Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

New Programme and New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

(Drafts for Discussion)


In recent years in this country many studies have been done and things written around the theme–“why can’t Johnny read?”–why does the educational system consistently fail even to give most people basic educational skills? These studies and all the furor that goes on around them generally end up blaming “Johnny” and/or his parents and ignore the essential fact– “Johnny” is not supposed to read, beyond a very low level, in a society such as this; education for the masses of people in capitalist society is not supposed to do anything more than prepare them for a lifetime of slavery for the capitalist class–with just enough basic knowledge to run a machine or some similar task–or a short life as a soldier in the imperialist armed forces. And even more fundamentally than this, capitalist education is education in capitalism, in its outlook and principles and the notion that these and the society that they serve are eternal and unsurpassable. Such an educational process–turning history and reality upside down, reducing the masses to a blind mob if they appear in the picture at all and revolving everything around a few “great men,” geniuses, monarchs, presidents, etc., sympathetically portraying the worst tyrants and oppressors as heroes and models to be emulated and, of course, blotting out the class content of all important events and actions in history and the world today–this is a crucial weapon for the bourgeoisie in maintaining its rule over the masses of people and its death-lock on society.

By the same token, completely revolutionizing education, in theory and practice, is a crucial question for the proletariat in building socialist society under its rule and advancing to communism. In no way can the proletariat leave the educational system and its basic principles and methods as they were under capitalism, or education will be a key weapon of the forces working to restore the old, capitalist society.

The proletariat in power will immediately take up the question of overcoming the very real problem of illiteracy and lack of even basic education among broad masses of people in this country. But beyond that, and of much more fundamental importance, it will completely change the educational system at its foundation. Marxism, the revolutionary science of the proletariat, will be applied to guide education in every aspect.

The old “tracking system” so common in capitalist education–where a handful of children, overwhelmingly from the upper classes and with all sorts of privileges and advantages denied to the masses, are selected and groomed for positions of “leadership” and authority in society, while those of the broad ranks of the proletariat and the oppressed nationalities most of all are doomed to be “tracked” into a lifetime of drudgery and agony–such a system, which makes a principle out of the division between mental and manual labor and plays a key part in perpetuating this division and class divisions in general, will be thrown on the scrap heap where it belongs. In its place, and in place of the whole edua-tional “theory” and structure of which it is a crucial link, will be applied educational policies and practices that serve the objective of overcoming such a division of labor and class distinctions generally. From the very start, the educational system of the proletarian state will combine rather than separate mental and manual labor, preparing the millions and tens of millions of the new generation to be able to carry out and integrate the two, linking study and experiments in the laboratory with practical application of the principles studied and summation of the results. Further, this will be carried out in close connection with the work and activities of the masses of people as a whole, in factories, neighborhoods, the farms and rural areas and so on, so that the students–and the teachers and other leaders in the educational institutions as well–gain a real and overall understanding of how society runs–and more than that, how the proletariat and the formerly oppressed masses in general are transforming society in every sphere.

At the same time, the self-seeking competition, both petty and vicious, that bourgeois ideology in general and bourgeois education in particular extols and instills in the youth, along with everyone else–even down to the way in which it sets them against each other in the pursuit of grades and rewards–this, too, will no longer be a guiding principle of education, and more than that it will instead be an object of continuing criticism. Abolished as well will be the absolute authority of the teacher in the classroom and the educational hierarchy above the teacher, and also criticized will be the whole notion of blind obedience to authority and convention in general. Teachers and others responsible for giving leadership to education will be exactly that–leaders–but not people “whose word is law” and whose opinions must be treated as infallible truth, or obeyed in any case. The socialist educational system will work to break down, not uphold, the divisions between teachers, administrators, etc. and the students–and the masses of people in general.

The educational policy of the proletarian state will fundamentally serve the cause and be guided by the aim of bringing up successors to the proletarian revolution. The students will be educated in the principles of Marxism and led in applying them to all questions. But even more than that, they–and the teachers, administrators, etc.–will be led in plunging themselves, together with masses of people, into political struggle and into the ideological battle between Marxism and bourgeois-reactionary philosophy in various forms throughout society. The proletariat, as a crucial part of maintaining its rule, continuing to revolutionize society and advancing toward the abolition of classes and the backward ideas that correspond to and serve exploitation and class division, must not only educate each successive generation in these basic principles and outlook but must thoroughly imbue them with the spirit and method of Marxism–including its scientific, critical struggle for the truth, its challenging of tradition and the “force of habit” and its daring to rebel against any power or authority, even those claiming the mantle of Marxism itself, that seeks to enforce the old and reactionary. In all this, the educational system of the proletarian state, guided by the principles summarized here, must and will play a key role.

Another very important problem which this new educational system of the proletariat must and will take up is the exposure, criticism and repudiation of the lies and distortions of the bourgeoisie and especially its propanganda and miseducation that serve to divide the masses of people within this country–between different nationalities, men and women, and so on–and to separate them from and promote chauvinist hostility toward the rest of the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples and nations of the world. In direct opposition to this, the educational system in this country, once it is in the hands of the proletariat, will consistently educate the young people in proletarian internationalism and promote the revolutionary unity of the masses of people in this country among their own ranks and together with the people of the world.

This it will do not through the pious and hypocritical sermons of the bourgeois liberals, that “everybody should get along with everybody else,” but by deeply and in an all-around way exposing the class basis and class interests behind racism, chauvinism toward other peoples and nations, the notions of male superiority and all the rest of the bourgeoisie’s ideological arsenal–showing that these are rooted in and fostered by the very nature of the capitalist system and the bourgeiosie, and in turn serve to perpetuate them, and that in opposition to this the proletariat not only has no interest in clinging to and promoting them but must strike at, shatter and finally destroy them along with their material basis of discrimination and national oppression. This will be done not only through study and general discussion, including classes educating all students in the real history, scientifically understood, of the various oppressed peoples and nations, inside and outside this country, of the oppression of women in class society, etc., but also by bringing out from the experience of the masses themselves, and through debate and struggle among them, what the concrete effects of national oppression, the oppression of women, and similar crimes of capitalism are and whose interests they and their ideological expressions of racism and chauvinism serve. And this will not be carried out by the students alone, in isolation from the rest of society and the masses of people, but by having representatives of the masses, including even workers and oppressed people from other countries, come into the classrooms and give the students a living understanding of these questions, and by having the students go out broadly among the workers, the formerly oppressed nationalities, women and others, and hold discussion and struggle with them on these decisive questions.

And in general, the socialist educational system will work to break down the separation between the broad masses as a whole and the students, especially those who are enrolled in colleges and similar “institutions of higher learning.” It will be necessary for such institutions, involving only a small minority of the people, to exist for some time, and in particular to train scientists, engineers, technicians, etc. from among the ranks of the masses as part of breaking the domination over these spheres by intellectuals trained, not only technically but ideologically, in the old society; but, from the very beginning and increasingly, the socialist educational system will take concrete steps to combat the tendency for such students in particular to be fashioned into an “elite,” standing above and lording it over the masses.

An important part of this is the transformation of the educational system itself, including at the college level, along the lines already discussed. But, in addition, part-time colleges, connected directly with factories and other workplaces and enrolling increasing numbers of the workers themselves, will be developed and spread. Beyond that, the criteria for admission to colleges will be based first and above all on the demonstrated devotion to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat, as determined through discussion among the masses under the leadership of the Party. And further, as soon as possible, in conformity and in tempo with the consolidation of power by the proletariat and its first major victories in establishing control over and undertaking the socialist transformation of the economy, the policy will be adopted of sending all high school graduates to work in the factories, in the rural areas or in some cases into the revolutionary armed forces, with students for the colleges chosen from among the masses, old and young, according to the principles and criteria outlined already. At the same time, colleges will be increasingly established and function in close connection with the factories and neighborhoods where the masses work and are organized politically, including special attention to the rural areas, as another important step in breaking down the “ivory tower” atmosphere of colleges. And more than that, representatives of the masses themselves, chosen according to the same basic criteria as those for selecting students, will be organized to take part, together with the teachers and other full-time educational personnel, and with representatives of the students themselves, in giving leadership in the schools and struggling to see that these principles and methods of the socialist educational system are upheld and actually implemented.

Overall, the struggle to revolutionize the educational system will be a crucial battleground in the new, socialist society, exactly because education plays such a central role in serving and perpetuating one kind of system or another. The proletariat will have to wage a protracted and intense fight against the forces of reaction, and of tradition and habit, to establish and develop an educational system that furthers the socialist transformation and transition to communism and trains, in theory and practice, successive generations of class-conscious activists in the great movement of the international proletariat. Thus, while the students will be led to grasp and develop knowledge and bring forth creations and innovations in all fields, from technical and scientific to artistic and cultural, a continual battle must be waged for this to be under the guidance of Marxism and in the interests of the proletariat. And therefore their central and most important subject, in accordance with the principles of socialist education, will be the class struggle–proletarian revolution.