Frank Thoms

1963; The beginning of my teaching about the Russians

Feb 19, 2023 by Frank Thoms

In the next month, we invoked a Soviet classroom: students wore Pioneer uniforms, carried out calisthenics in front of the school, and a few acted as teachers. We assessed documents procured from the Soviet Embassy in DC, analyzed the twenty duties of Soviet school children, discussed an anti-capitalist account of growing up poor in America, put on a meet-the-Communists panel for a neighboring junior high, took exams to become Young Pioneers.

We published our own Leninist newspaper, Iskra—The Spark— “All the News That’s Red We Print.”

The Iskra editorial (I had a hand in it):

THE TIME HAS COME: Too long have we waited for this glorifying moment, when the minds of the people shall awaken to the stirring thought of rebellion against the grande bourgeoisie . . . . Now is the time for you, the oppressed victims of the American grande bourgeoisie, to arise and crush the capitalists with the omnipotent implements of Communism: atheism and materialism. Citizens of America, ignite, and fight for your rights as a Communist!

Then, our rationale for publishing:

WHY?: Iskra is here because the American student has the right to project himself into the pulse of another nation. Iskra is the expression of this right. We have “been” Lenin, Stalin, Marx, and Khrushchev; we have “interviewed” these notables. We have “lived” in a Soviet classroom; we have “felt” the pressures of being dogmatically disciplined. Iskra is a privilege. We cherish it.

And I cherished those days!