Help Requested

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Feb 26 06:11:21 MST 2002

Macdonald Stainsby wrote:

> From: "Tom Siblo" <tsiblo at>
> > This may be why Ho Chi Minh was so quick to attack his comrades
> > in the left opposition. Mao by the way carried on the extermination in
> > the same rate.
> >
> What silliness. It is nonsense

strong words, comrade. I hope you have checked the facts, before making
strong statements like this.

> to refer to any of the factions politically
> operating in China while Mao was Chairman as "left opposition". The ones
> were attacked and silenced (not always by Mao or his guidance, mind you)
> 1976 had promoted some variant of capitalist relations to production or
> bourgeois values.

I think first of all here is some sort of misunderstanding. From the context
I assume Tom meant the remaining Trotskyist by the term 'left opposition'
and not some groups inside the CPC. I really do not know much about the
factions inside the CPC during Mao's rule, but I doubt _all_ of them were
outright pro-capitalist. (As far as I rember was Lin Biao the leading

As for the 'left opposition' in the proper (CI of the twenties) sense: The
few Trotskyists were not exterminated physically, but politically by putting
them into labour camps.

Here is the account by Robert Alexander on the history of Chinese
(Robert J. Alexander, International Trotskyism 1929-1985: A Documented
Analysis of the Movement. Copyright 1991, Duke University Press)
on line at:

"During the first few years of the Communist regime the Chinese Trotskyists
led a highly precarious existence before being completely obliterated as an
organized group. As early as August 1949 according to an appeal by
underground Trotskyists in January 1953, "most members of the
Kiangsu-Chekiang Emergency Committee of our Party and several other
responsible comrades were arrested, but were later instructed to cease
political activity and released." At about the same time, Trotskyists were
arrested on a large scale in Wenchow (Chekiang Province) and Shunsan
(Kwangtung Province). "Some were shot on the false charge of being
'Kuomintang agents' ". In 1950 there was a further roundup of Trotskyists in
Kwangsi Province. The appeal noted that "the fate of dozens of arrested
comrades is not yet known to this day."

Then, "from December 1952 to January 1953, wholesale arrests of Trotskyists
were staged throughout the country, from Peking to Canton, and from Shanghai
to Chungking. ... Such a simultaneous action on a national scale clearly
indicates that it was by no means a 'local incident,' but a planned action
conducted directly by the supreme authority of the CP. " [82]

The dissident Trotskyists, led by Wang Fanxi and Cheng Chiao-lin, continued
to function after 1941 as a separate organization from the Communist League.
They used the name Communist League (Internationalists). Once the war was
over they entered into at least epistolary contact with the Fourth
International and the Socialist Workers Party of the United States.
In the immediate post-World War II period the dissident Trotskyists, like
their rivals, were able to establish organizations in various parts of the
country, including Shanghai, Peking, Kwangsi, and Hangchow. In April 1949,
only a few weeks before the Communists captured Shanghai, the group held a
convention in which they changed their name to Internationalist Workers

It was decided that Wang Fanxi and one other member of the leadership of the
new party should go to Hong Kong in view of the proximity of Stalinist
capture of Shanghai. For at least a while other members of the group
continued to be clandestinely active even after the Stalinist victory. They
established a new underground journal, Marxist Youth, which flourished
modestly for a while. [85]

One of those who stayed behind in Shanghai was Cheng Ch'ao-lin, who had
shared top leadership in the Internationalist Workers Party with Wang. There
were at least some overtures made to him by onetime friends in high posts in
the Stalinist regime to get him to give up his Trotskyist allegiance, but
these failed. Finally, on December 22, 1952, at the time of the general
roundup of Trotskyists throughout the country, Cheng and his wife Wu
Ching-iu were arrested. Cheng was kept in jail until after the death of Mao
Tse-tung, being released only on June 5, 1979. His wife, who had been freed
in 1947 but had rejoined her husband in a prison camp fifteen years later,
was also released with him. [86] "

[82] "Appeal from Chinese Trotskyists", The Militant, New York, October 19,
[83] New International, New York, October 1947, pages 253-254
[84] New International, New York, March, 1948, pages 90-91
[85] Joseph Thomas Miller: "The Politics of Chinese Trotskyism: The Role of
a Permanent Opposition in Communism," University of Illinois PhD.
dissertation, Urbana, 1979, page 207
[86] Intercontinental Press, New York, October 1, 1979, pages 926-927

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