Speech at the Forum on Literature and Art and the Conference on Feature Film Production

(19 June 1961)

Zhou Enlai

Introduction

At this time, there is a sort of bad atmosphere, which is that the democratic work style is insufficient. We originally required to liberate thoughts, get rid of superstition, dare to think, dare to speak and dare to act. Now, there are a good many people who do not dare to think, do not dare to speak and do not dare to act. Thinking generally is still being thought, the main matter is not daring to speak and not daring to act, where we are short the two characters of “daring”. Why can matters be thus? Chairman Mao put forward daring to think, daring to speak and daring to act at the Nanning Conference in 1958, and furthermore put forward officially at the 2nd Plenum of the 8th Party Congress, that daring to think, daring to speak and daring to act must be integrated with a spirit of seeking truth, and must be established on the basis of scientific predictions. But in fact, this is not something that everyone can achieve. The fact that thoughts, words and acts are somewhat partial is hard to avoid, this is not something critical, as long as freedom of criticism is permitted, this may be corrected. How can only permitting one person to speak and not permitting everyone to speak, not become “a hall of one voice”? Where does the “hall of one voice” come from? It is related to leadership, therefore, we must create a sort of democratic atmosphere. I first and foremost state, everyone is permitted to consider, discuss, criticize, deny or acknowledge my speech of today. A “hall of one voice”, in one sentence means being correct one hundred per cent, this sort of reality does not exist under heaven. People not only must speak out their incorrect words when making mistakes, and even when they are correct, there may be some words worded not appropriately, or a bit extreme, this is why criticism must be permitted. One person must not write a certificate of guarantee over his own words. If I may offer the comrades writers a word of advice, you must also not attempt to finish in one go. Great politicians and artists are all extremely strict concerning the revision work of their own works. Chairman Mao often says that the works of Marx and Lenin have been meticulously revised. Chairman Mao himself is also like this, many of the things he wrote have been changed repeatedly. Therefore, we must create a sort of atmosphere in which everyone is permitted to discuss and deliberate the opinions that we express. Continue reading