Severnaya Pravda No. 18, August 18, 1913.
Signed: V. I..
Published according to the Severnaya Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 307-308.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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The politics of the government are soaked in the spirit of nationalism. Attempts are made to confer every kind of privilege upon the “ruling”, i.e., the Great-Russian nation, even though the Great Russians represent a minority of the population of Russia, to be exact, only 43 per cent.
Attempts are made to cut down still further the rights of all the other nations inhabiting Russia, to segregate one from the other and stir up enmity among them.
The extreme expression of present-day nationalism is the scheme for the nationalisation of Jewish schools. The scheme emanated from the educational officer of Odessa district, and has been sympathetically considered by the Ministry of Public “Education”. What does this nationalisation mean?
It means segregating the Jews into special Jewish schools (secondary schools). The doors of all other educational establishments—both private and state—are to be completely closed to the Jews. This “brilliant” plan is rounded off by the proposal to limit the number of pupils in the Jewish secondary schools to the notorious “quota”!
In all European countries such measures and laws against the Jews existed only in the dark centuries of the Middle Ages, with their Inquisition, the burning of heretics and similar delights. In Europe the Jews have long since been granted complete equality and are fusing more and more with the nations in whose midst they live.
The most harmful feature in our political life generally, and in the above scheme particularly, apart from the oppression and persecution of the Jews, is the striving to fan the flames of nationalism, to segregate the nationalities in the state one from another, to increase their estrangement, to separate their schools.
The interests of the working class—as well as the interests of political liberty generally—require, on the contrary, the fullest equality of all the nationalities in the state without exception, and the elimination of every kind of barrier between the nations, the bringing together of children of all nations in the same schools, etc. Only by casting off every savage and foolish national prejudice, only by uniting the workers of all nations into one association, can the working class become a force, offer resistance to capitalism, and achieve a serious improvement in its living conditions.
Look at the capitalists! They try to inflame national strife among the “common people”, while they themselves manage their business affairs remarkably well—Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, and Germans together in one and the same corporation. Against the workers the capitalists of all nations and religions are united, but they strive to divide and weaken the workers by national strife!
This most harmful scheme for the nationalisation of the Jewish schools shows, incidentally, how mistaken is the plan for so—called “cultural-national autonomy”, i.e., the idea of taking education out of the hands of the state and handing it over to each nation separately. It is not this we should strive for, but for the unity of the workers of all nations in the struggle against all nationalism, in the struggle for a truly democratic common school and for political liberty generally. The example of the advanced countries of the world—say, Switzerland in Western Europe or Finland in Eastern Europe—shows us that only consistently-democratic state institutions ensure the most peaceable and human (not bestial) coexistence of various nationalities, without the artificial and harmful separation of education according to nationalities.