[Marxism] Sino-Soviet Split and Chinese Invasion of Vietnam

Dayne Goodwin dayneg at aros.net
Sun May 29 23:47:00 MDT 2005

On Sat, 28 May 2005, Calvin Broadbent wrote:
> I am at a loss as to how to understand Chinese aggression against the
> Vietnamese state in the late 1970s. I can see that Vietnam's close ties to
> the USSR seem to have irked China (which backed Pol Pot's forces along the
> Vietnamese-Cambodian border up until the 1980s); but why?! Was China more
> concerned to oust the USSR from the world stage (to further the cause of the
> 'Third World'?!) than encouraging solidarity between the Vietnamese and
> Cambodian victims of US imperialism? Why did Pol Pot fight against the
> Vietnamese? What were his reasons for doing so, or was he merely a corrupt
> puppet of US imperialism by the early 1980s?
> confused and befuddled.
> http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/prc-vietnam.htm
> Sino-Soviet Relations and the
> February 1979 Sino-Vietnamese Conflict
> by Bruce Elleman, 20 April 1996
	- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hi Calvin,
	i believe this thread is based on understanding that there had
been long-standing conflict between the governments in Moscow and Beijing.
this conflict was so serious that it included armed conflict along their
central Asian border in early 1970s.

	as you are asking, how could "socialist" governments which want
the workers of the world to unite against capitalism and imperialism end
up fighting each other?
	a reasonable deduction would be that they are not socialist
governments, more specifically that they are not workers governments and
they are not committed to revolutionary socialist policies.

	So what kind of governments were they?  i generally agree with
On Fri, 27 May 2005, Tom O'Lincoln wrote:
>	. . .
> Lenin described a post-capitalist society of the kind established in 1917
> as a ^Óbourgeois state without the bourgeoisie^Ô. He meant that you do not
> transcend the level of capitalist development just by taking power. If your
> revolution remains isolated, you never will. And as long as there are
> states of any kind, it means there are still social classes. And so on.
	. . .

	A revolutionary workers party led an anti-capitalist revolution
and took governmental power in Russia, which was a relatively
underdeveloped capitalist society.  After several years of struggle
against counter-revolution, this revolutionary government survived but now
had additional serious economic problems.

	Lenin advocated the "New Economic Policy" to deal with the reality
that the newly proclaimed Soviet Union needed years of economic
development to try to catch up with the advanced capitalist economies.
This New Economic Policy was launched but never carried all the way
through as Lenin had envisioned because Stalin wheeled-and-dealed with NEP
policy/implementation in pursuit of his higher goal of consolidating
personal power.

	Stalin's better known, and most blatant, contravention of Leninist
revolutionary socialist perspectives began just a few months after Lenin's
death with Stalin's call for "Socialism in One Country."  Stalin
politically represented conservative social forces in this relatively
backward economy, signaling to the governments of the advanced capitalist
nations that he wanted peaceful coexistence.  'We only want to carry out
these anti-capitalist policies here, we have no intention of rocking your
boat,' was Stalin's message.

	i think it is clear that the rise of the capitalist nation-state
and the rise of nationalism are inextricably intertwined.  Since Russia
had not yet experienced full capitalist development, imo not only was it
not ready to go beyond capitalism to build socialism but it also had not
yet reached a level of social development adequate for leaving nationalism
behind.  i think the reality of typical bourgeois nationalism in Russia
has certainly been exposed for all to see since 1990/1 (if you had not
seen it before).

	However you characterize them, the governments that controlled the
Soviet Union and China by the outbreak of open "Sino-Soviet conflict"
clearly did not carry out revolutionary socialist international policies.
IMO the foreign policies of the Soviet Union under Stalin and of the
Peoples Republic of China were not qualitatively distinguishable from the
nationalistic, competitive power-politics of capitalist governments.

	I read an interesting book a few years ago (when i looked for it
in the library yesterday to refresh my memory it was currently checked
out), called _Odd Man Out: Truman, Stalin, Mao and the Origins of the
Korean War_ by Richard C. Thornton (published 2000).  Thornton is a
professor of history and international affairs at George Washington
University (in D.C.) who specializes in foreign policies of Soviet Union
and China and teaches about the Sino-Soviet conflict in graduate courses.
Thornton claims his thesis is supported by formerly secret documents of
all three governments - US, USSR, PRC.

	I remember Thornton saying that the Chinese Communist Party, just
like the CPSU under Stalin, preferred to work out a friendly relationship
with the U.S. government.  Stalin was aware of feelers out between the
Truman administration and the soon-to-be-triumphant CCP, and Stalin
considered that a CCP-US _modus vivendi_ would be a threat to his
government.  Stalin preferred to see the CCP and U.S. develop a hostile
relationship.  According to Thornton, Stalin's policies regarding the
outbreak and prosecution of the Korean War were meant to and did succeed
in forcing Beijing government into direct armed conflict with the U.S.

	By the time of the early 1970s detente between the governments of
the Soviet Union, China and the U.S., i think it was clear that the
governments of the Soviet Union and China were competing for the
friendlier relationship with the U.S. government.  Or, alternatively, you
could describe the same phenomena by saying that the U.S. government was
having considerable success in playing off the Soviet and Chinese
governments against each other.

	By the end of the 1970s, because of their mutual hostility to the
government of newly-united Vietnam, the U.S. and Chinese governments were
in mutual de facto alliance with the Khmer Rouge (government, while it
lasted) of Cambodia.  the Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia, with a
foreign policy qualitatively indistinguisheable from those they had seen
enacted by the governments in Moscow and Beijing, had initiated typical
bourgeois-nationalist style/motivated armed conflict with the Vietnamese
government w/in a few years of coming to power.


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