Leon Trotsky on China

SPEECH TO THE PRESIDIUM OF THE ECCI

September 27, 1927

1. You accuse me of violating discipline. I have no doubt that your verdict is already prepared. Today there is not one organization that discusses and decides; they only carry out orders. Even the Presidium of the Communist International is no exception.

2. What do you call factional work? Anything that is not authorized by the AUCP Secretariat. But the Secretariat tramples the rules underfoot, shatters the very foundations of party discipline, and imposes a ban on what is the inalienable right and primary duty of every party member.

3. Here is a vivid and burning example. Today's papers report that the revolutionary army has occupied Swatow. It is already several weeks that the armies of Ho Lung and Yeh T'ing have been advancing. Pravda calls these armies revolutionary armies. Here, at any rate, it is much closer to the truth than in regard to the armies of Chiang Kai-shek, Feng Yu-hsiang, or T'ang Sheng- chih. But I ask you: What prospects does the movement of the revolutionary army that captured Swatow raise before the Chinese revolution? What are the slogans of the movement? What is its program? What should be its organizational forms? What has become of the slogan of Chinese soviets, which Pravda suddenly advanced for a single day in July? On this point we hear not one word in the press if we exclude the fundamentally wrong article by Comrade Lozovsky.
Why is the press of the AUCP silent? Why does the Comintern press hold its tongue? After all, the resolution of the last ECCI plenum, approved following the report by Comrade Bukharin, remains in force to this day. That resolution is totally wrong. It helped the Wuhan government complete what Chiang Kai-shek had not yet accomplished.
The opportunist theses and resolutions of Stalin and Bukharin, which have twice led the Chinese revolution to the most severe defeats, are printed without any prohibition. Marxist criticism and Marxist formulations of the problems are placed under a ban. Anyone who circulates our theses is accused of violating discipline and expelled from the party. But we say that every honest party member is duty bound to demand the publication of all the documents on the Chinese question and is duty bound to circulate our criticism of the opportunist line of Stalin-Bukharin, and to do so with all the forces and resources possible. The question of the fate of the Chinese revolution stands immeasurably higher than the bureaucratic orders and bans of the CC Secretariat, which are presented as measures of revolutionary proletarian discipline.

4. I have said that the organs of the Comintern have remained silent in regard to the third stage of the Chinese revolution, which could mark the beginning of a new rise, but which could also-with incorrect policies-prepare the way for a third defeat that would be the most severe and the most devastating, that would enfeeble the revolution for a number of years to come.
While the entire press remains silent and the Comintern says nothing, a new opportunist combination is all the while being quietly prepared, entirely in the spirit of the Chinese policy of Stalin-Bukharin. In Moscow a new and ever-so-modern Kuomin- tang is in formation, centering around the widow of Sun Yat-sen and a comrade-in-arms of Chiang Kai-shek, Eugene Ch'en. The first stage was Chiang Kai-shek; the second stage, Wang Ching- wei; the third stage is Eugene Ch'en and Company. The first two stages ended with the workers and peasants being crushed and shot down. The third stage will lead to the same thing. Instead of assuring the full independence of the Chinese Communist Party, raising its self-esteem, broadening its outlook, confronting it with the tasks of a dictatorship of the soviets that would unite the proletariat and the many millions of poor peasants in China- instead of that, Stalin-Bukharin are preparing a new inspectorate to be placed over the Chinese Communist Party, a new petty- bourgeois compromiser form of supervision over it, that is, new shackles to bind the proletarian vanguard hand and foot. We say to you: This will end in a third catastrophe. And do you really think we are going to keep quiet?

5. Since 1925 we have been carrying on a struggle for the independence of the Chinese Communist Party, for its emancipation from the discipline of Chiang Kai-shek. This crucial, fundamental slogan of Bolshevism was called Trotskyism. In China, the agents of the Comintern used the term "Trotskyist" for those genuine proletarian revolutionists who upheld the fundamental precondition of Bolshevik politics: the independence of the proletarian party. Against them, the Comintern agents supported Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who translated the politics of Martynov into Chinese.
What is the Opposition guilty of? Only that it paid too much attention to the prohibitions of the Stalinist Secretariat, which have been fatal to the revolution, and that it did not immediately and publicly place before the entire Comintern, with full firmness and determination, the call for the complete independence of the Chinese Communist Party.

6. In May of this year, during the ECCI plenum, we proposed a briefly worded motion in opposition to the thoroughly opportunist resolution of Bukharin. Our motion was as follows:
The plenum would do well to bury Bukharin's resolution, replacing it with a resolution of a few lines:
In the first place, peasants and workers should place no faith in the leaders of the left Kuomintang but they should instead build their soviets jointly with the soldiers. In the second place, the soviets should arm the workers and the advanced peasants. In the third place, the Communist Party must assure its complete independence, create a daily press, and assume the leadership in creating the soviets. Fourth, the land must be immediately taken away from the landlords. Fifth, the reactionary bureaucracy must be immediately dismissed. Sixth, perfidious generals and other counterrevolutionists must be summarily dealt with. And finally, the general course must be toward the establishment of a revolutionary dictatorship through the soviets of workers' and peasants' deputies. ["It Is Time to Understand, Time to Reconsider, and Time to Make a Change." I
These lines are the voice of genuine Bolshevism, temporarily stifled by the bureaucratic apparatus in service to opportunist policies. And do you really think we will fail to make these lines known to the Chinese and world proletariat? Whoever thinks that is no revolutionist.

7. To this day the China resolution of the last ECCI plenum has not been withdrawn. To this day the position of Stalin, who at first called for confidence in Chiang Kai-shek and then proclaimed the Wuhan government the leading center of the agrarian revolution, has not been condemned.
Isn't Comrade Treint correct when he says that the Stalin- Bukharin policy-given the organized silence of the entire Comintern-led the vanguard of the international proletariat astray? Didn't l'Humanite send a telegram greeting the butcher Chiang Kai shek as the hero of the Shanghai Commune? Isn't a policy that loses sight of the deep abyss between the proletarian Communard and the general Galliffet-isn't this a criminal policy that must not only be condemned but branded criminal?

8. Even worse, the Kuomintang, to this day, remains a member of the Comintern. Which Kuomintang? The Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek or that of Wang Ching-wei? But now they have united. Thus the united Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei still belongs to the Comintern. You are in a hurry to expel Vujovic and myself. But you have forgotten to expel the comrades-in-arms Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching- wei. Perhaps you will agree to place this question on the agenda today as well.

9. The fight for the independence of the Communist Party, the fight of the proletariat for the peasantry and against the bourgeoisie, the fight for soviets of workers', peasants', and soldiers' deputies is called by the opportunists Trotskyism. Why? In order the more surely to fight against Leninism. Trotskyism is an epithet the bankrupt hide behind when they have nothing to say. The silence of the Comintern in regard to the new stage of the Chinese revolution, unfolding before our eyes, is evidence of unparalleled confusion. The right road and destination must be pointed out clearly. We cannot be silent. We will not be silent, because we are revolutionists and not bureaucrats.

Published for the first time in any language (excerpts). By permission of Harvard College Library. Translated for this volume by George Saunders.