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Dewey: Stalin's Propagandist, the World's Teacher

Joseph Stalin had been General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party for six years in 1928, when John Dewey, "the father of modern education," toured Russia with a group of educators. Later that year, The New Republic published Dewey's Impressions of Soviet Russia and the revolutionary world. This polemic stands as a remarkable testament to progressivism's disdain for mankind, reason, and truth. It is also Dewey's most honest and concise primer on the principles of his progressive education method. Anyone prepared to defend the idea of government-controlled schooling after reading this work is perhaps beyond reach of rational argument.

Dewey's general assessment of the Stalinist Russia he claims to have encountered is unabashedly positive, not to say romantic. Here is a very typical example:

But since the clamor of economic emphasis, coming... from both defenders and enemies of the Bolshevik scheme, may have confused others as it certainly confused me, I can hardly do better than record the impression, as overwhelming as it was unexpected, that the outstanding fact in Russia is a revolution, involving the release of human powers on such an unprecedented scale that it is of incalculable significance not only for that country, but for the world. [p. 15]

Note the peculiar effect of combining the most understated, non-judgmental language to describe a murderous dictatorship ("the Bolshevik scheme") with the most unobjective hyperbole ("overwhelming," "unprecedented," "incalculable") to describe something as abstract and speculative as "the release of human powers" under communism. This passage, and indeed the entire document, written by a sixty-nine year old eminent intellectual, reads like the silly postcard effusions of a ten-year-old girl on her first trip to Disneyland ...