On 16th May the Workers’ International Network (WIN) hosted a very successful meeting on The Chinese revolution: a critical perspective from the left, introduced by Gregor Benton, the foremost expert on the history of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Trotskyist opposition
Over 25 people from nine countries attended, and there was a lively and comprehensive discussion. A video recording of the meeting will soon be posted on WIN’s facebook page and Youtube channel. For further reading, see any of Greg’s writings, including Mao Zedong and the Chinese Revolution, Was Mao Really a Monster?, Poets of the Chinese Revolution and Prophets Unarmed: Chinese Trotskyists in Revolution, War, Jail, and the Return from Limbo.
There are hardly any Chinese Trotskyists left today, but in their day Trotskyism was a living force of thousands. The sharp differences between Trotsky and Stalin over the strategy to be adopted in the Chinese revolution loomed very large in the development of the Russian Left Opposition, and these theoretical differences were put to the test of history, literally in blood, far sooner than the next terrible defeat, in Germany in 1933. After the crushing of the heroic uprising of the workers of Shanghai in 1927, and the execution of 10,000 Communists, Trotsky’s warnings were vindicated. Few political groups in history have faced harsher persecution than the Chinese Trotskyists, who became prime targets of both the ruling dictatorship, the insurgent Maoist opposition, and the Russian Stalinists. Hundreds or probably thousands were jailed or killed – in China itself, but also in Russia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macao. In 1952 one thousand Trotskyists were rounded up by Mao in China. The Chinese working class then was tiny. Today it numbers hundreds of millions. For them and for us, there are rich lessons.