“叮咚,四人帮倒台了!” / “Ding Dong, The Gang is Gone!”



1976年秋广州街头一景 / Guangzhou street scene, Fall, 1976

“叮咚,四人帮倒台了!”

我小时候最爱看的一部电影是《绿野仙踪》。

故事的主线包括一位邪恶而强大的“西方女巫”,她到处残害好人,手下还有一群可怕的飞猴,充当助纣为虐的打手。

随着情节的发展,西方女巫被杀死,正义最终战胜了邪恶,人们上街欢庆,所有人不约而同地放声高唱:“叮咚,女巫死了!哪个老女巫?邪恶女巫!叮咚,邪恶女巫死了!”

而1976年秋季广交会的气氛刚好让我联想起这段电影情节。人们也搞庆祝活动,大喇叭里播放着公告,墙上还贴着讽刺“四人帮”及其恶行的漫画海报。

几乎所有的商务会谈都穿插着这样的话题:哪些在“四人帮”横行时期不能做的事现在可以做了;或者哪些“四人帮”的坏做法在他们倒台之后得到了纠正。就像爆发了一场高烧。

和以前一样,我们外国人又开始琢磨中国到底发生了什么事。

即使是我们外人,也发现中方人员表现出了一种明显的解脱和宣泄的情绪。过去,中国总是刻意摆出琢磨不透的样子,但这回表现得十分外露。

此外,在对“四人帮”下台前后的生产水平和产量等数字进行对比时,还开始出现了问责因素。

“Ding Dong, The Gang is Gone!”

One of my favorite childhood movies was “The Wizard of Oz.”

The story line includes an evil and powerful witch, The Wicked Witch of the West, who terrorizes good people far and wide, and has a scary battalion of flying apes as strongmen to enforce her nastiness.

As the story unfolds, when the Wicked Witch is dispatched, and good triumphs over evil, there is great celebration and merriment in the streets. Everyone spontaneously breaks out in song “Ding dong, the Witch is dead! Which old witch ? The Wicked Witch! Ding dong, the Wicked Witch is dead! ”

The atmosphere in Guangzhou during the Fall, 1976 Canton Trade Fair reminded me of this part of the film. There were celebrations, announcements via loudspeakers, and wall posters with caricatures of the Gang of Four and their evil deeds.

Most if not all business conversations were interspersed with references to things which would have been impossible under the reign of the Gang of Four, but were possible now ; or negative practices enforced by the Gang of Four which had been reversed since their downfall. It was like a terrible fever had broken.

As usual, we foreigners were once again trying to figure out just what was going on in China.

Even for us outsiders, there was an obvious, palpable sense of relief and catharsis among our Chinese counterparts. China was opaque by design in those days, but this much was clearly evident.

There was also an element of blaming which crept into statistical comparisons with pre- and post-Gang of Four with regard to production levels, output figures, etc.



街头张贴的庆祝四人帮倒台的海报/Posters on the street celebrated the downfall of the Gang of Four

1976年秋,我们去一家纺织厂参观。工厂“负责人”在做介绍时,把产量落后的主要原因归于四人帮,解释说:在“四人帮”的思想统治下,过分重视生产会受到严厉的政治批判。

工厂的领导把“四人帮”的观点形容为“只要政治路线正确,一粒粮食都不产也没有关系。”那个时代,最可怕的事情就是被贴上“只专不红”的标签。

乍看上去,你不禁会觉得,这是要给所有的问题和缺点随便找一个替罪羊,然而可以明显看出,我们正在见证一个意义深远的转折时刻,而它最终将为开放时代搭建了舞台。

有趣的是,工厂的介绍中还提到,厂子共有3,300人——其中大部分都是女工——实行八级工资制。新入厂的一级工月工资是30~40元人民币。八级熟练工的月工资是110元人民币。而“看不见的收入”相当于工资的1.5倍,其中包括住房、医疗和教育费用,等等。住房是以补贴形式提供给职工的,一般职工家庭每月交纳的房租在3元钱左右。虽然工资比较低,但工厂承担了主要的生活费用,而且还直接参与职工的重大生活决定(如结婚、生子、工作调动,等等)。

当地一所大学掀起的讨论至少同样生动地展现了“四人帮”的极端政治路线对教育产生的影响。

看来,大事正在发生。

反思那个年代,的确能让人想起中国在一个相对短暂的时间里,在许多方面发生的深刻变化。

我常常想知道,对于这一变化的广度和深刻,中国的年轻人会在多大程度上心存感激呢?

In one textile factory visit in the Fall of 1976, the “responsible person’s” briefing cited The Gang of Four as being the main factor behind lagging production figures, explaining that overemphasis on production had drawn intense political criticism under their ideological reign.

The factory chief described the Gang’s position as being that “As long as your political line is correct, it doesn’t matter if the harvest doesn’t yield a single grain.” One of the most feared labels of that era was being tarred as “Only expert, but not red.”

At first glance it was tempting to dismiss this as a convenient case of finding a scapegoat for almost every ill and shortcoming, but it became clear that we were witnessing a fairly profound turning point which would eventually set the stage for the Open Door period.

As a point of interest, the same briefing mentioned that the factory, which employed 3,300 people – mostly women – had an 8-tier wage scale. Grade one, for fresh recruits, offered monthly salaries of RMB 30 to 40 per month. Grade eight, for veteran workers, offered RMB 110 per month. “Invisible income” averaged 150% of these wage levels, and included housing, health, education etc. Staff housing was provided at subsidized levels, meaning that the average employee family paid in the range of RMB 3.00 in monthly rent. Wages were low, but the employer took care of most major living expenses, and was also directly involved in most major life decisions of its employees (marriage, childbirth, changing jobs, etc.).

Discussions at a local university painted an equally if not more dramatic picture of the impact on education of the Gang’s extreme political line.

Something big appeared to be happening.

Reflecting back on this era is of course a reminder of the many ways in which China has changed profoundly in a relatively short period of time.

I often wonder to what degree younger Chinese people can possibly appreciate the scope and extent of all this change.


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