Tasks of the Youth Leagues
Tasks of the Youth Leagues
The Third Congress of the Russian Young Communist League (RKSM) was held during the Civil War but at a time when the Communist Party had already adopted its new Program, a program for building socialist society. The Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik), held in March and April 1920, had pointed out the path for reviving the economy; the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia (GOELRO) had drawn up its plan for the electrification of the country; and the measures had been adopted to assure the development of the cultural revolution. In its theoretical treatment and definition of the central problems faced in the practical work of revolutionary transformation, Lenin’s speech at the Komsomol congress was a further development of his ideas on planned socialist construction and the role of youth in the new society. The speech set forth the tasks of the Komsomol in building the new society, the scientifically based principles of communist education of youth, and the nature of youth organizations in socialist society. Lenin pointed to the inseparable unity of the work of the older and younger generations in a Soviet country devoted to building communism. Through joint struggle with the older generation for the construction of socialism and communism, the youth gains a deeper understanding of the goals and tasks of the new society and of its own place in the achievement of those ends. Addressing the youth in 1920, Lenin said that it was they who would be “faced with the actual task of creating a communist society. For it is clear that the generation of working people brought up in capitalist society can, at best, accomplish the task of destroying the foundations of the old, the capitalist way of life, which was built on exploitation” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 298).
With victory on the front lines of the Civil War imminent, the first task of the working people, who had taken power into their own hands, was to restore the economy. “Communist society…cannot be built unless we restore industry and agriculture, and that, not in the old way… . Confronting you is the task of economically reviving the whole country, of reorganizing and restoring both agriculture and industry on modern technical lines, based on modern science and technology, on electricity” (ibid., p. 307). Lenin continued, “You are faced with the task of construction, and you can accomplish that task only by assimilating all of modern knowledge” (ibid., p. 308).
Lenin showed that the program of communist education of youth depended on the development of the cultural revolution. To build communism, youth would have to devote itself to study, to the study of communism. Lenin explained that “it would be mistaken to think it sufficient to learn communist slogans and the conclusions of communist science, without acquiring that sum of knowledge of which communism itself is a result” (ibid., p. 303). It was necessary to study because “you can become a Communist only when you enrich your mind with a knowledge of all the treasures created by mankind” (ibid., p. 305). Lenin explained that one could not regard the culture of communism in isolation from all of world civilization. Communist culture is a logical result of previous historical development and includes within itself all the progressive elements of human thought the world over. “A proletarian culture is not clutched out of thin air; it is not an invention of ... certain people” (ibid. p. 304). An attentive and critical attitude toward the intellectual riches built up over the centuries is the most characteristic feature of Lenin’s program for a cultural revolution. He emphasized that only with a knowledge of the culture created by the entire development of humanity, only by its assimilation, could proletarian culture be created. The acquisition of modern knowledge is the duty of every member of Komsomol. Lenin also pointed to the necessity for knowledge to be combined with practical work. He especially stressed that to “learn communism” is to subordinate one’s activity to the common cause.
Lenin linked the education of youth with the task of imbuing it with communist ethics. He asserted that communism should become the basis for the everyday activity of each individual, that it must be transformed into an enduring conviction, and that it must not only be an economic and political but also an ethical ideal. Lenin’s elaboration of the principles of communist morality has great importance. To the bourgeois point of view, which is supposedly beyond classes and parties, he counterposed the distinctly and openly party-minded view of the Communists. Lenin recognized no morality outside of classes. “Our morality stems from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat” (ibid., p. 309). Hostility toward the old society based on the principle of “rob or be robbed” must be encouraged. It is necessary to speak out “against the self-seekers and petty proprietors, against the psychology and habits which say: I seek my own profit and don’t care a rap for anything else” (ibid., p. 312). Lenin demonstrated the close connection between morality and the tasks of the class struggle and the cause of building communism. “Morality is what serves to destroy the old exploiting society and to unite all the working people around the proletariat, which is building up a new, a communist society” (ibid., p. 311). Lenin linked the task of the moral education of youth with its daily labors and demanded that young people be educated to respect labor for the good of the whole society and to feel responsible for carrying out assignments. He taught that the general goal should be seen behind even the most simple task. Lenin regarded labor as the school of communist education and as the criterion for testing how well a Communist had been trained. “Only by working side by side with the workers and peasants can one become a genuine Communist,” he pointed out (ibid., p. 317). To Lenin, the concepts of consciousness and discipline are inseparable. “We are replacing the old drill-sergeant methods … with the class-conscious discipline … . Without this conscious discipline of the workers and peasants, our cause is hopeless” (ibid., p. 306). In his speech, Lenin sketched a portrait of the true builders of the new communist society—people who combined in a harmonious way broad education, a Marxist ideology, a collectivist psychology, and communist ethics. Lenin saw the Komsomol as a “shock force” that would set the example for all working people and for young people not in youth leagues and that would “display initiative and enterprise” in everything they did. Lenin showed convincingly that the leading role of the Communist Party was the decisive condition for successful activity by the Komsomol and that the chief task of the Komsomol was to “help the party build communism” (ibid., p. 307). Lenin’s speech is historically specific as a mandate to the Komsomol of the 1920’s, but it is also historically programmatic as a speech directed toward future generations.
A. N. ZAKHARIKOV