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THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DURING THE ERA OF THE - page 3 / 48

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Republic of China. Soviet writings also had a vested interest in claiming a major role for the Bolshevik Party and the Comintern in the Chinese revolution and most historiography was directed towards this end. The massive defeat of the Chinese revolution in 1927 formed a key element in the struggle for power in Soviet Russia between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky himself offered a penetrating analysis of the failure of the CCP through its slavish adherence to Stalinist policies in the United Front, an analysis that affected the writings of his followers in the West. While perceptive in his analysis of the failings of the United Front, his exhortations for the CCP to break with the bourgeoisie and rely on the power of the working-class was as equally ill-conceived in a country where the working-class was weak and barely formed.

In terms of Western scholarship, the work of Schwartz and Schram has stood out as an exception to the idea of a revolution inspired by the Soviets. While Schwartz acknowledged the debt owed by the Chinese communists to Bolshevik theory and organization, he was aware of traditional influences and the "originality" of Mao Zedong and his supporters that was of increasing importance after 1927. The indigenous elements that had gone into Chinese communism became major objects for retrieval particularly after the Sino-Soviet rupture became apparent in the early sixties. Some researchers, such as Schram, began to explore the "sinification of Marxism" and to stress that much had happened in spite of Comintern influence rather than because of it.

Materials that have become available through the eighties and nineties show that there was a continual tension between the CCP and the Comintern resulting from China’s perceived position in the world revolution and Moscow’s perception of Soviet geo- political interest. Comintern influence was of major importance in the party’s founding and development but its authority was not always accepted nor decisive in all periods. Yet it was a voice that could not be ignored and up until 1938, when the Comintern could articulate its message clearly and get it through the communication network to the CCP leadership it had a reasonably decisive say. The legitimacy of the Comintern to dictate policy in China became a key point in the struggle between the pro-Soviet group in the CCP under the leadership of Wang Ming and those who under Mao Zedong who were closer to the indigenous roots of the revolution.

The historian Dirlik is the most recent scholar to argue that the role of the Comintern was crucial for forging together the party in its nascent period. His work shows the influence of the Comintern in bolstering Leninism and the party at the expense of anarchism, which was more influential initially, and other forms of Marxism. By contrast, van de Ven highlights the indigenous roots of the communist movement. He shows that not only did the localism have a strong impact on the first decade of the CCP but also there were regional groupings, such as that in Sichuan, which came into existence without reference to the Comintern and even without contact with the "founding fathers," Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. He shows just what a long, hard process it was to construct a Bolshevik organization in the Chinese cultural soil. Yeh Wen-Hsin also stresses the indigenous nature of the movement’s origins and she has contributed significantly to our understanding of its initial diversity. Her study of the Hangzhou radicals who comprised many of the initial members of the Shanghai communist small group shows how disgust

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