By Dr.Kashiwa Bulaya
Issues of ideological and organisational unity of the party cannot be discussed and thoroughly understood in isolation from social consciousness, social being, individual and social consciousness, social psychology and ideology.
Dialectical unity exists among ideological problems and social consciousness, social being, social psychology and ideology.
We shall therefore begin with a definition of social consciousness, how it originated and what role it plays in the life of society.
Social Consciousness – A Reflection of Social Being
The material, economic relations of people constitute the basis of social development. But to understand this development, knowledge of the economic factors alone is far from sufficient. Besides productive activity, people and society have intellectual life. People are guided by definite philosophical, political, moral and aesthetic ideas, they have corresponding scientific theories, and so on. All these ideas and views are of a social character as regards their origin and importance, and belong to the sphere of social consciousness.
What is social consciousness? Social consciousness is the aggregate of peoples’ ideas, theories and views, social feelings, habits and morals reflecting objective reality – the human society and nature. The social being of people is the main object which social consciousness reflects. Since social being is multifarious and complex, social consciousness, too, is multifarious and complex. In the first place we should distinguish social and individual consciousness, social psychology and ideology. In its turn social consciousness has diverse forms – political and legal ideas, morality, art, philosophy and religion. Science, which is also a form of social consciousness, has at the same time turned more and more into a direct productive force of society. Forms of social consciousness arise and develop in their own way, and reflect various aspects of social being. The tasks they fulfil are also different.
What is primary social being or social consciousness? Social being is primary and social consciousness is secondary. Social consciousness of people is a product of their social being, derived from material, production relations of people in the process of production. It is in social being, the material productive activity of people, that we should look for the source of their ideas, theories and views.
The history of society shows that as people’s social being, the material production relations, change so does their consciousness; old ideas disappear and new ones arise, conforming to the new conditions, the new social requirements.
Relative Independence of the Development of Consciousness
Relative independence of the development of social consciousness consists in that it may lag behind the development of social being or run ahead of it; it is also manifested in the continuity of its development; it is not passive in relation to being, but actively influences it.
Social consciousness lags behind social being because people’s being changes first and only then does their consciousness change. This delay is also conditioned by the great viability of old ideas and views.
The consciousness of people, however, cannot only lag behind the development of social being, but under certain conditions can outstrip this development. By analysing the laws of society, revealing general tendencies of historical development, outstanding scholars can foresee the future, i.e. create theories which run far ahead of their time and indicate the road of development for many decades ahead.
Continuity in the development of ideology is an important manifestation of the relative independence of social consciousness. By creating its own ideology, the party does not renounce past achievements of human thought but assimilates them, places them at its service.
Continuity in the development of ideas is of great importance in social life. If people were unable to use the achievements of the culture of the past, they would literary have to begin everything from scratch: to discover laws which had been discovered long ago, to explore ways of devising the machines they need, ways that had been found long ago, and so on. Thanks to continuity in the development of ideas, this does not happen. Having at their disposal the fruits of the titanic work accomplished by preceding generations, people are able to continue the work of their predecessors to develop and improve their achievements and raise them to a new higher level.
The Active Role of Consciousness in Social Development
The scientific theory, proclaiming the primacy of social being in relation to social consciousness, the ideas and views, social feelings and moods of people, at the same time also admit the active role of ideas in the development of society. In any sphere of society’s life people always act consciously and purposefully and therefore their ideas, views and theories infuse all aspects of social life and greatly influence them. The activity of social consciousness is displayed in that it serves people as a guide to action, unites them and concentrates their efforts on the accomplishment of certain tasks.
People’s consciousness, their ideas can play a dual role by either promoting the development of society or retarding it. The role ideas play depends on the party that advocates them, whether it is progressive or reactionary or how correctly they reflect the requirements of society’s material life and on the extent to which the ideas conform to the interests of the people.
Only ideas which express the interests of the people, which correspond to the requirement of developing material production and help to abolish the old and establish the new social system, can play a progressive role in society’s development.
However new and progressive ideas might be, they are unable, by themselves, to abolish the old social system and create a new one. In order to become a material force, they must be understood by the people. Only the people who have assimilated progressive ideas create the social force capable of solving urgent social problems.
Dwelling on the active role of consciousness, we should bear in mind not only ideas, or ideology, but also social psychology, particularly the psychology of the classes, or large social groups. Social psychology is mass, collective consciousness, so that in many respects the success or failure of one or another historical action depends on the psychological attitude of the people.
Individual and Social Consciousness
What is individual consciousness? Individual consciousness is the mobile totality of his thoughts, views, interests and emotional and other psychic qualities. It is a reflection of the complex interaction of the social environment of the given society and the given individual’s concrete, specific environment or micro-environment, a reflection of the universal and individual in the being of people. Moreover, individual consciousness includes self-consciousness, man’s awareness of himself, of his relation to the world, society, class and the collective.
The correlation of the social and individual consciousness is a concrete manifestation of the general and the individual in the spiritual life of society. Just as all what is general exists in the individual, social consciousness is manifested only through the individual. This is natural, for only the individual, a concrete personality has the ability to feel and think. In its turn, individual consciousness exists only in connection with social consciousness. Each person lives and works in a society, belongs to a definite class or political party, social collective and nation; therefore his or her own consciousness is not something that is closed or isolated but also embodies social consciousness. This is so because upon entering life he or she encounters not only ready-made social being, but also social consciousness which he or she necessarily assimilates to one extent or another in one form or another.
Social and individual consciousness are one. They have a common wellspring – the being of people, a common basis – practice, and a common means of expression – language. At the same time there are important distinctions in this unity. As compared with individual consciousness, social consciousness reflects reality more deeply, more completely. It segregates itself from many concrete, specific features in the consciousness of individuals and absorbs, assimilates only what is common in the consciousness of all individuals. As regards individual consciousness, in addition to the features inherent in the consciousness of one or another social community, it also contains unique features inherent only in a concrete individual and which are engendered by the specifics of concrete being.
What is social psychology? Social psychology is the aggregate of views, habits, feelings, moral features, emotions, illusions and delusions which arise in different classes, professions, social groups and nations under the impact of their immediate living and working conditions. For example, the immediate living and working conditions of the working class imbue it with such socio-psychological traits as hostility towards exploitation, awareness of the need to fight the bourgeoisie, a sense of solidarity, organisation and collectivism.
Social psychology reflects the position of a class or social collective and its direct objectives and interests. At this stage consciousness is still incapable of broad scientific generalisations and often remains on the surface of phenomena. The state of consciousness of the working class at the level of social psychology is characterised as the state of a “class in itself”.
Without analysing social psychology it is impossible to understand the history of science and ideology. It is not enough to know the economy of a country in order to understand the history of scientific thought or the history of art in it. One has to be able to turn to social psychology whose careful investigation and understanding are essential for a scientific interpretation of the history of ideology.
Together with empirical, daily knowledge of the world – nature, society, man – social psychology comprises, the first, the lowest level of the reflection of reality called ordinary
consciousness. This consciousness is amorphous and is not differentiated into definite forms. Political, moral, religious views and knowledge are intertwined in it. In this sense ordinary consciousness is very close to individual consciousness. Nevertheless, it is mass, collective consciousness. It originated spontaneously in large masses of people under the direct influence of the conditions of their life. Ordinary consciousness is the material out of which scientific, systematised consciousness, the second, higher level of reflection of reality is shaped. Ideology, social and natural sciences are scientific consciousness.
A synthesis of ordinary and theoretical consciousness is public opinion, i.e., the opinion of people on specific facts of reality – social being, politics and morality, science and religion, literature and art. In these opinions an ordinary, empirical approach to events in social life intertwines with a theoretical, scientific approach.
What is ideology? Ideology is the totality of political, legal, moral, artistic and other views and ideas of a certain class or political party. Why does ideology have a party character? Why does each party create its own distinctive ideology? The reason is that in society the position of political parties is by no means identical and that they have different social objectives and tasks. It is by means of a specific system of views that one party or another expresses and substantiates its objectives and accomplishes its tasks.
This means that a society divided into classes and groups of people cannot have just one ideology. It unavoidably has the ideology of the poor people and the ideology of the rich people.
But what are classes in society? Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it.
Ideological and Organisational Unity of the Party
History has set an extremely responsible and difficult task for the party of the poor people: to carry-out radical changes in society and build a new social order. The materialisation of this task requires that there must be iron discipline and solid unity within the party. Only a united party is able to be at the head of the masses and lead them forward. Indeed, divided you fall but united you stand and soldier on. The problems of the ideological and organisational unity of the party are elaborated by the party and further enriched by practice. Every serious party raises the problems of party unity as early as the party is formed and carries out a persistent struggle for unity throughout the life of the party.
The strength of the party lies in its unity. However, this does not mean at all that the party should build a unity at any cost. Power and strength cannot be guaranteed by all types of
unity. The party needs unity, which is based on principles of its ideology and scientifically grounded, because it is only such a unity that is lasting and serves the interests of the people. Many a time the opportunists speculate with the word “unity”, concealing shady and impure motives. Unity is a great thing and a great motto. But what the party needs is the unity of members, not unity between members of the party and opponents and detractors of the cause of the party.
The problems of party unity are always solved in an acute struggle against various enemies and opponents of the party, who try to deviate it from its direction, from its programme and policy, from the party principles of organisation. In order to carry out its work successfully, it is important to defend the purity of the party, to abide by the principles and norms of party life as well as to apply them in a creative manner so as to create conditions for a successful realisation of the tasks of the party and building a new socio-economic formation.
After taking over power the necessity of preserving and consolidating further the party unity still remains, because under the new conditions the unity of the party determines the unity of the whole society. The policy of the party, the Party Manifesto and Party Constitution, the principles and norms of party life form the basis for party unity. Only a unity founded on this solid basis is a unity of principle. The Party Constitution contains guarantees against the violation of party unity. Expulsion from the party is the extreme measure against violations of this kind. Those violating the organisational unity of the party are in fact violating its ideological unity; and those violating the ideological unity of the party are in fact violating its organisational unity, as they are linked together.
Party unity depends on the strict observance of the other basic organisational principles, on which the party builds its structure and functions. If the party were not built as a conscious and organised body of the poor people, as a supreme form of organisation of the poor people, most closely connected with the masses, no conditions would be created for building unity in the party. Of particular importance in this respect is the constant and profound study of the party policy, Party Manifesto and Party Constitution and the regular organisational life in the party.
The paramount tasks in the ideological field are to educate all the people in a spirit of ideological integrity and devotion to the construction of a new social order and cultivate in them a new attitude to work and raise the consciousness of the people. Ideological education can only fulfil its lofty mission if it maintains the closest bonds with the people. In order to educate highly-principled, politically conscious builders of a new society, it is not enough to bring new ideas home to the people. What is most important is that the masses should be able to translate them into reality, to assimilate them in the form of concrete tasks of building a new society. The purpose of the party’s ideological work is to create such a moral atmosphere in society that would contribute to the affirmation of respect and care for humanity, honesty, faithfulness towards oneself and other people, and trust combined with strict responsibility and the spirit of humane society in all works of social life.