Criticism and Self-Criticism Study

Criticism and Self-Criticism Study

Criticism and Self-Criticism (CSC) is the method in which revolutionaries use in order to acknowledge, address and resolve the contradictions within our movements, our organizations and even our personal relationship.

Criticism has been around as long as Marxism, but it was the Communist Party of China (before capitalist restoration) which developed the method most deeply. It later was popularized throughout the nation and then throughout the world within Marxist spaces. This method not only has been used to resolve contradictions among the people, in central committees and communist parties, but also in prisons where the former enemy has been transformed into a supporter of the proletarian revolution. It works!

Criticism is also used in communist parties in the form of Rectification Campaigns; these are period of intense study and debate within the Party which can last upwards of three years, but mostly are resolved anywhere within a few weeks to a few months.

Mao Zedong once said,

Conscientious practice of self-criticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades’ minds and our Party’s work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing. The proverb “Running water is never stale and a door-hinge is never worm-eaten” means that constant motion prevents the inroads of germs and other organisms. To check up regularly on our work and in the process develop a democratic style of work, to fear neither criticism nor self-criticism, and to apply such good popular Chinese maxims as “Say all you know and say it without reserve”, “Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words” and “Correct mistakes if you have committed them and guard against them if you have not” – this is the only effective way to prevent all kinds of political dust and germs from contaminating the minds of our comrades and the body of our Party.

“On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 316-17.

In describing the purpose of CSC, Gracie Lyons sums it up comprehensively:

The overall goal of criticism and self-criticism is to strengthen us for victory in the class struggle. Criticism gives us a way to consciously transform ourselves into new women and men, persons capable of waging the long and bitter fight to build a socialist society.

There are two ways in which criticism can help us meet this ambitious goal. First, it helps us sort out ideas that serve our oppressors from ideas that serve the working people. When I really get hold of the fact that a particular attitude of mine holds back the struggle, I become politically motivated to change my ways, which is why we say that criticism and self-criticism is a form of class struggle in the realm of ideas. Second, criticism gives us a method for struggling to reach agreement on what we should do and why, and on how we should organize ourselves to carry out the work. So criticism helps us see the difference between right ideas and wrong ideas, and it helps us unite around what’s correct.

Constructive Criticism: A Hand Book by Gracie Lyons

CSC is a necessity in revolutionary spaces, movements and certainly the Party. It embodies the fundamental aspect of homo-sapiens throughout time, no matter which mode of production is dominant: social relations. In fact, this fundamental aspect of our species is one of the major aspects which separate us from other species. The necessity and yearning in which we depend on each other for food, shelter, production, love and so much more.

Below is a short yet incomplete list readings to become more familiar with CSC. Remember, this method must be practiced over and over. At first, it may seem awkward due to the way in which we have all been conditioned by capitalist society and liberal ideology. After some practice, we all come to realize the importance, significance and necessity of this practice in our daily lives. Enjoy!


Constructive Criticism: A Handbookby Gracie Lyons 1974

Criticism, Self-Criticismby Mao (Quotations of Chairman Mao) 

Combat Liberalismby Mao Zedong 1937 

On the Correct Handling of Contradiction Among the Peopleby Mao PDF here

On Some Points Regarding Criticism Self Criticismby Siraj Sikder 1973