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Commemorating Lu Hsun Our
Forerunner in the Cultural Revolution

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 9, #45, Nov. 4,
1966, pp. 8-10. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG
web site for some of the work done for this posting.]

THE great proletarian cultural revolution surges to a new high in its advance along the revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The broad revolutionary masses are thoroughly criticizing and repudiating the bourgeois reactionary line. It is in this excellent situation, and in a spirit of militant pride that we commemorate Lu Hsun our forerunner in the cultural revolution.

Chairman Mao has given the most comprehensive, the most penetrating appraisal of Lu Hsun. He said: Lu Hsun was “the greatest and the most courageous standard-bearer of this new cultural force.” He was “the chief commander of China’s cultural revolution”; “representing the great majority of the nation, Lu Hsun breached and stormed the enemy citadel; on the cultural front he was the bravest and most correct, the firmest, the most loyal and the most ardent national hero, a hero without parallel in our history.”

The life of Lu Hsun was a life of struggle, He always stood at the forefront of the times, waging an unswerving struggle to overthrow imperialism and its lackeys, sweep away the old culture of the exploiting classes, and spread and promote the new culture of the masses.

The old semi-feudal, semi-colonial system and culture of the China of the past was a prison that kept the masses incarcerated and rigidly shackled their minds. Lu Hsun had an implacable hatred for all man-eating systems and cultures. He sounded “the call to charge forward” to “clear out” and “sweep away” all the old forces, old ideas, old cultures, old customs and habits and trample them down, whether they were ancient canons, rare texts, sacred oracles, precious idols, traditional recipes or secret nostrums. With the fighting spirit of a man “breaking through all snares and traps,” he attacked the old world courageously. He put daring above all else and boldly declared war on all the enemies, using his pen as a javelin to throw at the enemy’s heart. He was fearless in face of threats, of isolation, of detraction and slander, of overt or covert persecution, of death itself. “Fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing fingers” Lu Hsun always despised the “flunkey-ism” of being “servile and submissive” to the enemy. He broke completely with old traditions and old forces. He was a genuine revolutionary, free from the slightest trace of philistinism; he had not a moment’s regret for the death of the old world. He repudiated the old world in the most merciless way. The force of his pen was such that the enemy was vanquished wherever it pointed.

Destruction comes first, and construction comes in the course of destruction. A new world can only be discovered in the course of repudiating the old world. This was precisely the course followed by Lu Hsun. He once said that at first, he had no idea what the new was like. It was in the course of struggling against the old system and old culture, and especially in the struggle against such reactionary bourgeois ideas as “the theory of human nature,” “humanitarianism” and “vulgar evolutionism” and in the struggle against the Trotskyite gang that he found Marxism and learnt the Marxist theory of class struggle. With this weapon he observed society, attacked the enemy and at the same time constantly “dissected himself” to transform his world outlook and consciously temper himself into a revolutionary. It was through such sharp class struggles that Lu Hsun was transformed from a radical democrat into a great communist fighter. He firmly believed that “the future belongs to the newly rising proletariat alone” and placed the hopes of the Chinese revolution in the Chinese Communist Party led by Chairman Mao.

Today, as we commemorate Lu Hsun, we must follow Chairman Mao’s teachings and learn from Lu Hsun’s utterly fearless fighting spirit and spirit of thoroughgoing revolution.

The phrase “beating a mad dog in the water” is an outstanding expression of Lu Hsun’s thoroughgoing revolutionary spirit. Lu Hsun resolutely opposed any talk of “forgiving” or “showing mercy” to the enemy. He sharply rebutted the drivel which vilifies the spirit of “beating a mad dog in the water” as “going to extremes” or “being too harsh in hating evil.” He clearly pointed out that “the nature of the dog” would not change and that if it were allowed “to crawl back on to the bank” and catch its breath, it would some day “bite to death” many revolutionaries. We say: Listen, you who are always charging us with “going to extremes”! Can we talk about “forgiving” in regard to our class enemies at home or abroad, the counter-revolutionary revisionists or the handful of persons who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road? Can we allow them to rise up again some day to “bite to death” revolutionaries? No! We must learn from Lu Hsun’s thoroughgoing revolutionary spirit of “beating a mad dog in the water,” and beat them to the earth so that they never get up again.

Lu Hsun bitterly hated those seemingly “fair” and “just” “peace-makers,” the “fence-sitters” who pretend to be “unbiased” between two armies locked in battle. “Conciliation” or “eclecticism” means “obliterating the difference between good and bad” and “serving as the enemy’s jackal.” To practise eclecticism in a life-and-death class struggle means in fact to stand on the side of the enemy. At every crucial moment in the class struggle, the eclectics invariably raise a hue and cry or mumble complaints. But history has booked these characters for a tragic role. There is no middle road in the present struggle between Marxism-Leninism and modern revisionism with the C.P.S.U. leadership at its centre. Those who advocate a middle road will inevitably slip down into the quagmire of revisionism.

In the great proletarian cultural revolution, there is also no middle road in the struggle between the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao and the bourgeois reactionary line. To practise conciliation and eclecticism in this struggle between the two lines is, in fact, to defend the bourgeois reactionary line and oppose the proletarian revolutionary line. Every revolutionary should do as Lu Hsun did: “enthusiastically uphold what is right” and “spiritedly attack what is wrong,” be clear-cut in what he loves and hates and persist in a principled stand.

From start to finish, in the revolutionary struggle, Lu Hsun fought on stubbornly and unyieldingly, no matter how long and tortuous the road or how many the difficulties, dangers and obstacles on the way. He opposed those who regarded the revolution as something simple, easy, and all plain sailing, and who would be thrown into a state of “despair and despondency” whenever things got difficult. This was the “tenacious” fighting spirit that Lu Hsun firmly upheld, this was that revolutionary staunchness characterized by down-to-earth effort, dauntlessness and defiance of all difficulties and refusal to give up before the aim is achieved. Enemy encirclement and persecution made him all the more resolute. The enemy encirclement and persecution brought out and tempered Lu Hsun’s fighting spirit. Lu Hsun did not feel alone when dark clouds obscured the sky and he was isolated. This was because he breathed the same air as the masses and threw in his lot with them, because he stood with Chairman Mao, the great leader of the Chinese people. At the time, although on the surface he was isolated, truth was on his side; he represented the interests of the proletariat and the broad masses of working people of China and the path of historical advance.

Reactionary encirclement and attack brings out and tempers the revolutionary Left. Such are the dialectics of history. In the great proletarian cultural revolution, all comrades of the Left should understand this truth, and be fearless in the face of twists and turns, encirclement and isolation, consciously tempering themselves in the class struggle and making themselves into staunch and steeled fighters.

“Head-bowed, like a willing ox I serve the children” Lu Hsun had confidence in the people and a great love for them. Because of this, Lu Hsun was adept at discovering the newborn forces in society and resolutely supported them. Throughout his life, Lu Hsun carried the banner for the emerging new things in society, cheered for their growth and sounded the clarion to clear the way for them. He spared no effort to “bring forth a large number of new fighters.” With great enthusiasm he concerned himself with the growth of the young generation and encouraged them to go into battle. He saw China’s hopes and future in the proletariat, in the masses of the people and in the revolutionary youth, and this strengthened his revolutionary confidence and militant courage. One’s attitude towards new things emerging in society, of supporting or not supporting or opposing them, is an important criterion of whether one is a revolutionary, or not a revolutionary or opposes the revolution. Proletarian revolutionaries can see the infinite vitality and the great future development of a new thing as soon as it emerges on the horizon and they will enthusiastically greet it and resolutely support it. As for the political philistines, they are blind, they cannot see the new things, or else dare not support them for fear of getting their fingers burnt. Representatives of the decaying forces heap scorn and abuse on, and ruthlessly seek to overthrow and destroy new emerging things. In the great proletarian cultural revolution, new, revolutionary things are constantly emerging and the newly emerging forces are continuously growing stronger. Before them, one must swiftly show one’s attitude and make a choice.

What most of all deserves emulating in Lu Hsun was his boundless esteem and love for the great leader Chairman Mao. In his early years he had “wandered,” but once he had found Marxism, especially after he had found the Communist Party of China represented by Chairman Mao and had found the revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, he became resolute, obeyed orders and willingly became “a foot soldier” and “an ordinary soldier” in the proletarian revolution. Ignoring the White Terror of the Kuomintang reactionaries, the lies and slanders of the Trotskyite gang and the deceit and attacks of the Chou Yangs, Lu Hsun resolutely followed Chairman Mao from start to finish and courageously defended the correct line represented by Chairman Mao.

“The heart of the hero in his old age is as stout as ever.” The older Lu Hsun grew the stronger his revolutionary will and the more pronounced became his militant youthful vigour. What force inspired him? It was the Communist Party of China represented by Chairman Mao; it was our great teacher Chairman Mao. Genuine revolutionaries must all be like Lu Hsun, resolutely follow Chairman Mao, follow him for ever, and march forward along the way pointed out by Chairman Mao. Today, we are much luckier than Lu Hsun in that we can hear Chairman Mao’s instructions in person. We must make revolution throughout our lives, read Chairman Mao’s writings throughout our lives, study Mao Tse-tung’s thought throughout our lives, and be for ever loyal to Chairman Mao, loyal to the people and loyal to the cause of communism.

Thirty years have elapsed since our forerunner in the cultural revolution, Lu Hsun, left us, but his revolutionary spirit lives on in the heart of every revolutionary comrade.

In the tempestuous waves of the great proletarian cultural revolution we need people of unyielding proletarian integrity armed with Mao Tse-tung’s thought; we need all-round revolutionary pathbreakers with penetrating insight, and wisdom and courage. The revolutionary spirit of Lu Hsun and his experience in struggle are a precious heritage. We must act according to Chairman Mao’s teachings, emulate Lu Hsun’s example, use Mao Tse-tung’s thought as our guide, and take over and carry forward Lu Hsun’s spirit of daring to make revolution and being good at making revolution, of daring to struggle and being good at struggling. We must hold still higher the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung’s thought, thoroughly criticize and repudiate the bourgeois reactionary line, resolutely implement the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, and carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end.

(“Hongqi” editorial, No. 14, 1966.)

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