那麽，在政治性问 题上，莫言是像中国官方和外国支持者希望的那样保持沉默了吗？他没有。正如斯德哥尔摩发生的事情所证明的那样，这名小说家所做的蹩脚评论值得一提，而且还很能说明问题。12月6日在皇家瑞典文学院(Royal Swedish Academy)举行的新闻发布会上，他把审查制度比喻成机场安检∶“我坐飞机出海关，他们也要检查，甚至要求我解下腰带脱掉鞋子检查，但我认为这种检查是必要的。”
约翰•拉格奎斯特(Johan Lagerkvist)是瑞典国际事务研究所(Swedish Institute of International Affairs)高级研究员兼斯德哥尔摩大学副教授。
A Chinese Laureate’s Tale of Free Speech
By JOHAN LAGERKVIST
New York Times December 18, 2012
STOCKHOLM — The discussion about Mo Yan, this year’s Nobel laureate for literature, has been confusing and at times even assumed Orwellian features.
Advocates for the writer, whose pen name means “don’t speak,” argue that he should have the “right to remain silent.” This mantra seeks to defend him for not speaking out about the predicament of dissident writers in China, such as his fellow Nobel laureate and Charter 08 founder, Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of subversion in 2009.
Perhaps some of Mo Yan’s defenders in the West are worried about the writer’s safety if he were to speak up for freedom of expression and against pervasive censorship in China? Other explanations seem more likely, however.
Quite a few Sinologists sighed with relief that it was not yet another dissident being awarded a Nobel Prize. Others played down his homage earlier in the year to Mao’s views on art and literature, as outlined in two speeches made in Yan’an in 1942. Mao’s policies made sure that the brush, the song and the pen had to serve the Communist Party.
When doubts still lingered about Mo Yan’s role as a Communist Party member and vice president of the Chinese writer’s association, his proponents argued that the prize was awarded solely on aesthetic, and not political, grounds. Moreover, they questioned whether a neocolonial Western world could only accept a person critical of China’s political system as a worthy winner.
In sum, gifted storyteller as he is, embarrassing questions about Mo Yan’s political role were to be avoided during Nobel week in Stockholm. The pleas for the global public sphere to allow the man to receive his well-earned prize without having to discuss pressing social and political realities in China echoed comments in the state-controlled Chinese press. The Global Times said it was “wise of Mo Yan to avoid talking politics.” Such an injunction makes it plausible that Mo Yan’s hands were being tied, limiting any urge on his part to venture too far out on a political limb.
So, was he silent on issues of a political nature as both Chinese officialdom and his foreign defenders wished? No. As events in Stockholm proved, awkward comments by the novelist are worthy of mention — and quite revealing. At the press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy on Dec. 6, he compared censorship to airport security checks: “When I was taking my flight, going through customs ... they even wanted me to take off my belt and shoes. But I think these checks are necessary.”
This euphemistic analogy is akin to the rhetoric of the Chinese government, which often argues that firm governance is needed to preserve “healthy” information flows and avoid “traffic accidents” on the Internet. More importantly, such phrasing makes it easier to understand why Mo Yan agreed to participate in the commemoration of Mao’s two speeches on art and literature.
When, at a public meeting at Stockholm University on Dec. 9, Mo Yan was asked what he thought about jailed writers in China, he told an appreciative audience: “Just because they are writers we should not assume they are noble. I know of a poet who murdered his friend, and another writer who has stolen many wallets.”
These musings make it abundantly clear why Mo Yan’s critics have their reservations — not about his aesthetic qualities, but rather about his position on the situation of artists and their quest for freer expression in China.
In its presentation speech to Mo Yan on Dec. 10, in what seemed to be a last minute about-face, the Royal Swedish Academy chose to focus on the political profile and anti-propagandist posture of Mo Yan, as exemplified through his works: “Instead of communism’s poster-happy history, Mo Yan describes a past that, with his exaggerations, parodies and derivations from myths and folk tales, is a convincing and scathing revision of 50 years of propaganda.”
To me, this may be an accurate description of the probing intellectual climate of the 1980s, and of Mo Yan’s writing at the time. But more interesting is the question of what kind of political animal Mo Yan is today. His remarks in Stockholm support the position of those Chinese activists who think it is his belief in the legitimacy of China’s existing political system that prevents him from speaking up on behalf of others.
It should be obvious to one and all that the issue at stake is not Mo Yan’s right to silence, but the Chinese people’s right to free speech. If Chinese citizens had such an inviolable right in a country ruled by law, nobody would wonder about somebody’s choice to stay silent.
Johan Lagerkvist is a senior research fellow with the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and an associate professor at Stockholm University.