Most Americans and Canadians never heard of this great internationalist hero, but he is revered in China.
EDITED BY PATRICE GREANVILLE
The Greanville Post | August 15, 2021
An informal chat with Caleb Maupin as your guide to the multitude of news, lies, distortions, rumors, idiocies, hypocrisies, and ideologies that shape our world.
Taking the example of Canadian surgeon Dr Bethune, who offered his services to help the Spanish Republican army and later China’s revolutionaries in their hour of need, Caleb discusses what makes a person dedicate his life to the betterment and liberation of others.
China has many monuments to Bethune’s memory. The Chinese people never forget their true friends, let alone those who will put their lives on the line to help them, as Dr Bethune did. Mao wrote a heart-rending eulogy to him, which I reproduce below.
IN MEMORY OF NORMAN BETHUNE
December 21, 1939
“We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people.”—Mao Tse-tung
By Mao Tse-tung
Comrade Norman Bethune, a member of the Communist Party of Canada, was around fifty when he was sent by the Communist Parties of Canada and the United States to China; he made light of travelling thousands of miles to help us in our War of Resistance Against Japan. He arrived in Yenan in the spring of last year, went to work in the Wutai Mountains, and to our great sorrow died a martyr at his post. What kind of spirit is this that makes a foreigner selflessly adopt the cause of the Chinese people’s liberation as his own? It is the spirit of internationalism, the spirit of communism, from which every Chinese Communist must learn. Leninism teaches that the world revolution can only succeed if the proletariat of the capitalist countries supports the struggle for liberation of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples and if the proletariat of the colonies and semi-colonies supports that of the proletariat of the capitalist countries. Comrade Bethune put this Leninist line into practice. We Chinese Communists must also follow this line in our practice. We must unite with the proletariat of all the capitalist countries, with the proletariat of Japan, Britain, the United States, Germany, Italy and all other capitalist countries, for this is the only way to overthrow imperialism, to liberate our nation and people and to liberate the other nations and peoples of the world. This is our internationalism, the internationalism with which we oppose both narrow nationalism and narrow patriotism.
Comrade Bethune’s spirit, his utter devotion to others without any thought of self, was shown in his great sense of responsibility in his work and his great warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people. Every Communist must learn from him. There are not a few people who are irresponsible in their work, preferring the light and shirking the heavy, passing the burdensome tasks on to others and choosing the easy ones for themselves. At every turn they think of themselves before others. When they make some small contribution, they swell with pride and brag about it for fear that others will not know. They feel no warmth towards comrades and the people but are cold, indifferent and apathetic. In truth such people are not Communists, or at least cannot be counted as devoted Communists. No one who returned from the front failed to express admiration for Bethune whenever his name was mentioned, and none remained unmoved by his spirit. In the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei border area, no soldier or civilian was unmoved who had been treated by Dr. Bethune or had seen how he worked. Every Communist must learn this true communist spirit from Comrade Bethune.
Comrade Bethune was a doctor, the art of healing was his profession and he was constantly perfecting his skill, which stood very high in the Eighth Route Army’s medical service. His example is an excellent lesson for those people who wish to change their work the moment they see something different and for those who despise technical work as of no consequence or as promising no future.
Comrade Bethune and I met only once. Afterwards he wrote me many letters. But I was busy, and I wrote him only one letter and do not even know if he ever received it. I am deeply grieved over his death. Now we are all commemorating him, which shows how profoundly his spirit inspires everyone. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people.
1. The distinguished surgeon Norman Bethune was a member of the Canadian Communist Party. In 1936 when the German and Italian fascist bandits invaded Spain, he went to the front and worked for the anti-fascist Spanish people. In order to help the Chinese people in their War of Resistance Against Japan, he came to China at the head of a medical team and arrived in Yenan in the spring of 1938. Soon after he went to the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei border area. Imbued with ardent internationalism and the great communist spirit, he served the army and the people of the Liberated Areas for nearly two years. He contracted blood poisoning while operating on wounded soldiers and died in Tanghsien, Hopei, on November 12, 1939
2. See J. V. Stalin, “The Foundations of Leninism”, Problems of Leninism, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1954, pp. 70-79.
Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project.
HTML revised 2004 by Marxists.org
Bethune: The Making of a Hero
Encore +The first Canada-China co-production, Bethune: The Making of a Hero spans the life and death of Ontario native Dr. Norman Bethune, who journeyed 1,500 miles into China to reach Mao’s eighth route army in the mountains, where he built hospitals, provided care and trained medics during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Toute première coproduction Canada-Chine, Bethune : The Making of a Hero relate la vie du Dr Norman Bethune, un Ontarien qui s’est rendu jusqu’à 8e armée de route de Mao, en plein cœur des montagnes la Chine, où il a érigé des hôpitaux, soigné des patients et formé des médecins durant la Seconde Guerre sino-japonaise.
Caleb Maupin has worked as a journalist and political analyst for the last five years. He has reported from across the United States, as well as from Iran, the Gulf of Aden and Venezuela. He has been a featured speaker at many Universities, and at international conferences held in Tehran, Quito, and Brasilia. His writings have been translated and published in many languages including Farsi, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese. He is originally from Ohio. As a reporter with RT.com, Maupin’s focus has been the United States. He has had many intense interactions with US State Department spokespeople including John Kirby, Mark Toner, and Heather Nauert confronting them about diverse issues like Syria, Russia, and the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons. Maupin was the primary US correspondent for RT’s international broadcasts during the 2016 Presidential elections. He reported from both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and also directly from the riots in Oakland, California, during the aftermath of the vote.