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The Intelligentsia and The October Revolution.


The intelligentsia and the revolution.... This is one of the many social questions posed by the Great October Socialist Revolution which has awakened especial interest all over the world, causing not a few arguments, incorrect assessments and perversions of the truth.

At the turn of the century capitalism entered its last stage of development—the imperialist stage. The time of revolutionary upheavals was drawing near. In Russia, where the conditions for revolution grew up especially quickly, it became necessary for the proletariat to take upon itself to fulfill the most revolutionary of all the tasks of the international working-class movement of that time—to lay down the path to socialism.

In the ranks of the Party founded by V. I. Lenin, highly educated members of the intelligentsia of the period conducted widespread political agitation amongst the workers, directed the workers' movement on to the revolutionary path, helped the proletariat to master Marxist theory and to arm itself with proletarian class ideology.

V. I. Lenin, a brilliant revolutionary thinker, strategist and tactician , came to the fore not only of the more advanced workers but also of the progressively minded members of the intelligentsia who had taken up the positions of the working class and become professional revolutionaries.

It is just as important to consider the fundamentals of the questions involved. The classics of Marxism-Leninism had advanced and comprehensively substantiated the proposition that the working class, under the conditions it was in of economic and spiritual oppression, was not able to cultivate socialist consciousness within itself purely by its own strength. Socialism had to be brought to the workers' movement by the vanguard—that is by the Marxist party, into whose ranks together with the more advanced workers were pouring the propertied classes’ educated representatives who had gone over to the positions of the proletariat: the intelligentsia. In this way, the best part of the intelligentsia naturally went not “around” but into the very thick of the revolutionary army of the proletariat, into its forward ranks.

V. I. Lenin underlined the role of the revolutionary intelligentsia even as early as the beginning of the remodeling of society along socialist lines by the revolution’s newly-born Soviet state. In the Soviet Government itself, there worked, led by Lenin, a multitude of outstanding revolutionaries, politicians and statesmen, dedicated to solving the complicated problems of the revolutionary remodeling of life in Soviet Russia from really scientific positions. The Party was carrying out the programme of building the state relying on, in Lenin’s expression, “a staff of workers really abreast of the times’’, and on “the best elements that we have in our social system”. To such elements V. I. Lenin firstly assigned the more progressive workers. “who are absorbed in the struggle for socialism”, and secondly “the really enlightened elements”—“elements of knowledge, education and training”. *

* V. I. Lenin. Collected Works. Vol. 33. pp. 487. 488. 489.

The author has not set himself the task of analysing in detail the role of the part of the intelligentsia which fought in the ranks of the Bolshevik Party against autocracy and which together with the proletariat effectuated the Great October Socialist Revolution and built socialism. In this book, the reader's attention is called to another problem—the problem of the relations of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government with the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia inherited by the young socialist country from the bourgeois-landowner system and which for a long time remained under the influence of the old world outlook and of bourgeois psychology.

To solve this problem the Communist Party had to make its way on new unexplored paths since it had to find answers to questions which no one had ever posed before.

The leader and theoretician of the Party V. I. Lenin believed that the enlistment of the services of the bourgeois intelligentsia to build a new society was an indispensable  condition for the victory of socialism. It was he who formulated the basic principles by which to govern  relations with the old intelligentsia, the most important of which were: the enlistments of the services of the whole intelligentsia, irrespective of its political outlook, to the building of socialism, control of its activity, with the workers and peasants learning from the bourgeois specialists. and the re-education of the intelligentsia in the spirit of socialism. "The bourgeois intellectuals," said Lenin. "cannot be expelled and destroyed, but must be won over, remolded, assimilated and re-educated."*

When the proletariat of Russia became the ruling class in October 1917,  it did not have at its command a sufficient number of specialists to help manage the state and the national economy, to ensure the defence of the country and to further developments in science and culture. At  that time the enemies of Bolshevism announced that the proletariat should not have ventured to seize  power as it did not have enough intelligentsia cadres. The historical experience of the Land of Soviets disproved such affirmations: the working class of Russia found the only correct solution and without waiting for a  new socialist intelligentsia to be formed, it took the reins of state into its own hands.

Socialism first brought into general practice a system of planned management of social/ life. From the first years of the existence of  Soviet Power the  Party required the creation of a new intelligentsia. This task was fulfilled by degrees. However, the training of a new intelligentsia is a highly complicated process, demanding a lot of time and a great expenditure of resources. The young republic did not have such reserves at its command at that time. And it is for this reason that in the early period of the existence of  the   Soviet state the problem of the enlistment of the intelligentsia to co-operate with Soviet power was of prime importance.

V. I. Lenin pointed out: "We cannot build it (our state] if we not utilize such a heritage of capitalist culture as the intellectuals."** To create a governmental apparatus and a regular army to restore and further develop the national economy, to raise the cultural level of the masses, required a multitude of specialist cadres in all areas of the economy, science, technology and military affairs. And even though the greater part of the bourgeois intelligentsia neither understood nor accepted the October Revolution, and later also distrustfully met the Communist Party's plans for the radical reform of the country, it was impossible to do without it. This is one of the dialectical peculiarities that were found during the formation of a socialist society in Russia.

*V. I.Lenin. Collected Works , Vol. 31. p. 115.
** lbid.. Vor. 28, p. 215.

It became necessary for Lenin to lead and sustain a stubborn struggle of principle against the opportunist elements in the Party who denied the life-or-death necessity of using the old intelligentsia. The intelligentsia was a social element without which it was impossible to build socialism; Lenin devoted much time and effort to make this only correct view to be accepted as the general Party line.

Mention should also be made of the immense influence that V. I. Lenin had on the intelligentsia as a political activist, a leading figure in science, and in the widest sense of the word as a member of the intelligentsia himself. His vast knowledge and found erudition, his political tact in solving “awkward”
questions, his thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of the Russian intelligentsia, all played a not insignificant role in winning over the sympathy of the educated members of the old society.

The Communist Party, the state, economic and military agencies devoted maximal attention to the problem of drawing the intelligentsia to the task of building socialism. It is hard to find in the early years of the existence of Soviet power a single Party or trade union congress, or a Congress of Soviets which did not in one form or another deal with the question of the policy of the working class towards the bourgeois intelligentsia the ways and means of attracting it to the building of socialism and the defence of the country. How important this problem was to the young Soviet Government can be seen by the fact that the 8th Congress of the RCP(B)* which took place in March 1919 and which accepted the second Party Programme (the tasks of the first one had been completed with the victory of the revolution ) contained special section dedicated to the question of bourgeois specialists.

Attracting and re-educating the old intelligentsia, the Party at the same time concentrated its attention on the formation of specialists from the workers and peasants. However, the old intellientsia continued to play a most important role in the economic and cultural life of country. Lenin wrote| " like any other class in modern society, the proletariat is not only advancing intellectuals from its own midst, but also accepts its ranks supporters from the midst of all sundry educated people. "" V- I. Lenin, Collected Works. Vol. 6, p. m.

In the course of the socialist transformation of the country a new type of intelligentsia emerged which was radically different from the bourgeois one. Workers and peasants scaled the heights of knowledge and became scientists , engineers, agronomists, teachers, doctors, artists, administrators, and officers in the teachers, doctors, artists, administrators and officers in the Soviet Army. Bourgeois sociologists, in their attempts to pervert the truth about socialist reality , affirm that in the Soviet Union the intelligentsia forms an “elite”, a special “thinking part ” of society, a kind of “state bourgeoisie ”, which does not permit ordinary people to join it. Here is just one example but it says a lot. A survey was carried out of over 1,100 engineering and technical workers at the Ural Turbo-Engine Factory, and the information showed that 44.4 per cent of them were from workers ’ families, 25.6 per cent from peasant ones, 24.3 per cent from white-collar ones, and finally 5. 7 per cent from the families of specialists. From this example it is clear that there can be no talk of some kind of “hereditary castes ”, of the formation of an “elite”, etc. The Soviet intelligentsia is fully representative of the people from which it is drawn and to whom it is tied by the closest of ties.

The Soviet intelligentsia differs from the intelligentsia of pre-revolutionary Russia not only in its social composition but also in its national one. All the different nationalities living in the Soviet Union have, under socialism, formed their own national intelligentsia cadres.

The Soviet intelligentsia also differs radically from the bourgeois intelligentsia in its world outlook and in its ideological and political outlook. Collectivism, public-spiritedness and a high sense of civic duty are characteristic of it. 

Socialism not only changed the social and moral make-up of the intelligentsia, but also set it new creative tasks. The building of a new society supposes not just an all-round development of the productive forces but also the education of the whole Soviet people in the spirit of a scientific communist world outlook. The battle to form the new man is one of the most important parts of the wide range of activity of the Soviet intelligentsia, and above all of the artistic intelligentsia, since it plays an immense role in the ideological and cultural life of the country.

The intelligentsia has a considerable contribution to make in the founding of the material and technological basis of communism. Scientists, engineers and technicians are a powerful creative force in Soviet society. In recent times they have made many important discoveries and attained notable successes in key branches of science and technology.

An objective historical analysis of the fortunes of the Russian intelligentsia after the October Revolution conclusively disproves the fabrications about the “Golgotha ” of the Russian intelligentsia by bourgeois reactionary researchers and publicists, who allege that the intelligentsia rejected Soviet power and fought against it, and that the Bolsheviks crushed the old intelligentsia, forcing the best of them to emigrate and denying their civil rights to those who remained. As a rule, bourgeois researchers take no interest either in the traditions of democratism in the outlook of a considerable part of the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia, or in its love of the people and of its country, or in the immense influence which the ideas of socialism had on it. Even the fact of the old intelligentsia's co-operation with the Soviet Government is attributed by them to absolutely trivial reasons: the need for “a crust of bread”, or fear of the “Bolshevik terror”.

The most widely circulated version tells of the “cruel constraint” that forced the intelligentsia to serve the political ends of the Bolsheviks. Bourgeois historians try to instill in the reader the idea that V. I. Lenin founded a “system of violence and constraint as the basis of the mutual relationship between the working class and the intelligentsia.*

The author saw it as his duty to provide a counterweight for the arguments of bourgeois historians, by giving an objective tracing of the process of the transition of the old intelligentsia to the positions of the Soviet Government, and in this way demonstrate the invalidity of the bourgeois version.

But what is to be understood by the term “transition”? There is no reason why a person could not contribute his work in one or other Soviet establishment, conscientiously fulfilling his assigned work, and still remain by his political beliefs an opponent of the Soviet Government, an “internal emigre”. The transition of one or other member of the intelligentsia to the positions of socialism can only be considered to have been realised when that person has become Soviet in his own personal convictions.
Therefore, the author thought it imperative to show the ways in which the old intelligentsia came to an understanding of socialism.

The attention of this work is directed in the main at the intelligentsia which met the October Revolution with hostility or else took up a neutral position awaiting the outcome. What was the Communist Party’s and the Soviet state’s policy towards that intelligentsia, what forms of influence were suited to them, what results were achieved—the elucidation of these questions forms the basic part of this work. The book deals in the main with the Russian intelligentsia, though the evolution of the intelligentsia of other peoples of the Soviet Union is also of great interest for the historian and could be the subject of special

It should be underlined that this work encompasses the period from October 1917 to the middle of the 1930s when, along with the building of the foundations of socialism, the transition of the intelligentsia to the side of the Soviet state was completed. By that time a new society had been formed in the Soviet Union, composed of working people and free from class antagonisms, and a new Soviet intelligentsia had in the main taken shape. However, it is not the purpose of this book to elucidate the role and situation of this new intelligentsia.





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