Proletarian revolution - Wikiquote
The idea that a proletarian revolution is needed is a cornerstone of Marxism; Everywhere the proletariat develops in step with the bourgeoisie. The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no. In social and political theory, the notion of the bourgeoisie was largely a by exploiting the propertyless proletariat and thereby creating revolutionary tensions . the property of the bourgeoisie is expropriated and class conflict, exploitation, . 'Bourgeois revolution' is not a term we hear much these days, except from those as emerging somewhat adventitiously from a conflict between two established . can begin to push beyond capitalism even in countries where the proletariat is .
So they let themselves be taken in by the democrats and liberals, or even the conservatives, and formed the faithful herd of voters for the bourgeois parties. In proportion, however, as the workers' class consciousness was jolted awake and strengthened, they went over to forming their own parties and sending their own representatives to parliament, with the mission of securing for the working class as many and as large advantages as possible during the construction and completion of the bourgeois state.
Thus, in the Erfurt Programme  of the Social-Democratic Party, the many practical demands of the movement are laid down alongside the great, revolutionary final goal, reflecting its parliamentary life and orientation towards the immediate present.
These demands had nothing to do with socialism, but derived mainly from bourgeois programmes; only they were never carried out by bourgeois parties, in fact had never been seriously wanted.
It is not to be denied that the representatives of social democracy did hard and sincere work in parliament. But their effectiveness and success remained limited. For parliament is an instrument of bourgeois politics, tied to the bourgeois method of making politics, and bourgeois too in its effect. In the last analysis, the real advantage of parliamentarism accrues to the bourgeoisie.
As the bourgeois trades and negotiates goods and values in his life and office, at market and fair, in bank and stock exchange, so in parliament too he trades and negotiates the legislative sanctions and legal means for the money and material values negotiated.
In parliament the representatives of each party try to extract as much as possible from the legislature for their customers, their interest group, their 'firm'. They are also in constant communication with their producers' combines, employers' associations cartels, special interest associations or trade unions, receiving from them directions, information, rules of behaviour or mandates.
They are the agents, the delegates, and the business is done through speeches, bargains, haggling, dealing, deception, voting manoeuvres, compromises.Bourgeoisie vs Proletariat
The main work of parliament, then, is not even done in the large parliamentary negotiations, which are only a sort of spectacle, but in the committees which meet privately and without the mask of the conventional lie. In the pre-revolutionary period, parliament also had its justification for the working class in that it was the means of securing for it such political and economic advantages as the power relations of any given moment allowed.
But this justification was null and void the instant that the proletariat arose as a revolutionary class and advanced its claims to take over the entire state and economic power. Now there was no more negotiation, no putting up with greater or lesser advantages, no compromises - now it was all or nothing. The first revolutionary achievement of the proletariat would logically have had to be the abolition of parliament.
But it could not fulfil this achievement because it was itself still organised in parties, and so bound up with organisations of a basically bourgeois character and consequently incapable of transcending bourgeois nature, i. A party needs parliamentarism, as parliament needs parties. One conditions the other, in mutual sustenance and support. The maintenance of the party means maintenance of parliament and with it the maintenance of bourgeois power.
After the model of the bourgeois state and its institutions, the party too is organised on authoritarian centralist principles. All movement in it goes in the form of commands from the top of the central committee down to the broad base of the membership.
From the Bourgeois to the Proletarian Revolution
Below, the mass of the members; above, the ranks of officials at local, regional, country and national level. They give the orders, issue the watchwords, make policy, are the higher dignitaries. The party apparatus, in the form of offices, newspapers, funds, mandates, gives them power to prescribe for the mass of members, which none of the latter can avoid. The officials of the central committee are, so to speak, the party Ministers; they issue decrees and instructions, interpret the decisions of party congresses and conferences, determine the use of money, distribute posts and offices according to their personal policy.
Certainly the party conference is supposed to be the supreme court, but its composition, sitting, decision-taking and interpretation of its decisions are thoroughly in the hands of the highest holders of power in the party, and the zombie-like obedience typical of centralism takes care of the necessary echoes of subordination.
The concept of a party with a revolutionary character in the proletarian sense is nonsense. It can only have a revolutionary character in the bourgeois sense, and then only during the transition between feudalism and capitalism. In other words, in the interest of the bourgeoisie.
During the transition between capitalism and socialism, it must fail, the more so in proportion to how revolutionary had been its expression in theory and phraseology. When the world war broke out ini. But it failed, threw away the mask of world revolution, and followed bourgeois policy all along the line.
The USP should have issued the call to revolution when the peace treaty of Versailles was concluded. Its bourgeois nature, however, forced it to a western instead of eastern orientation; it agitated for signing and submitting. Even the KPD, hyper-radical as its pose is, on every critical question is constrained by its bourgeois-centralist authoritarian character to serve the bourgeois politicians as soon as it comes to the crunch.
It sits in parliament and carried on bourgeois politics; in the Ruhr in it negotiated with the bourgeois military  ; it fought on the side of Stinnes in the Ruhr action against France by means of passive resistance; it falls victim to the cult of bourgeois nationalism and fraternises with fascists; it pushes itself into bourgeois governments in order to help further Russia's policy of capitalist construction from there. Everywhere - bourgeois politics carried out with typically bourgeois means.
When the SPD says it does not want a revolution, there is a certain logic in this because it, as a party, can never carry out a proletarian revolution. But when the KPD says it wants the revolution, then it takes into its programme far more than it is capable of performing, whether in ignorance of its bourgeois character or out of fraudulent demagogy.
Every bourgeois organisation is basically an administrative organisation which requires a bureaucracy in order to function. So is the party, dependent on the administrative machine served by a paid professional leadership. The leaders are administrative officials and as such belong to a bourgeois category.
Most party and trade union leaders were once workers, perhaps the most sound and revolutionary. But as they became officials, i. To whom God gives office, he also gives understanding. Anyone who is leader in a bourgeois organisation, including parties and trade unions, does so not on the strength of his intellectual qualifications, his insight and excellence, his courage and character, but he is leader on the strength of the organisational apparatus, which is in his hands, at his disposal, endowing him with competence.
He owes his leadership role to the authority arising from the position he occupies in the organisational mechanism. Thus the party secretary obtains his power from the office in which all the threads of the administration converge, from the paper work of which he alone has exact knowledge; the editor obtains his from the newspaper which he has in his intellectual power and uses as his instrument; the treasurer from the funds he manages; the MP from the mandate which gives him an inside view of the apparatus of government denied to ordinary mortals.
An official of the central leadership may be much more limited and mediocre than an under-official, and yet his influence and power are greater, exactly as an NCO can be smarter than a Colonel or General without having the great authority of these officers.
Ebert  is certainly not the ablest mind in his party, yet it has installed him in the highest office it has to give; he is certainly not the ablest mind in the government either - but why does he occupy that position? Not on the basis of his personal qualifications but as the random representative of his party, a centralist, authoritarian organisation, in which he has climbed to the highest rung of the ladder.
And why does the bourgeoisie put up with this Ebert? Because the bourgeois method of his politics has brought him to this position and because he conducts himself politically throughout as the advocate and counsel of these bourgeois politics.
A bourgeois leader in this position would be neither better nor worse than he. Here a word must be said about leadership in general.
There will no doubt always be people who in their knowledge, their experiences, their ability, their character are superior to others whom they will influence, advise, stimulate in struggle, carry away with them, lead. And so there will always be leaders in this sense. A good thing too, for cleverness, integrity of character and ability should dominate, not stupidity, coarseness and weakness.
Anyone who, in his rejection of the paid professional leadership that gets its authority from the organisational apparatus, goes so far as to repudiate all and every leadership without considering that superiority of mind and character is a quality of leadership not to be repudiated but worthy of welcome, oversteps the mark and becomes a demagogue. That goes too for those who inveigh and rage against the intellectuals in the movement, or - as has occurred - even against knowledge.
Naturally bourgeois knowledge is always suspect and usually questionable, bourgeois intellectuals are always an abomination in the workers' movement, which they misuse, lead astray, and often enough betray to the bourgeoisie.
But the achievements of bourgeois learning can be re-cast for the working class and forged into weapons, exactly as the capitalist machines will one day perform useful services for the working class. And when intellectuals in the interest of the proletariat attend to the important process of the scientific assimilation and reworking of intellectual works, they deserve recognition and thanks for it, not abuse and inculpation.
In conclusion, Marx, Bakunin, Rosa Luxemburg and others were intellectuals, whose scientific labours have rendered the most valuable services to the liberation struggle of the proletariat. The paid professional leaders of the bourgeois organisations deserve mistrust and are to be rejected as agents of a bourgeois administrative apparatus. Their bourgeois activity generates in them bourgeois living habits and a bourgeois style of thinking and feeling.
Inevitably they take on the typical petty-bourgeois leadership ideology of the party and trade union apparatchiks. The secure appointment, the heightened social position, the punctually paid salary, the well-heated office, the quickly learnt routine in the carrying out of formal administrative business, engender a mentality which makes the labour official in no way distinguishable from the petty post, tax, community or state official as much in his work as in his domestic milieu.
The official is for correct management of business, painstaking orderliness, smooth discharging of obligations; he hates disturbances, friction, conflicts. Nothing is so repugnant to him as chaos, therefore he opposes any sort of disorder; he combats the initiative and independence of the masses; he fears the revolution.
But the revolution comes. Suddenly it is there, rearing up. Everything is convulsed, everything turned upside down. The workers are in the streets, pressing for action. They set themselves to casting down the bourgeoisie, destroying the state, taking possession of the economy.
Then a monstrous fear seizes the officials. For God's sake, is order to be transformed into disorder, peace into unrest, the correct management of business into chaos? Negotiation is after all their method of carrying on politics, and on their fighting terrain they are at their most secure.
Wanting to carry on proletarian politics in the home of the bourgeoisie and with their methods means sitting down at the capitalists' table, eating and drinking with them, and betraying the interests of the proletariat.
Treachery to the masses - from the SPD to the most extreme of the KPD - need not arise from base intention; it is simply the consequence of the bourgeois nature of every party and trade union organisation. The leaders of these parties and trade unions are in fact spiritually part of the bourgeois class, physically part of bourgeois society.
But bourgeois society is collapsing. It is more and more falling victim to ruin and decay. Its legislature is ridiculed and despised by the bourgeoisie itself. Laws on interest rates and currency are promulgated, and no-one gives a damn. Everything that not long ago was regarded as sacred - church, morality, marriage, school, public opinion - is exposed, soiled, made mock of, distorted into caricature.
In such a time the party, too, cannot go on existing any longer; as a limb of bourgeois society it will go down with it. Only a quack would try to preserve the hand from death when the body lies dying. Hence the unending chain of party splits, disturbances, dissolutions - of the collapse of the party which no executive committee, no party congress, no Second or Third International, no Kautsky and no Lenin can now stop.
The hour of the parties has now come, as the hour of bourgeois society has come. They will still hold out, as guilds and companies from the middle ages have held out until today: A party like the SPD, which gave up all the achievements of the November uprising without a struggle, in part even wilfully played into the hands of the counter-revolution, with which it is tied up and sits in governments, has lost every justification for existence.
And a party like the KPD, which is only a West European branch of Turkestan and could not maintain itself for a couple of weeks by its own strength without the rich subsidies from Moscow, has never had this justification for existence. The proletariat will transcend them both, untroubled by party discipline and the screeches of the apparatchiks, by resolutions and congress decisions.
In the hour of downfall it will rescue itself from asphyxiation by strangling bourgeois power of organisation. It will take its cause into its own hands. In fact, they show us the typical petty-bourgeois tactics of compromise all the more in that their own existence represents a compromise between capital and labour. The trade unions have never proclaimed the elimination of capitalism to be their goal and mission. Never have they engaged themselves in any practical way to this end.
From the beginning the trade unions reckoned with the existence of capitalism as a given fact. Accepting this fact, they have engaged themselves within the framework of the capitalist economic order to fight for better wages and working conditions for the proletariat.
Not, then, for abolition of the wage system, not for a fundamental rejection of the capitalist economy, not a struggle against the whole.
That, said the trade unions with bourgeois logic, is the business of the political party. Therefore they declared themselves non-political; made a big thing of their neutrality, and rejected any party obligation. Their role was that of compromise, mediation, curing symptoms, prescribing palliatives.
From the start their whole basic attitude was not only non-political but also non-revolutionary. They were reformist, opportunist, compromising auxiliary organs between bourgeoisie and proletariat.
The trade unions grew out of the journeyman's associations of the old artisan guilds. They were filled with the spirit of the modern workers' movement when capitalism, through the great crisis of the s, impressed with particular harshness on the consciousness of the proletariat the pitfalls and horrors of its system.
Under this economic pressure, which greatly swelled the workers' movement throughout Europe, the first trade union congress was convened by Schweitzer and Fritzche in Fritzche characterised very aptly the trade union organisations and their duties when he explained: The entrepreneur, formerly all-powerful master of the house, soon had the strongly centralised power of the organisation against him.
And the working class, heightened in consciousness of its value in the process of production by co-ordinated action, and schooled from strike to strike and conflict to conflict in the development of its fighting energy, soon constituted a factor with which capitalism had seriously to reckon in all calculations of profit. We can never seriously think of denying the great value the trade unions have had for the proletariat as a means of struggle in the defence of workers' interests; no-one will dare to belittle or dispute the extraordinary services the trade unions have performed in advocating these interests.
But all this is today, unfortunately, testimonials and claims to fame which belong to the past. In the struggle between capital and labour the entrepreneurs, too, very soon recognised the value of organisation. To be able to confront the workers' combinations, they combined themselves into powerful associations, at first by trade categories or branches of industry. And - as they had greater financial resources, had the protection and favour of public officials on their side, knew how to influence legislation and jurisdiction, and could apply the most rigorous methods of terror, harassment and contempt to any bosses who did not grasp their class interests quickly enough and so did not take the required interest in the association - their organisations were soon stronger, more effective and more powerful than those of the workers.
The trade unions saw themselves pushed from the offensive to the defensive by the employers' associations. Struggles became more violent and bitter, were successful increasingly seldom, usually resulted in exhausting the central funds, and so needed more and more lengthy pauses for rest and recovery between the struggles.
Finally it was recognised that the questionable half-successes were usually bought too dear, that the compromises at best resulting from the rounds of struggle could be won more cheaply if a readiness to negotiate was shown right from the start. So they approached further struggles with reduced demands, with readiness to negotiate, with the intention of making a deal.
Instead of struggling openly, each side tried to out-manoeuvre the other. Offering to negotiate was no longer considered as a fault or as weakness. They were adjusted to compromise. As a rule, agreement - not victory - formed the conclusion of wage movements or conflicts over hours. Thus, in time, an alteration in tactics, in the method of struggle, came about all along the line. The policy of signing labour contracts arose. On the basis of agreements and conciliation, contracts were signed in which the conditions of work were regulated in paragraphs.
The contracts were binding for the whole organisation of both sides in the branch of industry for a longer or shorter period of time.
In the form of a compromise, they represented a kind of truce until further notice. The boss gained significant advantages through the conclusion of labour contracts: In contrast to the boss, the worker only got disadvantages from the labour contract: In fact, as the policy of labour contracts became predominant, the worker's participation in the life of the unions grew more dormant; meetings were sparsely attended, participation in elections fell off sharply, dues had to be collected almost by force, terror in the factories got the upper hand along with the bureaucratisation of the administrative apparatus - both means to maintain the existence of the organisation, which had become an end in itself.
The Communist Manifesto - Bourgeoisie and Proletariat
The introduction of national contracts for large categories of workers effected an even greater increase in centralism and the power of officials and at the same time, too, an ever-growing split between leaders and masses, greater alienation of the organisation from its original character as a means of struggle, and from the objective of struggle, and deeper degradation of the workers into insignificant, will-less puppets, only paying dues and carrying out instructions, in the hands of the association's bureaucracy.
Another factor was added. In order to chain the worker to the organisation through all his interests, which derive from his permanent situation next to the bread line, the unions developed an extensive and complicated system of insurance, carrying out a sort of practical social policy. Apparently for the benefit of the worker, certainly as his expense. There is insurance against sickness, death, unemployment, moving and travelling to a new job; a whole social welfare apparatus with little plasters and powders and all sorts of palliatives for proletarian misery.
The worker collects insurance policy after insurance policy, pays premium after premium, develops an interest in the liquidity of the union treasury, and waits for the opportunity to call on its help. Instead of thinking about the great struggle, he gets lost in calculations over pennies. He is strengthened and maintained in his petty-bourgeois way of thinking; he gets bogged down, to the disadvantage of his proletarian emancipation, in the constraints and narrow-mindedness of the petty-bourgeois concept of life, which cannot give anything without asking what is to be had in exchange; gets used to seeing the value of organisation in the random and paltry material advantages of the moment, instead of holding his sights on the great goal, freely willed and selflessly fought for - the liberation of his class.
In this way the class struggle character of the organisation is systematically undermined and the class consciousness of the proletarian irretrievably destroyed or devastated. Into the bargain the poor devil carries on his back the costs of a system of social benefits and welfare which basically the state should pay out of the wealth of society as a whole, lightening the burden on the financially weak. Thus the trade unions have become, over time, organs of petty-bourgeois social quackery, whose value to the worker has shrunk to nothing anyway, since under pressure of the devaluation of money and the economic misery  the solvency of all welfare funds has sunk to nil.
But more than this: They have become the most loyal shield-bearers of the bourgeois class, the most reliable protective troops for the capitalist money-bag. At the outbreak of the war they came out in favour of the duty of national defence without a moment's hesitation, made bourgeois war policy their own, recognised the civil peace, subscribed to the war loan, preached the imperative of endurance, helped to enact the law on auxiliary service, and frenziedly suppressed every movement of sabotage or revolt in the weapons and munitions industry.
At the outbreak of the November Revolution they protected the Kaiser's government, flung themselves against the revolutionary masses, allied themselves with big business in a working association, let themselves be bribed with offices, honours and incomes in industry and in the state, clubbed down all strikes and uprisings in unity with police and military, and thus shamelessly and brutally betrayed the vital interests of the proletariat to its sworn enemy.
In the building up of capitalism after the war, in the re-enslavement of the masses through capital organised in trusts and connected internationally, in the Stinnes-isation of the German economy, in the struggles over Upper Silesia  and the Ruhr, in the retrenchment of the 8-hour day, the demobilisation orders, the forced economy, in the elimination of the workers' councils, the factory committees, control commissions, etc. Always against the interests of the proletariat, against the progress of the revolution, the liberation and autonomy of the working class, they used and use the far greater part of all accretions to funds to secure and materially provide for their existence as boss-men and parasites, which - as they well know - stands and falls with the existence of the trade union organisation that they have falsified from a weapon for the workers into a weapon against the workers.
Wanting to revolutionise these trade unions is a ludicrous undertaking, because quite impossible to carry out and hopeless. This "revolutionising" amounts to either a simple change of personnel, changing absolutely nothing in the system but maximally extending the centre of infection, or else it must consist in removing from the trade unions centralism, contract-signing, the professional leadership, the insurance funds, the spirit of compromise.
What is left then?
As long as the trade unions still exist, they will remain what they are: Such generally harmful, counter-revolutionary institutions, inimical to the workers, can only be destroyed, annihilated, exterminated. Then the bourgeoisie installed itself in the saddle again, to ride more boldly and brutally than ever over the bodies and heads of its rescuers. Although laden with unheard-of wealth, which it looted meanwhile, it is still gripped by anxiety and terror: Thus the German bourgeoisie in is no longer the one it was in For even German capitalism has become another.
It has left the national phase of its development and has entered the international phase. This change and progression is connected with the outcome of the World War. If the World War originated in the drive to expansion of all the capitalist states and had the aim of placing the whole world under the dictatorship of one of these capitalist states or combination of states, so the result of the World War was, for the power of German capital, the miscarrying of this plan and the painful price of renouncing for the future its independent existence and letting itself be incorporated into the association of interests of the conquering combine.
The forces of German capital are represented in the first place by heavy industry. Germany is rich in coal but lacking in ore. On this account, the daily morning and evening prayer of the Stinnes and their like was already, decades ago: Dear God, give us a victorious war with France so that we can gain possession of the rich ore deposits of Briey and Longwy.
As, on the other side, the French capitalists implore their Lord God, in view of the scarcity of coal in their country, for the rich coal treasures of the Ruhr region. Ore and coal, then, also acted in the determining role in the World War, especially in the struggle between France and Germany -- after world domination had showed itself to both as an illusion.
The treaty of Versailles brought the French capitalists the Saar region; but they remained discontented, for they claim the Ruhr region as before. Since it has pressed the French government into the military invasion of the Ruhr and finally achieved its occupation. This book is invaluable as a guide to thorny historiography and societal complexity together. It is also written with an enviable clarity and propulsive energy. No one can fail to learn a great deal from it, and be entertained throughout.
Its deeper significance, however, was as an attempt to rescue the Leninist conviction that 20th-century capitalism was no longer supportive of constitutionalism and democratisation. In contrast, if Communist Russia shows what is likely to happen when the path to industrial modernity is hewn without use of capitalist markets and the pluralism of bourgeois civil society, then Leninism is in trouble.
Davidson seems to accept the Brenner definition of capitalism as involving a social process of endogenous competitive accumulation that forces both owners of capital and direct producers to continually drive up productivity p. This sturdy formulation appears almost entirely inapplicable to Communist command economies. I can't see much use in defining such regimes, even though certainly committed to developmental industrialisation, as capitalist in any form, still less products of bourgeois revolution.
Basically, this theory amounts to the claim that once integrated into an international division of labour, a national economy is likely to comingle reservoirs of rural backwardness with cutting-edge industries. Consumer spending is suppressed and the peasantry burdened with taxes.
Politically and socially, therefore, we can expect to see a wracked traditionalism cheek-to-jowl with hyper-modernity. The relevance of all of this to Tsarist Russia is evident, though it might have been fair to note that Trotsky owed these observations to the analyses of liberal historians such as Paul Miliukov.
The result is state-driven revolutions from above more often than from below. The first such example, Davidson argues, is the transformation of Scottish society from above in the 18th-century. In like form, socialism can begin to push beyond capitalism even in countries where the proletariat is numerically weak, as in Russia Trotsky as Davidson acknowledges was not alone amongst Marxists in re-thinking the inexorable rise of bourgeois liberalism before the advent of socialism.
From aboutthe seemingly inevitable association of modernity with liberalism became more doubtful. This owed much to the organisation across continental Europe of mass conscript armies backed by large-scale munitions industries. It became much more difficult for liberals to keep the state on slim-rations and still able to stay ahead of threatening rivals. Hypertrophy of the militarised state, moreover, helped provoke the growth of rhetorically revolutionary socialist movements of the working-class, that in turn made the bourgeoisie even more wary of promiscuous political and civil liberties.
Second International Marxists, who cleaved to economic determinism, were inclined to explain declining liberal animal spirits by reference to the economically driven statizing of capitalism. Nonetheless, Marxists and socialists still broadly accepted that the bourgeoisie were progressive at least relative to aristocratic and militaristic cliques that continued to hold disproportionate political power.
This is a pity, as it contained nuances that anticipated later revisionist critiques, as we saw with Kautsky above. Kautsky also as Davidson notes readily acknowledged the possibility of socialists seizing power in Russia as early aseven if he thought that an attempt to transcend capitalism on an immature material basis would prove disastrous. Davidson does not and from his point of view cannot accept the centrality and authenticity of political reform and ideology to his theorisation of bourgeois revolution.
He does, however, state it on page The emancipation from the imperialist yoke, the liquidation of the burden of feudalism, the construction, starting with what was only a colony or semi-colony of world capital, of a united and independent China, the creation of a single national market, the overthrow of the centuries old structures of economic and social relations in the countryside, the construction of the foundations for the expansion of modern industry in a huge country - this is the revolutionary side, albeit bourgeois revolutionary, of Maoism.
Under the guise of bringing Marxism up to date and as a banner to lead the class of industrial and agricultural wage labourers to victory, it launched to the world all the baggage of democratism, gradualism, pacifism, coexistence, and mercantilism which every more or less consistent bourgeois revolution carries with it.
It is this which is its incurably counterrevolutionary side. The working class embodied in its revolutionary party and led by it never hesitated, even though it knew that by doing this it would have to give up not only its sweat but also its blood, to applaud and support the historically necessary achievements of the bourgeois revolutions, even when these revolutions are incomplete, as is always the case when the proletariat is not able to physically play the dominant role.
This therefore explains our position on the Chinese revolution. However as it is indicated in the passage from our article of quoted at the beginning, in order to explain the present development of the Chinese revolution it is not sufficient to recognise that it was and is a bourgeois revolution, and without doubt the greatest of this post-war period, a revolution whose social origins are well defined by the worship of the individual, of Mao as the creator of history instead of being the instrument of it.
They had to develop instead on the basis of an agriculture that was extremely small scale with its tiny plots of land, and therefore very backwards, although it was protected in its precarious structure by the existence of a strong single central power rid of the octopus of imperialist domination as well as of the suffocating provincialism of the War Lords, and thus able to ensure, as had been done before in China for thousands of years, the physical conditions for the survival of the small and the minute rural enterprises through the regulation and control of the canals in a countrywide system of irrigation.
Thus they have given the signal for the accelerated development of the productive forces and the transformation of semi-colonial China into a great power. But they have not gone beyond the first phase of all bourgeois revolutions, something which is only possible by following a tumultuous path on which, up till now, only some basic steps have been taken. This is the secret of the convulsions which periodically shake contemporary China within the very framework of its capitalist transformation.