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 Study "In Memory of Norman Bethune"

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Source: Peking Review, No. 8, February 17, 1967
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

 In the great proletarian cultural revolution —a revolution which is shaking the nation and the whole world, there has been an unprecedented new upsurge in the creative study and application of Chairman Mao's works among the commanders and fighters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the hundreds of millions of the revolutionary masses of China. Chairman Mao's close comrade-in-arms Comrade Lin Piao not long ago called on the whole army to study Chairman Mao's "three constantly read articles" (Serve the People, In Memory of Norman Bethune and The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains), He said: ''We must study the 'three constantly read articles' as maxims. These must be studied at all levels. We must apply what we study so as to revolutionize our thinking." Warmly responding to this call, the revolutionary masses arc diligently studying and applying these three brilliant works, making great efforts to remould their thinking, destroying self-interest and promoting devotion to the public interest, and revolutionize themselves to the very depths of their souls.
 In response to requests from many of our readers, we are publishing Chairman Mao's "three- constantly read articles." We are also carrying comments on them and other material to assist in their study. Serve the People appeared in Peking Review, No. 2, 1967. — P.R. Ed.





Study "In Memory of Norman Bethune"

   The following is an abridged version of material compiled and published by the "Jiefangjun Bao" (Liberation Army Daily) on December 21, 1966, the 21th anniversary of the original publication of Chairman Mao's article "In Memory of Norman Bethune," as a guide to aid cadres and fighters of P.L.A. companies in the study of this work. — Ed.
IN Memory of Norman Bethune was written by Chairman Mao on December 21, 1939, not long after the death of Comrade Bethune.
   Norman Bethune, an eminent surgeon, was a member of the Canadian Communist Party. In 1938. when the German and Italian fascists invaded Spain, he went to the front to Serve the Spanish people's anti-fascist struggle. When the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45) broke out in China, he led a medical team which arrived in Yenan in March or April of 1938. There Chairman Mao received him and had a cordial talk with him. Later he went to the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Military Area and became that area's medical adviser. Under the difficult conditions of war, he shared good days and bad with the cadres and fighters of the Eighth Route Army (predecessor of the Chinese People's Liberation Army) and for nearly two years worked hard and selflessly among the sick and wounded. He had made a glorious contribution to the cause of the Chinese people's liberation. While treating a patient he contracted blood poisoning and died on November 12, 1939, in Tanghsien County, Hopei Province.
   Chairman Mao wrote his brilliant work to commemorate this great internationalist fighter.
   In Memory of Norman Bethune is a great and classic document of communist education.   It is an essential course of basic study for every revolutionary in establishing a communist world outlook. Citing the glorious example of Comrade Bethune, this brilliant work profoundly and yet in an easily understandable way explain what is that spirit of internationalism and communism which every proletarian revolutionary fighter should possess. For twenty years and more, this great work has exerted an incalculable influence in educating and inspiring the broad masses of the people and cadres of China. The great thought it contains has nurtured Lei Feng (a communist fighter of the P.L.A. who has died) and many others of Lei Feng's type. The communist spirit of "utter devotion to others without any thought of self" and of "absolute selflessness" extolled by Chairman Mao in this article is of tremendous significance for the bringing up of new communist men, for transforming the spiritual outlook of our people and for promoting our country's socialist revolution and socialist construction.
   In accordance with Chairman Mao's teachings, Comrade Lin Piao has enjoined us time and again to eradicate self-interest and foster the concept of public interest and establish the communist world outlook of wholehearted devotion to the public interest. The current great proletarian cultural revolution in China, in the last analysis, is a great ideological revolution to eradicate bourgeois ideology and foster proletarian ideology and to eradicate self-interest and foster public interest. This great work provides us with a powerful ideological weapon to eradicate self-interest and foster public interest, transform our world outlook and revolutionize our thinking. Each comrade must study this article still better in the course of struggle, eradicate self-interest and foster public interest in a thoroughgoing way, sweep away the filth in the depth of our souls, speed up the transformation of our world outlook, actively participate in and defend the great proletarian cultural revolution and resolutely carry the socialist revolution through to the end.
   In studying this great work, we should pay special attention to grasping the following points:
1.    Eradicate Self-interest and Foster Public Interest, Transform Our World Outlook, and Become New Communist Men

   Calling on us to learn from Comrade Bethune, Chairman Mao points out: "We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man's ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people."* Chairman Mao has here stated the basic requirement for a revolutionary in becoming a new communist man, that is, he must possess Comrade Bethune's spirit of absolute selflessness and establish the proletarian world outlook of wholehearted devotion to the public interest.
   A man's basic, general, outlook on the world is his world outlook. Each man has his own world outlook, which directs all his thoughts, words and actions. Chairman Mao says: "This change in world outlook is something fundamental. ..." A change in world outlook is a change in class stand and class sentiments, a change in the basic attitude towards life, society and all things, a change in the essentials of one's thought. When a man's world outlook changes, a fundamental change necessarily occurs in his thinking and style of Work. Every revolutionary must pay the greatest attention to the transformation of his world outlook.
   Man's world outlook is the reflection of his social being: it has a class character. Chairman Mao points out: "... in the matter of world outlook, however, today there are basically only two schools, the proletarian and the bourgeois. It is one or the other, either the proletarian or the bourgeois world outlook." The kernel of the proletarian world outlook is the concept of complete devotion to the public interest, the concept of serving the people wholeheartedly, the communist spirit of utter devotion to others without any thought of self. The kernel of the bourgeois world outlook is the concept of self-interest, selfishness, advancing one's own interests at the expense of others; and extreme individualism. Therefore, for us revolutionaries, in seeking to transform our world outlook and revolutionize our thinking, the root question is that of eradicating self-interest and promoting devotion to the public interest, eradicating the bourgeois ideology of individualism and fostering the proletarian ideology of collectivism.
   Only when a man completely uproots the bourgeois concept of self-interest and firmly establishes the proletarian concept of devotion to the public interest can he really discard all thought of seeking personal fame and gain, be afraid of neither hardship nor death, and become utterly devoted to others without any thought of self, serve the people wholly and entirely, and become very useful to the people. A new society needs men of a new type to build it. It is the demand of the socialist age that the people of society be gradually transformed into new communist men. With largo numbers of such new people, we can safely resist the corrosion of revisionism and prevent the restoration of capitalism, victoriously complete the socialist revolution and socialist construction and gradually reach communism.
   The eradicating of self-interest and the fostering of the public interest in the ideological sphere is a long, hard process of struggle. Such struggle will not cease as long as classes and class struggle exist. Private ownership has been in existence for several thousand years; the concept of self-interest of the exploiting classes which upholds private ownership has the deepest influence over people. It is a stubborn enemy which permeates everything. It may be thoroughly repudiated on one particular question and in one particular form today, but tomorrow it will appear again on another question and in another form. Therefore, the struggle to eradicate self-interest and foster public interest needs to be carried out repeatedly and continually, throughout one's whole life. Each comrade, new or old, of whatever class origin, must wage such a struggle conscientiously.

2.   Develop the Internationalist Spirit and Regard the World Revolution as One's Own
Responsibility

   Chairman Mao teaches us: "What kind of spirit is this that makes a foreigner selflessly adopt the cause of the Chinese people's liberation as his own? It is the spirit of internationalism, the spirit of communism, from which every Chinese Communist must learn." Chairman Mao here explains to us this important point: A communist fighter must be an internationalist and he must make the world revolution his responsibility.
   The communist cause is the collective cause of the international proletariat. Only when the whole of mankind is liberated, can the proletariat achieve its own complete liberation. Proletarian revolution means putting an end to imperialism, capitalism and all systems of exploitation throughout the world. This is both a very great and very arduous task. Only when the proletariat and the people of the whole world unite in mutual support and wage a common struggle, can this great cause be carried to completion. A country's revolution depends mainly on the efforts of its own people and on their hard struggles, but support and assistance from the international revolutionary forces-are also an indispensable condition. Without support and aid in various forms from those forces, it is impossible for any country to achieve victory in a genuine people's revolution. It is likewise impossible to consolidate victory after it has been won.   It was on the basis of relying on the efforts of its own people and with sympathy and support from the world's peoples that China's revolution won its great victory. Chairman Mao has said: "The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty." Following Chairman Mao's teachings, the Chinese people, displaying a profound proletarian internationalist spirit, have consistently given firm support and assistance to the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed nations and peoples of the world.
   The modern revisionists with the leading clique of the C.P.S.U. at their centre abandon revolution themselves and forbid others to make revolution. Selling out the interests of the revolutionary people, they have ganged up with U.S. imperialism in a vain attempt to stamp out the raging flames of the revolution of the world's people. On the question of Vietnam's struggle against U.S. aggression, they pursue a double-faced counter-revolutionary policy of sham support but real betrayal. They have completely betrayed proletarian internationalism, and have become the accomplices and lackeys of U.S. imperialism. Today, revolutionary people all over the world turn their hearts to Peking and to Chairman Mao. In these circumstances, the Chinese people have to undertake still greater internationalist duties. Chairman Mao has said: "China is a land with an area of 9.600.000 square kilometres and a population of 600 million people, and she ought to have made a greater contribution to humanity." Every one of us comrades should fully understand the present international situation and the great task we are shouldering. We should vigorously develop the proletarian internationalist spirit, stand resolutely in the forefront of the revolutionary struggle of the world's people, firmly support their revolutionary struggles, steadfastly carry the struggle against imperialism and modern revisionism through to the end and unswervingly carry the world proletarian revolution to completion.
   To develop the proletarian internationalist spirit means to link the Chinese revolution with the world revolution, to unify one's efforts to be a revolutionary at homo and internationally, and combine patriotism with internationalism. Every one of us comrades must endeavour to revolutionize our thinking in order to do ever better the revolutionary task we are undertaking, constantly achieve new successes and do a better job in our country's socialist revolution and socialist construction so that our country will become more prosperous and stronger with each passing day. This is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and also constitutes effective support to the revolutionary struggle of the world's people. Each of us revolutionary fighters must maintain unfailing vigilance, step up preparations against war, be ready at all times to smash any aggression against China by U.S. imperialism and its accomplices and make the defence of our motherland impregnable.
   The great proletarian cultural revolution now under way in our country aims to eradicate the roots of revisionism and guarantee that our socialist motherland will never change colour but for ever forge ahead victoriously. This is an issue of prime importance affecting the destiny and future of our Party and state as well as those of the world's people. We must resolutely implement the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, resolutely oppose the bourgeois reactionary line, thoroughly strike down the handful of persons in the Party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road, and carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end.

3.   Develop the Communist Spirit and a Boundless Sense of Responsibility in Work

   Chairman Mao has said: "Comrade Bethune's spirit, hi* utter devotion to others without any thought of self, was shown in his boundless sense of responsibility in his work and his boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people. . . . Every Communist must learn this true communist spirit from Comrade Bethune."
   We are all working in the interests of the people and the revolution. Every achievement we make guided by the brilliant light of Mao Tse-tung's thought is a contribution to the Chinese revolution and the world revolution. A boundless sense of responsibility in one's work is therefore demanded of us by the interests of the revolution, and is an important indication of a revolutionary fighter's loyalty to the Party, the people and the revolution.
   A boundless sense of responsibility in one's work is the spirit taught us by Chairman Mao, the spirit of serving the people "wholeheartedly," "wholly" and "entirely," the spirit of "being conscientious," of "selflessness, working with all one's energy, wholehearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work," the spirit of being " 'oxen' for the proletariat and the masses, bending their backs to the task until their dying day." It demands that we work neither for fame nor gain, that we be fearless of hardship or death, keep the whole situation in mind, set ourselves high standards and put exacting demands on ourselves, work diligently, conscientiously and with the greatest care, uphold the truth and correct our mistakes, accomplish all our tasks with greater, faster, better and more economical results, pay attention to summing up our experiences and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing.
   Chairman Mao has pointed out: "Comrade Bethune was a doctor, the art of healing was his profession and he was constantly perfecting his skill. ..." A boundless sense of responsibility in one's work means to follow the example of Comrade Bethune, to love whatever job one is given and try to be proficient in whatever one does, and work wholeheartedly for the revolution. The revolutionary cause needs all kinds of specialized work. No matter what one's specialty, one must give prominence to politics, be firm in putting politics in command and giving first place to political and ideological work, and oppose a purely technical point of view. It is absolutely necessary, under the condition of putting politics in command and ideology to the fore, to work hard to improve and perfect one's professional skill. This is an expression of one's sense of responsibility to the cause of the revolution.
   A boundless sense of responsibility in one's work is based on a communist ideology. Only great thinking can give rise to great strength. Only by striving resolutely for the great ideal of communism, linking one's work with the entire cause of the revolution, and wholly merging one's personal interests with those of the revolution, can one achieve a high degree of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary sense of responsibility, only so can one put all one's energy into ones work. This was precisely what Comrade Bethune did. He said: "My sole desire is to contribute more." Once, after some strenuous work, he said: "I want to give every minute to our important work." He never forgot his work even in his last moments. He said: "I am very worried about the wounded at the front. I must get back to the front when I have the strength to carry on." In his will he suggested to the leadership that "surgical teams be organized immediately for medical aid at the front." His thoughts at that time even turned to such questions as where medicines could be bought at lower prices.

4. Develop the Communist Spirit of Boundless Warm-Heartedness Towards AH Comrades And the People

   Comrade Bethune's "boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people" which Chairman Mao praised is another important indication of a revolutionary fighter's communist consciousness.
   All our revolutionary comrades are class brothers and we are joined together by the great cause of communism. All that we do is to serve the people. We are all servants of the people. Therefore, we must treat all our comrades and the people with boundless warmheartedness. Only so can we unite all comrades and the people, bring all positive factors into play and create a great force to fulfil that great and unprecedented historical cause of mankind — communism.
   To show boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people means to follow Chairman Mao's teachings: "All people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other," that is, "serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves from the masses," that is, they "should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any individual, and more concerned about other than about himself," that is, "leave ease and comfort to others and take the heavy loads themselves; . . . [be] the first to bear hardships, the last to enjoy comforts." In this respect, Comrade Bethune is a glorious example for us. He has said: 'What is the responsibility of a doctor, a nurse, an orderly? There is only one. That is to make your patients happy and help them to recover their health and strength. You must look after each one of them as if he were your brother or your father — because in truth they really are. They are even closer to you than your brothers or parents — they are your comrades. On all matters they must be placed to the very fore." This was what he said and did. In saving and treating the Eighth Route Army's wounded, he disdained fatigue and danger; in taking care of them, he showed the utmost concern and consideration. Once, at a critical moment when the enemy launched a surprise attack, he stayed on to finish operating on a wounded soldier. He said to a wounded man who advised him to leave quickly: "If we die, we die together. If we live, we live together. I cannot leave you unattended."
   Such moving incidents fully show that only when one has established the ideology of proletarian collectivism, putting the interests of the revolution and the people first and ridding oneself of selfishness, is it possible to develop deep class feelings towards all comrades and the people and really share the people's joys and sorrows, to be anxious at a comrade's backwardness and pleased at his progress; to be willing to sacrifice oneself for others and find pleasure in helping others; If a person puts his individual interests above all else and regards them as being of paramount importance, and is always thinking first of how things will affect him, then he cannot have real concern and love for his comrades and the people. These persons are like the people Chairman Mao criticized: "They feel no warmth towards comrades and the people but are cold, indifferent and apathetic." Even if at times such people do show a certain "warmth" towards others, they do so only for their own individual ends and not for the interests of the revolution. Starting from the standpoint of personal interests, the inevitable outcome will be boasting, flattery and touting among comrades, vulgarities which damage the revolutionary organs.
   Our boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people comes from the mass viewpoint. Only in the firm belief that "the masses have great creative power" can one love the masses, rely on them, boldly mobilize them, respect their initiative and wholeheartedly welcome the revolutionary mass movement. If a person treats the masses as if they were ignorant and incapable and looks upon himself as a man of wisdom and resourcefulness then he would not only have no boundless warm-heartedness towards the masses but will put himself above the masses acting as a lord and master, monopolizing everything; and when the masses really get mobilized, he will be afraid of them, suppress them and put himself in a position of opposing the masses.
   Our boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people is definitely not unprincipled "peace and affection" but is on a principled basis. This basis is Mao Tse-tung*s thought. We must show the greatest and most wholehearted concern to those who really uphold Mao Tse-tung's thought; we must cherish and help them. In regard to problems of non-proletarian thoughts among them, we must use the method of "unity-criticism-unity" to achieve both clarification of ideology and unity among comrades. As for all those who oppose the Party, oppose socialism and oppose Mao Tse-tung's thought, we must carry out uncompromising struggles against them and resolutely overthrow them. Only so can we consolidate unity among the revolutionary people, steadily expand the revolutionary forces, thoroughly defeat all our class enemies and carry the revolution on from victory to victory.
  
  
  

 
 
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