Communist Labor University

The Communist University of Labor (1958-1969) shone brightly with the movement to the countryside in those days and became a red sky, rising up in the deep forests of the old revolutionary Jiangxi Province, surviving for only ten years. The merits and demerits will be judged by future generations.

It once flourished for a while, and then disappeared. As a witness, my youthful years, disappeared in the digging of the mountain, cutting bamboo and logging the unbearable weight, sharpening, a lifelong mark engraved in the bones. Philosophers say: the thoroughness of Life is equal to the depth of suffering.


In the summer of 1964, when my father was expelled from public service because of his rightist tendencies and my Family was in a state of gloom, I graduated from junior high school. Because of my origins, high school was out of my reach. “Dragons give birth to dragons, phoenixes give birth to phoenixes, and mice give birth to children who make holes in the ground”! No qualifications for further Education, high school only belongs to the red five.

In mid-August, I received a letter of admission to the Communist University of Labor in Shangzhu Shan. I looked at my mother in dismay, confused and frightened, doubtful and uncertain. What kind of school was it? I hadn’t seen this school during the entrance examination. What did it study? What will it do in the future? Besides, I graduated from junior high school, how come I received a college notice? After all, people are slaves to their fate, so what else can they do but obey?

School started on September 1. The school gathered all the recruited students in one place. At nine o’clock in the morning, a big van arrived. We were guided by the principal, who was dressed in a blue cloth coat, to climb into the van. My mother had told me that the principal, who was a carpenter and later our deputy governor, had somehow become the vice-president of this communist labor university, which was said to be subordinate to the local level. The rector had a frosty face and a simple body. He was a far cry from the university president, who people felt and remembered as a Confucian, elegant man with crystal glasses.

My luggage was a straw mat rolled up in a quilt, wrapped in a few changes of clothes into a small bag, and my classmates, like me, had simple luggage. I silently surveyed, found that I was one of the few town classmates, look around, most of them are rural students, they have dark faces, more worn clothes, and a few look particularly old, apparently and our freshman junior high school age is very different.

The big truck started, we crowded like a group of pigs and sheep in the front section of the car, the back third of the car is loaded with all our luggage. I left Home for the first Time, tears gushing down my face. The first time I left home, tears gushed down my face. The car rolled with the dust and flew all the way. Gradually, the crowds thin out and we enter a no-man’s land. The car carried us from the street into the sparsely populated mountain roads. We were the only car on the road into the mountains, crawling alone. The higher we went, the higher the mountain, the steeper the steeper the mountain, the darker the sky.

I stretched my neck to look into the valley, could not help but suck in a breath of cold air, a side of students grabbed me by the back of the lapel, said, you must not owe this, in case the car stumbled, you were thrown out of the car, fell into the abyss, that will become the meat paste.

A student asked quietly, “What kind of school is this, why is it run in such a deep forest?”

At 5 p.m., it was twilight. The car finally stopped at a large mountain enclosed ravine, ending nearly 8 hours of thrilling bumps, the wheels raised the dust will be all over our bodies, all smeared with a layer of gray and yellow. All of us had dirty heads and faces, as if we had just climbed out of the mud kiln masons.

There are several straw houses along the road, and behind the straw houses there are several bungalows of green bricks and red tiles. There was no fence, and no school gate. Someone took us into the bungalows, and I found one of the dormitories with my name on it, which had been set up with five wooden beds with bunk beds and bamboo sheets.

September 5, 1964 was the first day of my nearly five-year-long career at the Communist University of Labor, Shangzhu Shan, and I was 16 years old.

Eight brick houses were arranged on two sides, with a sandstone passage in the middle, and a two-story school building was visible across the sandstone road. It is said that this two-story building was built this year especially for our class to break through the previous enrollment. The teacher told us that the school consisted of a main school and a branch school. The main school was run by the provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Reclamation Office, which was a college; the branch school was run by the Agriculture, Forestry and Reclamation Office, which was a secondary school.

We were the middle school, the class teacher surnamed Meng, his face dark, wearing a gray gray Zhongshan suit, he wore a pair of old cloth shoes barefoot, trouser leg one long and one short, neither like intellectuals nor peasants. Between the two, this is the image of the devolved cadres at that time, right?

In the first lesson of the school year, a female teacher with short haircut came to teach the school song. Her song was loud and clear, and she sang with great passion: “Labor is good, study is good, our labor university is really good. Learn to be brave, learn to work hard, learn to create a happy life. Learn to do the revolution in a practical way, learn to work with the working people. Good steel must be refined by a thousand hammers, and real Gold is not afraid of the fire. With great energy and enthusiasm, come to a great socialist transformation. Exercise! Exercise! Exercise again! Our Labor University is really good!”

The female teacher said that the lyrics were written by Xi Yang, who wrote the song “Socialism is good”. The Music is composed by the famous musician Li Qun. Later I learned that the song “Jasmine Flower” was his work. The school song from a famous master elevated our sense of sublimity.

In the second class, the class teacher, who had a high pant leg and a low pant leg, came in and looked at us, admonishing us over and over again that the “Communist Labor University” was a revolutionary melting pot, training “red and specialized” successors to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat. You need to be strong-willed, sharpened and exercised, just as our school song says. The more the teacher said, the blanker my mind became. I had already heard that our four years of study were mainly about cutting wood and felling trees.

It is said that after four years, we will be assigned to work. This promised “iron rice bowl” became the only goal that people pursued despite all odds.

I wondered if there was any other university in the world that had a gate made of bamboo, and I wondered if there was any other university in the world that had a gate made of bamboo. It gave the impression of a haphazard creation, like the steel-making furnace built of mud and stones that stood in the streets overnight during the Great Leap Forward.

According to the regulations, we had four years of schooling, with 80% of labor time and 20% of class time in the first semester, and so on, and in the last year, 50% of labor and 50% of class time each, labor was our main course. The first lesson of our freshmen labor was to go up to the mountain to dig terraces for reforestation. The mountain was not far from the school. At six o’clock in the morning, the school blew the horn and students had to get up, wash up, eat, and line up to leave at seven o’clock sharp, and the school was under military control.

No books were issued, the school gave each person a machete, and prepared the digging of the mountain common hoe, spade. The leader of the team is the class teacher, his surname is Zhang Zigao. Under the guidance of students who had cut firewood in rural areas, we tied a hemp rope at the waist, and then inserted the machete into the back of the hemp rope, free hands to carry the hoe, carry the iron grip. The school also gave each person two pairs of straw sandals.


Every day, we were covered in sweat and dirt. Several days passed, my hands were full of blood blisters; the blood blisters soon formed thick scabs. The worst thing was that my arms were swollen from the armpits of my wrists to my back. Every night when I lay in bed, it stung. The daytime tears in the eyes, in the nest and in the dark, it is like a river that breaks the bank, out of the sockets, all the way to the lips ……..

I found that some boys finished eating the bowl of rice, licking their lips, their eyes still unfulfilled. Some girls excuse that they can’t eat, will be rice steak to the boys. I also pretended that I could not eat, set aside a piece of lunch and gave it to the boys with greater needs.

In the cold wind, the whole four and a half months of digging, my palms have hardened like scabs, and my knuckles have become thick and hard. The blood blisters on the back of my ankles from the straw sandals have long since worn into calluses, like nails. Frostbite grows on the cheeks and loses its sensation like a callus. The faces of my female classmates of the same age were mostly purple and black, like hanging rags.

That day, not long after the dry, suddenly the wind and rain wild, everyone was drenched into the Soup chicken. We huddled behind a large stone, the wind and rain, cold and wet. Gradually, the wind stopped, and the rain also lessened. The students picked up their tools again and went back to digging the ladder belt. Someone said, “Hurry up and dig, let your body sweat. Everyone swung their picks and hoes, ignoring the wet clothes on their bodies. But the rain is particularly sticky mud, not easy to dig, the worse the digging, the more effort. Finally in the afternoon to close, we are tired and tired, but a touch of the clothes on the body, without the sun and do not need to bake, it is in our digging mountain labor, with our body heat baked dry.

As night fell, we all went to bed after a long day of work. I couldn’t sleep and found myself with a fever, a little while the cold wave steeped up, so cold I cowered; a little while, the heat wave came like a tidal wave, and I wanted to kick off all the clothes on my body. When I think of the devilish labor that greatly exceeded my physical ability in the past three months or so, it was like falling into an infinite abyss, making me shiver.

Within a few days of digging the mountain, some students quit school, saying that instead of digging the mountain and doing physical work in such a place day in and day out, they should go home and earn work. It’s not as hard as earning wages!

In 1959, my father, in a county-wide accounting course he hosted, made an analogy that a pig, with only six teats, gave birth to eight piglets, and the milk was not enough for the piglets to grab. This was falsely accused of insinuating the Great Leap Forward, and he was classified as right-leaning, expelled from public office and sent to labor. This is the problem of my origin.

My father was dismissed from public service, my brother’s school was disbanded, and the changes in my family became a tumor rooted in the heart of the whole family, bleeding and bleeding at times.

When the four and a half months of mountain digging finally came to an end, the teacher named the positive performers and said, “Chairman Mao said, “You can’t help yourself, but you can choose your own path, so students from bad backgrounds should not be afraid of hardships and tiring, and train themselves to become a member of the workforce. When I looked up and met the teacher’s eyes, I was slapped in the face.

Before the holidays, the school gave us 3 yuan/month as pocket money for our work. In addition to the necessary soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and so on. At the end of the semester, I still had 5 yuan left. Many students did not want to spend money on bus tickets, so they hiked home overnight after the holidays. I decided to walk twenty miles to a parking spot outside the mountain to buy a ticket for a two yuan bus ride home.


The new semester started, and some more students dropped out of school, and the vast majority returned to school on the designated day. Later, the teacher said in the class meeting that the few students who did not come had been deserters. The beginning of the school year is the labor, this labor is picking tea. Tea has a strong seasonal nature, between the Qingming and the rainy season is the best time to pick tea. The school required us to complete the picking task during this period.

With tea baskets on our shoulders, we went up to the mountains to pick tea leaves. In order to catch up with the task, we hung the basket on our chests. One hand to grab the branch, the other hand will be a whole branch of tea leaves stroked to the end, like hemp weavers stroking hemp, regardless of the size of the tender, a brain into the basket. Tea trees mostly grow in the back of the shady mountainside and the foot of the mountain. In those days, not only tea suffered from predatory harvesting, later, we cut bamboo, logging is not so! Patches of moso bamboo forest, patches of virgin forest, as well as being shaved.

Picking tea lurks in great danger, the most terrible is the snake attack. One day, a girl in reaching out to pick tea leaves, fingers touched the snake body, a large green snake indignantly leap, from the tea tree coiled swimming and down. The girl was too late to escape, her left toe was bitten hard by the snake.

Just hear the “ah” a scream, the students swarmed, she was carried down the hill in time. Fortunately, snake bites happen to us all the time, and the school doctor had snake Medicine to control the toxicity and send her to the hospital. Fortunately, the girl saved her life, but her left toe was so deeply poisoned that it looked like burnt charcoal, and a toe was poorly amputated.

I have also had many close encounters with snakes, and the cold skin makes me shudder like an electric shock. In addition to life-threatening snakes, is the abominable flying mosquitoes – mosquitoes. They flock together, flying around the air, the sharp beak deep into the human skin, sucking enough blood, leaving a piece of uncomfortable scratching. In addition to snakes, flying mosquitoes, the most uncomfortable is that the spring rain, we are soaked, all over the body dry wet, wet dry is our daily routine, unbearable.

Tea picking is completed, no rest, followed by a new round of labor – cutting moso bamboo. At the end of the first academic year, we were already senior students, meaning that we had experienced a year of exercise and could withstand heavier labor. After a whole year of uninterrupted heavy labor, we completely forgot our status as students and became a group of young foresters. The moso bamboo cutting was farther away in the mountains, nearly seventy miles from the school. It was then that I realized that my classmates were of different ages and had different levels of education. Most of those who had finished high school were rural children, eager to “jump the carp to the farm”; most of the recent junior high school graduates of urban origin, I guess, were similar to me.

Walking in the mountains, with patches on their clothes and pants, at first glance, this group of young people going into the mountains must have mistaken us for prisoners of torture. At the end of the 70-mile mountain road, it was already sunset, and we finally arrived at the “Tongmuguan” labor base. On that side was Fujian and on this side was Jiangxi.

Twelve girls lived in the bamboo building, and thirty boys lived below, where the stench of cow and sheep shit mixed with nasal cavity. The straw was laid on the floor, and the straw mat was our bed.

The next morning, just after dawn, out of the work horn blowing.

The squad leader was the strongest and the sharpest knife, and under his leadership, dozens of students swung their arms and waved their knives, only to hear a crackling sound, just like the sound of firecrackers exploding in the mountains in the New Year. Dozens and hundreds of thousands of moso bamboo should fall down. I raised my sharpened machete high in the air and cut down hard. Unexpectedly, from the part I cut open with a loud crack about ten feet away, a top quality moso bamboo split in two, hanging high in the air, the knife is split at the mouth, upward high up, I was dumbfounded. The group leader came to hear, he came from the countryside, from childhood firewood cutting, said: “lucky not to pick you, it is very dangerous, the warped bamboo slice to the body or face like a blade, face broken like not to say, hurt the eyes on a lifelong disability”. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak, and I was so scared that I was in a cold sweat.

At the age of 17, we all wore straw shoes on our feet and tattered clothes in the deep forests, doing the manual work of lumberjacks, sweat soaked through our lapels.


When the month and a half of logging finally ended, it was midwinter, rainy and cold, and our hands and faces were blown open with a thin furrow-like crack, and when we touched them, blood seeped out from them, and the frostbite on our faces formed hard scabs.

It was rainy in the mountains. Because we do not have extra clothes to change, when we go out to work, we can only continue to wear the wet clothes of the first day outside, the cold wind blowing, straight through the heart and bones. Especially the toes, who did not bother to wear shoes on the mountain, barefoot wearing straw shoes, although the labor cutting sweat, but the feet are still frozen general, cold numb without feeling.

From the hillside where the moso bamboo was cut to the foot of the nearest road, it was 15 miles of rugged mountain road with a cliff in the middle. We will be four or six moso bamboo with hemp rope tied into two bundles, hemp rope hanging in the head and neck to pull, a few hundred pounds! Hanging on the neck of the rope deep gouge into the flesh of the neck, bear the pain, negative weight, hunched back, pulling the moso bamboo down the mountain.

Stumbling and falling, I dragged the last four moso bamboo on my head and neck, walked through a narrow mountain road, came to the piece of cliff trenches in front of the wooden bridge. Exhausted, I don’t know what a trip, a stumble, my body together with the dragging moso bamboo behind me, a brain like a Mercedes train suddenly derailed, fell headlong down the cliff.

Four moso bamboo across the trees, my entire body with the force of this span half hanging in the mountainside, face by the tree branches rubbed skin, calf by a sharp stone stabbed, rubbing a large piece of skin, crimson blood, from the skin split gurgling out. The shirt and pants were torn by the branches, like a torn flag, hanging, hanging.

Hearing the tragic screams, the students behind them dropped the moso bamboo on their shoulders and hurriedly came. They cut the branches with their hands and feet and dragged me onto the wooden bridge, leaving a deep strangulation mark on my neck. If not rescued in time, the rope will also make me suffocate to death.

I opened my mouth and bawled as if I had escaped from the underworld to a small life.

Near the end of the year, we barely turned a page in the book, let alone the teacher’s class.

When I returned home for New Year’s Eve, I carefully took out the ten yuan I had saved for the semester, three yuan for the trip home, and seven yuan left. I wrapped it in a handkerchief and tucked it into my underwear pocket. When I got home, I precious pulled out the handkerchief wrapped seven yuan from my underwear pocket and opened it layer by layer to reveal two 2 yuan and three one yuan seven yuan, and gave it to my mother.