XVIII. Criticism and Self-Criticism
The practice of self-criticism and education of the party’s leaderships, cadres and members in this practice in a sound manner provides the party with a big guarantee for the discovery and correction of errors, and consequently for the continued growth of the party instead of allowing it to end in failure or incapacity resulting from these errors. Since no party or individual can avoid mistakes in work, the practice of self-criticism converts error into benefit and negative attitudes into positive ones.
Stopping to evaluate our work from time to time, placing the party and its policies and activities on the dissection table once in a while and following up scientifically all the positive and negative attitudes reflected in the revolutionary cause by the party’s policies, programmes and positions are matters that furnish the scientific revolutionary mentality with which the party can overcome errors and develop work programmes in the light of practical experience and eventually lead the work on to success.
Accordingly the party’s leaderships and members must accustom themselves to listening to, thinking of and benefiting from criticism, and, instead of trying to cover-up the error upon its discovery, admitting it and deciding to correct it.
However, sensitivity or emotion in confronting criticism levelled at the party by the members and the ma will lead to isolationism, persistence of error and failure to benefit from the remarks made by members and sympathizers and will raise a wall between the party and masses. The leadership which is confident in itself and its honesty is that which welcomes criticism and listens to, thinks of and benefits from it, admits error when it occurs, tries to correct it and is always ready for development and renovation in the light of practical experience. The practice of criticism as regards the revolutionary party is the method whereby the party breathes in new air, breathes out unhealthy air and eventually renews its vitality and capacities in a continuous manner.
Mao Tse Tung says:
“Conscientious practice of self-criticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly. Our comrades’ minds and our party’s work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing. The proverb ‘Running water is never stale and a door-hinge is never worm-eaten’ means that constant motion prevents the inroads of germs and other organisms. To check up regularly on our work and in the process develop a democratic style of work, to fear neither criticism nor selfcriticism: and to apply such good popular Chinese maxims as ‘Say all you know and say it without reserve’, ‘Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words’ and ‘Correct mistakes if you have committed them and guard against them if you have not’.” (1)
Our emphasis on the practice of criticism must be accompanied by our emphasis on the group of criteria which make criticism a weapon to strengthen and not to weaken the party. There are three basic criteria which must be taken into account: (1) the objectivity of criticism, (2) the orientation of criticism towards correction and not towards demolition and destruction, and (3) its dealing with basic matters so that the party’s life may not be drowned in petty subjective issues.
In fact we deem it very important to point out – that these criteria are found clearly in the organizational revolutionary thought which has directed the greatest revolutions. Consequently they are not criteria laid down by the leadership of the Popular Front to put criticism into effect or to brandish it in the face of its critics.
Concerning the criterion of objectivity in the practice of criticism Mao Tse Tung says:
“In inner-party criticism, guard against subjectivism, arbitrariness and the vulgarization of criticism – statements should be based on facts and criticism should center on politics.” (2)
Regarding the orientation of criticism towards correction and not towards destruction, Mao Tse Tung also says :
“…But our aim in e posing errors and criticizing shortcomings, like that of a doctor curing a sickness, is solely to -save- the patient and not to – doctor him to death. A person with appendicitis is saved when the surgeon removes his appendix.
So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure. So long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade. We can never succeed if we just let ourselves go, and lash out at him. In treating an ideological or a political malady, one must never be rough and rash but must adopt the approach of ‘curing the sickness to save the patient’, which is the only correct and effective method.” (1)
Concerning the necessity for criticism to deal with basic issues he adds :
“Another point that should be mentioned in connection with inner-Party criticism is that some comrades ignore the major issues and confine their attention to minor points when they make their criticism. They do not understand that the main task of criticism is to point out political and organizational mistakes. As to personal shortcomings, unless they are related to political and organizational mistakes, there is no need to be over critical and to embarrass the comrades concerned. Moreover, once such criticism develops, there is the great danger that the Party members will concentrate entirely on minor faults, and everyone will become timid and overcautious and forget the Party’s political tasks.” (I)
The practice of criticism within these criteria must constantly be a manifestation accompanying the life of the disciplined, democratic party.
This is the Front’s organizational strategy. Through these lines, our thorough comprehension of them and our adoption of them as a guide in the building of the organization, we are able to make the Front a revolutionary party, the proletarian party which acts in close contact with the masses and directs their movement, the party that is capable of practising armed struggle, the ever-revitalised, disciplined, democratic party.
Undoubtedly many of our organizational difficulties at this time are due to the fact that the Front was not originally built in the light and under the guidance of this strategy. We should be grossly mistaken if, in our analysis of our existing organizational diseases, we remain bound to partial and personal interpretations. Complete clarity of our organizational strategy and the long and painful efforts which we display within the organization to drive our organizational problems which in reality are general and common in varying degrees to all the political organizations which now rally around commando action.
This does not mean that there may come a time when the revolutionary party will live without problems: Such thinking is unrealistic- and unscientific. Our ambition is to outgrow the problems of this stage of the organization’s life to face the problems of a more advanced and more revolutionary stage.