Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

How Not to Build a Communist Party

First Printed: Discussion Bulletin, #4, July 13, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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For those who sincerely want to build a genuine Communist Party in Australia it is necessary to look at the negative example of some of the practices of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) (CPA-ML).

Learning by negative example can be a painful experience. This is especially so when the behaviour we are now rejecting is something we previously went along with because it came from those we formerly regarded as close comrades.

When this writer expressed the opinion that China was turning revisionist, after the re-appointment of the twice discredited Teng Hsiao-ping in July 1977, I was told by one of the Party leaders in Adelaide: “You should read the Peking Reviews like a Christian reads the Bible.”

When I protested at such a gross appeal to blind faith I was then told: “I think your ideology is as weak as West End beer.”

Other evidence and some reflection lends me to believe that such appeals to blind faith followed, if necessary, by abuse of those who refuse to wear “correct line” blinkers has been typical of the way in which the CPA-ML has been built in Adelaide over the years.

One principle that the revisionist Liu Shao-chi pushed within the Chinese Communist Party was “do what the Party tells you to do.” This was revived when Hua Kuo feng came to power: “Obey Chairman Hua in all your actions”.

Likewise, in the CPA-ML blind faith is now being pushed as the height of revolutionary integrity. In Adelaide the CPA-ML has failed to develop a correct policy towards developing communist cadres.

The CPA-ML has failed to educate its members in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, its theory and practice. There is gross neglect of study and application of communist principles and neglect of summing up of revolutionary experience.

The CPA-ML has failed to develop cadres who can think and act independently.

In Adelaide comrades who show sign of independent thought have been told “don’t think you are the repository of all wisdom” and criticised for “individualism” for showing initiative, “anarchism” for rebelling and “careerism” for offering leadership.

There is a tendency in all of us to be reluctant to take on responsibility, to be reluctant to offer leadership, to be inclined to play safe.

By subduing independent thought when it appears, by exploiting these feelings of self doubt amongst the rank and file Party members, the present Party leadership consolidates their leading positions.

The never stated but clear implication is that the present leadership is “the repository of all wisdom” and is not guilty of “careerism”.

My opinion is that the present Party leadership in Adelaide is “careerist” and that the thought of stepping down is too much for their egos to take. In the name of their incorrect “correct line” they rigidly suppress the development of independent thought amongst the Party membership. This is a completely wrong way to build a Communist Party.

Dimitrov laid down as one of his 4 criteria in in selecting cadres:

Third, ability independently to find one’s bearings and not be afraid of assuming responsibility in making decisions. He who fears to take responsibility is not a leader. He who is unable to display initiative, who says: ’I will do only what I am told is not a Bolshevik. Only he is a real Bolshevik leader who does not lose his head in moments of defeat, who does not get a swelled head at moments of success, who displays indomitable firm-ness in carrying out decisions. Cadres develop and grow best when they are placed in the position of having to solve concrete problems of the struggle independently, and are aware thot they are fully responsible for their decisions. (from the booklet ’On 0rganization’ by Stalin, and others pp. 27-8)

Mao Tse tung is alleged to have said:

Once we give into blind faith our minds become cramped and our thought cannot burst out of its confinement. Unless you have a conquering spirit it is very dangerous to study Marxism-Leninism.” (Mao Tse-tung Unrehearsed, p.115). “... if we take our desire for unity as our starting point and adopt a helpful attitude, then sharp criticism cannot split the Party; it can only unite the Party. It is very dangerous to leave unsaid things that you want to say…..”

Those who are afraid to speak out are afraid of being called opportunists, afraid of getting the sack, afraid of being expelled front the Party, afraid of being divorced by their wives (and thus losing face), afraid of being confined to the guardroom, afraid of having their heads chopped off. I feel that as long as you are prepared for these eventualities and are able to see through the vanities of the world, you need be afraid of nothing. If you make no psychological preparation, you will not dare to speak. But should fear of martyrdom seal our lips? We must create an environment in which people will dare to speak out and reveal what is in their hearts. (Mao Tse tung Unrehearsed, p.p. 121-2).

Reading E.F. Hill’s writings aver the last 10 years it appears to me that he was once an independent thinker who tried, with some success, to apply Marxism to Australian conditions. But in recent years he has become a blind follower of the Chinese Communist Party. His revisionist book ’Class struggle within the Communist Parties’(Jan, 1977) makes one appeal after another ta blind faith unsubstantiated by analysis. Refutations of this book have been made and will be published.

What is happening now within the CP-ML is monstrous and criminal. We can see that some CPA-ML members are becoming disillusioned. Many are worried, e.g., by the Party’s slavish warship of the revisionist takeover In China or their cliched and melodramatic sloganising about Soviet penetration inside Australia (as distinct from the main danger of Soviet war preparations).

But the problem is: what to do about it? Tragically same are drifting away or dropping out of organised political work.

REM members have been called fools (and worse) for actively speaking out. But the Party leadership is to blame! The “wise men” remain silent. When the “wise men” remain silent then the “fools” have to speak out. It is the “fools” who have always made history and not the “wise men”.

Have the events shown that the Party leadership is scientifically analysing the changing events arid leading correctly? Or do they show that the leadership is more intent on protecting their leading positions? I think the latter.

What lessons should m learn from the negative example of the CPA-ML practice on developing cadres?

Every ML organisation has a leadership and a rank and file. Every organisation has its fair share of blind faith and blind following. This cannot be eliminated for a very long time, But it is necessary for REM, or any genuine group striving for Marxism-Leninism-Mao Thought, to elect leaders who can think independently themselves and actively encourage this trait in others.