Table of contents:
- Ideas of a single "Great Russian language" for the young country of the Soviets
- A single state language is a contradiction to Bolshevik equality
- Russian language as a "means of interethnic communication of peoples"
- Official, but not state
Video: Why the "great and mighty" Russian language did not become the state language in the USSR
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
The largest country in area in the entire history of human civilization was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, if you understand all the intricacies of such a designation as "state", the USSR did not have one very important component of it. This is a single state language. After all, the Russian language officially, from the point of view of legislation, never became the state language in the Soviet Union.
Ideas of a single "Great Russian language" for the young country of the Soviets
As unusual and even absurd as it may sound, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin, even before the revolution, did not promote the idea of a single language in the future “country of victorious socialism”. Moreover, such "linguistic views" were considered a relic of the bourgeois empire and were subjected to merciless criticism from the ideologists of the world socialist workers 'and peasants' revolution.
In one of the issues of Proletarskaya Pravda in 1914, Vladimir Lenin wrote that in the future, none of the Bolsheviks was going to "drive the peoples with a club into a socialist paradise" - that is, to impose anything on anyone. This directly related to the issue of a "single Great Russian language" for all peoples of the future country of the Soviets.
A single state language is a contradiction to Bolshevik equality
Lenin believed that the Russian language, as the language of the people constituting a minority in the Russian Empire (and future Soviet Russia), could not be imposed on all other peoples of the future proletarian state. Such a clear and unambiguous position of the party leadership resulted in the fact that already in 1918 the very concept of “state language” simply disappeared from the first Constitution of the RSFSR.
The Bolsheviks believed that in the future, other countries would join the new workers 'and peasants' republic, in which the socialist revolution would triumph. Consequently, propaganda of the “greatness” of one language over others can negatively affect the Bolshevik idea of equality and brotherhood. In addition, in the future, under communism, the very concept of "state" will be abolished. This means that there can be no “single state language” a priori. Point.
Russian language as a "means of interethnic communication of peoples"
Despite the negative attitude of the Bolsheviks to the "single state language", they nevertheless published their first decrees and laws in Russian. After all, there was no point in doing this in the “language of the world revolution” - Esperanto, which some revolutionaries (for example, Leon Trotsky) lobbied with all their might. And the Bolsheviks perfectly understood this.
Thus, in the Constitution of the USSR of 1924, several "equal" languages of office work were clearly defined at once: Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Georgian, Armenian and Turkic-Tatar (present Azerbaijani), as the languages of the largest peoples who inhabited the territory of the Soviet Union at that time. … However, this "linguistic equality" in the USSR lasted only 14 years - until 1938.
This year, the leadership of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, together with the USSR Council of People's Commissars, issued a decree according to which the Russian language became compulsory for learning in all subjects of the Union - national republics, territories and regions.
Many historians consider this resolution to be the end of the internal party polemics about what is more important: the world revolution or the construction of a single socialist state within one country. With a common language of communication for all national entities that make up it.
Official, but not state
After the end of World War II and the reorganization of the League of Nations in the UN, not without the efforts of the USSR Foreign Ministry and the country's leadership (with Stalin's direct support), the Russian language received the status of an official and working language in the new international organization. Within the country, especially in the 1960s (when the number of Russian-language schools began to gradually increase in the republics, and education in FZU, technical schools and institutes was translated into Russian), the change in the language policy of the “center” became more than obvious.
In order to somehow smooth over local discontent, a very unusual formula was invented for the Russian language. According to it, the Russian language was declared "a means of interethnic communication of all the peoples of the Soviet Union." In fact, the official language of the USSR. By the way, with this formulation, the Russian language was even included in the "Great Soviet Encyclopedia". At the same time, even in the official programs of the CPSU it is indicated that all peoples living on the territory of the Soviet Union study the Russian language exclusively voluntarily, without any coercion from the leadership of the country and the party.
Such caution in the Brezhnev era was fully justified. After all, when at the end of the 70s in the Kremlin began talks about the introduction of a single state language - in the Georgian SSR there was a riot. Already in the last years of the existence of the USSR in the Baltic and some Transcaucasian republics, nationalist forces raised the language issue as an argument for an early secession from the Soviet Union.
In response to such separatist sentiments, Moscow decided to openly tighten its language policy by issuing in March 1990 the Law on the Languages of the Peoples of the USSR. But even in this document, the Russian language had only the status of an “official language”. But not a state one.
An interesting fact: what the Bolsheviks and communists failed to do in more than half a century - to give the Russian language the status of the state language, was done in 5 years by the "democrats". Moreover, in 2 countries at once - the Russian Federation (immediately after the collapse of the USSR) and Belarus (since 1995). As for the status of the "official language", it is still tacitly assigned to Russian in the CIS and throughout the post-Soviet space.
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