- Com. Baburam Bhattarai
“People must adapt their thinking to the changed conditions. Of course, no one should disregard reality and indulge in flights of fancy, or make plans of action unwarranted by the objective situation, or reach out for the impossible. However, the problem today is that Right conservative thinking is still causing trouble in many spheres and prevents our work from keeping pace with the development of the objective situation. The problem today is that what can be done by a measure of exertion is considered by many to be impossible. It is therefore entirely necessary to continue the criticism of Right conservative ideas, which do in fact exist.” - Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Vol.V, Peking, 1977, p.240
The pioneers of the international communist movement, including Com. Mao, have called the Communist Party, organized as the vanguard of the proletariat, and the People’s Army and the Revolutionary United Front under its (i.e. the Party’s) leadership, as the ‘three magic weapons” of revolution. As the goal of the proletarian revolution is to reach a classless and stateless communism through different stages of revolutions, viz New Democratic Revolution, Socialist Revolution and Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in keeping with the different stages of social development, these three weapons can be and should be viewed as ‘instruments of power’ together with the ‘instruments of revolution’. In other words, in the overall sense of proletarian revolution, ‘revolution’ means destruction of the old (i.e. feudal and bourgeois) state in the first stage, construction of a new state in the sense of a transitional state and in the form of dictatorship of the proletariat (or people’s democratic dictatorship) in the second stage, and the gradual withering away of the entire state in the form of continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and realization of communism in the third stage. Hence, in the said three stages these three instruments function, and must function, as the weapons of ‘destruction’, ‘construction’ and ‘re-destruction’ (or revolution, state power and continuous revolution). The experiences of the three great historical milestones of world proletarian revolution so far, i.e. the Paris Commune (1871), the Great Russian October Revolution (1917) and the Great Chinese Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-76) have proved that whether the characters of the Party, the Army and the United Front, and principally that of the Party, remain revolutionary or not determines the success or otherwise of the revolution in a particular country and the sustainability or otherwise of the revolution. It is, therefore, imperative to analyze the question of building a new type of the Party, the Army and the (United) Front in a new perspective in the light of the positive and negative experiences, or the experiences of revolution and counter-revolution, in the international communist movement of the past one hundred and fifty years. It is particularly noteworthy that the historic Second National Conference of our Party, the CPN (Maoist), held in February 2001, has placed this question of building a new type of Party, the Army and the (United) Front at the center-stage while making an ideological synthesis of the hitherto implementation of the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) in the concrete conditions of Nepal as ‘Prachanda Path’.
After all, what do we mean by building a new type of the Party, the Army and the (United) Front? First of all it was Lenin who talked of a ‘new type of Party’ in the context of transforming the then Communist Parties of the world (particularly Europe) caught in the quagmire of reformism and parliamentarism into militant Parties capable of leading armed revolutions in the beginning of the twentieth century. Later on, Mao again brought forth the question of a new type of Party while building new revolutionary Parties after making a decisive break with Parties under the stranglehold of Khruschovite modern revisionism in the nineteen-sixties. At this moment in the beginning of twenty-first century, when after a spell of worldwide counter-revolution including in China on the death of Mao in 1976 the tide of proletarian revolution is rising again under a new horizon, it is both natural and imperative for the genuine communist revolutionaries to raise from a new height the question of building a new type of Party (including the Army & the Front) based on MLM. Particularly in the context of the widespread incidences of counter-revolution by the new bourgeois class grown from within the Communist Party (and the Army and the Front or the state), the ‘new type’ of the Party, the Army and the Front would now mean not only the ones capable of leading a revolution but also the ones capable of preventing counter-revolution in future or leading along the path of continuous revolution. In this new context while talking of the ‘three main weapons’, we must consider them not only as the weapons of New Democratic or Socialist Revolutions but also as the weapons of Proletarian Cultural Revolution from the very beginning. Because, the experiences of the international communist movement of the past one hundred and fifty years and the science of MLM have proved that in the current imperialist world the New Democratic (or bourgeois democratic), the Socialist and the Proletarian Cultural Revolutions are interlinked and inseparable, and only if one can institutionalize the Proletarian Cultural Revolution (or continuous revolution) from the stages of the New Democratic and Socialist Revolutions that it is possible to make a proletarian revolution, to defend and consolidate the same and ultimately to prevent counter-revolution.
Another aspect which needs to be clarified at the very outset of building a new type of the Party, the Army and the Front is that these three instruments are to be developed not separately or independent of each other but in a unified and inter-related manner. To put it more explicitly, the Party should be placed at the core, the Army should be built under the leadership and guidance of the Party and the United Front should be developed with the backing or on the strength of the Army. This may also be compared to the brain, vertebrae and muscles, respectively, of a human body and concentric construction of a healthy body, in which it is axiomatic that the Party and the brain would play the supreme and decisive role. Furthermore, it is imperative to grasp the Party, the Army and the Front as the three different but interrelated forms of authority or power, namely ideological authority, physical (armed) authority and administrative (managerial) authority, and to acknowledge that only the unified whole of the three (authorities) would constitute a full-fledged authority. For, it is only thus that they can effectively discharge their role of destruction, construction and re-destruction (withering away) in the said three principal stages of proletarian revolution, and they will themselves wither away.
While talking of a new type of Party and state it is important to be clear on some of the theoretical questions raised in the international and our own communist movement on the issue. As in other issues, on the most significant question of the Party and the state, too, the main deviationist tendencies are anarchism and revisionism (reformism, or opportunism). Among these two tendencies, which represent the lower and upper sections of the petit bourgeois class and manifest in ‘left’ and right forms respectively, anarchism or revisionism appear as the main problem depending upon the stage of development of the movement and the strategy of the enemy towards the movement. The principal characteristic of anarchism is to deny the necessity of the Party and the state overlooking the relativity of the stage of development of class society and the historical necessity, and to aspire subjectively to reach the stage of statelessness and the realm of freedom at one stroke. On the other hand, revisionism, unable to decipher the ever developing new essence of the society and clinging to the old forms, exaggerates the realm of necessity and in the case of the Party and the state, too, does not dare to go beyond the limits of the old class divided society. Accordingly, revisionism cannot grasp that the nature of the proletarian Party and the state is qualitatively different from that of the old bourgeois party and state (in the words of Marx, ‘not a state in its real sense’), that their character in itself is temporary and transitional and that they tend to wither away, and reduces the proletarian Party and state into a fossilized entity. As a result, it paves the way for transformation of the proletarian Party and state into a bourgeois party and state and for ultimate counter-revolution. It is amply evident that in the global context of degeneration of the existing proletarian parties and states into new bourgeois parties and states and in the new situation of the rise of revolutionary communist movement in a new form, the problem of revisionism is the principal one even though there may be isolated cases of problem of anarchism within the communist movement. Moreover, despite the common class basis and nature of revisionism it may appear in different forms in keeping with different stages of history and concrete situations of a particular country. Accordingly, in the present day world and in Nepal there is, on the one side, Khruschovite naked revisionism that discards both the content and form of proletarian party and state, and on the other, Hoxaite dogmato-revisionism that discards the content but cling on to the mere form. If we consider the revolutionary camp, dogmato-revisionism that glorifies the erroneous monolithic concept of the party and state developed during the Comintern period under the leadership of Com. Stalin, has become a big problem as rightist conservatism. Hence today’s prime need is to build a new type of Party, army and state by accepting the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist concept of Party & state developed during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) under the leadership of Com. Mao as the starting point against all types of deviations. Particularly it is all the more imperative to defend and develop the new people’s power and base areas sprouting in the lap of the Himalayas in the 21st century as a result of the great People’s War (PW) of the last seven years and to continue them up to communism.
2.0 Question of Building a New Type of Party
Before we come to the basic questions of building a new type of Party it would be worthwhile to make a brief review of the experiences of building a Party in the international and the Nepalese communist movement.
2.1. Historical Review
A. Experiences of International Communist Movement
In the ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ published in 1848, Marx & Engels had defined communists as “the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties” but there is no concrete outline on building a Party in it. In that initial phase of the communist movement, particularly in Western Europe and America, the spontaneously set up Communist Parties were confined to small sects. The historic Paris Commune in 1871 came into being more as a result of the spontaneous rebellion of the workers swayed by the anarchist Blanquists rather than through the conscious leadership of the Communist Parties. For, till then the anarchists like Blanqui, Bakunin and others, who stressed more on spontaneous initiative and conspiratorial actions rather than on conscious and organized activities, had more influence in the worker’s movement. Among other reasons for the failure of the Paris Commune, Marx and Engels identified the lack of conscious and organized Party leadership as the major one and hammered on the significance of Party organization. This is clear from the Article-7 added to the Rules of the International as proposed by Marx and Engels and adopted by majority in the Congress of the First International held on September 2-7, 1872 in the Hague, as follows: “In its struggle against the collective power of the possessing classes the proletariat can act as a class only by constituting itself a distinct political party, opposed to all the old parties formed by the possessing classes.
“ This constitution of the proletariat into a political party is indispensable to ensure the triumph of the social revolution and of its ultimate goal: the abolition of classes.” (Marx-Engels, Anarchism & Anarcho-Syndicalism, Moscow, p.85).
Thus, the concept of the need of the proletariat to organize itself as a Party for realizing the ‘ultimate goal’ to ‘abolish classes’ as well as for the immediate ‘triumph of the revolution’ was developed by the founders of the Marxist science. However, till the end of the 19th century the revolutionary prospects remained in a low ebb; and as a result, on the one hand, proletarian Parties were confined to mere smaller sects and, on the other, relatively bigger Parties like in Germany were reduced to loose and disorganized formations suited to a parliamentary style of work.
With the beginning of the 20th century the crisis of imperialism was intensified and a new prospect of revolution was in the horizon. As Russia increasingly became the center of the revolution, Lenin conducted a fierce inner struggle within the communist movement against the then prevailing trends like anarchism, economism (trade unionism), bourgeois liberalism, right liquidationism, etc. and developed the concept of a new type of militant Party capable of leading an armed revolution. Such a new type of Party, unlike a trade unionist worker’s organization, would be a conscious and organized political vanguard of professional revolutionaries, and in keeping with the necessity of large-scale socialist economic construction it would be of a fully centralized nature. These are synthesized in his celebrated works “ What is to be Done?” and “ One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”. While the Mensheviks and the opportunists of the Second International mounted a vicious attack on such a concept of building a centralized and militant Party, the likes of Rosa Luxemburg cautioned from a ‘left’ perspective the ultimate possibility of the over-centralized structure of the Party giving rise to bureaucratic distortions (see, Rosa Luxemburg, “Organizational Questions of Russian Social Democracy”, 1904). Nevertheless, with the success of the October Revolution the said organizational structure of the Bolshevik Party became the common organizational structure of all revolutionary Communist Parties the world over. A glimpse of this organizational principle may be had from the “ Conditions for Entry into the Comintern” proposed by Lenin and adopted by the Second Congress (1920) of the Third Communist International (Comintern) established in 1919 under Lenin’s leadership, where there is stress on “centralized”, “military discipline”, “iron discipline” and “authoritative party center”. (See, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.31, Moscow).
On Lenin’s death, Stalin presented the Leninist principles on the Party in a systematic manner in his famous work “Problems of Leninism” and defined the Party as the “general staff of the proletariat”. As an objective necessity to lead the war and construct socialism (which is by its very nature planned and centralized) in the period of worldwide fierce revolutionary upheavals prior to and just after the Second World War, this over centralized and militarized structure of the Party became a need and an inevitability, and it was indisputably established throughout the world through the Comintern. However, as Mao was to evaluate later, due to some metaphysical weaknesses inherent in Stalin the Party was seen as a monolithic and uniform object rather than as a unity of opposites and a basket of contradictions, and in the absence of a mechanism and process to continuously proletarize the Party with the participation and supervision of the class and the masses a new bureaucratic capitalist class was born and raised within the Party. As a result, on Stalin’s death most of the Parties affiliated to the Comintern or built upon its model got degenerated into massive bureaucratic apparatus and counter-revolutionary Khuschovs were born out of them. Thus, the limitations of the structure of the Party built on the one-sided stress on the necessities of the immediate revolution and socialist construction but overlooking the “ultimate goal” were evident from the experiences of Stalin and the Comintern.
In this context it was but natural that the debate on building the Party was once again initiated from a new height in the international communist movement. On the one hand, Khruschov, from a nakedly Right revisionist angle and with outright rejection of the Marxist conception of Party based on class, put forward the concept of ‘party of the entire people’ and objectively contributed to the degeneration of the Communist Party into a bourgeois Party. This was later continued with some modifications by the ‘Euro-Communists’. On the other hand, under Hoxa’s leadership there remained another dogmato-revisionist or conservative trend in the international communist movement, which not only refused to learn lessons from the past mistakes and weaknesses but tended to glorify the weaknesses by clinging on to the mere external form of the object and continued with the wrong concept of a monolithic Party. Mao fought against both these deviations since 1956, in general, and during the GPCR (1966-76), in particular, and developed the concept of a new type of Party as a weapon of not only New Democratic/Socialist revolution and socialist construction but that of ‘continuous revolution’ to attain the ‘ultimate goal’ of communism.
First of all, with a resolve to firmly grasp the advanced experiences of the Soviet Party and Stalin and to discard the backward experiences, Mao made an objective evaluation of Stalin, thus: “The slogan we have advocated all along is to draw on the advanced Soviet experience. Who told you to pick up its backward experience? Some people are so undiscriminating that they say Russian fart is fragrant. That too is subjectivism. The Russians themselves say it stinks. Therefore, we should be analytical. As we have indicated elsewhere, the assessment of Stalin should be seventy percent for achievements and thirty percent for mistakes.” [Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Vol.V, p.317 (1956)]
Then he corrected the metaphysical conception of the Party prevalent during the period of Comintern and Stalin, and put forward the formulation that a Communist Party is not “monolithic and uniform” but full of contradictions. (See, Mao Tse-tung, “Dialectical Concept of Inner Party Unity”, 1957, Selected Works, Vol.V, p.514-16). Moreover, he laid great emphasis on the dialectical relationship between centralism and democracy, discipline and freedom, and unity of purpose and personal ease of mind within the Party. The famous clause first penned by Mao in 1957 and included in the Party during the GPCR reads as follows: “We must bring about a political climate which has both centralism and democracy, discipline and freedom, unity of purpose and ease of mind for the individual, and which is lively and vigorous.” [Stuart Schram (ed.), Mao Tse-tung Unrehearsed, p. 163 (1962)]
During the GPCR, or continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, launched under Mao’s leadership, much of the conservative thinking on the Party was completely shattered and theories and practices of historical import as regards to building a new type of revolutionary Party were propounded. It is obvious that such slogans as “Its right to rebel”, “Bombard the bourgeois headquarter”, “Dare to arouse the masses” etc. raised during the GPCR do not conform to the established views, particularly conservative views on operation of ‘democratic centralism’. Similarly, the instances of replacing Party committees at different levels that were on a revisionist path by ‘red guard committees’ or ‘revolutionary committees’ dominated by non-Party youths and masses in a wide campaign gives a severe blow to the conservative thinking on the Party. The then Russian revisionists and the ‘Chinese Khruschovs’ like Liu Shao-chi had dared to dismiss this great campaign as ‘left’ anarchist. But we should acknowledge that this was not a violation of Leninist principles on the Party but a historical process to make a creative advancement on the same and give birth to ‘Maoist’ principles. To put it in brief, the GPCR was a ‘mass action against revisionism’, or a great practice of mass line under the leadership of the proletariat, and it was an historical initiative of the masses to transform the bourgeois world outlook. At a glance it may appear as undermining of the traditional notion of ‘centralism’, but the reality was just the opposite. In the context of the revisionists having captured the higher echelons of the Party, to arouse the Party cadres and the masses by utilizing the revolutionary authority of Mao and to make them rise in rebellion against revisionism, was a new milestone in the development of the theory of ‘democratic centralism’. It was the affirmation of the law of revolutionary dialectics that as in other things in the case of democratic centralism, too, the content should score over the form, and it was a negation of the mechanical materialistic or metaphysical thinking on democratic centralism from a new height. The revolutionaries of the new generation should firmly grasp that during the GPCR a great emphasis was placed on building a unified and centralized Party, on establishing Mao’s revolutionary authority and on preparing a series of revolutionary successors. This means that as long as there is a rationale for the existence of a Party or any organization, the aspect of ‘centralism’ is automatically principal and decisive, but the construction and application of the proletarian centralism is qualitatively different from the feudal or bourgeois centralism. In sum, it should be grasped with particular significance that the GPCR under Mao’s leadership has institutionalized the spirit of rebellion against revisionism and reaction among the Party cadres and the masses, and paved the way for reaching to the ‘ultimate goal’ through continuous revolution after the proletarian revolution. On Mao’s death, even in China the chain of continuous revolution was broken and it was stricken with counter-revolution. Hence the revolutionaries of the new generation should go beyond the GPCR and build a new type of Party.
B. Experiences of the Nepalese Communist Movement
When the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) was founded in 1949 the revolutionary authority of Stalin in the international communist movement was at its peak, but Mao’s authority was not that much established as the Chinese revolution was just approaching towards victory. It was thus quite natural for the CPN to bear marks of Stalin and the dissolved Comintern from its very inception. Hence the CPN was constructed in the model provided by the Comintern.
According to the synthesis made by the Second National Conference of the CPN (Maoist), the course of development and experiences of the CPN can be divided into three stages. First, the stage of Party foundation and primary development, which may be taken as the period from 1949 to 1953-55. Second, the stage of struggle with various opportunist currents and fragmentation of the Party, or the period from 1955-62 to 1990. Third, the stage of revolutionary polarization and initiation and development of the PW, or the period from 1990 onwards. The Second National Conference has termed these three stages as the stages of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, or unity-struggle-transformation (See, The Great Leap Forward: An Inevitable Need of History). To view the experiences of building the Party, the first period had more of positive achievements in the field of organization and struggle along with some infantile weaknesses, in keeping with the relatively more revolutionary environment existing both in the national and international arena. Even though the Party is not seen to have made any indigenous contribution on the realm of thought and organization going beyond the boundaries of the then Communist Party of India, which itself was bred in the tradition of the Comintern.
In the second stage, the Party got split into different groups and sub-groups as a result of the impact of the split in the international communist movement, and more importantly, because of the Right revisionist political line and feudal and petty-bourgeois sectarianism. Among them the most dominant ones were the Fourth Congress group, the M-L group and the Puspa Lal group. Though all three of them sided with the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Mao in the dispute in the international communist movement, because of their own internal ideological and political weaknesses they could not grasp the new concept on building the Party as developed by Mao after correcting the mistakes of the Comintern and Stalin. On the contrary, whereas the M-L group and the Puspa Lal group gradually degenerated into the camp of Khruschovite modern revisionism, the unified ‘Mashal’ group (the renamed Fourth Congress group) that declared “Counter-Revolution in China” in 1982 and later became the founding member of the RIM, opposed Mao’s objective evaluation of Stalin in its Fifth Congress in 1985 and openly pursued the Hoxaite dogmato-revisionist line and the monolithic view on the Party [See, “Resolution on the International Communist Movement” adopted by the Fifth Congress of CPN (Mashal)]. In this situation the young revolutionaries under the leadership of Com. Prachanda made a decisive break with both Khruschovite Right revisionism and Hoxaite dogmato-revisionism and pushed forward the process of revolutionary polarization on the basis of dialectical principle of building the Party advanced by Mao.
Thus, the third period starting with the reorganization of CPN (Unity Centre) in 1990, renamed as CPN (Maoist) in 1995, through the initiation of the great PW on February 13, 1996, till the present time, is most important and dynamic period in the organization of a new type of revolutionary Party in Nepal. In this process it has been possible to build a unified and centralized Party capable of leading the PW in the 21st century and enjoying the support of millions of masses after shattering all the remnants of sectarianism and splittism on the basis of ideological guidelines of MLM and the political line of protracted PW. After the decision of the Second National Conference in 2001 to synthesize the set of ideas, including in the sphere of building the Party, as developed during the course of the PW in Nepal as ‘Prachanda Path’ and to assume it as a centralized expression of collectivity, the Nepalese experience of building a new type of Party has become a common property of the proletarian class. However, there still prevails serious contradictions between the newly developed set of ideas, on the one side, and, subjectively, the acquired dogmato-revisionist thinking and sectarian and splittist tendencies, and objectively, feudal and petty-bourgeois class basis, on the other. If the old conservative and sectarian and splittist organizational structure is not transformed in accordance with the newly developed ideology, there still remains the danger of the old organization negating the new ideas. Nevertheless, the vast presence of hundreds of thousands of new leaders and cadres that have entered the movement and Party along with the development of the PW has brightened the prospects of building a new organization on the basis of new ideas. Hence it is imperative to solve the problems through continuous struggle on the basis of new principles developed by the GPCR and build a new type of Party.
2.2 Principal Characteristics of a New Type of Party
On the basis of the international and national experiences of the communist movement it would be worthwhile to formulate the principal characteristic of the new type of Party in the present context.
A. Proletarian Vanguard Equipped with Scientific Ideology
In a class divided society, a Party is the centralized expression of class consciousness. Hence, as defined by Lenin & Stalin, as long as the class society exists the Communist Party should play the role of the most conscious and organized vanguard of the proletariat, which is the most advanced class of the society and the last class of human history. The Khruschovite revisionists’ talk of ‘the Party of the entire people’ or a common Party of different classes is a mere hogwash. Because, a Party can only carry the consciousness of a particular class at a time, and once the condition is created for a ‘Party of the entire people’ there will be no need of any Party.
A Party ultimately means an ideology. Hence the vanguard Party of the Proletariat should be equipped with the most advanced and scientific ideology. In the present era of imperialism, MLM constitutes such an ideology, and it has taken the form of MLM and Prachanda Path in the concrete condition of Nepal. Moreover, as every science or ideology is in constant motion and ever changing, to fulfill its tasks satisfactorily a new type of Communist Party should be capable of creatively applying and developing the universal science to the concrete condition of time and place. This is the essence of Lenin’s exhortation that only a Party guided by the most advanced theory can fulfill the role of a vanguard (See,” What is to be Done”). In the light of the past experiences of counter-revolutions that once deviated from the revolutionary ideology and politics even the great Parties of some earlier times get transformed into bourgeois Parties and collapse like a house of cards, the new type of Party should always put the question of ideology and politics at the center.
C. Party Capable of Leading the War
The present era of imperialism is also called the era of ‘war capitalism’. Hence, to change the present world that is more militarized than ever before in history it is inevitable for the proletariat, too, to accept war as the principal form of struggle. The organizational structure of the proletarian vanguard capable of leading such a war has, therefore, to be essentially militarized. In that sense to talk of building a new type of Party in the present context means principally to militarize the Party.
It is axiomatic that the structure of a militarized Party has to be highly unified and centralized, and its level of discipline be very high. Also its underground structure and style of work has to be of a top order. However, it should not be construed to mean that the structure and style of Party would be sectarian, conspiratorial and bureaucratized. Rather it would be just the opposite. Because, the war in the present era means the PW, which can be conducted only through the assistance and active participation of the masses. Hence, another connotation of the militarization of the Party is to minimize the traditional difference between the Party, army and the masses; or militarization of the whole masses and politicization of the entire army. As a Chinese wall that arose in between the Party, the standing army and the masses in the past socialist states ultimately lead to counter-revolution, the long-term significance of this notion of militarization of the masses and politicization of the army should not be undermined.
Generally in the present day world and particularly in the concrete condition of Nepal, there has to be a fusion between the two principal strategies of revolutionary war, viz. the protracted PW and the general insurrection. For this, the Party leading the war should make itself proficient in all the aspects of military and non-military strategies and tactics. Similarly, the Party should equip itself with expertise in underground and open work, activities in rural and urban areas, propaganda war and armed warfare, etc.
In sum, it should be firmly grasped that the real meaning of building a new type of Party capable of leading the war or militarization of the Party is to build a Party advancing in the direction of continuous revolution to reach the ‘ultimate goal’ of communism.
D. Continuity of Two-Line Struggle in the Party
The principal aspect of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist conception on the Party is to view it as a unity of opposites or an ensemble of contradiction rather than a monolithic or uniform object. Hence, drawing lessons from certain mistakes committed during the Comintern days the new type of Party of the present day should acknowledge that in a class divided society there would be reflections of class divisions within the Party, birth of new classes from within and differences in the consciousness of the individuals within the Party. Consequently there would be constant presence of Right, Centre and ‘Left’ tendencies within the Party and a relentless struggle against them would be inevitable. Also, as the ultimate goal of a proletarian Party is to end all classes from society and to ensure withering away of itself, we should make constant efforts to conduct a healthy two-line struggle between different tendencies within the Party and attain new unity on a new basis through unity-struggle-transformation. According to the dialectical law of development, once a particular unity is achieved immediately a new struggle would start and this chain of unity and struggle would continue ceaselessly. As Mao has said, “If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggles to resolve them, the Party’s life would come to an end.” (“On Contradiction”, Selected Works, Vol.I, p.317). Thus, a ceaseless two line struggle is the very life of the Party and operation of two-line struggle has a cardinal role in building a new type of Party marching up to communism.
During the GPCR maximum stress was given on the question of two-line struggle to fight against revisionism and build a new type of revolutionary Party. This method formulated as ‘Three Dos and Three Don’ts’ (i.e. “Practice Marxism, and not revisionism; unite, and don’t split; be open and aboveboard, and don’t intrigue and conspire.”) guides us to conduct struggle in an open and sincere manner by keeping ideology and politics in command and with a view to maintain the unity of the Party. Because of the past legacy of Right revisionism and dogmato-revisionism and sectarian and splittism, and a petty-bourgeois material ground, our Party, too, has been plagued with either a tendency to remain lax in conducting two-line struggle, or with the Alok trend1, which rakes up factional, personal or ethnic-regional-gender sectarianism rather than focusing on lofty ideological and political questions and adopts a conspiratorial method against an open method of struggle. Hence it is imperative to conduct two-line struggle and give impetus to building a new type of Party by grasping the method of struggle developed during the GPCR and by placing the newly synthesized set of ideas of ‘Prachanda Path’ at the center stage.
The main weapon to be wielded against the danger of a new bourgeois class rising from within the Party and carrying out counter-revolution is the weapon of two-line struggle. History has proved that both liberalism and wrong method in conducting two-line struggle aid opportunism and ultimately leads to counter-revolution. Therefore, only by conducting fierce struggle against those elements who have serious ideological and political deviations that the Party can be rectified and the revolution continued. The present day revolutionaries should draw grave lessons from the irreparable losses incurred in China due to liberalism demonstrated in launching two-line struggle against opportunists like Teng Shiao-ping and also due to the lack of tactfulness in conducting the struggle within the revolutionary camp. Certainly, the scope of two-line struggle should be widened or constricted in relation to the stage of development of the movement. But the fact that in most of the cases in the past counter-revolutionaries were born within the Party, and that too from within the central leadership, goads us to make the leadership level as the center stage of two-line struggle and to be firm and efficient in it. In the context of building a new type of Party capable of preventing counter-revolution in the future, the revolutionaries must pay special attention to this aspect. It is important to draw lessons in time from the experiences of mobilization of the lower-level cadres and non-Party masses during the Chinese GPCR to dethrone the revisionists occupying the highest leadership position and the state. In sum, the essence of the GPCR is the practice of mass line in conducting two-line struggle within the Party, and hence the principal characteristics of a new type of Party should be to institutionalize this from the very beginning.
E. Correct Handling of Democratic Centralism
Another question to be taken better care of in the context of building a new type of Party is the question of correct handling of the system of democratic centralism. First of all, it is important to be clear on the misconceptions about the importance and interrelations of the two aspects of ‘democracy’ and ‘centralism’ propagated by different opportunist quarters. Lack of clarity on the scientific truth that these two aspects are the two opposites sides of the same coin and one cannot survive at the other’s absence, has led to a lot of confusion and problem in the international communist movement. When we talk of any organization the question of authority and centralism naturally comes in, and ultimately, organization means centralism. Hence the proletariat that aspires to unify the whole society and humanity under one umbrella of communism cannot, or should not, ever undermine the significance of centralism. The only question in dispute is how to achieve that centralism and what ought to be its character and role in different stages of revolution (i.e. destruction, construction and withering away). Therefore, the theories propounded by Lenin with greater emphasis on centralism at a time when the Party was divided into local groups and was disorganized and when the movement had yet to take a countrywide political character were quite scientific and correct in the given context. And his definition of democratic centralism as “freedom of discussion, and unity in action” was all the more emphatic. Nevertheless, given the bitter experience of degeneration of the then larger and more experienced Parties of more advanced capitalist countries like Germany into a massive bureaucratic apparatus under the leadership of the opportunist leaders of the Second International, on the one hand, and citing the condition of the more backward Russian proletariat not having passed through the lessons of collectivity in the production system of the large modern factories, on the other, Rosa Luxemburg had put forward strong logic from a revolutionary Left perspective that the ‘over-centralized’ structure of the Party may lead to the birth of bureaucracy in future. On Lenin’s death, in view of the ‘necessity’ of the war and socialist construction at a primary stage of constitution of socialism, Stalin laid more emphasis on centralism, which was not very unnatural. But the problem started to crop up when the immediate necessity became a universal principle, and metaphysics prevailed in the understanding of dialectical relations between democracy and centralism. Certain misconception and deviations did certainly arise of the weakness in the practice of democratic centralism or the increasing practice of bureaucratic centralism during the period of Comintern and the later phase of Stalin; which is still continuing in different forms.
In this context the analysis made by Mao in the later stages and the experimentation and advancement made during the GPCR should be correctly grasped by the present day revolutionaries and taken as the foundation for building a new type of Party. First of all, Mao’s definition of democratic centralism as a system of “from the masses to the masses” and the dialectical interrelation between the two aspects as “centralism on the basis of democracy and democracy under the direction of centralism” is fully correct. Furthermore, his exposition of democratic centralism in 1962 (See, “Talks on the Extended Central Work Conference”, 30 January) is a milestone in the development of organizational principles of the Party. Elucidating on the interrelations between democracy and centralism he says: “Without democracy there cannot be any correct centralism because people’s ideas defer, and if their understanding of things lacks unity then centralism cannot be established. What is centralism? First of all it is a centralization of correct ideas, on the basis of which unity of understanding, policy, planning, command and action are achieved. This is called centralized unification.” (Stuart Schram ed., Mao Tse-tung Unrehearsed, p. 163-64). Putting it in more concise form he says: “Without a high degree of democracy, it is impossible to achieve a high degree of centralism, and without a high degree of centralism, it is impossible to establish a socialist economy.” ( ibid, p.167).
Thus, acknowledging the primacy of centralism and upholding the cardinal role of democracy in its realization (which was minimized in the later phase of Stalin and was sought to create centralism more through administrative means), Mao made fundamental contribution to create proper balance between centralism and democracy and build a new type of mass based Party, which ought to be correctly grasped and implemented by the present day revolutionaries. Particularly, due to lack of correct practice of democratic centralism grave errors were committed leading to isolation of the leadership from the cadres and isolation of the whole Party from the masses, which subjectively contributed towards ultimate counter-revolution. This should be rectified while building a new type of Party. Moreover, the new type of Party should institutionalize the efforts made during the GPCR to increase the initiative of the Party cadres and masses to rectify the past laxity of the lower level cadres to rebel against counter-revolution carried out by the central leadership as a result of the bureaucratization of the Party. As bureaucracy and anarchy are the two sides of the same petty-bourgeois coin a ceaseless struggle should be launched against both of them and a high level of centralism created on a broad democracy through correct practice of democratic centralism. The ultimate goal of proletarian revolutionaries should be to make both democracy and centralism wither away in communism by creating ‘self-centralism’ as envisioned by Rosa Luxemburg.
F. The Question of Leadership and Revolutionary Successors
By nature of being a conscious vanguard of the proletariat the Communist Party is, as stated by Lenin, a Party of leaders. Moreover, as explained first by Lenin and then Mao, there would be a hierarchical difference between the mass, class, Party and leadership as long as class society exists. The communists should strive to attain the final goal of communism not by denying this fact idealistically but by acknowledging and changing it objectively. Hence it is imperative for the Communist Party, as for any other organization or Party, to have a leadership that is highly centralized, authoritative, equipped with scientific thought and intimately linked with the class and the masses. Such a leadership is developed and established in the course of long class struggle and ideological struggle. As Engels had said, historical necessity brings forth a leader but which person it falls upon is a pure chance. Thus the proletarian revolutionaries should neither undermine the necessity and importance of the leadership, nor should they commit the mistake of assuming history as the product of leaders rather than the leaders as the product of history. For, ultimately leadership is the centralized expression of revolutionary thought and collectivity, and it is produced by the necessity of history. In the light of the many instances of serious setbacks faced by revolution in the absence of a revolutionary leadership in the world communist movement, the Party should pay constant attention to the development of leadership and its ideological and physical security.
However, particularly after Stalin’s time there have been lot of disputes and misconceptions in the international communist movement on the question of nature, style, development process & establishment of and successors to the leadership, and it has been necessary to build a new type of Party after solving these problems objectively on the basis of the science of MLM. When renegade Khruschov attempted to completely negate Stalin on the pretext of so-called personality cult, there was, on the one hand, a tendency to undermine the leadership from Right revisionist and anarchist angle, and on the other, a tendency to idealize the limitations of Stalin and to cling on to the old and wrong system of leadership from a dogmato-revisionist angle. Also, questions have been raised whether the leadership would be ‘collective’ or ‘individual’. Whereas, one section has been pleading bourgeois pluralism and multi-leadership in the name of collectivity, the other section is seen to plead feudal idealist monism and worship the leadership like a ‘king’ or ‘god’ in the pretext of mono-centralism. The present day communist revolutionaries should defeat both these deviationist tendencies on the question of leadership and develop a unified and centralized leadership standing on the foundation of collectivity and based on materialist monism. We must also draw appropriate lessons from, among others, some wrong formulations on the question of leadership like ‘the leadership must not die’, ‘the law of one-divides-into-two does not apply to the supreme leadership’ etc advanced by the Peruvian revolutionaries, who have met with serious setbacks at the later stages.
In this context it would be worthwhile to recollect the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist conception on the question of leadership advanced by the CPC while talking of the “Stalin Question” during the ‘Great Debate’. Elucidating on the nature of revolutionary leadership, it is said: “Such a Party must have a fairly stable nucleus of leadership, which should consist of a long-tested leaders who are good at integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of revolution.”( The Great Debate, Mass Line Publications, p.99-100).
The main points to be noted here are: ‘a group of long-tested leaders’ and ‘good at integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of revolution’. Because, no revolution has succeeded in history without a worthy ‘group of leaders’ and the major touchstone to test the worth of the leaders is whether they can integrate the ‘universal truth’ of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist science to the ‘concrete practice’ of revolution in their own country, or not. On the basis of this scientific principle our Party has pursued a policy of developing a chain of ‘red and expert’ leaders in a pyramidical frame from top to bottom under the leadership of Chairman Com. Prachanda. Special attention should be paid to correctly grasp and implement this policy.
Another important question related to the leadership is the question of revolutionary successors. In view of the bitter lessons of immediate counter-revolutions in the absence of revolutionary successors to continue the revolution on the demise of established leadership in the past, the present day revolutionaries should give special importance to the question of preparing a chain of successors in time. In this context it is imperative to firmly grasp Mao’s exhortations during the GPCR ‘to train and groom millions of successors’ after drawing lessons from the counter-revolution in Russia. For this, Mao’s attempt to prepare a leadership team of old, adult and youth from top to bottom under the principle of ‘three-in-one’ should be properly grasped and implemented in due time. As leadership ultimately means correct ideology and political line, a continuous chain of revolutionary successors can be built up only by training the general masses in correct ideology and political line. Even though leadership constitutes the sum total of ideology, politics, organization and struggle, among these ideology and politics are decisive. Hence it is proved by the experiences of the international communist movement that the attempt to create a chain of successors only on organizational or immediate practical expediency by overlooking ideology and politics cannot be correct and successful. Moreover, it is imperative to develop further upon Mao’s efforts in the later period to discard the practice of having the same person in the leadership of the Party, army and government and to build a new model of exercising unified leadership of the proletariat and the Party in all fields without having the same person in leadership position everywhere. Similarly, the present day revolutionaries should dare to rethink upon the undeclared tradition of the same person occupying the leadership of the Party or the government throughout his life. Also, in keeping with the law of dialectics, the new age revolutionaries should pay attention to publicly expose the opportunist line and leaders in the Party and the movement among the general masses, along with the attempt to establish the correct line and leaders. This has become important after such instances as that of renegade Teng Shiao-ping, who came back in the Party only to lead counter-revolution. In this context it should be useful to constantly keep in mind Mao’s warning: “It is difficult for someone who has taken the lead in committing major errors of principle, errors of line or direction, to reform” (Stuart Schram, op.cit. p.294).
G. The Question of Mass Line & Style of Work
One of the principal factors for the degeneration of the Communist Parties and the incidence of counter-revolutions in the past was the Party’s loss of contact with the masses. Lenin, while defining the Party as the ‘vanguard’, had warned in the very beginning that a vanguard would be able to fulfill its role as a vanguard only if it succeeded to save itself from getting cut off from the masses it is supposed to lead. (See, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.33, Moscow, p.227).
However, when the non-Party mass organizations supposed to act as transmission belts between the Party and the masses gradually got limited to mere formalism and when no other effective mechanisms to have direct links with the masses could be institutionalized, the process of the Parties getting divorced from the masses and getting converted into bureaucratic structures was accelerated. Also, it was natural to get the gap between the Party and the masses widened when the elections within the Party and for different levels of people’s government were confined to just formality.
As an anti-dote to this, the new age revolutionaries should institutionalize from the very beginning the policy of mass line developed by Mao during the Chinese revolution and the concept of GPCR synthesized as its climax, which was the finest example of mass democracy practiced among millions of the masses. The policy of this mass line, expressed in simple terms like, “from the masses, to the masses”, “serve the masses”, “masses are the creators of history”, “masses are like soil, the communists are like seeds”, “masses are like water, guerillas are like fishes”, goads the Party, the army and the people’s government to be constantly linked with the masses and to remain under the supervision of the masses. Throwing to winds many of the hackneyed and traditional practices in the communist movement, Mao’s China had institutionalized certain mechanisms like the freedom of the non-Party masses to criticize the Party leaders and cadres through newspapers, mass meetings, rallies or big character posters, which ought to be emulated and developed by the present day revolutionaries. This is also clear from Mao’s emphatic statement: “It should be announced that the masses not only have the right to criticize them (i.e. Party members) freely but also have the right to dismiss them from their posts when necessary or to propose their dismissal, or to propose their expulsion from the Party and even to hand the worst elements over to the people’s courts for trail and punishment.” (Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Vol. IV, Peking, p.186). Similarly, hitting hard on those talking of the criticism only within or outside the Party, Mao had said: “To use the excuse of distinguishing between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ is to fear revolution” (Stuart Schram, op.cit., p.254).
Particularly one should not overlook the fact that the Party has been easily changing its colour in the past as it practically enjoys monopoly on power after the New Democratic or Socialist Resolution, and despite the formed existence of other parties it is not required to compete with them and there is no effective outside criticism or supervision and control over it. On the basis of these new experiences the new age revolutionaries should dare to explore methods like inter-party competitions or some other proper methods of periodic elections to ensure the masses of their rights to throw out of power a Party that loses its proletarian character. Even though after some bitter experiences during the civil war Lenin may have pronounced that ‘dictatorship of the proletariat can be applied only through the Communist Party’, we should not take it in a metaphysical way but rather should view it in a dialectical manner in relation to the given time and condition. We should also remember that in another context Lenin had stressed on the Communist Party to enter into competition with other parties. For example, while dwelling upon the superiority of the Soviet power in 1918 he had said: “ …if the working people are dissatisfied with their party they can elect other delegates, hand power to another party and change the government without any revolution at all...” ( Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.26, Moscow, p.498).
Along with this we should strive to create an objective condition not to let the Party change its colour and to make it march along the path of continuous revolution by promoting the proletarian style of work among the Party members and by continuously proletarising the Party through rectification campaigns. One style of work of the proletariat is to be both ‘red’ and ‘expert’, but principally ‘red’, and the other working style is that of simple living and hard work. Particular attention should be paid to erase the class differences within the Party by promoting those coming from the lower classes to work in the Party & the state and by making those engaged in mental labour to perform physical labour. Similarly the new type of Party should continuously strive to proletarize itself through strict implementation of the system of criticism and self-criticism and periodic launching of rectification campaigns against wrong ideas and style of work (which include ideological rectification, political rectification, organizational rectification and cultural rectification). Also, the communist revolutionaries should ceaselessly practice struggle against the self in accordance with the well-known slogan raised during the GPCR, namely “Fight against the self, and repudiate revisionism”.
G. Instrument of Dictatorship and the Question of Withering Away
As stated in the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” written by Marx & Engels, the goal of the communists is, firstly, to ‘raise the proletariat to position of ruling class’ (or to establish dictatorship of the proletariat), and lastly, to ‘abolish its own supremacy as a class’. Thus the principal challenge while building a new type of Party is to coordinate the contradictory function of a strong state or the instrument of dictatorship of the proletariat in the beginning and that of getting oriented towards ending its own existence as a Party along with all classes and state in the end. We have with us the bitter historical reality that in the past the Party accomplished its role with comparative ease till the time of constructing a strong proletarian state, but it miserably failed on the question of continuous revolution to lead it to the ‘ultimate goal’. In this very context we have a daunting task to correctly grasp the lessons of ‘continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat’ carried out under Mao’s leadership and charter our own path by taking it as the starting point.
Also, at this very point the question of ‘necessity’ and ‘freedom’ crops up quite significantly. There is no doubt that we are now in the realm of necessity and we are in no position to jump over it. Hence the aspect of necessity is principal at the moment. However, according to the law of dialectics the realm of necessity is also dynamic and ever changing, and it moves forward to the realm of freedom in its own way. Moreover, man’s consciousness, too, has a role to play. That is why Mao had said, “Freedom is the understanding of necessity and the transformation of necessity…It won’t do just to understand necessity, we must also transform things” (Stuart Schram, op. cit., p.228). At least the new type of Party should bear this consciousness. Only thus may we grasp the essence of the GPCR and charter the path forward by integrating the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ and the ‘continuous revolution’ headed towards the realm of ‘freedom’. This question of integration is probably the biggest theoretical and practical challenge for the revolutionaries in the 21st century.
What would be the additional characteristics of a new type of Party that would at the same time exist in the realm of necessity but be oriented towards the realm of freedom? Many of the issues related to the realm of necessity have been already dealt with in the preceding pages. And it may be ahead of time to talk more on the distant future. However, we must strive to institutionalize some of the principles and concepts developed by the GPCR under the leadership of Mao. The first and the most important among these is to institutionalize the spirit of rebellion against all sorts of opportunism, revisionism and reaction. For, this is the essence of Mao’s exhortation: ‘There are hundreds of truths in Marxism; but they can be boiled down to one sentence: it is right to rebel.’ Particularly within the old Parties modeled after the Comintern, in practice it was only the central organs and a handful of leaders that were ideologically active, and most of the lower organs and cadres were not only ideologically inactive but were reduced to helpless souls that could only blindly obey the higher organs but could not independently judge right from the wrong and could not rebel against opportunism and counter-revolution. Hence in the Party of a new type a condition must be created so that everybody is capable of assessing every object and instance dialectically and dares to rebel against the wrong. The second point is, to integrate this rebellion with the correct practice of mass line. For, only with the proper integration of the masses, as ‘creators of history’, and the ‘rebellion’, as the greatest truth of Marxist science, that such a Communist Party would be able to march towards the ‘ultimate goal’ of communism. Only a collectivity with an advanced consciousness can guide the rebellion towards a correct direction. Otherwise there would be a danger of getting sucked into the quagmire of liquidationism and anarchism. Hence it is important to make a correct fusion of ‘mass line’ and ‘rebellion’ in the new type of Party. And the third point is, to inculcate from the very beginning a consciousness that the Communist Party by itself is not an end but a means and that as any historical product it would be abolished some day. For, only this way that a condition would be created in which the conservative ideas of worshipping the Party as a ‘holy cow’ and reducing it to a dead object can be defeated and the Party can be transformed in a dynamic frame. In this context it would be useful to keep in mind what Mao has said: “The Communist Party and the democratic parties are all products of history. What emerges in history disappears in history. Therefore, the Communist Party will disappear one day, and so will the democratic parties. Is this disappearance so unpleasant? In my opinion, it will be very pleasant. I think it is just fine that one day we will be able to do away with the Communist Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our task is to hasten their extinction” (Mao Tse-tung, “On the Ten Major Relationships”, Selected Woks, Vol. V, Peking, p.297
As Lenin has said," Marxism is not a lifeless dogma, but a living guide to action.” Furthermore, the core of Marxism is the ‘revolutionary dialectics’ and its ‘critical spirit.’ In sum, the system of dialectical and historical materialism is the essence of MLM. Hence as we see all the objects and processes in the world in their constant motion and changingness, so we must view and understand in historical motion the proletarian Party and its organizational structure and system in the light of the experiences of the past one hundred and fifty years of the world communist movement, and numerous revolutions and counter-revolutions. Ultimately the most important question of revolution is whether the Communist Party, the conscious vanguard of history’s most advanced proletarian class that ‘has nothing to lose but its chains', can preserve its true proletarian character or not, and whether it can provide leadership or not for creating a condition for its own withering away in classless and stateless communism through a series of proletarian cultural revolutions after the New Democratic and Socialist revolutions. Thus we must dare to lay the foundation of a new type of Party after making a revolutionary dialectical and critical review of the problems of the Communist Party so far.
In this context we should beware of all forms of Right revisionist and conservative and anarchist deviations. Particularly we must focus our attention on the principles of Party organization developed by Lenin and some of the questions raised by Rosa Luxemburg from a Left revolutionary angle on them. Then we must firmly grasp the new advancements made by Mao on them particularly during the GPCR and dare to move ahead according to the new needs to build a new type of Party. This is the essence of the latest set of ideas of MLM and Prachanda Path synthesized by the historic Second National Conference of our Party and the new responsibility bestowed upon us by history. *
1 A petty-bourgeois trend, represented by one Alok in the Central leadership of the Party, which was exposed and smashed in 2000.