After overtaking Japan, this year China became the second largest economy in the world. Some experts have even predicted that by the end of this decade China may become the largest economy bypassing the United States. However, that is based on a mechanical, empirical approach that sees China maintaining its present levels of growth uninterruptedly for years to come. In the past Japan was also supposed to keep on growing, but then its apparent meteoric rise was cut across by a long period of stagnation.

The bourgeoisie has never, anywhere, been able to find the key to unlock the mysteries of their own economic system. The only way to understand capitalism is to accept and to explain its contradictory, crisis-ridden nature. It cannot be perfected; its riddle will never be solved from within its confines. Precisely because the apologists of capitalism can never accept this fact, they are forever shifting from one side of the problem to the other.

Had the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) leadership been fully conscious of what their conquest in Shanghai in 1927 really meant, there would have been no stopping them. The example of Shanghai being taken by the organised working class, rather than the military forces of the Guomindang, could have been spread around the country through the CCP party structures and their network of commanders in the Northern Expedition from Guangzhou up to Wuhan, Nanchang, Nanjing and Shanghai.

On March 20th, 1926, another event similar to the assassination of Liao Zhongkai took place. It laid the basis for the violent coup of Chiang Kai-shek in Guangzhou, when his mask of democratic revolution slipped. The uneasy tension between the Guomindang right wing and the CCP comrades inside the Guomindang broke out into the open.

The period between 1918 and 1939 was the most revolutionary in world history. It was touch and go for the survival of capitalism. A devastating blow could and should have been inflicted against global capitalism in China in 1925-7, instead the opportunity was frittered away.

As the Chinese revolution approached in the mid-1920s, Stalin’s leadership of the Comintern imposed on the young Chinese Communist Party a policy of subordination to the bourgeois Guomindang, thus stifling the Chinese Communists’ ability to bring together the workers and peasants under the banner of social revolution. In Part Two Daniel Morley looks at the background to this situation.

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