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Dewey Among the Soviets

Here’s what Dewey had to say when he visited the Soviet Union in 1928, writing in a series of articles for The New Republic magazine: Soviet culture is

“a vast human revolution that has brought with it  or rather that consists of  an outburst of vitality, courage, confidence in life ... .  ... [T]he outstanding fact in Russia is a revolution, involving a release of human powers on such an unprecedented scale that it is of incalculable significance not only for that country, but for the world.”  (Quoted in the book John Dewey and American Democracy, by Robert Westbrook, publ. Cornell Univ. Press  from the collected works of John Dewey, Later Works, volume 3, page 207.)

According to Prof. Westbrook, who admires Dewey, what Dewey applauded in the Soviet Union were its cooperatives, its art museums for the “proletariat,” and, most especially, the “educational experimentation” that tied cultural and vocational education to (quoting Dewey) “a single and comprehensive purpose.”

Dewey concluded about Soviet Russia:

“In its ulterior reaches it is an experiment to discover whether the familiar democratic ideals  familiar in words, at least  of liberty, equality and brotherhood will not be most completely realized in a social regime based on voluntary [yeah right] cooperation, on conjoint worker’s control and management of industry, with an accompanying abolition of private property as a fixed institution.”

This in 1928. The blood, the coercion, the KGB, the starvation  all, all ignored.

Later in the 1930’s and 40’s Dewey denounced the carnage  and continued to praise every ideal that caused it.

For more of Dewey among the Soviets, see:

  Education for the new man
  You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs
  The great Soviet experiment – on children
  A New World in the Making
  Grumblers in the USSR, 1931