Stalin's Education Policy

Note:  In particular, look below at the excerpt from Chapter 2 on the State and Intelligensia



A 1959 book titled "Twentieth Century Russia" by Donald W. Treadgold (Univ. of Washington) was published as part of the Rand McNally History Series. Included herein are excerpts from several chapters -- Ch. 2: The State and the Intelligentsia: Ch. 3: Marxism comes to Russia; Ch. 18: The Consolidation of Totalitarianism  (1933-1941); Ch. 21: Stalin's Diplomacy and World Communism (1936-1941); Ch. 22: Stalin's Cultural Policy  (1927-1945).

Here's an excerpt about Stalin's educational policy (emphasis added):

The Soviet state makes no attempt to claim credit for the advancement of truth, knowledge, and art for their own sake. Any effort to interpret those values as of inherent worth or of some significance independent of the needs of the Soviet state is branded as "bourgeois objectivism" or even, in certain cases, treason. The intent of the Soviet regime is not to educate, but to indoctrinate through a culturally totalitarian system of controls which produce, in the words of Stain, a group of intellectuals who are "engineers of human minds," and for the rest, minds capable of being engineered. In this manner it is intended to create the "new Soviet man." (page 349)

My comment: Replace "Soviet" with "Globalist" or "United Nations" (via UNESCO education reforms/mandates and International Baccalaureate) and that would bring things up-to-date with the kind of education [for global citizenship] that has been incrementally taking over school systems around the globe.

Here's another interesting excerpt (emphasis added):
A proliferation of "feeder" organizations [for Stalin's political apparatus] was developed and expanded. The Little Octobrists for children eight to eleven years of age, the Pioneers for those ten to sixteen, and the Komosomol (Communist Union of Youth) for persons aged fifteen to twenty-six were together designed to produce adults who accepted the fundamental ideological commitments and values of the Party proper and were habituated to its standards of unquestioning discipline. (page 288)

See how much you can relate to below with what has been or is going on in the U.S. and other countries. I've dropped this email into a pdf file for printing.    Excerpts from Twentieth Century Russia (pdf)

D. Niwa


Highlights/emphasis added:

Chapter 2: The State and the Intelligentsia (p.28-39)

excerpt page 38:

After their failure to arouse the peasantry in 1873-1874, the [Russian] populists organized a society called Land and Liberty...When used as slogans of the old serf revolts and afterward, this phrase had been understood by the peasants to mean that they should receive land as their own possession and liberty from the obligations imposed b the state and their landlords, from the interference of officialdom in their own affairs, and perhaps something more. The populists were less interested in what the peasants understood by "land and liberty" than in what, in their view, it ought to mean. They had little patience with the peasants' religious outlook or their desire for property.
The men of Land and Liberty shared a positivist epistemology, a naturalist metaphysics, and devotion to the Western ideal of socialism. Like the Western socialists, they found repellant the realities of contemporary Western society. They disliked Victorian delicacy, industrial slums and factory miseries, and bourgeois parliamentarism. They had enough of their Western contemporaries' "realism" to appreciate that socialist Utopias are not to be had for the asking. The inexorable process of history, they felt, were on their side, although they clung to the belief that the "critically-thinking individual" could channel and utilize these processes in order to create a good society. The revolutionary should be able to discern the germ of future development within the institutions given by the past.

Chapter 3: Marxism comes to Russia (p 40-50)

excerpt page 41:

. . . If British political economy, French Utopian socialism, and German idealist philosophy were the forerunners of Marxism in the West, so were they in Russia. .
. .
excerpt page 42:

. . . Marx and Engels called their system dialectical materialism, in order to emphasize its difference from Hegelianism, with its smuggled-in God.

excerpt page 42:

. . . Marx died the same year that Russian Marxism was born.

excerpt page 46:

Briefly and simply, Marxism begins with two basic propositions. First, matter exists and nothing else does. Second, matter changes constantly in accordance with the "laws" of the dialectic; . . . The two propositions combine to form the philosophy of dialectical materialism. That aspect of it which undertakes to explain history is known as historical materialism. . . .

excerpt page 49:

. . . In his Critique of the Gotha Program (of the newborn German Marxist party), Marx distinguished between two phases through which the new order would develop, "socialism" and "communism." Under both man would work according to his ability; under socialism he would be renumerated according to the amount of his work, under communism according to the extent of his need.

excerpt page 49:

It was only in the later 1870's that Marxist parties began to be formed. In order to escape the onus of the Paris Commune they called themselves "Social Democratic" rather than "Communists." (Lenin was to negate this negation by reviving the label 'Communist' during the First World War.) The first Social Democratic party, which remained the senior and strongest until the Bolshevik Revolution, was the German one.

Chapter 21: Stalin's Diplomacy and World Communism (1936-1941) (p.321-340)

excerpt page 328:

Two months after the Japanese war began, the Chinese Communist party announced the formal abolition of the Chinese Soviet Government and the Chinese Red Army, and the Acceptance of Sun Yat-sen's Three People's Principles (nationalism, democracy, and livelihood) as China's most important current need. Sun's principles, which remain to this day the foundation of Kuomintang ideology, are not adequately indicated by three words. Sun had declared that "nationalism" meant that "we . . . must break down individual liberty and become pressed together into an unyielding body like the firm rock which is formed by the addition of cement to sand . . . on no account must we give more liberty to the individual; let us secure liberty instead for the nation." "Democracy" meant to Sun the masses' acceptance of the leadership of a wise elite. The meaning of "livelihood" was obscure, but one of the chief measures designed to implement it was to be a Henry George-like "equalization of landownership." . . .

excerpt page 329:

The theoretical implication of the Communist policy were explained by Mao in his work, written in 1939 and published the following year, entitled On the New Democracy. Using the conceptual framework of the Russian Communist, Mao declared that China had been a feudal society which had become a semi-colony of the Western imperialist powers. The first stage of revolution must then combine the overthrow of the power of "feudal" landlords with destruction of the Western imperialist influence and those Chinese elements associated with it. In this "bourgeois-democratic" stage, the peasantry would furnish the main force, but the leadership would come from the "proletariat" (that is, the Communist party). This stage would merge directly into the "socialist revolution," but until that time leadership would be assumed by a "joint dictatorship of all revolutionary classes" (the proletariat, peasantry, "petty bourgeoisie," and "national bourgeoisie"). . . .

excerpt page 331:

. . . In 1936 the Vietnamese Communists, . . . set up a Communist-controlled "Democratic Front."

Chapter 18: The Consolidation of Totalitarianism (1933-1941) (p.276-296)

excerpt page 288:

The original notion of "democratic centralism" was that decisions made by congress majorities must bind the [Communist] Central Committee, other central organs, and all the rank and file. Stalin simply transferred the process of decision-making on himself and his own picked Politburo. The party structure was not formally changed, but the views of no Party organ but the Politburo counted, and during the Great Purges several members of the Politburo itself were liquidated. The only security from execution, imprisonment, or dismissal was Stalin's unpredictable personal favor.
  Having destroyed so many of the leaders of the Party, Stalin was naturally at pains to try to produce a leadership more amenable to his desires. The militant, even military, character of the Communist Party became fully developed during the thirties. Stalin tried to create a reliable new generation of Party members by emphasizing indoctrination in the principles of partiinost' ("party" converted into a generic noun; literally "party-ness"), discipline, and self-criticism (samokritika). An attempt was made to create an atmosphere of unceasing combat, whether against "enemies of the state" or foreign "capitalists," or for the fulfillment of the goals of the Five-Year Plans or achievement of the objectives of Party propaganda and agitation (agitprop). A proliferation of "feeder" organizations was developed and expanded. The Little Octobrists for children eight to eleven years of age, the Pioneers for those ten to sixteen, and the Komosomol (Communist Union of Youth) for persons aged fifteen to twenty-six were together designed to produce adults who accepted the fundamental ideological commitments and values of the Party proper and were habituated to its standards of unquestioning discipline.
The cessation of the purges at the end of 1938 was a signal that two processes were nearly complete: members of a suspected older generation had been wiped out or terrorized, and also a younger and presumably more reliable generation had assumed the posts vacated by those purged or new posts established to perfect the control of Stalin's apparatus over all branches of Soviet life.
  In that apparatus the Party was both in theory and practice the paramount and central mechanism, and the Constitution was quite accurate in stating it was the "heading core of all organizations" including the "organs of government." But the Party itself had been converted into an instrument of Stalin and his clique. The Party members as a group were more privileged and more powerful than any other. Within its hierarchy there was a series of graduations of prestige and authority, but even the top functionaries were subject to Stalin's supreme power, and the word Vozhd (Leader) came to be used openly and to acknowledge and proclaim that fact. In George Orwell's Animal Farm all of the animals were equal, but some were more equal than others; in those terms, Stalin was the most equal of all. . . .

Chapter 22: Stalin's Cultural Policy  (1927-1945)  (p.341-353)

excerpt page 341:

During the "Second Revolution" the arts were hurled into an atmosphere of combat. . . .Calling for the creation of a "literary front" in the struggle to fulfill the First Five-Year Plan, [Leopold] Averbakh inaugurated what soon became a literary dictatorship. Mayakovsky, declaring that he had "stepped on the throat of his own song," left a poem ending "No need itemizing mutual griefs, woes, offenses. Good luck and goodbye"; and shot himself. There was no room for anything but "realism," the "social command," and "shock workers" of "artistic brigades."

excerpt page 342-343:

As the First Five-Year Plan neared its end, in April 1932 the Party Central Committee again intervened on the literary scene. . . . Yudin particularly attacked the Averbakh slogan of "the living man," his emphasis on individual psychology, and his brand of realism. He also criticized RAPP's [Russian Association of Prolitarian Writers] strictures on fellow travelers. All this harmonized with Stalin's expressed willingness to "forget" the past errors of the old intelligentsia and utilize them for "socialist construction." Moreover, it conformed with his not fully stated line that when socialism was built (as it was declared to have been in 1936) and class struggle disappeared, there was to be no room for "proletarian" particularism; all "socialist" and 'Soviet" intellectuals should serve the interests of the system and think in terms of the interests of the USSR rather than any segment of its population. However, although the new policy appeared in the guise of softening the cultural dictatorship, it was immediately to be made plain that the dictatorship was only being taken away from RAPP and placed in the hands of the Party, which would apply it to all artists with an unprecedented rigor.

excerpt page 343:

According to Radek, "Socialist realism means not only knowing reality as it is, but knowing whither it is moving. . . ." In other words, authentic "realism" was suspect because its text was truthfulness. What was demanded of the Soviet artists was didacticism, the portrayal less of what was than what out to be. They had to become, as Stalin put it, "engineers of human minds."

excerpt page 343:

Many foreign observers erroneously concluded from the new policy that Russian nationalism was replacing Marxism as the basis of Soviet ideology. . . . The difference between the periods before and after 1934 in the writing of Soviet history was between and individuals use of Marxism . . . as an instrument of interpretation on the one hand, and on the other a despotic state's use of Marxism as an instrument of the current needs of policy and severe punishment of those who did not co-operate in such use to the state's full satisfaction. As a result independent Marxist were entitled to claim that the doctrine had been perverted, but not that it had been abandoned. In fact, Stalin's own contribution to the perversion of history, the Short Course in the history of the Soviet Communist Party (1939), insisted as strongly as ever on the necessity of interpreting all phenomena in the light of "Marxism-Leninism."

excerpt page 348:

Stalin's cultural policy aimed at forcing into the service of the state not only the talent and training of professional writers and artists, but of teachers and scholars, and the entire educational system In a country where mass education was only in the planning stage on the eve of the Revolution, one of the major aims of the Communists was to bring about a physical expansion of the school system to include all the people. . . . [I]n 1940, the system of State Labor Reserves schools was established, providing for the conscription of one million students per year into these vocational training centers.
In consequence of such measures as these, there is no doubt that most children in the USSR who combine ability with demonstrated political reliability can obtain both advanced education and a privileged position in the Soviet state thereafter, and moreover, that there is available in certain fields, among them man of the pure sciences and many branches of technology, training of high quality, little hampered by ideological interference. On the other hand, it is a fact that in all fields Soviet scholars, scientists, and teachers are subject to direct personal surveillance by the Party and secret police. Beginning in the 1930's, but especially since World War II, the Party has repeatedly intervened not only to formulate an obligatory policy on academic issues, but also to silence all views other than its own. Furthermore, the Party line has changed several times without warning, so that even those who are willing to accept the Party as the arbiter of all truth cannot protect themselves from the shifting winds of doctrine or from consequences which have included  academic discrimination or dismissal, confinement in concentration camp or execution, for ideological deviation.

excerpt page 349:

In the first decade of Soviet educational theorists drew heavily on the ideas of John Dewey and other Americans who espoused "progressive education." Such influential men as S.T. Shatsky and Paul Blonsky emphasized "freedom for the child" and dropped such traditional subjects as Latin from the school curriculum. However, in the middle thirties the Party intervened to restore a differential grading system, classroom discipline, and some of the traditional subjects -- taught in a far from traditional way with emphasis on ideological goals. In 1936 Blonsky was attacked by the Party Central Committee an promptly vanished. The notion of group "socialistic competition" in education, popular under the First Five-Year Plan, was dropped. As in all other respects, in his education the individual was to be at the mercy of the state, with as few intermediary agencies as practicable. His position in the school was to be such that his reliability could be constantly tested and rewarded or punished, without reference to a group with which he might be working. Stalin made no secret of his view of education (which Lenin had shared): to H. G. Wells he declared, "Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and who is struck with it."

excerpt page 350:

When Stalin became unchallenged master of the Soviet Union, the regime was still pursuing the dual policy of attempting to spread militant atheism on the one hand and pursuing a divide et impera line toward the Orthodox Church. With the coming of the First Five-Year Plan, the situation changed abruptly, and a large-scale offensive against religion was launched. In May 1929 the Constitution was amended to omit the previous guarantee of the right of religious propaganda, leaving "the right of professing a religion and of antireligious propaganda." Great numbers of churches were closed, church bells were seized (ostensibly to provide tin and copper for industrial use), and many of the remaining monasteries and nunneries were dissolved. The antireligious significance of the introduction of the "continuous" work week (ending the regular Sunday work holiday) was heavily emphasized in the official press.