J. V. Stalin

To the First All-Union Conference of Proletarian Students1

A Message

April 16, 1925

Source : Works, Vol. 7, 1925
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Comrades, your representatives have asked me to give my views on the tasks of the Party and of Party work among the proletarian students.

Permit me to say a few words to you on this subject.

The specific feature of the present situation is that the proletariat of our country has succeeded in creating the conditions necessary for building socialism. It is not true that socialism cannot be built in one country, a country that has vanquished and driven out the capitalists and landlords. A country which has established the dictatorship of the proletariat, which possesses tremendous resources and enjoys the backing of the proletarians of all countries — such a country can and must build socialism. Lenin was right when he said that our country possesses all that is necessary "for building a complete socialist society." The specific feature of the present situation is that we have succeeded in making considerable progress in building socialism, that we have transformed socialism from an icon into a prosaic object of everyday practical work.

What part should the proletarian students play in this work of construction?

Their part is undoubtedly important, perhaps of prime importance. The higher educational institutions, communist universities, workers' faculties and technical schools are institutions for training the commanding personnel for economic and cultural development. Doctors and economists, co-operators and teachers, miners and statisticians, technicians and chemists, agriculturists and railway engineers, veterinary surgeons and forestry experts, electrical and mechanical engineers, are all future commanders of the work of building the new society, of building socialist economy and socialist culture. The new society cannot be built without new commanders, just as a new army cannot be built without new commanders. The advantage that the new commanders possess is that their function is to build not for the purpose of exploiting the working people in the interests of a handful of rich men, but for the purpose of emancipating the working people, in opposition to the handful of exploiters. The whole point is that the students at the higher educational institutions — workers and peasants, Party and non-Party — should become conscious of this honourable role, and begin to fulfil it not by constraint but by conviction.

Hence: to make the proletarian students conscious builders of socialist economy and socialist culture — such is the Party's first task.

But the new society cannot be built only by the commanders, without the direct support of the masses of the working people. The knowledge obtained by the new commanders is not in itself sufficient for the building of socialism. These commanders must also have the confidence and support of the masses. The distinguishing feature of the old commanders who built under capitalism was that they were divorced from the workers and peasants, they felt superior to the toiling masses, they attached no value either to the confidence or to the support of these masses and, as a consequence, enjoyed neither the one nor the other. This method is absolutely unsuitable for our country. The new commanders of the work of building the new economy and the new culture are called new precisely because they must abruptly and irrevocably break with the old methods of commanding. Not divorce from the masses, but the closest connection with them; not feeling superior to the masses, but going in front of them and leading them; not alienation from the masses, but merging with them and winning their confidence and support — such are the new methods of management that must be employed by the new commanders. Without these methods no kind of socialist construction is conceivable.

Hence: to make the proletarian students regard themselves as an inseparable part of the masses of the working people, to make the students feel and act in a genuinely public spirit — such is the Party's second task.

Lastly, about the Communist students in particular. It is said that the Communist students are making little progress in scientific knowledge. It is said that they lag very much behind the non-Party students in this respect. It is said that the Communist students prefer to engage in "high politics" and that they waste two-thirds of their time in endless debates on "world problems." Is all this true? I think it is. But if it is true, at least two conclusions must be drawn. Firstly, that the Communist students stand in danger of becoming poor directors of the work of building socialism, for it is impossible to direct the work of building a socialist society without a mastery of scientific knowledge. Secondly, the work of training the new commanders stands in danger of becoming the monopoly of the old professors, who need to be replaced by new people, for a new professorial staff and new scientific workers cannot be obtained from people who are unwilling or unable to master science. Needless to say, all this cannot but directly jeopardise the entire work of building socialism. Can we resign ourselves to such a state of affairs? Obviously not. Hence the Communist students, and Soviet students generally, must set themselves clearly and definitely the immediate task of mastering science, and of creating a new professorial staff consisting of new Soviet people to take the place of the old. I do not mean to say that students should not engage in politics. Not in the least. I merely wish to say that the Communist students must learn to combine political work with the work of mastering science. It is said that it is difficult to combine the two. That is true, of course. But since when have Communists been daunted by difficulties? The difficulties in the path of our work of construction are there precisely to be combated and overcome.

Moreover, still another circumstance must be taken into consideration. I think that our country, with its revolutionary habits and traditions, its struggle against conservatism and stagnation of thought, provides the most favourable environment for the flourishing of science. There can be scarcely any doubt that philistine narrow-mindedness and routine, which are characteristic of the old professors of the capitalist school, are fetters on science. There can be scarcely any doubt that only new people who are free from these defects are capable of full and free creative activity in science. In this respect, our country has a great future before it as the citadel and nursery of free and unfettered science. I think that we are already beginning to take this road. But it would be deplorable and disgraceful if the Communist students kept away from the high road of development of science. That is why the slogan about mastering science is acquiring special importance.

Hence: to make the proletarian students, and above all the Communist students, realise the necessity of mastering science and that they do master it — such is the Party‘s third task.

Accept my greetings,

15.IV.25                                                                                                                                                                                        J. Stalin


Pravda, No. 87, April 16, 1925


1.The First All-Union Conference of Proletarian Students was held in Moscow from April 13 to 17, 1925. There were present about 300 delegates representing 250,000 students at higher educational institutions, technical schools and workers' faculties. The conference discussed the following questions: the international position of the U.S.S.R. and its internal situation; trade unions and the students; a report on the work of the Central Bureau of Proletarian Students; a report on the work of the Chief Vocational Education Boards of the R.S.F.S.R. and the Ukrainian S.S.R.; the connection between higher educational institutions and industry. On April 13, J. V. Stalin had an interview with a delegation from the conference, and on April 15 he sent to the conference the address published in the present volume.