What might Deng have said?
Deng Xiaoping offers some advice to the Communist Party of China on work style and leadership ... 60 years ago
Comrades, among some cadres bureaucratism assumes the form of conceit and complacency. These comrades exaggerate the role of the individual and emphasize personal prestige. They lend a willing ear to flattery and praise, but cannot bear criticism or supervision; some persons of bad character even go so far as to stifle criticism and resort to reprisals against their critics.
Yet another kind of people in our Party reverse the relations between the Party and the people. Instead of serving the people, they abuse their authority over the people and commit all manner of evil deeds in contravention of the law and rules of discipline. This is a most wicked, anti-popular work style, a hangover in our own ranks of
the working-style characteristic of the ruling classes of the old days.
Although such cadres are few in number, the harm they do is very great.
I should like to say a few words about the role of leaders in the Party.
While recognizing that history is made by the people, Marxism never denies the historical role of outstanding individuals; Marxism simply points out that the individual role is, in the final analysis, dependent upon given social conditions.
Likewise, Marxism never denies the role of leaders in political parties. In Lenin’s famous words, the leaders are those who are “the most authoritative, influential and experienced.” Undoubtedly, their authority, their influence and their experience are valuable assets to the Party, the working class and the people. We Chinese communists can fully appreciate this from our own experience.
Of course, such leaders emerge naturally out of mass struggle, and cannot be self-appointed. Unlike the leaders of the exploiting classes in the past, the leaders of the working-class party stand not above the masses, but in their midst, not above the Party, but within it. Precisely because of this, they must set an example in maintaining close
contact with the masses, obeying Party organizations and observing rules of Party discipline.
Love for the leader is essentially an expression of love for the interests of the Party, the working class and the people, and not the deification of an individual. An important achievement of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union lies in the fact that it showed us what serious consequences can follow from deification of an individual.
Our Party has always held that no political parties or individuals are free from flaws and mistakes in their activities, and this has now been
written into the General Program of the draft Party Constitution. For the same reason, our Party abhors the deification of an individual.
At the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee, held in March 1949 – that is, on the eve of the nationwide victory in the people’s revolution – the Central Committee, at the suggestion of Comrade Mao Zedong, decided to prohibit birthday celebrations for Party leaders and the use of Party leaders’ names to designate places, streets and enterprises.
This has helped check the glorification and exaltation of individuals.
The Central Committee has always been against sending the leaders’ messages of greetings or telegrams reporting successes. Likewise, it has been against exaggerating the role of leaders through works of art and
Of course, the cult of the individual is a social phenomenon with a long history, and it inevitably finds certain reflections in our Party and public life. It is our task to continue to observe faithfully the Central Committee’s principle of opposition to the elevation and glorification of the individual.