Talks concerning Issues on the Ideological Front

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Deng Xiaoping

17 July 1981

Recently, I have discussed with Comrade Hu Yaobang, that we must call the Propaganda Department to talk about problems on the ideological front, and especially problems in literature and art. The Party’s leadership over the ideological front and the literature and art front has clear achievements, this must be confirmed. Some tendencies of simplification and crudeness also exist in the work, this can also not be denied or overlooked. But at present, the problem requiring even more attention, I believe, lies in the existence of lax and weak attitudes, not daring to criticize erroneous tendencies, and as soon as there is criticism, people say it is persecution. Now, launching criticism is not easy for us, self-criticism is even less easy. One of the Party’s three main work styles is self-criticism, this is one of the main symbols distinguishing us from other parties, but, where a lot of people are concerned, this is very hard to achieve.

Since the 6th Plenum, the General Political Department has put forward the question of criticising “Bitter Love”. Recently, I read a few materials, and felt very shocked. There was a young poet at Beijing Normal University who wantonly made a speech. Some students reacted: the Party organization has done much ideological and political work among students, which has been blown away by one speech. The school’s Party Committee paid attention to this matter, but has not taken measures. Actually, a female student wrote a letter to the school’s Party Committee, and criticized our appearing weak and feeble on the ideological front. Also, in Urumqi city, Xinjiang, there was a Literary Federation preparatory committee convener, who freely aired his views over the past few days, and many of his words greatly exceeded some anti-Socialist discourse from 1957 in terms of level of error. There are many more affairs like this. In short, this is wanting to separate from the Socialist track, separate from the leadership of the Party and engaging in bourgeois liberalization. Let’s recollect the historical experience: the Anti-Rightism from 1957 has been magnified, magnification is wrong, but at the same time, anti-rightism is truly necessary. Everyone also still remembers those rightists and that kind of murderous atmosphere of those days, now, there are some people who are similarly murderous. We will not engage in anti-rightist campaigns in the future, but cannot but conduct strict criticism of any sort of erroneous tendency. Not only the literature and art world, but also other areas have similar problems. Some people’s ideological path is amiss, they sing a different tune from the Party, their work style is not upright, but some people appreciate them, and enthusiastically publish their articles, this is not right. Some Party members do not stress the Party nature but persist in factionalism. The influence of this sort of people can absolutely not be spread, and they can absolutely not be allowed in to lead. Now, there are people who believe they are heroes. When they do not receive criticism, nothing is the matter, once they are criticized, even more people welcome them. This is a sort of very irregular phenomenon, and must absolutely be earnestly turned around. Naturally, this sort of phenomenon has it social and historical causes, which mainly are the aftermath of the decade of chaos, and at the same time, they are erosion by bourgeois ideology coming from abroad. The situation of this sort of people must be concretely analyzed. But the main problem at present does not lie with these phenomena, but with the fact that our dealing with these phenomena lacks strength, and lax or weak attitudes exist. Naturally, in dealing with problems popping up at the moment, the lessons from the past must be learned, and we cannot engage in campaigns. Concerning these people making mistakes, what is the nature of everyone’s mistakes, what is the level, how to understand it, how to deal with it, must all be differentiated appropriately. Methods of criticism must be meticulous, restraint must be proper, we must not engage in sieges of campaigns. But not doing ideological work and not engaging in criticism or self-criticism will certainly not work. The weapon of criticism may absolutely not be lost. After that young poet gave his speech in Beijing Normal University, some students said that going on like this will be the bane of the nation. He and we stand on opposed viewpoints. “The Sun and the People” is a film shot on the basis of the script of “Bitter Love”, I have looked at it. Regardless of what the motivation of the writer is, after having seen it, it can only leave people with this impression: the Communist Party is not good, the Socialist system is not good. Defaming the Socialist system like this, where has the Party spirit of the writer gone? Some people say that this film’s artistic level is relatively high, but just because of this, its poison is also larger. Works like this and that sort of so-called “democratic party” discourse, have in reality produced similar effects.

The core of persisting in the Four Cardinal Principles is persisting in the leadership of the Communist Party. Without the leadership of the Communist Party, there will certainly be great chaos in the world, disintegration and separation. Historical evidence proves this. Chiang Kai-shek has never unified China. The core of bourgeois liberalization is opposing the Party’s leadership, and without the Party’s leadership, there can be no Socialist system. In dealing with this problem, we cannot walk the old roads again, and cannot conduct some sort of political campaign again, but must absolutely grasp the weapon of criticism.

Criticizing “Bitter Love” and “Liberation Army Daily” was necessary. First and foremost, we must affirm it should be criticized. The flaw was that comment articles’ reasoning was not sufficiently satisfactory, some methods and wordings were not thoroughly considered enough. The “Literature and Art Newspaper” must organize some high-quality articles commenting on “Bitter Love” and other relevant problems. It cannot be that because the method of criticism is not good enough, it can be said that criticism is wrong.

A part of the youth is not satisfied with some present conditions in society, this is not strange and not frightening, but attention must absolutely be paid to guidance, without good guidance, they may be harmed. In the past few years, many young writers have emerged, and they have written not a few good books, this is a good phenomenon. But it should be acknowledged that, among some young writers and middle-age writers, a sort of unhealthy tendency actually exists, this sort of tendency also influences a batch of young readers, viewers and listeners. Old writers persisting in the Socialist viewpoint have a responsibility to unite as one and bring along the new generation, otherwise this generation will be led astray. If this is not done well, it may intensify contradictions, and may engender great turmoil. To summarize, we must persist in the leadership of the Party, and must persist in the Socialist system. Party leadership and the Socialist system must both be improved, but we cannot engage in bourgeois liberalization, or engage in anarchy. Just think, if “The Sun and the People” were to be openly screened, which kind of influence would it engender? Some people that not loving Socialism does not equal not loving the country. Is the motherland than abstract? If you do not love the Socialist new China led by the Communist Party, then what di you love? Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and overseas patriotic compatriots, cannot be required to all endorse Socialism, but at least, they can also not oppose the  Socialist new China, otherwise, what does loving the motherland mean? As for every citizen and every young person under the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, our requirements naturally must be a bit higher. First and foremost, the writers, artist and ideology or theory workers among our Party members must be required to observe the discipline of the Party, as many problems now emerge inside our Party. If the Party does not implement discipline over Party members, how can it lead the masses? We persist in implementing the policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools contend, persist in correctly dealing with contradictions among the people, this cannot be changed. “Leftist” tendencies still exist in our ideological and cultural leading work, this must be firmly rectified and prevented. But this is not to say in the slightest that not conducting criticism and self-criticism is permitted. Start from the aspiration of unity, and achieve a new unity through criticism and self-criticism, this is the main method for correctly dealing with contradictions among the people. Persist in the policy of the “Two Hundreds” can also not be separated from criticism and self-criticism. A democratic and reasonable attitude must be adopted in criticism, this is indispensible, but criticism may absolutely not be seen as persecution, this question must absolutely be made clear, it relates to the issue of fostering the next generation. The works and viewpoints of which I just put forward that they must be criticized are only some examples, there still are some other, similar articles, and the theoretical circles also have some bourgeois liberalization tendencies, which will not be elaborated in detail. Why are there still a number of people who support “Bitter Love” and the speech of that young poet? This merits deep thought from our comrades on the ideological front.

After putting forward to persist in the Four Cardinal Principles, our ideological circles have become a bit more sober, moreover, firm banning measures have been taken against illegal organizations and illegal publications, hence, the situation has improved. But we still must maintain our guard. Now, some people lift the banner of supporting Comrade Hua Guofeng, who want to overthrow such and such, attention must be paid to this. This reflects the complexity of the present situation of the struggle, and stimulates us to raise our guard.

Concerning criticism of “Bitter Love”, the “Liberation Army Daily” does not need to be criticized any more, the “Literature and Art Newspaper” must write high-quality, good articles, criticizing “Bitter Love”, when you have finished them, publish them in the “Literature and Art Newspaper”, and they will be republished by the “People’s Daily”.

To summarize, our entire Party, entire army and the people of all ethnicities in the entire country must unite as one, fall in line, and work hard under the firm leadership of the Party Centre, and on the basis of the “Resolution concerning Some Historical Questions of the Party since Founding the Nation”, ensuring our victory on the ideological front, literature and art front and other fronts.




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