Lenin on Proletarian Culture

Vladimir Lenin, On Proletarian Culture. October 8, 1920


We see from Izvestiia of October 8 that, in his address to the Proletkult Congress, Comrade Lunacharskii said things that were diametrically opposite to what he and I had agreed upon yesterday.

It is necessary that a draft resolution (of the Proletkult Congress) should be drawn up with the utmost urgency, and that it should be endorsed by the Central Committee, in time to have it put to the vote at this very session of the Proletkult On behalf of the Central Committee it should be submitted not later than today, for endorsement both by the Collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Education and by the Proletkult Congress s, because the Congress is closing today.

Draft Resolution

(1) All educational work in the Soviet Republic of workers and peasants, in the field of political education in general and in the field of art in particular, should be imbued with the spirit of the class struggle being waged by the proletariat for the successful achievement of the aims of its dictatorship, i.e., the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the abolition of classes, and the elimination of all forms of exploitation of man by man.

(2) Hence, the proletariat, both through its vanguard – the Communist Party – and through the many types of proletarian organizations in general, should display the utmost activity and play the leading part in all the work of public education.

(3) All the experience of modem history and, particularly, the more than half-century-old revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of all countries since the appearance of the Communist Manifesto has unquestionably demonstrated that the Marxist world outlook is the only true expression of the interests, the viewpoint, and the culture of the revolutionary proletariat.

(4) Marxism has won its historic significance as the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat because, far from rejecting the most valuable achievements of the bourgeois epoch, it has, on the contrary, assimilated and refashioned everything of value in the more than two thousand years of the development of human thought and culture. Only further work on this basis and in this direction, inspired by the practical experience of the proletarian dictatorship as the final stage in the struggle against every form of exploitation, can be recognized as the development of a genuine proletarian culture.

(5) Adhering unswervingly to this stand of principle, the All-Russian Proletkult Congress rejects in the most resolute manner, as theoretically unsound and practically harmful, all attempts to invent one’s own particular brand of culture, to remain isolated in self-contained organizations, to draw a line dividing the field of work of the People’s Commissariat of Education and the Proletkult, or to set up a Proletkult ‘autonomy’ within establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education and so forth. On the contrary, the Congress enjoins all Proletkult organizations to fully consider themselves in duty bound to act as auxiliary bodies of the network of establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education, and to accomplish their tasks under the general guidance of the Soviet authorities (specifically, of the People’s Commissariat of Education) and of the Russian Communist Party, as part of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship.

Comrade Lunacharskii says that his words have been distorted. In that case this resolution is needed all the more urgently.

Source: V. I. Lenin, Selected Works in Two Volumes (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1952), Vol. 2, pp. 316-317.

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