Sun Yixian calls for Guomindang unity (1924)

In 1923, Sun Yixian [Sun Yat-sen] convened the First National Congress of the Guomindang. Sun’s aim was to reorganise the party into more cogent and unified revolutionary moment, in order to combat imperialism and warlordism and bring about Chinese national unity. The Congress was held in Guangzhou in January 1924 and attended by many notable revolutionary figures, including Sun, Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-Shek] and Mao Zedong [Mao Tse-tung]. Among the resolutions passed at the Congress were the invitation and integration of Chinese Communist Party members into the Guomindang and the adoption of Sun’s Three Prinicples. In his opening address on January 20th, Sun Yixian reflected on the past failures of the Guomindang and emphasised the need for unity and discipline, if the revolution was to succeed:

“This First Congress of the Guomindang of China marks the beginning of a new era.

In 1911, when the [Qing] Dynasty was overthrown by the revolutionary tide, the old reactionaries who had joined the movement to monopolise its success used to say: ‘Now that Revolutionary Armies are springing up, the Revolutionary Party should be dissolved’. This saying was echoed blindly by many, with the result that people only saw the troops and not the party. Militarism killed the revolutionary spirit and with the failure of the party came the failure of the Revolution. For the Revolution cannot succeed without the guidance of the Revolutionary Party…

China as a nation is in a bad state. Its prospects today are worse than ever before. Nevertheless, there is still a way out and hope for a successful reconstruction.

For 30 years the Revolutionary Party has, disregarding all consequences, been working for the Revolution. When this was accomplished, we were at a loss as to how to carry out the work of reconstruction. But now we have found the methods… These methods have been determined after careful study of and comparison with the revolutionary methods of other countries. They are not free from imperfections, hence the need for this Congress and your cooperation and revision.

The task which lies before you is twofold. Firstly, to reorganise the Guomindang, in order to revitalise it into a powerful and organised political party. Secondly, to consider the ways and means to be adopted by the Party to solve the problem of national reconstruction…

There is another thing I want to call to your attention. In former days, our failure was not so much due to the fact that we had powerful enemies, as to the fact our mind and discernment were immature. This caused senseless understandings between ourselves, scattering the whole power of our Party and resulting in the very failure of the Revolution. We were not destroyed by our enemies; we destroyed ourselves.

Therefore, if we are going to succeed, we must be united and of one mind. In order to achieve this spiritual unity, which is so vital to any political party, comrades must be prepared to sacrifice their individual freedom and put their ability at the disposal of the Party. In this way alone can the Party itself have freedom, command ability and shoulder the great work of the Revolution: the reconstruction of the country.”

sun yixian guomindang 1924
Sun Yixian photographed in 1924, shortly after the First National Congress and a year before his death