An Editorial Statement From The People

A Marxist Repudiation of the Massacre at Tiananmen Square

The Socialist Labor Party of America and its official journal, The People, unequivocally and without reservation condemn the monstrous attack that the Chinese ruling class and armed forces have unleashed upon demonstrators in Beijing, beginning on June 4 and continuing as of this writing.

At the same time, we unequivocally and without reservation condemn as vicious and self-serving propaganda the all-out effort by capitalist spokespersons, particularly U.S. government officials and the major news media, to associate the repression in China with Marxism and socialism.

For weeks, U.S. workers have been told, again and again, that both the circumstances that gave rise to the mass student demonstrations in the first place, and the eventual brutal response of the ruling bureaucracy, were caused by the failings and the oppressive nature of socialism and/or Marxism in China. This is a big lie.

In this connection, there is one essential fact that must be made crystal clear to U.S. workers: China is not, and never has been, a socialist country.

True, the leaders of the 1949 Chinese revolution proclaimed themselves Marxists and no doubt considered themselves Marxists. But the social system they established and have since maintained in China never did, and does not now, resemble the democratic worker-controlled society of free and equal producers that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels advocated and projected.

Socialism is a system in which the means of production are owned by all society, and in which the industries and the economy as a whole are democratically administered by the workers themselves, through their own organizations based in the industries. Not only does socialism not exist in China, it does not yet exist anywhere in the world.

Rather, in both the capitalist countries like the United States and the bureaucratic statist countries like China and the Soviet Union, a small privileged class effectively owns and controls the economy, reaping wealth for itself by exploiting the working class. In the United States, that ruling class is the capitalist class; in countries like China and the Soviet Union the party-state bureaucracy is the ruling class.

Both the Chinese and the U.S. ruling classes stand guilty of twisting and distorting the meaning of socialism in the minds of workers.

By identifying its own repressive rule as representative of Marxism and socialism, the ruling elite of the Chinese Communist Party has unforgivably smeared Marxism and injured the movement for genuine socialism.

By using the Chinese ruling class’s inhumane actions as an excuse to vilify Marxism and socialism, by repeatedly describing China as a “communist regime” or “Marxist dictatorship” and the like, the U.S. capitalist-controlled news media and state officials hope to convince more U.S. workers to reject socialism out of hand—in order to help preserve capitalist rule over the workers. Now they are opportunistically seizing upon a tragedy to further that self-serving end.

It is incumbent upon the Socialist Labor Party, The People and all classconscious workers everywhere to expose the barrage of propaganda asserting that the capitalist United States is the universal and uncompromising champion of freedom and democracy.

Such claims are being made on behalf of a capitalist society whose government has spent and continues to spend billions of dollars every year to support numerous repressive military regimes around the world, has subsidized the murders of tens of thousands of workers and peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Angola, and has been steadily eroding basic civil liberties in this country. These claims therefore must be recognized as nothing more than an effort to capitalize on the present turmoil in China.

There is much more that can and must be said about the crisis rocking China—and more will be said in future issues of The People. At this writing, fighting is continuing in Beijing, massive protests have erupted elsewhere in China, and it is difficult to determine precisely what is taking place through the haze of often conflicting reports and procapitalist propaganda.

The Socialist Labor Party and The People can, however, declare the following:

•The crimes against humanity committed by the ruling elite of the Chinese Communist Party are the crimes of bureaucratic statist class rule and have nothing to do with socialism. Socialists rightly condemn the massacre in Beijing as anti-working class and thoroughly immoral.

•Bona fide Marxian socialism does not stand for the suppression of freedom and democracy, but for its greatest possible realization: a system in which the workers themselves will freely control and democratically govern their own affairs, economic and social.

•Neither Chinese bureaucratic state despotism nor U.S. capitalism can bring meaningful freedom and democracy to the workers of China. Meaningful freedom and democracy can only be won by the workers themselves, through the organizing of their own movement for genuine socialism.

(Originally published as "The Conflict in China," June 17, 1989)

Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • •

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