27. Distributing the Line

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 In April 1963, as the polemical denouncement of revisionism intensified, it was the weekly magazine New Statesman that carried an advertisement – not carried by the Communist Party’s Daily Worker – offering low-priced pamphlets, obtainable from the London bookshop Collet’s. That Chinese pamphlets were on sale in Britain indicated the deepening divisions within the international movement, and aided the open anti-revisionist opposition within the Party  who were arguing and publicising the Chinese positions at a time when the party was trying to silence and end discussion. Collet’s carried both Russian and Chinese publications.

The pamphlets were:

1) The People’s Daily editorial of December 15 1962, replying to the attacks on Chinese views made at the Bulgarian, Hungarian, Italian and Czechoslovak party congresses, and  attacking the Soviet party by name for being the first to begin the “erroneous practice of basing the congress of one party to launch an assault on another fraternal party.” The editorial bluntly formulated the Chinese challenge to the Soviets: “The question of who is right and who is wrong and who represents the truth, cannot be determined by the majority or minority at a given moment.”

2) The People’s Daily editorial of December 31 1962, on The Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and US — a vigorous and ably argued attack on revisionists not only in Rome and Belgrade, but in Moscow. The mistaken views of “some persons” on imperialism and war were pointedly linked with

Khrushchev’s Camp David talks with Eisenhower in 1959, and the Chinese claim to leadership of the anti-colonial struggle was clearly stated.

3) The People’s Daily editorial of January 27 1963. This answered Khrushchev’s claim at the East German party congress that Yugoslavia was a socialist country by challenging the Soviets and their supporters to say whether they still stood by the 81-party Moscow Statement and its condemnation of Yugoslav revisionism. A (Soviet) rapprochement with Yugoslavia, it argued, meant replacing the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist line with the “capitulationist line of revisionism.” Was not this, it asked emotionally, “a deliberate attempt to create a split in the international Communist movement?”

4) The Red Flag editorial, “Leninism and Modern Revisionism, published early in January. This article argued that those (i.e., the Soviets, among others) who attacked the Chinese thesis that imperialism was a paper tiger were themselves giving support to imperialism. Some people, it commented darkly, boasted about acting in accordance with Lenin’s principles, when in fact they were deviating from them.proposalongeneralline-cover

The response from Moscow saw an advertisement for nine Soviet pamphlets, headed by “A Reply to Peking” in the B.B.C. weekly, The Listener October 24 1963. But more importantly, the advertisement publicised that a “Soviet Booklets” office has been set up in London at Rosemary Gardens.

There was no equivalent propaganda outlet for material from China, at best there were the offices of China’s official news agency, Hsinhua and  Guanghwa , an independent company regarded as sympathetic and friendly (with unsubstantiated speculation of closer associations with Chinese authorities).However it was more focused on the Chinese community in Britain although young anti-revisionist activists would find its stock of Chinese published political material and the weekly, Peking Review .

Once the CP-sponsored Britain-China Friendship Association was neutered in the emerging split in the international communist movement in the early Sixties, outside of contacting the Chinese Embassy – and many an activists did write for political material – or writing directly to GUOZI SHUDIAN, P.O. Box 399, Peking, China, obtaining English language material from China was difficult. Access to the Chinese viewpoints and arguments were available through the publications of Foreign Languages Press, Peking, as it published (in fourteen languages) “Renmin Ribao” Editorials and Statements of the Communist Party of China. A weekly English language PEKING REVIEW – providing China’s views on current international questions, theoretical articles and important documents as well as authoritative coverage of developments in China – was airmailed to subscribers all over the world.  The distribution of such material was the problem.

READ MORE…..Distributing the Line

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