First Published: Challenge, Vol. III, No. 11, February 1967
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(Prof. Crook has spoken recently at colleges and community gatherings in NYC and New England. This is a report of his talk at Columbia.–Ed.)
Six hundred Columbia students and faculty members heard firsthand about China’s Cultural Revolution Dec. 14. This was the first chance most of them have had to hear a “Red China expert” who has lived in Red China.
The speaker was Professor David Crook, a British subject who teaches English at Peking’s Foreign Languages Institute. Prof. Crook graduated from Columbia College in 1935. He went to fight Franco in Spain, and spent World War II in the Royal Air Force in Southeast Asia. For the last 20 years he has been teaching in China.
“The Chinese Cultural Revolution is one of the most important and inspiring events in modern times: an attempt to remould a nation of 700 million people into conscious, thinking Marxist- Leninists, conscious makers and revolutionizers of world history. The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party saw as early as 1941 that the capture of state power by the proletariat and its allies would have to be followed by an ideological-cultural revolution, whose weapons would be nonviolent although it would involve antagonism and some bitterness,” Crook stated.
He added “It is significant that such a revolution has never taken place in the USSR. The Chinese Communists believe that this is one reason for the moral and ideological degeneration of Russian life and of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and thus for the counterrevolutionary role the CPSU is playing in the international Communist movement.”
Crook’s talk was sponsored by the Friends of Progressive Labor of Columbia University. In introducing Crook, a member of PLP said “We feel it is vital for Americans to learn the truth about China. This is necessary in order to weaken and defeat the hate-China campaign the US government is waging as a part of its preparation for a war with China. The great struggle between the Soviet revisionist line on war and peace and the Marxist-Leninist line put forward by the Chinese Party, is vital to the peace movement here in the US. The question of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat and its use in carrying the class struggle through to the end is life and death for revolutionaries everywhere.”
After the students had listened and asked questions for three hours, they were told the building was to be closed. Twenty-five left with Crook and talked with him until 1 A.M. Crook’s lecture provoked lively discussions in the dormitories about China and the Cultural Revolution.