Social Revolution Party

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Issue One of Social Revolution!

Open Letter to Denis Rancourt: Harsh Words for the Ex-Professor

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

Dear Denis Rancourt,

Your coalition is dead. Or, human agency taken into consideration, you have destroyed your coalition. Both statements are true; take to heart whichever one feels better. Through your individualistic tactics you have turned a vibrant campaign for greater academic freedom into a moribund joke-of-a-personality cult. And all this would have been fine; until, that is, you blamed your former denisquote1supporters.

The Social Revolution Party is putting forward this letter as a response to the article you wrote entitled “Activist Wars”. In it, you not only managed to beat a dead horse by reviving month-old debates and fractures within the University of Ottawa activist community, but you also managed to very directly insult a good number of our membership. You mischaracterized the nature of the debates that occurred in the course of the struggle, you insulted many of the people who put themselves on the line for you, and yet you failed to properly analyse or learn from the past. It is in response to this that we feel the need to set the record straight.

Let us start when the fractures within your coalition began to show. To pre-empt a counter-argument this early in the game, we concede that there was never an official coalition dedicated to your case with official membership. To pretend though, that there wasn’t a core of individuals that were primarily involved in your case would be to spit on the efforts of those that spent their valuable time to try and rectify your situation; we would hope you would not do that.

Fractures began to show after several successful Senate actions. When the question “What now?” was proposed, two main lines arose. The first sought to keep-on-keeping-on, so to speak, and continue shutting down Senate meetings. The second realised that without building a mass base dedicated to academic freedom, we would continue to be isolated and our actions would continue to be inneffective. We were stonewalled with empty rhetoric of “diversity of tactics”. We were told that every individual had no responsibility to the group as a whole, and could do what they wanted. In short, the hidden leadership clique of the fledgling movement did not agree with the mass-line demands of many of your core supporters, and instead of calling them out honestly, you retreated into individualism.

And what was the result? We failed. We were not able to build a mass base. You were not reinstated as a tenured professor, or a professor at all, at the University of Ottawa. The charges were not dropped against Marc Kelly. And yet this debate simmerred under the surface for months. Despite the fact that time had vindicated the mass-line, you did not let up. You did not attempt to apply a “diversity of tactics”. The scientific method was shucked off for narrow ideological dogmatism. Attending senate meetings became harder and harder as the university cracked down and showed its true colours. And we failed. You failed.

But all of this was fine, and many of us still continued to support you. We understood that the issues at hand, that the University of Ottawa administration was becoming more and more Draconian, came before most internal debates. It was then that either you, or people speaking for you, decided on an even more infantile and inneffective action than the ones taken before: you decided to co-opt a pro-Palestinian poster and use it to advertise for your cause.

You appealed to the community for assistance in postering, and the community responded in disgust. Many former members of your coalition took issue with the comparison between the genocide of the Palestinians and your dismissal. From the perspective of some of our membership, it seemed to be a last-ditch attempt to stay relevant: you realised that your case was no longer the most important issue on campus, and therefore you attempted to create controversy by copying controversy. We took issue with a dishonest co-option of the buzz another movement had managed to create for itself. You received a clear mandate not to go forward with the action, and yet you did not take heed. And as a result your coalition essentially dissolved before you, leaving you only with individualists; that “hidden leadership clique” that had stonewalled us before.

And what was the response to the action? Just as we expected, it only served to alienate people. Once again a mass base wasn’t created, albeit the mass-line members had ceased to be involved at this point. You weren’t reinstated as a professor at the University of Ottawa. The charges against Marc Kelly were not dropped. This time the failure lay completely on the shoulders of you and those that continued to follow you throughout this insanity.

And what did you take from all of this? You blamed the failures on “majority middle class weekend and after-work low-risk consensus-seeking hobby activists”. You denigrated them as liberals. You mocked their arguments denisquote2instead of dealing with them. These were the same people that had stood by you time and time again; the same people who had put themselves on the line for you (one would do well to recall an office occupation where several members of the Social Revolution Party had to be whisked away for fear of arrest). And you spit on their actions as though they had been the ones that had betrayed you!

Where was the self-criticism? Why was there no critical analysis of why we had failed? Why did you choose to blame individuals that experience had vindicated, instead of looking at why the tactics you chose didn’t work? You promised a re-examination and critical analysis and all you delivered was slander. And it was shameful, hurtful, and embarassing.

Personal critiques, however satisfying and necessary at times, do not amount to political criticisms. So to strike at the heart of the matter at hand, it is worthwhile to look deeper into the denisquote3content of your re-examination. The main thesis of “Activist Wars” is that differences of opinion on tactics tend to drive groups of activists apart. On one side, we have the “independant minded” who embrace the “anarchic spirit of exploration”, the “vital impulse” and “diversity of tactics”. On the other hand there are those of us that seek “critical mass leverage”, force others to “show solidarity”, and seek “low risk cooperative behaviour mainly aimed at guilt alleviation and mutual comforting”. Quite lofty criticisms.

What becomes immediately clear is that what you understand to be a debate about tactics in fact goes to the very root of what we are trying to achieve. When you criticize others for seeking “critical mass leverage” you are essentially correct; we did seek a mass-line approach to the problems at hand. But the goal was never to pat ourselves on the back and head home after a good, hard-day’s struggle as you seem to suggest! Instead, the Social Revolution Party seeks a world where the masses are directly involved in making the decisions that effect their daily lives. We seek a world where the community is able to come together harmoniously, without exploitation, oppression, or alienation, to make decisions democratically. We believe that human beings are inherently responsible to those around them. The point is not to avoid struggle or not have someone to fight (indeed, you will find we are incredibly clear on who our ‘enemies’ are), but rather not to make enemies out of natural human drives, like the communitarian spirit.

Conversely, you put forward the vile individualist notion of “millennial traditions of celebrating the bravest and supporting those who elect to push harder”. Your program, if one can call it that, amounts to the supreme and unshakable triumph of the will of the individual over that of the community. You fail to recognize that the community always supersedes the individual, if only because the individual can not survive without the community. What you put forward is nothing more than liberal individualism, bordering on fascistic interpretations of the individual. And yet you have the gall to call out those that struggled for you in the communitarian spirit as being liberals.

And it is from these opposing worldviews (one a perspective, the other liberal ideological dogmatism) that the debate on tactics emerge. The Social Revolution Party loves the masses, and believes that only they can truly liberate themselves. As such we knew the necessity of building a mass-based campaign. You on the other hand hate the masses. You attempted, and somewhat succeeded, at forming a personality cult around yourself. All mass-line approaches were shut out. And the masses responded accordingly. You put forward a liberal call-to-arms, and as such were mired in fighting within the liberal system: going after the administration on their ground as opposed to organising our own democratic institutions, and becoming entangled within the bourgeois liberal legal system as opposed to surpassing it. And your tactics failed.

So when you ask: “What are the circumstances of the most widespread and vicious fights between white First World activists (of all colours) who are supposedly against the same injustices and supposedly fighting the same system of exploitation?” and “If the activists are all fighting the same oppressor, all pushing in the same direction, then why should they have such visceral confrontations about methods?”, the answers become immediately clear in light of careful political investigation. Differences arose because we were not fighting against the same injustices and the same system of exploitation; you were fighting against your individual will being stifled, while the Social Revolution Party was fighting against attacks on our community. You were fighting specific individual oppressors whereas the Social Revolution Party was fighting against the ruling class manifesting itself through the University of Ottawa administration. While circumstances arose in which we fought the same enemy, our respective reasons for doing so were different.

And what has become incredibly clear throughout all of this is that in the final analysis, we are not on the same side.

Sincerely,
-Comrade Rosso of the Social Revolution Party

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Towards a Communist Theory of International Relations

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

A discussion of how communist societies will relate to underdeveloped and developed non-communist societies, respectively, begins from the same basis – namely, our desire not to be “red imperialists” or manipulate foreign peoples as though they were pawns in the chess match of intrigue between labour and capital on the world stage. The two diverge, though, out of a number of practical differences which will be elaborated throughout clarkequote1the series and with those differences emerges a different approach to be taken to relations with advanced capitalist and developing societies in a post-revolutionary context.

With relation to both classes of non-communist societies, the relationship for perhaps a generation after the revolution will be limited, as a great post-revolutionary push will be undertaken to re-industrialize the former Canada and, depending upon the quantity and quality of peoples’ infrastructure at the revolutionary moment, we may depend to some small degree on progressives from the “third world” to provide supplemental raw materials, manufactured goods, and “international brigades” of fighters to stave off an invasion. How this should be accomplished is beyond the scope of the present series, which will focus on the period following re-industrialization.

The Developing Countries

Because capitalism is a system which requires imperialism (and the lopsided development of infrastructure in the colonized world which results from it) in order to sustain itself, a good portion of the world will be subject to underdevelopment when our revolutionary moment arrives. This may be due either to our own national imperialists or to others, but the difference in either case will likely not be more than the degree of suspicion the colonized and decolonized have toward us. Materially speaking, the question is identical.

Though for a time we may simply supply the developing world with what resources we have to spare, this must be only a supplementary measure because we do not want to recreate the relationship of dependence between the developing world and ourselves. Our goal with relation to these people should be to assist in their social and industrial development, tending when possible toward peoples’, rather than state-controlled infrastructure and projects which will raise the actual standard of living for those people in a way which facilitates their independence from more-developed societies – including our own.

Decolonized nations have, as outlined by Fanon [cite], been thrust into a situation where all the financial and social capital of the colonizer have been removed and were forced to take loans from the First World in order to buy equipment and expertise from the First World. Chained to this debt and dependent on the “mother countries” both not to recall those loans and to keep providing technical experts (who over-estimated, wilfully at first, the amount of infrastructure they’d need in order to inflate the debts accrued), the decolonized have been forced to adjust their economic policies (workers’ rights, environmental protections, taxes on foreign investment, state ownership of industries, agricultural products, etc.) to the will of those imperial powers. We want both not to replicate this relationship with the developing world and to create a situation where it cannot be replicated by any others.

In order to do this, we may have to forego a “quid pro quo” in our development projects and, primarily, undertake those projects entirely within the parameters established by the communities affected by them. It is tempting in this light to approach the question with the mindset that “we’ll do for real what the ruling class tells us they’re doing now and lies about” – that is, effective, grassroots, good-faith development and “aid” work. We must avoid this temptation though, as even the best-stated intentions of current development and aid work springs from a notion that it is the burden of the white man to make humans out of the animals who inhabit the colonized world, that they haven’t the essential capacity to do it on their own. Our development work must begin with an understanding that, until all are free, our own freedom is insecure and that, until development happens, all cannot be free.

After our re-industrialization, there will be a glut of technical experts who have, by necessity, specialized in the speedy industrialization of a country. Looking around and having nothing left to industrialize, some will choose clarkequote2to apply their skills in other fields in the new society, and others still may “retire” from the field altogether. There should be an opportunity for these technical experts to relocate to the developing world and, between a number of them, found a university. Provided the university is around long enough to start producing PhDs, the technical experts (engineers, for example) currently lacking in the underdeveloped world and still required for its development will be more ready at hand.

We’ll want to accomplish more than just infrastructure development in these countries. A focus on social/movement development is also paramount in our goal of establishing communism worldwide. The quantity and quality of social/movement/political intervention undertaken by a communist society will be explored in the next piece.

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The Manual: A Brief What, Why, and How of the Popular Action Movement: Part 1

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

What:

Look upon the “Popular Action Movement” (PAM) as being the New State. Unlike the current State this new state would be us, the people ourselves, organised. There should be no State that stands above the people and governs them: for the state must in fact be the people. There should be no departments and ministries1. There will have to be people doing specific jobs at specific times, but this does not mean that there will need to be an administration; in fact, we must eliminate administration and management. In other words, we are not describing a protest movement here. Nor are we describing a political party. Thus the programme becomes: How do we provide goods and services for ourselves? How do we want to control the ownership of private and capital property? Do we want to outlaw interpersonal exploitation? We have to get used to thinking as a free people rather than as petitioners who beg the state for crumbs here-and-there. We are interested neither in begging the state to look after us nor in voting for which people will look after us. It is necessary that we get used to being free and having to figure out how to run society for ourselves. We will figure these things out in the process of doing them.

Why:

For some time now, in fact for longer than many care to admit, but especially for the last ten years and intensifying over the past four or five years, there has been a marked concentration of wealth in the hands of very few people. Entities referred to as Corporations are drawing the wealth of society into themselves. This concentration of wealth has been accompanied by very little actual wealth creation with the result that most people have been getting poorer while a few people have been getting much richer.

Where is this wealth coming from and where is it pooling? In general wealth is flowing away from wage and salary earners and towards people who are deemed to own capital. The situation is more nuanced than this of course. Corporate financial entities are gaining control over most of the wealth and the people who control these financial corporations are directing the use of this wealth. In other words there is a group or class of people who work for wages and salaries and a group or class of people who control and direct the wealth that is created. (There are also people who partake of both aspects and also those who fall beneath the entire process.) The two sets or classes of people mentioned first thus have an antagonistic relationship with each other and have different interests. The people controlling the wealth understand these things. Most of the people being stripped of their wealth don’t. Most of those being stripped of their wealth don’t want to understand these things. In fact, many working people don’t even want to be considered working people, and in spite of every sign of a shrinking personal and social wage, deny that this drift of wealth away from themselves is happening. Many people who acknowledge that it is happening claim that this drift of wealth into the hands of transnational bankster cartels is a good thing. Or others claim that nothing can be done about it: we can work to overcome the worst of the consequences but the process itself it untouchable and unstoppable (the NDP line).

Although most people know and understand, very few will acknowledge that the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very rich is a political decision, agreed to and supported by all of the major parties in Canada, and in fact does not have to be happening. Let me repeat: the impoverishment of working people is actively (actively!) sought by all of the major parties (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc) in Canada. The mass media support the impoverishment of working people. Most of the supporters of the impoverishment of working people don’t claim to be supporters of this policy. The supporters of the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer and fewer people mainly pretend that it is not happening, or that it has to happen, or even that it is a good thing.

Furthermore: Capital has to return 5% on investment; if the economy is not growing at 5% or better the stolen wealth can’t come from the pie getting bigger but rather has to come from some sector of society other than the bankster sector. It comes from a variety of places: the public sector through cut backs and profitisations; it comes from working people through the destruction of decent jobs and their replacement with low paying jobs and through the slow robbery of inflation; and it also comes from the industrial and commercial capitalists who are now the servants of the banksters. Social programmes are robbed. State owned businesses, for example: water, electrical, gas and medical delivery have to be profitised. The Third World has to be increasingly impoverished and their resources stolen. Countries with a large social sector: the National Socialist Ba’athist regimes, Eastern European countries, Iran, North Korea, China and so on have to be destroyed and their state enterprises, mineral resources etc. have to be internationalised and profitised. Their social programmes have to be wiped out in order for capital to survive. These activities are on the agenda of all major political parties in North America and most in Europe. The European governments are pursuing these policies even though they were elected not to. When people say that these policies have to be followed and that the best we can do is to minimise the damage they are partially correct. They are correct unless one is willing to strike at the cause of all of this destruction and suffering: the rule of capital over labour (called the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie).

Let’s return our gaze to capital stripping the state. This process is quite far advanced in the United States of America. The National Debt continues to rise. The interest on the National Debt for the month of June 2006 was US$ 98,255,216,240.82. There will come a time when they can’t even afford the interest on the debt. It is our contention that the system in the U.S. of A. will be destroyed by the forces of Capitalism itself. Capitalism is beset by periodic crises of overproduction which lead to crises of unemployment. These crises are chronicled; we know when they happened, the events leading up to them, the severity and the duration etc. At the time that this document was originally written, everyone was predicting an oncoming serious recession or depression. We are currently in the midst of the predicted depression. Unfortunately, the current depression will not destroy the current system; it will take two more downturns in the economy, each one more severe than the previous, to destroy this system. In other words we are three downturns away from the end of the system. One will happen almost immediately and two more will occur with eight to twelve years between them. As State services terminate chaos will develop.

This is where PAM: The New State comes in. There has never been a situation where poor people have made a Revolution to overthrow rich people. That is a romantic fantasy. A Revolution occurs when the Rich and Powerful do not control the State: for example, the English Revolution 1642 – 1649, the French Revolution 1789 – 1793, the U.S. Revolution 1776 – 1783. The other time a Revolution can occur is when the State ceases to function owing to general collapse of State Institutions: for example Russia 1917 – 1919, China 1924 – 1949. (At present there are several Revolutions going on in remote areas of the world where there is no effective State presence). We are building the Popular Action Movement now, so that it can be an organised force when the Institutions of State Power dissolve sometime between 2020 and 2050.

One should also take into account that the nature of the State is changing. Under pressure from capital to profitise the services provided by the State, it is returning to its pre-1860’s nature: that is to say a bare skeleton. Before the mid-nineteenth century the State owned very little and did very little. What there was of Social Services were mainly run by the Church. There was no Post Office. Many roads were private. Much of the army was private. We can look forward to a pre-Victorian State: a small group of people who award contracts to each other. Areas of the country which prove to be unprofitable (roads up North for example), or certain services (pensions and affordable housing for example), will just cease to exist. These services will only exist if the we are able to do it for ourselves. In a failed State situation capitalists will take the cream. For example there will only be a postal service where it makes money. Hospitals and procedures will only be found where they make money and only rich people will be able to afford to use them. Services will be a business like any other and will only be found where there is a return on investment.

Also we will have to be organised enough to compete with global capital in those areas in which they are profiting, that is where they will still be found. Further, working people will also have to contend with local capital moving in to replace global capital. Local capital merely replicates the system and renews interpersonal exploitation only with a lower living standard and less efficiently.

Coping Mechanisms and our self-willed decay:

Two mechanisms employed by people in the face of shrinking real wages, generally disguised as rising prices, are to do without and/or to go further into debt. People under thirty-five or so often find themselves going without. They often don’t know that they are going without because they aren’t fully aware of the sorts of options that were available to people in their situation twenty years ago. Houses, holidays, travel, home furnishings, wardrobes, cars and other toys for adults were more readily available. Higher education was open to a wider strata of society and upon completion the graduate was left with a smaller debt, more options and generally greater buying power.

People in their twenties find themselves tasting fewer of these pleasures and/or building a greater debt for themselves in order to have them. Their debt is accumulated mainly in the quest for a higher education. Other aspects of experience/acquisition are indulged in to a lesser extent than they were by people a generation ago. This is often true in the case of purchasing a house and of family life in general. For their part, older people often are drawing down the equity on their houses in order to maintain their “middle-class” life styles.2

The Result of these Coping Mechanisms:

Doing without, cutting back and going further into debt are nonsustainable mechanisms for the maintenance of a thriving economy.3 These non-sustainable coping mechanisms are the only reactions available to us as the objects of history.4 But in fact these reactions, these coping mechanisms, serve merely to undercut still further the already faltering economy. The economy is driven by what is referred to as effective demand. In other words, the housing industry is not driven by peoples’ need for houses but by people with ready cash who want to buy houses. That is, for the demand to be effective it has to be able to be put into effect.

Without cash (or credit) there is no effective demand. The problem of the concentration of wealth by the very rich and the impoverishing of most of society is continuing and is supported by the two major parties in the U.S. and by the four major parties in Canada. There is no reason for this trend to turn around. Over 99% of the voters in Canada and the U.S. support it. It will continue. It will destroy our society. In twenty or thirty years the social fabric will tear.5 The roads will fall apart. The school systems will cease to exist. The hospitals will close; in fact health care will cease to exist. The lights will go out. Food will not come through from the South. Fuel will be unattainable. This does not have to happen! It is merely a political decision, or political programme; one that is promoted by all four major political parties in Canada and one which almost every voter supports. It is a political decision that over 99% of Canadians and Yanks are in favour of. It will happen. We are witnessing the Fall of Rome. It is self willed and self caused. Everyone seems to support it and everyone supports political parties that are promoting it. It is very bizarre.

Self Organisation:

Thus our survival depends on our ability to organise ourselves to provide for ourselves. In other words, we must take our future into our own hands and to become actors rather than objects. As the current supply and command lines fall apart new ones will take their place. Thus we have an opportunity to replace a failed system of alienation and exploitation with a democratic collective response. One in which Labour rules. One in which millions of people can organise themselves without a new clique taking over.6

Our organisational norm must be Democracy. We are attempting, as individuals to work out our individual salvation. We are coming together not to acquire new supervisors and new bosses but to enhance our personal liberation through a pooling of resources. Further, and just as important, to live a full life in this climate people have to live in a community. It may be possible to live alone for a short period of time, but, as the saying goes, “heavy work calls for many hands.” We do not seek security, comfort and a social wage through collective action in order to be brought under someone else’s control. In fact one’s struggle against alienation is just as important as one’s struggle against economic scarcity. Many of us will gladly give up some worldly comfort in order to live a freer less alienated life.7

These reasons and many others spur us on to build Democracy into any collective response to social or economic problems. Let’s unite our desire for a self-actualising existence with Democratic practice, that is, let’s achieve Democratic Praxis.

End Notes

1. This introduces the question of “line command”.
2. The rich getting much richer and the poor getting much poorer are even stronger trends in the U.S. than they are in Canada. It should be noted that all three major political parties in English Canada (as well as the Bloc in Quebec) want Canada to integrate to a greater extent with the U.S. economy and to become more like the U.S. socially, politically and economically. With no force opposing and every force encouraging greater similarity and integration we have to assume that this is the way of the future. We can expect, at least over the next ten years, that we will become more warlike, have greater differences between rich and poor, have less access to health and education, higher unemployment, more people in jail, more crime, more racism, more interpersonal brutality, more pollution and more carcinogens among the many other benefits that being like Yanks will bring: including being hated by the rest of the world. The Conservatives are all over this. The Liberals are into “deep integration” and the NDP is convinced that becoming like Yanks will solve the problems in Auto, Steel, Lumber, Beef, Base Metals and advanced technology. Thus we can assume that the road we are on, that of the ruin of the working and middle classes, will continue and even accelerate. We are all agreed that the only option for Canada and Canadians is to copy the U.S. social and economic model. We should tie ourselves to the U.S. so that Parliament is no longer sovereign. We should be governed by treaties between the two countries rather than by the laws of our land. In other words Congress trumps Parliament. Thus we can posit a future in Canada controlled by the destiny of the U.S. The problems faced by Canadians with respect to health care, education, falling wages, increasing unemployment, jailing of people because they aren’t white, increased interpersonal brutality etc., etc. are more acute in the U.S. Over 99% of English Canadians support Political parties that work towards greater integration of Canadian Society into the social and political norms of the U.S. It will happen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Ask Ignatieff. Ask Layton. They are totally in favour of the “Americanisation” of Canada. It will happen. It is happening. It will continue to happen.
3. One should note how anti-popular that sentence was. That is the type of wording one finds in essays on political economy. That’s because most essays concerning political economy are written by hirelings of the ruling class who don’t concern themselves with the plight of the masses. A popular essay such as this one written for and by working people has different concerns. We don’t look at the economy as some sort of computer model in which we juggle parameters. No, we look at how we can control the levers of production, and in harmony with nature, provide for our needs: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual.
4. We seek to be the subjects, the actors. We have to make history and fashion our lives. We will no longer merely re-act to our circumstances. We will create our circumstances.
5. An explanation of how this estimate was arrived at appears later in The Manual.
6. A headline concerning the Zionist war-crimes in Lebanon read “Vigil in Liverpool Fails to Stop Bombing”. And yes, the article was even better. We are not alone in understanding that actual functioning structure on the ground, for example a Bicycle Co-op, is more valuable than peace Marches. If one were a police agent, one would be best to organise peace marches; they keep radicals from doing something useful. As someone said to me “But we have to do something! Well Marches are next to nothing. One should not confuse a peace march with getting organised. Only through the democratic Organisation of our class will we get anywhere.
7. Alienation comes in many sizes and models. One form that bedevils Canadians is alienation from community: we are often isolated individuals lacking the reality of Social Solidarity.

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Why China Went Capitalist

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

The following was lifted from the Kasama Project‘s webpage (who lifted it from the MLMRSG).  The original article can be found here or here.

Why did the Chinese Communist Party turn into a capitalist party so quickly once Mao died?

Why was it so easy for Deng and supporters to kick out the “Gang of Four”, Mao’s closest supporters and most “left” among the leadership?

Why was there no mass rebellion against this among the members of the Party?

Why did the “cadre” – full-time Party officials – go along with this swift move back to capitalist production, distribution, and property relations?

How was it that Deng himself had so much support among the Party cadre that he was able to control the Party behind the scenes and then, in a couple of years, openly take over? Along with Liu Shaoqi Deng had been one of the main targets of the GPCR.

The proximate roots of the overthrow of Chinese communism lie in the question of “cadres” that arose again and again during the Cultural Revolution.

One side – ultimately, it was Mao’s side – in the GPCR claimed that the vast majority of the Party cadres were either “good” or reformable. Here are some quotations:

The “Sixteen Points” of August 8 1966, one of the basic statements of the GPCR, stated that most cadre were good. Point Eight reads:

8. THE QUESTION OF CADRES

The cadres fall roughly into the following four categories:

(1) good;
(2) comparatively good;
(3) those who have made serious mistakes but have not become anti-Party, anti-socialist rightists;
(4) the small number of anti-Party, anti-socialist rightists.

In ordinary situations, the first two categories ( good and comparatively good ) are the great majority.”

Badiou has noted, though superficially, incompletely, the problem with this statement.

“First of all, it is held, as if axiomatically, that in essence the party is good. Point 8 (“The Question of Cadres”) distinguishes four types of cadres, as put to the test of the Cultural Revolution (let us remember that in China, a “cadre” is anyone who dispenses authority, even if minimal): good, comparatively good, those who have made serious mistakes that can be fixed, and lastly “the small number of anti-Party and anti-socialist Rightists.” The thesis is then that “the two first categories (good and comparatively good) are the great majority.” That is, the state apparatus and its internal leadership (the party) are essentially in good hands, which renders paradoxical the recourse to such large-scale revolutionary methods.”

-Alain Badiou, “The Cultural Revolution: The Last Revolution?” Positions 13:3 (2005), 492.

A common way of stating this in GPCR documents is that only a “handful” of cadres are bad and must be removed.

Lin Biao speech October 1, 1966

“Today, we are celebrating this great festival amid an upsurge of the great proletarian cultural revolution. This is a great revolution, an entirely new and creative revolution carried out after the seizure of political power by the proletariat. Its aim is to overthrow through struggle the small handful of persons within the Party who are in authority who have taken the capitalist road,…” –

“June 1, 1966, Chairman Mao decided to publish in the press the first Marxist-Leninist big-character poster in the country, posted first in Peking University. This kindled the raging flames of the great proletarian cultural revolution and set in motion the mass movement which has as its main target for attack the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road….”

“It is a fact that in our army there are a handful of persons in authority taking the capitalist road and an extremely few diehards clinging to the bourgeois reactionary line …. ” (209)

“This great cultural revolution means precisely the arousing of hundreds of millions of people to liberate themselves and to seize power from the handful of people within the Party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road.” (212)

“The handful of representatives of the bourgeoisie are vicious and dare to bully people to such an extent precisely because they still have power!” (213 – Peking Review, January 27, 1967).

“is entirely wrong to adopt a policy of opposing everything, casting out everything and striking down everything. It should be noted that some of the leading cadres are on the side of Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line and are resolved to wage a struggle against the handful of persons in authority in the Party taking the capitalist road. We must have full confidence in these cadres and fight side by side with them. As for the leading cadres who have swerved or made errors in line, we should also unite with them to fight together, so long as they are willing to mend their errors and return to the Party’s correct line and to Chairman Mao’s line.” – People’s Daily Feb. 2 1967 (216)

“The firm implementation of the great alliance of the proletarian revolutionaries and the solidarity of the broad masses of people are the most important conditions for achieving victory in the struggle to seize power from the handful of persons in power in the Party who are taking the capitalist road. At a time when the great proletarian cultural revolution has entered a stage of launching a struggle to seize all power from the handful of persons in power in the Party who are taking the capitalist road,…” – Red Flag editorial (217)

“Only by doing so will it prove helpful to the greatest extent in isolating and attacking the handful of persons within the Party who are in power and taking the capitalist road,…” — ibid, 218.

“3) Sufficient importance must be attached to the role of revolutionary cadres in the struggle to seize power. The leading cadres who uphold the proletarian revolutionary line are the precious wealth of the Party. They can become the backbone of the struggle to seize power and become the leadership in the struggle to seize power. These leading cadres have, for considerable time in the past, waged a struggle against the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road. They are now appearing before the masses, openly indicating before the masses that they are on the side of the proletarian revolutionaries, integrating with the revolution- ary masses, and fighting together with them. Workers, peasants, revolutionary students and revolutionary intellectuals must believe in them.” ibid, 218

“The overwhelming majority of cadres in general in the Party and government institutions are good and want to make revolution. The proletarian revolutionary rebels among them are the main forces for seizing power within their respective units.” ibid, 219.

“…renegades, special agents, counter-revolutionaries and diehard capitalist-roaders who have managed to sneak into the revolutionary ranks are but a handful. This should be our basic estimate of the cadre ranks.

– People’s Daily May 13, 1967, CQ Jl-Sp ‘68 p. 184.

Many more such quotations about “handfuls” can be found.

Many statement, like some of those quoted above, go far beyond merely stating that most cadre are good or reformable, to insist that cadre must be in the leadership of the GPCR.

“..the revolutionary leading cadres rise together with the masses in the struggle to seize power from the handful of those within the Party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road, the revolutionary mass organisations must support them. They must see that the revolutionary leading cadres have acquired comparatively richer experiences in struggle, are more matured politically and possess greater organisational strength. It is quite advantageous to the struggle for seizing and grasping power to have them participate in the core leadership. As for cadres who have committed errors, we must deal with them correctly and must not knock them down. Regarding those inexcusable anti-Party and anti-socialist elements and those who persistently refused to reform and failed to undergo reform after being educated repeatedly, we must allow them to repent and encourage them to redeem their crimes with meritorious deeds.” – ibid, 218.

If cadre are in the lead, then the masses are not in the lead. The masses are to follow the cadre.

The Left

Why was there so much insistence from the Party leadership that “most cadre are good”, even that “cadres should lead”, and that only a “handful” or an “extremely few diehards” were “persisting in the bourgeois reactionary line?”

The answer is: because there was a mass movement – a number of mass organizations – that were claiming the opposite of this: that most of the Party cadre were reactionary.

The statement “Whither China?” by the Shengwulien organization is the expression of the Left – derided as the “ultra-left” by the Party leadership and cadre and that often described itself as such, as “ultra-left” – is the best known statement that draws this conclusion.

“The rule of the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie must be overthrown by force in order to solve the problem of political power.

“Facts as revealed by the masses and their wrath told people initially that this class of “Red” capitalists had completely become a decaying class that hindered the progress of history, and that the relations between them and the people in general had changed from relations between the leaders and the led to those between the rulers and the ruled, the exploiters and the exploited, from the relations of revolutionaries of equal standing to those between the oppressors and the oppressed. The special privileges and high salaries of the class of “Red” capitalists was built on the basis of the oppression and exploitation of the broad masses of the people. In order to realize the “People’s Commune of China”, it was necessary to overthrow this class …

“We really believe that ninety per cent of the senior cadres should stand aside, that at most they can only be objects to be educated and united. This is because they have already constituted a decaying class with its own particular “interests”. Their relation with the people has changed from the relation between the leaders and the led in the past to that between exploiters and the exploited, the oppressors and the oppressed. Most of them consciously or unconsciously yearn for the capitalist road, and protect and develop capitalist things. The rule of their class has completely blocked the development of history … However they (the bureaucrats) hit back at and carry out counter-reckoning against the revolutionary people with increasing madness, pushing themselves nearer and nearer the guillotine. All this proves that no decaying class in history would voluntarily make an exit from the stage of history.

“In the new society of the Paris Commune type this class will be overthrown.”

We also know of this Left position by the attacks of its enemies.

“Recently, a sort of so-called ‘new trend of thought’ prevails in society. Its principal content is to distort the major contradiction of socialist society into one between the so-called ‘power-holders’, i.e., the ‘privileged persons’ who hold ‘property and power’ and the masses of the people. It demands an incessant ‘redistribution’ of the social property and political power under the proletarian dictatorship. The new trend of thought has equated the current GPCR with a conflict for wealth and power ‘within a reactionary ruling class’. It has equated the headquarters of Mao/Lin with that of Liu/Teng/Tao. It has branded all leading cadres as privileged persons and thrust them all into the position of objects of revolution.” (CNS, No. 188. Quoted at http://www.wengewang.org/read.php?tid=4420 )

Official statements make clear the fact that the official insistence that “most cadres are good” is in direct opposition to the Left position that most cadres needed to be overthrown.

“…[R]enegades, special agents, counter-revolutionaries and diehard capitalist-roaders who have managed to sneak into the revolutionary ranks are but a handful. This should be our basic estimate of the cadre ranks….The outstanding revolutionary cadres who have gone through the trials of the struggle of the classes and lines can then be placed in key positions where they will be able to give full play to their role of backbone in the revolutionary three-way alliance. . . .

Only by setting out from such a basic estimate will it be possible to avoid Right or extreme “Left” errors in handling the cadre question. …It will also prevent us from regarding the cadre ranks as thoroughly rotten — a view which suspects all and overthrows all, and ruthlessly smashes cadres down for any error committed, no matter how minor it may be (FE/2783).”

– People’s Daily May 13, 1967, China Quarterly Jl-Sp ‘68, 184.

Jiang Qing, a member of the Cultural Revolutionary Group around Mao, attacked this “ultra-left” in a speech in Anhui on September 5 1967:

“It looks as if they come out in the guise of either extreme “leftists” or rightists who oppose the Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao. This is quite impermissible and they are doomed to failure. At present if you take Peking as an example you have this kind of thing. I call it a thing because it is a counter-revolutionary organisation. It is really called the “May 16th” group. They don’t have a very large membership. On the surface they are young people and these young people have been misled. They are a minority of bourgeois elements and are filled with hatred against us; but these are only individuals. The vast majority are young people and they are using the instability of young people’s ideology. The real manipulators behind the scenes are very bad people. This “May 16th” group appeared first of all under the guise of extreme “leftists.” They concentrated their aim against the Prime Minister [Zhou Enlai, attacked by the Left as the defender of the reactionary cadre] and in fact they collected material about us to send abroad. Naturally we are not scared. Why should we be frightened by this? You can go and sell it if you like. If you have had a good meal and feel like doing something and don’t want to do revolution, no matter what you do, we are not scared. From the point of view of the rightists, at the end of January and February there was an atmosphere of opposition to the proletarian cultural revolution. At present this atmosphere is one of “leftism.” They are opposing the Central Committee. This is the guise of extreme “leftists ” who are opposing the Prime Minister….

– CQ Oct-Dec 1967, 212.

The Shanghai Commune was perhaps the main high point of Left influence. Mao had praised the Paris Commune. In February 1967 editorials appeared in Red Flag praising it and the efforts to form a Chinese Commune. Like the Paris Commune, its leaders were to be subject to immediate recall. In fact Zhang Chunqiao took control of it with the support of the Beijing-based Cultural Revolution group.

Zhang made the founding speech of the Shanghai Commune on February 5 1967. A week later he and Yao Wen-yuan went to Beijing where Mao explained to them that the Commune was a bad idea. Other cities wanted to form Communes. As in Marx’s day, direct recall of officials proved to be a popular idea! Mao suggested that power be vested instead in “three-in-one” committees, or “three-way alliance” – the Army, Party cadre, and “revolutionary rebels” like Wang Hongwen.

This was spelled out in the pamphlet “On the Revolutionary Three-in-One Combination.” This document repeats over a dozen times the formula that “only a handful” of cadres were reactionary. The “three-in-one” committee idea was specifically intended to counter the Left.

“In some localities, a few persons have proposed that “all persons classified as leading cadres should stand aside”. This view is devoid of class analysis. It counterposes the masses to all cadres. It does not direct its spearhead against the handful of persons in authority taking the capitalist road but against the great number of cadres. It therefore runs counter to the basic spirit of the 16-point decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party concerning the great proletarian cultural revolution, to the general orientation of the struggle and to Mao Tse-tung’s thought. To act in this way is objectively helping the class enemy. Those comrades who committed such mistakes unconsciously should immediately correct them. It is dangerous for them to persist in their own view. All revolutionary cadres should welcome the comrades guilty of such mistakes, as soon as they correct them, and in no circumstances should retaliate against them.” – http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/RTOC68.html

Before long the “hunt” was on for Leftists. Yang Xiguang, author of “Whither China?”, was singled out for special attack and went into hiding. According to Yang he was safe as long as he remained in his home province, but was turned into the police when he left it. He spent 10 years in prison. Dongping Han discusses the persecution of former “rebels” under Deng in the late ‘70s and ‘80s (“Negating the Cultural Revolution,” in The Unknown Cultural Revolution. MR Press, 2008).

Who Was Right? Who Was Wrong?

Were Mao and his high-level supporters correct when they insisted that the Party cadre were 90% good, “wanted to make revolution”, and those “on the capitalist road” were “a small handful”?

Or was the “ultra-Left” correct when they wrote, quoting Shengwulien,

“We really believe that ninety per cent of the senior cadres should stand aside, that at most they can only be objects to be educated and united. This is because they have already constituted a decaying class with its own particular “interests”. Their relation with the people has changed from the relation between the leaders and the led in the past to that between exploiters and the exploited, the oppressors and the oppressed. Most of them consciously or unconsciously yearn for the capitalist road, and protect and develop capitalist things. The rule of their class has completely blocked the development of history …”

In historical hindsight it is obvious. The “ultra-Left” were right. Mao was wrong.

The same Party cadre who, with Mao’s support, retained power in the Party supported the overthrow of the “Gang of Four” as soon as Mao died; then supported Deng’s swift reversion to open capitalism.

My point is not to say that the so-called “ultra-left” – really, the Left – were “correct” in all respects. But they were correct about the BIG issues.

A new Communist Party was needed. “Whiter China?” stated:

“The July 1st editorial of 1967 raised the question of Party building. During the violent class struggle in July and August, a very small number of “ultra-Leftists” put forward the demand that the “ultra-Left should have its own political party… To make revolution it is necessary to have a revolutionary party.”

“As a result of the practice of struggle having gained rich experience and entered a higher stage, the maturity of the political thinking of the revolutionary people of China has also entered a higher stage. A new trend of thought (called “ultra-Left trend of thought” by the enemy), including “overthrow of the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie”, “abolition of bureaucratic organs”, “thorough smashing of the state machine”, etc. wanders among the revolutionary people like a “spectre” in the eyes of the enemy.”

Yang Xiguang’s statement saw the future of China very accurately:

“The 9th National Congress of the Party about to be convened is not expected to be able to thoroughly settle the question of where the Chinese Communist Party is going. The political party that is produced in accordance with the provisions promulgated by the Centre for rehabilitation, regulation and rebuilding of the Party (if such a party can be formed) will necessarily be a party of bourgeois reformism that serves the bourgeois usurpers in the revolutionary committees.”

This is, in fact, precisely what happened.

“Whither China?” also pointed to the fact that the roots of this bourgeois restoration went back to the very foundation of the Chinese People’s Republic:

“To really overthrow the rule of the new aristocracy and thoroughly smash the old state machinery, it will be necessary to go into the question of assessment of the past 17 years…. The real revolution, the revolution to negate the past 17 years, has basically not yet begun, and that we should now enter the stage of tackling the fundamental questions of China’s revolution …”

The Cult of Mao Was the Achilles’ Heel of the Left

A glaring contradiction in “Whither China?” is the insistence of its authors that Mao was on their side, the side of the Left.

Yet Mao had come out against the Shanghai Commune. Mao had supported the “three-in-one” committees that the Left recognized as window-dressing, a form of rule in which the revolutionary forces – supposing they actually got representation at all – would be second in every way to the old cadre and the Army. And “political power flows from the barrel of a gun.” Ultimately it was the command of the Army that held state power under this system.

“Why did Comrade Mao Tse-tung, who energetically advocated the “commune”, suddenly oppose the establishment of “Shanghai People’s Commune” in January? That is something which the revolutionary people find it hard to understand.

“Chairman Mao, who foresaw the “commune” as a political structure which must be realised in the first cultural revolution, suddenly put forward “Revolutionary committees are fine!” (“Whither China?”)

In order to “explain” Mao’s actions “Whither China?” has recourse to a strained and very economic-determinist view of Mao’s actions. It suggested that Mao was choosing a “zig-zag path” because history must proceed that way.

“Revolution must progress along a zigzagging way. It must go through a prolonged course of “struggle-failure-struggle again-failure again-struggle again till final victory”.

“… the wise supreme commander Comrade Mao Tse-tung once more made a big retreat after September, in disregard of demands by impatient revolutionaries for victory. A political situation of bourgeois usurpation of power came about with the establishment of revolutionary committees or preparatory groups for revolutionary committees.

“Chairman Mao’s rousing call, “Arm the Left!” was an intensive concentration of the courage of the working class. But the September 5 order completely nullified the call to “arm the Left”. The working class was disarmed. The bureaucrats again came back to power …

Shengwulien suggests that somehow Mao did not openly support the Left because the people were not ready for it:

“Revolutions often take various reformist, unthorough roads. It is only when all panaceas are proved useless that the revolutionary people would resolve to follow the most painful and most destructive, but also the most thorough and revolutionary road. The struggle in the transition period of revolutionary committees will inevitably disillusion the masses about the panacea of bourgeois reformism which they love so much. Chairman Mao says: “Buddhist idols are set up by the peasants. When the time comes the peasants will throw away these idols with their own hands. There is no need for others to do it too soon.” In the not far distant future the revolutionary people will surely smash to pieces with their own iron hands the newborn red political power which they have secured with their own blood and lives …”

In reality Mao never supported the Left. Mao played a centrist role. He opposed the open reversion to capitalism, but never dismissed those who, like Deng, were its main proponents.

Understanding Mao’s centrism is key to understanding why the GPCR was basically decided by 1967. With the left in defeat and centrism, in the form of Mao and the “Gang”, in charge, China’s policies began to move to the right. This is most obviously seen in “ping-pong diplomacy” and then “Nixon in China”. Mao and Zhou warmed up to the USA when the US imperialists were still bombing the hell out of Vietnam and funding the South Vietnamese fascists to the hilt.

This isn’t the place to review all the contradictions in China’s political history between 1968 and Mao’s death. Certainly many left initiatives remained. Mao placated the right and smashed the “ultra-left” but never let the right seize power completely. His leadership, including the “Gang”, was centrist, meaning: right in essence but with a left cover.

During this time the pro-capitalist right was consolidated. There is no way Mao’s policies could have been so quickly reversed, capitalism so swiftly re-established and with so little opposition from within the Party, unless the Right became thoroughly consolidated while he was still alive. These were those Party cadres that Mao had insisted were “mainly good” and that the “ultra-left” had correctly viewed as the enemy.

The “ultra-left” could not see past the “cult of Mao.” They could not see Mao’s centrist role – that he actually opposed them and supported the cadre; that he opposed a Paris Commune kind of state in which Party cadre would have to win election from the working class or be deposed.

Something similar had happened in the USSR during Stalin’s lifetime. Khrushchev would not have been able to take over the Party and country so swiftly, and then Gorbachev able to restore capitalism in the name of “back to Lenin”, “back to ‘real socialism’”, if the roots of this reversal did not reach far back into the Stalin and even the Lenin years.

So the “cult” of Mao helped mislead and defeat the “ultra-left” and reinstall the Right. Maybe that is why Mao’s body still lies in state in Tienanmen Square, as Lenin’s does in Red Square.

Lesson: Criticize the “cult”, criticize Mao’s writings, criticize Maoism.

No truths are true forever. No leader is “always right.” Mao was a great leader. Under his leadership the Chinese Revolution was won and the Chinese People’s Republic established. He also initiated the GPCR, without which the mass “ultra-Left” movement would never have come into being.

At the same time Mao’s failure to support the Left and conciliation of the Right – of which Deng is just the most obvious example – guaranteed China’s reversion to capitalism once he had passed from the scene.

The “cult” of Mao facilitated that. It was a disgusting display of adulation, idolatry, lack of criticism, mass manipulation, cynicism. Even if Mao had represented the Left the “cult” would have been bad, like the “cult” around Stalin had been bad, because it disempowered the masses.

The “cult” of Mao stands in the way of the critical assimilation of the lessons of the Chinese Revolution. As long as Mao and his writings are regarded as “beyond criticism” any attempt to understand why the Chinese Revolution was reversed is condemned to go around in a circle. In that way it serves a similar purpose to the “cult” around Stalin. Khrushchev, who had risen to the leadership of the USSR by participating in this “cult” (along with lots of other Party cadre) then attacked it. Likewise Deng began the criticism of Mao’s legacy.

If “everything had come out all right”, if China had gone on to progress in a communist direction after Mao’s death, then we’d have to conclude that Mao’s judgment that “90% of the cadre being basically good” was basically correct. After all, “90% of the cadre” are more than enough to determine which direction the Party is going to take. Instead, China moved sharply towards capitalism immediately Mao died. This could not have happened without the support of “90% of the cadre”.

So Mao and the others were wrong. The “ultra-left” were correct. A new communist party was necessary. And it was necessary not in 1976, when Mao died, but long before Mao died. It was necessary, at the latest, when the “ultra-left” recognized the need for it.

I don’t fault the “ultra-left” like the Shengwulien, the May 16 group, and others we know little about. They achieved a lot. It would have been very hard to reject Mao during the GPCR, no matter how necessary we can now see that this was. The “ultra-Left” did not have the benefit of hindsight. They could not know what we now know, thanks in part to their experience.

But today, we ourselves have no such excuse.

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The Students, United, Wage Cultural Revolution!

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

The following essay focuses on the effect that students had in constructing the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. Our focus in this section on the GPCR is to draw the attention of comrades towards the concept of Social Revolution; that is to say, a revolution which attacks the very basic social relations of society in order to change them. The Social Revolution Party considers the GPCR to have been such an attempt. Furthermore, comrades should note that the role of students in the mass struggle is important. It is possible to change the world.

I. Introduction

…in the last fifty days or so some leading comrades from the central down to the local levels have acted in a diametrically opposite way [to Marxism-Leninism]. Adopting the reactionary stand of the bourgeoisie, they have enforced a bourgeois dictatorship and struck down the surging movement of the great cultural revolution of the proletariat. … How poisonous! Viewed in connection with the Right deviation in 1962 and the wrong tendency of 1964 which was ‘Left’ in form but Right in essence, shouldn’t this make one wide awake?1

It was with these words, written in early August of 1966, that Mao Zedong officially marked the beginning of the great proletarian Cultural Revolution. After months of unrest in much of China, particularly amoungst students and young workers, Mao latched himself onto a growing movement and in doing so provided the legitimacy required in order for the blossoming revolution to become a truly national phenomena throughout China. One of the most controversial periods in the history of modern China had been born.

rossoquote1The Cultural Revolution is considered by many historians to have begun around August of 1966, however the end point remains more ambiguous.2 Historians are generally divided into two camps in regards to the ending point of the Cultural Revolution; some consider the Cultural Revolution to have ended in December of 1968 with the destruction of the Red Guards and the establishment of the Down To The Countryside campaign,3 whereas others, including the official line of the Communist Party of China, believe the Cultural Revolution envelopes the drama surrounding the Gang of Four and comes to an end with the abolition of the Down To The Countryside campaign in 1977. While not mattering greatly within the scope of this paper, I fall into the former camp.4

It goes without saying that the interpretation of such a controversial event in the history of China is also greatly disputed. Though unfortunately not within the scope of this paper to argue, it is my conviction that the Cultural Revolution was a legitimate and honest struggle for socialism within China4. The Cultural Revolution attacked most of the old state institutions that existed within China, and specifically went after party bureaucrats who had become entrenched within the post-1949 Chinese state. The Cultural Revolution saw attacks on bourgeois forms of education, saw the creation of workers’ and students’ councils, saw the arming of said councils and the formation of the Red Guards, and ultimately saw the establishment of the Shanghai Commune in 1967.5 This is the historical bias from which I will approach the subject matter being discussed. However, the Cultural Revolution provides only the backdrop on which the events discussed in this paper occur. The main intent of this paper is to show how the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the Cultural Revolution. The power of the student movement in China during the time leading up to and during the Cultural Revolution exists as a shining example to student and worker struggles everywhere, and indeed the Cultural Revolution needs to be re-evaluated within this light if we are to have success within the student movement in Canada. Particular attention will be paid to the experience of students at Peking University, and Tsinghua University. In the end, it will be proven that the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the great proletarian Cultural Revolution.

II. The Experience of Students at Peking University

The origins of the Cultural Revolution at Peking University can be traced back to the after-effects of the largely failed Great Leap Forward. Despite the fact that one of the main goals of the Great Leap Forward was to extend quality education to the Chinese masses, particularly peasants, by the time 1965 arrived the Chinese education system was still extremely stratified. According to Victor Nee:

At the top were all of the elite schools… Their students were to become China’s future leaders, scientists, and professional men. Below the elite schools were the general full-time schools, which were to train middle level technicians, engineers, and teachers, most of who were destined for positions in the countryside. At the bottom were the part-time schools… which were there to provide a minimal education for China’s future peasant and working classes…6

Such a hierarchy of education ran completely contrary to the ideals of the Chinese Revolution of 1949, and “threatened to perpetuate structures which could only reinforce the social values of traditional China.”7 It was in response to the relative stagnation of progress within China’s education system that Mao initiated the Socialist Education Campaign in 1962. The aims of the Socialist Education Campaign (SEC) were three-fold. First, the SEC wanted to ensure that graduates of China’s best schools would go to the countryside and use their skills there. Second, the SEC encouraged students to go on work-study programs into the countryside in order to counter the spontaneous restoration of capitalism within small villages.8 And third, the SEC hoped to increase the enrolment of working class and peasant students within the elite schools.

Initially the SEC was limited to the countryside, but slowly and surely the SEC made its way into China’s cities. In 1964 the campaign was officially adopted at Peking University and a work-team arrived in rder to expose those within the university administration that were allegedly taking “the capitalist road.”9 The university administration, in particular the chair of Peking University’s Party Committee, Lu P’ing, was quick to criticize the work-team and actively organized for their removal. Working with the Beijing Municipal Committee, a close ally to Lu P’ing, “struggle-meetings” were organized that denounced the SEC work-team and attempted to force the work team to engage in self-criticisms. When the work-team refused to submit to criticism, they were removed from Peking University and 80 members of Peking University’s faculty who had sided with the work-team’s criticisms of the administration were forcibly removed from campus to await trial inside of the International Hotel in Beijing. This group of radical academics was to become known as the International Hotel Group.10

Meanwhile, the play Hai Jui Dismissed from Office, written in 1961 by famed historian Wu Han, was beginning to stir-up new controversy. Despite initial positive reception from Mao, various prominent leftists within China felt that the play was in fact a thinly veiled critique of Mao and his dismissal of old army bureaucrats. Mao, responding to pressure from his base of support within China, brought up the idea of criticizing Wu Han at a Central Committee meeting in October of 1965. Fearing that the renewed criticism of Wu Han would empower opponents of Peking University’s Party Committee,11 Lu P’ing organized for nearly two-thirds of the students at Peking University, particularly those students who were not members of the Communist Party, to be sent to the countryside. Under the guise of fulfilling the goals of the SEC, Lu P’ing had managed to isolate most of Peking University’s students from both the International Hotel Group and the new leftist criticisms of Wu Han.

Attempting to regain popularity amoungst the remaining students remaining at Peking University, Lu P’ing called a meeting of Party members in early May of 1966 where he encouraged the academic criticism of Hai Jui Dismissed from Office. Following this initial meeting, Lu P’ing began to organize public meetings where he echoed his encouragement of academic criticisms of Wu Han’s play. Lu P’ing had however seriously over-estimated his support within the Party at Peking University, and when various revolutionary elements within the Party began calling for a political criticism of Wu Han himself12, a call echoed by those faculty that still remained at the rossoquote2International Hotel, Lu P’ing began to realize that his control over Peking University was slipping.

Finding an opening in which the Party Committee and administration of Peking University could be attacked, the International Hotel Group began preparing a big-character poster criticizing Lu P’ing’s role in suppressing criticisms of Wu Han. The poster, entitled “What Have Sun Shuo, Lu P’ing, and P’en P’ei-yun Done in the Cultural Revolution?”,13 almost immediately began to garner support from the students still left at Peking University and within hours the walls of the school were covered in other posters criticizing the administration.14 The administration’s reaction was fierce, and in mobilizing the Communist Youth League (CYL),15 it was able to effectively shut down any meetings held by leftist dissenters and install a “reign of terror”16 at Peking University.

rossoquote3Lu P’ing’s victory was short-lived. On June 1st, 1966, Mao made a special request that the text of the International Hotel Group’s big-character poster be broadcast across Beijing;17 he would later go on to suggest that the particular poster was “China’s first Marxist-Leninist big-character poster.”18 Following the broadcast, a meeting was held at Peking University in which the leadership of the International Hotel Group was able to make a series of statements. The result was that even those students that had initially supported Lu P’ing and the Party Committee found themselves on the side of the leftists.

Throughout the following day, parades of revolutionaries from around Beijing – university students, high-school students, workers, peasants, Party cadres, etc. — made their way to the gates of Peking university in order to join the student rebels. P’eng P’eiyun, Sung Shuo, and most importantly Lu P’ing were all dismissed from office. The two thirds of Peking University students that had been sent to the countryside under the auspices of the SEC returned to the campus of Peking University filled with revolutionary vigour from their work-study experience, and the International Hotel Group was regraciated into the life of Peking University.

At the same time as celebrations were being carried out over the victory at Peking University, a new Municipal Committee had been formed. Attempting to restore order at Peking University, a work-team was dispatched in order to put down the leftist uprising. The work-team immediately closed the gates of the university and began a series of “struggle-sessions” that sought to denounce the leftists. While this initially worked, on June 7th posters criticizing the work-team appeared on the campus of Peking University. The renewed sense of struggle gradually galvanized the majority of the student population against the Municipal Committee’s work-team, and upon Mao’s recomendation,19 a delegation from Mao’s inner-circle was sent in order to inspect the climate at Peking University. The delegation was quick to issue criticism of the work-team for two main things. First, the delegation criticized the work-team for “not encourag[ing] the active participation of the revolutionary students and teachers of the whole University in carrying out the Cultural Revolution,”20 and second for failing to establish a new representative body at the university. Following an official report the work-team was immediately disbanded on July 26th, , 1966, and those students that had been dismissed for attacking the workteam were reinstated at Peking University. Peking University was renamed New Peking University; an institution which was reorganized and modelled after the Paris Commune of 1871. Attempting to network with others across China who were swept up in the revolutionary overthrow of the old post-revolutionary China, a Cultural Revolution Committee was formed on September 13th with one of the leaders of the International Hotel Group at its head.

The Cultural Revolution was in full swing at Peking University, built almost exclusively by the students.

III. The Experience of Students at Tsinghua University

If the students at Peking University reserved the right to claim the first rumblings of the Cultural Revolution, then the students at Tsinghua Univeristy, also in Beijing, reserved the right to claim the most intense conflicts during the Cultural Revolution. Immediately after Mao requested that the big-character poster of the International Hotel Group be broadcast on June 1st, 1966, students at Tsinghua University wasted no time in laying siege to their own university administration. For ten days, between June 1st, 1966 and June 10th, 1966, the students of Tsinghua University effectively turned their university into one of the key battle-grounds of the Cultural rossoquote4Revolution by launching intense criticisms of not only conservative professors, but also of those in high positions within the Party.21 The reaction of the Party bureaucrats within Tsinghua University’s Party Committee and the Beijing Municipal Committee was incredibly quick and severe. A work-team was formed and arrived on the Tsinghua Campus on June 10th in order to restore a sense of order and to ensure that criticisms of those in high positions in the Party were quickly silenced. Despite being received positively on their arrival,22 it was soon clear that the work-team was not there to aid the rebels. On June 13th, 1966, a mass meeting was held where Yeh Lin, the organizer of the work-team, laid out a twofold plan to restore order at Tsinghua University. Yeh Lin’s program amounted to: all department- and university-level cadres [being] suspended and [being] ordered to report in groups for study. … all students [being] called upon to return to their classrooms for a major campaign of self-and-mutual criticism.23 It became clear to the students that the goal of the work-team was to break up the blossoming student movement in order to prevent them from effectively waging the Cultural Revolution. Unfortunately for the work-team, the students of Tsinghua University were not ready to capitulate and resistance to the “white-terror”, as the period of the work-team was later to be known, began without much delay. On June 23rd a student named Kuai Ta-fu, who was to become one of the main student leaders at Tsinghua University, issued a poster known as “What’s this all about, Comrade Yeh Lin?” which viciously criticized the work-team. The work-team responded by calling a public meeting on June 28th in order to denounce Kuai as a counter-revolutionary.

The meeting resulted in an embarrassing failure for the work-team and posters began to surface that criticized the work-team’s commitment to not only the Cultural Revolution, but socialist revolution and Maoism in general. The work-team, reeling from criticisms, was thrown into disarray24. Rumours had been circulating that Liu Shao-chi’s wife, Wang Kuang-mei, was secretly in charge of the work-team.25 In order to hold the work-team together, Wang Kuang-mei was forced to step into the open at the June 28th mass meeting in order to ensure the work-team and the students of Tsinghua University that the workteam had the full confidence of the Party, particularly Liu Shaochi and Mao. Wang Kuang-mei’s appeal worked in that the workteam began to refocus itself, but the students of Tsinghua University were not convinced. The following day another series of posters criticizing the work-team appeared on campus.

In response to their waning influence, the work-team began a campaign directed entirely at Kuai Ta-fu known as the “Pull Out Kuai” campaign. Once again students did not respond and the resistance against the work-team further intensified. Everything came to a head when on July 22nd, 1966, Mao returned from southern China and wasted no time in questioning the purpose of the work-teams. Indeed, Mao had been a firm supporter of the student rebels and in reply to their queries wrote this: Red Guard comrades of Tsinghua University Middle School:

“I have received both the big-character posters which you sent on 28 July as well as the letter which you sent to me, asking for an answer. The two big-character posters which you wrote on 24 June and 4 July express your anger at, and denunciation of, all landlords, bourgeois, imperialists, revisionists, and their running dogs who exploit and oppress the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and evolutionary parties and groupings. You say it is right to rebel against reactionaries; I enthusiastically support you. I also give enthusiastic support to the big-character poster of the Red Flag Combat group of Peking University Middle School which said that it is right to rebel against the reactionaries; and to the very good revolutionary speech given by comrade P’eng Hsiao-meng representing their Red Flag Combat Group at the big meeting attended by all the teachers, students, administration and workers of Peking University on 25 July. Here I want to say that I myself as well as my revolutionary comrades-in-arms all take the same attitude. No matter where they are, in rossoquote5Peking or anywhere in China, I will give enthusiastic support to all who take an attitude similar to yours in the Cultural Revolution movement. …” 26

This letter, which was printed on August 1st but would have undoubtedly been received by the students at Tsinghua University beforehand, proved that Mao did not endorse the work-team and on July 29th a mass meeting was held where the work-team was denounced and forced to withdraw from Tsinghua University.27 The question then arose as to how best re-organize Tsinghua University after the fall of work-team’s 50 day reign. Two different lines emerged amoungst the students. The first sought to rehabilitate old and reactionary faculty in order to allow the university to return to normal. The second, headed by Kuai Ta-fu, wanted nothing to do with the old faculty and instead suggested that only revolutionary faculty should be allowed to teach. On August 8th, 1966, the latter organized themselves into a group known as the 8-8s, and the following day, the former organized themselves into a group known as the 8-9s.28 Following two weeks of active campaigning against one another, the 8-9s appealed to the university administration for help. On August 23rd, 1966, they received the support of Chian Nan-hsiang,29 effectively throwing the 8-9s into the ruling circles of Tsinghua University and silencing the 8-8s.30

Despite the fact that the 8-9s had administrative support, the 8-8s continued to campaign and gradually gained more support from the students at Tsinghua University. The 8-8s were effectively waging an up-hill battle until October 6, 1966, when Mao hosted another meeting of the Red Guards in Beijing. At this meeting Mao directly endorsed all those who were struggling against the old, reactionary order which provided a massive boom to the 8-8s and effectively put them on the offensive at Tsinghua University.31 In the days following, the 8-9s found themselves losing support to the 8-8s to the extent that they felt forced to burn their seal and flag, and in early November of 1966 the 8-9s merged with the 8-8s to form the Chingkangshan Regiment headed by Kuai Ta-fu. Kuai, due to his unchanging, and eventually correct stance throughout 1966 and 1967, became a national icon for students everywhere to emulate.

Throughout most of November and December of 1966 the Chingkangshan Regiment began consolidating their power at Tsinghua University and organizing their own cadre. Due to the Chingkangshan Regiment’s prestige throughout China, as early as January of 1967, other universities began appealing to the Chingkangshan Regiment for help in fighting their own manifestations of the Cultural Revolution. The Chingkangshan Regiment sent delegates to various universities around China, particularly in outlying regions. It was through these delegations that the cadre of the Chingkangshan Regiment learned the necessity of seizing power in order to effectively wage Cultural Revolution; indeed, their comrades in China’s outlying regions were not fortunate enough to have sympathetic administrations and had been forced to take over their universities in order to simply publish material. As a result, in mid-January of 1967 the Chingkangshan Regiment seized power at Tsinghua University and deposed the administration.32 The Cultural Revolution had become firmly established at Tsinghua University.

IV. Conclusion

As has been demonstrated, it was the students in China that jump-started the Cultural Revolution. Initially it was student revolt, and student-based challenges to entrenched bureaucrats within the Chinese Communist Party that led to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution at Peking University. Following Mao’s support for the rebels at Peking University, the students at Tsinghua University began struggling, and intensified their struggle to the point that they managed to extend the Cultural Revolution to other institutions around China. In this way, the student movement in China was instrumental in constructing the great proletarian Cultural Revolution.

End Notes
1. Mao Zedong, “Bombard the Headquarters – My First Big-
Character Poster”, Peking Review, August 5, 1966
2. An, MAO TSE-TUNG’S Cultural Revolution , 22.
3. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 74.
4. My conviction rests upon the entire body of work written by the anti-revisionist school of Marxist thought, of which only an infinitely small amount was used in the preparation of this paper. Though this school of thought is certainly open to criticism, focusing too much on Mao`s role within the context of the Cultural Revolution proper detracts from the overall series of events.
5. An, MAO TSE-TUNG’S Cultural Revolution, 28.
6. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 38.
7. Ibid, 39
8. This spontaneous restoration of capitalism included: “increase in private plots, excessive sideline occupations, rural free markets, the tendency amoung better-off peasants to “go it alone”, and the re-emergence of rich peasants.”. Ibid, 42.
9. Ibid, 42.
10. Ibid, 43.
11. Wu Han was also the deputy mayor of Beijing, and therefore sat on the Beijing Municipal Committee. The Municipal Committee had, of course, been a staunch ally of Lu P’ing’s while Lu P’ing sought to sieze control of Peking University from the SEC work-team in early 1965.
12. As opposed to a purely academic criticism of his play. Academic criticisms focused solely on the historical merits of Hai Jui Dismissed from Office, whereas political criticisms of Wu Han sought to uncover the class nature of Wu Han’s deviancy from revolutionary ideals.
13. P’eng P’ei-yun was the Party Committee of Peking University’s vice-secretary, and Sung Shuo was a member of the Municipal Committee’s Universities Department. Ibid, 54.
14. Ibid, 54.
15. The CYL was organizationally conservative, as the leadership
was tied directly to Lu P’ing’s administration.
16. Ibid, 57.
17. The request was made in a document written by Mao that criticized Liu Shao-ch’i, the then-Chairman of the Communist Party of China and one of the main targets of the Cultural Revolution. Ibid, 57.
18. Mao Zedong, “Bombard the Headquarters – My First Big- Character Poster”, Peking Review, August 5, 1966
19. Mao had recently returned from Shanghai only to find the budding Cultural Revolution in disarray due to the intrigues of the work-team. Nee, The Cultural Revolution at Peking University, 61.
20. Ibid, 66.
21. Hinton, 100 Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University, 44.
22. It was believed that the work-team was being sent by Liu Shao-chi in order to aid the rebel students. While, as it was later found out, the work-team was sent by Liu Shao-chi, it was most definitely to put down the Cultural Revolution. Liu was to later become one of the prime targets of the Cultural Revolution.
23. Ibid, 45.
24. Ibid, 51.
25. Indeed, the reason for the poster “What’s this all about, Comrade Yeh Lin?” was that a female member of the work-team pretended to be Wang Kuang-mei in order to gather confessions from students.
26. Mao Zedong, “A Letter To The Red Guards Of Tsinghua University Middle School”, Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, August 1, 1966.
27. Hinton, 100 Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University, 68.
28. Ibid, 69.
29. Chian Nan-hsiang was the president of Tsinghua Univerisity.
30. Ibid, 74.
31. Ibid, 96.
32. Ibid, 106.

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Message to the People of Lalgarh

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

The following was lifted from the Kasama Project‘s Revolution in South Asia.  The original article can be found here.

CPI (Maoist) Message to the People of Lalgarh

We Hail Your Glorious Struggle!
Your Mass Upsurge Inspires Millions to Spread the Red Flame of Lalgarh to Every Corner of the Country!!lalgarh2

Your revolt, with arms in hands, has risen like a storm against decades of social fascist neglect, misrule and terror. You have stormed the police camps, CPM offices – the centres of state terror – and chased them out of the area. For over seven months you and your comrades from the surrounding areas have practically paralysed the whole administration in a vast region. Not only that, while exposing the hoax of so-called development of three decades of the social-fascists, you have yourselves undertaken numerous development works through shramdan, like health projects, irrigation, roads, schools, etc. It is indeed an inspiring example of new forms of struggle for all of us to learn from resulting in the Call to build thousands of Lalgarhs in every corner of the country!

Terrorised by your mass upheaval, the central and state forces, along with the Harmad bahini goonda force of the social fascists, have launched massive attacks on the entire people of your area. With wide-scale anti-propaganda the government turned your area into a war zone. Armed people, with traditional weapons, have heroically resisted the attack launched by 40 companies of central para-military forces, the special forces of the Cobras, Helicopters, along with State forces and the CPM goonda bahini.

lalgarhquote1It is known to all that there was resentment of the people against the handing over of 4,000 acres of forest land to the Jindal plant, on which it is you and you alone that have the rights. It is you, the villagers of the area, who alone have the rights over this land, and not the government. After the attack on the convoy of the Chief Minister and others while returning from the inauguration of this plant and the terror then unleashed by the police, your movement took a political shape with thousand and thousand of masses mobilised against the police and administration. Along with the heroic mass resistance against the police and para-military attacks, this mass upsurge has created a big political impact over the entire country arousing a hope and inspiration amongst the toiling masses fighting against all kinds of exploitation, repression and injustice. This has had the added political impact to thoroughly expose the social fascist face of the CPM revisionists and accelerated the process of polarisation of the forces of revolution and reaction.

The Politburo of the CPI (Maoist) hails your glorious mass uprising and strongly condemns the cruel repression unleashed on the masses in your area by the central and state forces. It calls on the whole Party and PLGA, its mass organisations and each and every section of the revolutionary masses, to come forward in support of your movement and rise against the brutal attack on the struggling and fighting people of Lalgarh. We further call on the Party and people in the surrounding areas to take proper actions and conduct necessary activities in support of your great uprising. We vow to lend you all support in every possible way, particularly the support of the oppressed masses throughout the country.

The most significant aspects of the struggle from which we can all learn and emulate throughout the country are:lalgarh1
(i)Yours was a truly armed mass movement which drew into it the entire masses of the area with the ability to keep out the entire reactionary state machinery for a full seven months.
(ii)Your form of mass organisation of constituting a committee in every village comprising five men and five women was a truly new example of a real mass-based democratic organisation which can mobilise and organise the vast masses of the people.
(iii)Yours was not a movement for mere economic interests but a political upsurge for your political rights and self-respect of the adivasi and non-adivasi toiling masses.
(iv)Your movement was an example of how to truly build a united front of all forces drawing in all sections of the masses and also involving the progressive and intellectual forces of the cities as well, combining a skilful balance between reform work, political agitation and armed resistance against the state and government.

Comrades,

Our entire Party will learn from this heroic experience, vow to spread Lalgarh-type movements throughout the country, propagate your movement throughout the country and lend your movement all kinds of necessary assistance.

July 15, 2009

[From: People’s Truth, #7, August 2009.]

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We Will Spread This Fire

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

We Will Spread this Fire

[Comrade Manoj, a prominent CPI (Maoist) leader in Lalgarh tells his story to The Times of India.]

My name is Manoj. It’s not the name my parents gave me, but all my comrades call me ‘Manoj’. My father’s name is Dhiren Murmu. I am his second son and I am 25. I was born at Bamundanga village in Salboni. I’ve lived most of my life in this hopeless village.

Our village falls under the Kansijora gram panchayat. The left Front has been in power here for 30 years. Salboni has always been a CPM stronghold. But, in 30 years, neither the state government, nor the panchayat and Zilla Parishad took any interest at all in developing this area. We might have been living in the Stone Age.

When it rains here, the dirt tracks turn muddy and we are forced to drag ourselves and our cattle through the muck. We are not able to ride our bicycles or use carts. We don’t have clean drinking water. People are forced to drink filthy, yellow water. After sunset, we live in the dark as there is no electricity here. No jobs either. During the paddy season, we work in the fields and then sit idle for the rest of the year. Because we are tribals, no one has bothered to do anything for us.

manojquote1In 2002, we got tired of being treated like rodents. So, the villagers got together and demanded development in our area. This infuriated the local CPM bosses. The police and Marxists slapped false cases on us, accusing us of working for the People’s War Group (PWG). They branded us Maoists. So we began to think we might as well join the Maoists.

Things turned nasty quickly. The former police superintendent of West Midnapore, KC Meena, lodged an FIR against the entire village. Nearly 90% of the men and teenage boys were charged with being Naxalite. We knew what was coming. We had to do something to save ourselves.

I was just 18 at the time. I was in class XII at the local school. But, I too joined in protests against the police. Within days, the police filed a case against me, my father and brother. They accused all of us for working for the PWG. Our family has always supported the Congress party. In 1988, when Mamata Banerjee formed the Trinmool Congress (TMC), we switched loyalty to her.

One day, police jeeps rolled into our villages, picked up people from their houses, bundled everyone into their vehicles and dumped all of us into the Midnapore jail. That was where I first met Maoist leader Sushil Roy [comrade Barunda]. I found the Maoist ideology very appealing. Roy asked me to join the Maoists so that I could help the poor. I liked his ideas. Then I met two PWG leaders in prison. And I realized that neither Congress nor the TMC can stop the CPM’s terror. I also realized that under CPM rule, we had lost the right to speak up. It was time to take a stand and speak up.

I joined the Maoists. They gave me a new name, a new identity and a new life. Now, I work for the Lalgarh movement. I joined this great surge of people last year. On November 5, the police arrived here looking for people who had blasted landmines at chief minister Buddhadeb Bhatacharya’s convoy at Salboni. In Lalgarh, the police rounded up innocent tribal women and began to molest and torture them. One woman lost an eye. Others were badly injured. After this incident, we decided to join the Lalgarh movement. It was our party’s decision. The Maoists always stand with the deprived. We joined them at Nandigram and Singur. Now, we have joined them in Lalgarh.

It’s been easy for us to win the people’s support. Most of them have been victims of torture by police. The people listened to us and joined the Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA). Opposition party workers have also supported us. Everybody is rebelling against the CPM cadre and police.

We know the government forces want to crush us. But, we plan to expand our area of influence. As soon as we are able to turn Lalgarh and Junglemahal (a forested area spanning three districts – Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore) into a Maoist-dominated area, we will apply our ideology here. We will undertake development work for the poor. We will raise money through public donations. And nobody will pay tax to the government anymore.

After victory at Lalgarh, we will expand our fight to the tribal communities of Jharkand, Bihar, Orissa and Chattisgarh. Our war has just begun.manojquote2

[June 21, 2009, Sunday Times of India]

[From: People’s Truth, #7, August 2009.]

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On the Iranian “Elections”

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

The following interview between Hamid Taqvaee (Secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran [WPI]) and Kazem Nikkhah was initially broadcast on June 12, 2009 over the WPI’s New Channel. It is being reprinted to provide comrades with insight into the actual events that unfolded in Iran following the 2009 elections, rather than how the events were portrayed in the media of the Anglo-sphere.  The original transcript can be found here.

————————————————————————————————

Kazem Nikkhah: You have said that elections in Iran are a farce though things do happen during each election. Why?

Hamid Taqvaee: Calling these events an election is a farce, including in comparison with elections in Turkey and even Pakistan let alone the west. There are no events and changes that take place that have anythingtaqveequote1 to do with people’s votes or what is called an election. And I’m not just talking about this particular election but all of the elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Our use of the term farce is not just propaganda to expose the regime; the elections in Iran are a farce because they are not real elections.

Kazem Nikkhah: One person does leave and another comes in their place though…

Hamid Taqvaee: Yes, there is a change within the ruling gang but the public don’t play a role in this…

Kazem Nikkhah: But isn’t this the case in elections in other countries that are not considered to be sham elections?

Hamid Taqvaee: We are also critical of elections in the west for example but ‘elections’ in Iran are a wholly different story. The crux of our criticism of elections in parliamentary democracies in the west is that people get to vote and then have no say until another four years when someone else takes over who is not very different from his or her predecessor! But in the west there are political freedoms, and people come and vote for various political platforms and policies. Of course there are mechanisms in which the ruling parties and classes manufacture public opinion with the assistance of the media. But from a legal and rights perspective, any party can introduce its candidate(s). The situation in Iran, however, is incomparable. You don’t have any political freedoms or the freedom to form political parties. Even the most basic political and civil freedoms don’t exist.

In the first instance, only the factions closest to the state and only those given the go ahead by Khamenei, the supreme spiritual leader, can participate. The rest are excluded. Only the closest insiders can run and that is why the final few candidates are always pillars of the regime – and the regime’s most criminal elements at that. That’s why they all have known track records of repression and crimes against the people. Look at this election – from Ahmadinejad, Karoubi, Mousavi to Rezai – all have been instrumental in the repression and executions that have taken place.

Even many in their own ‘second Khordad’ or ‘reformist’ faction are not allowed to participate in the election. If in Turkey or Pakistan a Council of Guardians decided on who could run, the election would be cancelled! In other elections, if a candidate gets less television airtime than another, complaints are made to rectify the situation. Now if you compare the situation in Iran with that of Sweden or Denmark or France, you will see that even in the first instance what happens in Iran is anything but an election!taqvaee1

Kazem Nikkhah: Are you saying that a real election is better than this sham?

Hamid Taqvaee: You can have any criticism against real elections but the issue is that what takes place in the Islamic Republic of Iran is not an election. The general criticisms of parliamentary elections are irrelevant when it comes to Iran. This sort of criticism is a form of concession to the regime. Karoubi, for example, has said that if he becomes president, he will end censorship. Come on! This regime kills journalists, including in the well known serial murder cases. Under Mr Khatami, the head of the so-called reformists, a number of journalists whose crime was to somewhat criticise the regime were killed and their bodies found on roadsides. The evidence is there; the bodies are there. It’s clear what happened but the killers are no where to be found. Sort of like the siphoned off billions that are no where to be found! So for such a regime, talk of removing censorship is a bad joke. To simply say there is censorship in Iran is absurd. What censorship! In the Islamic Republic they murder journalists. They don’t just purge articles; they basically purge journalists!

It’s the same when one talks about the elections. To criticise the elections in Iran as you would elections in France is a concession to the regime. This is not the issue either especially given that the regime is more repressive, dictatorial and inhuman than for such types of criticisms.

In the last so-called election, Karoubi said he went to sleep for a few hours and when he awakened, Ahmadinejad’s votes were up by several million! They themselves confess to the fraud that takes place. And still it is called an election!

Kazem Nikkhah: Let me say it this way, if we compare this election with that of other regimes like the former Shah’s regime, it may be the first time that there is some sort of competition between the candidates and the public is being asked to intervene. Doesn’t any of this have any value?

Hamid Taqvaee: As I have said before this has nothing to do with elections but it is a political event. Elections in Iran mean that someone will be victorious from the infighting within the regime’s factions and its in-crowd taqveequote2and become the president or the head of the Islamic assembly. All these are real fights amongst those governing but it has nothing to do with the fate of the people. In this sense, the election is a mechanism within the ruling gang – and that too in the most limited sense of the word. Even many of the ‘Second Khordad’ or so called reformists from within the ruling gang are not included. And there are splits within the reformists as well as the conservative faction. They are at each other’s throats. In my opinion, the reason for all this is that they are feeling the heat. This is an important point. It’s because the people not only don’t accept the elections but the entirety of the regime.

Kazem Nikkhah: People are taking advantage of the climate to come and show their opposition to the regime so some believe this is a positive occurrence in the elections and therefore, it isn’t a farce.

Hamid Taqvaee: The issue is not that the people take advantage of the sham election to speak their minds. They take advantage of many other things too to do the same – especially because they know it is a farce. Okay some will vote for a variety of reasons, including getting a stamp in their passport or fear or expedience but no one in Iran goes to vote with the same motives as those in France. During the Shah’s time this was the case and today, in other ways, it is also the case. Even if there wasn’t a political crisis in Iran and infighting amongst the ruling factions, people who go and vote know their vote is worthless.

Another reason for my saying it is a farce to call it an election is that the Islamic regime gets its legitimacy from the Koran, Islam, and the Supreme Spiritual Leader and so on, not people’s votes. They have set up unelected institutions like the Supreme Spiritual Leader, the Council of Guardians and so on, that can also veto anything they want. From deciding who can run for the elections to what legislation is passed in the Islamic Assembly. This has happened on countless occasions.

So how can this be called an election? Now Ahmadinejad might be president or Mousavi or anyone else. But any decisions made on the international scene or domestically at the Assembly needs Khamenei’s approval. If he doesn’t approve, he makes a speech at Friday prayers and all unfavourable decisions are scrapped. In such a situation, even if there was no election fraud, the elections are meaningless.

Kazem Nikkhah: If it is a farce, why even talk about it? What is its political significance?

Hamid Taqvaee: As I’ve said before, its political significance is that the rulers are at each others’ throats because they don’t have the support of the population at large. From the people’s viewpoint, this is an opportunity to come forward and undermine them. The elections are not about electing one person over another; it’s about the Islamic regime’s survival. You see this in their own statements – they’ll say for example if we don’t take care, none of us will survive and we’ll endanger the entire system.

Kazem Nikkhah: Amongst the opposition there are two main positions and the Worker-communist Party of course has a third stance. Those who are nationalist-Islamic and second Khordad or so-called reformist say that people should participate in the election and vote for a ‘reformist’ candidate. They say this will somewhat improve this situation in Iran. Another grouping of opposition says people should stay home and boycott the ‘election.’ The WPI says people should ruin it for them. What do you mean by this?

Hamid Taqvaee: I believe this is already taking place. People are not sitting at home. When Mousavi went to Ahvaz, the pipe-manufacturing workers declared that all the candidates were one and the same. When he went taqveequote3to Zanjan, the students condemned him for his role in the 1988 mass killings. The Sherkat-e Vahed workers also declared that the ‘election’ has nothing to do with the interests of workers and people. People aren’t quiet. In Iran, the issue is not only that people don’t accept the election or this or that candidate. They don’t want the entirety of the regime and they make use of the opportunity to declare that they have already made their choice. That the regime has to go. That they have chosen happiness over mourning and life over execution and killings… They need to come out in the streets to say the regime’s heads should be prosecuted not elected.

Kazem Nikkhah: When Khatami became president the WPI’s stance was that people selected him as a way of intensifying the factional infighting; wasn’t this positive? Wouldn’t this be the case if Karoubi or Mousavi became president?

Hamid Taqvaee: Let me first explain the Khatami era. Our position was that the people hadn’t voted for reform as was being said by some but that in fact their vote was a vote against the supreme spiritual leader. We said it was a vote for the overthrow of the regime. We said by voting against the supreme leader’s candidate, the people aimed to weaken the regime. Not that we agreed. People made these calculations; they weren’t correct. You see the infighting will intensify the more they know people are against all of them. Even now, the second Khordad or so-called reformist faction has built political capital on Mr Khatami’s winning of x number of votes. Even though he holds no weight now, this gives them a notch up and was a mistake. What I mean is that the regime’s factions should be at each others’ throats but this will only fully happen when they all feel the heat.

The supporters of the supreme leader are saying that if a so-called reformist comes to power, he will loosen the reins, and protests will intensify. The so-called reformists are saying if a conservative candidate wins, they will increase repression and the people’s protests will intensify. In a sense, both are revealing a truth; the reality is that whether Ahmadinejad, Karoubi or Mousavi becomes president, there won’t be any fundamental or even any superficial change in the situation.

They call Khatami a reformist! My question is what did Khatami do that could be labelled as reform? They themselves say he didn’t do anything – but of course they say it was because the opposing faction didn’t allow it. The point of the matter is that when he was president, he did not do anything. And not only did the numbers of executions and stonings not diminish but the serial murders took place under his presidency. The attack on the students happened under his presidency…

Kazem Nikkhah: They say the opposing faction was responsible.

Hamid Taqvaee: Okay but you were the president. If you wanted to you could have resigned on 18 Tir of the Persian calendar when the attack on the students took place. Otherwise what’s the point of being president! It is ridiculous to ask people to vote for you as a reformist and then say you cannot make any reforms because others won’t allow it! You could have informed people on day one so they wouldn’t vote for you. What this means is that supreme leader was not on board. And this takes us back to my first point and that is that this regime cannot be elected because there is a supreme spiritual leader that can veto everything. Because this regime gets its legitimacy from Islam and not the people.

With regards the reformists, I must add that in my opinion in Iran reformism – like elections – is a farce. The so-called reformists say things that are tragic comedy. It makes one laugh and cry at the same time. It’s like sayingtaqvee2 Hitler’s rule was bad because during his reign, they took two years to asphalt our roads! Of course the roads should also have been asphalted but those who reduce the problem to this are actually trying to cover up the main issues at hand. There are reformists – like Ms Shirin Ebadi – who at one point began a campaign to remove mines left over from the Iran-Iraq war. This is a humanitarian task but if it becomes the only task – whilst every day people are being executed and stoned and she has nothing to say about them or is silent on the serial killings and complains that there is censorship in the county when journalists are being killed, this is either pleading ignorance or assuming that the people are ignorant! It is an insult to people’s intelligence for someone to come and work for ‘reforms’ in this manner. A precondition for any reform is that the supreme spiritual leader is set aside. If they really mean what they say, they should bring a platform that says they want the supreme leader’s resignation, an end to an Islamic regime, Islam’s separation from the state, educational system and people’s lives…

Kazem Nikkhah: Doesn’t this go beyond reform?

Hamid Taqvaee: No, as I said before, a precondition for those who speak of reform under Nazism is to call for the fascists to get out of government and to be prosecuted. Otherwise, what reform? You can’t be under Hilter’s yoke and complain about the lack of asphalted roads. This is no longer called reform. Under a regime where writers are killed, you can no longer merely complain about censorship. Khatami, Kahroubi and Mousavi are defenders of the Islamic system under the banner of reformism; they are not reformists.

The other point is that this is election-related. Three months before the election, suddenly Mohsen Rezai steps up to say he wants to give women insurance or Karoubi says he wants to end child executions. Well I say Mr Karoubi, when you were the head of the Islamic Assembly did you bring any legislation calling for an end to child executions? In your era, hundreds of young 17, 18 year olds were executed and are being executed right now too…

Kazem Nikkhah: Why are they saying these things now?

Hamid Taqvaee: They know that people have sympathy towards these issues – particularly that our Party has initiated a massive campaign against executions. This issue and the existence of New Channel TV station are hot topics and so they say this to collect votes. They say this so that maybe some will vote as a result of certain misgivings and say it is a choice between bad over worse. That they will say Karoubi or Mousavi are better than Ahmadinejad. In this sense, in that society both the election and reformism are a farce and without meaning. We don’t have reformists. They haven’t brought any reforms nor wanted to. That the supreme spiritual leader cracks a smile does not make reform. That you ask for your cousins to also become candidates in the election is not reform. There is nothing viler in the world than stoning. This regime stones people to death and I have yet to see one of these so called reformists call for an end to stoning. The first precondition for reformism is to come forward and say that stoning must be abolished and that anyone who issues a stoning sentence must be prosecuted… or for example Karoubi is now defending the rights of minorities. Where was he when the regime attacked Kurdistan and slaughtered people in Sanandaj? His badge of honour is that he was one of imam Khomeini’s chosen ones – the very imam who issued the order to attack. And now he is remembering minority rights? During Khatami’s era, we labelled them ‘Voltaire Pasdarans’ – that is yesterday’s notorious Pasdars have slightly shortened their beards and become Voltaires and freedom-lovers! This doesn’t count. It’s ridiculous and has nothing to with freedom-loving. In fact, I think, we should grab the reformists by their collars and prosecute them for their high-level roles and participation in the regime’s killings. In the US, Obama came to power with the slogan of change and reform. His political capital and badge of honour was that he had opposed the war in Iraq when he was a senator. Now had he supported Bush, he wouldn’t have been labelled a reformist. They think that people in Iran are ignorant. It’s an insult to people’s intelligence for people like Mousavi, Karoubi or Rezai to come and call themselves reformists! Their hands are soaked with people’s blood from when they were in the Pasdaran and part of the ruling murderous gang. From Abdolkarim Soroush who led the cultural revolution and slaughtered students to Mohsen Rezai who in the Pasdaran attacked women, workers and youth, to Karoubi and Mousavi whose track record includes the massacres in 1981 and 1988. All of them are criminals taqveequote4and murderers.

In addressing these candidates, the issue is not even political. The issue is not that they are politically right or left wing. They all have criminal records and some like Rezai are even wanted by Interpol for their role in terrorist activities abroad. These people have assassinated opponents abroad like Gholam Keshavarz, Sedigh Kamangar, Bakhtiar, Fereidoun Farrokhzad, Ghasemlou, and Sharafkandy in Mykonos and tens of others. They are a bunch of murderers. A political critique or a label of reformism is too much for them. It is not as if the debate is about aspects of their platform. No! The people’s fight with them is that they are murderers. They must be held accountable…

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First Editorial of Social Revolution’s Journal

Posted by sorev on 30/08/2009

Welcome to the first issue of Social Revolution!; the official party organ of the Social Revolution Party! This is the first of two preliminary issues that will be published before the Party’s pre-founding convention in January, 2010. The goal of publishing before such a time is to essentially announce to the world that we exist, and to provide an organising focal point for our comrades. So, to make it official: the Social Revolution Party is here.

The question then becomes: What is the Social Revolution Party? The Social Revolution Party is a mass-line communist organization. What this means is that the Party is primarily committed to building a Canadian society based on the principles of working class mass-democracy. We are Marxist in our perspective. The Social Revolution Party holds the position that the organisation of a mass-movement, a mass-movement eventually capable of seizing state power, is the primary task for revolutionaries in our current situation. As such, the Social Revolution Party is actively engaged in the creation of the Popular Action Movement.

The distinction between the Party and the mass-movement is not the only contribution that the Social Revolution Party makes special note of. We also put forward the idea of social revolution (it is in our name after all); that is to say, not just a revolution that changes the leadership in a given society but a revolution that strikes right at the heart of the social relations in society in order to change them. The society that we envision is one that is equitable and just for all, not just in the realm of laws, but also in the realm of inter-personal relationships. We have no minimum or maximum demands: our goal is communism. In order to achieve communism, we will need a social revolution.

The Social Revolution Party also believes that it is necessary to have a program that is able to guide the working class towards communism. To this end, Social Revolution! will serve as a forum to discuss ideas of both theory and practice as we head towards a founding convention. It is only through serious and honest debate that we will be able to formulate the underpinnings of the world that we want to achieve. We welcome honest criticisms of our articles and will try to print as many as possible.

In this issue you will find articles written by our own comrades, as well as the re-printing of a series of articles from our comrades worldwide. Specifically, we have reprinted material from the Worker-Communist Party of editorialquote1Iran, the Naxalite movement in India, and from the Kasama Project in the United States. The Social Revolution Party understands the contradictions inherent in printing articles from mutually-hostile perspectives and ideologies, but at the same time we feel that “fights in the old country are fights in the old country” so to speak. We believe that it is possible to move beyond a narrow sectarian horizon and begin to look at the various struggles against imperialism and for socialism all over the world with fresh eyes; most, if not all, have something valuable to teach us. Those that are actually struggling to build socialism and communism are our comrades; those that are fighting to split the International Communist Movement are not.

In conclusion, we areeditorialquote2 at the cusp of something big. After the fall of the USSR, the promised worldwide prosperity never appeared for the people of the world; indeed, for most, times have gotten much worse. The idea of change, and the understanding that a better world is both possible and necessary is resurfacing. All over the world the International Communist Movement is undergoing a period of intense soul-searching: programs are being reformulated, sins are being aired, and new struggles are becoming increasingly frequent. Communism, despite the wishes of the ruling class, is not off the agenda anymore. The Social Revolution Party is the Canadian manifestation of this phenomenon. To this end, onward comrades! We have a world to win!

-Comrade Rosso

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