by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The slogan “The Party is always right” was misinterpreted and thus misused to mean that everything that the party of the working class – the communist party – did could not be questioned as it was always right. But that was not what is meant at all. It has to be seen in the context whence it comes.
Basically the meaning is – the true one – that the movement, the party, is always right to fight against capitalism and imperialism, against injustices and for the right of the proletariat. That does not, however, mean that the movement, the party, can do no wrong on other levels; far from it.
Comrade Lenin himself warned against the notion of the party knowing always best at all times, against this notion of infallibility, when he urged self-criticism and the acceptance of criticism by the working class. He also said that a failure to do so could lead to the downfall of the party and the revolution itself, in so many words.
His prophecy, alas, has come true. Because the parties of the working class in the socialist bloc, whether the SED or the CPSU, and others, did not heed the old Comrade's advice about self-criticism and accepting valid criticism from the working class, they and the socialist system in those places ended up run against a wall.
The party is not always right, bar in what was said in the second paragraph. In all other aspects the party, or whatever kind of movement of the proletariat, must be open to criticism and be prepared to accept such criticism, where valid, and act accordingly. Critics must not be called and treated as dissidents and enemies of the class, the movement, and country; they are the guardians, to some extent.
When the party, the movement, is open to criticism and suggestions for improvement, and prepared to accept and act upon those, then you do not get a counterrevolution, because the party, the movement, is then carried by the majority of the people. At least not a counterrevolution from within those that are part of the movement.
Refusing to accept valid criticism, and even more so criticism as regards to excesses and such, the party alienates its followers and to some extent the proletarian movement as a whole, who will then try to find other ways to change the things that are going wrong.
The problem in that instance, though, is as we have seen that a legitimate protest movement becomes, by being infiltrated and highjacked by agents of the class enemy, a counterrevolution. It may never have set out to be that way but can easily end up that way.
He who presents valid criticism, highlights wrongdoings and worse, offers improvement suggestions, and much more, is not the enemy, he or she is, in fact, a valuable friend and comrade, and should be encouraged rather than discouraged or worse still persecuted as an enemy of the party and the people.
The party, the movement, and its “leaders”, are no infallible, and neither is the Pope. And when the message, so to speak, of the party being always right is used to cement power for some people in leadership then it is not just being misused but it becomes a dangerous thing. Without self-criticism and acceptance of valid criticism from the outside death will occur. The people should rule the party, the movement, and not the party, the movement, the people.