Biography in English

Chou Yang (1908-), literary theorist better known for his advocacy of Chinese Communist theories than for his literary achievements. After 1949, he became responsible for issuing Chinese Communist party directives in cultural matters and for detecting deviations from party doctrine in literature and the arts. Nothing is known about Chou Yang's childhood or his family background. A native of Iyang, Hunan province, as a young man he was also known as Chou Ch'i-ying. After completing his secondary education in Hunan in 1 926, Chou entered Ta-hsia [great China] University in Shanghai, where he came in contact with Marxist ideology. He left Ta-hsia in 1928 and went to Japan, where he did research on Marxism and literature. In 1929 he was arrested for participating in leftist demonstrations. He returned to China in 1930. From 1931 to 1936 Chou was secretary general of the League of Left- Wing Writers, led by Lu Hsün (Chou Shu-jen, q.v.), and he probably joined the Chinese Communist party at this time. Chou's rapid rise to such an important post is hard to explain. At any rate, Chou's power in the league increased and after 1933 brought him into conflict with Lu Hsün. Two literary cliques were formed. Lu Hsün, in failing health and concerned by the factionalism of leftist writers, became increasingly embittered by what he probably regarded as the flouting of his authority as Chou began leading the league into paths which had been ordained by the Comintern, including ultimately disbanding the league and cooperating with non-Communists in a united front. Chou's partisans included Hsu Mou-yung and T'ien Han (q.v.), while Lu Hsün was supported by Hu Feng, Feng Hsueh-feng, Mao Tun, and Pa Chin.

During this period Chou published literary essays, the most noted of which was an article entitled "Literature in the Present Stage." In addition, he translated Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and some short pieces by Soviet writers and wrote articles on recent Russian literature. Most Chinese writers at this time were interested in Western as well as Russian writers, but Chou seems to have been preoccupied with Russian and socialist literature. He began to espouse the principles which, with minor variations, later became the basis of Communist policy in literature and art. He believed that literature was primarily a political weapon and that a writer should create with this aim in view. Chou Yang expounded these theories in articles and in debates on the popularization of literature, and he figured prominently in the controversies over mass literature that wracked the Chinese literary world from 1930 to 1932. Following the lead of Ch'ü Ch'iu-pai (q.v.), he argued that the literary revolution following the May Fourth Movement had not been completed and that the "vernacular style" could be understood only by the middle classes. A further revolution would be necessary to produce literature in forms accessible to the ordinary people. The writing of short simple stories and poems in popular old literary styles that could be understood by the workers and peasants was most important. Chou denied that this popularization would debase literature (as some of his opponents claimed) and maintained that it would educate the people and make them aware of class problems. The mass language movement of 1934 implemented many of Chou's ideas, while some of his assertions, such as the need for literature to describe the life of workers and peasants and the emphasis on popularization over quality, became orthodox doctrine when restated in 1942 by Mao Tse-tung at Yenan.

As a result of the formation of the united front against Japan, Chou in the spring of 1936 disbanded the League of Left-Wing Writers without consulting Lu Hsün and replaced it with an organization called the Writers' Association, becoming the editor of its journal, The Literary Fighting Front. Instead of confining its activities to a special group within a limited geographical area, Chou's new association sought to organize writers on a nation-wide scale by setting up branches in the army, in schools, and in factories, methods of organization which subsequently were adopted by the Chinese Communist party when it gained control of the mainland. Chou wanted to encourage as many people as possible to serve the resistance through literary activities. Proclaiming the slogan "Literature for National Defense," the Writers' Association in June 1936 called for a realistic style of writing and declared that its central theme should be resistance to the Japanese. Writers with other political views were encouraged to enroll, but once they had become members of the Association they were expected to conform to its requirements. Chou conceded the need of writers to engage in free debate and criticism, but only as a means to political unanimity. Thus, as early as the mid1930's, the techniques of the Chinese Communist rectification campaigns of later years were beginning to evolve.

Chou Yang's dissolution of the League of Left-Wing Writers and his formation of the new organization led to the violent controversy with Lu Hsün that became known as the Battle of Slogans. In July 1936 Lu Hsün and 66 other writers formed the Chinese Literary Workers Association and issued a rival declaration calling for "People's Literature for the National Revolutionary Struggle." Hu Feng (q.v.), a sophisticated Marxist critic and a close friend of Lu Hsün in his last years, made the new call to action in his article "What Do the Masses Want from Literature?" This was not the first time that Hu Feng had crossed Chou's path: earlier they had engaged in polemics on the question of "typical characters" in Chinese literature. During the controversy, Lu Hsün wrote a long public letter in which he defended Hu Feng against charges of spying for the Kuomintang and bitterly attacked Chou Yang as a brash and conscienceless slanderer. The quarrel was finally resolved in October 1936 with a proclamation of unity by the rival groups. The struggle brought to the fore literary men who were to be important in the coming ideological battle over the place of art in the Communist state, and it was symptomatic of the deep suspicion that even dedicated left-wing writers had of total obedience to Communist party domination. In 1937 Chou left Shanghai for the Communist stronghold of Yenan, where he was raised to a prominent position in the centralized education administration. Chou served simultaneously as head of the department of education in the Shensi-Kansu-Ninghsia Border Region Government, dean of the Lu Hsün Arts Institute, and president of Yenan University. He was president of North China Union University in 1946-47 and vice president of the North China Associated Universities from 1945 to 1949. He was also a member of the government council of the border region.

Chou's ideas about education were identical in spirit with his literary views, and his anti-intellectual, anti-Western approach foreshadowed the tone of Communist education policies in the 1950's. In Chou's mind, education was inextricably linked to politics. He stressed the need for mass indoctrination and disapproved of any emphasis being placed on technical and intellectual achievement because it diverted people from practical political action. He declared that educational specialization was the result of Western middle-class influence. In its place he fostered "proletarian education," which was largely the study of Marxism-Leninism and its practical applications. An important element in the Yenan education system was the ideological remolding movement; the Chinese Communist party sought to establish control over people through training and indoctrination rather than through physical force or administrative procedures. The reeducation of intellectuals was for the most part in Chou's hands. According to Chou, almost all intellectuals were petty bourgeois who required ideological remolding to eliminate their individualism and to prepare them to accept Communist doctrines. Chou stated the case for intellectual control, which was to become official party policy.

Chou advanced his cause in 1942-43 by attacking the author Wang Shih-wei, who had been sharply critical of Yenan policies. Wang accepted Marxism-Leninism in politics but not in literature, and he looked at events in terms of universal human nature rather than in terms of class struggle. Chou used Wang as an example to hammer home his doctrine of political control over all creative and intellectual endeavor.

Next to Mao Tse-tung, Chou was the principal policy maker for literature in the Communist-controlled areas. He was chairman of the All-China Literary and Art Resistance Association (the successor of the Writers' Association), whose members included such writers as Ai Ch'ing (Chiang Hai-ch'eng) and Ting Ling (qq.v.). Chou and Ting Ling established the Border Area Cultural Federation, which was designed to carry out propaganda in the villages and in the army.

During the Yenan period, Chou edited a compilation of political essays by Marx, Lenin, Engels, and Stalin and an anthology of stories and reports from the areas under party control. He also translated into Chinese The Aesthetic Relationship Between Art and Reality by N. G. Chernyshevsky, a Russian literary theorist. After Mao set forth Chinese Communist literary policy in his Yenan talks of 1942, Chou led a new assault against Western influences and "deviationism" among Chinese writers. He continued to advocate a new literature in traditional folk forms which, he argued, would be effective propaganda because folk literature still had a strong hold on the people. Chou condemned Western-oriented writers who imitated European styles and aimed their writing at a select group of intellectuals. Folk art was also to serve as a vehicle with which to familiarize the Chinese middle class with the customs of the common people and with the national heritage. Chou declared that poetry and drama were to receive more stress than fiction. He then undertook to discover a writer who could carry out party objectives in these areas. In 1943 Chou found such a writer, Chao Shu-li (q.v.). Chao's stories and songs written in the tradition of Shensi balladry soon won recognition in Communist-controlled areas. Chou gave prominence to Mao's dictum that intellectuals should participate in the struggle of the masses. He urged writers to go to villages, factories, and front lines in order to establish an organic relationship between their creative work and the practical world of the peasants, workers, and soldiers. The creativity and intelligence of the masses was an article of faith for Chou, as was his recurrent theme that all art was to be found in the lives of the people.

When the Communists took power, Chou was appointed to new and more important cultural positions. In the summer of 1 949 he became vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and a member of its presidium. In 1953 he became vice chairman of the Union of Chinese Writers. He was also a directing force behind such principal cultural publications as the literary section of the Jen-min jih-pao [people's daily] , People's Literature, Poems, and Harvest. He controlled these magazines through his loyal followers from Yenan days; among them were Yuan Shui-po, the literary editor of Jen-min jih-pao; Lin Mo-han, the chief of the literary division of the party propaganda department; Shao Ch'uan-lin, the vice chairman of the Writers' Union; and Ho Ch'i-fang, a leading poet and critic.

In 1949 Chou was a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Soon he was made vice chairman for cultural affairs and a member of the culture and education commission. When the government was reorganized in the autumn of 1954, the ministry of culture became part of the State Council. Chou was relieved of his post and subsequently became the most active of the deputy directors of the propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party, which formulated the policies of the ministry of culture. He was also a deputy to the National People's Congress. At the Eighth Congress of the Chinese Communist party in 1956 he delivered a speech on socialist literature and art and became an alternate member of the Central Committee. He served on several cultural delegations to the Soviet Union and became a member of the board of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Association. Whatever Chou's official positions, his chief importance during the first decade of Chinese Communist government was his unofficial responsibility for an evolving pattern of ideological control in every sphere of intellectual activity. He worked to insure that the "bourgeois survivals" among Western-educated intellectuals and left-wing writers and artists did not assert themselves, while at the same time he educated them in the current orthodoxy.

Throughout the 1950's he organized ideological campaigns which set the pattern for the fields of music, opera, theater, films, and fine arts as well as in the universities and technical institutes. Chou's major theoretical work during this period was "Chien-chüeh kuan-ch'e Mao Tsetung wen-i lu-hsien" [thoroughly implement Mao Tse-tung's line on literature and the arts]. In the first nation-wide remolding movement of the new regime, Chou and his colleagues, presumably at the instigation of Mao himself, used a new film, The Story of Wu Hsun, to warn intellectuals of the perils of heterodoxy. The hero of the film, Wu Hsun, attempted to educate the poor through such philanthropic activities as setting up schools. These activities were attacked as sponsoring individual effort and evolutionary change through education and culture rather than through class struggle and revolution. Chou emphasized that the revolutionary masses and not a small coterie of educated individuals would be the creators of a better world. In 1954 Chou was one of the leaders of the campaign against Hu Shih and Yu P'ing-po (qq.v.) for their interpretation of the eighteenth-century novel Hung-lou-meng. Both Hu and Yü read the novel as an indictment of the evils of the extended Chinese family of traditional times. Chou insisted that a popular literary work such as this must be interpreted as a description of class struggle. This campaign led to an attack on Feng Hsueh-feng, the chief editor of the important cultural periodical Literary Gazette, because he had defended the non-Communist analysis of the Hung-lou-meng. Feng, a disciple of Lu Hsün, had clashed with Chou when both were members of the League of Left-Wing Writers. Feng apparently did not submit readily to Chou's management, and he and his assistant Ch'en Ch'i-hsia were replaced by Chou's followers.

The attack on Feng Hsueh-feng soon developed into a national campaign, with Hu Feng, the literary critic who had clashed with Chou Yang during the Battle of Slogans, as the scapegoat. Hu Feng was the last formidable champion of a literature free of party dictation. He was accused of being a Kuomintang agent and was banished from all party posts. Hu lost the rights of citizenship, as did Ting Ling, Ai Ch'ing, Li Yu-jan, Ch'en Ming, Lo Feng, and Pai Lang. When the Hundred Flowers campaign began in 1956, Chou conformed to the new party line. Contradicting his views of a few months earlier, he upheld the writer's prerogative to choose his own subject matter and urged assimilation of the best of Western culture. Although socialist realism was still considered to be the most advanced form of art, Chou acknowledged that other forms could portray life and that great culture could develop out of the competition of diverse forms of art. He even concluded that literary and artistic development might be impeded by the intervention of state authority. In June 1956, when the party, disturbed by the effects of this emancipating policy, swung around to a completely opposite point of view, Chou was the first to support the anti-rightist movement. Chou's most important theoretical work of the second half of the 1950's was the address "The Great Debate on the Literary Front," which was presented on 11 March 1958 at the conclusion of the anti-rightist campaign against writers. It was an effort to update Mao's Talks at the Yenan Literary Conference of 1 942 in response to the criticism of it during the Hundred Flowers campaign. Actually, Chou's work added little to Mao's original concepts other than to provide them with examples of more recent vintage. Nevertheless, this work served to re-indoctrinate writers in the party's official line. After it was published, writers and intellectuals in the creative arts gathered together in study groups to discuss it, write related essays, and criticize themselves accordingly.

After the inauguration of the Great Leap Forward, Chou became a leader of the mass poetry movement. He provided the ideological framework for this movement by introducing a purportedly new literary theory formulated by Mao: the union of revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism. Actually, it was merely a restatement of the Soviet concept of socialist realism, which prescribed that literature focus on things to come rather than on existing problems. That Chou introduced a theory attributed to Mao indicates that he had reached the point where he could speak directly for Mao. Chou was also active in the early 1960's in condemning Soviet revisionism, particularly the concept of peaceful coexistence. His speeches were directed to party members and intellectuals in the Afro-Asian countries and within his own country. Chou also set forth Maoist orthodoxy for senior Chinese intellectuals and scholars in the socialist education campaign that began in 1963. Speaking in his role as deputy director of the propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party, Chou delivered a major speech on 26 October 1963 at the fourth enlarged session of the committee of the department of philosophy and social science of the Chinese Academy of Science, the national organization sponsoring advanced research in the People's Republic of China. Entitled "The Fighting Task Confronting Workers in Philosophy and Social Sciences," Chou's statement was an attack on virtually every aspect of Chinese scholarly and intellectual output of the preceding decade which might be interpreted as obviating the necessity for continued political struggle or as expressing sympathy with Communist doctrine and practice in the Soviet Union.

Biography in Chinese

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