Liu Shaoqi

How to Be a Good Communist

VI. A Party Member's Personal Interests Must be Unconditionally Subordinated to the Interests of the Party

Personal interests must be subordinated to the Party's interests, the interests of the local Party organization to those of the entire Party, the interests of the part to those of the whole, and temporary to long-term interests. This is a Marxist-Leninist principle which must be followed by every Communist.

A Communist must be clear about the correct relationship between personal and Party interests.

The Communist Party is the political party of the proletariat and has no interests of its own other than those of the emancipation of the proletariat. The final emancipation of the proletariat will also inevitably be the final emancipation of all mankind. Unless the proletariat emancipates all working people and all nations - unless it emancipates mankind as a whole - it cannot fully emancipate itself. The cause of the emancipation of the proletariat is identical with and inseparable from the cause of the emancipation of all working people, all oppressed nations and all mankind. Therefore, the interests of the Communist Party are the emancipation of the proletariat and all mankind, are communism and social progress.. When a Party member''s personal interests are subordinated to those of the Party, they are subordinated to the interests of the emancipation of the class and the nation, and those of communism and social progress.

Comrade Mao Zedong has said:

At no time and in no circumstances should a Communist place his personal interests first; he should subordinate to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence selfishness, slacking, corruption, seeking the limelight are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one's energy, whole hearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect.1

The test of a Party member's loyalty to the Party, the revolution, the cause of communism is whether or not he can subordinate his personal interests absolutely and unconditionally to the interests of the Party whatever the circumstances.

At all times and all questions a party member should give first consideration to the interests of the Party as a whole and put them in the foremost and place personal matters and interests second. The supremacy of the Party's interests is the highest principle that must govern the thinking and actions of the members of our Party. In accordance with this principle, every Party member must completely identify his personal interests with those of the Party both in his thinking and in his actions of the members of our Party both in his thinking and in his actions. He must be able o yield to the interests of the Party without any hesitations or reluctance and sacrifice his personal interests what ever of the two are at variance. Unhesitating readiness to sacrifice personal interests and even one's life, for the Party and for the proletariat and for the emancipation of the nation and of all mankind - this is one expression of what we usually describe as "Party spirit", "Party sense" or "sense of organization'. It is the highest expression of communist morality, of the principled nature of the party of the proletariat and of the purest proletarian class consciousness.

Members of our Party should not have personal aims which are independent of the Party interests. Their personal aims must harmonize with the Party's interests. If the aim they set for themselves is to study Marxist-Leninist theory, to develop their ability in work, to establish revolutionary organizations and to lead the masses in successful revolutionary struggles - if their aim is more is to do more for the Party - then this personal aim harmonizes with the interests of the Party. The Party needs many such members and cadres. Apart from this aim, Party members should have no independent personal motives such as attaining position of fame, or playing the individual hero; otherwise they will depart from the interests of the Party and may even become careerists within the Party.

If a Party member thinks only of the communist interests and aims of the Party, is really selfless and has no personal aims and considerations divorced from those of the Party, and he ceaselessly raises the level of his political consciousness through revolutionary practice and through the study of Marxism-Leninism, then the following ensues.

First, he has a high communist morality. Taking a clear-cut, firm proletarian stand, he is able to show loyalty to and love for all comrades, all revolutionaries and working people, help them unreservedly and act towards them as equals, and he will never allow himself to hurt a single one of them for his own interests. He is able to feel for others, place himself in their position and be considerate of them. On the other hand, he is able to wage resolute struggle against the pernicious enemies of mankind and persevere in the fight for the interests of the Party, the proletariat and the emancipation of the nation and all mankind. "He is the first to worry and the last to enjoy himself".2 Whether in the Party of among the people, he is the first to suffer hardship and the last to enjoy comfort; he compares himself with others not with respect to the material enjoyment but to the amount of work done for the revolution and the spirit of hard endurance in the struggle. In times of adversity he steps forward boldly, and in times of difficulty he does his duty to the full. He has such revolutionary firmness and integrity that "neither riches nor honours can corrupt him, neither poverty nor lowly condition can make him swerve from principle, neither threats nor force can bend him".3

Second, he has the greatest revolutionary courage. Having no selfish motives, he has nothing to fear. Having done nothing to give himself a guilty conscience, he can lay bare and courageously correct his mistakes and short comings, which are like "an eclipse of the sun or the moon".4 Because he has the courage of righteous conviction, he never fears the truth, courageously upholds it, spreads it and fights for it. Even if it is temporarily to his disadvantage and if, in upholding the truth, he suffers blows of all kinds, is censured by most other people and so finds himself in temporary (and honourable) isolation, even to the point where he may give up his life, he will still breast the waves to uphold the truth and will never drift with the tide.

Third, he learns how best to grasp the theory of Marxism-Leninism. He is able to apply them in keenly observing problems and in knowing and changing reality. Because he takes a clear-cut, firm proletarian stand and is tempered in Marxism-Leninism, he is free from personal apprehensions and self-interest, so that there is no impediment to his observation of things or distortion of his understanding of the truth. He seeks the truth from the facts, and he tests all theories and distinguishes what is true from what is false in revolutionary practice.

Fourth, he is the most sincere, most candid and happiest of men. Because he has no private axe to grind, nothing to conceal from the Party and nothing he cannot tell others, he has no problems of personal gain or loss and no personal anxieties other than for the interests of the Party and the revolution. Even when he is working on his own without supervision and therefore has the opportunity to do something bad, he is just as "watchful over himself when he is alone"5 and does not do anything harmful. His work bears examination and he is not afraid having it checked. He does not fear criticism and at the same time is able to criticize others with courage and sincerity.

Fifth, he has the greatest self-respect and self-esteem. For the sake of the Party and the revolution he can be most forbearing and tolerant towards comrades and can suffer wrong in the general interest, even enduring misunderstanding and humiliation without bitterness if the occasion so demands. No personal aims lead him to flatter anyone or to desire flattery from others. When it comes to personal matters, he knows how to conduct himself and has no need to humble himself in order to get help from others. He knows how to take good care of himself in the interests of the Party and the revolution and how to strengthen both his grasp of theory and his practical effectiveness. But when it is necessary to swallow humiliations and bear a heavy load for some important purpose in the cause of the Party and the revolution, he can take on the most difficult and vital tasks without the slightest reluctance, never passing the difficulties to others.

A member of the Communist Party should possess the finest and highest human virtues and take a clear-cut and firm Party and proletarian stand (that is, possess Party spirit and class spirit). Ours is a fine morality precisely because it is proletarian and communist. It is founded not on the protection of the interests of individuals or of the exploiting few, but on those of the great proletariat and the great mass of working people, of the cause of the final emancipation of all mankind, and the liberation of the whole world from the calamities of capitalism, and the building of a happy and beautiful communist world - t is a morality founded on the Marxist-Leninist theory of scientific communism. As we Communists see it, nothing can be more worthless or indefensible than to sacrifice oneself in the interests of an individual or a small minority. But it is the worthiest and most just thing in the world to sacrifice oneself for the Party, for the proletariat, for the emancipation of the nation and all mankind, for social progress and for the highest interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. Indeed, countless members of the Communist Party have looked death calmly in the face and made the ultimate sacrifice without the slightest hesitation. Most Communists consider it a matter of course to die for the sake of the cause, to lay down their lives for justice, when that is necessary. This does not stem from any revolutionary fanaticism or hunger for fame but from their scientific understanding of social development and their deep political consciousness. There is no morality in class society to compare with this high communist morality. The universal morality which supposedly transcends class is sheer deceptive nonsense and in fact a morality designed to protect the interests of the exploiting few. Such a concept of morality is always idealist. It is only we communists who build our morality on the scientific basis of historical materialism and proclaim its purpose to be the protection of the interests of the proletariat in the struggle for the emancipation of itself and all mankind.

The Communist Party represents the general and long-range interests of the proletariat and all mankind in their struggle for emancipation; the Party's interests are the concentrated expression of this cause. One must never regard the communist Party as a narrow clique, like the guild perusing the interests of its members. Anyone who does so is no Communist.

A Party member has interests of his own, which may be inconsistent with or even run counter to the interests of the Party in certain circumstances. Should this happen, it is incumbent on him to sacrifice his personal interests and unconditionally subordinate them to the interests of the Party; under no pretence or excuse may he sacrifice the Party's interests by clinging to his own. At all times and in all circumstances, he should fight heart and soul for the Party's interests and for the Party's development, regarding every success and victory won by the Party and the proletariat as his very own. Every Party member should strive to increase his effectiveness and ability in the service of the people. But this must be done in the fight for the advancement, success and victory of the Party's cause, and there must be no striving for individual development divorced from the fight to advance the Party's cause. The facts prove that only by complete devotion in the fight for the advancement, success and victory of the Party's cause can a Party member heighten his effectiveness and ability and that he cannot possibly make progress of heighten his ability in any other way. Hence a Party member can and must completely merge his personal interests with those of the Party.

Members of our Party are no ordinary people but the awakened vanguard fighters of the proletariat. They must conscientiously represent the class interests and class ideology of the proletariat. Therefore, their personal interests must never project beyond those of the party and the proletariat. It is all the more necessary for each cadre and leader of the Party to be a living embodiment of the general interests of the Party and the proletariat and to merge his personal interests completely in their general interests and aims. In present-day China, it is the proletariat that best represents the interests of national liberation, and therefore our Party members must be worthy champions of the interests of the nation as a whole.

Members of our Party must subordinate personal to Party interests and are required to sacrifice them to party interests if necessary. But this by no means implies that our Party does not recognise, or brushes aside, the personal interest of its members or that it wants to wipe out their individuality. Party members do have their personal problems to attend to, and, moreover, they should develop themselves according to their individual inclinations and aptitudes. Therefore, so long as the interests of the Party are not violated, a Party member can have his private and family life and develop his individual inclinations and aptitudes. At the same time, the Party will use every possibility to help members develop their individual inclinations and aptitudes in conformity with its interests, furnish them with suitable work and working conditions and commend and reward them. As far as possible, the Party will attend to and safeguard its members' essential interests; for example,, it will give them the opportunity to study and to acquire an education, it will help them cope with health and family problems and, when necessary, it will even give up some of its work in order to preserve comrades working under the rule of reaction. But all this has no other purpose than the overall interests of the Party. For the fulfillment of its tasks the Party must ensure that members have the conditions necessary for life, work and education so that they can perform their tasks with enthusiasm and without worry. Comrades in responsible Party positions must bear all this in mind when they deal with Party members' problems.

To sum up, on his side, each Party member should completely submit himself to the interests of the Party and self-sacrificingly devote himself to the public duty. He should forego all personal aims and private considerations which conflict with the Party's interests. He should not think of himself all the time, make endless personal demands on the Party or blame the Party for not promoting or rewarding him. Whatever the circumstances, he should study hard, try to make progress, be courageous in struggle and make ceaseless efforts to raise the level of his political consciousness and his understanding of Marxism-Leninism, so as to be able to contribute more to the Party and the revolution. On their side all Party organizations and comrades in responsible positions, in dealing with the problems of Party members, should see how they work, live and study. and enable them to work better for the Party, ceaselessly develop themselves and raise their level in the course of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. In particular, attention should be paid to comrades who are really selfless and who serve the people well. Only so, through combined attention and effort by both sides can the interests of the Party be well served.

1. ≴The Roll of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War≵, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Eng. ed., FLP, Beijing, 1975, Vol. II p. 198.

2. See Yue Yang Lou Ji, by Fan Zhongyan (989-1052) of the Song Dynasty.

3. From Mencius, Book III, ≴Teng Wen Gong≵, Part II.

4. See the Confucian Analects, Book XIX , ≴Zi Zhang≵, Chapter 21. ≴The faults of superior men are like the eclipses of the sun and the moon. When they appear, all men see them; when he corrects them, all men look up to him.≵

5. See the Confucian ≴Doctrine of the Mean≵ in the Book of Rites: ≴There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than that which is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself when he is alone.≵

Next: VII. Examples of Wrong Ideology in the Party