Higher Party School

views updated


The Higher Party School was created in 1939 under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was tasked with training future leaders (known in Soviet parlance as "cadres") for Party and state positions. The purpose was to prepare them for propaganda work with the masses and for supervising managers and state officials, while ensuring their political loyalty or partynost (Party-mindedness). In 1978 it was merged with the Academy of Social Sciences, which provided more advanced training. A similar Higher School was created for the Young Communist League (Komsomol) in 1969. Party officials under the age of forty were selected by the Communist Party and came to the main school in Moscow from across the Soviet Union for a two-year training program that was long on Marx, Lenin, and the latest Party edicts and short on practical skills. For leaders from the non-Russian republics, attendance provided important exposure to life in the Soviet capital. With the general erosion of ideology in the Brezhnev era, the Party became increasingly concerned about the efficacy of its ideological training, so funding for Party education was increased.

Selection for the school was an important step in the career ladder for would-be members of the higher Party nomenklatura. Living conditions at the school were comfortable, and it provided an opportunity to meet senior Party officials and to network with one's peers, connections that could be useful in one's future career. The Moscow school had about 120 faculty and 300 students per year; it also had 22 regional branches that ran shorter seminars and correspondence courses for Communist leaders at every level in the Party hierarchy, including the heads of regional and city councils (soviets). Some of these schools provided remedial education for Party cadres who had missed out on higher education. In the 1980s one in three of the regional (obkom ) party secretaries had passed through the Higher Party School; its graduates included General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Ironically Vyacheslav Shostakovsky, the school's rector, was one of the leaders of the Democratic Platform movement that in 1990 called for the Communist Party to relinquish its monopoly of power. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the network of Party schools turned themselves into colleges of management and public administration. The premises of the Higher Party School itself are now occupied by the Russian State Humanities University.

See also: cadres policy; communist party of the soviet union


Rutland, Peter. (1992). The Politics of Economic Stagnation in the Soviet Union. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Peter Rutland