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Tiananmen: It's Right to Rebel

Revolutionary Worker #1009, June 6, 1999



June 1999 marks the tenth anniversary of what has come to be known as the Tiananmen Massacre. On June 4, 1989, the Chinese rulers headed by Deng Xiaoping ordered the soldiers to put a violent stop to the protests of youth and workers in Tiananmen Square in the capital city of Beijing. Perhaps thousands of people were killed in cold blood when the troops fired into crowds and army tanks ran over people. Demonstrations in Tiananmen Square had been growing for weeks, as students, workers and others flocked to the square to protest government corruption and to demand "greater democracy." Then, before the eyes of the world, the Chinese regime moved on the demonstrators without mercy.

After the bloody events of June 1989, bourgeois news reports declared, "This is what happens when you've got a communist government." But this was a lie. The present-day rulers of China are NOT communist, and China has NOT been a socialist country since 1976. At that time--shortly after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Tsetung--Deng Xiaoping led a right-wing coup against the revolutionaries led by Mao's closest comrades-in-arms, Chiang Ching and Chang Chun-chiao. Deng and other reactionaries took over the Communist Party and seized control of state power. From that point, China has been on a capitalist road of development. The current ruling class of China are revisionists--they claim to be communist, but they are in fact exploiters and oppressors of the people.

Mao led the people's war that liberated China in 1949. The 1976 coup brought capitalism back to China. The new capitalist rulers have dismantled socialist agriculture--causing ruin and suffering for many millions of people in the countryside. They have promoted the rising of a small class of rich--while the common people face deepening poverty and a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. They have brought back oppressive social relations, including patriarchal subjugation of women. They have opened China up to foreign capital--turning the country into a sweatshop for the West. All this is enforced by a military, police and legal system that protects the interests of the privileged and carries out brutal suppression of the people.

The crushing of the Tiananmen Rebellion in 1989 was an example of what happens when capitalists and imperialists are in power. It exposed to the world the reactionary, anti-people nature of the capitalist regime in China. The U.S. and other imperialist governments put on a show of condemning the massacre. But they know one of their kind when they see one. Multinational corporations and imperialist governments have continued to invest billions of dollars in China--while pushing the Chinese regime to become even more openly capitalist.

The student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 were to a large extent influenced by Western bourgeois ideas of democracy. But the demonstrations also more broadly focused and galvanized dissatisfaction and anger that had been growing throughout China. The students at Tiananmen became a focus for millions of people in China who were sick and tired of corruption in high places, growing income inequalities, inflation, promotion of crude self interest, and many other injustices in Chinese society that had returned since 1976. The student demonstrators in Tiananmen received widespread support and sparked demonstrations in several cities. Tens of thousands of other youth and workers went to Tiananmen to join the students. And among the demonstrators, there was clearly a section who openly supported Mao--and contrasted his revolutionary line and policies with the corruption and repression of the current regime.

To deeply understand these developments in China, you have to go back to Mao Tsetung. It was Mao who warned of the danger of the "capitalist road" under socialism. It was Mao who pointed out that people joining the Communist Party only to build a "modern, prosperous China" would, once in positions of power under socialism, develop into a new bourgeoisie. It was Mao who predicted that if the capitalist-roaders like Deng came to power, they would overthrow socialism and slavishly submit to imperialism. It was Mao who brought forward a series of policies and principles of socialist planned economy--designed precisely to avoid the disastrous consequences of capitalist development that can be seen in China since 1976.

And, most of all, it was Mao who initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution--an unprecedented "revolution within a revolution" to expose and overthrow Deng and other new bourgeois forces within the Communist Party who were aiming to restore capitalism. Mao taught revolutionaries everywhere that class struggle and revolution must continue after the proletarian seizure of state power. The Cultural Revolution was about going forward on the road toward abolishing all exploitation and overcoming all differences and inequalities in society. It was about the continual transformation of society from top to bottom. It was about revolutionary alteration of institutions and ideas. One quarter of humanity was on the road to the future.

The Cultural Revolution did not "fail" or "collapse." It was defeated by the class that rules China today--those who carried out the massacre in Beijing in June 1989. But that is not the end of the story. The lessons and legacy of Mao and the Cultural Revolution live on. Since the 1976 coup, Maoists have regrouped on an international scale in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and are either waging revolutionary war, as in Peru and Nepal, or preparing for it in different countries. In China, capitalist rule and imperialist domination are bound to bring forward more struggle of the people against the system. The revisionists may be in power there, but fundamentally they have no future.

The people of the world must never forget and never forgive the Tiananmen Massacre. The blood of the Chinese people is on the hands of the revisionist Chinese rulers and the imperialist powers who support them. The savage crushing of the mass upsurge in Beijing in 1989 exposed the real nature of the capitalist rulers in China. And it showed that only another socialist revolution will save China.

As Mao Tsetung said, "It's right to rebel against reactionaries."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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