whether one has not worked half an hour more than anybody else, whether one is not getting less pay than somebody else—this narrow horizon will then be left behind.” V.I. Lenin, State and Revolution, written in 1917. Published in Collected Works vol. 25, 474.
12. Maurice Meisner, The Deng Xiaoping Era: An Inquiry into the Fate of Chinese Socialism, 1978-1994 (New York, Hill and Wang, 1996), 189; Mobo C.F. Gao, Debating the Cultural Revolution—Do We Only Know What We Believe (Critical Asian Studies 34, no. 3, September 2002), 424-5.
13. Meisner, The Deng Xiaoping Era, 192.
14. Ibid., 193.

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