As far as I'm aware Communism is supposed to be a "dictatorship of the proletariat" and something that is by and for the people. So why doesn't the Chinese Communist Party, and similar ruling parties in other countries, try to induct everyone into the party? I'm surprised that they don't because I imagine having everyone in the party would, from their perspective, have great propaganda value.

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    Relevant lecture: daily.jstor.org/communist-party-of-china . Being a member might be more of a privilege.
    – Alexei
    Feb 15, 2019 at 13:47
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    China hasn't been communist for at least 30 years now. Economically, socially and organisationally speaking it's industrialisation-era capitalism. Name is seemingly kept out of tradition.
    – M i ech
    Feb 15, 2019 at 13:59
  • Fwiw, @Miech's hot take was far more relevant under President Hu. His successor has very much reasserted the primacy of the party and the importance of its general control of culture and the economy.
    – lly
    Apr 26, 2019 at 17:50
  • For reference, it was the same in the GDR (although they even had ‘minor parties’ so they could better play democracy).
    – Jan
    Oct 25, 2019 at 2:22
  • @Miech Common misconception. Communism is the goal of the communist party. Their economy is socialist. This falsehood is often perpetuated by people to explain why China is so successful with their economy. Oct 25, 2019 at 20:18

4 Answers 4


If everybody was inducted into the Chinese Communist Party, then "ordinary" party membership would become meaningless. One would have to look how high a member stands in the party hierarchy to find out if they are important. As it stands, the party can discipline members with the threat of expulsion, and reward non-members with admission.

  • Further, the idea is that the party consists of and further trains specialist technocrats who understand the latest (im|ap)proved forms of Marxism and are thus best able to lead on the people's behalf. The necessary training, examination, and exposure to political infighting isn't something everyone (read: the vast majority of the Chinese) is interested in.
    – lly
    Apr 26, 2019 at 17:53
  • Essentially, imagine the effect on western society if four years of good performance on the debate team were necessary for voting rights. On the one hand, many more debaters and more educated and articulate politics. On the other, the vast majority of people would still say "no thanks" and just let them handle it. The guys who made it past the gatekeeping would add lots of perks for themselves but generally try to keep the rest from getting too pissed off.
    – lly
    Apr 26, 2019 at 17:57

Party membership comes with responsibilities as well as privileges. Members are expected to put in the effort. Not every person has the desire nor the time to be usefully active in government. Westerners have been sold on the idea of universal suffrage, but in truth getting every half-informed layperson involved in politics is a bad idea that turns government into a circus.

Another reason is that if the government has an ideological bias, it helps to place a filter on those who are politically active so that this ideological bias is preserved, as well as to place higher standards on their behavior.


The questions is wrong in a number of assumptions:

  • the assumption that “the people” and “the proletariat” are identical in China
  • the assumption that the CCP stands for (at a minimum “the immediate) development of communism

The people has a long standing meaning in post 1789 politics. It is a cross class descriptor of a unitary nation. The proletariat, on the other hand, are wage labourers in a relationship with capital. While the CCP recruits non-workers as well as workers, recruiting the entire population would not necessarily advance proletarian interests.

Secondly the idea that the CCP concretely and in our lifetimes aims to achieve the working class’ self-abolition and the supercession of capitalist relationships is naïve and dubious.

Within the theories the CCP uses party membership is an exclusive obligation that not all people are capable of.

  • But the party isn't trying to induct the whole proletariat either, right? And although they aren't a very Communist Communist Party in practice, they still do officially insist that they are Communist, and are active in manufacturing Communist propoganda. So to me it seems like a missed propoganda opportunity, and afaik other "Communist" parties around the world also aren't trying to induct the proletariat either, and in addition to the specific case of China, I'm wondering if there's any logic to be found for this in the kernel of Marxist ideology.
    – Aurast
    Feb 16, 2019 at 5:26
  • You’d want to start with Lenin (1905) What is to be done? on ideological Puritanism as opposed to proletarian class-compositionin most Bolshevik/post-Bolshevik parties. Feb 16, 2019 at 6:03
  • "The People" (人民) in Communist and Chinese thought aren't determined by French Revolutionary usage. In many cases, it's more restricted to "the common people" as opposed to parasitic classes &c. "The proletariat" is not inclusive of all wage laborers, either; and Maoist/Chinese Communism isn't restricted to Leninist conceptions of a proletarian dictatorship at all. It had to modify itself to fit a more agrarian economy and has since accommodated limited capitalism as well.
    – lly
    Apr 26, 2019 at 17:47

It seems that you are thinking that the Chinese citizens are mindless individuals such that when the CCP orders every Chinese citizen to be inducted into the party, the Chinese citizens will do so willingly and without objection.

The fact is that although CCP rules China, and that there is an absence of Western democracy in China, the CCP still has to answer to the people and rule legitimately. It needs to make the right policies and decisions so the people will allow its ruling to continue.

Being inducted into the CCP means that one will have to carry additional responsibilities of the party and not every Chinese citizen is ok with that. If the CCP inducts everyone into the party, there will be social resistances that may lead to uprisings. The CCP will of course not risk that. It needs to maintain its legitimacy of its ruling.

Right now it is doing a good job of bringing rapid economical and social development to the Chinese people. Which is why the Chinese are happy for it to rule. But once the CCP starts to do insensible things like inducting everyone into the party, the people will respond. And the CCP will not want that to happen.

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    In what way does the CCP have to answer to the people? What mechanisms are in place for the people to 'punish' the CCP, if they are not happy with its performance?
    – Time4Tea
    Apr 4, 2019 at 18:17
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    @Time4Tea The most direct way is to start a revolution and overthrow the CCP. Historically this has always been the way the Chinese people respond when they are unsatisfied with the ruling regime. In the past this had been led by the higher education institutions such as the universities. Also, the political system in China is such that it has a high level of accountability and party members need to fight hard to rise the ranks. If a policy formulated by some higher ranked party members is not well received, it will be an opportunity for other party members to overthrow them.
    – TaeNyFan
    Apr 4, 2019 at 23:36
  • You misunderstand the question. Currently the majority of people who apply for party membership are denied, and the CCP doesn't seem interested in trying to extend party membership to as many people as possible, or even to as much of the proletariat as possible. I want to know why that is. Not why they don't try to force everyone into the party, but why they don't try to welcome everyone in. I'm well aware that Chinese people are humans with individuality.
    – Aurast
    Apr 5, 2019 at 8:45
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    @Aurast ok, then you should rephrase your question. "inducting everyone into the party" and "welcome everyone into the party" are two entirely different concepts.
    – TaeNyFan
    Apr 5, 2019 at 10:26
  • Induct doesn't imply force.
    – Aurast
    Apr 5, 2019 at 10:58

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