Many associates of the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement uphold, in contrast to ‘official’ history, the revolutionary internationalism of Lin Biao, author of ‘Long Live the Victory of People’s War!’
This document was originally published by Gran Marcha Hacia el Comunismo. Re-posting here is for educational purposes only and does not imply agreement, endorsement, or affiliation.
Note: We are pleased to inform all of our English language speaking comrades and friends that the document “Acerca de la Cuestión de Lin Piao” (On the Question of Lin Piao) from Gran Marcha Hacia el Comunismo (Long March Towards Communism) dated August 2006 has now been translated into English and is now available in our website. Madrid (Spain), May 2013.
ON THE QUESTION OF LIN PIAO
No political party can possibly lead a great revolutionary movement to victory unless it possesses revolutionary theory and a knowledge of history and has a profound grasp of the practical movement.
Study history and seek truth in facts
Mao Tsetung has taught us: “Communists must always go into the whys and wherefores of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness.” (Rectify the Party´s style of work, S.W., Vol. III, FLP Peking 1968, p. 46 [Spanish edition]).
In the process of study and investigation regarding different aspects and matters of the historical experience of the international workers and communist movement, the question of Lin Piao deserves special attention. In this task, the principle of seeking truth in factshas prevailed. As Mao Tsetung pointed out: “`Facts´ are all the things that exist objectively, `truth´ means their internal relations, that, is, the laws governing them, and to `seek´ means to study”. (Reform our study, S.W., Vol. III, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung, FLP, Peking 1972, p. 231)
Lin Piao was one of the most outstanding leaders of the Chinese revolution and in 1969 the Statutes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approved in its Ninth National Congress defined him as “Comrade Mao Tsetung´s close comrade-in-arms and successor”. ¿Was it truly and real that Lin Piao tried to kill Mao Tsetung through a counterrevolutionary coup hardly two years later? Were there true the accusations that were placed upon Lin Piao exposing him as “bourgeoisie careerist, intriguing, double face element, renegade and traitor” as Chou En-lai described him in the Tenth National Congress of the CCP and the following infamous and misleading criticism campaign that was launched against him in China –linking his name to that of Confucius-, and adding to the previous ones those no less ignominious such as clown, landowner, political swindler, traitor, warlord and trickster who did not read books, newspapers or documents, despot, lap dog of the bourgeoisie, parasite, scum, harmful element, lustful, extravagant, superspy, imbecile, coward, etc., etc. ?
In the light of the facts and investigation carried out by Gran Marcha Hacia el Comunismo (Long March Towards Communism), the charge that was been made upon Lin Piao by the leadership of the Communist Party of China since 1972 until today describing him as a counterrevolutionary who wanted to capitulate to Soviet social-imperialism is completely false. This charge was assumed on a copycat way by the overwhelming majority of the parties and organizations which were part of the international Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement at the time (1). Having passed more than three decades, and in spite of the documentation that has emerged along these years which scuppers the charges of the leadership of the CCP against Lin Piao since 1972 till today (2), the majority of the parties which define themselves as Marxists-Leninists-Maoists –like those that are part or support the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM)- not only have not carried out a scientific evaluation of the role of Lin Piao and the reasons which led to his murder but they persist in their attacks against him not taking into account the principle of finding truth in facts.
Those who deny the revolutionary activity of Lin Piao and only see negative aspects –what they call “Linpiaosim” as a synonym of militarism, of giving more importance to the military aspect than to the political one (3) are wrong. If it did exist a so called “Linpiaoism”, it has nothing to do with the attacks and insults thrown upon Lin Piao, but it would refer to the defence of Maoism, the struggle to defend the conquests of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the struggle against US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism, etc. It is necessary that, once and for all, Lin Piao is correctly appreciated.
Lin Piao: a life in the service of the Cause of Revolution and Communism
Lin Piao was born on 5 December 1908 in the town of Huanggang, in the Chinese province of Hubei. Being a high school student, he was involved in the 20 May strikes and boycott of 1925, being a member of the Wuchang Welfare Association, chaired by Yun Tai-ying (who a few years later was one of the main Communist leaders murdered by the Kuomintang). At the age of 19, Lin Piao, Lin Piao entered the Whampoa Military Academy and in 1926 he joined the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party. Soon he emerged for his outstanding strategic talent. Having reached the rank of colonel when he was very young, in 1927 he joined with his regiment the Communist guerrilla groups led by Mao Tsetung.
Lin Piao led the First Army Corps of the Chinese Red Army and personally lead its vanguard during the epic task of the Long March (1934-1935) and took part in the occupation of Yenan in December 1936. From this time are his written works on “Revolution and War”, in which he emphasizes in the problems regarding the contact with the masses and establishes, together with Mao Tsetung, the rules of the Red Army, according to which the soldiers have to help the peasants and introduce them in the Communist ideas for their exemplary conduct.
During the resistance against the invasion of China by the Japanese imperialists, Lin Piao lead the Red Army´s detachments (renamed as the Eighth Route Army) in the North of Shansi. Its 115th Division delivered a serious defeat to the Japanese invading troops. After being wounded in combat in 1938, he spent two years of medical convalescence in the Soviet Union.
Back in China, Lin Piao joined the leadership of the revolutionary struggle. After expelling the Japanese invaders, once the Third Civil Revolutionary War started against Chiang Kai-shek –supported by US imperialism-, in 1946 he is appointed Commander in Chief of the Red Army in Manchuria. In one year its troops surrounded and defeated the nucleus of the Chiang Kai-shek forces, armed and trained by the yankee imperialists, capturing or killing 36 enemy generals. After the victory of the Red Army in Manchuria, Lin Piao crushed the bulk of Chiang Kai-shek´s forces in North China, before marching into Peking which surrendered without opposing any resistance. Once Chiang Kai-shek had been defeated, on October 1st 1949, Mao Tsetung proclaimed, at Peking´s Tian An-men square, the People´s Republic of China.
In 1950, when the armed conflict broke out in Korea, Lin Piao led the “Chinese People´s Voluntary Army” in support of the Korean people against the yankee imperialists and its Korean puppets. In a counter-offensive which took the US Command led by General MacArthur by surprise, and using the tactics of “human tide”, Lin Piao pushed the troops of the coalition formed by the US and its allies until nearly defeating them. Suffering from an ailment, Lin Piao was withdrawn from the Korean war scene and once again taken to the USSR to recover. Mao Tsetung referred to him as “the first Chinese hierarchy, whose intelligence and courage overcome those of the rest. His red fist is of steel”.
Back in the People´s Republic of China, after the right opportunist line led by Pweng Te-huai was swept away in the Eighth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party held in August 1959, Lin Piao was appointed Minister of Defence, Executive Vice-president of the Military Commission and member of the Permanent Committee of the Political Bureau of the CCP.
Following the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the CCP –which laid the foundations of the Socialist Education Movement- Lin Piao, at the head of the Chinese People´s Liberation Army (PLA), started inside it deep changes, in particular the abolition on 1 June 1965 of the ranks –including his own one of Marshall- as well as the privileges enjoyed by the officers and strengthening the political and ideological work, and Lin Piao popularizing Maoism through compiling and publishing for the first time the Quotations of Chairman Mao Tsetung (1964) –the famous Little Red Book- which resulted in transforming the PLA in a powerful bastion and support of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
In his historical work Long Live the Victory of People´s War! (published on 3 September 1965), Lin Piao brilliantly systematized and extended on a world scale Mao Tsetung´s theory of people´s war, developing the thesis that the “rural areas” of the world, i.e. Asia, Africa and Latin America, encircle the so-called “cities of the world”, referring to North America and Western Europe, besides stressing at that moment the key importance of the Maoist ideology when stating that Mao Tsetung has “creatively developed Marxism-Leninism, thus adding new weapons to the arsenal of Marxism-Leninism.”
In 1966, the press of the People´s Republic of China referred to the thesis of Lin Piao as an integral part of Mao Tsetung Thought and the Communist Party of China declared “Comrade Lin Piao is Comrade Mao Tsetung´s close comrade-in-arms”. Following the Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in August 1966, which approved the “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, Lin Piao was appointed Vice-chairman of the Party, First Vice-chairman of the Party´s Military Affairs Committee and First Vice-president of the State Council.
It was in his role as leader, shoulder to shoulder with Mao Tsetung, of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1969) against the bourgeoisie and revisionist line inside the Party advocated by Liu Shao-shi, Teng Hsiao-ping and others, where Lin Piao reached and enormous prestige both among the Chinese proletariat and people as well as among the proletariat and revolutionary masses of the world. In fact, it was this work as revolutionary leader what made him read the highly important Report to the Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (1 April 1969) and that the Statutes approved by this Congress defined Lin Piao as “Mao Tsetung´s close comrade-in-arms and successor”.
Why was Lin Piao and his followers eliminated?
The elimination of Lin Piao and his followers within the Communist Party of China and the PLA took place as a result of the struggle that took place at the end of the 1960s between the different opinions which inside the Communist Party of China wanted to advance and deepen the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (led by Lin Piao and Chen Po-ta) and those who wanted to hold it back and paralyze it (led by Chou En-lai). It seems the struggle started during the works of the Ninth National Congress of the CCP and lasted up to the Second Plenary Session of the Ninth Central Committee –held in Lushan (August 1970)- regarding questions such as the role of the Party and the PLA following the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, its relation with the new Revolutionary Committees, the continuity or not of the Cultural Revolution Central Group, etc. The accusations that were launched against Lin Piao and Chen Po-ta, making them responsible for “praising the genius” –referring to Mao- distort the reality of the facts (4).
One of the key reasons which culminated in the liquidation of Lin Piao were the differences in the early 1970s regarding the international situation and the establishment of an alliance between the People´s Republic of China on one side and US imperialism and its allies on the other, in order to face the military aggressiveness of the USRR, line elaborated by Chou En-lai and which materialized in the so-called “three world theory”-formally formulated in April 1974 by Teng Hsiao-ping in his speech at the Sixth Extraordinary Session of the General Assembly of the UNO. This line was supported by Mao Tsetung, Chiang Ching, Chang Chun-chiao, Wang Hong-wen, Yao Wen-yuan and Kang Sheng, and opposed by Lin Piao and his followers.
While Chou En-lai and his followers maneuvered in the diplomatic arena to set up the basis of the US-Chinese alliance and prepare the visits of the top leaders of US imperialism to the People´s Republic of China, first by the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and later by President Richard Nixon, Lin Piao did not cease to defend his stand of clear opposition towards it. Thus, for example, on 9 July 1971, as Minister of Defence, Lin Piao addressed a letter to the Vice-president of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defence of the People´s Republic of Albania, Beqir Balluku, on the occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of the creation of the Albanian People´s Army, which ended with the following words: “US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism are in an unprecedented quandary, and there final ruin is not far away. ¡Let the peoples of China and Albania unite with all the peoples of the world and jointly strive to effectively defeat the yankee aggressors and all their lackeys!” (5)
Nothing can be more ridiculous now –and the contrary is putting oneself a blindfold in order not to see it- that continue accepting the false, absurd and far-fetched official history according to which Lin Piao capitulated to Soviet social-imperialism and died trying to escape to the USRR crashing over Mongolia in the plane in which he was travelling.
The purge and physical elimination of Lin Piao and his followers started in the early morning hours of 9 September 1971. At this regard there do exist various versions: according to some sources, Lin Piao, his wife Ye Chun –also a leader of the CCP and his son Lin Li-kuo, Deputy Commander of the Air Group in charge of the border with the People´s Republic of Mongolia and Deputy Director of the Air Force Attack Command- after being arrested and having refused to sign confessions about their alleged conspiracy, were murdered in a Peking military prison or in the airport (6). According to another version, Lin Piao and his wife Ye Chun were murdered in Peking by forces of a special security military unit, who launched several projectiles against the car they were travelling, which was destroyed, being both killed. All the versions point that Chou En-lai gave the command.
“On the night of 9 September –wrote Robinson Rojas, Chilean Communist and journalist who lived in China during the years 1970-1971- the General Staff of the PLA, the General Staff of the Air Force, of the Navy and the Army were dismembered and the General Political Department of the PLA, the Directorate General of Logistics and the Railways Department were purged. In total, nearly 35 generals were arrested that night. (…)
Generals Juang Yung-sheng and Li Tsuo-peng were arrested in their cars when they were travelling from the Korean embassy to the Ministry of Defence in the center of Peking. Thus, on the midnight of 9 September, five of the eight members of the General Army Staff had been arrested: Wu Fa-sien, Vice-Chief of the GAS and member of the Party´s Political Bureau and Air Force Chief; Chiu Jui-tsuo, Vice-chief and member of the Political Bureau; Li Tseuo-peng, Vice-Chief, member of the Political Bureau and Political Commissar of the Navy; Yen Chung-chuan, Deputy Member of the Central Committee, Vice-Chief. Juan Chi-yung, Deputy Director of the General Political department and Deputy Member of the Central Committee, was also arrested.
In political language. Eight of the 25 members of the Party´s Political Bureau, the highest power body in China, were under the bayonets when the banquet at the Korean embassy had finished. The overtaking manoeuvre of Chu´s forces took place under the strictest secrecy (…)”. (7)
“A recount of the people that [Lin Piao] dragged in his fall –writes regarding these same events the journalist and writer K.S. Karol who was in China in 1971- allows to appreciate its extent: of the twenty one full members of the Political Secretariat, only ten remained in place (…) On the other hand, more than sixty senior positions and, among those dismissed, included “national celebrities” such as P`an, Fu.chih, promoter of the “exemplary” seizure of power in the province of Heilungkiang, Wang Hsiao-yu, President of the Shantung Revolutionary Committee (also mentioned in 1967 as an example for the nation), Liu Ko-pìng and Chang Jih-ching, President and Vice-president, respectively, of the highly praised Shansi Provincial Committee; and the list does not end here at all. In the People´s Liberation Army, the chopping reached the Chief of the general Staff, three of his deputies and the majority of those responsible in the Air Force, Infantry, Marine political services and military of different graduations in the provinces. This recount, although being provisional, suggests that the “conspirators” did not lack supporters in the whole institutions created by the cultural revolution and who were recruited among the movement´s best activists which, in previous years, had fixed as its objective to reach summits “never reached before”. Really, in case the concepts of “majority” and “minority” could have sense in an affair in which vote did not intervene, it would have to be admitted that it was a minority the one that imposed the new international and domestic line”. (8)
After the elimination of Lin Piao and his followers in 1971, the policy of collaboration with US imperialism advanced by leaps and bounds becoming the cornerstone of the foreign policy of the People´s Republic of China, materializing in the counterrevolutionary “three world theory”, designed by Chou and Teng. This is crystal clear –or in words of the Spanish saying “there is none so blind as those who will not see”. The elimination of Lin Piao and his followers represented the liquidation of those who within the CP of China and the PLA rejected the approach to US imperialism, then led by the criminals Nixon and Kissinger and the approach to pro-US reactionaries governments (like the one of Franco in Spain, of Pinochet in Chile, of Marcos in the Philippines or Mobutu in Congo).
Given the facts it is incorrect to describe Lin Piao as a counterrevolutionary on the basis of the campaign riddled with falsehoods launched after his murder. The physical liquidation of Lin Piao and the elimination and depuration of his followers did not only have a traumatic effect in China but it created a fertile ground for revisionism to win once again strips of power that had lost during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and which concluded with the counter revolutionary coup after the death of Mao Tsetung in October 1976 and the restoration of capitalism by Hua Kuo-feng, Teng Hsiao-ping and company.
On an international scale, and for many activists and supporters of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement and of the People´s Republic of China, the way in which the leadership of the CP of China handled the death of Lin Piao created confusion, many questions were not answered, many doubts left unresolved, having as a consequence that the CP of China –coupled with the new international policy of collaboration with yankee imperialism and its bourgeoisie lackeys in Europe and other countries of the world as a consequence of the “three world theory”- started to lose prestige and authority among the communists and revolutionaries of the world.
It is necessary to point out that the wrong stands of Mao Tsetung condemning Lin Piao and supporting the right wing line of capitulation to Western imperialists in order to face Soviet social-imperialism –who had Chou En-lai as its top ideologue-, in no way blurs the great life and political work of Mao Tsetung along more than 50 years. They were errors in the course of dealing with problems of great scope both in the new situation represented by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution –the first proletarian revolution under Socialism- as well as in the complex international situation of the late 1960s and early 1970s of the twentieth century, consequence of the fierce rivalry between US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism on a world scale and the tactical line drawn up by Chou En-lai and supported by Mao Tsetung and other Chinese leaders like Wuang Hong-wen, Chiang Ching, Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan, who, after the death of Mao, in October 1976 when the counter revolutionary coup led by Hua Kuo-feng, were arrested, imprisoned and judged by the Chinese revisionists. In the case of Mao Tsetung, were not due, in any way, to key ideological problems.
Take up the life and work of Lin Piao
The Marxist-Leninists-Maoists, the Communists and revolutionaries must oppose the inadequate criticism of Lin Piao, carried out with false arguments and wrong methods.
Because Lin Piao, in the struggle against bourgeoisie and their agents, against opportunism and revisionism of all kinds, defended Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Because Lin Piao, with his theoretical, political and military works and writings, made an indelible contribution to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the International Communist Movement.
Because when Lin Piao was alive, the Communist Party of China and the Government of the People´s Republic of China, implemented a foreign policy which corresponded to proletarian internationalism and provided great assistance to the revolutionary struggles of the people of several countries (Korea, Vietnam, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Colombia, Brazil, Palestine, France, Italy, Spain, etc.).
Because Lin Piao took the lead of the historical current, leading the revolutionary struggle; he was an irreconcilable enemy of imperialism, social-imperialism and all reactionaries.
Because Lin Piao´s life was the life of a great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, of a great revolutionary proletarian.
Lin Piao was a great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, who defended Marxism-Leninism-Maoism from all the enemies and revisionists both inside and outside China and made a valuable contribution in its understanding and development. Lin Piao has many merits in the development and victory of the Chinese revolution, and most specially, in the launching and development of the Socialist Education Movement (1963) and the campaign within the Chinese People´s Army for the study of Mao Tsetung Thought (1964). And, above all and very specially, in the creation and development of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), which prevented the restoring of capitalism in China for a number of years (until the coup lead by Hua Kuo-feng in 1976 following the death of Mao Tsetung) and represented an advance for the International Communist Movement and the liberation struggles of the people of the whole world.
For these reasons Lin Piao enjoyed great authority not only among the proletariat and people´s masses of the People´s Republic of China but also among the proletariat and people´s masses of the whole world. In the essential matters, such as the defence of the interests of the proletariat and the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory, in the struggle against imperialism and social-imperialism, revisionism and other enemies of Socialism, Lin Piao was and will always be an example for the Communists and revolutionaries.
For all this, the Marxists-Leninists-Maoists, the Communists and revolutionaries of the twenty first century have to take up the life and work of Lin Piao.
The international proletariat and the International Communist Movement have now an immense baggage of experiences, both positive and negative, to face the new battles against bourgeoisie and imperialism, in the long march towards Socialism and Communism. And, specially, they have the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology, the science of revolution developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung, the result of all the historical period which started in the nineteenth century with the First International, through the Paris Commune, the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia and the construction of the USSR, the Communist Third International and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China.
Madrid (Spain), August 2006.
GRAN MARCHA HACIA EL COMUNISMO (Long March Towards Communism)
1. Namely, only a handful of organizations like the Marxist-Leninist League of Italy (based in Brescia and who published the journal “Lotta di classe”) or the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) led by Mahadev Mukherjee after the murder of Charu Mazumdar, continued defending Lin Piao after 1972. In Spain it appears that none of the organizations under Maoist ideology maintained this same position. The attitude of the parties and organizations ideologically aligned with the CP of China at that time was to follow a copycat and non-critical stand with respect to the question of Lin Piao.
2. See, for example, Livio Maitan, El Ejército, el Partido y la Masas en la Revolución China, Akal Editor, Madrid 1978; Richard Wich, La crisis política chino-soviética, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México 1983; Yao Ming-Le, Conspiración y muerte de Lin Piao, Editorial Argos Vergara, Barcelona 1984; Chen Jian, La China de Mao y la Guerra Fría, Ediciones Paidos Ibérica, Barcelona 2005.
3. It does not help in the advance and ideological strengthening of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organizations to continue presenting nowadays Lin Piao as a renegade together with Liu and Teng and deny the responsibility that Mao Tsetung had in the change orientation in the policy of the CP of China in the early 1970s of the twentieth century, establishing an alliance with Nixon and US imperialism –as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) did in its Second Conference of February 2001: “Some people do not realize the complexity of the Cultural Revolution period and blame Mao for a number of compromises in the later period, which is completely wrong”. (Some Important Documents of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), p. 57, Janadisha Publications, Nepal 2004).
4. Let us not forget that Mao Tsetung himself in a conversation with Edgar Snow in 1965 said that it was necessary more cult of personality; that Chou En-lai in the Ninth National Congress of the CP of China praised the development of Marxism-Leninism by Mao with the epithets “with genius and creatively”. Kang Sheng in his speech delivered on 21 January 1967 referred “to Chairman Mao who gives Marxism-Leninism a fruitful impetus, to him the supreme chief of the people of the universe, and his brilliant thought”. Also, in 1968, Chiang Ching proclaimed in a speech “it is the voice of our great chief, Chairman Mao! A long, long life to Chairman Mao!” (Peking Review 68/37 of 17 September 1968) and Yao Wen-yuan in an article published in Peking Review 68/35, of 3 September 1968, referred to Mao Tsetung as “the great chief of the working class”, etc., etc.
5. Robinson Rojas, China: una revolución en agonía, Ediciones Martínez Roca, Barcelona 1978, pp. 282-283.
6. Ibid., p. 293
7. Ibid., p. 291
8. K. S. Carol, La segunda revolución china. Seix Barral, Barcelona 1977, pp. 476-477.