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 Art Students Denounce Revisionist Educational Line

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GREAT CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN PROGRESS

 Art Students Denounce Revisionist Educational Line

Source: Peking Review, No. 47, November 17, 1967
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org


    IN the current deep-going development of the great proletarian cultural revolution, people throughout the country are intensifying their criticism of China's Khrushchov. At Peking's Central Academy of Fine Arts, the revolutionary students and teachers are denouncing his revisionist line in education.
   The academy, a leading institution in the field of the fine arts, provides a vivid example of how the current phase of the cultural revolution, known as the revolutionary mass criticism campaign, is proceeding all over China today.
   Facts revealed during this campaign show that a handful of Party persons in authority taking the capitalist road were entrenched in the academy. Accusations raised by some of the graduating seniors are sharply critical. They began their studies in the first form of the middle school attached to the academy and have been in the academy for a total of eleven years. From their own experience they have shown how the handful of capitalist roaders acted as agents of China's Khrushchov in promoting a revisionist educational line in the academy.
   These capitalist roaders, they reveal, worked in collusion with various bourgeois reactionary "authorities" to exercise a bourgeois dictatorship; they opposed the Party's class line and discriminated against students from the families of workers and peasants. They did this under the pretext of wishing to "give equal opportunity to everybody."
   Party policy in enrolling students is to give priority to students from worker and peasant families. But the capitalist roaders insisted on enrolling students mainly from the big cities. They accepted the absurd and metaphysical bourgeois idea that students from the big cities are cleverer, and they acted accordingly. Reluctant to accept students from families of the working people, they gave preference to the children of bourgeois intellectuals, fallaciously claiming that they had inherent talent and were "good sprouts" to be developed into good artists. As a result, very few students from worker or peasant families were given this "equal opportunity" and admitted to the academy. The real intention of the capitalist roaders was to oppose the Party's class line.
   Our great leader Chairman Mao teaches that education must serve proletarian politics and be combined with productive labour. This has been proved to be the only correct policy for socialist education in China. The capitalist roaders however opposed this.
   Their opposition took many forms. One was the "studio tutelage system," introduced in 1962 under the pretext of "aiming at higher quality.*' In operating this system, the academy established 13 studios. Each was under a studio director who was, in fact, a bourgeois "authority." Every student, from his third year till graduation, was under the personal tutelage of an assigned studio director. The studio director was given a wide range of powers. He decided questions of promotion and demotion of students; his words carried much weight in the allocation of work for graduates and in the admission of students into the Communist Youth league or the Party. Some directors even demanded that they be given the "right" to choose the Party branch secretary.
   This was a typical example of a "school run by experts" as advocated by the bourgeois Rightists. It did away at the academy with the Party leadership and the principle of giving prominence to proletarian politics.
   The bourgeois "authorities" banned Mao Tse-tung's thought and political study, declaring it "irrelevant in the realm of art." Students described the atmosphere in the studios as decadent. There was an absence of revolutionary enthusiasm, and they were taught to hanker after fame and position. They were not trained to be successors to the proletarian revolutionary cause.
   The fundamental task of socialist education in China is to arm students with Mao Tse-tung's thought, but the capitalist roaders at the academy opposed giving prominence to Mao Tse-tung's thought. The bourgeois "authorities" even opposed posters with quotations from Chairman Mao and would not allow them to be put up in the classrooms. Students who studied Chairman Mao's works in their spare time were ridiculed as "trying to take up another profession" and "trying to be politicians."
   But on the other hand, the list of books for compulsory reading in the academy's middle school included such feudal and bourgeois works as the old Chinese drama Romance of the West Chamber, La Dame aux Cornelias by Alexandre Dumas, jr., and Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac.
   Under instructions from China's Khrushchov, an advocate of bourgeois individualism, the capitalist roaders taught the students: "You must first have high aspirations. Our aim is to develop you into master painters of the traditional Chinese school, master oil painters and master sculptors." They opposed Chairman Mao's teaching that "our educational policy must enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture."
   Under the pretext of awarding marks "on artistic merits alone, without political considerations," one studio director gave the full-mark of "5" to a painting by a student who had tried to prettify his father, a capitalist, by depicting the portly gentleman, walking-stick in hand, taking a leisurely stroll with his son.
   Another student portrayed his brother, a model peasant, surveying the farmland against the background of a rising sun shedding its brilliance over a Chinese countryside. In addition to its political message, this painting has the merit of being full of life and vitality. Yet (his same studio director was reluctant to award it even the second best mark, "4."
   Chairman Mao teaches that art and literature should serve the workers, peasants and soldiers. The academy of fine arts should therefore train students to meet this requirement, but the "authorities" opposed students making contacts with the workers, peasants and soldiers. They prescribed a rigid elementary training course which they claimed had taken them 20 years to master.
   They demanded that the students copy, uncritically, impressionist, expressionist and fauvist works and worship ancient Chinese and foreign painters.
   One student voiced this criticism: "Although they sometimes organized trips for us to sketch landscapes, trips which sometimes lasted several months, these were merely sight-seeing tours of famous mountains and picturesque spots. They never allowed us to get in touch with the workers, peasants and soldiers or with the socialist revolution. How could we identify ourselves with the masses in this way?"
   The young revolutionary students inspired by the thought of Mao Tse-tung, became dissatisfied with this kind of life and study which isolated them from the outside world and struggle. On a number of occasions, they rebelled. During vacations they went to factories and farms and took part in manual labour, in order to get to know the workers, peasants and soldiers better and to paint them. A group of students has recalled how, in the big leap forward movement in 1958, they went out to factories and villages and painted murals reflecting the soaring revolutionary enthusiasm of the people. Students also started their own steel smelting furnace, a paper mill, a print shop and a workshop for making marionettes.
   These creative efforts reflected their determination to break with the old school system and its restrictions, and to search out the best way of responding to Chairman Mao's directive that education must serve proletarian politics and be combined with productive labour.
   This revolution in the field of education, however, was stopped short by China's Khrushchov and his henchmen under the pretext that "such activities would interfere with and lower academic standards." The students were forced to close down their workshops.
   In their criticisms levelled against the revisionists, the students said: "When our academy was under the rule of the bourgeois educational line put forward by China's Khrushchov, we were victims of bourgeois education. We have had enough of this! Our own experience made us realize the profound significance of the statement by our great leader Chairman Mao that 'the period of schooling should be shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue.'"
   "During the unprecedented great proletarian cultural revolution we overcame obstacle after obstacle placed in our way by the handful of top Party persons in authority taking the capitalist road; we beat the bourgeois reactionary line; we broke through all the restraints of the old educational system so that we could take part in the struggle raging in our society. Only then did we really enter the classroom of class struggled
   Speaking in the mass criticism campaign in the academy, the revolutionary students and teachers have declared: "We are determined to smash the shackles of bourgeois education imposed on us by China's Khrushchov. We will turn the Central Academy of Fine Arts into a great school of Mao Tse-tung's thought."
  
  
  

 
 
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