The struggle between the two lines in the party as principle of the communist party’s development and defense against the bourgeoisie’s influence.
Every communist party often had to face and will face the antinomy between “ideological and political cohesion” and “organizational discipline”. The first asks for a systematic and organizational effort (with institutions and levels suitably dedicated) in order to promote the free development of each member and of its experience, and to make a climate of free and open debate reign in the party. The second implies unity of directions in the action, honest, active and loyal applying of the party’ directives and subordination of the individual to the collective, of the lower to the higher levels, of the part to the whole.
The communist parties created by the first Communist International faced this antinomy recognizing the unity of opposites included in it and adopting the democratic centralism as organizational principle. Lenin was our teacher in this field.
But the experience showed that the struggle for the ideological and political cohesion of the party put new problems. The communist parties of the Communist International had not a clearly defined line as regards the solutions of these problems. Also this opened a breach to the modern revisionists.
Each party often faces new situations and had to solve new problems. Everything changes and also the tasks that the party must face change. The rising of divergences is unavoidable within the party. In fact the divergences are factors of development. Also the ideas develop through slow evolutions and leaps, through the contrast, the division of the one in two. Also the ideas have a history: they are born within few men and acquire consent and followers as they demonstrate their validity in the practice. The bourgeois who has a new idea, realize it. If it goes well, so much the worse for his competitors; if it goes wrong, he fails (in any case the workers pay all the expenses). Amidst the communist and in the socialist society the things go differently. The comrade who has an idea presents it to the collective. It needs that the collective offer him the opportunity to show, defend and verify it. The new ideas are precious. Conceptions and lines derive from the contrast between true and false, new and old, advanced and backward: each development has these aspects. A party without divergences of views is dead (“there is no life without contradiction”). In front of divergences of view we must develop the debate, the research and the verification in order to reach the unity. There is no other way to reach the truth. If the ones who have an idea different from those already acquired and common are not allowed to express and test it, the development of thought in the party is obstructed and the thought is obliged to assert itself by underhand means. We undermine the ideological and political cohesion of the party. After all this is a necessary condition in order to keep the organizational discipline as an element of strength for the party.
We communist are for the freedom of criticism. But we are against the cohabitation and the coexistence of contrasting conceptions and ideas in the party. Therefore we do not want coexistence of divergent conceptions. We are not indifferent to conceptions. If “everybody thinks what he wants” he will also do what he wants, and there will be no organizational discipline. On the contrary, we do an open struggle among different conceptions in order to reach the unity on the most advanced and right revolutionary positions. The party must promote the confrontation, the debate and the verification. A direction that suffocates the contrasts, which fears them, which does not promote the debate and the verification is not a good direction.
Nevertheless, the contrasts of ideas are not only a mean for searching truth. They are also expressions of contrasting interests. The divergences of conceptions and lines in the party are not only the result of the progress of knowledge (contrast between truth and error) and of the rising of new situations (contrast between new and old, advanced and backward). They are also the result of the struggle between the working class advancing towards socialism and the bourgeoisie, who tries to perpetuate the old world as far as possible. They are the reflection of the antagonistic interests of the two classes struggling for the power. The ideas are a weapon in the struggle. Becoming patrimony of the masses, the ideas are a material strength that changes the world. A wrong orientation carries the party to defeat. A right orientation carries it to victory. Therefore, the conception and the orientation of the communist party are a battlefield, a field hard fought by the classes. Indeed a communist party with a sufficiently right orientation is invincible, as the first wave of the proletarian revolution has showed. In order to defeat the revolution, first of all the bourgeoisie have to conquer the communist party and divert it. In order to prevent revolution, the bourgeoisie must prevent the formation of a communist party able to give itself a sufficiently right orientation. That is why conceptions already theoretically defeated repeatedly present themselves again in the party, in forms hardly changed or sometimes in the same old forms. That is why the bourgeoisie tries by any means to influence the ideas of the party’s members. The bourgeoisie try by any means and in every way to avail itself of every divergence unavoidably developing within the party. It tries to contact the dissidents, to support them in every way (the fascism published the Trotsky’s work History of the Russian revolution ). It does it only as something to be exploited. It does not share their theses; it uses them to render antagonistic the divergences within our party. The bourgeoisie levers on individualism (on careerism, presumptuousness, search for glory and money, wish of revenge). It profits by the fact that in the bourgeois society the individual can find in all this fields opportunities that he cannot find in the party. The bourgeoisie levers on divergences physiologically developing in the party. Moreover, the bourgeoisie levers on every popular mass’ backwardness that obviously partially extends in the party. The ideological and moral subjection of the oppressed classes to the ruling class is congenital to the class society (“the ruling culture is the culture of the ruling class”). Therefore, until it will exist, the bourgeoisie will have some influence above the popular masses and trough them above the party. There are no “Great Walls of China” among the classes and the influence goes across every wall.
Every attempt to prevent the bourgeoisie’s influence only and mainly with disciplinary measures, suffocating the divergences, keeping the divergences within narrow circles of party’s leaders and showing outside a compact wall, with control commissions, at the end show themselves disastrous. Every attempt to ensure the ideological and political cohesion of the party through organizational discipline or fails or carries the party first to sluggishness and soon or later to disintegration. The bourgeoisie individuated and exploited the divergences in the party when they were forbidden and therefore secret. The history of the Italian Communist Party presents many events of this kind. The prohibition favored the transformation of the divergences in conspiracy. The bourgeoisie conquered the party’s direction in the greatest part of the communist parties of the first Communist International. At that point it was helped by the practice established in the party to suffocate the divergences or keep them in narrow circles of leaders and imposed its line with disciplinary measures to the party until its corruption and desegregation. The dogmatic refusal of the struggle between two lines in the party paralyzed the left wing.
Unavoidably in the communist party, the class contradiction (the bourgeoisie’s influence and the struggle against it) combines with the contradiction between true and false and the contradiction between the advanced and the backward (the new and the old). Nevertheless, there is no other way to treat these contradictions but the open debate, the active ideological struggle, the research and the verification in the practice. To do otherwise means to prevent the development of the party, to prevent it to carry out its task and to open wider ways to the bourgeoisie’s influence.
We must fight the bourgeoisie’s infiltration and influence within our ranks with a series of instruments. It is required the engagement of honor of the party’s members and of every structure of it to respect and favor the debate and the verification of the ideas and not to accept the bourgeoisie’s supports (exploitative or not) to single elements or opinion groups of the party (reviews, circles, centers of study). We must carry out the open political and ideological struggle and the mass struggle against spies, infiltrators, connecting agents, etc. However, absolutely we must not in general forbid or even only discourage the expression of ideas and their open debate. On the contrary, we must favor it with proper initiatives and measures. The party needs a most strengthened knowledge. If we do not practice a line consciously and after due consideration, we practice a line unconsciously. Then both the backwardness and the bourgeoisie’s influence find a favorable ground. Carrying out a right battle the left wing can always avail itself of the class’ experience of the party’s members and win.
We do not free ourselves from bourgeoisie’s influence eliminating the open debate among us and forbidding the dissent by statute. Only the struggle between two lines ensures the ideological and political cohesion. The party must be conscious that the bourgeoisie’s influence within its ranks is unavoidable. The party must be trained to identify the class’ matrix of the ideas and to look for which class each idea reflects interests and way of acting. The more the party does it the more it is able to drive back the bourgeoisie’s influence and so to strengthen its ideological and political cohesion. Therefore, every party must put the principle of the struggle between two lines together with the principle of the democratic centralism.
The struggle between two lines has ever existed in the communist parties. Thinking back to the history of the Communists’ League (1847-1850) and of the First International (1864-1872) we can reconstruct the sequence of struggle between lines, which marked their development. In the Second International, there were many struggles between lines, but they were carried out without consciousness of the class’ character of the lines in struggle (as if the ideas were above the classes) and with a conciliatory spirit. The history of Lenin’s party is a sequence of struggles between too lines. The History of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of USSR drawn up by Stalin (1938) shows it brightly. Lenin and Stalin were masters in searching for the class’ meaning of the conceptions and lines conflicting in the party. Nevertheless, in the first Communist International the law of the unavoidableness of the struggle between two lines was not recognized. Therefore, the attempts to keep away the bourgeoisie’s influence with disciplinary measures were largely carried out. They hindered the development of many parties and after all did not prevent the bourgeoisie’s influence. Those who carried the bourgeoisie’s influence within the parties often allied with the dogmatists, asserting that in the party the bourgeoisie’s influence had been eliminated and for ever. Therefore, they could carry out their work of destruction in more favorable conditions.
Mao Tse-tung carried out the conception of the struggle between two lines in the party enough in detail. Also for this aspect is necessary that the new communist parties assimilate the Maoism and be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.
At the end of this illustration of the most important five contributions of Mao Tse-tung to communist thought for our guideline at this stage, I think useful to recall, although it’s obvious, that the study of Maoism, and generally the study of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, it is not enough by itself for making a Communist, as the study of a manual chemistry, even an excellent manual, it is not enough for making a successful chemical. The study of Maoism will serve those seeking a way for the socialist revolution, assuming the ability to assimilate and apply the practical and specific characteristics of the revolutionary movement in our country.