Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) on China's Cultural Revolution

Selections by Peter Myers; my comments are shown {thus}. Date January 6, 2009.

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(1) Chinese Shadows, by Simon Leys (2) China under Deng admits Mao's errors, abandons Communism (3) Simon Leys is a Marxist Anti-Communist

Simon Leys was the first Westerner to break the spell of Mao in "Left" circles. His books met heavy resistance, but his account of Mao, and especially the Cultural Revolution, is now accepted as true. He used a pseudonym so that he could teach in peace (he was professor of Chinese studies at the Australian National University and later at the University of Sydney) and return to China, but someone broadcast his true name (Pierre Ryckmans), and then he was banned.

Under Deng, China abandoned Communism, adopting "Market Socialism" instead. It recognized Mao's errors, and invited Leys/Ryckmans back.

Simon Leys notes that the West itself is undergoing its own Cultural Revolution: A similar evolution seems to be taking shape in the West

the Church in Europe, before its (own) Cultural Revolution

"One can see what is wrong with the left-wing movement by the ugliness of their women."

Many of Leys' descriptions of the Cultural Revolution in China sound like the West's own cultural revolution - the Radical Feminism, Gay Pride, Children's Rights (which amounts to a diminution of parents' rights over their children), dumbing down, Political Correctness, "Hate Speech" laws. These mobilisations of various "minorities" are akin to Mao's use of the Red Guards in China. Ours is less intense but lasting longer:

denouncing and tracking down beauty, grace

humiliations inflicted by children on their elders

young members of the new ruling elite have less culture than many illiterates or semiliterates under the old regime

deleting most of the history, language, and literature that are the foundations of culture

cretinizing the most intelligent people on earth

prefabricated jargon that is a substitute for thought

This is one of the more important books of the twentieth century.

(1) Chinese Shadows

by Simon Leys

Viking Press, New York, 1977. Translated from the French edition Ombres Chinoises, published in 1974.

{p. ix} This short book is the result of a six-month stay in China which I made in 1972.

{p. xiv} Not that I claim for myself any prophetic insight: it is simply that totalitarian regimes have very little capacity for change, and the validity of whatever truths one may gather about them is bound to endure as long as the regimes themselves. ( This applies even beyond ethnic and cultural frontiers: I was privileged to work in Peking with a man who had a long and thorough experience of Stalinist Russia, and despite his lack of any previous knowledge of China, he quickly felt at home with the Maoist regime.) Thus, most of what I wrote in these pages belongs to a category of observation that, bearing as it does on the basic, permanent nature of the system, should have a kind of timeless relevance; in this respect I consider as central the descriptions of the "class-struggle" ( Chapter 8), of the bureaucracy ( Chapter 5), of cultural policy (Chapter 6).

{p. xv} Confucius said - it is not very fashionable to quote Confucius nowadays, but this book, needless to say, does not concern itself with prevalent fashions - that real knowledge was to know the extent of one's ignorance (Analects, II, 17). A valiant academic journalist who visited China on one of those standard six-week tours ( to be described here in Chapter 1 ) wrote a book of a fairly impressive size, which he had the guts to subtitle The Real China. I may not know the "real China" much better than he does; the main difference between him and me is that I know that I don't. And if I can help the reader to realize to what extent we do not know China, I shall have accomplished a tremendous feat. Actually my book could be entitled The Unreal China. Unreal in two senses: first, because it deals in part with the stage settings artificially created in China for the use of foreign visitors, second, because like most other books on the People's Republic it focuses not on the real life of real people (to which, alas! we have no access ) but on the puppet theater of the Maoist gerontocrats, those wretched lead-and-cardboard bureaucrats who are mistaken for China's driving forces when they merely weigh on it as its fetters. (In a way, Mao himself has finally become as irrelevant to China's needs as Nixon to America's - which might explain why those two gentlemen grew so fond of each other. )

The pessimism that emanates from this book derives precisely from the essential unreality of its subject. But let this not mislead the reader: there is also a young, revolutionary China, repeatedly suppressed yet constantly struggling. Though invisible to us most of the time, it periodically bursts into the open with stupendous courage. To mention only one recent instance, I think of Li Yi-che's manifesto On Democracy and Legality under Socialism, which was defiantly posted on the walls of Kwangchow at the end of 1974, or at the spontaneous mass manifestation that exploded on April 5, 1976, in the heart

{p. xvi} of Peking denouncing "the feudal rule of the new Ch'in Shih-huang" (China's most dreaded tyrant, whose name has become a code word for Mao in the symbolic language of Chinese politics). On this "real China" we found our hopes: the future belongs to it.

{p. 18} Nearly all diplomats live and work in the same place. Following the old imperial tradition, the Maoist government has concentrated the embassies, chanceries, and diplomatic lodgings in two huge ghettos outside the capital.

{p. 19} The recurring nightmare of the Maoist bureaucrats is that the foreigners might have fanned out into the countryside and even - this is the worst - managed to make some spontaneous and unsupervised contact with the people. In fact, this last fear is groundless: trained by five years of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese people will think twice before speaking to a foreigner. In some provincial cities, it happened to me that people - for one reason or another - refused even to give me directions. Who could blame them? Their caution is understandable: to own a Dickens novel or a Beethoven recording is enough to support the accusation that one has been in touch with cosmopolitan reactionaries ( of what could a man who speaks with a living foreigner not be accused?). ...

{p. 22} In the old days (and still today in Chinese communities that are not under Maoist regime) any foreigner who spoke Chinese and adopted Chinese cultural values could participate wholly in Chinese life: he was accepted; his foreignness vanished, was forgotten; the natural flow of life, the friendly and unobtrusive pressure of the environment - everything worked to assimilate him. Now, however, his foreignness is underlined. Everything possible is done to remind him that he is an alien - a moat is dug around him. The authorities do everything to prevent him from enjoying the simple, warm welcome that Chinese people had always been ready to extend to him but can now reveal only stealthily, furtively.

{p. 23} And it is the same everywhere he goes. There will always be some offlcious lower-level bureaucrat representing the invisible, ever-present, omnipotent authorities and ready to create around the hapless foreigner a no man's land that nobody dares cross.

{p. 24} North of Peking, thanks to an incredibly gracious gesture on the part of the authorities, the Ming Tombs are open all year round. In this sublime valley - where the thirteen imperial memorials raise their red walls and golden roofs under the pines and junipers, in this sacred circle where the ageless call of the plowman reverberates in the surrounding hills, while the cry of the hawk echoes across the solitude of the azure sky - here one can for a moment forget the ugliness and sadness of the Maoist cancer that is gnawing away at the face of China, that imposes everywhere the indiscretion of its slogans, the obscenity of its loudspeakers, informing against the people, denouncing and tracking down beauty, grace, and poetry wherever they may be found. How is this possible? By what extraordinary oversight has this necropolis, so full of an unseen presence, been spared by the proletarian revolutionary pickax? The visitor should not deve too deeply into that question, but should come secretly to drink at this pure spring of loveliness as long as it still is there, in the midst of spiritual desert so industriously created all around it by the propagandists of Maoist culture.

{this sounds like the West's own cultural revolution - the Radical Feminism, Gay Pride, Political Correctness, "Hate Speech" laws}

{p. 28} The great state banquets that Chou En-lai has given with greater and greater frequency these last months do not really come under either heading, but since they take up a large part of the foreigner's time, maybe a word should now be said about them.

These banquets follow an unchanging ritual. They take place in the Great Hall of the People - a monstrous example of totalitarian architecture, a cross between an Egyptian temple and a Mussolini palace, whose uncouth mass defiles the noble perspective from T'ien-an men Gate to Ch'ien men Gate. ...

What kind of entertainment is available to the foreigner to

{p. 30} recuperate from those high-society duties that take up so much of his time? Once, Peking managed the paradox of being a northern city with a meridional liveliness; now the Maoist regime has razed its monuments and sterilized its genius (this murder is described in Chapter 2). Only the breathtaking courts and palaces of the Forbidden City have been kept whole: the stroller dare not wander elsewhere, because all around it Peking is a desert with nothing to entice him. The streets and markets have been shorn of their colors and spectacles; the noble city walls and gates have been pulled down; all the pailous, which gave rhythm and graceful fancy to the streets, have disappeared. The "Cultural" Revolution closed down the museums; the few temples that it left standing have become barracks, factories, dormitories, or garbage depots. The jugglers, booksellers, storytellers, puppeteers, the thousands of craftsmen, the inns, the little shops and pubs, the antique dealers and calligraphy shops (except for two catering only to foreigners), in short, all that gave Peking its lovely, diverse, and wonderful face, all that made it into an incredibly civilied city, all that made the ordinary Pekingese - with their truculence, their verve, their quick and subtle minds, their art of living - a natural aristocracy within the nation, all this has gone, disappeared forever.

{p. 34} 2 Follow the Guide

One enters the People's Republic from Hong Kong. The Lohu frontier post, where travelers spend a few hours before boarding the train to Canton, is in many ways an exemplary summary of the official China, the only one foreigners are allowed to see. I forget who it was who compared Lohu to a convent, but the image is very apt, the likeness striking: long white corridors, spotlessly clean; high windows; green plants in pots; quiet shadowy parlors; edifying portraits; gray muslin slipcovers on the furniture; a whiff of camphor and wax; pious boredom; orthodox literature in several languages freely available to visitors; a kind of solicitude on the part of the personnel who serve you, knowing well that thereby they acquire eternal merits with Chairman Mao - it's all there.

Indeed, ecclesiastical metaphors are virtually irresistible when describing the People's Republic. And, too, Maoism has a peculiar fascination for some clerical-minded souls. Those who harbor a certain nostalgia for totalitarianism and unconsciously regret the passing away of the Inquisition and the Pope's Zouaves

{p. 35} will find in Maoist China the incarnation of a medieval dream, where institutionalized Truth has again a strong secular arm to impose dogma, stifle heresy, and uproot immorality.

{p. 41} The People's Daily seldom has ideological editorials; the bookshops are empty of books; the Arts and Letters faculties cannot start their teaching and research programs again; the studios have not produced a single feature film since 1966; the theaters are restricted to Madame Mao's half-dozen Revolutionary Model operas - all this happens not only because many intellectuals, writers, professors, and artists are still busy carting manure and raising pigs but also and mostly because the minority who are still on the job have received no clear-cut instructions. With no criteria to establish the orthodoxy, but only vague and contradictory instructions, they dare not take any initiative that might be considered a crime tomorrow.

Still, the ideologists and "soul engineers" must do something, put some sort of show on in the cultural desert: this is where the Mao cult comes in. ... No periodical, be its subject archaeology, pedagogy, or linguistics, is published without having its front page exclusively devoted to some Thoughts of Chairman Mao, printed in boldface; since the Cultural

{p. 42} Revolution even books (on philosophy or electronics or anything) have that invariable, ritual, propitiatory front page. ...

In the end, what has changed in the Maoist cult is perhaps less its intensity and breadth than its character and aim. It was a conquering religion, a fighting weapon; it has become an alibi, a ruse, a formal occupation whose wholly negative virtue is to cover a void, fill up the silence, people a desert.

{p. 47} It is probable that the Cultural Revolution has left other, even deeper scars on Chinese minds and feelings. It represented, after all, the climax of twenty years of periodic, sometimes violent purges, twenty years of systematic training in aggression, of legitimizing violence and hatred. The daily witnessing of looting, revenge, cruelties, humiliations inflicted by children on their elders under the pretext of "class struggle"; the obligation to be present at, if not to take an active part in, the public denunciation of neighbors, friends, fellow workers, and parents - all this must have put its mark on the society as a whole. It would be interesting to know the statistical curve of suicides and mental illness; such information, if it exists, is of course not available to us. But from my own limited, myopic, subjective view as observer and traveler, I could not help being struck by the electric tension in the atmosphere, a tension for which none of my previous experiences of Chinese life had prepared me. For instance, in my six-month trip in China I saw more quarrels, even brawls, than in five years in Hong Kong - which is not a markedly relaxed or gracious city. I do not mean to suggest that social life in the People's Republic is based on violence: on the contrary, and especially when compared to other societies, Chinese society is remarkably peaceful and balanced. But if we compare it to itself, I cannot but wonder if the history of the last twenty years has not borne fruit, twenty years of systematic incitation to "class hatred" and the denunciation of basic human impulses, such as compassion for suffering, whoever is the victim (this is now condemned as the expression of a bourgeois humanism that denies the class struggle ), has not brought about the general and willed lowering of the traditional virtues that gave harmony to

{p. 48} Chinese life. On this point, the Maoist regime has only repeated Soviet experiences, and the witness of Nadezhda Mandelstam to the psychological and moral impact of Stalinism on Russia could perhaps well apply to Maoist China:

There were once many kind people, and even unkind ones pretended to be good because that was the thing to do. Such pretence was the source of the hyprocrisy and dishonesty so much exposed in the realist literature at the end of the last century. The unexpected result of this kind of critical writing was that kind people disappeared. Kindness is not, after all, an inborn quality but it has to be cultivated, and this only happens when it is in demand. For our generation, kindness was an old-fashioned, vanished quality, and its exponents were as extinct as the mammoth. Everything we have seen in our times - the dispossession of the kulaks, class warfare, the constant "unmasking" of people, the search for an ulterior motive behind every action - all this has taught us to be anything you like except kind.5

Strolling in the streets of Shamien, the former European quarter of Canton, I saw a huge banner on the front of an old church, now transformed into a meeting hall. It announced a meeting of parents of young people sent into the countryside. The despair of the youngsters banished for life, to faraway villages where they are often unwelcome, is shared by their parents: they suffer not only from the final separation but from the terrible thought that their children's future is, in their eyes, forever ruined. (Twenty years of socialism have not succeeded in crushing the age-old contempt of mandarin society for manual work; and it must be added that the condition of peasants remains so low in China that city dwellers still look down upon a countryside posting as exile or disgrace; to send people to the country remains a disposition of the penal system.)

{p. 50} The trains, prosaically, run on time. Sybaritic meals offered in the buffet car contrast with the austerity of the airline fare. (Have the railways fallen back, like other sectors, into the hands of the revisionists, while the airways are still the preserve of the extreme left?) The first-class sleeping car is always three-quarters empty, and the only travelers the foreigner will meet are highly military officers. Mealtimes are arranged so that he will never be in the buffet car with ordinary Chinese travelers. But to break the isolation, the foreign traveler can talk to train personnel - the porters, waiters, and cooks. These are mostly agreeable and sociable types, and thanks to the peculiar nature of their professional obligations, they lack the inhibitions that paralyze the rest of the population in dealing with foreigners. They can always find a good reason to come and have a chat with you in your compartment: travelers are few in first-class, and they have plenty of time. I never traveled without Hong Kong Chinese-language newspapers, of which the citizens of the People's Republic, for obvious reasons, are extremely fond.7 I never figured out exactly what fascinated them most - heretical revelations about recent developments in the power struggle in Peking, or prurient details about the private lives of Hong Kong starlets; but in any case, on each trip the word would go around, and before long my compartment would be a reading room; the conductor, the guard, the policeman on duty, the porter, and the cook would each in turn knock on my door; after securing the lock to discourage any undesired visitor, they would sit down comfortably and become absorbed in back numbers of Ming pao. Traveling always on the same lines - Peking-Canton, Peking-

7. For the same reasons inhabitants of Taiwan have the same ravenous curiosity for publications from Peking.

{p. 51} Shanghai - it happened that I met the same attendants several times, and I was able to establish fairly coherent and friendly relationships with them. We had long talks on all kinds of subjects - purposeless, sloganless, filled with friendly curiosity. We had time. To chat for hours about everything and nothing with these straightforward and warm-hearted people was for me a source of the deepest happiness, and it wasn't only because I had been cut off for so long from the most basic social exchanges. In contrast to officials - big or small bureaucrats, fanatics or success-hounds, arrogant or shabby, proud parvenus or pathetic prostitutes - whom I had to meet daily and exclusively, those workers appeared to me, in their simple human truth, as the rightful heirs of a civilization that the new mandarins had not yet succeeded in entirely destroying. Their natural ease, their wisdom, their mixture of courtesy and craftiness, their richly expressive language - all this put these naive and subtle people in complete contrast with the unidimensional cardboard robots who rule them; more, they offered me the revelation ( or illusion ) of a Chinese humanity that had kept itself intact, as if protected by its very simplicity. Orwell had an intuition of this essential and secret hope, with people lacking intellectual formation (or deformation?) remaining its trustees amidst the universal nightmare: I am thinking of this passage from 1984:

In some ways, Julia was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. ... But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her. She believed, for instance, having lernt it at school, that the Party had invented airplanes. ... And when Winston told her that airplanes had been in existence before he was born, and long before the Revolution, the fact struck her as totally uninteresting. ... In the ramifications of Party doctrine she had not the faintest interest. Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability of the past and the denial of objective reality, and to use

{p. 52} Newspeak words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid any attention to that kind of thing. One knew that it was rubbish, so why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo, and that was all one needed. If he persisted in talking of such subjects, she had a disconcerting habit of falling asleep. She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.8

This reminds me of the interview given in Hong Kong in the early 1960s by a peasant who had escaped from China. The interviewer was asking him what he knew about other countries. When asked, "What do you know about Yugoslavia?" the peasant, painstaking and placid, answered, "It is a pseudosocialist country run by revisionist hyenas in the pay of American capitalism."

Somewhat later, the interviewer asked: "If you could choose, where would you like to live?"

"Well, in Yugoslavia, for example."


"It seems that in pseudosocialist countries run by revisionist hyenas in the pay of American capitalism, oil and cotton cloth are not rationed."

8. George Orwell, 1984 (London, 1948; New York, 1949), pp. 154, 155, 157. Rereading this book, written before the People's Republic was founded, one is aghast at its uncanny prophetic quality. Without ever dreaming of Mao's China, Orwell succeeded in describing it, down to concrete details of daily life, with more truth and accuracy than most researchers who come back from Peking to tell us the "real truth."

{p. 53} Peking

It is not easy to foresee how future centuries will judge the Maoist rule, but one thing is certain: despite all it has done, the name of the regime will also be linked with the outrage it inflicted on a cultural legacy of all mankind: the destruction of the city of Peking.

For what they wanted to do to their own capital city, the rulers of the People's Republic would have been better inspired to have a hideous modern city such as Tientsin, for instance; they could have bulldozed whole neighborhoods, laid out grids of those endless straight boulevards they seem to be so fond of; created vast esplanades and exalting deserts of tarmac for their mass manifestations in the best Stalino-Fascist style; in a word, they could have slaked their thirst for destruction without causing irreparable damage to the monumental legacy of Chinese civilization. Moreover, the architectural ugliness of a city like Tientsin, which reaches almost surrealist dimensions, could have inspired the architects of the new regime as it challenged them in the category of delirious kitsch and petty-bourgeois pretentiousness; the competition would have been keen between the imperialist-colonialist and the Maoist city planners; even better, the various monuments given to China by the Soviet Union which now disgrace Peking would have found in Tientsin a background more in harmony with their aesthetic. But alas, from a Maoist point of view Tientsin would not do: it had no imperial tradition.

In Peking stands one monument that more than any other is a dramatic symbol of the Maoist rape of the ancient capital: the Monument to the Heroes of the People. This obelisk, more than a hundred feet high, the base of which is adorned by margarine bas-reliefs, would by itself be of no particular note if it were not for the privileged place it has, exactly in the center of the vista from Ch'ien men Gate to T'ien-an men Gate. ...

{p. 54} In the same way, this insignificant granitic phallus receives all its enormous significance from the blasphemous stupidity of its location. In erecting this monument in the center of the sublime axis that reaches from Ch'ien men to T'ien-an men, the designer's idea was, of course, to use to advantage the ancient imperial planning of that space, to take over to the monument's advantage that mystical current, which, carried along rhythmically from city gate to city gate, goes from the outside world to the Forbidden City, the ideal center of the Universe. The planner failed to realize that by inserting his revolutionary-proletarian obscenity in the middle of that sacred way he was neatly destroying precisely the perspective he wanted to capture for it.

The brutal silliness of the Monument to the Heroes of the People, which disrupts and annihilates the energy-field of the old imperial space by trying to appropriate it, epitomizes, alas, the manner in which the Maoist regime has used Peking: it has chosen the old capital in order to give its power a foundation of prestige; in taking over this city, it has destroyed it.

The destruction of Peking started in the 1950s, when all the pailous that spanned the main thoroughfares of the old city were eliminated. These graceful arches broke the monotony of the streets and gave them a kind of rhythm that was at the same time noble and elegant, but they were guilty of two crimes: they hindered traffic and worse, in the heart of the Red capital, they were feudal and reactionary remnants (most of them had been built to commemorate chaste widows or upright mandarin officials). At that time, an expert in ancient Chinese architecture, Liang Ssu-ch'eng (son of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, the famous publicist who did more than anyone to introduce modern ideas in China at the beginning of the century , defended the pailou and fought bravely against the destruction committed in the name of Russian urbanistic principles. He paid for it: not only was his struggle in vain (not one of these charming constructions remains in all of

{p. 55} Peking), but he became the target of various attacks, which stopped only when he had recanted publicly, praised the merits of Soviet architectural planning, confessed his errors, and (for good measure ) denounced the memory of his father.

After pulling down the pailous, whole blocks were razed to assuage the hunger of socialist town planners for immense avenues, boulevards, and squares; these are intended for the parades, mass meetings, pageants, and rallies, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of participants, that are as essential to the good working of a people's republic as the old circus games were to the Roman Empire. During the off-season for political grand opera - and this is so in all socialist metropolises, from Moscow to Peking - the paltry car traffic, contrasting with the giant size of these roads, gives them a ghostly appearance. The vast boulevards call to mind the false airports which cargo-cult devotees in New Guinea hack out of the jungle in the hope that this will persuade their gods to send planes full of treasure: one is sometimes tempted to believe that the building of the Autobahns, now used only by a few dismal cyclists or donkey carts, might similarly be part of a magic ritual, as if miles of macadam might generate the sudden appearance of hordes of hooting, stinking, triumphant cars - simultaneously the nightmare of the consumer society and dream of the socialist one.

In the obliteration of Peking, the next step was to demolish the city walls. Here it must be noted that Peking was not an ordinary city born of the meeting of various economic, demographic, and geographical factors. It was also the projection in stone of a spiritual vision: its walls were, therefore, not so much a medieval defense apparatus as a depiction of a cosmic geometry, a graphic of the universal order.

Before coming back to Peking in 1972, I had known already that I would not see the walls again: the government of the People's Republic had razed them all. This Herculean labor, begun in 1950, was completed in 1962. But, I thought, if the walls have gone, at least the essential things are still there: the glorious

{p. 56} series of monumental gates that still define and organize the city's ideal space. Even if the physical appearance has changed, at least the gates are there, perpetuating on Chinese soil, as an ideographic character painted on silk or carved on a stele, the sign of Peking.

The panic that seized me when I could not find the gates is not easy to describe. Everyone who has known them must naively believe, as I did, that they were immortal, and they will understand my state of mind that day in May 1972, as I rushed breathlessly from Ch'ung-wen men (Hata men is the popular appellation of this gate, from the name of a Mongol prince, Hata, who had his palace nearby) all the way to Hsi-chih men, finding only, in place of each gate, the dull flatness of an abnormally wide and empty boulevard. For a while, I tried to tell myself that I had gotten lost, that since the streets had changed I had lost my sense of direction, that at the next crossroads I could not miss the massive and protecting shape of a gate, rediscovered at last. This could only be an absurd nightmare: sooner or later I was bound to find the road back to reality - the gate to Peking. I must be having hallucinations. - Any hypothesis seemed more acceptable than the truth. Finally, at Hsi-chih men, dead-beat after rushing around madly for a whole afternoon, I could not deny the evidence: this obscene stump among the rubble, which the workmen were beating down with their picks, this was all that remained of Peking's last gate. ... As I learned later, its destruction had been postponed because the wreckers had found, during their work, the foundations of a gate of the Yuan era (A.D. 1234-1368). Archaeologists and photographers were summoned; the Kao-ku (Archaeology) review published articles by the first and pictures by the second, to show the world how much care was taken with China's cultural heritage under the Maoist regime; when this formality was accomplished, the destruction of the entire monument continued until completed - Yuan remains included. In order to make people believe that it was both revolutionary and cultural, the Cultural

{p. 57} Revolution thus practiced (simultaneously or successively) iconoclasm and archaeology. Dead stones loom large in specialized periodicals for the export market, while living stones in the city are murdered.

But why all the demolition? In the particular case of Hsi-chih men, for instance, the only result of reducing it to a field of rubble is to clear the perspective of the Exhibition Palace, that poisonous gift of Soviet friendship, a masterpiece of Stalinoid architecture, whose neo-Babylonian tower in lard, now visible from all sides, succeeds in changing West Peking into a suburb of some dismal Irkutsk or Khabarovsk. Elsewhere, the disappearance of the gates has permitted the widening and straightening of the streets; muleteers and bicyclists do not have to waste two or three minutes going around those majestic sentries; now they can dash in a straight line across a desert. In Europe one is, alas, used to seeing the beauty of historic cities destroyed to make room for cars. In Peking, it is more original; the city has been destroyed not under the pressure of existing traffic, but in prevision of traffic yet to come. This, at least, is what one must conclude if one accepts the most common offlcial explanation. But offlcial doctrine on the matter is not unanimous; some bureaucrats defend the destruction of the gates by the need to clear the way for future traffic; others say that it was done to obtain building materials - but this is not very convincing, since the army of demolishers could just as well have opened new quarries in the hills around Peking. When cornered on the subject, authorities are vague and strangely laconic. It is rather remarkable that nobody seems to know the true reasons for a job that took so much effort and so many people and lasted for so many years.

In the end, chronology can give us the clue to the riddle. It appears that the destruction of the gates started in 1967 or 1968: in other words, the operation took place under the master slogan of the Cultural Revolution, "Destroy the old to establish the new."

{p. 58} If the destruction of the entire legacy of China's traditional culture was the price to pay to insure the success of the revolution, I would forgive all the iconoclasms, I would support them with enthusiasm! What makes the Maoist vandalism so odious and so pathetic is not that it is irreparably mutilating an ancient civilization but rather that by doing so it gives itself an alibi for not grappling with the true revolutionary tasks. The extent of their depredations gives Maoists the cheap illusion that they have done a great deal; they persuade themselves that they can rid themselves of the past by attacking its material manifestations; but in fact they remain its slaves, bound the more tightly because they refuse to realize the effect of the old traditions within their revolution. The destruction of the gates of Peking is, properly speaking, a sacrilege; and what makes it dramatic is not that the authorities had them pulled down but that they remain unable to understand why they pulled them down.

{p. 59} A countersuperstition is not less a superstition: under the old regime town walls were venerated; under the new one they are under attack. The fury of the iconoclasts is a negative measurement of the permanence of the sacred powers that ruled feudal society. The tragedy is that the sacred powers dwell not in those innocent stones, whose beauty is sacrificed in vain, but in the minds of the wreckers. Seen in this light, the Maoist enterprise appears hopeless; the regime may well change China into a cultural desert without succeeding in exorcising the ghosts of the past: these ghosts will continue their paralyzing tyranny so long as the regime is unable to identify them within itself. But will it ever be capable of such clear vision?

{p. 60} This shows, I'm afraid, how little the Maoist authorities are ready to re-examine critically the old cliches in which they have locked the concepts of "old" and "new," "feudalism" and "progress," "reaction" and "revolution." By refusing to examine the nature and identity of its revolution in depth, the People's Republic condemns itself to marking time, to struggling in the dark, producing such periodic sterile explosions as the Cultural Revolution. It can have little hope of liberating itself from the slavery of the past as long as it hunts it among old stones, instead of denouncing its active reincarnation in the ideology and political practices of the new mandarins.

For those who knew it in the past, Peking now appears to be a murdered town. The body is still there, the soul has gone. The life of Peking, which created never-ending theater in its streets and squares, the noisy and enjoyable life of the city has gone, leaving only the physical presence of a mute and monochromatic crowd, oppressed by a silence broken only by the tinkle of bicycle bells.

But for foreign tourists, this dead city continues to offer a number of monuments that amply warrant the visit. The Forbidden City has miraculously been preserved (is it because Mao Tse-tung likes now and again to play at being emperor from the balcony of T'ien-an men?). Whatever the reason, this vast gathering of courts and palaces remains one of the most sublime architectural creations in the world. In the history of architecture, most monuments that try to express imperial majesty abandon the human scale and cannot reach their objective without reducing their occupants to ants. Here, on the contrary, greatness always keeps an easy measure, a natural scale; it is conveyed not by a disproportion between the monument and the onlooker but by an infallibly harmonious space. The just nobility of these courts and roofs, endlessly reafflrmed under the changing light of different days and seasons, gives the onlooker that physical feeling of happiness which only music can sometimes convey. As a body loses weight in water, the visitor feels a lightening of his being to swim thus in such perfection - in curious contradiction

{p. 61} to the explanatory notices that the authorities have put at the entrances to each court and building, describing the Chinese imperial regime in terms which would best evoke the dark and cruel horror of some Assyrian tyranny, and which would hardly account for this quality of equilibrium that seems to have inspired the whole city.

The Temple of Heaven belongs to the same aesthetic and spiritual world. Here again, greatness is reached through means that are wholly foreign to gigantism. It represents a perfect harmony, the result of the organization of a homogeneous and unique space where the buildings, the empty spaces, the perspectives, the old trees, and the blue of the sky are all active elements. I do not know to what miracle this pure perfection owes its survival - under a regime for which, elsewhere, beauty in all forms appears to be the sure mark of feudal vice or bourgeois corruption. Up to now, the Maoists have been content with building ( in the middle of the avenue linking the Huang-ch'iung yu, the Imperial Heavenly Vault, to the Ch'i-nien tien, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest) a huge crimson cement screen on which you can read the text of the inevitable Mao poem (to tell the truth, it is the least bad one: 'Snow") in the poor and pretentious calligraphy of the author. In 1972 truck convoys were bringing dirt to a spot just west of this sacred way: I was told there was a plan to build an artificial hill there. The plan was evidently to make some sort of proletarian Tiger Balm Garden in the heart of the Temple of Heaven, for the healthy relaxation of the working masses. ...

I shall say little of the Summer Palace, carefully restored after the lootings of the Cultural Revolution. (But the tomb of Yeh-lu Ch'u-ts'ai has disappeared: the new guides there, promoted after the Cultural Revolution, not only did not know that the tomb had been there until 1966, but knew nothing about this famous historical figure. Yeh-lu Ch'u-ts'ai (1190-1244), a Khitan aristocrat who served as minister to Genghis Khan, exerted a civilizing and moderating influence upon the savage Mongol conquerors.)

{p. 64} Tientsin

In the diesel train that links Peking to Tientsin, there are no compartments where the foreign traveler can be isolated. The conductor puts you in the first seat facing the front and clears the seat next to you and the ones opposite. The train I took, one cold autumn morning, was full; many passengers had to stand in the aisle. I was surprised when a young woman defied the conductor's instructions and quietly sat down opposite me. I quickly learned the secret of her audacity: she was an Overseas Chinese. Overseas Chinese, even if they have lived on the mainland for years, keep a special status and enjoy several material privileges - and if they want to leave China they can sometimes get an exit visa. But more than those various advantages, what perhaps really sets them apart is their more individualistic attitude, a sum of reflexes of a people used to freedom, which the

{p. 65} citizens of the People's Republic seem to have forgotten. We chatted about one thing or another till we came to Tientsin. Normally, the traveler in Maoist China must observe a ponderous and didactic program, in which the Chinese bombard him with numbers, statistics, Thoughts of the Chairman, official pronouncements made by various "responsible persons" and other spokesmen, which the zealous visitor is supposed to write down in little notebooks. By contrast, any human contact, however short, however commonplace, stands in sharp relief. I want to note down here the cold-pinched face and sad smile of that young woman on the Tientsin train, not that this image has any particular meaning: I note it because it has no particular meaning, which is what made it so precious and so rare in a world that was so meticulously organized, rigorously planned, and heavily pedagogic.

Tientsin has the funereal and grotesque poetry of a decor by Kafka. Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army quartered in a neo-Gothic cathedral. The proud facade of imperialist banks - colossal imitations of fancy Parthenons - with patched tatters of laundry fluttering between the columns. Once luxurious palaces belonging to captains of industry and barons of finance, false Roman villas, imitations of medieval castles - and then, suddenly, a whole street borrowed from a quiet European middle-class suburbia, with plaster gnomes in derelict gardens. A nightmare Disneyland, with old Belgian tramways shaking along the boulevards; everything tawdry, peeling, decrepit, ramshackle. Once pretentious mansions have become warehouses, or have been subdivided into flats and subflats for a whole population of tenants who have organized themselves with an abundance of planks and cardboard. Tientsin should be visited by night - the streets are all but blacked out, although here and there a lamp glows in the darkness - and the whole city, with its walled-up windows, its blind and leprous facades, seems to be a sleepwalker's dream. The paradox of this ghost city is that it is one of the major cities of the world, with more than three million

{p. 66} inhabitants. To the passing visitor, the very existence of these millions of lives seems to have been sucked away by the vampire shadows of the past.

The only human confidence I received in Tientsin was given me by a wall: I found a small stenciled notice from a private citizen glued near a bus stop. The man who had signed it, a technician from Tientsin working in a factory in Sian, more than six hundred miles from his family, was trying to learn if there were not in Tientsin a technician from Sian with qualifications similar to his and willing to exchange posts; he wanted the exchange urgently because "the fact of being permanently away from his wife and small children worked on his mind in a way that prevented the full development of his revolutionary enthusiasm for the edification of socialism."

The hotel for foreigners in Tientsin is worth the journey. This monstrous and gloomy construction, a relic of the imperialist era, is usually empty; an army of idle servants yawns and naps along the corridors. In the high-ceilinged rooms, shadowy even in the middle of the day, the guest has the feeling of a vague presence - as if the previous occupant had hanged himself there. In the gloom, as in a cave, can be heard the crystalline music of a leaking toilet, tinkling that monotonous melody of socialist plumbing which can be heard in all the hotels from Prague to Vladivostok, from Canton to Novosibirsk.


Peitaiho is a seaside resort for bureaucrats and diplomats, some seven hours from Peking by train, not far from the place where the Great Wall meets the sea. It has a certain charm, but this cannot always be felt right away.

The essence of this subtle magic lies in the fact that after a few days one is assailed by doubts about the very existence of the place. If any holiday resort to fulfill its aim of making evasion possible must suggest a kind of "elsewhere," Peitaiho

{p. 67} represents an absolute evasion, because it is a true "nowhere." Imagine turn-of-the-century villas from Folkestone or Ostend, transposed in colonial terms, with wide verandas, servants' quarters, and corrugated-iron roofs, and set down in a space dotted with pines and sentry boxes of the People's Liberation Army, on a low cliff overlooking the blue horizons of the Po-hai: this will give you in a nutshell an idea of this ineffable place, neither Chinese nor Western, this incredible bastard of a clandestine mating between colonialist imperialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Peitaiho in its eeriness raises the notion of a seaside resort to the quasi-metaphysical plane: it is less a holiday resort than the Platonic idea of a holiday resort.

During the holiday season, all the foreign diplomats of Peking and their families may be found parked on the beach, which is the size of a handkerchief. On the land side, you find every fifty yards a sentry of the People's Liberation Army, marking off a perimeter that is perhaps two miles long and a mile wide: a magic and unreal holiday zone carefully cut off from China - which from Peitaiho seems to be on another planet. On the sea side, an underwater net marks the area allotted to swimmers - ostensibly this is to protect them from sharks, but since at that latitude sharks do not exist or are no bigger than a large herring, I cannot help thinking that the net has, not a practical, but a mystical function; the counterpart of the line of sentries on the land side, it makes that small diplomatic world completely watertight, sealed off against any contamination from reality that might emerge in contacts with peasants from the countryside or fish from the Po-hai.

But the Peitaiho atmosphere is insidious. I have observed that some vacationers who stay too long almost fall back, gently, into childhood. One dozes at the sound of the surf; the moon washes over a blue-and-silver world; the wind sighing in the pines brings back old memories from a forgotten youth. In the touching old bungalows the floors moan, the musty drawers give out heady Proustian odors.

{p. 76} Linhsien and the Red flag Canal

Linhsien, with the famous Red Flag ( Hung-ch'i Canal, an enterprise worthy of the Pharaohs, is the second Holy Place of Maoism. To irrigate the Linhsien district, a river was rerouted through a tunnel beneath a mountain and then along a new bed built on the side of steep cliffs. Here again, the guides insist on the fact that this colossal work was done by the local populace with their bare hands, without the help of engineers or machines. If engineers had been consulted, they would probably have objected that, instead of mobilizing thousands of people for ten years "to dig by hand 1,500 kilometers of canal, level hills, pierce 134 tunnels, build 150 aqueducts, displace by hand 16.4 million cubic meters of earth and rocks - enough to build a road 1 meter high, 6 meters wide, and 4,000 kilometers long," it would have been more rational and more economic to use that energy for some productive use, and to use the proceeds to buy a pump that could bring water directly over to the other side of the mountains. But by making such a suggestion, the engineers would have shown that, like true "experts," they knew nothing of the real nature of the problem. The function of the Red Flag Canal is only accidentally economic, agricultural, or hydraulic; itsl significance is religious, and it is probably for that reason that it will be passed on to posterity. Monuments like the Great Wall or the Pyramids capture the imagination of millions, though the first was of dubious military effectiveness and the second never seemed (from an economic point of view) a rational practice for burial. Maybe psychologists and anthropologists will be able to explain why slave societies feel the need to pursue such gigantic endeavors. Meanwhile, I note that visitors from the Third World - especially Africans - are usually overcome by the lesson of Linhsien, and this is something we should think about. That this epic work makes little sense for the technician or the economist doesn't cut much ice with people who from their own national experience know the illusory value of credits and experts. Maybe they think that only the ancient secrets of the

{p. 77} Pharaohs and of Ch'in Shih-huang, as applied anew in the heroic mobilization of the antlike Linhsien people, can rescue the Third World from the morass into which, each day, it sinks deeper.

Chengchow and Anyang

Visitors who go to Linhsien usually break their journey at Chengchow, the provincial capital of Honan. I have spoken already of the weighty, luxurious fortress-hotels where, far from the city centers, foreigners are deposited: the Chengchow hotel is the most Baian of all (a close runner-up is the hotel in Ch'angsha, where people stay when they visit the Birthplace of the Great Leader). The Chengchow hotel was designed by Russians for Russians; its vulgar gigantism and monstrous daintiness, which seem to have been devised for half-breed customers (by Cyclops out of shopgirls), are a fascinating projection of Stalin's genius. Stalin, for all too obvious reasons, is very much honored in Mao's China: his portrait hangs in most public buildings next to Lenin's, Engels', and Marx's; his complete works fill whole shelves in bookshops. But nowhere is his presence so evident as in the Chengchow palace. In the nightmare of its endless corridors, the weight of its triple velvet curtains, the perpetual gloom of its vast lounges filled with gray-covered furniture, I could feel almost physically the permanent presence of the man whom Osip Mandelstam (paying for it with his life) called "the hillman in the Kremlin, the wide-chested Ossete":

His thick fingers are fat like worms
And his words fall like hundred-pound weights.
He laughs in his enormous cockroach mustache
And his boots glisten, catching the eye. 12

12. Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope against Hope, Appendix I. The poem does not appear in the English edition, but only in the French edition: Nadejda Mandelstam, Contre tout espoir (Paris, 1972).

{p. 88} Shanghai may have changed radically since 1949, but its atmosphere and populace still have something unique and different about them - quite potent, too, for someone used to the stiff formality that Peking has acquired since becoming Mao's capital. This is partly due to the size of the conurbation (ten million inhabitants!). In such a crowd, anonymity is possible, individuals have a chance for solitude, personal activities, a degree of privacy. In addition the revolutionary tradition of the city that was the vanguard of the political, social and cultural struggles of modern China is still alive. The two social elements which, mixed, can bring on explosions - an urban proletariat and an intellectual elite - are larger here than anywhere else. It is not surprising that the regime has tried - and still tries - to use Shanghai's revolutionary potential; this was where the first shot of the Cultural Revolution was fired - the famous article written by Yao en-yuan under Mao's clirection, which the Great Leader, restricted in power at the time, could not get published in any newspaper in Peking and in the end had to have appear in the Shanghai paper Wen-hui pao. And, again, when Peking is back in its conservative rut and serves forth the latest Maoist slogans in such a way as to defuse their explosive power, Shanghai restores the dynamite in a new review, Hsueh-hsi yu p'i-p'an (Study and Criticism), which is stiff competition for the traditional Hung ch'i (Red Flag) of Peking. Between Peking and Shanghai, acrimonious dialogue or mutual boycott can be felt today, in the propaganda papers and among the political personnel; they crystallize the contradictions and antagonisms that have torn Chinese leadership apart since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution and have prevented the emergence of a homogeneous leadership and stable power.15

15. The downfall of the "Gang of Four" ( Madame Mao, Wang Hlmgwen, Chang Ch'un-ch'iao, and Yao Wen-yuan ) in late 1976 marked the end of Shanghai as a citadel of radical Maoism.

{p. 89} The revolutionary character of Shanghai is a two-edged sword in the hands of Maoist power, when this power tends to deny its own revolutionary vocation. At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution Mao recruied his first partisans here in 1965-66; but here he also made his bitterest enemies, when he crushed the proletarian strikes that could have given him his revolutionary vanguard and when he betrayed the hopes of those activist youth who had enthusiastically answered his first call.

As for now, in any case - a remnant of bourgeois individualism? a cynical lack of commitment on the part of people whose hopes were betrayed? or just typical defiance? - one is happy to see pairs of lovers everywhere, completely indifferent to their surroundings, and a striking lack of those proletarian uniforms (virtuous patches and right-thinking cloth caps) which are de rigueur in Peking, and by the general fact that Shanghai girls refuse to shroud their grace in dreary potato sacks as their sisters do in Peking.

Such manifestations of independence, not all that important but at least visible, combine with the quick lilting rhythm of the Shanghai dialect and the agile minds of the people to make Shanghai's atmosphere tonic and stimulating (in complete contrast to the Peking stiffness and slowness) and to give the city a specific and irreducible quality of which the inhabitants are very proud. The rest of the country views it with a mixture of fear and suspicion, and Shanghai brings nightmares to Peking bureaucrats. China looks at Shanghai rather the way provincial and puritan America looks at New York: as an urban monster that drains the intelligence, dynamism, and daring of the whole nation, a fascinating and disquieting Babylon in which the country cannot recognize itself.

Economically, Shanghai is a heavy burden on China's resources, with its ten million customers who must be fed every day. Twenty years ago, the regime decided to decongest this dangerous and restless concentration of humanity, mainly by deporting young people to the countryside and especially to out-

{p. 90} Iying provinces such as Sinkiang. This movement, started in the late 1950s and gaining impetus at the end of the Cultural Revolution, resulted in a decrease of eight hundred thousand people in the municipality.

The First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party took place in Shanghai in July 1921. In retrospect, this has assumed an enormous historical significance, but it appears that at the time the participants did not imagine what prodigious development would follow their modest clandestine meeting: those who described the First Congress - Ch'en Kung-po, Pao Hui-seng, Chang Kuo-t'ao - seem to have only a hazy recollection of what happened, and apart from the political motives that everyone may have in rewriting history in his own way, it is puzzling to find that the witnesses do not agree on such simple basic facts as the number and the names of participants, the time and the place where they met; the best historians share this vagueness and uncertainty.16

The authorities have organized a museum with pedagogical aims at 76 (formerly 106) Hsing-yeh Street, which is presented as the site of the First Congress. It was the house where one of the delegates, Li Han-chun, lived in 1921; the Po-wen Girls' School, often mentioned in connection with the First Congress, is in the neighborhood but appears not to have been a meeting place, only to have housed some delegates. For practical reasons, the organizers of the museum seem to have chosen arbitrarily from among the various contradictory accounts of the event. On the ground floor, one is shown a room furnished austerely with a table and twelve chairs; on the table, there is a teapot and twelve cups; on the wall, a portrait of Mao as a young man, and

16. See Wang Chien-min Chung-kuo kung-ch'an tang shih kao (Draft History of the Chinese Communist Party [Taipei, 1965] ) or Jacques Guillermaz, A History of the Chinese Communist Party: 1, 1921-1949 (London & New York, 1972).

{p. 91} the guide explains that the First Congress met here, with twelve participants, on July 1,1921. Actually the date is far from certain; according to the memory of witnesses, the meeting took place upstairs; and twelve is certainly the wrong number. After a moment of silent meditation, the visitors go to the house next door, where one can find conference rooms and convent-style parlors. There, foreigners are offered cups of tea and a short talk on the First Congress, the quality of the discourse being in direct relation to their own level of information. For example, when questioned, the guide will admit rather easily that two foreigners took part in the Congress17 - though this appears to be denied by the twelve chairs and the twelve cups, unless one supposes that the foreigners did not drink and sat on the floor, but since those fellows later "sank into Trotskyism" perhaps they do not warrant more attention. But, alas, the same appears to be true of about half the delegates: Ch'en Kung-po and Chou Fo-hai left the party some years later, joined the Kuomintang, and finally collaborated with the Japanese. Chang Kuo-t'ao, who was one of the most influential party leaders, defected after losing to Mao in the power struggle. Liu Jen-ching became a Trotskyist and later (during the war) joined the Kuomintang. Li Ta early ceased to play an active role in the party, though he was never a turncoat; after the Liberation, he became president of Wuhan University, but in 1966 he was violently attacked by Red Guards and died of the treatment received at their hands - after having appealed to Mao in vain. Li Han-chun left the party - or was excluded - early, and was executed in 1927 by Kuomintang soldiers; his martyrdom rehabilitated him. Ho Shu-heng, Ch'en T'an-ch'iu, Wang Chin-mei, and Teng En-ming all gave their lives for the party. When one has accounted for the traitors and martyrs - almost equal in number

17. These were Maring (Henrik Sneevliet), who died in 1942, shot by the Nazis in Amsterdam, and Nikolsky. Nikolsky was a representative of the Profintern, the Trade Unions International, but I heard him called "Niknosky" in Shanghai. Most historians mention Maring and Voitinsky, but it seems that in July 1921 Voitinsky was not in Shanghai.

{p. 92} - there remain only two famous living members: Mao Tse-tung and Tung Pi-wu.18

What the Congress did is usually passed over discreetly, since the main decision adopted by the delegates was in fact to confirm the authority of Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who was later expelled from the party and became the leader of the Trotskyist opposition.

I asked the curator of the museum, who was taking me around, what basic books he could recommend, in Chinese, on the history of the Chinese Communist Party. This question seemed to take him unawares.

"Well, er, that is to say, I mean, since the Cultural Revolution, nothing has been published on the subject."

"And before the Cultural Revolution?"

"Before that? Oh, yes, well, before that ... in fact, there was nothing then either."

He was telling the truth.19 A directive of Lu Ting-yi in the 1960s explicitly forbade the writing of the history of the party. This is a good example of Chinese pragmatism: rather than have to write and rewrite the history of the party, according to purges and successive crises (as the Russians do), better not write it at all.

Should I describe my visit to the famous diesel factory, where for some years now the welcoming committee for foreign visitors has performed a very convincing act? A worker describes with great gusto and verve his experiences during the Cultural Revolution. Since his tale has already appeared in twenty different reports, to write it down here once again would tire the reader; and in any case, I do not want to compete unfairly with K. S. Karol.

18. Tung Pi-wu died in 1975 and Mao in 1976. (Translators note.)

19. Except for the short work (forbidden today) by Hu Ch'iao-mu Chung-kuo kung-ch'an-tang ti san shih nien (Thirty Years of the Chinese CommunistParty [Peking, 1951]).

{p. 93} As in Peking, the Lu Hsun Museum in Shanghai (where Lu Hsun spent the last ten years of his life) was still closed: offlcial historiographers are rewriting his biography to make it conform to the last mutation in orthodox thought, and this is no mean task. As a melancholy compensation, I was allowed to visit the house where he died. The inscription at the entrance was calligraphed by Kuo Mo-jo. Now Mo-jo, a man of versatile abilities ( poet, playwright, archaeologist, historian, philologist, politician), is a pillar of China's cultural establishment who has been showered with countless offlcial titles and honors. But his ruthless opportunism and shameless sycophancy have earned him the universal contempt of all Chinese intellectuals. In the 1930s Lu Hsun described him as a "talented scoundrel." Why not have ordered the inscription from Chang Shihchao and go the whole hog? Lu Hsun tirelessly denounced him with wit and with rage. His writing, Lu Hsun said, was the "acme of obscenity."

{p. 114} In all their contacts with foreigners, the Maoist civil servants insist on being given the exact titles, functions, and positions of each person, so as to be able to gauge precisely the length of red carpet each should have: any uncertainty about this makes then uneasy to the point of anxiety. In fact, they only want to apply to others the precise and rigid classifications that rule their own official life and give it such splendid orderliness. Nothing, no futile detail is left to chance: the place of an official photograph in the newspaper, its size, the presence (or absence) of important persons in it, the order in which the names of leaders are given - all have meaning, all are organized more formally than any Byzantine ritual.

To avoid mixing sheep and goats is another obsession, and no sacrifice is too great to keep the classes, castes, and hierarchies strictly separate. For instance, in Peking's diplomatic ghetto, it would have been very easy to organize one big cafeteria for everybody, but not only are the Chinese kept apart from the foreigners (of course!) but for the Chinese there are two different cafeterias, one for the intellectual aristocracy of employees and interpreters, one for the lower classes (drivers, sweepers, and other domestics).

The original purpose of the so-called May seventh schools was to allow bureaucrats to be periodically in touch with workers and peasants. In practice, nothing of the kind occurs: one cadre, when I asked him whether he lived with the farmers during the periods when he worked in the fields, was quite shocked by my question. One should know that since the May seventh schools have been institutionalized, they have become bureaucratic

{p. 115} islands in their rural environments. Their inmates plant cabbages and feed pigs, granted, but they do it with other bureaucrats, on the school grounds. Do they get any chance to learn about the life of the peasants? Of course! Once or twice a week some farmer comes and gives them a talk, and tells them how Chairman Mao and the party have changed his existence out of all recognition.

In old China, the mandarins were called? in a very telling phrase, "Those-who-eat-meat." Various gastronomical privileges still distinguish officials of a certain level from mere mortals: for them (especially in the provinces) any pretext will do (the visit of a foreign delegation, a visiting ambassador, anything) to organize private galas, and the extravagance of these can be quite extraordinary. (For anyone who has enjoyed attending these intimate banquets, the vaunted haute cuisine of the state dinners so often given by Chou En-lai in the Great Hall of the People to honor Nixon, Farah Dibah, or the like is by comparison something like the army-canteen level.) But if a new phrase must be found to qualify modern mandarins, "Those-who-ride- in-cars" would probably be the most appropriate. In China, there are no cars but mandarinal cars: all mandarins travel in cars and only mandarins travel in cars. (Od people, people gravely ill and on their way to the hospital, if they are unlucky enough to be just ordinary people, must do with a wheelbarrow or cart pushed by parents or friendly neighbors.)

{p. 116} In professional bureaucratic life, not to use a car sometimes seems as indecent as dressing only in underwear. A young European diplomat in Peking, new in the job, a decent fellow if somewhat naive, thought it fitting in this proletarian-revolutionary capital to replace his car by a bicycle - as much as possible anyway. One day he had an important meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry; the interpreter-dragoman of the embassy caught him just as he was getting on his bike. "But Cultural Attache, Sir! What are you doing! You're not going to go to the Ministry on a bicycle, are you?" Our young friend had to admit sheepishly that such was his intention. The interpreter, on his own initiative, called for the embassy car, and under his stare our progressive attache had to climb meekly in. Thanks to the intervention of a Chinese employee, a shocking outrage to the Peking bureaucratic order was thus avoided.

To ride in a car marks you as an official, but the model, color, and size will vary according to your importance. At the bottom levels, one finds Russian, Czech, and Chinese medium-size cars, cream-colored or gray; at the top, one has long black Hung-ch'i limousines, with tulle curtains that conceal the passengers from the crowds. Peking is thick with these capacious hearses; their blinded windows have an aura of august mystery, suggesting at the same time the Coach of the Holy Sacrament and the limousines that Arab sheiks shuttle their harems around in. One of the favorite pastimes of Peking people - they do not have many - is to crowd around the entrance of the Peking Hotel or near the Great Hall of the People on gala nights to see the long processions of official cars go past with drawn curtains. Those people, one feels, have no envy or bitterness - they have the experience of three thousand years of despotism - but only the normal curiosity of gapers who try to glimpse, however fleetingly, the faraway magical world where their mysterious rulers live.

{p. 117} The Cultural Revolution has hypocritically masked some of the most obvious forms of class divisions, without changing their substance. In trains, for instance, first, second, and third classes have disappeared in name, but you have now "sitting hard" (ying tso), "sleeping hard" (ying wo), and "sleepin soft" (juan wo), which are exactly the same classes as before and with the fares, as before, ranging from single to triple prices. External insignia have nearly completely disappeared in the army; they have been replaced by a loose jacket with four pockets for officers, two pockets for privates. In this way, a colonel traveling first-class on the railway is now merely a four-pocket military man "sleeping soft" - with a two-pocket man respectfully carrying his suitcase. In cities one can still distinguish between four-pocket men in jeeps, four-pocket men in black limousines with curtains, and four-pocket men who have black limousines with curtains and a jeep in front.

In addition to the visible signs of their hierarchical dignity (to which they cling tenaciously: their absence is immediately interpreted as a sign of disgrace), the mandarins also have material advantages meticulously doled out according to their level. Salary differentials are quite steep in all sectors (a young university lecturer begins at 50 Y a month, a full professor gets 340 Y; in a factory, the salary range may be from 35 to 210 Y), but they are most marked for government offlcials, whose monthly salaries range from 20 Y at the bottom to 728 Y at the top. But for those who rise in the hierarchy, the salary is of course only a minor consideration compared to all the other advantages deriving from more influence and power: the possibility of going abroad, of sending one's children to university, of finding comfortable jobs for relatives, of getting goods in times of scarcity, and so on, in short, all that the colloquial language sums up in the phrase "going through the back door" (tsou hou-men). From time to time those practices are severely repressed - the Cultural Revolution was one of those times - but bureaucratic nature quickly prevails and the situation normalizes.

{p. 118} It must be said that examples come from on high: Chairman Mao's nepotism can be seen by all. What would Chiang Ch'ing be today, with her starlet demimondaine talents, if she had not become the wife of the Great Leader?5 The case of Wang Haijung, Mao's niece, is equally remarkable: after getting her diploma at the Institute of Foreign Languages in 1965, this inexperienced young woman entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which, curiously enough, shares with the Institute of Foreign Languages a kind of aristocratic prestige) and became Chief of Protocol almost at once; barely thirty, she was propelled into the position of Assistant Minister! What about Mao Yuanhsin, the Chairman's nephew, who, not yet thirty, became vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Committee for Liaoning province in 1968, and shortly after was promoted Secretarv of the Party Committee for that province.6 One can go on: there is Hsiao Li (Li na), Chian Ch'ings dauhter, who at an early age filled an important post on the staff of the Liberation Army Daily; and many others who owe their brilliant careers to family influence. But why continue? Everyone knows it, and the practice shocks no one: Mao was only following an ancient tradition in government practice that has become solid as a law of nature.

The meteoric rise of certain young people should not make one think that the regime trusts youth. On the contrary: promotion in principle goes by seniority. Given the number of echelons and the slowness of promotion, the regime is a gerontocracy: of the twenty men who ruled China in 1972, half were very old men - two nearly ninety, two past eighty, six past or nearing

5. She would be precisely what she has become now that the Great Leader is dead and unable to protect her anymore: a non-person.

6. Mao Yuan-hsin, born in the early 1940s, was given a home in Yenan by Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Ch'ing after the death of his father, Mao Tse-min, who was executed in 1943. Since Mao's eldest son, An-ying died during the Korean War, and his second, An-ch'ing, is mentally ill and confined in an institution in Talien, Mao Yuan-hsin was the Chairman's nearest male heir.

1977 Post Scriptum: Mao Yuan-hsin fell in disgrace too, as soon as Big Uncle passed away....

{p. 119} seventy; and in that small group of patriarchs three or four were senile or chronic invalids. Since the regime knows no retirement or age limit for its higher personnel, there is no honorable and decent choice between absolute power and total disgrace, which explains the keenness and energy with which decrepit, disabled, gouty old men cling to their seats on the Politburo.

Another cause of sclerosis is the fact that the top seven or eight bureaucratic echelons are the more or less exclusive preserve of those who joined the revolutionary movement some forty years ago. What is called in the political jargon "a cadre of '37" (san-ch'i kan-pu) - someone who joined the party after the beginning of the war in 1937 - has little chance to climb higher than the sixth or seventh level; this hardly encourages the injection of new blood into the system. The rise of younger people like Yao Wen-yuan and Wang Hung-wen7 remains exceptional and should not mask another significant truth: in 1973, the Tenth Party Congress sanctioned the almost total elimination of young leaders promoted during the Cultural Revolution, completing the cycle that had begun in 1968-69.

The cadres serve as transmission belts between the summit and the base. They have some privileges, of course, but before reproaching them for that, we should consider how unrewarding and dangerous their job is. They are perpetually torn between the leaders and the led. Directives from on high are deliberately ambiguous; in case of failure, the leaders thus have a fall-back position, while those who applied the policy are stranded and unprotected, and can be sacrificed to the rancor of the masses. It is unfair to criticize Maoist bureaucrats for their slowness and inertia: most often nonaction is their best chance of survival. How could they go forward?

7. A quite temporary rise: both were purged in 1976, shortly after the death of Mao, in a move that swept away all the last exponents of orthodox Maoism.

{p. 129} The death warrant of Chinese intellectual life was given by Mao Tse-tung in Yenan, in 1942, when he dlred his famous "Talk on Arts and Letters." This clearly expressed resolution to destroy critical intelligence - put into practiee at once with the physical elimination of Wang Shih-wei - was applied in ever-widening circles: from the "rectification movement" of 1951-52 to the Hu Feng purge of 1955 to the repression of the "Hundred Flowers" in 1957 to the gigantic purges of the Cultural Revolution. The war against the mind has become larger but has not changed in nature or direetion. Between purges, various (practical, technologieal, even diplomatic ) factors will require the reactivation of this or that cultural sector, but these truces are motivated by tactical imperatives and express no change in the regime's cultural policy.

This policy, steadily followed since the Yenan days, has resulted in the near-total extinction of Chinese intellectuals as such. There only survive speciaiized technicians in propaganda, science, and technology; others have been "recycled" in the fields and factories; an irreducible minority of them have committed suicide or been liquidated.

{p. 130} The position of intellectuals in China, which during these last thirty years has been eloquently described and defended by a long series of martyrs - Wang Shih-wei, Hu Feng, Wu Han, and Teng T'o, to name only the most eminent - can best be summarized by this passage from the famous February Outline, a document developed under the direction of P'eng Chen in February 1966, in an effort to protect Wu Han against the growing menace of Maoist repression:

One must absolutely maintain the principle according to which the search for truth must begin with facts, and also the principle that all men are equal before the truth. People must be persuaded by rational arguments; one should not act like those academic tyrants who decide everything without debate and misuse their authority to crush their opponents. This ideal must be promoted: to stick resolutely to the truth, always be ready to correct one's mistakes.

To which the Maoist orthodoxy answered in characteristic fashion:

{p. 131} The authors of the February Outline have put forward the slogan "all men are equal before the truth." This is a bourgeois slogan. They absolutely deny the fact that truth has a class character; they use this slogan to protect the bourgeois class, to oppose themselves to the proletariat, to Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung. In the struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie, between Marxist truth and the lies of the bourgeois class and of all oppressive classes, if the east wind does not prevail over the west wind, the west wind will prevail over the east wind, and therefore no equality can exist between them.3

This philosophy is, of course, not unique to Maoism: it is inherent in all totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, Stalin's as well as Hitler's. The point is not that for Maoists the distinction is between "Marxist truth" and "bourgeois lie" while for Nazis it was between "German truth" and "Jewish lies" (actually, does not the bourgeoisie play in Maoist China the role assigned to the Jew in Hitler's Germany?); but that on both sides there is a common will to deny that there might be an objective truth, independent of the party's instructions and the orders of the leader, a truth in the light of which those instructions and orders might be submitted to critical examination. Intellectuals by definition having the function of critical examiners, it is easy to understand why the totalitarian state cannot tolerate their existence. For public-relations reasons it will still need a few academics - they can easily be recruited among intellectuals who give up (Kuo Mo-jo is a good specimen of the breed) - but the survival of intellectuals in the original sense of the word, that is, as uncompromising witnesses to truth, is no longer conceivable.4

3. "May 16 Circular": Chungkuo kung-ch'an-tang chung-yang wei-yuan-hui t'ung-chih, 16 May 1966, published a year later in Jen-min jih-pao (People's Daily), 17 May 1967.

4. A similar evolution seems to be taking shape in the West. In universities, the commissars of tomorrow question the legitimacy of disinterested research (the crime is to consider that an objective fact is more respectable than all ideologies), any study that cannot serve the dogmas of their propaganda is now condemned for being "irrelevant."

{p. 139} ... Orwell viewed totalitarianism at first hand, which helped him push his analysis further:

{p. 140} Almost certainly we are moving into an age of totalitarian dictatorships - an age in which freedom of thought will be at first a deadly sin and later on a meaningless abstraction. The autonomous individual is going to be stamped out of existence. But this means that literature, in the form in which we know it, must suffer at least a temporary death. The literature of liberalism is coming to an end and the literature of totalitarianism has not yet appeared and is barely imaginable. As for the writer, he is sitting on a melting iceberg; he is merely an anachronism, a hangover from the bourgeois age, as surely doomed as the hippopotamus. ... [But] from now onwards the all-important fact for the creative writer is going to be that this is not a writer's world. That does not mean that he cannot help to bring the new society into being, but he can take no part in the process as a writer. For as a writer he is a liberal, and what is happening is the destruction of liberalism.11

The Chinese people remain thirsty for culture. The rapidity with which reprints of classical novels (The Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin, The Journey to the West, The Dream of t77e Red Chamber) disappeared from the bookshops almost the moment they came out bears witness to that thirst, made all the worse by five years of total drought. Nevertheless, the quality of the literary education is declining steadily. Differences among various age groups is startling: Chinese who are now over thirty (meaning those who finished secondary school and then university in the 1950s and early 1960s), though not comparable to prior generations educated under the old regime, still have access to a culture that has become an alien world for the youths who finished school right after the Cultural Revolution. School attendance has greatly and steadily improved since 1949; a larger and larger percentage of children can go to school; illiterates are far less numerous than formerly. But if so many more people have access to books, there are a thousand times fewer books. Parallel to the efforts to wipe out illiteracy, other efforts

11. "Inside the Whale," in Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Oruell, I ( London 1968; New York, 1971 ), 525-26.

{p. 141} have been made, no less efflcient, to blot out nearly all of the non-Maoist Chinese cultural world; and we come to the paradoxical point where young members of the new ruling elite have less culture than many illiterates or semiliterates under the old regime.12 The latter were at least familiar with that (not negligible) part of Chinese history and literature made popular in operas and ballads and by traditional storytellers - types of spontaneous popular culture that the regime has eradicated. The most radical reform of writing (the substitution for Chinese characters of a phonetic transcription of them in Roman letters) - a decision of enormous importance for eight hundred million people - is simply decided without any public debate, on the sole basis of a Mao saying. Of course it will take some time before the decision can be effectively carried out; technical problems13 and all the inertial forces of passive resistance will fend off, but not change, the inevitable conclusion. This reform of writing will allow the Maoist powers to do at one stroke and for good what a hundred Cultural Revolutions with all their autos-da-fe could not do: make all that has been thought, felt, and written in China from antiquity until the present day uncommunicable and unreadable for all future generations of Chinese - with the exception of the books that, having found grace in the eyes of the government, will be adapted as the authorities wish for transposition and publication in alphabetic writing.

The situation is just as dismaying for theater and music. Only one symphonic creation is performed and broadcast (with-

12. In this field, I have assembled a long, dismaying, mind-boggling collection of anecdotes. Visiting Lungmen with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I heard one of them ask to which dynasty the Empress Wu Tse-t'ien belonged; elsewhere, another asserted coolly that Ch'u Yuan was a T'ang poet, and so forth and so on. Each time it was a frisky technocrat with a bright future ahead of him.

13. Not insurmountable, as the Vietnamese precedent shows.

{p. 147} (The Workers-Soldiers Propaganda Teams of the

{p. 148} Thought of Mao Tse-tung were deployed in schools throughout China in the summer of 1968, on the personal order of Mao, to restore discipline and crush the anarcho-revolutionary movements; they are now a permanent feature of all teaching establishments. The members of these teams are changed every year, by rotation, and new ones arrive from factories and barracks. Their main task is to keep the schools on ideological course, and in particular they are responsible for keeping the political-education courses orthodox; they play the role of deans and social assistants, visit the parents, and so forth.)

When the length of secondary studies was shortened, the syllabus was lightened. Now it is composed essentially of: (1) Political theory: this is the most important subject, which has the place that religious courses have in parochial schools in the West. The course is given by a professor, but a member of the Workers-Soldiers Team is present and sees to it that the correct line is followed, without any personal inflections. In practice, most of the course is a scholastic commentary on People's Daily editorials and articles in Red Flag. (2) Chinese language and literature: this course is 90 per cent modern, 10 per cent classical. Most of the modern material is comprised of Mao's prose, a few ideological articles (Yao Wen-yuan & Co.), and one or two bits of Lu Hsun. The classical-language part (at least in the schools I visited) was devoted entirely to poems by Mao. (His heavy, pedantic verse will thus have a tremendous value in history: it gives a pretext for teaching classical Chinese during these years of obscurantism.) (3) Foreign languages: either English (for most) or Russian (for a few). Here, the books are all too often the unreadable creations of the Cultural Revolution, in which concern for a progressive and practical pedagogy has been sacrificed to ideological purity. These impeccably orthodox texts have been criticized in various articles in Red Flag and People's Daily because they cannot be used or understood by Chinese children learning their first words of English; teachers themselves admit that the books should be entirely rewritten. But who would dare

{p. 149} throw out these anthologies of sacred writ merely because they were unrelated to English-as-spoken? (4) History and geography: I was able to see only one history text ( there are no texts distributed nationwide: since the Cultural Revolution, each province experiments with its own), and in it the history of China was reduced to a list of various peasant rebellions that marked the twilight of successive dynasties. ( 5 ) Mathematics. ( 6 ) Chemistry. ( 7 ) Physics. ( 8 ) Agriculture ( theory and practice ) . ( 9 ) Military training. And (10) Revolutionary culture (Revolutionary Model operas and other artistic activities).

As for extracurricular activities, first we have the Red Guards. These have nothing to do with their homonyms of 1966, but are a youth movement open to all students and include in fact about a third of all school children. They have Boy Scout-like activities: a daily "good deed," getting outdoors twice a week, and so on. Compared to them, the Kung ch'ing t'uan (Young Communist League) seems more aristocratic: the minimum age is fifteen; admission criteria are strict; in each school, only a few students belong to it, and since they have a bright bureaucratic future, they are envied by the others ( a paradoxical turn when one remembers that during the Cultural Revolution the true Red Guards compelled the league, which was the nursery for party mandarins, to cease all activities and disappear) .

In short, as far as I can judge from having visited classes here and there, though the Cultural Revolution offered new and excellent pedagogical watchwords for secondary schools ("Teaching must wake up the mind, not simply inject knowledge" ), these were mostly declarations of intent: the teacher-pupil relationship remains authoritarian and dogmatic. And the main result of the Cultural Revolution is thus to have thinned out the actual content of what is learned by deleting most of the history, language, and literature that are the foundations of culture.

The Cultural Revolution closed all the schools in China on July 13,1966. Secondary schools stayed closed for four years, but

{p. 150} they are apparently all open again now. At the university level things are less promising; out of 500 institutions defore the Cultural Revolution, only 196 - less than two-fifths - were active in late 1972. Recovery has been haphazard, uneven, and of varying degrees of success.

{p. 151} Teachers: accused, vilified, harassed by activists of the Cultural Revolution, their time of troubles ended in the summer of 1968 with the arrival of the Workers-Soldiers Propaganda Teams of the Thought of Mao Tse-tung. Professors were then sent in rotating groups to field or factory to re-form their vision of the world by contact with workers and peasants. With them gone, an attempt was made to give their positions to authentic proletarians. But these, after telling of their sufferings before the Liberation and extolling the happiness the new regime had brought them, found they did not have very much to say; they did not want to cling to an academic chair where they felt embarrassed and faintly ridiculous. In the end, the Workers-Soldiers Teams took on the less conspicuous task of being watchdogs: the soldiers keeping order, the workers guarding the orthodox ideology - while little by little the professional chairs were taken back by their (duly re-educated) former incumbents. According to the offlcial figures, 90 per cent of China's teachers have been reinstated. But the fact that they were offlcially cleared is not enough to solve their problems or erase the memory of their recent traumatic experiences.

{p. 159} 8 Here and There

I visited the People's Republic of China for the first time in 1955. I now return after seventeen years. The difference that strikes me the most - I speak here of purely visual, intuitive, superficial impressions, not taking into account the objective achievements that have been attained in the intervening years, which are certainly considerable - the difference that strikes me the most is that in 1955 everything seemed new, full of youth and life, and now everything seems old, run-down, ramshackle. Canton gives one a feeling of dej vu; it's like another Macao - a significant comparison for anyone who knows that dirty obsolete old backwater. This impression grows in the north, where the cities cannot hide their tawdriness behind the luxuriance of tropical foliage. The buildings that date from after the Liberation of 1949 have not grown old gracefully: ersatz barracks, they become ieprous after a few years. Housing clearly has a much lower priority than industrial infrastructure; also, the political climate does not encourage people to smarten up their flats or houses: better not give rise to neighborly envy; better not live in a way that might be qualified as "bourgeois"; any individual initiative to make daily life more pleasant or aggreeable may bring suspicion or cause criticism. The wise man lives in a hovel and sews patches onto his trousers.

Others will say that the difference between 1955 and 1972 is not so much in what is seen as in who is doing the looking; in seventeen years one grows older and sourer. But I am struck

{p. 160} by the opinion of many Chinese, based on personal experience and deep observation, that the regime was making great strides until 1956-57, only to see its forward dynamism compromised by the Hundred Flowers crisis, and then broken for good by the failure of the Great Leap Forward.

I can listen patiently and courteously when Chinese bureaucrats drone on with the trite sayings of Maoist propaganda: after all, they are only doing their job. But patience begins to fail me when the same old propaganda is served forth by Japanese diplomats or American journalists; the toadying flattery to which they have lowered themselves must sometimes turn the stomach of those they want to please.

A visit, in Sian, to an "art workshop," which makes pictures out of painted silk, plastic, seashells, and ostrich feathers. This petty-bourgeois flim-flam, which under the label of revolutionary and proletarian art is triumphant everywhere to the exclusion of all else, raises interesting philosophical problems.

The aesthetics of politics is a major subject that has yet to be "done." The ability of totalitarian regimes to produce nothing but kitsch is surely the least atrocity of which they are guilty, but it is nevertheless a remarkably sure and constant symptom that aids in the diagnosis of the spiritual vices of those systems. Nazi kitsch, Mussolini kitsch, Stalin kitsch, Mao kitsch are all in the same family; still, they each have specific traits. By studying the specificities ( which have little to do with national characteristics ), one might begin to discern what goes into each of the variants in the great totalitarian family. Such a work could be simply analytical and descriptive to start with. It would be enough to collect and then subsume under the various major common themes (Cult of the Leader, Denunciation of the Enemy, Happiness of the People, Infallible Teaching of the Party) the ex-

{p. 161} pressions developed under each regime in films, poster art, records, decorative art, architecture, sculpture, and so on.

One should not misunderstand the melancholy recollections found here and there on the preceding pages. I would forgive all iconoclasms ( I would welcome them with enthusiasm!) coming from a political power that was truly of the people - revolutionary, creative, opening up the ways of the future. But the present regime in China has destroyed the cultural and human values of the past only to retain its vices: it prolongs in its own interest the habits of feudalism and military bureaucracy. The psychology and political methods of the few old men who run China today derive directly from the Empire.

In Peking, the only Chinese whom foreigners have a chance to get to know are their own servants. This faithfully repeats the colonialist situation, but now the fault is with the Chinese authorities themselves. It is typical that the regime has deliberately re-created all the features of that grotesque and shameful system, with its International Club, its segregated pleasures and shops, its ghetto.

The Papaoshan cemetery is in the country, southwest of Peking. It is here that officials of the regime are supposed to be buried, but the stroller in Papaoshan finds only a waste of broken tombs dating from before the 1960s, on the side of a hill left fallow. Personalities who died more recently were cremated in the Papaoshan crematorium, I suppose, or they were buried in a separate, secret, closed, and guarded graveyard, allowing them to preserve in death the splendid isolation that Power had given them in life.

{p. 164} {this part comes from a discuusion between Leys and "W."}

ME (warmly): Frankly, this notion of "friends who speak well of China" and "enemies who speak ill of China" fills me with dismay and despair. I often get the impression that China can't distinguish its true friends and its true enemies anymore; this encourages and rewards the flatteries of notoriously shady and venal opportunists, and calls "slanderers" people who love China disinterestedly and do not hesitate, at their own risk, to give sincere criticism. The paradox is that these independent critics (whom you think are slanderers) happen quite often to have been the first to see the truth, while those whom you call friends are still blinded by their own servility. Look at the cast of Lin Piao: are there any of those "friends" who were not his enthusiastic supporters, right down to the last day of his career - even a little longer, for those who were less subtle? How can

{p. 165} you trust that chorus of obsequious adorers of Power? How can you be taken in by the "fervor" of people like -

w.: We're not taken in by anybody, believe me, and we have better information than you think. To return to our subject: the main thing about any book dealing with China is to see what interests are objectively served by the author.

ME: It's no less important to see objectively the author's competence and the quality of his information. As for the virtuous ignoramuses -

w: If the intention of the author is to hurt China, then the better his documentation, the more evil his book will be. Everything depends on the spirit in which he uses his information, and on his aims.

ME: That's exactly what I'd like, for you to have a clearer picture of the motivations of those various writers. Those whom you call "detractors of China" may well be those who take the destiny and happiness of your country most to heart. The Kuomintang accused Lu Hsun of despising China, and the Chinese -

w.: Since you know so well how the Kuomintang treated the writers who criticized it, I am sure you will appreciate the way we treat those who have attacked us. We let come back to China this or that person who has belittled our socialist state and our Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: we are ready to give such people another chance; it is by their deeds that we judge them.

Dictionary of idees recues: applying Flaubert's method, one could compile an enormous volume of the expressions that make up the wooden language of Maoist ideology. The people's struggles are always "fearless" and "victorious." The Albanian, Vietnamese, etc., masses are always "heroic"; the Rumanians, Zambians, etc., are always "fraternal." In his public appearances, Mao always shows a "pink and radiant face," and the sight of him invariably fills onlookers with "feelings of shining love and boundless enthusiasm." The Chinese Communist Party is, of course, "great, glorious, and infallible"; the class enemy, "ever watchful," must be exposed "without pity." The adversary's designs, always "shameful," must be opposed "resolutely"; his crimes are "odious and unforgivable." The successes of the "building-up" of socialism

{p. 166} are "prodigious," "immense," "always greater" (in case of failure, one speaks only of "new" or "growing" success ). Some articles in Flaubert's Dictionary are still valid after a century and could be reprinted unchanged in a Peking version, as for instance: "Feudalism: have no clear idea about it, but fulminate against it. ..."

Orwell wrote a first-rate essay on how the totalitarian cancer feeds on the corruption of language and secretes the same corruption;4 he also transposed his ideas in his description of "Newspeak" in 1984:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought - that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc - should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. ... In the Ministry of Truth, the Records Department, in which Winston worked, was called Recdep, the Fiction Department was called Ficdep, The Teleprogram Department was called Teledep, and so on. This was not done solely with the object of saving time. Even in the early decades of the twentieth century, telescoped words and phrases had been one of the characteristic features of political anguage; and it had been noticed that the tendency to use abbreviations of this kind was most marked in totalitarian countries and totalitarian organizations. Examples were such words as Nazi, Gestapo, Comintern, Inprecorr, Agitprop. In the beginning the practice had been adopted instinctively, as it were, but in Newspeak, it was used with a conscious purpose. It was perceived that in thus abbreviating a name one narrowly and subtly altered its meaning, by cutting out most of the associations that would otherwise cling to it. The words Communist International, for instance, call up a composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx, and the Paris Commune. The word

4. "Politics and the English Language," in Collected Essays, Journalism ard Letters of George Orwell (London, 1968; New York, 1971), IV, 127-40.

{p. 167} Comintern, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or a table. Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily."5

Those who read the Chinese press only occasionally and when not in China may be tempted to dismiss its inept and unreadable Maoist jargon with an amused smile or an ironic shrug. But for those in China who must read it every day, who must endure simultaneously the whole pressure of visual and aural propaganda that illustrates, explains, organizes, that warms up and serves over again and again the same ideological stew, everywhere and all the time (the same slogans are written in gigantic characters on the walls; they are in small print on tickets, calendars, cigarette packs; they are engraved on ashtrays and spittoons, painted on teapots and screens, embroidered on handkerchiefs and towels; loudspeakers moo them in the streets, in the fields, in trains, canteens, factories, latrines, barracks, airplanes, and railway stations), it soon becomes obvious that this gigantic enterprise of cretinizing the most intelligent people on earth is animated, beneath the grotesque exterior, by frighteningly rigorous and coherent intention. The aim is to anesthetize critical intelligence, purge the brain, and inject the cement of official ideology into the emptied skull; once hardened, this will leave no room for the introduction of any new idea, and will oppose its compact, amorphous, and watertight mass to any intellectual operation that would be autonomous or heterodox.

In politics, the citizens of the People's Republic are thus equipped with a mechanical and prefabricated jargon that is a substitute for thought, that excludes the possibility of thinking. The extraordinary effects of this robotization is nowhere better measured than in the writings of dissidents who have tried from

5. 1984 (London, 1948; New York, 1949), pp. 303, 309-10.

{p. 168} the inside to oppose the regime. Their efforts were doomed from the start: they had no intellectual tools to mine the ideological fortress but the cardboard pickaxes that had been provided them by Maoist dialectics.

Broadly speaking one may say that in China people have now at their disposal two levels of languages: one, human and natural, which allows them to speak in their own voice, and which they use to talk about their health, the weather, food, the latest basketball match, and so forth, and another one, mechanical and shrill, to talk about politics. In this way, during one conversation, the person you are talking to may well switch several times from his normal voice to a kind of ideologic ventriloquism, according to the topics. In private life, by the way, ordinary people never discuss politics: this is too boring and too dangerous. I have been assured of this countless times by refugees in Hong Kong, and once in China itself by a worker with whom I managed to have a long conversation, while on a trip. Only higher cadres (and their children) discuss such things, rather as financiers in capitalist countries exchange confidences about the stock market.

China's ideological jargon proliferates constantly: the regime believes it can avoid ideological bankruptcy by sheltering in this verbal inflation. The avalanche of new concepts is like a massive issue of plastic tokens serving as intellectual money. The best glossaries of Maoist phraseology are out-of-date a year after

6. One of the most typical and pathetic examples of this phenomenon is probably the book by Lu Yin-t'ao, Jen-lei ti hu-sheng (The Call of Mankind), a polemical manifesto whose manuscript was smuggled out of China in 1961 and published in Hong Kong in 1967, with an introduction by Hsu Yu. The same remarks apply to nearly all the Red Guard literature and other rebel writings that appeared during the Cultural Revolution.

1976 Post Scriptum: Since I wrote this, a most remarkable political manifesto has appeared in China, written by three young rebels using the pen name of Li Yi-che, On Democracy and Legality under Socialism (Kuanyu she-hui-chu-yi ti min-chu yu fa-chih). It should make us question anew the pessimistic views here expressed. (This extraordinary document has been translated and annotated in French, under the title Chinois, si vous sauiez [Paris, 1976].)

{p. 169} being printed. For the Chinese who have spent time abroad, the terminology is a sealed book; to be able to use it with a minimum of nimbleness, one needs the intensive practice that is given in daily and compulsory doses to all citizens of the People's Republic. Without constant training, how could you juggle with the "one-two-three system," the "one good leading four good/ four good leading one good," "one-struggle two-criticism three-reform,""synthesis of two in one and dividing of one in two," "three antis and five antis," "the five and the seven categories of bad elements," "the three red flags," "the one point two plans tactic," the system of "three contracts-one reward" and that of "three freedoms-one contract," the "three-fames principle," the "three-eight work style," "the four together," the "unity-criticism unity,' "the five stories," "the Yu-kung spirit," "the Tachai spirit," "the Taching spirit," "the extensive democracy," "the four clean-ups," "the eight-words constitution," "the monsters and demons," "the poisonous weeds," "the comparison-emulation-catching-up-help-overtaking movement," "the three-seven and the three-three system," "the three-prop and two-military," "the three fearless," "the three rightisms," and "the three loyalties".... But why copy down a four-hundred-page dictionary?

The reader may have noted in passing that this monstrous gibberish shows a particular liking for numbered abbreviations, which help convert it into a kind of arbitrary and autonomous algebra: any relation that may exist between the language of ideology and the existing reality is purely fortuitous.

I have already mentioned a few examples of those logomachical contortions that make ordinary language lose its meaning, as for instance the discrimination between "material incentives" (accursed) and "just rewards according to work done" (encouraged), or between "Permanent revolution" (a Trotskyist heresy) and "continuous revolution'j (a genial and creative development brought to Marxist thought by Mao Tse-tung).

{p. 176} N. is an attache at the Soviet Embassy. He is about thirty, and has been posted in Peking for nearly two years. He is a beefy fellow, subtle as a pachyderm, remarkably unattractive, certainly not a fool: he speaks, heavily and mechanically but fluently, English, Chinese, French, and Spanish. He is a stickler for protocol, more than any Dutchman; one feels that he is full of respect for the diplomatic rites and hierarchies. The perfect parvenu, he is very conscious of the privileges of the bureaucratic caste into which he has been promoted. He came to see me one morning, and since he did not show signs of ever leaving, I had to invite him for lunch.

He and his colleagues at the embassy seem to live in the atmosphere of a besieged fortress. "Here in Peking," he told me in the pathetic tones of a shipwrecked passenger sitting on an ice floe, "we are isolated, more than twelve hundred miles from our nearest frontier!" (How many hours by tank? I nearly asked, remembering the summer of 1968, which I had by chance spent in Czechoslovakia.9)

During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese personnel of the Soviet Embassy committed a major blunder: they went on strike. The Russians jumped at the chance to do something they had obviously wanted to do for a long time: they replaced all the Chinese with Soviet citizens, down to the last driver, gardener, and kitchen helper. Now they live, all four hundred of

9. The possibility of a Soviet attack on China remains a real, constant and pressing menace. The Chinese are intensely conscious of it, and their foreign policy has recently been heavily influenced by it. The West would be wrong to view this skeptically. On this question, at least, it is impossible not to be completely and actively in sympathy with Peking's position.

{p. 177} them, within the walls of the embassy. The ghetto life of foreign diplomats in Peking is not jolly, but before complaining the diplomats should recognize that their life has a certain cosmopolitan charm; imagine what life would be like if one had to live it with four hundred compatriots, all herded into the same corral! But such a situation - the mere idea of it makes me shudder - does not seem to affect these Russians: they seem happy, all crammed together in their cozy diplomatic citadel (which, by the way, has a lot of conveniences unknown to Moscow citizens), as sheep under a tree during a storm. They know nothing of Chinese iife, they do not wish to; they feel only suspicion and contempt for it. This shows itself in the smallest details: N. does not know which bus lines pass in front of his embassy, and obviously the idea of using public transport has never crossed his mind; and his table manners show a total ignorance of the simplest Chinese daily usages, but where could he have learned them? Certainly not by eating borscht every day at his embassy!

For a long time it was the fashion to deprecate Americans who could not adapt to local conditions in foreign countries where they were posted, but their mixed arrogance and provincialism, which so often isolated them from local realities, are as nothing compared to the massive lack of openness, curiosity, and tact shown by Soviet missions abroad. In China, particularly, Russians acted for a long tlme iike colonialists. Their superior attitude was only confirmed by the servility exhibited by Maoist authorities who gave to the Chinese people this watchword: "In everything, learn from the Soviet big brothers." Mao himself uttered the famous slogan "to lean on one side," defining the unilateral manner in which China would base its development on Soviet aid. A delirious literature then flowered, according to which the Soviet Union was paradise (that incredible toady Kuo Mo-jo deserves special mention here), and any criticism of it was sedition, to be put down mercilessly. In this way, for example, Hsiao Chun, the famous Communist writer from Manchuria, was purged for hinting, however lightly, at the bitterness

{p. 178} of the Chinese in the northeast who had endured the abuses of the Russian Army and had seen their provinces' industries systematically looted by the "fraternal ally." No change could be seen here until the early 1960s, when the Soviet Union failed brutally to keep its commitments, fulfillment of which was vital for a then weakened and famished China. Only then did the Chinese Communist Party acknowledge the obvious facts that the Chinese people had found out long before.10

Today, the Russians try to portray Mao Tse-tung as a new Genghis Khan; behind every Chinese, they see the ghostly shadow of the old Mongol invader. The Moscow press does its best to sustain these gross racist prejudices against the most basic historical facts: after all, China itself suffered from Mongol invasions just as much as Russia did!11

10. Still, it is noteworthy to see that the cult of Stalin is kept faithfully in Maoist China - the selfsame Stalin who so often revealed his suspicion of and hostility to the Chinese revolutionary movement, his scorn for the person of Mao Tse-tung, and who believed until the last minute in an impossible Chiang Kai-shek victory.

11. One can measure how deeply these prejudices are rooted and how successful offlcial propaganda was, when one discovers to one's dismay that even an upright and free man like Alexander Solzhenitsyn has unconsciously accepted this view of a new Yellow Peril, and does not seem to realize that the terrible military threat from his own country hovers permanently over Chinese borders (see Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Letter to Soviet Leaders [London, 1974], Chapter 2, "War with China," pp. 14-19). Of course, one understands how the attention of Russian intellectuals has focused on the frightening neo-Stalin that is Maoism, but it is nonetheless deplorable that this sometimes brings them to ignore the aggressive stance taken by the Soviet Union toward China, sometimes even to entertain the illusion that anti-Chinese spokesmen represent a liberal and progressive force, when in fact they only prepare the ground for a military intervention similar in principle to the one that violated Czechoslovak sovereignty. ...

{p. 179} On the Chinese side, they believe with some reason that Soviet imperialism is simply the successor to tsarist expansionism. That Russo-Chinese conflict is dictated by geopolitics and confirmed by the history of three centuries. China has given a spare and convincing version of it: in this domain the Chinese diplomatic communiques, in complete contrast to their customary unreadable prose, have been prepared with incisive precision; arguments are supported not by quotations from the Maoist holy scriptures but on facts. Having historic truth and justice on their side, they have several times printed the Russian communiques, side by side with their own refutations - an initiative the Russians have never dared to match.

Russians have had, and still have, excellent Sinologists, but this university elite, though well informed and fully appreciative of Chinese culture, has no political influence12 and little access to present-day China. As for the Chinese-affairs "technicians," people like N., employed by the state to analyze the present situation in Peking, they are "specialized brutes"; apart from their linguistic competence, they have no humanist education at all, and one can well imagine that if they developed some cultural and human affinities with the Chinese world, they would risk their careers. Not only is it out of the question for them to love China; they are not even asked to understand it. They are supposed to give a "Sinological" justification to the dogmas and a priori thinking of their government, and nothing more is expected of them. Their observations are therefore much less interesting than they might be, because they must fit all their

12. Some are even persecuted, such as the Sinologist V. Rubin. His crime was to be Iewish and to have asked for a visa to go to Israel. e was stripped of his academic titles and dismissed from his job; as write this he has no means of livelihood and is threatened with prosecution.

1976 Post Scriptum: Thanks to the relentless pressure applied on Soviet authorities by Sinologists from all over the world, Rubin has finally been allowed to leave the U.S.S.R.

{p. 180} analyses into a strict ideological mold. It is only in the field of Sino-Soviet relations that what they say has at least reference value; as for Chinese internal politics, they are even less well informed than Western diplomats, since they have less freedom to travel and lack the incomparable listening post of Hong Kong.

On the Lin Piao affair, N. confirms that Lin Piao was not in the Trident that crashed in Mongolia and in which he was supposed to have met his death. The Russians analyzed the remains of the passengers, and they were well equipped to do so: Lin Piao had gone twice to the Soviet Union for extensive medical treatment (in 1939-42 and 1951-53) and they had his precise physical data (such as his dental chart). Of course, one can object that on this affair the testimony of a Soviet citizen is highly suspect, but it remains that the offlcial Chinese version of Lin Piao's death is ludicrously improbable and does not stand up to the simplest analysis. Since it was not appropriate for the regime to admit that Lin Piao had been liquidated, Beria style, in some dark recess of Peking's corridors of power13 (which could well, of course, have caused the subsequent panicked flight in the famous Trident by some of Lin Piao's relatives and subordinates), the responsible authorities made up this story of his attempted flight to the Soviet Union. Thus they killed two birds with one stone: they conjured away aspects of Maoist political customs that would be unappreciated by the civilized world, and, faithfully following the principle that the memory of a political enemy cannot be vilified enough, they gave Lin Piao the most ignoble and unforgivable end - that of a low traitor - thereby perhaps preventing any show of support or compassion for a man who, when all is said and done, and as the world knows, served his party and his country heroically on a hundred battlefields. The same logic had been used before to turn Liu Shao-ch'i and Ch'en Po-ta into agents in the pay

13. according to recent and more credible rumors, it seems that he was assassinated in Peitaiho.

{p. 181} of the Kuomintang. But is this surprising? The great Stalinist tradition, which Maoism extols as the model to follow, had depicted Trotsky as a Nazi agent.14

I do not remember how it happened, but at one point in my talk with N., I found myself saying: "Well, whatever the ups and downs of present Chinese policy, we must all learn from the Chinese world: if we do not assimilate that great tradition, we cannot pretend to a true world humanism." I am completely convinced of this myself. Yet as I said it I knew there was some provocation in my declaration of faith: I wanted to see how N. would react.

What happened was more than I had hoped for. First he stared at me, incredulous, unbelieving, thinking I was joking. When he realized I was speaking seriously, he launched into a long and passionate harangue: "Do not think that you will ever understand the Chinese! Do not believe that you will ever get to know them! The Chinese are unknowable, the Chinese cannot be understood! You know what? I'll tell you: the fact of the matter is that they are basically immoral! They live for form, for appearance, for 'face,' and not on the level of conscience! The moral, individual, personal conscience, sir! [Deeply moved, he struck his breast, presumed seat of the spiritual faculty to which he was alluding.] Moral individual conscience is the treasure and unique legacy of our Western Christian civilization! I can tell you, sir, there is a thousand times more in common between an illiterate Siberian woodcutter and an American professor, between a French peasant and a Moscow academician, than is between any one of them and his Chinese counterpart! You and I have been nurtured by the same springs [his look became misty and vague]: Greece! Christendom!"

14. Still, it is staggering to see an author as cautious as Alain Peyrefitte swallow hook, line, and sinker the offlcial account of Lin Piao's flight. I suppose that when such a tale is presented to you by Chou En-lai, the sweetest liar in the world, even a graduate from the Ecole Normale Superieure takes leave of his critical senses. Alain Peyrefitte, Quand la Chine s'eveillera, le monde tremblera (Paris, 1974) .

{p. 182} At this point - this was during lunch - only an unfortunate natural bashfulness stopped me from crowning him with the soup tureen. I even refrained - it would have been too easy - from asking him how Athenian democracy and the religion of Christ fared in his country. As for speaking about the family ties I happen to have with those poor, unknowable, pagan, and immoral people, I could not: it would have been obscene to allow this Muscovite hippopotamus any further entry into my private life.

We did not see each other again.

As far as we know, all public religious activity - Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist worship - has disappeared in China since the Cultural Revolution. Churches, mosques, monasteries, temples have everywhere been looted and then closed. Many have become factories, movie houses, meeting halls; others are simply locked and left derelict. As far as Catholic worship is concerned, one Peking church, the Nant'ang, has been reopened for foreigners: they can hear mass every Sunday at half-past nine. Two Chinese priests are in charge, but their workload must be light: except for that weekly mass the church is locked. When I asked one of the priests if it was possible to hear mass during the week, he answered that "Masses can always be arranged by appointment: one should apply at the Protocol Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Thus, this ministry that arranges all meetings between foreigners and Chinese offlcials is also competent to arrange their meetings with God. The same priest told me that there were other masses for Chinese parishioners, but that their timetable was indeterminate.15

The Sunday mass for foreigners is impeccably managed: liturgical ornaments, candles, Latin prayers, benedictions and

{p. 183} other devotions fallen in disuse in the West, the traditional celebration with the priests' backs to the faithful - everything seems organized to suit the nostalgia of the most die-hard traditionalist, bringing us back to our childhood when the Church in Europe, before its Cultural Revolution, did not yet speak of "liturgical renewal," "dialogue," and other "community conscientizations." Still, under this too-perfect mimicry of a quiet provincial parish fifty years ago - with paper flowers and painted plaster Sacred Hearts - there lurks something murky, something perhaps even rather horrible. The show was put on for the first time when an Italian minister, Colombo, visited Peking; I do not think the phenomenon should cause the faithful to rejoice.

{p. 189} In place of the real class struggle in China - which in fact

{p. 190} opposes those who are led to leaders, masses to bureaucracy - party propaganda has substituted a fictive struggle between the so-called "proletariat" and the so-called "bourgeoisie." "Proletariat" has been redefined to encompass the top as well as the base, the masses as well as the people, and thus conjures away the real conflict between oppressors and oppressed. As for the "bourgeoisie," this mythical scarecrow at whom the masses are periodically invited to vent their anger and frustration - in a way that leaves intact the powers and privileges of their true exploiters - the "bourgeoisie" is actually comprised of disgraced bureaucrats. The ruling class is torn in a perpetual merciless power struggle; the winning group always gives the unlucky losers a "bourgeois-capitalist" label and then abandons them to popular fury. Thus are two birds killed with one stone: the winners get rid of its rivals, and popular discontent is allowed to vent itself safely.

The oppression and exploitation of the Chinese masses is too real, too deeply felt and universally experienced for the regime to claim that it does not exist. So the masses are encouraged, up to a point, to expose their grievances from time to time. However, the identification of guilty parties remains the exclusive preserve of the authorities. And since the struggle for power goes on endlessly without truce, there is no chance of running out of scapegoats: yesterday Liu Shao-ch'i and his clique, today Lin Piao and his lieutenants, tomorrow somebody else. Since all these targets are members of the ruling class, the masses recognize readily that they are true oppressors, and lose no time in vigorously denouncing them. But at this point the authorities must very carefully guide and control the popular anger and prevent it from fulfilling its logical development, which would be to denounce the oppressors as members of the ruling clique and the group in power, because this would mean an accusation not against individuals but against the bureaucratic class as a whole, bringing into question the basic principle of the system and showing for all to see the true nature of the "class struggle"

{p. 191} within the regime. To prevent this danger, the propaganda system must forge a criminal identity so fantastic that it will be impossible to confuse disgraced bureaucrats with their colleagues in power. Thus they become spies in the pay of the U.S.A., Kuomintang agents, spies of the Soviet Union, traitors to their country, minions of feudalism, conspirers for a bourgeois-capitalistic restoraffon. In short, you stick a false nose on Liu Shao-ch'i so that nobody notices how much he looks like Mao Tse-tung.

The "class struggle" as understood in the Maoist system - that is, the denunciation by the masses of guilty parties who have been singled out for them by the powers that be - is the regime's safety valve, its basic hygiene, a periodic bloodletting that allows it to eliminate the toxins in its organism. For the masses, this ritual exercise gives a very convincing appearance of reality. The violence and the blood that always flows in these operations, the high positions and broad powers that had once been the preserve of the bureaucrats now found guilty - all this seems to show that a true revolution is occurring. In fact, the double cross is perfect, for the essence of the bureaucratic system is the interchangeability of bureaucrats, and no mere change of personnel could alter the nature of the regime. After a while, when the masses realize that "while the bottle may be different, it holds the same purgative,''17 the people in power have only to throw to the wolves another cartful of "bourgeois," found guilty of a new capitalist "restoration." The great advantage of the "bourgeois" created by the regime over the authentic kind is that while the latter variety is practically extinct in China, the supply of the first exactly matches the demand.

That it should be possible to "fool all of the people all of the time" will be a surprise only for those who do not know the real nature of the totalitarian phenomenon. For a long time it was the fashion for a certain liberal intelligentsia, sympathetic to

17. Sometimes the regime does not even bother to change the bottle and restores in their former positions the selfsame people who were previously unmasked as "agents of the bourgeois restoration."

{p. 192} Maoism (I myself had such an attitude in the beginning), to quote, apropos of the People's Republic, Dr. Johnson's famous adage, "If the abuse be enormous, nature will rise up and, claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system." But how can this thought of an eighteenth-century man, who in the realm of political corrupt practices knew merely the excesses of absolutist regimes, be applied to that singular twentieth-century phenomenon the totalitarian state, which has no precedent in history?

The future prospects of the Supreme Leader and his heirs remain excellent.18 Anyone who doubts this should ponder the observation of Albert Speer - an expert on such matters, who after the event very lucidly analyzed his experiences - that during the last war, at the moment when Germany was sinking into its Gotterdammerung, if it had been possible to organize a free referendum among the German population a comfortable majority would have been found in support of Hitler. The Stalinist experience is no less instructive: the last thing that the Soviet masses will forgive Khrushchev is the fact that he tied to topple Stalin from his pedestal. The attempts against the Fuhrer's life, the attempts at de-Stalinization, were all enterprises undertaken by minorities who lacked popular support.

In China, the position of the Supreme Leader is strengthened still further by the consensus among all rival factions to support him while they fight to the death between themselves: Mao is less arbiter of power than its prize or its security. Liu Shao-ch'i protested, to the last breath of his political life, his unswerving loyalty to Mao Tse-tung. As for Lin Piao, even if he really did plot against his master (which remains to be proven), even if he had usurped power, we may be sure that he would have called Mao to witness as warmly as any of his foes do now. The Supreme Leader has come to take the place that was occupied by the emperor in the ancien re'gime: he is the axis around

18. Since the Peking demonstration of 5 April 1976, I am not so sure of this.

{p. 193} which the whole political structure revolves. Take this keystone away, and the whole structure crashes down. To touch it, one needs the courage of a Samson willing to pull the temple down on his own head. It is remarkable that even in the paroxyms of the Cultural Revolution, the groups that went furthest and were most virulent and radical in their rebellion against the bureaucratic order did not dare or knew not how to take that last step, which was to denounce Mao. This incapacity to pursue their revolt to its logical conclusion sealed the failure of their efforts.19

Are the people happy?

The question is simplistic, but after having come back from China you are asked it all the time. The answer will vary, obviously, according to the prejudices and the subjectivity of the speaker. In any case, observations will usually be concerned more with the genius of a nation, the traditional constants of its psychology, than with the special and temporary effects of this or that political regime.

Some people are naturally morose, and remain so even when they have all the advantages - political, social, and economic. But the Chinese are certainly not such a people. The Chinese faculty of intensely enjoying everything that is available is well expressed in their gastronomy, and everyone knows that the Chinese cuisine is delicious.

19. At the popular level, at the peasant level, it is significant that in the songs, sayings, proverbs, and stories against bureaucrats, lampoons on Mao are exceptional. The few examples I encountered were almost all expressed in spectacularly obscene language - which in China is certainly not the natural habit of popular speech. The satisfaction of using obscenity here corresponds psychologically to the feeling of sacred awe that grips the profaning individual when he is about to commit sacrilege or break a capital taboo.

{p. 196} Since the beginning of this century, the places in China where new ideas start fermenting and revolutionary insurrections begin have been Canton, Shanghai, and Wuhan. After twenty years of Maoism, it was seen during the Cultural Revolution that those three cities had lost none of their revolutionary potential. In them, sooner or later, the Chinese revolution will take fire again.

Again, the "line of the masses": "Cadres and soldiers have always found very difficult to criticize anything that was not first formally denounced by the Party Committee members and the Political Commissars." This candid confession was noted in a broadcast from Radio Heilungkiang, October 27,1972.

The sight of Chiang Ch'ing reminds one of what one of Koestler's characters says: "One can see what is wrong with the left-wing movement by the ugliness of their women." An ugliness still more significant because it was not natural to her ( as photographs taken in the earlier period when she was an actress in Shanghai attest): an acquired, deliberate ugliness, which becomes in some way shrill.

Chou En-lai.

Every time he appears, his fascinating and enigmatic personality reminds me of the Eing of Ch'i's fighting cock, in Chuang tzu ( Chapter xix, 8):

{p. 197} Chi Hsing-tzu was training a fighting-cock for the king.

After ten days the king asked: "Is the cock ready?"

"Not yet," says the trainer. "It is still full of fire and arrogance."

Ten days later the king comes to enquire again.

"It is still not ready. The sight of its rivals still excites it."

Ten days later the same answer: "It has not yet rid itself of its angry stares and excessive ardor."

Ten days later the trainer at last announces: "Now we are ready! The crowing of the other cocks leaves it impassive. Before its foes, it is as if made of wood. Its inner strength is such that its opponents dare not defy it. They take one look and run away."

This is, of course, not the place to analyze Chou's political genius, but I would just like to mention one aspect of his personality that has not been noted by observers: his good taste. Chou is the only member of China's ruling clique who has never taken advantage of his position to have his poems published. Think about it: it shows uncommon strength of character.

Of course the Maoist bureaucracy has a number of brilliant, witty men. Unfortunately, to have the right to be themselves, they must have reached at least the rank of vice-minister. At the level on which Kissinger meets people when he goes to Peking, the quality of political discourse must be dazzling, in complete contrast to the wooden jargon served up by the cardboard characters at lower levels in the hierarchy. But to what degree does the excitement that foreign politicians experience in China refiect a truth about the People's Republic? In the scales of China's destiny, which weighs heavier: the visionary wisdom of a few men at the top or the sterilizing stupidity of a bureaucratic apparat that is dull, dogmatic, mediocre, arrogant, neurotic ...

{p. 201} Western ideologues now use Maoist China just as the eighteenth-century philosophers used Confucian China: as a myth, an abstract ideal projection, a utopia which allows them to denounce everything that is bad in the West without taking the trouble to think for themselves. We stifle in the miasma of industrial civilization, our cities rot, our roads are blocked by the insane proliferation of cars, et cetera. So they hurry to celebrate the People's Republic, where pollution, delinquency, and traflfic problems are nonexistent. One might as well praise an amputee because his feet aren't dirty.

{p. 202} The Maoist fashions that prevail in the West today in some intellectual circles are remarkably similar in their dynamic to the passion for all chinoiserie in the eighteenth century. It is a new exoticism based, like the earlier ones, on ignorance and imagination. With the best intention in the world it shows, unconsciously, an immense contempt for the Chinese, for their humanity, their real life, their language, their culture, their past and their present. Like in the eighteenth century China is far away; this very distance, which allowed Boucher to paint fancy man-

{p. 203} darins for the adornment of Paris drawing rooms, now allows philosophers to give Maoism whatever shape they fancy.

{p. 204} But it is hard to understand how their political myopia has kept them from seeing those thousands of portraits of Stalin that grace all of China's government buildins, including the famous monster effigy that adorns the west angle of T'ien-an men in Peking! In fact I see no country (North Korea possibly excepted) that can pride itself more than China on its faithfulness to the letter as well as the spirit of Stalinism. The Peking mandarins show a rather touching steadfastness in still honoring the Little Father of the peoples, when one thinks of all the dirty tricks he played on them when he was alive! ...

In the West, political power and ideological authority do not always coincide. In their allegiance to the temporal authorities and to the church, for example, individuals may be torn between contradictory demands; in these conflicts individual conscience in the end has to decide. Since the beginning of modern history - the end of the Middle Ages - Europe has had a plurality of political systems and religious confessions; rebels and

{p. 205} heretics, when hunted in one state, could take refuge in the next, and go on according to their convictions. These factors have permitted and fostered liberal ideals and individualism among intellectuals. In China, on the contrary, since the first imperial unification under the Ch'in, twenty-two hundred years ago, the political, ideological, and cultural worlds have always coincided, and they make up a monolithic whole. Beyond that whole, there was no alternative for the individual conscience: to reject the "orthodoxy in power" (cheng-t'ung) meant not only to cxclude oneseiflfrom society, but also to turn one's back on civilization, to reject the human condition. To adopt that course, one had to be ready to liye alone in forests or deserts, with wild beasts as one's companions. Dynasties followed upon each other, but the orthodoxy remained: it was from that permanence that each dynasty drew its legitimacy. The only periods when China was without an orthodoxy were the dangerous, chaotic gaps that might occur between two dynasties, when the country sank into lawlessness and violence, until from the turmoil a power emerged that restored the neglected orthodoxy and became the nucleus around which the empire could be made whole again. Chinese scholars are conditioned by two thousand years of history not only to support the ruling orthodoxy, sole barrier against the injustice of lawlessness and disorder, but also to watch for its coming, to welcome it and rejoice in its accession after the darkness of each interregnum.

Anyone who criticized Hitler was immediately accused by his supporters of being anti-German. To attack Mussolini was to show your hatred of Italy. And one had to hate Russia, of course, to resist the charisma of that genius Stalin. This confusionism is typically fascist, and it is practiced actively by Maoists today. According to them, to attack Mao is to attack China and the Chinese people; inversely, a true love of China cannot be shown except through the worship of Mao. The aim

{p.206} is obviously to ward off the dangerous idea that it is precisely a love of China that could and should inspire a critical review of Maoism.

The trick is not new. Those who are called "China-haters" today should not worry too much, for they are in good company. Their dean is Lu Hsun, who in his time was called exactly that by Kuomintang-paid hacks. For them, the attacks of this great patriot and brave man against the Nanking government were "treasonable acts against the country," while his essays on politics and ethics as well as his fiction (especially Ah Q) expressed "a visceral hatred of the Chinese people."29

It is really very difficult in China to do something new: history has a precedent for everything. Even the queerest excesses of Maoism do not escape this rule, as the precedent of Chu Yuan-chang shows. Chu Yuan-chang, the founder of the Ming dynasty, was a talented statesman, but he was also a brutal tyrant who terrorized the intellectual life of the entire country. He had an abiding hatred for Confucianism, especially its more democratic brand as represented by Mencius (Mencius vindicated tyrannicide and put the interest of the people above that of the ruler). Not only did he want to have the philosopher's efflgy in the great temple of Confucius destroyed but he had more than a hundred passages of Mencius censored. At the same time, he fancied himself a political philosopher. His works reveal a self-made man - an odd mixture of trite sayings, cliches, truisms, with here and there a dazzling, sharp, original remark. His principal thoughts were condensed in a digest called Ming ta kao (Great Ming Edict), and its reading was compulsory for all subjects of the empire: each family had to have a copy. Since (the fourteenth century) the Chinese population was then around

29. One can find a very good sample of these insults in Su Hsueh-lin's Wo lun Lu Hsiin (Taipei, 1971), a book whose announced purpose is to expose the "Sinophobia" of Lu Hsun!

{p. 207} eighty million, the Ming ta kao remained for a long time one of the most widely distributed books in the world.30

This enormous distribution did not prevent its almost complete disappearance. Today the Ming ta kao is a very rare curiosity, eagerly sought by bibliophiles. The first edition of the Little Red Book - that is, the one with a foreword by Lin Piao - has reached the same level only a few years after being published.

Other precedents are offered by more recent history. The Red Guards and the ideology of the Cultural Revolution were strangely prefigured by the Fascist movement of the Blue Shirts that developed in Kuomintang China during the 1930s.31 The Blue Shirts were a paramilitary movement which demanded of its members that they place above everything else their personal and unconditional allegiance to the Supreme Leader. In cultural matters, the movement flaunted its contempt for the humanities and for traditional education, which maintained and spread the habits and prejudices of a decadent, parasitic elite. They advocated that in schools the students, instead of "wasting their time over dead books trying to become bureaucrats," should engage in directly productive work: a quarter of their time should be given to aricultural and other manual work. Before graduating from high school or the university, all students should be compelled to work for a year in farms, factories, or shops. Engineering students should spend half their day in factory work in order to overcome the traditional contempt which they, as

30. Since then, of course, the Little Red Book has beaten all the records ...

31. See L. E. Eastman, "Fascism in Kuomintang China: The Blue Shirts," in China Quarterly, January-March 1972.

{p. 208} intellectuals, had for manual labor, and in order for themselves to become productive citizens.32 The Blue Shirts had a very radical economic program and advocated an collectivization. Xenophobes and anti-imperialists, they were the spearhead of the fight against the Japanese, murdering collaborators, and so forth. ( Because of this, the Japanese paid special attention to that movement, and a large part of the presently available sources on the Blue Shirts, apart from their own publications, is comprised of secret reports of the Japanese intelligence services.) The movementght against the "pernicious influence West," root of the moral and cultural bankruptcy of modern China, and groups of commandos raided movie houses and dancing halls, pouring acid on patrons dressed in Western clothes. The Blue Shirts hated liberalism and its "corrupting license," believing that "individualism" and "cosmopolitan dissipation" must be eliminated, by violence if necessary. The movement praised Ch'in Shih-huang, who had burned books and killed scholars for the good of the country, and it declared unceasing war against corrupt bureaucrats. As was written in a lead article in one of their periodicals (She-hui hsin-wen [Social News]): "The only way to get rid of the bureaucratic organization is to create a mass-violence organization, taking the people as its supreme principle."

The case of Chu Yuan-chang brings us back to two fundamental questions that were touched on above: the isolation of China and the phenomenon of its monolithic orthodoxy.

Professor C.'s argument about this one-way orthodoxy needs some modulations. It is true that the Chinese universe has always appeared as an organic whole, but it is only since the Ming that this civilization of the organic whole became totalitarian. Under

32. See Yu Wen-wei, "What Kind of Education the Chinese Nation Needs Today" ("Chung-hua min-tsu hsien-tsai hsu-yao he chung chiaoyu"), The Future (Ch-ien-t'u), 7 July 1933.

{p.209} the Han, the T'ang, and the Sung, China's authoritarian regimes were not despotic; a wide and fruitful margin of expression was allowed to minority or opposition groups, and because of that, it was inconceivable that the honnete homme should not take part in politics: a saying such as "The destiny of the empire is my personal responsibility" (yi t'ien-hsia wei chi jen) could serve as the motto of the entire scholar elite (whereas anybody who would have dared utter it under the Ming would have been guilty of the capital crime of high treason! ). Statesmen sometimes fell out of favor and were exiled to far-flung border provinces, but they continued to do official tasks and to receive their salaries. Promotion or removal depended not on the whim of the ruler (whose powers were severely restricted by the very complexity of the governmental and administrative structure) but, rather, on the contradictory actions of various political factions. (In the time of Su Tung-p'o and Wang Anshih, conservatives and progressives succeeded each other in power in a way not far removed from the alternation of power in a two-party democracy. ) With the Ming, this all changed drastically. The emperor took on absolute power and he exercised it not through ministers and the traditional high administration, but through his eunuchs and private servants. A career in politics, which for two thousand years (practically since the time of Confucius! ) had been the privilege and responsibility of the scholar elite, became a cesspool from which honest men recoiled inisgust,a den of cutthroats from which they fled in fear At the same time, the rigid control over public opinion exercised by the Ming regime condemned intellectual life to dogmatism, paralysis, and sterility. The only original thinkers of the period were active at the risk of their lives. As a corollary, and crowning their totalitarian enterprise, the Ming then cut off the Chinese empire from all external contacts. (The famous sea expeditions of Cheng Ho were ventures of empty prestige, with no cultural or economic significance, and cannot be compared to the flourishing maritime activities of the Sung.)

{p.210} The image of China that the West received - of a static, sclerotic, hermetically sealed empire - reflects the state of affairs created by the Ming and perpetuated by the Ch'ing the latter were barbarians with no political traditions, who painstakingly modeled their governmental administration on what they thought was the traditional Chinese model, whereas it was only a Ming perversion of it). This image does not in the least fit the reality of China under the Han, the T'ang, the Sung, even the Yuan. China's powers of invention, evolution, and adaptation, its creative genius, its political, cultural, and economic vitality, were both the result and the cause of a civilization that was essentially open, even frankly cosmopolitan.33 If the start of the industrial revolution in Europe had coincided with one of those times when China was wide open to the outside world - which was its normal historical situation - China would never have been out-distanced in the modern "race to progress." The multiple, dense net of cultural and, even more important, economic ties that linked it with other countries would have kept it informed of the changes taking place. The pressure of these new developments would have been enough to generate similar or superior developments in China, long before the West acquired the decisive superiority in technology that was to bring about the tragedies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In fact, because of this fatal historical accident - the establishment of the isolationist and totalitarian Ming system, made worse by the new lease of life that the Manchus offered - China confronted the modern world blind and paralyzed, with the worst possible political heritage. A fair evaluation of the Maoist regime should take into account the heavy burden of this past. The totalitarian cancer, the organized cretinization, the dictatorship of illiterates,34 the crass ignorance of the external

33. As a quick example: Ch'ang-an, the T'ang capital, which was at that time the largest city in the world, had not less than two thousand foreign-trading firms within its walls!

34. How else can we call those ideological authorities who (for in- {footnote 34 is continued on p. 211}

{p. 211} world together with a pathetic inferiority complex toward it35 - those traits are not the natural features of the most civilized people on earth. To understand how Maoism could temporarily lead them into a rut so unworthy of their calling and heir genius, it would no doubt be necessary to retrace the historical events by which the nation was so incredibly derailed.

Post Scriptum: I wrote most of the foregoing in 19773. I hesitated for a long time before having it published. Meanwhile, I returned to China again, and this helped me to bring my notes up to date on a few minor points.

This book is at the opposite pole from the one I would wish to write - and one day hope I can write.

If the Maoist bureaucrats could only shed some of the pessimism, suspicion, and contempt with which they look down on those over whom they rule, and if they would only take a risk and let us live, truly live, among the people, I cannot believe that the experience would furnish such negative impressions as mine here. Not that the daily life of the Chinese people is such a picnic - far from it - but at least its inexhaustible humanity would be enough to wash the sterile sarcasm from these pages. July 1974

{footnote 34 continued from p. 210} stance) gravely contrast the progressive genius of P. Degeyter (the composer of the "Internationale") with the decadent and corrupt scribblings of Debussy, ''who expresses in music the historical transition from free trade to monopolistic capitalism"? ( Hung-ch'i, No. 3, 1974. ) Chiang Ch'ing, who ruled for ten years over China's intellectual and artistic life, once felt herself that the ruling elite's lack of culture was causing problems; she once enjoined a group of writers who paid a call on her to study closely the universal literary masterpieces so as to raise the level of their art, and proposed as models The Count of Monte Cristo and Gone with the Wind ...

35. How else can we understand the attitude of the Peking mandarins, solemnly mobiliing eight hundred million people to denounce a puny charlatan like Antonioni?

{end quotes from Chinese Shadows}

(2) China under Deng admits Mao's errors, abandons Communism

Communism had been created by Jews - atheistic Jews, followers of Spinoza's non-theistic variant of Judaism (see spinoza-pantheism.html) - but Stalin overthrew them, stealing their conspiracy and developing a Russian (non-Jewish) kind of Communism: stalin.html.

In the same way, the first Christians had been Jews, but through Paul (as against James) a non-Jewish kind of Christianity developed.

The Jewish Bolsheviks belatedly coalesced around Trotsky as leader of the "Left Opposition". Its three leaders, Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, were Jewish: Stalin says the Left Opposition is led by three "dissatisfied Jewish intellectuals".

Stalin was obsessed with Trotsky's challenge to him from abroard, via his books and his popularity amongst intellectuals, and feared that he might one day return to claim the leadership. His purges of the 1930s were directed primarily against Trotsky and his supporters; but many innocent people were dragged into the successive rounds of denunciations.

With the rise of Hitler, Stalin was seen as the lesser evil, so Jews continued to support the USSR. The creation of Israel, however, presented Jews with a rival loyalty; with this began a Cold War between Moscow and Jerusalem. As Stalin observed how Soviet Jews rallied to Israel, Jews were gradually removed from the top positions they had held: moscow-vs-jerusalem.html.

This struggle led to the murder of Stalin in 1953. The USSR severed diplomatic relations with Israel on February 11 that year. Stalin was aware that a group of people was out to get him, but they got him before he could not discover who they were. He died within 2 months of the Doctors' Plot being announced. His murderers were in two factions: a Jewish one (Beria, Kaganovich, Molotov) and a "Russian" one (Khruschev). The Jewish one seized power, but was overthrown a few months later, by Khruschev: death-of-stalin.html.

Khruschev, having been one of Stalin's murderers, denounced him in 1956 to justify the blood on his hands.

Mao saw himself as the 'Stalin' of China. He did not know that Stalin had been murdered, but when he saw how Stalin was repudiated, fearing that the same could happen to him, he inaugurated the Let 100 Flowers Bloom campaign to draw his enemies out. Rejecting Khruschev's moderate policies, which he branded 'Revisionist', he moved to the extreme Left, launching the Great Leap Forward. Its failure led to Mao's demotion; he was removed from the running of the economy, and left with a purely ceremonial role. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping opposed the Great Leap Forward; the party placed Liu in charge of the economy. To regain his power and unseat Liu and Deng, Mao promoted the disastrous Cultural Revolution, mobilising young people into the Red Guards. Liu was a particular target: Finally, having wrecked China, Mao accepted Nixon's olive branch, delivered by Kissinger; the USSR thus gained Vietnam (by winning the Vietnam war), but lost China, a much bigger prize.

In 1979, with Vietnam invading Cambodia (which China regarded as its backyard), China invaded Vietnam (to force it to withdraw). Vietnam had just renewed a defence treaty with the USSR, a treaty from which China was excluded; China was testing that treaty. The US warned the USSR not to intervene - thus taking China's side. In the 1980s, China allowed the CIA to monitor Soviet nuclear tests from within China:

After Mao's death, Deng Xiao-ping visited Japan, and decided to move towards the Japanese economic model. But Japan's hierarchic society, culminating in the Keiretsu, was different from China's; China later found the South Korean chaebol a better model for it to follow. It also used Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore as a model, and invited overseas Chinese to help build the new China.

I have a copy of a book published by the Chinese Government called Mao Zedong: Man, Not God, by Quan Yanchi (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1992) which says:

{quote} As a consequence of rashness and disregard for objective reality, accompanied by attitudes prevalent in 1958, and the natural calamities that followed, China was in deep economic trouble between 1958 and 1961, with nationwide starvation. {end quote} (p. 55)

The Cultural Revolution traumatised so many people that, after Mao's death, China abandoned Communism.

Of it, Mao Zedong: Man, Not God says:

{quote} Mao did not find everything about the Communist Party or the nation which he had founded to his satisfaction, and he always tried to "do something to rectify it." In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why he initiated the "cultural revolution." Unfortunately for the Chinese nation, this "something" which he did, turned out to be a mistake which triggered ten years of catastrophe. {end quote} (p. 213)

Even though the book criticises Mao in only those two places, those are the most important words in the book.

(3) Simon Leys is a Marxist Anti-Communist

Simon Leys, despite his anti-Communism, is a Marxist. I am a "Market Socialist"; my model economy is Australia of the 1940s to the mid 1970s, before Deregulation & Privatisation: ambivalence.html.

On Marxist Anti-Communism see Richard Kostelanetz' book The End of Intelligent Writing: kostel.html.

Leys' lack of hostility to the Chinese regime is shown in this quote:

"But I am struck by the opinion of many Chinese, based on personal experience and deep observation, that the regime was making great strides until 1956-57, only to see its forward dynamism compromised by the Hundred Flowers crisis, and then broken for good by the failure of the Great Leap Forward." (pp. 159-60)

That quote also shows that the denunciation of Stalin in 1956 destabilised Mao, leading him down the path which wrecked China.

Leys says that he would support the destruction if it achieved "the true revolutionary tasks":

"If the destruction of the entire legacy of China's traditional culture was the price to pay to insure the success of the revolution, I would forgive all the iconoclasms, I would support them with enthusiasm! What makes the Maoist vandalism so odious and so pathetic is not that it is irreparably mutilating an ancient civilization but rather that by doing so it gives itself an alibi for not grappling with the true revolutionary tasks." (p. 58)

In footnote 34 on pp. 211, Leys writes of {quote} the progressive genius of P. Degeyter (the composer of the "Internationale") {endquote}.

Most Marxist Anti-Communists of Leys' generation are Trotskyists, so he probably is too. George Orwell, whom Leys quotes several times, was a Trotskyist, as were James Burnham and Karl A. Wittfogel. In Animal Farm, the horse Snowball is modelled on Trotsky. In 1984, the underground leader Goldstein is modelled on Trotsky: " ... the face of Goldstein ... was a lean Jewish face, with ... a small goatee beard" (p. 13 in the Penguin paperback).

Karl Kautsky represents a different kind of Marxist Anti-Communism, one that rejects both Lenin and Trotsky. Noam Chomsky might fall into this category - he calls Lenin and Trotsky "tyrants" (Democracy's invisible line: - but his complaint is that their "Democratic Centralism" destroyed the soviets (workers' councils).

Kautsky wrote against the Red Terror, which Trotsky defended in his book The Defence of Terrorism (also published as Dictatorship Vs. Democracy, and as Terrorism & Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky).

Trotsky wrote there:

{quote} As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the "sacredness of human life". We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred, we must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And that problem can only be solved by blood and iron. {endquote; DoT p. 63, DvD p. 60}: worst.html.

Chomsky disparages The Black Book of Communism (Millennial Visions and Selective Vision - Part One, January, 10 2000: He is therefore most likely a closet Trotskyist. Most of the Trotskyists who lead the anti-war marches (and pro-gay/pro-Immigration marches) today look up to him, which would be unlikely if he really opposed Trotsky.

Leys mentions Trotsky or Trotskyism several times in this book (do a search), but, unlike Kautsky, in none of these occurrences does he criticise Trotsky. On the other hand, he equates Stalin with Hitler as a despot.

Yet Bertrand Russell wrote in 1920, after visiting Russia, "Bolshevism is a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar's, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action." russell.html.

Of Marx' role in the Paris Commune, Michael Shapiro wrote in his book The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time (Simon & Schuster, London, 1997):

{p. 33} In their frenzy, the Commune leaders executed the archbishop of Paris and other prominent leaders. Establishment forces reacted with a massacre of their own, staining the medieval byways of old Paris blood red. For his support, Marx became internationally known as the infamous "Red Doctor." In the common psyche, communism became synonymous with deadly violence, an association which Lenin and Mao later proved true. {endquote}

Leys may be unaware of the sins of Marx and Trotsky, in the same way that Leftists of the 1970s were unaware of Mao's.

Unlike the Trotskyists, however, Leys is concerned about the West's own Cultural Revolution, which I see as substantially Trotskyist (see new-left.html). Leys implies the "Left" origins of the West's Cultural Revolution - perhaps he derives it from Mao's admirers in the West? He does not seem to realise its Trotskyist origins, just as George Orwell did not realise that Trotsky had written a book justifying the Red Terror.

Trotsky explicitly promoted Radical Feminism, Youth Rebellion, Communal Childrearing and the Destruction of the Family, in his book The Revolution Betrayed. He describes the attack on all tradition launched by the Bolsheviks, and Stalin's reversal of its extremes. Radical Feminism is Trotskyist: trotsky.html.

In the symposium below, Leys writes that "Marx was of no relevance" for understanding Mao's China. This is a rewording of the claim that "Marxism has never been tried". Leys later poses the question "has it ever been really tried?"

This is generally a Trotskyist position, aimed at Stalin and Mao - basically because the early (Jewish) Bolsheviks were ousted within ten years of seizing power.

Marx Reconsidered: A Symposium

By David Horowitz, William Pfaff, Russell Jacoby, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Simon Leys, Martin Malia, and Daniel Bell February 08, 1998

Editor's Note: Nineteen ninety-eight is the 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Communist Manifesto." Apart from Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species," Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' slim pamphlet is arguably the most important work of nonfiction written in the 19th century. The contours of our own century have incontestably been shaped by the ideas expressed in their immodest polemic.

Today, after the collapse of communism, what, if anything, is the legacy of the "Manifesto"? Book Review asked several distinguished writers to contribute their thoughts to a reconsideration of Marx on the eve of the millennium. ...


Whatever is well-written is bound to last. On literary grounds alone, the future of Marx's "Manifesto" is secure. Whether it still has a political future is a question which I am not competent to assess.

My own political experience is limited to 40 years spent observing the theory and practice of Leninism and Stalino-Maoism in China. Marx was of no relevance for this task.

The criminal record and catastrophic failure of all the countries that were called "communist" have given a bad name to Marxism. Which is perhaps unfair: After all, has it ever been really tried?

* Simon Leys is the pseudonym of Pierre Ryckmans, professor emeritus of Chinese studies at the Australian National University and at the University of Sydney. He is the author of, among other works, "Chinese Shadows" and "The Burning Forest: Essays on Chinese Culture and Politics." Most recently, he has translated "The Analects of Confucius" (W.W. Norton).


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