Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vote For this Site for the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards

The original blog awards, started by My Bhlag are back for this year...not to be confused with the nasty imitation conservative trolls psuedo-awards by Small Dead Animals, which I boycotted, cause fascists have no right to blog....I hope my readers, all two of us, vote for this humble site which started this year, or you will force me to plug the poll with my own votes....oh yeah and don't forget to vote for my other blogs, Red Between the Lines and Heresiology...pluuuuullleasssee...he said in his best Roger Rabbit, I really hate begging....not..

Nominations are now open!

Brought to you by My Blahg.
Join the discussion about the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards.

Tentative Timetable
Wednesday October 26th - Sunday November 20th: Nominations.
Thursday November 24th - Wednesday November 30th: Round One voting.
Friday November 2nd, 12pm EST: Round One results will be announced.
Saturday December 3rd - Friday December 9th: Round Two voting.
Sunday December 11th, 9pm EST: Round Two results will be announced.

Please be sure to inform any bloggers you nominate of their nomination. Thank you. Also be sure to check out the nominations list to see if a blog has already been nominated for a category. Nominations can also be made via the My Blahg contact form, the comments of this post or by email. Be sure to include the name, url and category for each blog you nominate.

Best Blog
Best Liberal Blog: for blogs that are politically left.
Best Conservative Blog: for blogs that are politically right.
Best New Blog: for blogs that started in 2005.
Best Group Blog
Best Humour Blog
Best Photo Blog
Best Culture Blog: for blogs about art, literature, movies, music, etc.
Best Personal Blog
Best Media Blog: for blogs by professionals in the media.
Best Business Blog
Best Religious Blog
Best Sports Blog
Best Blog Post: For an individual post by a blogger.
Best Blog Post Series: For a series of posts that relate to each other.

All blogs authored by a Canadian citizen, living at home or abroad, or any foreign national residing in Canada are eligible for nomination in the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards. A blog may be nominated for more than one category. Nominated blogs that clearly do not fit a particular category however, will not be listed.

There will be two rounds of voting. The first round will consist of all blogs nominated in each category and the second will consist of the 5 blogs in each category that receive the most votes in round 1.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

B.C. Teachers Grab Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Teachers' union backs mediator's report
A few hours later, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown levied a $500,000 fine on the teachers' union for waging an illegal strike. Earlier, Ms. Justice Brown had frozen the union's assets making it impossible for striking teachers to receive their $50-a-day strike pay. It's the largest fine in Canadian history for civil contempt.

While the success of mass pickets by the BC FEd of Labour and CUPE led to the government buckling under and calling for a mediator...the final acceptance of the mediators report was made by the union...mass picketing worked...but as I predicted there would be no General Strike. Rather the labour movement, which does not consider itself a militant workers movement, but rather an intergral part of the capitalist system, accepts contracts as sacred. It accepts the give and take of labour relations as all there is, There is No Alternative (TINA).

And so the BC Teachers Federation accepted the mediators report which did justify the unions concern that class sizes were too big. But it said nothing about their other demands, whether about working conditions, wages or even an amnesty.

That being said the state of course has not assured the workers that they will accept the mediators report, and they allowed the courts to fine the union hours after the union capitualted.

"While the government accepted Mr. Ready's report, the teachers' union wanted a commitment from the province on a cap on class sizes.But B.C. Labour Minister Mike de Jong has refused to make any such guarantee."

Vengenace is in the mind of the Campbell government after being embarassed by the teachers walkout, the mass pickets and the overwhelming support of the people of B.C. for the teachers. This fight is not over, as the courts and Campbell government will use the Teachers as their whipping boy for daring to challenge them...the writing is on the wall. The teachers were fined hours after accepting the mediators report.

The teachers had no choice but to compromise, given the weight of the State and its Courts against them...this is a lesson for the whole labour movement, that workers rights are not given by contracts or the State, they are taken when we walk out and take the streets or when we seize our work places and put them under direct worker and community control. Such situations not only challenge the government but the very nature of capitalism.

Unfortunately the short sightedness of the labour movements vision has left the teachers in B.C. facing fines, and further charges, which of course they will bemoan but do little to affect. The Teachers should not go back to work until they are assured of a general amnesty. The public pickets and mass demonstration should continue until the Teachers are assured of this.

Unfortunately the labour movement has no intentions of doing anything of the sort. Not being a revolutionary workers movement, let alone a socialist one, they cannot concieve of doing anything other than going back to work.

Should they ever envision a workers movement to overthrow capitalism, they will of course shake their heads in disbelief as if arising from a bad dream. Not possible they will say. Foolish workers who believe in socialism, they will say. Like the foolishness of believing in the General Strike.

It is only a minority in the workers movement, they will say, the vast majority of our members don't want socialism or to create a classless society, they want to merely survive within capitalism.

The best we can expect from the labour movement is capitulation to contract law and the injunction that we should vote NDP to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism.


But that should come as no surprize to anyone, well except the small sects on the Left who insist that unions can be radicalized. Not likely, as they are part and parcel of the capitalist game of labour relations, they lack vision beyond the mundane bread and butter issues of the daily grind under capitalism.

That they mobilized mass picketing is the least they could do, given the fact that the workers in B.C. have faced over four years of neo-liberal attacks by the Campbel neo-liberal Government. But they failed again, as they did with the nurses strike last summer, to go all the way to a General Strike. At the eleventh hour they once again capitualted to the State.

This should not surprise anyone since the workers movement exists beyond the reach of the unions, who speak for no one but their well heeled carrerists in the bueracracy.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Union Busting Alberta Style

Class War in Alberta

Alberta is awash in class war, not unlike our neighbour B.C where the teachers union is in an 'illegal' walkout forced on them by the Klein-Lite B.C. Liberal Government.

B.C. teachers strike at a stalemate: mediator

Unfortunately the labour movement here has not linked the struggles at Lakeside, Telus, ABS Casino in Calgary and now Finning, together and created a call for a General Strike. Or even a Day of Protest as the BC Fed of Labour would call it. Instead they ask folks to lobby Ralph to settle the dispute.

What do these stories all have in common? Two things. Contracting Out of work and the complicity of the Alberta Government or its political hacks in the companies involved.

Casino Calgary strike day 29

The Alberta government licenses Casino's and gambling in Alberta, and the taxes it makes off gambling are more than they make from oil and gas royalties and taxes combined. The government is addicted to gambling profits, and again this strike is over a first contract, in the home town of the Party of Calgary and its ruler, King Ralph.

Workers walk off job at heavy equipment dealer
Finning Canada, a Caterpillar dealership, is a major service and parts supplier About 900 heavy duty mechanics, technicians and parts people set up picket lines around the company's head office, located in the city's west end, at noon.

In the case of the Finning Strike, Finning has set up secondary plants contracting the work out to them, and their workforce is organized by the fake union CLAC. And my my who sits on the board of Finning if not Jim Dinning the man who would be Premier. Former cabinet minister who brought in the brutal budget cuts in the ninties, Jim retired from cabinet, but is now running an all out for leadership of the PC's when Ralph finally, maybe, real soon, not till 2007, retires. Dinning's handler is none other than Ralph's old pal, Rod Love. Finning supplies all the heavy equipment in Alberta in particular the Tar Sands which is seeing a construction boom. So in order to make even more profits, it is outsourcing its work not unlike those companies it supplies equipment to Flour, Bechtel and Halliburton.

Scuffles, harsh words as voting starts on Telus contract
Faisal Panju says that the main issue of job security doesn't seem to be more entrenched in the tentative agreement than in the working conditions Telus posted in July, which precipitated the labour disruption. The TWU said it was fighting to keep Telus from contracting out jobs to other countries, such as the Philippines.

Telus was once Alberta Government Telephones, until it was privatized in the Ralph Putsch. As Telus it cobbled up Edmonton Telephones, something that AGT had wanted to do for years, thanks to a sell out Mayor and City Council. They promised to keep Telus headquarters in Edmonton, and like the asying about the cheque in the mail, well that lasted about two years until they cobbled up B.C. Tel and moved HQ to Vancouver. Now all the well placed poltical mandarins in both Telus and Ed Tel got cushy jobs while they are screwing their workers. And again it is Alberta and Edmonton in partiuclar that they are looking to....wait for it....outsource/contract out jobs to call centres in the Phillipines. And while we are speaking of the Phillipines it's where NAIT a provincially funded Tech School has contracts to outsource tech education and links to Universities in the Phillipines, so the contracting out goes both ways.

Man arrested after RCMP officer assaulted on picket line
Claude Dupuis, a labour relations professor with Athabasca University in Calgary, says because the plant can't operate at full capacity, the strike is costing Lakeside's parent company, Tyson Foods, a lot of money. But he points out that the Arkansas-based multi-national has deep pockets.In July, labour relations experts had predicted that a strike at the Tyson Foods-owned plant would be lengthy, similar to the last job action at the facility in the 1980s, which killed the union.

In Alberta the government admits that there are no labour laws to protect workers, only a lap dog labour relations board that works for the bosses. Considering that this is the case, the labour movement who has reps on this anti-worker board have yet to take action and remove their reps proving once and for all proving that the LRB is NOT a neutral agency. It appears according to King Ralph that in Alberta if you are not deemed an essential service, without the right to strike and forced binding arbitration, there is nothing the government can do to for you.

If you work in Alberta pay taxes, raise your family, well your shit out of luck if you go on strike for a first contract. Cause Ralph and his pals are more interested in your bosses good fortune and sharing the Alberta Advantage with them than with you.

After giving Tysons millions in funding for its plant operations during the BSE crisis, after supporting the union busting strike in the 1980's, after supporting and funding land grants for the expansion of town development in Brooks, due to the increased number of immigrant workers brought in by Lakeside to operate the plant, there is nothing this government can do. Tysons is counting on the racist redneck culture of Brooks to divide the workers between White Albertans and the immigrants who are people of colour. That's why they brought in immigrant workers, to create a fiscal divide in the plant between the well paid locals versus the underpaid immigrant workers. And they get away with it with the complicity of both the provincial and Federal governments.

Well thats cause our labour laws are all geared for the good of the company not the workers. There is no first contract legislation in Alberta, one of only two provinces in Canada not to have such legislation. And of course their is no legislation against scabs, oh excuse me replacement workers. And no legislation against whipsawing, as Finning has done. In the case of Finning again their outsourcing of work to secondary plants was approved by the LBR.

Yep in Alberta its class war like in B.C. Now if only the labour movement would recognize it, these are not just single isolated battles, these are the battle field writ large across the province....its time for mass action against the bosses and their government.

Two dead, four hurt in collision near strikebound Lakeside Packers in Alberta

Earlier Thursday, two senior Lakeside Packers managers were cited for misconduct by the Alberta Labour Relations Board in the O'Halloran incident.

The board ruled there is direct evidence that Andrew Crocker and Carey Kopp deliberately pursued Mr. O'Halloran near the plant last week.

“Portions of the pursuit were reckless, putting the lives of O'Halloran and other drivers on the road in danger,” said the board ruling.

“The board declares that the employer, Kopp and Crocker engaged in dispute-related misconduct . . . as a result of the careless and dangerous pursuit of O'Halloran.”

Mr. Crocker, the head of security at the plant, and Mr. Kopp, the manager of human resources, must desist from any further conduct related to the strike, said Nancy Schlesinger, vice-chairwoman of the labour board.

She banned the two managers from having any further contact with pickets or union officials. They also must stay at least 200 metres away from the picket line.

Hundreds of Lakeside workers walked off the job to back demands for a first contract.

Hundreds more have shown up every day in school buses and cars willing to go into work.

The plant processes more than 40 per cent of Canada's beef.

When asked about two of its managers being banned from going anywhere near pickets, Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for U.S.-based Tyson Foods, which owns the packing plant, repeated that the company doesn't want anyone to get hurt in the dispute.

He also suggested there are two sides to every story -- including the incident involving Mr. O'Halloran.

“We're still trying to gain a better understanding of what happened,” Mr. Mickelson said.

Mr. Hesse said earlier in the day the ruling had bolstered morale on the picket line. “They feel vindicated,” he said.

Meanwhile, RCMP released the name of a man who allegedly assaulted a Mountie on the picket line Wednesday.

James Achuil Kuol, 35, of Brooks, has been charged with one count of assaulting a peace officer.

Details of the alleged assault, including whether the suspect was a union member or not, were not released.

RCMP have already charged six people, including senior Tyson executives with Lakeside, with dangerous driving and other charges after last Friday's incident.

Mr. O'Halloran also faces charges of mischief and possession of a weapon related to a scuffle on the first day of the strike.

Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was to join union members on the line Friday.

That's great but Ken by himself or even with this executive in tow is NOT the whole membership of the CLC or even its affiliates. Mass mobilization of all unionized workers in this province is needed not tokenism by labour bueraucrats. Yep Tyson's is shaking in its boots with Brother Georgetti on the line. And the AFL still calls on the government to act not on mobilizing its affiliates to take action.

LRB Decision Banning 2 Lakeside Managers from Picket Line, Negotiations Unprecedented

Highlights Tyson's Contempt for Fair Bargaining, Government Needs to Step In, Says AFL

"How can we expect the union to sit down at a table with people who, directly or indirectly, just tried to injure the union president?" asks McGowan. "There is no hope of good faith bargaining from Tyson given this incident."

McGowan renewed the AFL's call for the government to step in to resolve the strike. "How much more evidence do they need that Tyson is not interested in negotiating a resolution? This company has no intention of signing a collective agreement. The government needs to intervene to protect the democratic rights of these workers."

"What does it take for workers to be protected in this province? Do we need to see more illegal acts?" wonders McGowan.

Yes we do brother McGowan, we need mass pickets, and a Day of Action! With the press supporting the Lakeside workers, including the right wing Sun, this strike is a challenge to the Klein government, a challenge we have not seen in the last decade.

It has clear popular support and the labour movement needs to mobilize a mass demonstration against the government and its collusion with union busting businesses, that get taxpayer money, in a province that is booming. Boom or Bust this government beats up on workers while wining and dining the bosses with our tax money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

DOOM: Not the Movie, Harpers Future

So I was tracking the links to my blogs, being the curious fellow I am, and came across this site/blog of Gregory D. Morrow who is a Canadian Urban Planning Prof at UCLA.

He has a good analysis of Canadian Electoral Politics... he appears to be an authentic libertarian his website/blog is called appropriately democraticSPACE,....he has analysis of the party positioning this fall in the house....
The Numbers Don’t Add Up For Social Conservatism in Canada, this is the header article and well worth the read, his October blogging is excellent including and analysis of the NDP strategies. Yep a good read this guy.

Well of course where would we be without the weekly poll and so as I cruised the
progressive blogs, I came across My Bhlag which drew attention to this poll which fits nicely with Morrows analysis.

Liberal support growing despite scandals: poll

Ouch all those slings and arrows firing from the Opposition benches and the Liberals thumb their noses and say; "nyah nyah sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt us"....and it works with the voters (of Ontario and B.C.)

Oh dear the Harper is in trouble......

First Peter McKay upstaged him for two weeks as the house opened, and now Jack Layton is upstaging him with his tough love announcement to the Liberals about not counting on NDP support.

Yep a tough couple of weeks to be a Tory. Especially a one trick Tory...Fall Election, Fall Election...when that doesn't happen what else can they pull out of their bag of tricks? Gomery, sorry the Bloc has that sewed up. More teeny tiny scandals, Dingwall, Fisheries, well obviously these are not enough to make people vote for the Harper.

Opposition won't let PM off the hook for ad scandal
Whatever Gomery concludes, Bloc, NDP say Martin bears some responsibility
The Bloc Québécois and NDP insisted yesterday that Judge Gomery's report from his inquiry into the sponsorship program will certainly point to serious abuses in a Liberal government of which Mr. Martin was a ranking member. They said he cannot escape responsibility for the fact that it occurred on the Liberal watch, even if he was unaware of the details.

And like Morrow says counting on the Social Conservatives will get Harper nowhere, he has already lost his PC base which wanders in the desert looking for a home, drifting to the Liberals, Greens, heck even the NDP, as Bev Desjarlais proves.

Yep its tough to be Harper, always the loser.....heck even Gilles Ducceppe is more popular as a Leader.

Liberals widen gap in poll

Slumping Conservative fortunes

The results also slow an increasing number of Canadians are warming to Mr. Martin's performance, while the bulk hold a negative image of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Mr. Layton continues to be the most popular federal leader, with an approval rating of 60 per cent.

Mr. Gregg said Mr. Harper's negative image may be difficult to turn around.

"[Voters] just can't get a feel for him at a personal level," he said. "It's very tough. It's going to be very, very tough."

Mr. Gregg also noted that the David Dingwall affair does not appear to have shaken the Liberals, although the poll was taken when the Commons was not sitting.

Voting intentions

Oct. 14:

Liberals: 38%

Conservatives: 25%

NDP: 15%

Bloc: 14%

Overall impressions of the party leaders
(1,000 respondents)
Favourable Not favourable Net Favourable Not favourable Net
June 9 Oct. 14
Paul Martin 44% 56% -12% 49% 51% -2%
Stephen Harper 40% 60% -20% 42% 58% -16%
Jack Layton 61% 39% 22% 60% 40% 20%
Gilles Duceppe 70% 30% 40% 68% 32% 36%


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chinese Anarchist Author Ba Jin RIP

"Loving truth and living honestly is my attitude to life. Be true to yourself and be true to others, thus you can be the judge of your behavior." --- Ba Jin

Ba Jin, 100, Noted Novelist of Prerevolutionary China, Is Dead

Mr. Jin was one of China's most acclaimed writers and the author of several influential prerevolutionary novels about the brutality of Chinese feudal family life.

Ba Jin (aka Pa Chin) is Chinese for Bakunin, (Ba) and Kropotkin (Kin) he took his nom de plume from the influence that Bakunin and Kropotkin had on the Asian anarchist movement at the begining of last century. Their works were translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean, and influenced the workers movements as well as the left of the anti-imperialist movements in those countries. Anarchist writings were influential with a small sector of the intelligentsia as well amongst the embryonic trade union and worker cooperative movements.

He was influenced as well by Emma Goldman and her individualist anarchism and wrote an essay dedicated to her. It is part of the current Emma Goldman Archives Exhibit, which was shown in Vancouver at the Pacific Labour History Conference, last June, at the downtown Harbour Front Simon Fraser University campus.

John Ames of the Vancouver IWW and I set the display up, (The Edmonton IWW had gotten the Exhibit shown in Edmonton for its first ever presentation in Canada, in 2003. Donalda Casell was the coordinator for the show, she and John collaborated to set it up as part of the Culture and the State Conference.) At Simon Fraser we gave Ba Jin his own section, which attracted enormous interest from the Chinese Canadian students on the campus.

In the West he is an unknown revolutionary Chinese writer whose influence was far broader than even the writings of the psuedo platonist Mao Ze Dong. Mao's writings were far more influenced by the Stalinist school of politically correct writing and the influence of Confucionist story telling. Ba Jin used modernist social realism influenced by his teacher and fellow Parisian exile; the writer Li Jieren.

Regarding Li Jieren's works, C. T. Hsia, in his A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, wrote "I might also mention here Li Chieh-jen on the strength of the superlative praise accorded him in Ts'ao Chu-jen, Wen-t'an wu-shih-nien, 2, 44-45. A French-returned student, Li Chieh-jen, was primarily known in the twenties and thirties for his translation of French fiction: Madame Bovary and Salambo, Maupassant, Daudet, Marcel Prevost, Edmond de Goncourt. From 1935 to 1937, however, Li applied himself to the composition of a naturalistic trilogy about Chengdu, Szechwan, from the Boxers' Uprising to the Republican Revolution of 1911: Ssu-shui wei-lan (Ripples on Dead Water), Pao-feng-yu-ch'ien (Before the Storm) and the three-volume Ta po (The Great Wave). Ts'ao Chu-jen regards these novels as "superior in achievement to the works of Mao Tun and Pa Chin." Ta po, especially, is "a great work, with which Mao Tun's Twilight could hardly hope to compare." Since Ts'ao has the highest respect for Mao Tun, this would make Li Chieh-jen virtually the greatest modern Chinese novelist."

Li Jieren's trilogy also won great acclaim from Guo Moruo, who read these works in Japan in 1937, praising Li Jieren as "the great Chinese Zola," and his trilogy as "the pre-modern Chinese history of fictional pattern," and "the pre-modern record of Huayang Kingdom." Moreover, his well-known student Ba Jin also held Li Jieren in high esteem. Ba Jin once said: "He fully deserves to be the historian of Chengdu, and Chengdu's past gets revived in his novels." In 1979, Ba Jin led the Chinese writers' delegation to France. When asked by a correspondent "Who else can really deserve the title of a great novelist of modern China besides Lu Xun and Mao Dun?" Ba Jin answered: "We still have Li Jieren. He is a great master of realist writings."

Despite the political limitations imposed on him by the regime his youthful contact with Sacco and Vanzetti, the anarchst martyrs falsely accused by the US government of robbery and murder, gave him the strength to suffer through the Maoist revolution.

Pa Chin's career as a serious novelist was immediately blighted with the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. Thereafter he wrote mainly as a foreign correspondent and produced slim volumes of reportage about the Korean and Vietnamese wars. As a foreign correspondent Pa Chin spent time in Korea (1952), Japan (1961), and Vietnam (1962).

And in a singular irony of historic preportions it was Dante's Inferno that inspired his resistance through out the long tragic dark night of the soul he experienced during the cultural revolution.

That he not only survived the cultural revolution, Stalinism writ large across the face of China, but has been revered by the Chinese for the last thirty years is an indication of how much China has changed since the reforms of 1978. That he is one of the great literary giants of China even today, is a great tribute to the universal appeal of his anarchist inspired writings. That he is hardly known of in the West is one of the greater tragedies and the one of the greatest ironies since he was one of the school of revolutionary modernist Chinese writers who introduced western literature to China.

It is hoped that the tragedy of his anononimity in the West that will be rectified upon the news of his passing.

Due to conflicting biographical details, (and the Chinese tradition of celebrating a birthday a year in advance) Ba Jin was either 100 or 101 when he passed away this weekend.

Also see the Anarchist Archives for more on Ba Jin

This is one of his modern short stories available on-line

When the Snow Melted

by Ba Jin

Words Without Borders - The Online Magazine for International Literature

Revered Chinese Author Ba Jin Dies at 100

Monday October 17, 2005


Associated Press Writer

BEIJING (AP) - Ba Jin, one of China's most revered communist-era writers who attacked the evils of the pre-revolutionary era in novels, short stories and essays, died Monday in Shanghai, the official Xinhua News Agency said. He was 100.

Best known for his 1931 novel ``Family,'' the story of a disintegrating feudal household, Ba Jin also translated the Russian writers Ivan Turgenev and Pyotr Kropotkin.

Ba Jin worked well into his later years writing essays and compiling anthologies of his work.

He was part of the young intelligentsia in the early 20th century that looked to Western philosophies - Marxism, anarchism, and liberalism - for solutions to China's backwardness and social inequality.

Born Li Yaotang on Nov. 25, 1904, in the western city of Chengdu, he later changed his name to Ba Jin, taking the first syllable in Chinese of the surname of Mikhail Bakunin and the last syllable of Kropotkin, both Russian anarchists.

No information on survivors or funeral plans was immediately released.

``Never for a moment will I put down my pen. It is kindling a fire within me,'' he wrote. ``Even after I have been turned into ashes, my love, my feeling will not disappear from this world.''

Born to a landlord's family, Ba Jin joined the Chinese anarchists as a teenager.

Ba Jin spent his early adulthood writing fiction and editing anarchist publications, and in 1936 joined the Literary Work Society, an organization of progressive young writers headed by Lu Xun. Most of Ba Jin's heroes were rebels.

In ``Family,'' his favorite work, he portrayed tensions between feudal, patriarchal controls and rebellious youth fighting for personal and social goals.

Another of his well-known novels, ``Cold Night,'' published not long after World War II, told the story of a couple whose dreams are shattered by the war and who become estranged amid disease and discord.

His biographer, Olga Lang, said his works were successful as much for their social importance as their literary significance. He wrote about the restrictions he knew from his upper-class upbringing and examined the plight of workers and peasants.

Ba Jin said he wrote ``to expose enemies. They include all the old traditional concepts, the irrational systems that obstruct progress, all the forces that destroy human nature.''

``Since I'm not good at speaking, I have to turn to writing to express my feelings, my love and hatred, and to let out the fire within me,'' he said.

Ba Jin was branded a counterrevolutionary and purged during the 1966-76 ``Cultural Revolution,'' during which many writers and artists were persecuted and art was completely subordinated to politics. He was labeled a class enemy, banned from writing and forced to clean drains.

He did not reappear until 1977.

Later, at a time when writers were just beginning to take chances again and feel some security about their status, he complained, ``Why is it that our writing cannot be at the forefront of world literature?''

``Where else have authors in the world throughout history gone through something so terrifying and ridiculous, so bizarre and agonizing?'' he asked.

Ba Jin proposed that the government create a museum to the Cultural Revolution so that later generations could learn from its horrors and avoid a repetition. The suggestion was ignored.

In his later years, Ba Jin suffered from a form of Parkinson's disease but still took on several honorary posts such as chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association and a vice chairman of a top government advisory group.

In 1984, he was a guest of honor at the International P.E.N. Congress in Tokyo, and delivered an address entitled, ``Literature in the Nuclear Age: Why do We Write?''

Ba Jin's wife, Xiao Shan, a translator of Turgenev and poet Alexander Pushkin whom he married in 1944, died of cancer in 1972.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Death of writer who dared speak the truth
Chronic disease kills Ba Jin after decades as a symbol of intellectual conscience


Ba Jin: Nobel hope

Ba Jin, one of China's most famous writers, died in Shanghai last night after a battle with chronic disease. He was 101.
Xinhua reported he died at a local hospital at about 7pm after suffering malignant mesothelium cell tumours and other diseases.

Ba Jin's blunt language and his courage in opposing the feudal system made him a symbol of intellectual conscience since he was involved in the May Fourth cultural movement in the early 1920s. He was purged during the Cultural Revolution, but made a comeback as a voice of reason after those turbulent years.

The report said he had been struggling with ill health since suffering a high fever caused by influenza six years ago. While it did not mention other diseases, earlier reports said Ba Jin had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than 20 years.

Xinhua was quick to report his death last night, although details of his funeral arrangements were not announced.

Born in Chengdu on November 25, 1904, his parents named him Li Yaotang and gave him the name Li Feigan when he became an adult. He later used Ba Jin as his penname, taking the first syllable in Chinese of the surname of Mikhail Bakunin and the last syllable of Kropotkin, both Russian anarchists.

The authorities held a massive celebration of his 100th birthday in late 2003 - according to Chinese tradition, which counts birthdays a year earlier - although at that time the writer was already seriously ill.

Ba Jin is most acclaimed for his autobiographical trilogy - Family (1937), Spring (1938) and Autumn (1940) - which became classics of modern Chinese literature with their descriptions of the struggle between young intellectuals and their family traditions.

He had long been seen as China's hope for a Nobel literature prize until Gao Xingjian became the first Chinese writer to receive the honour.

Ba Jin lived in Paris from 1927 to 1928. He chose to stay in China after the communist takeover in 1949, but could not escape the fate of many other intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution and was purged by the Red Guards during the late 1960s. It was not until 1977 that he reappeared.

Liu Xinwu , another renowned mainland writer, lamented the passing of Ba Jin. Liu praised him for "speaking the truth" soon after the Cultural Revolution.

"He was able to give the revolution a new identity. [He said] instead of being cruel, revolution should be humane. He also said we should not have personality cults or deify our leaders."

Mr Liu said it required "great courage" to make such comments just after the Cultural Revolution had ended.

Ba Jin received many honorary titles in his later years, including becoming a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the China Writers Association.

Partial excerpt of English translation of Ba Jin's dedication to Emma Goldman

Only you know, when I was fifteen years old, you woke me up and I escaped disaster at the last moment. Then in 1927, in Boston, when two innocent workers {Sacco and Vanzetti ep} were taken to the electric chair by law and the voice of the working class was suffocated, I poured out my anguish as well as sincerity to you and entreated your help. You have consoled me many times with your friendship and encouragement and taught me many times from your rich experience. Your beautiful letters have been a great comfort to me, when I have an opportunity of reading them. E.G., my spiritual mother (you have permitted me to call you in this way) you are a daughter of dreams (L.P. Abbott called you before)...

Now my education, life and consciousness are alked about by those who cannot understand what I wrote, what I think, what is my life. They make me up from their subjective imagination and attack me publicly as well as secretly. Because my novels completely obscure my behaviour and ideas, and result in a lot of misunderstandings, my name is related to nihilism or humanism, although I have written a book of over three hundred pages to explain my ideas (this book is very easy to understand and without a metaphysical term). Those who talk about me never read it. They judged my deas according to one of my short stories, then deduced a variety of strange conclusions and decided which doctrine I belong to. I have been caught in this predicament all these years and cannot get rid of it...

Today I read your autobiography in two volumes, Living My Life. These two books full of life, shocked me greatly. Your roaring of forty years like spring thunder, knocked at the door of my living grave throughout the whole book. At this time, silence lost its effect, the fire of my life was lit, I want to come to life and go through great anguish, immeasurable joy, dark despair and enthusiastic hope, throughout the peak and the abyss of life. I will calmly go on living with an attitude you taught me until I spend my whole life.

E.G., now I will begin to break the ice. I would like to dedicate my new collection of short stories and this letter to you. This collection is the result of my silent period. I spent a lot of care on it. You can find my painful life of recent years in it. In the article, "On the Threshold," you can see yourself. As to your recommendation, I read the great prose poem by Turgeniev so that I knew those women who fled to Paris with Provgesnie's characteristics. Their impressions were engraved in my mind forever. I hope I will meet the near future.

A series of essays by SGI President Ikeda in which he reflects
on his encounters with various world figures
Warrior of the Pen—Ba Jin

When I met the Chinese writer Ba Jin, he repeatedly declared, "Youth is the hope of mankind."

"Youth is the hope of mankind." Ba actually first learned these words from Bartolomeo Vanzetti, an innocent man whose guilty verdict in a politically motivated murder trial in the U.S.A. created a worldwide uproar in the 1920s. Despite many calls for his acquittal, the death sentence was eventually carried out. As a student in Paris, Ba exchanged correspondence with the imprisoned Vanzetti, and a spiritual baton was passed from the prisoner who stood falsely accused and condemned to death to a young student in a foreign land. "May the next generation not commit such foolish, ignorant acts."

When Ba Jin was a guest speaker at a lecture series in Kyoto in 1980, he declared: "I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation. I write to battle enemies.

"Who are they? Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development, and every instance of cruelty in the face of love. These are my great enemies.

"My pen is alight and my body aflame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

My Fourth Uncle Ba Jin (Series of Commemorative Works of Ba Jin's 100th Birthday)
Li Zhi
Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company, 2003. Size: 187×258mm; 276 pages.
ISBN 7-108-01982-5
The author Li Zhi who has known Ba Jin for more than 60 years is the son of Ba Jin's elder brother. Ba Jin has exerted considerable influence on Li Zhi throughout his life. The book provides rich and accurate first-hand materials and vivid details which are rarely found in ordinary textbooks and research monographs. The more than 100 pictures in the book include photographs of Ba Jin in different stages of his life, letters, original hand-written inscriptions, portraits, photos of his works, and receipts of donations.

Ba Jin Elected to Contend for 2001 Nobel Literature Prize

Peoples Daily News, China, Friday, May 12, 2000

Nobel Literature Prize Chinese Writers Nomination Committee in the US has made a final decision to elect the Chinese famous writer Ba Jin to compete for the 2001 Nobel Literature Prize.

In a letter to Ba Jin by the Chinese Writers Nomination Committee lauded Ba Jin as the most outstanding writer and thinker in today's China, his literature works of nearly half a century has set him up as a writer enjoying high prestige and respect in world culture circles

Chinese Premier Calls on Renowned Writer Ba Jin

Peoples Daily News, China, Monday, September 01, 2003

Ba Jin, one of the greatest contemporary Chinese writers, Sunday received a visit to his hospital bed from Premier Wen Jiabao, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. Ba Jin is one of the founders of modern Chinese literature and is prestigious for his prolific output and masterpieces like the trilogy "Family", "Spring" and "Autumn", a series believed to be inspired by his own experiences.

Living legend: Ba Jin
Ba Jin is one of the few writers in China who live not on government pay, but on royalties from his writing. On his 80th birthday, he said, "I've lived on royalties all my life. It is the readers who have supported me."

Literary witness to century of turmoil
( 2003-11-24 09:03) (China Daily)

Lost decade

After the founding of New China, Ba Jin was elected vice-chairman of China Writers' Association. For many years he devoted most of his time to his new post and did less creative writing.

If not for the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Ba Jin might never have felt the impulse to pick up his pen again. Yet at an advanced age, he surprised and profoundly influenced the Chinese intellectual world by revealing the mental and emotional storm that had assaulted him since the end of "cultural revolution."

Ba Jin was severely persecuted during that political turmoil. Having survived, he was rehabilitated and restored to the highest esteem in China. But he is unable to forget his past traumas as many others have done. He keeps the ashes of his beloved wife, Xiao Shan, who died in the "cultural revolution" after being denied medical care, in their bedroom. And terrible nightmares about those years haunt him in his sleep.

"Forgetting" is the thing Ba Jin fears most deeply. He hopes the nation will remember the disaster as long and clearly as possible, and learn from it to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.

For this purpose, he has called for the establishment of a "cultural revolution museum," for he believes "only by not forgetting the past can we be the master of the future" - words artist Yu Feng quotes in her calligraphic work in the museum exhibition.

From December 1978 to August 1986, Ba Jin composed 150 essays, which were first serialized in newspapers and then published as a five-volume collection under the title of "Records of Random Thinking (Suixiang Lu)."

During the eight years he worked on those essays his health was very poor, and many of the articles were written in hospital. It was the need to release his emotion and the responsibility he felt for later generations that forced him to work. "These essays should be my will," Ba Jin told his friend Huang Shang when first starting the project.

In the collection, he records the physical and mental torment the "cultural revolution" inflicted on his family and friends. The volumes include touching memorial essays about his wife and friends, such as Lao She (1899-1966), another top-notch writer who committed suicide after being persecuted.

However, what grieves Ba Jin most in retrospect are his own weaknesses that he said he unconsciously exhibited during those years. And what affects readers most are the relentless self-interrogations and painful repentance he makes throughout the book.

For example, Ba Jin said he followed the movement's instructions to alienate those persecuted. When he was charged, for a period he sincerely believed he was guilty. Weaknesses such as the absence of independent spirit and obedience to mental slavery made everyone unconscious accomplices of the human disaster, he said.

Ba Jin treats himself as an example of the Chinese intellectuals of the time, dissecting his own weaknesses to arouse the consciousness of them all.

A Jeremiah shouting in the wilderness, he has won the highest respect of Chinese readers by his earnest love, loyalty and solicitude to his country and people.

Ba Jin: A Century of Literary Greatness

From 1966 to 1976, the turbulent "Cultural Revolution" swept across China. Along with many other renowned scholars and writers, Ba Jin was sent to the May 7th Cadre School -- which was nicknamed the "cowshed" -- to reform himself through labor in accordance with Mao Zedong's directive. By accident, he got hold of Italian poet Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Kept in the "cowshed" every night, he secretly copied out the Divine Comedy-Hell by hand. In the daytime, either laboring in the field or receiving mass criticism, he silently read the poem.

Reciting Dante's Divine Comedy-Hell helped Ba Jin pick up his courage to struggle through hard times. Actually, Ba Jin's "predestined relationship" with Dante lasted long after he was set free from the "cowshed." In 1982 his translated works won him the Dante International Prize.

"I believe in the future a new Dante will write a new Divine Comedy," Ba Jin once said.

What Can We Chinese Learn from Hans Christian Andersen?

To sing the praises of the true, the good, and the beautiful, to castigate the false, the ugly and the evil:
The theme of singing the praises of the true, the good, and the beautiful can be found in H. C. Andersen's tales like "Thumbelina", "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Ice Maiden". But such tales as "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Nightingale" and "The Evil Prince" expressed the theme of castigating the false, the ugly and the evil. Under the influence of H. C. Andersen's tales, the Chinese children's writers also attached great importance to this theme after the May 4th Movement. For example, Ye Sheng Tao described the sincere and friendly affection between the people and depicted the beautiful scenery in his first fairy tale "The Small White Boat". In the fairy tale "Three Butterflies", He Yi recounted how the three butterflies living in the dark world pursued their bright future. It is really a song praising the true, the good, and the beautiful. The fairy tale "Nan Nan and His Bearded Grand-Father" written by Yan Wenjin praised the strong will and the brave and indomitable spirit, and also expressed the feeling of longing for the bright future. Influenced by H. C. Andersen's tales, Ye Sheng Tao also wrote a fairy tale named "The Emperor's New Clothes". Judging by the content, it is a sequel to H. C. Andersen's fairy tale. The theme of castigating the false, the ugly, and the evil can also be seen in contemporary Chinese tales such as "Ever-Lasting Pagoda" by Ba Jin, "The Fairy Tale Writer" by He Yi and "The Red Mask" by Jin Jin.

The Modern Chinese Literature Museum

At the end of the spring of 2000, the Modern Chinese Literature Museum opened in Beijing. The 98-year-old writer Ba Jin is the honorary chairman, and writer Shu Yi, the son of famous Chinese writer Lao She, is the chairman.

Literature Museum an Epilogue for Authors

The museum had an auspicious start. Bedridden for years in Shanghai, 96-year-old 20th-century literary master Ba Jin personally called on President Jiang Zemin to help in the building of the museum in 1993.

Ba said the museum's completion is the last major event in his life. He had dreamed of people looking at the exhibits, a dream that made him laugh with pleasure.

Problems of Far Eastern Literatures
dedicated to the centenary of famous Chinese writer Ba Jin
on June 22-26, 2004
in Saint Petersburg

Ba Jin Biographies and Writings

  • Olga Lang, Writer Pa Chin and his time: Chinese youth of the transitional period. Ann Arbor,
  • Mich,: University Microfilms International, 1985.

  • Nathan K. Mao, Pa Chin. Boston: Twayne, 1978.

  • Cornelius C. Kubler, Vocabulary and notes to Ba Jin's Jia: an aid for reading the novel.
  • Ithaca, N.Y.: East Asia Program, Cornell University, 1976.

  • Olga Lang, Pa Chin and his Writings: Chinese Youth Between the Two Revolutions.
  • Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967.

    Works Available in English
    # Autumn in Spring and Other Stories (Gladys Yang). Beijing: Chinese Literature Press, 1981.
    # Cold Nights (adapted by Meg Jump). Singapore: Federal Publications, 1981.
    # Cold Nights (Nathan K. Mao and Liu Tsun-yan). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978.
    # Family. Boston: Cheng & Tsui Co.; New York: Doubleday, 1972; Prospect Heights, III.: Waveland Press, 1989.
    # Living amongst Heroes. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1954.
    # Random Thoughts (Geremie Barm¨¦). Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co., 1984.
    # Selected Works of Ba Jin (Sidney Shapiro and Wang Mingjie). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1988.
    # The Family (Sidney Shapiro). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1958; Hong Kong: C & W Publishing Co., 1979.

    From the book: FAMILY by Pa Chin

    Anchor Books edition: 1972

    INTRODUCTION by Olga Lang

    Pa Chin (Li Fei-kan) is one of the outstanding figures of modern Chinese literature. He was very popular in China during the 1930s and 1940s, especially among the youth who were increasingly influential in Chinese political life in the twentieth century. Pa Chin wrote fiction, literary essays, and political articles, but his best works, and those which made him famous, were his novels describing the life of educated Chinese youth. The most successful of these has been Family, which forms the first part of his autobiographical trilogy, Turbulent Stream.

    Pa Chin owed his popularity to the fact that his young readers readily identified with his characters. In his novels they saw the reflection of their own lives, their own sufferings and struggles. They were attracted not only by his ability to grapple with the crucial problems of the times, but also by his warm humanitarianism and his belief in the ultimate victory of his ideals. Though primarily realistic, Pa Chin's fiction contains a great deal of romanticism which struck a responsive chord in his young readers.

    Pa Chin did not belong to the most influential political movements of the period. At the age of fifteen he became an anarchist, and he continued to identify with anarchism until the Communist revolution of 1949. Few of his readers, however, followed in his political footsteps: the majority of those who became politically active joined either the Kuomintang or the Communist Party. Pa Chin, nevertheless, did influence them. True to his anarchist ideas, he taught them to rebel against despotism and oppression in every form. A particular target of his attacks was the old Chinese family system, which deprived the young of their freedom of action and their right to love and marry according to their own choice. Young men and women growing up during a period in which they felt they had "to shoulder the responsibility for their country," as Pa Chin put it, often asked the question: "What is to be done?" Pa Chin gave them an answer. He called for action and tried to convince his readers that the only effective way to act was the revolutionary way. In his fiction and essays he presented models for emulation in the Russian revolutionary idealists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as in the Chinese revolutionaries of his time.

    Like so many other intellectuals of his generation, Pa Chin keenly felt the impact of Western political and moral ideas and literary trends. His disposition, his innate craving for freedom and justice, led him to embrace the Western humanist tradition. Three Western ideologies were of primary importance in the formation of his political ideas: international anarchism, Russian populism, and the French Revolution.

    The greatest literary influences on Pa Chin's works were the Russian classical writers, above all Turgenev, as well as the memoirs of Russian revolutionaries. But he was also influenced by French writers, especially Zola, Maupassant, and Romain Rolland. All these influences were superimposed on the style and methods inherited by the young writer from the magnificent old Chinese realist novels and short stories and from Chinese poetry. It must be stressed, however, that when Pa Chin used foreign ideas and literary devices he did so because they helped him to perceive and represent the new realities of Chinese life, which often bore a closer resemblance to Western life than to that of Old China. In many cases the resemblance between the situations and motivations described by Pa Chin and those apparent in Western literature are due less to influences and borrowings than to the similarity of circumstances described. This also explains the preponderance of Russian influence. As he himself once put it, "I liked them [the Russian writers] tremendously because the conditions of life in Russia resembled those of the Chinese people of that period. The character, the aspirations, and tastes of the Russians were somewhat similar to ours."

    The reader of Family will see, however, that foreign influences did not change the essentially Chinese nature of Pa Chin's novels. At the same time the poetic quality of his descriptions and the vividness of his characters lend them a universal appeal.

    In many respects Pa Chin was a typical Chinese intellectual of the twentieth century. Even his fascination with anarchism could be found in the biographies of many men and women who played an important role in shaping the life of China in our time, including some prominent members of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.

    Pa Chin was born in 1904 of the wealthy and educated Li family in Chengtu, the capital of the province of Szechuan in southwest China. From the age of twenty-three, when he signed his first novel Destruction, the journalist, known until then as Li Fei-kan, used the pen name Pa Chin under which he became famous. He chose this name to express his adherence to anarchism; "Pa" in Chinese transcription stands for the first syllable of the name Bakunin and "Chin" for the last syllable of the name Kropotkin. Those who gave him the name Fei-kan drew their inspiration from an entirely different source: these words, meaning "sweet shelter," were taken from the Book of Odes, one of the ancient sacred books of China.

    The change from Fei-kan to Pa Chin is symbolic of the great change that took place in China during the writer's life time. When Pa Chin was born the structure of the old Empire was still standing, though already deeply shaken by foreign aggression and internal strife. In 1911-12, when he was seven years old, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic proclaimed. His adolescence and early youth spanned civil wars, the victory of the Kuomintang (Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist Party) over the warlords, and the appearance on the Chinese scene of the Communist Party, soon to develop into a formidable force. The time when he became an influential writer coincided with the twenty-first year of Kuomintang rule and the war with Japan. He was a mature man of forty-five when, in 1949, the Communist Party seized power, and he lived through the tumultuous years of the establishment of socialism in his ancient country.

    The first nineteen years of Pa Chin's life were spent, with a short interruption, in the large family mansion in Chengtu, a household consisting of fifty Li family members and their forty-five servants, ruled autocratically by his grandfather. After his parents' death, the twelve-year-old boy was very unhappy and lonely in this family, which he called "a despotic kingdom." He felt the pressure of his grandfather's iron hand especially painfully when the old man forbade him to enter a modern school. But after the grandfather's death in 1917 the family had to yield to the wishes of the younger generation. Without the authority of the strong-willed patriarch, the family could not resist the fresh wind of change created by the New Culture Movement of 1915-22 (also known as the May 4th Movement). The initiators of this movement were convinced that in order to survive as a free and independent state, China had to reject completely the traditional outlook on life, particularly Confucianism, and to create a new culture. Most significant was the demand for a leading role of youth in the new China. And the New Culture Movement itself provided the first example: it was initiated and led exclusively by the younger generation of professors and students.

    In working out the principles of the new culture the participants of the movement accepted from the West not only its technology, as did some enlightened members of the older generation, but also many of its political, social, and moral values. The publications of that time were full of material intended to familiarize readers with various Western political, social and philosophical theories, including Marxism and anarchism. Anarchism was already rather influential among the radically inclined intelligentsia at that time, and Marxism gained momentum after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The importance of science and democracy, the respect for the individual and his duty toward society, and a critical attitude toward life and ideas were especially emphasized. An important feature of the New Culture Movement was the impetus it provided for the tendency to establish the spoken language as the literary medium in place of the dead classical language. Simultaneously new themes, new style and new content reflecting modern life and ideas were introduced into literature. All these and also some Western influence had a beneficial effect on Chinese literature and the subsequent three decades belong to one of the most productive periods in its history.

    In 1919 the youth actively and successfully intervened in Chinese political life. In a demonstration on May 4th the students of Peking University initiated a protest movement against the decisions of the Versailles Peace Conference which were detrimental to China's interests. The initiative of the young intellectuals found wide support among the people of China, and under the pressure of public opinion, the Chinese delegation at Versailles refused to sign the peace treaty. This political action provided a great stimulus for the New Culture Movement. Periodicals and books spreading its ideas filled bookstores all over the country, and the anarchist groups numerous at that time greatly contributed to this flow.

    In due course the wave of the movement reached the city of Chengtu, and the new literature came into the hands of the fifteen-year-old Pa Chin. From early childhood the sensitive, frail boy was sympathetic to the poor and oppressed. He realized that his grandfather's mansion harbored two worlds: the upper world where the family lived, and the lower world--the cold dingy rooms relegated to the servants. "I don't want to be a young master," he decided, "I want to be on their [the servants] side, I want to help them." Lonely and not understood by his family, the boy found his friends in books. He was greatly impressed by the new literature which helped him articulate his desire "to sacrifice himself for the happiness of humanity." Of decisive importance in his life were the popular anarchist publications in Chinese translation: Kropotkin's "An Appeal to the Young," Emma Goldman's articles on anarchism, and a drama called On the Eve, depicting the life of Russian revolutionary terrorists before the 1905 revolution. These books decided Pa Chin's fate; he became a "Kropotkinite"--an anarchist-communist--and found in Emma Goldman his "spiritual mother."

    The next step was the desire to carry his ideas into practice, and the young man joined the local anarchist group. He became the group's most active member, taking part in the students' demonstrations against the local war lords, distributing revolutionary leaflets, and organizing a reading room on the premises of the local anarchist journal, to which he began to contribute articles. Thus at the early age of fifteen Pa Chin became an anarchist and a writer.

    Relations between the young members of the Li family improved at that time, when many of them became interested in the new trends. Pa Chin was especially fond of his eldest brother. Yet his greatest emotional satisfaction was derived from his friendship with the members of his group. From then on friendship played a great role in his life and in the role of the characters in his fiction.

    This period of Pa Chin's life gave him the material for his trilogy, Turbulent Stream.

    In 1923, after an energetic struggle, he won the consent of his family to continue his studies in a big city, and moved first to Shanghai and then to Nanking. In 1925 he graduated from a high school in Nanking but he did not enter the University of Peking as he had planned. He was carried away by a new upsurge of the revolutionary movement in China, the May 30th Movement, which derived its name from the date of the great demonstration in support of the striking workers of a Japanese-owned factory in Shanghai. The demonstration was brutally suppressed by the British police of the International Settlement and many of the participants were killed.

    After May 30th Pa Chin lived in Shanghai and was very active in the anarchist movement. He translated from English, French and Esperanto, wrote on social and political problems, and did some work in the trade unions. The most important of his works at that time was a pamphlet called Chicago Tragedy, telling the story of the Haymarket affair of 1886 in which five Chicago anarchists were sentenced to death on trumped-up charges.

    In the 1920s the anarchist movement in China, as everywhere in the world, was on the decline. Many of its adherents were forsaking it for the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, which promised more practical ways to achieve their aims. The cause of communism was greatly helped by the victory of Bolshevism in Russia and by the Soviet government's abrogation of unequal treaties. But Pa Chin remained faithful to anarchism. He was a young man imbued with a feeling of compassion for the people and a desire to help them, with a craving for justice and freedom. Anarchism, striving for a happy, just and free society, through the teaching of Kropotkin, which has been aptly described as "applied ethics," was his choice. It was also the choice of other idealists who abhorred "the practical ways" of the Communists who accepted the cruelties, human sufferings and lack of freedom in the Soviet Union on the ground that the end justifies the means, an explanation Pa Chin considered thoroughly immoral.

    Pa Chin and a few other genuine anarchists were modern counterparts of those idealists, poets, and dreamers of Old China who adhered to the teachings of Buddha and Lao Tzu instead of following the practical ways and becoming Confucian scholars and administrators.

    His disappointment not in the anarchist ideal but in the results of his work in Shanghai were responsible for Pa Chin's decision to study in France. Studies abroad were not unusual for Chinese intellectuals of that time. But Pa Chin left China during one of the most critical moments of the Chinese revolution, January 1927, when the revolutionary nationalist army was moving toward Nanking and Shanghai. He knew that it was not the right thing to do for "a sincere anarchist." But evidently, for all his devotion to the cause, Pa Chin was not a political fighter. He was an artist. During the next few years this became evident.

    Pa Chin spent the next twenty-two months in Paris and in the small town of Château-Thierry on the Marne, with occasional trips to London. These two years greatly widened his cultural and political horizons and provided the intellectual stimulation and experience necessary for a writer. Contrary to his family's expectations, he did not pursue much formal education, except for his study of the French language, but he read widely in philosophy, economics, and social problems as well as in Western fiction, mainly Russian and French. At that time he became thoroughly familiar with the history of the Russian populist movement, in which he found a rich source of inspiration for his writings.

    No less important was Pa Chin's involvement in political life. He immediately joined the Chinese anarchist group in Paris and became associated with anarchists and other exiles of various nationalities, including such prominent figures as Alexander Berkman and T. H. Keell (London). He continued his correspondence with Emma Goldman, begun in 1924 when he was still in China, and began to exchange letters with the Austrian anarchist Max Nettlau. He also associated with middle class and working class Frenchmen. His greatest emotional experience at that time was the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in August 1927. While still in China he had participated in the campaign for new trials for these Italian-American anarchists. In Paris he read Vanzetti's autobiography, and, fascinated by this unusual man, wrote him a letter, received an answer and from then on referred to him as his "beloved teacher."

    But as submerged as Pa Chin was in Western culture and the Western revolutionary movement, he never became an expatriate and constantly kept in touch with China and its problems. He was a frequent contributor to anarchist periodicals in Shanghai and to the journal Equity published by the Chinese anarchist group in San Francisco. His translation of Kropotkin's Ethics: Origin and Development, "immortal masterpiece," as he called it, was done for a Shanghai anarchist publishing house.

    The break between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party and the massacre of Communists in Shanghai on April 12, 1927, was of course heatedly discussed in the meetings of the Chinese anarchist group in Paris, and Pa Chin and his friends were definitely against the Kuomintang in this conflict.

    Not only the contemporary events in China but also those of the recent past were constantly on Pa Chin's mind. In Paris he wrote his first novel, Destruction, in which he described the life of Shanghai revolutionists, and whose protagonist is recognizable as an autobiographical figure. The novel deals with problems of the greatest concern for revolutionists: the main motive of revolutionary activities, i.e. love for the oppressed or hatred of their enemies; the right to personal happiness; terror as a method of revolutionary struggle. Pa Chin also dealt with the last problem in an article entitled "Anarchism and Terrorism." He was against political assassinations. "There is no other way to bring about anarchism but an organized mass movement," he said. But he was sympathetic toward the terrorists and held the present immoral society responsible for their desperate acts. After finishing his novel Pa Chin sent it to a friend in Shanghai. When he returned to Shanghai in December 1928 he discovered that it had been accepted by a leading literary journal, The Short Story Monthly.

    Although he had already written his first novel, upon his return to Shanghai Pa Chin considered himself primarily a political writer. Even when it became clear that Destruction was a great success, he still did not recognize himself as a creative writer par excellence. He continued to translate, finishing Kropotkin's Ethics, the work he considered his revolutionary duty and which "gave him courage [and] strengthened his faith" at the time of the consolidation of the reactionary Kuomintang government and the growing menace of Japanese aggression. Another important work of that time was the book From Capitalism to Anarchism based on Alexander Berkman's Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism.

    But "in his free time" Pa Chin continued to write fiction. His first volume of short stories, describing the Westerners he had met in France, aroused considerable interest, since Westerners were rare figures in Chinese fiction. The readers also liked the new Western literary devices in Pa Chin's stories. The Setting Sun, a novel set against the background of the May 30th Movement and which dealt with foreign aggression and the role of bourgeois intellectuals in the revolutionary labor movement, was also favorably received by the critics.

    In 1931 Pa Chin wrote the novel Family, his masterpiece. The topic was a timely one. The struggle for the liberation of youth and women from the fetters of the old patriarchal family system had been going on for many years. The New Culture Movement gave it an impetus and many outstanding writers and scholars supported it. But the battle was not yet won. In the eldest brother Kao and the other young victims of a family dominated by old men and old traditions, many young men and women recognized themselves, their friends and brothers. Many of them found courage reading about the rebellion and victory of the younger brothers Kao. The poetic and tragic figure of the slave girl Ming-feng, the vivid dialogues and descriptions of the family and youth group life fascinated the readers. The novel was a tremendous success and it definitely brought Pa Chin into the ranks of first-class writers. For many years Family was the favorite book of Chinese students.

    Two more novels followed: New Life, a sequel to Destruction, dealing with an intellectual who overcomes his despondency and loss of faith in the revolutionary movement, rejoins the fight and dies a heroic death; and Fog, the first part of the trilogy Love. Then appeared new collections of short stories. Pa Chin's artistic skill was developing. In 1931 he began to consider himself a "regular writer of fiction." He was full of energy and apart from fiction wrote political articles, literary essays, and book reviews, and devoted much time to editorial work.

    The year 1931 marked the beginning of difficult times for China. In September the Japanese army occupied Manchuria and in January--February 1932 the Japanese attacked Shanghai. Pa Chin's house was occupied and looted by the Japanese soldiers and the manuscript of his novel New Life was burned in a fire in the printing office. The acute feeling of indignation and national danger prompted Pa Chin to write a novel, Dream on the Sea, the story of a country occupied by foreign invaders, easily recognizable as China and the Japanese. The story is a passionate indictment of the invaders, of the foreigners who sympathized with them and of the upper class collaborators, with praise for the resistance offered by the common people and revolutionary intellectuals.

    Almost all of Pa Chin's novels dealt with the intellectuals. But after his extensive travels in North and South China, described in detail in two travelogues, peasants and workers began to appear in his stories; one of the best of these stories is "Dog." In 1933 Pa Chin wrote the rather successful novel Snow, based on his own observations of a coal miners' strike in North China.

    In 1934 Pa Chin finished the trilogy Love, which consisted of three novels, Fog, Rain, and Lightning, and a novelette Thunder. The trilogy describes the life of revolutionary intellectuals and (in Thunder and Lightning) their work in mass organizations. In a series of dramatic episodes, tense dialogues and interior monologues, it tackles many vital problems: the purpose of human life, political convictions, revolutionary tactics, friendship, loyalty, family, love. In spite of the trilogy's title, love does not play the main role in the life of its characters. "More important for them is their faith," said the author. Like almost all of Pa Chin's fiction, Love has a didactic purpose: to show the readers how to live and to give them a model for emulation. Pa Chin considered Love his favorite work. The critics and the public did not agree with this judgment and found some of his other works, in particular, Turbulent Stream, to be greater achievements.

    Pa Chin wrote with enthusiasm, regarding his literary work as a mission. He felt "an inner urge to describe the life, feelings and ideas of Chinese youth and to influence life with my writings." This attitude toward literature naturally brought him close to those writers who advocated "art for life's sake" rather than to those of the "art for art's sake" school. But sharing anarchist distrust of organizations, he did not join any of the literary groups of his time. As an anarchist he was an avowed enemy of the Kuomintang regime. Some of his books and the books of other anarchists were banned, and in 1934, afraid of being arrested, he escaped to Japan for a while. This situation naturally brought him close to the other enemies of the regime, the Communists, with whom he shared some views on the aim of literature. But his cooperation with the Communists did not proceed smoothly. Some of the left wing critics praised Pa Chin but more often he was reproached for being a "petty bourgeois writer" who "does not understand history, does not understand revolution" and attacked for his "vague humanitarianism" and adherence to anarchism. His defense of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Civil War (1936-38) also made him a target of attack by the adherents of the Communist Party line. His refusal to join the Chinese Writers' Organization in 1936 was denounced as an attempt to wreck the writers' united front for resistance against Japan. This reproach was utterly unjust and the great writer Lu Hsün, who valued Pa Chin highly, came out in his defense. Pa Chin warded off these attacks but they did hurt him, especially when the critics spoke of his "petty bourgeois origin." Like many other left wingers (not only in China) he was ashamed of not hailing from a worker or peasant family which would have been a guarantee of a correct attitude toward life.

    In general, in spite of his great success and his readers' devotion, Pa Chin was not happy and was not at all convinced of the usefulness of his literary work. It is also evident from his writings that he felt guilty about drifting farther and farther away from his work in the anarchist movement after he became a popular fiction writer. In almost all his writings Pa Chin called on his readers to rebel against the establishment and to recognize that progress can be achieved only at a price of great sacrifice. But he felt it hard to demand these sacrifices from the young people whom he loved so much. Moreover he often asked himself, "What right have I to do that? What did I sacrifice for the sake of the people?" All these scruples and torments show what an honest and sensitive person Pa Chin was. And it should be remembered that until 1947 he never expressed his doubts and despair in his works of fiction, all of which are basically optimistic. Even the sad "cries of the soul," as he calls them in his autobiographical works, always end in a proud positive assertion that he "never lost his faith," the faith in a better future for humanity.

    After the war with Japan finally broke out (July 7, 1937) Pa Chin eagerly participated in the struggle against the enemy. In his attitude toward war Pa Chin did not follow the orthodox anarchist view that "a man ought never to fight except in the social revolution." He could not consider the Japanese invasion merely a conflict between the Chinese and Japanese ruling classes, the outcome of which was irrelevant for the working people. Yet during the war Pa Chin repeatedly stressed his continued faith in anarchism. Maybe he felt that to fight against foreign aggression was compatible with anarchist ideals, remembering that two famous anarchists whose names he adopted as his own also did not "stand above the battle": Bakunin during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and Kropotkin during the First World War.

    Pa Chin spent the war years (1937-45) moving from one city to another in the part of China not occupied by the Japanese. At that time he was one of the leaders of the "All China Association of Artists and Writers for Resistance to the Enemy." He edited periodicals dedicated to the cause of resistance and worked in the publishing house "Culture and Life," whose editorial director he had been since 1935. He also participated in the translation and publication of Kropotkin's most important works. And of course he continued to write fiction.

    In the two first parts of the novel Fire, the bard of Chinese youth described their lives and deeds during the first years of the war. He depicted in volume one their participation in the battle for Shanghai in the fall of 1937 and, after the retreat of the Chinese army, in the underground resistance against the Japanese. In volume two we see the youth group spreading propaganda for the war of resistance among the peasants near the front. At about the same time (in 1939-40) Pa Chin wrote the second and third parts of Turbulent Stream, the novels Spring and Autumn in which he portrayed the development of three young members of the Kao family into rebels and revolutionists and the destruction of those who submit to the cruel family authority. The two first volumes of Fire, the novel Spring and to a lesser extent the novel Autumn are imbued with an optimistic spirit. Undaunted by the series of defeats, Pa Chin believed in final victory because he believed in the fighting spirit of the Chinese people.

    During the last two years of the war, however, a mood of apathy and exhaustion permeated those parts of China occupied by the Japanese and ruled by the Kuomintang government, and this reflected also on Pa Chin. He was restless, unhappy and often sick. His restlessness expressed itself in his renewed philosophical quests and his interest in Christianity, although he remained an atheist. In the third volume of Fire he described the cooperation of young revolutionary atheists with Chinese Christians in the war. In contrast with Pa Chin's other novels, the protagonist of the third volume of Fire, a Christian minister, is not a young man. It is significant that he is presented as a very attractive figure. In this part of the novel Pa Chin again asserts his belief in victory and the possibility of all men of good will to work together. But streaks of sadness appear here more often than usual in Pa Chin's works and it has a sad ending. The good minister dies. The revolutionist who worked underground in Shanghai is betrayed and killed. His girl, who returns to Shanghai to avenge his death, fails in an attempt to assassinate a collaborator responsible for his death and also perishes. Moreover the novel shows a gallery of repulsive characters among the modern Chinese youth. Sad too is the charming novelette The Garden of Rest (1944), a psychological family story unrelated to the war.

    After the Japanese defeat in 1945 Pa Chin returned to Shanghai. He translated Kropotkin and other writers, wrote short stories, published a book of obituaries of his deceased friends, and finished two novels started during the last year of the war. One of them, Ward Number Four (1946) describes the terrible conditions in a wartime hospital and the vain attempts of an idealistic woman doctor to change them. This ward looks very much like a symbolic picture of Kuomintang China of that time.

    Another novel, The Cold Nights, along with Family is one of Pa Chin's masterpieces and ironically became the last novel he was destined to publish. The action takes place during the last years of the war. The protagonists, Wang Wen-hsuan and his wife, now in their thirties, had been idealists in their youth. Now they are completely absorbed in their personal affairs and the struggle for existence. Like so many other intellectuals in war time, they live in an atmosphere of privation and disease. Their family life is very unhappy, and Wen-hsuan's devoted and possessive mother further aggravates the situation. Finally the wife, a healthy and vivacious woman, leaves her sick husband. He dies soon after the Japanese surrender. Gloom penetrates the life of poor people at the end of the war. One of the last sentences of the novel is pronounced by a woman on the street who says, "Victory is for them, not for us. We have not made profit out of our country's misfortune. Victory does not bring us luck."

    This novel, more than any other written after 1943, reveals the unhappiness that took hold of Pa Chin at that time. After the war the situation in Kuomintang-ruled China went from bad to worse. The trend to the right in the government, the shameless corruption in the administration, the continued misery among the people, the constant terrorism against the dissenters--all these further alienated from the government even those intellectuals who did not share Pa Chin's condemnation of the capitalist regime. On the other hand the record of the Chinese Communists during the war was one of considerable achievement and presented a picture of integrity and dedication to the ideal of socialism which Pa Chin so cherished. The difference between these two images must have been of great importance when, after the Communist victory, he decided not to leave his country. Here again Pa Chin acted as a typical Chinese intellectual. The majority, including the major Chinese writers and many anarchists, did not emigrate. Pa Chin shared their fate also in the next twenty-odd years.

    During the first seventeen years after the establishment of the Chinese People's Republic, Pa Chin was accepted by its rulers. They knew that in spite of his past criticism of the Russian and Chinese Communists Pa Chin helped to create among the intellectuals an emotional climate which induced them to accept the Communist revolution. The revolutionists in his novels and short stories attacked not only Old China but also modern capitalism as "the systems obstructing the development of society and of human personality," as "the forces destroying love." Many of the moral values which Pa Chin inculcated into his readers were in keeping with Communist ideas: to sacrifice oneself for the cause, to live for others, to enjoy group living, to practice self-criticism. During the time of the Russian-Chinese honeymoon in the 1950s, Pa Chin also benefited by the friendly attitude toward him in the Soviet Union. His anti-Soviet articles and remarks published in the obscure anarchist journals were forgotten or forgiven. The Soviet critics evidently realized that Pa Chin's high respect for the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionists greatly increased the popularity of the Bolsheviks who were--rightly or wrongly --considered as their heirs.

    Pa Chin had to pay heavily for this acceptance, however. He was often criticised and many concessions were demanded of him. The new editions of his works were published only after thorough revision. He began by removing from his stories everything that revealed his characters' anarchist identities and even sympathies: the titles of the books they read, pictures on their walls, quotations from anarchist authors, mention of their names. Then he removed all traces of his own adherence to anarchism from his purely autobiographical works. Finally in 1958 he had to make an open break with his past, attributing his adherence to anarchism and admiration of Kropotkin to his "petty bourgeois feelings" and "lack of power of judgment."

    These changes have destroyed the historical value of his purely autobiographical works. The new expurgated editions no longer present a true portrait of a young Chinese intellectual of the 1920s and 1930s. The removal of anarchist traits from his works of fiction did not affect them that much: Pa Chin always preferred not to present his characters as anarchists. Only politically experienced readers could see their true identity. For average readers they were just revolutionaries, enemies of the establishment. But some of the concessions he had to make in the 1950s did hurt the artistic value of his stories, especially when he had to give them happy endings. Why did he make all these concessions? Why did he repudiate his "beloved anarchism," his teacher Kropotkin, his "spiritual mother" Emma Goldman? What had he to undergo when doing that?

    We have no way of knowing. But perhaps the following speculation can provide some clues. To begin with, there was a social revolution in China, an event he had advocated his whole life. What emerged as a result of it did not conform to his image of a free and happy society, but some features of the new life in China must certainly have met with his approval. He shared fully the condemnation of the Kuomintang regime so often used in Communist propaganda and was completely sincere when be related the stories of the hard life of the peasants and workers in the past. And he certainly was happy to see that the material life of the common people was constantly improving and that there was a new dignity in it after the revolution. There can be no doubt that he expressed his own ideas when joining in the attacks on the survival of the old family system. The criticism of "petty bourgeois intellectuals" and their selfishness also was not new to him. Maybe his desire to become an organic part of the new society was strengthened also by the fact that in post-revolutionary China the Communists set more value on ethics than they had before. And as to freedom, maybe he still hoped that it would not be restricted forever and that "future generations will see it," as he had said in 1930.

    He tried hard to become a disciplined member of the new society. Did he succeed?

    During the first seventeen years of the Chinese People's Republic Pa Chin was a respected "writer of the last generation." His old books in new expurgated editions sold well. A play based on Family was often performed. Two films were made of this novel, two more were based on Autumn and Cold Nights. He lived in Shanghai in comfortable circumstances with his wife, whom he married in 1944, and their two children. His readers continued to write to him. He occupied leading positions in the writers' and artists' organizations, often represented China at various international conferences, and was even a deputy in the National People's Congress. But was he happy?

    To be happy the writer has to write. Yes, he did write: short stories, essays, accounts of his travels, appeals for peace, commentaries on his works and he did editing and translations. "But I am not satisfied either by the quantity or by the quality of my works," he wrote in 1961. He could not but feel that nothing of significance had come from his pen since 1949. His stories were flat and he did not publish a single new novel--a literary genre in which he formerly excelled. "It is difficult to describe one's heroes in the imposed style," he said to the French writer Simone de Beauvoir in 1956. It was also obvious that he could not approve of all that he saw around him. He had misgivings and as soon as an opportunity arose he would voice them.

    In 1956-57, during the "Hundred Flowers Period" when Mao Tse-tung proclaimed a new era under the slogan "Let the hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend," Pa Chin, like scores of other intellectuals, trustfully followed Mao's invitation to express his criticism. It was a loyal and constructive criticism inspired by a desire to improve the life in his country. But the flowers of criticism did not bloom long. They were not as red as Mao wanted, and the era of permissiveness came to an abrupt end. Pa Chin was severely scolded in the press for his temerity and, following the rules of the game, he admitted his mistakes, blaming them on his "feudal-bourgeois origin." But as soon as the new relaxation came in 1962, when the party seemed to tolerate and even promote a more creative and spontaneous style in literature, Pa Chin came out with a speech under the title "Courage and Sense of Responsibility of Writers." It was a strong protest against the literary bureaucrats and an admonition to writers to be fighters, to uphold the truth and their own vision of reality.

    During the Cultural Revolution (1966-68) Pa Chin was severely punished for these and previous expressions of his true opinions. The Cultural Revolution was perhaps really meant by Mao as an onslaught against the bureaucratism, inequality, and ossification which began to dominate life in China at that time, but in fact it hit the intellectuals hardest and Pa Chin was one of the victims. His books, together with the books of other writers of his generation and the works of Chinese classical literature, were removed from bookstores and libraries and in some cases even burned. Pa Chin was again criticised and compelled to criticise himself in an open meeting. A most vicious attack on him was launched by the Shanghai newspaper Wen-hui on February 26, 1968. Pa Chin was denounced as "the big literary tyrant" and "the oldest, most notorious anarchist in China." "In 1930," the newspaper said, "he had vigourously attacked the Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Party led by Stalin but his real target was the Chinese Communist Party ... he actually dared to point the spearhead of his attack on our most revered and beloved leader Chairman Mao. He really deserves to die ten thousand deaths for his crime ..." Pa Chin's attempts at criticism were recalled and used as proofs of his "counterrevolutionary anti-Maoist attitude." The attack on Pa Chin gave the authors of this article another opportunity to strike at those party leaders who were now declared enemies of Mao, and to accuse them of the desire to restore capitalism in China. They allowed Pa Chin to function as a "progressive old writer."

    A few months later the Red Guards carried into practice the threats contained in this article. These members of the new generation of Chinese youth whom Pa Chin loved so much ransacked the writer's house and destroyed his Chinese art objects as well as his library, which was said to contain one of the best collections of anarchist literature in the world. Similar outrages were perpetrated against hundreds and perhaps thousands of writers, professors and other intellectuals. Finally, on June 20, 1968, Pa Chin was dragged to the People's Stadium of Shanghai. Those present and those who watched the scene on television saw him kneeling on broken glass and heard the shouts accusing him of being a traitor and enemy of Mao. They also heard him break his silence at the end and shout at the top of his voice, "You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me." This desperate cry speaks not only for Pa Chin. For a while Pa Chin was kept under virtual house arrest.

    Then, as rumor has it, this sick old man was "sent to labor for reeducation."

    But now the Cultural Revolution has abated. Pa Chin and some other intellectuals who survived the ordeal returned to their homes. It seems that now in China they have a desire to forget the hardships of the recent past. If Pa Chin's books again become accessible to Chinese readers, there is no doubt that they will be read.

    Olga Lang

    New York, 1972

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