27 September 2019
The International Bolshevik Tendency condemns the pro-imperialist campaign behind the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and supports the suppression of the leadership of the movement and its most intransigent adherents. The protests themselves have, at various times, mobilized millions of Hongkongers, many of whom are concerned about the territory’s falling living standards, immense social inequality, exorbitant rental rates and the world’s longest working hours. It is necessary to distinguish between rank-and-file protesters motivated by legitimate grievances and the leaders (and other elements) who have consolidated around a program committed to capitalist restoration and imperialist aggression. In the early more fluid phase of the movement, an organized intervention by revolutionaries might have led to greater differentiation and a polarization favorable to the development of a pro-socialist wing. In the absence of such Marxist leadership, however, the masses have been corralled into a counterrevolutionary dead-end.
Marxists unequivocally defend the state issuing from the 1949 Chinese Revolution against counterrevolution, including supporting those actions carried out by the CCP that protect the socialized property upon which the deformed workers’ state is based. At the same time, we make it clear “just what we are defending, just how we are defending it, against whom we are defending it” (“The USSR in War,” Leon Trotsky, September 1939). While siding with Beijing against the Western-backed, pro-imperialist counterrevolutionaries as the greater, immediate threat to the existence of the Chinese deformed workers’ state, we recognize that the Stalinist bureaucrats who control China must be overthrown by workers’ political revolution.
The parasites running the deformed workers’ state pose a mortal danger to the preservation of proletarian property forms in China, giving rise to capitalist restorationist political currents. Since acquiring the former British colony in 1997, they have pursued a “One Country, Two Systems” policy of giving free reign to the territory’s domestic and foreign capitalists while seeking to economically and politically integrate the enclave into mainland China under Beijing’s watchful eye. This is part of a dangerous strategy of allowing substantial encroachment of capitalist concerns into the Chinese economy, alongside the still dominant SOEs and state control of the main mechanisms of the economy. Defense of the Chinese deformed workers’ state is therefore inextricably linked to the need for proletarian political revolution to smash the bureaucracy and police apparatus by revolutionary mass action, kick out the capitalists, and develop a planned economy that works in the interests of all, not just a privileged elite (see “Whither China?,” 1917 No.31).
Of course we welcome and seek to intervene in independent working-class movements against authoritarianism in societies like China, where the powerful Hong Kong working class will play a key role. One fairly recent and significant example of the potential of the Hong Kong proletariat was the March 2013 strike by dockers and crane operators against billionaire Li Ka Shing that received massive support domestically (see “All On the Same Ocean,” Hong Kong Dockworkers' Strike). Actions like these point the way forward toward a class-struggle approach to expropriating the capitalists, overthrowing the political rule of the Chinese Stalinists and establishing workers’ power.
A Leninist organization in Hong Kong today would seek to isolate the territory’s pro-capitalist elements and polarize society along class lines by raising demands that address the gross social inequality on the peninsula. Such a program would include demands that connect today’s immediate needs to an overall perspective of workers’ power: dramatically reducing the number of working hours while simultaneously raising wages; dropping rental prices through a campaign for quality affordable public housing; establishing workers’ defense guards to protect against police and pro-capitalist reprisals; and expropriating domestic and foreign capitalists while instituting a centrally planned economy organized on the basis of genuine workers’ democracy.
A workers’ uprising on the peninsula of Hong Kong would be of international significance and transform the entire political scene in mainland China, resonating with both private and state-sector employees, peasants and members of rural collectives, as well as national minorities, women and other oppressed layers. It would ignite a resurgence of revolutionary activity throughout Asia and beyond. To achieve this goal, Chinese Trotskyists dedicated to the unconditional defense of the 1949 revolution must seek to work toward building a Chinese section of a reborn Fourth International – world party of socialist revolution.