Joseph Stalin attached great importance to the theory of Marxism and, according to the people who worked with him, repeatedly said that “without theory, we will die.” Stalin was talking about the most thorough and deepest studying of the theory of Marxism-Leninism, and not about the need of some new, not yet existent theory.
“The situation is now,” said Stalin, “either we will train our cadres, our people, our business executives, economic leaders on the basis of science, or we will die! So the question is posed by history”. This problem worried Stalin for many decades.
Back in 1924, at the XIII Party Congress, he said: “One of the dangerous disadvantages of our party is to lower the theoretical level of its members. The reason is hellish practical work that discourages theoretical studies and cultivates a kind of dangerous carelessness – to say the least – to theoretical issues.”1
And the point here is not simply enlightening concern for the self-education of party members. The matter is deeper. Lenin already emphasized this depth: “The economic power in the hands of the proletarian state of Russia is quite enough to ensure the transition to communism. What is missing? Of course, what is lacking: lack of culture for the layer of communists who rule.”2 At the same time, culture in the Leninist sense embraces science, technology, and education.
This problem was especially acute for the party after the victorious World War II, when it was necessary to determine the ways for the further development of society and the building of communism. During this period, the theoretical lag of party members became completely unacceptable. “The Order of the Sword-bearers” should not be transformed into a “choir of psalmists, a detachment of hallelujahs”, Stalin warned.3 “It is well known that no science can develop without freedom of criticism, without a struggle of opinions,” he emphasized.4
Stalin’s serious concern was caused by the general culture of mass consciousness, a culture of thinking. He was ironic about the logical mistakes of the interlocutors, for example, about the widespread error “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” when they mistakenly conclude “It happened after that, which means – because of that.” On his initiative, logic and psychology were included in the general education system. During the difficult war years, the Stalin Prizes marked the work of S. Rubinshtein “Fundamentals of General Psychology” (1942) and “Logic” Asmus (1943). The reader was returned to the classic textbook of Chelpanov’s logic.
In order to revive scientific thought, to enhance the role of theory, knowledge, education, Stalin puts forward numerous initiatives and proposals.
It may be recalled that in 1947 he handed over to a group of scientists a proposal to create a “Society for the dissemination of scientific and political knowledge”. The corresponding government decision was unusually generous for those difficult post-war years. Society “Knowledge” was asked to head the remarkable scientist, President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Academician S. I. Vavilov. The company received at its disposal the building of the Polytechnical Museum next to the Party Central Committee, and also gained wide publishing opportunities.
In the same year, at the initiative of Stalin, the Publishing House of Foreign Literature was created, which was designed to acquaint the Soviet reader with the best novelties of foreign literature in the field of natural and social sciences. A stream of modern books on physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, genetics poured from a cornucopia.