THE CYCLE OF THE «AWAKENING OF ASIA» IS CLOSED ONLY TO REOPEN AGAIN ON A HIGHER LEVEL
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The cycle of the «awakening of Asia» is closed only to reopen again on a higher level
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In May 1913, in saluting both the developments of the political situation in China and the first social and anti-imperialist movements in the Dutch Indies, Lenin wrote :
«World capitalism and the 1905 movement in Russia have finally awakened Asia. Hundreds of millions of the downtrodden and benighted have awakened from mediaeval stagnation to a new life and are rising to fight for elementary human rights and democracy.
The workers of the advanced countries follow with interest and inspiration this powerful growth of the liberation movement, in all its various forms, in every part of the world. The bourgeoisie of Europe, fearing the might of the labour movement, is looking for assistance from the forces of reaction, militarism, clericalism and obscurantism. But the proletariat of the European countries and the young democracy of Asia, fully confident of its strength and with abiding faith in the masses, are advancing to take the place of this decadent and moribund bourgeoisie.
The awakening of Asia and the beginning of the struggle for power by the advanced proletariat of Europe are a symbol of the new phase in world history that began early this century» (Works, Vol. 19, p. 66).
Since this time, history has followed a much slower, tortuous and tormented path than that which had been envisioned in 1913, and which had seemed to be rapidly leading to the creation of modern bourgeois nations on the ruins of age-old empires and on the ruins of an imperialist domination which had been superimposed upon these ancient forms.
This tumultuous period, with the young republican China at its epicentre, was opened up primarily after the end of World War I and culminated in the tragic years of 1926-1927. During this time it had been conceivable that the young Asian proletariat of the great ports and industrial cities and, in its wake, the peasant masses who were in revolt in the immense Chinese countryside, were at the point of realising the «democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry». It had seemed that this movement would open up a cycle of double revolution and, at all events, that it would lead the bourgeois revolution up to its end in the «plebeian»(not the «Prussian») manner, thus striking a fatal blow at imperialism.
These immense potentials were destroyed by the Stalinist counterrevolution which placed the proletarian vanguard in the tow of the comprador «national» bourgeoisie, condemning it not only to follow a movement of which it must and could take the lead but also causing it to fall disarmed under the blows of its temporary «ally». Since then in almost all cases, the ruin of the world-wide communist revolutionary movement has permitted the most moderate national leaderships to break the back of the most radical elements and to finally take the leadership of the powerful wave of independence movements.
And nevertheless the pressure of the great peasant masses, hungry for land, and also of the super-exploited industrial proletarians have remained at such a level that the «awakening of Asia» has not ceased to force its way, penetrating into the smallest gaps which open up in the precarious equilibrium of the local classes and states, and finally bursting out with violence and hurling the social forces that have been engendered by exploitation and oppression against the old society and imperialism.
The conquest of independence in India, the proclamation of the People's Republic in China, the Korean War, the Vietnamese Insurrection and the two act drama of a war against France then against the United States, and finally the Indonesian revolt led by Sukarno are all part of this process which leads to the actual liberation of Vietnam and Cambodia. However, the Indochinese peninsula, with its hundred million people who are on the most part extremely poor peasants, still remains as an enormous powder keg and it is not very probable that the diplomatic accords that have been signed under the auspices of the great powers will remain in effect for very long or that the entirety of Southeast Asia will be prevented from experiencing the awakening of a further process of unification.
This historic course has not been concretised in profound social transformations, something which would only be made possible through the passage of the leadership of the movement to the proletariat, followed by the poor peasantry. However, the local bourgeoisie in spite of its narrow horizons has brought to an end, through the Vietnam victory, that cycle of colonial emancipation which was opened up in the first ten years of the century, that is to say the cycle of colonial emancipation which does not correspond to the national revolutionary cycle. Just as the Marxist revolutionaries in 1913, we applaud this event with enthusiasm.
We applaud it for the same reasons that they did. It is not because we give an absolute value to national independence as does the bourgeoisie. Quite on the contrary, if we greet this victory it is because the birth of modern nations on the ruins of a past which is dominated by mediaeval social forms and by the imperialist yoke opens the way free to the explosion of the modern class struggles - that is to say the arena of social conflicts is enlarged and enriched by new potentialities. Certainly the American, German and Japanese bourgeoisie's are already making their calculations, counting on finding (and in cases actually beginning to find) a fertile terrain for their investments. And Russian and Chinese capitalisms do not have the intention of remaining simple spectators for certainly the local Vietnamese bourgeoisie is prepared to collaborate with them in the oppression and exploitation of the workers and poor peasants. But the gigantic thrust which these workers and peasants have impressed on the movement and which, in turn, the movement has given to them, will not fail to unleash them in the next few years and maybe within the next few months, on the front of the class conflicts, on the front of social antagonisms - with it this time being disencumbered from the survivals of national aspirations. And their movement, as Marx and Engels have already foreseen, will have repercussions on the rest of the planet, even to the point of reaching the vital centres of imperialist capitalism and drawing the Euro-American proletariat out of the lethargy where opportunism has plunged it.
We greet the closure of this cycle, with all its limitations, its delays, and its compromises (which Marxist theory had foreseen) as the beginning of a new and decisive cycle of much greater and more prolific battles!
Source: «communiste program», N° 1, October 1975
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