V. I. Lenin

On Proletarian Culture[1]

Written: October 8, 1920, 1920
First Published: 1926; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 316-317
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

We see from Izvestia of October 8 that, in his address to the Proletcult Congress, Comrade Lunacharsky said things that were diametrically opposite to what he and I had agreed upon yesterday.[2]

It is necessary that a draft resolution (of the Proletcult Congress) should be drawn up with the utmost urgency, and that it should be endorsed by the Central Committee, in time to have it put to the vote at this very session of the Proletcult. On behalf of the Central Committee it should be submitted not later than today, for endorsement both by the Collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Education and by the Proletcult Congress, because the Congress is closing today.

Draft Resolution

1) All educational work in the Soviet Republic of workers and peasants, in the field of political education in general and in the field of art in particular, should be imbued with the spirit of the class struggle being waged by the proletariat for the successful achievement of the aims of its dictatorship, i.e., the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the abolition of classes, and the elimination of all forms of exploitation of man by man.

2) Hence, the proletariat, both through its vanguardthe Communist Party-and through the many types of proletarian organisations in general, should display the utmost activity and play the leading part in all the work of public education.

3) All the experience of modern history and, particularly, the more than half-century-old revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of all countries since the appearance of the Communist Manifesto has unquestionably demonstrated that the Marxist world outlook is the only true expression of the interests, the viewpoint, and the culture of the revolutionary proletariat.

4) Marxism has won its historic significance as the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat because, far from rejecting the most valuable achievements of the bourgeois epoch, it has, on the contrary, assimilated and refashioned everything of value in the more than two thousand years of the development of human thought and culture. Only further work on this basis and in this direction, inspired by the practical experience of the proletarian dictatorship as the final stage in the struggle against every form of exploitation, can be recognised as the development of a genuine proletarian culture.

5) Adhering unswervingly to this stand of principle, the All-Russia Proletcult Congress rejects in the most resolute manner, as theoretically unsound and practically harmful, all attempts to invent one’s own particular brand of culture, to remain isolated in self-contained organisations, to draw a line dividing the field of work of the People’s Commissariat of Education and the Proletcult, or to set up a Proletcult "autonomy" within establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education and so forth. On the contrary, the Congress enjoins all Proletcult organisations to fully consider themselves in duty bound to act as auxiliary bodies of the network of establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education, and to accomplish their tasks under the general guidance of the Soviet authorities (specifically, of the People’s Commissariat of Education) and of the Russian Communist Party, as part of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship.

Comrade Lunacharsky says that his words have been distorted. In that case this resolution is needed all the more urgently.


[1] 99 Lenin drew up this draft resolution for the First All-Russia Congress of Pioletcult, which met in Moscow from October 5 to October 12, 1920. When the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Party discussed the question of Proletcult on October 9 and 11, it proceeded from Lenin's draft resolution. It was proposed to the Communist group of the Congress that it pass a resolution putting central and local Proletcult organisations under the control of the People's Commissariat of Education. The resolution was in keeping with Lenin's ideas and was unanimously approved by the Congress. However, after the Congress, some Proletcult leaders began to voice disagreement with the resolution and misinterpreted it to the rank and file, alleging that the Central Committee of the Communist Party was hamstringing the workers in the sphere of the arts and aiming at dissolving Proletcult. The Central Committee of the Party refuted these demagogical insinuations in its letter "On Proletcult Organisations" which gave a detailed analysis of Proletcult mistakes. The letter was published in Pravda No. 270 on December 1, 1920.

[2] On October 8, 1920, Izvestia reported Lunacharsky as saying in his speech at the Proletcult Congress that Proletcult must be assured a special status and complete autonomy. Recalling this episode, Lunacharsky wrote in his reminiscences: “At the time oh the Proletcult Congress in October 1920, Vladimir Ilyich instructed me to attend it and pointed out quite definitely that Proletcult should be subordinated to the People's Commissariat of Education, should regard itself as one of its institutions, and so on. In short, he wanted us to bring Proletcult closer to the state. At the same time, he took steps to bring it closer to the Party. I spoke at the Congress in a rather non-committal and conciliatory way, and the version sent to Vladimir Ilyich was even milder. He summoned me and gave me a good talking-to.”