Why Have We Not Called for Withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng Until Now?

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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written 23 June 1927


[Leon Trotsky on China, New York 1976, p. 249 f.]

The reasons we have not called for withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng until now (a serious blunder) can be correctly formulated in only one way that will account for both past and present. That is approximately as follows:

We have proceeded from the fact that the Communist Party has spent too much time in the Guómíndǎng, and that our party and the Comintern have been overly occupied with this question, but that openly calling for immediate withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng would even further sharpen the contradictions within our own party. We formulated the kind of conditions for the Chinese Communist Party’s remaining in the Guómíndǎng, which — in practice, if not on paper — essentially excluded the possibility that the Chinese Communist Party would remain within the Guómíndǎng organization for a long period. We tried in this way to devise a transitional formula that could become a bridge our Central Committee could use to retreat from its erroneous course to a correct one. We posed the question pedagogically and not politically. As always in such cases, this turned out to be a mistake. While we were busy trying to enlighten a mistaken leadership, we were sacrificing political clarity with respect to the ranks. Because of this, the very way in which the question was raised was distorted. The Central Committee did not use our bridge, crying that the Opposition was in fact in favor of withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng. We were compelled to “justify” ourselves and argue that we were not in favor of withdrawal. This clear contradiction between the pedagogical and the political was reflected in the very first lines of the Declaration of the Eighty-three.

Our basic approach on this question was correct, since we all held to the course for withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng. Our mistake was in pedagogically watering down, softening, and blunting our position on the basic question. It has yielded nothing but minuses for us: vagueness of position, defensive protestation, and lagging behind the events. We are putting an end to this error by openly calling for immediate withdrawal from the Guómíndǎng!