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 Strengthen the Party's Democratic Centralism

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Strengthen the Party's Democratic Centralism


by the Writing Group of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Party

Source: Peking Review, No. 10, March 5, 1971
Transcribed by www.WENGEWANG.ORG

    OUR great leader Chairman Mao teaches us: "To lead the revolution to victory, a political partymust depend on the correctness of its own political line and the solidity of its own organization." (On Contradiction.) The new Party Constitution adopted by the Ninth Party Congress stipulates: "The organizational principle of the Party is democratic centralism." Strengthening democratic centralism in the Party is an important guarantee for the continual consolidation of the Party organization and for the implementation of Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line.
   Guided by the line of unity and victory of the Party's Ninth National Congress and after the extensive and deep-going Party consolidation and Party building movement, Party committees have been or are being established and put on a sound basis in many places and units in accordance with the Party's principle of democratic centralism. These new Party committees are "three-in-one" combinations of old, middle-aged and young members, including old Party members tempered during the long years of revolutionary struggle and young Party members who have come to the fore in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Because these members are earnestly studying and applying Mao Tsetung Thought in a living way and maintaining close ties with the masses, the Party committees at all levels have been able to become more dynamic than ever, and this all the more helps "create the kind of vigorous and lively political situation in which there arc both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind."

Component Part of the Line in Party Building

   Some comrades do not understand the importance of democratic centralism in Party building, regarding its implementation merely as an ordinary question of methods of work. They pay no attention to ideological education In democratic centralism and doing a good job in Party building organizationally in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism.
   The paramount task in Party building is to build up the Party ideologically, which means using Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line to educate and arm the Party members in order to revolutionize their thinking. Democratic centralism is an important component part of Chairman Mao's line in Party building. An important matter in building the Party ideologically is carrying out education in democratic centralism "so that members can understand the meaning of democratic life, the meaning of the relationship between democracy and centralism, and the way in which democratic centralism should be put into practice." (The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War.)
   Chairman Mao has pointed out: "The Party organization should be composed of the advanced elements of the proletariat; it should be u vigorous vanguard organization capable of leading the proletariat and the revolutionary masses in the fight against the class enemy." In order to really play the role of the vanguard of the proletariat, Party organizations must firmly implement the Marxist-Leninist line formulated by Chairman Mao and they must be strong, vigorous and militant organizations. Putting proletarian democratic centralism into practice is precisely to ensure that Chairman Mao's correct line will be carried out, that all erroneous tendencies running counter to the Party's line and undermining Party principles and discipline will be criticized and opposed, that the initiative of the whole Party membership will be brought into full play, and that centralized Party leadership will be constantly strengthened.
   An important hallmark distinguishing genuine Marxist-Leninist Parties from all other political parties is the correct integration of proletarian democracy and proletarian centralism. This is also a manifestation of our Party's flourishing state and great fighting power. Besides redoubling their efforts in studying Mao Tsetung Thought, raising their consciousness of the struggle between the two lines and cultivating a firm and correct political orientation, members on our Party committees at all levels and the masses of Party members must uphold the organizational principle of democratic centralism, fully mobilize everyone's initiative and place all the Party's forces under a unified leadership so as to carry out in a still better way the Party's political line and accomplish its political tasks.

Struggle Between the Two Lines

   To firmly implement democratic centralism in the Party or not has always been a major question in the struggle between the two lines within the Party. Historical experience has proved that adhering to or undermining democratic centralism constitutes an important aspect in the fierce struggle between Chairman Mao's proletarian line in Party building and all "Left" or Right opportunist lines in Party building. In order to achieve his counter-revolutionary political aim of usurping the leadership of the Party and government and restoring capitalism, the renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi consistently undermined democratic centralism in the Party. Vainly trying to suppress and stifle the revolutionary initiative of the Party members, he opposed proletarian democracy, peddled the theory of "docile tools," and advocated slavishness. In addition, he opposed proletarian centralism, recruited deserters and turncoats and gathered together a gang of renegades, enemy agents and capitalist roaders to form an underground bourgeois headquarters in opposition to the Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao and in carrying out frenzied activities to split the Party. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, practice of extensive socialist democracy as advocated by Chairman Mao — letting the masses freely air their views, boldly arousing them to speak up, writing big-character posters and holding great debates — completely smashed the counter-revolutionary plot of Liu Shao-chi and company to restore capitalism. United as never before around the Party Central Committee with Chairman Mao as its leader and Vice-Chairman Lin as its deputy leader, the whole Party and the people of the entire country have achieved a high degree of centralism on the basis of a high degree of democracy. Our new Party committees at all levels must conscientiously sum up and learn from historical experience, carry out deep-going revolutionary mass criticism, thoroughly eliminate the remaining pernicious influence of Liu Shao-chi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line, work even more consciously according to the principle of democratic centralism, and see to it that whatever they do truly conforms to democratic centralism.

Giving Fun Play to the Initiative of the Whole Party

   We must continue to strengthen the whole Party's "unity based on the principles of Mao Tsetung Thought" (Communique of the Second Plenary Session of the Party's Ninth Central Committee). Strengthening democratic centralism is precisely the necessary condition for fulfilling this task. In his article Win the Masses in Their Millions for the Anti-Japanese National United Front, Chairman Mao pointed out: “A great revolution requires a great party and many first-rate cadres to guide it." He also pointed out: "To attain this aim, inner-Party democracy is essential. If we are to make the Party strong, we must practise democratic centralism to stimulate the initiative of the whole membership." "Let us give scope to the initiative of the whole Party membership, and so train new cadres in great numbers, eliminate the remnants of sectarianism, and unite the whole Party as solidly as steel." We must firmly remember this historical experience in Party building pointed out by Chairman Mao.
   Some comrades pose democratic centralism against unity in Party committees for fear that giving play to democracy should give rise to many ideas and make unity difficult to achieve. They are afraid that the concentration of ideas of one section of people and not those of another section will affect unity. Therefore, they failed to give full play to democracy when it was necessary and dared not correctly concentrate the ideas that needed to be concentrated. Actually, these comrades do not understand what Party unity is and how it can be achieved.
   Our unity means the unity in thinking and action attained under the guidance of Chairman Mao's correct line. With Mao Tsetung Thought, there can be common language and unified action. This is the basis of unity. When a Party committee, from "squad leader" to committee members, can all think of problems and act in accordance with Mao Tsetung Thought, genuine unity is achieved. How can this unity be achieved? This needs putting democratic centralism into practice. Within a Party committee, we cannot do without democracy nor can we do without centralism. Only by unifying democracy and centralism and by persevering in carrying out centralism on the basis of democracy and practising democracy under centralized guidance can unity based on the principles of Mao Tsetung Thought be achieved.
   Is it correct that giving play to proletarian democracy will give rise to many ideas and create difficulties in achieving unity? No. Chairman Mao has said: "Without democracy there cannot be correct concentration, because it is impossible to establish centralism when people have divergent views and don't have unity in thinking." The saying that giving play to democracy will make it difficult to have unity in thinking is, in fact, a reflection of Liu Shao-chi's theory of "the masses being backward." Having faith only in oneself but not in the masses and what "I" think being the criterion for doing everything — this inevitably will affect unity. If you do not let others speak out, correct views cannot be expressed and incorrect views cannot be criticized and made right; how can there be any concentration and unification? Without concentration and unification, there will not be genuine revolutionary unity. Superficially, it seems that centralism, unification and unity are high; but all this is false. To achieve genuine concentration and unification and genuine revolutionary unity, we must act according to Mao Tsetung Thought and practise the democratic style of work, not the "patriarchal style of work."

Concentrating Correct Ideas

   If there are divergent ideas, can disunity be avoided without concentrating correct ideas? Facts prove quite the contrary. Chairman Mao has said: "The Communist Party not only needs democracy but needs centralization even more." "What is meant by concentration? First, there must be concentration of correct ideas. Unity in thinking, policy, plan, command and action is attained on the basis of concentrating correct ideas. This is unity through concentration." If we do not dare to concentrate correct ideas and criticize mistaken ideas, unity cannot be achieved. From "squad leader" to members of a Party committee, all must be bold in sticking to principle. We must support everything that conforms to Mao Tsetung Thought and oppose those that go against it and not take an ambiguous stand and not make compromises or be eclectic. It is necessary to observe Party discipline and oppose the tendency to violate it. This is the only way the "squad members" of a Party committee can achieve unity in thinking and can march in step, and "we shall solidly unite all the forces of our Party on democratic centralist principles of organization and discipline" (On Coalition Government),
   Chairman Mao has taught us: "Place problems on the table. This should be done not only by the 'squad leader’ but by the committee members too." (Methods of Work of Party Committees.) The "squad leader" and members of a Party committee, and the committee members themselves should keep each other informed and exchange views on matters that have come to their attention, in order to have a common language. All important problems must be discussed by the Party committees at which everyone is allowed to fully express his views and clear-cut decisions are made. Decisions then should be carried out respectively. As to complex important problems about which people hold divergent opinions, they should be discussed and decided only after opinions have been exchanged between individuals and there has been full consultation. An individual is not entitled to decide on important matters unless they have been collectively discussed by the Party committees. "Don't say yes at a meeting and go back on your words and say no after It" Countless experience has proved since the establishment of new Party committees that, by acting according to Chairman Mao's teachings, a Party committee is able to maintain its internal unity and give full play to its role as a militant headquarters.
   Unity is achieved through struggle. Without struggle there is no unity. To achieve Party unity on the basis of the principle of democratic centralism, it is necessary to use the method of criticism and self-criticism and carry out active ideological struggle. Covering up contradictions, rejecting struggle and keeping on good terms will certainly corrode unity and undermine cohesion. Only through constant criticism and self-criticism and by correcting mistaken ideas can we integrate the upholding of unity with perseverance in principle and continually attain new unity on a fresh basis.

Centralized Party Leadership

   We must strengthen the centralized leadership of the Party which is the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee, the leadership of Mao Tsetung Thought and Chairman Mao's line, policies and principles. The policies and principles of the Party Central Committee stem from the principle of democratic centralism; they come from the masses and go back to the masses again. In the course of implementing them, democratic centralism and the mass line must be applied. In other words, Party committees at all levels must give full play to the democratic style of work, firmly take the mass line, put Party policies in the hands of the masses, raise their understanding and consciousness in implementing these policies, and help turn the policies into the masses' action. At the same time, it is necessary to concentrate the correct views of the masses, sum up their advanced experiences and then popularize them extensively.
   We have some local Party committees which have done fairly well in this respect. Their members do not sit in their offices; they go and strike roots among the masses. They are good at listening to the views of the masses, concentrating their correct opinions, fostering new-born things and popularizing advanced experience. In such places, the line, policies and principles of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee are speedily and well implemented. Their experience proves that only by putting democratic centralism into practice can the Party's line, policies and principles be assured of implementation and centralized Party leadership be assured of realization. If, on the contrary, democratic centralism is not practised, subjectivism will inevitably result — relying on only a few people or letting things drift and allowing those at the lower levels to do as they please, all of which are detrimental to implementing the Party's line, policies and principles and harmful to centralized Party leadership.

Ideological Revolutiomzation Is the Key

   The key to putting democratic centralism into practice is the ideological revolutionization of the Party committees. The proletarian world outlook is the ideological basis for practising democratic centralism, while the bourgeois world outlook is the ideological foundation for departure from democratic centralism. Practice has proved that the more revolutionized one's thinking is, the more conscious will one be in implementing democratic centralism, and that when democratic centralism is not carried out well, the root cause is that the bourgeois "self" and metaphysics and idealism in one's mind are exerting their bad influence. We must, therefore, continue to deepen the mass movement for the living study and application of Mao Tsetung Thought; leading cadres in the Party must study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought even more conscientiously and diligently, firmly grasp the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines as the key link and, closely integrating themselves with practice in the three great revolutionary movements — class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment — constantly fight self, criticize revisionism and consciously remould their world outlook. Only by doing this can we fundamentally raise our understanding of the struggle between the two lines and our consciousness of carrying out democratic centralism, so that the whole Party and the people of the entire country will unite still more closely around the Party Central Committee with Chairman Mao as its leader and Vice-Chairman Lin as its deputy leader, and win still greater victories in the advance along the course charted by the Party's Ninth National Congress.

(Abridged translation of an article in "Hongqi," No. 1, 1971. Subheads are ours. —Ed.)

Source: Peking Review, No. 10, March 5, 1971
  
  
  

 
 
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