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Impact on Youth and Education

Modern History (Year 12) - Stalin's Cultural Revolution

Ben Whitten

Impact on Youth and Education

Stalin’s cultural revolution had a great impact on youth groups during the period. In 1927, the Komsomol (the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League), a political youth organisation in the Soviet Union had 2 million members aged between 14 and 27. The Komsomol was exclusive, and many members were rejected on grounds of immaturity or insufficiently proletariat origins. Between 1929 and 1933, Komsomol became “soldiers of production” in the industrial drive. One of the first directors of the Magnitogorsk site described the local Komsomol as “the most reliable and powerful organising force of construction”. The Komsomol imposed labour discipline, leading and joining shock brigades, enforced collectivisation, collected state procurements, lead the campaign against religion and exposed official abuses, unmasking hidden enemies. The Komsomol instrumented in ‘weeding’ out student whose families has been classified as Kulaks or bourgeois, attacking non-Party professors and teachers with the aim of making the intelligentsia proletarian.

Education suffered due to the revolution as traditional teaching methods were under attack. Shulgin’s theory of ‘withering away of school’ was very prominent, and believed that children would be better off being socially useful by working in factories, teaching peasants or distributing anti-religious literature. Under this school of thought, schools should also be linked to factories but this ended up narrowing the education of the students and factory managers were not happy about untrained and undisciplined children getting in the way of their production targets. Despite the short-lived nature of the Cultural Revolution, there was a lasting effect on teachers; many older teachers were driven out as bourgeois specialists and were replaced by red specialists. In 1931, Stalin made a speech about the Tsarist-educated intelligentsia which signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution in terms of Education.

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