1920s >> 1926 >> no-268-december-1926

Capitalism victorious in China

In our issue of August, 1925, we set out our view of the situation in China and explained why Socialists cannot share the extravagant hopes raised in certain quarters by the progress of the Kuomintang Party. As in the pioneer capitalist countries, so also in those which have been subject to foreign imperialists, the capitalists are always anxious to obtain the help of the workers in the fight against their own enemies, whether those enemies be feudal proprietors or foreign capitalists. No doubt there was a gain in the grant to Ireland of “self-government.” That gain is a gain in clarity. It is no longer possible for the Irish defenders of capitalism to pretend that the poverty and unemployment suffered by the Irish workers are due to “foreign” government. So also in China. It is better that the Chinese workers should be able to realise that they suffer from exploitation just as much whether at the hands of Chinese exploiters or European and Japanese exploiters. The rise of a strong independent capitalist Chinese Republic will enormously hasten the economic and political development of the Eastern workers. But we must at the same time point out that nothing is gained and much is lost by misinterpreting the outcome of these national struggles.
If the Chinese workers are encouraged to see in national independence a solution of their economic problems they will—like the Irish, the Poles and many others—suffer a grievous disappointment. It is the duty of the Socialist to work to destroy the present illusion and thus avoid the future disillusion. Let the Chinese workers organise not as Chinamen alongside their home capitalists, but as workers. They should reject the fallacious argument of foreign political parties which urge them to do otherwise. In England this fallacy is based on an old saying that “The enemies of my enemies are my friends.” In truth the capitalist enemies of the British capitalists are not, and cannot, be the friends of the workers, British or non-British. If the Chinese capitalists happen to be at loggerheads with the British capitalists, that is no reason why British or Chinese workers should imagine they have a friend in the Chinese employing class.
In the Sunday Worker (November 14th) the position in China with all its pitfalls to the workers is shown in a nutshell :

  The native merchant class saw the trade of the country growing under the domination of the foreign financial groups while their own share of the booty grew smaller. The foreign imperialists had to be fought.
Unable to fight the battle alone the native capitalists sought salvation in the Kuomintang. They planned to use the revolt of the Workers and Peasants to drive out the foreign imperialists and to establish a new imperialism of their own.
The right wing of the party has therefore grown to an alarming extent, and unless the Left Wing can retain control the Workers of China and Europe will find that when European imperialism has been smashed a Chinese imperialism will have risen in its stead. This is the real “Yellow Peril.”

And not only does the approaching victory of the Kuomintang lead the Chinese capitalists to prepare for the inevitable future clash with their own exploited classes, but it seems likely also that they will follow the path already trodden by their fellow capitalist-nationalists in Ireland and India. In the long run they will find that as capitalists they have lasting and important interests in common with some or other of their late capitalist enemies. The Sunday Worker correspondent reports that the British Foreign Office is now in favour of supporting the Kuominatung capitalists, who in turn will no doubt be glad of this outside help in time of trouble at home with the Chinese workers. The real task of the Chinese workers is that of the workers everywhere—to fight against capitalism whatever the national flag under which it hides. The duty of Socialists is to keep this issue always to the fore, not to rouse deadly national hatreds which obscure the class divisions in society and retard the growth of Socialism.
Edgar Hardcastle