From International Socialism (1st series), No.59, June 1973, p.4.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
‘Our principle is that the party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the party.’ – Mao Tse-Tung.
In fact, as Nigel Harris pointed out in China Since Lin Piao (International Socialism 55), ‘the new provincial administrations are still dominated by the army’; the ‘rehabilitated’ party officials playing a distinctly secondary role. There are now indications that the government headed by 74-year-old Chou En-lai is moving cautiously towards the re-creation of an effective centrally controlled party machine to counterbalance the effects of economic decentralisation and provincial military rule. The re-creation of nationally directed, Party controlled, ‘mass organisations’ – the Communist Youth League, the All China Women’s Federation, the ‘trade unions’ and peasant organisations – is clearly a step in this direction.
The Youth League, which ceased to function with the onset of the ‘cultural revolution’, held its first national congress since 1966 in the spring of this year. The pre-cultural revolution membership was of the order of 30 million, the ‘rehabilitated’ organisation is, so far, much smaller. It is evidently intended to be a cadre formation, an instrument of Pekin in the provinces. With a, no doubt largely nominal, age limit of 27 and a ‘quota’ of 35 to 40 per cent female members, the Youth League is the obvious source for a new Party cadre to stiffen the demoralised ‘reconditioned’ survivors of the cultural revolution. But whether it will prove possible for Chou to use the recreated national organisation to do more than put marginal checks on the power of the army commanders is very much an open question. The gun is still more in command than the Party.
Last updated on 25.12.2007