Stages of History | Revolutionary Cultural Productions
Literature and Art Workers Hold Rally for Great
Proletarian Cultural Revolution
Peking Review, no. 50, December 9, 1966, pp. 5-9
* Important speeches were made by Comrades Chou En-lai, Chen Po-ta and Chiang Ching.
* The rally called upon the revolutionary fighters in literature and art throughout the country to hold high the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought, give prominence to proletarian politics, resolutely implement the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, thoroughly criticize and repudiate the bourgeois reactionary line, unite on the basis of the principles of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung's thought, complete the tasks of struggle, criticism and transformation and strive to create the most splendid new proletarian literature and art in human history.
* The Military Commission of the Party's Central Committee appointed Comrade Chiang Ching adviser on cultural work to the Chinese People's Liberation Army and decided to incorporate the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking and three other units into the P.L.A.
More than 20,000 revolutionary workers in the field of literature and art from Peking and other parts of China held a rally for the great proletarian cultural revolution in the magnificent Great Hall of the People in Peking on the evening of November 28.
Comrade Chou En-lai, Standing Committee Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Premier of the State Council; Comrade Chen Po-ta, Standing Committee Member of the Political Bureau and leader of the cultural revolution group under the Party's Central Committee; and Comrade Chiang Ching, first deputy leader of the cultural revolution group under the Party's Central Committee and adviser on cultural work to the Chinese People's Liberation Army, attended the rally and made important speeches.
The rally took place amid the excellent situation which prevailed following the eight separate reviews of a total of more than 11 million members of the mighty army of the cultural revolution by Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the great teacher, great leader, great supreme commander and great helmsman of the Chinese people, and at a time when tremendous victories had been won by the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao. The rally became a pledge of a general offensive by China's mighty revolutionary contingents in literature and art against the handful of persons in authority in literary and art circles who took the capitalist road, and against the counter-revolutionary revisionist line in literature and art which they represented. It is bound to push the great proletarian cultural revolution forward in the world of literature and art with great vigor and guide the victorious advance of the mighty revolutionary contingents in literature and art throughout China in the direction indicated by Chairman Mao Tse-tung.
Comrade Chen Po-ta's Opening Address
Comrade Chen Po-ta presided over the meeting. In his opening address he said:
Today's meeting is one of great significance. Historically, cultural revolutions, in most cases, begin in the field of literature and art. This is also true of the great proletarian cultural revolution we are now carrying out.
Mao Tse-tung's thought is the guide for China's great proletarian cultural revolution. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has creatively developed the Marxist-Leninist theory of literature and art. Using the proletarian world outlook, he has systematically and thoroughly solved the problems on our literary and art front. At the same time, he has systematically and thoroughly blazed for us a completely new trail for the proletarian cultural revolution.
At the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in 1962, Chairman Mao Tse-tung called for taking firm hold of the class struggle in the ideological field. Following this great call and under the direct guidance of Mao Tse-tung's thought, there has been an upsurge in reforming Peking opera, ballet, symphonic music and other art forms -- revolutionary reforms designed to make the ancient serve the present, to make foreign things serve China and to weed through the old to let the new emerge. Peking opera and other art forms have been used to portray the epic of the heroic struggles of the masses led by the Chinese proletariat. This new creation has given Peking opera, ballet, symphonic music and other art forms a new lease of life, not only making them completely new in content but greatly improved in form and different in appearance from before. Plays on contemporary revolutionary themes have appeared on the stage everywhere. The new proletarian literature and art has an unprecedented appeal for the masses. The reactionaries and counter-revolutionary revisionists, however, revile and bitterly hate this new literature and art for no other reason but because the role of this new literature and art will greatly enhance our people's political consciousness and will greatly strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system in our country.
I want to say here that, among the comrades who have persisted in this policy of revolution in literature and art and waged unremitting struggles against the reactionaries and counter-revolutionary revisionists. Comrade Chiang Ching has made outstanding contributions.
History has smashed the pipe dream of the reactionaries and counter-revolutionary revisionists. The revolution in literature and art after the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Party became the real beginning of our country's great proletarian cultural revolution
The history of literature and art is full of sharp conflicts. The conflicts between the new and the old and between the modern and the ancient are reflections of the class struggle in society. The bourgeois in the period of the bourgeois revolution used the new literature and art of the time as an important weapon in destroying feudalism. Likewise, the proletariat today must use its own new literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers as a weapon in destroying the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. After the conquest of political power by the proletariat, the bourgeoisie is not reconciled to quitting the stage of history. Chairman Mao has often pointed out to us that the overthrown bourgeoisie is trying, by all methods, to use the position of literature and art as a hotbed for corrupting the masses and preparing for the restoration of capitalism. Therefore, our tasks in the field of literature and art are not lighter but heavier. Our leadership on the literary and art front should not be weakened but, on the contrary, strengthened still further. In order to fulfill their glorious tasks, our revolutionary literary and art organizations must carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end!
It is utterly wrong to deny that there are conflicts in literature and art so long as classes still exist. In the future communist society, when classes have been eliminated and class contradictions and struggles no longer exist, there will still be conflicts between the new and the old, conflicts which we cannot yet foresee completely or are impossible for us to foresee now. Such conflicts, naturally, will also find their expression in literature and art.
Speech by Comrade Chiang Ching
Comrade Chiang Ching received a thunderous ovation from the entire rally when she went forward to speak.
She described how she came to understand the importance of the great proletarian cultural revolution. Comrade Chiang Ching said: A few years ago, when my fairly systematic contact with certain sections of literature and art began, the first question that arose in my mind was why were plays about ghosts being staged in socialist China? Then also, I was very surprised to find that Peking opera, insensitive as it was to reflecting reality, produced Hai Jui Dismissed from Office, Li Hui-niang and other plays showing seriously reactionary political tendencies. And under the fine pretext of "rediscovering tradition," many works were written portraying emperors, kings, generals and prime ministers, scholars and beauties. There was great talk throughout the literary and art world about "famous plays", "foreign plays" and "ancient plays" and it went out of its way to present them. The atmosphere was choked with emphasis on the ancient as against the contemporary, with worship of the foreign and scorn for the Chinese, with praise or the dead and contempt for the living. I began to feel that if our literature and art could not correspond to the socialist economic base, they would inevitably wreck it.
Comrade Chiang Ching went on: In the wake of the changing struggle between the new and the old in the political and economic fields over a number of years, new literature and art, countering the old, have also made their appearance. New items have been created even in Peking opera, formerly considered the most difficult to reform. As you all know, Lu Hsun was the great standard-bearer leading the cultural revolution over thirty years ago. More than twenty years ago, Chairman Mao defined the orientation for literature and art as service to the workers, peasants and soldiers and he posed the question of weeding through the old to let the new emerge.
To weed through the old to let the new emerge means to develop new content which meets the needs of the masses and popular national forms loved by the people. As far as content is concerned, it is in many cases out of the question to weed through the old to let the new emerge. How can we critically assimilate ghosts, gods and religion? I hold it is impossible, because we are atheists and Communists. We do not believe in ghosts and gods at all. Again, for instance, the feudal moral precepts of the landlord class and the moral precepts of the bourgeoisie, which they considered to be indisputable, were used to oppress and exploit the people. Can we critically assimilate things which were used to oppress and exploit the people? I hold it is impossible, because ours is a country of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We want to build socialism. Our economic base is public ownership. We firmly oppose the system of private ownership whereby people are oppressed and exploited. To sweep away all remnants of the system of exploitation and the old ideas, culture, customs and habits of all the exploiting classes is an important aspect of our great proletarian cultural revolution.
Comrade Chiang Ching continued: As for the old forms of art, our attitude can neither be nihilist nor one of total acceptance. A nation must have its own forms of art, its own artistic characteristics. It is wrong to be nihilist and not take over, in a critical way, the best there is in the art forms and artistic characteristics of our motherland. On the other hand, it is also wrong to take everything as positive and not weed through the old to let the new emerge. As to the outstanding forms of art of the various nations throughout the world, we must act in accordance with Chairman Mao's instructions about "making foreign things serve China" and work at weeding through the old to let the new emerge.
Comrade Chiang Ching said: Imperialism is moribund capitalism, parasitic and rotten. Modern revisionism is a product of imperialist policies and a variety of capitalism. They cannot produce any works that are good. Capitalism has a history of several centuries; nevertheless, it has produced only a pitiful number of "classics." They have created some works modeled after the "classics," but these are stereotyped and can no longer appeal to the people, and are therefore completely on the decline. On the other hand, there are some things that really flood the market, such as rock-and-roll, jazz, strip-tease, impressionism, symbolism, abstractionism, fauvism, modernism -- there's no end to them -- all of which are intended to poison and paralyze the minds of the people. In a word, there is decadence and obscenity to poison and paralyze the minds of the people.
I'd like to ask: Isn't it necessary to make a revolution and introduce changes if the old literature and art do not correspond to the socialist economic base and the classical artistic forms do not entirely fit the socialist ideological content? (shouts of yes! yes! from the audience) I am sure most comrades and friends will agree it is necessary, but it must be conceded that this involves serious class struggle and is a very painstaking and fairly difficult job. Fear of the difficulties involved was greater than it need have been among people in general because for a long time the anti-Party, antisocialist leadership of the old Propaganda Department of the Party Central Committee and the old Ministry of Culture thought up many "reasons" for opposing this revolution and undermining the reform. There was also a handful of people with ulterior motives who attempted to undermine the revolution and oppose change. The reform of Peking opera, the ballet and symphonic music was brought about only after breaking through these difficulties and obstacles.
Comrade Chiang Ching pointed out that the nationwide great proletarian cultural revolution China had moved into since last May had affected almost the whole sphere of ideology. She touched on the question of the sending of cultural revolution work teams to various organizations and said this organizational form, of sending work teams, in the great proletarian cultural revolution was erroneous. And what these work teams had done in the course of their work was still more erroneous! Instead of directing the spearhead against the handful of people in authority within the Party who were taking the capitalist road and against the reactionary academic "authorities," they turned the spearhead against the revolutionary students. The question of what the spearhead of the struggle should be directed against was a cardinal question of right and wrong, one of principles of Marxism-Leninism, of Mao Tse-tung's thought! As early as June this year our Chairman Mao made the point that work teams should not be sent out hastily, but a few comrades sent out work teams hastily without asking Chairman Mao's permission. But it is necessary to point out that the question lies not in the form of the work team but in the principles and policy which it follows. In some units no work teams were sent in, and the original persons in charge were relied upon to conduct the work, yet mistakes were made there nevertheless. On the other hand, some work teams followed correct principles and policy and did not make mistakes. This helps to illustrate the real question at issue.
Comrade Chiang Ching said: Chairman Mao received a million young revolutionary fighters on August 18. How well he respected the initiative of the masses, trusted them and cared for them! I felt I had learnt far from enough. Then, afterwards, the young Red Guard fighters turned outward to society and vigorously began destroying the old ideas, culture, customs and habits. We, the comrades of the Cultural Revolution Group under the Party Central Committee, rejoiced. But a few days later, new problems cropped up. We immediately gathered the facts and investigated and were therefore able to keep up with the constantly developing revolutionary situation. This is what I have described as striving to follow Mao Tse-tung's thought closely on the one hand, and striving to catch up with the spirit of daring and courage, the revolutionary rebel spirit, of the young revolutionaries on the other.
Comrade Chiang Ching then concentrated on the great cultural revolution in the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking. She said that this company was the first unit in Peking to undertake the glorious task of reforming Peking opera. Directly addressing the opera company, she said: Guided by Mao Tse-tung's thought, in a matter of a few years you have indeed achieved good results in the work of creating operas on contemporary revolutionary themes, and you have thus set an example to the whole country in the reform of Peking opera.
She said: In order to enable plays on contemporary revolutionary themes to be presented at the National Day celebrations, we had many discussions and we supported your performances and opposed the wrong views by which attempts were made to negate your achievements in revolution. We did a certain amount of explanatory work in various circles to enable you to present your Sha Chia Pang (a Peking opera on a contemporary revolutionary theme) and to get on to the stage the Peking operas The Red Lantern, Taking the Bandits' Stronghold, Sea Harbour, and Raid on the White Tiger Regiment, the ballets The Red Detachment of Women and The White-Haired Girl, and symphonic music Sha Chia Pang, etc.
We explained that these creative works were an important triumph of the great proletarian cultural revolution and of Chairman Mao's thinking on literature and art in the service of the workers, peasants and soldiers. And, as facts have proved, the broad masses have recognized our achievements. The revolutionary Marxist-Leninists and the revolutionary people all over the world have placed a high evaluation on them. Chairman Mao and his close comrade-in-arms Comrade Lin Piao, Comrade Chou En-hi, Comrade Chen Po-ta, Comrade Kang Sheng and many other comrades have affirmed our achievements and given us great support and encouragement.
She said: I hope that after we have gone through the struggle and tempering in this great proletarian cultural revolution, we will continue ceaselessly to integrate ourselves with the workers, peasants and soldiers. In this way, we will surely be able to gain new achievements in the reform of Peking opera and other branches of literature and art! Our task is difficult. But we must bravely shoulder this glorious, but arduous, revolutionary task.
Comrade Chiang Ching said that in the great proletarian cultural revolution in the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking there was a very sharp and very complicated class struggle, a struggle for power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. She said: You have as yet not exposed and criticized the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of the former Peking Municipal Party Committee in a really penetrating and extensive way. Here it is necessary in all seriousness to point out that certain leading members of the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking have not yet seriously drawn a clear-cut line between themselves and the former Peking Municipal Party Committee. They have neither exposed the crimes of the former Peking Municipal Party Committee in a penetrating way nor made a serious criticism of their own mistakes. They implemented the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of the former Peking Municipal Party Committee. Resorting to double dealing, and by either soft or tough methods, they resisted Chairman Mao's instructions, and by double-faced tactics carried out all kinds of obstruction and sabotage to undermine the reform of Peking opera. They played many infamous tricks in their attacks both on you and on us.
The heinous crimes in which the former Peking Municipal Party Committee, the old Propaganda Department of the Party's Central Committee and the old Ministry of Culture ganged up against the Party and the people must be exposed and liquidated in a thoroughgoing way. Likewise, the bourgeois reactionary line within our Party which opposes the proletarian revolutionary line of the Party's Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao must be exposed and criticized in a thoroughgoing way. Otherwise, it will be impossible to safeguard the fruits of our successful revolution.
Certain leading members of the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking must make a clean breast of what they have done and reveal what the others have done in a thoroughgoing way. This is the only way, and there is no other way out. If they really do it after full criticism by the masses, if they "repent genuinely and make a fresh start," they will still be able to take part in the revolution. If they really try to correct their errors and begin anew, if they return to the correct road of the Party, it is still possible for them to strive to become good cadres.
She said: Since the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of the former Peking Municipal Communist Party Committee, the old Propaganda Department of the Party's Central Committee and the old Ministry of Culture has not yet been thoroughly criticized and repudiated, and since the effects of this counter-revolutionary revisionist line on your company have not yet been wiped out, it is impossible for the great proletarian cultural revolution to be conducted thoroughly in your company. And there is the possibility that the movement in your company may go astray and certain people with ulterior motives may usurp the leadership. This would have very harmful effects on the future development of your company.
She added: It is not the case in your company that all the cadres, Party members and Youth League members have made mistakes, or that all the cadres have made the same kind of mistakes. They have to e treated differently, by presenting the facts and reasoning things out, with the attitude of "learning from past mistakes and avoiding future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient." They should be allowed to correct their mistakes and devote themselves to the revolution.
She emphasized that in the great proletarian cultural revolution, the struggle had to be conducted by reasoning and not by coercion or force. There must be no beating of people. Struggle by coercion or by force can only touch the skin and flesh while struggle by reasoning can touch the soul.
She said: I suggest that you hold fast to the general orientation in the struggle, to the correct principles and policy formulated by the Central Committee of the Party and Chairman Mao, oppose the handful of people in authority who are taking the capitalist road, gradually expand and strengthen the ranks of the Left in the course of the struggle, and unite with the overwhelming majority, including those who have been misled, and help them on to the correct road.
Referring to the question of "minority" and "majority," she said one could not talk about a "minority" or "majority" independently of class viewpoint. It is necessary to see who has grasped the truth of Marxism-Leninism, of Mao Tse-tung's thought, who is really maintaining a proletarian revolutionary stand, who is genuinely carrying out the correct line of Chairman Mao. Separate and concrete analysis should be made with regard to each different organization.
In conclusion Comrade Chiang Ching said: I hope that all comrades in the company will raise still higher the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought, give prominence to proletarian politics, resolutely carry out the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao and thoroughly criticize and repudiate the bourgeois reactionary line, unite on the basis of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, of Mao Tse-tung's thought, and complete the three tasks -first, of struggling against and crushing those in authority who are taking the capitalist road; second, of criticizing and repudiating the reactionary bourgeois academic "authorities" and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes; and third, of transforming education, literature and art and all other parts of the superstructure not in correspondence with the socialist economic base-and that you will make the No. 1 Peking Opera Company of Peking an exemplary revolutionary company which is truly proletarianized and militant!
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