Liu Shaoqi

How to Be a Good Communist

II. Be Worthy Pupils of Marx and Lenin

The constitution of the party stipulates that membership is open to any member who accepts the Programme and Constitution of the Party organizations, pays membership dues and works in one of the Party organizations. No one can be a Party member unless he fulfills these requirements. But no Communist should rest content with being a Party member who merely fulfills the minimum requirements; as laid down in the Party Constitution, he should strive to make progress ceaselessly raise the level of his political consciousness and diligently study Marxism-Leninism, as manifested throughout their lives.

Engels said of Marx:

...Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and of its needs, conscious of the needs of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.1

Engles also said of Marx:

None of us has the breadth of vision with which he, whenever it was necessary to act quickly, did the right thing and tackled the decisive issue.2

Stalin said concerning the necessity of our learning from the example of Lenin:

Remember, love and study Ilyich, our teacher, our leader. Fight and defeat our enemies, home and foreign - in the way that Ilyich taught us. Build the new society, the new way of life, the new culture in the way that Ilyich taught us. Never refuse to do the little things, for from the little things are built the big things - that is one of Ilyich's important behests.3

On another occasion Stalin said:

The electors, the people, must demand that their deputies should remain equal to their tasks, that in their work they should not sink to the level of political philistines, that in their posts definite as Lenin was, that they should be as fearless in battle and as merciless towards the complicated and some danger or other looms on the horizon, that they should be as free from all requiring a comprehensive orientation and a comprehensive weighing of all the pros and cons as Lenin did.4

These are the concise characterizations of Marx by Engels and of Lenin by Stalin. That is how all members of our Party should learn from the thinking and qualities of Marx and Lenin and strive to be their worthy pupils.

Some say that the that the thinking and qualities of such great revolutionary geniuses as the founders of Marxism-Leninism cannot be acquired and that it is impossible to raise one's thinking and qualities to their high level. They regard the founders of Marxism-Leninism as born geniuses , as mysterious beings. Is such a view correct? I think not.

True enough, the average Party comrade is far from possessing the great gifts and profound scientific knowledge of the founders of Marxism-Leninism, and most of our comrades cannot attain to their deep and broad erudition in the theory of proletarian revolution. But it is perfectly possible for our comrades to grasp the theory and method of Marxism-Leninism, cultivate the style of Marx and Lenin in work and in struggle, constantly heighten their revolutionary quality and become statesmen of the type of Marx and Lenin, if they really have the will. take a really conscious and consistent stand as vanguard fighters of the proletariat, really acquire the communist world outlook, never isolate themselves from the current deep and great revolutionary movement of the proletariat and all the labouring masses, and exert themselves in study, self-tempering and self-cultivation.

There is a saying of Menicus', "Everybody can be a Yao or a Shun.5 I think that was well said. Every Communist should keep his feet on the ground, seek the truth from the facts, work hard at tempering himself, work conscientiously at self-cultivation and do his best to improve his own thinking and quality. He should not regard the thinking and qualities of such great revolutionaries as the founders of Marxism-Leninism as beyond his reach, give up and be afraid to advance. For if he does so, he will become a "political philistine", a piece of "rotten wood that cannot be carved".

We should of course adopt a correct attitude towards learning from the qualities of the founders of Marxism-Leninism and towards the learning of Marxism-Leninism itself. Otherwise it is impossible to learn anything, let alone to learn it well. In fact, there are different kinds of people in our ranks with different attitudes towards such learning.

These are people who, when studying Marx and Lenin, fail to get to the essence of Marxism-Leninism, but only learn its terms and phrases superficially. Although they read Marxist-Leninist literature, they are unable to use its principles and conclusions as a guide to action and apply them to concrete, practical problems in real life. They are content ton learn isolated principles and conclusions by rote, and even to style themselves as "the genuine" Marxist-Leninists; but they are certainly not genuine Marxist-Leninists and their actions and methods are diametrically opposed to Marxism-Leninism.

We have had not a few people of this type in the Chinese Communist Party. We had certain representatives of dogmatism at one time who were even worse. These people knew absolutely nothing about Marxism-Leninism and could only babble Marxist-Leninist phraseology, and yet they regarded themselves as China's Marx or China's Lenin, posed as such in the Party and had the impudence to require that our Party members should revere them as Marx and Lenin are revered, support them as "the leaders" and accord them loyalty and devotion. They went so far as to appoint themselves "the leaders" without being chosen, climbed into positions of authority, issued orders to the Party like patriarchs, tried to lecture our Party, abused everything in the Party, wilfully attacked and punished our Party members and pushed them around. Those people had no sincere desire to study Marxism-Leninism or fight for the realization of communism - they were just careerists in the Party, termites in the communist movement. Such people were bound to be opposed and eventually unmasked and discarded by the rank and file. And indeed they were discarded by our Party members. But can we say with full confidence that no such people will reappear in our Party? No, we cannot yet say no.

Then there are people of exactly the opposite kind. They see themselves above all as pupils of the founders of Marxism-Leninism, conscientiously study the theory of Marxism-Leninism and strive to grasp its essence and spirit. They look up to the noble character and proletarian revolutionary qualities of the founders, and in the course of revolutionary struggles they conscientiously carry on self-cultivation and examine themselves to see if their handling of affairs, their dealings with people and their own behaviour conform to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism. They are well read in Marxism-Leninism but at the same time they make a special effort to investigate and analyse living reality, to study the characteristics of their own time and all aspects of the situation facing the proletariat of their own country, and to integrate the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the revolution in their own country. They do not content themselves with memorizing Marxist-Leninist principles and conclusions, but take a firm Marxist-Leninist stand learn the Marxist-Leninist method and act accordingly, giving spirited guidance in every revolutionary struggle, and thus they transform reality and at the same time transform themselves. Every one of their actions without exception is guided by the general principals of Marxism-Leninism and is devoted to the victory of the proletarian cause, the liberation of the nation and all mankind, and the triumph of Communism.

The attitude of these people is the only correct one. It is the one attitude towards studying Marxism-Leninism and learning from the qualities of its founders that will enable us to become communist proletarian revolutionaries of the Marx and Lenin type.

A person who really takes pain to cultivate himself and to be a faithful pupil of the founders of Marxism-Leninism will lay special stress on maintaining the Marxist-Leninist stand and using the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint and method to solve the problems arising in the revolutionary movement lead by the proletariat, as the founders of Marxism-Leninism did. He will give no thought whatsoever to his own position or fame in the Party, nor will he ever claim to be a Marxor a Lenin, nor require nor expect others to have the same high respect for him as for Marx or Lenin, for he does not think he has any right to do so. Yet such a person will enjoy the considered respect and support of the mass of the Party members just because he acts in this way, because he is always honest and loyal, brave and firm, and shows great ability in the revolutionary struggle.

Of course it is not easy to model ourselves on the founders of Marxism-Leninism and to be their faithful and worthy pupils. But we can become their faithful and worthy pupils if we are strong-willed and determined to fight hard for the cause of communism, if we diligently study Marxism-Leninism amid the great revolutionary struggles of the masses and are good at summing up experience and if we temper and cultivate ourselves in every respect and devote our whole lives to the proletarian communist cause.

1. On Marx Eng. ed., FLP, Bejing, 1975. pp. 17-18.

2. Letter to J.P. Becker, October 15, 1884. Quoted from Frederick Engels by Yelena Stepanova, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, p. 221.

3. J. V. Stalin, to “Rabochaya Gazeta”, Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1954, Vol. VII, p. 15.

4. J. V. Stalin, Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Voters of the Stalin Electoral Area, Moscow, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1945, pp. 12-13.

5. From Menicus, Book VI, “Gao Zi”, Part II.

Next: III. The Self-Cultivation of Communists and the Revolutionary Practice of the Masses