Discipline, Party

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Discipline, Party


an indispensable condition for the organization and fighting capability of Marxist-Leninist parties, and the most crucial condition for the fulfillment of the requirements of the party program and rules, the resolutions of party bodies, and party morality by Communists and party organizations. One of the organizational foundations of the new type of proletarian party, party discipline is closely connected with the guiding organizational principle of democratic centralism.

The most important principles of party discipline were developed and substantiated by V. I. Lenin. “We have already enunciated our theoretical views,” he said, “on the importance of discipline and on how this concept is to be understood in the party of the working class. We defined it as: Unity of action, freedom of discussion and criticism. Only such discipline is worthy of the democratic party of the advanced class. The strength of the working class is organization. Unless the masses are organized, the proletariat is nothing. Organized, it is everything. Organization means unity of action, unity in practical operations” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 14, pp. 125-26).

Lenin emphasized that iron party discipline becomes particularly important in the period of the working class armed struggle to achieve power and defend and consolidate it. The Communist Party can successfully fulfill its role as leader of the toiling masses if strong, conscious party discipline prevails and if the party’s directing center is an authoritative body that has broad powers and enjoys universal confidence among party members and the nonparty toiling masses. Speaking about the reasons for the victory of the Soviet Republic over the interventionists and White Guards during 1918-20, Lenin particularly stressed the role of party discipline. He wrote that “the Bolsheviks could not have retained power for 2½ months, let alone 2½ years, without the most rigorous and truly iron discipline, in our party, without the fullest and unreserved support from the entire mass of the working class, that is, the thinking, honest, devoted, and influential elements in it, capable of leading the backward strata or carrying the latter along with them” (ibid., vol. 41, pp. 5-6).

Monolithic unity and iron discipline of the ruling Communist Party are crucial conditions for the Communist Party to exercise its leadership role in the dictatorship of the proletariat. These conditions played a decisive role in ensuring the victory of socialism in the USSR, and they continue to play an important role as the entire people’s state struggles for the construction of communist society. Iron party discipline does not exclude but assumes criticism and self-criticism within the party, class consciousness, and voluntary submission. Party discipline is indissolubly linked with the ideological unity of the proletarian party. Only conscious discipline can be truly iron, ideological, and principled. Party discipline is equally binding on all Communists—the rank and file and the leaders. Lenin criticized the Mensheviks, who permitted the entrenchment of haughty morals and manners in the ranks of the RSDLP, dividing party members into the “chosen” and the “unchosen.” The Bolshevik Party forged party discipline in a relentless struggle against Mensheviks, the followers of Trotsky and Bukharin, and other opportunist groups and tendencies that infringed on the unity of the party. The Leninist Resolution on Party Unity, which was adopted by the Tenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1921, was extremely important in the struggle against antiparty groupings and tendencies and in strengthening the conscious discipline and unity of the party.

The principles of party discipline of the CPSU are embodied in the Rules of the CPSU, which state: “Ideological and organizational unity, the monolithic quality of the ranks of the party, and the elevated, conscious discipline of all Communists constitute an inviolable law in the life of the CPSU. Every manifestation of factionalism and cliquishness is incompatible with the Marxist-Leninist party spirit, with continued membership in the party” (1971, p. 5). A party member is obligated to defend party unity—the chief prerequisite for party strength and power—in every way possible and to observe party arid state discipline. Those guilty of violating the Program and Rules of the party, party discipline, state discipline, or party morality must answer to the party. A Communist is an active, selfless fighter for the implementation of party and state decisions. For the party member, mere agreement with party resolutions is not enough: he is obligated to struggle and put these resolutions into practice.

Fraternal communist and workers’ parties are strengthening discipline and unity in their ranks, taking into account the historical experience of the CPSU. Retreat from the Marxist-Leninist requirements of party discipline, which the right and left revisionists have tried, leads ultimately to the party’s degeneration into a reformist-anarchist or para-military organization.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See reference volume, part 1, p. 144.)
Ustav KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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