the party as whole
Thus far party has meant parties – party indicated a plural. Single-party states materialised only after World War I, and until then the expression 'one-party system' appeared a contradiction in terms. It made no more sense than to say 'limbless quadruped'. To be sure, one can take a quadruped and cut off its legs. But can we expect it to walk? Is it still a quadruped? According to the rationale of party pluralism, if a party is not a part, it is a pseudo-party; and if the whole is identified with just one party, it is a pseudo-whole. We are thus peremptorily confronted with the sui generis nature of the one party. So-called one-party systems exist. But do they have anything in common with the pluralistic party systems? That is, in common with the systems in which the parties are 'parts' and the whole is the output of an interplay between more than one part?
To be sure, single parties differ widely, as we shall see. For the moment, however, we are dealing with the concept of the single party. This is also to say that the notion of unipartism is taken in its strict sense, with reference to the founders, i.e., to the first wave of singleparty states of the 1920–1940 period: the Soviet, Nazi and Fascist types of unipartism.1 Even so, the assertion that the single party identifies with the whole needs to be qualified, for it is obvious enough that the single party is smaller than the whole – in fact, it is often an elite party with restricted membership, a vanguard party that foreruns the whole. Yet the single party is not a 'part' in any of the senses in which parties in the plural are such. Aside from the dimensional adjustment, the single party displays the characteristics of wholism, or of wholeness, in that it flatly rejects the idea of a whole resulting from a competitive interplay of parts. Even within the single party any kind of formalised intra-party division is banned: It is heresy, intolerable deviance. Thus communism, nazism, and (with lesser intensity) fascism testify to the existence, or resurgence, of a monochromatic belief system based on the principle of unanimity and the horror of dissent.2
On the other hand, and conversely, even though a whole is always larger than a part, whenever it is represented by only one party, it no longer can be an impartial whole, a whole above its parts. While a pluralistic whole is many sided, a