Despite its many faults and failings, the Chinese Revolution is second only to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as the greatest event of the 20th century and will have even greater impact on the 21st century. In 1949 the People’s Liberation Army led by the Chinese Communist Party, took power and within a short span of time snuffed out capitalism and landlordism. Hundreds of millions of human beings threw off their humiliating and degrading yoke and entered world history as citizens of an independent country. The establishment of the People’s Republic of China marked a monumental change in world history.
The state attempted to reach a compromise with the bourgeois elements, but this failed to materialise, not due to any conscious move on the part of the Communist Party leaders towards “socialism” but because the interests of the peasants and workers were irreconcilable with those of the corrupt Chinese national bourgeoisie. Step by step Mao found himself having to take over the whole economy and by the mid-1950s China had become what we would term as a “deformed workers’ state”. By this is meant a state where the economic base of a workers’ state has been established, i.e. the expropriation of the landlords and the capitalists, state ownership of the means of production and centralised planning, but it is “deformed” because the workers do not hold state power directly, do not have control over the system as a whole.
Our book China: From Permanent Revolution to Counter-Revolution provides much information on what really happened in the build up to 1949 and the period that followed. It shows how a Stalinist party, whose proclaimed aim was to achieve the “first stage”, bourgeois-democratic revolution, was forced in spite of itself to move very quickly to the “second stage” and abolish capitalism. This was a brilliant confirmation in practice of Trotsky’s theory of the Permanent Revolution, albeit in a deformed manner. The more recent return to capitalism, i.e. counter-revolution, also confirms Trotsky’s perspectives as developed in his classic The Revolution Betrayed. Thus the title, “China: from Permanent Revolution to Counter-Revolution”, encapsulates the essence of 90 years of Chinese history and reveals what really happened.