I happened to see the book “My Life File: The Memoirs of Jia Shifang” in a bookstore, and after flipping through the catalog, I bought it without hesitation. The reason could not be simpler: the author, Jia Shifang, had a “one-sided relationship” with me, and in the book, in the series “My Three Friends and Five Friends”, there are two faculty members whom I knew well, one is Professor Wang Zhong, the head of my department when I was an undergraduate and graduate student; the other is Professor Pan Shizi, who, although he was also at Fudan University, never taught me, but had several years of experience. The other is Professor Pan Shizi, who also taught me at Fudan University, but with whom I had a few years of interaction. Even to see how Mr. Jia wrote about those two former scholars, whom I still knew, was enough to stimulate my urge to buy the book.
The “meeting” with Mr. Jia was actually a chance encounter. I remember that in the summer of 1986, I was teaching at the School of Journalism of the university, and one day I went to the staff cafeteria across the street from the school gate for lunch. A female colleague who was walking with me gently said “Jia Shifang” and went up to greet him. The old man stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes. The female colleague introduced me to him: “A young teacher from the department. By the way, he is also from Shanxi, and you are from the same country.” I respectfully addressed “Mr. Jia” and didn’t say another word. I don’t know if it was the accent or the appearance, but he concluded that I hadn’t lived in Shanxi and said with a smile in a strong hometown accent, “You are a Jin-Hu person, and I am a Jin-Hu person.” I heard that the old man is worthy of the jianghu to break through, really smart, a sentence to point out the similarities and differences between me and him in the sense of place of origin. The memory of the old man’s silence was still fresh in my mind after more than twenty years.
Jia Shifang was seventy years old at that time, the time of his life when “the sunset is infinite”. His name was known for more than ten years from the mid-1950s because of the charge of being a “cadre member of Hu Feng counter-revolutionary group”, and he was known at least in various faculties of humanities and social sciences. He studied sociology in Japan in his early years, and returned to China in 1937 when he heard about the Lugouqiao Incident. He always pursued progress and aspired to revolution, and paid an extremely heavy price for it! He was imprisoned three times in his life, and the time after liberation was the longest, not counting the days of supervised labor after his release from prison. Therefore, in this autobiographical memoir, he describes the special years he experienced as a “human being” turned into a “ghost”. In other words, he was deprived of his rights as a citizen and was put in the “other book.
But who would have thought that Jia Shifang would be different from Pan Shizi, a professor at the same university, who also became a “ghost”? In the article “My successor – Mr. Pan Shizi” in the book, Jia Shifang recounted a conversation with Pan Shizi during his control at the school printing plant.
At one point, he told me, “Your situation is different from mine; you are a Communist propagandist, and I am a foreign slave buyer and an imperialist lackey.” I immediately protested, “Don’t be ridiculous, I am just a writer, not a propagandist of the Communist Party.” Mr. Pan knew about me and my status as a progressive professor. I joined the Chinese Department of AURORA as a professor and became the head of the department as soon as I went there, with the implication of occupying a “capitalist academic position”. I also knew that people like Mr. Pan were prejudiced against left-wing writers and regarded them as “propagandists” rather than writers. When he heard my plea, he smiled and said, “What writers, just Communist Party propagandists.” He still insisted on his point of view.
This passage portrays the different positions of these two scholars in the same situation, both in terms of self-awareness and mutual awareness. I met Mr. Pan Shizi in the mid-1980s when he retired from his home, and was entrusted to receive his monthly salary. He was born in Shanghai to a family of senior Chinese helpers from the Bureau of Public Works, and received a master’s degree in history from Cambridge University in England. Before liberation, he was only associated with the British and American countries in terms of education and professional experience, but not with the Communist Party and the left-wing cultural movement under its leadership, and thus he was affected by the criticism of British and American bourgeois ideas at the beginning of the founding of the country. “During the Cultural Revolution, he was falsely accused of wanting to establish the Chinese Socialist Party with Wang Zuoshi and Sun Dayu, and was labeled an “active counter-revolutionary” and sentenced to seven years in prison. He had no similarity with Jia Shifang, not only in terms of educational background and professional experience, but also in terms of ideological beliefs and academic aspirations. Even though he was also a “difficult friend”, he was quite self-aware of his status as a “foreign slave and buyer” and a “lackey of imperialism”, and confirmed that he was at the lowest level of the social stratum and was “ashamed of himself”. He confirms that he is at the lowest level of the social class, and speaks in a tone of “ashamed of himself” about the differences between him and Jia Shifang. Indeed, if it were not for the fact that they were both listed in the “other register” and sent to a place of supervised labor during the “Cultural Revolution”, the two of them would probably not have interacted with each other, let alone talked to each other.
Although Jia Shifang was regarded as a “Communist Party propagandist” by Pan Shizi, who also identified himself as a “left-wing writer” and a “progressive professor,” it is absolutely surprising that in the case of another member of the “other register,” he was not a member of the “other register. However, it is absolutely surprising that in the eyes of Professor Wang Zhong, another member of the “other book”, he was positioned in a very different way! In the article “Remembering Wang Zhong”, Jia Shifang describes his personal feelings about his contact with Wang Zhong.
In the cadre school, his status was different from ours: he was a revolutionary cadre, and although he was classified as a rightist, he belonged to the corrected category; my status was that of a “target of dictatorship”, a “counter-revolutionary” who was “in conflict with the enemy”. “…… Even though he had been knocked to the ground during the Cultural Revolution, he still looked at people from the viewpoint of revolutionary cadres, thinking that they were rightists because of their own internal conflicts, which were different from ours, and that we were engaged in “counter-revolutionary” activities. We were engaged in “counter-revolution” and thought that “our Party” would not wrong good people. If you want to say wronged, only Deng Tuo and these people are wronged. And you intellectuals, there are all kinds of people, how can the Party get it wrong? In the end, he was still a very orthodox party member and had a very strong sense of superiority.
These words are written about Jia Shifang’s inner feelings, while he is engaged in literary creation and criticism, and should be more sensitive in human relations. As I remembered from my undergraduate and graduate studies, Wang Zhong was indeed not quite like the common scholars, with a distinctly official, unruffled air in his speech and demeanor. It is not surprising that although he enrolled in the Department of Foreign Languages at Shandong University in the mid-1930s, his main focus was on the student patriotic movement; after the outbreak of the war, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and later engaged in military and journalistic work for a long time; in May 1949, he entered Shanghai with the Liberation Army and served as the military representative of the Press Office of the Municipal Military Administration, participating in the takeover of news organizations; in 1950, he was transferred to Fudan University, where he served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Party Committee, Minister of United Front, and Vice Provost. In 1950, he was transferred to Fudan University, where he served as the Standing Committee Member of the Party Committee, Minister of United Front Work, Vice Provost, and Head of the Department of Journalism until he was labeled a “rightist” in mid-1957 for “promoting bourgeois journalistic views”. With his revolutionary qualifications, high cadre rank and the various positions he held, especially the position of Minister of United Front Work, he was undoubtedly sent to occupy “capitalist academic positions”, which inevitably gave him a strong sense of political superiority. However, when he himself was reduced to a “ghost”, he still showed such superiority to other “ghosts”, which can only be regarded as the result of his temperament and habit. However, Jia Shifang also wrote in his article, “Until after his reversion, he was still distant from us in spirit and felt that we were still ‘counter-revolutionaries’ in spirit.” This sentence, when Mr. Jia’s personal feelings are unique, without any evidence of Wang Zhong’s words and deeds, makes me read it with some doubts: Wang Zhong should not be so stubborn! As far as I remember, he was not only bold and forward-looking in his academic views on journalism, but also very open-minded and liberal in his ordinary talk. Perhaps because of their different experiences and identities, he and Mr. Jia did not necessarily share the same views on certain issues, but how could they continue to regard the latter as “counter-revolutionary” “in spirit”? The accuracy of this recollection, I think, is doubtful.
After the middle of the last century, a famous saying began to circulate: “Except for the desert, wherever there are people, there are left, center and right, and this will be the case 10,000 years from now.” In the waves of political movements, Jia Shifang, Pan Shizi and Wang Zhong, like many old scholars, were generally categorized as “right”, and there was no difference in their political status, only in the size of their crimes. However, seeing that despite their miserable situation in the “other book,” they each had a “different” position in their hearts for each other, and could be classified into three, six, and nine categories, this could not but make people horrified and sad!
Under the political fog of class struggle, we first fought the “bourgeois intellectuals”, then the revolutionary “fellow travelers”, and then the “capitalists” in the Party, and so on and so forth. The net was getting smaller and smaller, and no one could escape the fate of falling into the net, because after all, there was a difference between before and after, and there were also differences in their original origins and experiences, which brought different psychological influences and positioning grounds to the people in the “other book”. Obviously, it is not their own new inventions and creations on social hierarchy, but the political stratification caused by the constant, repeated and escalating “tossing” of this society, which wedged in a horribly “precise” and absurd political positioning relationship between them.
If I did not know Wang Zhong and Pan Shizi better, I believe it would be difficult for me to decipher the above-mentioned text of Jia Shifang’s memoirs, and I can also assert that the next generation and the next generation of readers will not be able to understand the meaning and context of these words. Among them, Mr. Jia was the first to suffer and suffered the most, but he lived the longest, enjoying a long period of suffering and sweetness in his later years. I think: after ascending to heaven, there will be no political movements, everyone will be equal, and there will be no more tangible or intangible distinction between each other, except for the first to arrive.
(From “In and Out of Books” by He Yueming, Heilongjiang Education Press, 2011-5-1)