On Binary scheme of democracy and centralism

miychi miyachi9 at gctv.ne.jp
Sun Apr 7 06:54:43 MDT 2002

1.Binary scheme of democracy and centralism

a correct reading of Lenin’s work makes clear that Lenin never made a
binary scheme of democracy and centralism. Lenin speaks about centralization
of leadership by the party, decentralization of responsibility to the local
sections, and obligation of regular reporting and publicizing within the
party as condition to realize them, and centralization of secret function
and specification other functions of movement. as for democracy-inner-party
democracy, he regards it as a condition to realize centralization of
leadership and decentralization of responsibility to local sections, in
other words, as a historical concrete or a variable form.
 When we are going to speak something about centralism, it is necessary to
make clear what is to be centralized. Without making this point clear, a
“word” of centralization of power can be made to work by itself, and
directly applied to the bureaucratic organization and system of order and
command. That brings about an unnecessary binary opposing democracy against
centralism and individual against organization and the scheme comes to sway
its power.
 What is to be centralized is leadership pf the Party. The greatest possible
centralization is necessary for ideological and practical leadership of all
the sort of movements of proletariat. At the same time the greatest possible
decentralization is necessary for the responsibility to the local sections
in order to keep the leadership of the party and decentralization of
responsibility to the local sections may be compared to both sides of a
 From the viewpoint of Stalinism, the content of centralization of power is
not considered as a pair of centralization of leadership and
decentralization of responsibility, but only centralization of leadership
has been put forward. Centralism is considered only as “ command from above”
, and democracy becomes a mere means in pursuit of this. Thus the leadership
becomes something irrelevant to the Party, i.e. bureaucratic, administrative
direction (commands). And the party organization itself can be made up from
the binary scheme of democracy and centralism.
 we must revive a pair of centralization of leadership and decentralization
of responsibility as a content of power centralization. On the one hand
there should be “ the smallest number of the most homogenous group of
professional revolutionaries( Letters to a comrade on our organization tasks
-V.I.Lenin. Collected works vol6 248p), and they should centralized many
elements of the leadership of the revolutionary movements as far as
possible. On the other side” the greatest number of the most diverse and
heterogeneous groups of the most varied sections of the proletariat (and
other classes of the people)(op. ct. 248p) should take part in the movements
and bear the responsibilities to the Party.
 In order to accomplish this, party cells, groups and circles etc, should
give the most precise and fullest information of the content of their works
to the leadership (the system of the regular report). while the leadership
should publicize the real state of movements and the real content of the
Party except the secret function (the inner-party publicizing principle, the
obligation of the information of the leading organs to the membership).
Secondly, under this leadership should be centralized secret functions and
other functions of the movements should be specialized as far as possible.
 This is an outline, which Lenin considered as the most essential principle
of the Party organization and a organizational ideology of the whole rule of
the Party. Lenin speaks, “ the ideology of the centrism shows in principle
how to solve many organizational problems in part as well as in detail”(One
Step Forward, two Step back- V.I.Lenin collected Works vol. 7) and “ an
ideology of the centralism as a single and principle ideology should
determine the whole rules of the party#(po. cit,)
  Concerning the necessity to carry through centralism as a principle pf the
party organization, Lenin argued from many points of view in What to be done
or Letter to a comrade on our organizational tasks, and worked out an actual
plan of organization. Centralism is the principle of the party organization
which determine the party organization and works at any time and place as
long as it should be a Party of Communists. It should not be understood in
the limit of the national specialty of Russia or the historical period of
Lenin. only the forms or the way in which centralism is accomplished can be
changed to the various historical conditions.

2. relation of inner-party democracy to centralism

     while centralism is the principle of the party organization,
inner-party democracy is, for Lenin. a form and means, in which centralism
is realized and which is determined by the historical and definite
conditions. Concerning the introduction of democracy in the Party in the
face of the new stage of the class struggles resulted from Revolution of
1905, Lenin said in The Reorganization of the Party (V.I.Lenin collected
works vol. 10 29-30pp) as follows;

   “The conditions for activity of our Party are changing radically.
Freedom of assembly, association and the press has been captured” ,so even
if” the secret apparatus of the Party must be maintained....... at the same
time it is absolutely necessary to make the widest possible use of the
present relatively widest scope of the activity”-he insisted. and after
saying that”    in addition to the secret apparatus, it is absolutely
necessary to create many new legal and semi-legal Party organizations”,
Lenin suggests to introduce democracy in the Party matched with the legal
and semi-legal organizations.  “We have repeatedly said that complete
democratization was impossible in conditions of secret works, and that in
such conditions the ‘principle of election’ was a mere phase.......But in
the new conditions, if political liberties were acquired, it would be
essential to adopt the elective principle”

     As above-mentioned, in the face of a new turn of the conditions of
activities resulted from Revolution of 1905, Lenin suggests many democratic
methods of party organizations.
 Before this (What to be done, written in 1902), Lenin talked about an
inner-party democracy as follows;

    “Everyone will probably agree that ‘ the broad democratic principle’
presupposes the two following conditions; first, full publicity, and
secondly, election to all jobs”(Lenin, Collected Works vol5 477p)

    Showing by detail that this “full publicity” “election to all jobs”
are impossible to realize under dictatorship of Czarism, Lenin draws
following conclusions.

     “The only serious organizational principle for the active workers of
our movements should be the strict secrecy, the selection of members, and
the training of professional revolutionaries. Given these qualities,
sometimes even more than democratism would be guaranteed to us, namely,
complete, comradely ,mutural confidence among revolutionaries. This is
absolutely essential for us.(op. cit 480p)

      For this reason, the historical conditions being changed, the system
of election comes to be introduced and the wider publicity to be planned.
First, ensuring the rule of the Party since Revolution of 1905 that
“democratic centralism is a principle of the Party organization”, these
measures to maintain the former secret apparatus , and the real scope of the
measures is changing even after this according to the historical and actual
conditions. Thus the core of the Party organization should be an organ of
professional revolutionaries who have undergone special trainig, around
which are organized the organs adopting the principle of democracy in varied
forms and varied extents in accordance with the historical conditions.
   Historically this appears in self-supplement of members in each level of
the Party organs, which makes a couterpoint of the principle of election. in
the rules adopted at the Second Congress of the Party in 1903, each organs
have the right to supply by itself and the principle of election is applied
to very limit extent, but in the rules of the Fourth United Congress the
right for self-supplement is denied and the principle pf election in each
organs is widely applied. But the rules of Praha Conference of whole party,
which was held in 1912 of hard period of of Strypin’s reactionary policy,
the system of self-supplement revived and to that extent was limited the
principle of election.
   From the above-mentioned, it becomes clear that centralism should be an
essential principle of organization on one hand, and that inner-party
democracy is a changable form determined by the  conditions of the time.
What required to us is to bury the binary scheme of “Democracy or
and return to the Lenin’s principle.

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FAX 0568-76-4145
miyachi9 at gctv.ne.jp

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