Deng Xiaoping

Questions Concerning Cadres of the Party in Power


Spoken: November 29, 1962
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


The Party must exercise control over itself, over its members and its cadres. For a party in power, the heart of this matter concerns the cadres, because many of its members are working as cadres of varying ranks.

There are many issues concerning our work among the cadres, and we have not found good solutions to all of them. We already have a large number of cadres, with perhaps up to ten million or so more than we need, if cadres of production brigades and teams are included. Even if the surplus was only three to five million, it would also pose a formidable problem. What is more, the number of cadres keeps increasing. At least 200,000 people graduate from universities and colleges and secondary vocational schools annually. Tens of thousands of armymen are demobilized to serve as civilian cadres every year, and during the past two years this number has increased to more than one hundred thousand a year. Local comrades must help make arrangements for demobilized army officers. Otherwise, the army will be composed of only officers and no soldiers or only a few men under each officer, and the army will have no combat effectiveness. There is an age limit for officers, because older officers would have difficulty climbing mountains while in action. It is particularly inappropriate for a man over forty to be a regimental commander, for he would find it beyond his ability to conduct reconnaissance and explore terrain on the frontline and scale snow-covered mountains, whereas a younger person would be more able. Not long ago we purposely transferred a number of army cadres to strengthen the commercial departments. Since this was a decision of the Central Committee, no local authorities may refuse to accept these cadres on the grounds that it may be difficult to find places for them. Besides, new cadres should constantly be promoted. All things considered, we shall add at least 300,000 cadres every year, or three million in ten years.

For many years we have guaranteed the positions of all cadres, promoting them but never demoting them. Now it seems that this has created a considerable side effect. We have not yet found a satisfactory solution to this thorny problem. The only way out is to have the cadres prepared to accept posts at levels lower than the ones they are holding. This is a formidable task. First of all, we should straighten out their thinking. I should say it is not entirely a question of material benefits — this can be solved by retaining their original salary scales and ranks, but a question of their willingness to accept posts at lower levels. Too many people hold deputy posts. In a military command there are so many deputy commanders that they need two tables for meals, and this is the case with deputy provincial governors, deputy commission directors, and deputy secretaries of a provincial Party committee. Both central and local authorities have been trying in vain to solve this problem for many years. It calls for a lot of work. We have to persuade our cadres, and create an atmosphere in which cadres are willing to accept lower posts. Their material benefits and political treatment should remain unchanged. We should also persuade some comrades to take honorary posts, such as members of the political consultative conference or vice-chairmen in the conference of a county or a province. Others can be sent to replace cadres at lower levels, who can return to production with their material benefits unchanged. Still others, who can no longer work at all, might just as well leave their positions for recuperation or take honorary posts. The fact that cadres are only prepared to be promoted and not demoted has become a hindrance to our work. This problem cannot be solved at one stroke, but we must keep working towards a solution.

At a recent meeting held by the Secretariat of the Central Committee to hear reports on organizational work, I suggested that cadres be demoted on a trial basis, beginning with cadres at the grass-roots level. For example, after serving two terms in office, the secretary of a brigade Party branch may return to production, and the head of a production brigade may become an ordinary commune member again. Cadres should not always be promoted to higher positions. They may be demoted and should always be ready for either a higher or a lower post, and be ready to lead others and be led. When being led, they can help the leader in the way an ex-secretary of a brigade Party branch helps a new secretary and an ex-head of a production brigade assists the new one. The ex-secretary or ex-head may be elected secretary or head again after leaving office for a couple of years. Enterprises and schools can do the same. In this way, cadres can be tempered. The Central Committee has not discussed this problem yet; I am the first to express an opinion about it. It is not good for a cadre to work at the grass-roots level in the countryside for a long time. After a person has served as secretary of a production brigade Party branch for one or two decades, he forms his own clique, and what he says is taken almost as “imperial edicts”. This hinders the promotion of democracy and the exercise of democratic centralism. If the secretary of a production brigade Party branch is demoted to the position of an ordinary Party member or the head of a production brigade to that of an ordinary commune member, they may be able to make a clear evaluation of the work they did and the work style they displayed while in office. This will help promote democracy. I hope when you go back, you will discuss this method with leading comrades of the bureaus of the Central Committee and the Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to see if it can be tried out in a few places. Personally, I think this may be a good way to approach the problem, and it will certainly not do us any harm. However, this cannot be applied to technical cadres in enterprises; it is not advisable to transfer engineers or competent workshop directors to serve as workers. This method can be tried first among some administrative Party cadres. For example, factory directors can be demoted to serve as workshop directors for a couple of years. Why should they always lead others instead of being led? In short, we should start with cadres at the grass-roots level, making it a rule that cadres be ready to take a higher or a lower post, so that everybody will become accustomed to the practice. In this respect, we are not doing so well as the capitalist societies, where people may be moved to higher or lower posts. I do not know what the Soviet Union is doing about it. Anyway, this is a formidable problem for us to tackle.

More effort should be made to control and supervise cadres. Recently Comrade Liu Shaoqi criticized the long-term lack of appraisal of cadres’ performance. Organization departments should take up this work. Supervision of cadres involves only a few aspects, such as, first of all, requiring Party cadres to take part in the regular activities of the Party organization. At an enlarged working conference of the Central Committee held last January it was noted that it was difficult to supervise many high-ranking cadres who only took part in the regular activities in Party branches. This has been the case for years. During those years we suggested that senior cadres take part in such activities in a Party committee or a leading Party members’ group once every quarter or half a year to discuss their work, and engage in criticism and self-criticism to see whether they have made an effort to correctly and firmly implement the Party’s guiding principles and policies. This is not merely a matter of individual self-cultivation; it is also a type of supervision and a part of the regular activities of the Party organization. This is quite suitable for those high-ranking cadres. There is no question about this suggestion; the point now is to put it into practice. All ordinary Party members and cadres should take part in Party branch or group activities at regular intervals to receive supervision from the Party. The exercise of democratic centralism is also a form of supervision. In addition, supervision is also exercised by Party members and non-Party people, by the Party’s supervisory system and the organization department’s appraisal system. This supervision is mainly over the cadres, including principal, leading cadres at corresponding levels. It would be of tremendous benefit if we could set up and improve day-to-day control and supervision of cadres and restore the system for appraising cadres. It is easier to solve problems as soon as they come up among cadres than to launch a movement for this purpose.

Another question concerning cadres is the exchange of cadres. The Central Committee has also made a decision in this respect, and now we should execute it. By exchange of cadres I mean the transfer of cadres both at higher and lower levels. The Organization Department of the Central Committee is to submit to the Central Committee for approval its suggestions on cadres of the Central Committee for exchange. The organization departments of provincial Party committees are also to submit to their respective committees for approval its suggestions on cadres under the charge of the provincial Party committees for exchange. As many cadres as necessary will be involved — the ratio or number is not to be proposed by departments at lower levels. According to Comrade Liu Shaoqi, a number of departments will transfer around five per cent of their cadres, while others none. The Central Committee has proposed that the first group of cadres to be transferred shall not exceed five per cent of the existing cadres at any one level. The intent of setting this figure is to exercise prudence and not involve too many people at once. The cadres are not all necessarily being transferred because they made mistakes; the transfers themselves will do the cadres some good no matter what the case may be. When people who know each other well work together too long, they become accustomed to hearing each other speak, slow to react to things and careless in analysing problems. It will be better for them to hear new things and work in a fresh environment. If cadres are transferred to work in different places, they will have more chances to deal with different situations and will therefore become more knowledgeable. Still another reason for transferring some cadres is that they do not co-operate well with others but prefer to go their own way, though they may be qualified and have made no mistakes. Such cadres can be found in enterprises, schools and Party committees. Why not transfer them to another place? Holding the same post, they may get along well with others in a different unit. Some cadres do not get along well with others any place; after being transferred a number of times, they may come to realize that they have a problem. Therefore, in order to better temper cadres, facilitate our work and create favourable working conditions for all units and Party committees at all levels, we are beginning the practice of transferring cadres for exchange.

Cadres should redouble their efforts to study. The army has taken the lead in urging its cadres to learn. I think the regulation issued by the Central Military Commission is correct. Local cadres should also read books and create a studious atmosphere. They have a lot to learn. I shall not go into detail as to what they should study, but on the whole, they should study Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, which will give them plenty to study.

Recently, both the Propaganda Department and the Organization Department of the Central Committee have been considering the question of Party schools and the training of cadres in rotation. At the conference on propaganda it was proposed that Party schools be separated from this training, which I think is the correct thing to do. Party schools provide regular training over a fairly long period of time. In addition, they are charged with training theoretical cadres, so their students are required to read books in a systematic programme. To train cadres in rotation, however, requires a fairly short period. Perhaps we could divide a Party school into two departments, one department being devoted to providing regular education and the other to training cadres in rotation, each with its own teaching staff. The Central Party School has also proposed restoring the division into two departments. Although the Central Committee has not yet given formal consideration to that proposal, I would go along with it. Local Party committees can also look into this question. It is evident that we shall suffer if we do not run Party schools on a regular basis. We did not seriously look at this question for a time, running the school on an off-and-on basis. Some places have completed their first round of training of cadres, while others have not. Those where training is still in progress should go on with it, and those that have finished it may consider a second round. The second round may not necessarily take one and a half months or teach the same things as the first one. The documents of the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee, for example, could serve as the teaching material for the second round. Cadres may be released from their work for ten to fifteen days or even just a week to discuss the documents. They may also read books or discuss a certain issue during the period of training. Both central and local authorities may consider these matters.

Do we need to adhere to the principle of the “three don’ts” in the training of cadres in rotation? The “three don’ts” refer to don’t pick on others for their faults, don’t label people and don’t use a big stick. The Secretariat of the Central Committee has discussed this question and decided that we need the “three don’ts”. It is necessary to continue to implement the principle of the “three don’ts” put forward in the Decision of the Central Committee on Training of Cadres In Rotation. In the past there were shortcomings in following this principle in that only those who had been criticized previously were allowed to give vent to their dissatisfaction, whereas those who had criticized others dared not and could not air their views whether their opinions were correct or partly correct. Or, they were only allowed to air their views concerning a certain area of work. Since we have decided to follow the principle, it should apply to everybody. In short, we should do as Chairman Mao says: “Say all you know and say it without reserve” and “Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words.” This is the kind of atmosphere we want to create. The principle of the “three don’ts”, put forward in the light of the need during a given period of time, gives expression only to “blame not the speaker”. Chairman Mao’s words are a complete formulation. They are included in the decision mentioned earlier. The decision contains many other “don’ts”, such as “Don’t take notes in group discussions.” We encourage people to say all they know and say it without reserve, to speak the truth and to correct erroneous views. Chairman Mao and Comrade Liu Shaoqi say that we are not afraid of overt opposition in our Party, except people who play tricks on us and resort to underhanded schemes. We will always have opposition, but we need not fear them so long as they are operating in the open. The normal way is for everyone to say all he knows and say it without reserve. When we discover that we are only partially implementing this principle, we should correct it without much ado. In short, we should exercise democratic centralism as emphasized by Chairman Mao at the enlarged working conference held by the Central Committee last January.

(Excerpt from a talk to comrades attending a conference on organizational work and a national conference on supervisory work.)