"A Green World Tour"  Censored: Part II

Some passages were censored from "A Green World Tour" an account of the visit of Tang Xiyang and his wife Marcia Marks to nature conservation parks in the USSR, Europe and the United States.  These passages have to do with Tang Xiyang's reflections on what he had learned from his experience as a "rightist" condemned during the Hundred Flowers campaign and not rehabilitated until nearly a quarter century later.

This is the second collection of censored sections from "A Green World Tour". See the references below for the earlier censorship note and more background on the work of Chinese environmentalist Tang Xiyang and his wife Marcia Marks.

  •  A Section Censored from A Green World Tour an earlier note on censorship of "A Green World Tour"
  • A Green World Tour by Tang Xiyang Is Published in English
  • Tang Xiyang Writes About Green Camp and Loss of His Wife
  • Saving the Snub Nosed Monkey: Student Environmental Action in China

  • After p. 240 at the conclusion of a chapter on the visit of Tang Xiyang and Marcia Marks to Switzerland, Tang wrote:

    Begin censored passage

    “In my society, the word “people” is both infinitely great and infinitely small.  It is great because it is an inseparable part of such weighty terms as “people’s republic,”  “people’s congress,”  “the dictatorship of the people,”  and “Long live the people!”.  It is small because people are so insignificant. One day a person may be a State Chairman; the next day a jail inmate; on day a famous general,  the next day a victim in a dunce cap being paraded through the streets;  one day a famous writer, the next day a body drowned in a lake; one day a world champion, the next day a figure hanging from a tree. There are well-known cases out of hundreds of thousands of frame-ups that caused loss of life, family separations, the denunciations of fathers by sons.  Most people have had their names cleared by so called rehabilitation, but what does that mean to people who are already dead? And what about those whose cases have been mishandled and not yet redressed, for whatever reason?  This is a human tragedy.  Yet the chief perpetrators of these political crimes feel no regret, utter no word of apology. Instead they expect their victims to be deeply grateful and hail them as heroes. Isn’t this the typical mentality of a despotic monarch?  Yet they call themselves communists. The victims in this power game as not just I or the other hundreds of thousands of wronged persons, but the destiny of our country, for which countless martyrs died, and the sincere, revolutionary aspirations of the early Mao Zedong.

        “If only history had taken a different road, one along which people enjoyed true democracy.  If only people had been allowed to speak their  minds, and the government had put itself under the people’sm supervision.  All this could have been avoided.  At first I did not know what democracy meant.  Life and the fate of our nation taught me its importance, and I felt it was all the more important after I had been abroad.  Citizen should have the right to shout out that the emperor has no clothes on whether they are right or not.  Without democracy there can be no way to approach truth. History without clear conclusions will only repeat its blind and restless past. Only when people are the real masters of their own destiny can they speak, discuss, criticize and select able persons. All this must be practiced, not mere form. Only true democracy can create a stable society. I don’t think this contradicts the principles of socialism. Only anti-socialists are afraid of democracy.  Nowadays some communists are advancing the slogan of “democratic and humane socialism,” showing that they have had their fill of sham socialism and seek a genuine socialism.

       “I am still ignorant about politics and do not wish to digress too far, simple to discuss what has to do with my job and impresses me most strongly.  If my trips abroad can be compared to the Journey to the West of the Tang Dynasty priest Sanzang, whose mission was to bring back Buddhist sutras, then which I am after is the “green sutra”.  I found the chief guarantee of nature protection to be the practice of democracy. Without real democracy there can be no everlasting green hills and clear waters.  I am convinced that nature conservation is a cause for the whole nation.  It won’t do to depend upon a wise emperor or president.  Hundreds of millions of people must realize and show concern for this problem.  When they all dare speak and act, the emperor or president has to do somethings; otherwise he cannot continue in office.  After visiting many countries and observing others’ attitudes, I believe democracy is necessary to the protection of nature.”

    End censored passage.

    On pp. 304  - 314 of A Green World Tour, Tang Xiyang and his wife Marcia Marks visit an Oneida Community at Kenwood in upstate New York since one of Maria’s relatives’s on her father side had been involved in the religious utopian socialist society there.  Marcia had lived there several times.  The Oneida Community was formed by the charismatic leader John H. Noyes.  The community aimed at living in common and eliminating selfishness.

    Tang wrote:

    “Ever since Sir Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516, an ideal society that renounced private property has become the aspiration of many people, especially in the 19th Century, when socialism and communism became fashionable. China’s Kang Youwei expressed similar views in his “Book of Great Harmony”, published in 1913…..

    “One of the guides told me that that the community was founded chiefly upon two elements: First, all members deeply worshipped the leader, as though he were a second Jesus. She added, smiling, “Just the way you worshipped Mao Zedong.”  Second, they practiced mutual criticism and self-criticism.  No selfish motive was permitted..” Tang notes that particular attachments were not allowed and Noyes set up a system in which all people were married to one another but the pairings were strictly controlled by Noyes. The community lasted thirty years.

    Begin censored passage from p. 308

    Tang writes::

    “I am reminded of how powerful a spiritual force can be by the case of Mao Zdong and his “cultural revolution”. What an absurdity!   People all over China gathered in the morning and the evening to pledge their loyalty to the great leader.  Whenever a new directive was issued by Mao night or day, people poured out into the streets to cheer, beating drums and gongs.  Everyone from the premier on down kept a little red book at hand to quote from it for whatever they did.  Mao badges as big as saucers were pinned to naked flesh to show devotion.  Teenagers turned into mobs overnight to beat, loot, destroy and kill.  My first wife died at their hands, beaten by her students.  If Mao had issued a directive to strip and dance in the streets, people would have obeyed. I do not mean to belittle either Mao or Noyes by comparing them;  I merely want to show that just as humans cannot go against natural law, they also cannot go against social law. I also want to make it clear that my comments  on Noyes’s subjectivism don’t mean that the concept of private ownership is to be opposed.”

    End censored passage.

    Tang praised the tolerance of American society that allowed the Oneida experiment to take place.  Tang commented that in their several day’s stay at Mansion House they ate at a common table with other people, buffet style. Tang wrote, “It smacked of the communist “to each according to his needs”  although the Chinese have changed this to “be allocated according to need,” according to the Chinese reality and mentality.  One is at the mercy of the leadership, even under communism!” ….

    Tang continued: "… thus I have experienced two socialistic experiments. One was Marcia’s old home,  which was so thorough as to socialize property and family.  This experiment witnessed no bloodshed, sacrifice of lives, interference from society at large or damage to the greater society.  It was free to pursue its own course. Although it failed, it left a rich heritage, spiritual and physical, which still benefits the descendants.  The other experiment was my home, which was a micro part of the macro experiment that once involved the Soviet Union, eastern European countries and China. It exacted a heavy price. It cause the economy to lag far behind other countries. The lives of numerous Marxists were lost under the accusation of revisionism, including two-thirds of the Central Committee members of the Soviet Communist Party.  China has been saddled with problems of overpopulation, destruction of nature, economic chaos and moral degradation. I can’t say that it has been a failure, but it has not been a success. Fore 58 years, I have had to endure. I feel as if I had been a frog at the bottom of a well. Now I have leaped out and seen the world. The past seems like a bad dream. …. On our return to New York City, we again stayed with Annette Rubinstein, a writer friend of Marcia's. ...A Marxist, she is no longer a member of the Communist Party, but she keeps the faith......As for me, I have lost all interest in politics after all these years of involvement.  Being an intellectual in China is a mixed blessing of experience and suffering.  I am certain of one thing now, however.  Nature has its natural law and society has its social law. If the nature law is destroyed, nature will seek revenge. The same is true of society.

    Censored passage (p. 312):

    … As a scientific study, it was a good thing for Marx to probe the nature of capitalism and where it would lead and to develop the theory of socialism and communism. For Lenin to try to realize this theory in poor and backward Russia was a subjectivistic move. For Stalin and Mao Zedong and their followers to to combine this with feudalism, autocracy and violence was bound to lead history onto a dangerous path.  My friends, relatives, people, country, world and I myself have paid heavily and may possibly still have to pay.  In the course of history this may not be a bad thing.  I have no regrets.  I don’t blame anyone and I don’t curse the past.  Whatever happened, good or bad, success or failure, is human experience, a spiritual wealth.  Although I have suffered, I still aspire to socialism.  Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia, Fourierism, Noyes’ Oneida Community, especially Marxism and socialism in the fifties in China have all held great attraction for me.  I even now retain this ideal. But I want a true socialism that does not contradict social law, not the socialism of Stalin and Mao.  I wanted to discuss this issue of communism with Dr. Rubinstein, to find out if a non-Stalinist, non-Maoist democratic type of communism exists, but the language barrier prevented communication. ...I cannot foretell how society will develop, but I can warn people  never to go against the law, whether social or natural.

    End censored passage.

    When Tang visited the Joshua Tree National Monument 140 miles east of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert,  he was greatly impressed with the struggle of plants and animals  to survive in the desert. His thoughts turned to his own struggle to survive morally and physically after being branded a rightist during the Hundred Flowers  campaign of 1957.

    Begin passage (p. 401):

        “Adversity can temper plants, animals and humans as well. What my past life impressed on me is that adversity is a  furnace, nutrient and catalyst.  I am in no way different from ordinary men.  Perhaps I am even a bit more mediocre than they.  If there is a difference between me and them, it is that I have experienced more frustrations  in life.   Frustration came on June 24, 1957, when I was a provisional Communist Party member,  a Marxist and a leftist out and out.  In the twinkling of an eye, I was declared guilty of being an anti-Party and antisocialist Rightist.  The reason  was that I had written a letter to the editorial committee of Beijing Daily when the Party called on me to air my views freely and fully.  The letter, if read now, is not treasonable, putting forth only a few genuine, frank and constructive suggestions,  and mentioning that the municipal Party committee’s leadership over the paper was ineffective.  Apparently someone asked Liu Ren, the second secretary of the municipal Party Committee, for instructions and his ambiguous, “Making suggestions to the Municipal Party Committee is a political problerm” and settled my fate.  I was then very young, crystal pure, with a boundless loyalty to the Communist Party and communism and unable to understand such a social phenomenon.  I felt terribly wronged, wept bitterly, but finally decided it was reasonable for the Party to thus brand me.  I examined my mistakes thoroughly, hoping the Party would forgive me, but not of some political need the Party did not forgive, but instead took severest disciplinary actions against me: pinned a Rightist label on me, dismissed me from all my posts, and reduced my salary by three grades.  Later Liu Shaoqi (state chairman before the “Cultural Revolution”) issued a theory that Communist Party members were useful tools.   Only then did I realize that I was not a useful tool.  I tried hard to transform myself through labor and be meeting all kinds of tests.   The goal I set for myself was ‘one model and two stages’.  The “one model” was to make myself a model communist, and the ‘two stages’ were my return to the people’s ranks, followed by a return to the Party’s ranks.   But I have never returned to the Party’s ranks.  I underwent a thirty-year process of cognition and historical change.  The result is that the Party does not need me, nor am I willing to return to its ranks, although I still believe that public ownership throughout society is a beautiful future for mankind.  The process of cognition is long, tortuous and bloody, in which the mind and soul are refined.  It can’t be expressed clearly in a few words.

       “During this process, I paid a high price. I lost my personality, my human feelings, my job, my wife, and the most precious twenty and more years of my life, but I also gained a lot.  Most important is that I have learned how to suffer.  By bearing hardship I  learned about many things – people, society, nature and history.  ‘Only by enduring untold suffering can one become somebody.’   I still remember when I was assigned to the Lugu Production Brigade to be reformed theough labor at a place on Beijing’s outskirts near Mount Babao.  The mountain’s name comes from its having eight (ba) kindsof economically valuable stone and earth (bao, ‘treasure’).  I first labored with some young peasants, carrying stones on my shoulders.  We broke up rocks with hammers, drill rods, and black dynamite, then put the rocks in baskets. My task was simple:  to put a felt pad around my neck and squat down while two peasants lifed a basket and placed it on the felt pad. Then I carried one basket after another from the bottom of the pit to the earth’s surface. …..   Mencius, one of the main successors to Confucius, said, “Heaven intends first to temper your will and body in difficulties so that you can enhance your ability for the great mission with which it entrusts you. ‘

    End censored passage.

    Near the end of the book, Tang writes about a conversation at supper during his last night of his visit to the United States.

           “Mari first asked how how we (Tang and his wife Marcia Marks) had got acquainted with one another.  I told her about our meeting in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan Province, where Marcia had gone to see birds and I to observe elephants in the wild.  “Later on I wrote a book, she helped me to find a publisher and polished the English translation.  After that we visited a number of nature reserves in China and noew we’re visiting reserves and parks in various countries, preparing  to write a book together.”

       “Mari’s second question was: “How is it you love nature?”

         “I repeated what I had said at Sally’s home, mentioning the anti-Rightist campaign and the “cultural revolution”, since it was those political struggles that had driven me out of society and forced me into nature.

          “Mari persisted: “Why did China have a ‘cultural revolution’?”

          “I replied, “It was indeed a rare phenomenon, something unique in the world., but that it happened was by no means fortuitous.  Its embryo was buried deep in China’s thousands of years of history as well as in its more modern history.  It’s unfair to blame Mao Zedong alone, but he must assume great responsibility. “

           Begin censored section (p. 408):

         “What was the people’s greatest agony during the ‘cultural revolution’?

        “No freedom to commit suicide.”

         “ My listeners looked shocked, so I tried to explain, “Intellectuals have strong self-respect, so to avoid suffering, they felt the best thing to do was to take one’s own life.  Even some very famous people chose this out: the editor-in-chief of People’s Daily, Deng Tuo, the writer Lao She,  the Peking Opera performer Ma Lianliang, the world champion Ping-Pong player Yong Guotan, the renowned Ping-Pong coach Fu Qifang and many others.   The authorities, however, decided such a great number of suicides were giving a bad impression, so they began to take measures to prevent suicide.  They started with what were called negative methods, taking away anything that might be used such as knives, scissors,  light cords.   Where I was interned, nothing of metal remained.  They also took the latches off the toilet doors and always had someone accompany us to the toilet.  Still people found means. They hid razor blades and used them to slit their throats; they opened the vein in their wrist at night with their own fingers to let the blood out.; an animal expert who had a hypodermic syringe he had been using on his animals injected air into his bloodstream.  One night I heard Liu Qin, associate editor of Beijing Daily, in the room next to mine crying out as he was beaten.  The next day he asked the guard to give him some sneaker since he wanted to exercise; that night he used the shoestrings to hang himself.   Since these negaive measures weren’t working, the authorities tried what were termed positive methods: If someone attempted suicide but failed – such as jumping off a high building, but not killing oneself – both he and his family would be maltreated.  For instance, if he were badly injured in the fall or paralyzed, he would not be given medical treatment.  A high official,  Luo Ruiqiang, jumped from a high window, but didn’t die.  Since he was unable to move, he was stuffed into a shoulder-pole basket and taken to a meeting to be criticized.  Another suicide died, but he was stripped of his clothes and hung with a placard saying, ‘Counterrevolutionary death.’  His family was also labeled counterrevolutionary. It’s perhaps hard for foreigners to realize the severity of this. It wasjust as if the label had been printed on his face for all to see. In China, it was a very powerful method, like Hawthorne’s scarlet letter.  Since people were not willing to have their families suffer, they refrained from committing suicide.  However, a university professor who didn’t want his family to suffer, chose instead to burn down his house with all his family inside.  An Army officer used dynamite to blow up his entire family. “

       “These were all ‘cultural revolution’ matters.  My thoughts then turned to the earlier anti-Rightist campaign and I told me listeners about that too.  “In June 1957 the staff of the Beijing Daily was called to the fourth-floor auditorium to attend a general meeting criticizing Liu Binyan, then with China Youth News.   A colleague of his, Qi Xueyi, opposed the meeting, so to show his support for Liu, he jumped from the auditorium window into the hutong below and was killed.

        “Since I had already been labeled a Rightist, I was not allowed to attend this meeting, but my wife, Zhen Zhaonan, who also at that time worked for Beijing Daily, did attend.  Like everyone else, she looked out the window where Qi had jumped, and perhaps thinking of me and our situation, stayed there for a long moment.  This was noticed and reported to the newspaper’s leaders, who immediately called another meeting, at which Qi was first criticized.  His deed was called counterrevolutionary; he had substituted for a Rightist; it was a bad act to try to stop the meeting;  if he could kill himself, he could kill anyone, so he was the worst kind of class enemy.  Then Zhen was criticized for feeling sorry for him;  she wasthe same sort of ‘raccoon dog’, the epigram about the fox that was sorry after the rabbit died because now it had nothing to eat was used to describe her;  she was criticized for even thinking about her husband.

        “That night Zhen cried bitterly and said that she was afraid.  It would never have occurred to me that ten years later it would be she who was killed and not I.  She was only one of many.  The statistics were later printed in a book.:  In Beijing, between August 19 and September 30, 1966, over 1,700 people were killed; 33,600 houses were seaerched and the residents’ property was confiscated; 85,000 people belonging to  ‘bad’ categories were exiled to distant parts of the country.  My wife was killed during those forty days too. Human nature, human sympathy, human rights, human dignity, human value – the most essential human qualities – were all suppressed during the ‘cultural revolution’.  It was the twentieth century’s greatest world tragedy. I have tried to forget but I cannot.

       “Did you think of committing suicide, especially after your wife was killed?”

    “ How could I?  I had two daughters, the elder one twelve years old, the younger one only six. How could they bear losing their father just after losing their mother?  Yes, if it hadn’t been for them, I would have committed suicide ten times over. “

    “You were imprisoned, weren’t you?”

       “Yes, but in the beginning I was permitted to go home at night.  I had to write out my ‘confessions’ under ten at night and be out sweeping the streets by five in the morning, so it was about ten-thirty when I got home and only 4:30 when I left.  The children had already fallen asleep when I arrived and had not yet awakened when I left, so my eldest daughter and I had to write notes to each other in a diary. I told them to diligently study Chairman Mao’s quotations, to struggle against selfish motives, to criticize revisionism, and to save their small change and to keep on good terms with the neighbor’s children.  When my house was later searched  and all my possessions seized and broken, only the diary survived, which I now keep as a treasured document. “

    End of censored section.