The Struggle of Parties in China
|Written||28 April 1913|
Published on May 3, 1913 in Pravda No. 100. Printed from the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 281.2-283.1.
The Chinese people have succeeded in overthrowing the old medieval system and the government supporting it. A republic has been established in China, and the first parliament of that great Asian country, which had long gladdened the hearts of the reactionaries of all nationalities by its immobility and stagnation—the first Chinese Parliament has been elected, convened and has been sitting for several weeks.
In the Lower of the two chambers of the Chinese Parliament, a small majority belongs to the supporters of Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang Party, the “Nationalists”—to express this party’s essence in the context of Russian conditions, it should be called a radical-Narodnik republican party; a party of democracy. In the Upper Chamber it has a more considerable majority.
This party is opposed by smaller moderate or conservative parties with all sorts of names like “Radicals”, and so on. Actually, all these parties are parties of reactionaries, namely, bureaucrats, landowners and reactionary bourgeoisie. They all gravitate to the Chinese Cadet Yüan Shih-k’ai, the provisional President of the Republic, who has been acting more and more like a dictator. As a Cadet he has been running true to form: yesterday he was a monarchist; now that revolutionary democracy has won out, he is a republican; tomorrow he intends to be the head of state, again a monarchist state, that is, to betray the Republic.
Sun Yat-sen’s party is based on the south of China, which is the most advanced, the most developed industrially and commercially, and where the influence of Europe has been greatest.
Yüan Shih-k’ai’s parties are based on the backward north of China.
The early clashes have so far ended in a victory for Yuan Shih-k’ai: he has united all the “moderate” (i.e., reactionary) parties, split off a section of the “Nationalists”, got his man to fill the post of President of the Lower Chamber of Parliament, and contrary to the Will of Parliament, secured a loan from “Europe”, i.e., Europe’s swindling billionaires. The terms of the loan are hard, downright usurious, with the salt gabelle as security. The loan will put China in pawn to the most reactionary and plunderous European bourgeoisie, which is prepared to stamp out the freedom of any nation once profits are involved. The European capitalists will reap tremendous profits on this loan of almost 250 million rubles.
This turns out to be an alliance between reactionary fear of the European proletariat on the part of the European bourgeoisie and the reactionary classes and sections of China.
For Sun Yat-sen’s party the struggle against this alliance is a very hard one.
What is this party’s weakness? It lies in the fact that it has not yet been able sufficiently to involve broad masses of the Chinese people in the revolution. The proletariat in China is still very weak—there is therefore no leading class capable of waging a resolute and conscious struggle to carry the democratic revolution to its end. The peasantry, lacking a leader in the person of the proletariat, is terribly downtrodden, passive, ignorant and indifferent to politics. Despite the revolutionary overthrow of the old and thoroughly corrupt monarchy, despite the victory of the republic, China has no universal suffrage! The elections to Parliament had a qualification: only those who had property valued at about 500 rubles were entitled to vote! This also shows how little of the really broad popular mass has yet been drawn into active support of the Chinese Republic. But without such massive support, without an organised and steadfast leading class, the Republic cannot be stable.
Still, despite its leader Sun Yat-sen’s major shortcomings (pensiveness and indecision, which are due to his lack of proletarian support), revolutionary democracy in China has done a great deal to awaken the people and to win freedom and consistently democratic institutions. By drawing ever broader masses of the Chinese peasantry into the movement and into politics, Sun Yat-sen’s party is becoming (to the extent to Which this process is taking place) a great factor of progress in Asia and of mankind’s progress. Whatever defeats it may suffer from political rogues, adventurers and dictators, who rely on the country’s reactionary forces, this party’s efforts will not have been in vain.