The U.S.S.R. and the Colonial Peoples by Ho Chi Minh

Colonialism is a leech with two suckers, one of which sucks the metropolitan proletariat and the other that of the colonies. If we want to kill this monster, we must cut off both suckers at the same time. If only one is cut off, the other will continue to suck the blood of the proletariat, the animal will continue to live, and the cutoff sucker will grow again. The Russian Revolution has grasped this truth clearly. That is why it is not satisfied with making fine platonic speeches and drafting “humanitarian” resolutions in favor of oppressed peoples, but it teaches them to struggle; and helps them spiritually, as proclaimed by Lenin in his theses on the colonial question. To the Baku Congress, twentyone Eastern nations sent delegates. Representatives of Western workers’ parties also participated in the work of this congress. For the first time, the proletariat of the conquering Western States and that of the subject Eastern countries fraternally joined hands and deliberated in common on the best means to defeat their common enemy, imperialism.

Following this historic congress, despite internal and external difficulties, revolutionary Russia has never hesitated to come to the help of peoples awakened by its heroic and victorious revolution. One of its first important acts was the founding of the University of the East.

Today, this university has 1,022 students, including 151 girls and 859 Communists. Their social composition is as follows: 547 peasants, 265 workers, and 210 proletarian intellectuals.

If account is taken of the fact that Eastern countries are almost exclusively agricultural, the high percentage of students of peasant origin can readily be understood. In India, Japan and especially China, it is the intellectuals faithful to the working class who lead the latter in struggle; this explains the relatively large number of intellectuals among the students at the University. The relatively low number of worker students is due to the fact that industry and commerce in Eastern countriesnaturally excepting Japanare still undeveloped. Moreover, the presence of seventyfive pupils from the age of ten to sixteen years must be noted.

One hundred and fifty professors are responsible for giving courses in social science, mathematics, historical materialism, the history of the workers’ movement, natural science, the history of revolutions, political economy, etc. Young people of sixty–two nationalities are fraternally united in the classrooms.

The University has ten large buildings. It also has a cinema which is put at the students’ disposal free on Thursdays and Sundays; the other days of the week, it operates on behalf of other organizations. Two libraries containing about 47,000 books help the young revolutionaries to make thorough studies and to train their minds. Each nationality or “group” has its own library composed of books and publications in the mother tongue. The reading room, artistically decorated by the students, has a wealth of newspapers and periodicals. The students themselves publish a newspaper, the sole copy of which is posted on a big board by the door of the reading room. Students who are ill are admitted to the University hospital. There is a sanatorium in the Crimea for the benefit of students who need rest. The Soviets have allotted to the University two camps composed of nine buildings each for holidays. Each camp has a center where the students can learn cattle breeding. “We already have thirty cows and fifty pigs,” said the “agrarian secretary” of the University with pride. The 100 hectares of land allotted to these camps are cultivated by the students themselves. During their holidays and outside working hours, they help the peasants in their labor. One of these camps was, by the way, formerly the property of a Grand Duke. It is a memorable sight to see from the top of the tower, adorned with a grand ducal crown, the red flag fluttering, and in “His Excellency’s” entertainment room, the young Korean and Armenian peasants thoroughly enjoying their games.

The students of the University are fed, clothed, and lodged free. Each of them receives six gold rubles per month as pocket money.

To instill into the students a true idea of children’s education, the University has a model crèche and a day nursery looking after 60 small children.

The yearly expenses of the University amount to 561,000 gold rubles.

The sixtytwo nationalities represented at the University form a “Commune.” Its chairman and functionaries are elected every three months by all the students.

A student delegate takes part in the economic and administrative management of the University. All must regularly and in turn work in the kitchen, the library, the club, etc. All “misdemeanors” and disputes are judged and settled by an elected tribunal in the presence of all comrades. Once a week, the “Commune” holds a meeting to discuss the international political and economic situation. From time to time, meetings and evening parties are organized where the amateur artists introduce the art and culture of their country.

The fact that the Communists not only treat the “inferior natives of the colonies” like brothers, but that they get them to participate in the political life of the country, is highly characteristic of the “barbarity” of the Bolsheviks. Treated in their native country as “submissive subjects” or “protéges,” having no other right but that to pay taxes, the Eastern students, who are neither electors nor eligible for election in their own country, from whom the right to express their political opinion is withdrawn, in the Soviet Union take part in the election of the Soviets and have the right to send their representatives to the Soviets. Let our brothers of the colonies who vainly seek a change of nationality make a comparison between bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy.

These students have suffered themselves and have witnessed the sufferings of others. All have lived under the yoke of “high civilization,” all have been victims of exploitation and oppression by foreign capitalists. Moreover, they passionately long to acquire knowledge and to study. They are serious and full of enthusiasm. They are entirely different from the frequenters of the boulevards of the Latin Quarter, the Eastern students in Paris, Oxford, and Berlin. It can be said without exaggeration that under the roof of this University is the future of the colonial peoples.

The colonial countries of the Near and Far East, stretching from Syria to Korea, cover an extent of more than 15 million square kilometers and have more than 1,200 million inhabitants. All these immense countries are now under the yoke of capitalism and imperialism. Although their considerable numbers should be their strength, these submissive peoples have never yet made any serious attempts to free themselves from this yoke. Not yet having realized the value of international solidarity, they have not known how to unite for the struggle. Relationships between their countries are not yet established as they are among the peoples of Europe and America. They possess gigantic strength and do not yet realize it. The University of the East, assembling all the young, active, and intelligent leaders of the colonized countries, has fulfilled a great task, namely:

  1. It teaches to the future vanguard militants the principles of class struggle, confused in their minds by race conflicts and patriarchal customs.
  2. It establishes between the proletarian vanguard of the colonies a close contact with the Western proletariat, thus preparing the way for the close and effective cooperation which will alone ensure the final victory of the international working class.
  3. It teaches the colonized people, hitherto separated from one another, to know one another and to unite, by creating the bases of a future union of Eastern countries, one of the wings of the proletarian revolution.
  4. It sets the proletariat of colonialist countries and example of what they can and must do in favor of their oppressed brothers.

Printed in Imprekor, No. 46, 1924.

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