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 Always Marching Along the Road of Serving the Workers, Peasants And Soldiers

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In Commemoration of the 28th Anniversary of "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art"

Always Marching Along the Road of Serving the Workers, Peasants And Soldiers

— Study of the "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art"

Source: Peking Review, No. 24, June 12, 1970
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org


by the Writing Group of (he Revolutionary Committee of the Kwangsi Chuang Autonomous Region

    TWENTY-EIGHT years ago, our great leader and the revolutionary teacher of the proletariat Chairman Mao issued the Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art. This is a brilliant, epoch-making Marxist-Leninist document.
   In this great work, Chairman Mao, by virtue of the thoroughgoing proletarian world outlook, comprehensively, systematically and penetratingly summed up the historical experience of the struggle between the two lines on the literary and art front, pointed out the. fundamental orientation for proletarian literature and art to serve the workers, peasants and soldiers, defined the most correct proletarian revolutionary line in literature and art and solved in theory and in practice a series of questions of principle concerning the development of the movement for proletarian revolution in literature and art, thus bringing Marxist-Leninist world outlook and theory on literature and art to a completely new stage. The Talks is a great programme or the proletarian cultural revolution and a guide to action for the revolutionary literary and art workers as well as ail revolutionary intellectuals in remoulding their world outlook.
   Like a brilliant beacon, this great work of Chairman Mao's has in the past 28 years illuminated the way for the masses of revolutionary literary and art workers to advance victoriously along the road of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers, tremendously inspiring the revolutionary people in their struggle to thoroughly .smash the reactionary feudal, bourgeois and revisionist culture. Its influence has been great and far-reaching with regard to the Chinese proletariat's seizure and consolidation of political power and the promotion of the world revolutionary movement,
   History has entered the militant 70s. China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has already won tremendous victory* the movement for proletarian revolution in literature and art is surging forward. The re-study of this brilliant work of Chairman Mao's is of major importance to us in thoroughly criticizing the counter-revolutionary revisionist line in literature and art pushed by the renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi and his agents in this field — Chou Yang, Hsia Yen, Tien Han and Yang Han-sheng—and in conscientiously carrying out the struggle-criticism-transformation on this front so that literature and art will always advance along the road of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers.

I

   Chairman Mao explicitly pointed out in his Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art: "All our literature and art are for the masses of the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers; they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their use." This great teaching of Chairman Mao's represents the fundamental orientation of proletarian literature and art, and constitutes the fundamental distinction between the proletarian literature and art and the literature and art of all exploiting classes.
   The masses of workers, peasants and soldiers are the true makers of history as well as the true creators of literature and art. Ours is a new epoch in which the workers, peasants and soldiers are the masters. The proletariat and the working masses are grasping in their own hands the destiny of world history, and are creating a new world without imperialism, without capitalism and without any system of exploitation. Literature and art that persevere in serving the workers, peasants and soldiers will have boundless vitality, be capable of encouraging and educating the people and will be welcomed by the masses of the people, whereas the literature and art which run counter to the principle of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers are against the tide of history and are bound to be spurned by them.
   Chairman Mao teaches us: "This question of 'for whom?' is fundamental; it is a question of principle.” (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art.) On the literary and art front, fierce struggles centring round the question of for whom have been waged between the two classes and the two lines. Acting on the instructions of their sinister master Liu Shao-chi and abusing the power they had usurped, the vicious chieftain Chou Yang and company in literary and art circles had frantically opposed Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line in literature and art and energetically pushed the sinister counter-revolutionary revisionist line. The so-called "literature and art of the entire people" was the major slogan of this pernicious line. Chou Yang and company alleged that the stage had been reached in which literature and art could become "the undertaking of the entire people" and that literature and art should "serve all types of people."
   Chairman Mao pointed out in his Talks: "In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and arc geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics." Literature and art have always been an instrument of class struggle. In socialist society classes, class contradictions and class struggle still exist. The bourgeoisie vigorously opposes the literature and art which are of value to the proletariat. Naturally what the bourgeoisie welcomes and applauds is harmful to the proletariat. There is absolutely no such things as "literature and art of the entire people" that "serve all types of people"! This tattered banner—"literature and art of the entire people" — flaunted by Chou Yang and company is nothing new; it is only a refurbished version of "the literature and art that transcend classes" peddled by Chiang Kai-shek's hired literati Liang Shih-chiu and his ilk, which Chairman Mao discredited long ago in his Talks. Hitting the nail on the head,  Chairman Mao pointed out then: People like Liang Shih-chiu "talk about literature and art as transcending classes, but in fact they uphold bourgeois literature and art and oppose proletarian literature and art." (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art.) The "literature and art of the entire people" which Liu Shao-chi and Chou Yang and company advocated arc-in fact feudal, bourgeois and revisionist literature and art and are against the Party and socialism. Such reactionary literature and art served their plot to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and to restore capitalism.
   In order to deceive the masses, Chou Yang and other counter-revolutionary revisionists sometimes raised the cry of writing about the workers, peasants and soldiers and including such roles in stage performances. In practice, however, they distorted the images of the workers, peasants and soldiers and threw mud in their faces. They either slandered them as backward elements, varlets and ruffians or filled our socialist literary and art stage with feudal, bourgeois and revisionist ghosts and monsters in the guise of workers, peasants and soldiers. The opera Liu San Chieh ("Third Sister Liu") painstakingly fostered by them in Kwangsi was a typical example which pretended to eulogize the working people but in fact slandered them.
   In the fierce struggle between the two classes and the two lines on the literary and art front, Comrade Chiang Ching led the revolutionary literary and art workers in attacking and capturing the stubborn fortresses— Peking opera, ballet and symphonic music — in which feudal, bourgeois and revisionist rule prevailed, and subsequently creating the model revolutionary theatrical works radiant with Mao Tsetung Thought, thereby ushering in a new era of the development of proletarian literature and art.
   The model revolutionary theatrical works have driven the representatives of the exploiting classes and all monsters and ghosts off the stage. This represents the emancipation of the workers, peasants and soldiers on the literary and art stage, and gives expression to their earnest aspirations. These productions portray and eulogize with enthusiasm worker, peasant and soldier heroes and heroines who are armed with Mao Tsetung Thought and in the process encourage and strengthen them tremendously. These works fully embody Chairman Mao's correct principles "Make the past serve the present and foreign things serve China" and "Weed through the old to bring forth the new." Peking opera traditions and classical art forms such as the ballet and symphonic music which originated in foreign countries have been transformed or innovated, in line with the requirements of revolutionary contents, into the art forms loved by workers, peasant, and soldiers in whose service they are now performed. From politics to the arts, from content to form and from the creative thinking to method of writing, these model revolutionary theatrical works have set a brilliant example of revolutionary literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers. These art treasures reflect our great era of Mao Tsetung. They constitute a powerful spiritual weapon that inspires the Chinese people and the revolutionary people of the world to wage valiant struggles to bury imperialism, revisionism and all reaction.
   Earth-shaking changes have taken place in the sphere of literature and art since the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. But "the defeated class will still struggle. These people are still around and this class still exists." A handful of class enemies who are not reconciled to their defeat are still attempting to use their reactionary literature and art in putting up a last-ditch resistance. At the same time, there are some people in the literary and art ranks who have not yet fully settled for themselves the question of literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers because their world outlook has not been thoroughly remoulded and because the pernicious influence of the sinister counterrevolutionary revisionist line in literature and art has not been completely eliminated. This is expressed concentratedly in the following: Whether one portrays with proletarian feelings the lofty images of the worker, peasant and soldier heroes or follows the old path of engaging in "truthful writing" and in presenting "middle characters" based on his unreformed bourgeois or petty-bourgeois feelings; whether one performs a play on a revolutionary theme and be a revolutionary or contends for a title role, seeks prominence and attempts to steal the limelight; whether one goes among the workers, peasants and soldiers to serve them or wants the workers, peasants and soldiers to serve oneself; whether one creates new and original socialist and proletarian works or sticks to outdated conventional practice and clings tenaciously to the old contents and forms. These questions are essentially questions of whether one serves the workers, peasants and soldiers wholeheartedly or strives for personal fame, gain and position. The masses of literary and art workers should wage an arduous struggle and commit themselves to long-term efforts in order to really solve for themselves ideologically the question concerning the direction for literature and art to serve the workers, peasants and soldiers.

II

 In the Talks, Chairman Mao earnestly taught us: Our literary and art workers "must . . . shift their stand; they must gradually move their feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and soldiers, to the side of the proletariat, through the process of going into their very midst and into the thick of practical struggles and through the process of studying Marxism and society. Only in this way can we have a literature and art tat arc truly for the workers, peasants and soldiers, a truly proletarian literature and art." This great teaching of Chairman Mao's is the only correct road for revolutionary literary and art workers to follow in order to serve the workers, peasants and soldiers.
   Facts prove that only by integrating with the workers, peasants and soldiers, conscientiously remoulding their world outlook and becoming revolutionaries will literary and art workers be able to understand the mental world of the heroes of the proletariat and have the political enthusiasm to portray their images. Otherwise they cannot put on revolutionary theatrical works well or portray the heroic images of workers, peasants and soldiers, or when they do portray them, "the clothes are the clothes of working people but the faces are those of petty-bourgeois intellectuals" (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art), and the images of workers, peasants and soldiers they create are inevitably distorted and presented in an ugly way.
   For a long time, Liu Shao-chi, Chou Yang and their gang opposed the literary and art workers" study of Mao Tsetung Thought and their going deep among the workers, peasants and soldiers. Declaiming the "special nature of literary and art work" with all their might, this gang separated the workers in this field from the workers, peasants and soldiers. It shut them up in isolated courtyards, let them take the bourgeois "authorities" and "drama despots" as their teachers, and advised them to learn from "deadwood" and "foreign dross" and experience feudal, bourgeois and revisionist life. All this was done under the guise of "cultivating the bearing of an artist." Poisoned by such "spiritual opium," many people in the literary and art ranks fell behind or stopped following the road of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers, while some were even corrupted to the core. The powerful Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution shattered Liu Shao-chi's counterrevolutionary revisionist line in literature and art and blazed a broad road for literary and art workers to integrate themselves with the workers, peasants and soldiers. Following Chairman Mao's great teaching, revolutionary literary and art workers have been going to factories, villages and army units to remould their world outlook in the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment, and have achieved outstanding results.
   In order to genuinely integrate with the workers, peasants and soldiers, it is necessary to place the living study and application of Mao Tsetung Thought above everything else, strive to arm oneself with Chairman Mao's great theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, study the "three constantly read articles" as maxims, and continuously fight self and criticize revisionism. Only in this way can one wipe out the poisonous vestiges of the sinister counter-revolutionary revisionist line in literature and art and resist being corrupted by all sorts of decadent bourgeois ideas. Only in this way can one have the same stand, feelings and language as the proletariat and the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers, can one move his feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and soldiers, to the side of the proletariat and persevere in the orientation of making literature and art serve the workers, peasants and soldiers.
 To truly integrate with the workers, peasants and soldiers, one must stop putting on airs, respectfully take them as teachers, modestly become their willing pupil and learn from them sincerely. The workers, peasants and soldiers are the masters of our country.
 They cherish boundless love for Chairman Mao, study Mao Tsetung Thought well and have a firm proletarian class stand. Their consciousness of class struggle and the struggle between the 1wo lines is high and they have acquired rich experience in the three great revolutionary struggles. Revolutionary literary and art workers must accept re-education by them, thus pulling into practice Chairman Mao's great leaching that "only by being their [the masses'] pupil can he be their teacher," and completely remould their thoughts and feelings in order to shoulder the militant task of using literature and art as weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy. (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art.)
   If one wants to genuinely integrate with the workers, peasants and soldiers, he must completely solve the problem of relationship between the individual and the masses, discard the so-called "bearing of an artist," serve the workers, peasants and soldiers wholeheartedly and be an "ox" for the masses. It is necessary to live, light and study together with the workers, peasants and soldiers, breathing the same breath, sharing the same fate, loving what they love and hating what they hate. If one considers himself exceptional and believes he is pure and lofty, he will be unable to effectuate a basic change in his thoughts and feelings and make any progress in remoulding his world outlook even if he lives among the masses.
   If you want to truly integrate with the workers, peasants and soldiers, "you must make up your mind in undergo a long and even painful process of tempering." (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art.) Through practical struggles, literary and art workers should learn from the workers, peasants and soldiers their spirit of revolutionary heroism and revolutionary optimism of fearing neither hardship nor death and seeking neither fame nor gain, and gradually establish the proletarian world outlook of serving the people heart and soul.

III

   Chairman Mao pointed out In the Talks: "Since our literature and art are basically for the workers, peasants and soldiers, 'popularization' means to popularize among the workers, peasants and soldiers, and 'raising standards' means to advance from their present level." Popularizing among the workers, peasants and soldiers and advancing from their present level is the fundamental principle which the literary and art workers must follow in serving the workers, peasants and soldiers. It is only through constant popularization mid raising of standards in the course of the practical struggle of the workers, peasants and soldiers and in keeping with their needs, capacity to receive and the direction of their advance that proletarian literature and art can flourish and develop and truly serve them. Mao Tsetung Thought is the soul of the proletarian revolution. To popularize among the workers, peasants and soldiers can only be popularization under the guidance of Mao Tsetung Thought: to raise standards from their present level can only be an elevation under the guidance of Mao Tsetung Thought. The popularization of revolutionary literature and art actually means sweeping away all the old feudal, bourgeois and revisionist literature and art from every corner, and ensuring that Mao Tsetung Thought firmly occupies the positions in literature and art and that the proletariat exorcises nil-round dictatorship in the literary and art sphere. Therefore, popularization must be given first place. At same time, because the revolution continues to develop and the people advance, literary and art workers must do a good job of raising standards on the basis of popularization to meet the needs of workers, peasants and soldiers.
   In creating the model revolutionary theatrical works, the principle of combining popularization with raising Standards is applied. These works portray the brilliant images of worker, peasant and soldier heroes, express their thoughts and feelings and speak what is in their hearts. They are both works of popularization which are "needed and can be readily accepted by the workers, peasants and soldiers themselves," and treasures resulting from raising standards "in the direction in which the workers, peasants and soldiers are themselves advancing" and "in the direction in which the proletariat is advancing." (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art,) We should lake the model revolutionary theatrical works as examples to conscientiously carry out the tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation on the literary and art front.
   At present, guided by Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line in literature and art and propelled by the model revolutionary theatrical works, a movement for proletarian revolution in literature and art is gaining momentum. This is a widespread popularization movement to further liberate literature and art from the grip of a few "specialists." Chairman Mao taught us in the Talks: Our specialists in literature and art "should make close contact with comrades engaged in the work of popularizing literature and art among the masses. On the one hand, they should help and guide the popularizers, and on the other, they should learn from these comrades und, through them, draw nourishment from the masses to replenish and enrich themselves." Professional workers in literature and art must follow this teaching of Chairman Mao's, plunge without hesitation into the surging movement for proletarian revolution in literature and art. integrate with the workers, peasants and soldiers well, do their best in the work of popularization and raising the standard and better serve the workers, peasants and soldiers.
   Literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers is expressed through specific works of literature and art and artistic images. Therefore, the key lies in doing a good job of creation. Revolutionary literary and art workers must study the valuable experience provided by the model revolutionary theatrical works, study the literature and art produced by the masses and learn to use the creative method advocated by Chairman Mao, that is, the method of combining revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism. They must portray with utmost enthusiasm the heroic images of workers, peasants and soldiers abounding with the brilliance of Mao Tsetung Thought. Revolutionary literary and art workers should also make great efforts to create literary and art works of various kinds which are guided by Mao Tsetung Thought, which serve the workers, peasants and soldiers, and in which there is unity of political content and truthfulness and also of revolutionary content and artistry. They .should strive to create excellent works worthy of our great country, great Party, great people and great, army.
   Literary and art workers must have a revolutionized work-style if they are to serve the workers, peasants and soldiers. To carry out socialist revolution and socialist construction, the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers fight day and night at the forefront of the three great revolutionary movements. Revolutionary literary and art workers must display the revolutionary spirit of enduring great hardships and develop a revolutionized, militant work-style. They should also persevere In the main orientation of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers and in using the flexible and varied forms of small detachments, small stages and short items to bring revolutionary literature and art directly to the fields, workshops and army companies at appropriate times and serve at the "homes” of workers, peasants and soldiers.
Chairman Mao very incisively pointed out in the Talk: "Today, anything that is truly of the masses must necessarily be led by the proletariat. Whatever is under the leadership of the bourgeoisie cannot possibly be of the masses." To place literary and art work under the leadership of the Party is a fundamental question in Implementing the principle of literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers. Hoisting the reactionary banner of "freedom of creation," Liu Shao-chi, Chou Yang and their gang frantically opposed the leadership of I he Party and turned the entire field of literature and art into an "impenetrable and watertight" independent kingdom. We must firmly remember this historical lesson and, in the course of struggle-criticism-transformation, conscientiously grasp well the work of purifying the class ranks and of Party consolidation and building on the literary and art front, ensure that Mao Tsetung Thought strikes deep roots in the sphere of literature and art, guarantee the all-round implementation of Chairman Mao's revolution a i-y line and the Party's principles and policies, and ensure that leadership in the field of literature and art is placed in the firm grasp of the proletariat.
   Let us always raise high the great red banner of Mao Tsetung Thought, follow our great leader Chairman Mao closely, and always continue the revolution and advance valiantly in the direction of literature and art serving the workers, peasants and soldiers so that proletarian literature and art will develop and flourish and the dictatorship of the proletariat will be consolidated and strengthened!

(Slightly abridged translation of an article published in "Hongqi," No. 6, 1970)


Source: Peking Review, No. 24, June 12, 1970
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org



  
  
  

 
 
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