Liu Shaoqi

How to Be a Good Communist

VIII. The Source of Wrong Ideology in Our Party

The Communist Party, representing the brightest and most progressive aspects of contempory human society, is the bearer and disseminator of Marxism-Leninism, the acme of human thought. The most politically conscious, progressive and developed people in the world, people with the highest sense of morality and justice, are gathered in the communist Parties, fighting unswervingly against all the forces of darkness and for the bright future and final emancipation of mankind. The Communist Party of China is one of the best Communist Parties in the world. Guided by our leader Comrade Mao Zedong, our Party is armed with the powerful weapon of Marxist-Leninist theory and, at the same time, is carrying forward the fine traditions of progressive thinkers and revolutionaries in Chinese history. It represents the most progressive and brightest aspects of Chinese society, and the finest sons and daughters of the Chinese nation are gathered within its organized ranks. It has been fighting the forces of darkness in Chinese society for a long time, has gone through an arduous process of tempering and has accumulate rich experience in revolutionary struggle. In all this we Communists can justly take pride. There is every ground for absolute confidence that we shall finally be successful and victorious. However, we cannot say yet that everything in our organization is perfect, or that there are no shortcomings and faults. Nor can we say that our ranks are free from unsound and even bad elements, who might be quite capable of any sort of nastiness. In other words, our glorious Party contains some undesirable phenomena, some dark spots which I have already enumerated.

Now when a family acquires an ugly son-in-law or daughter-in-law, it can not always keep him or her away from the guests. Even if we wanted to do so by taking the attitude of trying to "conceal the family shame", it would be impossible to hide such unpleasentness. The masses of the people are in constant contact with our Party, sympathisers come here to visit us and people who look up to us including many young men and women, come here to study or to join our Party. When they arrive, besides the progressive, fine and attractive things and "members of the family", they will naturally see the ugly sons- or daughters-in-law who might publicly say or do something unpleasant or make a spectacle of themselves, to the perplexity or our guests and new Party members. The newcomers may ask, "Does not the Communist Party stand for all that is just? Are Communists not the finest people? Why are there still such bad people and ugly things in the Communist Party? How strange!" Before joining the Party, some young comrades were bitterly dissatisfied with existing society, saw no way out and turned to the Communist Party as to a beacon of light. They thought that everything would be satisfactory and would work out well once they joined. Yet after doing so, or after arriving in our revolutionary base area, they find there are shortcomings and mistakes in the Party, too, and in real life not everything is satisfactory (much that would satisfy them would not be in the interests of the revolution and the Party), and so they feel reality is not entirely as they pictured it, and some begin to have doubts and feel puzzled. They ask, "Why are such things to be found in the Communist Party as well?" Before coming to Yan'an or before enrolling in the Anti-Japanese Military and Political College, some people imagined Yan'an and the College would live up to their dreams, but after their arrival and enrolment they do not find everything to their satisfaction and are perplexed. They ask, "How can such things happen even in Yan'an and the Anti-Japanese College?" And failing to find answers, some even become pessimistic and disheartened.

Their questions should alert our Party members and cadres and be a lesson to them so that they will give serious attention to guiding and taking care of all new Party members and all who are moving in our direction and to ensuring they are not adversely affected. But, quite apart from this, we should explain things clearly to comrades inside and outside the Party.

Why are there still such undesirable things in our splendid Party? The reason, I think, is rather simple. Our Party has not fallen from the skies, but has grown out of Chinese society. In general, our Party consists of the finest sons and daughters of our country, the vanguard of the Chinese proletariat, but they come from all strata of the old society, and in China today there still exists exploiting classes and the influence of these classes - selfishness, intrigue, bureaucracy and various types of filth. We have many excellent Party members who are not easily affected by such influences. But it is so strange that certain members bring some of the filth of the old society with them into our Party of reflect it there? Is it so strange that a person that has just crawled out of the mud is covered with slime? Of course not. It is only to be expected. It would be strange and indeed incredible, if the ranks of the Communist Party were absolutely free from such filth. It may be said that so long as such filth exists in society, so long as classes and exploiting class influences exist in society, there is bound to be some filth in the Communist Party. It is precisely because there is such filth in society, and in the Party, that it is the duty of the communist Party to change existing society, and it is necessary for Communists to remould, cultivate and temper themselves. In addition to carrying on a struggle in society at large against everything evil and backward,, it is imperative for us to carry on a struggle inside the Party against every social evil and backward influence as mirrored in the Party by vacillating and unsteady elements. This is the source of inner-Party contradiction and struggle. Through struggle, both inside and outside the Party, we seek to change society and gradually rid it of its evils and backwardness, and at the same time seek to perfect our Party and remould our Party members, and to resolve our inner-Party contradictions, so that our Party and its membership will become healthier and stronger.

Stalin said:

The source of the contradiction within the proletarian parties lies in two circumstances.

What are these circumstances?

They are firstly the pressure exerted by the bourgeoisie and bourgeois ideology on the proletariat and its party in the conditions of the class struggle - a pressure to which the least stable strata of the proletariat, and hence the least stable strata of the proletarian party, not infrequently succumb. It must not be thought that the proletariat is completely isolated from society, that it stands outside society. The proletariat is a part of society, connected with its diverse strata by numerous threads. But the party is a part of the proletariat Hence the Party cannot be exempt from connections with, and from the influence of, the diverse sections of the bourgeois society The pressure of the bourgeoisie and its ideology on the proletariat and its party finds expression in the fact that bourgeois ideas, manners, customs and sentiments not infrequently penetrate the proletariat and its party through definite strata of the proletariat that are in one way or another connected with bourgeois society.

They are, secondly, the heterogeneity of the working class, the existence of a different strata within the working class....

One stratum is the main mass of the proletariat, its core, its permanent part, the mass of "pure blooded" proletarians, who have long broken off connection with the capitalist class. This stratum of the proletariat is the most reliable bulwark of Marxism.

The second stratum consists of new comers from non-proletarian classes - from the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie or the intelligencia. These are former members of other classes who have only recently merged with the proletariat and brought with them into the working class their customs, their habits, their waverings and their vacillations. This stratum constitutes the most favourable soil for all sorts of anarchist, semi-anarchist and "ultra-Left" groups.

The third stratum, lastly, consists of the labour aristocracy, the upper stratum of the working class, the most well-to-do portion of the proletariat, with its propensity for compromise with the bourgeoisie, its predominant inclination to adapt itself to the powers that be, and its anxiety go "get on in life". This stratum constitutes the most favourable soil for outright reformists and opportunists.1

Here we see the source of the various kinds of non-proletarian ideology and the various errors, shortcomings and undesirable phenomena that exist in our proletarian party. Here, indeed, is the source of the various contradictions that are present in our Party.

1. J. V. Stalin, ≴Once More on the Social-Democratic Deviation in Our Party≵, Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1954, Vol. IX, pp. 9-11.

Next: IX. Attitudes Towards Wrong Ideology in the Party and Towards Inner-Party Struggle