Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars

ISBN-10: 0691138257
ISBN-13: 9780691138251
Edition: 2006
Authors: Ethan Pollock
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Description: Between 1945 and 1953, while the Soviet Union confronted postwar reconstruction and Cold War crises, its unchallenged leader Joseph Stalin carved out time to study scientific disputes and dictate academic solutions. He spearheaded a discussion of  More...

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Book details

List price: $35.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 11/23/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

Between 1945 and 1953, while the Soviet Union confronted postwar reconstruction and Cold War crises, its unchallenged leader Joseph Stalin carved out time to study scientific disputes and dictate academic solutions. He spearheaded a discussion of "scientific" Marxist-Leninist philosophy, edited reports on genetics and physiology, adjudicated controversies about modern physics, and wrote essays on linguistics and political economy. Historians have been tempted to dismiss all this as the megalomaniacal ravings of a dying dictator. But inStalin and the Soviet Science Wars, Ethan Pollock draws on thousands of previously unexplored archival documents to demonstrate that Stalin was in fact determined to show how scientific truth and Party doctrine reinforced one another. Socialism was supposed to be scientific, and science ideologically correct, and Stalin ostensibly embodied the perfect symbiosis between power and knowledge. Focusing on six major postwar debates in the Soviet scientific community, this elegantly written book shows that Stalin's forays into scholarship can be understood only within the context of international tensions, institutional conflicts, and the growing uncertainty about the proper relationship between scientific knowledge and Party-dictated truths. The nature of Stalin's interventions makes clear that more was at stake than high politics: these science wars were about asserting that the Party was rational and modern, and about codifying the Soviet worldview in a battle for the hearts and minds of people around the globe during the early Cold War. Ultimately, however, the effort to develop a scientific basis for Soviet ideology undermined the system's legitimacy.

List of Figures
Introduction: Stalin, Science, and Politics after the Second World War
"A Marxist Should Not Write Like That": The Crisis on the "Philosophical Front"
"The Future Belongs to Michurin": The Agricultural Academy Session of 1948
"We Can Always Shoot Them Later": Physics, Politics, and the Atomic Bomb
"A Battle of Opinions": Stalin Intervenes in Linguistics
"Attack the Detractors with Certainty of Total Success": The Pavlov Session of 1950
"Everyone Is Waiting": Stalin and the Economic Problems of Communism
Conclusion: Science and the Fate of the Soviet System
Notes
Biographical Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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