home | gallery | themes | "too many books" | artists | resources | reprints | about | contact

Lin Mo-han
Raise Higher the Banner of Mao Tse-tung's Thought on Art and Literature

(Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1961)

Comrade Mao Tse-tung is a great Marxist thinker and theoretician. Integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of China's revolution, not only has he led the Chinese people to victory in the revolution and to transform the face of our country, he has also creatively developed Marxism-Leninism. He is the author of great and creative developments in the fields of philosophy, political economy and scientific socialism. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has also developed Marxist thought on art and literature, making it fully systematized, highly scientific and powerfully militant.

People of different classes and different standpoints adopt different attitudes to Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature. Some uphold it, these are the majority. Some oppose it. Still others underestimate it; there are quite a number in this category. Those who uphold it of course recognize its significance, but the extent to which they do so, varies. Those who oppose it hate it virulently. Why is their hatred so intense? Because their class instincts tell them that Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature is an extremely sharp weapon; one which is extremely disadvantageous to bourgeois concepts and world outlook. They therefore try to eliminate it in every conceivable way. They positively detest it. The Hu Feng elements cursed the Talks at the Yenan Forum on Art and Literature, calling

p. 1

them "totem" and claiming "they can slaughter people." But, knowing that it would be difficult to come out in open opposition, they chose two other methods. The first was Hu Feng's way. He instructed his adherents to pretend agreement while actually attacking. The second method, used by certain others, was a desperate attempt to revise Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature in order to make it conform to their own bourgeois concepts. Rightists like Hsu Mou-yung, and Chin Chao-yang acted in this manner. On the 15th anniversary of the publication of the Talks, Hsu Mou-yung wrote an article entitled "Outdated Celebration," which was a typical revision of Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature. He went so far as to preach the "human nature" theory1 and advocate "exposure" and "satire" directed against the people themselves.

There is an excellent editorial note in "The Third Collection of Materials Regarding the Hu Feng Counter-revolutionary Clique." It states: Some people "do not realize the importance of the Talks because they have bourgeois artistic and literary ideas. But Chang Chung-hsiao, that disciple of Hu Feng, thanks to his counter-revolutionary sensitivity; is all too conscious that, since the whole country has been liberated, the Talks will win the hearts of the masses on a much wider scale, and will have an annihilating effect on every brand

p. 2

of reactionary artistic and literary thought. And so he and his kind urgently sought to sabotage the Talks and prevent their influence from spreading." This quotation shows very clearly why certain persons opposed Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature so vehemently, or attempted so desperately to revise it.

The facts prove that Mao Tse-tung's thought has given our art and literature a completely new look. We have been able to make such great achievements in art and literature in the ten years since liberation only because we have been carrying out the policies formulated by the Party and Comrade Mao Tse-tung and have upheld his ideas in these fields; because these ideas have taken root among an ever widening number of people, first of all among artists and writers, the vast majority of whom have accepted them.

This is the most essential reason for our success. How has Comrade Mao Tse-tung developed Marxist thought on art and literature? In order to explain this question, I must of necessity first give a rough outline of the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin on art and literature.

In the time of Marx and Engels, although the working class had made its entrance on the stage of history, the proletarian revolution had not yet matured. The Paris Commune demonstrated the fervid revolutionary spirit of the proletariat, but it was quickly defeated. As Lenin said, it was a time "when the revolutionary spirit of the bourgeois democrats was dying, and the revolutionary spirit of proletarian socialism still was not mature." No truly proletarian author had then appeared. Writers living in the days of Marx and Engels, writers of whom

p. 3

Marx and Engels had a good opinion or with whom they had direct contact, were probably like the following:

There were authors like Balzac. Balzac began his literary career before Marx started his activities. But, by the time Balzac died in 1850, Marx was already a revolutionary and a writer. Marx and Engels praised Balzac because he revealed in a penetrating way the true character of capitalist society and its law that money is everything. Balzac exposed, through vivid imagery, characters and incidents, the same cruelties of capitalist society which Marx and Engels, using scientific language, exposed in the Communist Manifesto. But we know that Balzac was not a proletarian writer. His revelations of the cruelty and ugliness of capitalist society were based on a regret for the demise of the aristocracy. From the same standpoint, he proved that both this demise and the birth of capitalism were inevitable.

A second kind might be called revolutionary democratic writers, or perhaps democratic writers with socialist illusions - people like Heine and George Sand. Marx was on intimate terms with Heine, and he recommended George Sand highly. Marx liked them for their sympathy with the labouring people, for their protests against social inequities. Of course they were not proletarian authors either. Heine, for example, had no understanding of real communism.

The third kind appeared somewhat later. Most were writers with whom Engels had contact - such as Minna Kautsky (Kautsky's mother) and Margaret Harkness. Although they called themselves socialists, actually they were petty-bourgeois socialists. They sympathized with

p. 4

the workers, but they neither really knew nor understood them.

Because there were no genuine proletarian writers in the days of Marx and Engels, and because the literature of that period catered "mostly to readers of bourgeois circles" (Engels), Marx and Engels were able to advocate and demand only the following:

First: They demanded that a work of literature ". . . by conscientiously describing the real mutual relations, breaking down conventional illusions about them . . . shatter the optimism of the bourgeois world, and instil doubt as to the eternal character of the existing order." If a novel could do this, then it was beneficial; it could be deemed to have "fully achieved its purpose." (Engels) That was all Marx and Engels could ask of most authors at that time. In conformity with these ideas, Marx was quite revolted by the poems of certain German "true" socialists, because these "true" socialists were in fact petty-bourgeois writers whose poems actually prettified and bolstered the capitalist system.

Second: Marx and Engels demanded that writers reflect the life of the working class. Engels pointed out, "The revolutionary response of the members of the working class to the oppression that surrounds them, their convulsive attempts . . . to attain their rights as human beings . . . may therefore lay claim to a place in the domain of realism." Because the working-class struggle against oppression and for liberation had already become "a part of history," Engels believed that this struggle should be reflected in realist literature.

Third: They further demanded that literary works not only portray working-class life and struggles, but

p. 5

that they portray the working class accurately - not as some passive mass unable, and even unwilling, to save itself. They felt that the working class had to attain its own liberation, without relying on any gods or heroes. This was a fundamental tenet of Marxism and one of the major points of difference with the ideas of the utopian and petty-bourgeois socialists. The utopian socialists sympathized with the working class but did not believe it capable of liberating itself. They thought this would have to be done from outside or above. Engels was dissatisfied with the writings of Margaret Harkness because she described the working class, already steeled in scores of years of struggle, as nothing but a passive mass. Engels maintained that, despite the fact that there still were many backward workers, viewing the era as a whole, such a description was not typical.

Marx and Engels expressed many very precious ideas on art and literature which we should repeatedly study today. They voiced warm hopes for the proletarian literature of the future. This greatly encouraged later generations. In their own time, however, it was not possible yet to call for a "proletarian literature," let alone definitely put forward the principle of literature having a Party spirit. Only in Lenin's day could this be done. Lenin's famed article Party Organization and Party Literature defined the ideological basis of proletarian literature. For the first time he gave a clear call for a proletarian literature and put forward the principle of literature having a Party spirit.

Party Organization and Party Literature was written after the first Russian revolution of 1905. The world proletarian revolutionary movement was by then much

p. 6

further advanced than in the era of Marx and Engels. The 1905 revolution was the first serious attack made by the Russian working class on the autocratic tsarist regime. Although the revolution did not succeed, the situation in Russia, as Lenin stated, was that, although the revolution was not yet powerful enough to defeat tsarism, tsarism was already incapable of defeating it.

His article began by saying: "The new conditions for Social-Democratic work in Russia created after the October Revolution1 have brought the question of Party literature to the forefront." What were called "new conditions," in addition to the surging workers' movement, included the concessions the tsarist government had been forced to make. Some reforms were instituted; the people were given a certain amount of freedom of the press and association. Formerly "a difference had existed between the legal and illegal press"; "the entire illegal press was a Party press." Now, the Party could publish legally. Lenin, therefore, pointed out that literature should have the clear Party spirit to distinguish it from those other writings that were so muddled and inconclusive. It was under these circumstances that, for the first time, Lenin advocated that literature must become Party literature. He said, "What is this principle of Party literature? It is not simply that, for the socialist proletariat, literature cannot be a means of enriching individuals or groups, cannot in fact be an individual undertaking, independent of the common cause of the proletariat. . . . Literature must become part of the

p. 7

common cause of the proletariat. . . . Literature must become a component of organized, planned and integrated Social-Democratic party work." Therefore, literature must accept Party supervision.

In his article, Lenin refuted the bourgeois assertion of "freedom of literary creation" in a devastating way. First of all, he said, since bourgeois artists and writers cannot free themselves from the bourgeois publisher, from their dependence upon the money bags, on corruption and prostitution, what they call "freedom of literary creation" is sheer hypocrisy. Secondly, while an author has the freedom to write about anything he likes, the Party also is "free to expel members who use the Party's platform to advocate anti-Party views." You have freedom of speech; the Party has freedom of association, freedom to preserve the Party's purity. Lenin also made it clear that only proletarian literature is truly free literature, because it is written by politically conscious persons with the intention of serving the labouring people, because it is literature in the service of the millions, literature freed from the shackles of bourgeois individualism. Lenin also pointed out that advocacy of Party literature should by no means hamper personal initiative. The literature side of the Party work of the proletariat cannot be mechanically identified with the other sides. Lenin clearly stressed another important concept in his conversations with the German revolutionary, Clara Zetkin, namely, that art and literature belong to the people, that they must serve the toiling millions and be understood and loved by the people. He said, "Are we to give cake and sugar to a minority when the mass of workers and peasants still lack black bread?" He held

p. 8

that art and literature must be brought to the masses, art and literature of the highest artistic level. "Our workers and peasants truly deserve more than circuses. They have the right to true, great art."

As you all know, Lenin also enunciated the theory of the two kinds of culture. "There are two national cultures in every national culture," he said. One is "the Great-Russian clerical and bourgeois culture." The other is "the ideas of Great-Russian democracy and social-democracy." At the same time, he pointed out that the proletariat must absorb and improve upon all that is of value in human thought and cultural development.

Proletarian art and literature should be the Party's art and literature; they should serve the worker and peasant masses. At the same time, it is necessary to have a correct approach to the cultural heritage. This is the main content of Lenin's views on art and literature. Quite obviously, by Lenin's day the ideas on the Party spirit and mass nature of proletarian art and literature had been definitely established. The great literature of the Soviet Union - socialist-realist literature - is a logical development in keeping with those principles advocated and demanded by Lenin.

Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature creatively develop Lenin's views in these fields. This finds concentrated expression in Comrade Mao Tse-tung's Talks at the Yenan Forum on Art and Literature. The Talks were given under the following circumstances: On the one hand, both the world-wide anti-fascist world war and the nation-wide people's war against Japanese aggression were entering a stage of bitter stalemate. On the other hand, the revolutionary forces led by the Party

p. 9

were unprecedentedly strong. Not only did the working class have its own armed forces, it had its own bases. Large numbers of artists and writers had gone to these bases, where they were confronted with new masses, new "subjects and public." Should the writers and artists portray these new people, new ideas and emotions, and serve this new public, or should they continue to portray the old characters, the old ideas and emotions, all that they liked so well, and put this fare before their old readers? That was the problem which faced artists and writers at that time.

Many did not solve it. Although most of them were revolutionary artists and writers, and some were even members of the Communist Party, their world outlook was not the proletarian one; they still had the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois world outlook. They still clung to their old world outlook, old thoughts and emotions in approaching the masses, art and literature. Inevitably, they came into sharp contradiction with their new environment and masses, with the new demands upon art and literature. Unless this problem was settled, art and literature could not go forward correctly. They not only would be unable to serve the revolution, they might even harm it. The Yenan forum on art and literature was convened under these circumstances in order to solve this contradiction.

Lenin pointed out that art and literature must be part of the Party's cause and serve the great mass of the workers and peasants. But Lenin did not have time to explain in detail how they should truly become the Party's art and literature, how they should truly serve the worker and peasant masses. The thorough solution

p. 10

of these questions was the great contribution of Comrade Mao Tse-tung. His Talks are the most complete scientific treatise on Marxist thought on art and literature. Showing the clear lines along which proletarian socialist art and literature should develop, they creatively solve a whole series of fundamental questions in regard to Marxist thought on art and literature.

Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature is so rich that each time we read his Talks, or other articles by him on these subjects, we obtain new enlightenment and education. Therefore I cannot hope to encompass all his views here. I believe the most important of all is his solution of the following basic problems.

First: Comrade Mao Tse-tung completely settles the question of the relation between art and literature and the revolution. At their very outset, the Talks state that the purpose of convening the forum was to "exchange views and ascertain the proper relationship between artistic and literary activities and revolutionary activities in general, to determine what is the proper path of development for revolutionary art and literature and how they can give better help to other revolutionary activities, so that we can overthrow our national enemy and accomplish the task of national liberation." Developing Lenin's ideas in this connection, Comrade Mao Tse-tung expresses the idea that art and literature ought to be " . . . a component part of the whole revolutionary machine . . . a powerful weapon for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and to help the people to fight with one heart and one mind." "Art and literature are subordinate to politics, but in turn exert a great influence on politics."

p. 11

The relation between artistic and literary activities and Party activities in general is that revolutionary art and literature are a part of the over-all revolutionary cause, they are cogs and screws in the whole machine; their task should be to serve the revolution. This is the most fundamental principle. The major difference between us and bourgeois artists and writers is that they, consciously or otherwise, always hide their political objectives behind the signboard of "art for art's sake," whereas we frankly advocate art for the revolution's sake. Since art and literature are a part of the Party's over-all revolutionary cause, they naturally must accept leadership and supervision by the Party. To deny that art and literature are a part of the over-all revolutionary cause, leads necessarily to rejecting the Party's leadership in these fields, and to the delusion that it isn't politics which leads art but art which leads politics; or it leads to believing that - as the Yugoslav revisionists put it - "antagonistic contradictions" exist between "art and the state."

Comrade Mao Tse-tung tells us that art and literature are parts of the whole revolution, but indispensable parts, cogs and screws that are necessary to the machine. "If we had no art and literature even in the broadest and most general sense, then the revolutionary movement could not be carried on to victory." That is to say, art and literature are not things which the revolution can either take or leave aside. They play a propelling and active role in the revolutionary cause, in the complete mechanism. It is for this reason that the Party's Central Committee and Comrade Mao Tse-tung have always attached particular importance to art and literary activities, not as matters of personal interest, but because of

p. 12

the huge influence art and literature exercise on the people and the great role they play in the revolutionary cause. If correct, art and literature serve a good function; if wrong, they can be harmful. That is precisely why Comrade Mao Tse-tung indicates that in appraising works of art and literature, the political criterion should be foremost. "There are two criteria in art and literary criticism," he says, "political and artistic." As to the relation between the two, we should " . . . place the political criterion before the artistic." Giving precedence to the political criterion means that the first test of an art or literary work is whether it benefits the revolution. If you admit that art and literature should serve the revolution, then you must concede that in criticism the political standard is the primary yardstick. To deny this is, in effect, to deny that art and literature should serve the revolution.

Second: Comrade Mao Tse-tung solves the problem of the relation between art and literature and the masses. In this connection also, Comrade Mao Tse-tung develops Lenin's thought. As Lenin said, formerly in literature, "the writer does the writing, the reader does the reading." In the past, writers neither considered whether they should or should not portray the workers and peasants, nor were they concerned with the question of whether the workers and peasants would accept their works. But proletarian literature had to deal with this new question. Your "subjects and public" are no longer the same, says Comrade Mao Tse-tung. In definite terms he solves the problem concerning the principle of art and literature serving the workers, peasants and

p. 13

soldiers and how this can be done. This most important problem is also the major theme of his Talks.

The manner in which art and literature should serve the workers, peasants and soldiers is mainly as follows: A writer should observe and depict things from the standpoint of the proletariat; he should strive to portray workers, peasants and soldiers; he should seek to strengthen their unity of heart and mind, not to weaken it; he should try to bring the readers closer to, not further away from, the workers, peasants and soldiers. To serve successfully, the writer must correctly integrate popularization with elevation. Comrade Mao Tse-tung defines dialectically the correct relation between the two: Elevation on the basis of popularization, popularization under the guidance of elevation, but both with the purpose of serving the worker, peasant and soldier masses, of serving their needs today and tomorrow. To stress elevation one-sidedly and neglect popularization is wrong because it is a departure from the masses. It will not do, either, to stress popularization and neglect elevation.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung says: "Even now it is possible to popularize some works of higher quality." Moreover, ". .. the cultural level of the people will continue to rise. . . . The people need popularization to start with, and then elevation and further elevation." Comrade Mao Tse-tung also points out that in addition to serving the people it is necessary to serve their cadres. For these, although small in number, are the cadres of the people, the advanced members among them, "Anything done for the cadres is done wholly for the people, because it is only through the cadres that we can give education and guidance to the people." And so "the elevation needed

p. 14

by the cadres" is "the elevation that answers the needs of the people indirectly ..." and ". .. it would be a mistake to ignore this need."

While solving the question of the relation between popularization and elevation, Comrade Mao Tse-tung also solves the question of the relation between specialists and popularizers and between professionals and amateurs. "Specialists are very valuable to our cause and should be respected," he says. But specialists should keep in touch with the people, pay attention to their wall-newspapers, their reportage, their songs and art, on the one hand ". . . help and guide them," and on the other ". .. learn from them." If a specialist regards himself as "an aristocrat who lords it over the 'lower orders,' then the people will have no use for him, however talented he may be, and there is no future for his work."

These principles laid down by Comrade Mao Tse-tung correctly solve the problems of orientation, method and road to be followed in serving the workers, peasants and soldiers.

Third: Comrade Mao Tse-tung. settles the question of the relation between art and life; he settles it excellently in conformity with dialectic materialism. First of all, man's social life is the sole source of art and literature, and all artistic and literary works are reflections of life. "This is the only source," he says, "there can be no other." Art and literature, therefore, cannot divorce themselves from life; they cannot "uncritically borrow and copy from" the works of ancients and foreigners. What is more, "ideological expressions in the form of artistic or literary work are the product of the human brain reflecting the life of a given society," and life, reflected through

p. 15

the brains of individuals, is bound to be influenced by their world outlook and ideological stand. In every person's brain there are reflections of life, but not every person reflects life correctly. Only those with a correct world outlook and a correct ideological stand can do so. That is why Comrade Mao Tse-tung says, "Revolutionary art and literature are the products of the brains of revolutionary artists and writers reflecting the life of the people." This same life of the people, reflected through the brains of reactionary artists and writers, cannot become revolutionary art and literature; it becomes counter-revolutionary.

Furthermore, since works of art and literature are the products of the brains of artists and writers reflecting the life of the people, it means that these reflections have been subjected to analysis, selection, judgement and synthesis. "Life as reflected in artistic and literary works," therefore, "can and ought to be on a higher level and of a greater intensity than real life, in sharper focus and more typical, nearer the ideal, and therefore more universal." This kind of reflection cannot be purely objective, because it is the result of the artist or writer's selection, analysis and judgement. Such being the case, art and literature can, in turn, serve to arouse life and propel it forward. Life is the source of art and literature; art and literature come from life. At the same time because they are on a much higher level than real life, they can influence it and urge it on. This is Comrade Mao Tse-tung's fundamental view of the relation between life and art and literature.

Fourth: Comrade Mao Tse-tung excellently solves the problem of the relation between the artist or writer and

p. 16

the masses. The key to art and literature serving the revolution and the workers, peasants and soldiers and correctly reflecting the life of the people, lies in artists and writers going into the midst of the masses, and in the course of so doing, remoulding their own ideology while tapping the source of creative works. This is one of the important principles of Comrade Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature. If an artist or writer makes up his mind, says Comrade Mao Tse-tung, studies Marxist theory, throws himself into the revolutionary struggle for a long period of time, becomes one with the people, and repeatedly integrates theory with practice, he will succeed in remoulding his old ideology and building the proletarian world outlook. Comrade Mao Tse-tung points out to artists and writers the bright road of remoulding their ideology by merging with the people. This is a tremendously great contribution. Many of our artists and writers have become deeply cognizant of it. Since proletarian art and literature are something entirely new, their ideology and standpoint, the characters they depict, and the audience they serve, are all different from those of the old days, artists and writers today can no longer follow the same old road taken by artists and writers in the past. Only by solving this problem can we have genuine socialist art and literature.

Fifth: Comrade Mao Tse-tung settles the question of the relation between art and literature and national cultural traditions. Proletarian art and literature have not dropped on us from the sky; they are of necessity built on the foundation of traditions. Developing Lenin's "two national cultures" thesis, Comrade Mao Tse-tung asks that we first subject our national cultural traditions

p. 17

to scientific analysis. In our cultural legacy are both democratic revolutionary qualities and feudal reactionary qualities. We should "throw away their feudal dross and absorb their democratic essence." Traditions should be analysed from the standpoint of historical materialism and be given their proper place in history. We oppose cutting ties with history or rejecting traditions, just as we oppose extolling the ancient and spurning the modern, or kowtowing before whatever is traditional. Comrade Mao Tse-tung tells us that the aim of critically carrying on our traditions is to expedite our new culture; to satisfy the need of innovation and creativeness, not to cling to the old so blindly that traditions impede our steps; to help us look forward, not backward. Comrade Mao Tse-tung's phrase "develop the new from the old" most vividly and comprehensively expresses the dialectical relation between criticizing and carrying on traditions, on the one hand, and, on the other, innovating and creating.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung wants us to critically study and absorb all that is useful in foreign sources. But when we study them, we must coalesce them into our own, giving them a full national flavour. Art and literature are not the same as technical sciences, which study the laws of nature. Art and literature portray the lives, thoughts and emotions of people; they cannot but be imbued with national flavour. Our art and literature must have their own national characteristics, national style. They should "create what is new and extraordinary" - but these new and extraordinary creations should be national in character. Only thus will they be

p. 18

loved by the people, and constitute a uniquely national contribution to world culture.

In a word, we learn from the ancients who are dead in order to benefit our contemporaries who are alive now; we learn from foreigners in order to benefit the Chinese today. Any blind worship of things foreign or traditional is extremely harmful.

I believe that the foregoing problems in art and literature are the most fundamental. These problems Comrade Mao Tse-tung has solved most accurately, comprehensively, systematically and dialectically.

In the ten years since the liberation of our country, under new circumstances and conditions, Comrade Mao Tse-tung has continued creatively to develop Marxist thought on art and literature. I believe that the most important of his contributions are the following:

First: Comrade Mao Tse-tung attaches great importance to the struggle between the two lines on the art and literary front. Immediately after nation-wide liberation was achieved, Comrade Mao Tse-tung turned his attention to the problem of the struggle between the two lines in the ideological realm. Under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Party and Comrade Mao Tse-tung, a series of struggles have been waged in the artistic and literary world-first the criticism of the film The Story of Wu Hsun, then the criticism of Studies on the "Dream. of the Red Chamber" and Hu Shih's ideology, the struggle against Hu Feng, against the anti-Party clique of Ting Ling and Chen Chi-hsia, against the rightists in the world of art and letters and against revisionism. The basic issue is the struggle between two world outlooks - the proletarian and the bourgeois.

p. 19

But many of our comrades, as Comrade Mao Tse-tung pointed out, were quite incapable of distinguishing between what is revolutionary and what is reactionary, what is new and what is old, what should be praised and what should be opposed. Many of them in art and literary world did not fully recognize the significance of this series of ideological struggles, the fact that it was part of the class struggle on the whole ideological front, a decisive battle in artistic and literary thought, a battle to determine whether we would have proletarian or bourgeois art and literature, a battle to determine with what ideology the ranks of art and literature should be trained.

It was only after this series of struggles that we were able to establish proletarian art and literature and liberate the creative forces of the art and literary world. As Comrade Chou Yang puts it in his Great Debate on the Literary Front, these struggles ". . . were a death blow to bourgeois reactionary ideology, liberating the creative forces of the world of art and literature and of its reserves, striking off the shackles which had been fastened upon them by the old society, dispelling the reactionary atmosphere which threatened them, and opening a broad road of development for the proletarian art and literature." This is an entirely correct and factual analysis. Let us recall the situation in the artistic and literary world before these struggles began. At that time certain Communist writers were openly preaching bourgeois individualism, openly opposing the Party's leadership. Not a few artists and writers, instead of striving to be close to the Party and merge with the people, were growing farther apart from them

p. 20

every day. Some young authors were quickly tainted by bourgeois ideology, almost as soon as they began to write. Quite a few, influenced by Hu Feng and Ting Ling, slid downhill.

Some comrades, in actual fact, adopted a passive attitude to this series of struggles. Instead of feeling the anger a proletarian ought to feel about hostile things, they went to the length of looking on at Hu Feng's mad attacks on the Party and socialism with placid detachment. They called themselves old Communists and supporters of Chairman Mao, but when they saw his thought on art and literature attacked and slandered, they did not fight in support of it. They forgot completely that as Communists, they ought to safeguard the Party line and defend Mao Tse-tung's thought on art and literature.

Other comrades, although they have taken part in the struggles, still cannot fully appreciate their significance, cannot realize that accomplishments in art and literature and these struggles are inseparable, that without these struggles the creative power of art and literature could not have been freed. That is why in certain articles on the artistic and literary attainments of the past ten years, the importance of the ideological struggle is skimmed over lightly, only a few brief words being given to it, while those isolated instances of over-simplification and vulgar sociology which occurred in the course of the struggle or during the discussions with readers are opposed with great zeal. We do not deny that such shortcomings cropped up during the ideological struggle, particularly among the criticisms voiced by some of our younger readers. But this was not the major aspect; such things are inevitable temporary phenomena in

p. 21

criticisms of a mass nature. According to the views stated in these articles, the present task is not to continue the ideological fight against revisionism, but mainly to oppose vulgar sociology. This is completely erroneous. The editorial "Hail the Great Accomplishments and Development of New China's Literature," which appeared in the October 1959 issue of the magazine Literary Knowledge is typical. While, in general, it praises New China's achievements in literature, it forgets completely that there are class contradictions in our society, that hostile ideologies still exist in the realm of art and literature, and that for a long time to come we must wage an ideological struggle. This is very dangerous. Revisionism often springs from just this sort of thing. It is extremely harmful.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung in his On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People says: "It will take a considerable time to decide the issue in the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in our country. This is because the influence of the bourgeoisie and of the intellectuals who come from the old society will remain in our country as the ideology of a class for a long time to come. Failure to grasp this, or still worse, failure to understand it at all, can lead to the gravest mistakes - to ignoring the necessity of waging the struggle in the ideological field." Led by the Central Committee of the Party and Comrade Mao Tse-tung, in the ten years since liberation a struggle has been waged between the two lines, the two world outlooks, on the art and literary front. As a result, the leadership of Marxism in our artistic and literary world has been fundamentally established.

p. 22

Second: "Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend." This is the Marxist line for the development of academic studies, culture, art and literature, under our new circumstances and new conditions. It is an extremely firm class policy of the proletariat. This line was put forward by our Party in 1956 for these reasons: 1. Socialist transformation in the economic field had, by then, been basically completed. At the same time, by virtue of a series of ideological struggles, the leadership of Marxism had been established in the realm of ideology. 2. Bourgeois views still exist among the people, and so do class contradictions in ideology, and all kinds of other differing ideas. It is only by applying the policy of "letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend" to bring these varying ideas into the open, and by means of free criticism and discussion - using persuasion rather than coercion - that these contradictions can be resolved in a more satisfactory way. 3. After completing the democratic revolution and fundamentally completing the socialist transformation, we have the new tasks of rapidly building socialism and developing our national economy, culture and science. This policy of "letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend" is the best line for the development of academic studies, culture, art and literature, formulated to meet these new circumstances and demands.

It is now quite plain that this line is the best means of stimulating the enthusiasm of all artists and writers and developing various types of art and literature to their highest potential. Following this line, every artist

p. 23

and writer can give full play to his talents, every type of art and literature can be developed to the utmost, each serving socialist construction in its own way. This is the best policy for developing socialist art and literature.

It is also the best line to follow in the struggle against bourgeois ideology. As Comrade Liu Shao-chi stated in The Victory of Marxism-Leninism in China: "To adopt this policy is by no means to implement the bourgeois policy of 'liberation,' but to pursue an extremely firm class policy of the proletariat. We implement this policy ... in order to develop Marxism and the socialist ideology which Marxism guides. . . . Its purpose is to aid the proletariat to defeat the bourgeoisie politically and ideologically, to eradicate their influence, not to permit bourgeois views to spread freely."

We are materialists. We believe that as long as classes exist, as long as the influence of bourgeois thinking remains, so too will various hostile ideologies remain and the poisonous weeds of bourgeois views continue to sprout. Rather than preventing the emergence of poisonous weeds, we prefer to let them come out and then uproot them, thereby sharpening the people's power of discrimination in the course of struggle and steeling their Marxist fighting strength. The facts have shown that the policy of "letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend" does not weaken Marxism or proletarian socialist art and literature. On the contrary, it forges and develops them.

Third: The principle of integrating revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism in creative work. This was advocated after the Party's general line for

p. 24

socialist construction was decided and the boundless enthusiasm of the people was generated by the big leap forward. After the people became masters of their own destiny, an unprecedentedly heroic era commenced. To portray this new era, its new masses and their new life, we had to adopt both a new principle regarding creative work and new methods of creation. A combination of revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism was proposed to meet these needs.

The question was discussed in the artistic and literary world and Comrade Chou Yang, in his article New Folk Songs Blaze a New Trail in Poetry (Hongqi [红旗, Red Flag], No. 1, 1958), stated the fundamental provisions of this principle. I agree entirely with his views. Here, I would like to offer a few of my own impressions on the subject, particularly with regard to what revolutionary romanticism implies. Revolutionary romanticism, it seems to me, has two sides - its romantic spirit and its romantic method. The two frequently go together, but not necessarily. A work which is romantic in spirit may or may not be romantic in method. Some of Lu Hsun's writings are an example of the latter type.

What is most important is to grasp the romantic spirit. I hold that the spirit of revolutionary romanticism lies in seeing what is new in life, reflecting it with success, helping it grow. Today, this means the ability to see the seeds of communism in life. The reason Lenin and Mao Tse-tung are great revolutionaries and revolutionary romanticists is because they could always see the positive and the new in the lives of the people, because no matter how difficult the circumstances, they always had full confidence in the revolution, in victory. There are a number

p. 25

of sections in Lenin's Preface to the Russian Translation of the Letters of K. Marx to L. Kugelman which serve as an excellent explanation of revolutionary romanticism. Lenin says we should "learn from the firmness of spirit which admits of no faint-hearted whimpering after temporary setbacks of the revolution. . . . Whoever distorts a theory which soberly presents the objective situation into a justification of the existing order and goes to the length of striving to adapt himself as quickly as possible to every temporary decline in the revolution, to discard 'revolutionary illusions' as quickly as possible and to turn to 'realistic' tinkering, is no Marxist." In other words, we should coolly observe and analyse the objective situation, but we should not use it as an argument for the preservation of the existing order, or as an excuse for not seeing the new-born revolutionary phenomena which can change it.

Lenin goes on to say: "During the most peaceful, seemingly 'idyllic,' as Marx expressed it, and 'wretchedly stagnant' (as the Neue Zeit put it) times, Marx was able to sense the approach of revolution and to rouse the proletariat to the consciousness of its advanced revolutionary tasks." What Lenin was advocating was revolutionary romanticism in revolutionary movements. He was opposing those "realists," lacking in ideals and vision, who defend the status quo.

After the failure of the First Revolutionary Civil War, Comrade Mao Tse-tung said, "A single spark can start a prairie fire." This is an expression of the highest kind of revolutionary romanticism. Some people, entirely unable to see the sparks, thought the revolution was finished, hopeless. Others could see the sparks but didn't

p. 26

believe they could start a prairie fire. To be able to see the sparks, to firmly believe that they can kindle the prairie and to actively expedite their doing so - this is the spirit of revolutionary romanticism. I hold, therefore, that the ideals which the spirit of revolutionary romanticism expresses cannot be divorced from reality. They must arise from reality; they should show the inevitable direction in which real life develops.

The artist or writer must draw his ideals first and foremost from reality. Otherwise they will be only empty illusions. Those who cherish such illusions can do nothing but lie down and dream away their time. Only those who are inspired by ideals drawn from real life can make a resolute effort to realize them, undeterred by any setbacks. I believe, therefore, that the combination of revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism is an integrated and indivisible principle for creative work. It is not, as some people understand it, something daubed with a few "ideals" here and a touch of "romanticism" there. This is why the ideals have strength, are based on reality, and can inspire the author's love for them, his effort to describe them and his ardent desire to expedite their growth and victory.

In accordance with the foregoing understanding, I believe that the synthesis of revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism includes three major elements. First: It sees and reflects what is new, revolutionary and vital in life. Second: The artist or writer has the warmest enthusiasm for these things. Third: The works thus produced have the immense power to inspire and encourage the people. The combination of these three factors is a manifestation of revolutionary romanticism.

p. 27

Empty illusions which are divorced from reality can encourage no one. Before he can grasp revolutionary romanticism, the artist or writer must develop the ability to see in life the new, the revolutionary, the vital. That is where the difficulty lies.

The other side of revolutionary romanticism is its method. Works of romanticism tend to use more exaggeration, more flights of fancy, more mythological colouration. But these alone do not give us revolutionary romanticism. Unless a work possesses the spirit of revolutionary romanticism, it still will not be a revolutionary romantic creation, no matter how much exaggeration and mythology it contains. In some of his poems, Comrade Mao Tse-tung uses mythology; in some, he does not. But every one of them is filled with the spirit of revolutionary romanticism.

To have the spirit of revolutionary romanticism, it is essential to acquire the revolutionary world outlook and merge with the revolutionary people. For it is in this way that the artist or writer can see the spirit of revolutionary romanticism in the lives of the people, and be able to convey it fully in his works.

In order to attain this goal, the basic approach is to study Marxism-Leninism, study the works of Comrade Mao Tse-tung, while going into the midst of the people and becoming one with them. Both of these aspects are essential. There is no substitute for going to the masses. But living among the people and failing to study Marxism-Leninism will not do either; for you cannot automatically obtain the Marxist-Leninist world outlook in this manner. Marxism-Leninism is a science. It is possible to derive from the life of the masses certain in-

p. 28

dividual concepts that correspond with Marxism, but this alone will not give you the integrated Marxist world outlook. Both Lenin and Comrade Mao Tse-tung have fought with determination against the empiricists who deny theory. We must study Marxist-Leninist theory, study the works of Chairman Mao. Otherwise, we are liable to be made captive by all kinds of erroneous ideas.

To sum up, the important, many-sided advances which Comrade Mao Tse-tung has made in Marxist thought on art and literature are great contributions to the ideological treasury of Marxism. They are the fundamental principles which we must observe in order to develop socialist art and literature.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung has not only directly developed the Marxist thought on art and literature and built up the integrated scientific Marxist theory concerning them, he has also made a most profound and penetrating criticism of bourgeois views on art and literature. Long ago the Talks thoroughly refuted the main tenets of the revisionists in these fields. Revisionism is the use of bourgeois views to revise Marxism, to emasculate its revolutionary essence, its revolutionary soul. Although it constantly dons new masks, essentially it still plays the same old tunes. In art and literary thought, as in politics, it mainly takes the following forms of expression:

First: An attempt to compromise class contradictions and obscure the class struggle so as to strengthen the old system. This is the fundamental characteristic of the revisionists. One of the main tenets of Lukacs, a Hungarian revisionist of long standing in artistic and literary fields, perverts Lenin's principle that under certain conditions it is possible for different social

p. 29

systems to co-exist peacefully, into the proposition that the socialist and capitalist ideologies can peacefully coexist, that struggle is unnecessary. This theory of "ideological co-existence," like the theory of the revisionist Wang Jen-shu (also known as Pa Jen) that we "give complete licence to our differences and seek similarities among us," is in effect a demand that we should "seek similarities" and "co-exist" with the bourgeoisie ideologically. Lukacs claims that since the death of Lenin the major contradiction determining Communist strategy has been not that between capitalism and socialism, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but between fascism and anti-fascism. He wants to eliminate the class struggle. Earl Browder, renegade of the U.S. Communist Party, also takes this position.

In order to obscure the class struggle, the revisionists advance an abstract "humanitarianism," a "human nature" theory as substitutes for class nature, for Party spirit. This so-called "humanitarianism" is philanthropism or "love of mankind" which Comrade Mao Tse-tung has criticized. Marx said, "The philanthropic school is the humanitarian school carried to perfection." It wants us to "love" everyone. Today, this is the dirtiest trick of the bourgeoisie to blur class distinctions and eliminate the class struggle. Its aim is, under the guise of "humanitarianism," to preserve the inhuman, criminal system of capitalism. If a working-class writer abandons socialism and communism and clamours loudly for a classless "humanitarianism," he is surrendering to the bourgeois ideology. As long ago as the time of the Talks, Comrade Mao Tse-tung trenchantly exposed and refuted

p. 30

the hypocrisy and fraudulence of such concepts as the "human nature" theory and "love of mankind."

Second: The revisionists advocate removing the educational function of art and literature. They are against art and literature serving politics. To eliminate the fundamental aim of the proletarian revolution, to change the proletarian movement into activities without revolutionary purpose - this too is one of the major tenets of revisionism. The early revisionist Bernstein said: "The movement is everything; the final aim is nothing." Since the aim of the proletarian revolution is to seize political power and set up the proletarian dictatorship, the revisionists, by trying to eliminate the aim of the revolution, are, in effect, seeking to eliminate the dictatorship of the proletariat.

As to art and literature, the revisionists are opposed to these serving the proletarian revolution and say they should have no educational function. This is the same tune all revisionists sing. In the Programme of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia the following appears: "The League of Communists of Yugoslavia simultaneously rejects all pragmatic distortion of Marxist viewpoints on the role of science and art in society, and any transformation of science and art into the exclusive instrument of daily political interests." They slander the principle that art and literature should serve politics as a "pragmatic distortion," and debase it as an "instrument of daily political interests."

Actually, refusal to serve the political interests of the proletariat is a service to the interests of the bourgeoisie. Chin Chao-yang said that art and literature should not become "the megaphone for certain political concepts."

p. 31

The intention of this is the same. In the Yenan days, people like Wang Shih-wei and Hsiao Chun were also opposed to art and literature serving the politics of the revolution. They attacked us as being utilitarians. The Hu Feng clique was even more venomous on this question. Chang Chung-hsiao in a secret message wrote: "Utilitarianism . . . is a criterion that crushes genuine criticism and new writing."

Comrade Mao Tse-tung long ago refuted this kind of argument. He said there is no art or literature which does not serve politics. "In this world there is no utilitarianism which transcends the classes; in a class society utilitarianism is either of this or of that particular class. We are proletarian, revolutionary utilitarians and we take as our point of departure the uniting of the present and future interests of the great majority, more than 90 per cent, of the people of the country; therefore we are revolutionary utilitarians who pursue interests of the broadest scope and the longest range, not narrow utilitarians who are concerned only with what is limited and immediate."

Third: The revisionists on the one hand seek to blur class distinctions, compromise class contradictions and cause art and literature to divorce themselves from the aim of the revolution, thus helping to strengthen the old world and its system of exploitation. On the other hand they abhor the new society, new system and revolutionary people intensely. They do their utmost to smear our new society. They contend that the task of art and literature consists in exposure - including exposure of and satire against the revolution, the people and our new society. Their aim is to make the people

p. 32

dissatisfied with the new society, to spread a mood of pessimism and disappointment with the new world, so that the people will lose confidence in the revolution. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has thoroughly refuted this so-called theory of exposing the dark side of things.

Plainly, Comrade Mao Tse-tung's Talks have already made a most penetrating and deep criticism of the fundamental tenets of revisionism in art and literature. Modern revisionism is an international phenomenon. It is not solely a question of art and literature. More important, it is a political question. Domestically, as long as the influence of bourgeois ideology remains, so too will revisionism remain. Internationally, as long as imperialism exists, weak-willed persons will be terrorized or bought over, and become captives of revisionism. The Moscow Declaration of the Communist and Workers' Parties of the Socialist Countries points out: "The existence of bourgeois influence is an internal source of revisionism, while surrender to imperialist pressure is its external source."

Imperialism is now using two methods. On the one hand, it creates a war atmosphere to frighten the people. Timid individuals become panic-stricken, and they go among the people disseminating pacifist illusions. On the other hand, imperialism resorts to bribery. It gives its adherents seats in parliaments, raises their wages, makes labour aristocrats out of them. Or it bestows prizes - another form of bribery. Some people cannot resist this sort of thing. They don't understand that "when the enemy praises you, you'd better watch out." On the contrary, they consider the commendations of the bourgeoisie and the imperialists an honour. This is ex-

p. 33

tremely dangerous. Sources of revisionism today exist both at home and abroad. Comrade Mao Tse-tung tells us: "Revisionism, or rightist opportunism, is a bourgeois trend of thought which is even more dangerous than doctrinairism." Today, the opposition to modern revisionism is an important struggle of international significance.

We should have the same firm grasp of the thought of Mao Tse-tung when we oppose revisionism in art and literature, as when we oppose it in politics. We should use his thought on art and literature as our best weapon to defeat revisionism in these fields.

Now, I want to say something about how important it is for artists and writers to study the thought of Mao Tse-tung and thoroughly remould their world outlook.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung has pointed out the correct approach for the creating of socialist art and literature, and set forth a specific line and method. The present problem is how artists and writers should build and create socialist art and literature in accordance with his teachings. The remoulding of their world outlook and the establishment of the proletarian world outlook is therefore of decisive significance.

The communist world outlook is precisely what the revisionists oppose most. They are for ever taking Balzac and Tolstoy as proof that a writer can produce great works without a correct world outlook, even claiming that the more reactionary a writer is, the greater his creations. From Hungary's Lukacs to China's Hu Feng and Yugoslavia's Vidmar - all use these two great authors as their weapons. And so, we must get straight on this question.

p. 34

First of all we must understand that the relation between socialist literature and society is entirely different from the relation between the old-type literature and society. Speaking in the broadest sense, there are two kinds of old-type literature. One praises and seeks to preserve the old order; this is the reactionary kind. The other exposes and criticizes the old order; this is the main reason why it has progressive significance. As Gorky said, the value of critical-realist literature lies in the fact that its writers are bourgeois "black sheep." To a greater or lesser extent, intentionally or unintentionally, they reveal the dark deeds and crimes of capitalism, portraying its development and decline. They serve a certain function in pulling down the old order and society, instilling doubt, as Engels said, as to the eternal character of the capitalist system.

Socialist literature is entirely different. It defends the socialist system, helps to expedite its development, does not harm it. This is because the socialist system is a progressive system, one which the people have long dreamed about and fought for, the most reasonable system which eliminates the criminal exploitation of man by man. It is therefore our duty to safeguard it and help it grow to the still higher and more reasonable society of communism.

It is possible to criticize the old society and old order from various ideological standpoints. Of course the most progressive is that of the proletariat. But many authors criticize the capitalist system from an enlightened bourgeois standpoint, while some take the stand of the small producer or even the aristocracy. The Communist Manifesto states clearly: There are various kinds of socialists,

p. 35

and they all criticize capitalism. We have, for example, the "feudal socialists." Although they suffer from a "total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history," their attack, which is "half lamentation, half lampoon, half echo of the past, half menace of the future," at times "by its bitter, witty and massive criticism, strikes the bourgeoisie to the very heart's core."

Then we have the "petty-bourgeois socialist" writers, "who sided with the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, should use, in their criticism of the bourgeois regime, the standard of the peasant and petty-bourgeois, and from the standpoint of these intermediate classes should take up the cudgels for the working class."

Lenin puts it well. Of capitalism, he says, there are two kinds of criticisms. One criticism is made by the class that seeks to replace the bourgeoisie, this is the proletarian criticism of capitalism. The other criticism of capitalism is made by the classes which the bourgeoisie has replaced.

As it was possible to criticize the capitalist society from different standpoints, the question of remoulding their world outlook did not confront writers of the past. Writers of varying world outlooks can all criticize capitalism. (Of course those with the proletarian world outlook do it the most thoroughly and correctly.)

Balzac was a royalist, a man with a profound sympathy for the nobility. He himself posed as a member of the aristocracy, and from their standpoint exposed the vulgarity and ugliness of the nouveau riche - the bourgeoisie. His merit lay in his deep revelation of the laws of social development. Although he hated the vulgarity and ugliness of the bourgeoisie, he could see

p. 36

that this new force was bound to replace the feudal aristocrats, for whose passing his works were a dirge. Balzac exposed and criticized the capitalist society in a rather penetrating way. It was for this reason that Marx and Engels considered his works of value.

Tolstoy exposed the tribulations of capitalism from the viewpoint of a small producer under the patriarchal system. He criticized the capitalist system "not because he wanted socialism," but because he wanted "a community of free and equal small peasants." Lenin said Tolstoy was the mirror of the Russian revolution because he had reflected both the revolutionary mood and demands of the Russian peasants of his time as well as the insufficient political awareness of a large part of them - people who were under the illusion that instead of revolutionary struggle they could resort to tears, prayers and petitions to satisfy their needs. Lenin made a most profound and scientific class analysis of Tolstoy's ideas and writings. He stated clearly that Tolstoy cannot be regarded as a "teacher of life" because his "resist not evil" doctrine was reactionary; it did not lead men forward. Lenin put it very well: "The Russian people will achieve their emancipation only when they realize that they must learn how to secure a better way of life not from Tolstoy, but from the class whose significance Tolstoy did not understand, and which alone is capable of destroying the old world that Tolstoy hated, namely, the proletariat."

Socialist literature should defend and develop the socialist system and propagate communist ideology, and this will be absolutely impossible if the artist or writer fails to become a socialist or communist and to have the communist world outlook. The revisionists refuse to admit

p. 37

this entire change in relations, and so they necessarily reach these conclusions: 1. The primary task of socialist art and literature is still to expose, criticize and attack the new society, not to defend it. That is the view of Chin Chao-yang. 2. There is no need for artists and writers to remould their ideologies; the communist world outlook is unnecessary. The revisionists want the writers of today to take Balzac and Tolstoy as their models. It doesn't matter if your world outlook is backward or reactionary, they say; in fact, according to them, the more backward and reactionary the better. Of course, this view is absurd. It arises from their failure to recognize the complete difference between the relation of socialist literature to society and that of past literature to society.

The remoulding of an artist or writer's world outlook is a key point. A socialist, communist artist or writer must have the communist world outlook. Today, the question of world outlook is really a question of whether, you are a democrat or a communist, whether you are a fellow traveller of the revolution or a thorough Marxist. We mean by fellow traveller the kind of person who went along with us during the stage of the democratic revolution, who approved of it and took part in it, but who, now that we have reached the stage of the socialist revolution, has become unwilling to go on, who wants to leave the revolution. Chairman Mao pointed out long ago that formerly many of our writers were revolutionaries, but that when we entered the stage of the socialist revolution they became middle-of-the-roaders. He was referring to the fellow travellers. Actually, it is impossible to remain in the middle of the road. Unless you progress and become a revolutionary in the socialist

p. 38

revolution, you will retrogress; you may even become a rightist - anti-Party and against socialism. This sort of thing has happened. Ai Ching is an example. During the democratic revolution, he wrote some good poems. Later he became a middle-of-the-roader; finally he degenerated into a rightist.

Many of our comrades were ideologically prepared for the democratic revolution and urgently desired it. For a long time we were influenced by its ideas. We wanted to make China a nationally independent, free and democratic country. The success of the democratic revolution did us no harm. We had little or no connection with the three major enemies of the democratic revolution - imperialism, the feudal forces and bureaucrat-capitalism, and so we were able to fight them with determination. But with regard to the socialist revolution, many people were not ideologically prepared. It came quickly and struck hard. Many only had a vague desire for it. They were not at all clear what it really signified. Socialist revolution not only eliminates the bourgeois class but also thoroughly eliminates individual economy and the individualist thinking that goes with it. The revolution affects each of us personally, demanding that we improve our minds, and many people cannot accept it.

We intellectuals are connected with the bourgeoisie by thousands of gossamer strands. Some of us are, in various ways, directly connected with the bourgeoisie. Many have connection with bourgeois intellectuals who are either friends or relatives. More common is our connection with bourgeois ideology, because in the past we received a bourgeois education. More common still is our relation with bourgeois art and literature. As we

p. 39

grew up we were permeated with them and were profoundly influenced by their ideological content. Gorky said that bourgeois culture is a mixture of honey and poison. We want to learn from bourgeois art and literature, but we must beware of the poison they contain. Most of them are strongly flavoured with individualism, anarchism, pessimism and other such negative elements. Many of us are connected with the well-to-do peasants in the countryside, and are easily influenced by them. When you add to this the fact that our work by nature is an individual activity and that we easily gain fame, it is not at all difficult for us to give rein to individualistic ideas and consider our successes personal achievements.

Artists and writers therefore, besides thoroughly solving the important problems involved in world outlook - such as how to correctly understand the general line of the Party, how to approach mass movements, how to build the idea of integrating the theory of uninterrupted revolution with the theory of the development of revolution by stages - must also rid themselves completely of individualist thinking. Within the Party individualism has never been tolerated. Today it has no place in any part of our society, because our present society is a socialist, collective society. Individualism is one of the major obstacles to the acceptance of socialism.

It should be said that the world outlook of the overwhelming majority of our artists and writers is correct, or basically so. Since the Yenan forum on art and literature a great many artists and writers have been continually remoulding their ideologies and merging with the masses. They either already have the communist world outlook or are working hard to transform them.

p. 40

selves into communists. Our great achievements in art and literature are inseparable from this. But there are still some people who have not solved the problem of their world outlook, or not entirely. This cannot but be reflected in their work, in their creative activities, in their art and literary criticism. Some deviations appear in our work sometimes, and some bad tendencies crop up in art and literature. In criticism, some articles reveal the bourgeois outlook, or even use the fallacious reasoning of revisionism. While these errors vary in extent and origin, all testify to the importance of a thorough remoulding of world outlook and certify to the truth that any departure from the thought of Mao Tse-tung, however slight, will result in one kind of error or another.

And so, in order to improve our work, to avoid mistakes and losses, we comrades in the world of art and literature must diligently study Marxism-Leninism and the thought of Mao Tse-tung, utilize them to arm ourselves ideologically and thoroughly remould our world outlook. We must diligently study and grasp the thought of Comrade Mao Tse-tung on art and literature; we must raise still higher the banner of this thought, so as to impel a bigger leap forward in every realm of art and literature.

p. 41


1 [to page 2] A major ideological weapon of the revisionists who, in their attempt to deny the class character of art and literature and to oppose putting them at the service of the cause of emancipation of the proletariat and the labouring people, interpret all historical and social phenomena in terms of an abstract, universal human nature.

1 [to page 7] Meaning the All-Russian Political Strike of October 1905.

Search website: