[Marxism] Re: Is the struggle to unify China an expressionof"Great Han chauvinism" today?

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Mon Mar 7 18:48:11 MST 2005

I’m not sure I see the relevance of the Georgian and Finnish situations 
cited by Louis to the question that Fred Feldman originally raised: 
whether China’s current claims to sovereignty over Taiwan are justified 
from the standpoint of extending and deepening the Chinese revolution.

Of course, war and civil war (Finland and Georgia, respectively) may 
trump the democratic right of national self-determination, as where a 
workers state is fighting for its life against imperialist aggression or 
immediate threat of assault.

Neither situation bears any resemblance at this point to the situation 
of China, which — irrespective of whether it is a workers state or a 
bourgeois state — is not facing imperialist military assault.

In the case of Georgia, "which constituted an open gateway for 
imperialist assault in the Caucasus", Trotsky argued that forceful 
sovietization was justified "from the standpoint of self-defense of the 
workers’ state surrounded by enemies" — even though "From the standpoint 
of extending the arena of the socialist revolution, military 
intervention in a peasant country was more than a dubious act."

And keep in mind that the subsequent mistreatment of the Georgians by 
the Commissar of Nationalities, Stalin, was one of the major factors 
turning Lenin definitively against Stalin just before his death.

What about Finland, the other example cited by Louis? Stalin, having 
killed off the general staff of the Red Army in 1938, desperate to gain 
some breathing space in the face of Germany’s overt intention to invade 
the Soviet Union, overthrow the workers state and convert the USSR into 
a dependency of German imperialism, signed a non-aggression pact with 
Hitler. Trotsky:

"Stalin’s agreement with Hitler had as its objective the securing of the 
USSR from a German assault and, generally, securing the USSR from being 
drawn into a major war. While seizing Poland, Hitler had to protect 
himself on the East. Stalin was compelled, with Hitler’s permission, to 
invade Eastern Poland in order to avail himself of some supplementary 
guarantees against Hitler on the Western boundary of the USSR. As a 
result of these events, however, the USSR acquired a common frontier 
with Germany, and by virtue of this very fact the danger from a 
victorious Germany became much more direct, while Stalin’s dependence on 
Hitler was greatly increased.

"The episode of the partitioning of Poland had its development and 
sequel in the Scandinavian arena. Hitler could not have failed to give 
some intimation to his ‘friend’ Stalin that he planned to seize the 
Scandinavian countries. Stalin could not have failed to break into a 
cold sweat. After all, this signified complete German domination of the 
Baltic Sea, of Finland, and hence constituted a direct threat to 
Leningrad. Once again Stalin had to seek supplementary guarantees 
against his ally, this time in Finland. However, he met with serious 
resistance there. The "military excursion" dragged on. Meanwhile 
Scandinavia threatened to become the arena of major warfare. Hitler, who 
had completed his preparations for the blow against Denmark and Norway, 
demanded that Stalin conclude an early peace. Stalin had to cut his 
plans short, and renounce sovietizing Finland. These are the salient 
features of the course of events in the European Northwest."

Thus, the Soviet invasion of Finland was designed, from Stalin’s 
standpoint, to forestall the direct threat to Leningrad posed by German 
imperialism. But the Soviet troops met stiff resistance in Finland and 
Stalin had to pull back, to "renounce sovietizing Finland". This 
invasion did not result in the extension of Soviet territory, still less 
an extension of the Russian revolution. In fact, the Soviet-Finnish war, 
as Trotsky concluded, "revealed graphically and completely that within 
gunshot of Leningrad, the cradle of the October revolution, the present 
regime of the USSR is incapable of exercising an attractive force".

I suspect that in today’s conditions a Chinese invasion of Taiwan (which 
no one is advocating) would likewise reveal that incorporation within 
the PRC has little attractive force to the Taiwanese, however much 
admiration they may have for China’s impressive achievements in the 
realm of science, technology, industrialization, etc.

Richard Fidler

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