The flight to the countryside forced upon the leadership the need for flexibility and self-sacrifice at the expense of political foresight and influence in the working class. Similarly, the desperate way in which the Long March was begun as a daring escape from certain destruction really brought out all the tactical genius of the party and in particular of Mao Zedong.

When criticising the adaptation to rural conditions and the Stalinist method of leadership, we are in no way seeking to denigrate the heroic struggle of these thousands of committed Communists, so many of whom gave their lives for the fight against capitalism. It is only that the task of building a revolutionary party capable of leading the working class to power and forging a new kind of society without class and state power is an extremely exacting one. In chasing after the utopian dream of building a revolution from the backwards countryside, the CCP was unfortunately erecting a barrier between itself and the working class.

It is a characteristic of mechanical and idealist political thought to imagine that the ruling party in society has a more-or-less free hand in governing society. If we accept this then all the tendencies history exhibits towards the degeneration of regimes into despotism, corruption and inefficiency have to be explained subjectively. That is clearly unscientific, and the Chiang Kai-shek Regime was no exception to this.

We have already seen how whole layers of the best cadres in the party had been won to Trotskyism, and tens of thousands more had been executed or simply left political activity in the face of victorious counterrevolution. But the abstract, one-dimensional and ultra-left line adopted at the Sixth CCP Congress led to several more hare-brained insurrections. [Read part one here]

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