A political trap for Chinese workers

September 12th, 2011

Published on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by John Chan, September 10, 2011.

A revealing commentary published in the British-based Guardian earlier this year highlights the political mechanisms being prepared in China to head off any upsurge in the working class against the Stalinist police-state regime in Beijing.  

The author of article—“China’s main union is yet to earn its job”— was Han Dongfang who earned a reputation as a workers’ leader during the May-June 1989 protests that were brutally crushed in Beijing and other Chinese cities. He led the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation that sprang up as workers joined student protests for democratic rights and began to voice their own class demands.

Han is now the director of Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin. In his Guardian article, he advises the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to refashion the state-run All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) as a means to control the Chinese working class. Han even calls for assistance from “international unions,” which are notorious for selling out workers around the world, to educate the relatively inexperienced ACFTU.

Han warns the regime that it faces the danger of a social revolt: “As last year’s wave of strikes and the recent migrant worker riots in Guangdong clearly demonstrate, workers are angry. They are demanding better pay and working conditions and an end to the social injustice and discrimination they see around them every day. But with no real trade union that can articulate those demands, workers are left with little option but to take to the streets” .. //

… Chinese workers must begin to draw the necessary political conclusions. The root cause of their exploitation lies in the capitalist system presided over by the Stalinist bureaucracy on behalf of major Chinese and international corporations. The regime in Beijing has no more solution to the immense economic and social contradictions wracking Chinese capitalism, than its counterparts in Europe and the US. The CCP will not hesitate to use repression against workers as it has many times before to defend the interests of the capitalist class.

In the midst of the strikes last year, some workers began to circulate Lenin’s 1899 article “On Strikes,” in which he explained to Russian workers that strikes against individual capitalists had to extend to the development of socialist political consciousness and the overthrow of the autocratic Tsarist regime.

More than a century has passed since Lenin’s article. Led by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party and guided by Leon Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution, the working class seized power in Russia in 1917 and established the world’s first workers’ state. The emergence of Stalinism as a result of the defeats of the working class and the isolation of the Soviet Union not only ultimately destroyed that first workers’ state but was responsible, in the form of Maoism, for transforming China into the world’s largest sweatshop.

The essential lessons drawn by Lenin as well as the struggle against Stalinism and Maoism are incorporated in the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938 and continued today by the International Committee of the Fourth International—the only genuinely revolutionary Marxist movement on the face of the planet. The development of socialist political consciousness by workers in China can only take place as part of the struggle to establish a Chinese section of the ICFI. (full long text).

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