Tony Cliff

Introduction to
Whither China?


Tony Cliff, Introduction to Whither China?, International Socialism (1st series), No.37, June/July 1969.
Downloaded from the REDS – Die Roten with thanks.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In IS 29 (Summer 1967) I wrote in an article on the Cultural Revolution in China; “While there is without doubt a ‘Bukharinist’ wing in the Chinese Communist Party, and a Stalinist (Maoist) wing ... there is not a Trotskyist or Left-Oppositionist wing.” I added, however, as the final sentence of the article “The crises from above may also spur on a new, revolutionary working-class movement below.”

Much sooner than anyone expected, echoes of just such a movement reached our ears.

On 24th of January 1968 K’ang Sheng, Minister of Public Security, in a speech attacked an organisation he called “Sheng-wu-lien” (shortened form of Hunan Provincial Proletarian Revolutionary Great Alliance Committee). It is made up of more than 20 organisations, we are told.

They describe the State and the Party led by Chairman Mao as a privileged class similar to Kruschev’s party ... It may be seen from an article by Yang Hsi-kuang that they have probably collected some counter-revolutionary works of Trotsky ... They say that the great cultural revolution has just begun, that the great cultural revolution in the past was merely reformism, and that it has really begun only since the emergence of “Sheng-wu-lien” ... They say that the provincial revolutionary committees and preparatory groups for these committees set up in the great cultural revolution are all reformists. Now we all know that the problems in various provinces were settled by Chairman Mao himself ... In a roundabout way and by all conceivable means they are trying to hoodwink the masses, describing the great cultural revolution, the solution of provincial problems, and the setting up of preparatory groups for revolutionary committees as reformism, and identifying them with the thought of Mao Tse-tung. In this way, isn’t Chairman Mao’s thought reformism too? In this way they slander our great leader Chairman Mao. [1]

On January 26th, Premier Chou En-lai, head of the Cultural Revolution Committee Chen Po-ta, the wife of Mao, Chiang Ching, and K’ang Sheng spoke at a mass rally of 100,000 people in Changsha, capital of Hunan, denouncing Sheng-wu-lien as a counter-revolutionary Trotskyist organisation. On the same day, Hunan Jih-pao published an editorial Thoroughly Smash Sheng-wu-lien, a Counter-Revolutionary Big Hotch-Potch. We are told that on February 8th the Premier personally instructed the Nan-fang Jih-pao to reproduce the editorial of the Hunan Jih-pao.

At last one of the documents of the Sheng-wu-lien, entitled Whither China? came into our hands. [2] It is a very interesting document indeed, though written in quite stilted language, and although it is not openly critical of Mao, going as far as paying some lip-service to him, (possibly otherwise the printers would have refused to print it), it analyses the Maoist regime as State-Capitalist, and calls for a social revolution, a working-class revolution against the ruling-class, the bureaucracy. They put forward proposals for smashing the state-machine, abolition of the standing army and the establishment of the Paris Commune type of state. With the Kuron and Modzelewski Manifesto for Poland, and this Manifesto for China it is clear that the struggle against Bureaucratic State Capitalism as well as monopoly capitalism is really a world-wide struggle.

Because of the length of the document, including many references to individual events in China, that are meaningless to anyone without intimate knowledge, we publish extracts from the Manifesto.



1. Survey of China Mainland Press, Hong Kong, 4136

2. Survey of China Mainland Press, Hong Kong, 4190


Last updated on 16.1.2008