Anatoly Lunacharsky

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The teacher, the true teacher, must first of all be with the masses in all their experiences and through all their wanderings.

Anatoly Lunacharsky (23 November 1875 {11 November O.S.} – 26 December 1933) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and the first Soviet Commissar of Education. Born in 1875 in Poltava to minor nobility, he embraced revolutionary ideals at an early age. Departing Russia for Switzerland in 1894, he studied under the philosopher Richard Avenarius and, upon his return to Russia in 1896, faced arrest for party building activities, leading to exile in Kaluga. He returned to Kiev around 1901 or 1902. In July 1917, he was imprisoned by Alexander Kerensky but later appointed Commissar of Education in Lenin's first Soviet government. Lunacharsky passed away in 1933, just before assuming the role of Ambassador to Spain.


  • No ideal can spring from a soil or seed alien to it; the methods and weapons used for its attainment must be in harmony with itself. Therefore from the struggling proletariat we must not expect the splendour of the harvest and the perfection of form and unfettered grace of victorious strength. These will reveal themselves in the future. Nevertheless, we have every reason to expect that proletarian culture, because of its struggle, its toil, and suffering, will possess characteristics which would probably be unthinkable in the social order of a triumphant Socialism.
  • In essence, the Intelligentsia is, as a whole, petite bourgeois. But at the same time, it is the bearer of special functions in society--it is the organ and servitor of social knowledge and consciousness. For, in the words of Lassalle, the union of science and the fourth estate is a most natural phenomenon. A real artist must be sensitive to truth, to the beauty of heroism and of the will to freedom. The teacher, the true teacher, must first of all be with the masses in all their experiences and through all their wanderings.

Revolutionary Silhouettes (1923)[edit]

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin[edit]

  • Lenin was transformed. I was deeply impressed by that concentrated energy with which he spoke, by those piercing eyes of his which grew almost sombre as they bored gimlet-like into the audience, by the orator’s monotonous but compelling movements, by that fluent diction so redolent of will-power. I realized that as a tribune this man was destined to make a powerful and ineradicable mark. And I already knew the extent of Lenin’s strength as a publicist – his unpolished but extraordinarily clear style, his ability to present any idea, however complicated, in astonishingly simple form and to modify it in such a way that it would ultimately be engraved upon any mind, however dull and however unaccustomed to political thinking. Only later, much later, did I come to see that Lenin’s greatest gifts were not those of a tribune or a publicist, not even those of a thinker, but even in those early days it was obvious to me that the dominating trait of his character, the feature which constituted half his make-up, was his will: an extremely firm, extremely forceful will capable of concentrating itself on the most immediate task but which yet never strayed beyond the radius traced out by his powerful intellect and which assigned every individual problem its place as a link in a huge, world-wide political chain.

Lev Davidovich Trotsky[edit]

  • Trotsky's most obvious gifts were his talents as an orator and as a writer. I regard Trotsky as probably the greatest orator of our age. ... His impressive appearance, his handsome, sweeping gestures, the powerful rhythm of his speech, his loud but never fatiguing voice, the remarkable coherence and literary skill of his phrasing, the richness of imagery, scalding irony, his soaring pathos, his rigid logic, clear as polished steel: those are Trotsky’s virtues as a speaker.

Grigory Ovseyevich Zinoviev[edit]

  • Zinoviev has always acted as Lenin’s faithful henchman and has followed him everywhere. The Mensheviks have affected a slightly scornful attitude to Zinoviev for being just such a dedicated henchman. Perhaps we Forwardists were also slightly infected by this attitude. We knew that Zinoviev was an excellent Party worker, but we knew little of him as a political thinker and we too often used to say of him that he followed Lenin as the thread follows a needle.

Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov[edit]

  • The man was like a diamond, chosen for its absolute hardness to be the axis of some delicate, perpetually revolving piece of mechanism. The man was like ice; the man was like a diamond. His moral nature, too, had a similar quality that was crystalline, cold and spiky. He was transparently free of personal ambition or any form of personal calculation to such a degree that he was somehow faceless. Nor had he any ideas. He had orthodox ideas about everything, but he was only a reflection of the general will, of general Party directives. He never originated anything but merely transmitted what he received from the Central Committee, sometimes from Lenin personally. He transmitted them, of course, clearly and well, adapting them to each concrete situation. When he spoke in public his speeches always bore an official stamp, like leading articles in an official gazette. Everything was carefully thought out; he said what was needed and no more. No sentimentality. No intellectual fireworks.

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