Banning Discussion On The Cultural Revolution Catastrophe Is Another Catastrophe – Liu Xiaobo

From the EastSouthWestNorth blog (link), published in a special feature articles in Asia Weekly written by Liu Xiaobo, Chinese Independent PEN president:

A few more days and it will be the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Like every anniversary of the Cultural Revolution since the reforms, China will again experience the sharp difference between coldness inside and heat on the outside.

The suppression and blocking by the Chinese Communist authorities are done mainly because conscience is lacking in the system and there is no avoiding the responsibility on that. The major characters from those years do not dare to face up to their Cultural Revolution experiences and they don’t want to bear the moral responsibilities. It can even be said that thirty years after the Cultural Revolution has ended, the national self-examination about this “catastrophe” has still not yet begun today.

On one hand, the Chinese Communist authorities issued the “Resolution concerning certain historical problems of the Party since the founding of the nation” in 1981 and defined the Cultural Revolution as a “catastrophe” and this has been supported by mainstream public opinion. But this only covered up the detailed crimes that were committed during the Cultural Revolution with an abstract negation. Lin Piao and the “Gang of Four” were used as scapegoats for the crimes of Mao Zedong and the mistakes of the Party were used to cover up the flaws of the system. Besides, the authorities permit discussion of the Cultural Revolution within an official framework and they will not permit unofficial reflections about the Cultural Revolution.

On the other hand, the major characters of the Cultural Revolution era have avoided talking about the Cultural Revolution. Those who wrought violence either maintained silence or offered self-defense. Most of the victims also used various excuses to bottle up their memories. Those who persecuted others while also being persecuted are only willing to talk about the experiences of being persecuted. For example, the fanatic Red Guard rebellious movement swallowed up almost every youth of the right age. Yet, until today, except for a very few old Red Guards who had some reflections, the majority used “it’s is not worth remembering” as the excuse to maintain silence. From the literature of the young intellectuals of the 1980’s to the various Cultural Revolution-related memoirs of the 1990’s, they not only failed to face up to their own personal history during the Cultural revolution, they also missed the spirit of self-examination, humility and regret. Instead, they were mostly righteously posturing on having no regrets about their youth!

Also see the Virtual Museum of the Cultural Revolution


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