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Soviet Union


The CPSU obligated its members constantly to improve their understanding of Marxism-Leninism and political qualifications. Toward these goals, the party operated a series of schools to train party members in Marxism-Leninism, to recruit rank-and-file members into its administration, and to communicate party principles and policies to the membership, particularly to officials in the apparatus.

Party schools operated at all levels of the hierarchy. The primary party schools formed the elementary level of the training system. These schools were informal; they could be as simple as a circle of workers who met after work to discuss the life of Lenin, political and economic affairs, or current party policies. Since the mid-1960s, enrollments in these schools have been declining because of the increased education level of the population. These courses were open to nonmembers, whose participation could be used to demonstrate a desire to join the party. Trade unions and the Komsomol administered schools with similar levels of instruction. Trade unions operated "people's universities" and "schools of communist labor." The former treated a variety of topics and enrolled students in a group that advanced as a class from level to level. Schools of communist labor were oriented to problems of production. Lectures often dealt with the correct attitude toward work.

The party had a variety of schools at the intermediate level. Schools of the Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, administered by district and city party committees, required some knowledge of Marxism-Leninism. Classes were small, which permitted individual attention to students and the examination of subject matter in detail. Courses in these schools reviewed the fundamentals of party doctrine and included subjects such as party history, political economy, and Marxist-Leninist philosophy. Since the mid-1970s, enrollment in these schools has grown. In 1981 the party formed the Schools for Young Communists. These institutions offered instruction to candidate members of the party and to people who had recently become full members.

The Schools of Scientific Communism offered more specialized instruction at the intermediate level. In 1989 topics included current events in domestic and international affairs. Schools for the party's economic specialists offered training in such areas as party direction of trade unions, economic policy, and the theory of developed socialism. Schools for ideological specialists included courses for PPO secretaries and group leaders, party lecturers, and media personnel. These schools offered courses on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and on the means and methods of the party's control over ideological affairs.

Party training at the intermediate level also encompassed seminars in Marxist-Leninist theory and methods. Members of the scientific intelligentsia and professors at institutions of higher education attended these seminars. Subjects included philosophical and social science topics: the scientific-technical revolution, economics, the theory of proletarian internationalism, communist morality, and socialist democracy.

Finally, the party offered courses for raising the qualifications of party and soviet officials at the provincial and republic levels. These courses involved supplementary training in a variety of subjects first treated in lower-level party schools. Party officials also could take correspondence courses offered either by the Higher Party School of their republic or under the auspices of the Academy of Social Sciences of the CPSU Central Committee.

At the all-union level, the Higher Party School and the Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow were staffed with instructors attached to the CPSU Central Committee departments (see Secretariat , this ch.). These schools trained officials to enter the party elite at the all-union level. The Higher Party School graduated about 300 students per year; the Academy of Social Sciences graduated approximately 100.

Training at party schools served a variety of purposes. Willingness to participate in party courses at the lowest level could indicate an aspiration to join the party or ensure advancement from candidate status to that of full member. Once in the party, participation in training courses demonstrated a desire to enter into full-time, salaried party work. Indeed, such coursework was a prerequisite for this kind of a career. Party training also created an in-group consciousness among those who attended courses, particularly at the intermediate and all-union levels. Various kinds of specialists from wide-ranging backgrounds took these courses; hence, party schools integrated officials from all sectors of the party and government bureaucracies and inculcated a shared consciousness of their duties and status. Equally important, party schools, according to American Soviet specialists Frederick C. Barghoorn and Thomas F. Remington, underscored the CPSU's legitimacy by providing a theoretical basis for its policies. Courses in party schools examined current events and policy issues from the party's perspective. Thus, party training counteracted the insular viewpoints that could arise as a result of officials' attention to their narrow fields of specialization.

Data as of May 1989

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