China: Another Chapter

“How vile a thing is the abstract noun. It wraps a man’s thoughts round like cotton wool.” Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch here states a truth which has yet to be perceived by the motley crowd of followers and leaders who make up what is known as the ‘‘Labour Movement.” Liberty is an abstract noun, and China is at present being devastated by the worshippers of that nebulous and seductive word. Liberty, and Justice, Equality and Fraternity, mean all things to all men. They are on every lip except the Socialist’s. We do not fight for justice, but for the property, the means of producing wealth, now owned by the capitalist class.
Every one of the numerous factions in China has liberty emblazoned on its banner and each interprets it, consciously or unconsciously, to square with the material interests of the class it represents, The Chinese workers, with that sublimely silly devotion to the fatherland owned by their exploiters which characterises the working class everywhere, cheerfully offer themselves up as cannon fodder in the armies of all the contending feudal, peasant and capitalist rivals. They will fight and die in any cause but their own.
It can be said in their defence that they are too inexperienced to know that it is unsafe to trust to the gratitude of governing classes, when gratitude conflicts with class interests. A slave-owning class will be kind, but it will not free its slaves. There is no such excuse for the European Communists and others who still cheer the Chinese workers on to suicide in the cause of illusory national independence.

First they gave their approval to Chiang-Kai-Shek. He and his backers were going to liberate China. Then Chiang cut off the heads of his Communist followers and smashed up the trade unions, and was indignantly denounced as a traitor. Then Feng (the “Christian” general) was the man for a few months, until they found him out as a “traitor” too. Feng, it appears, really belongs to the camp of the “liberal counter-revolution,” and is hand-in-glove with wicked Chiang. So at least says Bukharin (Sunday Worker, July 3rd).
Their third and best saviour was the so-called ‘‘Communist” Government at Hankow. This was positively a winner. “Zed,” a writer in the “Plebs,” who is one of the enthusiasts for Chinese nationalism, was greatly pleased at the growing strength of the Hankow Government, and claimed it as a vindication of the position taken up by the Chinese Communists (July, 1927). It is doubtless comforting to be ‘‘vindicated,” especially for “ Zed,” who is sufficiently far from Hankow not to have to back his opinions by action.
Unfortunately many of the Chinese Communists will never know how their policy was vindicated because the “Communist” Government of Hankow has cut off their heads. The Manchester Guardian’s correspondent reports (July 19th) that 4,000 executions of trade union and peasant leaders have taken place. Wise after the event, the Executive Committee of the Communist International now issues orders to the Chinese Communists to withdraw from the Hankow Government and denounce it as an enemy of the workers’ movement (Sunday Worker, July 17th, and Daily Herald, July 15th).

At the time of writing no announcement has been made as to the name of the successor of Chiang, Feng, and the Hankow Government, so that it is not yet possible to state who will be the executioner of the next batch of Chinese workers.

Edgar Hardcastle