Fascism and the Left… how do left-wing individuals end up fascists?

I am republishing this from 1980 as it remains so pertinent.

Barely a week goes by without me receiving a post on facebook from individuals who were once good comrades but who now promote all manner of right-wing conspiratorial theory and who openly take the side of fascist, autocratic and theocratic regimes against the masses who are trying to overthrow them and establish basic democracy, or what Marxists call ‘bourgeois democracy’. The chest-beaters are the worst.

Anyhow, I feel that this analysis, originally from the Red Eureka Movement in Melbourne, explains a lot and offers a rare but exceptionally important, cogent, analysis. (I was not with the REM people back then but rather stayed with the Blue Eureka nationalists – and had stopped thinking quite a few years earlier).

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Written: November 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


EROL Note: This was a document that was circulated within the Red Eureka Movement in late 1980.

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A major theme in left wing propaganda is opposition to fascism. Quite often relatively moderate opponents of the left are described as “fascists”.

Yet scratch a “Communist” and one quite often finds a fascist underneath.

The regime that began with the October Revolution is now a fascist dictatorship. In China too, since the defeat of the Cultural Revolution many revolutionaries have been executed and the right to speak out freely, hold great debates, put up big character posters and so on has been officially and formally repudiated.

The degeneration of Communist Parties in power is a separate problem calling for a separate analysis. But what about the degeneration of parties holding no power?

THE CPA (ML)

Our experiences with the “Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)” were sufficiently frightening to require some deep analysis. Almost any split is accompanied by outraged cries of “unfair” or “undemocratic” from the losing side, so it seemed undesirable to distract attention from the fundamental issues at stake by going into details of who done what to who. But another reason why we never got around to it was probably embarrassment at ever having been involved with such a sick group.

The bankruptcy of Australian nationalism as an ideology for communists is now pretty apparent, while the question of whether China has gone revisionist has been settled by open proclamations from the Chinese leadership themselves. Although Vanguard keeps coming out each week, the people behind it seem pretty discredited and there is little need to discredit them further.

In Adelaide the “Worker Student Alliance for Australian Independence” has disintegrated, along with its newspaper People’s Voice. In Melbourne the entire editorial collective of Independence Voice quit some time ago, there was no “Independence platform” at Mayday, the “Australian Independence Movement” is virtually defunct and supporters of this line have been completely routed in “Community Radio” 3CR. The Australia China Society is unable to defend the new regime in China and little has been heard from the CPA(ML) in the trade union movement either.

As a complete expression of E.F. Hill’s bankruptcy we have the suggestion in “Australian Communist”, that they want unity with us (previously described as “Soviet agents”). Hill has even signed an article proposing reunification with the CPA in “one Communist Party” (presumably because the Chinese revisionists, having recently re-united with their Italian and Yugoslav colleagues, also wish to re-establish relations with the CPA, leaving Hill out in the cold).

The thuggish behaviour of the CPA(ML) supporters in attempting to intimidate their opponents is well known. Both intellectual and physical thuggery, in 3CR and elsewhere, has become so notorious that the only “broad united front” they have been able to create has been that directed against themselves. They have also become notorious for openly preferring to ally themselves with various Nazis and other fascists against the Soviet Union rather than trying to unite the people, and especially the left, against Soviet imperialism on the basis of progressive principles. Their main political theme these days is the united front they claim to have with Malcolm Fraser, who nevertheless remains quite unaware of their existence. As for China, they openly say they would rather not talk about it, even though China was, and is, central to their whole political outlook.

These facts are mentioned, not to kick a dead horse, but to emphasise that the horse really is dead and to confirm that the additional facts about it cited below are genuine observations and not just part of some ongoing sectarian faction fight.

OTHERS TOO

The more or less open fascism of the CPA (ML) has resulted in that group being simply dismissed as “crazies”. But in fact they are only a more extreme expression of problems that exist, less overtly, throughout the left. Indeed it has been noticeable in 3CR for example, that the excuse of “keeping out the crazies”, has been used to justify appallingly manipulative and undemocratic behaviour (e.g. elected listener sponsor representatives voting against explicit directives from a large general meeting of listener sponsors). People who would be shocked and indignant about that in other contexts have made excuses for it when their own friends are doing it. Really how far is it from making excuses to acting in the same way?  And how far from there to ending up just like the “crazies” themselves?

Also the fact that China and the Chinese parrots are anti-Soviet (and Reagan, Thatcher, Fraser etc) has become an excuse to actually apologise for Soviet actions that would be called “fascist” if American was doing it.  Indeed many quite non-crazy “left liberals” have been prepared to go through the most amazing mental contortions to justify the Vietnamese occupation of Kampuchea or to minimise the significance of Soviet aggression elsewhere.  Rather than agree with “right-wingers” (like Churchill), they prefer to apologise for fascists (like Hitler).

Where was the left wing outrage (as distinct from concern) when Polish workers were being denied the elementary right to form free trade unions?  Why do “militants” in “left-wing” unions take delight in the same bureaucratic manoeuvres their opponents use to stay in power?  Why are splits in left wing groups so common and so nasty?

In Australia many other groups supposedly on the left have exhibited a personal intolerance comparable to the Chinese parrots, and also a comparable willingness to apologise for reactionary regimes in other countries, provided those regimes pay lip service to “anti-imperialist” principles. (Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Libya… name a country that is suppressing some other country or trying to impose some medieval religion on its people and you will find a “left” group wildly enthusiastic about it.)  Scanning overseas “left” newspapers one gets the impression that narrow minded religious bigotry is pretty common, and even where it is not taken to extremes, it is still present.  No wonder so many on the “left” thought a fellow zealot like Khomeiny would be progressive for Iran.

The undemocratic tendencies of “Leninists” is a common theme in anti-Communist propaganda – from open representatives of the bourgeoisie, from Social Democrats, from Anarchists, from “Left” or “Council” Communists and what have you.  Nevertheless, attacks from our opponents should be taken seriously, and indeed have been taken seriously by the classic exponents of Marxism.

CHINESE FASCISM

This question was especially taken seriously in China and some of the material from the Chinese Cultural Revolution is very valuable for understanding the emergence of fascist tendencies among alleged “Communists”.

For example Mao Tsetung’s unpublished works, and the material criticizing Lin Piao (the “successor” who turned out to be a fascist). The Cultural Revolution was after all a direct struggle between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries who both purported to be part of the “left”. The concept of fighting bourgeois ideas disguised as “left” ideas was crucial to unleashing the 1960s upsurge and will be crucial again. It was necessary to challenge the “peace” ideas that were dominant in the left in the 1960s and it will be necessary to challenge the views that are dominant now – many of which are again crystallised in the eclectic mishmash of the “CPA”.

In the “gang of four’s” Peking University Journal of September 1, 1976 there is an important article on “The Bureaucrat Class and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”:

…We must further recognise the high concentration of political and economic powers under the dictatorship of the proletariat. If the bureaucrat class succeeded in usurping power and in its restorationist conspiracies throughout the country, then it would continue to flaunt the banner of socialism, take advantage of this high concentration of political and economic powers and turn the democratic centralism of the proletariat into the fascist centralism of the bureaucrat class.

In controlling and manipulating the means of production and the product of Labor, these bureaucrats will be far more powerful than any previous exploiting classes and their political representatives, than the slave owners and feudal rulers who claimed that “all land under the sun is my territory and all people on earth are my subjects”, and than the bureaucrats and financiers in capitalist countries…In a similar vein, the present day new tsars behave much worse than the old tsars… (Translation from Selections from People’s Republic of China Magazines No 895, American Consulate General, Hong Kong. Reprinted in Study Notes No 6, Red Eureka Movement, August 1978)

This article also goes into the question of the transformation of authority into capital and capital into authority, which is relevant to an understanding of imperialism in the West as well as in the Soviet Union and China.

Western bourgeois democratic society is heading towards an acute crisis and upheaval as another Great Depression and a Third World War develop. The outcome can be Communist Revolution or some form of fascism or social-fascism. We could face a new ruling class more powerful than the present one. It largely depends on how clear the left is on what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against and how sharply we can draw the line against perpetuating the old system of exploitation in our own practice. If the left continues to whinge about capitalism, and even oppose it from a reactionary perspective then it cannot hope to inspire people to fight for something fundamentally different.

Indeed, just as one would have to defend the national independence that Western and Third World countries have already achieved, from Soviet “socialist” imperialism, one would also have to defend the achievements already won by the bourgeois democratic revolution from attack by alleged “socialists” who want to go backwards to a more oppressive society.

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM

If the democratic centralism of the proletarian dictatorship can be easily transformed into the fascist centralism of the bureaucrat class in a developing socialist country, then what about democratic centralism in Leninist parties out of power? Is this an argument against democratic centralism and proletarian dictatorship, as anarchists and others insist?

The answer to this argument is that there never can be a guarantee against proletarian dictatorship turning into its opposite, and Communists in power must always be prepared for transition to underground life as Communists in opposition to capitalist roaders in power. Likewise in Communist Parties generally – one must be prepared to rebel and to be expelled for rebelling.

But if there was no democratic centralism and proletarian dictatorship then it would be quite impossible for the revolutionary ideas held only by a minority in capitalist and socialist society to be centralised and dominant and in that case the bourgeoisie holds power anyway. So weakening democratic centralism is not the answer. On the contrary, it needs to be strengthened to keep fascists out, on the same argument that the left cannot afford to be pacifist and must learn the use of arms if it doesn’t want warmongers to hold power.

Proletarian dictatorship means just that. It does not mean dictatorship over the proletariat by some bureaucrats. It means a political system in which the working class can really wield political power – something that can be achieved by workers councils led by a revolutionary party and cannot be achieved by parliamentary institutions or by milling around in confusion.

Democratic centralism also means just that. It does not mean the leadership imposing decisions on a reluctant membership. It means that the abstract “parliamentary” right which almost all organisations give their members to ultimately take decisions, is made real by conscious leadership of the decision making process to make it “from the masses, to the masses” and so make it actually work without manipulation or obstruction.

This article is not a plea for everybody to be more tolerant of everybody else. It is a call for sharper defence of our basic principles and less tolerance of attempts to undermine them. One cannot be a Communist if one is not first a democrat. The democratic revolutionaries of England, France and so on in earlier centuries had no hesitation about chopping off the heads of their aristocratic opponents and neither should we.

Fear of strengthening democratic centralism is really fear of struggle. Such fear is fully understandable in the present situation, and a lot better than blinkered complacency. But it must be overcome.

The quote from Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier” in “the Personal is Political” (Discussion Bulletin No 9) rang a few bells and is worth repeating:–

…..“Socialism” is pictured as a state of affairs in which our more vocal Socialists would feel thoroughly at home. This does great harm to the cause. The ordinary man may not flinch from a dictatorship of the proletariat, if you offer it tactfully; offer him a dictatorship of the prigs, and he gets ready to fight.

We should be ready to fight against the dictatorship of the prigs and to do this it is necessary to understand the transformation of Communists into prigs.

ARE WE DIFFERENT?

If we take Lin Piao for example, there is no doubt that he did make contributions to the Chinese revolution before emerging as an outright fascist. The superstitious Mao cult he built up in opposition to Mao had definite roots in China’s feudal past, but also struck a chord among Western “Maoists”.

Ted Hill now appears to be nothing more than a follower of Liu Shao-chi, then Lin Piao (as a major cult advocate) then Liu Shao-chi again, or whoever may hold power in China at any given moment. But some of his analyses of revisionism, parliamentarism and trade union politics in publications like “Looking Backward; Looking Forward” are still valuable and he once made a point of opposing sacred cows and stereotypes and supporting rebellion.

Things were drastically wrong with the CPA(ML) long before we parted company and people are entitled to ask how we got mixed up with them and why we should be regarded as any different. If we are to be any different then we must analyse the thin dividing line that appears to exist between being a Marxist-Leninist or “Maoist” on the one hand, and being a lunatic or a fascist on the other.

There is little need to “expose” the CPA(ML) leadership now in view of its obvious degeneration. But the roots of current fascist attitudes do need study, so the following facts are placed on the record for our own benefit rather than for the benefit of anyone still taken in by Hill.

SOME FACTS

1. There never was anything remotely resembling democracy within the CPA(ML). This became obvious when concrete disagreements made it necessary to have a proper discussion and take a decision. But it should have been obvious even when people thought they were in agreement.
2. As soon as a disagreement in principle was announced “through the proper channels” etcetera, the immediate response was to launch vituperative attacks on individuals – at first surreptitiously behind their backs and then openly in Vanguard.
3. The very idea of discussing the differences was repudiated and “security” was abused to tell people that there had been a full democratic discussion, which they just didn’t happen to be part of.
4. As a matter of fact it turned out that no Central Committee actually existed. One member of the Red Eureka Movement discovered that he was supposed to be a CC member after wanting to express his views to the CC. This must be some sort of record in the international communist movement!
5. Other members of the Red Eureka Movement who were both on the Central Committee and knew it, were able to expose the lie that there had been some kind of Central Committee discussion about China and that documents expressing opposition had been circulated to the Central Committee etc.
6. Individual party members had to go outside the “channels” to get any kind of discussion and then discovered that the “channels” didn’t really exist. Now others who accepted this are finding the same situation.
7. It was not a case of discussion being suppressed arbitrarily and decisions usurped, but of there being no provision whatever for seriously discussing and reversing a policy disagreed with.
8. This situation which existed long before it came to a head was put up with by people who would rebel strongly against similar fascist practices in any other social institution.
9. Many people on becoming aware of it, and seeing people branded as Soviet agents etcetera, took a cynical attitude that this was wrong but not a major question of principle requiring them to take a stand.
10. Our initial reaction to all this shit was not to launch a public struggle as in the Cultural Revolution or in accord with our own experiences in the 1960s. Instead we had great hangups about “the party” and organised semi-conspiratorially.
11. Despite being a very small group, since breaking with the CPA(ML) leadership we have not been able to resolve internal disagreements in a civilised, let alone comradely manner, but have had two further splits. While nowhere near as bad as Hill’s, these have also involved strange behaviour that would not be tolerated in most community organisations and should not be tolerated on the left. Moreover they have occurred in a situation where we are not leading any great revolutionary struggle and no pressing life or death decision was at stake.

LIFE WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY!

We did not fully realise it at the time, but there was little alternative to the apparent extremism of Hill’s stand because there really wasn’t any possibility of a discussion. If he had agreed to a discussion, what could he possibly have said? And if the CPA(ML) did not follow China religiously, what else could it do? We cannot blame Hill for our own naivety.

We only realised how difficult most people find it to rebel and think for themselves once we had broken with Hill and company. “Stalinists without a country” was the contemptuous Trotskyist label, and there is something in it. It really is enormously easier to at least think you know what you’re doing when there is some “socialist motherland” backing you up. (Or a “Fourth International”, a “great leader” or some other crutch).

For non-revolutionaries it’s fairly easy to maintain a political position sustained by one or other of the reformist currents in mainstream bourgeois society. But in a non-revolutionary society and with no back up from a revolutionary society, it requires real effort to develop a revolutionary program. How much easer it would have been if we could have forgotten that we didn’t have such a program by simply pretending to ourselves that China, or Albania or somewhere was revolutionary and that supporting them would somehow produce a revolution here. Or by pretending that if we were all more dedicated, we would figure out where we were going while getting there.

Its interesting to note how even people with no attachment to Russia, China or Albania have managed to persuade themselves that Vietnam is still worth supporting and feel a deep and personal threat to their whole ideology when this is questioned. Or how people leaving REM because it hasn’t been getting anywhere who know perfectly well what’s wrong with the political line of the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA), are nevertheless attracted by the reassuring certainty of that group’s proclamations.

Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort, one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics. (Mao Tsetung)

PRIESTS AND HORSES

Judging from overseas literature, the temptation of closed minded religious fanaticism is very strong in this situation. It provides a certainty that would otherwise be lacking and puts an end to all confusion, doubt, cynicism, liberalism and so on.

But this way out is the way out of the movement. It means joining the innumerable sects that are much better organised and disciplined than we are, and are able to get more done precisely because they do not have the “burden” of really having to think out a revolutionary line.

We did not hesitate to reject the “security” of blindly following China, Albania or anybody else so we should not regret the consequences.

One consequence is that we are in some respects more vulnerable to confusion, doubt, liberalism, cynicism and so on than other left groups that feel more confident about their (manifestly wrong!) lines. The reason horses are given blinkers is that it keeps them working away steadily without getting distracted by things they might see. Groups that have attached themselves to a foreign state, or that merely reflect a reformist current  in mainstream bourgeois ideology, have a secure basis for their activity and can work away at it for years after it has ceased to have any social relevance or has become purely reactionary.

The same can easily be true of “revolutionary” groups that feel secure, or pretend to feel secure in their “correct line”. They can whip up a great frenzy of activity, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. Take a look at the Communist Workers Party or the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA). On many points we would be in full agreement. They have a similar analysis of China and Albania to ours and they certainly do make a clear distinction between communist revolution and the bourgeois reformism advocated by most “revolutionaries”.

On international questions of very great significance they appear to have a fundamentally wrong analysis, But even more important, their whole approach to “correct line” politics seems alien. They are certainly not paralysed by liberalism like we are – but so what?

While confusion, doubt, liberalism, cynicism and so on persist we will remain unable to accomplish very much, including theoretical work:

We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. These are two cardinal principles. If we doubt these principles, we shall accomplish nothing. (Mao Tsetung)

But the only basis for faith in the Party is confidence in the soundness of its analysis and line. Once we have grounds for such faith we will be able to accomplish something, but not before. (And of course once we do, we will again have the problem of blind faith and the potential for people to continue following a leadership that has proved itself worthy of confidence, long after it has ceased to play a progressive or revolutionary role. But then it would be at a higher stage of the spiral).

Demands that people pull themselves together, combat liberalism or what have you, will not solve the problem of lack of faith. This is an atheistic age and real communists are atheistic people. Our only God is the masses and the only basis for our faith is scientific analysis of reality.

The situation we are in calls urgently for working out where we are and where we are going. Without that, calls to press on more resolutely and with greater vigour will only result in people getting more lost.

CHIN UP, BACK STRAIGHT, EYES SHUT!

It is conservative, not revolutionary to promote “leadership”, “organisation”, “doing things”, “collective life” and so on without a clear perspective for liberating people from oppression. Defenders of the status quo habitually make such appeals and every organisation, revolutionary or not, naturally wants to be as effectively organised as possible (and most sewing circles and amateur theatrical societies are probably a lot better organised than REM). But it is quite wrong to see the organisational reflection of our confusion as the central problem instead of dealing with the confusion itself. (As for any who are not confused, they would have an even greater problem. Take off the blinkers!)

Communism is not the only ideology opposed to liberalism. Fascism opposes liberalism too. It is one thing to want to widen and deepen and ultimately transcend democracy by going beyond such mere forms as majority voting. It is quite another thing to declare that ones policies have proved their own correctness and deliberately exclude others from even a vote, let alone a real say, on the matter. Yet we have repeatedly experienced this kind of behaviour not just from enemies, but from comrades who probably really do want to be revolutionaries.

The fact that people like Lin Piao or Ted Hill could turn out to be fascists and that we could go along with a load of shit for a long time should alert us to the dangers. When people on the left start acting like people on the extreme right they must be pulled up sharply and told “You’re Ill” before the disease becomes incurable and before it spreads.

24 thoughts on “Fascism and the Left… how do left-wing individuals end up fascists?

  1. Here we have articles expressing the idea that other people dont think for themselves. “You will never need to think again” and “chin up, back straight, eyes shut” Oh those poor sheep who just believe whatever they are told. Oh by the way Lin Biao was a fascist. And how do we know well we were told, no need to think too much about it just repeat Lin Biao was a fascist.
    If you read the official version of Lin Biao’s demise it makes no sense there is no evidence there are just confessions.
    I studied a unit of Chinese politics under Bill Brugger a leading scholar of Chinese politics who was in China during the Cultural Revolution and had pro Mao sympathies. I asked him what he thought of the official version of the Lin Biao affair and he said that “it is not credible” but go ahead slander Lin Biao call him whatever because its chin up, back straight, eyes shut.

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    • Steve, I thought the article made important points about fascism and the left and yet you ignore these points. I don’t know enough to have a view about Lin Biao but I do know enough about fascism and the left to know that individuals who were once good can, and do, transform into their opposite. Is there irony in the way you accept Bill Brugger’s view in a sheep-like manner?

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  2. Barry the article makes many good points and Im in agreement with the idea that there was a capitalist restoration in China but I write to highlight disagreements because people cant learn by arguing over agreements. Your point that I am a sheep for accepting Bill Brugger’s opinion is a cheap shot. I have done my own reading about Lin Biao and my conclusion is that the Lin Biao affair is a made up piece of horse shit. You state that you dont know enough to have a view. Sheep throughout history have used that cover story I am embarrassed for you.
    Please do some reading about Lin Biao. I suggest starting here

    https://llco.org/was-lin-biao-guilty-of-plotting-a-coup/

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  3. There is something in your remark that “sheep throughout history have used that cover story” that tends to confirm the point about the Left and fascism. So, there is no room for anyone not to have an opinion on something at any given point in time, even if they don’t know enough to have one? They are ‘sheep’. They must toe a line lest they be accused of ‘covering up’.

    To my embarrassment, I spent most of the 1970s, not thinking but obediently following the party line. Our ‘great leader’ and his cadres would also tell anyone with doubts, or failure to take a definite stance as required, that they were covering up a real view that they wanted hidden. This approach to politics stinks. People don’t learn unless they have space to question things, express doubts and to seek evidence and to argue.

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  4. Hi Barry on the question of the left and fascism I dont think that many people on the left degenerate to the point of being fascists. This think is partly because I have a pretty restrictive definition of fascism and partly because even when degenerating thats not the direction that leftists tend to head. I do agree that fascist as an insult gets thrown around on the left way too much. (failed revolutionaries are much more likely to move towards reformism)
    As to Lin Biao well I dont think that you have to be a China expert to smell a rat. Just go over the basic facts. Lin Biao is a “military genius” He plans an assassination and mobilises artillery, planes and flame throwers to attack a train yes a plan that would shame a 10 year old. While the plot unfolds he goes with his family to a resort town. He realises that the plan is unstuck because the target wasnt on the train. He then takes a long drive to an airport gets on a plane and flys south changes his mind and tries to go back to the airport but cant land because its the middle of the night and all the airports in China have been closed. He then flys north towards the USSR but then turns around and flys south towards China but then the plane falls out of the sky.
    So what conclusions can we in Australia come to. Well I think that we can conclude that the official story in all its variations is garbage and thats about it.
    The Red Eureka Movement was a the forefront in Australia at exposing the Capitalist restoration in China and credit must be given for that but why people want to cling to the Lin Biao is a fascist meme is beyond me.

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  5. Hi Barry Theres no point in beating ourselves up over past positions we held. Who hasnt held wrong beliefs? Who hasnt been on the wrong side of history from time to time? Who hasnt felt overwhelmed by the massive amount of information needed to understand an issue? Who hasnt trusted the judgement of a more experienced comrade?
    The past only exists to learn from. Only the present and the future matter. I know that I annoy the shit out of you guys but I learn heaps from the interactions.
    My understanding of the Cultural Revolution is that there were 4 organisational bases that matter.
    1 The Red Guards
    2 The Army
    3 The party
    4 The beaurocracy
    1 and 2 were held by the left and 3 and 4 were held by the right
    The left were defeated once they no longer had a base which was accomplished by disbanding the guards and by purging the army. Lin Biao was just the leading army personality that was or was about to be purged.
    As to Lin Biao’s personal guilt I think that we can run a line through the official explanation just on the basis that it is unbelievable that a fascist conspirator on the night in question would remove himself to a resort town with his family take sleeping tablets and put himself to bed. Lin’s personal responsibility is a secondary question. What matters is the politics. The demise of Lin and the purge of the army seal the victory for the right so we must look at what was going on politically. I think that Mao was contemplating changes that the left would not support ie the re elevation of Deng to the central committee and the normalisation of ties with the USA. Lin’s whole stick was of surrounding the Capitalist west with revolutions from the 3rd world. For the party to change course Lin needed to go and he did.
    Was Lin a fascist? well is my large toe the Essendon football club? I think that the answer is NO!

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  6. Barry I think that if you examine the timeline you will see why Lin Biao was done away with. When USA-China relations were restored leaders in places like Cuba, Albania and North Vietnam accused China of capitulation. From reading articles about Lin Biao I think that this would have been his position. April 1971 ping pong diplomacy starts. July 1971 Kissinger makes secret trip to China. September 13th 1971 Lin dies.
    Theres also interesting stuff about what happened on the night of Lin’s death. According to his daughter she was so concerned for the safety of her family that she phoned Zhou Enlai. According to her Zhou advised her to get on the plane which she refused to do. According to her she asked the security attached to her family to intervein but they refused stating that they were following orders from higher authority. Lin was carried onto the plane too drugged to climb the ladder. Once the plane was airborne Zhou Enlai closed all airports in China. All landing lights were turned off making a safe landing in China impossible. Eye witnesses to the plane crash report that the plane was already on fire before it crashed.
    From my reading it is apparent that Lin knew for about a year that he was going to be purged and he knew that his poor state of health it would be a death sentence as it had been for Liu Shaoqi.

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  7. Barry have you noticed a pattern. In the USSR the argument was between the rapid industrialisers and the defenders of the worker peasant alliance. Turned out the the rapid industrialisers were all fascists, put on trial and shot. Then the argument was between the collectivizers and the Worker peasant alliance people. This time the Worker Peasant alliance people turned out to be fascists put on trial and shot. In China there was an argument between the 3rd worldists and the people who wanted better relations with the number one imperialist nation. What do you know the leader of the 3rd worldists turned out to be a fascist and conveniently fell out of the sky to his death.
    OK what Im getting at is that if you run a one party state that tolerates little difference in opinion then differences get resolved in very warped ways. I understand why its because people are shit scared that the party will split and all hell will break lose. I understand why comrades in other countries behave like this but there is no excuse for us to suspend our ability to analyse.
    Revolutionary communist parties in countries like Russia and China were run along military lines. In the military when a general says attack you dont get the option of arguing for an attack on a different day. If you do argue they just shoot you everyone understands that. In Communist parties they shoot you after they have attached the fascist label. In a Communist system you just cant say oh we shot so and so because of a difference of opinion that could not be justified, hey Lin had been a stalwart member of the party all his life you couldnt justify killing him over an argument thats why you have to kill him because he was going to help the Soviet Union invade China. Yes Lin who was always marked by his hostility to the USSR was really an agent of the USSR.
    Here in Australia we read all this stuff and go No it makes perfect sense.
    The people in the CPA ML didnt turn into fascists (not the ones I knew) they just went along with as they put it “problematic events in China” because they didnt want to see a split in their party which would result in nullifying all that they had worked for.
    The lesson for me was never put unity of an organisation over resolving differences. You are better off in the long run arguing about stuff than ignoring them.
    But then Im a trot so what would I know.

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    • Steve, a lot of what you say is not new. It’s the common view of the anti-communists.

      I think we all choose our topics and I’m not going to undertake a crash-course on Lin Biao just because you think I should. There are many things on which I don’t have a definite opinion, and many on which I feel confident to have an opinion. I’m turning 70 this year and have no idea how long I have left on this planet. Lin Biao is not high on my priorities. But I can say, in response to your penultimate paragraph, that by the mid-1970s, perhaps earlier, there was never any opportunity for ‘arguing about stuff’ in the CPA(ML).

      The method used to stop this was three-fold. Anyone who dared to ask questions was accused of really promoting a line but hiding it under the guise of questioning. Secondly, unless you had never been to university, your class credentials were challenged as a way of avoiding argument. And third, in the late 1970s, the party came up with the ludicrous idea that WW3 and fascism in Australia were imminent and thus ‘restructured’ the party organisation for security reasons so that members could not communicate with one another (lest they be breaching security at a time of imminent fascism). The analysis was nutville, contributed to extreme cynicism, and led to at least one of my old comrades uprooting his family from inner Melbourne and moving to a country town distant from where the atom bombs might drop. (Personally, that is one occasion where I got it right – I thought the analysis was a joke but, of course, didn’t say so publicly).

      I’m astonished today by the extent to which many of my old comrades now take the side of fascistic regimes in the name of anti-imperialism. I read the far-Right stuff and it’s basically the same, even to the point of sharing on facebook political cartoons showing an evil-looking man with a long nose ‘pulling the strings’. I kid you not.

      That’s it from me on Lin Biao.

      .

      Liked by 1 person

  8. OK fair enough you dont want to discuss Lin. Are you prepared to discuss Mao? Lets start with a quote chosen on the internet about Mao and Deng. “The most significant political move Mao made in his later years was in March 1973, when he reinstated Deng Xiaoping as vice premier, paving the way for his ascendancy after Mao’s death.”
    Thats right Mao personally initiated Deng’s rehabilitation and Deng was elevated to vice premier.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dare i ask if anyone is interested in knowing that Bob Avakian, and the RCP endorsed Joe Biden at the most recent US election?

    Fascist, no: relevant, even less.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bob Avakian? Im surprised that he is still a thing. Barry one tried and true method of shutting down debate is to accuse the opponent of having “the common view of the anti-communists.”
    Lets face it calling an opponent a fascist or calling them anti communist is a lazy way of argument avoidance.
    Im arguing that to understand the superficial changes in leadership we need to understand the politics that underlay these changes.
    Mao identified the USSR as a revisionist regimen. This he thought came about because the conservative beaurocracy had taken power and this lead to an ideological distortion where the USSR promoted the theory of peaceful coexistence. The cultural revolution was an attempt to defeat the rise of the beaurocrcy who were lead by Lui Shaoshi and Deng. The USA was identified as the number one imperialist target.
    In 1971 Mao reversed direction 180 degrees. He restored relations with the USA which was a reversal of the cultural revolution. In 1973 Mao restored Deng to a leadership role that of Vice Premier. These 2 actions would indicate that Mao has both sought to reverse the cultural revolution and to encourage capitalist development. There was clearly no gang of 5.
    I know that people argued that these changes were necessary because the USSR had become the main danger, that as a rising fascist state it may well start a world war. This position was laughable at the time and is only to be pitied with hindsight.
    Lin Biao stood for surrounding the Imperialist countries with communist revolutions in the oppressed countries. This line could not stand if China was going to make nice with the number one Imperialist country.
    As to anti communism, my position is support of the Chinese revolution and support of the cultural revolution, at all times maintaining the right to oppose excesses. In the question of Lin Biao and the new friendship with America my position is to support Lin and to oppose friendship with the USA which funnily enough was my inclination at the time.
    As to the current regimen in China I oppose it not because its fascist but because its a capitalist authoritarian regimen as opposed to the authoritarian socialist regimen which I supported.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fascinated that Bob Avakian is still a thing.

    Not interested in discussing Lin Piao with Steve.

    Will mention (without any interest in further discussion):

    1. At the time I thought it obvious that the facts admitted to by the CCP were EXTREMELY embarassing – i.e. that the named “successor” had died in a plane crash in Mongolia while fleeing to the main enemy, the Soviet Union.

    (BTW that was so embarassing that it was only announced by some obscure Chinese Embassy so that people could be informed that the press reports of this announcement were accurate while the Chinese media had nothing to say about such an embarassing event for quite a while).

    2. If is utterly obvious from that account that Lin Piao must have been about to be purged. Why else would he have fled?

    3. It would have been FAR less embarassing to simply announce that he had been purged.

    4. What was REALLY embarassing is that he had been purged after a failed attempt at a military coup via assasinating Mao. Obviously that would not have been attempted unless he knew that he was not going to remain in power.

    5. It highlighted that there was an ongoing major crisis in the regime. Quite a while later the Pi Lin Pi Kung campaign began linking Lin Piao and Confucianism. That campaign was conducted from the left (“gang of four”) against the hierarchical worship of authority associated with Lin Piao’s cult of Mao and helped wind it back. Without both the army and the personal prestige of Mao the right would have won much earlier. But continuing to depend on either or both was obviously a major sign of weakness.

    I paid close attention because Lin Piao was perceived as part of the left supporting the Cultural Revolution and his overthrow could have been (and was) used by the right to recover from defeats in the Cultural Revolution.

    6. There is indeed a close link with the issues about treating the Soviets instead of the USA as the main enemy.

    7. I paid close attention precisely because I was not just following blindly.

    8. Consequently I was able to promptly document when the rightist military coup in China actually succeeded following Mao’s death and at the same time document that Albania had capitulated to a pro-Soviet position following an internal coup as referenced in the link I gave for “join us and you need never think again”.

    https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/australia/mao-critics.htm

    9. The article that was a reply to is also at the EROL site, along with a subsequent pathetic non response from Albania.

    10. Anyone still unaware that there was a successful coup d’etat in China immediately following Mao’s death (within one month!) is too ignorant to be worth arguing with. Likewise for anyone who knows that did happen and assumes it would not have required assassinating Mao if it had been attempted before he died of natural causes.

    11. It would certainly have been a surprise to people who were either blindly following or blindly opposing that the Chinese regime was so divided and fragile coup d’etat were a real danger. Dismssing it as a fantasy after an actual regime change visibly succeeded requires a degree of blind opposing quite comparable to the behaviour of the blind followers.

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  12. PS The article was previously published here at C21stCentury in 2014:

    Fascism and the Left (from Red Eureka Movement, November 1980)

    It is again linked as “Related” immediately below this one.

    Just mentioning as Barry republished from EROL instead of from here.

    Also BTW

    12. Another remarkable event shortly after Lin Piao disappeared was the swapping around of military commanders in each of the half a dozen or so Chinese military regions. This moved each of them to an entirely different region staffed by people who they had not worked with before. This was publicly explained as a reiminder that “The party controls the gun. The gun does not control the party.”

    It indicated real concern about the danger of a military coup at a time when the leadership did not know what other military leaders were involved.

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  13. Agree no wish to argue but do wish to place information so that people can draw own conclusions.
    Lin Biao saw that he was going to be purged but did he attempt to flee? For about a year he was aware that he was for the shove so he decides to flee.
    He goes to a beachside holiday resort with his family.
    he takes sleeping tablets and goes to bed.
    a plane is organised to help him flee.
    His daughter contacts Zhao Enlai and tells him that family are going to get on plane.
    Zhao Enlai tells daughter to get on plane.
    daughter appeals to security detail to stop her father getting on plane
    security detail refuse help stating that they are following higher command orders
    car starts journey to airport some security guy attached to Lin gets out of car and shoots himself (minor wound)
    Lin carried onto plane
    plane takes off goes south
    Zhao Enlai orders all airports in China to shut down for the night
    Plane returns to airport cant land
    Plane heads north over Mongolia
    Plane heads back to China
    Plane seen before crash with flames coming from tail
    Pilot Pan Jingyin given award of revolutionary martyr.
    The Defense Minister and his airforce officer son cant pick a pilot who is in on the scheme? Why would a pilot who is transporting a bunch of traitors to an enemy country get a martyr award?
    The only reason I can think of why Pan Jingyin got a martyrs award was that before take off he knew that the plane would not be landing.

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  14. I have read that Mao was concerned that the USSR was capable of decapitating the Chinese leadership with a well targeted nuclear strike and he redistributed political leaders geographically. I have also read that Lin did the same with military leaders and that Mao was angered that his defense minister had done this without informing him. Do Lin’s actions constitute counter revolutionary preparations well if they do they were poor in that no military leader or unit broke ranks.
    Mao had been touring the south dirt bagging Lin. Something was going to happen coup? or murder? A charred body of the defense minister would push the dial towards murder I think.

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  15. Ive been trying to understand why Lin Biao fell from grace and this is what I have concluded. Shortly after Lin’s death China by making nice with the USA and rehabilitating Deng ended the cultural revolution. So why end the cultural revolution? Well the CR was an effort to combat what Mao perceived as the main danger ie the rise of revisionism within the party. Mao simply changed his mind about what constituted the main danger. The USSR invaded Czechoslovakia and Brezhnev articulated what became known as the Brezhnev doctrine which basically put socialist countries on notice that stray from the Moscow path and dont be surprised if tanks roll. Mao responded to Soviet posturing by initiating border skirmishes in which the Red Army showed its technical superiority to the PLA. Who would have thought that turning your army into a school for revolution would hold it back as an army. So Mao now with the USSR as a bigger danger than the internal party threat wanted to promote economic development because you cant modernise your army without economic development. One constant with Mao is that whenever he wanted economic development he turned to Deng who at this time was languishing in a tractor factory somewhere. Well what do you know Mao is asked a question about Deng and he says that the issue with Deng was always a contradiction within the people. Deng was sitting in the Central Committee before the spanner hit the tractor factory floor.
    My conclusion is that Lin was murdered which is sad but unfortunately thats the way power struggles are often resolved in one party states, its only recently that I discovered that Khrushchev came to power because Zhukov smuggled weapons into the building where the party leaders were meeting and part way through the meeting troops burst in arrested Beria and supervise the election of Khrushchev ie the very definition of a coup.

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  16. I have no more knowledge or interest in the details of Lin Piao’s movements than Steve has in the politics or in the topic of this article.

    But I cannot resist taking it up as an illustration of the “blind” mentality that people use to perceive with their eyes shut in order to remain convinced of their long held views.

    If Steve had opposite views, here is how he would have reacted to EXACTLY the same “information”.

    “Lin Biao saw that he was going to be purged but did he attempt to flee? For about a year he was aware that he was for the shove so he decides to flee.”

    {Lin Piao was head of the armed forces and designated as successor to Mao. On becoming aware of likelihood that would not remain the case he makes no preparations to flee but covertly makes preparations for the difficult attempt to assassinate Mao and blame that on others while assuming leadership naturally following Mao’s death.}

    He goes to a beachside holiday resort with his family.
    he takes sleeping tablets and goes to bed.

    {Cue ominous music}

    a plane is organised to help him flee.

    {Not hard for head of armed forces}

    His daughter contacts Zhao Enlai and tells him that family are going to get on plane.

    {Daughter worried or daughter later makes up story after Chou’s death?}

    Zhao Enlai tells daughter to get on plane.

    {Known fact reported at the time, all flights grounded throughout China. The order was signed by Chou Enlai and specified any flight must be specifically authorised by BOTH Chou and Lin. That would be because Chou as head of government has no such authority over Lin as number two leader and head of armed forces, there is a tense situation and Chou does not intend to be unnecessarily provocative in response to suspicions based on reports while also taking precautions}

    daughter appeals to security detail to stop her father getting on plane

    security detail refuse help stating that they are following higher command orders

    {Not unusual for security detail to act on orders from head of armed forces rather than his daughter}

    car starts journey to airport some security guy attached to Lin gets out of car and shoots himself (minor wound)

    {Odd. If accurate could be security guard becoming aware what he was involved in and either getting shot by others or by himself as with US soldiers refusing involved in My Lai massacre. Who knows.}

    Lin carried onto plane

    plane takes off goes south

    Zhao Enlai orders all airports in China to shut down for the night

    {Order was for no plane to take off unless authorized by BOTH. Take off successfull as airport and/or pilot treated BOTH as EITHER and takeoff WAS authorised by number two leader and head of armed forces.}

    Plane returns to airport cant land

    {Absurd story. If there were forces intending to and capable of assassinating Lin Piao there are obviously much simpler ways to do it than carrying him onto an aircraft against his will and then blocking the runways so it cannot land! One would have to be the sort of utter buffoon that Steve obviously is to fall for that.}

    Plane heads north over Mongolia

    {Pilot obeys orders from head of armed forces}

    Plane heads back to China

    {Pilot understands he following traitors orders to flee China towards main enemy of China and turns back. Perhaps has reviewed order noticing authorization required BOTH signatures}

    Plane seen before crash with flames coming from tail

    {Odd. More likely ran out of fuel. Could have been gunfight on bord}

    Pilot Pan Jingyin given award of revolutionary martyr.

    {Died while preventing traitor’s escape}

    The Defense Minister and his airforce officer son cant pick a pilot who is in on the scheme? Why would a pilot who is transporting a bunch of traitors to an enemy country get a martyr award?

    The only reason I can think of why Pan Jingyin got a martyrs award was that before take off he knew that the plane would not be landing.

    {The only reason Steve cannot think is that he is Steve}

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  17. The CCP at the time said that the plane ran out of fuel yet the people who witnessed the wreck said that it burn like it had plenty of fuel on board.
    The CCP said that the plane ran out of fuel but the witnesses said that flames were coming from the planes tail prior to the crash.
    The CCP purged 1000 military people associated with the plot to kill Mao yet the plotters couldnt find a pilot from among their own.
    The CCP said that there might have been a gun battle on board, what the plotters were shooting at each other or maybe at the pilot.
    The CCP said that Lin had planned to assassinate Mao by attacking his train with planes, artillery, bombs and flame throwers but were foiled when Mao took a different route home.
    The CCP destroyed documentation that was related to the affair.
    In the end you can choose to believe whatever you want.

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  18. Ah buffoonery yes I cant get enough heres a little thing I prepared earlier

    Just back to the idea of the onboard gun battle on the plane really who takes shot at a pilot? I guess you can if youve got a back up that flies but Lin’s son had only been in the airforce since 1967 rapidly rising to Deputy Director of Air Force Command by 1969 probably no time to fit in flying lessons.
    Then there the absurd plan which the plotters conveniently wrote down. Didnt any of these military geniuses have the foresight to destroy the incriminating if somewhat ludicrous evidence.

    Like

  19. Well back to the theme of this thread, why do leftists become fascists?
    My explanation to this is to look at 1921. In 1921 the CPSU banned publications that were not authorised by the CPSU. The government faced no critisism of its performance externally. The party also banned organised dissent within the party. You could only raise critisism as an individual not as a “faction” (which up till then had been everybody’s right)
    So from 1921 the party and the government were exempt from critisism on the whole. This is a recipe for disaster although I understand that it was done in an attempt to stop the country falling back inti civil war but any government without external or internal scrutinee will become rather Putinesk rather quickly.
    Parties not in power adopted the military hierarchical model again this is not stupid, during WW1 the Industrial Workers of the World faced state repression they being organised along open lines. Once the leadership was arrested they never produced another copy of their news paper.
    When the CPA was banned in WW2 the CPA managed to increase circulation of their paper.
    So what Im arguing is that revolutionary parties need to find balance. A balance between maintaining a healthy internal life and a life that is resilient to state oppression when that inevitably comes.

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  20. Just another thought. We cant examine people as individuals who go bad. All people start out as blank sheets and are then molded by systems. People are neither good or bad but they are adaptable to the systems that they are subjected to.
    Thats why communists found to be bad had to have been bad before the revolution. Denunciations of Lin Biao had to incorporate the idea that he had always opposed Mao.
    As I said humans arnt good or bad but are adaptable. When someone goes “bad” we should ask what system or combinations of systems got this result.
    Even Hitler was once not bad but was subject to his familie’s system was subject to a religious system was subject to a military system that was defending a monarchal imperialist system and then ultra nationalist systems of thought.
    As people interested in social change we should begin our study not of individual bad eggs but the system that produced them.

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  21. Last two comments are actually political and on topic.

    I can only briefly comment:

    1. Yes the repressive measures that were necessary to avoid disaster also provided a basis for eventual defeat. That’s dialectics, LTUAE is full of it.

    But I don’t see the resolution as a matter of “finding a balance”. As mentioned in the article is not a call for greater harmony but for firmer adherence to revolutionary communist (and therefore revolutionary democratic) principles and LESS tolerance of attempts to undermine them.

    Unleashing mass rebellious spirit in unninterrupted revolution necessarily involves repression of those preventing it from being unleashed. Naturally they will fight back and will do so under false flags, as in the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties and exemplified vividly by the pseudoleft here.

    2. I agree about opposing claims that people who turn out bad were necessarily bad all along (which does not mean agreeing that people are neither good nor bad).

    There was a lot of that in the Cultural Revolution, and it mainly came from the pseudoleftists who needed to AVOID focus on the “systemic” problems of a society still based on wage with a one party dictatorship necessarily developing a bourgoisie right inside the party. Where in the party? In the top leadership was the Maoist answer. “Everybody is a sinner” was the reply from “ultras” who helped the Right keep and regain power.

    The campaign combining criticism of Lin Piao with criticism of both Confucian “benevolence” and “loyalty” was notably a break from that and built towards the more systemic critique of the bourgeois system promoted by the “Gang of Four” and defeated after Mao’s death.

    Sorry I don’t have time to discuss. Got to write on current stuff.

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