MOSCOW, NOV. 16 -- The Communist Party daily Pravda today reasserted the primacy of party control and attacked efforts to augment democratic processes in Soviet society, which has been one of the cornerstones of Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reform campaign.
An article published in the leading official Soviet newspaper mocked some of the experiments in electing factory plant managers across the Soviet Union and criticized other methods that Gorbachev has advocated for expanding Soviet democracy, including multi-candidate elections.
The article said the drive for democracy was generating "all-permissiveness, anarchy and chaos," and it accused some Soviets of exploiting the reform drive and abusing their constitutional freedoms.
The article, printed across half a page of the eight-page edition, reinforced the view among some Soviet intellectuals that a conservative backlash against Gorbachev's reforms is sweeping the capital in the wake of the ouster of Moscow party boss Boris Yeltsin.
Pravda, which routinely establishes the sanctioned position of the Soviet Communist Party on fundamental issues, would not publish such a prominent article without the approval of senior officials in the party hierarchy.
"Playing into democracy may result in catastrophe," the paper warned.
"It is often forgotten that discipline means obligatory submission by everybody to the established order and rules," it said.
However, Gorbachev reiterated his support today for expanding Soviet democracy. "The democratization of public life and political life is called upon to make working people really active participants in the process of decision making in their collectives," the official news agency Tass quoted the Kremlin leader as telling visiting Czechoslovak party official Lubomir Strougal.
In a speech to the January 1987 plenary session of the Central Committee, Gorbachev publicly endorsed the election of factory managers as a means of giving workers a greater voice. "The time has come . . . for democratizing the process of management formation," he said. In the same speech, Gorbachev also urged fielding more than one candidate for elective offices.
But Pravda made clear today that the party is not abandoning its traditional role of recommending candidates who are subsequently unanimously approved by voters.
The Communist Party "is a ruling party," Pravda said. "Its leading role is fixed by the constitution. That is why the party committees . . . have the right to openly express their opinion on the recommended people to this or that post."
Pravda called into question a multicandidate electoral system, comparing it "to the shows in the West" and asking, "To what extent is this many-month marathon . . . justified?"
Another recent Pravda article retracted an attack published last September on a local party leader in the Ukraine, saying those responsible for launching the earlier criticism would be punished.
Pravda also quoted a letter attacking Soviet Jews who participated in a recent Moscow demonstration as "raving like one possessed."
The Pravda article comes one week after the removal of Yeltsin, 56, an outspoken proponent of increased democratization and Gorbachev's reform policy of glasnost, or greater openness. He served two years as Moscow party boss.
Yeltsin came under fire for an Oct. 21 speech before the Soviet Central Committee in which he is said to have blasted some party officials for braking the pace of Gorbachev's reforms.
Yeltsin was hospitalized with a heart condition last week and is still under care, an editor of the government newspaper Izvestia, Ivan Laptiev, told reporters in Innsbruck, Austria, today. Laptiev said Yeltsin had not suffered a heart attack and apparently would be given a senior job in the party. Yeltsin is still a nonvoting member of the ruling Soviet Politburo.