Report to
Institute of Economics & Pacific Institute
of the Academy of Sciences, USSR
People’s Publishing House, Ltd

Problems of National and Colonial Struggle After the Second World War

By E. M. Zhukov
* Revised stenogram of the report delivered on June 8 1949, at a Joint session of the Scholars’ Council of the Institute of Economics and the Pacific Institute of the Academy of Sciences, USSR devoted to the problems of the national and colonial movement after the Second World War.
The struggle of the oppressed peoples for emancipation has spread over vast expanses of the earth and over all the continents of the world.

This struggle has already been crowned with great victories in the countries of East Asia.

Before our eyes Mongolia, which was once the most backward among backward countries has avoided the painful path of capitalist development and is laying the foundations of transition to Socialist construction.

The Korean people, who in the course of many decades were subjected to the most savage and bestial exploitation of the Japanese barons, a people who were sedulously ‘Japanised’ in order that their culture could be stifled and their feeling of national dignity corroded, have become masters of their own fate over a considerable part of the territory of their country.

Finally, the great Chinese people whose wealth for more than, a century attracted the avid glances of foreign capitalists, preachers and colonisers, generals and businessmen, missionaries and bankers, a people who suffered great misfortune and humiliation and whose land was rent and torn to pieces by the British, French, .Japanese and other usurpers, a people whom even till yesterday the American interventionists had tried to stifle with their so-called “aid” – this people have already won a great victory of historic significance. A People’s Republic of China has been proclaimed and a Central People’s Government headed by the renowned leader of the Chinese Communists, Mao Tse-tung has been formed. The banner of People’s Democracy flies victoriously over the most important vital centres, over the industrial towns – the cradle of the Chinese working class, which is leading the people.

S.E. Asia, that ancient preserve of colonial oppression and exploitation has been transformed into an arena of a dogged and bloody struggle of the rising peoples against the imperialist slave-owners.

The imperialists and their native servitors are resorting to frenzied terror, imprisonment, the gallows, to the basest provocation in order for the time •being to hold in subjugation the peoples of India, of the Near East, Central and South America.

But even the most backward continent, Africa, has already begun seriously to disturb the peace of the colonial masters by the appearance of a popular resistance to the civilised oppressors, a resistance which though weak at present is growing irresistibly. The heroic uprising of the Malagazy people in Madagascar, this immense island situated near the African coast and remote from the centres of the revolutionary struggle, deprived of correct information about the life and struggle of other people and concealed behind the iron curtain of the French colonial empire – this heroic uprising drowned in blood has like a flash of lightning cast light on the tense situation in the most lonely and secluded corners of the dark domain of the imperialist pirates. The peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies do not wish to live as of old. It is not merely that they can no longer endure the chains of colonial slavery, but also that they have recognised the possibility of breaking their chains; and have gained confidence in their strength and faith in the future.

Comrade Stalin has pointed out that the First World War and the victory of the revolution in the USSR
“has shattered the bases of imperialism in the colonial and dependent countries, that the authority of imperialism in these countries has already been undermined, and that it is beyond its power any longer to rule as of old in these countries.”
The Second World War and the defeat of the fascist aggressors, the world-historic victory of the USSR and the fact that a number of countries have dropped out of the capitalist system and are taking to the path of Socialist development had undermined the authority of imperialism in the colonial and dependent countries to a greater and hitherto unprecedented extent. This has deepened the crisis of the colonial system which is the most important component part of the general crisis of capitalism.

The peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies have seen with their own eyes the might of the forces that were opposed to imperialism; the downfall of the fascist colonial empires, the weakness and cowardice of the British “race” of the old colonial rulers and the instability of the empire of their oppressors.
For example can the peoples of Burma ever forget how shamelessly the British “masters” conducted themselves the period of the Second World War? Was it not possible for the people of the Philippines to observe a display of all the “qualities” of the belauded General MacArthur – from cowardice to treachery? Were not many peoples of Asia convinced through their own experience that the Japanese and the American, the French or the Italian colonisers “differ from each other only as a blue devil differs from a white devil”?

Inspired by the victories of the USSR, the defeat of fascism, the exposure of the barbarian ideology of racism the weakening of their former ‘colonial “rulers”,’ whom during, the Second World War, they had learnt to really despise, the peoples of the colonies raised with renewed energy and confidence in their strength the banner of struggle for freedom and independence.

The armed struggle of the peoples of a number of colonial and dependent countries for their national independence and sovereignty, testifies not only to an increase in the sweep of the national liberation struggle but also its rise to a qualitatively new level. The armed struggle for the creation of independent republics in Indonesia and Indo-China, the armed struggle in Malaya and Burma, the peasant uprisings in India and finally the victorious Liberation War of the Chinese people bear clear testimony to the fact that the national liberation movement has entered a new and higher stage of its development after the Second World War.

The leading role of the working class and of its vanguard–the Communist Party is of decisive importance in the national liberation movement of the most important colonial countries. Already today we can affirm with complete truth that in the majority of colonial countries and in the first instance in those countries where the struggle against imperialism has assumed the sharpest form the working class is emerging in the role of recognised leader of the colonial revolution, and the Communist Parties directly or through broader mass organisations are leading the national liberation movement.

It is undoubtedly impossible to speak of the development of the national struggle in the colonies and semi-colonies, the character of this struggle, its direction and its tendencies in isolation from the general international situation. It is not difficult to see that the very advance and successes of the national liberation movement after the Second World were wholly the result of the changes in the correlation of class-forces on a world scale in favour of democracy and Socialism and to the detriment of imperialism – a result of the growth of the might of the USSR. This is confirmed by the whole course of postwar historical development.

The aggressive policy of the USA and the growth of American colonial expansion after the Second World War, the formation of the Anglo – American imperialist bloc, directed against the USSR, against the People’s Democracies, and against the national liberation movements on the one hand, and the active support which the Soviet Union is rendering to the peoples fighting for their liberation on the other, have resulted in the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries naturally gravitating more and more towards the anti-imperialist, democratic camp headed by the Soviet Socialist State. The consolidation of the democratic camp is the guarantee of the further successes of the national liberation struggle of the colonial peoples. The formation of and the struggle between the two camps – the camp of democracy and the camp of imperialism has at the same time sharpened the class struggle in all countries, by facilitating a more rapid and clear-cut demarcation of the opposing class forces both in the colonial and dependent countries.

The sweep and the successes of the popular movements in Asia are greatly alarming the imperialist camp, causing special annoyance to the American pretenders for world domination by revealing the adventurism of their plans and calculations. American imperialism which heads the anti-democratic camp and aspires for world domination has become the leader of the colonial powers, the main gendarme that is attempting to rescue the imperialists from the progressive democratic movement all over the world, and is seeking to crush the national liberation struggle in the colonies and semi-colonies. The monopolists of the USA regard the colonial possessions of every imperialist power as their own potential possession and by utilising the various levers of political, economic and military pressure on the so-called Marshallised countries (Britain, France, Holland, Belgium), are overcoming the resistance of their competitors and compelling them to pursue in the majority of the colonies a policy which corresponds to the interests of American monopoly capital.

This policy is above all dictated by the strategic interests of the aggressive Anglo – American imperialist bloc. It is directed towards the utilisation of the man-power and material resources of the colonies and semi-colonies and in the first instance towards the acquisition of cheap or free labour power, cannon-fodder and military supplies for the purpose of preparing for a new world war. This policy sets as its task the utilisation of the territories of the colonies and semi-colonies as military jumping-off grounds and bases for the Anglo – American armed forces. Finally this policy pre-supposes the ruthless suppression of the national liberation movements in the colonial world.

The Trumans and Bevins are planning to use Africa for combined strategic purposes as a gigantic jumping-off ground for a new world war, and, at the same time, as a source of war raw materials and slave labour.

The democratic victory in China gives rise to an attempt on the part of the Anglo-American imperialists to organise a kind of a “screen” or “barrier” in order to fence off the sphere of their colonial plunder in South East and South Asia. The imperialists are mortally afraid of the perspective or direct contact being established between liberated China and Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaya and Burma wherein also a ceaseless struggle is being waged by the peoples for their liberation. Wall Street and the City have reason to fear even about India, where the fresh winds from China cannot but reach.

While the aggressive North Atlantic Pact which is directed against the USSR and People’s Democracies contains clauses which bind its signatories to carry out joint police measures against the democratic forces and in the first instance against the working class movement in the countries of Western Europe. The Pacific and Mediterranean Pacts prepared by the imperialists bear a similar anti-Soviet direction and besides this their edge is especially directed against the national liberation movement of the colonial peoples.

But the correlation of forces between democracy and imperialism has of late changed to such an extent in favour of democracy that more and more often the imperialists are meeting with failure when they attempt as of old to apply the method of open armed intervention in the struggle against democracy. The sorry “experience” which the imperialists had in China and Viet Nam is there for all to see. Therefore the colonisers, while not renouncing the policy of war and intervention are attempting in every way to mask this policy more and more often the imperialist intervention is being carried out under the pretext of “aid”, “support” “defence” and with pious references to the United Nations Organisation.

The unprecedented advance of the national liberation struggle of the peoples of the dependent and colonial countries after the Second World War, the high level of that struggle and primarily the revolutionising effect on the colonies of the uninterrupted consolidation of the democratic anti-imperialist camp has compelled the imperialists to manoeuvre and to change the forms of their domination in the colonies. It has forced them to resort to demagogic means in order to dupe the enslaved people and cause a split in their national anti-imperialist front. The imperialists are relying to a greater and greater extent not only on the feudal-landlord elements, but also on the national big bourgeoisie in the colonial and semi-colonial countries.

Alarmed at the national liberation struggle of the peoples, which is rising at the present time to a particularly high level and which is being waged under the hegemony of the working class, confronted with the growing revolutionary activity of the broad masses, the big bourgeoisie in the colonies and semi-colonies has finally gone over into the camp of imperialist reaction and betrayed the interests of its country and peoples.

Alarmed by the sweep of the national liberation struggle, the growth in the political consciousness of the toiling peoples and the leading role of the working class and Communist Parties in the revolutionary movements in the colonies and semi-colonies, the imperialist colonisers with the help of the big bourgeoisie, by utilising the religious, racial and other prejudices are trying to corrupt the consciousness of the masses with the poison of bourgeois nationalism and are trying to instigate chauvinistic sentiments.

Bourgeois nationalistic propaganda plays a most vital role in the aggressive plans of the imperialists. It is calculated not only to disrupt, disunite the peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies in the interests of imperialism but it also sets itself the task of neutralising the national liberation movement by directing it on to a false, nationalistic path under the leadership of the reactionary bourgeoisie and the national reformists, who are deflecting the masses from revolutionary aims and methods of struggle.

In the colonies and semi-colonies bourgeois nationalism is designed to hold back the masses under the ideological and political leadership of the big bourgeoisie which in the majority of colonial countries has already gone over into the imperialist camp. Bourgeois nationalism is especially directed against the national liberation movements in the colonies and dependent countries joining the anti-imperialist democratic camp. Bourgeois nationalism is the most important ideological weapon utilised by the Anglo-American aggressive bloc for the purpose of strengthening the instable colonial system of imperialism.

That is why a ruthless exposure of the reactionary, bourgeois-nationalistic ideology in all its diverse forms – be it Kemalism or Gandhism, Sionism or Panarabism – accelerates the process of national and social emancipation of the colonial and dependent countries and razes to the ground the provocative designs of the imperialists and their agents.

Similarly in the developed capitalist countries the Rightwing Socialists, traitors to the working class are attempting to disseminate the rotten notion about the possibility of some kind of a ‘third’ middle path between Communism and capitalism and are in actual fact serving the forces of imperialist reaction, which is planning war against the USSR and the countries of People’s Democracy. The national reformists in the colonial and semi-colonial countries falsely reiterate their desire “to remain aloof from the struggle between the two camps”, their “neutrality” in relation to, as they express it, “the ideological conflict between the USSR and USA”, and in practice they form a bloc with the reactionary bourgeoisie, slander the USSR and actively help the imperialists.

The base role of Sultan Sjhariar in Indonesia, who has sold himself to the American imperialists is known to all. No baser slander is spread against the USSR than by the so-called Indian “Socialists”. The British puppet in Burma Thakin Nu also calls himself a “Socialist”.

The bloc of Anglo-American imperialist colonisers and the national bourgeoisie along with their national-reformist servitors are allowing the imperialists in the majority of the more important colonies to utilise the bourgeois democratic reformist illusions to dupe the masses. They permit the imperialists to substitute for the open and crude forms and methods of colonial domination, more subtle and covert forms (granting of dominion status, “independence” and the establishment of ‘allied’ treaty relations on the foundations of a formal equality of the parties).

In actual practice “equality” between the Philippines and USA or Iraq and Britain is a farce in the same manner as the attempts of the French bourgeoisie to mask its colonial oppression in its overseas possessions under the sign-board of the “French Union”.

As a result of the “new policy” of the imperialists in the colonies and semi-colonial countries, the national big bourgeoisie is often being allowed by them to come to power along with the landlords and other feudal elements. It utilizes this power for the most violent and ruthless suppression, of the mass liberation movement of the workers, peasants, the progressive intelligentsia. The position in India shows that the national big bourgeoisie do not yield either to feudal or imperialist colonisers in their ruthless and reactionary nature. This contributes to the fact that the new bourgeois-democratic reformist forms and methods of administration which were designed to mask the retention of imperialist domination in the colonies are being rapidly exposed and rendered less effective. At the same time the masses in the colonies and semi-colonies are at an accelerated pace coming to realise the falsity and hypocrisy of bourgeois pseudo-democracy. On the other hand the growing mass national liberation movement, led by the proletariat calls forth the full fury of the reactionary forces, who are casting aside the fig-leaf of bourgeois democracy and are resorting ever more and more to openly fascist and terroristic means.

In this respect the example of India is particularly convincing. The Indian bourgeoisie now rivals the most reactionary forces in stifling the mass popular movement, in the terror against the progressive elements of the working class and peasant movement. The metamorphosis of Nehru, from a Left-Congressite and an accuser of imperialism into a shrewd servant of the two masters – both Britain and USA – into an ally of the Indian princes and landlords, into a bloody strangler of the progressive forces in India is a clear demonstration of this. But this is the logic of the class struggle there can be no “middle position” between imperialism and democracy”

Bourgeois democratic institutions in the colonial countries as a rule brought into play as a result of the postwar policy of the imperialists in order to camouflage their rule, are revealing their bankruptcy. They guarantee neither the democratisation of the country nor the weakening of imperialist oppression. Bourgeois democracy everywhere including in the colonies is incapable of carrying out even the limited bourgeois reforms.

The demarcation of the opposing class forces on a world scale, the formation of two camps and the struggle between them, the world-historic role of the Soviet Union as a bulwark of all the progressive forces has contributed in a tremendous degree to the working class assuming the hegemony in the national liberation movement in the colonial and dependent countries. The leading role of the proletariat in the anti-imperialist struggle as also the earlier experience and the new postwar historical experience contributing to the further exposure of bourgeois democracy, which is incapable of guaranteeing the attainment of genuine independence and not even directed towards the carrying out of effective democratic transformations, have lent the national liberation movement the character of a struggle not for bourgeois democracy but for People’s Democracy.

People’s Democracy as a special form of power which corresponds to the transitional period from capitalism to Socialism, which has been possible thanks to the victory of Socialism in the USSR and the consolidation of the democratic forces all over the world not only fully corresponds to the interests of the broadest masses of toilers of the colonies and semi-colonies but also is easily understood by them and realisable in practice. People’s Democracy is in a position to guarantee both emancipation from imperialist oppression and the carrying out of genuinely democratic transformations, creating the necessary prerequisites for a transition to Socialist construction.

In the struggle for People’s Democracy in the colonies and semi-colonies are united not only the workers, the peasantry, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia, but even certain sections of the middle bourgeoisie which is interested in saving itself from cut-throat foreign competition and imperialist oppression.

Thus, the struggle for People’s Democracy can unify the overwhelming majority of the people under the leadership of the working class. This signifies that the people’s democratic revolution can easily become a form of national liberation struggle, a form of colonial revolution.

The successful experience of building People’s Democracy in North Korea and over the liberated territory of China, the popularity of the slogan of struggle for people’s democracy in the overwhelming majority of the colonial and dependent countries fighting for their freedom, clearly confirms the correctness and the practicability of the people’s democratic path of national and social emancipation, the path of progress towards Socialism for the former colonial and backward countries.

The entire postwar events in the colonial world developing as an exposure and weakening of reaction and the growth of revolutionary forces in the shape of the consolidation and further strengthening of the mighty camp of democracy and Socialism has resulted in the national liberation struggle of the peoples of many countries growing over naturally into the struggle for People’s Democracy.

Nevertheless it would be incorrect to ignore the essentially distinctive features which distinguish people’s democracy in the colonial and dependent countries who are liberating themselves from imperialist yoke from people’s democracy in the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe. The first and the main difference consists in the fact that insofar as in the colonies and. dependent countries the cultural and economic development has been partially hampered and artificially stifled by imperialism, the extent of the bourgeois-democratic tasks confronting people’s democracy in these countries will be considerably greater than in the other less backward and more developed countries, to whom colonial oppression has been unknown or almost unknown.

It is perfectly clear that the people’s democratic revolution in the colonial and semi-colonial countries cannot but bear in the first place an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character. Hence it follows that the people’s democratic revolution in the colonies must in its development go through a number of consecutive stages and the period of the transition to the solution of Socialist tasks, to the construction of Socialist economy in these countries may be more prolonged than in the other countries of people’s democracy, which were not colonies.

The stages of development of the people’s democratic revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies, representing in essence the process of its growing over into Socialist revolution will be determined in every country by the concrete distinctive features of its historical path and by the correlation of class forces inside the country and on an international scale.

The general programme adopted by the Chinese People’s Consultative Council indicates that the People’s Republic of China is carrying out in practice the dictatorship or people’s democracy, which is headed by the working class based on alliance of the workers and peasants and unifies all the democratic classes and all the national-minorities of China.

The People’s Republic is waging a struggle against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capital and sets as its task “to abolish all the privileges of the imperialist countries in China, to confiscate bureaucratic capital, to transfer it to the ownership of a People’s State; systematically to carry out the transformation of the feudal and semi-feudal system of landownership, to protect the common property of the State and the property of the co-operatives, to guard the economic interests and private ownership of the workers, peasants, the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, to develop the people’s economy of the new democracy and steadily transfer the country from an agricultural into an industrial one.”

The Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Mao Tse-tung, has written in his article “On the Dictatorship of People’s Democracy” published in Pravda of July 6, 1949,
“the experience acquired by the Chinese people over many decades shows us the need to establish a dictatorship” of the people’s democracy. This means that the reactionaries must be deprived of the right to express their opinion and that only the people shall have the right to vote and to express their opinion. The democratic system must be realized among the people, granting them freedom of speech, assembly and organisation. The right to vote is granted only to the people and not to the reactionaries. These two aspects, namely, democracy for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, represent the dictatorship of the people’s democracy.” (Mao Tse-tung, “The Dictatorship of People’s democracy”, – “For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy” July 15, 1949)
The political and economic programme of the People’s Democracy of China is designed for a systematic increase in the specific weight of social, State ownership which is the foundation of further progressive development.

The general laws of social development are uniform both for the countries of the East and for the West. It is possible to speak of a difference only in the tempo or the concrete forms of this development. In that sense in its basic features People’s Democracy in the East does not differ from People’s Democracy in the West.

Lenin and Stalin teach us that taking into account the local distinctive features, the national – specific concrete approach of “solving the single international task” in every country is the indispensable condition for an appraisal of the revolutionary movement. Since the very task is one and international, the question is of how best to apply the general, the identical, the international principles, to the particular concrete national conditions.

The development of the national liberation struggle in the colonies and semi-colonies, the development of the struggle against imperialism has already been crowned with the biggest successes which testifies to the increasing aggravation of the general crisis of the capitalist system. The growing liberation movement of the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries is emerging as a reliable ally and a mighty reserve of the camp of democracy and Socialism, opposed to the forces of imperialism and reaction. The People’s Republic of China is already an inseparable and integral part of the anti-imperialist camp headed by the Soviet Union, fighting for peace and democracy. The whole course of the national and colonial struggle, the greatest victories won by the forces of democracy in East Asia are clear confirmation of the correctness of the Leninist-Stalinist teaching on the national and colonial question and a demonstration of the triumph of the all-conquering ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin.

Problems of Economics No.9, 1949.

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