Tatar Club, Arabic and Latin script, Moscow, 1935

“Soviet Union-Style” Decolonisation Means True Historical Emancipation

The Universities minister and conservative MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, compared recent widespread campaigns by universities to ‘decolonise’ their curricula to “Soviet Union style censorship.” (Universities minister compares ‘decolonisation’ of history to ‘Soviet Union-style’ censorship, The Independent, 28/02/2021)

Speaking to a Daily Telegraph podcast, Ms Donelan said: “It just doesn’t work when governments try to remove elements of history. Look at the Soviet Union, look at China. There are multiple examples where it’s been tried. It doesn’t work.”

The Minister’s words come in response to calls by some of the more vocal IDPOL students scattered across the country to remove certain study materials from the curriculum that are considered “triggering” to ethnic minorities for their glorification of the empire and white-washing of Britain’s blood-soaked history.

The Communists have produced multiple articles concerning debates surrounding Britain’s colonial history in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year (see Statues and the crimes of imperialism | The Communists). To summarise, we argue that the capitalist ruling-class who profited, and continue to profit hugely from colonisation/neo-colonisation/imperialism expectedly distort, mythologise and even glorify its imperialist history through its various educational institutions. Any attempt by the IDPOLs to impose a more liberal curriculum on historic teachings is mere tokenism. The imperialists’ historic and ongoing crimes can only be truly exposed once the working-class have removed the capitalist ruling-class from power, installing in its wake a completely new and revolutionary ideological state apparatus, serving the interests of the toiling masses instead of the capitalist parasites.

Indeed, this is exactly what the Soviet Union achieved and because of which it is hated by Tory capitalist servants like Ms Donelan. The Soviet Union made unprecedented strides in all aspects of life including (but not exclusive to) science, culture, equality and education. Historiography was no exception. After liberating the various peoples of the union and eliminating illiteracy, the USSR enabled its citizens to understand their shared history. Ethnographers and anthropologists were sent to each and every part of the Union, building a rich and deep understanding of all the various ethnicities and cultures (see Lalkar: The transformation of Central Asia under Soviet power).

A huge achievement of the October Revolution was the proclamation of the following principles:

Recognition of the right of nations to self-determination.

Right to equality and sovereignty.

Free development of national minorities, cultures and languages.

As a result of this policy, a number of peoples, living in the “prison of the nations” (as Lenin described the Tsarist Empire), acquired their own countries after 1917. Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, as well as the Soviet Republics of Transcaucasia, Belarus and Ukraine were formed.

Soviet power confronted nationalism and xenophobia in an unprecedented way. It promoted mutual respect and equality between nations and ethnicities, cultivating and implementing the idea of ​​their voluntary union within the framework of the Soviet Union. Not only did it not censor national identities and minority cultures but instead it actively nurtured, spent resources and invested seriously in researching and studying them scientifically for the first time. It is indicative that many oral languages and dialects were recorded and written for the first time by Soviet linguists, and thus popular cultural treasures like poetry, music and dance were preserved. Local cultures flourished and took new literary forms and artistic expressions that were taught widely and shared by all thus becoming the pride of the whole of the USSR.

The basis for this treatment of national and cultural minorities was Proletarian Internationalism, the only principle whose consistent application can ensure respect for national, linguistic and cultural specificity and equal participation in the course of socialist construction. Capitalism on the contrary, is based on relations of domination, subjugation and oppression, hence inequality. Only under socialism can the peoples be freed from the shackles of class exploitation. Nationalist antagonisms cease to be instigated as a consequence of intra-capitalist antagonisms and the peoples can truly unite in their own power, liberated, for the building of their own society.

Ms Donelan’s unsubstantiated accusation against the Soviet Union does not stem from her hatred for censorship altogether, otherwise she would be condemning her fellow conservative brethren who have banned schools from using teaching material that calls for the end of capitalism, claiming it to be an “extreme political stance equivalent to racism, anti-Semitism, violence and overthrowing democracy.” No, her barefaced anti-communist rhetoric is purely second-natured reflexing, ingrained into the psyche of the careerist puppets that dominate Britain’s political class, to dodge criticism of their imperialist skewed version of history, their failed education system and the inequalities that they generate.