BLPI on China and the political situation during the 2nd World war

we are presenting here a report from international notes dated April 1945 which included news three important resolutions of the BLPI.  This particular report and the BLPI’s position on China is of considerable significance today as it lays down a useful precedent on the core question of defencism and defeatism. The question has become a particularly dicey one when applied to the present situation in Libya. Broadly speaking the international left has been split between whether to take a position that calls for the defeat of Qaddafi as the core position or whether to call for a dual defeatism of forces, aiming both at Gaddafi as well as the imperialists. There are still others ( mostly of a third wordlist orientation and Stalinist orientations ) who call directly for the victory of Qaddafi over the rebels citing the ‘complete’ dominance of the rebels by imperialism. A similar situation it would appear had emerged in the debates around China almost 70 years back. The BLPI’s position was one which we feel is both pragmatic in its flexibility as well as consistent with a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist line.


International Notes

[From Fourth International, vol.6 No.4, April 1945, pp.126-127]

The Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India and Ceylon, official section of the Fourth International, held its first All-India Conference in September 20-25, 1944. This conference convened as scheduled “somewhere in India” despite the bestial repressions and conditions of illegality imposed upon our Indian co-thinkers by the British despots whose colonial rule is comparable to the regime of the Nazis.

The First Representative Conference marks a great forward step in the development of the Indian Trotskyists whose unified organization was formed in May 1942 at a conference representing the Revolutionary Socialist League of Bengal, the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of the United Provinces and Behar, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Ceylon, and other Trotskyist groups. (Documents relating to the 1942 Founding Conference were published in Fourth International for March, April and October 1942.)

In reporting the work of the AR-Indian Conference, the editora of Permanent Revolution, theoretical organ of the Indian party, note with well-merited pride that:

“Representatives from every unit of the Party in India and Ceylon attended, despite all the difficulties. What these units are, none will expect us to announce. Suffice it to say, therefore, that the attendance reflected the All-India character of the organization even at its present stage of development.”

The three main questions on the conference agenda were: 1) The Political Situation in India; 2) The International Situation; and 3) Party Organization.

On the Indian question the Conference adopted a comprehensive resolution, the text of which was published in the October 1944 Fourth International. This resolution,

“reviews the impact of the war on the Indian economy and on the different social classes in India, outlines the changes and development in the attitude of the Indian bourgeoisie to British imperialism during the war, analyzes the course and consequences of the August (1942) struggle and the causes of its failure, examines the meaning and significance of the terms offered to British imperialism by Ghandiji since his release, characterizes the nature and role of the major political parties in India, estimates the likely effect of a Congress-Government settlement on the major political parties and on the mass mood and mass trends, and finally, on the basis of these, defines the political tasks of the Party in the period immediately ahead.” (Permanent Revolution, October-December 1944.)

The majority of the Conference adopted a separate resolution on The Pakistan Slogan and also discussed a Report on Separatist Tendencies in India which the Conference decided not to adopt but “to circulate for further discussion and investigation.”

With regard to the international situation, the Conference adopted two resolutions, one on the Soviet Union and the other relating to China. The Russian resolution takes into account the altered military situation and the consequent need for the revolutionists to adjust their tactics, and advocates “the intensified prosecution of the class struggle (in the non-Soviet territories occupied by the Red Army) regardless of the military consequences to the Red Army.” The resolution further points out the danger of capitalist restoration in the USSR which is implicit in the Kremlin’s policy of utilizing the Red Army as a police agency for the protection of capitalist property in the non-Soviet areas.

The second resolution on China in the World War represents a departure from the position expounded by the Fourth International. It declares that “by reasons of the interlocking of the Sino-Japanese War with the Second Imperialist World War, the subordination of Chungking’s struggle to the reactionary war of the Anglo-American imperialists, and the conversion of the Chungking regime into the channel of Anglo-American economic penetration and political control, the Chungking-led war against Japan has been denuded of its progressive content and cannot therefore be supported by proletarian revolutionaries.” (idem) The resolution does not deny that the “war of Chungking China against Japan” is progressive, but it maintains that this “progressive war” has become transformed into a “subordinate element of no great importance in the all-embracing general imperialist conflict in the Pacific.” This is precisely what must be proved. But the facts and arguments adduced in the resolution scarcely do so. For example, one of the arguments advanced to demonstrate the complete subordination of China’s war to Anglo-American control is the “creation of the Stilwell Command.” However, the incident of the Stilwell ouster could be utilized with far more justification to demonstrate just the contrary. Nor is the issue settled by citing the reactionary character of Chiang Kai-shek’s regime and its subservience to the Allies. What is decisive is not the character of the Chungking regime – which has not essentially altered throughout the struggle – but the actual degree of independence retained by China in her progressive war against the Japanese imperialists.

Up to now it has been – and remains – the position of the Fourth International that China’s war has retained sufficient independence from the imperialists, despite the latter’s aim to “interlock” and completely dominate the struggle. We see as yet no valid reasons for any change in policy. On the organization question, as the editors of Permanent Revolution report, the Conference

“first reviewed the past on the basis of a report presented by the Provisional Central Committee. It then adopted a comprehensive resolution, entitled Organizational Tasks of the Party in the Present Period, in which the present conditions of the Party was analyzed and its organizational policy in the period ahead defined.”

In conclusion they correctly state the following:

“That a young party, working underground in conditions of the most thoroughgoing imperialist repression, should have succeeded in holding a Conference of this nature is a testimony not only to its vitality but also to its adherence to the principles of democratic centralism and to its determination to carry through its historic task of building that revolutionary party of the Indian proletariat on whose timely creation the success of the Indian Revolution depends.”

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