By BO Staff Writer
After the Long March, when the Chinese Red Army had arrived in Northern Shensi, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee met in December 1935 to interrogate the various problems regarding tactics against imperialism. Subsequent to this meeting Mao Zedong delivered a report containing an analysis of these problems at the Party’s conference in Wayaopao, Northern Shensi. At this meeting Mao elaborated on the significance of forming an alliance with the national bourgeoisie in the face of the imperialist onslaught by Japan and the role of the Communist Party and the Red Army regarding the united front. During his report he analysed the Long March which was conducted from October 16, 1934 to October 20, 1935.
On this 80th anniversary of the Long March it is appropriate to republish Mao Zedong’s reflections on why the historic journey was indeed a victory. This is truly Mao’s own commemoration of the March.
“As you know, comrades, for almost a year and a half the three main contingents of the Chinese Red Army have carried out great shifts of position. The Sixth Army Group led by Jen Pi-shih and other comrades began to shift to Comrade Ho Lung’s area in August last year, and in October we ourselves started to shift position. In March this year the Red Army in the Szechuan-Shensi border area began its shift. All three Red Army contingents have abandoned their old positions and moved to new regions. These great shifts have turned the old areas into guerrilla zones. The Red Army has been considerably weakened in the process. From this aspect of the over-all situation, we can see that the enemy has won a temporary and partial victory, while we have suffered a temporary and partial defeat. Is this statement correct? I think it is. For it is a statement of fact. However, some people (Chang Kuo-tao for instance) say that the Central Red Army has failed. Is that correct? No. For it is not a statement of fact. In approaching a problem a Marxist should see the whole as well as the parts. A frog in a well says, “The sky is no bigger than the mouth of the well.” That is untrue, for the sky is not just the size of the mouth of the well. If it said, “A part of the sky is the size of the mouth of a well”, that would be true, for it tallies with the facts. What we say is that in one respect the Red Army has failed (i.e., failed to maintain its original positions), but in another respect it has won a victory (i.e., in executing the plan of the Long March). In one respect the enemy won a victory (i.e., in occupying our original positions), but in another respect he has failed (i.e., failed to execute his plan of “encirclement and suppression” and of “pursuit and suppression”). That is the only appropriate formulation, for we have completed the Long March.
Speaking of the Long March, one may ask, “What is its significance?” We answer that the Long March is the first of its kind in the annals of history, that it is a manifesto, a propaganda force, a seeding-machine. Since Pan Ku divided the heavens from the earth and the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors reigned, has history ever witnessed a long march such as ours? For twelve months we were under daily reconnaissance and bombing from the skies by scores of planes, while on land we were encircled and pursued, obstructed and intercepted by a huge force of several hundred thousand men, and we encountered untold difficulties and dangers on the way; yet by using our two legs we swept across a distance of more than twenty thousand li through the length and breadth of eleven provinces. Let us ask, has history ever known a long march to equal ours? No, never. The Long March is a manifesto. It has proclaimed to the world that the Red Army is an army of heroes, while the imperialists and their running dogs, Chiang Kai-shek and his like, are impotent. It has proclaimed their utter failure to encircle, pursue, obstruct and intercept us. The Long March is also a propaganda force. It has announced to some 200 million people in eleven provinces that the road of the Red Army is their only road to liberation. Without the Long March, how could the broad masses have learned so quickly about the existence of the great truth which the Red Army embodies? The Long March is also a seeding-machine. In the eleven provinces it has sown many seeds which will sprout, leaf, blossom, and bear fruit, and will yield a harvest in the future. In a word, the Long March has ended with victory for us and defeat for the enemy. Who brought the Long March to victory? The Communist Party. Without the Communist Party, a long march of this kind would have been inconceivable. The Chinese Communist Party, its leadership, its cadres and its members fear no difficulties or hardships. Whoever questions our ability to lead the revolutionary war will fall into the morass of opportunism.”
This is an extract from Mao Zedong’s December 27, 1935 speech “On tactics against imperialism” which was obtained from the marxist.org website.