Attending the University in the Soviet Union – Social Studies

This is the continuation of that post; I’ve spoken a little bit about how math subjects were taught, but there were also a couple of non-math ones. So let’s cover them.

The toughest ones were all political subjects, which we had on place of social studies. Both in high school and the University, we studied “Marxist-Leninist philosophy,” and that was the only kind of philosophy we were allowed to know. By the way, I think it’s very good to know Marx works because 1) he had indeed some wise things to say, and 2) we should to know the origin, not interpretation, and learn from the previous mistakes. I find it very sad that people who got their education in the Soviet Union still resent this forced feeding of Marxism from their early stages of life, that they want completely erase it out of the world.

But back to my student years. Marxism-Leninism consisted of five parts, which could be conveniently mapped to the five years at theUniversity:

-The History of CPSU

-Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism (this is one subject – one semester for each :))

– Political Economy of Capitalism

– Political Economy of Socialism

– Scientific Communism

If I am not mistaken, each semester, except the very last one, we had two lectures (two “pairs” ) on a corresponding political subject each week, and two “pairs” of seminars. Maybe there were less in the higher classes, but it was the case during our first year. You might wonder what we could do on the history of the CPSU seminars since no critiques or discussions were allowed. Well, we had to study “the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism.” Before each seminar, we were given the list of works by Lenin (because he ended up being the only not compromised party leader, who wrote something readable). When we covered the history after Lenin’s death, we studied “materials of Congresses of the CPSU.”

If this sounds a lot like China Peoples Republic, you are probably right. If you study “properly,” not only you had to read all these works, but you were also supposed to take notes(“conspect”). Some assistant professors would not only check the fact that you had your notes but could also ask something like: show me a place in your notes, where you are highlighting this important thought!

So what you would do to get ready for these seminars? You would go to the Univesity library, check out the appropriate tom of the works of Lenin, and sit at the desk in the reading hall, writing down your notes. If you do it properly, it will take a lot of time, so most people would either copy notes from somebody or just flunk.

There were some good parts as well in this political studies. We had one really cool professor, who utilized the part of the course of Marxist philosophy, which was called “Critiques of the Bourgeous Philosophy.” He actually taught us about all other philosophical systems, that’s why I knew about Heidegger and others. He also used the historical part of this course, where we were supposed to learn why everything before Marx was bad, to teach us about ancient Greek philosophers and the basics of their teachings. I also had him for my postgrad philosophy class, and he tried to teach us all sorts of things – as much as he could drag into the course employing “critique.”


My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

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