The Chinese Trotskyists

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10/01/2022 by socialistfight

By Gregor Benton 10-01-2022

Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary 1919-1949 Paperback – April 15, 1991
by Fan-hsi Wang (Author), Gregor Benton (Translator) An important account of the historical roots of the Tiananmen Square incident, Wang Fan-Isaac autobiography documents events in China from 1919 to 1949. Including previously unpublished material in English, this book details past events in China by someone who was there, on the inside.

The Chinese Trotskyists are often denounced for their failure to insert themselves into working-class life and are said to have spent their days either in the library or (more likely) in jail. I am currently translating Xiong Andong’s memoir for a book, forthcoming in the HM series at Brill/Haymarket, edited and translated by me, Yang Yang (Kevin), and Wang Fanxi’s grandson Xue Feng, on the three generations of Chinese Trotskyists, in China, Hong Kong, exile, and diaspora. It’s clear from Xiong’s account that the Chinese Trotskyists had a healthy implantation in the factories, both during  the Sino-Japanese War and in the postwar cities. In just three years, dozens of Trotskyists started working in factories in Chongqing alone. Here is one relevant passage (there are many others in this and other memoirs, regarding other cities and provinces):

Between October and December 1939, the first group of Trotskyist students, Meng Xianzhang, Yang Shouyuan, Cao Qinghua, Sun Hongzhi, Yin Chunde, Zhang Shengshi, and Yang Chengzhang, arrived in Chongqing, where most of them became factory workers. Yang Shouyuan learned typography at the Yishi newspaper and then entered the technical school attached to the Twenty-first Arsenal; Meng Xianzhang joined the arsenal as an apprentice; and Sun Hongzhi entered the 21st Arsenal as a forge worker, but he returned to school because he could not adapt to the life of a factory worker.

 In the summer of 1940, a second group of recruits arrived in Chongqing. They were Liu Zhichao, Su Xuechang, Fan Wenhua, Ren Yuxi, Kang Zhiquan, Liu Guangen, Zhao Shengwen, Cao Qinghua, Liu Hengxin, Guo Huanxian, Chen Rulin, Mou Jiayi, and more than a dozen others. Liu Zhichao became a typesetter at the Southern Printing Factory; Su Xuechang was a weaver in the South Bank Weaving Factory; Liu Hengxin was a cloth worker for the Ministry of Military Affairs; Liu Guangen was a cloth worker for the Ministry of Military Affairs; Kang Zhiquan was a bus driver; Cao Qinghua was a bus conductor; Zhao Shengwen was a handyman at the Guojiatuo Fiftieth Arsenal; and Ren Yuxi was an alcohol brewer.

 In the summer of 1941, the third group arrived in Chongqing. They were Shan Cai, Shan Songzen, Wang Xiangchen, Zhang Hongren, Du Wenlin, Kui Kuan, Zhao Fengtian, Wang Xuecheng, Li Guangzhi, Jiang Fuxue, Li Yuting, and more than a dozen others. Shan Cai worked at the Jiangbei Iron Works; Shan Songzen was a forge worker at the Jiangbei Iron Works; Wang Xiangchen was a draftsman in the Twenty-first Arsenal, as was Zhang Hongren; Du Wenlin was an apprentice at the Southern Printing Factory: while three members, Wang Xuecheng, Li Guangzhi, and Jiang Fuxue, died of cholera after not finding work in time and living on the streets or spending the night on an abandoned boat on the bank of the Jialing River.

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