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W5-Mao+Zedong-Yan+an+Talks - MAO TSE-TUNG(1893-1976 The...

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Unformatted text preview: MAO TSE-TUNG (1893-1976) The followtng excerpt from Mao's “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” is taken tram the 1935 official English translation published in Peking. Subheeds have been added. —K.Y.H. 15mm Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art ms PURPOSE or THE meant-sacs The purpose of our meeting today is precisely to fit art and literature properly into the whole revolutionary machine as one of its component parts. to make them a-powertul weapon for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and annihilating the enemy and to help the people to fight the enemy with one heart and one mind. What are the problems to be solved in order to achieve this objective? 'I think they are the problems of the standpoint. the attitude and t’heaudience of the artists and writers and of how they should work and how they should study. Standpoint: Our standpoint is that of the proletariat and the broad masses of the people. For members of the Communist Party this means that they must adopt the standpoint of the Party and adhere to Party spirit and Party policies. Are there any of our artists and writers who still lack a correct or clear under- standing on this point? I think there are. Quite anumber of our comrades have often departed from the correct standpoint. Attitude: Our specific attitudes toward specific things arise from our stand» point. For example: Should we praiseor should we expose? This is a question of attitude. Which of these two attitudes should we adopt? I should say both and it all depends on whom you are dealing with. There are three kinds of people: the enemy. the allies in the united front and our own people, namely. the masses and their vanguard. Three different attitudes must be adoptedto~ wards these three kindsol people. With regard to'our enemies. Le. the‘lapaneae' imperialists and all other enemies of the peoplfithetask of revolutionary artists and writers. is to «upon their cruelty and chimery. point out the tendency of their inevitable defeat and enoou rage the anti-Japanese army and people to light thorn with one heart and one mind and overthrow. them resolutely. In our- attitude towards our various allies in the united lront. we ought to promote unity as well as criticism. and there should be difi'arent kinds of unity and diliere‘nt kinds of criticism. We support their resistance to Japan and'oommend' them for their achievements. But we ought to criticize them it they donot‘put. 29 30 Literature of the People's Republic of China up an active resistanceto Japan. We must resolutely cembat anyone if he opposes communism and the people and moves farther down the path of reac. tion with every passing day. As to the masses oi the people. their toll and struggle. their army and their party. we should of course praise them. The people also have their shortcomings. Many among the proletariat still retain petty-bourgeois ideas, while both the peasantry and the urban petty bout-gent. sie entertain backward ideas~these are the burdens handicapping them in their struggles. We should spend a long time and be patient in educating them and helping them to remove the burdens from their backs and to fight against their own shortcomings and errors so that they can take big strides forward. In the course of their struggles they have remolded or are remolding them- selves. and our art and literature should depict this process of remolding. We should not take a one-sided view and mistakenly ridicule them or even be hostile tow'rards them unless they persist in their errors. What we produce should enable them to unite. to advance and to stride forward with one heart and one mind. discarding what is backwardand promoting what is revolution- aryiit certainly should not do the omits. Audience: For whom are the artistic and literary works produced? Since the audience tor our art and literature is made up oi workers. peasants. soldiers and their cadres. the problem arises of how to understand thesapeople and to know them well. [Our writers and artists] boiled to understand language. i.e., they locked on adequate knowledge at the rich and Lively language of the masses of the people. Many comrades love to talk about “transformation along the popular line.“ but what does that mean? It means that the ideas and feelings of our artistsand writers should be fused with those of the broad masses of workers. peasants and soldiers. if you want the masses to understand you and want to become one with them. you must be determined to undergo a long and even painful process of remolding. in this connection 1 might mention the transfor- mation oi my own feelings. I began as a student and acquired at school the habits of a student; in the presence of a crowd of students who could neither fetch nor carry for themselves. I used to feel it undignified to do any manual labor. such as shouldering my own luggage. At that time it seemed to me that the intellectuals, were the only clean persons in the world. and the workers and peasants seemed rather dirty beside them. 1 could put on the clothes of other intellectuals because i thought they were clean. but I would not put on clothes belonging to a worker or peasant because I felt they were dirty. Having become a revolutionary i found myself in the same ranks as the workers. peasants and soldiers of the revolutionary army. and gradually I became lamlliar with them and they with me too. It was then and only then that a fundamental change occurred in the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ieelings implanted in me by the bourgeois schools. I came to feel that it was those unremolded intellectuals who were unclean as compared with the workers and peasants. while the workers and peasants are after all the cleanest persons, cleaner than both the bourgeois and the petty-bourgeois intellectuals, even though their hands are soiled and their test smeared with cow dung. This is what is meant by having one's feelings transformed. changed from those of one class into those of another. From Yenan to Peking 31 THE PROBLEMS What then is the crux of our problems? 1 think our problems are basically those .of working for the. moms and of how to work for them. It these two problems are not solved. or {are} solved inadequately. our artists and'wrlters will be ill-adapted to their circumstances and unfit for their tasks. - Problem 1: For whom are our art and literature intended? This problem has. as a matter of fact. been solved longago by Marxists. and especially by Lenin. As far back as 1905 Lenin emphatically pointed out that our art and literature should "serve the millions upon millions of working people.” It might seem that this problem has been solved by our comrades Working in art and literature in the anti-Iapanese base areas. and needs no further discussion. But actually this is not the case Many comrades have by no means arrived at a clear-cut solution of this problem. Consequently their ideas concerning the guiding principles of art and literature have been more or less at variance with the needs of the masses and the demands of actual struggles. Quite true. there exist art and literature intended for the exploiters and oppreaeors. EVen today such art and literature still retain a considerable influ- ence in China. The art and literature for the bourgeoisie are bourgeois art and literature. People like Liang Shih-chfiu, whom Lu lisiin severely criticized. may talk about art and literature as transcending the classes. but in fact they , all uphold bourgeois art and literature and Oppose proletarian-art and literature. So tar as we are concerned. art and literature are intended for the people. We have said that China‘s new culture at the present stage is an anti-feudal. anti- imperialiet culture oi the broad masses 0! the people under the leadership of the proletariat. Everything that truly belongs to the broad masses of the people must now of necessity be under the leadership of the proletariat. Naturally the same applies to the new art and literature in the new culture. We should take over the rich legacy and succeed to the fine tradition of Chinese and foreign art and literature of the past. but we must do this with our eyes upon the broad masses 0! the people. Who are the People? The broadest masses of the people who constitute more than 90 per cent 01 the total population are the workers. peasants. soldiers and the urban petty bourgeoisie. So our art and literature are first of all tor the workers who form the class which leads the revolution. Secondly they are tor the peasants who form the most numerous and steadfast allies in the revolution. Thirdly. they are for the armed workers and peasants. i.e.. the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies ol the revolutionary war. Fourthly. they are for the working masses of the urban petty bourgeoisie together with its intelligentsia. who are also allies in the revolution and are capable of lasting cooperation with us. in theory or in words. none in our ranks would consider the masses of workers. peasants and soldiers lees important than the petty-bourgeois intellecv 32 Literature of the People's Republic of China tuala. i am speaking oi their deeds and actions. in dead and action. do they regard the pettybourgeois intellectuals as more important than the workers. peasants and soldiers? i think they do. Many comrades are concerned with studying the petty-bourgeois intellectuals. analyzing their psychology. giving emphatic expression to their lite and excusing or deiending their shortcomings. rather than with leading these people. together with themselves. to get closer to the masses oi workers. peasants. and soldiers. Many comrades. because they are petty bourgeois in origin and intellectuals themselves. take the stand of the petty bourgeoisie and produce their works as a kind oi seli~expression oi the petty bourgeoisie. As tothe masses of workers. peasants and soldiers. they seldom come into contact with them. do not understand or study them. do not have bosom friends among them and are not adept at describing them. Thus they have not yet solved or unequivocally solved the problem “For Whom are art and literature intended?” And this refers not only to the newcomers in Yenan; even among those who have been to the front and worked for a few years in our base areas and in the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies. many have not solved this problem thoroughly. To solve this problem thoroughly. a long time is required. say. eight or ten years. Problem 2: How to serve the masses? Elevation or popularization? Since our art and literature are basically intended for the workers. peasants. and soldiers. popularization means extending art and literature among these people while elevation means raising their level of artistic and literary appreci- ation. We must popularize what is needed and can be readily accepted by the workers. peasants and soldiers themselves. Consequently the duty oi learning from the workers. peasants and soldiers precedes the task of educating them. This is even more true oi elevation. There must be a basis to elevate from. It can only be raised from the basis oi the masses oi the workers. peasants and soldiers. This means not that we raise the workers. peasants and soldiers to the level of the feudal class. the bourgeoisie or the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. but that we raise them up along their own line of advance. along the line of advance of the proletariat. The problem facing the workers. peasants and soldiers today is this: engaged in a ruthless and sanguinary struggle against the enemy. they remain illiterate and uncultured as a result at the prolonged rule of the feudal and bourgeois classes and consequently they badly need a widespread campaign oi enlighten- ment. Under the present conditions. therefore. popularization is the more pressing task. it is wrong to despise and neglect this task. But popularization and elevation cannot be sharply separated. Elevation does not take place in mid-air. nor behind closed doors. but on the basis of populari- ration. it is at once determined by popularization and gives direction to it. Thus our elevation is on the basis at popularization while our popularization is under the guidance of elevation. This being the case. the work 01 popularization in our sense not only constitutes no obstacle to elevation but aflords a basis ior our work of elevation on a limited scale at present. as well as preparing the neces- sary conditions ior our far more extensive work of elevation in the future. All the [expert] comrades should keep in close touch with the popularizers From Yenan to Peking 33 of artiand literature among the trusses. help and guide the popularizers of art and literature as well as learn Pram them. and through them draw nourishment from the masses to develop and enrich themselves and to prevent their speciali- ties from becoming empty. lifeless castles in the air detached from the masses and from reality. ' The source of art and literature What after all is the source of any kind of art and literature? An artistic or literary work is ideolbgicelly the. product of the human brain reflecting the life of a given society. In the life of the people itself lies a mine of raw material for art and literature. namely. things in their natural state. things crude. but also most lively. rich and fundamental. This is the only source. tor there can be no other source. All revolutionary artists and writers of China, all artists and writers oi high promise. must. for long periods oi time. unreservedly and wholeheartedly go into the midst of the masses. the masses of workers. peasants and soldiers; they must go into fiery struggles. go to the-only. the broadest. the richest source to observe. learn.- study and analyze all men. all classes. all kinds of people. all the vivid patternsoi lite and struggle and all raw material of art and literature. beiore they can proceed to creation. The reIalr'onsbfp between life and art/literature Though man’s social life cbnstitutes theonly source for art and literature. and is incomparably more vivid and richer than art and literature as such. the people are not satisfied with the former alone and demand the latter. Why? Because. although both are beautiful. life as reflected in artistic and literary works can and ought to be on a higher level and oi a greater power and better focused. more typical. nearer the ideal. and therefore more universal than actual everyday lite. Revolutionary art and literature should create all kinds of characters on the basis of actual life and help the masses to push history torward.For example. on the one hand there are peeple sufiering from hunger. cold and oppression and on the other hand there are men exploiting and op» pressing men—a contrast that exists everywhere and seems quite common. place to people: artists and writers. however. can create art and literature out of such daily occurrences by Organizing them, bringing them to a focal point and making the contradictions and struggles in them typical—create art and literature that can awaken and arouse the masses and impel them to unite and struggle to change their environment. If there were no such art and literature. this task could not be fulfilled or at least not eflectively and speede fulfilled. Problem 3: Criteria of artvand literary criticism Art and literary criticism presents a complex problem which requires much study of'a special kind. Here I shall stress only the basic problem of criteria in criticism. a) Political criterion According to the political criterion. all works are good that facilitate unity and resistance to Iapan. that encourage the masses to be of one heart and one 34 Literature of the People's Republic of China mind and that oppose retrogression and promote progmn on the other hand. all works are bad that undermine unity and resistance to japan. that sow dissemion and discord among the masses and that oppose progress and drag the people back. And how can we tell the good from the hd hero—by the motive (subjective intention) or by the eflect (social practice)? ldeaiists stress motive and ignore eflect. while mechanical materialists stress elect and ignore motive; in contradistinction from either. we diabetics! materialists insist on the unity oi motive and efiect. The motive oi serving the masses is inseparable from the eiiact at winning their approval. and we must unite the two. In examining the subjective intention oi an artist. he. whether his motive is correct and good. we do‘ not look at his declaration but at the eiiect his activities (mainly his works) produce on society and the masses. Social practice and its ellect are the criteria for examining the subjective intention or the motiVe. [Some say] “it is not a matter of standpoint; the standpoint is correct. the intention good. and the ideas are all right. but the expression is taulty and produces a bad eEect." is the question oi efiect not one oi standpoint? A person who. in doing a job. minds only the motive and pays no regard to the eliect is very much like a doctor who hands out prescriptions and does not care how many patients may die at them. Oi course a person is liable to mistakes in estimating the result at an action before it is taken; but are his intentions really gooditheadherestothesameoldrutevenwheniactsprove that it leads to had results? One who has a truly good intention must criticize with the utmost candor his own shortcomings and mistakes in work. and make up his mind to correct them. That is why the Communists have adopted the method oi sell- criticism. Only such a standpoint is the correct one. Under the general principle oi unity and resistance to Japan. we must tolerate all artistic and literary works expressing every kind oi political attitude. But at the same time we must iirmly uphold our principles in our criticism. and adhere to our standpoint and severely criticize and repudiate all artistic and literary works containing views against the nation. thesciences, the people and communism. because such works. in motive as well as in eiiect. are detrimental to unity and the resistance to japan. b) Artistic criterion According to the artistic criterion. all works are good or comparatively good that are relatively high in artistic quality: and bad or comparatively bad that are relatively low in artistic quality. Oi course. this distinction also depends on social eflect. As there is hardly an artist who does not consider his own work excellent. our criticism ought to permit the tree competition oi all varieties oi artistic works; but it is entirely necessary for us to pass correct judgments on them according to the criteria oi the science of art. so that we can gradually raise the art oi a lower level to a higher level. and to change the art which does not meet the requirements at the struggle of the broad masses into art that does meet them. c) Relation between political and artistic cn'teria We believe there is neither an abstract and absolutely unchangeable political criterion. nor an abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion. tor every class in a class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all From Yenan to Peking 35 classes in all class societies place the political criterion first and the artistic criterion second. Some things which are basically reactionary from the political point at view may yet be artistically good. but the more artistic such a work maybs.thegreaterharmwillitdototh'epeopleendthemorereason torus to reject it. What we demand is unity oi politics and art. of content and term. and of the revolutionary political content and the highest possible degree of perfection in artistic form. As less it. the political side is more at a problem at present. Some comrades lack elementary political knowledge and comequently all kinds oi muddled ideas arise. Let me give a iew instances found in Yenan. Problem 4: Muddled ideas stunning from lack of political...
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