Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, and a Hundred Schools Contend

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Lu Dingyi

(26 May 1956)

The director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chairmen of the Chinese Federation of Literary and Artistic Circles, Mister Guo Moruo, wanted me to come and talk about the Communist Party of China’s policies concerning literature and art work, and scientific work. The Chinese Communist Party advocates letting a hundred flowers bloom in literature and art work, and advocates letting a hundred schools content in scientific work, this has already been declared by `chairman Mao at the Supreme State Conference. To implement this policy, we already have some experience, but our experience is still very little. What I want to speak about today, is my individual understanding of this policy. Those coming to the conference today are all natural scientists, social scientists, medical scientists, literators and artists, there are Communist Party members, and there are also friends from all democratic parties and without party affiliation of any sort. You can naturally understand how important and significant this policy is to our country’s literature and art, and scientific research work, and to the work in which you engage. If my understanding is wrong in places, I hope everyone will not stint comment, making our common understanding develop smoothly.

I, Why do we put forward this a policy like this? Why is a policy like this only brought up now?

If our country is to become rich and strong, apart from having to consolidate the people’s regime, developing the economy, developing the educational undertaking, and strengthening national defence, we must also ensure that literary, artistic and scientific work flourishes and develops, not having this condition is impossible.

If we want to let literary, artistic and scientific work flourish and develop, we must adopt a policy of “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend”. If “only one flower is allowed to bloom” in literary and art work, regardless of how good this flower is, it can also not flourish. Taking this example before our eyes, which is the theatre. In recent years, there were still some people opposing Beijing opera. At that time, the Party decided to implement a policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, replacing the old with the new” in the area of theatre. Now, everyone can see that this policy is correct, and has gained huge results. Because of the free competition and mutual emulation by all types of drama, the progress of the theatre has been very rapid. In the area of scientific work, our country also has historical experiences. In our country’s Spring and Autumn period of warring states from two thousand years ago, the phenomenon of “letting a hundred schools contend” emerged in the field of learning, this became a golden age of the development of learning in our country’s past history, our country’s history proves that, if there is no encouragement to think things out for oneself, if there is no free discussion, then, the development of learning will stagnate. Conversely, if there is encouragement for thinking things out for oneself, and there is free discussion, learning can develop rapidly. The Spring and Autumn warring states period is greatly different from the situation at present. In that time, society was in turmoil, “letting a hundred schools contend” in the area of learning was spontaneous and did not have conscious uniform leadership Now, nevertheless, the people themselves have opened up the realm of freedom, the people’s democratic dictatorship has already been established and consolidated, the people require the rapid development of scientific work, consequently, conscious planning of scientific work is implemented , and the policy of “letting a hundred schools contend” is adopted to stimulate the development of academic work.

We must also consider that, in a class society, literary, artistic and scientific work must become a tool for class struggle in the end.

This problem, in the domain of literature and art, is relatively clear. In literature and art, there are some clearly harmful things. For example, pornographic fiction encouraging theft and lust are one of those. “playing mah-jong, his mother minds state affairs”, “the American moon is rounder than the Chinese one”, these so-called literary works are a few examples. Regarding such harmful literature and art in the same line as flies, mosquitos and mice, destroying it is completely necessary. This has advantages for literature and art, and also has disadvantages. Therefore, we say, there is literature and art that serves workers, peasants and soldiers, there is literature and art that serves imperialism, landlords, and the bourgeoisie. What we need, is literature and art serving workers, peasants and soldiers, and literature and art serving the popular masses.

In the areas of philosophy and social sciences, class struggle is also relatively clear. Everyone has criticized the philosophical viewpoint of Hu Shi, the historical viewpoint, the educational viewpoint and the political viewpoint. Criticizing Hu Shi is the reflection of class struggle in the area of social sciences. This criticism is completely what should be done. Criticism against other bourgeois idealist philosophical schools and bourgeois social studies should also be done.

In the area of natural sciences, although the natural sciences don’t have a class nature of themselves, natural science workers all have their own individual political standpoints. In the past, between a number of natural scientists, there were ideologies that blindly worshipped America. Among a number of scientists, there were also so-called “non-polarization” tendencies. Criticizing these wrong things is also completely what should be done. This sort of criticism is also a reflection of class struggle.

We must also consider that literature, art and scientific research, although closely related to class struggle, are not completely identical to politics in the end. Political struggle is the direct mode of expression of class struggle, literature, art and social sciences may directly express class struggle, and may also relatively windingly express class struggle. Believing that literature, art and science are unrelated to politics, and can be “art for the sake of art” or “science for the sake of science”, this is a sort of rightist, one-sided view, and it is wrong. Conversely, completely equating literature, art and science to politics may result in another sort of one-sided view, and may cause mistakes of “leftist” simplification.

The “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” we stand for, advocates the freedom to think things out for oneself in literary and artistic work, and scientific research work, the freedom to create and criticize, and the freedom to express one’s own thoughts, persist in one’s own opinions and maintain one’s own opinions.

The freedom we stand for, is different from the freedom that bourgeois democracy advocates. The freedom that the bourgeoisie advocates is only the freedom of the few, the workers don’t have a share, or only a very small share, the bourgeoisie implements dictatorship over the workers. Now, American warmongerers are flaunting some kind of “free world”, in this “world”, the reactionary warmongering clique has all the freedom, and the Luxembourgs were sentenced to death, because they advocated peace. We advocate that counterrevolutionaries are not permitted to have freedom, we advocate that we must absolutely implement dictatorship over counterrevolutionaries. But among the people, we advocate that there absolutely must be democratic freedom. This political line, must distinguish politically between enemies and ourselves.

The “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” we stand for, is the freedom among the people. We advocate that following the consolidation of the people’s regime, the broad people are consistent and are inconsistent internally. We already have a Constitution, and abiding by the Constitution is the duty of the people, this is the internal consistency of the people. That is to say, loving the motherland and supporting Socialism are matters in which the people nationwide should be consistent. But, among the people, there are also places of inconsistency, in ideology, there is a difference between materialism and idealism, this sort of difference can be present during the existence of classes, and after classes are abolished, it can still be present, up until the Communist society, it can still be present. When classes exist, the contradictions between materialism and idealism are expressed in contradictions between classes; after classes are abolished, as long as the contradiction between objective and subjective still exists, the contradiction between advanced and backward still exists, and the contradiction between social productive forces and productive relations still exists, the contradiction between materialism and idealism in Socialist society and Communist society will also still exist. There is struggle between materialism and idealism, and furthermore, this struggle will last for a long time. Communist Party members are dialectical materialists, and naturally advocate and propagate materialism and oppose spiritualism, they cannot waver in this. But, exactly because it is dialectical materialism, and exactly because they understand the laws of social development, Communist Party members advocate that the ideological struggle within the people must be strictly separated from the struggle with counterrevolutionaries. Within the people, there not only is the freedom to propagate materialism, but there also is the freedom to propagate idealism. As long as they are not counterrevolutionaries, and regardless of whether they propagate materialism or propagate spiritualism, they all have freedom. The argument between the two is also free. This is the ideological struggle within the people, and is different from the struggle conducted against counterrevolutionaries. Counterrevolutionaries should be suppressed and should be overthrown. The backward ideology of idealism among the people should be struggled against, this struggle is also intense, but this struggle starts from unity, and it is for the sake of overcoming backwardness and strengthening unity. Concerning ideological questions, the method of wanting to use administrative decrees to resolve these, cannot be effective. Only through open debate can materialist ideology overcome idealist ideology step by step.

Concerning questions of artistic quality, questions of academic quality and questions of technological quality, there also may be differences of opinion. These sorts of difference in opinion are completely permitted. In these sorts of questions of quality, expressing different opinions, engaging in debate, conducting criticism and counter-criticism, naturally is free.

In short, we advocate that in politics, a clear distinction must be drawn between enemies and us, and we also advocate that there certainly must be freedom among the people. “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” is the expression of freedom among the people in the areas of literature and art work, and scientific work.

We now already have complete conditions to implement the “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” policy.

What are our current circumstances?

First, socialist reform has obtained a decisive victory in all aspects and in the basic regions nationwide, the exploitation system will be completely abolished in these regions within a few years from now. All previously existing exploiters will be reformed into workers earning their own living. Our country is about to become a Socialist country without an exploiting class.

Second, the political and ideological situation of the intelligentsia has already basically changed, and basic change is further occurring at the moment. This has already been depicted in great detail in Comrade Zhou Enlai’s report concerning issues of intellectuals. Here, let me look back a little on the most recent struggle.

The most recent struggle, was the struggle to oppose bourgeois idealist ideology. In this struggle, the broad intellectuals manifested themselves very well, and there was great progress.

In this struggle, our intelligentsia’s main cutting edge was concentrated in the criticism of Hu Shi, he is not inly an idealist ideologically, but is also a reactionary politically. Furthermore, criticism was also conducted against bourgeois ideology of individualism in the literature and art world, etc. Now, everyone can see that this sort of struggle is necessary for promoting the development of socialist reform, and consequently, this struggle is correct.

In this struggle, the Party Central Committee has pointed out that we must persist in opposing ideologies impeding the launching of academic criticism and discussion, these ideologies are expressed in: idolatry for bourgeois “famous person”, believing that they are “authoritative”, and cannot be criticized; adopting a bourgeois or aristocratic lording attitude over young Marxist academic workers, and suppressing them; some Party members pose as “authoritative”, and do not permit other persons to criticize them or engage in self-criticism; some Party members do not dare to criticism others because they  “fear to destroy the united front” or “fear to influence unity”; some Party members do not criticize errors in others because of personal friendships or relations of face, and even cover them. The Party Central Committee pointed out that we must persist in these principles: in academic criticism and discussion, no person may have any privilege; posing as “authoritative”, suppressing criticism, or ignoring the familiar sight of bourgeois erroneous ideology, adopting liberalist or even capitulationist attitudes are all incorrect. At the same time, the Party Central Committee pointed out that academic criticism and discussion should be reasonable and seek truth from facts. That is to say, it should advocate the establishment of acute academic debate on a scientific basis. Criticism and discussion shall have research work as basis, and oppose adopting simple and crude attitudes. We shall adopt the method of free discussion, and oppose the adoption of administrative decree methods. We shall permit criticized persons to conduct countercriticism, and not suppress this sort of countercriticism. We shall permit the minority holding different opinions to maintain their own opinions, and not implement the principle that the minority should submit to the majority. As for persons having made mistakes in academic issues, if, after criticism and discussion, they are not willing to publish articles self-criticizing their mistakes, we should not absolutely make them write self-criticizing articles. In academic circles, if different opinions emerge again on a certain academic question after a conclusion ahs already been reached, discussion is still permitted. The Party Central Committee has also pointed out: when conducting criticism of bourgeois erroneous ideologies and criticizing or discussing academic issues, we shall persist in the policy of the united Party front and the policy of uniting and reforming intellectuals. We shall differentiate people who persist in bourgeois erroneous viewpoints in ideology, and people who, although they have this sort of erroneous viewpoints, tend towards materialism, and treat them differently. We shall clearly differentiate political counterrevolutionaries and people who have made mistakes in academic ideology. Academic workers who have grave bourgeois erroneous viewpoints in academic ideology, as long as they are not counterrevolutionaries, shall be guaranteed the work position that they obtained and is suited for them, and they are guaranteed the possibility to continue to engage in research useful to society, that their speciality, useful to society is respected and given rein, and that this specialty is passed on to the youth, and at the same time, they are encouraged to vigorously participate in academic criticism and debate, and implement self-reform.

These instructions guarantee that we don’t make grave mistakes in opposing bourgeois idealist ideology and launching academic criticism work. Now, we find that this struggle is basically done correctly, and grasping it with proper restraint is generally also correct. But mistakes and flaws are present as well. For example, Mister Yu Pingbo, is a good person politically, and has only made mistakes in academic ideology on literature and art work. Criticising the mistakes he made in academic ideology is necessary, and at that time, there were a number of articles criticising Mister Yu that were written very well. But some articles were written a bit poorly, and lacked full persuasiveness, the intonation was also excessively strong. Some people went as far as to say that he monopolized ancient books, but this argument has no basis. Here, I want to clearly explain this sort of situation.

We have looked back for a bit, let’s again look at the present. Then, the present situation is greatly different from the past, if in the past two years, bourgeois spiritualism still had a very large market, many intellectuals would not have been able to differentiate what is materialist ideology, and what is idealist ideologies, and would not know the harm of idealist ideology to the Socialist undertaking, thus, there is great progress in our intelligentsia today.

Now, some departments’ originally decided plans on the work to criticize Hu Shi’s reactionary ideology have not yet been completed, the work to clean up hidden counterrevolutionaries has also not been completed. All uncompleted matters should be implemented to the full, and it is not permitted to give up halfway. Because only if this work is done well, it will be possible to create beneficial conditions for many work matters from now on. In this struggle, we must still stress uniting the good people which occupy more than ninety per cent of the whole body of people again and again, including backward elements, and jointly conduct struggle against counterrevolutionary elements.

Third, we still have enemies, domestically, there still is class struggle, but enemies, and especially domestic enemies, have been greatly weakened.

Who are the enemies? Abroad, there are the imperialist strategic forces with American warmongering elements at the head, domestically, there is the Chiang Kai-shek clique forcibly occupying Taiwan, there are also other remnants of reactionary elements. These are our enemies: against these people, we must still continue the firm struggle, and cannot slacken.

Fourth, the nationwide people’s political and ideological consistency has been greatly strengthened, and it still continues to be strengthened.

This situation had been estimated, therefore, the Chinese Communist Party Centre has now emphatically put forward the “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” policy, requiring us to muster all vigorous factors in the areas of literature and art work, and scientific work, serve the people even better, strive to make our literature and art flourish, and strive to make our country’s scientific work overtake global advanced levels.

Now, many of our natural science workers are drafting plans under government leadership concerning twelve years of natural science development, twelve-year development plans for philosophy and social sciences are also in the process of being drafted. Formulating and realizing these plans is the glorious task of our scientific circles. Implementing the policy of “letting a hundred schools contend”, is an important guarantee for completing this task.

II, Strengthening unity

“Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” is for the sake of mobilizing all vigorous factors, and therefore, is a policy of strengthening unity. Unity on which basis? On a patriotic basis, and on a Socialist basis. Uniting to do what? Constructing a new Socialist China, and struggling with domestic and foreign enemies.

There are two different kinds of unity. One kind is the unity of mechanical subordination, the other kind is conscious and voluntary unity. What we want is conscious and voluntary unity.

Are our literature and art circles and scientific circles united? They are united. In comparison with the time when the People’s Republic of China began to be established, the has been great progress in literature and art circles and scientific circles in the aspect of unity. Social reform work and ideological reform work are the causes because of which we can have such a firm unity today, denying or belittling this point is incorrect. But this is not to say that our unity is already perfect in every way. There still are flaws in the aspect of unity.

Where are the flaws? First and foremost, they lie within the fact that some Communist Party members forgot the instructions of Comrade Mao Zedong, and forgot the harm of factionalism. The achievements in work often may cause some people to turn their heads, emotions of claiming praise and arrogance may rise op, and factionalist emotions may rise up.

In 1942, Comrade Mao Zedong in his text “Rectifying the Party’s Work Style”:

“Many of our comrades like to act self-importantly towards people outside of the Party, belittle people, despise people, and are unwilling to respect people, or are unwilling to understand the strong points of people. These are factionalist tendencies. These comrades have read some Marxist books and afterwards are not more modest, but more arrogant, they always say people are no good, but do not know that they themselves are half-baked. Our comrades must understand one truth: comparing Communist Party members and people outside the Party, regardless of at which time, they always are the minority. Assuming that there is one Communist Party member for every hundred people, means that there are 4.5 million Party members in the China of 450 million people. Even if this great number is attained, Communist Party members still only are one per cent, and ninety-nine per cent are non-Party members. What grounds do we have to not cooperate with non-Party members? We only have the duty of cooperation with all people who are willing to cooperate with us and able to cooperate with us, and we absolutely have no right to reject them. A part of the Party members have, however, not understood this rationale, and look down upon people who are willing to cooperate with us, and even reject them. This has no basis at all. Have Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin given us a basis like this? They have not. Conversely, they always repeatedly admonished us, that we must closely link with the masses, and must not become separated from the masses. Did the Chinese Communist Party give us this basis? It has not. In all resolutions of the Centre, there is not a single resolution saying that we may become separated from the masses and isolate ourselves. On the contrary, the Centre always called upon us to closely connect with the masses, and not to separate from them. Therefore, all acts of separation from the masses have no basis at all, and this is only a part of our comrades making factionalist ideologies and making mischief themselves. Because this sort of factionalism is still very grave in a part of the comrades, and still impedes the implementation of the Party line, we must conduct broad education aimed at this problem within the Party. First and foremost, we must make our cadres truly understand the gravity of this problem, and make them understand that if Communist Party members do not connect with cadres outside the Party and people outside the Party, it will be certainly impossible to overthrow our enemies, and certainly impossible to achieve the objectives of revolution.” (“Selected Works of Mao Zedong”, Volume III, pp. 827-828.)

Everyone knows that, since a few years, we have conducted several anti-factionalist struggles in the literature and art circles and scientific circles. These struggles have been conducted in hygiene work departments, in natural science research departments, in literature and art work departments, and in social science work departments. We still must continue to conduct this sort of struggle, and call upon Party members working in literary and art circles and scientific circles, to all rise up and pay attention to overcome factionalism.

In the process of struggle, we have found out some experiences, which I will talk about now:

(1) Everybody knows that the natural sciences, including the medical sciences, do not have a class nature, they have their own development laws. Their connection to the social system only lies in: under bad social systems, these sciences will develop more slowly, and under relatively good social systems, they can develop a bit faster. These are issues that have been resolved in theory long ago. Because of this, sticking a class label on some medical theory, biological or other natural science theory, that they are “feudal”, “capitalist”, “Socialist”, “proletarian” or “bourgeois” or somesuch, for example saying that “medicine is feudal medicine, Western medicine is capitalist medicine”, “Pavlovian theory is Socialist”, “Michurin theory is Socialist”, “Mendel-Morgan genetics is capitalist” or somesuch, are mistaken. We may not believe this. Some people make this sort of mistakes, because of factionalist ideologies, some because they want to stress learning from advanced Soviet science and stress unsuitable matters, and do not consciously make this sort of mistakes. We must treat all these kinds of different situations differently, and cannot generalize matters.

At the same time as pointing out the above mistakes, we must also point out another sort of mistakes. this sort if mistake is to deny that Pavlovian theory and Michurin theory are important theory. People making this sort of mistakes, again have different starting points. For some, it is because they have anti-Soviet emotions politically, and consequently even want to deny Soviet Union scientific achievements. For some, it is because they are in a different academic school, and cannot be convinced. The former is a problem of political points of view, the latter is a problem of academic ideology, must also be treated differently, and cannot be generalized.

(2) Concerning literature and art work, the Party only has one requirement, which is “to serve workers, peasants and soldiers”, speaking today, this also includes serving all labouring people, including intellectuals. We believe that socialist realism is the best creation method, but it is not the only creation method; under the precondition of serving workers, peasants and soldiers, any artist is permitted to use any method that they believe to be best to create, and mutually compete. Issues of themes have never been limited by the Party. Only permitting to write about worker, peasant and labour themes, only permitting to write about the new society, only permitting to write about the new human, etc., these sort of limits are incorrect. As literature and art must serve workers, peasants and soldiers, they must naturally extol new society and positive characters, and must at the same time also criticize old society and negative characters, they must extol progress, and must at the same time criticize backwardness, therefore, literature and art themes should be extremely broad. Things appearing in literature and art works, not only may be things existing in the world or existing in history, they may also include heavenly or celestial beings, birds and beast that can talk and other things that don’t exist in the world. Literature and art works may describe positive characters and the new society, and may describe negative characters and old society, furthermore, without old society, it is hard to set off new society, without negative characters, it is hard to set off positive characters. Therefore, restrictions and fetters concerning issues of theme, can only suffocate literature and art work, causing formulism and vulgar interests to develop and do harm rather than good. Concerning the question of literary and artistic characteristics, the question of model creation, etc., this should be discussed freely by literature and art workers, all different opinions may be tolerated, and consensus is gradually to be achieved in free discussion.

Literature and art circles already have the experience of implementing “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” in the area of theatre. This is a very precious experience. The present problem is to push the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom” towards all literature and art departments.

(3) In the area of philosophy and social science, work achievements are large. But exactly because of this, the danger of factionalism has also grown. If we don’t timely pay attention, the grave consequence of ideological ossification may occur. Since founding the nation, Marxism-Leninism has been propagated among the broad intellectuals, ideological rectification campaigns have been conducted, a struggle to oppose bourgeois idealism has been conducted and hidden counterrevolutionaries have been eliminated, amongst other work, this all is correct, necessary, and has had achievements. But, we should still look at the dark side of things. There are some Party members, in which ideologies of monopolizing academic work in philosophy and social science have arisen, they are opinionated, and look down upon or even forget the good points of people, they don’t see progress in people, and can’t hear critical opinions, they consider themselves always as teachers, and consider other people to be only allocated to them as students forever, and regard themselves as forever only being able to be an idealist or bourgeois scholar. This is extremely dangerous. Carrying on like this, there may be the danger of degeneration for individuals, the undertaking of philosophy and social science may be lifeless, stagnant and bogged down. These comrades should stop their intoxication as quickly as possible, become a bit more modest, and listen a bit more to criticism from others, do a bit more scholarship, and seek a bit more advice from people outside the Party, cooperate with them well, in order to avoid that the undertaking of philosophy and social science is harmed.

Seeing that there are already more than seven years since founding the nation, although there still are some people who persist in idealist ideology and persist in bourgeois ideology, many people have had great progress. It should be considered to in philosophy and social science research work and education work, according to the situation, progressively reorganize forces, and change some systems and methods that were originally mistaken or where although there were not mistakes, these have passed their time, in order to mobilize all vigorous factors, develop our country’s philosophy and social science undertakings. Philosophy and social science are extremely important scientific departments, and therefore, they absolutely must do their work well.

Here, we must passingly talk about questions of modern history. Modern history is an extremely important department in social science, but its achievements in recent years are few. It is said that, everyone is waiting for the Party Central Committee to publish a Party history textbook, and afterwards will write all sorts of modern history on the basis of the Party history textbook. Now, please don’t wait anymore. The Party Central Committee is not preparing to publish a Party history textbook, it is only preparing the successive publication of Party chronicles and document collections. Our recent history workers shall independently research all questions in recent history. In recent history research, they should also adopt the policy of letting a hundred schools contend, and should not adopt other policies.

In eradicating factionalism, uniting all people willing to cooperate or able to cooperate; eradicating monopolistic opinions, eradicating excessive restrictions and fetters, implementing the “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend” policy; we must not only plan for ourselves, our departments or our work units, but help others more, help other departments and other work units; in eradicating arrogance and self-aggrandizement, opinionated thoughts, and implement modesty and prudency, and respect others. In this way, we may eradicate our flaws in unity in the past, and greatly strengthen unity.

We hope that literators and artists outside the Party and scientists also pay attention to questions of strengthening unity. Comrade Zhou Enlai had a paragraph in the “Report on Questions concerning Intellectuals”, we must repeat this here.

“Between some intellectuals and ourselves, some sorts of lack of mutual understanding still exist. We must actively strive to eliminate this sort of lack of mutual understanding. But this sort of lack of mutual understanding often come from two sides: one side is because our comrades have not approached them or understood them; the other side is because a part of the intellectuals adopted a reserved attitude or even an opposed attitude against Socialism. In our enterprises, schools and offices, in society, there still are intellectuals like this: they don’t distinguish between enemies and ourselves between the Communist Party and the Guomindang, the Chinese people and imperialism; they are not satisfied with Party government policies and measures, recall capitalism with nostalgia and even recall feudalism with nostalgia; they oppose the Soviet Union and are unwilling to learn from the Soviet Union; they refuse to study Marxism-Leninism, and slander Marxism-Leninism; they despise work, despise the working people, and despise cadres with a working class origin, they are unwilling to approach workers peasants and working or rural cadres; they are unwilling to see the growth of new productive forces, believe that progressives are speculators; they not only often create disputes and opposition between intellectuals and the Party, and also create disputes and opposition among intellectuals; they are self-important, consider themselves as the first under heaven, they are unable to accept leadership from any person or criticism from any person; they deny the interest of the people and the interest of society, always start from individual interests in all problems, praise that which conforms to their own interest, and oppose that which does not conform to their interest. Naturally, all people possessing everything needed for mistakes, are very few in number among the intellectuals; but there are people with one or a few of the above sorts of mistakes, who are not very few in number. They are not only backwards elements, but also a part of the middle-of-the-roaders often have a few of the above erroneous viewpoints. The trouble of narrow-mindedness, arrogance and self-importance, and starting from individual interest in looking at problems, are also not few in number among progressive elements. If these intellectuals don’t change their position, even if we strive to connect to them, there will still be a lack of mutual understanding between us and them.”

That is to say, in order to strengthen unity, the efforts of Communist Party members are required, and the efforts of non-Communist Party members are also required.

Individualism and sectarianism also exist in literature and art circles and science circles. The lack of mutual understanding between young and old science workers exists as well. These bad things should be eliminated. We believe that we are certainly able to eliminate them. As long as Communist Party members act as examples to strive together with non-Party members, the resolution of problems may be smooth.

III, The problem of criticism and the problem of study

“Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend”, as far as criticism work is concerned, is the freedom to criticize and the freedom to oppose criticism.

Some of today’s criticism causes people to be afraid. If it doesn’t cause people to be afraid, it is often tasteless. How should this problem be resolved?

There are two sorts of criticism. One sort is criticism of enemies, the so-called criticism of “finishing off with one blow”, or attacking criticism. The other kind is criticism of good people, this is criticism of comrades with good intentions, it starts from unity, and achieves the objective of unity through struggle. This sort of criticism must consider the situation as a whole, and adopt an attitude of talking about rationales more, and being good to people, and cannot use an attitude of “not permitting revolution” like the false foreign devil in “The True Story of Ah Q”

Regardless whether it is the former sort of criticism or the latter sort of criticism, they must both rely on research. It is not looking at one point and writing right away, but it is having seen many things, thought a lot and then writing.

There is a sort of idea that is wrong, and that is believing that criticism must absolutely be attacking. During the Yan’an period, some people used “essays” and other forms to attack the Party and the people’s regime, this sort of people still exists now, attacking this sort of people who hold an inimical attitude towards the Party and the people, should naturally be done. But if this sort of attacking method is also used among the people, it is a mistake.

I want to introduce four articles criticizing good people: 1. Mao Zedong: “Reforming Our Study”, 2. Mao Zedong: “Rectifying the Party’s Work Style”, 3. Mao Zedong: “Opposing Eight-Legged Writing in the Party”, 4. “People’s Daily”: “Concerning the Historical Experience of the Proletariat Dictatorship”. The first three are criticism of Wang Ming and Bo Gu, these two people are comrades who had made major mistakes; the latter article is a criticism of Comrade Stalin, Stalin is a comrade who has both great contributions and great mistakes, and the contributions are greater than the mistakes. Having read these criticism, you can know that this sort of criticism is permitted, it is both not an extreme attack, and is also not perfunctory or superficial, and criticism that is able to let many people benefit. It can be seen what kind of assiduous research work writing this sort of criticism has undergone. This sort of criticism truly is what we should advocate.

Climbing the heights of science and art is difficult work. The reason it is difficult, is because here, one can only seek truth from facts, and cannot be a trickster in the slightest. We should give scientists and artists full support. All scientists and artists working honestly, under this social system of ours, should only be receiving support, and should not be receiving attacks. In thinking things out for oneself and conducting complex creative labour, never making any mistake is impossible. First, only knowledge is insufficient, sometimes it may cause people to make wrong judgements. Second, a thing that was originally correct was exaggerated, or considered too extremely, this may also be a mistake. Lenin once said: “As long as we take one more small step ahead, but in what still seems as if it is a small step ahead, the truth may become an error.” (“The Teething Trouble of ‘leftism’ in Communist Activities”, Chapter 10) There are some who support progressive things, but this is being a bit too impatient, because of this they make mistakes, things often belong to this nature. Third, some people make mistakes of idealism, but mistakes of idealism are also not some strange facts, because “people’s understanding is not a straight line (and it is not conducted following a straight line), but it is an unlimited curve without limits, resembling a spiral. In any section, length or bit of the curved line, it can change into (one-sidedly change into an independent, integrated straight line, but this straight line (if it only looks at the tress and does not see the forest) may guide to a morass, or guide towards fideism (there, the class interest of the ruling class will consolidate it)”. (Lenin: “A Summary of Hegel’s Book ‘On Logic'”, p. 29) In the process of developing understanding, ideological fossilization, looking at issues in isolation (the “so-called splitting hairs”) and one-sidedly looking at problems, may all lead to idealist mistakes.

The fact that good people make mistakes is usual. People who never make mistakes do not exist in the world. This sort of mistakes should be strictly separated from counterrevolutionary discussions. Criticism against this sort of mistakes should only be well-disposed towards people, should only calmly speak about reason, and should consider the larger picture, start from unity to reach the objective of unity. People who made mistakes should vigorously be helped to rectify their mistakes. People receiving criticism should basically also not be afraid.

Mistakes are easy to make, but mistakes must be corrected ever better, persisting in mistakes may create great harm. As far as people receiving criticism as concerned, the truth should be persisted in, if other people’s criticism is incorrect, they may express different opinions; but mistakes should be corrected, if criticism from other people is correct, it should be modestly accepted. Publicly admitting mistakes, exposing the cause of mistakes, analyzing the environment giving rise to mistakes, carefully discuss the method of correcting mistakes, as far as a party is concerned, are serious Party symbols, as far as individuals are concerned, these are symbols of seeking truth from facts. Having made a mistake and accepting criticism, is to accept that other persons help oneself, and this only is useful to the development of our country’s scientific undertaking and literary and artistic undertaking, and cannot have any harm.

In the aspect for study, we must continue to organize study of Marxism and Leninism on a voluntary basis, at the same time, we must broadly study knowledge, and must critically study all times and all countries, friends and enemies.

Studying Marxism-Leninism, has become a great upsurge among the broad intellectuals, this is a good phenomenon. The scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism is the highest wisdom of mankind, and is a universally applicable truth. In the past, there were people believing that Marxism-Leninism is not applicable to China, this sort of argument has been completely bankrupted. Without the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism as guidance, our country’s revolutionary victory cannot be imagined, all sorts of construction in our country, including scientific and cultural construction, must obtain huge achievements and speedy development, this can also not be imagined.

But, in this work of studying Marxism-Leninism, there are also many flaws and mistakes, the main ones are dogmatist tendencies.

Fifteen years ago, in may 1941, Comrade Mao Zedong wrote “Reforming Our Study”, afterwards, in February 1942, he wrote “Rectifying the Party’s Work Style” and “Opposing Eight-Legged Writing in the Party”. These three articles are the basic articles of the Yan’an rectification movement. The Yan’an rectification movement was a movement opposing subjectivism, and mainly opposing dogmatism. This is the greatest Marxist ideological movement after the May Fourth movement. Dogmatism seemingly ruined our country’s revolution in the people’s democratic revolution period, it is the great enemy of Marxism-Leninism. We must keep this painful experience closely in mind. We also must deeply be on guard, if we use a dogmatic attitude to research knowledge, if we use dogmatic attitudes to lead literature and art work, and scientific research work, this will certainly fail, because this sort of attitude completely violates the attitude of seeking truth from facts in Marxism.

I’d like to take this opportunity to seriously introduce Comrade Mao Zedong’s three articles “Reforming Our Study”, “Rectifying the Party’s Work Style” and “Opposing Eight-Legged Writing in the Party” to our literators, artists and scientists, and the “Resolution concerning Some Historical Questions” of the 7th Plenum of the 6th Party Congress. I hope all literature and art workers and scientific workers, carefully read these articles a few times, in order to understand where the differences between dogmatism and Marxism-Leninism are, why dogmatism is the great enemy of Marxism-Leninism, and why we must persist in struggle against dogmatism.

We must broadly study knowledge.

Our country has a great legacy in medicine, agriculture, philosophy, history, literature, theatre, painting, music, etc., which should be earnestly studied and critically accepted. Work in this area isn’t done too much, but is done too little, and not earnestly enough, ideologies despising ethnic heritage still exist, and are still very grave in these departments.

Which legacy should we accept and how should we accept them?

If we want things that seem perfect in every way from the viewpoint of the present, to be accepted as legacy, then there is no thing at all that can be accepted. Conversely, if we uncritically accept cultural heritage, it may easily become “national essentialism”.

Concerning our country’s cultural heritage, we propose adopting this principle: we must carefully select, protect and develop all of its beneficial part, and at the same time must honestly criticize its mistakes and flaws. Now, our work has flaws in two aspects. Concerning the beneficial parts in our country’s cultural heritage, there are negligent and careless tendencies of total negation This is the main tendency at present. The performance of the Kun opera “Fifteen Strands” told us that this sort of argument believing that in Kun opera, there are no beneficial part, is wrong, drama is also like this, are there also phenomena like this in other literature and art departments and scientific research departments? It should be said that there are. This sort of phenomenon should be corrected. At the same time, we have also found that there also are the phenomena of no criticism against flaws and mistakes in cultural heritage, or whitewashing them, this is not an honest attitude, therefore, it should also be corrected.

Literature and art workers, and scientific workers must learn from the people. The wisdom of the people is inexhaustible, and among the people, there are many treasures that have not yet been discovered, or that have been discovered but not used very well. Using an example from medicine, in the past, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises and other means have been looked down upon, only now we think highly of them. But folk medicine methods such as bonesetting, manual therapy, herbal medicine, etc., now have not attracted sufficient regard and attention. Using another example from music and painting, these two departments do not give sufficient attention to ethnic heritage. All these situations should be corrected. Things coming from among the people often are not systematized, and are simple things that have not been explained in theory, some still carry a so-called “sneaky personality”, carry the flavour of superstition, etc. This is not at all surprising. The task of scientific workers and literature and art workers is not to disdain these things, but they must go and study them, carefully select, protect and develop their beneficial parts, making them become scientific things.

We must have national self-respect, we absolutely cannot become ethnic nihilist. We oppose the erroneous stand of so-called “complete Westernization”. But this is not to say that we should be self-important, or refuse to study good things from abroad. Our country still is a very backward country, we must expend great effort to study many good things coming from abroad, only then can our country become rich and strong. National self-importance, regardless of circumstance, is always incorrect.

We should learn from the Soviet Union, learn from people’s democratic countries, and learn from the people in all countries of the world.

Learning from the Soviet Union is a correct slogan. We have already learned a bit, and there are many things we should still learn henceforth. The Soviet Union is the first Socialist country in the world, the world leader of the peaceful and democratic camp, its industrial development speed is rapid, it has rich experience of Socialist construction, and has already overtaken and surpassed the most advanced capitalist countries in many areas of science. A country like this, a people like this, naturally merits our good study. Not learning from the Soviet Union is basically wrong.

But, when learning from the Soviet Union, our study method must not be dogmatist mechanical transportation, but must integrate the real situation of our country. This point must attract attention. Otherwise, it may also cause our work to suffer harm.

Apart from learning from the Soviet Union, we must also learn from all the people’s democratic countries. All people’s democratic countries have their own strong points, many countries are more advanced in industry, science and technology, and there are also some countries that are more advanced than our country in other aspects. These all merit study. There should be no self-importance and arrogance.

The people of all countries in the world apart from the Soviet Union and people’s democratic countries, they are under different social systems and national systems. Social systems and country systems may change, but the people, however, will eternally exist and develop. The reason why they can exist and develop are not without cause. We should critically study all their strong points, regardless of whether they are literary or artistic, are customs and traditions, or belong to other categories. Here, there should also be no self-importance and arrogance.

Apart from friends, we must also learn from enemies, this is not to study their reactionary system, but to study their management methods and valuable things in science and technology. This sort of study has as objective to accelerate the development of our country’s Socialist construction, in order to even more powerfully prevent invasion and maintain peace in the world and in Asia.

I should also talk a bit about the issue the Party members should study the knowledge of non-Party members. Not a few of our Party members have flaws in their knowledge. Non-Party members lack basic knowledge about Marxism-Leninism, but where many non-Party member friends who enthusiastically study Marxism-Leninism are concerned, these are past things or will become past things. Many people among them have already overcome this flaw, or will make it up. This issue has already been put forward, and is also already being resolved. Now the issue we must put forward, is that Party members should pay attention to overcoming their own flaws. The method is only to sincerely seek advice from people in the know, and learn from them. The absolute majority of non-Party member intellectuals study very diligently. When Communist Party members learn all sorts of knowledge from them, they should not go backward. This is an important strand in the issue of learning.

After putting forward this policy of “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom and a Hundred Schools Contend”, many problems will be progressively put forward, and must be resolved. I hope everyone considers the questions in this regard. Today, I only talk about a few issues of principle, I request everyone’s critique.


[1] A few scientists wrote a letter, they believed that they should prevent partiality from happening in understanding the policy of letting a hundred schools content. Now, extracts from the letter of Mister Yang Zhao of the Scientific Press are published here.

The letter of Mister Yang said: “The principle of letting a hundred schools contend undoubtedly is completely correct. But in reality, it seems there must be prevention against some possible incorrect proclivities in the understanding of this policy.

“As the name implies, those contending should be a number of what can be called “schools”. But some people often are content with dabbling, and by chance have some “achievement”, they are pleased with themselves, are not willing to deeply scrutinize things, are not willing to do academic work in an earnest and down to earth way, with the result that they get bogged down in mud pits and don’t know how to go back, but persist in their mistakes instead, they are unwilling to bow their head in the face of truth, the clearest example is that frequently, not a few people are unwilling to believe (or in fact, are unwilling to study arduously) why using a compass and a ruler to measure a trisecting angle, or why a perpetual motion machine is impossible, which has generally been acknowledged as being proven, and insistently waste time and brainpower on discovering miracles. This sort of depletion of mental wisdom is meaningless, and I’m afraid that the number of people with schemes that are clearly doomed to fail are not few. Among them, there are some people who, I’m afraid, because they want to become a “school” in one night, unavoidably alarm the people once they “contend”, and are unwilling to march the rugged path of study. If it is suggested to them to put in time and energy to study existing conclusions, and work on the basis of experience, their response very possibly may be said in a relaxed manner, that this is the theory of bourgeois scholars, and it is “idealistic”!

Similar to the above, experience tells us: there are some people, especially engineers and technological workers, because of the objective situation in their work, that don’t have great opportunity to come in contact with corresponding literature, because of this, they don’t put forth effort to consult the literature or learn from people, and go and research a question by working hard on their own, and have gained correct conclusions,  but it is unfortunate, that they still don’t know there already were people to follow.

If we want to truly become “schools” and be good at “contending”, we require undergoing a process of arduous study and practice lasting a long time. This point of basic knowledge one should at least have for letting a hundred schools contend, it seems as if it is necessary to stress it and point it out. Otherwise, henceforth, all research work units and all higher education institutes may receive many “schools” that all “contend” their “contended” inventions and discoveries, and we will need to spend a lot of precious time to check and review these, and also must cautiously and patiently explain that they are impossible, or point out that there have already been people who did this. In this way, the energy of writers will no doubt be wasted, the energy of reviewers will also be wasted. But if there is correct understanding of letting a hundred schools contend, the waste of energy can at least be reduced, and the useless can be changed into the useful.”

Mister Yang and a good many other  scientists’ opinion concerning errors happening in “letting a hundred schools contend”, are words of experience, and are convincing. This sort of mistake, this sort of tendency, should be prevented – Author.

[2] Some people believe that our country should not have freedom to propagate idealism. There are also people who believe that, as there is the freedom to propagate idealism, idealists should have unlimited freedom to propagate them. These viewpoints all start from errors. Taking religion as an example, in our country, all sorts of religion all have their own churches, temples, reading materials, publication organs, and also have schools for training cadres to do missionary work, these are all free and receive State protection. But, in order to benefit  the unity between atheists and religious believers, and avoid the occurrence of clashes, atheists do not go to churches or temples to propagate against religion, and believers to not conduct religious propaganda in public venues outside churches or temples, here, regardless of it concerns atheists or religious believers, both sides are limited in their propaganda freedom. – Author























































































* 这是陆定一于一九五六年五月二十六日在怀仁堂的讲话。在此之前,四月二十八日,毛泽东在中共中央政治局扩大会议上说,艺术问题上的“百花齐放”,学术问题上的“百家争鸣”,应该成为我国发展科学、繁荣文学艺术的方针。中共中央赞同毛泽东的意见,确定“百花齐放,百家争鸣”为党的科学和文化工作的方针。五月二十六日中共中央宣传部举行报告会,陆定一作题为《百花齐放,百家争鸣》的讲话,对中共中央这个方针作了全面的阐述。六月七日,陆定一将此讲话送给毛泽东审阅,他在写给毛泽东的信中说:“因为有二百个科学家集中北京起草科学规划,李富春提议向他们讲一次百花齐放,百家争鸣的政策。少奇同志指定我去讲,讲稿起草后,中宣部讨论了两次,后又根据恩来同志的意见作了修改,并作了‘此件很好’的批语。”六月十三日,这篇讲话在《人民日报》上发表。


[1] 几位科学家来信,认为应该防止对百家争鸣的政策在认识上发生偏向。现在把科学出版社杨肇先生的来信摘要发表在这里。







[2] 有人以为,在我国不应该有宣传唯心主义的自由。也有人以为,既然有宣传唯心主义的自由,那么唯心主义者就应该有无限的宣传自由。这些看法,都是出于误解。以宗教为例来说,在我国,各种宗教都有自己的教堂、寺庙、刊物、出版机关,还有训练传教干部的学校,这些都是自由的而且受到国家的保护的。但是,为了有利于无神论者和有神论者之间的团结,避免发生冲突起见,无神论者不到教堂、寺庙里去做反宗教宣传,有神论者不在教堂、寺庙以外的公共场所进行宗教宣传,这里,无神论者和有神论者双方在宣传上的自由又是有限度的。――`作者


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