AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE FOR HANDLING
RELATIONS BETWEEN FRATERNAL PARTIES
May 31, 1980
When a Communist Party comments on the actions of a foreign fraternal Party, it may often judge them according to some rigid formula or established pattern. Facts have shown that this approach gets one nowhere. Conditions vary greatly from country to country, the level of political awareness varies from people to people, and the class relations and the alignment of class forces in one country are vastly different from those in another. How can a fixed formula be applied mechanically despite all these differences? Even though you use a Marxist formula, it is hard to avoid mistakes if you don’t integrate your formula with the reality in the country concerned. The Chinese revolution was carried out not by adopting the model of the Russian October Revolution but by proceeding from the realities in China, by using the rural areas to encircle the cities and seize power with armed force. Since the Chinese revolution succeeded by integrating the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of China, we should not demand that other developing countries, let alone the developed capitalist countries, adopt our model in making revolution. Of course, one cannot demand that they all adopt the Russian model, either.
The correctness of the domestic principles and line of a Party in a given country should be judged by that Party itself and by the people of that country. After all, it is the comrades in a particular country who know its specific conditions best. However, if a Party and the country which it leads pursue a foreign policy of interference in the internal affairs of other countries, or invasion or subversion of them, then any other Party is entitled to make its stand known and express its criticism. We have always opposed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union acting like a patriarchal party and displaying great-power chauvinism. It pursues a hegemonist line and policy in foreign relations.
Similarly, the correctness of Eurocommunism should not be judged by outsiders: it is not for others to write articles affirming or denying it. It should be judged by the European Parties and peoples themselves, and in the final analysis their own practice will provide the answer. We can’t criticize people when they conduct experiments in line with their own conditions. Even if they are wrong, it is up to them to sum up their own experience and try a different path.
On the whole, we know how we should handle our relations with other Parties. Looking back, however, we can see that we haven’t always acted correctly. Some time ago, talking with Comrade Enrico Berlinguer, General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party, I said that we had previously expressed some incorrect opinions concerning his Party. He replied that they hadn’t always acted correctly either. So I said that the past controversies between the two Parties should be forgotten altogether.
To sum up: we must respect the way the Parties and peoples of different countries deal with their own affairs. They should be left to find their own paths by themselves and explore ways to solve their own problems. No Party should act like a patriarchal party and issue orders to others. We object to being ordered about and we, for our part, will never issue orders to others. This should be regarded as an important principle.
(Excerpt from a talk with some senior officials under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)