135. Rojas, an early adopter

In exile in London, Dr. Oscar Róbinson Rojas Sandford made his name as a specialist in the political economy of development teaching as a university lecturer eventually at University College London UCL. He established online an economic database, The Robinson Rojas Archive, a potpourri of articles, lectures, links on planning for development covering ethics, development, economics, global financial crisis, Dependency Theory, Imperialism, capitalism, economic, terrorism, globalization, sustainable development, poverty, and sustainability. This text draws upon material at the Róbinson Rojas Archive – http://www.rrojasdatabank.info .

He makes available to download work from the last century when a political activist in Chile, then a contributor to Causa Marxista Leninista (first published in May 1968). A former colleague of Jorge Palacios, Rojas was in the leadership of the PRC-ML before the 1973 military coup drove him into finally into exile in the UK.

Rojas had been a Santiago crime and military affairs reporter who also edited a Maoist magazine. Like many Chilean leftists, he was unhappy as early as 1971 with the slow pace of Allende’s march toward socialism. He said so then and he said so in a book he terms an “accusation.” Rojas’ book was largely written in Santiago’s prison where he was held after the Pinochet coup. Besides those who already stand accused—the CIA, the U.S. State Department, his country’s upper classes and military—he accuses the Pentagon for THE MURDER OF ALLENDE and the end of the Chilean way to socialism.

 As equally noteworthy was that because of his political allegiances, he was an early researcher on the restoration of capitalism in China. The political conclusion, in a nutshell that does no justice to his own experiences studying in China or depth of research work, is that:

Between October 1976 and late 1978 the Chinese socialist path to development was stopped and then dismantled by the counter-revolutionary members of the Communist Party who staged a coup-d’etat in late 1976 to reverse the revolutionary process evolving since 1950. This coup d’etat was the last battle in a civil war started in 1966, when the new communist ruling class in China was challenged by part of the industrial workers, students and peasants and a section of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Leaders of the new ruling class were Liu Shao-chi (then president of China), Chou Enlai (then Prime Minister of China), and Deng Xiaoping (then second in command in the political bureau).Between 1966 and 1976 this civil war was known as the “cultural revolution”.

From the same archive the Spanish language edition of Rojas’ China, una revolucion en agonia (Barcelona: Martinez Roca, 1978) is available to download.

China: A revolution in agony / Robinson Rojas

 A necessary explanation This book is the first fruit of a thirteen-year investigation that began in late 1964, when I first came into contact with citizens of the People’s Republic of China at the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,military prison. Since then, three stays in that nation -which coincided with the beginning of the proletarian cultural revolution in 1965-1966, the crisis in the power struggle between Lin Biao and Chou En-lai in 1970-71, and the dramatic outcome in 1974-1977, which includes the deaths of Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung and the anti-Maoist coup d’etat led by Hua Kuo-feng and Teng Hsiao-ping in October 1976 – have endowed me with an experience ‘on the ground’ more or less complete on the contemporary development of a revolution that agonized for two decades.

This book aims to demonstrate that:

a) a new ruling class has taken over Chinese society : the civil-military bureaucracy that emerges triumphant in a socialist system when the proletariat is unable to maintain and consolidate that system;

b) The Chinese revolution was a national-democratic revolution led by an alliance between the peasant petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which, when trying to go to the socialist stage, gave rise to a struggle between attempts to “proletarianize” or “gentrify” (bureaucratize it);

c) The Chinese Communist Party did not develop until it became the vanguard of its proletariat, and only reached the level of a political organization of alliance between the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat, where, naturally, the struggles for power, from the Yenan era, they took the form of a “struggle” to “proletarianize” the party on the one hand, and to transform it into a bureaucratic, managerial organization at the national level , on the other hand, by the petty bourgeoisie that occupied key positions in the communist hierarchy;

d) the political leaders of the Chinese proletariat did not live up to their task, and left this class to their fate at the time that it could have won its most important battle for power, in 1967. In this sense, it can be affirmed that the Chinese are a people betrayed by their leaders;

e) the combined action of the above factors, plus the pressure of the ideological-economic reality of a model of society in which the Asian mode of production was valid for two millennia, with all the pressure that the habits, customs and conception of the world that this entails, especially with the divine character component of the “protective State”, have given rise to a new social system of exploitation of the great majority by a tiny minority, with a police State that seeks, within the structure facistizing petty-bourgeois thought, the creation of an almighty nation that, to be so, not only does not hesitate to betray anti-imperialist revolutions contemporary, but also enters into an open military and economic alliance with what is generally, from the Marxist angle , called “North American imperialism”.

It was not an isolated event, for example, that of February 28,1976, of which the United Press International, in a dispatch dated in Guangzhou, reported as follows: “Former President Richard Nixon arrived in this southern Chinese city on Saturday and received the greatest welcome from the Chinese people so far … Tens of thousands of students and workers tumultuously celebrated Nixon and his wife Pat along the route between Guangzhou “White Cloud” Airport and the Guest House in the heart of the city ​​… Secret service agents and members of Chinese security had to pluck the ex-president and his wife from the tumult , who almost fell to the ground in the middle of the crowd …After being led a few yards from the crowd, which was waving and clapping enthusiastically, Nixon turned to one of his interpreters and said, “How do you say ‘thank you’?” When the Chinese words were spoken to him, Nixon raised his hands with the V sign and shouted, “Sie sie.” The crowd applauded and howled even louder… “. Nor was it an isolated point of view expressed by the Chinese army unit 8341, in charge of the guard of the central committee , when in October 1976, in an article collectively written in “Renmin Ribao“, in tribute to Mao Tsetung , now deceased, he said: “Respected and dear Chairman Mao … You frequently gave us plum plants, sunflower seeds , fruits and other things that were presented to you by foreign guests and the popular masses, and you also offered us white pumpkins and potatoes that You grew yourself … When you received mangoes, watermelons, or noodles from foreign guests and the masses, you used to say, “Take them to the fighters on call, they do hard work. ” Both things are the product of the same task already fulfilled by the civil-military bureaucracy that took power in China: that of refining cultivating the mental habits of a static society for centuries, controlling information, transforming the study of Marxism into a caricature, making socialism an imitation of the old imperial hierarchy, creating a cult of personality to transform Mao into the emperor-god -and therefore, a part in the game to prevent the proletarianization of the revolution-, and thus get to the point in which they managed to convince broad sectors of the people that ” US imperialism” is now a fighter “revolutionary” and ally of the “Chinese people” to “liberate humanity”. Similarly, his funeral corps’ funeral tribute to Mao tastes of “central empire” where foreign “heads of state” bring tribute in kind, which the good-natured god-emperor hands out generously to his subjects. What has happened in China? What has happened in a society whose people waged a bloody civil war to liberate themselves, managed to get out of misery and made the creation of a just society a reality, by performing feats in the tasks of production and collective well-being? Perhaps a text written on April 6, 1966 as an editorial in “Renmin Ribao“, when the proletarian insurrection wanted to destroy the military civilian bureaucracy, clarifies that question: “In the old society, the relationship between men in production and at work it is the one that exists between the ruler and the dominated. In socialist society, the transformation of private property of the means of production in public ownership radically changes this type of relationship … and replaces it with one of equality, mutual aid and cooperation among ordinary workers. But this new relationship does not automatically occur with the transformation of the property. The old systems of administration left by the bourgeoisie, the precepts and formulas copied from abroad, the influence of bourgeois and feudal ideas , as well as the strength of all kinds of habits, hinder the establishment of the new relationship between men under the socialist system.

“In socialist society, the new relationship between men is manifested in a concentrated way in the relationship between the cadres (officials) and the masses. The cadres at all levels of the Communist Party and the State are servants of the people and not gentlemen astride their backs. Between party and state cadres and the masses, the only distinction is that arising from the division of labour, and there is no distinction between high and low, superior and inferior. The cadres must be found among the masses as common workers and should not enjoy any privilege. In order to fully implement this principle it is necessary to put the proletarian policy, strictly applying socialist principles and solving this problem ideologically and through systems and regulations, completely changing the relationship between men in production and work left by the old society. OTHERWISE, IT COULD HAPPEN THAT THE PICTURES WILL USE THEIR POWER TO POSITION IN A PRIVILEGED POSITION AND TAKE MORE THAN DUE, OR EVEN COME TO COMMIT PECULATES AND MALVERSATIONS AND USURPR THE RESULTS OF THE WORK OF OTHERS. THE RESULT WOULD BE THE RISE OF A PRIVILEGED LAYER AT THE DETRIMENT OF THE SOCIALIST PROPERTY OF ALL THE PEOPLE AND THE SOCIALIST COLLECTIVE PROPERTY … THE SOCIALIST PROPERTY OF ALLTHE PEOPLE AND SOCIALIST COLLECTIVE PROPERTY WILL GRADUALLY TRANSFORM INTO SOMETHING SUPERFICIAL AND, IN FACT, DEGENERATE IN PROPERTY OF THE PRIVILEGED LAYER. SUCH ALTERED FORMATION OF THE PRODUCTION RELATIONS BETWEEN OPERATORS AND EXPLOITED CREATES THE FOUNDATIONS FOR A NEW STRUGGLE OF CLASSES OF ANTAGONIC NATURE. FROM THIS IT IS GIVEN THAT, IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY, AFTER THE SOCIALIST TRANSFORMATION OF OWNERSHIP OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION IS FULLY COMPLETED, THE PROLETARY POLICY MUST ALSO BE PLACED IN THE FIRST PLACE, TO GRADUALLY DEVELOP A NEW MEN IN PRODUCTION AND WORK AND PREVENTING THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW PRIVILEGED LAYER. ONLY SO IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONSOLIDATE AND DEVELOP SOCIALIST PROPERTY, EXTRACT THE ROOTS OF REVISIONISM, AVOID THE RESTORATION OF CAPITALISM AND ENSURE THE CONSTANT ADVANCE OF THE SOCIALIST CAUSE.”  Ten years after this editorial was published, the privileged layer gave a coup d’etat and it was seized with all power in China. In November 1977, the Military Museum in Beijing inaugurated its “restored” exhibition halls. To close the exhibition, a huge photograph of Mao Tsetung shaking hands with Richard Nixon, a second time in 1976. In the time since the first time, in 1972, the former president of the US had ordered the sowing of corpses on Vietnamese land and Cambodian soil, and had put into the government of Chile, through the murder of its constitutional president Salvador Allende, a group of soldiers who methodically dedicate themselves to killing those who are even suspected of “Marxists” and to establish a brutal dictatorship that has earned the abhorrence of the world; furthermore, he had been forced to resign from the presidency of the United States, ignominiously. However, the task carried out by the civil-military bureaucracy has not been complete. Proletarian sowing in the Chinese revolution has not been sterile. And currently, underground, clandestine and heroic, there is opposition and there is a fight against the new mandarins of the former imperial palace: fight for freedom and to build a society where no one feeds on the misery of others.

ROBINSON ROJAS                                  December 1977

Related work that can be found at the archive include

Notes on class analysis in Socialist China 1978

Class stratification in the Chinese countryside – 1979

The Chinese attempt to build a socialist society (notes) 1997

Notes on Chinas Painful Path to Capitalism 1997

The other side of China’s miracle: unemployment/inequality) 1997