Communist Education

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Communist Education


the planned, purposeful, and systematic formation of a comprehensively and harmoniously developed personality in the process of building socialism and communism; an integral part of the theory of scientific communism.

Prior to the emergence of Marxism, there was no integral scientific theory of the education of a well-rounded, developed individual. At the same time, the task of combining intellectual, moral, aesthetic, and physical education had been proposed as early as the time of the ancient Greek thinkers. The problem of the all-around development of the individual was also studied in the Renaissance era. The Utopian socialists expressed a number of valuable ideas on education. They subjected bourgeois morality and the bourgeois system of education to sharp criticism and proposed the idea of general public education by which the entire society and each of its institutions would be a school of education. The Utopian socialists attributed great importance to the education of the new person in ethics and art. They were the first to substantiate the idea of a nonreligious education, defending the democratic principles of equal, free, universal, and secular education, and they formulated the idea of the self-education of the people through creative labor and the combining of education and labor. R. Owen attempted to combine instruction with productive labor in practice. The Utopians upheld the idea of the rounded development of the individual. In the Utopians’ view, labor as a part of the free education of individuals guarantees their versatility and integrity. However, the Utopian socialists did not see the objective laws of the emergence of communist society, and they were unable to reveal the actual means by which the new individual would be formed.

The scientific foundations of the theory of communist education were worked out by K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin. The classics of Marxism-Leninism disclosed the social nature of education and its class and historical character; they linked education with the reconstruction of social relations and with people’s active role in this process. They demonstrated that the essence of the human being is the aggregate of social relations that he finds at birth and assimilates in the process of his socially transforming activity. The social essence, consciousness, moral and aesthetic feelings, and self-education of an individual are formed in the process of this activity. Communist education has nothing in common with the elitist view of the masses as the simple object of education. Only in revolutionary social practice can the educator also be educated.

Marx and Engels mercilessly criticized the bourgeois system of education, exposing its class essence. According to Marx, the bourgeois system of moral education amounts to drumming into people’s consciousness bourgeois principles of morality that justify inequality among people and the exploitation of one person by another. The bourgeoisie directs all means of education toward the cultivation of bourgeois individualism, money grubbing, and personal ambition. On the basis of the laws of sociohistorical development and the analysis of social requirements, Marx and Engels formulated the goal of communist education as the comprehensive harmonious development of all the spiritual and physical resources of every member of society. Marx showed that even under capitalism the nature of large-scale industry creates the need and preconditions for the elimination of the bourgeois system of the division of labor and for the all-around development of the worker. But capitalist social relations prevent the fulfillment of this requirement; they reproduce a social division of labor that deforms the human being, with its stiff specializations, the isolation of mental from physical labor, the splintering of the human personality, and the transformation of the individual into a partial person. This profound contradiction can be eliminated only through the abolition of private property and the establishment of the new, socialist mode of production. The possibility for the well-rounded, harmonious development of individuals is created only under communism.

Marx and Engels substantiated the guiding principle of education in communist society—the combination of education and labor. In the new society, Marx wrote, “no able-bodied person ought to be exempted from the general law of nature, namely, to work in order to be able to eat, and work not only with his brain, but with the hands too” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 16, p. 197). Marx viewed polytechnical education in combination with productive labor not only as one of the means of increasing social wealth, but also as “the only method of producing fully developed human beings” (ibid., vol. 23, p. 495). The members of communist society will be able to possess the riches of culture in full measure and to affirm themselves as people in activity and in creativity, having overcome the opposition of work time and leisure time.

The doctrine of Marx and Engels on communist education was further developed by Lenin. The building of communist society, Lenin wrote, is “to educate and school people, give them all-around development and all-around training” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 33).

Lenin concretized and further developed the Marxist principle of combining education with labor. He held that it was impossible to conceive of the ideal of the future society without combining education with the productive labor of the younger generation. Lenin attributed an important role in the education of well-rounded people to polytechnical education, which was to be administered in close connection with productive labor and the mastering of scientific knowledge. In order to build a communist society, young people had to study tirelessly and to master the knowledge developed by humanity over the course of its historical development. Lenin regarded it as absolutely essential to rear the younger generation in the spirit of communist morals. He wrote that it is necessary to educate everyone from their earliest years in conscious, disciplined labor, in the spirit of communist self-discipline, and in the ability to subordinate one’s own interests to those of the collective (see ibid., vol. 41, p. 318).

In the course of socialist and communist construction in the USSR and other socialist countries, the ideas of communist education are realized in practice. Such qualities as devotion to the cause of communism, irreconcilability to exploitation and oppression of one person by another, collectivism, humanism, socialist patriotism, a sense of international solidarity, industry, and personal dignity are encouraged. The heart of communist education is the formation of the communist outlook among the broadest masses of the working people. Mastery of the theory of Marxism-Leninism makes it possible for people to work out scientific views of the world and to realize their own role in the events that occur. It also allows them to make accurate evaluations and draw correct practical conclusions—that is, to participate consciously in communist construction.

The development of the scientific outlook presupposes the cultivation in people of their civic duty and responsibility, social activism, and a striving to devote one’s resources to the common cause. The development of this outlook and of communist conviction demands an irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois ideology, revisionist and reformist theories, the rightist and leftist strains of opportunism, and nationalism. Atheist education is an integral part of communist education. The liberation of a person’s spiritual energies from religious prejudices diametrically opposes him to all mysticism and superstitions; it frees his creative powers.

Communist education is a creative process linked with people’s active participation in the construction of communism, with the struggle for a new society. It is precisely in labor that the unity of theory and practice is achieved, that knowledge is turned into conviction and becomes the norm of everyday behavior, a guide to practical activity. It is for this reason that education in the communist attitude toward labor and public property, labor education, is the paramount task of communist education. In labor are formed the communist outlook and character of an individual, his new attitude toward society, and his profound consciousness of social duty; in labor are uncovered people’s abilities and talents. Lenin emphasized: “It will take many years, decades, to create a new labor discipline, to create new forms of social ties between people and new forms and methods of drawing people into labor” (ibid., vol. 40, p. 316). In the USSR, as a result of fundamental social reforms, the new, socialist views of labor have been adopted by the overwhelming majority of Soviet people, and for them labor has become the meaning of life. The new tasks of communist construction and the necessity of combining the advantages of socialism with the achievements of the scientific and technological revolution, intensifying social production in every possible way, and greatly improving its qualitative indexes are intimately linked with raising the level of consciousness of the working people, especially in regard to labor and public property. The building of communism serves as the material foundation for the development of socialist labor into communist labor.

The creation of the new person is predicated on education in the spirit of communist morals encompassing the basic moral norms common to all humanity, norms which the masses of people have worked out over the course of millennia. The moral code of the builders of communism is formulated in the Program of the CPSU. This code includes such moral principles as devotion to the cause of communism, love for the socialist homeland and the socialist countries, conscientious labor for the good of society (one who does not work does not eat), the concern of every person for the preservation and increase of social property, and a high consciousness of social duty and intolerance of infringements of public interests. Other principles found in the code are collectivism and comradely mutual aid (one for all, all for one), humane attitudes among people (one person a friend, comrade, and brother to another), honesty and truthfulness, moral purity, simplicity, and modesty in public and personal life, mutual respect in the family, and concern for the upbringing of children. Irreconcilability to injustice, parasitism, dishonesty, careerism, and money grubbing is crucial; friendship and brotherhood of all the peoples of the USSR and intolerance of national and racial enmity is also of the utmost importance. Irreconcilability toward enemies of communism, peace, and the freedom of peoples and fraternal solidarity with the working people of all countries are also part of the code.

Communist morals become established in a constant, uncompromising struggle against vestiges of the past and against the influence of bourgeois ideology. Communist morals cannot be victorious without a determined struggle against such antipodes as parasitism, embezzlement of public property, the lack of principles and ideals, money grubbing, bribery, slander, drunkenness, and hooliganism.

The educative work of the Communist Party, the socialist state, and general public is structured primarily on the basis of persuasion. It does not, however, exclude measures of compulsion with regard to those who violate labor and state discipline, the plunderers of socialist property—that is, with regard to all antisocial elements.

A paramount component of communist education is aesthetic education, whose aims are to cultivate the creative capabilities of people and their understanding and appreciation for the beautiful in life and art, as well as to enrich people’s spiritual life. The aesthetically developed person is able to take pleasure in beauty, to create in accordance with the laws of beauty, and to struggle actively against all manifestations of the ugly, the base, and the false. A special system of art education and training of the broad masses has taken shape and is developing in socialist society—a system of giving people access to various forms of aesthetic activity.

Communist education also includes physical education, which fortifies the health and promotes an increase in the labor potentialities of people as it improves their moral and volitional qualities and provides a means of harmonious human development.

Educative work also presupposes self-education. Exactingness toward oneself and one’s behavior, the capacity for self-discipline and self-organization, and the ability, as Lenin discussed, to work out communist views for oneself—this is an aspect of the greatest importance in the creation of the new person. In a mature socialist society, attention to matters of self-education increases. Socialism poses very sharply the question of the internal responsibility of a person, personal civic conscience, the assimilation of spiritual and moral values, and the perfecting and self-perfecting of the human personality.

The process of the formation of the new person is indissolubly connected with the creation of the material and technical bases of communism and the perfecting of socialist social relations, that is, their gradual development into communist relations. The process is accomplished in the activity of social transformation performed by those who build communist society, as a result of their assimilation of the new norms and rules of life in the family, in school, and in production. All state and public organizations directed by the Communist Party engage in constant cultural and educational work, accelerating the formation of the new individual. The communist education of the younger generation is the fundamental task of the school system.

The chief factor in the formation of the new individual, of new relations among people, is the work collective. Important roles in the communist education of the working people are played by the soviets and all organs of the socialist state, the Komsomol, trade unions, and cooperative and other mass organizations. Under the conditions of developed socialist society, their role in the education and mobilization of the working people for the fulfillment of the tasks of economic and cultural construction is increasing all the time. Literature and art play an enormous role in the formation of people’s communist outlook, moral convictions, and spiritual culture. In the ideological work of the Communist Party and the state, an important position is held by the system of party education, the activity of cultural-educational institutions, the press, radio, and television.

The leading and directing force in the process of communist education is the CPSU. Possessing the knowledge of the laws of development of society, it leads all efforts in building communism and the communist education of the working people.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. O vospitanii i obrazovanii (collection). Moscow, 1957.
Lenin, V. I. O vospitanii i obrazovanii (collection). Moscow, 1968. Programma KPSS. Moscow, 1961.
Krupskaia, N. K. Izbr. pedagogicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1957.
Kalinin, M. I. O vospitanii i obuchenii: Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1957.
Makarenko, A. S. Soch. v 7 tomakh, vol. 5. Moscow, 1958.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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