The Socialist Revolution Started 90 Years Ago in China
Henry C.K. Liu

Part I: The Beginning
Part II: Lessons of Other Revolutions
Part III: Lessons of the Soviet Experience

This article appeared in AToL on November 14, 2009

Interclass oppression in pre-revolution Russia was mostly of a feudal nature.  A peasant uprising without a proletariat core was merely a revolt against the established feudal order, not revolution for socialism. This peculiar incongruity between revolutionary theory and Russian actuality in the 1920s gave impetus to the internationalists to advocate carrying the revolution to where revolutionary conditions actually existed – in the advanced industrialized countries with a large working class.  Communist internationalism did not focus on underdeveloped nations of the world until after World War II when the Communist Party of China (CPC) under the leadership of Mao Zedong successfully gained control of state power in China.
The operational concessions made in the USSR to the kulaks and the petty bourgeoisie by the New Economic Plan (NEP) between 1921 and 1927 restored needed symbiotic trade between urban centers and the rural periphery as it existed under feudalism’s gradual transformation toward capitalism.  This concession advanced the revolution from feudalism toward capitalism but it fell well short of the ideology of socialist revolution against capitalism.
In the eyes of the radical revolutionaries who set their aim at accelerated, if not instant, socialism, the NEP, while a step forward in the struggle against feudalism, was not only a disappointing pause in revolutionary momentum, it could spell the end of revolution in the name of natural socio-economic evolution.
In the Soviet Union, Stalin’s centrally planned command economy had followed Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP 1921-27). NEP was in essence a mixed market economy; the main part of the market was in state ownership (banks, industries, foreign trade, etc), while the peripheral parts were owned by collectives or private entrepreneurs. NEP, while temporarily successful in arresting economic chaos, did not give the Soviet economy sufficient growth in the capital-goods sectors (i.e. coal, steel and electricity, transportation, heavy industry, etc), nor did it provide adequate food for the urban population even as the middle peasantry managed to feed itself through a new market system. To overcome such structural obstacles and to combat general economic backwardness inherited from centuries of feudal Czarist rule, Stalin introduced a command economy with central planning toward set policy objectives and achivement targets as a strategy of national survival.
Starting from 1928, the Soviet economy was put under a system of central planning whereby all modes of production were socialized and foreign trade de-emphasized in favor of a largely autarkic system of domestic demand and supply. The success of the autarkic appproach in the USSR induced the Third Reich to adopt it in 1933 for Germany.
The irony was that both Soviet and Nazi central planning adopted much of the effective techniques of successful US experience in corporate planning in the era of big trusts. By 1904, 318 trusts controlled about two-fifths of US manufacturing output, not counting powerful trusts in non-manufacturing sectors such as railroads, local transit, and banking, until Theodore Roosevelt’s antitrust push.
Monopolistic trusts grew through two strategies: vertical integration and horizontal integration. In vertical integration, a company operates on all stages of production and distribution of its final products.  In horizontal integration, a company expands by merging, usually by buying out rival firms. Between 1897 and 1901, more than 2,000 mergers took place in the United States. This horizontal integration reduced the number of competitive companies in an industry.
Corporate gigantism created efficiency through size and elimination of wasteful competition.  However, big corporations can abuse their market power to neutralize the self-regulating nature of the market.
For example, by 1880, John D. Rockefeller had merged about 100 independent oil refineries with his Standard Oil Company to control about 90% of the U.S. oil business which was used mostly to light kerosene lamps before the age of the automobile. The initial effect was a lowering of oil prices to benefit the consuming public. In 1882, Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Trust with interlocking boards of trustees to take control of all the stock from his many vertically and horizontally connected companies. Thereafter, oil prices rose to make Rockefeller a “robber baron”.
During the Theodore Roosevelt presidency, Attorney General Philander Knox brought forty-four suits against monopolistic trusts, most notably J.P. Morgan’s Northern Securities Company, an extensive rail combine, and John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. The result was that Standard Oil was broken into over 30 smaller companies that began to compete with one another superficially. To balance the power disparity between labor and management, Roosevelt established a new federal Department of Commerce and Labor.
Theodore Roosevelt firmly believed that “The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce.” Inaction was a danger, he argued in his Annual Message of December 1904, “Such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other.” As Roosevelt told Congress, "Above all else, we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms; and to do this it is necessary to put a complete stop to all rebates. After WWII, Federal finance for highway construction out of gasoline taxes was a major factor in driving the rail industry into bankruptcy.
The bill establishing a separate Department of Labor was signed on March 4, 1913, by President William Howard Taft, the defeated and departing incumbent just hours before Woodrow Wilson took office. Although Taft had misgivings about creating a new Cabinet-level Department for labor, he realized that the new Congress and new President would surely reenact it if he were to apply a veto. A Federal Department of Labor was the final victory from a half-century campaign by organized labor for a “Voice in the Cabinet.” Significantly, the new Department was a proud achievement of the Progressive Movement of the early 1900s which promoted improved working conditions, conservation of natural resources and a host of other social goals through both private and government action. Such goals, such full employment and universal healthcare, remain to be reached fully today.
The only difference between Soviet and Third Reich central planning and that in the US was that in the US it was a system of planning focused solely on unit end-results that would externalize social costs to society at large. Soviet comprehensive central planning of this period focued on optimizing socio-economic benefits. Such comprehensive approach received glowing praise from US planners of the New Deal. The key distinction beween USSR, German and US planning was that the Soviets rejected and bypassed the corporate structure and replaced absentee shareholders with state or collective ownership, while the Third Reich merely imposed state control over the corporate sector to maximize benefit to the state, and the US instituted state support for the corporate sector. Stalin singularly brought about the principle of “revolution from above”.
The main features of top-down revolution were: strengthening of political dictatorship in the name of the proletariat (a revolutionary version of enhancing management authority in the US in the name of shareholders), collectivizing kulak peasants (equivalent to large scale agri-business development in the US), state emergency measure authority (equivalent to government bailouts and re-regulation in the US), introduction of a five-year plan structure (adopted from US corporate strategic planning) and rapid expansion of the urban labor force (equivalent to urbanization in the US that has reorganized the US geoeconomy into Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas - SMSA), and state intervention and control over agriculture (equivalent to farm subsidy programs in the US), over heavy industry (equivalent to defense contracts in the US) and over finance (equivalent to central banking in the US).
Between 1934 and 1936 the Soviet economy achieved spectacular economic growth rates that continued despite political purges of Trotskyites between 1936 and 1938. Economic growth was unfortunately interrupted by war in 1941. The German economy also grew spectacularly between 1933 and 1937. Under the Nazis, German decision to invade the USSR was not independent of fascist apprehension of continued Soviet socialist economic success. The US economy, with the New Deal hampered by the US Supreme Court, remained in depression until the start of WWII after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In reaction to the NEP which ended in 1927, Trotsky had advanced the concept of “permanent revolution”, an incessant drive for proletariat dictatorship on all fronts in all parts of the world, even in countries where the proletariat did not exist, such as China and all of the Third World.  Permanent revolution was a misnomer. What Trotsky advocated was in fact pre-mature revolution in countries where revolutionary conditions were lacking. Internationalism mistakenly treats the whole world as an evenly developed integrated entity while in reality it is a loose collection of fragmented special conditions in countries in various different stages of development. Universality is only a theoretical mirage even today after decades of globalization.
By the Fifth Congress of the Comintern in June 1924, five months after Lenin’s death on January 21, 1924, a time when the capitalist system was booming worldwide, albeit in reality heading for the 1929 crash and an ensuing Great Depression that would plunge the world into World War II, revolutionary forces were on an ideological and operational defensive and Trotsky’s internationalist priority of world revolution was rejected as naive adventurism by the Congress.
The situation was similar to the neo-liberal market fundamentalist globalization of the two decades the spanned the 20th and 21st centuries when a global speculative boom anchored on debt after the Cold War was interpreted by conservatives as evidence of “the end of history” in a world of perpetual capitalism that will preempt a dialectical march toward world socialism.  Free market finance capitalism operating under bourgeois representative democracy controlled by the propertied class was declared as the final stage of human socio-economic-political evolution.
However facts overrode fantasy and in July 2007, free market finance capitalism collapsed globally. To forestall the evolutionary emergence of socialism, the US since 2007 has been leading the world’s capitalist economies in resorting to anti-socialist state capitalism, known in history as fascist capitalism because it uses the resources of the state not to help the people but to help capitalist institutions that the state deems too big to fail without threatening the survival of the capitalist system.
In China since 1978, in order to achieve rapid economic growth, revolutionary energy has been temporarily dissipated and national direction sidetracked in the face of the country’s eager participation in world trade driven by global prosperity based on debt financed by currency hegemony on the part of the dollar. The price China had to pay for unsustainable economic growth through export came as a socio-economic regime of low wages, environmental abuse and a deterioration of societal values. It did not take long for the permanent costs to out weight the temporary benefits in China’s move toward market economy, socialist or not, based on low-wage export primarily financed by foreign capital under dollar hegemony.
Yet the CPC leadership, even after being faced with undeniably unfavorable data of its policy of opening to the outside and reform, has been unable to reverse the harmful trends with effective policy readjustments because the Chinese economy has become addictive to export for fiat dollars.  China for the past three decades has been shipping real wealth created by low wages and high pollution, not to mention social disintegration, to the West in exchange for paper dollars that cannot be spent inside China but has to be invested in dollar debt instruments to finance the US trade and fiscal deficits. Foreign capital has been the new opium of a new Western neo-liberal opium war in the 21st century.  Fortunately, China’s addiction to export was forced to go through cold turkey detoxification since July 2007 with the abrupt collapse of global financial markets.  Hopefully, this financial crisis will save China from the danger of voluntarily falling back into semi-colonialism from which it took 90 years of protracted socialist revolution to extract.
In 1978, at the initial formation of the open and reform policy, Chinese policymakers had been acutely aware of the danger of allowing foreign capital into the country. Thus the policy compromise on the revolutionary path in order to kick start the economy was at first limited to a term of less than a decade, as reflected by the fact that the new 1979 Joint Venture Law governing foreign capital has a sunset clause limiting all foreign joint venture agreements to a maximum life of nine years, after which joint venture assets had to revert to full Chinese ownership. 
Unfortunately, the 1989 June Fourth Incident at Tiananmen Square, in which initial students protests against the adverse effects of market-oriented economic reform and the resultant corruption were distorted by counterrevolutionary elements, encouraged by the US media allowed in to cover the state visit of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, to look like a popular movement in demand of bourgeois democracy.  This distortion led eventually to, among other regressive political developments, the removal of the 9-year sunset limitation clause from the 1979 Joint Venture Law. In contrast to the May Fourth Movement of 1919, which turned China toward a socialist path by rejecting Western imperialist machination, the June Fourth Incident of 1989 turned China away from its socialist path by appeasing US neo-liberal geopolitical pressure.
By the mid 2000s, the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was forced to accept that the long-term ideological penalty and economic costs of its “open and reform” policy were beginning to outweigh the short-term economic benefits, leaving the Party with serious internal ideological division and the nation with an economy infested with compradorism, excessively dependent on export, with unsustainable long-term environmental degradation, structural destabilizing wealth and income disparity and uneven regional development.
Yet, despite clear evidence of leadership awareness of the serious problem, the “open and reform” policy had difficulty in regaining its original revolutionary socialist pupose because the economy has become too addicted to petty bourgeoire seduction all through the early 2000s, until the necessity of review was imposed on it by the global collapse of free market financial capitalism in mid 2007.    
Marx’s law of social motion declares that society progresses from feudalism to capitalism at the point when feudalism ceases to support the forces of production. In turn, capitalism will give way to socialism once capitalism’s productive potential has been fully exhausted, rendering its continued existence obsolete. The will happen when the need for further capital formation is neutralized structurally by the involuntary excess saving imposed on workers through low wages which then reduces demand needed to justify more capital. The so-called savings were in reality excess profits on the part of foreign capital.
Yet this dialectic process of self-terminating capitalism can be and has been prolonged by imperialism in the 19th century and neo-imperialism in the 21st century. Under neo-imperialism, currency hegemony in a global financial architecture is the devise to force low-wage workers in labor-intensive exporting economy to finance the consumption of the higher-wage workers on financially advanced importing economies in a process of the poor lending to the rich.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is the revolutionary devise to accelerate the dialectics and to combat the antirevolutionary effectiveness of imperialism and neo-imperialism. Today, in both exporting and importing economies, the revolutionary struggle is to raise wage levels to deny further incentives for multinational corporations to profit from inter-economy wage arbitrage.
But in the 20th century, Russia went straight from feudalism to socialism in 1917, as did China in 1949, and Vietnam in 1975.  Unlike Russia, both China and Vietnam were further saddled by the curse of Western imperialism. These revolutionary states ended up shadow-boxing non-existent capitalism in their effort to achieve accelerated socialism.
For China and Vietnam, as with all other developing economies, the obvious enemy was imperialism which Lenin, drawing on Hobson, declared to be the final stage of capitalism. For countries that are or have been victims of imperialism, capital is essentially a foreign enemy if their economies are open without restriction to outside investment.  Under such circumstances, domestic capital is often merely comprador capital controlled by foreign capital. The struggle against imperialism cannot be won without economic nationalism.
In the second edition of Problems of Leninism published in August 1924, seven months after Lenin’s death, the very foundation of international communism was reordered to reflect the objective reality that for the then foreseeable future, the USSR was going to remain the sole communist state in a world dominated by long-lasting if not permanent capitalist wonders. Russian communists erred in their underestimation of Chinese communism led by Mao Zedong.  As it turns out, history granted China the role of the sole remaining major communist state in the world after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The Soviet Revolution needed to be protected first and foremost from effective, coordinated hostile reaction to revolution in the advanced countries giddy with temporary prosperity fueled by imperialism. These advanced industrial states, natural cradles of inevitable evolution from capitalism toward socialism, turned out to be powerful and unrelenting counterrevolution headquarters all through the 20th century.
The role of the Comintern was accordingly reduced to opposing foreign counterrevolutionary intervention against the new USSR to keep the lone socialist lamp burning in the world, rather than engaging with unacceptably high-cost but futile sacrifice in struggles that could not possible be won in the prosperous capitalist countries or to foster prematurely untimely socialist revolution in pre-industrialized colonies that had no proletariat class. 
The socialist revolution in Russia, instead of building on the high prosperity of the advanced stage of capitalism, was saddled with all the decrepit problems of feudal decay. The path to socialism, instead of being another step towards the final stage of human development, was mired in object poverty left over from the collapse of feudalism without the necessary wealth-creating institutions offered by capitalism. Socialist revolution against feudalism was casting a poverty shadow everywhere outside the advance capitalist economies, exacerbated by organized anti-socialist hostility from the moneyed class. In the Third World, imperialism gained new life and respectability by assuming an anticommunist mask in defense of capitalism.
Under such circumstances, the Comintern needed instead to act as an instrument of Soviet state foreign policy in a world order full of hostile anti-communism states that were materially more prosperous. This meant that the non-ruling communist parties in all countries had to seek cooperative arrangements with whatever influential sections of society they could, in the interests of promoting ‘state-to-state friendship with the Soviet Union’, temporarily sublimating the revolutionary advancement of the class interests of workers.
This change in the Comintern line was demonstrated in two events in the mid-1920s - the British General Strike in 1926, and the defeat of the upsurge of workers in Shanghai in 1926-7.  The betrayal of the General Strike in Britain fractured the British communists and gave birth to the anti-communist, anti-Soviet British left.  At the CPSU Party Congress in Moscow in 1927, the Central Committee under Stalin defeated Trotsky’s “left deviationism” by a plurality of 854,000 to 4000 votes.  In exile, Trotsky, instead of abandoning his fanciful dream of world revolution, stigmatized Soviet policy in this period as “Stalinist”.
Luther a Marxist-Stalinist
Protestantism, as espoused by Martin Luther (1483-1546), was revolutionary because its doctrines held not merely that abuses in the Church must be reformed but that the Roman Catholic Church itself, even if perfect by its own ideals, was wrong in principle. Protestants aimed not to restore the medieval Church from Renaissance abuses, but to overthrow it and replace it with a church founded on principles drawn from the contemporary reading of the Bible. Such principles should not be decreed by the Church but by the individual believer’s conscience.
Marx’s attitude toward capitalism is similar to Luther’s attitude toward the Roman Catholic Church, with the exception that, opposite to the Church’s faith-based dogma, Marx proposed a scientific analysis of the internal contradiction of capitalism.

This anti-central authority attitude was political music to the German princes under the Holy Roman Emperor in the 16th century. They responded enthusiastically to Luther’s invitation to institute state control of religion. Protestantism became entwined with social and political revolution in 16th century Europe as Buddhism did in 7th century China.  
Charles V, as Holy Roman Emperor, was obligated to uphold his role as Defender the Faith because only within a Catholic world could the Holy Roman Empire assume any secular authority. The princely states within the Holy Roman Empire saw the emperor’s effort to suppress Luther as a threat to their own rising desire for political freedom and independence.
The imperial Free States and the Dynastic States of northern Germany insisted on ius reformandi, the right to determine their own religion. They became Lutheran and secularized (i.e., confiscated) church properties to enrich their secular sovereign princes.

Thus Luther, in placing theological protest under the protection of secular power politics, exploited the political aspirations of budding German principalities in the 16th century. In return, he conveniently provided the German princes with a theological basis for political secession from the theocratic Holy Roman Empire.

Luther exploited the political aspirations of the restless German princes to be independent of the Holy Roman Emperor to bolster his theological revolt from the Roman Catholic Church. Yet he came to denounce peasant rebellions when the peasants rose up against their Protestant German princes. He did so even though such peasant uprisings against the German princes claimed inspiration from the same theological ideas of the Reformation that had motivated the revolt against the Holy Roman Emperor by the same German princes for independence. Such radical ideas had been advocated by Luther himself. However, even Luther’s professed personal sympathy for peasant demands for improved treatment from their oppressive princes did not persuade him to endorse peasant uprisings. For Luther might have been a revolutionary, he was not an anarchist.

In fact, Luther could be considered a Stalinist. Or more accurately, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (1879-1953) would in fact fit the definition of a Lutheran diehard, at least in revolutionary strategy if not in ideological essence. Like Luther, Stalin suppressed populist radicalism to preserve institutional revolution, and glorified the state as the sole legitimate expeditor of revolutionary ideology.

Early Protestantism, like Marxist-Leninist-Stalinism later, became more oppressive and intolerant than the system it replaced. Ironically, puritanical Protestant ethics celebrating the virtues of thrift, industry, sobriety and responsibility, were identified by many sociologists as the driving force centuries later behind the success of modern capitalism and industrialized economy.
Particularly, ethics as espoused by Calvinism, which in its extreme advocated subordination of the state to the church. In that sense, the post-Cold War Islamic theocratic states are Calvinist in principle. Calvinism diverges from Luther’s view of the state to which the church is subordinate, is ironically credited as the spirit behind the emergence of capitalism that has given rise to the modern Western industrial state. (Please see my AToL series on THE ABDUCTION OF MODERNITY - Part V: The Enlightenment and modernity)
Parallels in political and ideological developments, and in the relationship between ideology and state are discernable in the history Chinese socialist revolution. The success of China’s economic revival of the three decades since 1979 has been built on the Marxist-Leninist approach of Mao Zedong in the three decades before 1979 after socialist forces seized state power in China in 1949. China today is more Lutheran than Calvinist in nature in that revolutionary ideology is subservient to the state whose role is to revive the Chinese nation through socialism to its natural central position in the world. In this respect, socialism is a means to an end and socialism will remain operative in China as long as it fulfills the role of a catalyst for national revival. Through out China’s four-millennia-long history, ancient socialism has produced prosperity and peace.
Chinese Communism

In China, modern communism began as a political movement after the intellectual ferment of the patriotic May Fourth Student Movement of 1919.  Revolution in modern China rode on the dual rails of anti-imperialism and national revival. The revolution, through its multiple metamorphoses, was a means to the end of national revival, not an end in itself.  Socialist revolution serves the purpose of national revival because throughout China’s long history, period of socialist grand harmony (da’tong) produced periods of prosperity and cultural flowering, not bourgeois democracy, not capitalism and not market economy. Until modern time, market were permitted to operate two days a month in China.
Early Chinese nationalists identified the subjective anti-science aspects of Confucianism as being responsible for having weakened Chinese civilization for imperialist conquest from the West. They were drawn to the objective materialism of scientific Marxism as the correct and effective path for national revival.
The May Fourth Movement was the first mass protest in modern Chinese history. It did not, however, achieve its specific political objective because it was not a top-down directed movement. As a mass movement without the leadership by a proactive political party, it failed to achieve concrete political results while it continued as an influential intellectual movement.
Even though Chinese diplomats representing the Beiyang regime to the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference refused to sign the treaty, the Allied Powers was quite prepared to sacrifice China’s national interest in order to lure Japan into the new League of Nations. Appeasement of Japan after World War I was also facilitated by secret British-French anti-Soviet collusion. The realpolitik irony was that Japan would be the first to withdraw from the League in 1933 after the Manchurian Incident of 1931, which Japan used as a pretext to set up a puppet Manchuguo Government in Manchuria headed by the dethroned Qing emperor Pu Yi.

The May Fourth Movement, however, is significant in Chinese political history because it spawned a new wave of intellectual revolutionary thinking in the New Culture Movement. Several of the leaders of the Movement who had earlier entertained pro-Western democratic fantasies were bitterly disappointed by the betrayal of China at the Versailles Peace Conference. Many of these embittered intellectuals turned to Marxism and the lessons of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, while others turned toward fascism after it gained control of state power in Italy in 1921 and Germany in 1933. The rise of fascism in Europe complicated the relationship between national socialism and international communism in Asia. 
The New Culture Movement began to gestate the seeds of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC).  The founders of the CPC, Li Da-zhao and Chen Du-xiu, were prominent leaders in the New Cultural Movement. Iconoclastic and brilliant, Li opposed the conservative ideas of Hu Shih, another prominent leader of the New Culture Movement. Hu Shih, a student of American scholar/philosopher John Dewey, advocated the latter’s pragmatism espousing an evolutionary approach to social improvement as the solution for China.
Chen Du-xiu, known in Chinese history as the leader of the New Culture Movement, believed that Chinese society can only be changed through a revolution modeled after the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1921, Chen and Li Da-zhao co-founded the Communist Party of China with advice from Gregory Voitinsky, a Soviet representative of the Comintern. On July 20, 1921, the CPC held its first congress attended by twelve Chinese members, with two Comintern representatives as observers. Both Chen and Li were not present but were represented by deputies at the First Congress of the Party. Chen and Li formed two separate location foci, with Li in Beijing and Chen in Shanghai. There were also ideological and operational differences. Chen followed the general European Marxist focus on urban workers and Li believed that for China, no revolution can succeed without it being centered on the peasantry.
Chen dismissed bourgeois democracy and representative government as self-serving institutions of the capitalist class and that such institutions have no relevance to the interests of the working class.  He believed that feudalism can be transformed directly into socialism without having to first pass through a long transitional capitalist republican era.  He advocated throughout his entire life the ideals of the May Fourth Movement: against Confucianism, to promote thought liberation and scientific thinking, to reject superstition, to construct industrialization, to promote human rights, and against bureaucratic politics.
By 1922, however, the Comintern, which commanded strong influence on operational activities of the Communist Party of China (CPC), began to press the Chinese communists to cooperate with the Kuomintang (KMT) in order to facilitate the rise of the new Chinese republic. Under the influence of Lenin, and after his death in 1924, Stalin, the Comintern adopted the view that China was not ready for communism for it needed to first undergo a period of modernization, industrialization and republicanism. The standing order, then, was for the CPC to ally itself with the KMT left, and even after the rabid anti-communist KMT right wing took control of the party.
This position based on Soviet geopolitical interest left residual resentment in the collective minds of Chinese communists on the wisdom of international communism and reinforced the doctrinal validity of “socialism in one country”.  The concept of nationalism, a modern Western development, began to loom larger within the Chinese socialist revolution.
Stalin’s geopolitical policy toward China was to win over the bourgeois-nationalist movement, as represented by the KMT even after the death of Sun Yatsen in March 1925 and the assassination of the KMT leftist leader Liao Zhongkai six months later in August 1925. Stalin wanted China under the Nationalists as ‘friends of the Soviet Union’ against its drift toward Nazi Germany. Liao had engineered the admission of communists into the Koumintang as individual members. Consequently, the Comintern instructed the small new Communist Party of China, founded only in 1921, to seek an alliance as a weak junior ally with the well established nationalist Kuomintang which founded the Republic of China in 1911 and had been governing China in a single-party regime.
Thus, the policy of the Communist Party of China was for a ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ in which the Kuomintang was to be an ally of the proletariat through its left wing. But after the death of Sun and the assassination of Liao, the right wing of the KMT purged the left wing.  Throughout 1926, KMT rightwing forces brutally suppressed worker strikes in Canton (Guangzhou) and attacked the peasant movement in rural areas.
Despite these counterrevolutionary developments, the Comintern Resolution of November 1926 continued to urge the members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to join the KMT as individuals, stating: “The apparatus of the National Revolutionary Government [i.e. the Kuomintang] offers a very real road to solidarity with the peasants ... and even certain strata of the big bourgeoisie may still march for a certain time with the Revolution.”
In 1927, the Shanghai trade unions staged an uprising and took control of the city, with the active support of Comintern representatives directed by Trotsky. Chiang Kai-Shek marched on Shanghai with KMT forces, and Stalin ordered the workers of Shanghai to welcome Chiang’s forces and not to resist. Gregory Zinoviev, Karl Radek, both of whom had traveled with Lenin in a sealed train through Germany to return to Russia to participate in the October Revolution, and others in support of Trotsky in the Comintern, demanded that the Shanghai workers be warned that Chiang Kaishek would not tolerate worker power in Shanghai. But the Trotskyists were outvoted by the Stalinists by a wide margin in the CPSU central committee. As a result of Stalin’s new Comintern policy, the workers of Shanghai were crushed and their leaders slaughtered - with arms that had been supplied to the KMT by the USSR during the period of Nationalist-Communist cooperation.
The Comintern under Trotsky had also encouraged an adventurist uprising in Guangzhou which was also brutally crushed at enormous human cost to revolutionary forces. Following this defeat, the Communist Party of China increasingly moved its focus to the countryside and abandoned its precarious base in the urban working class.
Under Stalin, Comintern policy of collaboration with the bourgeois capitalist ruling party during this period ran completely counter to the Bolsheviks’ own experience in making the Russian Revolution. The lessons of the Russian Revolution was forgotten so quickly because Stalin was driven not by the needs of the workers in China or Britain to learn from the Russian Revolution, and to make their own revolution based on local conditions, but by the narrowly conceived geopolitical needs of the young USSR.
Next:  The Situation in China