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[John G. Wright]

Humanism in One Country

(August 1935)

From New International, Vol.2 No.5, August 1935, p.171.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Another Columbus on the Humanist Horizon

IN ITS leading article, Pravda (June 21, 1935) hails the dawn of “Soviet Humanism”. First came the great lover, Joseph Stalin, then came the dawn :

“The teachers of the ruthless class struggle – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin – are all great lovers of humanity, the great humanists of the proletariat ... The dawn of the new Renaissance has already risen over mankind. It is being newly established in the Soviet land ... It engenders heroes and titans ... This, the wonderful dawn of a new humanity ... But it does not come by itself ... Cherishing the human being has become the most important, the primary task of socialist construction, and this new epoch of world history was discovered and underscored by comrade Stalin’s speeches on the need of lovingly cherishing the human being, on the value of new cadres – the supreme value of emancipated humanity ... With revolutionary intransigeance, with redoubled class vigilance, burning out all the weeds that are alien to his class, the Bolshevik is dutybound preciously and lovingly to nurse the budding and new human being, assuring to the latter the full measure of a free, happy and rational life ... The great Union of Soviet Socialist Republics raises high over the world the banner of humanism. ...” (Our Italics)

Humanizing the Foetus

The first “Bolshevik crusade under the banner of humanism,” with Stalin-Lorenzo the Magnificent at the head, was launched against abortion. In the self-same issue of Pravda, A Mother Speaks (in two columns). She is Taisya Platonovna Fomenko, age 46, with five children, all living. Her oldest daughter, age 21, married a physician ten years older. One year married, and already pregnant. Husband away on vacation. The daughter, in tears over her discovery: “I don’t want to! I don’t want it! ... I want to study ... I haven’t begun to live yet!” So the mother speaks, and the question is, what to do? It is up to the father. “Will he be willing to be the father to his own child?” But let the mother speak for herself:

“I do not dwell on this point at such length because I wish to arouse interest in my daughter. But because her case is very typical. That is just how we get so many abortions.

“Take my own case. I had four children. And all girls. And I am a rural teacher, earning very little. And my husband – not meaning to cast aspersions on the male sex – is not a helpmate but a burden. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, nor is he unfaithful, but he is a loafer, and refuses to work.

“So there am I with four kids, when hopes for a fifth arrive. So my girl friends say to me, ‘What’s the idea,? You ought to be ashamed of multiplying the poor! And, do you think anything good will come from your children? We’ll raise the money for you, and you go and have an abortion. Don’t bring shame upon our profession.’

“So I took the money. And I walked on foot to the city, 17 versts away. I came to the Polyclinic. The physician there – a woman. She examined me, and gave me permission. Says she, ‘Well, four are alive. That’s enough.’ Seemed even to approve. Gave me a slip with instructions where to go. So I started walking around with the instructions. Ashamed was I to lift my eyes and look into people’s faces, as I walked around the different offices. When I was about to give birth – everybody was so polite to me. But now I was walking the road of shame. I walked and walked and then I spat on it. I came back home and gave the money back to my friends. And, if you please, I gave birth to a son. My only one! How sorry I would have been had I aborted him. Now he is 8 years old. Such a solid gentleman ...” etc. etc.

And in conclusion the mother insists that men are responsible: “... the root of abortion lies in the male.”

Humanism on the Threshold of “Class Society”

But even the Humanist Dawn is not all roses. It has its somber shades, if not clouds. From the back pages, and obscure corners of the Pravda, we learn:

Rostov on the Don, June 10. On June 10 the school sessions in the rural schools came to a close. However, the teachers in many districts are unable to take their leave because they have failed to receive their wages and their vacation money. Arrears in pay to the teachers in the region amount to 665,000 roubles ...” (Pravda, June 11, 1935.)

N. Tagil, May 27 (by telegraph). The workers of the central electric station at the Ural railroad car plant, division of the Zentrenergostroy Trust, have not received wages for two months. The arrears for April and the first half of May already amount to 500,000 roubles. Telegram sent to V.Z.S.P.S. received no answer. Ask your assistance.
Partorg of Central Electric Station,
Yakovlev” (Pravda, May 28, 1936)

Leningrad, May 27. The Bureau of the Leningrad District Committee, CPSU (Bolshevik) passed a resolution on the question of the revolting facts recently uncovered in several enterprises relating to chiseling on the workers’ pay, and also violations of labor laws.

“Chiseling assumed particularly large scope in the knit goods factory, Krasnoye Znamya [Red Banner], the textile plant, M. Gorki and the glass factory, Bely Bychok. For the month of January [!] 1935, 300 cases of chiseling were revealed at the factory, Krasnoye Znamya, and at the Gorki plant – 50 cases. At the Bely Bychok plant overtime work is assigned without the permission of the Organs for the Protection of Labor, and it is paid for at the same rate as ordinary labor ...” (Pravda, May 28.)

If these facts seep into the pages of Pravda, what must be the actual state of affairs?

Anyway, the humanists of Pravda issue a stern warning that all cases of chiseling and holding back pay, to say nothing of increasing the length of the working day will be brought – to justice!!! The managers of the above-named factories received – a censure. Nothing could be more humanitarian, in the Stalinist sense, that is.


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