Tencent's Weixin Censors 1980's People's Daily Article on Cult of Personality
On September 3, 2023, an article titled "People's Daily: Exaggerating the Personal Role of Leaders to an Extreme Level will Lead to Superstitious Belief in the Individual" (人民日报：把领袖个人的作用夸大到极端的程度，就会出现对个人的迷信) was posted on the "The Reading Drawer" (抽屉读书) public Weixin account. It was censored within 24 hours and replaced with a notice saying: "This content cannot be viewed due to violations. Complaints were made by users and audited by the platform. This involves the use of words, pictures, videos, etc. that exaggerated, seduced and violated objective facts to maliciously incite, confuse and mislead users. Check the corresponding rules."
- Original URL: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/bS50iboCf-nLMkbZ8AmHPA
- Archives: https://archive.li/https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/bS50iboCf-nLMkbZ8AmHPA
- Weixin Article: 马克思主义者要承认个人权威，重视个人权威的，但是，
- govopendata: 马克思主义者是承认个人权威，重视个人权威的，但是，
The only other difference is the addition of the photo at the top of the Weixin article. Based on some online research, this is a photo of Nikita Khrushchev during his trip to the United States in 1959.
Below are selected translations from the article (emphasis added by me).
Deification of, and superstitious belief in, the individual begins with exaggerating the role of the individual. Lin Biao and the "Gang of Four" engaged in modern superstition, not only taking advantage of people's simple feelings, but also taking advantage of these loopholes in people's understanding.
A Profound Lesson in Personal Deification
The communist movement and our own experience show that when the role of individual leaders is exaggerated to an extreme level, superstitious belief in individuals will emerge.
For many years, we have been accustomed to using superstition to explain the history of our struggles. Now, as Marx said, we should "use history to explain superstition." (The Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol. 1, p. 425) That is to say, we should take a look at history, how did a man become a "god"? How did people come to deify and superstitiously believe in individuals? In this way, the necessary lessons can be drawn. This is a rather complex and difficult task. Here are just a few examples, briefly.
. . . .
Our Party is organized according to the principle of democratic centralism. According to this principle, the Party line must be discussed and formulated by the Party's national congress or central authority. Although the Party's line is sometimes put forward by a certain person, once it is decided, it becomes the Party's line and cannot be attributed to an individual, it is called the line of so-and-so. Of course, when summing up historical experience, calling the opposing lines the lines of a certain person, and comparing and analyzing them will help distinguish right from wrong and educate the entire Party. But this is a special situation. From the perspective of organizational principles, within the Party, all Party members must implement the Party's line, rather than the entire Party following the line of a certain individual.
However, for a period of time, people have often attributed the Party's line to individuals, and also promoted all the opinions and propositions of individual leaders as lines, or believed that they have the same authority as the Party's line, and the whole Party must unconditionally implement it. In this way, in the life of the Party, in fact, some abnormal practices gradually took shape: obeying the Party's leadership means listening to a certain person, implementing the Party's line means doing what a certain person says, and thinking that as long as you act "in accordance with every sentence," you will be invincible. This actually regards the individual as a sacred authority over the entire Party.
. . . .
We must be highly conscious and take various measures to prevent the situation where the top leaders look down at the masses from above, while the masses can only squint and look up at the leader from below, so as to prevent the leader from becoming a figure that ordinary people cannot approach. The guidelines for political life within the Party passed by the Fifth Plenum of the Party Central Committee have made a series of specific regulations to prevent leaders from becoming special in their political life and from praising leaders without principle. This is undoubtedly necessary. However, in order to achieve what Lenin said, to make the leaders and the class, and the leaders and the masses form a whole, we still need to make efforts in many aspects and have a series of effective methods. For example, restore the system that our Party advocates that senior leading cadres must spend a certain amount of time at the grassroots level in a year; establish a system for leaders to communicate directly with the people; put senior leaders in fixed electoral districts to maintain regular contact with voters and accept voter supervision; cancel all kinds of unreasonable regulations that completely separate senior leaders from ordinary cadres and the masses in daily life (such as housing, transportation, shopping, entertainment, etc.); and we must use newspapers and radio to exert the supervisory power of public opinion, etc. In short, we should continue to adhere to the methods that have worked well in the past, and at the same time, we should continue to adopt some new methods based on new situations.
. . . .
To gather the experience and opinions of the broad masses and the entire Party and form correct leadership ideas and opinions, it is necessary to adopt democratic centralism and collective research and discussion. The view that "the first secretary has absolute truth, the second secretary has relative truth, and the others have no truth" is not in line with the facts.
. . . .
Second, we must treat the right of one vote correctly. In the leadership team, the top leader has more responsibilities but no greater power. He has only one vote in deciding major issues, while other members have the same vote. Why do some leadership groups form a "one-man-talk" situation? The first is that the top leader lacks a democratic style and engages in personal arbitrariness. At the same time, it is also an important reason why each leading member cannot exercise his right to vote seriously and responsibly. If every leading member can responsibly exercise his right to one vote, especially when some people put forward wrong propositions, everyone can stick to the principles and not support or veto them, then can "one word" be achieved? Can personal arbitrariness prevail unimpeded? Can those wrong and confusing decisions be made easily? Therefore, every leading member must exercise his right to vote with the utmost solemnity when deciding major issues.
. . . .
Marxists must recognize and value individual authority, but the first thing we must emphasize is collective authority. Only when personal authority is combined with collective authority can it play its role better.
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .