Making the Collective Man in Soviet Russia

Courtesy Reuters

THE individual human personality is fighting a losing battle against heavy odds in Russia today. When one hears of state planning in the Soviet Union one usually thinks of factories, steel plants, large grain farms and cotton plantations, tractors and other accessories of industrialization. What is perhaps not generally realized is that man himself is the first and most important objective of Soviet planning and that the tendency to replace man, the individual, by collective man, the product of social groups and forces, is one of the most important and interesting currents in Soviet life.

Indeed the success which has been achieved in shaping the individual and placing a definite stamp upon him is perhaps greater up to the present time than the success in standardizing types of tractors or railroad equipment. The Soviet Union has certainly gone further than any other country has ever gone in building up a gigantic mechanism of social, economic, educational and propaganda forces which tend to repress many old aspects of human personality and to remold it in the image of Marx and Lenin. Of course even the strongest individuality does not exist in a vacuum, but is modified to a greater or lesser extent by the political, economic, social and intellectual atmosphere surrounding it. In the Soviet Union the balance which exists elsewhere between the claims of society and the autonomy of the individual has been heavily weighted in society's favor.

From the cradle to the grave the life and thought of the Soviet citizen are mapped out for him so far as external influences can be mobilized to achieve this end. The Soviet child about the age of eight is apt to join the Young Pioneers, an organization which numbers more than four million members and is steadily growing. From the moment when young Vasya and Sonya put on the red scarf that is the distinguishing sign of the Young Pioneer a process of intensive propaganda begins, of which a part consists in

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