Democratic element in Hundred Flower Movement and How far it went?
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools contend.
—-Mao Tse-Tung, May 2nd, 1956
Hundred Flower Movement is the campaign who has the most beautiful and mild name in history of China. It gave the intellectuals, especially non-party members a feeling of Early Spring(
Western democracy and Mao’s democracy
Western democracy definition:
An ancient political term meaning government by the people-in classical Athens where the word originated, rule by the demos. In current usage, it can refer to popular government or popular sovereignty, to representative government as well as direct participatory government, and even ( not quite correctly) to republican or constitutional government, that is to say, government by law. (David Miller “The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought” Oxford publishing services, Oxford)
Mao Zedong never gave a clear definition of democracy. We can only sense democracy in the quotations of him. Below are some important quotes of Mao on democracy, especially on big democracy and small democracy:
a) In history, every democratic movement in large scale is used to fight against class enemy.( ［1］毛泽东文集：第7卷［M］.北京：人民出版社，1999. p161)
b) Big democracy is used to deal with class economy, while the small democracy is for solving problems within the people.( ［1］毛泽东文集：第7卷［M］.北京：人民出版社，1999. p160)
That is to say, no matter whether it is big democracy or small democracy, the common purposes are for the development of socialist democracy and to consolidate the dictatorship of people.
As democracy in western world is a core value which has some standard, in Mao’s mind, democracy is nothing but a tool for class struggle.
What the two democracies share in common depends on how Mao discoursed his democracy and the situation in contemporary China. By government by people, Mao would say people were the master of the country and there was proletarian dictatorship. Defending for popular or representative government, Mao would say the government was based on the mass and represent the people’s interests. The Constitution promulgated in 1954 was a strong support that China indeed was a country governed by law. The only problem lied in the direct participation of the people. Will Hundred Flower Movement solve the embarrassment of Mao if he was questioned about this character in democracy in Western concept?
The reason of Hundred Flower Movement
· In the 8th CCP Party Congress, the success of socialist transformation was declared, the main contradiction was no longer between the proletariat and the capitalists, rather it was between the need of people for fast economic and cultural development and the reality. That is one of the reasons Mao Zedong was confident to allow intellectuals to speak more freely their mind and criticize the government.
· Bureaucracy and corruption in the CCP party created distance and tension between the people and the officials, which was clearly described in the passage of Wang Meng: a young man in the ministry of Organization. Mao realized the problem and hoped to eliminate bureaucracy, subjectivism and factionalism by small democracy, which contained criticism and self-criticism and which was mild and targeted to people but not the enemy.
· 1956 Hungary and Poland Revolt made the party be aware of the danger of collapse of socialism countries with Communist Party. To eliminate the potential dangerous enemy, Mao would like to use the strategy to exposure the enemy and then eliminate them. He had excuses to do so as well: if someone uses big democracy to go against socialism, let us use proletarian dictatorship to deal with them!
1956 saw the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing Stalin, shining light on democracy and liberalism, vibrated the world, especially in the communist countries like China. The policy-makers in China confirmed that break the existing Soviet Union model and began to explore Chinese way to communism. Disappointed by Stalin, Mao decided to try his new method—as a beginning, Hundred Flower Movement.
In the context of stable domestic in which hidden danger was felt by the party members and the international background which gave a strong signal to Mao some actions should to taken , it was time to hear the voice from the Non-party intellectuals. Is it a call for democracy, or is it just a “have-to-do” movement?
l What was the purpose and principal of Hundred Flower Movement?
In May 1956, Mao tried to encourage greater initiative in the cultural sphere with the slogan “let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools contend.” Inspired by Taoism, Mao used this slogan to flourish ideas and thoughts in order to fight against bureaucracy, subjectivity and sectarianism. In general for all intellectual activity the prescription was: the aim of converting all to Marxism-Leninism stands, but for the moment non-Marxist ideas can be held and propagated so long as they do not mean active counter-revolutionary activity. ( Roderick MacFarquhar, “ The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals” New York). At the beginning of the campaign, many intellectuals were cautious after the mental batterings and bitter memory of “ the case of Hu Feng” (original name Zhang Mingzhen , also called Zhang Guangren Chinese literary theorist and critic who followed Marxist theory in political and social matters but not in literature.in the early 1950s, Hu Feng was subjected to a campaign of criticism for the emphasis he placed on the subjective nature of creative writing. Ultimately, his views were condemned as counterrevolutionary, and from 1955 to 1979 he was imprisoned for his views; while in prison he sustained physical and mental damage. Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9104393 )
How far should they go?
Since Mao’s slogan was vague, many intellectuals had to think on their own how far they should conduct the campaign without opening the Pandora’s Box. One interpretation of Chairman Mao’s slogan on contending of the hundred schools was very convincing. It was given about four circles by Teng Ch’u-min ( a member of the Democratic League’s standing committee who made some very significant remarks in this campaign) :
1. The contending of the hundred schools must have leadership, namely the leadership of Marxism-Leninism;
2. The contending of the hundred schools must have direction, namely the direction of socialism;
3. The contending of the hundred schools must have a boundary, namely it must be confined to the people and enemies should not be allowed to take part.
4. The contending of the hundred schools must have a criterion. Practice is the criterion of truth and of contending. ( Roderick MacFarquhar “The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals ” New York)
As far as I understand, the basic spirit of Mao’s slogan was loosening the girp boldly and widely blooming. The whole campaign was of the party, for the party and by the party. Hence the purpose served the Party, which is to unmask the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois thoughts and strengthen Marxism-Leninism.
l The significance of Democracy?
On the way to democracy
There was indeed kind of institution during the Hundred Flower Movement, such as forum, press, democratic parties, religious groups and national minorities. However all under control of Communist Party, their limitation was so overwhelming that this campaign was just like a game in which the rule was made by the Communist Party. There were indeed opportunities to let the non-Party members speak out their opinions on the democratic developments in China, however there were hardly responses from the Party and they were just watching non-party members. The ideology outweighed the content and the contribution it would bring about to China. As long as anyone exposes their “bourgeois thoughts”, what he said was nonsense and intention of anti-Party, anti-society and anti-people. Take for Democratic Party for instance, in 1949, when China was founded, three of the six deputy chairmen of the central government were non-party persons, and two out of the four deputy premiers were non-parties persons. Later when the government was reorganized, the seats of the non-party deputy chairmen were moved to the standing committee of the People’s Congress. In the state council, all the twelve deputy premiers belonged to the Communist Party. What is incredible to western countries was that in the January of 1949 the democratic league accepted the leadership of Communist party.
Having been “repressed” for ages, some intellectuals would like to take advantage of this campaign to let off steam by pointing out the existing problems and by offering their suggestions to show that non-party members were able to make contributions to the motherland. In the forum conducted by Communist Party inviting the non-party intelligentsia to criticize the Party, many significant and progressive suggestions were come up with, which, till today, has significant meaning. Chang Po-chun (vice chairman, CDL; minister of communications) put forward political “design department” in order to guarantee the fully corporation between Communist Party and democratic parties especially in policy-making process. Huang Shao-Hung (Central Committee’s Standing Committee, KMTRC) required a legal system be built to make sure the function of National People’s Congress was respected by people, especially the Communist Party members, otherwise, party members would regard the National People’s Congress as merely a formality and the decision were generally reached inside the party before any discussion with the democratic parties. The importance of legal system was also put emphasis by Hsiung Ko-wu ( Vice Chairman, KMITC), who questioned the legal system why many cases in the three-anti campaign had been no definite announcement made as to conclusion of their cases. What could not be ignored was Ch’en Ming-shu’s suggestions that Communist Party control of the universities should be brought to an end.
These advice would have been a leap forward if the party had taken into consideration and taken into action. However, unfortunately, the party only watched and prepared to arrest those who told the truth by accusing him of the enemy of the party, the society and the people.
As a result, none of these suggestions were accepted and all of these suggestions became the evidence of sins.
In the perspective of institution, there was no improvement in democracy even though many democratic elements had drawn people’s attention and gained people’s support. It is simply because the Party took the final decision. In a word, in this movement, China was not on the way to democracy but on the way to testing and to eliminating the danger of democracy and democrats.
l People’s freedom of speech?
It appeared that the government guaranteed the freedom of speech by the people in the period of Hundred Flower Movement. Indeed, people from all walks of life let their voice heard the public and by the party. Scholars in universities took advantage of this chance to attack the language reform, in which Russian substituted English as a second language for scholars to make sure that they were not contaminated by Bourgeois thoughts. Scholars also accused the Party of ruining the free academic atmosphere by remoulding ideology and forcing the intellectuals to study Marxism-Leninism, attend criticism and self criticism, and to write confessions. Doctors had a chance to point out problems such as deficiencies in medical education, and, that the Party neglected the significance of establishing a sound and modern medical service. A democratic wall was taken shape in Peking University by the university students, on which large-character newspapers were posted to reveal “three evils”. On the democratic wall, the students also asked for more information of how the government ran and how decision was made, i.e. the transparency of administration.
Yes, freedom of speech was allowed, then what about freedom after speech?
Democracy as a trap? (case study: Chu Anping)
Kuang Ming Daily, is a newspaper run by Democratic League since 1949 ,whose original purpose was to fulfill the freedom of speech, to invite free thoughts about politics. However, later, the press was controlled by communist party both ideologically and in formality. in 1953, all democratic parties and all china trade union ran the newspaper nominally. in April 1956, “Hundred Flower Movement ” was launched and the Communist Party suggested to clarify the identity of Kuang Ming Daily and admitted that the paper should be managed by democracts, leaving some room for freedom. the proprieter Chang Po-Chun invited Chu Anping to be the editor-in-chief. the reason Chang chose Chu was that Chu was an outstading liberalist who had studies abroad in England. he once established the Magazine “observation” and published many wonderful and profound thoughts on politics.
Chu was very enthusiatic about the invition. as a warm-up for the post in Kuang Ming Daily, Chu took over editor of a publication in September 3rd Society (http://www.93.gov.cn/society/index.shtml) . he worked hard in injecting fresh blood into the magazine and made great progress. however, he did not get any recognition or approval form party leaders. and his “reformation” was limited by the September 3rd Society leaders. until then, Chu felt bureaucracy and sectarianism in the party since he only wanted to improve himself by ablility instead of succumb to the power. when he asked for resignation, the leaders in September 3rd Society showed greatest ever efficiency in satisfying his needs.
the failure in September 3rd did not stop Chu’s enthusiam in Kuang Ming Daily. in 1st April (very ironic date) 1957, Communist party branch in Kuang Ming Daily was cancelled and Chu took his position as editor-in-chief. the main expectation of Chu was to change the role of democratic parties from “receiving political education” to “supervision of government”. his purpose was in accordance with the slogan of Communist Party ” long-term coexistance, mutual benefits”, a step forward democracy and interpreted by many democrats as ” long-term coexistence, my honour; mutual supervision, my fear” ( 章诒和 最后的贵族 pp48 OXFORD)
the reform Chu brought about fulfilled the needs of democracyin the form of 1)news for democratic parties occupy 1/3 of the newspaper;2) emphasis on activities in democrats;3)emphasis on reports of individuals;4)emphasis on supervision on Communist Party.
sooner after Chu Anping took the job, central government carried out “rectification campaign” .the objective was to eliminate bureaucracy, sectarianism and subjectivism in a more general way and in-depth. Chu believed what Mao had stated and he was willing to apply his supervision as democrats to community party’s campaign of rectification. he even invited intelligentsia from 9 big cities to collect suggestion and criticism for party. the exciting thoughts and comments became the spotlight of Kuang Ming Daily. his straightforwardness and hs loyalty was bringing disaster instead of recognition.
in May 15th , Mao wrote ” the situtation is changing ( shi qing zheng zai qi bianhua) ” and sent the passage to party’s senior officials. in the article he pointed out that the rightists were very active and let them be gravedigger. the more furious the rightists were, the better for Communist Party. ( the more legitimacy for the party to exert punishment on rightists.) this letter was only known to the party leaders and Chu had no idea of the situation and Party’s intention. in 1st June 1957, Chu’s speech on the title of ” allow me to offer some opinions to chairman Mao and Premier Chou” vibrated the whole nation. his intense criticism on ” the world belongs to the party” and his harsh question about the composition of central government was even unacceptable by party leaders today. the communist party took harsh reaction to Chu. in 8th June, People’s Daily published ” what is this for”, signalling that anti-rightist replaced Hundred Flower Movement and rectification. though many intellectuals defended for Chu by addressing that Chu only offers advice instead of harming the nation, the communist party still insisted Chu was bourgeoies and the enemy of the people who longed for a Western-type political and economic system and wished to do away with the Communist Party and socialism. anyone who spoke for Chu would be punished as well. discrimination and humiliation became commonplace for Chu. September 3rd Society even organized Thousands people’s session to systematically criticise and reveal Chu’s sins. it was an overwhelming humiliation when one was criticised because of misunderstanding, when one was betrayed by his close friends and collegues, when one finds himself all alone.
at last, in 13th July, Chu reported to the National People’s Congress with the confessment called ” surrender to the people”.
from April 1st to June 8th, Chu only worked for 68 days as editor-in-chief in Kuang Ming Daily. Chu’s contribution to the democracy and freedom of speech was overwhelmed by the title of ” anti-party, anti-people, anti-socialism”. the communist party labelled him as a rightist,as a capitalist. the only capital Chu owned was his determination of promoting democracy in China.
Democracy with Chinese Characters?
l Definition and emergence of Democracy with Chinese Characters
l It is not a democracy with Chinese Characters, based on previous research.
In a state of civil war, all the democratic parties were powerless because they lacked armed forces. These Peking forum make it quite clear that the democratic parties have no power at all and their members little if any authorities, whatever their official title.
SOC IAL SCIENCES JOURNAL OF COLLEGES OF SHANXI V ol. 20 N o. 7
( Jul. 2008)从“双百”方针到和谐文化———论中国共产党对主流文化的构建秦晔)