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THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DURING THE ERA OF THE - page 20 / 48

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unfounded. The approach may have seemed feasible for those situated in Moscow but the CCP was unable to act on these conflicting demands. The CCP alienated the radical peasant leaders by trying to check the "excesses" but at the same time it still aroused the hostility and suspicion of the GMD-left.

The CCP tried to grapple with the repression and slaughter of the communists at its Fifth Congress (27 April - 9 May 1927) held in Hankou. Far from ordering a break with the GMD, delegates argued about how to push ahead with the peasant movement without upsetting cooperation. Chiang’s "betrayal" was met head on and was treated as a positive sign for the revolution. In a long and interesting review of party work since the Fourth Congress, Chen Duxiu said that Chiang’s betrayal had brought the Chinese revolution to a new stage. According to Chen, the bourgeoisie had now deserted the revolutionary front reducing its numbers but improving its quality. The four-class bloc had been reduced to a "united front of workers, peasants and petty bourgeoisie." Thus, the future task was to strengthen these three classes and CCP work in the military. The small number of bourgeois elements who remained could be expelled if they displayed "counter- revolutionary tendencies."

Future party policy was to concentrate on creating a "revolutionary democratic regime" in the areas held by the GMD, although it was acknowledged that this objective was still far away. According to Chen, the party was to discuss preparations for seizing power and he described it as "no longer an opposition party" but one that was really going to lead the revolution.

However, despite such bold words, the CCP was still going to have to work through its cooperation with the GMD. This meant that its policy towards the peasantry still erred to the side of caution and ideas of confiscation of all land were rejected. Chen commented that while policy towards the peasant movement had been "too rightist" in the past, it would be wrong to adopt now radical proposals to confiscate the land of all landlords.

The re-definition of the revolutionary forces and the moderate land policy did not help pull the party out of its dilemma. Despite the restrictions placed on the peasant movement, "excesses" continued to occur. The CCP finished up pleasing no-one, the GMD government in Wuhan blamed the communists for the excesses and the peasant leaders blamed it for not supporting their radical actions and leaving them prey to the military force of warlords and GMD troops. Suppression of the communists continued and the events of summer 1927 seemed to make a mockery of the CCP leadership’s decision to continue the alliance with the GMD. The communists suffered blow after blow as one group after another of nationalist generals and politicians "betrayed the revolution."

The possibility of breaking with the GMD-left was reduced further by the messages coming from Moscow. Given his struggles with Trotsky, it was impossible for Stalin to acknowledge the folly of continued cooperation with the GMD. In May 1927, the ECCI also interpreted the break with Chiang Kai-shek in a positive light. It re-emphasized the

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