General Liu Yazhou: Great Critics are Often Great Patriots

The Chinese Elections website at the Carter Center, which collects many enlightening articles from the Chinese press on its website, shared this recent WeChat public account posting by PLA National Defense University political commissar Liu Yahou.  Liu Yazhou is a patriot who often speaks out for more openness and democracy for China.  I remember one of his articles several years ago that argued  along the lines of ‘China needs to be a much more democratic country — only then can it be a strong country that western powers will not dare try to push around.’

Liu Yazhou’s articles are surprisingly frank considering the overt restrictions and intimidation that Chinese writers and even web users must contend with.  Liu is the son-in-law of the former and now deceased Chinese President Li Xiannian.  This may be one of the reasons he can speak relatively freely.   A Wikipedia biography of Liu Yazhou is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Yazhou

These days, with all the news about fake news and the fake news about news, General Liu’s words about China apply more to the U.S.A. as well than one might hope!

Liu Yazhou: Great Critics are Often Great Patriots

伟大的批评者往往是伟大的爱国者

by Liu Yazhou  刘亚洲

Introduction:

Today we very often are missing this medicine: truth! In an honest society, honesty itself is not something that people make a big thing of; it is in a dishonest society that honesty is particularly valuable.

You are all good writers. Why do people dislike military political study materials so much? Why are all those things that the newspapers and magazines write about can’t really be taken seriously?

Our situation today is that “the common people don’t believe anything, the experts don’t understand anything, the media doesn’t say anything and political education is useless.” It is because you are being phony that people can’t take you seriously. You are writing things that you don’t believe yourself but want other people to believe them. How strange is that? First of all, do you believe what you are writing? Would you want your son to read it? That is a kind of dishonesty.

Writing dishonest articles and being a dishonest person are the same thing. A pen weighs a thousand pounds. Articles must be truthful. The fundamenal content of an honest article is truth. Only truthful articles are lively and vigorous. The ancients said that people must be upright and that writing should be unconventional. “Unconventional” here means be actively thinking for ourselves. People should be honest but articles should be beautiful and brilliant. The “unconventional” along with beauty and brilliance are built on foundation of truthfulness. An article that is not honest cannot be beautiful and brilliant. Simply preaching at people cannot win their hearts. Preaching in itself does not have vitality. Future generation will not benefit from important things that are not said. The problem remains a problem of the system and a problem of education. We of our generation started lying from the moment we started writing. I lied too. We have all written that kind of essay. For example, “I found a penny and gave it to Uncle Policeman, Uncle Policemen asked me my name and I said my name is Red Scarf”. We all wrote “I helped an old man cross the street, then I looked at the sun and it shined even brighter”; “After I swept the classroom, I wiped off the perspiration and laughed seeing how my red scarf shined even brighter”. I escaped from there.

After I told lies, I felt how evil it was. These days we don’t want for anything, but what we are most short of is truth! In 1958 during the Great Leap Forward in Anhui Province there were people dying of starvation. When they went to the hospital for medical care, the physician, after taking their pulse, the physician said you lack a certain kind of medicine. One word: food. The man was starving.

Today we very often are missing this medicine: truth! In an honest society, honesty itself is not something that people make a big thing of; it is in a dishonest society that honesty is particularly valuable. Truthtellers are often critics. Critics are often patriots. Great critics are often great patriots.

After reform and opening began, we made a film. The film was called “Bloody Taierzhuang” [ 電影 《血戰台兒莊》 – 1986 Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZp9FEK0vQU ]. After that film was made it could not be shown anywhere because it showed Nationalist Party contributions to the War of Resistance Against Japan. Finally, Comrade Xi Zhongxun [note: the father of PRC Party Secretary Xi Jinping] said let’s take it to Hong Kong and get it shown there. We had never imagined what a great sensation that movie made in Hong Kong. After Jiang Jingguo heard the news, he had the movie brought to Taiwan to see. After Jiang Jingguo saw it, he said: “So it turns out that the Communist Party is seeking truth from facts.”

That movie led directly to Jiang Jingguo allowing old soldiers to return to the mainland to visit their relatives. A new page was turned in relations across the Taiwan Strait. Comrades, the power of seeking truth from facts is very great indeed!

We should learn how to write from Lu Xun. Lu Xun greatly raised the power of the Chinese language to inflict casualties. This is how the writer Zhu Dake put it. Zhu Dake also said “The Chinese language is the kind of language that is well suited for writing imperial edicts, for writing praise for someone’s accomplishments and virtue on monuments, or for letters of condolence.”

After Lu Xun, the Chinese language became a dagger and a pistol. Lu Xun opposes all towering buildings, I think that he is against bigness. After the publication of “The True Story of Ah Q” many Chinese people wanted to sue Lu Xun for slander. This was because the Ah Q that Lu Xun wrote about was so much like them. I think Lu Xun was a very powerful writer. Lu Xun once made a celebrated comment, “I considered it but I will not forgive any of them.” He was a man of great hatreds. But he first of all had a great deal of love. It was only because of his great love for the Chinese nation that he was able to hate so much. It was just because of his great love and his great hatred that made him more willing to stand up and tell the truth. He used his pen to write great truths about all kinds of people and all kinds of social phenomena.

I have been thinking a lot about this. Chinese people today really do lack “truth” more and more. From news reports to eating, drinking and all other aspects of daily life there is just so much that is fake and counterfeit. We can’t but doubt just what is true? No matter what this society becomes, what we need to do now at least, is to seek the truth. A man without faith cannot stand. It would be a very sad thing indeed if we can’t even be honest. Chinese people, Chinese society, and we as individuals all need to be honest

We Chinese people often lack this medicine: truth.

Liu Yazhou WeChat Public Account December 16, 2016

来源:中国社会学公共微信 20161216

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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