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THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DURING THE ERA OF THE - page 26 / 48

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Of immediate direct influence on the new party leadership was the factional struggle between Stalin and Bukharin. Although rumors of differences had circulated at the Sixth Party Congress, Bukharin supervised the Congress on behalf of the Comintern. Indeed, the "Political Resolution" was based on the nine hour (sic!) speech that he delivered to the Congress and the new Politburo was put together on his instructions. By the end of 1928, Bukharin had become the main target of Stalin’s attacks for his "rightist" or "rich peasant line."

This caused the CCP to adopt an increasingly "left" policy that culminated in what the Comintern was itself to denounce as the Li Lisan line. On 8 February 1929 the ECCI issued a letter to the CC of the CCP claiming that signs of a new revolutionary wave were clearly detectable in China. As a result the ECCI warned that at the present time, the "rightist trend" was particularly dangerous. Shortly after the letter arrived, the Politburo drafted a formal resolution on how the party should apply the Comintern line in its practical work. Indeed, the period until April 1930 marks a distinct phase in the shift of party policy.

The anti-rightist drive in Moscow continued to affect the Party Center in Shanghai. On 26 October 1929 the ECCI sent another letter to the CCP CC, this time announcing "the beginning of the revolutionary wave." The party was to take over the leadership of this new revolutionary wave by overcoming its "petty bourgeois waverings." Once again the Comintern reinforced the view that at the present time, "rightism" was the most dangerous trend in the party. The Politburo responded to this letter by adopting resolutions on 20 December 1929 and 11 January 1930 that fully accepted the Comintern’s position and that heralded a louder criticism of "rightism."

One of the first victims of the attack on "rightism" had been Chen Duxiu who was expelled from the party in 1929. His expulsion and that of many others were carried in the pages of the party’s theoretical journal Red Flag. He was denounced viciously for what were decreed to be his "Trotskyite" and liquidationist" tendencies. While Chen was in power before July 1927, he had no particular association with Trotsky and had adhered to the position of accommodation with the GMD as approved by Stalin but opposed by Trotsky. After the left-wing of the GMD also turned on the CCP, his analysis of the revolution did move closer to a Trotskyite position. His conversion, given his enormous prestige in the party, created a crisis in the party and the major purge was launched. The Trotskyites who were expelled formed their own organization called the "Left Opposition." The organization was, however, bitterly divided into four main factions and it took a Unification Conference in May 1931 to bring agreement to form only one group, the "Chinese Oppositionists." Despite this, it remained a very fractious group and its impact was very limited. The Trotskyites as a whole, despite the assessment of their main chronicler Gregor Benton that they were the first and weightiest movement of radical democratic dissent within China, enjoyed little sustained influence within the party or among the Chinese working-class. In addition to the ideological differences, the movement was best by intense personal friction. The "Chinese Oppositionists" became the targets of not only the GMD but also the CCP and indeed suffered worst at the hands of the latter than the former. A number of those who did not escape to Hong Kong, such

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