Xi Jinping’s “Little Red Book” for Art Workers of the Nation

What a relief! Now we know that even President Xi Jinping’s speeches must be finely airbrushed before they’re ready for mass consumption. In A Year After Xi’s Landmark Speech on the Arts, Some Things Get Left Out, we learn that his infamous October 2014 closed-door speech to Art Workers of the Nation has finally been released in Chinese — almost one year later — for perusal by China’s man-in-the-street:

Chinese President Xi Jinping sowed consternation in liberal social and artistic circles last fall when he delivered a speech on arts and literature that offered a vision of culture torn from the pages of Mao Zedong’s political playbook. The speech, delivered on the anniversary of a famous 1942 lecture delivered by Mao Zedong, echoed the revolutionary patriarch’s demand that art serve politics — a potentially chilling dictate for a cultural world that is now driven more by popular tastes but is in constant battle with Communist Party censors.

If you can read Chinese, click here for the full, re-packaged version of his 文艺工作座谈会上的讲话. Over the past year, editors have apparently been busy adding and deleting copy in order to attain perfect political correctness.

For those of you who haven’t mastered the future lingua franca of our global village, this paragraph from WSJ’s article will suffice for a basic understanding of the new gold standard for the arts:

In his speech, while Mr. Xi argued for a return to art in the service of politics, he gave it a modern twist, away from class struggle and toward the striving for national greatness. “Among the core values of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the deepest, most basic and most enduring is patriotism,” Mr. Xi said, according to the new transcript. “Our modern art and literature needs to take patriotism as its muse, guiding the people to establish and adhere to correct views of history, the nation, the country and culture.”

For insight into how authors in China initially viewed the speech, see Writers React to Comrade Xi Jinping’s Foray into Literary Criticism.

Meanwhile, in 读本, Xinhua reports that the speech is now available in book form, 习近平总书记在文艺工作座谈会上的重要讲话学习读本.  “Party propaganda departments at all levels” — cultural bodies, news media, literary federations, writers association branches and training bodies for party cadres — are urged to organize various events and formats to study the Xi Jinping “reader.”

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