1970s >> 1974 >> no-842-october-1974

Confucius, Lin Piao and the CCP

Lin Piao is dead and in disgrace. Confucius who died a couple of thousand years earlier is getting the treatment reserved for high-ranking renegades — scapegoats of the Chinese “Communist” Party. In recent months such publications as Peking Review and China Reconstructs have devoted much space to debunking these former “great men”. It seems that Confucius was in his day a spokesman for the rulers of a chattel-slave society, that is, he was a reactionary. The accusation against Lin Piao is that he tried to restore capitalism. Therefore in the context of present-day “Socialist” China he was (when alive) a reactionary.

All good stuff no doubt for those people who accept that “Socialism” exists, that there is a “Communist” party in control, that renegades have wormed their way into positions of power and only the vigilance of Mao and the followers of his thought are rendering them harmless. However, the Socialist Party of Great Britain does not accept these claims. The outpourings of denunciations and supposed analysis serve more to confuse than to explain. Nevertheless, enough is let out of the bag to expose this so-called Communist Party and the society it administers.

Confucius (551 – 479B.C.) could not prevent social change taking place. What the supporters of the government of China must explain is: why an attack on a philosophy that was reactionary 2,400 years ago was only launched after more than twenty years of “Communist” party government. One attempt at justification occurred in an article in Peking Review 26th July 1974 describing how some workers had studied the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels again since the campaign to criticise Confucius and Lin Piao started. They quote the Manifesto as follows:

“The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas”

and go on to say

“They [the workers] discussed this in terms of China’s reality. They said that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution . . . is a great political revolution carried out by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes under conditions of socialism. . . . It is also a deep-going criticism of the doctrines of Confucius . .”

China’s reality does indeed have exploitation, and therefore cannot be Socialist. What we are not told is how the worker students of Marx squared their conclusions with the following passage which comes a few lines before.

“When people speak of ideas that revolutionise society, they do but express the fact, that within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.”

In the reality of China there developed in the period leading up to 1949 a nationalistic, anti-imperialist anti-landlord ideology that subsequently served the “communists” in implementing their land reforms and state control of industry to carry out the capitalist revolution. There was and still is a vast amount of catching up (with other countries) to do so that the pace of development has been hectic. To quote the Communist Manifesto :

   “Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices are swept away, all new formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.”

Although dealing with the capitalism Marx and Engels knew in their youth it can serve as a fine summary of events in China over recent years.

Much of this propaganda has been aimed at working people with reminders of the horrors of life before “liberation”. Peking Review 19 July 1974 has articles on the subject with special reference to Tibet. One writer, a former serf, described how the serf-owners had the power to inflict such punishment as the cutting-off of ears, tongues and hands. Another article describes how, “tens of thousands of former serfs and slaves are now the region’s first generation of industrial workers operating industrial machines.”

In the May issue of China Reconstructs there is a picture, illustrating an article on “Wuhan Steel Works”, of a crowd watching a veteran worker “showing where a landlords dog bit him when he was begging for food in the old society and furiously denounces the attempt of the Lin-Piao anti-Party clique to restore capitalism”. The articles described how the histories of 144 labouring families were collected and entered into two account books. “One listed the stories of blood and tears under the oppression and exploitation of the old society. The other recorded examples of their happiness in the new society.” The first was to warn against Lin Piao’s reactionary’ policy and the second in praise of Mao’s line. It would seem that this contrasting the unhappy past with the present could mean that workers need reminding that things could be worse and there can be no let-up in the drive to modernize industry and increase production. In the above case it was reported that production had increased. So that this was maybe no more than a stratagem of the Chinese equivalent of the industrial relations expert trying to motivate workers to greater efforts. The above excerpts show that what they fear seems more like a return to feudalism rather than capitalism which has not yet been overthrown.

The Chinese “Communist” Party set out to develop and control capitalism, and now claim to have set up a Socialist society. Socialism will come sure enough, but in spite of them. What any student of Marxian economics would recognise as an emerging capitalist state was described as “People’s Democratic Dictatorship” and when the state had gained control of the greater part of industry and agriculture it was supposed to have carried out the transition to Socialism. A state of affairs where, on their own admission, classes and the class struggle still exist.

This is not a harmless deception as capitalist society can only work against the interests of the working class and any government trying to run it must come into conflict with the workers. Part of any government’s armoury of weapons in this conflict are arguments designed to get workers to make sacrifices for the mythical nation and warn them of the dangers to the workers of wanting more of the wealth which they produce. Although there may be power struggles taking place in the top ranks of the government, the Lin Piao-Confucius campaign is also a weapon in the class war against the workers. Once workers become aware of their class status they will see through the deceits and come to understand that a class-less society cannot be brought to them from above. They will then form their own Socialist party in opposition to those who at present administer their exploitation.

The Socialist Party has consistently argued, that the party aiming at the emancipation of the working class can play no part in the government of Capitalism; they must continue building up support for Socialism. How little the claim that the “people are in power”, means can be judged by the remarks made by Mao Tse-tung to Edgar Snow in 1960. He said that China was being run by 800 Party members who had joined at or before the time of the 1927 massacres of the “Communists” (biographical notes p.512 of 1973 Pelican edition of Red Star Over China). Here was the élite of élites with decades of devotion to the cause behind them, yet the renegades were still in their midst. Lin Piao is but one of them. He went over to the Communists in 1927 at the age of 19 from the Nationalist Army in which he was a Colonel. He rose high in the ranks of the army and the party. He was credited with the compiling of the little red book of quotations from Chairman Mao for use in the army which became a world wide best seller. The 1969 new party constitution named him “Mao’s close comrade in arms and successor”. Yet Chou En-lai in his Report to the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (August 1973) claimed :- “Lin Piao, this Bourgeois careerist, conspirator and double-dealer engaged in machinations within our Party not for one decade but for several decades” (p. 13 Documents of 10th Congress, Foreign Languages Press, Peking).

It is a strange sort of party that puts up with such behaviour for so long. On p.16 we are told: “socialist society covers a considerably long historical period . . . there are classes, class contradictions and class struggle . . . Lin Piaos will appear again.” Not only have they put up with it, they expect more of it. If what was said about Lin Piao is any guide, members who are now considered beyond reproach are hard at their double-dealing machinations.

The Chinese “Communist” Party having pursued the national liberation of China are, despite their protestations to the contrary, nothing but a party of capitalism. They have taken the terminology of Socialism and used it to disguise the State capitalism they administer. The “Thoughts of Mao” may serve them now, but such is the dynamic of capitalism that they will “become antiquated before they can ossify” and become redundant like “the ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions” of Confucius.

Joe Carter