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6     THE NEW ORGANIZATION OF LIFE

Published onApr 23, 2021
6     THE NEW ORGANIZATION OF LIFE

FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL CHILDREN IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. ABOLITION OF CHILD FACTORY LABOR IN ITS PRESENT FORM. COMBINATION OF EDUCATION WITH INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, ETC.

K. MARX – F. ENGELS, COMMUNIST MANIFESTO1


THE REAL LIBERATION OF WOMAN, REAL COMMUNISM, WILL BEGIN ONLY WHEN AND WHERE THERE BEGINS THE STRUGGLE (LED BY THE PROLETARIAT WHICH DERIVES ITS POWER FROM THE STATE) AGAINST THIS PETTY DOMESTIC ECONOMY, OR, MORE ACCURATELY, WITH A MASSIVE RESTRUCTURING OF OUR ECONOMY INTO A LARGE-SCALE SOCIALIST ONE.

LENIN2


In order to establish basic principles for the construction of the residential sectors of Soviet settlements during our transitional period, we must first enunciate clearly those problems which will present themselves in the immediate years ahead, since even the simplest constructional investments must be relied upon for over a period of from 25 to 40 years. In the course of this time, every change in our way of life will be closely reflected in our residential construction which depends on the stage of our development at the time of construction. Thus in building a separate kitchen for every 2 or 3 rooms, we are wasting ten times the amount of funds and energy that would be necessary for the construction of one large factory kitchen or food combine with a chain of communal dining halls or of subsidiary kitchens near the general housing area. Today this question is settled by attempts to build both the separate and the collective, but since we have very little money at present, we end up building primarily the individual kitchens and not large-scale mechanized ones.

Exactly the same is true of nurseries and kindergartens for our children. While building separate apartments for each worker, we would like at the same time, to create a chain of nurseries and kindergartens for their children, but, since we do not have the means at present to build either of these, we must decide in favor of individual family apartments and not general institutions for the bringing up of children.

The question must be decided one way or the other.

If we attempt to do both, it would mean an increase of 1½ times over the present outlay for the construction of living space, which, given the present housing crisis, is hardly feasible for us without lowering the quota of living area available per person.

And, therefore, the first question we must decide is the matter of priority, or more accurately, which matter should receive more attention: should it be on the collectivization of the most significant needs of the populace or on the improvement of individual services?

It seems to us that there can be only one answer: prime attention must be on the creation of institutions for collective services for social needs.

We are brought to this conclusion not simply by considerations of a programmatic and theoretical nature. The problem of workers’ teams has already, today, become a very real question in the long-range development of our economy. In the current fiscal year our very first industries are going into operation, and already the supply-market of workers has diminished considerably. Tomorrow, when our new gigantic industries demand hundreds of thousands and millions of workers, the rural countryside will not be able to provide these millions since the development of agriculture, the exploitation of huge unsettled areas, the development of new branches and processes, will also demand new working hands. We will find these hands by freeing woman from housework, and this is possible only through collectivizing our way of life.

Besides, the extreme crisis in housing and the problem posed by Marx and Lenin regarding a new method of distribution of population raises the question of controlling the migration to our present cities. An alternative would be to use for production the already existing able-bodied labor reserves of the female portion of the population of cities.

Statistical analysis of the composition of workers’ families tells us that collectivization of the living services of the population would produce about a 30% increase in workers from the same number of adults in the city population, of which 40–50% would be occupied in providing these services, while 50–60% would be freed for production. In other words, 15–18% of the overall city population can go into augmenting the productive labor force, which would mean an increase of 1½ times the number of workers, with no increase in the city population.

Research carried out for the programming of the construction of Stalingrad fully bore out these conclusions.

The second major contemporary problem—the raising of the productive capacity of labor—will find its best answer in the collectivization of the life services since this will eliminate worry about the obtaining of products, fuel, etc.

Finally, the problem of raising the standard of living of the population also finds its solution in the collectivization of the life services, even with our contemporary productive capacity of the labor force. Freeing woman from the household and making her into a worker will increase the family’s earnings; only from 40 to 50% of these additional earnings need go toward the expenses of the family while 50–60% will be used to raise the standard of living.

Therefore, collectivization of the life services of the population provides:

  1. ) the freedom of woman from domestic slavery;

  2. ) a reduction, and in places elimination, of the demands for a flow of new workers into the city;

  3. ) a reduction of demand for new residential construction;

  4. ) an increase in the productive capacity of the labor force;

  5. ) an increase in the standard of living of the working population; and

  6. ) an advance to a higher cultural level for mankind.

In posing the problem so, does this mean that collective feeding and education will have to take children away from their parents?

Not in the least.

The matter of the healthy influence of children on adults—parental instincts, etc.—can in no way be ignored.

Right now we are only concerned with the premise of introducing social education for youngsters. Moreover, in every case the closest bond between the parents and the children must be guaranteed. Parents, unless they have been deprived of the rights of parenthood by committing a crime, must have the privilege of coming to take the child at any time.

Only through extensive educational processes can the influence of the individual family be replaced by the influence of the collective. This matter can by no means be solved mechanically.

Our problem today is one of creating the material foundation for collective education of children. There can be no question of compulsion as of now.

In building special institutions for the life and education of children (closely connected with the adults’ home) we are establishing only the necessary conditions so that parents, when they wish, may send their children to these institutions.

Meanwhile, by depriving families of certain individual services and not allowing them to arrange this and that as they please, we of course do to some extent influence the population toward the organization of collective education. This will not, however, mean compulsion and even less so the worsening of already existing conditions, since family apartments in the already existing cities are more than sufficient in number for the entire transitional period, while new construction will provide more, not less, living space for the family. Thus, it is not so much a matter of forbidding parents to keep their children as it is the creation of new living space for children by building specially equipped children’s institutions near the buildings for general dwelling. This will be done by economizing on the construction of other building (i.e., elimination of individual kitchens, entranceways, corridors, pantries, etc.).

So far as collective feeding is concerned, we must go about this by creating healthful means for the gradual elimination of individual preparation of food by establishing collective dining rooms. Also, in the transitional period we must provide for the construction of subsidiary kitchens in the dwellings, which—until the later period of food-combines (which produce semiprocessed staples)—will play an important role in organizing inexpensive feeding of the population and result in a significant saving of time. These subsidiary kitchens are to be arranged one for every 25–50 rooms; that is, about one for every 10–20 families. They should be designed in such a way that they can be changed over into conventional living space once the need for them has passed.


17. FIVE-YEAR-PLAN CONSTRUCTION OF THE INDUSTRY OF COLLECTIVIZED VICTUALING.

Much the same can be said for laundries. The creation of good and inexpensive mechanical laundries (placed to best advantage in connection with the public baths) will completely free women from this barbaric task. But we should also provide for small mechanical installations where male and female workers can, with a minimum of effort, wash their underthings. The installation of these laundries will also call for a minimal expenditure, and it will be a great advantage for the lower-paid group of the population.

Thus we see that institutions for collective feeding of the population, collective education of children, as well as mechanized laundries—these are the first necessary elements of collective life that must be provided for in new construction.

The usual (alas, not original!) argument that is leveled against this is that the system will destroy the traditional family order, that it will entail loosening up and eventual complete disintegration of the family.

It is not difficult to see that this argument is nothing more than a recrudescence of bourgeois ideology; indeed

with the image of the life of the people, with their collective relationships, with their collective mode of living, their imaginations, their outlooks, their understanding, in a word, their consciousness also changes. What is it that substantiates the history of ideas, if not the fact that the mental activity transforms itself together with the material activity? The leading ideas of any given time have always been the ideas of the ruling class. (K. Marx)3

Yes, the traditional way of life will change in proportion to the degree of collectivization. But we are not at all against changes nor the elimination of the family mode of life, one of the survivals of a form of slavery—that of woman in the bourgeois world.

Abolition of the family! Even extreme radicals throw up their hands in horror when they speak of this shameful communist proposal.

On what is today’s bourgeois family based? On capital, on private gain. In its fully developed form, it exists only for the bourgeoisie, but has its corollaries: the forced family-less state of the proletarians and public prostitution.

The bourgeois family will inevitably collapse together with the collapse of these corollaries, and together the two will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

Do you reproach us for wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? We plead guilty to the charge!

Our determination to replace domestic education by social, implies (you declare) a disregard for the most sacred of relationships.

But the education you provide, is if not socially determined? Is it not determined by the social conditions within whose framework you educate? Is it not determined directly or indirectly by society, acting through the schools, etc.? The influence of society upon education was not a discovery of the communists! They merely propose to change the character of the process, by withdrawing education from the influence of the ruling class.

Bourgeois phrasemaking about the family and education, about the intimate relationships between parents and children, becomes more and more nauseating in proportion as the development of large-scale industry severs all the family ties of the proletarians, and in proportion as proletarian children are transformed into mere articles of commerce and instruments of labor.

—But you communists want to make women common property!—shrieks the bourgeois chorus.

The bourgeois regards his wife as nothing but an instrument of production. He is told that the means of production are to be utilized in common. How can he help thinking that this implies the communization of women as well as other things?

He never dreams for a moment that our main purpose is to insure that women shall no longer occupy the position of a mere instrument of production.

Besides, nothing could be more absurd than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois as regards the official communization of women which the communists are supposed to advocate. Communists do not need to introduce community of women; it has almost invariably existed.

The members of the bourgeoisie, not content with having the wives and daughters of proletarians at their disposal (to say nothing of public prostitution) find one of their chief pleasures in seducing one another’s wives!

18. CONSTRUCTION OF FACTORY KITCHENS.

Bourgeois marriage is, in actual fact, the community of wives. At worst, communists can only be charged with wanting to replace a hypocritical and concealed community of women by an official and frankly acknowledged community. Moreover, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production will lead to the disappearance of that form of the community of women which results therefrom—to the disappearance of official and unofficial prostitution. [K. Marx–F. Engels, Communist Manifesto).

It is hard to think of a better answer to the clamorers against the new way of life, and against the establishment of a material basis for the breakup of the family. One cannot but regret that in certain circles of our party, the bourgeois ideology is so strong, that, with a diligence worthy of a less petty purpose, they think up ever new arguments for retaining the double bed as a permanent and compulsory item in the worker’s home!

It is easy to see that the resistance of these circles to the growing movement of the new masses of workers toward a new way of life “reflects the typical resistance of obsolete classes” (J. Stalin, speech at the XVI Party Congress).

Along with institutions for collectivized education of children and institutions for collectivized feeding, the problem of creating a network of repair shops must be met as well as the establishing of cultural and educational works (libraries, clubs, etc.). The programs for these institutions must be carefully thought out in advance.

It is best, therefore, to organize a network of repair shops at any given stage along cooperative lines (for example, artels of the handicapped). In organizing libraries, the American system should be taken into account and adapted to our needs (see Kravchenko’s book, Toward a Single Main Library System, published by Glz, 1929, price: 10 kopecks). Smaller libraries for more current literature should be established in our communal dwelling units (for example, in the dining rooms). These should be connected with district libraries and those, in turn, with regional libraries and so on—up to the central, all-union library. Every citizen should have the possibility of requesting for himself any book in the country. This system would cut down tremendously on the number of books which have to be printed and at the same time would allow anyone who wished to receive any book. It would be possible to charge for this either by subscription or by single payment, as desired. No special reading rooms would have to be built (except in district libraries or in libraries affiliated with scientific institutions), since anyone can improve himself by reading and working with a book at home and in the summer by reading it out in the garden or on the terrace, etc.

19. SCOPE OF COLLECTIVIZED FEEDING OF MAJOR INDUSTRIAL GROUPS UNDER THE FIVE-YEAR-PLAN.

Reading rooms in small libraries and in many institutions connected with individual and isolated entertainment and learning will disappear because of their uselessness (for example, those in maternity homes, dairies, kitchens, children’s administrations, in many educational units, factory-workshop schools, in a number of buildings for the departments of economics and medicine, in technological institutions, school laboratories, etc.).

Similarly, the construction of special accommodations for physical culture is completely superfluous. It must be clear to everyone how absurd it would be to drive this work indoors in summer; and winter sports and physical culture must be so planned that they are connected with ice (mountains, ice-skates, etc.) and snow (skis). It is time for us to begin to become accustomed to fresh air and the cold. Youth must first be toughened up; let the parades come later. It seems to me that our physical culture experts will solve this problem brilliantly. This does not, of course, preclude the installation of some apparatus in social accommodations (for example in clubs) without, however, the creation of special rooms for them, etc.

A couple of words about the organization of the life of children of school age. Here we must examine the question of dormitories for school children and school camps. All that we have said prior to this [here ff.] about the construction of living areas for children of pre-school age is also relevant to those of school age, with the only distinction being that the latter can live at a somewhat greater distance from the adults. Besides this, the methods of an education directed toward a closer link between it and production must be carefully worked out.

Thus, the gradual collectivization of social services, the interrelating of schools with production, and the new organization of physical culture will provide us a basic economy in our new buildings.

As a result, we must have the following buildings in the residential area:

  1. ) dwelling houses;

  2. ) dining rooms with small related facilities for collective relaxation (libraries, billiards, chess);

  3. ) institutions for pre-school children (nurseries and kindergartens);

  4. ) dormitories for school-age children;

  5. ) district and local clubs (culture palaces and rest homes) with local (district) libraries, sporting fields, etc.

In addition, it would not be a bad idea to have in parks several café-pavilions, areas for games and physical culture (tennis, volleyball), and also, where possible, piers for sailing, rowing, and motor boats. This would cost us only kopecks, but would be extremely useful.

General conclusion: the residential zone must be planned and built as a unified economic arrangement of a socialistic type in which will be provided all the necessary conditions for the collectivization of communal, social, and cultural needs of the population (feeding, education of children and young people, medical care, baths, laundries, repair shops, water supplies, sewers, transportation, clubs, etc.).

The system of cooperation and collectivization of all the most important parts of the social way of life and cultural services must, in the last analysis, make possible the use of all the labor resources of the population. In particular, to use the labor of women freed from the demands of home economy, the labor of the handicapped,4 and also the organized use of the labor of children and adolescents by a system of education that is based upon industrial and agricultural production.

In organizing life in buildings and settlements constructed in the new way, any elements that might coerce people into the new way of life must be totally excluded. The new way of life must be born as a natural result of the new organization of labor and housing and of the proper organization of institutions for collectivized social services to meet the needs of the population.

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