A Dialectical Approach to Inner-Party Unity

Mao once wrote about the subject of disagreements and mistakes within the Chinese Communist Party. That document was entitled “A Dialectical Approach to Inner-Party Unity”. His main goal was to place party unity over everything else. In order to keep that unity, a non-hostile way of approaching differences between comrades.

Mao was careful to differentiate between people who disagree and people whose intent was to be a hostile element or a saboteur. If we are all comrades, then we have nothing to fear from discussion about a complicated or polarizing issue among us.

Any disagreement was to be handled in a dialectical not metaphysical way. Mao described this dialectical approach:

“What is meant by a dialectical approach? It means being analytical about everything, acknowledging that human beings all make mistakes and not negating a person completely just because he has made mistakes. Lenin once said that there is not a single person in the world who does not make mistakes. Everyone needs support… a fence needs the support of three stakes. With all its beauty the lotus needs the green of its leaves to set it off.”

We are all comrades and we all need each other in order to get anything done. This is our strength; this is the strength of socialist unity. We are all headed to the same goal, but we may each see a different road to that destination. Mao understood this need for compromise and understanding in order to keep unity and reach the goal when he said:

“Here we are speaking of the strategic objective. But the case is different with tactical stages, where compromises may be made. Didn’t we compromise with the Americans on the 38th Parallel in Korea? Wasn’t there a compromise with the French in Viet Nam? At each tactical stage, it is necessary to be good at making compromises as well as at waging struggles.”

Mao suggested that there should be talks held by comrades who have a misunderstanding between them. None of us are saints and none of us are infallible incapable of making mistakes. Such arrogance is reserved for the capitalists and the imperialists who feel they, as the colonizers know what is best for an indigenous population. The party and is comrades should not assume themselves “monolithic and uniform”, understanding is what makes us different from them.

Mao intended for talks to take place with the defence of the principles of Marxism-Leninism in mind. He also understood that people who were not necessarily complete Marxists also held a place within the party and the advancement of the Party’s goals.

“It seems as if people have to be 100 per cent Marxists once they are in the Party. Actually there are Marxists of all degrees, those who are 100 per cent, 90, 80, 70, 60 or 50 per cent Marxist, and some who are only 10 or 20 per cent Marxist. Can’t two or more of us have talks together in a small room? Can’t we proceed from the desire for unity and hold talks in the spirit of helping each other?”

The aim of unity is to provide him with a way out, to compromise with him, which means being flexible. The integration of principle with flexibility is a Marxist-Leninist principle, and it is a unity of opposites.