<<Home page

Dewey among the Soviets
A New World in the Making

From Dewey’s  Impressions of Soviet Russia, 1929:

Chapter III   “A New World in the Making”

Page 57

“... there is an enormous constructive effort taking place in the creation of a new collective mentality;  a new morality I should call it, were it not for the aversion of Soviet leaders to all moral terminology;  and that this endeavor is actually succeeding to a considerable degree  to just what extent, I cannot, of course, measure.”
Chapter IV   “What Are the Russian Schools Doing?”

Page 61

“... the import of all institutions is educational in the broad sense  that of their effects upon disposition and attitude.  Their function is to create habits so that persons will act cooperatively and collectively as readily now in capitalistic countries they act ‘individualistically.’  The same consideration defines the importance and the purpose of the narrower educational agencies, the schools.  They represent a direct and concentrated effort to obtain the effect which other institutions develop in a diffused and roundabout manner.  The schools are, in current phrase, the ‘ideological arm of the Revolution.’  In consequence, the activities of the schools dovetail in the most extraordinary way, both in administrative organization and in aim and spirit, into all other social agencies and interests.”
Page 68
“I have become involved in a diversion [i.e. digression], though one naturally suggested by the marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government  and I am speaking of what I have seen and not just been told about.”

A respondent pointed out that Dewey headed the League of Nations inquiry into Stalin’s charges against Trotsky, which exonerated Trotsky and earned Dewey the enmity of the Communist Party.

Trotsky was a Bolshevik who along with Lenin, Stalin, and others led the 1917 Russian revolution, eventually founding the Soviet Union.  Stalin’s rise to power and purge of Trotsky and other former comrades by convicting them in a phony trial was a conflict between murders.  Trotsky was no hero of freedom, and at root no better than the man he helped bring to power.

Dewey’s arguments with Trotsky were quibbles over the validity of historical necessity. What the respondent cannot point out is one quote from Dewey denouncing the Soviet Union for violating the human right to the fruit of one’s own labor.