Lu Dingyi on the Hundred Flowers movement (1956)

In May 1956 Lu Dingyi, a propaganda director of the Chinese Communist Party, delivered the following speech, echoing Mao Zedong‘s call for the blooming of a ‘Hundred Flowers‘:

“…To artists and writers, we say, ‘Let flowers of many kinds blossom.” To scientists, we say, “Let diverse schools of thought contend’. This is the policy of the Chinese Communist Party. It was announced by Chairman Mao Zedong at the Supreme State Conference…

If we want our country to be prosperous and strong we must, besides consolidating the people’s state power, developing our economy and education and strengthening our national defence, have a flourishing art, literature and science. That is essential.

If we want art, literature and science to flourish, we must apply a policy of letting flowers of many kinds blossom, letting diverse schools of thought contend… ‘Letting flowers of many kinds blossom, diverse schools of thought contend’ means that we stand for freedom of independent thinking, of debate, of creative work; freedom to criticise and freedom to express, maintain and reserve one’s opinions on questions of art, literature or scientific research.

The freedom we uphold is not the same as that based on the type of democracy advocated by the bourgeoisie. The freedom advocated by the bourgeoisie really means freedom for only a minority, with little or no freedom for the working people.

‘Let flowers of many kinds blossom, diverse schools of thought contend’, that means freedom among the people. And we urge that as the people’s political power becomes progressively consolidated, such freedom should be given ever fuller scope.

Among the people, there are points of agreement and points of difference. Our country has a constitution and it is a public duty to abide by it… this is an agreement among the people.”