Maon Kiinan kieli- ja ajatteluteoria – ja -politiikka…

” When Mao and the Chinese Communist Party won power in 1949, they were determined to create new, revolutionary human beings. Their most precise in- strument of ideological transformation was a massive program of linguistic en- gineering. They taught everyone a new political vocabulary, gave old words new meanings, converted traditional terms to revolutionary purposes, sup- pressed words that expressed ”incorrect” thought, and required the whole po- pulation to recite slogans,stock phrases, and scripts that gave ”correct” linguis- tic form to ”correct” thought. They assumed that constant repetition would cause the revolutionary formulae to penetrate people’s minds, engendering revolutionary beliefs and values.

In an introductory chapter, Dr Ji assesses the potential of linguistic engineering by examining research on the relationship between language and thought. In sub- sequent chapters, she traces the origins of linguistic engineering in China, de- scribes its development during the early years of communist rule, then explores in detail the unprecedented manipulation of language during the Cultural Revo- lution of 1966-1976. Along the way, she analyzes the forms of linguistic enginee- ring associated with land reform, class struggle, personal relationships, the Great Leap Forward, Mao-worship, Red Guard activism, revolutionary violence, Public Criticism Meetings, the model revolutionary operas, and foreign language tea- ching.She also reinterprets Mao’s strategy during the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, showing how he manipulated exegetical principles and contexts of judgment to ”frame” his alleged opponents.The work concludes with an assess- ment of the successes and failures of linguistic engineering and an account of how the Chinese Communist Party relaxed its control of language after Mao’s death.

Linguistic Engineering is a powerfully argued and innovative work that has much to offer all those with an interests in language, political communication, Chinese communism, the literature of revolutions, and the psychology of persuasion. ”





Marxism and Problems of Linguistics

Concerning Marxism in Linguistics

A group of younger comrades have asked me to give my opinion in the press on problems relating to linguistics, particularly in reference to Marxism in linguistics. I am not a linguistic expert and, of course, cannot fully satisfy the request of the comrades. As to Marxism in linguistics, as in other social sciences, this is something directly in my field. I have therefore consented to answer a number of questions put by the comrades.

QUESTION: Is it true that language is a superstructure on the base?

ANSWER: No, it is not true.

The base is the economic structure of society at the given stage of its develop- ment. The superstructure is the political, legal, religious, artistic, philosophical views of society and the political, legal and other institutions corresponding to them.

… Hence:

a) A Marxist cannot regard language as a superstructure on the base; b) To confuse language and superstructure is to commit a serious error.

QUESTION: Is it true that language always was and is class language, that there is no such thing as language which is the single and common language of a society, a non-class language common to the whole people.

ANSWER: No, it is not true.

It is not difficult to understand that in a society which has no classes there can be no such thing as a class language.


a) Language, as a means of intercourse, always was and remains the single lan- guage of a society, common to all its members; b) The existence of dialects and jargons does not negate but confirms the existence of a language common to the whole of the given people, of which they are offshoots and to which they are subordinate; c) The ”class character” of language formula is erroneous and non-Marxist.

QUESTION: What are the characteristic features of language?

ANSWER: Language is one of those social phenomena which operate through- out the existence of a society. It arises and develops with the rise and develop- ment of a society. It dies when the society dies. Apart from society there is no language. Accordingly, language and its laws of development can be understood only if studied in inseparable connection with the history of society, with the history of the people to whom the language under study belongs, and who are its creators and repositories.

Language is a medium, an instrument with the help of which people communi- cate with one another, exchange thoughts and understand each other. Being directly connected with thinking, language registers and fixes in words, and in words combined into sentences, the results of the process of thinking and achievements of man’s cognitive activity, and thus makes possible the exchange of thoughts in human society.


QUESTION: Did Pravda act rightly in starting an open discussion on problems of linguistics?

ANSWER: Yes, it did.

Along what lines the problems of linguistics will be settled, will become clear at the conclusion of the discussion. But it may be said already that the discussion has been very useful.

It has brought out, in the first place, that in linguistic bodies both in the center and in the republics a regime has prevailed which is alien to science and men of science. The slightest criticism of the state of affairs in Soviet linguistics, even the most timid attempt to criticize the so-called ”new doctrine” in linguistics, was persecuted and suppressed by the leading linguistic circles. Valuable workers and researchers in linguistics were dismissed from their posts or demoted for being critical of N. Y. Marr’s heritage or expressing the slightest disapproval of his teachings. Linguistic scholars were appointed to leading posts not on their merits, but because of their unqualified acceptance of N. Y. Marr’s theories.

It is generally recognized that no science can develop and flourish without a battle of opinions, without freedom of criticism. But this generally recognized rule was ignored and flouted in the most unceremonious fashion. There arose a close group of infallible leaders, who, having secured themselves against any possible criticism, became a law unto themselves and did whatever they pleased.

To give one example: the so-called ”Baku Course” (lectures delivered by N. Y. Marr in Baku), which the author himself had rejected and forbidden to be repub- lished, was republished nevertheless by order of this leading caste (Comrade Meshchaninov calls them ”disciples” of N. Y. Marr) and included without any reservations in the list of text-books recommended to students. This means that the students were deceived a rejected ”Course” being suggested to them as a sound textbook. If I were not convinced of the integrity of Comrade Meshchani- nov and the other linguistic leaders, I would say that such conduct is tantamount to sabotage.

How could this have happened? It happened because the Arakcheyev regime [9] established in linguistics cultivates irresponsibility and encourages such arbitrary actions.

The discussion has proved to be very useful first of all because it brought this Arakcheyev regime into the light of day and smashed it to smithereens.

But the usefulness of the discussion does not end there. It not only smashed the old regime in linguistics but also brought out the incredible confusion of ideas on cardinal questions of linguistics which prevails among the leading circles in this branch of science. Until the discussion began the ”disciples” of N. Y. Marr kept si- lence and glossed over the unsatisfactory state of affairs in linguistics. But when the discussion started silence became impossible, and they were compelled to express their opinion in the press. And what did we find? It turned out that in N. Y. Marr’s teachings there are a whole number of defects,errors,ill-defined problems and sketchy propositions. Why, one asks, have N. Y. Marr’s ”disciples” begun to talk about this only now, after the discussion opened? Why did they not see to it before? Why did they not speak about it in due time openly and honestly, as befits scientists?

Having admitted ”some” errors of N. Y. Marr, his ”disciples,” it appears, think that Soviet linguistics can only be advanced on the basis of a ”rectified” version of N. Y. Marr’s theory, which they consider a Marxist one. No, save us from N. Y. Marr’s ”Marxism”! N. Y. Marr did indeed want to be, and endeavored to be, a Marxist, but he failed to become one. He was nothing but a simplifier and vulgarizer of Marxism, similar to the ”proletcultists” or the ”Rappists.”

N. Y. Marr introduced into linguistics the incorrect, non-Marxist formula that lan- guage is a superstructure, and got himself into a muddle and put linguistics into a muddle. Soviet linguistics cannot be advanced on the basis of an incorrect formula.

N. Y. Marr introduced into linguistics another and also incorrect and non-Marxist formula, regarding the ”class character” of language, and got himself into a muddle and put linguistics into a muddle. Soviet linguistics cannot be advanced on the basis of an incorrect formula which is contrary to the whole course of the history of peoples and languages.

N. Y. Marr introduced into linguistics an immodest, boastful, arrogant tone alien to Marxism and tending towards a bald and off-hand negation of everything done in linguistics prior to N. Y. Marr.

N. Y. Marr shrilly abused the comparative-historical method as ”idealistic.” Yet it must be said that, despite its serious shortcomings, the comparative-historical method is nevertheless better than N. Y. Marr’s really idealistic four-element analysis, [10] because the former gives a stimulus to work, to a study of languages, while the latter only gives a stimulus to loll in one’s arm-chair and tell fortunes in the tea-cup of the celebrated four elements.

N. Y. Marr haughtily discountenanced every attempt to study groups (families) of languages on the grounds that it was a manifestation of the ”proto-language” theory. [11] Yet it cannot be denied that the linguistic affinity of nations like the Slav nations, say, is beyond question, and that a study of the linguistic affinity of these nations might be of great value to linguistics in the study of the laws of language development. The ”proto-language” theory, I need hardly say, has nothing to do with it.

To listen to N. Y. Marr, and especially to his ”disciples,” one might think that prior to N. Y. Marr there was no such thing as the science of language, that the science of language appeared with the ”new doctrine” of N. Y. Marr. Marx and Engels were much more modest: they held that their dialectical materialism was a product of the development of the sciences, including philosophy, in earlier periods.

Thus, the discussion was useful also because it brought to light ideological shortcomings in Soviet linguistics.

I think that the sooner our linguistics rids itself of N. Y. Marr’s errors, the sooner will it be possible to extricate it from its present crisis.

Elimination of the Arakcheyev regime in linguistics, rejection of N. Y. Marr’s errors, and the introduction of Marxism into linguistics — that, in my opinion, is the way in which Soviet linguistics could be put on a sound basis.

Pravda, June 20, 1950

QUESTION: Marx and Engels define language as ”the immediate reality of thought,” as ”practical,… actual consciousness.” [12] ”Ideas,” Marx says, ”do not exist divorced from language.” In what measure, in your opinion, should linguistics occupy itself with the semantic aspect of language, semantics, historical semasiology, and stylistics, or should form alone be the subject of linguistics?

ANSWER: Semantics (semasiology) is one of the important branches of linguis- tics. The semantic aspect of words and expressions is of serious importance in the study of language. Hence, semantics (semasiology) must be assured its due place in linguistics.

However, in working on problems of semantics and in utilizing its data, its signifi- cance must in no way be overestimated, and still less must it be abused. I have in mind certain philologists who, having an excessive passion for semantics, disregard language as ”the immediate reality of thought” inseparably connected with thinking, divorce thinking from language and maintain that language is outliving its age and that it is possible to do without language.

Listen to what N. Y. Marr says:

”Language exists only inasmuch as it is expressed in sounds;the action of thinking occurs also without being expressed…. Language (spoken) has already begun to surrender its functions to the latest inventions which are unreservedly conquering space, while thinking is on the up-grade, departing from its unutilized accumulations in the past and its new acquisitions, and is to oust and fully replace language. The language of the future is thinking which will be developing in technique free of natural matter. No language, even the spoken language, which is all the same connected with the standards of nature, will be able to withstand it” (see Selected Works by N. Y. Marr).

If we interpret this ”labor-magic” gibberish into simple human language, the conclusion may be drawn that:

a) N. Y. Marr divorces thinking from language;

b) N. Y. Marr considers that communication between people can be realized with- out language, with the help of thinking itself, which is free of the ”natural matter” of language, free of the ”standards of nature”;

c) divorcing thinking from language and ”having freed” it from the ”natural matter,’ of language, N. Y. Marr lands into the swamp of idealism.

It is said that thoughts arise in the mind of man prior to their being expressed in speech, that they arise without linguistic material, without linguistic integument, in, so to say, a naked form. But that is absolutely wrong. Whatever thoughts arise in the human mind and at whatever moment, they can arise and exist only on the basis of the linguistic material, on the basis of language terms and phrases.

Bare thoughts, free of the linguistic material, free of the ”natural matter” of language, do not exist.

”Language is the immediate reality of thought” (Marx). The reality of thought is manifested in language. Only idealists can speak of thinking not being connec- ted with ”the natural matter” of language, of thinking without language.

In brief: over-estimation of semantics and abuse of it led N. Y. Marr to idealism.

Consequently,if semantics (semasiology) is safeguarded against exaggerations and abuses of the kind committed by N. Y. Marr and some of his ”disciples,” semantics can be of great benefit to linguistics.


Sovjetskaja entsiklopedija ajattelusta:


theprocess of reflection on objectivereality; the highest level of human cog- nition. Although the sole source for thinking is sensations, thinking transcends the limitations of direct sensory reflection and enables the human being to receive knowledge about objects, qualities, and relationships of the real world that cannot be sensed directly (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, pp. 554—55).

Thinking is a subject matter of study in the theory of knowledge and logic, in psychology, and in neurophysiology. In cybernetics it is studied in connection with problems of the technological simulation of mental operations.

Thinking is a function of the brain, and in that sense it is a natural process.

However, each human being becomes a subject of thinking only by mastering language, concepts, and logic, which are products of the development of social practice. Even the problems with which each individual confronts his intellect are generated by the social conditions of his life. Thus, human thinking has a social and historical quality.

Throughout the history of philosophy, the character of thinking and the relation- ship between thinking (consciousness) and being has been the central philosophical problem.

The concrete historical study of thinking, which developed in the 19th century, was influenced by the concepts of formal logic and by the theory of associ- ations. Psychological analysis of thinking was,for the most part,limited to differen- tiating various thought processes: comparison, abstraction of data, and classification. The question of the character of concepts or ideas was treated in the spirit of formal “scholastic” logic. Concepts were considered the result of the accretion of sensory images and impressions, the discernment of their common features, and the elimination of anomalous features. Accordingly, the processes involved in thinking were perceived as complex combinations of ideas and concepts. This description of thinking encountered insurmountable difficulties in attempting to explain, for example, the purposeful and creative character of thought processes.

Naturalistic and mechanistic descriptions of thinking were developed further by the behaviorists, who explained mental activity as the totality of inner, soundless speech habits formed according to a “stimulus-response” pattern.These associa- tive and mechanistic representations of thinking were counter-balanced by idealistic theories, which emphasized that thought processes cannot be reduced to associations of discrete ideas and are characteristically imageless and subordinate to “determining tendencies” (the Würzberg school). On the other hand, representatives of the theory of holistic forms (Gestalt psychology) understood thinking as a process by which the subject “reconstructs” a problematic situation, discovering new relationships and functional connections within it. The gestalt psychologists asserted that thinking cannot be derived from the experience of the subject’s behavior and the accumulated associations. Insofar as they explained thinking as an “autochthonic,” or self-generating process, the representatives of Gestalt psychology were in agreement with intuitionism.

The common feature of these schools was their antihistoricism — that is, their failure to study the origins and historical development of human thinking. Works systematizing data on thinking among peoples at relatively low stages of socio- economic and cultural development did not appear until the early 20th century. These works disproved suppositions about the unchanging character of the laws of thinking and introduced the notion that qualitative changes had taken place in thinking during its historical development (L. Lévy-Bruhl of France, for example). At the same time, experimental studies of the origins of thinking in the animal world were undertaken by W. Köhler (Germany), R. Yerkes (USA), and N. N. Ladygina-Kots (USSR). Among the higher animals researchers encountered behavioral processes analogous to human thinking (“practical intellect,” or in the words of I. P.  Pavlov, “manual thought”). This research deepened man’s understanding of the genetic roots of thinking and gave impetus to the study of human thought that is manifested as external actions related to objects (“visually effective thinking” or “technical intellect”). The discovery that mental activity could take the form of external actions in complex situations involving objects, or operations using visual diagrams and models, demolished the old conception of thinking as merely an internal, verbal and logical process and led to the recognition that there are different forms of highly developed thinking, intimately interwoven and not strictly delineated from each other.

The scientific dialectical materialist understanding of thinking is set forth in the classical works of Marxism. Rejecting the view that thinking is the manifestation of a special spiritual principle, Marxism overcomes the limitations of metaphysical materialism, with its superficiality and its reduction of mental activity to the elementary processes of analysis and generalization of sensory impressions. In viewing thought as a product of social and historical development and as a special form of human activity, Marxism emphasizes the age-old connection between thinking and practical activity. “The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity …. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behavior” (K. Marx and F. Engels, ibid., vol. 3, p. 24).

Labor with tools confronts the human being not only with material objects but also with their interaction, in the process of which properties are revealed that are not directly accessible to the senses but can be grasped only indirectly, by mental deductions. The cognitive results of objective actions are given a degree of permanence by verbalization. As they are transmitted to other people via spoken communication, they form part of the system of knowledge that constitutes the content of the collective or social consciousness. Linguistic expression creates the precondition for the reproduction on the level of inner speech (consciousness) of various links of external, objective cognitive activity. The original sensory data and practical action are mediated by an increasingly long chain of mental processes, which subsequently become separate from external practical activity. At the same time, the social division of labor, the development of private ownership, and the differentiation of society into antagonistic classes lead to a break between mental and physical labor, so that it becomes customary to appose internal intellectual activity to material, physical activity. Later, this opposition is reinforced in idealistic theories of thinking.

As thinking, in its developed forms, loses its direct and immediate connection with practical activity, it may result in false, illusory knowledge. This raises the question of the criterion of the truthfulness of thinking and the adequacy of its results as compared with objective reality. Practice is the criterion: that is, the theoretical conclusions reached through thought should be verified in practical activity and in experimentation. In this sense, however, practice refers not to individual experience but to social practice as a whole, which necessitates the subordination of thought processes to certain rules or prescriptions developed in the historical experience of cognition. This type of man-made system of rules and prescriptions (“laws” of thinking) constitutes the object of a separate discipline, logic.

In contrast to idealism, which considers the laws of logic inherent in thinking, Marxism regards logical laws as the generalized reflection of objective relationships existing in reality and mastered in practical experience. “The practical activity of man had to lead his consciousness to the repetition of the various logical figures thousands of millions of times in order that these figures could obtain the significance of axioms” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 172). Social practice is not only the criterion of the truthfulness of thinking but also the foundation for the rules and canons of logic. For this reason, thinking cannot be reduced to the totality of mental operations of which it is composed, or, in other words, to the “thinking” of logical machines that perform only processes assigned to them in one way or another by human beings. As Marx pointed out, machines are only “organs of the human brain created by the human hand” (Marx and Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 46, part 2, p. 215). The true subject of thinking (the thinker) is still the human being controlling the machine.

The enormous complexity of the problems confronting modern science has made necessary the further development of the logical apparatus of thinking. As a result, new schools of formal logic have emerged. However, the study of thinking cannot be limited to investigation of the rules of formal logic. Above all, the study of thinking touches on problems of the relationship of thought to objective reality and problems of the general method of cognition. The unity of the cognitive and logical aspects of thinking is most fully expressed in Marxist dialectical logic, which is a theory of the development and self-motion of the subject matter of cognition as it is reflected in the movement of the concepts of thinking.


Disorders. Thinking disorders are reflected in speech, writing, and representa- tional creativity. Significant changes in the speed of thought are possible. In an emotionally excited individual, acceleration of the flow of ideas may reach the level of an undirected, superficial “flight of ideas.” By contrast, a retardation of thinking is characterized by the infrequent, slow emergence of concepts, or by slow formation of ideas and judgments. This is usually associated with depression and with a subjective sensation of intellectual emptiness.

Other disturbances of thinking include incoherence; inertia, in which a single idea or impression prevails (perseveration); and “getting bogged down,” or circumstantiality, in which the essential point is drowned in a mass of unnecessary details, or in which thinking is fruitless and remote from reality. Also categorized as thinking disorders are bizarre thought (a tendency to indulge in symbolism, the paradoxical use of well-known concepts, and the invention of unjustifiable word forms); the parallel flow of several different thoughts; sudden breaks in thought; and the complete disjunction of the content of thinking, even though it is couched in grammatically correct sentences. Thinking disorders are of great importance in the differential diagnostics of mental illness (for example, in distinguishing various forms of schizophrenia).



Marx, K., and F. Engels. Nemetskaia ideologiia. Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 3.
Engels, F. “Dialektika prirody.” Ibid., vol. 20.
Lenin, V. I. “Filosofskie tetradi.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29.
Binet, A. Mekhanizm myshleniia. Odessa, 1894. (Translated from English.)
Psikhologiia myshleniia. St. Petersburg, 1914. (“Novye idei ν filosofii,” issue 16).
Lévy-Bruhl, L. Pervobytnoe myshlenie. Moscow, 1930. (Translated from French.)
Wallon, H. Ot deistviia k mysli. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from French.)
Vygotskii, L. S. Myshlenie i rech’: Izbrannye psikhologicheskie issledovaniia. Moscow, 1956.
Rubinshtein, S. L. O myshlenii i putiakh ego issledovaniia. Moscow, 1958.
Ponomarev, la. A. Psikhologiia tvorcheskogo myshleniia. Moscow, 1960.
Zeigarnik, B. V. Patologiia myshleniia. [Moscow] 1962.
Psikhologiia myshleniia (collection of translations). Moscow, 1965.
Tikhomirov, O. K. Struktura myslitel’noi deiatel’nosti cheloveka. Moscow, 1969.
Piaget, J. “Psikhologiia inteliekta.” In his book Izbrannye psikhologicheskie trudy. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from French.)
Leont’ev, A. N. Problemy razvitiia psikhiki, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Ach, N. Über die Begriffsbildung. Bamberg, 1921.
Koffka, K. “Bemerkungen zur Denkpsychologie.” Psychologische Forschung, 1927, vol. 9 (books 1–2).
Hartley, D. M. Observation on Man, His Frame, His Duty and His Expectations, 6th ed. London, 1934.
A Study of Thinking. New York, 1956.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 Replies to “Maon Kiinan kieli- ja ajatteluteoria – ja -politiikka…”

  1. En hallitse kovin hyvin toista kieltä, mutta lapsuudessani vaikean paikan tullen todettiin sen olevan kiinalainen juttu kun joku jäi selvittämättä.

  2. Käytännön filosofiaa nyky-Kiinassa:

    Ota lainarahaa ja sijoituksia ulkomailta niin paljon kuin suinkin saat.

    Rakenna tehtaat suoltamaan sontaa vientiin. Tuotteitten ulkonäkö pitää olla houkutteleva, mutta laadusta ei ole niin väliä juu. Pääasia on, että kiinslainen sonta työntää laatutuotteet ja niiden tuottajat pois markkinoilta.

    Ja simsalabim! Totalitaristinen, kansallissosialistinen Kiina on maailman valtias.