Essay on Single and Plural-Party System

In the latter, the distinction between the two is blurred or confused by the party, which controls them both alike.

In democracies there is a distinction within the State, and the different organs of government are allotted their own spheres of jurisdiction and powers. Democratic parties are an extra-constitutional growth and they are informal and non-governmental organizations.

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The political party in a dictatorship is the body of the faithful dedicated to the maintaining of one truth which its leader avows. It permeates every governmental as well as non-governmental activity and is virtually a part of the administration it dominates.

Then, in democracies there “is compensation and balance” between the party in power and the Opposition party. In a totalitarian State there is no distinction in any of the forms.

Opposition is not permitted to exist and it is only one party that rules supreme. In democracies toleration, discussion and compromise are involved by the presence of plurality of associations and consequently with many currents of opinion. In a totalitarian State there is a compulsory uniform society, regimentation of opinion, and the electorate is simply an instrument of opinion.

One of the great advantages of the party system, as we know it from the democratic point of view, is that it always provides a possible alternative government and gives the electorate a choice between them.

Under the one-party system there is no alternative government and no genuine choice before the electors, so that the influence of the people on political decisions is reduced to a minimum.

Democratic parties are open to all whereas parties in dictatorship are closed to all except the selected. The former Communist Party of Russia probably had no more than 20 million members and the Fascist Party had something like three million members.

The Nazi Party, too, had nearly three million members. The membership is intentionally restricted and with various objects, the foremost being to maintain the militancy of the organisation.

With excessive members there arises a chance of internal dissent. “Also, closeness of organisation, discipline, a feeling of community is attained with smaller numbers.”

At the same time, it is desired to maintain a sense, both in the public at large and among the members of the organisation itself, that the members of the party are elite, selected for their superior quality as compared with the rest of the population.

It also means that admission to the party is a privilege and a reward and the members owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders who have been so gracious as to permit their membership. Finally, it implies that membership of the party demands proper performance of duties and sacrifice in the task of government and leadership.

This brings into prominence the principle of leadership. So much importance is assigned to the factor of leadership in the constitution of the party and thereby in the constitution of the State that the leader becomes the repository of faith. For Nazi-ism, the National Socialist Party was Hitler and Hitler was the Party.

The Party organisation book contained the oath of loyalty to the Fuehrer, which ran: “I pledge allegiance to my Fuehrer, Adolph Hitler; I promise at all times to respect and obey him and the leaders whom he appoints over me.”

“Believe, obey and fight” was the motto prescribed by Mussolini for his countrymen. “In the name of God and of Italy I swear that I will obey the order of the Leader without questioning.”

This was part of the oath taken upon admission to the Fascist Party. Obedience to the leader was, therefore, deemed a religious duty in Italy and Germany and it was rigidly enforced by the arts of discipline and propaganda. Stalin was the Lenin of his own time.

During his life-time Stalin was elevated to a superman possessing supernatural characteristics. “Such a man,” said Khrushchev in his speech at the Twentieth Congress, “supposedly knows everything, sees everything, thinks for everyone, can do everything, is infallible in behaviour.” He further added, “Such a belief about a man, and specifically about Stalin was cultivated among us for many years.”

Finally, the leader of the Party is the head of the government, and the head of the government dominates every power and every sphere of the action of the State.

Throughout Mussolini’s autobiography are his assertions of “my command”, “my guidance”, “my sense of balance and judgment”, “my irresistible domination”.

II Duce spoke the first and the last word for party and government. “Dictatorial parties are not parties,” concludes Finer, “but doctrinal despotism; they do not spread and encourage leadership but monopolise it.”

To quote Lipson, “a party is by definition a part of the whole and therefore implies the presence of an alternative and an opposition. To speak of the ‘one- party State’ is to employ a contradiction in terms.

Such a State whether it is Fascist or Communist, whether its capital is Moscow or Madrid, Bucharest or Lisbon, exhibits a tyrannical monopoly of power. Its proper name is dictatorship.”

Democracies anticipate an alternation of leaders and provide the public with a choice of candidates for office.

Whereas democracies use the fervour and slogans of an electoral campaign to publicize the differences between programmes of the parties, the party in a dictatorship carries on continual propaganda campaigns in support of the government’s objectives and is the chief means by which conformity is maintained throughout the society.


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