On Lu Hsun

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On Lu Hsun  (1937) 
by Mao Zedong, translated by Foreign Language Press, Peking
[Speech at the meeting Commemorating the First Anniversary of the Death of Lu Hsun held in the North Shensi Public School on 19.10.1939. Reproduced from the fortnightly July (Chi-yueh), March 1938.] The source from which this work was transcribed comes from the Marxists Internet Archive.

Comrades,

Our main tasks at the present moment are those of the vanguard. At a time when the great national Resistance War is making rapid progress, we need a large number of activists to play the leading role [in it] and a large number of vanguards to find the path. Vanguards must be frank, positive, and upright people. They seek no self-interest, only national and social emancipation. They fear no hardships, instead, in the face of hardship they are determined and forever marching forward. Neither undisciplined nor fond of limelight, they have their feet firmly on the ground and are realistic. They are the guides on the road of revolution. In the light of the present state of the war, if the Resistance is the concern only of the government and armed forces, without the participation of the broad masses, we cannot be certain that we shall win the final victory. We must now train a large number of vanguards who will fight for our national liberation and can be relied upon to lead and organize the masses for the fulfillment of this historic mission. First of all, the numerous vanguards of the whole country must urgently organize themselves. Our communist party is the vanguard of national liberation. We must fight to the bitter end in order to accomplish our tasks.

Today we commemorate [the death] of Lu Hsun. We must first of all understand him and his place in the history of our revolution. We commemorate him not only because he was a distinguished writer but also because he, at the forefront of national emancipation, dedicated all his strength to the revolutionary struggle. (We commemorate him not only because he wrote well, becoming a great literary figure, but also because he was a vanguard for national liberation and gave tremendous help to the revolution.) Although he did not belong to the communist party of our organization, his thinking, action, and writing were all Marxianized. He showed more and more youthful energy as his life drew to its end. He fought consistently and incessantly against feudal forces and imperialism. Under despicable circumstances of enemy pressure and persecution, he struggled (suffered) and protested. In a similar way, Comrades, you can also study revolutionary theories diligently while [living] under such adverse material conditions [because] you are full of militant spirit. The material arrangement of this school is poor, but here we have truth, freedom, and a place to train revolutionary vanguards.

Lu Hsun emerged from the decaying feudal society. But he knew how to fight back against the rotten society and the evil imperialist forces of which he had had so much experience. He used his sardonic, humorous, and sharp (powerful) pen to depict the force(s) of the dark society (and of the ferocious imperialists). He was really an accomplished “painter”. In his last years he fought for truth and freedom from the standpoint of the proletariat and national liberation.

Lu Hsun’s first characteristic was his political vision. He examined society with both a microscope and a telescope, hence with precision and farsightedness. As early as 1936 he pointed out the dangerous tendencies of the criminal Trotskyites. Now the clarity and correctness of his judgement have been proved beyond doubt by the facts—the obvious fact that the Trotskyite faction has turned into a traitorous organization subsidized by Japanese special agents.

In my view, Lu Hsun is a great Chinese saint—the saint of modern China, just as Confucius was the saint of old China. For his immortal memory, we have established the Lu Hsun Library and the Lu Hsun Teachers’ Training School in Yenan so that future generations may have a glimpse of his greatness.

His second characteristic was his militancy, which we mentioned a moment ago. He was a great steadfast tree, not a blade of wavering grass, against the onslaught of dark and violent forces. Once he saw a political destination clearly he strove to reach it, never surrendering or compromising half way. There have been half-hearted revolutionaries who fought at first but then deserted the battlefield. Kautsky and Plekhanov of foreign countries (Russia) were good examples [of this]. Such people are not infrequently found in China. If I remember correctly, Lu Hsun once said that at first all [of them] were “left” and revolutionary, but as soon as pressure came, [they] changed and presented their comrades [to the enemy] as a gift. Lu Hsun bitterly hated this sort of people. While fighting against them, he educated and disciplined the young writes who followed him. He taught them to fight resolutely, to be vanguards, and to find their own way.

His third characteristic was his readiness to sacrifice himself, completely fearless of enemy intimidation and persecution and utterly unmoved by enemy enticement. With merciless pungency his sword-like pen cut all those he despised. Among the bloodstains of revolutionary fighters he showed his tenacious defiance and marched ahead while calling [the others to follow him]. Lu Hsun was an absolute realist, always uncompromising, always determined. In one of his essays he maintained that one should [continue to] beat a dog after it had fallen in water. If you did not, the dog would jump up either to bite you or at least to shake a lot of dirty water over you. Therefore the beating had to be thorough. Lu Hsun did not entertain a speck of sentimentalism or hypocrisy.

Now the mad dog, Japanese imperialism, had not been beaten in the water yet. We must learn this “Lu Hsun spirit” and apply it to the whole country.

These characteristics are the components of the great “Lu Hsun spirit”. Throughout his life Lu Hsun never deviated from this spirit and that is why he was an outstanding writer in the world of letters and a tough, excellent vanguard in the revolutionary ranks. As we commemorate him, we must learn his spirit. [We] must take it to all the units engaged in the Resistance War and use it in the struggle for our national liberation.

This work is in the public domain because it is exempted by Article 5 of Chinese copyright law. This exempts all Chinese government and judicial documents, and their official translations, from copyright. It also exempts news on current affairs (the mere facts or happenings reported by the mass media, such as newspapers, periodicals and radio and television stations as defined in Article 5 of the Implementing Regulations of the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China), and calendars, numerical tables, and other forms of general use and formulas.