Internet Statement 2006-06


On Yao Wenyuan’s Death

Jan. 21, 2006        

Some days ago a short notice went through the international press. Yao Wenyuan, one of the leading cadres of the Communist Party of China during the times of the Cultural Revolution, died in December. Yao Wenyuan stepped forward by several actions during the Cultural Revolution. He was a member of the Politburo. He did not belong to the top leadership of the Communist Party of China during Mao Zedong’s time, but repeatedly gave important impulses to the Cultural Revolution, which, though, were certainly subject to simultaneous criticism.

On June 1, 1975, Yao Wenyuan, in connection with the department for international relations, surprisingly received Ernst Aust, the then chairman of the KPD/ML (Roter Morgen), therewith taking a step of extremely grave consequences. Up to then the Communist Party of China had strongly restrained itself with regard to the so-called ”acknowledgement” or the enhancement of the status of parties in Germany. Already at that time, the Roter Morgen [1] had shown that it stood in contradiction to Mao Zedong’s policy and comprised rightist elements, which were to fully express themselves later on. At that time, summer 1975, this organization conducted a rightist, almost nationalist policy, in conspicuous contrast to its previous ultra-leftist verbal radicalism. After that reception, Ernst Aust and the KPD/ML (Roter Morgen) attempted now to herald the so-called ”acknowledgement by the Communist Party of China” and thus to evade the political difficulties, which were constantly becoming clearer. The following phase was characterized by the instrumentalization of this ”acknowledgement”. For more than 10 years Ernst Aust attempted to present himself as a 150% follower of Mao Zedong’s teachings. This was already then repelled by many people as boasting and an unjustified presumption. Although the formation of the KPD/ML was a merit and the Roter Morgen had contributed to the centralization of the new Marxist-Leninist forces since 1967, this policy had dangerous side-characteristics right from the beginning, which gradually expanded and grew into directions which could not be accepted any longer. Ten years after its formation, Aust was to proceed to an all-round attack against the fundaments of this party and the PR China under Mao Zedong.

During the years 1970 to 1975, vehement struggles about the party had taken place in Germany, and therefore the question which position the Communist Party of China, as a very important revolutionary party, would take with regard to these debates, was not at all unimportant. On May 25, 1975, when the delegation of Roter Morgen had already departed to China, an interlocution took place between Klaus Sender [2], the chairman of the KPD/ML (Neue Einheit), and a representative of the Peoples’ Republic of China who also held contact to us. At this talk, Klaus Sender expressedly warned [3]  the concerned organs of the Communist Party of China against enhancing the status of the KPD/ML (Roter Morgen) as well as of the ”KPD/AO” [4]. The representative stopped short at the clear words, but then drew his jotter and assured that he would immediately send a report to China about the criticism voiced. Klaus Sender was again striving, as he already had done in the autumn of 1974, to describe the extent of the debates in the question of the party in the Federal Republic of Germany and Berlin (West), and explained which devastating consequences the enhancing would have at the present state of the debate. He stressed that these parties could not be trusted to actually represent Mao Zedong’s line. They would either propagate a line mixed up with rightist and revisionist elements, as in Ernst Aust’s case, or, as the ”KPD/AO”, would sometimes assume a role as of a troupe furthered by the state, an agency. Unity was necessary, but it could not be achieved by building up two organizations which were dubious as for their leadership, for unity against an organization which had defended the fundamental principles against both of these organizations. In spite of the abrupt severance of its work in 1972, the NE had recovered and, at least in international questions, taken something like a leading role, which was able to propagate the policy of the Peoples’ Republic of China without opportunist accessory parts. Still in 1973 and 1974, this organization had put through the international views corresponding also to those of the Communist Party of China, against the Roter Morgen and the KPD/AO, and the latter had yielded to that only in the end of 1974.

Nevertheless, Ernst Aust was received by Yao Wenyuan some days later. The KPD/AO on its part made public the reception of a workers’ delegation. Shortly thereafter things took their course as it had to be feared. The status of both parties was indeed enhanced, the pressure against our organization considerably increased, additionally from this side. Both organizations published reports as well in their central organs as in their factory units, celebrating the reception and instrumentalizing it for the consolidation of the shaky authority of their leaderships within their organizations.

Mao Zedong had hardly died in the autumn of 1976, when the Roter Morgen organization in connection with the Party of Labor of Albania started a turn, in which it arrived already in the end of 1977 at the almost total abnegation of Mao Zedong’s role, the role of the Communist Party of China, who by the criticism of the CPSU and by the Cultural Revolution had given the very impetus for founding the KPD/ML, without which this party would not have existed at all. It made a turn of 180º and condemned everything which previously had been praised to the skies, exactly in the same one-sided manner. Subsequently, the KPD/ML (Roter Morgen) and its chairman Ernst Aust ran down the policy of the Communist Party of China and Mao Zedong. The KPD/AO supported Deng Xiao-ping in his capitalist restoration and disbanded, when it had fulfilled this role. A considerable part went to the Greens, others into the state apparatus. The role of this party had been accomplished in this respect. The commitment of thousands of members of this organization had considerably been misused, contributing to the general disheartenment and the feeling of powerlessness. The political reaction had, so to say, ”cashed up”. A similar way was gone by the KBW [5], too, which subsequently in 1976 achieved a certain ”acknowledgement”.

What the Roter Morgen in connection with the Party of Labor of Albania put into practice at that time, was a massive betrayal of the Chinese revolution and the international proletarian revolution pushed forward by it during that phase of the sixties and seventies. Additionally, the revolutionaries in China opposing the capitalist usurpation during 1977 to 1979 were attacked from behind by this action. The same goes for the KPD/AO and the KBW, although the latter had not equally close contacts into China. This comportment did not occur overnight, it rather had been looming since the beginning of the seventies. Our party offered resistance against this liquidation of the movement in every realm, although it had been weakened by the prosecution of 1972-74.

In the summer of 1975, intervening against the upgrading of Roter Morgen and KPD/AO, our organization wanted to prohibit that the Peoples’ Republic of China was coupled with parties which, under a thin varnish of outwardly acknowledging the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the teachings of Mao Zedong, were in reality trampling these principles underfoot and were in fact active in staving off the Marxist wave mainly among young people. In this regard, these organizations were, certainly by and large unconsciously, allies to the machinations against the Peoples’ Republic of China going on internationally and in this big country itself.

Around the turn of the year 1975/76, the CC of the Communist Party of China had it explained to us that they did not agree with our criticism, that they were guided by the intention to accomplish the unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Germany and in this regard could not accept our standpoint. Who was right in this question, has turned out. Because of their structure, both of these parties were not capable of defending the Marxist-Leninist line as it was existent at that time, but they had to take a turn of 180 º, to relinquish completely all Yao Wenyuan auf dem X. Parteitag der KP Chinarevolutionary tasks and to have themselves re-integrated by the bourgeoisie. The fierceness in the implementation of these turns by the leaderships points into the direction that at least considerable parts of the leaderships knew what it all was about. Roter Morgen and KPD/AO had for 5 years been working for our organization’s isolation, and what is even more, the former attempted to declare the KPD/ML (Neue Einheit) non-existent, although grave criticism from the part of NE had hit this organization, which had subsequently changed its own course at several occasions.

To our surprise our telegram of condolence at the death of comrade Zhou Enlai was printed at an exposed position in winter 1976. Thence it could be concluded that the debates about the international questions were going on in China. The subversive efforts there continued all the more fiercely in spring 1976. There was a rightist line, which was to prevail later on and brought the capitalist China of today in a partly racy capitalist building-up into connection with the capital in the West, as well as an ultra-leftist line characterized by its inability to win over a broad majority in the country, and by its inability to criticize the things in their coherence. Like all directions of doctrinarism, by their disregard of the interests of the masses and the situation in its totality, they prepare the ground for the rightist overthrow and the capitalist development, even if this is materializing under a party still calling itself communist. The explosion against the ”gang of four”, the tremendous indignation of October and November 1976 did not come from nowhere and not by chance, and at first claimed to continue the line of criticizing the rightist line as well, but it could be transferred into Deng Xiao-ping’s line. In our opinion, the policy of the ”gang of four” has essentially contributed to the eventual powerlessness of the numerous proletarian forces vis-à-vis this capitalist subversive development.

In the spring of 1975, Yao Wenyuan wrote an article ”On the Social Basis of the Lin Piao Anti-Party Clique”, attempting to attack the corruption of cadres within the Communist Party of China and giving important hints to the possibility that important forces within the party were attempting to use China’s up-to-then revolutionary development for creating a Chinese new bourgeois and imperialist great power. These basic ideas, perhaps tracing back to Mao Zedong himself, were not mistaken, as we know, regarding the present development 30 years later.
The article ”On the Social Basis of the Lin Piao Anti-Party Clique” has several shortcomings. The author does not manage to put the whole question of the struggles in China into the international context. By isolated accusations against the cadres of the diplomatic apparatus or cadres of the party and state institutions it was not possible to grasp their actual policy which leaned on amalgamations with forces abroad, too. Nevertheless, the article contains some basic thoughts having to be preserved forever.

At this juncture it has to be recalled that Mao Zedong, still in Sept. 1975, as one of his last actions started a movement for the criticism of capitulationists, in the form of a criticism of a novel well-known all over China, called ”Water Margin” or ”Outlaws of the March” [6]. The literary hero of this novel, as it was pointed out, criticized only the officials but not the supreme state power of the exploiting system, the emperor and his immediate reign. He strove for getting the things within the revolutionary camp into his hands and to prepare the surrender. This criticism was directed not only against the ”rightists” but as well against so-called leftists, who criticize only single phenomena without grasping the necessary international class struggle, and who suppress the originary forces bearing the movement.

Later on it turned out that the leading representative of the department for international relations at the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, who dealt with the foreign parties, was a close confidant of Deng Xiao-ping and apparently shuffled the matters behind the stage according to the latters intentions. Thus, Yao Wenyuan’s intervention of 1975 made its effect upon our protest, and our decided rejection of the ”gang of four” was, among other things, grounded in this reception and the subsequent support for these organizations, engineered by several Chinese organs. Without this reception there would have been much better opportunities to conduct the debate in our country, ahead of the Chinese overthrow, more decidedly and thus perhaps to prevent this catastrophic development, if not completely, but in its actual extent.

The question has at least to be raised if the representatives of the so-called “gang of four”, to which Yao Wenyuan belonged, basing themselves on the informations coming into the Peoples’ Republic of China, were able to overlook the complete extent of the way they were acting. The international diplomatic apparatus of the Peoples’ Republic of China, commanding the people with the knowledge of foreign languages, was able to filter informations out and mislead people. The forces of the bourgeoisie, because of the fact that they provided much more intellectuals, had quite a big influence on the whole diplomatic apparatus, as it is typical or even inevitable for such a country.

Mao Zedong’s policy with regard to the international relations was characterized by his conspicuous realization that the parties having emerged all over the world under the sign of Marxism-Leninism were not yet vigorous enough, that they had not yet become true mass parties, from which a decisive supporting role in the international class struggle could be expected. The differentiating process within these parties as well as the differentiating process vis-à-vis the revisionist parties was in full swing. Therefore the policy of the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong had to intensify the element of leaning on a diplomacy, on the differentiations between the states themselves, on the creation of a far-reaching united front against hegemonism. To its foundations belonged the so-called theory of intermediate zones and the Three-Worlds-schema derived from it. Correctly, the Peoples’ Republic of China under his leadership concentrated on the isolation of social imperialism under the then conditions.

This was accepted at that time not only by us but almost by all Marxist-Leninist parties in the world. What, however, could not be tolerated: that this phase was used for simultaneous intrigues against the new forces of the newly emerging communist parties, that under the cover of supporting this diplomatic offensive spokes were put into the wheels of these new parties, and that such parties were supported which apparently were already marked by the stigma of betrayal. This would pervert the international policy and turn it into a basic scheme of its enemies.

Not only in Germany, but also in the Netherlands, in France and everywhere the newly beginning parties inevitably were also central objects of subversive attacks. The secret services of the states in Europe as well as of the US, e.g., or the Soviet Union had to throw themselves upon these new beginnings of parties and to attempt to gain control over them. A considerable part of the reasons for the splits is induced thereby. And this shows at the same time, how difficult and valuable the pugnacious commitment of thousands of people was, to build the party under these conditions, in spite of all the opposing conditions also in the economic sphere, the truncation of the working class, its replacement by foreign laborers, to which at first there was no access - against all of these adversities. The effort for combating it did not come by chance.

Editorial Staff of Neue Einheit

translation from the German original   


[1]  Roter Morgen (Red Morning) – Marxist-Leninist periodical, founded in the summer of 1967 unmistakably under the impression of the Cultural Revolution and its radiation all over the world. Beginning with its first issue it stood closely leaning on the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong (former spelling Mao Tse-tung) . The founder of this journal, Ernst Aust, had published the journal ”Blinkfuer” until 1964, which up to then had been characterized also by sallies against the Peoples’ Republic of China and revisionist propaganda. On Dec. 31, 1968, the KPD/ML (Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist) was founded after some preparations, the Roter Morgen becoming its initially undisputed central organ. After 1970, this journal stood for the direction represented by Ernst Aust within the KPD/ML and the entire ML-movement, and it stands also as a synonym for the KPD/ML (Roter Morgen) as different from, e.g., Zentralbuero-Rote Fahne and Neue Einheit (NE).

[2]  Klaus Sender is the longtime pen name of the chairman of our organisation. His civil name is Hartmut Dicke.

[3] In this interlocution Klaus Sender also brought up the recent provocations by the so-called terrorism, behind which distinct hegemonistic intentions were standing, and which were directed among others also against our residence abroad in Southern Sweden. He reported about the events. In March and April, 1975, the terror campaign had been transferred to Sweden. There important inner decisions took place in our organization in April. On April 24, the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Stockholm had been blown up by the provocative ”terrorism”.

[4]  KPD/AO – an organization founded in 1970, its leading circles stemming mainly from the former students’ movement. From 1972 on this organization officially adopted the name KPD, thereby raising a particular and unjustifiable pretension. During the seventies the organization with the strongest public appearance. In this organization, too, were hundreds of people committed to the cause. Several leaders of this organization had been decided opponents of the Marxist-Leninist party concept before 1970, but when the ML-movement became stronger and stronger in the end of 1969, they conducted a 180 º-turn, which they carried through again, in the reverse direction, in 1978/79, when the overthrow in China was accomplished. Especially from the circles of this organization massive attempts were started in 1969-72 to prevent even the first beginnings of our organization. We are using the token ”AO” (for ”Aufbauorganisation”, organisation for building the party) also for the later phase, in order to have a possibility for distinguishing.

[5] KBW – Kommunistischer Bund Westdeutschlands (Communist League of Western Germany), 1973-1985, an organization with a Trotskyite element, was able to accomplish its foundation at the end of 1972 when the first parties and formations connected to the KPD/ML were weakened. This organization was the strongest in terms of membership in Western Germany. It conjoined in a particularly strong way with the movement against nuclear energy plants. Even after 1980 it was still a decided supporter of the Peoples’ Republic of China after the overthrow. In 1985, the most part of this organization dissolved into the Greens, corresponding to the suggestions by the higher forces of the state (’best kept there’).

[6]  Compare Peking Review 1975 #37 and 1976 # 9