HotAIR - About Scientific Communism


About Scientific Communism

A report from a former student

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

We received this letter from investigator Andres Valdre:

I read (in the November 2001 issue of mini-AIR) about your correspondent's amazement upon discovering a subject called "Scientific Communism". Unfortunately, attending this class was a weekly (up to 4 academic hours per week) obligation of each 1st-year student in the late USSR. Below are my recollections of this and similar subjects from my first three years at university, at the Tallinn Technical University, Estonia, in 1988-91.

This subject, "Scientific Communism", consisted of a two-hour mumbo-jumbo glorifying the glorious deeds of the glorious Party and its glorious leaders, served in the way as it was currently official (this changed a little over time). Then, even worse, the students had to attend a seminar or whatever of the same duration as well, where they had to show that they had memorized this mumbo-jumbo. Usually the subject was taught by elderly ladies literally showing the dust and wrinkles of the ages on their appearance, and talking in a very silent voice so that the audience could not hear a word, except those sitting at the very front.

Worst of all, every institution of higher education had to have a chair of scientific communism which only purpose was to teach this subject and its publish learning aid booklets. The students had obligatory reading, too, this was the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" by Marx & Co. (which I did not read).

This was one of the five "red subjects". The obligatory studying time was five years, during which there was a different "red subject" every year. In Year 2 there was the subject called - I believe - "Dialectic Materialism", then on the 3rd, something remotely related to economy, and so on. Personally, I was lucky, as although I started with Scientific Communism in Year 1 in autumn 1988, things were changing rapidly, so we had the classical lectures and seminars by the very old lady only a couple of times, then it was taken over by a new (slightly younger) teacher who taught something else, like the more truthful history of the USSR. We did not even have to take the exam any more. The old lady died shortly thereafter.

I hope this helps. Perhaps you'll get the full list of the five Soviet "red subjects" from someone who attended their universities before 1988.


Andres Valdre,

PS. My wife attended a medical university in Moscow, Russia. She had an obligatory subject (with badly-disguised military application) named "Cosmic Medicine" which was mis-(?)-translated in her official translation of the curriculum as "Cosmetologic Medicine".


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