1 NOVEMBER 1963, Page 11

Don't Dig That Crazy Dragon By W. A. C. ADIE

MY remarks last year about shifting alliances and China's bomb (Spectator October 5) now seem confirmed out of the mouths of the Dragon and Bear respectively. Khrushchev has exposed China's inability to develop meaningful nuclear strength without in- tolerable strain. Peking has denounced the partial nuclear test-ban treaty as 'a US-Soviet alliance, directed against China, pure and simple,' and warned Afro-Asian allies that the situation is 'grim.'

Kennedy, on the other hand, professes to see a 'menacing situation' in China's millions, 'organised along Stalinist lines' and surrounded by weaker States. After denouncing Mao for 'pseudo-revolutionary phrasemongering' the Russians, too, now accuse him of wanting to massacre half the world, and actually trying to grab Soviet territory. The 'blue ants' school of anti-Chinese mystification in the West has helped Peking's own misguided apologists to build up this pernicious image of a China far more power- ful and infallible, and hence more wicked, than it really is. Some of China's better friends now fear that the West may get involved in a new Cold War, ostensibly helping Khrushchev ward off this paper yellow peril. Nothing could be more naïve than to fall in this way for the old Soviet United Front technique. The recent simul- taneous Sino-Soviet and Soviet-Western negotia- tions remind one of those which ended with the Stalin-Ribbentrop pact; Khrushchev himself in an extempore aside referred to Lenin's efforts for disarmament in 1922—this was cut out of the printed speech, presumably since it implied that he wants disarmament because he can't afford the arms race. As he says, China can afford it even less. Why then the flood of self- contradictory, almost hysterical Chinese propa- ganda against this first step to disarmament? We must remember that the Chinese Govern- ment has in fact made sweeping proposals for general disarmament, to which hardly anyone besides Bertrand Russell seems to have paid any attention. This is 'a serious psychological error. It is vital to try and understand the viewpoint and predicament of the Chinese leaders. Their violent reactions reflect their line that China is still being 'bullied and oppressed,' and the revolution is not yet over, especially in that the nuclear stalemate prevents them from taking Formosa and other territories they regard as rightfully theirs. As Stalin feared the im- perialist encirclement, so they now denounce a world-wide 'conspiracy' to prevent China rising to her ancient stature—which now involves wielding nuclear power. This is not just propa- ganda, but a persecution mania which may be explained by memories of how badly China really has been treated—at Versailles and Yalta, for example. It is aggravated by the leaders' con- scions or unconscious projection on to the out- side world of a threat 4thich actually exists within the citadel of pure Marxism-Leninism itself, and within the ranks of their own party —a threat which they equate with 'bourgeois' counter-revolution. Their propaganda always links the need to complete the 'international class struggle' (the world revolution) with the 'class struggle' which they say is still going on in China to establish the 'proletarian' regime. In fact the real struggle is nothing to do with class. It is a conflict with some of their own comrades who consider themselves better Marxist-Leninists; they accuse the present leadership of 'petty- bourgeois fanaticism,' and the leaders accuse them of 'bourgeois rightism.' Since this inner- party strife has been closely concerned with the ratio to be kept between economic construction and military preparations and hence with nuclear policy and Sino-Soviet relations, it soon involved the Soviet Union, then the whole Communist movement. Now Mao Tse-tung seems forced to challenge most of the world, apparently saying that violent revolution is essential and even nuclear war can help build Utopia, in order to consolidate the prestige of his ideology at home, and retain control of his own army and party. Peking's behaviour is evidence of anxiety. and frustration rather than aggressive strength.

China is now taken for a Great Power because it is `so big'; people expect that those millions, if 'organised on Stalinist lines' must eventually produce a positive strength commensurate with the country's size and historic grandeur. So, potential power becomes real power; but this is muddled thinking. The attempt to turn China's overpopulation into real power has already been made by the more-than-Stalinist General Line of 1958, which embodied the concept of a 'leap forward' (i.e., 'press on regardless') in the 'People's Communes.' This line's sponsors hoped to build the industrial basis of. military (and nuclear) power without foreign aid at magical speed, and wrest ideological primacy from Russia by introducing beginnings of the Communist Utopia here and now. The main idea behind it was that `Mao's thought'—his methods of guerrilla warfare and agitation—'could be adapted to the tasks of agriculture and industry in the form of 'mass movements' and shock campaigns. But some Chinese Communists always opposed this line and favoured smooth, regular development by normal scientific methods. They proved right. The relative failure of the General Line has had serious effects in economic, social and foreign affairs.

The party organ Red Flag now says that it will take ten or twenty years to catch up other countries in science (i.e., attain nuclear and rocket capability) and warns that there will be 'a grave danger of counter-revolutionary restora- tion' if the officials do not reform themselves by doing manual labour among the masses. The present campaign for getting the bureaucrats out of their offices is the biggest since 1957, and forms part of a general attack on 'bourgeois degeneration' in all walks of life. And the cam- paign's propaganda indicates that the regime is anxious about its political stability (as the Russians allege) precisely because now living

conditions are better. •

This is no paradox. A German study of China's economic performance up to 1958 concludes that progress was made in spite of Communist methods, and any strong government.using other means would probably have done better. Russian experience of 'Stalinist organisation' was, after all, the same—hence Khrushchev's 'revisionism' today. In 1958 China herself jettisoned Stalinist organisation in favour of Maoism, but after the first confused attempts to drag up 'shoots of Communism' by hand the party soon smuggled a restorative dose of Chinese free enterprise into the economy, under a smoke- screen of anti-rightist and anti-revisionist propa- ganda. About 5 per cent of commune land was handed back to the peasants, grey Markets were set up, more attention paid to business prin- ciples in industry and commerce, and so on. These measures have restored levels of produc- tion roughly to those of 1957, while the popu- lation has increased by 75,000,000. Food is more plentiful, but most Chinese can see, and some are saying, that the improvement is not due to the party, but to the 'small freedoms' it was forced to concede to the peasants.

The rationalisation of the party's General Line has also enabled industry to recover from the dislocations of 1958, and from the damage caused by the sudden departure of most of the 12,000 foreign experts in the' autumn of 1960, with the blueprints of unfinished projects in their pockets. But here again the net effect has been to enhance the prestige of technicians and 'bourgeois' experts at the expense of the party veterans set over them.

The party now talks as if this new economic policy has produced a new class of kulaks and black marketeers, who are winning over the party officials to their 'debauched' way, of life. 'A man who yearns after material comfort could not possibly stand firm politically,' says the propaganda, giving fearsome examples of cadres of young workers and peasants who hanker after woollen trousers, a watch, or a bicycle, and like to smoke and drink with their friends. `This way of life is a kind of poison, which is spreading everywhere.' Such bourgeois germs,. they say, can transform a revolutionary into a capitalist, and even transform an entire Socialist country. The real point of this campaign is to discredit by association those 'rightists' in the party who oppose the present leadership's policies as irrational, and to re-create the tense atmosphere of the guerrilla days, when the con- ditioned reflexes of Communist morale were first formed and sustained by indoctrination sessions in conditions of privation and stress.

The morale of officials at the rice-roots level is uncertain after the experiences of the last few years; the party complains that some have been seduced from the socialist road, and think that 'any road is all right if it can restore pro- duction.' Twenty per cent of the peasants, who have got rich as a result of the 'readjustment' of party policy, are neglecting agriculture to go into business and sabotage the 'collective economy' from within. In certain conditions these new bourgeois elements will 'launch a rabid attack,' warns the party, and unless the officials organise the poorest peasants and put them in charge, they will not be . able to 'effectively suppress and remould all antagonists, and break through the encirclement of the spontaneous forces of capitalism.'

But the officials say that the poor peasants are the useless ones: 'agrarian reform depended on the poor peasants, but production depends on the middle peasants.' The conflict between the regime's political line and rational economic methods could hardly be more clearly put; the entire economy depends on agriculture, yet efficient farmers are 'saboteurs.'

The danger of this situation resides in the fact that the party's alliance with the city in- telligentsia and the loyalty of the army depend on the situation in the countryside. Secret Chinese army documents recently released in the US reveal how anxious the party was on this score in 1960-61, when shortages caused peasant uprisings. It is not just a question of the peasant soldiery's morale; some of their officers have all along shared the views of Mao Tse-tung's 'rightist' opponents, especially the new caste of professional officers that has grown up since 1955 with the transformation of the old guerrilla army into a modern force. They are the natural allies of the 'bourgeois' tech- nicians, these are in turn inseparably linked with the rest of the pre-revolutionary intelli- gentsia, many of whom have resisted 'remould- ing' with intrepid cunning.

The old wartime identity of party and army has given way to a division of labour; the second-level officers who are permanently con- cerned with military affairs are more aware of the nature and importance of modern tech- nology than the veterans who are out running the country„and only remember their guerrilla exploits against Chiang and the Japanese.

Ironically. it was partly the very qualities of morale and 'political reliability' which brought Mao's Red Bannermen to power that also, in the end,. made them responsible for reducing China to her present unseemly situation. Dis- persed throughout the country as a sort of master-race of party secretaries, in charge of enterprises they knew nothing about, they con- tributed largely, in their misdirected zeal, to the errors of the Great Leap Forward. During the free-speech period of 1956 the Minister of Com- munications made bold to' say that China was compoSed of 500 million peasant slaves ruled by a single god (Mao) and nine million puritans (the Communist cadres).

Some of the puritans have been hit by the 'sugar-coated bullets of -the bourgeoisie' since they entered the cities, as Mao feared they would. But the transformation of the party and the army has been more complex than that. The real menace to China comes not from the careerists and bureaucrats but from the puritans who have retained their know-nothing fanaticism, and want to pretend that everything is still the same as In their formative years of struggle, only on a bigger scale; just as the peasant masses sur- rounded the cities of China, so today the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (and the US Negroes) are being inspired by Chairman Mao to encircle and defeat the industrial coun- tries; therefore everyone who wants to lead a normal life and quietly enjoy the fruits of the revolution must be 'remoulded' and taught the necessity of unending struggle and the party's leadership, . The army officers, especially, must go and serve in the ranks, and step up their studies of 'Mao's thought.'

In trying to keep up the old revolutionary morale, the diehards are swimming against the tide of time, After indoctrination about the bad old days, young people say, 'We are living a happy life now—yet we don't know it!' Even veterans want to get on with the job without so much 'politics.' The old conditioning has worn off and cannot return. In 1958 the army Chief of Staff was sacked, and in 1959 so were his suc- cessor and the Minister of Defence, for oppos- ing the party's irrational line; nevertheless, the line had to be adjusted in the light of their criticism, and the diehards' fanaticism was re- directed on to the outside world. Now that it has done enough damage there too, the army may impose more adjustments. But it is up to the outside world to help' We must consider the Chinese leaders' war mania' as a psychological Problem, and take therapeutic action by ap- proaching China with fairness and tact, and overcoming its isolation. Either the world will remould the thoughts' of the handful of men in the Forbidden City, or they will go on trying to remould the world, even if it means scaring out the devils with nuclear firecrackers. Treating China like a rabid pariah will only strengthen the diehard's xenophobic delusions by maintain- ing the conditioning which produced them.