THE CHINESE PROLETARIAT IS AWAKENING!
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The Chinese proletariat is awakening!
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Fifty-four years ago, in 1927, the heroic working class of Shanghai rose up when the Guomindang troops arrived. The Stalinised International had concealed from it that the advance of the national army had left behind it millions of peasant corpses in Hunan and Hubei. Because its party, the Chinese Communist Party had been made the prisoner of the Guomindang by the criminal policy of Stalinism, the working class welcomed these troops as liberators, believing that it would have the opportunity to put forward its own demands. It did not succumb to the blows of the imperialists, but to those of the Guomindang who entered the city on the corpse of the working class bled white and on the corpse of the Shanghai Commune. A few months later, a desperate insurrection was bloodily crushed in Canton.
For Stalin and his friends, all this proved that the revolution had gone onto another stage. But how could it go further when all the forces had been exterminated or demoralised? Since then, the valiant Chinese working class, which had given itself completely to the revolutionary struggle since 1919, has not been able to resurface. The anti-imperialist, national and democratic Chinese revolution was led, not by the working class, but by the petty-bourgeoisie of the cities and countryside, who were able to lead the Chinese peasantry, with its magnificent revolutionary traditions, under the flag of Mao's party, a blend of Stalinism, i.e. anti-worker opportunism and classic petty-bourgeois democracy.
The bourgeois revolution in China is quite finished. It is not a question of whether it was well-finished or badly finished. It is still the largest revolution of this half-century. But what society can the petty-bourgeoisie and peasantry give birth to, if not capitalist society? On one hand, capitalism produces wage labour and the social layers linked to the reproduction of the market, profit and capital, even if it is state capital; on the other hand: it produces and reproduces the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
When the bourgeoisie has exhausted its revolutionary cycle and the energy of all the layers which take part in it, including the petty-bourgeoisie, when it becomes adult, it must get rid of its youthful dreams, the «romantic» attire with which every bourgeoisie had made its first steps. And the dreams were not lacking in China; petty-bourgeois and peasant dreams, dreams of autarkic and popular egalitarianism. However, Deng Xiaoping is not the figure of a dreamer, but very much represents the adult bourgeoisie.
This is the meaning of the death sentence of Jiang Qing. The Chinese bourgeoisie is getting rid of its outdated relics, it is exorcising the ideological demons of a social combativeness that no longer had any aim, and which can set a bad example for the social forces which are ripening. But the sentence has been «suspended». Who knows if Jiang Qing will be needed tomorrow to preach the eternal maintenance of the «bloc of four classes?».
In 1927, the number of workers in Chinese manufacturing, factories and railroads was estimated at 2 million. Craftsmen numbered as many. The large mass of the proletariat, which was concentrated in Shanghai and Canton, had been exterminated in a most determined way. Today, the bourgeois revolution has brought with it its subversive effects, those for which the proletariat defends it against the old classes and imperialism, and against the bourgeoisie itself, if necessary.
Today, there are more than 20 million pure industrial proletarians, i.e. ten times more than in 1927. Small industry and crafts account for as many workers. In an active population of 400 million men, 160 million work outside of agriculture. Peking is larger than Paris and has more workers than it. Shanghai is bigger than New York and Tokyo. It may be the largest city in the world. In any case, it is still the heart of the Chinese working class.
The Chinese proletariat is a giant. The terrain of its struggle is now well-cleared: following the efforts of these last twenty years, China has a nearly unified network of roads and railways. Above all, a single state handles and unifies the customs, the conditions of life, work and struggle of a quarter of humanity - let it fall into the hands of the proletariat and things will happen quickly! That is not all. The Chinese working class is now showing undeniable signs of life.
The cultural revolution was a period of social splits, which without doubt, allowed the workers to put forward a few demands. There were terrible repression's. These last years have seen the beginning of a persistent workers' agitation. The enterprises have been complaining since 1976 of «strikes», of «work stoppages without precise causes» (really?). These reactions correspond to the austerity demanded in order to «open China to the outside world», to achieve the great dream of the Chinese bourgeoisie since Sun Yatsen. But once the floodgates were opened, it was the international crisis which surged in: the plans must be revised downwards, austerity and sacrifices are called for over and over again.
Officially, there are 20 million unemployed. These are primarily the young. In Shanghai, the municipality has to serve 100,000 meals a day in the peoples' soup kitchens, in order to avoid trouble. Now, the restructuring underway necessitate massive new layoffs, and even if unemployment benefits are anticipated, some workers will, in any case, see their incomes fall considerably.
«China is heading towards very serious social difficulties, which it is preparing to confront by setting up a rigorous system of political and ideological control», one reads in Le Monde of January 27, 1981. The Trade Union Daily of January 31, 1981 (cited by Le Monde of February 1 and 2, 1981), declares war on the «agitators», the «disturbers of social order» who «are seeking to provoke disorder and incidents on a broad scale in order to win individual privileges from the party and the government and to satisfy their growing appetites». Nothing less!
Capital has an enormous appetite. It devours an increasingly greater part of the wealth created by the working class. Swarms of parasites of all kinds thrive on this exploitation. But if the working class begins to try and keep its share in order to survive, to resist the lowering of its already insufficient portion and the deterioration of its conditions of living and work, what unbearable individualism! For our part, we salute these «growing appetites» of the working class. We know that the struggle begins from «self-centred» material interests, and with it, the hope of proletarian emancipation and struggle which will free the whole of humanity from slavery and misery can take root.
According to Le Monde of February 1 and 2, 1981, the «drastic austerity measures» are «all the more difficult for the population to bear because they are accompanied by a large increase in prices [...] The dispute is also developing among the young», but «agitation appears to be limited to the cities and workers».
And now, according to the organ of the Chinese «trade unions», these agitators, «thoughtless» because they refuse «to take into account the whole situation and the economic difficulties», also want «free trade-unions»! Horror! The Chinese bourgeoisie who could rejoice at the agitation in central Europe which prevented Russian imperialism from carrying out its policy in the Far East as it had planned, are now becoming anxious about Polish style agitation at home! Imagine the Shanghai workers beginning to shout «Gdansk, Gdansk!», like the Turin workers did at the end of last year on the occasion of massive layoffs at Fiat.
And if tomorrow, the working class adds the genuine appetite which is its class duty to its «growing appetites», the appetite for the conquest of power and its class dictatorship, the real appetite, not the one that appears in the Maoist revolution's images of a Camelot, but the one which is based on the armed proletariat and which finds its strength in the exclusive leadership of the genuine proletarian, revolutionary and internationalism communist party?
We welcome this news from China with enthusiasm. Capitalism has made its world tour. Everywhere it has produced a working class which must struggle against it. History is accelerating today, each month involving new contingents of workers in the class struggle. It is up to revolutionary communists and the party to do their work so that the revolutionary end to the bourgeois crisis is forged in these struggles!
Source: «communist program», No.7, September 1981
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