Workers Vanguard No. 762

3 August 2001


Defend the Gains of the 1949 Revolution!

Falun Gong: Force for Counterrevolution in China

This March, Senator Jesse Helms hosted the annual Heritage Foundation “International Religious Freedom Award” in a Foreign Relations Committee hearing room. This racist bible-thumper was not honoring some Christian fundamentalist, as might be expected, but a Chinese man named Li Hongzhi, founder of the bizarre mystical group Falun Gong. American politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have championed this reactionary outfit ever since it was banned by the Chinese government in July 1999. Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, denounced the suppression of Falun Gong in the United Nations Human Rights Commission and George W. Bush’s State Department has imperiously lectured Beijing to respect “freedom of religion, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience.”

Claiming roots in Buddhism and Daoism, Li preaches that miracles of health can be attained by following his brand of qigong exercises and adhering to “moral” precepts larded with the vilest racist, anti-woman and anti-gay bigotry. The sinister nature of Falun Gong jumps out from the swastika prominently displayed on its Web site. His supporters try to dismiss it as simply an ancient Buddhist symbol, but Li’s racist notions are certainly not far removed from Nazi ideology. He denounces interracial marriage as degenerate and has no place in his “heaven” for “a person of mixed blood,” envisioning a segregationist paradise with separate worlds for “white people,” “yellow people,” etc. No wonder Jesse Helms likes this bunch!

High on the list of evils denounced in Li’s book Zhuan Falun (Turning the Wheel of Law) are “homosexuality, sexual freedom, and drug abuse.” Lashing out at abortion as “killing,” in a March 1997 lecture Li also attacked “advocacy for women’s liberation” as a sign of “degeneration.” And he’s not talking just about the contemporary movement for women’s equality. Li wants to go right back to the days when “men knew how to treat their wives,” ridiculing the “notion” that “women were oppressed in ancient times,” when Chinese women were subjected to the barbaric practice of footbinding and were so degraded that they generally did not even have names.

While Li claims that his movement is not political, early last year his followers tried to hang a giant portrait of their “master” over the painting of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, that overlooks Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Two months later, in the midst of almost daily Falun Gong demonstrations in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal (20 April 2000) salivated over how “Falun Gong faithful have mustered what is arguably the most sustained challenge to authority in 50 years of Communist rule.”

As this imperialist mouthpiece makes clear, Falun Gong is the latest weapon in the American bourgeoisie’s crusade to overturn the 1949 Chinese Revolution, which ripped China out of the clutches of imperialist exploitation and drove out the Chinese bourgeoisie. The victory of Mao’s peasant-based guerrilla forces resulted in a workers state which, despite its bureaucratic deformation under the rule of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP), created a planned, collectivized economy that led to massive gains for the workers and peasants, especially women. Ever since, the imperialists have sought to reconquer China, repeatedly threatening nuclear attack, massively arming capitalist Taiwan as a bastion for counterrevolution and supporting pro-imperialist forces on the mainland.

From the standpoint of unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state, the International Communist League opposes Falun Gong as a counterrevolutionary menace. Needless to say, to root out such reactionary forces we do not look to the venal bureaucracy, which has no moral authority to combat religious reaction and pro-imperialist “dissidents.” The CCP regime’s “market reforms” have encouraged the growth of new millionaires entwined with the bureaucratic “princelings” while attacking previously guaranteed jobs, health care and other social benefits, driving the masses of workers and peasants into anger and despair. This has led to massive labor struggles on the one hand and created a following for the sinister Falun Gong on the other. The growth of the forces of counterrevolution underscores the burning need for forging a Leninist-Trotskyist party to sweep out the Stalinist bureaucracy and defend and extend the gains of the Chinese Revolution.

Li Hongzhi: Bigot and Hustler

Falun Gong is but the latest in a long line of religious movements used by the imperialists as battering rams for capitalist counterrevolution. In 1950, Cold Warrior John Foster Dulles proclaimed: “The religions of the East are deeply rooted and have many precious values. Their spiritual beliefs cannot be reconciled with Communist atheism and materialism. That creates a common bond between us.” Since 1959, the CIA has sponsored the Dalai Lama’s “Free Tibet” movement, which harks back to a Tibet of rampant slavery (sexual and otherwise), nonexistent medical care and an illiterate population. In the early 1980s, Washington (joined by Beijing) funded the Islamic fundamentalist mujahedin cutthroats fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, as well as the Vatican-sponsored Solidarność counterrevolutionaries in Pope Wojtyla’s native Poland.

In Vietnam, following the defeat of French colonialism in 1954, the CIA and Vatican hatched the “Virgin Goes South” campaign aimed at weakening the North Vietnamese deformed workers state by promoting the exodus of almost one million Catholics to the capitalist South ruled by the brutal Ngo Din Diem regime, which included the infamous Catholic zealot Madame Nhu. More recently in China, the Vatican has provocatively canonized 120 Catholics, many of whom died fighting for the imperialists during the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion. Meanwhile, the Bush administration, rife with right-wing Christian bigots, has denounced Beijing’s moves to suppress underground Protestant “house churches.”

Imperialist propagandists point to the growth of religious movements in China to argue that the CCP regime faces a new version of the revolts which shook the Qing Dynasty: the Taiping Rebellion of the mid-19th century and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Such comparisons are utterly false. While the Taiping leaders embraced Christianity, their revolt was based on an egalitarian program—including giving land to all peasants and special measures to liberate women—and was aimed against a decrepit imperial state in thrall to and militarily propped up by the West. And while the Boxers believed that qigong would protect them from bullets, their fire was directed against the imperialists who were plundering China. In contrast, Falun Gong is a tool of the imperialists.

But when Li Hongzhi got his start as a snake-oil salesman in the early 1990s, it was with the support of the Beijing bureaucracy. As Peter Carlson noted in the Washington Post (27 February 2000), “The post-Mao government had lifted restrictions on religion and encouraged entrepreneurship.... Scores of self-proclaimed qigong masters competed for followers, frequently touting their mystical healing powers.” Based in the northeastern city of Changchun, Jilin province—a center of state-owned mining and machine production hard hit by factory closings—Li gave public lectures sponsored by the state-controlled “China Qigong Research Society,” and was soon addressing police and military audiences. Money rolled in from sales of cassettes, videos and books and Zhuan Falun, published in 1994, became a best seller.

When the government turned against Li, banning his books and curtailing meetings of his followers, he left the country. He arrived in the U.S. in 1996, in possession, curiously enough, of a permanent residency visa for himself, his wife and daughter. Li eventually settled in Queens, New York, where he runs a worldwide enterprise. When 10,000 Falun Gong followers massed outside the CCP leadership’s Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing in April 1999, the regime was faced with what looked like a mass opposition with evident support in the highest echelons of the party, police and military. After Falun Gong was banned, its adherents carried out almost daily protests in Tiananmen and elsewhere, leading to thousands of arrests.

Whatever the immediate cause for Li’s disfavor, Beijing was clearly fearful that the growing popularity of his mystical nonsense was detrimental to the task of advancing technology and modernization. The most prominent spokesman against Falun Gong is a theoretical physicist named He Zuoxiu, a pioneer in developing China’s nuclear weapons in the 1960s. He is a self-professed Marxist who has lashed out against “market reforms” for steering China away from the socialist path. Today he is spearheading the regime’s propaganda campaign against Falun Gong, most prominently in a 1999 article in the magazine Science and Technology for Youth that denounced Li for disseminating pseudoscience. In response to that article, Li’s followers began hounding He and his family and then staged their mass protest in Beijing in April 1999.

“Pseudoscience” hardly captures Li’s outlandish “cosmology,” based on the “Dharma Wheel” which, as the New York Times (5 July) reports, “he says he installs telekinetically in the abdomens of all his followers, where it rotates in alternating directions, throwing off bad karma and gathering qi [vital bodily energy].” Li insists that he (and the magician David Copperfield!) can fly, that fox and weasel spirits take over human souls, that extraterrestrial aliens have invaded Earth and that the French have discovered a two-billion-year-old nuclear reactor which is proof of an ancient civilization that practiced Falun Gong! He simultaneously preaches that “the story of Noah’s Ark is true” and “the theory of evolution doesn’t hold at all.”

The ideological offensive against Li’s quackery accompanying the regime’s suppression of Falun Gong has clearly had an effect on the Chinese masses, as the New York Times (23 July) acknowledged in an article headlined, “Falun Gong Manages Skimpy Rally; Is Sect Fading?” But what particularly horrified many Chinese was watching the scene on national news of several Falun Gong followers setting fire to themselves and a 12-year-old girl in Tiananmen Square in late January, after being urged by their master to “let go of all worldly attachments (including the attachments to the human body).” The following month, the Ministry of Education, Communist Youth League and All-China Women’s Federation jointly launched a book titled Say No to the Cult, which exposes Falun Gong as “anti-humanity, anti-society and anti-science.”

The suppression of Falun Gong indicates the fragility of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the face of any opposition. But what the regime most fears is a challenge to its power by the combative Chinese proletariat. In May, the CCP leadership issued a report openly acknowledging its “tense” relations with the masses in the face of a huge upsurge in labor struggles, particularly in state-owned industry, against the ravages of “market reforms.” When 10,000 miners and their families blocked a railway line in northern China last month to demand unpaid wages, riot police summoned to the spot made no move to clear the protesters.

While pushing ahead with pro-capitalist measures, now even inviting capitalists to join the CCP, the Beijing bureaucracy is fearful that violent repression against striking workers could provoke a generalized upheaval of the kind that rocked the regime when the working class entered into the student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. That would immediately raise the prospect of a proletarian political revolution that ousts the privileged bureaucratic caste and ushers in a government of workers, peasants and soldiers councils (soviets). To bring to the Chinese workers the consciousness needed to wage a victorious struggle for political power requires the forging of a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party based on a program of proletarian internationalism, linking defense of the Chinese Revolution to the struggle for socialist revolution from South Korea and Japan—the industrial powerhouse of the region—to the U.S. and other advanced countries.

“Market Reforms” Roll Back Health Care

Notably, many of those drawn to Li’s crackpot schemes for a healthy life are urbanized and well-educated. Many live in provinces ravaged by the privatization or closure of state-owned industries, which have left laid-off workers without the medical, education and housing benefits that came with such jobs.

The enormous gains in health care after 1949 have long stood as a signal achievement of the planned economy, in stark contrast to capitalist India and other “Third World” countries where the abject misery of the masses is reinforced by imperialist subjugation. Even the most remote villages received basic care by “barefoot doctors”—medical personnel (often minimally trained) who in 1975 numbered some 1.6 million. Even a diehard opponent of the 1949 Revolution like Hong Kong South China Morning Post columnist Jasper Becker acknowledges in his book The Chinese (Free Press [2000]):

“When the Communist Party came to power, it embarked on a series of patriotic health campaigns especially directed at exterminating ‘the four pests’—birds, rats, insects and flies. Other campaigns targeted specific health problems such as the snails in rice paddies which spread schistosomiasis (snail fever). Mass campaigns to improve sanitation by the digging of public latrines and to make the boiling of drinking water commonplace helped control many diseases, in particular tuberculosis, a leading cause of death, typhoid, neonatal tetanus and leprosy.

“By contrast, since Deng came to power in 1978, statistics suggest that there has been a decline in public sanitation. In 1997, 400 million still lacked access to safe water and 76 per cent lacked access to safe sanitation. Five years earlier the World Bank reported that there were ‘substantial parts of China where the decline in diseases has slowed or even been reversed’.”

As a result of the “market reforms” initiated by Deng Xiaoping, medical care is now priced out of the reach of many workers, to say nothing of the far poorer peasants who make up the vast majority of the population. Often, hospital staff first ask a patient what he can pay before deciding what treatment he will get. Becker reports that “90 per cent of the peasants are not covered by any form of health insurance. In urban areas too, where so many state-owned enterprises are losing money, fewer and fewer people are covered by adequate insurance.”

The central government has increasingly fobbed off responsibility for medical care and schooling to regional and local authorities, which often divert funds to business enterprises. With 80 percent of health care expenditures going to large urban hospitals, cuts in state funding have hit the peasant poor particularly hard and many skilled medical personnel have abandoned the countryside for the cities. In 1986, the “barefoot doctor” title was abolished, part of rural “reforms” whose centerpiece was the destruction of collectivized agriculture in favor of individually tilled family plots. Adding to the shortage of health care personnel is the legacy of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” which shut down high schools and universities for years beginning in the mid-1960s and often persecuted Western-educated doctors.

A particular health problem in China’s rural areas is iodine deficiency, which can cause goiter, mental retardation and other maladies. The Wall Street Journal (20 June) reports:

“By the 1980s, Chinese officials had made headway in fighting iodine deficiency by providing iodine injections in villages with a high incidence of goiter. But the same years brought economic liberalization and an explosion of private enterprise, including manufacturers flooding the market with usually cheaper noniodized salt. By the early 1990s, this unregulated salt trade, combined with little official oversight, was erasing the public-health gains of the command-economy days.”

But the fact that China is still based on a nationalized economy means that the country can marshal its resources to tackle such problems. Reversing its previous policy, Beijing is now enforcing a state salt monopoly to provide even remote villages with iodized salt.

Women’s Gains Under Attack

The resurgence of religious reaction in China is a direct threat to women. It is a measure of the political bankruptcy of the Beijing bureaucracy that it has stoked a revival of Buddhism, Daoism and even Confucianism, which enshrined the subjugation of women as household slaves and was wielded by China’s dynastic rulers to instill unquestioning loyalty to emperor, father and husband. That oppression was only deepened by the Western imperialists who subjugated China in the 19th century and set up networks of Christian missions and schools to recruit local agents who would defend the West’s “civilizing” mission.

The overthrow of capitalist rule in 1949 resulted in enormous advances for women—a leap of centuries accomplished in a matter of years—the right to be educated, to have a job, to marry the husband of their choice. These advances were a measure of the power of the planned economy. But from the outset, they were constrained and undermined by the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy. As the regime built up the planned economy, the number of women working in industry soared from 600,000 in 1949 to 50 million by the mid-1990s, though they were largely excluded from skilled labor. In the countryside, the “Great Leap Forward” of the late 1950s created rural communes that included communal kitchens, helping to relieve the burdens on peasant women. But Mao’s utopian attempt to catapult China to the level of an advanced industrial society within the nationalist framework of “socialism in one country”—using mass levies of peasant labor to make up for the lack of technology—collapsed after a few years, leading to a horrific famine.

Unlike the Russian October Revolution, the 1949 Chinese Revolution was not carried out by a conscious proletariat led by a Leninist vanguard party. Mao’s CCP was modeled not on the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky but on the conservative bureaucratic caste that usurped power from the Soviet proletariat in a political counterrevolution led by Stalin in 1923-24.

The Bolsheviks took what measures they could to replace the functions of the family—the chief institution for the oppression of women in class society—setting up communal childcare, laundry and kitchen facilities. The early Bolshevik regime also abolished all laws discriminating against homosexuals. But under conditions of extreme poverty and hostile imperialist encirclement, the young Soviet workers state could only begin the work of liberating women. The Bolsheviks understood that women could only be fully emancipated in a socialist—i.e., classless—society, necessarily international in scope and premised on a level of technology far higher than that in even the most advanced capitalist countries.

Repudiating the program of international socialist revolution in favor of the lie of “building socialism in one country,” the Stalinist bureaucracy also repudiated the liberating ideals of Bolshevism, not least when it came to women. In his analysis of the Stalinist degeneration, The Revolution Betrayed (1936), Trotsky characterized the bureaucracy’s imposition of a ban on abortion as “the philosophy of a priest endowed also with the powers of a gendarme,” continuing:

“The marriage and family laws established by the October revolution, once the object of its legitimate pride, are being made over and mutilated by vast borrowings from the law treasuries of the bourgeois countries. And as though on purpose to stamp treachery with ridicule, the same arguments which were earlier advanced in favor of unconditional freedom of divorce and abortion—‘the liberation of women,’ ‘defense of the rights of personality,’ ‘protection of motherhood’—are repeated now in favor of their limitation and complete prohibition.

“The retreat not only assumes forms of disgusting hypocrisy, but also is going infinitely farther than the iron economic necessity demands.”

Trotsky noted that “the most compelling motive of the present cult of the family is undoubtedly the need of the bureaucracy for a stable hierarchy of relations, and for the disciplining of youth.”

In China, the Stalinist regime has always glorified the family as a “fighting unit for socialism.” This particularly represented a capitulation to prevailing sentiment among the CCP’s peasant base, as we noted in “Maoism and the Family” in Women and Revolution No. 7 (Autumn 1974): “Unlike the working class, for whom the family plays no necessary economic role, the class interests of the peasantry are essentially limited to consolidating the private ownership of small plots of land, and this requires the maintenance of the family structure.” As in other Stalinist-ruled workers states, Chinese women were still locked into doing “double work,” combining jobs with the responsibility of caring for their families.

The implementation of “market reforms” in the late 1970s has led to a severe erosion of the gains achieved by women as a result of the revolution. With the decollectivization of agriculture and the return to family plots, female infanticide, virtually eradicated after 1949, has returned with a vengeance, as peasant households again put a premium on male offspring. Today, millions of urban women have lost the relative economic freedom they once had, thrown out of their jobs in state-owned textile plants and other industries. The countryside has seen a recrudescence of the age-old practice of buying and selling “wives,” often women who have been kidnapped when they leave their homes to look for work. Women from rural areas make up the bulk of the workforce in the hellish factories in the capitalist Special Economic Zones.

It is notable that the puritanical Stalinist regime’s attacks on Li’s reactionary garbage do not extend to his diatribes against women and homosexuals. Only this March did the official Chinese Psychiatric Association revise its guidelines to declare that homosexuality was not a “disease.” Stigmatized and fearing “treatment” in state psychiatric institutions, gay men are often forced into seeking furtive meetings in the dead of night in public parks. Such persecution intensified when AIDS hit China, even though the disease has been spread there mainly through drug use, heterosexual contact and blood banks. The city of Chengdu—capital of China’s most populous province, Sichuan—recently enacted a law prohibiting HIV-positive people from working as kindergarten teachers, among other jobs, and even from marrying. This measure is so outrageous that it has come under criticism from the local press.

While the regime victimizes people infected with HIV, its “market reforms” have directly contributed to the spread of the virus. In Henan province, where the government encouraged the growth of private blood collection firms, virtually entire village populations have been infected with HIV. The companies bought blood from poor peasants for plasma production, pooled the collected blood and then re-injected villagers with red blood cells so that they could quickly donate again. More and more villagers began developing AIDS, but the authorities covered up the story for fear they would be held culpable, leaving vastly greater numbers of people open to infection.

A Chinese Trotskyist party would emblazon on its banners the fight for the full emancipation of women and full democratic rights for homosexuals. We wrote in “China: ‘Free Market’ Misery Targets Women” (Women and Revolution No. 45, Winter-Spring 1996):

“As the ‘tribune of the people,’ a vanguard party would fight tooth and nail against the attempt to drive women from their hard-won positions in the workplace and would mobilize working people to defend women set upon by the purveyors of sexual enslavement. A revolutionary leadership would seek to organize the masses of poor peasants behind the urban working class in struggle for a China of workers and peasants councils (soviets). While fighting to extend the revolutionary struggle internationally, a soviet regime would begin to reconstruct a centrally planned economy under conditions of workers democracy, and undertake the recollectivization of agriculture and the expropriation of imperialist enterprises.”

Marxism, Stalinism and Religion

Under the headline “China Girds for a Battle of the Spirit,” an article in the Washington Post (10 January) noted that the regime’s crackdown on Falun Gong “has been accompanied by exhortations to the public to study Marxism and atheism.” Even as it encourages capitalist free-market measures, the Stalinist regime is capable of occasionally borrowing from the lexicon of Marxism when it suits its purpose. But the CCP’s policies make a mockery of the scientific, materialist worldview of Marxism.

Under Lenin and Trotsky, the Bolshevik regime enforced the separation of church and state and carried out a concerted ideological effort to educate the masses in materialism and to root out religious backwardness, mobilizing Soviet youth in particular through such organizations as the League of the Militant Godless. The revolutionary government nationalized the vast property holdings of the Russian Orthodox church, but the church itself was not banned. The Bolsheviks understood that religion could not be abolished by decree but would disappear only as want and suffering disappeared. As Karl Marx explained in the 1844 “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”:

Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

In regard to religion as in other areas, the Stalinists trampled on Marxism. By the mid-1930s, as Trotsky noted in The Revolution Betrayed:

“Concern for the authority of the older generation, by the way, has already led to a change of policy in the matter of religion.... The bureaucracy, concerned about their reputation for respectability, have ordered the young ‘godless’ to surrender their fighting armor and sit down to their books. In relation to religion, there is gradually being established a regime of ironical neutrality.”

A few years after Trotsky wrote this, Stalin openly rehabilitated the Russian Orthodox church as he appealed to crude Russian chauvinism against the German Nazi invaders during World War II.

In China, Mao sought to appeal to “traditional” peasant-based culture, fostering the practice of qigong. In the 1950s, the CCP prohibited shamans from foisting their superstitious rituals on people in the guise of medicine. But as it cut funding for health care, the Beijing regime began promoting shamanism and other superstitious practices rooted in rural backwardness, training doctors in traditional Chinese medicine and extolling the virtues of herbal medicines. In the 1990s, shamans were officially redesignated “traditional medicine practitioners.”

In the face of counterrevolutionary agitation by the Dalai Lama, the Vatican and the “house church” movement, the Chinese government sponsors its own brand of Lamaism, its own Catholic bishops (and a “Patriotic Catholic Association”) and its own Protestant churches. Beijing’s stamp of approval apparently extends to the sinister, anti-Communist Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The New York Times (12 September 2000) reported that the church’s “International Educational Foundation has been warmly embraced by a range of conservative Chinese officials distressed about their country’s slide toward sexual freedom.”

In its campaign against Falun Gong, the CCP makes a point of differentiating between “cults” and bona fide “religions.” While Falun Gong is truly wacky, it is not different in substance from any other religion, all of which are based on anti-materialist dogma and are no less the “opium of the people.” Instead of condemning Falun Gong as a counterrevolutionary danger, Beijing compares this racist outfit to the racially integrated Branch Davidian group in the U.S., implicitly amnestying the American bourgeois government’s slaughter of more than 80 men, women and children in the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas in 1993. As revolutionary opponents of capitalist state repression, the Spartacist League was unique on the U.S. left in vigorously protesting this mass murder by the Clinton administration.

Break with Nationalism!

The CCP regime’s promotion of Chinese traditions and religions is part and parcel of its inculcation of nationalism among the working people, who are told to suffer through the hardships of “market reforms” for the illusory promise that the country will one day develop into a superpower. In his time, Mao liked to make references to ancient bandit-heroes and great military emperors of China. The nationalism inherent in the Stalinist dogma of “socialism in one country,” which means accommodation to imperialism and opposition to world socialist revolution, fuels the growth of reactionary forces.

This was evident in the terminal decline of the Soviet Stalinist bureaucracy, as one wing embraced pro-imperialist “democracy” while others pushed the most retrograde Great Russian chauvinism. Both contributed to the rise of capitalist counterrevolution, nor were they necessarily counterposed. It was the vaunted “democrat” Boris Yeltsin who, as Moscow party chief in the late 1980s, gave his imprimatur to the anti-Semitic fascists of Pamyat.

The ICL called on the Soviet working people to sweep away these Russian-chauvinist fascists who posed a deadly threat to the multinational working class of the USSR. We did not look to the Stalinist bureaucracy to “clean out” Pamyat, and in fact pointed out that a workers mobilization against the fascists could be the first step toward a proletarian political revolution to oust the Kremlin misleaders. In August 1991, the same Yeltsin, surrounded by would-be yuppies and Russian Orthodox priests, led the counterrevolutionary coup that ushered in the destruction of the Soviet workers state.

The restoration of capitalism in the USSR and East Europe brought in its wake a cascade of attacks on working people, immigrants, women and youth around the world. It has also led to the flourishing of religious reaction and anti-scientific mysticism. The imperialists now set their sights on capitalist restoration in China and the other remaining deformed workers states—Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea.

Unlike the USSR, China is relatively ethnically homogeneous, although the large regions of Xinjiang and Tibet are mainly inhabited by minority peoples. Yet nationalist ideology is no less a danger to the Chinese proletariat, serving to bind it to the Guomindang bourgeoisie, which was not destroyed as a class by the 1949 Revolution but fled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere. In the name of forging a “greater China,” Beijing has invited this same bourgeoisie to again exploit Chinese workers in the Special Economic Zones. Investment by offshore Chinese capital outweighs direct investment in China by the U.S., Japan and other imperialist countries. Far from propelling China to superpower status, capitalist restoration would mean the imperialist resubjugation of the country and sheer misery for the workers and peasants. The wretched state of the former Soviet Union—mass poverty, falling lifespans, the collapse of science and technology—is a harbinger of what capitalist counterrevolution would mean for China, a far more backward society than the former USSR.

The ostensible Trotskyists of the Hong Kong-based October Review long ago abandoned even the pretense of unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state. Their international cothinkers of the United Secretariat tailed all manner of counterrevolutionary forces arrayed against the Soviet Union, even helping run supplies to Polish Solidarność in the early 1980s. Already acting as virtual press agents for CIA-sponsored “labor activists” and “democrats,” October Review (5 August 1999) also rallies to the defense of the Falun Gong reactionaries against Beijing’s “high-handed repression.” A subsequent article even uncritically retails claims by Falun Gong followers that “their practice cured them of disease and improved their health” (October Review, 30 April 2000). This article also defends the Chinese Democratic Party, an openly pro-imperialist outfit based in the U.S.

Unlike October Review, the Pioneer group, another Hong Kong-based outfit calling itself Trotskyist, at least acknowledges that not all of Falun Gong’s behavior is “totally pure and normal.” Nevertheless, in a 10 February statement, Pioneer calls on “the people to rise up against the persecution of Falun Gong,” particularly condemning Beijing’s attempt to extend its crackdown into Hong Kong. Pioneer’s concern is that “the whole self-governing right of the Hong Kong special region would be greatly damaged.” We Trotskyists hailed the return of the former British colony to China, but we warned that the bureaucracy’s maintenance of capitalism in Hong Kong under the rubric of “one country, two systems” was a huge threat to the economic foundations of the deformed workers state. At the same time, Beijing has allowed a degree of openness in Hong Kong as part of the reversion agreement with Britain.

It is in the direct interests of workers in the U.S. and internationally to defend the remaining deformed workers states against imperialism and counterrevolution. It is the task of the Chinese proletariat to oust the bureaucratic caste which undermines that defense and encourages the growth of capitalist-restorationist forces. A Trotskyist party must be forged in political combat against all wings of Stalinism—neo-Maoists and “capitalist roaders” alike—and in sharp opposition to pro-imperialist “democrats.”

Communist-minded workers and intellectuals can look back to the early Chinese Communist Party led by Chen Duxiu. At the time of the anti-imperialist May Fourth Movement of 1919, Chen was a radical democrat and linguist who had popularized the goals of emancipation and modernization, including through the literary characters “Mr. Science and Mr. Democracy.” Inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution, Chen and other leading radicals became founding members of the CCP. As part of Lenin and Trotsky’s Communist International, the early CCP sought to wipe out oppression and obscurantism through a socialist revolution, which it saw as part and parcel of a world proletarian revolution. That is the internationalist program that will propel the best fighters against the capitalist re-enslavement of China into a reforged Trotskyist Fourth International, the embodiment of revolutionary Marxism in our time.