[Marxism] Cyrillic vs. Latin alphabet

Joonas Laine jjonas at nic.fi
Sun Mar 6 06:42:48 MST 2005

Hari Kumar wrote:
>> Russian establishments, were in the Latin letters not
>> cyrillic. The only exception was Macdonalds! At some point
>> I think the country will go over to the Latin alphabet even
>> if that is still a long way away. Lenin was in favour of
>> that change I believe. Capitalism prepares the way for
>> world wide socialism.
> Edward, I am a bit surprised at this, & it seems an unusual
> stand of L's. Do you have a reference?

I don't have a Lenin reference, but Trotsky wrote in 'The
Revolution Betrayed', Ch.7, '3. Family, Youth, and Culture':

"In the schools of the Union, lessons are taught at present in no less 
than eighty languages. For a majority of them, it was necessary to 
compose new alphabets, or to replace the extremely aristocratic Asiatic 
alphabets with the more democratic Latin."


When I read this, I didn't understand as to why Latin alphabet
would be "more democratic", and L.T. didn't clarify it further
in the mentioned work. As I now dug up the URL, I came up with
this, which might shed some light on what some people were
thinking at the time:

"The seeds of national liberation

"A review of Jeremy Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question, 
1917-1923 (Macmillan, 1999)


"Intimately connected to language was the issue of which alphabet it 
should be printed in. Russian imperial scholars had adapted the Russian 
Cyrillic alphabet to the languages of the empire. Many nationalist 
reformers, with the backing of Muslim religious leaders, sought to 
restore the Arabic script, while rival reformers believed the Latin 
alphabet was more democratic and more effective in teaching people to 
read and write, and that the invention of new scripts based on the Latin 
would help propel their nations into international economic and cultural 
discourse. These issues were argued out on a background of fevered 
debates among rival linguistic schools over the future of language in 
general--how fast could socialist nations move towards a universal 
hybrid language? How could languages and scripts be purged of the 
influence of class society? Both Lenin and Lunacharsky, for example, 
were in favour of the eventual Latinisation of the Russian language."



jjonas @ nic.fi

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