Party Unity

Party Unity


one of the fundamental principles of a revolutionary Marxist party, for which the necessary condition for successful activity is organization, solidarity, and discipline, based on the principle of the common task of struggle for communism.

The foundations of party unity are, first, a Marxist-Leninist outlook—its teachings on the class struggle, on the socialist revolution, on the dictatorship of the proletariat, and on the building of socialism and communism—as the general theoretical platform of a party of the working class, as well as common aims, methods, and forms of activity and common principles of interrelations with various classes and social groups (ideological unity, including unified revolutionary strategy and tactics), all consolidated by the Program of the Communist Party. Second, party unity rests on firm intraparty discipline, on the unconditional subordination of the minority to the majority, and on the binding nature for lower party organs of all decisions made by higher party organs, all of which are assured by the principle of democratic centralism, are firmly fixed in the Party Rules, and presuppose the active work of Communists in executing party decisions (organizational unity). V. I. Lenin emphasized the inextricable link between organizational and ideological party unity. As early as 1900 he wrote that “in the first place it is necessary to work for solid ideological unity. . . . Second, we must work to achieve an organization”(Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 4, p. 357). The CPSU has preserved and maintained the Leninist tenet on party unity. “The inviolable law of life of the CPSU,” states the Party Rules, “is ideological and organizational unity, the monolithic nature of its ranks, and the high level of conscious discipline of all Communists” (1971, p. 5).

Party unity depends on the degree of the proletariat’s solidarity and class consciousness, on the firmness of the proletariat’s ties with the nonproletarian strata of the workers, and on the proletariat’s ability to lead the workers toward the socialist revolution and, after its triumph, to direct socialist and communist construction. The heterogeneous character of the working class, petit bourgeois influence, and the ideological pressure of imperialism create conditions for the appearance of opportunistic and revisionist tendencies in the workers’ movement, while within the party these factors are reflected in the emergence of anti-Marxist groups. The Communist Party wages a continual struggle against the influence of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideologies and against their tendencies toward organizational splintering, that is, against infringement of the principle of party unity. Defense of party unity entails struggle against all varieties of revisionism and opportunism. Underestimating theoretical or organizational questions results in a weakening of party unity, which in turn can lead to the loss of ability to lead the workers. Of primary importance is the defense of organizational party unity, which provides the necessary anchor for ideological party unity, and without which the party as an alliance of like-minded individuals cannot exist. Lenin and the Bolsheviks conducted a long and unyielding struggle on behalf of party unity against opportunists. They supported and achieved (at the Fourth Congress of the RSDLP, 1906) the inclusion in the first paragraph of the Party Rules of Lenin’s formulation that “anyone accepting the party program, supporting the party materially, and entering into a party organization is considered a member of the party” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh 8th ed., vol. 1, 1970, p. 182). The struggle for party unity in the prerevolutionary period culminated in the expulsion from the party of “economists,” liquidators, the Mensheviks, and other opportunists. After the October Revolution of 1917 the impact of bourgeois and petit bourgeois influences on the working class was reflected in the party in the form of various factions (“left communists,” workers’ opposition, democratic centralists, Trotskyists, right deviation), which undermined party unity. All these groups were engendered by deviation from Marxism-Leninism, first in questions of strategy and tactics and subsequently in organizational and theoretical principles. Insofar as the appearance of factions threatened to split the party and led to the weakening of its leadership role, the Tenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1921, having heard Lenin’s report, adopted his proposed resolution On Party Unity, instructing the Central Committee to bring about “the complete liquidation of every brand of factionalism” (ibid., vol. 2, 1970, p. 220). The principle of party unity achieved its culminating victory in the CPSU after the liquidation of the remnants of the exploiting classes. Unity within the CPSU is assured by the existence of a single socialist economic system in the USSR, by the complete agreement of the interests of the working class and the kolkhoz peasantry on all the main lines of party policy, by the uninterrupted growth of the people’s general culture and a deeper assimilation by party members of Marxist-Leninist theory and its creative application in practical activity, and by the development of intraparty democracy and the strengthening of conscious discipline in party ranks. The unity of the CPSU is the pledge of successful communist construction.

The strengthening of unity within the Communist Party on the basis of Marxism-Leninism became one of the most important tasks of the Communist International and its sections from their earliest days. To achieve this in the early 1920’s, it was necessary first and foremost to overcome the vestiges of social democracy within the Communist parties. The 21 conditions governing acceptance into the Comintern and several other documents of the international communist movement prevented alien elements from entering the Communist Party and undermining party unity. It was also necessary at that time to help young Communists rid themselves of the errors that V. I. Lenin characterized as “the infantile disorder of ‘left-wing’ communism.” The purging from Communist par-ties of Trotskyist and right-wing opportunistic elements that had become active by the end of the 1920’s was a very important condition for strengthening the unity of the Communist parties. The high level of unity achieved within the Communist parties became an important factor in the success of the united worker and popular fronts in the 1930’s, and during World War II it was one of the conditions that allowed Communist parties to play their leadership role in the Resistance.

In the postwar years, as a result of a numerical growth in the membership of Communist parties, some of whose young members did not have sufficient theoretical training, the necessity of continued struggle for greater unity within the Communist parties on a Marxist-Leninist basis became evident. Right-wing revisionist elements revived, with particularly grave consequences in Hungary in 1956 and in Czecho-slovakia in 1968. The struggle against revisionists, who have sought—under the guise of “free discussion”—to deceptively disseminate their anti-Marxist views in the Communist Party, remains one of the most pressing tasks facing the world communist movement. Communist parties, such as those of Austria, Italy, and France, regularly purge their ranks of opportunists. An integral part of this struggle is the unmasking of the schismatic activity of the Maoist leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and its agents in various countries. The programs outlined at the World Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties of 1957, 1960, and 1969 point out that unity and solidarity within the international communist movement as a whole and within each Communist Party is one of the prerequisites for the further success of the working class in the struggle for democracy and socialism. Historical experience proves that when a Communist Party loses its unity and, as a result, finds itself lacking firm leader-ship, it becomes a fragmented mass, ill-suited for organized activity. Under pressure from counterrevolutionary forces, it might be defeated. Firm political, organizational, and ideological unity, founded on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, is the source of strength and the prerequisite for the successful work of the Communist Party. Party unity must be renewed, deepened, and strengthened in the course of solving all new problems. A struggle over principles with all manifestations of opportunism, revisionism, and factionalism is the chief means for preserving party unity. Democratic centralism and collective leadership in the party create the conditions for the strengthening of party unity.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Manifest Kommunisticheskoi partii.” Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Ustav Soiuza kommunistov.” Ibid. (Appendix).
Lenin, V. I. “Zaiavlenie redaktsii Tskry.’”Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 5th ed., vol. 4.
Lenin, V. I. “S chego nachat’?”Ibid., vol. 5.
Lenin, V. I. “Chto delat’?”Ibid., vol. 6.
Lenin, V. I. “Shag vpered, dva shaga nazad.”Ibid. vol. 9.
Lenin, V. I. “Bor’ba s kadetstvuiushchimi s.-d. i partiinaia distsiplina.”Ibid., vol. 14.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad V s”ezdu RSDLP po povodu peterburgskogo raskola i sviazannogo s nim uchrezhdeniia partiinogo s”ezda.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 5th ed., vol. 15.
Lenin, V. I. “Detskaiabolezn’ ‘levizny’ v kommunizme.”/b/W., vol. 41.
ProgrammaKPSS.(PriniatanaXXIIs”ezdeKPSS). Moscow, 1971. Ustav KPSS. Moscow, 1971.


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