Liu Shaoqi: How to be a good communist (1939)


In 1939 the future Chinese Communist Party leader Liu Shaoqi wrote a short book titled How to be a Good Communist. It became one of the party’s most influential tracts. This excerpt is from chapter six and focuses on the personal interests of party members:


“Personal interests must be subordinated to the Party’s interests, the interests of the local Party organization to those of the entire Party, the interests of the part to those of the whole, and temporary to long-term interests. This is a Marxist-Leninist principle which must be followed by every communist…

The Communist Party is the political party of the proletariat and has no interests of its own other than those of the emancipation of the proletariat. The final emancipation of the proletariat will also inevitably be the final emancipation of all mankind. Unless the proletariat emancipates all working people and all nations – unless it emancipates mankind as a whole – it cannot fully emancipate itself…

Comrade Mao Zedong has said ‘at no time and in no circumstances should a Communist place his personal interests first; he should subordinate to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence selfishness, slacking, corruption, seeking the limelight are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one’s energy, whole hearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect.’…

Members of our Party should not have personal aims which are independent of the Party interests. Their personal aims must harmonize with the Party’s interests. If the aim they set for themselves is to study Marxist-Leninist theory, to develop their ability in work, to establish revolutionary organizations and to lead the masses in successful revolutionary struggles – if their aim is more is to do more for the Party – then this personal aim harmonizes with the interests of the Party. The Party needs many such members and cadres…

A member of the Communist Party should possess the finest and highest human virtues and take a clear cut and firm Party and proletarian stand… Members of our Party are no ordinary people but the awakened vanguard fighters of the proletariat. They must conscientiously represent the class interests and class ideology of the proletariat. Therefore, their personal interests must never project beyond those of the party and the proletariat…

To sum up, on his side, each Party member should completely submit himself to the interests of the Party and self sacrificingly devote himself to the public duty. He should forego all personal aims and private considerations which conflict with the Party’s interests. He should not think of himself all the time, make endless personal demands on the Party or blame the Party for not promoting or rewarding him. Whatever the circumstances, he should study hard, try to make progress, be courageous in struggle and make ceaseless efforts to raise the level of his political consciousness and his understanding of Marxism-Leninism, so as to be able to contribute more to the Party and the revolution.”