Liang Shiqiu: 3 Reasons for Rejecting the Communist Party’s Ideology

Liang Shiqiu with his wife Cheng Jishu.

Liang Shiqiu with his wife, Cheng Jishu. (Image: Public Domain)

During the 1920s and 1930s, the propaganda of communism that the Communist Party spread became quite popular among young intellectuals; equally, many people were confused. However, unlike others in his age group, Liang Shiqiu had understood the Communist Party since his early youth.

At 14, Liang Shiqiu was admitted to the Tsinghua Academy. He graduated in August 1923 and left to further his studies in the United States. Upon receiving his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Colorado, Liang Shiqiu entered Harvard University’s Graduate School. Three years later, he returned to China and got married. During this time, he taught in Shanghai and Qingdao before being invited by Hu Shih to teach at Peking University.

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Within the first year of returning to China, Liang Shiqiu published his first book, The Romantic and the Classical. He entered this stage of history as a young professor and a literary critic, becoming an essential member of the Chinese liberal intellectuals.

Following this, Liang Shiqiu published an article titled Why I Disapprove of the Communist Party. He specifically discussed his views on the Communist Party, clearly stating: “I have always disapproved of the Communist Party and communism.”

Liang Shiqiu published an article titled Why I Disapprove of the Communist Party.
Liang Shiqiu published an article titled ‘Why I Disapprove of the Communist Party.’ (Image: via Pixabay)

3 reasons Liang Shiuqiu disapproved of the Communist Party and communism

1. The Communist Party believes in the class struggle, which is in defiance of the national spirit

Liang Shiqiu said: “The theory of the Communist Party attaches importance to class but not nationality. Their revolutionary strategy was to unite the world’s proletariat to overthrow the bourgeoisie. The Chinese Communist Party was not a mere revolutionary party within China; it was under the orders of the Third International — a part of the world revolution which promotes class struggle.”

2. The Communist Party’s hatred of private assets

Liang Shiqiu said: “I am neither a capitalist nor depend on capitalists for my livelihood. I hate the exploitation of people by capitalists and landlords in general, but I still support the system of private property. I believe the system of private property should not be abolished, but the number of properties owned should be restricted, and people with low incomes should be given some relief. What people want is fairness, not equality. What the Communist Party advocates is taking revenge and creating fear; qualities I’m afraid I have to disagree with.”

3. The Communist Party is anti-democracy

According to Liang Shiqiu, the Communist Party advocates one-party dictatorship as its political ideal. Thus, it is very fixed on rejecting any dissent from others with differing views and ideologies. Such an intolerant attitude was contrary to the standards of democracy.

In Liang Shiqiu’s view, constitutional democracy may not be the most efficient political system. Still, the spirit of democracy entails obedience to the majority vote and opinion, respect for minority rights, maximum individual freedom, and a culture of open discussion. This is indispensable for any country. Only in a democratic country can personal freedom be found.

For thousands of years, humanity has wisely fought and paid a great price to uphold the spirit of democracy, and any anti-democratic posture would be its reversal. Naturally, therefore, he stood for democracy and opposed the one-party dictatorship of the Communist Party.

Liang Shiqiu elaborated: “The most unjust thing in politics is a one-party dictatorship. As a one-party dictatorship, the XX Party has the freedom to propagate and require its members to believe in the Party unconditionally. It cannot, however, force everyone outside the Party to accept it.

According to Liang Shiqiu, the Communist Party advocates one-party dictatorship as its political ideal. (Image: via Pixabay)

“Therefore, it is not a crime to join the Communist Party, nor is it a crime to believe in communism, nor is it a crime to organize Communist groups and propagate communist dogma. However, when a communist believer violently disrupts the process by seizing power, they are guilty of a crime and should be punished.”

The Russian Communist Party’s oppression of its people disgusted Liang Shiqiu. “The Bolsheviks forced the famous poet Alexander Blok to teach aesthetics from the point of view of Marxism, so he had to do his best to discover that unwarranted relationship to avoid starvation,” he said.

What caused Liang Shiqiu’s extreme disgust was the Communist Party’s literary policy — using literature as a “weapon”! He said: “This means literature is used as propaganda — a tool of class struggle. Of course, we have no objection to anyone using literature for other purposes, but we cannot recognize propagandistic texts as literature.”

“There is no theoretical basis for the literary policy promulgated by the Russian Communist Party: the exploitation of the freedom of thought of authors via political means; or the folly of using politics to seek literary clarity. No matter what they talk about, they always forget about ‘class and Marx.’ Marxism’s merits and demerits in politics and economics are naturally worth discussing! But how could the communists not be viewed as far-fetched when they impose this theoretical formula upon literature and art?”

Despite nearly 100 years since Liang Shiqiu made these comments, they now have become the consensus of many people.

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