East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia

China

刘宾雁 在桥梁工地上 translation: At the Bridge Construction Site, Pt 3 (Liu Binyan)

This is Part 3 in a translation of the 1956 reportage fiction piece 在桥梁工地上 (At the Bridge Construction Sites) by the Chinese writer 刘宾雁 (Liu Binyan). Liu wrote the piece during Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campaign (百花运动), and was soon victimised for it and labelled a rightist in the following Anti-Rightist Movement (反右派运动).

在桥梁工地上

在桥梁工地上 三

At the Bridge Construction Site Pt 3

← Part 2”) · Part 3 · Part 4 →”)

不能说罗立正不了解自己的干部,也不能说他不爱才。 You couldn't say that Luo Lizheng didn't understand his own cadres, and neither could you say that he didn't appreciate talent.

提拔曾刚作第三分队的队长兼主管工程师,是他的意思。 Promoting Zeng Gang to the Team Leader of Unit 3 and Engineer were both his decisions.

也是他,一九五三年里接连几次在队部干部会议上表扬过曾刚,一再提起第三分队对于扭转桥梁队完不成国家计划的局面起了很大作用。 It was also him that, at the meeting at HQ in 1953, praised Zeng Gang and mentioned the he had played in turning around Unit 3's inability to complete the national plan in bridge construction.

他私下跟老朋友谈话中间也表示过,曾刚的勇于负责的精神,正是周维本的不足之处,虽然也同时表示了对周维本的细心谨慎的推崇。 In private conversations with friends he had also expressed that Zeng Gang's brave spirit in taking responsibility was something that Zhou Weiben was lacking, although he also spoke of his respect for Zhou Weiben's cautiousness and prudence.

对于曾刚敢于提出一定见解,罗立正也不完全反对。 As for Zeng Gang daring to give a definite opinion, Luo Lizheng wasn't totally opposed to that either.

近两年,罗队长不大好提出自己意见来,在讨论计划或总结工作的场合,他宁愿等别人提出个意见、方案,然后点点头说“可以”。 In the last two years, Captain Luo hadn't really expressed his opinions; when discussing plans or concluding work, he would rather wait for others to give their opinions and proposals, and then nod his head and say "OK".

通过别人的意见、方案,或者对个别问题提出点修正的意见,总比自己去从头到尾构思、起草要轻松得多啊。 Via other people's opinions and proposals, or by making some alterations to individual problems, he could set out his own thoughts entirely, and then making plans was much more relaxed.

一个桥梁队长又没有个自己的秘书! This Bridge Construction Team Leader didn't even have his own secretary!

可是在一九五三年年底,罗队长和曾工程师的关系史上发生了一个转折。 But the end of 1953 was a turning point in the relationship between Captain Luo and Engineer Zeng.

十二月里一次讨论一九五四年度计划的会议上,发生了一场争论。 During discussions in a planning meeting in December, there was an argument.

会议已经开了两个多小时,各科室主任、分队队长相继发言,对计划的某些细节作了些补充,文字上作了些修正。 The meeting had already been going on for over two hours, and the heads of every department and team leaders gave speeches one after another, giving additional details on various plans, and making changes to the documents.

茶壶里的茶水已经淡得跟白水差不多了,桌上的纸烟已经抽完,有人在卷烟头了。 The tea in the teapot was already so diluted it was almost water again, and the cigarettes on the table had all been smoked, and some people were rolling their own.

罗队长正要宣布散会,曾工程师忽然提出个问题。 Captain Luo wanted to declare the meeting over when Engineer Zeng suddenly raised a question.

他把前胸紧靠着桌子,眼睛瞅着烟灰盒说: He leaned in closely to the table, and looking at the ash tray he said:

“指标,明年的各项指标,是不是都低了一点?” "The targets - every target for next year - haven't they all been slightly reduced?"

一下子,会场的空气马上变了,仿佛甚么人一手推开了所有这六面窗子。 In a moment, the air in the meeting changed, as if someone had opened all six windows.

靠在椅背上打盹的,也伸直了腰。 Those who were dozing off in their seats straightened their backs.

罗队长用眼睛示意请曾刚说下去。 Captain Luo indicated with his eyes for Zeng Gang to continue.

“这些数字,比咱们实际完成的还低一点,” "These numbers are actually even slightly lower than what we've achieved in practice,"

曾刚手里捏着一本计划,心里怪不好意思,所以把“一点”说得特别清楚一些,以缓和自己这个意见的锋芒。 Zeng Gang held one of the planning books in his hand, and he felt strangely embarrassed, so he said "slightly" very clearly, to make what he said less pointed.

本来事先他已经在心里斗争了老半天,可是这次会议和历次的会议的空气一向都那么温和,所以提出这样的意见,事先都能预感到众人好奇的、责备的眼光会多么难受: He'd actually struggled with this himself beforehand, but with each successive item at this meeting the atmosphere got milder and milder, so he knew in advance that putting forward an opinion like this would make everyone curious, and knew how hurtful their reproachful gaze would be:

“我是说,应该把指标订高点。 "I mean, we ought to make the targets slightly higher.

就说材料这一项,报上还批评过咱们,不想办法,明年超支要更严重。 Take the materials - the newspapers have criticised us, but we haven't thought of a solution, and the overspend will be even more serious next year.

三分队的技术人员们说,咱们队造两个桥就整整赔掉一个桥……” The technical staff in Unit 3 say that in the course of building two bridges we're wasting the materials of one more..."

罗立正心里好不自在。 Luo Lizheng felt very uncomfortable.

他瞅着曾刚的高而宽的前额,好像在细心倾听别人的意见,心里可在想: He looked at Zeng Gang's high, wide forehead, and it seemed like he was listening in detail to the opinions of the others, but he was actually thinking:

哎——,怎么搞的,昨天在下面都跟你谈了嘛:指标高点、低点有什么关系? Ah! What can we do? I'll talk to you about it tomorrow: what difference does it make if the targets are a bit higher or lower?

大家有多少劲使多少劲嘛。 Everyone's effort and strength are still the same.

”低点,超额容易点”——这个道理你还不懂? "If they're lower, then it's easier to exceed the quota" - don't you understand that?

这对国家也没有多少损失嘛! That doesn't harm the nation at all!

经过周主任的解释,计划室主任又说了句“会后研究”,曾刚这个问题没有引起什么风波。 After Director Zhou's explanation, the Head of the Planning Office also said "let's look into it after the meeting", and Zeng Gang's question did not lead to any changes.

可是这次事件却给罗立正一个警号:曾刚这人在变! But this incident was a warning sign to Luo Lizheng: Zeng Gang was changing!

从此,罗队长对三分队和曾工程师就多了一份儿心。 From then on, Captain Luo paid more attention to Unit 3 and Engineer Zeng Gang.

果然,不出罗立正所料:从前,三分队新事儿也不少,一九五四年里可有点特别。 In the end, it didn't turn out as Luo Lizheng expected: previously, Unit 3 had had quite a few innovations, but in 1954 they became quite special.

从前,罗立正觉得三分队出的事都和自己的意图相吻合,比方说,打钢板桩不圆,是全队的大困难,三分队曾工程师发明了“转盘打桩架”,罗队长从心眼里高兴,亲自打电话给报社,请把这件事给“登到头版头条”;局的领导也拍手叫好。 tee Previously, Luo Lizheng thought that Unit 3 worked according to his own intentions, for example when the steel plate bolts were made inaccurately, it was a problem for the whole team, and Engineer Zeng Gang from Unit 3 invented a ‘rotary bolt shelf; Captain Luo was very pleased with it, and phoned the newspaper office himself to ask them to make it the lead story on the front page; the leader in the office also applauded it.

但是五四年里三分队出的新事好像都多多少少长点刺儿,比方说,三分队学了长春的经验,成立了青年节约队。 But in '54 Unit 3's innovations more or less became thorns in his side, for example, they learnt from experiences in Changchun and set up a Youth Anti-Waste Group.

别处节约队都是拾废铁,三分队的,却要搞甚么“反浪费展览会”,甚么“要求降低材料消耗定额”。 Other units then began collecting scrap iron, but Unit 3 actually put on a "Anti-Waste Exhibition" and made a "Request for a Reduction in the Use of Materials Quota".

搞节约,不是队里、局里的中心工作,反浪费,更不在工程局领导意图的范围之内。 Handling efficiency wasn't the work of units or the lower offices; opposing waste came under the jurisdiction of the leaders in the engineering office.

这还不说,六月里,曾刚竟给工程局局长写了一封长信,里面提了一大串建议,自然也少不了对桥梁队的批评。 That wasn't even considering that in June, Zeng Gang wrote a letter to the chief of the Construction Office with a long series of recommendations, and inevitably some criticism of the Bridge Construction Team.

局里三个星期没答复,这封信竟又出现在部里! The office didn't answer for three weeks, and the letter actually turned up in the Department!

从前,别人带着责备的口气说曾刚“大胆”,罗立正还不置可否,心里想,胆大点有甚么不好——多搞点发明创造,成绩还不是整个队的! Previously, other people would blame Zeng Gang's "audacity", and Luo Lizheng would refuse to comment, thinking to himself, what's wrong with being a bit audacious? - his achievements in inventing and innovating more didn't belong to the whole team!

这回,罗立正才真正领会了这“大胆”的滋味。 It was only this time that Luo Lizheng really grasped the meaning of "audacious".

隔三岔五的,三分队就打电话找队长。 Every now and then, Unit 3 would make a phone call asking for the Team Leader.

别的分队也打电话,人家不是请示就是报告,三分队呢,除了请示报告之外总爱提点问题,凡事都好催、好争、弄得罗立正一听见电话铃响就有点心神不安…… When other units made phone calls, they would either ask for instructions or make a report, but Unit 3, other than asking for instructions and making reports, would also urge people on or dispute things, making Luo Lizheng feel ill-at-ease whenever he heard the phone ringing.

于是,为了防止这种大胆给事业造成损失,就必须加以控制了。 So, in order to prevent this audacity bringing about damage, he had to increase his control.

审查计划、技术方案,对第三分队总要更仔细些。 Examining plans and technological proposals had to be done more carefully when it involved Unit 3.

如果要求其它分队把技术方案的保险系数加大百分之二十的话,第三分队就一定得在百分之三十以上。 If he asked other units to increase the tolerance in their technology solutions by 20%, Unit 3 would certainly increase it by 30%.

别的分队提出的数字,明明是估算出来的,也不追究;三分队的数字,即使经过最仔细的计算,也要反复怀疑,一再叮问: The numbers provided by other units were certainly assessed but not investigated; the numbers from Unit 3, although they had undergone the most conservative calculation, would still be treated with extra suspicion, and queried closely:

有问题吧?计算过么? Surely there's a mistake? Did you calculate it?

假如一些可有可无的报表、资料、其它分队不一定要交的话,第三分队就非但必交,而且要在规定的期限之内。 If they asked for optional reports and materials that other units didn't have to report on, Unit 3 not only had to report them, but had to do it before a deadline.

器材、机具的供应,一般都是不及时的,对第三分队呢,就分外迟缓一些,催得急了,就答复说: The supply of equipment and tools wasn't usually done to schedule, but for Unit 3 it was supplied exceptionally sluggishly, and if they requested it be done faster, they'd be told:

你们队底子好,先进嘛,差这一星半点的算得了甚么,得发挥阶级友爱精神,多帮助一下落后的单位呀。 Your team has good foundations and has got ahead; what does it matter if you lose a few days - you have to show some class spirit and help out the units that are lagging behind.

如果你有不同意见,“请尽量提”,但为了每一件具体事都准备有具体理由反驳,除了浩繁的中外古今的技术资料,还有厚得像枕头的各种规章制度可供参考。 If you had different opinions, "please raise them as soon as possible", but for every specific issue you had to prepare responses with specific reasoning - apart from numerous technological materials from all of the world in all ages *[?]*, there was also a book of rules and regulations as thick as a pillow that you need to consider.

要弄清谁是谁非,就得有耗费时间和精力的决心,而一个人只要还想工作,就下不起这种决心,—— If you wanted to clarify who was right and who was wrong, you had to waste time and energy making up your mind about it, and someone who wanted to work couldn't apply that kind of determination -

——每件事,都得去争论,这种旷日耗时的争论本身,客观上也起着“控制冒险”的作用。 you had to go and dispute every issue, and wasteful, time-consuming debate in itself served as a kind of "controlling risk".

日久天长,队部与三分队领导之间的关系弄僵了。 After a while, the office and the leader of Unit 3 got into a stalemate.

三分队为了工作的利益,除了提抗议以外,只有一种办法:一切能够自己负责、自己解决的事,就自己想办法,少跟队部扯皮。 Unit 3, for the benefit of the work, only had one option apart from protesting: take responsibility for everything themselves, decide these issues themselves, think of solutions themselves, and wrangle less with the office.

可是这一来,事情就反而更复杂了:从分队朝总队打来的电话次数减少这个事实本身,就可以定下“无纪律”的罪名。 But this, things were actually more complicated: the number of times the unit had to make phone calls in itself could be classed as the crime of being "undisciplined".

等到有一次曾刚在队务会议上与周主任针锋相对地争论起来,拒绝接受过低的工作指标,后来又把自己的意见一直提到工程局局长办公室的时候,队部里一片哗然,调度室主任竟把这件事提到“是否反党行为”的高度来加以评论,而且居然有一两个科室的干部点头称是,主张把问题提到党委会议上加以“肯定”。 One time Zeng Gang and Director Zhou began arguing fiercely at the unit issues meeting, because Zeng Gang refused to accept work targets that were too low; afterwards he constantly gave his opinions to the head of the engineering office, putting the headquarters in uproar, and the level of commentary causing them to dispatch Director Shi to determine whether or not this incident was "Anti-Party Behaviour", and unexpectedly one or two cadres from the tech lab nodded their heads and claimed that it was, advocating that the issue be brought to the Party Committee to make sure.

直到党委书记出面加以解释,才算打消了这种想法。 Only when the Party Committee Secretary came in person to resolve it was this point of view dispelled entirely.

但这种评论却已经发生影响,有些人从此就把曾刚看作一个危险人物,了解他、同情他的人,也只能暗暗为他着急,担心。 But these comments had taken their toll, and some people saw Zeng Gang as a dangerous person from then on, and those who knew him and sympathised with him could only worry about him inwardly.

于是,在队部的一部分干部中间,就形成一种舆论:三分队最难惹,最不好领导;曾工程师最难打交道。 So, amongst the cadres in the office, a general opinion took shape: Unit 3 was the most problematic, and Engineer Zeng was the most difficult to deal with.

原因呢?简单得很——他这人“太大胆”了。 And what was the reason? It was simple: he was "too audacious".

事情竟发展到这种地步:在这种舆论的压力之下,连曾刚本人都一再否认自己大胆。 The issue actually developed further: under the pressure of this general opinion, even Zeng Gang himself had to repeatedly deny that he was audacious.

在跟我谈话的时候,他一再否认自己是大胆的人,说自己的一切思想、行为都平常得很,算不得甚么大胆。 When he spoke with me, he repeatedly denied that he was audacious, and said that all of his thought and behaviour were very ordinary, and couldn't be considered audacious.

后来才知道,在桥梁队,“大胆”这个字眼儿是“冒失”、“狂妄”、“鲁莽”以及“不负责任”等等东西的混合体,有时候“大胆”和“冒险”又是一个意思。 It was only afterwards that I found out that in the Bridge Construction Team, the word "audacious" meant "rash", "arrogant", "reckless", "irresponsible" and so on, and sometimes "audacious" and "risky" were the same thing.

难怪连曾刚自己都害怕这个字眼儿了。 No wonder that even Zeng Gang himself feared this word.

现在,再把话拉回来说。 Now, let's go back to where we were.

我从凌口大桥回来两天以后,罗队长和曾工程师进行过一次谈话。 Two days after I got back from the Lingkou Bridge Site, I arranged one talk with Captain Luo and Engineer Zeng.

这次谈话,开头是私人性质的,结尾就变成纯粹工作性质——甚至可以说是政治性的谈话了。 This time, at first it was personal, but by the end it had become entirely about work - you could even describe it as a political discussion.

许是因为很久没到罗队长家来过的缘故,曾刚一走进这个房间,就觉得浑身紧张,好像小学生走进试场,又不能指望这次考试顺利似的。 Largely because he hadn't been to Luo Lizheng's home for a long time *[?]*, as soon as Zeng Gang entered the room, he seemed nervous from head to foot, like a primary school student who was entering an exam hall, and who couldn't expect to do very well on this exam.

罗队长却和两年以前曾刚最后一次到这里来一样,亲切而自然地让曾刚坐在他自己的那把破转椅上,接着就去沏茶。 Captain Luo, however, seemed largely unchanged since the last time Zeng Gang had been there two years ago *[?]*, amiably and naturally giving Zeng Gang his worn-out old swivel chair, and steeping tea.

照例寒暄了一阵,照例闲扯扯队里的新闻以后,罗立正在不知不觉中就把谈话引入了正题。 We exchanged pleasantries, and chatted cordially about news in the team, and Luo Lizheng naturally moved the conversation on to the main topic.

“不简单,不简单哪,”罗立正拖长声音说:“可是这几年咱们祖国建设的成就,不能说不惊人哪。 "It's not easy, it's not easy," Luo Lizheng dragged the words out, "But the success in construction that our motherland has had these last few years, you can't deny they're astonishing.

还记得咱们造木桥那时节么?跟现在比比看。 Do you remember when we made wooden bridges? Compare it to now.

真是从前连想也不敢想啊……” You really wouldn't have dared to consider it before..."

一口气喝下多半杯凉茶,又接着说:“当然,缺点也不是没有。有,有。 He gulped down half his tea in one mouthful, and continued: "Of course, there are some faults. There are.

就拿你我说,以咱们这样水平负这样的责任,谁敢说没毛病?有,有缺点……” Take us for example, taking on these responsibilities with our level of skill - you would dare to say there aren't faults? There are, there are faults..."

听他的语气,曾刚知道他这段话不过是引子,下面就该把这些话否定掉了。 Listening to his tone, Zeng Gang knew that this was just an opening, and that this point was about to be negated.

先肯定后否定,一正一反,就分外有力量。 First acknowledge then deny - one for and one against - and then you were in a powerful position.

果然,罗立正的眼光更真挚感人了,语气也更加有力量: Sure enough, Luo Lizheng's eyes became more sincere and his tone became stronger:

“可是,不管缺点怎么多,成绩还是最主要的。 "But no matter how many faults there are, our achievements are the main thing.

谁要是忽略这一点,谁就得犯错误。 Whoever ignores that point will make mistakes.

就说造桥,就说咱们队上,有人批评说我们浪费,成本超支,这都是事实。 Take building bridges for example - us building bridges - some people criticise our wastefulness and overspending and those are true.

是怎么样就是怎么样。 That's just how it is.

赔了钱就是赔了钱。 If you lose money then you lose money.

可是桥呢?桥还是造起来了! But what about the bridges? The bridges are still being built!

我们没来,这一带黄河上没有桥,我们一走——这块儿就有了桥。 If we hadn't been here, this section of the Yellow River wouldn't have bridges, and if we left now it wouldn't either.

从无到有,这叫成就。 Going from not having to having - that's success.

不错,钱是化多了点,桥可造起来了!……” So it's pretty good - however much money we spend, at least the bridge gets built!..."

说着说着,他就从衣袋里掏出一块薄薄的白纸,——这是一篇稿子的“小样”递给曾刚。 He went on and on, and from his pocket fished out a crumpled bit of paper - it was a draft document, and he gave it to Zeng Gang.

曾刚一看就明白了。 Zeng Gang understood as soon as he saw it.

这是三分队一个通讯员写的一篇稿子。 This was a document written by the messenger from Unit 3.

说来说去,原来是为着这件事!他笑了。 After all that, all along it had been about this! He laughed.

这一笑不要紧,罗立正变了脸,站起来在土地上走来走去,疾言厉色地说: This laugh wasn't hurried, and Luo Lizheng's expression changed; he stood up and paced around on the dirt floor, and said sternly:

“‘领导保守’!‘保守’!根据是甚么?指标低了点?定额落后了? "'Conservative leadership'! 'Conservative'! According to what? Because the targets are lower? Because we're below quota?

可这是经过局里批准的呀。 But all that has approval from the office.

况且,工程局属下段段如此,队队如此。 Besides, everyone under the Construction Office is all like this - every team is like this.

说桥梁队领导保守,就等于说工程局领导保守。 Saying the bridge construction leaders are conservative is saying that the Construction Office is conservative.

这话可不能随便说……” You can't just throw stuff like that around..."

曾刚知道这种辩论不会有甚么结果。 Zeng Gang knew that this argument would come to nothing.

他早有打算把这些问题铺开来好好争论一下,可这不是合适的地方。 He'd already planned to debate this problems earnestly, but this wasn't the right place.

最好在党委会议上。 The best place would be in front of the Party Committee.

他想早一点结束这次谈话,就随便说了一句: He wanted to end this conversation as soon as possible, so he just said:

“这篇稿子主要是表扬工人劳动热情的。 "The main thing in this draft is praise for the labour and enthusiasm of the workers.

这不是,标题就叫‘桥梁队三分队青年突击队开展双倍定额运动’。 The title is 'Bridge Unit 3 Youth Squad Carry Out Double the Quota Movement', isn't it?

说领导保守,只不过提了一句……” There's only one sentence saying the leaders are conservative..."

罗立正忽然在他面前站下,直视着他的眼睛,非常严肃地说: Luo Lizheng suddenly stood in front of him, stared at him, and said extremely seriously:

“对,对,问题就在这里呀。 "Yes, yes, that's where the problem is.

老弟,你仔细想想,工人要搞双倍定额,这不等于说定额太保守么? Look pal, think about it carefully, if the workers want to double the quota, isn't that saying that the quota is conservative?

定额保守,不就是等于说工程局领导保守么? If the quota is conservative, isn't that saying that the leaders in the Construction Office are conservative?

有心人一看就明白的。 Anyone who thinks about it would understand that straight away.

这是一。 That's the first point.

更重要的还是:别的队,有的连一个定额还完不成。 What's more important though: the other units, some of them can't fulfill one single quota.

叫上边部里知道这事会怎么样? If you make the departments above aware of that what will it be like?

那就得命令工程局在各队都搞。 Then we'd have to have the Construction Office take charge of every unit.

这一军,可就要把局长给将住。 And this squad, we'd have to make the office chief take charge of it. *[??]*

明明办不到嘛。 That obviously can't be done.

部里可就得说,桥梁队办得到,为什么别的队就办不到? The people in the office would say: if the bridge team can do it, why can't other teams do it?

这还是朝轻里估计。 And that isn't an overestimation. *[?]*

万一中央负责同志知道了这件事,就许连部的领导都要作难——那就得在全国各地都这么搞哇……” If by any chance the responsible comrades in the Center knew about this, it might cause problems for leaders in all the associated offices - and then it'd have to be done like this all over the country..."

“那有甚么不好,”曾刚心里火气上升,可是罗立正这种说法又不能不叫他觉得好笑:“大家都来超额,有甚么不好?” "What's wrong with that?" anger rose up in Zeng Gang, and you could only describe what Luo Lizheng said as comical, "Everyone exceeding their quotas - what's wrong with that?"

“不,”罗立正伸出一只手,好像要堵住对方的嘴: "No," Luo Lizheng extended a hand as if he wanted to obstruct his opponent's mouth:

“问题是行不通!十个指头从来没有一般齐的。 "The problem is that it wouldn't work! Ten fingers are never level.

我知道,苏联有过这么一个运动——叫‘两倍定额’,可那是苏联。 I know that the Soviet Union has some movement or something called 'Double the Quota', but that's the Soviet Union.

不,不行,把苏联的玩意儿硬搬到中国来不行。 No, it wouldn't work, trying to shift Soviet tricks into China wouldn't work.

中国有中国的特点。 China has Chinese characteristics.

比方说,在苏联,可以批评领导,中国就不行。 For example, in the Soviet Union, you can criticise the leaders, but in China you can't.

搞大运动,像‘三反’‘五反’的时候,有中央指示,可以批评。 When big movements start, like the 'Three Antis' and the 'Five Antis', they're directed from the Center, and then you can criticise.

平时,没有指示,我们就不能批评局里;要批评,也得局里批准。 But normally, if there's no directive to, we can't criticise the office; if there's going to be criticism, it has to be in the office.

苏联做事讲究猛,咱们中国就讲究稳,这也是一个特点。 The Soviet Union does things very abruptly, but us Chinese pay attention to stability, and that's a characteristic as well.

凡事都要多多注意中国的特点,就不会犯错误了。 No matter what the issue, you've got to pay attention to China's characteristics, and then you won't make mistakes.

懂么?……” Do you get it? ... "

这回,是曾刚站起来了。 At that moment, it was Zeng Gang who stood up.

这些话,他听过不止一次,唯其不止一次,才忍无可忍。 He'd heard this stuff more than once, but once was once more than he could bear.

他想一下就把想过多少次的意见都朝罗立正兜出来,可又不知先从哪里开始。 He wanted to say all of the things he'd ever thought about it to Luo Lizheng at once, but he didn't know where to start.

要说,就要说得有力量,使对方失去反击的能力。 If he was going to say it, he had to say it with force, and take away his opponents ability to strike back.

所以,他迟疑了一会儿,才把话说出来: So he hesitated for a moment, and then said:

“算了,罗队长。 "Forget it, Captain Luo.

不喜欢的,就说不合中国特点所以不能办,喜欢的就说这是中国特点必须这么办。 Those who don't like it will say that it doesn't fit with China's characteristics so it can't be done, and those who do like it will say that according to China's characteristics this is how it must be done.

不行,说不过去。 If it can't be done, then there's nothing to be said. *[?]*

请问你,罗队长,中国难道只有这些特点么? Let me ask you, Captain Luo: could it be that China only has these characteristics?

生产条件落后,机器不够,领导不提倡,可是工人们还要搞两倍定额,这叫不叫中国特点? Production conditions are old-fashioned, the machinery is insufficient, the leaders don't encourage, yet the workers still want to double the quota - isn't that a Chinese characteristic?

你光说落后的特点,可这些特点,就一点也不需要改变么? You've just said the characteristic of being old-fashioned, but of these characteristics, isn't that the one that needs changing?

因为工人技术低,所以机器常出毛病;机器出毛病,只好用人力。 The workers have low technical knowledge, so the machinery often goes wrong; when the machinery goes wrong, we can only use manpower.

这叫中国特点。 That is a Chinese characteristic.

那么,把工人技术提高一点,对中国有甚么损失? So, if we raised the workers' technical knowledge, what would the harm be to China?

干部水平低,工人文化浅,所以只好多开会,只好开长会。 If the cadres are of a low standard, and the workers are uneducated, then all we can do is hold more meetings and hold longer meetings.

这叫中国特点。 That is a Chinese characteristic.

可是你成天开会,层层开会,干部不用思想、工人无法学习,怎么能提高? But if you hold meetings all day, meetings at every level, then the cadres don't think and the workers have no way to learn, and how can you improve things?”

他还想说下去,忽然看见罗立正的眼睛里已经充满睡意,显然没有把他的话听进去,就不往下说了。 He wanted to go on, but suddenly saw Luo Lizheng's eyes were filled with tiredness, and realised that he hadn't been listening, so he stopped talking.

罗立正对于这些抽象问题一点也没有兴趣。 Luo Lizheng wasn't at all interested in these abstract questions.

他一向只关心具体问题。 He was only bothered about concrete questions.

此刻他想的,是怎样把这团火给压住,不叫这篇稿子见报,不叫这惹是生非的什么几倍定额运动搞起来。 At that moment he was thinking, how can I quell this group, and not let this draft reach the papers, and not let this trouble-making movement to multiply the quota continue.

他也设想了:万一压不住,局长、副局长对这些东西会有甚么反应…… And then he thought: what if I can't control it - how would the Bureau Chief and the Deputy Bureau Chief react? ...

像平时一样,在曾刚火气正盛的时候,罗立正就把谈话引到更和平一些的话题上去,颇为认真地和曾刚探讨起如何在洪水到来以前把各项准备工作做好,如何处理过期的水泥、不合规格的石料,一直谈到下一次队务会议怎样个开法。 As usual when Zeng Gang got angry, Luo Lizheng brought the conversation back to a more neutral topic, and quite earnestly discussed with Zeng Gang how to prepare everything properly before the flood waters came, and how to deal with expired cement and stone that didn't meet standards, and discussed how to open the next team meeting.

这时,一群群乌鸦从屋顶上呱呱飞过,房屋对面黄土山上层层窑洞里已经燃起万家灯火,曾刚呢,也疲倦得要打哈欠,一只手轻轻地敲着桌子。 At that moment, a flock of crows took off cawing from the roof, and the layered dugout huts, opposite the loess hills, were lit up by lamplight; Zeng Gang yawned with exhaustion, and rapped lightly on the table with one hand.

这时罗立正才把最后一个话题草草结束,站起身来,十分亲切地握住曾刚的手说: Only then did Luo Lizheng hastily conclude the final topic; he stood up and shook Zeng Gang's hand very amiably, saying:

“事情总比我们想的要复杂得多。 "Things are always more complex than we think.

这篇稿子,我看还是不忙发表。 This draft - I think we shouldn't be too hasty to publish it.

跟党委书记研究一下……” I'll discuss it with the Party Committee Secretary..."

在曾刚的眼睛看不到反对的意思,这才进一步说道: He didn't see any opposition in Zeng Gang's eyes, so he continued:

“至于两倍定额运动这个事,我也并不是反对。 "As for the Double the Quota movement, I'm not opposed to it.

这样的大事,党委会怎么能不讨论一下? Something as important as that, how could I not discuss it with the Party Committee Secretary?

我看,最好先在那两个突击队试试点,然后再考虑铺开的问题……” As I see it, it'd best to try it first with two of the outstanding units, and then consider the issue of widening it..."

已经走出房门,罗立正已经把曾刚送到街上,才像自己人似的低声说道: I'd already gone out of the door and Luo Lizheng had seen Zeng Gang down to the road when he said to Zeng Gang as if they were on the same side:

“咱们是老同志,我才跟你说,队部里有些同志说你太褊狭,只看缺点不看成绩。 "We're old comrades, so I'll say to you - some people in the office think you're too narrow-minded, and only see faults and don't see success.

个别的负责干部还说过,这是不是一种反党情绪,不然,为甚么尽找领导的毛病呢?……” And individual cadres have also asked if this is an anti-Party state of mind, otherwise, why would you only seek out the leader's faults? ..."

曾刚本已朝河岸走去,听见这最后一句话,猛然站下来。 Zeng Gang was already walking towards the riverbank, but when he heard that last sentence he turned round fiercely.

天色已经很黑,河上吹来的风逼得人透不过气来,显然不是谈话的时候。 It was already very dark, and the wind blowing over the river made it hard to breathe *[?]*, so it clearly wasn't the time to speak.

他把背对着风向站了几秒钟,一句话也没说就走开了。 He stood with his back to the wind for a few seconds, but didn't say anything, and then he left.

世界上没有两条完全相同的河流。 No two rivers in the world are completely the same.

自然界从来都比试验室的配方或设计院的图纸里所反映的要复杂得多。 The natural world is always much more complex than formulations in the lab or blueprints in the design office.

再高明的工程师,也躲不开工作里必然碰到的偶然因素。 The brighter the engineer, the less they can avoid the inevitable collision with the factor of randomness in their work.

建设,就是不断的试探,摸索,创造,发现新的办法,然后又否定掉它,再去创造更为新颖、更为合理的办法。 Construction is endless experimentation, feeling one's way forward, innovation and finding new methods, and if you can disprove something then you can go and create a new and original, more rational method.

设计图或计划,是张素描,必须有千百只劳动的画笔给它涂抹上各种鲜艳的色彩,才能变成一张真正的图画。 Blueprints or plans are sketches and must be painted with a million gaudy strokes of the brush of labour, and only then can they come a real picture.

从挖起第一锹土、炸下第一块石头到安好桥上的最后一根钢梁,需要群众想出多少“独出心裁”的办法,才能把一座桥梁造得又快又好又省啊! From the dig of the first shovel and the detonation of the first rock to last girder of the bridge being put securely in place, it all requires everyone to display originality, and only then can you build a bridge quickly and economically!

他们不仅能够想办法更有效地使用自己的双手,而且能够帮助领导把千万只手组织得更好,帮助领导早一点发现成熟了的问题,早一点防止或克服可能发生或已经发生的灾害。 They must not only be able to think of methods but, even more, must be able to use their own two hands, and must be able to help the leaders better organise ten million hands, and to help the leaders discover developing problems early, and take preventative measures against or overcome disasters that happen or might happen.

造桥如此,事事如此。 Building bridges is like this; everything is like this.

人身上最可贵的品质之一,不就是这种主动性么? Is initiative not one of the most valuable qualities of a person?

在桥梁队和工人、技术人员们一起度过的这些日子里,我随时感觉到他们在为许多事焦虑不安,为许多事议论纷纷。 During the time the bridge team, workers and technicians spent together, from time to time I would feel that they worried too much about many things, and disorderly debated too many things.

跟他们在一起,你会又兴奋,又着急:有多少聪敏的头脑在为我们国家想事情,有多少颗不安的心在为我们大家的事业忧虑和喜悦啊! Being with them, one felt excited and anxious: how many intelligent minds were thinking about things for our nation, and how many uneasy minds were concerned or joyous about the undertakings of our nation!

但是,许许多多新鲜的思想没有成为实际,许许多多有益的、明智的意见变成空谈。 However, many new ways of thinking, when put into practice, whilst many were beneficial, much wisdom would turn into idle chatter.

就在队长办公室门外,墙上挂着一个大木箱,上面写着“意见箱”三个大字。 Outside the Team Leader's office, a large wooden box hung on the wall, and on it was written in large lettering: "Suggestions Box".

锁都锈住了,也没有人投进什么意见。 The lock was rusted, and nobody was putting suggestions in.

工人们每天上下班要经过队部两次,也很少有人走进办公室,坐下来谈谈。 All of the workers would walk past the office twice a day when the started and finished work, but people very rarely entered the office to talk.

这也难怪:既然意见、建议变成了有效行动的还要受到排斥,谈话还有甚么用处呢? But this wasn't surprising: since opinions and suggestions would be rejected before they became effective actions, what was the point in talking?

队部里,是另外一种空气。 There was a different kind of atmosphere in the office.

队部里最常用的字眼是“正常”。 The word that was used most often in the office was "normal".

每周计划会议上各科室主任回顾七天工作时,嘴里说的是“正常”; At the weekly planning meeting when every lab director would review the work of the past seven days, what they said was "normal".

调度电话里、给局里的汇报上,写的也是“正常”。 When phone calls were made or letters sent to report to the office, the word used was "normal".

所谓“正常”,就是一切该传达、该布置、该讨论、该计算的都作过了。 This "normal" was what should be transmitted, arranged, discussed and planned for.

但是在作过这一切以后,下面存在甚么困难,有甚么问题,群众有甚么要求或建议,就都不在话下了。 But once all that was done, whatever difficulties remained, whatever problems there were, whatever requests or suggestions the masses had, were not spoken of.

罗队长只承认局里来的决定、指标、规章、制度。 Captain Luo would only acknowledge the decisions, targets, regulations and control of the office.

一切来自群众的意思、意见、办法等等,哪怕是实现一个指示所必需的,也不加理睬。 All of the ideas, opinions, methods and so on that came from the masses, even if they were required to fulfil a target, were ignored.

倘使一个建议或方案超乎计划、规定的范围之外,罗队长自己还没来得及想到,就带着紧张与厌烦混杂在一起的情绪去看待。 If a suggestion or proposal went outside of the plan or stipulations, and Captain Luo didn't have time to consider it, then he would look it at with nervousness and frustration.

如果它们不慎触犯了队里的秩序,可能破坏队里的“正常”状态或违背五年前制订的哪一条规章; If team orders were accidentally disobeyed, it could destroy the "normal" status of the team or break some rule that was formulated five years ago;

或者——这是特别重要的,如果它们正好不是局里目前所提倡的,甚至可能是违背“领导意图”的,就大惊失色地目为异端,说是“冒险”。 or, and this was very important, if they didn't do exactly what the office was promoting at that time, they might even violate "the intentions of the leadership", and then they would turn pale with fright and see it as heresy, calling it "risky".

罗立正每有机会就向队部和各分队的干部谆谆告诫: Luo Lizheng would caution the office and team leaders whenever he had the opportunity:

“在我们,最重要的是领会领导意图。 "For us, what's most important is understanding the intention of the leadership.

对上级的困难,则要多多体谅。 We have to empathise with the difficulties faced by the higher-ups.

有时候,你以为领导大意马虎,办事拖拉,岂不知人家心中有数,这里面有个意图……” Sometimes you might think that the ideas of the leadership are sloppy and that things are being done slowly, but consider that it might be that there is actually a plan to it all..."

执行上级规定,罗立正一向是不遗余力的,有时甚至可以牺牲一点工作利益。 In implementing the stipulations of the higher-ups, Luo Lizheng would spare no pain, and sometimes he would even sacrifice the good of the work.

我就见过这样一件怪事: I saw this kind of strange occurrence:

砌石拱桥用的方顺石,工程局原来的要求是公差不许超过二厘。 Originally the office had required that there be a tolerance of no more than two centimetres for the square blocks used for the arch bridge.

技术室要求石工这么作。 The tech lab required that work was done this way.

凡超过二厘的,一律算作废品。 All the blocks that differed by more than two centimetres were all discarded.

做了半个月,打了几千块石头,百分之七十五都不合乎这个要求。 This was done for two weeks, and of the thousands of blocks that were made, seventy-five percent didn't meet the requirements.

工人拿不到基本工资。 The workers didn't get their basic wage.

老工人、技术员提了多少次,说石拱桥上的方顺石,不需要这么精密,而且石质确实太粗,不是掉角就是裂缝。 The old workers and the technicians raised the issue several times, saying that the stone blocks for the stone arch bridge didn't need to be so precise, and the stone was actually too coarse, and would crack on the corners.

吵得凶了,技术室周主任到工地上实地看了看,确实不是工人偷懒,也不是技术太差,这种石头就是做不精细。 They argued about it fiercely, and Director Zhou from the tech lab went to the construction site to look, and it actually wasn't the workers being lazy, and it wasn't that their tech knowledge was too poor; that kind of stone just wasn't fine enough.

回到队部,把情况汇报给罗队长,两人交换了意见,最后由罗队长签名给石工队写了个命令: When he got back to the office, he gave his situation report to Captain Luo and the two of them exchanged ideas, and in the end it came down to Captain Luo signing his name to a command for the stone workers:

“……为保证石拱桥质量,方顺石规格不许擅自更改,必须严格执行工程局规定,按原规格要求加工……” "...in order to ensure the quality of the stone bridge, the dimensions of the stone blocks cannot be changed, and the requirements of the office must be strictly carried out, and you must work according to the original specifications..."

后来事情闹到了工程局,局里派人来检查一次,把方顺石规格的公差放宽了四倍——八厘,认为对桥身牢固毫无影响。 Later the dispute got to the construction office, and they sent someone to do an inspection, and then they increased the tolerance for the stone blocks by four times to eight centimetres, concluding that it wouldn't have any effect on the security of the bridge.

再回头找那几千块报废了的石头,已经毫无踪影——都给市建设局铺了马路了。 But when they tried to find those several thousand discarded blocks from before, there was no trace - they'd all been given to the City Road Construction Office.

罗立正在这方面,从来是有过之无不及的。 On that front, Luo Lizheng always *[???]*.

如果局里要队上通知一下职工注意安全,队部就得叫工人讨论三次; If the office wanted to make an announcement to the team that they should pay attention to safety whilst working, they had to discuss it with the workers three times;

如果局里说,安全问题必须组织一次学习,桥梁队就要拿一个星期的晚上作报告、组织层层讨论。 If the office said that safety issues had to be studied together, then the bridge team had to use a week of evenings to report on it and organise discussions.

但一个星期以后,队部也可以根本忘记安全这一回事。 But after that week, the office could forget all about the issue of safety.

这就叫似是而非。 This is what it means when things are "apparently right but actually wrong".

技术室主任周维本第一个学会了这个“精神”。 Director Zhou Weiben from the tech lab was the first to learn this 'spirit'.

凡事多说几个“不够”,总没有坏处。 There wasn't any harm in saying everything was "not enough" a few times.

各分队提上来的技术方案、措施之类东西,技术室总要把保险系数在原有基础上再加大20%。 For the tech solutions that every unit proposed, steps forward and so on, the tech lab would always add an insurance tolerance of twenty percent.

几百吨水泥、钢材、木料都在“力求安全”的要求下白白浪费了。 Several hundred tons of soil, steel and timber were all wasted on "striving for safety".

可是谁也不能把罪名加在周主任的头上,“安全第一”嘛,这是上级的指示,周维本又一个钱也没放到自己腰包里!…… But no-one could put any blame on Director Zhou's "safety first" - it was an instruction from above, and Zhou Weiben wasn't going to take responsibility over that! ...

在党委办公室里,有一次我和党委书记章志华同志谈起了这个“似是而非”的问题。 In the office of the Party Committee, one time I was discussing this problem of things "seeming right but not being right" with the Party Committee Secretary Zhang Zhihua.

他听完我谈这段时期看到的这些情况,捏了把烟叶塞到用得发亮了的烟斗里,使劲吸了一会儿,烟叶才算燃着了。 Once he'd listening to me talk about the situation I'd seen then, he pinched some leaf tobacco into his pipe, and sucked through it forcefully to get it to burn.

他脸上忽然现出一丝苦笑,显然是想起了不快的往事: Suddenly a bitter smile appeared on his face; he was obviously thinking of something unpleasant:

“外边人、局里人都说,要说桥梁队的队长嘛,那可是组织性、纪律性最强的。 "People inside and outside the office all say, that the team leader of the bridge team has organisation and strong discipline.

谁也没有他请示的次数多;局里的甚么指示,桥梁队也贯彻的最坚决。 No-one asks for instructions as much as he does; whatever instructions come from the office, the bridge team puts them into practice most resolutely.

这倒是事实。 That's the actual truth.

可是究竟甚么叫做组织性纪律性呢? Because what does 'organisational discipline' mean after all?

中央的政策,不学习;中央的决定、指示不附着局里的命令就不理会;党报的社论也从来不大看,说这是针对‘一般情况’写的,咱们队是‘具体情况’,不一样……。” We don't look at policies from the Centre; if decisions and instructions from the Centre aren't included in orders from the office then we pay them no attention; editorials in the Party papers are never given much attention, and if they write things aimed at 'the general situation', our team is interested in 'the concrete situation' - it's different..."

他狠狠地吸了一口烟,呛得咳嗽了一阵,又说: He sucked in a mouthful of smoke ferociously, coughed on it, and then said:

“方针是一条:一个人不按报纸的社论办事,多咱也不会为这一点而受处分。 "The policy has one line: a person does not handle things according to newspaper editorials, and so will never be disciplined for it.

这不算犯错误。 That doesn't count as making a mistake.

按行政命令办事,即便违反了党的政策,责任也不会追到下边来。 If you work according to executive orders, although it might violate Party policy, the blame won't go to those below.

就是这么个逻辑……” That's the logic of it...

听着这位瘦瘦的、因为贫血脸色苍白的同志这些话,大体上就可以理解他每天工作里遇到的主要困难是甚么。 Listening to this skinny comrade with a face whitened by anaemia, one could generally understand what difficulties he faced whilst working every day.

队长是党委委员。 The team leader was a Party Committee member.

党委会议上多数人作出甚么决议,他从来不反对。 Most of the people at the Party Committee meeting came up with some resolutions, and he would never oppose them.

党委书记平时的意见,他也是尊重的。 He respected the opinions of the Party Committee Secretary.

但是,实现任何一个决议、意见,都需要条件。 However, putting any resolution or opinion into practice had some conditions.

许多条件要靠行政上支持、采取措施才创造得出来,而行政领导人——队长随时都可以举出几十个具体困难,把他不十分喜欢或认为非当务之急的事给拖下去。 These conditions were the backing of executive orders that required various steps being taken to bring about, and the administrators - the team leader could raise specific issues at any time, and hold back any issues he didn't completely like or believed to be non-urgent.

谁也不能责备,因为他并不是反对党委会的决议啊。 Nobody could criticise, because he wasn't opposing resolutions from the Party Committee.

党委书记来了三个月,看势头不对,就把自己的主要精力放到下面去。 When the Party Committee Secretary had been there for three months, and saw that the situation wasn't right, he spent most of his energy dealing with things below.

他凭着长期政治工作的嗅觉,一下子就看中了三分队。 He relied on the political intuition he'd gained over a long time, and immediately identified Unit 3.

三分队的曾刚,从三方面给党委书记以帮助: Zeng Gang from Unit 3 could be helped in three ways by the Party Committee Secretary:

作为一个行政领导人和主管工程师,他在自己分队里想尽办法创造条件,按党委决议组织起真正的竞赛,把工人的每一件可行的合理化建议付诸实现。 As as administrative leader and responsible engineer, he wanted to try his best to create conditions in his own team that would fit the Party Committee's resolutions and organisation for real competition, and to put into effect every reasonable and rational suggestion from his workers.

作为团委会的一个委员,他在三分队首先成立了三个青年团监督岗,这就大大推动了行政管理、施工组织的改进。 As a group committee member, he first established Youth Supervisors in Unit 3, who pushed administrative management and construction organisation reforms forward.

最后,作为一个同志,他帮助这位门外汉的党委书记在一个月之内熟悉了造桥原理和施工组织上的基本原则。 Finally, as a comrade, he would help the layman Party Committee Secretary to become familiar with the fundamental principles of bridge building and construction organisation in one month.

章志华原来想的是,先在三分队作出个样子,叫别的分队跟着走,也可以推动队部领导改进自己的工作。 What Zhang Zhihua originally thought was that making an appearance in Unit 3 would cause other units to follow their lead, and encourage the office to improve their own work.

事情可比他所想的要复杂得多。 The situation was considerably more complex than he had thought.

把三分队的一两点经验传授给别的分队,是容易的,要把队长的根本态度以及这种态度给各科室、各分队的强大的影响扭转过来,可就困难得多了。 To pass on one or two points of experience from Unit 3 to the other units was easy, but it was much harder to reverse the team leader's basic attitude and the powerful influence of that attitude on the tech lab and other units.

这个影响不改变,好东西也要走样子。 If you didn't change that influence, the good things wouldn't take shape.

三分队的青年团监督岗推广到五分队,忽然变成了“表扬”岗,每批评一次甚么人,就要在黑板报、大字报上表扬五次别的人,这是队长来过以后提的意见,说是必须多表扬,监督岗才不至脱离群众。 The Youth Supervision Group in Unit 3 was extended to Unit 5, and it suddenly changed into a "Praise" group; every time they criticised someone, they would praise five other people on a blackboard in big letters; this was a suggestion from the team leader: you had to praise more, otherwise the supervisors would lose touch with the masses.

二分队的监督岗刚成立五天,就揭发了十三件分队部、大队部工作里的拖拉、疏忽和不负责任现象。 Five days after Supervisors had been set up in Unit 2, they exposed Unit 13's work practices, negligence and lack of responsibility.

第七天,团总支书记从大队部回来,皱着眉传达了罗队长的意思: On the seventh day, the Secretary came back, wrinkled his brow and passed on the wish of Captain Luo:

监督岗,主要是监督工人群众中间的问题,不应把矛头指向领导,这样下去有损害领导威信的危险…… The supervisors, particularly those supervising issues amongst the workers, should not target the leaders; if they carried on like this they risked damaging trust in the leaders...

一个党委书记,总不能为每一件这类事情都去找一次队长。 One Party Committee Secretary could not go and find a team leader for every single issue.

而且,桥梁队历来的空气是不大容易展开什么争论的,如果哪个领导干部对另一个领导干部的意见迎头给以反驳,大家会觉得这“不正常”,在场的人都会有几分钟不大舒服。 Furthermore, the atmosphere in the bridge team always let them get into arguments too easily; if one leader cadre directly opposed the opinion of another leader cadre, everyone would think that this was "abnormal", and those on the scene would be uncomfortable for a while.

章志华自然也不能一点不受这个传统的约束。 Zhang Zhihua naturally could only accept the restriction of this tradition. *[?]*

况且,问题是即便你决心把问题摆到桌面上来,大家痛痛快快地把真理争个明白,也仍然不能如愿以偿,因为对方躲着你的锋芒,不肯应战。 Also, the problem was that even if you were determined to bring a problem to the table, everyone would immediately argue over the truth of it, so you wouldn't get your wish fulfilled, because your opponents would dodge your arguments, and refuse to take up the challenge.

许多次谈话都是无济而终,不明不白地结束的。 Many times the conversation would end without anything being achieved and with nothing made clear.

← Part 2”) · Part 3 · Part 4 →”)

Tags