With all the controversy now about propagandizing schoolchildren, I dusted off an old Soviet political warfare manual titled Communists and the Youth: A Study of Revolutionary Education. Published in the USSR in 1984, the 255-page book sat on my shelf, unread, since I got it while infiltrating a Soviet front organization during United Nations International Youth Year celebrations in 1985. Today I cracked the cover the first time - and how relevant it is to today's debate! Here's an excerpt from the introduction, with some sections highlighted for emphasis:
Source: Communists and the Youth: A Study of Revolutionary Education (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1984), pp. 1-11.
"'The hot student summer' of 1968 affected nearly 50 countries of the capitalist world. Bourgeois publishers jumped at the opportunity to cash in on the events, and hurriedly printed everything connected with this event, even collections of graffiti and glossaries of the 'insurgents' slang. The bourgeois mass media gave wide coverage to the student battles. And soon the Western publishing conveyor began churning out more profound 'studies' prophesying the appearance of a new 'thinker class' and the dawn of a new era called 'the revolution of the young.' What made this more alluring was the fact that the waves of the student tempest continued to swell from time to time, especially on American campuses.
"It would be wrong to belittle the force and significance of this student unrest, its extent, the political awakening and attempts of social self-assertion by the young people of the 'sixties. But this student action, which had quite a considerable impact when it did erupt, was, on the whole, spontaneous and chaotic. Led principally by anarchist, Trotskyite, and ultra-left elements, the student protest had a pseudo-revolutionary colouring.
"But youth will not automatically come to the side of the revolutionary forces. For them to do so there has to be a persistent, painstaking, daily work by the progressive forces, and especially by the communist and workers' parties. And objective and subjective factors play a special role. . . .
"Alongside the objective conditions for the growing breadth and depth of social action by the youth, the subjective factor is equally significant: the correct ideological and political orientation of the young, the ability of the communist parties and youth leagues to impart the protest by the youth a conscious and organized nature, and their ability to educate them in a genuine revolutionary spirit.
"In an antagonistic society the ruling classes determine the content, objectives, forms and methods of the system of education officially recognized in that society. However, this does not exclude that other classes are involved in educational activities, activities directly opposed to the objectives of the official education. Here, the question is to change the character of education. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party [Communist Manifesto], Marx and Engels wrote: 'The Communists have not invented the intervention of society and education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.'
"The founders of Marxism-Leninism pointed to the close interconnection between the process of education and the revolutionary transformation of society. They considered that the educational process was of a political character, and said that the revolutionary class of society - the working class led by its vanguard, the Communist Party - had to play a special role in education.
"At this point one should explain the correlation of the ideas 'revolutionary education' and 'communist education.' Thus, in a bourgeois society, it is a question mainly of revolutionary education, primarily of giving the progressive section of the youth a Marxist world outlook, and class self-consciousness, and of educating these young people in the course of revolutionary practice and revolutionary action. . . .
"Communist education became of general state and political significance only after the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution and when the building of a socialist society was initiated. There was a fundamental change in the entire character of social education, which became a component of the building of socialism and communism. . . .
"In several instances, especially during the transitional period of the building of socialism, it is correct to use the term 'socialist education' as the initial stage of communist education. . . .
"The struggle to win the youth is one of the most important aspects of the ideological struggle in the modern world. The outcome of the class struggle of today and tomorrow largely depends on whom the youth will follow."