On National Cadres

K. Tobolov, On National Cadres. 1933


Slightly abridged.

Original Source: Sovetskoe stroitelstvo, No. 7-8 (1933).

… During the first years of the Revolution, the proletariat in the central industrial districts could and did employ in the economy and the state apparatus a certain number of bourgeois specialists, former subordinate officials, and so forth. The dictatorship of the proletariat was, of course, based on the old Bolshevik guard and the strong and comparatively numerous proletarian cadres in the central districts. The working-class masses, steeled in the struggle against Tsarism and in the civil war, were the richest reservoir supplying fresh cadres for leading work.

In this respect the National Republics were obviously less favorably placed. First of all, the backward national districts had no old and experienced Bolshevik guard. Secondly, it was next to impossible to employ in the state apparatus of the newly formed Autonomous Regions and National Republics the old cadres who were unsuitable because of past social position and colonizing habits. But the most serious feature here was the total or almost complete absence of proletarian centers and the weakness or, in most cases, non-existence of the proletarian cadres which could have provided the apparatus of the new Soviet national units with leading cadres. That is why the state apparatus of many National Republics absorbed class-alien ex-Tsarist interpreters, the offspring of the national bourgeoisie, the clergy and other members of the bourgeois-nationalist intelligentsia.

In the first years of the Revolution, the civil war and economic construction these cadres, which were strongly infected with nationalism, went with the Soviet regime. The fellow-travelership of these national-democratic elements with the proletarian revolution was conditioned by the struggle against the danger of the restoration of Tsarism and the attempts of the white armies to restore the colonial domination of the Russian landlords and bourgeoisie.

But with the transition to the reconstruction period, the expanding socialist offensive and the sharpening class struggle in the country, these fellow-travelers of the proletarian revolution began to waver. The threatened restoration of the colonial rule of the Russian landlords and the bourgeoisie lapsed. The hopes of the national-democratic elements in the National Republics to set up national-bourgeois states, instead of the Soviet Republics, collapsed. So did their anticipation of the internal transformation of the proletarian dictatorship and its peaceful transition to capitalism. Hence the vacillations and occasional desertions to the camp of the enemies of the Soviet regime among individual and, at times, active officials of the Autonomous Regions and Republics. This was illustrated by the striking withdrawal of the Sultan-Galiev group in Tataria, the Crimea and Bashkiria.

But the occasional desertions of single and, at times, even groups of leading officials in the Republics and Autonomous Regions do not, under any circumstances, justify defamations of the old national cadres of non-working-class origin. The thing to do is to wage a resolute struggle against the ideologically alien elements among the old national cadres and simultaneously to persist in the work of reeducating (under the fire of proletarian criticism) their more progressive and better section.

Apart from the policy of preserving the national cadres mainly by re-education, the present new stage makes it imperative to train, for the Republics and Autonomous Provinces, new leading proletarian cadres of party workers, engineers and technicians and economists from the workers, collective farmers and poor peasants of the formerly oppressed nationalities.

The history of the revolutionary struggle, and the socialist construction in the USSR, have shown many times that the abrupt turning points of the Revolution demand a certain retraining of the old cadres, causing a certain portion of the leading officials to fall off and new leading cadres to advance into the foreground. This is what happened during the October Revolution, the civil war and the transition to the reconstruction period. And it is happening, on a larger scale, in the present epoch of the expanding Socialist offensive and the Second Five-Year Plan leading to the classless socialist society …

… The growing pains affecting the development of industrialization and collectivization emanate in the main from the cultural, technical and economic backwardness of our country and have, in this respect, historical class roots. But they are at the same time also due to defects of leadership in our planning system stemming from the problem of cadres. The question here is how to organize, distribute and lead people. In the struggle for the successful application of the Second Five-Year Plan and against the difficulties of our development, the subjective factor, i.e. the quality of leadership and of the leading cadres, is of immense importance.

The task of training new cadres was the focal topic of the party during the period of the XVIth Party Congress. According to its resolution, the problem of the leading economic and technical cadres, the whole magnitude of which has been brought out by the Central Committee, is becoming the key problem of our socialist construction, and one of decisive importance. Only if the forces of the whole party and the working class make further efforts to train cadres from working-class people, and only if there is a decisive improvement in this field, will it be possible to secure that Bolshevik rates in the socialist industrialization of the country continue to be achieved.

If the problem of training new leading cadres presents certain difficulties even in the central industrial districts, its solution in the backward National Provinces is made still harder by additional complications. The training of leading national cadres is hampered, above all, by the weakness of the national proletarian cadres. There are the day-to-day conditions of national life and the national languages of the masses which have to be taken into account, and finally the extreme lack of old cadres. Up to the present we have been very slow and made many mistakes in training national cadres. Some officials fail to take into account the whole complexity of, and the great responsibility inherent in, the training of national cadres. This question is closely connected with the position of the national intelligentsia.

The bulk of the old national intelligentsia, owing to its social past, is alien to the Soviet regime. Its members originate mostly from the commercial bourgeoisie, colonizing officials, the Moslem clergy and feudal strata; at best they are petty bourgeois by birth. In regard to ideology and education, the old cadres of the national intelligentsia are predominantly pupils of religious schools, office translators or employees of the bourgeois commercial and industrial apparatus. But their special characteristic is the vast preponderance, amongst them, of people with humanistic specialties (teachers, lawyers, men of letters) over those with technical qualifications (engineers, agronomists, technicians). This applies equally to the Tatar, Georgian or Uzbek intelligentsia and that of other nationalities. Owing to these peculiarities of the national intelligentsia, its social heterogeneity, lack of ideological steadfastness and humanistic education, a vast proportion of its members are clearly unfit to accomplish the tasks inherent in socialist reconstruction and in the intensified class struggle.

It is precisely at the time of socialist reconstruction and of sharpening class struggle that the lacking steadfastness of a great many national intellectuals, and hence the whole importance of creating a new Soviet national intelligentsia, becomes evident. It should be said that the successful establishment of a new national intelligentsia of industrial experts and technicians is instrumental in gradually eliminating the problem of the national intelligentsia in its old sense …

During the restoration period we were compelled to make use of the entire national intelligentsia, and this was feasible because, while we were setting up National Republics and Autonomous Provinces, implanting Soviet national culture, developing literacy in the vernacular, laying the foundations of economic centers and so forth, the groups of the national intelligentsia who are far from, and at times even hostile to, socialism could and did co-operate with us. But now that we have entered the period of socialism, it becomes obvious to us, and to them, that their social expectations have miscarried. And this is the reason why vacillations and unsteadiness have set in among the fellow-travelers of yesterday.

This could be proved by scores of examples. But it is sufficient for this purpose to adduce some facts, say, from the life of the Turkic intelligentsia in Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijan, at the turn of 1929-30, the Turkic intelligentsia included a considerable proportion of active counter-revolutionaries; more than half were wavering, and hardly more than a third were loyal to the Soviet regime. In this state of affairs the anti-Soviet intelligentsia, as the element strongest in influence and activity, constituted the ‘leading element’.

In one form or other nearly all the strata of the intelligentsia, from the humanistic to the technical, were infected with nationalism. The tendency in favor of severance from the Union was fairly widespread. The right wing of the national intelligentsia was closely connected with the Mussavat-the party of extreme anti-Soviet reaction. The apparatus of the cultural front was strongly infested with nationalists.

The basic aim of the right wing of the nationalist intelligentsia is to educate the youth in a nationalist spirit. The teachers in the technical schools and other educational institutions in Azerbaijan included many obvious nationalists. Few party members but many former beys and merchants were doing educational work. The nationalists made frequent use of geography to sow nationalism; they spread illegal Turkish and Mussavat literature and organized underground circles. It is significant that during the last year, owing to the improvement in our relations with Turkey and the intensified attempts at anti-Soviet intervention in the West, a section of the Turkic intelligentsia has changed its orientation, on Western imperialism. In this connection a section of the Turkic intelligentsia is substituting anti-Armenian nationalism.

The new stage of socialist construction which is accompanied by an acute intensification of the class struggle and a differentiation within the intelligentsia has introduced certain correctives into the old party directives.

The resolution of the CC of the CPSU(B) of June 1929 on the report on the work of the CC of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan says:

‘The socialist offensive against the feudal and capitalist elements of the town and village is provoking rabid resistance on the part of the merchants, beys and clergy with the assistance of the nationalist intelligentsia. In the struggle against the consolidating proletarian dictatorship, the bourgeoisie strives to inflame national chauvinism.

The ensuing events fully confirm the correctness of the instructions and warnings issued by the CC of the CPSU. The discovery of the counter-revolutionary nationalistic organization called ‘The Party of National Independence’ in the apparatus of the People’s Commissariat of Education and the cultural institutions of Uzbekistan, the revelation that seven out of the nine members of the collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Education were found to belong to that organization, and the fact that the writers’ organization of Uzbekistan, ‘The Red Pen’, the mouthpiece of the People’s Commissariat of Education Maarif Vi-Ukuntugi, the Fergana pedagogical technical school, the newspaper Yangi-Tergana and others were in the hands of the counter-revolutionary nationalists, apart from everything else, revealed distinctly unhealthy tendencies in the ranks of the national intelligentsia.

The above shows that we cannot approach, without differentiation, the national intelligentsia in the various Republics and Autonomous Provinces. In the most backward national districts (raions), among the Turkmens, Chechens, Adzhars, Kurds, etc., the formulation of the IVth Conference on the Nationalities is still basically valid. In these districts every intelligent official who is more or less loyal is precious to us and almost irreplaceable. We still cannot do without these people when it is a matter of raising the backward national masses to the cultural level of the central regions.

But there are advanced Republics and Autonomous Provinces in the USSR where the class struggle has reached maximum intensity and where the formulation of 1923 is losing its validity. In Tataria, Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Belorussia, the possibility of making use of the entire national intelligentsia is now ruled out. The socialist offensive in these countries will develop against a certain nationalistic section of the national intelligentsia which has gone over, or is going over, to the class enemy. That is why it is absolutely essential to differentiate among the national intelligentsia, especially in these Republics. Nevertheless it would be extremely harmful not to make patient and persistent efforts to discover if only temporary supporters even among the class-alien nationalist section of the intelligentsia, and not to make full use of the old national intelligentsia. At the same time, we must understand that not even the most insignificant ideological sector of our work can be left under the influence of the old national intelligentsia. The, important thing to realize now is that the task of training new national cadres of workers and collective farmers is becoming more acute than ever.

We must wage a merciless struggle against individual party members ganging up with the class-alien nationalist intelligentsia and organizing behind the back of the party the bourgeois intelligentsia against the party line. There were many such cases in the party organizations and the Communist Party of the nationalities. Thus it was discovered some years ago that obviously nationalistic elements of the intelligentsia had their agents in the ranks and even in the CC of the Communist Party of Belorussia. In Tataria in 1927 a group of 82 bourgeois nationalist intellectuals sent to the provincial committee of the party a protest against the introduction of the Latinized ABC among the Tatars. But it was only recently that the author and ideological inspirer of that protest, which had been qualified by the provincial committee of the CPSU as national bourgeois pressure on the party, was revealed as the former right-wing ‘Communist’ Mukhtarov who has now been expelled from the party as an active follower of Sultan Galiev. And lastly, in 1928, Southern Ossetia was visited by an investigating commission of the CC of the Georgian Communist Party. The commission received from a group of the national Ossetian intelligentsia a declaration which was alleged to be directed against Georgian chauvinism. This is not to say that there is no Georgian chauvinism; of course there is, and we must fight it. But it is important to note that the then director of the section for agitation and propaganda of the party provincial committee had summoned one of the influential nonparty cultural workers and suggested to him to submit that particular declaration. There were many more cases of this nature in the National Republics and Autonomous Provinces and they must be combated without mercy.

To create the new national proletarian intelligentsia is a most important part of the class struggle, What we have to do now is to train not an intelligentsia in general but, firstly, our own cadres of the proletarian intelligentsia from the various nationalities of the USSR, and, secondly, such cadres as would, above all, be the exponents of definite technical and industrial knowledge. The instructions contained in Comrade Stalin’s speech about mastering technique and rearing the cadres of an intelligentsia of technicians are still more important for the Republics and Autonomous Provinces than they are for the central districts.

The National Republics and Autonomous Provinces must now train, above all, engineering and technical cadres for industry and agriculture, officials for the Soviet and the state economic apparatus and, finally, the leading cadres of the party apparatus.

… In several Autonomous Provinces and National Republics a considerable portion of the intelligentsia of technicians in industry and agriculture is already made up of indigenous working people. For example, in Chuvashiia, in 1931, 253 out of 617 specialists, i.e. 41 per cent, were Chuvash.

Yet a great many Republics and Autonomous Provinces are still very backward in the training of leading national cadres. The successes achieved in this field are insignificant compared to the magnitude of the task of training specialists from the various nationalities. Thus, in the local industry of the Tatar Republic, in 1929, only 8 per cent of the specialists were Tatars. In the same year, in the districts of Tataria, only 25 out of 262 doctors were Tatars. Until recently, the planning authorities of Tataria have failed to realize the immense importance of training Tatar specialists.

Even in the more advanced and cultured National Republics, the state of the national technical cadres is unsatisfactory. Thus, according to the data of the former Supreme Council for National Economy of Uzbekistan, in April 1931 only 13 of the 429 engineers and technicians employed in the industry of the Republic were Uzbeks, i.e. 3 per cent.

Apart from the (numerical) shortage of specialists from the various nationalities of the USSR, there is also the question of the quality of the cadres. Specialists from the formerly oppressed nationalities are often inferior in general knowledge and practical skill. For example, of the 6,445 engineers and technicians in the Central Asiatic Republics in 1929, 1,311, or 20.3 per cent, were graduates of higher educational establishments; 626, or 9.7 per cent, were former students who had failed to graduate; 3,119, or 48.3 per cent, had secondary education; and 1,401, or 21.7 per cent, were practical workers without special technical training.

These figures illustrate the great shortcomings in whatever intelligentsia there is in the Republics and Autonomous Provinces. There can be no doubt that the big hitches which occurred in the accomplishment of the industrial financial plans, and especially in the construction of the big new undertakings and hydro-stations in the Republics and autonomous areas, are partly due to the lack of engineers and technicians, and even more so to their poor qualifications. This raises the urgent problem of how to improve the training of cadres of technical specialists from the various nationalities of the USSR. Yet the outlook for the training of cadres of technical specialists in the National Republics is still dim. The responsible planning, economic and party organs in several Republics are not paying enough attention to this question. For example, the agricultural economy of Central Asia needs cadres of 6,739 people with higher and 12,711 people with secondary education. But the present network of the higher schools in Central Asia can only turn out 1,730 specialists with higher qualifications (25.7 per cent of what is required) and the technical schools only 2,472 workers with medium and lower qualifications (19.5 per cent of what is required). The same is true of industry. Central Asia needs engineering and technical cadres of 2,724 people with higher qualifications and 8,200 people with medium qualifications. But the existing network of higher and secondary educational establishments in the Central Asiatic Republics is only capable of turning out 1,190 workers with higher qualifications (42.9 per cent) and 1,035 workers with medium qualifications (12.6 per cent).

This is also the position in many other National Republics. For example, although Kazakhstan requires 32,000 specialists, only 5,500 can be had from the local educational establishments.

In this connection it should be stated that in some Republics and Autonomous Provinces a certain number of officials have a wrong approach to the training of specialists’ cadres from the indigenous nationalities. It is inevitable and, at times, even expedient to employ in some National Republics the engineering and technical cadres from the central industrial regions of the USSR. This will be particularly valid during the next few years, especially in National Republics (such as Kazakhstan) where the industrialization is developing at spectacular rates.

But every effort must be made to concentrate the training of engineers and technicians within the National Republics themselves. This is the only way to solve the task of training engineering and technical staffs from the basic nationalities. The erroneous line of obtaining specialists from the educational establishments of the Union must be resolutely corrected.

Even in the reconstruction period, the leading cadres in some advanced National Republics were greatly infested with socially alien elements. Thus, in Uzbekistan in 1929, as many as 45 per cent of the responsible Uzbek officials in the central republican administration originated from merchants, mullahs and other alien elements. In such circumstances, the problem of training leading cadres for the Soviet apparatus from the ranks of the workers is of tremendous importance …

However, despite the great shortcomings of the cadres of the leading state institutions and the economic apparatus, several Republics have been very successful in training leading economic officials. Thus, in April 1931, in the business organizations and enterprises of Uzbekistan, 33 of the 66 leading officials were Uzbeks; 38 had originally been workers and 16 employees; 54 were members of the CPSU(B).

One of the great defects in the training of new leading cadres for the economic, and especially the Soviet, apparatus in the Autonomous Republics and Provinces is that too few of the indigenous workers and collective farmers are promoted to leading work. Such promotions, which were insufficient in the central apparatus of the USSR during the last years, are even less frequent in some of the Republics …

Although the training of cadres is somewhat better organized in the humanities, the numbers of available teaching cadres, especially in the primary and, to some extent, also in the secondary schools in most of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces, show an enormous shortage of national teachers. The national pedagogical cadres are not only weak numerically, but also socially infested with class-alien elements. Up to the present, a substantial number of teachers in primary and secondary schools in the Republics and Autonomous Provinces have been of clerical, commercial and kulak origin, or from other socially alien and hostile strata. This accounts for all sorts of religious, nationalistic and kulak tendencies among a section of the teachers.

An even greater fact in the training of national teaching cadres is the weak grounding which they are receiving. The immense and rising demand for teaching cadres in the backward National Republics makes it impossible to give the teachers an all-round and more thorough training. Hence it has happened in Kirghizia and Turkmenia that almost illiterate people who had just finished the schools for illiterate adults [likbez] or attended short-term courses, were often teaching in primary schools. This means it is extremely urgent for us to train cadres of national teachers who are sufficiently ‘literate and equipped with the theory of Marxism-Leninism. The cultivation of technical knowledge among the national teachers and, through them, among the national masses is also of immense importance.

However, apart from the above-mentioned defects, the National Republics have achieved very great successes in the training of national teachers and pedagogical cadres for secondary and higher education. Thus, in such backward Republics as Turkmenia, more than one-third of the teachers in the primary schools in 1930 were party and Komsomol members. In some Republics a great many teachers are workers and even more are village poor or collective farmers by origin. The national teaching body, which has grown numerically and socially, represents in its mass an immense army faithfully supporting the party and the Soviet Government in the struggle for collectivization and the cultural revolution.

Lastly, the training of national cadres is of immense importance for the party apparatus. True, most of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces lacked both an old and experienced Bolshevik guard and leading party cadres steeled in the struggle against Tsarism … But it is equally true that during the past years the immense successes achieved in the application of the national policy of the party and the expanding industrialization and collectivization have produced in the national districts new leading cadres of party officials who are workers and toilers by origin. Moreover, a portion of the old cadres has been tested, consolidated, ideologically reeducated and steeled as Bolsheviks. A glance at the leading cadres of party officials in any Republic and Autonomous Province shows how much they have grown in the last few years.

The youthfulness of the national Communist Parties and national party organizations and the absence or weakness of national proletarian cadres have affected the state of the leading party cadres. In some national districts all these impediments hampering the development of cadres of party officials have been revealed in a concentrated and acute form. In the Tatar party organization, for example, a group of former party officials, at the time when the class struggle was unfolding and sharpening, landed in the camp of the counter-revolutionary Sultan-Galiev movement.

But the isolated cases of failure in the education and further consolidation of party cadres do not justify the unhealthy tendency shown in some national party organizations to defame and belittle wholesale the old party cadres of the National Republics. Such tendencies manifested themselves most sharply in the Communist Party of Uzbekistan during the IVth Kurultai (Congress). Another striking case of underestimating the value of the tested cadres of national officials who had arisen during the period of revolution, civil war and the first years of socialist construction occurred in Azerbaijan in 1929 in connection with the replacement of the so-called leadership. Even in the advanced proletarian party organization of Baku there were (isolated) attempts to defame the Turkic cadres of party officials. The CC of the CPSU has resolutely repudiated these unhealthy inclinations …

The inter-group struggle which occurred in many national party organizations during the NEP and even the reconstruction period, particularly inside the leading body of the national organizations, and which is still not infrequent even now, continues to have a negative effect on the formation and ideological development of the national party cadres. There were many fairly clear cases of such group struggles expressing, and aiming to protect, the interests of kulak and bey elements. This happened in Kazakhstan, Tataria, Uzbekistan and the party organizations of many other National Republics … To bolshevize the national party organizations, it is necessary above all to produce cadres of leading party officials who are steadfast Bolsheviks, educated in the spirit of internationalism. Such Bolshevik cadres are also needed to wage a most resolute struggle against national seclusion and a decisive two-front fight against Great-Russian chauvinism and local nationalism …

The decisive condition and the basic source of producing leading national officials is the formation of national proletarian cadres. The party and the government have paid serious attention to this matter ever since the beginning of the Revolution. Owing to the successful fulfillment of the First Five-Year Plan, considerable industrial establishments have already been set up in most of the National Republics and Provinces. They will be the basis for the many thousands of new cadres of the national proletariat to be formed. This will make it possible to accelerate greatly the korenizatsiia and the formation of cadres of national officials for all the branches of state, economic, cultural and social development.

Source: Rudolf Schlesinger, ed., Changing Attitudes in Soviet Russia; the nationalities problem and Soviet administration (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1956), pp. 212-222.

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