Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Party Character and Individuality
---Mao Tse-tung

(Individuality and party character has always been an issue of heated debate among the Marxists and the Radical Left. To bring some new light into the discussion, we are republishing a rarely read and seldom quoted speech by Mao Tse-tung which was a part of his long concluding speech at the Seventh National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party on May 31.
Source- Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, Vol 8 (ed.) Stuart Schram, Timothy Cheek, Roderick MacFarquhar, 1946)
There is a problem about universality and difference, about the relationship between the collective and the individual. In our party and in our liberated areas, people enjoy a very substantial degree of freedom, independence, and individuality. In a feudal system, by contrast, people do not have dignity nor do they have freedom, independence or individuality.
Marx said:
“In a bourgeois society, capital has independence and individuality, but the living people do not.”
In the feudal system of China, the great majority of people do not have independence and individuality either. The reason is that they do not have any property.
Independence and individuality, as well as dignity, all mean the same thing. They are the product of ownership. The Chinese landlord class and bourgeoisie have property ownership. They cause a great many people to go bankrupt. They reduce the peasant and petty bourgeoisie to bankruptcy. Property is concentrated in their hands. They themselves have individuality, independence and freedom, but the majority of people have lost their ownership of property. Consequently, they do not have individuality, independence and freedom, or these are weakened. Therefore, in order to restore their personality we should carry out a revolutionary struggle.
For example, we organized workers’ unions, organized the workers in capitalists’ factories, reduced the rents and interest rates in liberalized areas and set up the people’s armed forces and political power. This will enable the people to have individuality, freedom and dignity. As far our party is concerned, it is one indispensible part of the people from the very beginning.
Naturally, it cannot deny Party members of workers, intellectual and peasant backgrounds their human dignity. If the people have dignity, so will our party. If the people do not have any dignity, how can our Party have any? We should educate our Party members so that they are conscious and aware of the fact that many people in society do not have dignity and freedom. We must work hard for their freedom. In the liberated areas under our Party’s leadership, not only does everybody in society have their dignity, independence and freedom. In addition, under the education of our Party, their dignity, independence and freedom are further developed.
Regarding this issue, Marx made things very clear in the Communist Manifesto. He said: “The free development of each person is the condition of the free development of all”. It is unthinkable that each individual cannot develop, but the society can. By the same token, it is also unthinkable that our Party has a Party character, but each Party member does not and is like a piece of wood. In that case, 1.2 million Party members would be like 1.2 million pieces of woods. Speaking of this, two lines of a poem by Gong Zizhen (1) came to my mind: “I hope the Ruler of Heaven will enliven himself and create all kinds of talent.” Within our party I would like to put it this way: “I hope that Marxism-Leninism will enliven himself and create all kinds of talent.”
We must not let our Party members become paper or pottery figures and make them all resemble to each other. Actually, there are all kinds of human beings, and so long as of one those is willing to be subject to the Party’s principles, constitution and resolutions, it is fine if everybody can manifest their full talents under this general principle. If we make this point clear, it will be very helpful for Party’s progress and to bringing out the initiative of every Party member.
There are two kinds of individuality- that is a creative individuality and a destructive individuality. This is true regarding our Party and it is also true regarding society. What is creative individuality? Take the model workers, excellent shots, inventors and cadres who can work independently. They are not only brave in the struggle outside the Party but also brave in the struggle inside the Party. They are seldom blind; never say what others want them to say, and do not raise their hands before they completely understand what is going on. Such is creative individuality, and it fits in completely and is harmonious with the Party’s character.
The other kind of individuality is destructive and individualistic, placing individual interest at the top of the list and liking to start something new in order to be different. In fact there are two kinds of starting something new in order to be different. One is revolutionary, such as the model workers, labor heroes and inventors. This is a kind of creative and revolutionary starting something new to be different. The other kind is destructive; it goes beyond of the limits of the proletariat and is not in harmony with the Party’s character. It follows the orientation, the line and policy of the Petty bourgeoisie and it is wrong. Marx defined two kinds of independence and individuality. One is marked by revolutionary independence and character; the other is marked reactionary independence and character.
Unified action, unified opinion and collectivism are of the Party’s characteristics. We should concentrate on many individualities, take unified action, and have unified opinions and a unified will towards certain problems and certain affairs. This is what our Party’s character demands.
Some argue that the so-called development of individuality actually means that if we support new democracy, there must be another group of people who oppose new democracy. Only this can be regarded as the development of individuality. If we want to fight against Japan, there must be another group of people who oppose fighting against Japan. If we are against Wang Jingwei, there must be a group of people who support Wang Jingwei; only this can be regarded as the development of individuality. We are firmly against this kind of development of individuality.
Within Party character and individuality, there is party character as well as individuality in rectification; there is Party character as well as individuality in production, there is Party character and individuality in military action there is Party character and individuality in government work; there is Party character and individuality in every bit of work and everything we do. This kind of individuality must be unified with the Party character.

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