N.I. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky: The ABC of Communism


Chapter 10: Communism and Education

§ 76. The school under the bourgeois regime

In bourgeois society the school has three principal tasks to fulfil. First, it inspires the coming generation of workers with devotion and respect for the capitalist régime. Secondly, it creates from the young of the ruling classes 'cultured' controllers of the working population. Thirdly, it assists capitalist production in the application of sciences to technique, thus increasing capitalist profits.

As regards the first of these tasks, just as in the bourgeois army the 'right spirit' is inculcated by the officers, so in the schools under the capitalist régime the necessary influence is mainly exercised by the caste of 'officers of popular enlightenment'. The teachers in the public elementary schools receive a special course of training by which they are prepared for their role of beast tamers. Only persons who have thoroughly acquired the bourgeois outlook have the entry into the schools as teachers. The ministries of education in the capitalist régime are ever on the watch, and they ruthlessly purge the teaching profession of all dangerous (by which they mean socialist) elements. The German public elementary schools served prior to the revolution as supplements to the barracks of William II, and were shining examples of the way in which the landed gentry and the bourgeoisie can make use of the school for the manufacture of faithful and blind slaves of capital. In the elementary schools of the capitalist régime, instruction is given in accordance with a definite programme perfectly adapted for the breaking-in of the pupils to the capitalist system. All the text-books are written in an appropriate spirit. The whole of bourgeois literature subserves the same end, for it is written by persons who look upon the bourgeois social order as natural, perdurable, and the best of all possible régimes. In this way the scholars are imperceptibly stuffed with bourgeois ideology; they are infected with enthusiasm for all bourgeois virtues; they are inspired with esteem for wealth, renown, titles and order; they aspire to get on in the world, they long for personal comfort, and so on. The work of bourgeois educationists is completed by the servants of the church with their religious instruction. Thanks to the intimate associations between capital and the church, the law of God invariably proves to be the law of the possessing classes. 1)

In capitalist society the second leading aim of bourgeois education is secured by carefully withholding secondary education and higher education from the working masses. Instruction in the middle schools, and still more in the high schools, is extremely costly, so that it is quite beyond the financial resources of the workers. The course of instruction, in middle and higher education, lasts for ten years or more. For this reason it is inaccessible to the worker and the peasant who, in order to feed their families, are compelled to send their children at a very early age to factory work or field work, or else must make the youngsters work at home. In actual practice, the middle and higher schools are the preserves of bourgeois youth. In them, the younger members of the governing classes are trained to succeed their fathers in careers of exploitation, or to fill the official and technical posts of the capitalist State. In these schools, likewise, instruction has a definitely class character. In the domains of mathematics, the technique of industry, and the natural sciences, this may be less striking; but the class character of the teaching is conspicuous in the case of the social sciences, whereby the pupils' outlook on the world is in reality formed. Bourgeois political economy is inculcated with all the most perfected methods for the 'annihilation of Marx'. Sociology and history are likewise taught from a purely capitalist outlook. The history of jurisprudence concludes with the treatment of bourgeois jurisprudence as the natural right of 'the man and the citizen', etc., etc. To sum up, the higher and middle schools teach the children of the capitalists all the data that are requisite for the maintenance of bourgeois society and the whole system of capitalist exploitation. If any of the children of the workers, happening to be exceptionally gifted, should find their way into the higher schools, in the great majority of instances the bourgeois scholastic apparatus will serve as a means of detaching them from their own class kin, and will inoculate them with bourgeois ideology, so that in the long run the genius of these scions of the working class will be turned to account for the oppression of the workers.

Turning, finally, to the third task of capitalist education, we find that the school fulfils it as follows. In a class society where capitalism is dominant, science is divorced from labour. Not only does it become the property of the possessing classes. More than this, it becomes the profession of a small and comparatively narrow circle of individuals. Scientific instruction and scientific research are divorced from the labour process. In order that it may avail itself of the data of science and may turn them to account in production, bourgeois society has to create a number of institutions serving for the application of scientific discoveries to manufacturing technique; and it has to create a number of technical schools which will facilitate the maintenance of production at the level rendered possible by the advance of 'pure' science - by which is meant science divorced from labour. Furthermore, the polytechnic schools of capitalist society do not merely serve to supply capitalist society with technical experts; they supply in addition those who will act as managers, those who will function as 'captains of industry'. In addition, to provide the personnel which will supervise the circulation of commodities, there have been founded numerous commercial schools and academies.

In all these organizations, whatever is linked up with production will endure. But everything which is concerned merely with capitalist production, will die out. There will persist everything which promotes the advancement of science; there will perish that which promotes the severance of science from labour. There will be preserved the methods of technical instruction - but instruction in technical methods altogether apart from the performance of physical labour will be abolished. There will be preserved and extended the utilization of science to further production. On the other hand, any hindrances to such utilization of science, in so far as capital tends to make use of science only to the degree in which at any given moment science tends to raise profits, will be swept out of the way.

§ 77. The destructive tasks of communism

In the matter of education, as in all other matters, the Communist Party is not merely faced by constructive tasks, for in the opening phases of its activity it is likewise faced by destructive tasks. In the educational system bequeathed to it by capitalist society, it must hasten to destroy everything which has made of the school an instrument of capitalist class rule.

In capitalist society, the higher stages of school life were the exclusive property of the exploiting classes. Such schools, in their unending series of higher classical schools, higher modern schools, institutes, cadet corps, etc., have to be destroyed.

The teaching staff of the bourgeois schools served the purposes of bourgeois culture and of fraud. We must ruthlessly expel from the proletarian school all those teachers of the old schools who either cannot or will not become instruments for the communist enlightenment of the masses.

In the schools of the old régime, teachers were engaged who had been indoctrinated with the bourgeois spirit; in these schools methods of instruction were practised which served the class interests of the bourgeoisie. In our new schools, we must make a clean sweep of all such things.

The old school was intimately associated with religion - by compulsory religious teaching, compulsory attendance at prayers, and compulsory church-going. The new school forcibly expels religion from within its walls, under whatever guise it seeks entry and in whatever diluted form reactionary groups of parents may desire to drag it back again.

The old university created a close corporation of professors, a teachers' guild, which prevented the introduction of fresh teaching strength into the university. The close corporation of bourgeois professors must be dissolved, and the professorial chairs must be thrown open to all competent instructors.

Under the tsar, Russian was the only permissible language in the State service and in the school; the non-Russian subjects of the tsar were not allowed to receive instruction in their native tongue. In the new schools, all trace of national oppression disappears from the realm of instruction, for those of every nationality are entitled to receive education in their respective tongues.

§ 78. The school as an instrument of communist education and enlightenment

The bourgeoisie comprises a very small minority of the population. This, however, does not prevent it from supplementing the other instruments of class oppression by the use of the school to educate and break in the millions of workers, to inoculate them with bourgeois ideology. In this way the majority of the population is constrained to accept the outlook and the morality of a numerically insignificant fraction.

In capitalist countries, the proletariat and the semi-proletariat comprise the majority of the population. In Russia, the urban workers, though a minority, have in political matters become the leaders and the organizers of the struggle on behalf of all the toilers. It is natural, therefore, that the urban proletariat, having seized power, should use it primarily to this end, that it may raise all the backward strata of the working population to the requisite level of communist consciousness. The bourgeoisie used the school for the enslavement of all who live by labour. The proletariat will use the school to enfranchise them, to sweep away the last traces of spiritual slavery from the consciousness of the workers. Thanks to the schools, the bourgeoisie was able to impose upon proletarian children a bourgeois mentality. The task of the new communist schools is to impose upon bourgeois and petty-bourgeois children a proletarian mentality. In the realm of the mind, in the psychological sphere, the communist school must effect the same revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois society, must effect the same expropriation, that the Soviet Power has effected in the economic sphere by the nationalization of the means of production. The minds of men must be made ready for the new social relationships. If the masses find it difficult to construct a communist society, this is because in many departments of mental life they still have both feet firmly planted upon the soil of bourgeois society, because they have not yet freed themselves from bourgeois prejudices. In part, therefore, it is the task of the new school to adapt the mentality of adults to the changed social conditions. Still more, however, it is the task of the new school to train up a younger generation whose whole ideology shall be deeply rooted in the soil of the new communist society.

The attainment of this end must be promoted by all our educational reforms, some of which have already been inaugurated, whilst others still await realization.

§ 79. Preparation for school life

In bourgeois society, the child is regarded as the property of its parents - if not wholly, at least to a major degree. When parents say, 'My daughter', 'My son', the words do not simply imply the existence of a parental relationship, they also give expression to the parents' view that they have a right to educate their own children. From the socialist outlook, no such right exists. The individual human being does not belong to himself, but to society, to the human race. The individual can only live and thrive owing to the existence of society. The child, therefore, belongs to the society in which it lives, and thanks to which it came into being - and this society is something wider than the 'society' of its own parents. To society, likewise, belongs the primary and basic right of educating children. From this point of view, the parents' claim to bring up their own children and thereby to impress upon the children's psychology their own limitations, must not merely be rejected, but must be absolutely laughed out of court. Society may entrust the education of children to the parents; but it may refuse to do anything of the kind; and there is all the more reason why society should refuse to entrust education to the parents, seeing that the faculty of educating children is far more rarely encountered than the faculty of begetting them. Of one hundred mothers, we shall perhaps find one or two who are competent educators. The future belongs to social education. Social education will make it possible for socialist society to train the coming generation most successfully, at lowest cost, and with the least expenditure of energy.

The social education of children, therefore, must be realized for other reasons besides those of pedagogy. It has enormous economic advantages. Hundreds of thousands, millions of mothers will thereby be freed for productive work and for selfculture. They will be freed from the soul-destroying routine of housework, and from the endless round of petty duties which are involved in the education of children in their own homes.

That is why the Soviet Power is striving to create a number of institutions for the improvement of social education, which are intended by degrees to universalize it. To this class of institutions belong the kindergartens, to which manual workers, clerks, etc., can send their children, thus entrusting them to experts who will prepare the children for school life. To this category, too, belong the homes or residential kindergartens. There are also children's colonies, where the children either live permanently, or for a considerable period, away from their parents. There are in addition the crèches, institutions for the reception of children under four years of age; in these the little ones are cared for while their parents are at work.

The Communist Party, therefore, must, on the one hand, ensure, through the working of soviet institutions, that there shall be a more rapid development of the places where children are prepared for school life, and it must ensure that there shall be a steady improvement in the training given at such places. On the other hand, by intensified propaganda among parents, the party must overcome bourgeois and petty-bourgeois prejudices concerning the necessity and superiority of home education. Here theoretical propaganda must be reinforced by the example of the best conducted educational institutions of the Soviet Power. Only too often, the unsatisfactory condition of the homes; crèches, kindergartens, etc., deters parents from entrusting their children to these. It must be the task of the Communist Party, and especially of the women's sections, to induce parents to strive for the improvement of social education, not by holding aloof from it, but by sending their children to the appropriate institutions, and by exercising the widest possible control over them through parents' organizations.

§ 80. The unified labour school

The preparatory institutions are for children up to the age of seven. After that age, education and instruction must be effected in the school- not in the home. Education must be compulsory, which marks a great advance upon tsarist times. It must be gratuitous, and this also marks a great advance, for even in the most progressive bourgeois lands only elementary education is gratuitous. Education is naturally open to all, for the educational and cultural privileges of special groups of the population have now been abolished. Universal, equal, and compulsory education is made available for all children from the ages of seven to seventeen.

The school must be unified. This means, first of all, that the segregation of the sexes in the school must be done away with, that boys and girls must be educated together, that there must be co-education. Unification further signifies the abolition of the classification of schools as elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, having no connexion one with another, and working in accordance with programmes which are quite independent of one another. It implies that there must no longer be a division of the elementary, middle, and high schools into general schools on the one hand and specialist or technical schools on the other, or into common schools and schools for special classes of the population. The unified school provides a single gradated system, through which every learner in the socialist republic can and must pass. Boys and girls will begin with kindergarten, and will work their way together through all stages to the top. This will conclude general compulsory education and also such technical education as is compulsory for every pupil.

It will be obvious to our readers that the unified school is not merely the ideal of every advanced educationist, but is the only possible type of school in a socialist society, that is to say, in a classless society or in one that is striving to abolish class. Socialism alone can realize this ideal of the unified school, although certain bourgeois educationists have entertained aspirations towards it.

The school of the socialist republic must be a labour school. This means that instruction and education must be united with labour and must be based upon labour. The matter is important for many reasons. It is important, first of all because of its bearing upon successful instruction. A child learns more easily, more willingly, and more thoroughly that which it learns, not from books or from the words of the teacher, but from the personal experience of what it is doing with its own hands. We can more easily understand our natural surroundings when we get to work upon nature in our attempts to modify it. This unification of instruction with labour has already begun in the most progressive bourgeois schools. It is impossible, however, to carry it out thoroughly in the bourgeois system, in which parasitic elements are deliberately cultivated, and in which physical work is separated from mental work by an impassable gulf.

Labour is necessary, not only for the healthy physical development of the children, but also for the proper development of all their faculties. Experience shows that the time they spend at school in practical work, far from retarding their progress in all kinds of theoretical knowledge, contributes greatly to their advance in the theoretical field.

Finally, for communist society, the labour school is absolutely indispensable. Every citizen in such a society must be acquainted with the elements, at least, of all crafts. In communist society there will be no closed corporations, no stereotyped guilds, no petrified specialist groups. The most brilliant man of science must also be skilled in manual labour. To the pupil who is about to leave the unified labour school, communist society says: 'You may or may not become a professor; but in any case you must produce values.' A child's first activities take the form of play; play should gradually pass into work by an imperceptible transition, so that the child learns from the very outset to look upon labour, not as a disagreeable necessity or as a punishment, but as a natural and spontaneous expression of faculty. Labour should be a need, like the desire for food and drink; this need must be instilled, and developed in the communist school.

In communist society, with its vigorous technical progress, there will inevitably be vast and rapid transferences of labour power from one department to another. For example, a discovery in the weaving or the spinning industry may reduce the need for weavers and spinners, and may increase the number of workers required for cotton growing. In such cases, a redistribution of energies and occupations will be essential, and it can only be carried out with success if every worker in communist society is a master of several crafts. Bourgeois society meets these difficulties by the expedient of the industrial reserve army, which means that there is always a greater or smaller residue of unemployed. In communist society there will be no army of unemployed. The reserve of workers requisite for any branch of production in which a deficiency of labour power makes itself apparent, will be constituted by the competence of workers in other branches of production to fill the vacant places. The unified labour school, and nothing else, can provide for the training of workers who will be able to perform the most diverse functions of communist society.

§ 81. Specialist education

Up to the age of seventeen, all the young people in the republic must attend the unified labour school, acquiring there the sum of theoretical and practical knowledge indispensable to every citizen of communist society. But instruction must not end there. Specialist knowledge is requisite in addition to general knowledge. The totality of the most indispensable sciences is so vast, that no individual can grasp it in its entirety. The unification of education in the unified labour school is by no means intended to exclude specialist training. Our aim merely is to defer specialist training till the last stage is reached. Already during the later stages of work in the unified labour school, in the case of pupils between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, inclination towards one occupation or another will invariably become manifest. It is not merely possible, but it is also necessary, to give an outlet to the natural desire for a more intimate acquaintance with certain of the sciences. But of course this must not be done to the detriment of the general educational programme of the labour school.

Real specialist training should not, however, begin until after the age of seventeen. The age limit is selected for various reasons. Until seventeen, the pupils at the labour school are scholars rather than workers. The fundamental aim of the labour processes in the school is not that of creating values and of contributing to the State budget, but that of conveying instruction. After the age of seventeen, the pupil becomes a worker. He must perform his quota of labour, must play his due part in producing goods for the human community. He can receive specialist instruction only in so far as he has first fulfilled his fundamental duty towards society. For this reason, as is right, specialist instruction for young people after the age of seventeen can only be given out of working hours. With the advance of manufacturing technique we may expect the working day to become less than eight hours, and in this way there will be provided for every member of communist society plenty of time for specialist education. In certain cases, and where persons of unusual talent are concerned, it may prove desirable to make exceptions in the form of exemption from labour for a certain number of years, in order to provide opportunity for study or for research work. If complete exemption from labour should seem undesirable in the social interest, there may be a special reduction of the working hours for such individuals.

§ 82. The university

At the present time it is still impossible to foresee precisely what character the higher schools for specialist training will assume under communism. They will probably be of various types. There will be places where brief courses will be given. There will be polytechnics and laboratory schools, at which instruction will be furnished while at the same time experimental research is being carried on; in these, all distinction between professors and students will have disappeared. But even today we can be perfectly sure that the universities in their present form, with their present professorial staffs, have ceased to be serviceable institutions. They carry a stage farther the same sort of instruction which was provided in the bourgeois middle schools of the old type. For the time being these universities may be reformed by leavening the professorial staffs through the addition of persons who may not perhaps attain the standard of the 'learned specialists of bourgeois society', but who will be fully competent to effect the necessary revolution in the teaching of the social sciences, and will be able to expel bourgeois culture from its last refuge. Furthermore, the composition of the audiences will be changed, for most of the students will be workers, and of course in this way technical science will pass into the possession of the working class. But the attendance of the workers at the universities will necessarily involve their maintenance at the cost of the State throughout the period of instruction. All this is considered in the educational section of the party programme.

§ 83. Soviet schools and party schools

During the Kerensky régime the tsarist school apparatus was left practically intact. The Communist Party, having attained to power, made it its business to destroy this apparatus entirely. Upon the ruins of the old class school the communists have begun the construction of the unified labour school, as the embryo of the normal labour school of communist society. They are endeavouring to eradicate from the bourgeois university everything which used to promote the maintenance of the capitalist dominion. The knowledge that has been accumulated during the ages when the possessing classes were in power, is being made accessible to all the workers. Thus is being begun the construction of the normal type of university for communist society.

But among all the sciences known to bourgeois culture, there was not one which gave any information as to how the proletarian revolution was to be achieved. Among all the schools which the bourgeoisie has founded and which communist society has begun to reconstruct, there was not one to teach how the proletarian State is to be upbuilded. The transitional period between capitalism and communism has given birth to a special type of school, which is intended to be serviceable to the revolution now in progress and to assist in the construction of the soviet apparatus. Such were the aims of the party and soviet schools which have grown up under our own eyes, in order to give brief and occasional courses of instruction, and which are being transformed into permanent institutions for the training of those who work in the party and in the soviets. The transformation was inevitable. The upbuilding of a soviet State is an entirely new undertaking. There is no historical precedent for anything of the kind. The work of the soviet institutions develops and improves day by day; it is essential to success that every worker in the soviets should be able to avail himself of all the experience of his predecessors. Self-education in administrative work, such as can be effected by the participation of all the workers in the soviets, would seem to be insufficient. This experience must be collected, systematized, elaborated, and made available to all the workers who are engaged in the upbuilding of the soviet system, so that each relay of workers which comes to participate in the administration can be saved from committing the faults of its predecessors; so that the new arrivals can learn, not from their own mistakes, but from the mistakes which have been made by others, and for which the State has once already had to pay. Now the schools for soviet work must also serve this end, and we already have in the Soviet Republic a central school of soviet work in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, which is a permanent school. Soon, doubtless, similar schools of soviet work will be established in the capitals of all the provinces.

Passing now to consider the party schools, we find that they have undergone a radical change in character during the period of actual transition to communism. At first they were the schools of a definite party, supported by the proletariat, and in this stage they had a purely political character. Now they have become places where instruction is given in the communist transformation of society, and they are therefore State schools. At the same time they are military academies for the purposes of the civil war. It has only been thanks to these schools that the proletariat has been able to form an idea of the objective significance of the transformation which it is undergoing half unwittingly, almost instinctively narrower concrete aims, and - for as yet it only realizes the is incompetent to grasp the nature of the revolutionary process as a whole. The party schools are not only able to provide the proletariat with a scientific explanation of the nature and goal of the revolution, but they can also teach the workers how to achieve the aims of the revolution by the shortest route and with the least expenditure of effort.

§ 84. Extra-scholastic instruction

Under the tsarist régime the vast majority of the working population was deliberately kept in a permanent state of ignorance and illiteracy. An enormous percentage of illiterates was handed down by the autocracy to the Soviet Power, which has naturally been compelled to adopt heroic measures in order to deliver itself from the legacy. The departments of public instruction have opened schools for adults unable to read and write, and have taken a number of additional steps to put an end to illiteracy. But apart from the utilization of the scholastic apparatus of the Commissariat for Education, the Communist Party must do its utmost to ensure that the masses shall avail themselves of the opportunities that offer for the instruction of illiterates. Here the soviets for popular culture, elected from among all the workers and peasants who are interested in educational matters, must play their part. A further means has been the mobilization of all who can read and write for the instruction of all the illiterates. Such a mobilization is beginning in various parts of the republic, and it is the business of the party to ensure that the movement shall everywhere be conducted in accordance with a definite plan.

In addition to carrying on the struggle against illiteracy, the Soviet Power must devote much energy and much material means to the assistance of the self-cultural endeavours of the population, and especially of adults. Numerous libraries have been inaugurated to satisfy the demands of the working population. Wherever possible, people's houses and clubs have been established and people's universities have been created. The cinema, which has hitherto served as a means for demoralizing the masses and for enriching the owners, is gradually, though very slowly, becoming one of the most potent instruments for the enlightenment of the masses and for their education in the spirit of socialism. Lecture courses of various kinds, gratuitous and accessible to all, can now, thanks to the shorter working day, become a general possession of the workers. In the future, of great significance in the matter of enlightenment will be the careful organization of holiday excursions, which will enable the workers to become acquainted with their own land and with the foreign world. There can be no doubt that in days to come such excursions will have immense importance for the workers of all countries.

§ 85. New workers on behalf of enlightenment

The educational reforms of the Soviet Power have been more successful than the reforms and innovations effected in any other department. There is an additional reason for this besides the fact that the Soviet State devotes to popular education an enormously greater proportion of its revenues than is devoted to this purpose by any bourgeois State. Over and above, we have to remember that the way for the realization of the idea of the unified labour school had already to a notable extent been prepared by the most advanced educationists of bourgeois society. The leading Russian educationists have been able under the soviet régime to realize in practice, to a notable extent, that which from a purely pedagogical outlook they had already come to regard as socially necessary. Among the educational workers who have rallied from the side of the bourgeoisie and the landed interest to the side of the Soviet Power, we find quite a number of individuals who were and still are opposed to the proletarian revolution in general, but who are heartily in favour of the revolution that has been achieved by the proletariat in the educational field.

These favourable conditions, however, by no means suffice to overcome the difficulties of the proletarian State as far as concerns the provision of genuinely communist educational workers. The number of communists among the teachers, as among specialists in general, is but an insignificant minority. Most teachers are opposed to communism. The majority of them, however, are persons with an official type of mind, who are ready to serve any government and to work to any schedule, but who have a special fondness for a programme which was familiar to their fathers and their grandfathers. As concerns this matter, therefore, the communists have a twofold task. In the first place, they must mobilize all the best elements of the teaching profession, and by intensified activity must create among them nuclei of communist endeavour. In the second place, the Communist Party has to create out of the younger generation an entirely new school of educationists, consisting of persons who have from the very first been trained in the spirit of communism, and above all in the spirit of the communist educational programme.

§ 86. The treasures of art and science made available to the workers

Under capitalism, talent is looked upon as the private property of its immediate possessor, and is regarded as a means of enrichment. In capitalist society, the product of talented activity is a commodity which can be sold for one price or another, and thus becomes the possession of the person with the longest purse. A work of genius, a thing with infinite social significance, and one whose essential nature is that of a collective creation, can be purchased by a Russian named Kolupayev or by an American named Morgan, and the buyer is then entitled to change it or to destroy it as fancy dictates. If Tretyakov, the famous Moscow merchant, had one fine day made up his mind to burn down his picture gallery instead of presenting it to the town of Moscow, there was no law in capitalist society by which he could have been called to account. As a result of the private purchase and sale of works of art, rare books, manuscripts, etc., many of them are rendered inaccessible to the broad masses of the people, and these rarities become the exclusive possessions of members of the exploiting class. The Soviet Republic has declared all works of art, collections, etc., to be social property, and it removes every obstacle to their social utilization. The same purpose is served by the decrees aiming at the withdrawal from private ownership of great libraries, so that these also have become social property.

The Communist Party must see to it that the State authority continues to advance along such lines. In view of the present lack of books and of the impossibility of speedily issuing large editions and reprints, it is necessary that there should be a further restriction of private ownership, and that books should be assembled in public libraries, in schools, etc.

Furthermore, in the interests of enlightenment, and in order to secure for the widest possible number of persons the opportunity of visiting the theatre, all the theatres have been nationalized, and thus in an indirect way there has been achieved the socialization of dramatic, musical, and vocal art.

By degrees, therefore, all the works of science and art - which were created in the first instance by the exploitation of the toiling masses, were a burden upon their backs, were produced at their cost - have now been restored to the real owners.

§ 87. The state propaganda of communism

Now that the capitalist system has been overthrown, and now that upon its ruins the new communist society is being built up, the propaganda of communist ideas cannot be left solely to the Communist Party and cannot be conducted with its modest means alone. Communist propaganda has become a necessity for the whole society now undergoing regeneration. It must accelerate the inevitable process of transformation. To the innovators, who often work without being fully aware of what they are doing, communist propaganda must reveal the significance of their energies and their labours. It is therefore necessary that not merely the proletarian school but in addition the whole mechanism of the proletarian State should contribute to the work of communist propaganda. This propaganda must be carried on in the army; it must be carried on in and by all the instruments of the Soviet Power.

The most powerful method of State communist propaganda is the State publishing activity. The nationalization of all the reserves of paper and of all the printing establishments, makes it possible for the proletarian State, despite the great scarcity of paper, to publish by the million any literature which is peculiarly important for the masses at a given moment. Everything issued from the State presses is made available to the generality of the people by publication at a very low price, and by degrees it is becoming possible to issue books, pamphlets, newspapers, and posters, gratuitously. The State propaganda of communism becomes in the long run a means for the eradication of the last traces of bourgeois propaganda dating from the old régime; and it is a powerful instrument for the creation of a new ideology, of new modes of thought, of a new outlook on the world.

§ 88. Popular education under tsarism and under the Soviet Power

State expenditure upon popular education in Russia is set forth in the following table.

Year Roubles
1891 22,810,260
1911 27,883,000
1916 195,624,000
1917 339,831,687
1918 2,914,082,124
1919 (half-year) 3,888,000,000

We see that the transference of power to the proletariat was immediately followed by nearly a tenfold increase in the expenditure upon popular education.

In the year 1917 there were on 1 September, 38,387 elementary schools (in 26 provinces).

In the school year 1917-18 there were 52,274 elementary schools, with 4,138,982 pupils.

In the school year 1918-19 there were approximately 62,238 elementary schools.

As regards middle schools, in the school year 1917-18 there were 1,830, and in the school year 1918-19 there were 3,783.

Preparatory schools and similar institutions were quite unknown under the tsarist régime. In this matter the Soviet Power had to make an entirely new start. Notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances, by 1 October 1919, in 31 provinces, the kindergartens, play schools, and homes numbered 2,615, and cared for 155>443 children. At this date, about 2.5 per cent of all the children from three to five years of age were attending such institutions. In the towns, the percentage of children cared for in this way is now low, and the proportion continually rises.


1) In tsarist Russia the method by which the masses of the people were kept in subjection to the aristocratic State was not, on the whole, that of a bourgeois-priestly-tsarist enlightenment, but simply that of withholding enlightenment of any sort. In this connexion we may refer to the notorious 'theory' of the celebrated obscurantist Pobedonostsev, who considered popular ignorance to be the main prop of the autocracy.


Dealing with the question of the Labour School. Regulations concerning the unified Labour School of the RSFSR (1918); Posner, The Unified Labour School (1918) ; The Labour School, Reports of the Department of Popular Education of the Moscow Soviet; Blonsky, The School of the Working Class; Blonsky, The Labour School; Levitin, The Labour School; Levitin, International Problems of Socialist Pedagogy; Krupskaya, Popular Culture and Democracy; Dune, The School and Society; Sharelman, The Labour School; Sharelman, In the Laboratory of an Elementary School Teacher; Gansberg, Pedagogics; Gansberg, Creative Work in the School. - 'The weekly journal of the People's Commissariat for Education.' - Report of the first All-Russian Congress on Education (1919).

Non-communist literature on Education: Kerschensteiner, The Idea of the Labour School; Kerschensteiner, The Labour School (1918); Gurlitt, The Problems of the General Unified School; Ferriére, The New School; Wetekamp, Independent Activity and Creative Work; Schulz, Educational Reforms of the Social Democrats; Fedorov-Hartvig, The Labour School and Collectivism (1918) ; Yanzhul, The Labour Principle in European Schools (1918) ; Shatsky, The Active Life; Münch, The School of the Future.