Bellicose Nationalism

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Bellicose Nationalism

To proletarian internationalism pettybourgeois revolutionism contraposes either narrow nationalism or cosmopolitanism. Early in their political career, Marx and Engels criticised the narrow nationalistic views of the German artisans who regarded German culture as the crown and ultimate aim of world history, and the "German nation as a model nation”. In Italy, the anarchists held that the Italian people was the "most revolutionary”, that it was called upon to show other peoples how to achieve liberation. The Russian anarchists spoke of the particular revolutionary spirit and the historical mission of the Slavs. These were all variants of narrow nationalism, inflated national conceit.

Trotskyist ideology is essentially cosmopolitan. It denies the importance of national movements and considers that "national interests" are a purely bourgeois concept. When Trotsky spoke of “patriotism” and “nation”, it was only to deride them. In 1923, Trotsky maintained that "the ’national’ problems of the backward peoples can no longer have any independent significance”. In keeping with this absurd “prophecy” the Trotskyists advanced slogans of the proletarian revolution in any country, even the most backward colony, drawing no distinction between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, and so on.

For the Trotskyists, the concept of the motherland and its fate is merely an element of the "grandiose historical confrontation on the outcome of which the fate of mankind depends”. Since they believe that any question can be solved only on an international scale, their national nihilism justifies their view that war is necessary to "make happy" the working people of the foreign countries. Thus, the Trotskyists’ denial of the "national question" assumes for them the right to interfere in the fate of other peoples, i.e., it objectively becomes great-power chauvinism.

As for Maoism, both in ideology and in practice, it has turned into fanatical chauvinism cloaked in internationalist phraseology.

China’s specific historical development explains the roots and tenacity of nationalism in that country. A land with an ancient culture, China for a long time was out of touch with other peoples of equal or higher culture. The thousands of years of isolation, the self-centred life, produced suspicion of everything foreign, promoted the spread of racialism and reactionary ideas on the special historical mission of the yellow race and the cultural superiority of the "Celestial Kingdom" over the rest of the world.

The Manchu rule established in China in the early 17th century led to a state of affairs, Marx noted, in which "hatred against foreigners and their exclusion from the Empire, once the mere result of China’s geographical and ethnographical situation, have become a political system...". [161•1 When the invasion of China by foreign capital began in the 19th century under cover of men- ofwar "... the barbarous and hermetic isolation from the civilised world was infringed..." [161•2 and 162 national oppression was imposed on the country, nationalist feelings reached the boiling point and every foreigner became a "long-nosed foreign devil”. All this could not fail to leave an imprint on the ideology of the petty bourgeoisie, including those sections members of which had entered the Communist Party.

When China’s Communist Party was created, its members considered the fight against nationalistic views a high-priority task. Li Ta-chao, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote at that time: "Peasants do not know what imperialism means, but they know the foreigners who embody it. Our task is to explain to them the nature of imperialism, which is oppressing China and exploiting the Chinese peasantry, to direct their anger against it. This will enable us gradually to overcome the narrow nationalistic ideas of the peasants and will help them understand that the revolutionary workers and peasants of the world are their friends." [162•1

When the Communist Party had to transfer its activity to the countryside, the nationalistic tendencies among the Communists themselves, reflecting the feeling of the peasants around them, also became stronger. The people saw that foreigners were supporting the Chinese reactionaries. Chiang Kai-shek was receiving a profusion of weapons, equipment, instructors and military advisers from abroad.

The victory of the people’s national liberation revolution in China naturally brought an enormous upsurge of national consciousness, national pride which, had there been correct international- 163 ist guidance, could have become a source of enthusiasm for building a new society in China and have promoted a rapprochement between the Chinese and other peoples. It could have played a major part in overcoming "national egoism and national narrow-mindedness" [163•1 so viable in countries with a long history of national oppression.

It cannot be said that there were no people among the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party at that time who did not see the danger of nationalist degeneration. The article "Once More About the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, written on the basis of a discussion of that question at an enlarged meeting of the Politbureau of the C.C., C.P.C., says: "We, Chinese, must remember particularly that during the Han, Tang, Ming and Chin dynasties our country was also a great empire, although for about a hundred years, since the second half of the 19th century, having become an object of aggression, it was transformed into a semicolony, and that, while it is at present still backward in economic and cultural respects, when conditions change, the tendency towards greatpower chauvinism will undoubtedly become a serious danger unless everything is done to prevent it. It should also be pointed out that at present this danger is already manifesting itself among some of our leading personnel.” This was published on December 29, 1956.

But the voice of those who warned against the dangers of great-power chauvinism was suppressed. The Mao Tse-tung group, which had taken the upper hand in the Party leadership, began to purge from the people’s minds everything 164 that could develop in them a feeling of internationalism and friendship for other peoples, and cultivated chauvinism instead.

This could be seen in their attitude towards the minorities in the country and the peoples of other countries.

China is a multinational country. In addition to the Chinese, her population includes over fifty other nationalities, totalling about 43 million people. Although the non-Chinese nationalities live in a compact mass, they are deprived of the right to self-determination. As distinct from the Soviet Union, where the nationalities question was resolved on the basis of the Leninist principle of the full equality of nations, the recognition of their right to self-determination up to and including secession and the formation of independent states, the Mao group pursues the policy of splitting small nations.

Formally these peoples had been granted autonomy but actually this was the case only for small administrative units. The largest among them is the autonomous region. There are five such autonomous regions in China but they have been artificially reduced by the establishment of autonomous areas and smaller administrative units. For example, the Tibetan Autonomous Region has common borders with nine autonomous areas, which are also inhabited by Tibetans. The Chuan people also live in a compact mass, but are not united in a single autonomous unit.

This division is deliberate and pursues greatpower aims designed to perpetuate the inequality of the peoples and their forceful assimilation. In 1960, the Xinjiang Hung-chi wrote that it was necessary to merge all nationalities on the basis 165 of the nucleus of one nationality. "Speaking of China, the Chinese are to become this nucleus.” The Xinjiang ribao declared that "those who are against such assimilation, are against socialism and communism, against historical materialism".

What they call socialism, communism and historical materialism are nothing but shameless nationalism. The regions inhabited by nonChinese are flooded with Chinese, the culture of the other peoples is being sinicised, the Mongols are told that "the Mongolian language and writing are not destined to be long-lived”, the desire to study one’s own language is condemned as “revisionism” and an attempt to evade the study of Mao Tse-tung’s ideas. The well-known Mongolian revolutionary Ulanfu, First Secretary of the C.P.C. Regional Committee and Chairman of the National Committee of the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, was dealt with summarily by the Hungweipings for advocating the study of the Mongolian language and opposing great-Chinese chauvinism.

The concept "great Chinese" or "Great Han" chauvinism, against the danger of which the C.P.C. once warned, is now never mentioned. All anger is directed against so-called local nationalism. Under the pretext of fighting against it, national cadres, local intellectuals are persecuted and eliminated and all commanding posts are concentrated in the hands of Chinese.

If we discard the “Marxist”, “revolutionary” phrases, with which the Maoist are juggling, it is easy to see that in the country they are essentially pursuing the nationalist policy of old China and are great-power chauvinists of the first water.

Peking’s policy towards its closest neighbours is also chauvinistic and full of disrespect for the 166 national dignity of other peoples. The anti- Mongolian campaign, the overbearing attitude of the Maoists towards the people of Burma, the constant threats against Nepal, India, Kenya—these are some of the numerous manifestations of the Maoists’ hostility to other countries. Wherever they can, the Maoists resort to provocations, enlisting Chinese students or the local Chinese population. Even in diplomatic documents, the Chinese leadership resorts to direct insults, intimidation and threats. No wonder the slogan "Down with Chinese imperialism!" has appeared at mass protest meetings as was the case in Nepal.

The Maoists also pursue a chauvinistic policy towards the international communist movement.

Chinese authors on the history of the C.P.C. endeavour to present the entire activity of the Party in isolation from the international communist and working-class movement, which contributed so much to the victory of the Chinese revolution. The book by Miao Chu-huan A Short History of the Communist Party of China as well as other works mention the Comintern only when they speak of the period preceding Mao Tse-tung’s advent to power. No mention of the Comintern is made after Mao became the leader of the Party. Nothing is said of the Comintern’s role in the struggle against Right opportunism and Leftist adventurism in China, of the correct strategy and tactics of the Comintern in the Chinese revolution; no mention is made either of the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, which marked a watershed in the Party’s history, since it led to the proclamation by the C.P.C. of the united national anti-Japanese front.

Mao Tse-tung’s "Decision on Some Questions of the History of Our Party" does not even men- 167 tion the international communist movement, while all the political directives of the Comintern which were justified in the course of the Chinese revolution and which played such an important role in ensuring its victory Mao Tse-tung ascribes to himself.

Passing over in silence the role of the Comintern Mao could not then fail to mention the significance of the Soviet Union’s assistance to the Chinese revolution, the impact exerted on it by the rout of fascism in the Second World War. "Let us consider what would have happened,” Mao Tsetung wrote in June 1949, "if the Soviet Union had not existed, if it had not routed fascism in the Second World War, if Japanese imperialism had not been smashed, if the countries of the new democracy had not emerged, if the oppressed peoples of the East had not risen in struggle, if there had been no struggle of the popular masses in the United States of America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and other capitalist countries against the reactionary cliques ruling there, if all these factors had not been combined, the forces of world reaction threatening us would have been incommensurably greater than they are now. Could we have won under such circumstances? Naturally, not. And even if we had won, we could not have consolidated our victory."

But a short time passed and everything reminiscent of internationalist solidarity with the Chinese people was weeded out.

The Museum of the People’s Liberation Army was opened in Peking in 1959 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Re> public. It is a large new building. Many exhibits show the struggle for the liberation of the 168 country in great detail, drawing particular attention to Chairman Mao’s "military genius".

However, not only the exhibits make the museum interesting to the visitor, but also those that are conspicuous by their absence. He will not find anything about the extensive campaign of the international working class under the slogan "Hands off China!”, about the solidarity with the Chinese people shown by the world’s working people, of their assistance given to the Chinese people. Everything in the museum is calculated to suppress the feeling of internationalism.

The role of the Soviet people in the liberation of China is also never mentioned. A few years ago, Chen Po-ta, speaking of the initial stages of the war against Japan, recalled that "weapons, petrol, lorries came in a steady stream from the north-west. Soviet people shed their blood on vast territories in defence of China”. Soon however every reminder of the Soviet Union’s role was prohibited. The young people in China know nothing of Soviet flier I. Gubenko, who shot down 7 Japanese planes, of the heroic exploits of G. Kulishenko’s squadron, who said: "I feel the sufferings of the Chinese people as I would those of my own people.” The pilots of his squadron destroyed hundreds of enemy planes. The Chinese called them the "aerial tigers". [168•1

Nobody mentions now what Mao Tse-tung wrote in August 1945 of the invaluable assistance given by the Soviet Army to China, of the enormous amount of armaments handed over to the People’s Revolutionary Army by the Soviet Command after Japan’s defeat, which created the con- 169 ditions for the success of the Chinese revolution. [169•1 Yet this silence about the internationalist solidarity displayed by the Soviet Union and its role in the victory of the Chinese revolution was only the beginning. The Soviet union’s enormous economic assistance to China was discredited in every way. At Mao’s orders unbearable conditions were created for Soviet experts engaged at the many building sites and in the reconstruction of industrial projects. They were demonstratively ignored and various obstacles were raised to make their work impossible. The Soviet Union had to recall them. Then the Maoists unleashed a smear campaign, accusing the U.S.S.R. of refusing economic co-operation with China. A little time passed and all the trademarks were removed from the large batches of equipment and machinery coming from the U.S.S.R. For nothing was to remind of the role the Soviet people played in raising China’s economy. A few years later, the Maoists resorted to shameful anti-Soviet provocations before which everything the fascists had done paled.

The Maoists understand internationalism as unconditional support of their views, the right to receive assistance from other peoples and the right to interfere without any scruples in their internal affairs.

The Communist Parties of many countries had first-hand experience of the practical results of the Maoists’ claiming the right to speak on behalf of other peoples and to impose their views on them. The propaganda about the "universal character" of the experience of the Chinese revolu- 170 tion is openly chauvinistic and subordinated to great-power aims.

Everybody knows the consequences the application of the "Chinese experience" has had for Communists of some Asian countries. The Communist Parties which, in the absence of a broad peasant movement, resorted to insurrection without mass support found themselves isolated from the people. They were driven out to the jungles and their sectarian policy prevented them from exerting any real influence on the life of the nation. The fact that the leadership of the Indonesian Communist Party followed the course mapped out by Peking has had tragic consequences for it. The biggest Communist Party in Asia was cruelly defeated, and hundreds of thousands of Communists were brutally exterminated.

Lenin always warned against mechanical transplantation of the Russian experience to different conditions; he insisted on creative application of only the fundamental principles of the experience of the October Revolution. Mao Tse-tung and his group, on the other hand, proclaim that the road travelled by their country is compulsory for the whole world, in particular for the Asian, African and Latin American countries.

In their recommendations to follow the Chinese road, the Peking “strategists” of the world revolution have lost all sense of proportion and are printing material which looks like a parody. "An Italian friend" (whose name was naturally not divulged) is reported by the Chinese press to have said: "Formerly I thought that conditions in Italy differed from those in China, that there was no need to wage a long armed struggle there. Now, after many visits and studies, I realise that Italy must take the road of long armed struggle. 171 To be able to carry out the revolution in Western Europe, it is necessary systematically to study the works of Mao Tse-tung."

Everything, it appears, is wonderfully simple. All one has to do is to copy the Chinese experience and the success of the revolution is guaranteed. The Maoists threaten those who refuse to follow their directives and exert pressure on them. The methods Mao’s followers used early in 1967 show that these are the same third degree methods which are so popular with the Hungweipings.

In 1966, a C.P.C. delegation held talks with the leadership of the Communist Party of Japan. The Japanese Communists did not agree to Mao’s demand to place the C.P.S.U. on the same footing as the U.S. imperialists, to create a united anti-American, anti-Soviet front. Some time later the Hungweipings pasted up posters containing coarse attacks on the Japanese Communist Party all over Peking.

On January 24, 1967, the Japanese communist newspaper, Akahata, condemned the attacks of those who "trampled on the norms of international communist, democratic movement, which are based on independence, equality and nonintervention in the internal affairs of each other”. The newspaper refused to accept "implicit and blind observance of Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s theories" as the test of adherence to MarxismLeninism or revisionism.

Then the Peking Hungweipings began to threaten that Tokyo’s turn would come and that they would "smash the dogs’ heads" of the Japanese revisionists. Soon after the Chinese students in Japan, incited by the Peking radio, smashed the premises of the Japanese-Chinese Friendship Society. Once again rejecting the claim of the Maoists to regard as revolutionaries only those who recognise the ideas of Mao Tse-tung as the acme of modern MarxismLeninism, the Akahata emphasised that "precisely this imposing of the views of the leader of a definite Party upon the Party of another country is a clear manifestation of great-power chauvinism. ...” After that Renmin ribao began to call the Communist Party of Japan " counter-revolutionary", a party of fascist cut-throats”, etc.

The nationalistic propaganda and unequivocal hegemonistic strivings of the Maoists in the international liberation movement repel even those who were formerly willing to believe in the sincerity of Peking’s appeals. While denying all nationalism in words and even pretending to be indignant when accused of it, the Maoists endeavour to underpin their chauvinism with an ideological basis.

Marxist-Leninist history and philosophy have always fought resolutely against bourgeois Europecentrist conceptions. But the views Marxists hold on the general laws of the world historical process, the respect they show for the contribution made by every people to the treasury of world culture, obviously differ from the ideas of the Maoists. The nationalistic methodology of Europe-centrism is quite to the liking of the Maoists, except that they replace European “centrism” by Asiatic, or rather Chinese " centrism”. Racialist views on world history are becoming ever more widespread in China. For example, the dawn of modern times is explained as follows: "the leading position of the people of the yellow race in Asia was seized by people of the white 173 race coming from Europe.” That, the Maoists claim, was responsible for innumerable calamities to mankind.

For a number of years now, everything Chinese is played up and the idea of the leading role of the yellow race in world civilisation is implanted in China. The Chinese press tries very hard to find proof that when "the present so-called cultured people were still hunting wild animals in the forests, China already possessed a high culture”; that everything in China was " classical”; that even the slave-owning system anticipated everything that was later introduced in Greece and Rome. America was “discovered” by the Chinese 1,400 years before Columbus. This overrating of everything Chinese goes hand in hand with belittling of everything foreign, the striving to isolate China from everything that is foreign, to raise a new "Great Chinese Wall”, and with territorial claims upon neighbouring countries. Great-Han China-centrism is becoming the official interpretation of world history.

All facts which do not fit into the new scheme, do not conform to the requirements of chauvinist ideology and racialism are discarded, and new ones are rapidly invented. Quite recently still, Chinese historians described the Mongolian yoke as sanguinary and destructive and as having caused enormous harm to social development in China. Genghis Khan was called "an aggressor, such as there have been few in the history of mankind”. Now Genghis Khan has become a sort of Kulturtrager. It appears that "his battle horses broke through the iron walls of 40 states, big and small, in which the peoples were imprisoned... .” The destruction of 40 states naturally involved 174 bloodshed and destruction, but what is all that if we consider that the conquered peoples "became acquainted with a higher culture from which they could learn". [174•1

Imperialist penetration to the East was attended by the fanning up of white racialism. Kipling, the singer of Western expansion, expressed it saying "For East is East, and West is West. And ne’er the two shall meet".

The internationalist ideology of the working class has exposed the racialist ideology of imperialist conquests. Progressives in all countries reject all manifestations of racialism, apartheid and genocide.

Mao makes the racialist slogans of imperialism serve his great-power ends and ambitions. He also suggests that East and West will never meet and that the time has come when "the east wind prevails over the west wind".

Mao Tse-tung’s followers endeavour to foster Afro-Asian isolationism in every way, to sow mistrust of everything western, irrespective of whether it concerns the forces of reaction or the working-class movement, imperialist states or the socialist countries. In his talk with a delegation of the Palestinian Arab Organisation in April 1965, Mao expressed his nationalist, racialist views more clearly than ever before. The Beirut press quoted Mao’s words: "Asia is the largest continent. The West wants to continue to play the role of exploiter in Asia. The West does not like us and we must recognise this fact. The struggle of the Arabs against the West is a struggle against Israel. Therefore you Arabs should 175 boycott also all representatives of the West, Europe and America."

As we see, Mao does not attack the imperialist countries, does not expose Israel as the tool of U.S.-British imperialism; no, he strives to set up the Arabs against the West in general, including also the socialist countries—the real supporters of Arab national independence.

The way Mao’s followers substitute the struggle against the West in general for the struggle against imperialism can be seen also from their policy towards the developing countries, from their flirting with the reactionary forces in Japan and other Asian countries. No internationalist phrases can conceal this nationalistic line.

It becomes increasingly clear that to the Maoists the world revolution, of which they speak so much, is nothing but a realisation of Peking’s great-power aspirations.


[161•1] K. Marx and F. Engels, On Colonialism, Moscow, 1968, p. 25.

[161•2] Ibid., pp. 19–20.

[162•1] Li Ta-chao, Selected Articles and Speeches (in Russian), Moscow, 1965, p. 287.

[163•1] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 150.

[168•1] See B. A. Borodin, Soviet Assistance to the Chinese People in the War Against Japan, 1937–1941 (in Russian), Moscow, 1965, pp. 165–66.

[169•1] See A. M. Dubinsky, The Liberating Mission oj the Soviet Union in the Far East (in Russian), Moscow, 1966, pp. 556, 572.

[174•1] R. V. Vyatkin, S. L. Tikhvinsky, On Some Questions of Historical Science in the Chinese People’s Republic, (in Russian), Voprosy Istorii magazine, 1963, No. 10, pp. 12–13.