Article 15 of the Common Program
Article 15 of the Common Program

The organs of state power at all levels shall practice democratic centralism. In doing this the main principles shall be: the People's Congresses shall be responsible and accountable to the people; the People's Government Councils shall be responsible and accountable to the People's Congresses.
Within the People's Congresses and within the People's Government Councils, the minority shall abide by the decisions of the majority; the appointment of the People's Governments of each level shall be ratified by the People's Government of the higher level; the People's Governments of the lower levels shall obey the People's Governments of the higher levels and all local People's Governments throughout the country shall obey the Central People's Government.

Dong Biwu
September 27, 1949, Dong Biwu (1886-1975) speaks at the CPPCC. Member of the Politburo of the CCP
explained during the CPPCC meeting of September 27, 1949, the principle of ‘democratic centralism’. The principle of democratic centralism is opposite to the parliamentary system. In the latter system, one part of the bourgeoisie has the power and the other part can only conduct opposition. The minority has no influence on the policy. Dong Biwu state: “We gave up this kind of political institution. We prefer a political system which combines discussion and execution in one hand. This is the system of Peoples' Congress in which all power is centralized.”
Cited in Chang (1952). Page 272
In his speech Dong Biwu follows the thoughts of Mao Zedong. On the party congress of April 1945, Mao Zedong expresses his opinion about democratic centralism. "The organizational principle of the new-democratic state should be democratic centralism, with the people's congresses determining the major policies and electing the governments at the various levels. It is at once democratic and centralized, that is, centralized on the basis of democracy and democratic under centralized guidance. This is the only system that can give full expression to democracy with full powers vested in the people's congresses at all levels and, at the same time, guarantee centralized administration with the governments at each level exercising centralized management of all the affairs entrusted to them by the people's congresses at the corresponding level and safeguarding whatever is essential to the democratic life of the people.”
3 years earlier on February 1, 1942, he makes a punitive address to the CCP party school cadres “Some comrades see only the interests of the part and not the whole; they always put undue stress on that part of the work for which they themselves are responsible and always wish to subordinate the interests of the whole to the interests of their own part. They do not understand the Party's system of democratic centralism; they do not realize that the Communist Party not only needs democracy but needs centralization even more. They forget the system of democratic centralism in which the minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level to the higher level, the part to the whole and the entire membership to the Central Committee.”
Document: 01-02-1942
Already in October 1938, Mao Zedong warns “…education in democracy must be carried on within the Party so that members can understand the meaning of democratic life, the meaning of the relationship between democracy and centralism, and the way in which democratic centralism should be put into practice. Only in this way can we really extend democracy within the Party and at the same time avoid ultra-democracy and the laissez-faire which destroys discipline."
Document: October 1938
The term ‘democratic centralism’ is not an invention of Mao Zedong, but has already a long tradition in all communist parties over the world.
The origin and development of this term is beyond the scope of this study. Lenin introduces the term in 1905.
Article 7 of the 1928 constitution of the CCP puts it as follows: "Like other Communist International Branch Parties, the essential of organization of the Chinese Communist Party is Democratic Centralism…. The Party members may discuss and argue on certain points which are not yet passed by the Party Organ. In other words, they must obey unconditionally the resolutions which have been already determined by the Communist International or their superior Organs, whether they agree with these resolutions or not."
Cited in Linebarger (1956). Page 361

During the
January 1935 Decisions of the Zunyi conference. At this Zunyi conference a power struggle emerged. Mao Zedong becomes military and political leader
conference in January 1935, Mao Zedong uses the principle of ‘democratic centralism’ to enforce the re-election of the Secretariat and the military committee of the CCP. In this way, opening the path to absolute power within the party.
‘Democratic centralism’ is an authoritarian system in which it is possible to express opinions, in opposition to a totalitarian system in which rigid uniformity from top down exists. Within the authoritarian system, after expressing opinions, everybody is bounded to the end result. “The Leninist principle of democratic centralism created a pseudo-military command structure with authority flowing from the Politburo down to the secretary of each party cell. As agents of the state, the cadres were expected to carry out every policy faithfully [20][21] regardless of its popularity with the masses or its conformity to the perceived interests of the masses.”
Lee (1991). Page 396
This method is not only practiced in the CCP and all governmental and administrative organs and the PLA but also in the Minzhu Dangpai. “They either already operated on or were re-organized along Bolshevik-type lines using democratic centralism as their leadership principle.”
Groot (1997). Page 73
For example the NCNA used this method already from its founding in 1945.
"Furthermore, since all non-Party organizations also operate on the principle of 'democratic centralism' Party members who occupy the key posts hold crucial levers for the manipulation of these organizations* In this way, the Party leadership is able to turn the non-Party organizations into highly-manipulable executors of its will, and, at the same time* to maintain a facade of constitutional forms and procedures"
Joffe (1961). Page 57
Cited in Chang (1952). Page 272 [↩] [Cite]
The origin and development of this term is beyond the scope of this study. Lenin introduces the term in 1905. [↩]
Cited in Linebarger (1954). Page 361 [↩] [Cite]
Lee (1991). Page 396 [↩] [Cite]
Groot (1997). Page 73 [↩] [Cite]
Joffe (1961). Page 57 [↩] [Cite]
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