Theses on Science-based Centralism and Leaders

The analysis of the causes of the USSR’s defeat has led the Proriv group to acknowledge the need to revise the dogmatic points about the criteria of a «new type of party» in the post-Stalin years of the CPSU’s existence. It was convincingly demonstrated[1] that the party’s vulnerability to opportunism was, from an organizational point of view, the root cause of a whole series of mistakes in politics, economics, and culture, which interrupted the flight of building communism. At the same time and even before[2], the main reason for the existence of opportunism itself in communist parties has been formulated: the ignorance of party members of Marxism and the consequent inability to effectively utilize the under-utilized theory of Marxism in political practice, even with the best intentions. It must be said that these provisions follow directly from Leninist and Stalinist assessments of the role of the struggle against opportunism for the formation of Bolshevism in the volume of works of the classics of Marxism that have been devoted to the defeat of the «leftists» and «heroic fighters for the people.”

After assimilating these necessary theoretical prerequisites and drawing on its practical experience, Proriv, justifying its name, formulated the concept of Science-based Centralism (SC). And so it began… But even the most contentless, scolding «criticism» on the part of our opponents proved useful in the sense that both supporters and opponents of our position were forced to update their knowledge of the history of the formation of the Bolshevik Party and to reread Lenin thoughtfully and purposefully. Now, after the first emotional wave of criticism of Science-based Centralism, a second, more substantial wave has arrived, without accusations of all «deadly sins.» Questions about the functioning of the Party of Science-based Centralism have begun to be asked by supporters of Proriv so it has become necessary to highlight some aspects once again.

The Necessary and Sufficient Number of Leaders

When opponents point us to the danger of having one leader in the SC party, they make the quite understandable argument that such a leader is mortal, prone to disease including mental decline; and it would be good to have backup leaders. It is difficult, but not necessary, to argue with this. In real life, the party will never face a choice of one leader or 10 leaders, and it is simply irrelevant to argue about it. In real history, the situation is as follows:

— The development and self-education of each Marxist leads to the formation of circles and their printed organs.

— The most authoritative of the press organs becomes the central organ (CO). Just as the quality of a school is determined entirely by the composition of its teachers, so the quality of the printed organ, this collective propagandist, agitator, and organizer, is determined by the composition of its main authors. Therefore, it would not be productive to assemble an editorial board by merging all the available personnel; it would be more correct to involve new authors who have demonstrated a high scientific level in the coordinated editorial board. No formal, no matter how democratic, no matter how dictatorial, provisions of the editorial board’s charter can by themselves make a newspaper or journal attractive and useful to readers and new authors. The tricks used to attract readers, such as entertaining materials, small topics, false urgency, and relevance are essentially bourgeois methods, which still cannot be compared in terms of entertainment with the yellow press. Only a high level of scientific material makes a printed organ authoritative. The experience of the Bolsheviks shows that a press organ is most productive when its editorial board consists of the main authors and does not exist separately as some kind of technical service, unless conspiratorial purposes require the appointment of «zitz-chairmen[3]» as editors, who consciously will protect the real editors.

— A party-type organization, rather than a circle-type, is formed around the CO.

— A galaxy of authoritative authors is formed as part of the propaganda work of the Central Committee of the Party.

— The authority of the CO grows both in the Party and among the masses in proportion to the quality of publications and their practical value. This is a very important aspect, and there is no point in talking about any party, or any leaders if there is no growth in the real authority of the CO among the masses. If there is no such growth, then we must return «back» to the circle stage and prepare propagandists who can ensure the growth of the party’s influence among the masses.

— At this stage, we can already talk about the formation of a leader. The leader must, to an even greater extent than the rank-and-file Communist, combine theorist and practitioner. A leader cannot be a «pure» theoretician; he must organize the party to put his ideas into practice, and neither can a leader be a «pure» practitioner, since the constantly arising questions of party building and propaganda must be promptly and competently solved. And only in this case can we call a leader a leader. The fact is that any organization, whether developing or degenerating, can have a “leader.” Is Zyuganov[4] the leader of the CPRF[5]? He is. But is he even a bit of a leader? It is ridiculous to ask; you cannot even say so in mockery. Can a party such as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation of today be capable of having a leader in the full sense of the word at all? The party itself, its press, and its relations with the masses are of such a character that scientific authority has no place there. The masses do not see this party as an intelligent leader; the party leadership sees the masses as its electorate and only adapts to their spontaneous sympathies, with no intention of teaching the masses anything.

It is clear that the formation of several absolutely equal leaders at the same time is extremely unlikely.

The question is: when does a party become capable of leading the masses? An analysis of history shows that the formation of a leader is precisely the milestone that both indicates the sufficient maturity of the organization for further growth and allows it to develop further. An analogy of this process from inanimate nature is the formation of the critical germ in the crystallization of a melt or solution. When the system is sufficiently supercooled, small crystals form, but as long as they are small, they are constantly dissolving and forming again until the critical size is reached, after which the crystals do not dissolve but only grow. Analogous to the leader can be the inoculum, which leads to the growth of a single monocrystal.

Thus, from the moment a leader is formed, the party’s struggle proceeds with increasing vigor, with a more active organization of the masses already prepared, already propagandized for direct action. Does it make sense for the party to wait for the formation of several more leaders? Considering that this process is poorly controlled [a][b][c]even in the favorable conditions of the first phase of communism, you could be waiting until the first leader…dies of old age. On the other hand, how can we wait when the party and the masses are ready for action, if imperialism constantly threatens the world with a nuclear world war and thousands and tens of thousands of lives are lost in local wars? That is, we inevitably find ourselves in a situation with a limited number of leaders. If we are lucky enough to have a few competent leaders, as communists, they will voluntarily and in the most productive way divide the spheres of responsibility among themselves. Stalin began to build a similar scheme in the Politburo (PB) of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b), when each member of the PB, in addition to his immediate duties, supervised several areas of work, for example, branches of industry.

The relationship between the quality of the leader and the quality of the party

We have already mentioned this connection in the previous paragraph. However, this connection is so comprehensive that it was best conveyed by the poet Mayakovsky:

We say Lenin — we mean the Party,
We say the Party — we mean Lenin.

As we have already mentioned, the leader is formed from the most authoritative authors of the CO. That is, the leader must be more prepared than the others; accordingly, the higher the preparation of the party members, the higher the quality of the leader will be. Moreover, a high quality of party activists can guarantee the formation of second-echelon leaders who will eventually become party leaders. Conversely, poor-quality Party cadres would inevitably lead to a situation where even a relatively competent leader would have no one to lean on and would be unable to do anything.

Can Stalin be blamed for the poor preparation of leaders? First, the leader must prepare himself. Without tremendous labor and conscientiousness on the part of the student, no university can train a leader. The experience of numerous party schools confirms this. Even in today’s official science, such a completely non-unique degree as doctor of science has NO leader. It’s up to you. All by yourself. And, secondly, Stalin’s disciples were such outstanding communist leaders as Kirov, Zhdanov, Beria. The fact that they all died extremely early and not at all by natural causes shows that the enemies of communism, unlike some alleged supporters, very correctly assess the role of the leaders in the revolution and in the first lower phase of communism.

On Hidden Democracy and Hidden Centralism

In Evgeny Korolev’s[6] reflections, it is said, as an objection to the SC theory, that the very implementation of Central Committee decisions by party cadres is a latent form of voting for these decisions. Accordingly, in the case of sabotage of decisions we have a hidden «against» vote. But such a concealed «against» vote directly contradicts the principles of democratic centralism, which presupposes that decisions are implemented even without the consent of the holders of minority opinions. I.e. under certain strict conditions and requirements, democratic centralism is a manifestation of Science-based Centralism. After such sabotage, the party either gets rid of the saboteurs in the most rigid way (which we see historically in the intraparty struggle in the CPSU(b) in the 30s), or it is the first phase of a split in the party where the CC lost its scientific authority. We have repeatedly written that in the history of the CPSU(b) many decisions were made formally and by voting, but in essence, the level of scientific authority of these decisions makes them Science-based-centralist.

Like the representatives of the LS and GC that we wrote about earlier, E. Korolev saw in SC only a demand for growth in the understanding that a «steady increase in theoretical knowledge and practical skills» of party members was necessary. But not making such a demand today is simply impossible! The level of those who are now members of parties with leftist and communist names has fallen so low that it is impossible to look without shedding tears and sometimes without bursting out laughter at the attempts made by the RPRP-RPK-KPSS[7], the CPRF, and the RUSO[8] to create something. This is why there are always left-wing lone wolf publicists of varying degrees of brilliance who easily outshine entire «com-» parties with their propaganda. Parties and organizations are immediately offended and accuse the lone wolf propagandists of rightism or of being «Kremlin provocateurs,» repeating as evidence the mantra that «if they have succeeded so quickly and brightly, it must be because the Kremlin helped them» or «but he is not calling for barricades today, not swearing at Putin, so clearly, he is a Kremlin bot.» It is clear that there is nothing but envy behind these accusations. Often such critics do not even consider the theses expressed by the lone propagandist, but consider that «he did not say this other thing,» and “why was he allowed to say this,” and other related points. The presence of such bright loners is a sign that modern leftist organizations do not multiply the forces of their propagandists. Even formal party propagandists work autonomously and solve their problems without a corporate plan, at their own peril and risk, and often independently solving technical questions, without organization and contrary to organization. The propaganda work carried out according to a formal plan is so trivial, pale, shallow, and unnecessary that it turns members away from the organization rather than attracting new ones. We, the editorial board of Proriv, went through this in the RCRP[9] 15-18 years ago. This degree of organization of theorists and propagandists does not correspond to the party level — it is a circle and pre-circle stage. We can state that today there is no leftist organization in the Russian Federation that can be called a party.

On the formation, upbringing, and appointment of leaders

The problem of the succession of leaders in the Communist Party is also presented by some of our supporters as difficult to solve within the framework of the SC. In general, the purpose of our publications was to draw the communists’ attention to this problem. If we look at the history of the 20th century, we will see that all great achievements are connected with the names of specific leaders. Even if you look at the history of the destruction of the world system of socialism, it turns out that the greatest resistance was shown by those parties whose leaders, at least within their countries, could be called leaders. Most of the last leaders of the socialist countries would not be remembered now even by a historian, while those interested in history remember Ceausescu, Honecker, and partly Jaruzelski. Not to mention the unbroken leaders — Castro and Kim, whom everyone remembers.

The issue of succession was handled differently by different parties. Whenever the problem was left to its own devices, i.e., left to “democratic” procedures and «collective intelligence,» nothing good has been observed. Conversely, in North Korea, the problem was solved radically … the solution today shows itself to be quite successful. This solution has gathered all the «dogs» both of the liberals, which is not surprising, and of the «non-authoritarian» left. Today we can quote the Juche and Songun blog: «Once again, for the third time in a row, the Korean people are fortunate to have a leader.”[10] And, just like the cases of Imperialist treatment of other communist leaders, the imperialists write openly about the possibility of killing Kim Jong-un, not even hesitating to admit to preparing to commit this crime.

Is the North Korean method optimal and suitable for all Communist parties? No, this method is tailored to national peculiarities and years of isolation. The advantages of this method are, firstly, the conscious preparation of the future leader, and secondly, relatively less effort at the time of the change of the leader. However, the scientific leadership and high competence of such a new leader, who has not passed the stage of direct struggle with internal opportunists, is not guaranteed by the North Korean method.

Thus, the question of the formation of leaders has not been solved in general terms as of today; there are only practical developments in various Communist Parties. And until it is absolutely clear to all communists that the leader is both the criterion of the authority of the party and the mechanism for the development of the organization, the question of the purposeful formation of leaders will stall on the need to constantly prove their necessity. An organization that will engage in the education of communists in its ranks who will meet the requirements for a leader has every chance of becoming a party of a new type and of forming and leading the working class.

O. Petrova

February-April 2017

[1] See V. Podguzov’s articles “On the Causes of the Collapse of Communist Parties” No. 4 (25) 2009 and “Democratic Centralism as a Nutrient Environment for Breeding “Bacilli” of Opportunism in the Communist Party” No. 2 (33) 2012 ( Part 1 and part 2).
[2] See, for example, the 20-year-old article by V. Podguzov “On Some Methodological Problems in Analyzing the Nature of Opportunism”.
[3] Zitspredsedatel Pound is one of the minor characters in the novel «The Golden Calf.» Pound’s profession since pre-revolutionary times has been the nominal head of one-day firms created for the sake of financial fraud.
[4] Gennady Zyuganov is a Russian opportunist politician standing on positions of social-conservatism under the mask of Marxism (with which he has nothing to do).
[5] The biggest party with communist name in Russia led by Gennady Zyuganov. It’s a lousy reformist social-conservative organization that hides under the banner of communism that in reality plays into the hand of capitalists.
[6] Russian author cited in the original article. Currently his accounts are deleted.
[7] Russian opportunist organizations which are inclined to economism and actionism along with tailism.
[8] RUSO — organization created by KPRF to unite scientists[d][e][f] of socialist orientation.
[9] Russian opportunist organization which is inclined to economism and actionism along with tailism, approximately the second most popular (if this term even can be applied to the Russian left) party with a communist name.
[10] Blog «Keep the Juche and national character of the revolution and building a new society!».


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