The ideological development of Communist Party of Burma

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The Communist Party of Burma is one of the oldest political parties in Myanmar as it existed since the colonial era. It was popular for fighting back against British colonial forces and Imperial Japanese army. It was founded by two fractions of leftists, Bamar leftists such as Thakin Aung San, Thakin Soe and Bengali leftists such as H. N. Goshal and Amar Nag. Later, CPB helped to form a leftist political and military alliance, namely Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League.

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on October 22, 2022

The very first leadership of the Communist Party of Burma were influenced by the analysis of Communist Party of India and the leadership of American Communist Party, especially the leadership of Earl Browder. At such time, Earl Browder was suggesting that armed revolution would no longer be necessary to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. Such kind of analysis was criticized by one of the former General Secretaries of CPB and a fractional split occurred. Later, CPB had to abandon its Browder’s theoretical line due to the differences of the socio-economic conditions between the two countries.

Stalinism and anti-imperialism
In December 1947, H. N. Goshal released a thesis with the name “On the Present Political Situation and Our Tasks”. The thesis basically outlines eight points. The summarised version of the eight points is as follow:
• Character of the Treaty and the “Independence”
• Aung San’s murder was an imperialist attack against the revolutionary forces
• Analysis on Thakin Nu’s AFPFL government
• Policies of the Thakin Nu government and the national bourgeois
• Working class can and must avert this disaster
• United Front from below
• Lead mass battles
• Build the Revolutionary Party
H. N. Goshal, a Bengali founder of CPB clearly challenged AFPFL and its ruling class which recently had a split with CPB. This analysis was reinforced by a mass rally with 75,000 people mainly organised by All Burma Peasants Organisation and was known to be initialised by CPB. U Nu took that mass rally as an early sign of revolt against his reformist government and ordered the arrest of the CPB's leaders. As a result, the CPB leadership decided to start an armed struggle against U Nu’s government even though the main author of the whole analysis, H. N. Goshal, was in favour of mass strike over guerrilla warfare. CPB started its armed struggle in 1948 against the Burmese government.

Being a Marxist-Leninist, H. N. Goshal was very critical of Maoist line of guerrilla warfare. However, he was a minority in his own party given the political climate. The CPB officially concluded the state of Burma as “semi-colonial and semi-feudal state” in 1950s. Following Maoist guerrilla warfare tactics, the CPB established guerrilla bases among the peasants in the countryside, leaving the role of mobilising the urban proletariat to the Red Socialist Party and other affiliates. CPB founded its own primary military wing with the name People's Liberation Army (PLA) which is the same name of Mao Zedong’s PLA.
Early in the 1950s, the communist military effort started to falter; Burmese authorities outlawed the party in October 1953. So, the "peace and unity" propositions were made by the CPB in 1955. The military coups in 1959 and 1962 resulted in regime changes, but the CPB's aim was not achieved yet. Thus, the CPB participated in the 1963 peace negotiations with Ne Win's military government.
Frustrated with the failure of the 1963 peace talks and inspired by Cultural Revolution in China, Thakin Than Tun ordered the party to begin its own "Cultural Revolution”. The party abandoned its previous position of "peace and unity" and returned to a revolutionary Maoist line. A mass campaign of purges and executions were applied to both counterrevolutionaries who supported Ne Win’s military regime and the life-long party members who have different opinion from their bureaucratic fraction. Such cultural revolution purges within CPB are the main reasons CPB lost its influence over the mass population in Myanmar. Ne Win’s government took advantage of it and attacked massively against CPB. Even though there were some leadership changes since 1968 when Thakin Than Tun, the leader of red fascist fraction was assassinated, the CPB still maintains its Maoist line as the main revolutionary theory. However, since the CPB used to support the gang of four during the cultural revolution, the Chinese government under Deng reduced their supports towards the CPB.

Summing up, the Communist party of Burma was struggled with revisionism or reactionary reformism since its birth. There were some leftists who are knowledgeable on the revolutionary strategy they followed: such as H. N. Goshal and Thakin Soe. However, new generations of CPB are reported to be the useful idiots of Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China imperialist camps. Moreover, some members or some party cells of CPB still followed or praised the red fascist fraction of Thakin Than Tun from cultural revolution era.