The Rise of the Middle Classes in Communist Nations
Communist systems are very good at producing new middle classes. In Russia and China, for example, a vast system of universal grade school education was established. Graduates from this system were then selected for academic tracks in the high schools and, finally, selectively admitted to the universities. The universities, though politically loaded toward Marxist-Leninist ideology, were, and are, quite excellent in the sciences, mathematics, and technical subjects. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of new middle class scientists, engineers, mathematicians, doctors, teachers, and other professionals emerged from the universities as well-trained modern "technocrats." Although the social sciences were weak or overly propagandized, the humanities programs graduated a surprising number of artists, writers, and musicians, who were also very modern and very much aware of the constraints under which they worked in the communist world.
Furthermore, in Russia and China, an army of relatively well-trained, literate, white-collar workers was churned out of the high schools and gymnasia to staff the government bureaus that would oversee the national and local economies. Thus, the middle classes emerged with such rapidity after World War II in Russia and during the 1970s in China as to have a major impact on the class balance of those nations. Barrington Moore, Jr. was the first to describe this remarkable alteration in the class structure of Russia-although he did not use his analysis to predict the coming democratization of Russia, but rather to contradict the Marxist notion that communist regimes would engender a "classless" society. 1
The rise of the new middle classes in Russia and China was at first viewed with caution and without any great optimism about the engendering of democracy, because in communist systems the new middle classes tend to become directly absorbed into the centralized bureaucratic state structure of the com