[Marxism] Discussing China

Suresh borhyaenid at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 19 23:46:27 MDT 2004

There's a problem of framing the issue of China's
peculiar road to socialism merely in terms of
imperialist encirclement - at least, if by imperialist
we really are referring to the major capitalist powers
led by the U.S.. If one the other hand, we also mean
the Soviet Union after Khrushchev, then we might be on
firmer footing. Afterall, the PRC became, by the 60's,
at least as concerned over supposed Soviet
expansionism as over American aggression. 

This is all old hat, but I thought I'd print parts of
one discussion between Kissinger and Chou En-lai back
in 1973. In it they conduct a post-mortem on Allende's
regime in Chile, and determine that it would be best
if Pinochet kept his mass executions discrete so as
not to provide ammunition to the Soviets and Cubans.
They also poke ridicule at the late Che Guevara:

Prime Minister Chou: There is a new issue cropping up
in Latin America, that is concerning Chile. Could you
exercise some influence on Chile? They shouldn't go in
for slaughtering that way. It was terrible.

Secretary Kissinger: We have exercised considerable
influence and we believe after the first phase when
they seized power there have been no executions with
which we are familiar going on now. I will look into
the matter again when we return and I will inform you.
To the best of my recollection when we left there were
no executions taking place, but I will check on it.


Kissinger: No, I wish the Prime Minister were right. I
wish the CIA was as competent as the Prime Minister

Chou: But you wouldn't be able to control it.

Kissinger: Not be able to control the CIA?

Chou: What I meant is did they have a hand in the

Kissinger: They would not have a hand in the coup, but
it is true they could not control the situation.

Chou: They could only control one thing. Remember when
your charge' d'affaires in Laos during the recent coup
ran to the airport and told the official of the coup.

Kissinger: That's true. In Laos, we attempted to
restrain the situation. In Chile, it was the
incompetence of the Allende government. We would not
give assistance, would not make their task easier, but
we did not have anything to do with the actual coup.

Chou: But that government itself was much too
complicated. Allende himself admitted if one wanted to
seize political power in the true sense of the word...
but on the other hand their subordinates made great
publicity. And those Communists in that country who
were close to the Soviet Union wanted the Soviet Union
to supply them with weapons. Whereas those Che
Guevarists in Cuba that took up arms found themselves
divorced from the masses by doing quite similarly
those activities which they carried out in their Cuban
guerilla forces. They thought that once they had
weapons in hand, they could kill some people and burn
down some houses. Their putchist group was active in
Chile and other countries. Have you ever read the
diary written by Che Guevara?

Kissinger: Yes.

Chou: He had very great influence among the young
people in Latin America. And in the American countries
on the whole there are two patriots. You can imagine
that they are.

Kissinger: Guevara?

Chou: Another one.

Kissinger: I don't know, but they are different.
Guevara was an adventurist. Chairman Mao is a student
of the Revolution.

(There is further discussion of Che Guevara.)

Chou: We went to the Soviet Union to celebrate the
October Revolution in 1964 because, at that time, we
still placed some hope in Brezhnev, and he also shared
our view. Che Guevara also told me he was also opposed
to that view of calling a conference to support the
Soviet Union against China. He said when I got back he
would anyway oppose it. And after he got back he came
again with the other five delegations to China. He
expressed opposition to that conference but he
actually took part in that conference. So when he came
and met with me -- just by himself -- he only spoke
one thing to me: I don't like to stay on in Cuba. And
after he got back he went to the United Nations to
make a statement. Perhaps you have heard of that
statement. As a result, you know where he went. He
went to the eastern part of Bolivia and there was
guerrilla warfare going on there. He went there
together with other armed Latin Americans.

Kissinger: It was not easy for them to meld into the
population there.

Chou: It was very difficult for them. And then Che
Guevara went there and he intended to carry out
guerrilla warfare. The result was that after he got
there, he gave me a letter by the Ambassador in Cuba,
and he asked us to help him in building the largest
kind of broadcasting station which should be able to
broadcast to the whole world. I said to myself, was
that man mad to think of having large broadcasting
station to go along with such a small guerrilla force?
Because he signed his letter only with the notation
Che. It turned out the letter was really written by

(Prime Minister Chou then described Che's activites in
Latin America and the Congo, and Chairman Mao's
connotations on these activities.)

Kissinger: He was silly. He had no objective or
political hope in either place, either in the Congo or
in Bolivia. You cannot arive merely posing as a
specialist in guerrilla warfare.

Chou: And besides it was really absurd to think the
peasants in Bolivia were all spies. He suspected this
person and that person. How could he expect to live
on? So there are some sections of people in Che that
are doing things his way. And in 1971, the year before
last his influence was also found in Sri Lanka, where
there were Guevarists and Trotskyites.

Kissinger: This I didn't know.

Chou: It was reknowned. And in Chile you can find
both. And the Soviet Union was not only making use of
Che Guevara, they were also making use of Trotskyites.

Kissinger: It is an amazing turn of history.

Chou: It is a kind of irony...

(Returning back now to Chile)

Chou: But I should think that massacres will give rise
to revolution on the part of the people. It is also
inevitable that it will be so but how long it will
last, we don't know. There is also reason why the
public opinion in the world has shown sympathy for the
Latin American countries. It has also enabled the
Soviet Union to gain publicity about it...

Chou: As as for their economic performance, we often
told them to prepare for nationalization, and they
didn't. So as a result of that their production was
going down and they made too many promises to the
people which could not be honored. That was the way
some of the people...

Kissinger: There was no organization. There was no
discipline. This, plus total incompetence, led to the
collapse of the Allende government. There was great
divisions among the factions. These were the basic
reasons for the downfall. The Prime Minister correctly
described many of the elements. They did everything in
fits of enthusiasm without preparation.

Chou: But there is also a good point in that event in
Chile. For the past nearly 200 years there, there was
the American tradition of not having any military coup
in their country. So it would be good.

Kissinger: It was good that there was a military coup?

Chou: It was good because it could show a bad thing
could be turned into good account. That is our way of
seeing this thing. We told them about this, but they
didn't believe us. That kind of phenomenon was caused
by themselves. We give only limited support to Latin
American countries' revolutions. We are still

Kissinger: I hope you don't learn too fast.

Chou: You don't have to be afraid of that...



I suppose it's possible the CCP is conducting a
capitalist restoration simply in order to turn a bad
thing into good account, i.e. to develop the
productive forces under bourgeois tutelage as a
temporary measure, but I remain as cynical as Nixon
was when he visited China. As it is, not only is the
PRC not apparently 'building socialism' but it is also
not pursuing a foreign policy that assists the
independent development of the Third World. China
continues to follow Deng Xiaoping's axiom that they
should 'keep a low profile and never take the lead' in
international affairs. 

On the other hand, I'm sensitive to charges of
ultra-leftism. Criticisms such as the ones socialists
make of China today are reminiscent in a way of those
leveled against the young Soviet worker's state.
People like Herman Gorter attacked Lenin for
Brest-Litovsk, for making peace with the capitalist
world, for not pushing the advance into Poland far
enough, for not supporting the revolution abroad
persistently enough, and so on. In addition, he was
bitterly opposed to giving the peasantry a prominent
role in the revolution, insisted upon a strict
proletarian orientation, and was against even a
limited reintroduction of the market after the civil
war. Anarchists had some somewhat similar complaints,
and highlighted Kronstadt (perhaps the analogue here
would be Tianamen Square) as an indication of the
treachery and true character of the Bolsheviks. 

So, in other words, the claim went, Russia under the
NEP was not no longer socialist, was attempting to
forge a rapprochement with the West, and was the enemy
of the revolution. I suppose it's possible that
contemporary critics of the CCP are as wrong-headed as
those ultra-leftists a lifetime ago. Anything’s possible.

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