To Make New Contributions for the People
April 12, 1967 — Enlarged Meeting of the Party Military Affairs Committee
I am just an ordinary Communist who has worked for Chairman Mao as a secretary for many years. My work principally has concerned international problems. I am a sort of roving sentry in the field of culture and education. What I have been doing is to subscribe to some magazines and newspapers, to leaf through them, and to pick out materials which I think noteworthy, including positive and negative materials. I finally submit them to Chairman Mao for reference. Generally speaking, my work has been carried out in this way for many years. I have had a little bit of additional work since last year. I am now also the secretary of the Standing Committee. As a matter of fact, the entire Central Cultural Revolution Group is nothing but a secretariat for the committee. Their work is that of sentries and staff officers. All they do is to make suggestions and to provide references for Chairman Mao, Vice Chairman Lin, Premier Chou En-lai, and members of the Standing Committee. That is all. I am not familiar with the military, and know very little about them. Today I’m only able to exchange my opinions with you, my comrades. If I am wrong, please criticize me. Our group is a comparatively democratic one, and we may sometimes even argue with one another. You are welcome to bring up whatever opinions you may have.
Chairman Mao is very strict with me. Most of all, he is a strict teacher to me. Naturally, he does not take my hands and make them do things the way he wishes, like he does to others. But he is still very strict to me. There are many things that I don’t know, perhaps you know more about Chairman Mao than I do. We live together, but he is the silent type; he does not talk much. Sometimes when he begins to talk, he talks primarily about politics, economics, culture, the international and domestic situation, whatever comes to mind. He sometimes talks about “little broadcasts” too, but not too much. If by chance the conversation turns to a certain cadre, Chairman Mao will always tell me that so and so had made great contributions and how good that person is; he never says anything bad about anybody. The Chairman has always been kind and tolerant toward his cadres. I, too, obey the Party’s discipline. I don’t like to listen to the “little broadcasts” either — the “little broadcasts” that have been so widespread. Thus I can be quite ignorant sometimes. To me the knowledge gained from such “little broadcasts” doesn’t seem to do any good at all. It is a waste of energy to listen to them. In the past, I used to read lots of reference materials in addition to many telegrams. How could I ever find time to listen to the “little broadcasts” or things of that nature. In regards to learning, I am no better than any of my comrades. I feel I haven’t learned well enough; I lack systematization in my learning. If there is anything that I am good at, that would be whenever I learn something, I stick to it and do it at once. In Yenan, when I heard Chairman Mao’s speech in a literature seminar, I learned something from that speech and carried it out immediately. Of course I didn’t understand the speech completely. I read it again in recent years and it remained very fresh for me. In this speech, it was stressed that literature should serve the workers, the peasants, and the soldiers; it should serve the proletariat; that much I do understand. For many years, I have been doing my very best in my own sphere according to the Chairman’s instructions. I am this kind of person. In comparison to other comrades, I am just a pupil in a primary school. I have much to learn from other comrades. Historically, the comrades have made great achievements for the people during the ten-year civil war, the war of resistance against Japan, the war of liberation, and the Resist-America Aid-Korea war. Even the enemy within and without the country recognized these achievements. In view of this, I have always respected members of the Red Army. Once there was a joke when I was in Yenan, someone pinned a red star on my cap. Later I was told that I was not allowed to wear it, so after a few days the star was taken off the cap. This was indeed very embarrassing. I didn’t quite understand then why that star had to be taken off. Nor did I understand that there had been some trouble because of that. I am very close to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. I still consider myself part of the military. Since I entered the city, I have wanted to retain my military status. I only worked for a very short time while in the military which was when Hu Tsung-nan invaded northern Shensi, I was working as an assistant political officer in the Red Army’s Headquarters Group of the Communist government in Yenan. After entering the city, I kept requesting that they not remove my military status, that is, not discharge me. In my mind, I feel that I will always belong to the military.
At the present moment, the comrades are making new contributions for the people in response to the call by Chairman Mao and the C.C.P. central authorities. The Chairman has told us not to live on the glory of past deeds but to make new contributions. He once told us a story at a meeting of the Central Committee. In the period of the “Warring States,” in the state of Chao the queen mother who was then in power excessively doted on her youngest son, Prince Chang An. At this time, the state of Chin made fierce attacks against Chao. The situation was critical and the queen had to request the state of Chi to send troops to break the seige. But Chi replied that it would not send troops unless Chao sent their young Prince Chang An to Chi as a hostage. But the queen refused to send her beloved son to Chi in spite of the advice of many ministers. Later she became extremely angry and said that whoever dared to make a suggestion like that would be spit upon by her. An official by the name of Chu Che asked to see the queen, who awaited him very angrily. Chu had a lame leg so he walked very slowly. On this occasion, he deliberately walked even slower than usual. After arriving there he inquired about the queen’s health without mentioning politics at all. Finally he told the queen that he wouldn’t be able to live much longer and that he had a 15 year old son for whom he hoped that she could arrange official employment. Only in this way could he die in peace. So the queen asked him whether a man could be that indulgent about the youngest son too. He told her that it was even more so. After listening to him, the queen’s anger vanished and she argued that women indulge their youngest sons much more than men do. Chu contradicted her by saying that the queen loved her daughter, the queen of Yen, much more than she did Prince Chang An. The queen asked Chu why he should think that that was so. Chu said, “when the princess left Your Majesty to marry the king of Yen, you held her in your arms and cried because it would be a long time before you could see each other again. After her marriage, you prayed for her at every sacrifice saying ‘Never come back, raise children in Yen so that they may become kings for generations to come.’ So you were concerned about her distant future too. This is not so with Prince Chang An.” The queen of Chao disagreed with Chu, who then asked her whether the descendants of the famous heirs of Chao still retained their titles. The queen said “No.” Chu asked again whether there were any descendants of famous heirs in other states who still retained titles. The queen answered there were none that she knew of. Chu said, “If there are none, why is this true? Isn’t it because of the fact that they occupied high positions without making appropriate contributions, that they were paid well without accomplishing anything and yet they were highly privileged, which means in modern language that they were bestowed with power. That was why they were not allowed to retain their titles any longer. Now that you have given Prince Chang An a very high position, much fertile land, and plenty of power without requiring him to make contributions to the country, when you pass away one day, do you think Prince Chang An will be able to retain his position in Chao? You don’t think about his future as you did for the queen of Yen, so you don’t love him as much as you do the queen of Yen.” After Chu told the queen mother all that, the latter gave immediate orders to prepare a hundred carriages for Prince Chang An to go to Chi. As a result, Chi sent troops to Chao at once. Thus the seige of Chao was raised. Chairman Mao told us that this story illustrates the redistribution of property and power of the landlord class at the initial stage when the slave system was replaced by the feudal system. This redistribution had been going on all the time, which was what was meant by the phrase “A gentleman’s privileges end after five generations.” We do not represent the exploiting class, we represent the proletariat and the working people. If we do not pay attention to making strict demands of our children, their characters can deteriorate and they may wish to restore the bourgeois class and thus the properties and power of the proletariat will be seized by [the] bourgeoisie. Most of the comrades who are present at this conference are probably quite powerful. Comrade Chen Po-ta often says that he is nothing but an ordinary insignificant citizen. I am even less important. But those who possess power should not abuse it. Now that the people have given us high positions, good pay, and plenty of authority, if we don’t make new contributions to them, how can we excuse ourselves before them? If it goes on like that for a long time, would they still want us? Chairman Mao has told us the same story many times and to our children too. They, however, did not quite understand it. For many years, I have enjoyed this story and read it many times. Since I don’t understand the literary style of writing, I had to look up the new words in the dictionary.
Therefore my conclusion is that the People’s Liberation Army must make new contributions to the people.
Ever since Chairman Mao told us that the P.L.A. ought to participate in the local Cultural Revolution, to support the leftists, the peasants, the workers, the military control, and military training, the P.L.A. has accomplished a lot of work. Their especially outstanding accomplishments have been seen in industrial and agricultural production. Among them, the support of the leftists has been a little bit more difficult and complicated than others. It is easy to make mistakes in this respect. As long as we keep our thinking clear and correct, standing on the side of the Party Central’s proletariat revolutionary line under Chairman Mao’s leadership, we will then be able to handle problems fearlessly. It won’t matter even if we do make some mistakes such as supporting the wrong people. We will then withdraw our support from them, making further investigations, finding the true leftists, and strengthening them. In regards to the organizations manipulated by bad people, we will isolate small groups of them, disintegrate them, and reeducate them. As a matter of fact, you are quite experienced as far as this point is concerned, and much of your experience is very good. Personally, I have been a participant on two teams fighting against such bad people. On the team in the south-central area, we have encountered some difficulties. There were some good points in the case of Comrade Huang Yung-sheng’s, because he didn’t kill anybody, nor did he fire a weapon, nor did he arrest many people in Canton. They had a very good experience. That is, do not expose those organizations manipulated by bad people too readily and proclaim them to be reactionary organizations; arrest those who prove to be bad instead. Allow the masses of these organizations to change their own leader. I think that is a rather good way to do it.
Comrades, we have nothing to be ashamed of in regards to the past Cultural Revolution. Some people have mentioned that they didn’t want to get involved. But according to Chairman Mao, to many units this so-called noninvolvement is an illusion, they have gotten involved already. The problem is not whether they are involved or not, it is which side they are on, whether they support the revolutionary faction or they support the conservative faction or even the right wing. In fact, some get involved from the left side, others from the right wing. Take the involvement from the left as an example. Last February, Comrade Lin Piao asked me to hold an art seminar for the troops. The main object of the seminar was to invite the “Reverent Gods” of the dictatorship of the proletariat to attack the representatives of the bourgeoisie hidden in the party. As a result, the reactionary “authorities” of the bourgeoisie were greatly frightened and disarmed. Why was the seminar so powerful and effective? Because it had the support of the military and because the bourgeoisie was afraid of the P.L.A. The above-mentioned case is what I meant by getting involved from the left. For the past few months, the entire P.L.A. has gained a lot of such good experience. According to comrades in Harbin, the military there has been involved from the left since last summer. There were also some who got involved from the right and thus made some mistakes. I think that most of the comrades who committed mistakes will eventually turn back. I will never believe that the entire world is entirely black. Some people just like to create such an impression. Maybe I am much too self-confident, and yet somehow I feel this is not so. You can see the coming summer harvest won’t be bad at all and the same is true of the autumn harvest because the revolution has inspired the revolutionary passion of the people. The way in which the military has devoted so much energy to set an example for the others is something which since the liberation I have never seen in more than ten years. After entering the cities, our troops have lived in barracks and thus become somewhat separated from the people. This will not do; we have to come out from the barracks and offices to restore our old tradition of uniting ourselves with the masses. When things were done in this way, it was said in some regions that “the old Eighth Route Army has come again.” It can thus be seen that we spent more time with the people than we do now. We have been somewhat separated from the people since our entry into the cities. During the Cultural Revolution, the military has done many good things; under Comrade Lin Piao’s leadership the military has gotten involved from the left at the very beginning.
Moreover, I wish to remind our comrades of the importance of the cultural and educational front. As far as this problem is concerned, our past knowledge was insufficient. We placed all the questionable and not especially capable cadres in positions of the cultural and educational front, which does not include the millions of intelligentsia we have absorbed. Consequently, there was a proliferation of bourgeois and feudal materials. We weren’t quite aware of the situation then, nor were we aware of its awesome effects. Although we fought against them a few times under Chairman Mao’s personal leadership, they were only individual battles, without the profound knowledge which we had this time. The influence of the cultural and educational front upon the consciousness of the people is indeed awesome. Any class, whether proletariat or bourgeois, which wants to seize political power must first exert influence upon public opinion. In the past, I didn’t pay enough attention to this point. . . . From now on, I hope that the responsible comrades of the military will really seize control in this respect.
For the past 17 years, there have been some good or comparatively good literary works which reflect the life of workers, peasants, and soldiers. Most literary works however, can be classified either as famous works, foreign works, or classics, which present a distorted image of the workers, peasants, and soldiers. In regards to education, almost all were of that kind. In addition to that, they added some views of Soviet revisionists. Thus we nurtured some youthful but old-fashioned artists in our literary and art circles. In the realm of education, we nurtured some intellectuals who had nothing to do with workers, peasants, and soldiers; who separated themselves from proletarian politics; and who displayed no concern about production. We have many more such members of the intelligentsia than we did before. Had there been no Cultural Revolution, who would be able to change the situation? We simply couldn’t touch them at all.
It has taken me a long time to become aware of this problem. When we first entered the cities, I was given a few assignments by the premier, so I encountered some things, later I resigned. In my mind, I have solved this problem only in certain respects. At that time, I was amazed by the fact that so many Hong Kong movies had been forced upon us. I tried my best to push them out, but they said that these movies belonged to the national bourgeoisie and that we should take good care of them. We were actually quite isolated then.
In this realm of ideology, we simply couldn’t afford peaceful coexistence. Once you begin to peacefully coexist, it will eat away at you. The premier can probably still recall that he told them: “The film production policy was aimed at the overseas Chinese. As long as you do not produce any anticommunist films, we will give you money.” Money was what they wanted! At that time, we only knew that they wanted to make investments; nobody realized that they wanted to poison us. They were later pushed out, really and truly pushed out. During those years, I had been sick and in order to restore my health the doctor told me to participate in some cultural activities, to exercise my senses of hearing and eyesight. In this way, I comparatively systematically made contact with a portion of the problems of literature and art. I felt that this problem was really big. There were many films and dramas which contained a lot of bourgeois and feudal materials or a distorted image of workers, peasants, and soldiers. The superstructure is the reflection of the economic foundation. Conversely, it will protect or destroy the economic foundation. If that is the case, it will then destroy our socialist economic foundation. In 1962, a lot of films produced in imperialist countries such as Hong Kong, the U.S., Great Britain, France, Italy, etc., and those from revisionist countries appeared in China. There are numerous theatrical groups in this country. Take Peking opera for example. I am a devotee of the opera and yet I know it is out of date. Look at how the Chinese opera groups have taken advantage of this cultural capital of ours! Now these groups are all over the country; even in Fukien there are 19 of them. As a result, they play nothing but themes about emperors, kings, generals, prime ministers, literary geniuses, and beauties. I was born in Shantung, where, during my childhood, the local opera in Hopei was called the “Ta Hsi” (the proper drama). After my investigations in recent years, I found that the Chinese opera has now become “Ta Hsi” instead. In Shantung alone, there are 45 Chinese opera groups, not including the illegal drama groups (the black drama groups) or the amateur drama groups. Even the Shaohsing opera groups in Shanghai have scattered all over the country. What a strange thing! But they did not want to put on shows about the heroism of workers, peasants, and soldiers who have made such great contributions to the country. Nor did they want to show the bravery of “Long March,” the old Red Army which had participated in the 25,000 li long march, nor did they want to describe the war of resistance against Japan. How many heroes there had been! And yet these theatrical groups neglected them. We have the same problem in the movies too. Consequently, I have gradually become aware of this problem. In 1962, I mentioned this problem to the four ministers and deputy ministers of the Central Propaganda Department and the Culture Department, but nobody wanted to listen to me. The article which fought against and extinguished the idea “thrillers with ghosts in it are harmless” was written in Shanghai with the assistance of Comrade Ko Ching-shih, who supported us. But it didn’t work in Peking then. The criticism of the play “Hai Jui’s Dismissal from Office” was also supported by Comrade Ko Ching-shih. Comrades Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan had run great risks for it and they had to keep this secret too. I had made some investigations before the combined performance of the revolutionary modern Chinese operas and participated in some art work. I felt our criticism of literature was also questionable. I had some materials which I hadn’t shown to the Chairman, because I didn’t want to overburden him. One day a comrade wished to show the Chairman Wu Han’s “The Biography of Chu Yuan-chang.” I said “No, the Chairman is very tired. All Wu wants is payment for his work and fame, so let him publish his article; it will be criticized later. I wanted to criticize his play “Hai Jui’s Dismissal from Office” too. The Chairman then said, “But I want to read it and I want to protect a few historians too.” Later, I found out that the idea had been suggested to the Chairman by Feng Chen, who said that I had blackened the circle of historians completely, and I had thought that there was nothing good about these historians. That was a groundless lie. I asked the Chairman, “Can I reserve my opinion?” The Chairman said, “Of course.” Feng Chen was risking his life to protect Wu Han. While the Chairman was quite aware of this, he didn’t want to say it openly. Because Chairman Mao had allowed me to reserve my opinion, I went ahead in preparing that article. But I kept it secret for seven to eight months and corrected it numerous times. Every time Comrade [Chang] Chun-chiao came to Peking, a counterrevolutionary would judge that it had something to do with the criticism of Wu Han. Surely it did have something to do with that, but we also made preparations for some play, we listened to tapes, and made alterations in the music. We also hid the article concerning the criticism of “Hai Jui’s Dismissal from Office.” We knew that once they found out about it, they would try to prevent it from being published.
Comrades! If you had known all this, you would have been very angry. We have a dictatorship of the proletariat here and yet they would not let us publish one of our own reviews. How furious we were! When an article of our organization was published in Shanghai, it did not appear in Peking until 19 days later. Later the Chairman became angry and wanted to publish a pamphlet about it. Even when the pamphlet came out, Peking wouldn’t allow its publication. I was very much surprised. What would it matter if we did criticize Wu Han? I did not realize until I was told by the premier that once a person like Wu Han was exposed, there would be many more like him. That was where the real difficulty lay. Once they dominate the field of literature and education, they want to be our dictators too. Generals, please do not think that it is the field of literature and education only. If we don’t concern ourselves about it, they will take over. Even when we want to take charge of it, they try everything humanly possible to seize control from us. Therefore, we must grasp control, genuinely grasp control. If you had realized this and genuinely seized the power, a situation like this could not have occurred. Of course, “when things are at their worst, they begin to mend”; for this reason, the Cultural Revolution was launched. They were indeed very good at pretending observance, yet they were vicious double-dealers. They didn’t mind how much they harmed other people. There was a play the subject of which the Chairman wished to change into armed struggle, but they wouldn’t agree. It took a very long time just to settle that problem alone. Let’s think about it. Can the Chinese revolution succeed without armed struggle? Would it now be possible for us to have this conference here? I think it is out of the question. In this regard, your knowledge is probably more profound than my own. To this end, we must maintain effective control of the cultural and educational front. We must boldly assign revolutionary youth to the key positions. You see, without these youth, it would have been impossible to expose the traitorous clique, all 62 of them, who occupied leading positions in this front. What a great contribution these youth made!
While Chairman Mao is still here, some people are already not obeying him. When we were in Shanghai, the situation in the East China Bureau and in the Shanghai Municipal Bureau was even more delicate; they didn’t pay attention to what the Chairman had told them, even less to what I had to say. But there was a person whose words were like the Bible to them. At that time, I felt that this was really strange. Now when I think about it, it doesn’t seem strange at all. But when I found out that a certain Red Guard, who had been appointed a leader of the ex-Municipal Party Committee, had now changed so much in his attitude, I was completely astonished. I had wholeheartedly wanted him to take as much work as possible during our conference. This, Comrade [Yeh] Chun, Comrade [Chen] Po-ta, Comrade [Chang] Chun-chiao, and Comrade [Yao] Wen-yuan all knew very well. But the Red Guard refused to yield. There was another traitor who had defected to the enemy side, but who had eventually given himself up. This matter was also exposed. The criticisms of “Hai Jui’s Dismissal from Office” and the “Three-Family Village” were written by Comrade Yao Wen-yuan and his team, but there were people who claimed that these criticisms were written by them instead so that they might be able [to] claim the credit for themselves.
By disclosing a little about how I came to know these problems, my aim is to help you to realize what has been happening in the realm of culture and education. I wish to stress the point to the comrades that in addition to seizing control of the Party, politics, military, and economy, we must also conscientiously seize control of culture. We should investigate and study the matter thoroughly. We want to learn as much as possible because each different line has its own rules and peculiarities. But this is not very difficult. As long as the proletariat is in political command, surely such a fortress can be overcome. We have overcome some of these fortresses already. Peking opera was one, the ballet which the entire world held to be magnificent was another, and the symphonies were a third. They were overcome one by one, so we know that there is not really any difficulty after all. What we have done has worldwide influence. The bourgeoisie is a dying class which manifests modern life, brazenly using rotten and decadent things to benumb and to eat away at the people. The revisionists used to pretend a little, which was disgusting. But during recent years, they also became brazen; they didn’t pretend any more, they showed us what they wanted. I wonder whether it would be helpful to tell you how I became familiar with this problem and how I struggled, and I hope that it may contribute to your seizing and maintaining control over the educational and cultural system.
We should carry out struggle, criticism, and reform of the educational system and of the contents of the curricula of all the universities and middle schools, which will be a tremendous mission. So far, we have had no experience in this field. Art and literature should be transformed too. In 1964, I told some people in art and literary circles that the peasants had provided them with food, the workers had provided them with clothes and houses, the P.L.A. and the police force had provided them with national defense, and yet they, the artists, did not even want to portray the workers, the farmers, and the soldiers. I asked them whether they still had even the slightest trace of conscience. I grasped the film Nan Cheng Pei Chan (To Fight All Over the Country). Comrade Su Yu, I remember I negotiated with you about the costumes. General Chen, do you still remember? Though there were some drawbacks in the film, it was basically good. That film was concretely grasped by me, was organized and created by you; it was corrected too. Have you forgotten? [Chen Yi said, “I remember.”] Ah! so you still remember!
Finally, I want to briefly talk about the education of our children. We should not treat our children as our private property; we must treat them as the wealth of the people, the descendants of the people. If one treasures one’s own children as the treasures of heaven, he inevitably ignores children of other people, the children of the working class, and views them as if they were nothing. This is very wrong. People with such an attitude are only a minority; the majority of the people are not like that. Most of our comrades are able to correctly treat their children. Take Chen Shih-chu for example. He was able to unwaveringly punish his own son. Naturally this doesn’t mean that we should overdo disciplining them; but they must be properly disciplined; they must be told to learn, to think, and to be educated. Comrade Chen Shih-chu, have you disciplined your child yet? [Chen said, “Yes.”] In regards to this question, a minority of comrades has been excessive. This is what I meant by the problem of “Prince Chang An.” What did that word “privileges” mean? There were many who were in high positions without merit, being well paid without accomplishment, and highly privileged. What are their privileges then? They are bicycles, cameras, radios. Some of them even drive automobiles. Most important of all is the fact that their children are conscious of the rank of their parents. Some people think that is the way to show their children, but they are doing harm to them instead. It is certainly no easy thing to educate our children to make them genuine revolutionary successors. On the one hand, this is due to our own educational background; on the other hand, it was brought about by the influence of the society. Not all of our children are that good; although they eat at the public dining hall, they, however, still think themselves special, and they are influenced by society. We must discipline them very strictly. If we are insistent, they might be better people in the future. As far as the influence of society is concerned, take our child for example. When she was studying in primary school, she told me one day that her teacher had mentioned to her a book entitled Tun Tun Ti Ching Ho. What a terrible teacher! So I told her that it was wrong, that it should be Ching Ching Ti Tun Ho (Quiet Flows the Don). I said, “Do you want to read this book?” She answered, “Yes, Mama.” I told her that when she read it, she should regard it as Soviet historical material, or as the history of Soviet wars. I told her that it was not a good book because it used a traitor and counterrevolutionary as its hero. But she argued, “Mama, can you say that? Everybody else says it is good.” The reason she criticized me like that was because the book was not allowed to be criticized then. I told her not to tell others about it. However, I told her that I had studied the book and that that was my personal opinion only. I don’t know what she thought after that. Anyway we must shoulder a little political as well as ideological responsibility for our children. Take the French novel The Red and the Black for instance. The French revisionists have extracted the political and the economic contents of the novel and made a pornographic movie of it. We must study all materials and explain this point to the young people and the people who work with us. Although my daily work is not very great or important in comparison to that of other comrades, still my work load is very heavy, and I am not very healthy either, so I cannot spare too much time for the education of my children. But whatever I have discovered, I will study and then explain to my children. Meanwhile, I think parents should treat their children as equals. They should not treat them in the feudal way by regarding themselves as lords of the house. I think we should follow Chairman Mao’s example in this respect; because it is very democratic at our home, the children are allowed to talk back to their father. Sometimes we make them talk back on purpose. When they do, we will then explain to them. But most of the time they don’t because they have respect for their parents. It is good for them to argue. Let them rebel a little. I don’t think it will do any harm at all. What good does it make to make them say “Yes, Papa” “Yes, Mama” all the time? I don’t approve of that. Yet I feel to be strict to one’s children is to love them.
I have mentioned the above two points before and am now repeating them for your reference only. If I am wrong, please criticize me. That is all.
Source: Issues and Studies (Taipei), vol. vi, no. 10 (July 1970).
Also: Marxism.org Jiang Qing Archives