V. I. Lenin

Preface To I. I. Stepanov’s

The Electrification Of The R.S.F.S.R.

and The Transitional Phase Of World Economy

Written 18 March, 1922
First Published: Pravda No. 64, March 21. 1922; Published according to the text in I. Stepanova The Electrification of the R.S.F.S.R. and the Transitional Phase of World Economy, Moscow, 1922, checked with the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 245-246
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
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

I heartily recommend this book by Comrade Stepanov to all Communists.

The author has succeeded in giving a very able exposition of exceedingly difficult and important problems. He did very well in not writing a book for intellectuals (as is the practice among many of us who copy the worst manners of bourgeois writers), but for the working people, for the masses, for rank-and-file workers and peasants. To his book the author has appended a list of references for supplementary reading for the benefit of those who may find it difficult to understand some parts of it without further explanation. as well as for the benefit of those who would like to consult the principal works on this subject published in Russia and abroad. Special reference must be made to the beginning of Chapter VI, where the author splendidly outlines the significance of the New Economic Policy, and magnificently answers the “airy” scepticism that is displayed in some quarters about the possibility of electrification This scepticism is usually a cloak to conceal the absence of serious thought on the subject (that is, if it is not a cloak to conceal whiteguard, Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik hostility to all Soviet construction, which, in fact, is sometimes the case).

What we lack most for genuine (and not idle-bureaucratic) popular education is precisely “school manuals” (for absolutely all schools) like this one. If all our Marxist writers sat down to write such manuals, or textbooks, on all social questions without exception, instead of wasting their efforts on newspaper and magazine political fireworks, which everybody is sick and tired of, we should not have the present disgraceful situation where, nearly five years after the proletariat captured political power, the young people in the proletariat’s state schools and universities are taught (or rather, corrupted) by the old bourgeois scientists using the old bourgeois junk.

The Eighth Congress of Soviets decreed that instruction on the Plan for Electrification should be compulsory in all educational establishments in the R.S.F.S.R.[1] without exception. This decree, like many others, has remained a dead letter because of our (Bolsheviks’) lack of culture. Now that Comrade Stepanov’s “manual for schools” has been published we must see to it—and we shall see to it!—that every uyezd library (and later every volost library) obtains several copies of it and that every electric power station in Russia (there are over 800 of them) not only has copies of this book but also arranges popular lectures on electricity, on the electrification of the R.SF.S.R. and on engineering in general. We must see to it that every village schoolteacher reads and assimilates this manual (to help him in this a circle or group of engineers and teachers of physics should be organised in every uyezd), and not only reads, understands and assimilates it himself but is able to relate what is in it in a plain and intelligible way to his pupils, and to young peasants in general.

It will require no little effort to do this. We are poor and uneducated. But that does not matter so long as our people realise that they must learn, and so long as they are willing to learn; so long as the workers and peasants clearly understand that they must now learn not to “benefit” and produce profits for the landowners and capitalists, but to improve their own conditions of life.

This knowledge and desire exist. And so we definitely shall start learning, and shall certainly learn something.

N. Lenin

March 18, 1922


[1] The reference is to the resolution on electrification adopted by the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, which sat on December 22-29, 1920.