May 18, 1925
J.V. Stalin, 'The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the Far East: Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, May 18, 1925'
After World War I, several communist movements tried to replicate the Bolsheviks’ take-over of Russia in European countries, most importantly and most often in Germany. All failed. As a result, the Soviet leadership and communists worldwide from around 1920 focused more energies on colonized countries, especially in Asia. As most of these seemed to lack the economic and sociopolitical conditions necessary for a communist revolution, the aim was to weaken if not overthrow European imperial rule, serving the interests of both the USSR and the local petit bourgeoisie, peasants, and few industrial workers. The perhaps greatest price was China. Moreover, India was seen to be (exceptionally) ripe for direct communist action.
Communists and some anti-colonial nationalists were also active in and across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, often sharing resources while being networked with the Communist International. Abbreviated as the Comintern (also the Third International), the latter was thekey international communist organization: founded in 1919 in Moscow, headquartered there, and employing through its dissolution in 1943 thousands of professional cadres from around the world, principally from Europe and Asia, as Brigitte Studer’s Reisende der Weltrevolution: Eine Globalgeschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale (2020) shows. Also in the Soviet Union, the year 1920 saw the landmark Congress of the Peoples of the East, in Baku. And in 1921, the Communist University for Laborers of the East (Kommunistichyeskii univyersityet trudyaschikhsya Vostoka, KUTV) opened its doors in Moscow. It became the first full-fledged Soviet training center for Soviet Muslims and for foreign communist cadres, principally from Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, and it impacted Soviet views of the East, as Lana Ravandi-Fadai and Masha Kirasirova have shown in “Red Mecca” (2015) and “The ‘East’ as a Category of Bolshevik Ideology and Comintern Administration” (2017), respectively. The text here is the English translation, published in 1954 in the collection J. V. Stalin: Works: Volume 7, of a Russian text published in 1925 in the principal Soviet newspaper, Pravda, rendering a speech that the 1924-1953 Chairman of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) held to KUTV’s students in 1925.
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