Workers Vanguard No. 896

3 August 2007


France: Chinese Counterrevolutionary Feted by Lutte Ouvrière

PARIS—At its annual Fête in late May, the reformist Lutte Ouvrière (LO) invited one Cai Chongguo to speak about his latest book, Chine: l’Envers de la Puissance (China: The Dark Side of Power) and to share at this “socialist” gathering his account of the situation in China. Cai is the representative in France for the Hong Kong-based journal China Labour Bulletin (CLB—now available only on the Internet). Under a guise of defending workers’ rights and fighting for “independent” trade unions, the CLB is an imperialist-backed outfit that seeks to cynically manipulate the discontent and legitimate grievances of the Chinese working class to foster capitalist counterrevolution in China, the largest and most powerful of the remaining deformed workers states.

The Ligue Trotskyste de France, section of the International Communist League, denounced LO’s invitation to Cai as well as its history of support to similar counterrevolutionary forces during the years of Cold War II against the former Soviet Union. Speaking from the floor of the meeting for Cai, our comrades exposed him as an agent of imperialism and put forward our Trotskyist program: for the unconditional military defense of China against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution and for proletarian political revolution to oust the Beijing Stalinist bureaucracy and establish an internationalist proletarian regime based on workers and peasants soviets (councils). This perspective requires the leadership of a Leninist-Trotskyist party, standing at the head of the toiling masses and directing the struggles of the workers toward political power. Along that road, it is necessary to politically combat those who would link Chinese workers struggles to the forces of “democratic” capitalist counterrevolution.

The CLB and its founder, Han Dongfang, have a direct relationship with the U.S. and European imperialists. Han has been a regular speaker for years on Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), to which the CLB Web site offers a direct link. Spelling out the CLB’s pro-imperialist credentials, one LTF comrade noted that “the CLB works in collaboration with the American Congress and Radio Free Asia, the CIA’s radio station in Asia, under the responsibility of Condoleezza Rice among others” who sit on the RFA’s Broadcasting Board of Governors. In Europe, Cai Chongguo offers himself up as a China “specialist” to the imperialists. In his introductory remarks, Cai baldly admitted: “I speak three to four times each week or three or four times a day...for the BBC, Radio Free Asia, French International Radio and German International Radio, and of course sometimes on the Chinese section of the Voice of America.”

Two weeks prior to the LO Fête, Cai was scheduled to speak in Berlin on “workplace rights” in China at the invitation of the European Union. But the meeting was cancelled due to the Chinese government’s protest. In December, Cai had been the guest of Nicolas Sarkozy—former interior minister and now president of France—who received Cai and other “China specialists” at his then-police headquarters at Place Beauvau, where they discussed French imperialism’s posture toward China over trade, “human rights” and independence for Taiwan, the bastion of the offshore Chinese bourgeoisie. (A 16 December 2006 posting on Cai’s blog “Journal d’un Chinois” describes his “breakfast with Sarkozy.”) Against counterrevolutionary calls for Taiwan’s independence or for capitalist reunification with the mainland, one LTF speaker put forward the ICL’s program for China’s “revolutionary reunification with Taiwan—that is, a socialist revolution in Taiwan to overthrow the bourgeoisie and a political revolution on the mainland.”

Cheerleaders for Counterrevolution

The 1949 Chinese Revolution ended the rule of the rapacious capitalists and landlords and liberated the most populous nation on earth from imperialist subjugation. Resulting from the military victory of peasant-guerrilla forces led by the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the 1949 Revolution was bureaucratically deformed from its inception, requiring a subsequent political revolution to remove the nationalist, bureaucratic regime.

In his new book, the virulently anti-Communist Cai lauds the “autonomy” of villages in pre-revolutionary China! Denouncing this reactionary drivel, one of the LTF speakers stated that before 1949 “the peasants had nothing to eat and sold their children” and that the Chinese Revolution “was a great advance for the peasants and the working class in China.” Our comrade continued, “Today, there is a bureaucracy in power, as in 1949, with its own contradictions. It is absolutely necessary to defend China against the imperialists and counterrevolutionaries inside the country,” adding that it is the working class that must put in place “its own power based on soviets.”

Only the LTF protested Cai’s appearance at the LO Fête. Just as we unflinchingly defend China against capitalist counterrevolution, we also unconditionally defend the other remaining deformed workers states—Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea. The return of imperialist subjugation to China, and with it the dismantling of the gains of the 1949 Revolution, would be catastrophic for the masses of that country. Internationally, workers and the oppressed would be under renewed attack from bourgeois rulers reveling in “death of communism” triumphalism, as has happened following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

At the same time, we Trotskyists are very clear on the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy toward the Chinese working class. The CCP’s program of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism, flowing from the party’s historic allegiance to the dogma of “socialism in one country” represents a threat to the very survival of the Chinese deformed workers state. The Stalinist bureaucracy is a parasitic caste that simultaneously is dependent on the collectivized property forms of the workers state and acts as the transmitting mechanism for the pressures of imperialism in undermining the workers state.

LO, like other reformist parties that continue, albeit rarely, to lay claim to Trotskyism, shows with its sponsorship of counterrevolutionary “dissidents” like Cai that the prospect they hold out for the Chinese working class is a return to an imperialist stranglehold over China. One of the LTF speakers detailed how Cai is courted by not only the imperialists but also their lackeys in the trade-union bureaucracy in France and internationally: “The fact that the CLB is supported by the FO [Force Ouvrière union federation] bureaucrats or those from the CFDT [Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail] or the ‘AFL-CIA’ in the United States only underlines the treason of the reformist leadership of these trade unions.” Pointing to our opposition to Lech Walesa’s Polish Solidarność, the CIA- and Vatican-backed “union” that spearheaded capitalist counterrevolution in East Europe, the comrade remarked, “Le Monde’s comparing of Han Dongfang to Lech Walesa was correct.” Our speaker continued:

“It’s not surprising that Lutte Ouvrière invites Cai to their Fête. In the 1980s LO supported bids for counterrevolution, be it by Solidarność or through LO’s support to capitalist reunification in Germany and its opposition to the Red Army in Afghanistan. Against that, we Trotskyists called to fight against counterrevolution in Poland and in East Germany.”

It was in the name of “free trade unions” that CIA money was used to buy officials and hire goons to split, smash and subdue combative unions in West Europe at the onset of the anti-Soviet Cold War, as described in the 1981 Spartacist pamphlet, Solidarność: Polish Company Union for CIA and Bankers. The 1947-48 split in the Communist-led CGT federation in France, out of which Force Ouvrière was created, was financed by the CIA, with the consent and assistance of the virulently anti-Communist French social democracy.

As in the former Soviet Union and East Europe, in China the call for “free trade unions” emanating from Radio Free Asia, the CLB and their “leftist” followers is a call to mobilize workers, against their historic interests, for “democratic” counterrevolution. As one LTF speaker pointed out, in regard to the Stalinist-ruled workers states, we have fought historically for “trade unions independent of the bureaucracy that are based on the principle of defending the workers state and which struggle to defend the collectivized economy against privatizations.” This has nothing in common with the CLB’s drive for “democratic free trade unions,” a key component of Cai’s presentation.

LO: Betraying Workers’ Interests in China and at Home

Lutte Ouvrière has always absurdly characterized the 1949 Chinese Revolution as a bourgeois revolution and China as a bourgeois state. But as LO’s Exposés du Cercle Léon Trotsky (27 January 2006) documents, since 1998 LO has also maintained publicly that this supposedly bourgeois state did indeed “carry out the collectivization of the land,” introduce “considerable progress” in employment, housing, health and education, and that “industry developed at an average rate of 9 percent a year.” LO also admits that there is no comparison between this level of progress and the situation in such semicolonial countries as India.

LO tries to explain the positive impact of the Chinese Revolution as resulting from the policy of étatisme (statism)—i.e., state direction of the economy. This notion makes no distinction between a bourgeois state and a workers state, presenting the state as fundamentally neutral: as an administrative apparatus resting above classes rather than the central tool for the ruling class to maintain its domination.

Under the strong pressure of anti-communist bourgeois public opinion, LO’s anti-Marxist “theoretical” gobbledygook serves the purpose of siding with the imperialist bourgeoisies against the Chinese deformed workers state. In the context of France, the revisionist portrayal of the state as a “neutral” body is reflected in LO’s frequent appeals to the bourgeois state to act in the interests of the French working class. This was clearly seen in LO’s program for the recent presidential elections and its call on the working class to vote for the anti-working-class popular front headed by Ségolène Royal in the second round (see Le Bolchévik No. 180, June 2007).

We assert that defense of the interests of the workers in France and other capitalist countries is inseparable from defense of the remaining workers states. In the critical battles to come that will determine the fate of the People’s Republic of China, the Trotskyists will battle against the Lech Walesas of today and their “leftist” pimps, as we did in the former Soviet Union and East Europe. This is a crucial part of the ICL’s struggle to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.