Liu Shaoqi

How to Be a Good Communist

V. The Cause of Communism is the Greatest and Most Arduous Undertaking in Human History

Now let us continue with our discussion of ideological self-cultivation by Communist Party members.

What does ideological self-cultivation mean? Fundamentally, in my opinion, it means that every Party member should use proletarian ideology to combat whatever non-proletarian ideas he has, use the communist world outlook he has and use the principle of the supremacy of the interests of the proletariat, the people and the Party to combat his individualism.

This struggle is one of conflicting ideologies, and it reflects the class struggle in society. For a Party member, the result of this struggle should be that the proletarian ideology overcomes and ultimately eliminates any non-communist world outlook and that ideas based on the general interests and aims of the Party, of the revolution and of the emancipation of the proletariat and all mankind overcome and ultimately eliminate all individualism. If the opposite happens, that is, if the latter prevails over the former, the comrade concerned will retrogress and may even loose his qualifications as a member of the Communist Party. For a Communist that would be a terrible and dangerous thing to happen.

We Communist Party members temper ourselves ideologically in struggles of all kinds inside and outside the Party, constantly sum up and learn from experience gained in revolutionary practice, and examine our own ideas to see whether they fully conform to Marxism-Leninism and the interests of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat. It is through such study, reflection and self-examination that we eliminate all remnants of incorrect ideas and nip in the bud any ideas inconsistent with the interests of communism.

As you know, a man's words and actions are guided by his ideology. And a man's ideology is inseparable from his world outlook. The only world outlook for members of the Communist Party is the communist world outlook. This world outlook is the philosophical system of the proletariat and also our communist methodology.. All this has been abundantly discussed in Marxist-Leninist literature, and especially in the philosophical works of the founders. As you have studied it, I shall not go into it today. Here I shall only talk briefly of our communist cause, of what it is and how Party members should advance it.

What is our most fundamental duty as Party members? It is to achieve communism. As far as the Communist Parties of different countries are concerned, in each country it is for the Communist Party and the people there to transform it by their own efforts, and in that way the whole world will be transformed step by step into a communist world. Will the communist world be good? We all know it will be. In that world there will be no exploiters of oppressors, no landlords and capitalists, no imperialists and fascists, nor will there be any oppressed and exploited people, or any of the darkness, ignorance and backwardness resulting from the system of exploitation. In such a society the production of both material and moral values will develop and flourish mightily and will meet the varied needs of all its members. By then all humanity will consist of unselfish, intelligent, highly cultured and skilled communist workers; mutual assistance and affection will prevail among men and there will be no such irrationalities as mutual suspicion and deception, mutual injury, mutual slaughter and war. It will of course be the best, the most beautiful and the most advanced society in human history. Who can deny that such a society is good? But can this good communist society be built? We say that it can and will be. Marxist-Leninist theory has explained this scientifically and beyond all doubt. A factual testimony has been provided by the victory of the Great October revolution and the successes in socialist construction in the Soviet Union. Our duty is constantly to advance the cause socialism and communism in accordance with the laws of development of human society, so as to make socialist and communist society a reality as soon as possible. This is our ideal.

However, the cause of socialism and communism still faces powerful enemies who must be thoroughly and finally defeated in every field; only then will the socialist and communist society be brought into being. Victory for the communist cause can only be won through long and arduous struggle. Without it there can be no victory. This struggle, of course, is not an "accidental" social phenomenon or an invention of certain Communists as some people assert. It is inevitable in the development of class society; it is unavoidable class struggle. The birth of the Communist Party and the fact that Communists participate, organize and guide this struggle are also inevitable phenomena conforming with the laws of social development. The imperialists, fascists and landlords - in short, all exploiters and oppressors - are oppressing and exploiting the overwhelming majority of the people of the world to such an extent that the people are hardly able to survive and have to unite and fight against this exploitation and oppression, because they cannot exist, much less make progress in any other way. This struggle, therefore, is natural and unavoidable.

On the one hand, we must understand that communism is the greatest cause in human history, which will eliminate exploitation and classes once and for all, emancipate mankind and bring humanity into a world of happiness, radiating with beauty, such as it has never known before. But on the other hand, we must also understand that the cause of communism is the most arduous undertaking in all history; that only through protracted, bitter and torturous struggle will we be able to defeat all the exploiting classes; and that for a long time after our victory we shall patiently have to carry out social and economic, ideological and cultural transformation, for only thus will all the influences, conventions and habits of the exploiting classes be eliminated from among the people, and only thus will a new social and economic system, a new communist culture and code of social morality be built up.

The Communist Party will defiantly win final victory by relying on the proletariat and the masses of the exploited and oppressed people an by using Marxism-Leninism to guide the revolutionary struggle of the masses and propel society towards the great goal of communism. The reason is that the historical laws of social development make the progress of human society towards communism inevitable; that latent in the proletariat and the other exploited and oppressed masses of the world lie extremely powerful revolutionary energies which, once mobilized, united and organized, can triumph over all the reactionary forces of the exploiting classes and imperialism; and that the Communist Party and the proletariat are the new and rising forces and whatever is new and rising is invincible. This has been fully demonstrated by the history of the world communist movement and the Chinese Communist Party. The present situation is as follows. Socialism has already won a great victory in the Soviet Union, or on one sixth of the earth's surface; militant Communist Parties armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism have been organized in many countries; the world communist movement is rapidly growing and developing; and the forces of the proletariat and the other exploited and oppressed masses of the world are being rapidly mobilized and united in the course of incessant struggles. The communist movement is already organized as a mighty and invincible world force. Beyond all doubt the communist cause will continue to develop and advance, and will win final and complete victory. However, we should also realize that the international reaction and the exploiting classes are yet stronger than we are, that they are temporarily superior in many fields and that only by protracted, torturous and bitter struggles can we defeat them.

In a society in which private ownership of the means of production has existed for thousands of years, the exploiting classes through their rule have built up great power in all fields and have grabbed everything under the sun. Their long rule has given rise to backwardness, ignorance, selfishness, mutual suspicion and deception, mutual injury and slaughter in human society, which have persisted down the ages. It has exerted a most pernicious influence on the exploited masses and on other members of society. This is the inevitable result of the efforts of the exploiting classes to preserve their class interests and rule. For they cannot maintain their ruling position unless they keep the exploited masses and the colonial peoples backward, unorganized and divided. Hence, in order to achieve victory we must not only conduct a stern struggle against the exploiting classes but also carry on a struggle against their long-standing influence among the masses and the backward ideas and other backward phenomena found among the masses, for only thus can we enhance their political consciousness and unite them to defeat the exploiting classes. Here is the difficulty in the course of achieving communism. Comrades! If the masses were all politically conscious, united, free from the influence of the exploiting classes and free from backwardness, as some people imagine them to be, what would be so difficult about the revolution?

Not only does this influence of the exploiting classes exist before the victory of the revolution, but it survives for a very long time after when the exploiting classes have been ejected from their ruling position. Think how torturous is the process and how arduous are the work and struggle that are needed to vanquish the exploiting classes and their influence among the people once and for all, to emancipate and change all mankind, to transform myriads of small commodity producers, finally to abolish all classes and gradually to transform mankind that has lived in class society for thousands of years and been influenced by all kinds of old customs and conventions until it becomes communist mankind, intelligent and unselfish, and with a high level of culture and skill!

Lenin said:

The abolition of classes means not only driving out landlords and capitalists - that we accomplished with comparative ease - it also means abolishing the small commodity producers, and they cannot be driven out, or crushed; we must live in harmony with them; they can (and must) be remoulded and re-educated only by very prolonged, slow, cautious organizational work. They encircle the proletariat on every side with a petty-bourgeois atmosphere, which permeates and corrupts the proletariat and causes constant relapses among the proletariat into petty-bourgeois spinelessness, disunity, individualism, alternate moods of exaltation and dejection. The strictest centralization and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the organizational role of the proletariat (and that is its principle role) may be exercised correctly, successfully, victoriously....The force of habit of millions and tens of millions is a most terrible force....It is a thousand times easier to vanquish the centralized big bourgeoisie than to "vanquish" the millions and millions of small owners; yet they, by their ordinary, everyday, imperceptible, elusive, demoralizing activity, achieve the very results which the bourgeoisie need and which tend to restore the bourgeoisie.1

He also said:

...the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections of the bourgeoisie, but also in the force of habit, in the strength of small production. For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential, and victory over the bourgeoisie is impossible without a long, stubborn and war of life and death, a war demanding perseverance, discipline, firmness, indomitableness and unity of will.2

Hence the proletariat has a very difficult task to perform even after the victory of the revolution. The proletarian revolution differs from all other revolutions in history. Bourgeois revolutions, for example, are largely completed with the seizure of state power. But for the proletariat, victory and political emancipation are only the beginning of the revolution, and a tremendous amount of work remains to be done after the victory, after the seizure of state power.

The cause of communism is needed a "hundred years' task", as the saying goes, and it defiantly cannot be accomplished at one stroke. In different countries this undertaking has to go through different stages, and different enemies must be defeated, before a communist society can gradually be established. Take the case of our own country. China is still in the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and our enemies are imperialism, which perpetuates aggression against China, and the feudal and comprador forces, which are in collusion with imperialism. Only when we have defeated these enemies can we complete the bourgeois-democratic revolution in our country. Then, after the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, it will still be necessary to make the socialist revolution and to carry on socialist transformation and socialist construction for a long period, and only so will the gradual transition to communist society be possible.

Since the ultimate goal of our struggle is the achievement of communism, it is naturally our duty as Communists to overcomes all the difficulties arising in the process.

Since the communist cause is so great and arduous an undertaking, some people who seek social progress are still sceptical and not convinced that communism can be realized. They do not believe that under the leadership of the proletariat and its party the human race can develop and transform itself into a communist mankind of the highest quality and that all the difficulties in the process of revolution and construction can be overcome. Either they do not forsee the difficulties or they become pessimistic and disappointed when confronted with them, and there are even Party members who waver and desert the communist ranks.

We communists should be men of the boldest vision and revolutionary determination. Every Party member should gladly and solemnly shoulder the task of realizing communism, a task greater and more arduous than any in human history. We clearly see the difficulties in the process of realising communism, but at the same time we clearly understand that they cam undoubtedly be overcome by arousing millions of people to the revolutionary action, and no difficulties will ever daunt us. We have the masses of the people to rely on, and we have full confidence that a substantial part of the work of building communism will be accomplished in our town time and that the whole of this magnificent undertaking will be triumphantly completed by the coming generations. The heroes of no other class in history could possibly have had this great communist ideal and boldness of vision. In this respect we have every reason for pride.

I recall the instance of the western European bourgeois biographer3 who interviewed Comrade Stalin during a visit to the Soviet Union and brought up the comparisons between historical personalities. Comrade Stalin told him that Lenin was like the ocean while Czar Peter the Great was only a drop in the ocean. Such is the place in history a proletarian leader of the communist cause occupies, compared with that of a leader in the cause of the landlord and the rising mercantile classes. From this comparison we can see how truly great is a leader who fights for the triumph of communism and the cause of the emancipation of mankind and how paltry is one who fights for the cause of the exploiting classes.

We Communist Party members must have the highest goals in our struggle and the highest ideals, while at the same time we must have a practical spirit and do real practical work. Such are the characteristics distinguishing us as Communists. If all a person has is great and lofty ideas without having a practical spirit or doing real practical work, he is not a good Party member but only a dreamer, a prattler or a pedant. On the other hand, whoever is interested only in practical work but lacks great and lofty communist ideals is not a good Communist either, but just a routine plodder. Only by combining the great and lofty ideals of communism with real practical work and practical spirit can one be a good Communist. This standard for a good Communist has often been stressed by Comrade Mao Zedong, the leader of our Party.

The communist ideal is beautiful, while the reality of the existing capitalist world is ugly. This is precisely why the overwhelming majority of the people demand the changing of that reality and why it must be changed. In order to change the world we must not divorce ourselves from reality, disregard it or escape from it, nor must we surrender to ugly reality. We must face reality squarely, study and understand it, live and grow in it, fight against the ugly reality and transform it, so that we can gradually realize our ideal. Hence we members of the communist Party must initiate and press ahead with our great communist task of changing the world, beginning with our immediate surroundings, with the people immediately around us and such work as we can immediately undertake. Here we should criticize those young comrades who frequently make the mistake of wanting to escape from or disregarding reality. It is good that they have lofty ideals, but they often complain about their place of work and the kind of work they are given. They are always looking for some "ideal" place or job so that they can "change the world" with ease. But no such place and no such job exist, except in their dreams.

The cause of communism is our life work. Throughout our lives, our every activity is exclusively devoted to it and to nothing else.

1. V. I. Lenin, ≴Left-Wing≵ Communism, and Infantile Disorder, Eng. ed., FLP, Beijing, 1975, pp. 32-33.

2. Ibid, pp. 5-6.

3. Emil Ludwig (1881-1948), a German writer, met Stalin while visiting the Soviet Union in December 1931. See J.V. Stalin, ≴Talk with the German Author Emil Ludwig≵, Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1955, Vol. XIII, p. 107.

Next: VI. A Party Member's Personal Interests Must be Unconditionally Subordinated to the Interests of the Party