Albert H. Hawkins

Communist Discipline

Source: The Communist, October 14 1920.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

A remarkable thing about the new Communist Party is the wave of enthusiasm and the desire to be up and doing which is apparent amongst the members. This spirit is apparent both in those districts where actual fusion has taken place between local groups and branches and in districts where the local branch was, and still is, the only revolutionary organisation.

The reason for this revival may, I think, be found in the fact that we are now more definitely identified with our Russian comrades than ever before. The members of the Communist Party feel that they are now part of the same organisation as the comrades who are carrying out the great Russian experiment.

It therefore becomes necessary to examine our Party machinery and outlook in order that anything which contravenes the spirit of the Russian Revolution may be speedily remedied. The essential difference between our Russian comrades and other Socialist and Communist groups in the past has been one of discipline. The Russian Party has achieved its present position largely through its splendid discipline, which has resulted in a closely-knit organisation, answering to suggestions and instructions from its centre in the same way that a complicated mass of machinery answers to the touch of a single lever. It is in this quality of discipline that the movement has shown itself deficient in the past. We have confused democracy as an ideal of government in some future state with democracy as a matter of practical tactics. This needs alteration.

The Communists have declared their adhesion to the policy of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” realising that pure and unqualified democracy is not practicable during a revolutionary period or during a time of transition. This abandonment of democratic form for the time being must be carried into party organisation in order that our forces maybe used to the greatest possible advantage. Membership of the Party must be understood to involve rigid discipline, a discipline which is not blind, but which is voluntarily submitted to for the better co-ordination of our efforts. This means, for example, that when a policy is laid down by Conference the instructions issued by the Executive in order to carry out than policy shall be loyally carried out by every member of the Party. A spirit of discipline and devotion to duty has been a characteristic of the Russian comrades, and this willingness to carry out unpleasant tasks in order to achieve the Party’s ends has placed them in their unique position as the advanced posts of the vanguard of the workers of the world. They have been detailed for every duty which was dirty, unpleasant, difficult and dangerous. They answered loyally to every demand made upon them by the Party leaders and they have, by their example, so fired the masses that Communist and non-Communist work and fight side by side with unparalleled enthusiasm,

This must be our standard. Only by voluntary discipline of this description can Communists fit themselves for the task of guiding the unthinking masses. If a revolutionary situation arises, with its resulting migration of the mass organisations of the workers to the “Left,” we should only be able to fully exploit its possibilities if the Party acted and spoke as if, with a single mind and voice.

It is therefore the duty of every Communist to work towards that ideal discipline regardless of personal feeling or opinion on the matter.