Sciences in Communist China: A Symposium Presented at the New York Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 26-27, 1960

By Sidney H. Gould | Go to book overview

Science, Scientists, and Politics

THEODORE. HSI-EN CHEN, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California


Scientists Must Be Reformed

The attitude of the Chinese Communists toward scientists is essentially the same as their attitude toward all intellectuals. They need the services of the scientists, but at the same time they distrust them as products of bourgeois society. In order to be of use to the new society, the scientists, like all other intellectuals, must be reformed. They must get rid of all ideas and attitudes incompatible with the spirit of the new age and they must acquire the viewpoint and the ideology of the proletariansocialist revolution. They must, in other words, undergo a thorough "thought reform."

As soon as they came to power in 1949, the Communists launched a nationwide program of political indoctrination. Intellectuals were organized to engage in political "study" in order to "reform" themselves. Scientists were told that they needed reform as much as other intellectuals and that they must try to overcome the bourgeois attitude of aloofness from politics and to adopt a new philosophy of "serving the people."

One of the functions of the Academy of Sciences, established as early as November 1949, was to organize a thought reform campaign among the scientists. In 1951-1952, when college professors, writers, artists, lawyers, physicians, and other intellectuals were gathered in groups for intensive "ideological remolding," the Academy of Sciences in Peking enlisted several hundred research scientists and technicians for four months of "reformative study." According to Kuo Mo-jo, the president of

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