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Authority and Science or

What You Plant Is What You Reap

Perestroika has agitated minds and aroused passions.  All or nearly all proposals and projects from higher up on democratizing our society have created a stir, debate, and discussion. Understandably so: the new political kaftan is being shaped out of old rags. Hence all the uproar. Isn't there thread at least to sew the kaftan, people ask? That's it, there isn't.

Any reform that wants to succeed should lean on science. And a political reform should lean on political science.  Politology is the thread that sews the various "rags" of social being into a consistent political system. Though politologists have long since emerged in our country, politology as such has not been legalized and has not acquired the status of an officially recognized science. It still bears the stigma of being bourgeois. Hence, its results.

But be that as it may. What about the other social sciences? What about political economy, philosophy, sociology, and the country's history? It would seem that the answer is obvious. Hundreds of articles show the unsatisfactory state of the humanities. Are they really a science? Not at the moment, I think though the administrators of the Academy insist that they are. It turns out that "we have no analogous in the world" as to the scale of research and the financing of fundamental and specific research (see  Pravda, December 18, 1987). As the philosopher said, I believe it because it is absurd. But let us check.

What Has Light to Do with Science?

Opinions on this subject (reformation des sciences

academiques) may be divided into correct and incorrect

and among  the latter are such as may be considered

daring for their justness.

 Retired Lt.-Col. Dementy Sdatochny in

"The Diary of a Provincial in  St. Petersburg"

by M.Ye. Saltykov-Shchedrin

 Let's take the "correct opinions" first. Certainly, science exists. I might say more: there isn't a single branch of science in our country without academicians of perfectly "independent" thinking. They are not only "on the same level as the top scholars of the West, but, as they say themselves, their knowledge even eclipses that of the latter. This certainty prompts them to appear fearlessly at various international conferences and symposia, and to print their reports in foreign languages. The latter, to be sure, is sometimes embarrassing. For everybody knows that if a scientific discovery is made in our country, its publication is forbidden even in Russian, let alone a foreign language. We stow it away in all sorts of restricted publications, as securely hidden as possible from the outside world. That is probably why the Nobel Committee awards its prizes to others, chiefly Americans and Europeans, rather than any of our scholarly lights. In 1988, for example, there wasn't a single Soviet scholar among the prize winners. Intrigues against Soviets again? No, more likely things aren't going as swimmingly as made out.[1]

Now, let me try and give the "incorrect opinions'.' Let's begin with philosophy, that is, the root from which all other sciences are supposed to get their juices.

Though philosophy made its appearance in Russia a very long time ago, and though it came to us mainly from Germany, it does not seem to have settled in as well as it should have. Could one say there was lively work done by philosophical thought, equivalent in depth to the general European standard, at the turn of the 20th century and in the 1920s? In 1921-1922 nearly all the bright lights of Russian philosophy (S. L. Frank, T. A. Ilyin, Lev Shestov, S. N. Bulgakov, N. A. Berdyaev, and others) were expelled from the country. The remaining eminent philosophers either disappeared in the prison camps of the troubled thirties (P. A. Florensky) or were compelled to take the "vow of silence" as people who were incompatible with Stalinist "science" (A. M. Deborin and A. F. Losev). As a result we were left without philosophers, unless we consider as philosophers M. B. Mitin and his like, who contributed to the triumph of Stain's "philosophy" without Hegel and other such idealists. Its advantage, which we retain to this day, is the following: while dozens of philosophical systems and currents happen to appear and then disappear tracelessly in the West, we in the Soviet Union have had one philosophy, triumphant and unrivaled, and called Marxist-Leninist for some reason. It is hard to say what discoveries were made in this area of knowledge, because there is nothing to compare them with. The current works of Western philosophers are not published in our country, because, evidently, they are backward and inveterately idealistic. True, this is no hindrance in our lives. Philosophy gets along by itself, and we get along by ourselves.

One thing is unclear, however. How did idealism find its way into our science of history despite our active struggle against it? I am referring to the ideas of Arthur  Schopenhauer, or, more precisely, to his concept of the "will." I cannot tell whether Stalin and his historians knew anything about Schopenhauer's views. But they could quite legitimately inscribe his principles on their banner: "The main feature of my doctrine, which opposes it to all previous doctrines, is the complete separation of the will from knowledge." Elsewhere, Schopenhauer makes clear that the will is primary and independent of  knowledge;  knowledge is secondary, and independent of the will. He goes on to say that knowledge grew out of the will, served the            will, and that, at the same time the will is everywhere the opposite and even the antagonist of knowledge. Many Soviet historians have brilliantly confirmed the German philosopher's idea by serving Stalin's will, which shaped Soviet and even world history for at least thirty years. Obeying this will, strange as it may seem, they drifted over to Hegel by proving that everything we witnessed in our country had been objective and therefore reasonable owing to the inevitable necessity of being. It could not be otherwise. Consequently, Professor F. Vaganov holds, "We must not rewrite out history" (see Sovetskaya Kultura, July 9, 1987). Given this willful instruction of the professor who, by the way, is chief of the archives, historians will still have to labor quite considerably to at last impart historicism to history, and dialectics to historicism.

What amazes me is that despite the dislike for Hegel, he has reached even into the economy. His known postulate that everything real is reasonable and everything reasonable is real has, as I see it, served as the theoretical pillar for all Soviet textbooks on the political economy of socialism. True, no one ever referred to Hegel openly, but this altered nothing. Extermination of the peasantry, forcible collectivization, voluntarism in the economy--all this had taken place in reality and, consequently, all of it was reasonable. The economy was assailed by this philosophy, while philosophy was in turn swallowed up by the policy of the "will." As a result, says D. Valovoy, Dr. Econ., political economy as a science "has, in fact, not existed" (see Ogonyok, No. 46, 1988).

The economists of today are, indeed, compelled to prove that everything real had, in fact, been unreasonable, and everything unreasonable had, unfortunately, been real. Schopenhauer's idea to this effect is workable if it is turned to the past. The future, however, must take us back to Hegel, so that everything real should really be reasonable, and the reasonable should be real. Though in the opinion of Academician Leonid Abalkin, ''perestroika in the political economy of socialism has only just begun," there is hope it will be successfully consummated.

The "theory" of foreign policy and international relations seems to be in more difficult straits as a branch of social science. I put quotes round the word theory, because, as I see it, that theory simply does not exist. Let me explain. Any science if it is a science operates with notions and categories. In the analysis of foreign policy and international relations, however, they use words and, at best, what may be described as terms. And though attempts are made to impart notional content to some of the terms (such as foreign policy, international relations, power, security, interest, and so forth), no apparatus of' notions has yet been worked out. Yet a theory of foreign policy and intentional relations cannot exist without such an apparatus.

Since no fundamental research in this area is being conducted in any institute or institution, our foreign relations experts, who are for some reason called politologists, have to draw upon western, mainly American, theorists for their ideas and concepts. Suffice it to mention the concept of the "three centers" of capitalism, the "multipolarity" and "bipolarity" theory, the theory of "regional centers of power," the theory of power as such, etc., to prove this point. All these theories were picked up by Soviet foreign relations experts and paraded as the fruit of' Marxist-Leninist scientific thought.

The sole exception, I would say, is the school of Georgy Shakhnazarov, which is working on its theory of international order independently. Most researchers, however, though they class themselves as international experts or politologists (?), devote themselves to describing international realities without the least attempt at conceptualizing them in theory. As a result, so far we have nothing.

I will not speak of the "successes" in other sciences, for I fear to tire the reader.

Social Science in the Trammels of Authority

Only those sciences spread light which promote

the fulfillment of the instructions of the authorities

Dementy Sdatochny

There are lots of reasons for the stagnation in science. Speaking of' social science,  one of the most conspicuous reasons is that science was subordinated to the authorities. Need we recall how bitterly the authorities in the Middle Ages assailed scientific truths. Goethe's Faust described the situation most precisely: "The few of understanding, vision rare, Who veiled not from the herd their hearts, but tried, Poor generous, fools to lay  their feelings bare, Them have men always burnt and crucified."

Stalinism reproduced this medieval system, raising "Marxism-Leninism" as conceived by Stalin himself, of course, to an absolute. Social science was compelled to react in the following manner. The Statutes of the Communist Academy of the USSR Central Executive Committee determined the tasks of its members as follows: development of questions of Marxism-Leninism struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois distortions of Marxism strict maintenance of the viewpoint of dialectical materialism both in social and in natural sciences, and exposure of the survivals of idealism.

Among the recently published material about Academician lvan Pavlov, that great Russian scholar, you will find a letter addressed by him to one of the top-ranking members of the Council of People's Commissars, where he writes: "A paragraph has been introduced in the Status of the Academy that all scientific work in the Academy must have as its platform the doctrine of dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels -- is this not the greatest violence inflicted on scientific thought. lt emulates the medieval inquisition, etc., etc., etc."

lt follows from the Statutes that only "survivals" of idealism were left by then, since all the idealists had been kicked out of the country. Meanwhile, dialectical materialism seized control also of natural science, of which fact Lysenko and Co. took advantage later. Other currents of social thinking were ruled out.

One of the tasks of science, as it says appropriately in the 1927 Statutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences, was to 'adapt scientific theories ... for practical use in industry and the cultural and economic construction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." The subsequent activity of those who did the adapting emasculated science in the manner of the theologists who adapted the biblical commandments to all possible contingencies.

The next blow was delivered to science in 1935 by the introduction in the Statutes of the following: the Academy of Sciences, it said, "services the higher governmental bodies of the USSR by organizing expert scientific opinion."  That was how science fell under the control of the state apparatus and, at that time this meant falling under the control of Stalin.

In sum, the monopoly of "Marxist-Leninist" science and its linkage with the bodies of power -- those were the essential sources of the lag that developed in Soviet social science in relation to world standards,

After a certain revival of social thinking in Nikita Khrushchev's time, the stagnation of the Brezhnev period produced a unique result--a complete cessation of any struggle of opinions in social science. lt gave way to struggle against personalities who still tried to fight for something in science. Though they were not physically exterminated, they were persecuted morally: some were dismissed from office, others were not published in the press, while others still were either driven out of the country or banished to a sort of exile, as in the case of Academician Andrei Sakharov. The newspapers censured and condemned them publicly, and recruited the 'voice of the people" to back up their curses

What has changed since 1985? A few things have, but not the monopoly of one political philosophy and the authorities' control over social science.

History shows that such monopoly is just as harmful to science as it can be to the economy. Thought withers without competition. And since we have acknowledged the harm of state monopoly in the economy, we must lose no more time and acknowledge the same in the case of social science.

Don't we acknowledge it? Don't our political leaders urge debate? Don't  the discussions in the press show that debate is really going on?

All that is true. But, first, the discussions concern our past history.  Second, they are "permitted" from above. Third, they concern problems, economic problems, for example, on which the apparatus has not yet worked out a conclusive point of view. And fourth, the pluralism of opinions that we see today is confined to the framework of one political and philosophical school.

No doubt is cast on anything that has been worked out since 1985, since the time we think we found the one and only correct way of resolving our problems. Take the concept of defense sufficiency. Do you really think it has been so carefully considered that one and all must approve it unanimously?

Dissent is  spoken of today in a positive key. That is so. Yet it is encouraged only if it is within the bounds of the official ideology. I would call it convergent dissent. Certainly, it is a step forward. But we should take the next step--from dissent to free thinking.

This would not rule out the emergence of social, political and economic schools and currents that depart from the Marxist-Leninist world outlook. Nor should we dread it. The Marxian and Leninist doctrines appeared and took root in a struggle against other currents. That gives them strength. But can these doctrines thrive in any field of the humanities in the absence of other theories, of outlooks of a non-socialist kind? Just five years ago the theory of deideologizing international relations was considered bourgeois. Now it has become an element of the new political thinking,, though it was conceived in the womb of left-bourgeois thought. It is quite possible that the as yet prejudiced view of the theory of convergence may change at some future date and Soviet theorists will accept it.

To be sure, it is time to reconsider the term "bourgeois.€ People think that if a concept has been advanced by bourgeois scholars it cannot be scientific. But hadn't Marx, Engels and Lenin borrowed scientific ideas from bourgeois scholars? And weren't some of them embodied in the theoretical findings of Soviet researchers? Science is single and indivisible in essence. lts purpose is to cognize the truth. That is why I accept Georgy Shakhnazarov's appeal "to recognize the existence of politology as a single science" (see Pravda, September 26, 1988). This appeal maybe addressed to philosophy and to other humanitarian sciences.

No, l am not calling for a reconciliation of Marxist and non-Marxist social science. They have been locked in struggle and will continue to be so, owing to ideological incompatibilities. But for how long will incompatibility survive? What about the interests common to all humankind? Won't they obscure the incompatibilities? The new political thinking has provided an answer. Philosophy, no doubt will arrive at the same conclusion. Possibly, it will take a little longer. And to shorten the road, we should not shrink from direct contact with other philosophies. We have already moved on from a pluralism of opinions to the philosophy of pluralism. The next step will be pluralism of philosophies All sorts of philosophies. We will only have to remember that all these philosophies, and politology as a whole, are cooking in the same pot named Science.

What is the difficulty? Here we come to a most sensitive point--the supremacy of power over science.

True, our press has already raised the subject.  Boris Grushin, philosopher and sociologist, has stressed: government bodies have arrogated the right to produce scientific, theoretical, social knowledge and thereby control everything done in that sphere by anyone but themselves" (see New Times, No. 43, 1988.) He pointed out that these bodies have the last word in any theoretical debate on anything related to social science. Grushin identified these bodies: they arc ranking officials and bureaucrats with academy degrees honoris causa.

Let's have the bureaucrats out for the moment, and deal with the ranking officials. Though Grushin does not take the trouble to clarify whom he means, he is obviously referring to the party apparatus or, more broadly, to the relationship between the party and science.

Ever since Stalin's days, social science has been the handmaiden of governmental bodies and, in effect, party bodies. We have already spoken of the results. Yet this function has survived: the party tells science what needs to be done rather than vice versa.[2]  Given the present political system, this is natural. As a result, science has lost the ability to develop independently, for it has bred a multitude of conformist "scientists."

Suffice it to recall how Soviet Sinology turned in the 1960s and 70s from a once flourishing field of knowledge into an inimical and slanted register of Chines policy suiting the instructions of the central apparatus.

The accusations after 1985 of certain academicians and political figures that researchers of the Institute of the Far East, of the USSR Academy of Sciences, had "contributed" negatively to Soviet-Chinese relations, are hardly fair, because attempts at a truthful portrayal of the Chinese realties were, as it were, nipped in the bud by ranking functionaries of the CC CPSU apparatus. As a result Sinologues are still unable to overcome the effects of the past and to raise the scientific standard of Sinology.

It would seem that the situation should have begun to change after t985. More, it is the party, its leaders, who call on scientists to be independent and to cover new ground. It is not easy, however, to break the old mentality. The past still has a stranglehold on science. Take the following example

Yuri Afanasyev, a well-known Soviet social scientist, declared in Pravda that he did not consider "society in the Soviet Union socialist, not even 'deformed' socialist'"(see Pravda, July 26, 1986). Some may accept this judgment, others may not. That sort of thing happens. The editors printed their own comments. That, too, happens. What appalled me, however, were the arguments they used. Feeling that their comments were not convincing enough, the editors hit out at Afanasyev in the following terms: "lt is easy to see that his 'platform' differs radically from party evaluations and conclusions worked out collectively, with a sense of historical responsibility and on the basis of the historical truth it differs from the objective dialectical picture of our achievements and setbacks, etc.:." A most familiar style: we are told of a "platform," even though in inverted commas; then the reference to party evaluations and conclusions, which, of course, were worked out collectively. lt follows that Afanasyev is against collectivism, while the collective or the people are never wrong since his conclusions differ from "official conceptions," he must be engaged in formulating a "platform" against the party...

It follows that the party evaluation is final for any social scientist But, first, the party has changed its evaluations of one and the same thing time and again; hence, second, if these evaluations were correct yesterday, they may no longer be so today, and, finally, third, a social scientist my have evaluations of his own, distinct from those of the party and its leaders. The editors of Pravda, it seems, think he may not. Touching on the late 1920s in their comments, they wrote: 'Analyzing past history in connection with the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution, the party leadership answered the question of whether it was possible in those conditions, considering the sum total of internal and international realities, to choose a course different from the one the party had taken: lf we want to be faithful to historicism, to the truth of life, it said, the only possible answer is no."

 I disagree. I am convinced a different course could have been taken. lf Lenin's approach to the realities had been followed,  the very realities would have been different. l do not rule out the possibility that war with all its tragic consequences could, possibly, have been avoided. But we did not have Lenin when we most needed him.  We had Stalin. And instead of science there was Stalin's will.

lt turned out that the two authors of another article in Pravda concerning the editors' comments, conceived the aforementioned analysis of the party leadership in much the same vein. They wrote: "The now often recurring fatalistic explanation of the past is, as we see it, incompatible with the traditions of Marxist thought" (see Pravda, July 31, 1988).

But we have digressed. The relationship between the party and science is still a problem. Academician A. Grodzinsky writes: "It is not the party's business, evidently, to interfere in purely scientific matters and pronounce final judgments on as yet unclarified and debatable issues...  This does not mean that science should be somewhere in front of or higher than the party. Simply, each must du its own job" (see Literaturnaya gazeta,  July 6, 1988). I would agree with this completely, but what are social scientists to do if they disagree with the party's evaluations and conclusions? As I see it is their job to produce evaluations and to see rather than the party. Academician Pyotr Kapitsa has said rightly: "To want to begin creating, you must be dissatisfied with what there is, that is, you must he a dissenter" (see Pravda, May 21, 1988). This dissent should extend to existing evaluations. Otherwise there can be no advance.

Here is a delicate question: May a member of the party, a social scientist, disagree with the party's General Secretary  and publicly express this disagreement?  There has been no such precedent. But is it in the interests of science?

Kapitsa recommends: "Science must be isolated from the influence of the administrative apparatus." Though he admits in the same breath that the "umbilical cord joining social science with the administrative apparatus is stronger (than that of natural science--R. A.) and is far more difficult to sever" (see Kommunist, No. 13, 1987, p. 89.) That is true. But it has to be done. In the party's interests. A science that merely parrots the party's conclusions isn't of much use. The party wants a creative, groundbreaking, objective and daring science that doesn't adapt itself to anyone. But that means renouncing control over science and giving it the conditions it needs to be independent. Real science does not serve any party or any social class. It serves one queen only and that queen is the Truth.

"Foolish is He Who does not Pin Hope

on the Academy!"

 Whenever science is at stake  the sciences

academiques must exercise their powers. 

 Dementy  Sdatochny

 Jerome Coignard's judgment from Anatole France that I have given in the sub-heading above will, I am sure, please all our academic headmen. The academic non-headmen are, I believe, more pleased with the no less profound judgment of Dementy Sdatochny. Which is not at all surprising. Unlike the party powers, which all too often inhibit science, the academic headmen should consider it their immediate duty to stimulate science, suggest the main directions, and concentrate the scientist' attention on the more topical and needed problems. But that is pure theory.

In fact, the Academy has in some ways become an overcentralized bureaucratic organization with its particular interests little related to science. This contradiction fires the continuous fighting between scientists and science bureaucrats. Let's be fair, however. The fighting began back in the days of Lomonosov, in the 18th century, when he vehemently opposed the chancellery that, he said, consisted of "people who are not so knowledgeable as to be revered as scholars" (see Statutes of the USSR, Academy of Sciences, 1724-1974, p. 186).

In the 19th century, the struggle was more specific because the Academy functioned under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Education, and the authorities tried not to become involved in any of the academic quarrels.

About a dozen years after the Revolution, the Academy began losing its previous independence. ln due course, it was transformed into a rigidly centralized system subordinate to the interests of the authoritarian regime. Academician V. I. Vernadsky observed bitterly that the power of "Secretaries" and the apparatus reigned in the Academy (see Literaturnaya gazeta, March 16, 1988). For understandable reasons, the greatest harm was done to social scientists. Physicists and other natural scientists were spared for the sake of the defense industries.

The social sciences fell into the hands of people like Mitin, who clung to posts of command even after 1953. A new generation of mitins appeared during the Brezhnev period of stagnancy. Previous functionaries  of the central party apparatus, they were assigned to run research institutions. This helped them become members of the Academy  without any special contribution to science, practically overnight. Scientific clans formed around them, and regular wars erupted when the clans sought to elevate some of their members to the rank of full or corresponding member of the Academy.    And even though islets of true scientific thought did appear in this setting, there were too small to decide anything. As a result, the social sciences dropped to a standard close to naught.

  Perestroika aroused the scientific world, and glasnost exposed the critical state of science. The Academy of Sciences, too, began to react to the winds of change. Papers were issued to show the positive change in the academic system. Let's name them:  the Provisional Statutes of research institutes of the Academy of Science endorsed by a general meeting of the USSR Academy of Sciences on March 12, 1988; the Resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences of November 17, 1987  (No. 980), concerning amendment of the Statutes of the Academy, and, lastly, the Provisions for Divisions of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the aforementioned Provisional Statutes of research institutes.

 Yet all the above papers were drawn up and endorsed without preliminary discussion with the academic world, that is, by what in fact was the apparatus of the Academy. This aroused the anger of  the academic world, expressed in a stream of letters and articles, some of which were published in the central press. The academic managers did not hesitate to hit back. In a collective letter they maintained grandiloquently that the Academy of Sciences "is the most democratic organization of scientists in the country, where they had always followed the principles of electivity (not appointment!) both as concerned full members and corresponding members, from institute director to chief of laboratory or sector, and always by secret ballot" (see Pravda, December 18, 1987).

This claim again angered scientists. For a start, the 1930 Statutes said all sittings of the Academy were public (Clause 30), that is, anyone, and not only academicians, could attend. In the 1935 Statutes this clause was omitted. Nor has it been restored to this day.

Now about the elections of December 23, 1987, after the endorsement of the aforementioned documents.

The first thing that struck the eye was that the list of nominees was published in accordance with the March 1984 amendment to the 1963 Statutes: that is, one month  before the elections, in the Vestnik Akademiyi nauk SSSR, which has a very small circulation. Whereas the 1963 and all the previous Statutes (1930, 1935, 1959) provided for publication of the list of nominees two months before the elections, and in the central press, usually in Izvestia. One would think that in the setting of glasnost, the Academy could have gone back to the more, democratic provisions of the previous Statutes. But no, the present approach is more convenient, for it avoids a detailed discussion of the nominees in the press. As a result, the academicians had, like before, voted in their own favor.[3] The second point that aroused displeasure was that, contrary to the claims of those who wrote the collective letter to the press, the election to the Academy's upper echelon (the Presidium) was held without a contest, that is, with one nominee to each vacancy, and, what was more, the "rank-and-file" academicians did not, in substance, take part in the voting.

 The third question was, who did the electing? The laws of the clan struggle of the stagnation period had wrought a paradoxical approach to elections: a general meeting of philosophers would vote for chemists, physicists for historians, and economists for biologists. Nowadays, they have the same system: the only geneticist in the Academy was elected by the six members of the General Biology Department; of whom only one was a geneticist, while the rest were biologists, a zoologist and a botanist. I happen to know that a doctor of history who had never written anything on economics, was elected Corresponding Member of the Economics Department. On the whole, this department so far has as many as five historians.

An article in Pravda (24 December, 1988), "Talent Takes Priority," says that 16 full and 33 corresponding members were elected under the head of social science: (economics, philosophy, history, and, for some reason, natural science).  And I cannot help remembering Coignard's judgment, "Foolish is he who does not pin hope on the Academy." I ask you, what had those academicians accomplished if social science is now in a state of crisis? Which leads me to believe that the elections, too, had nothing to do with science, and merely filled the vacancies.

It is increasingly clear, indeed, that the latest amendments to the Statutes fail to like up to the needs of the academic community. Small wonder that the draft of the new Statutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic aimed at replacing the previous Statutes (copied from the Statutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences) has, out of the 86 provisions, retained only five unchanged and another ten with some amendments, while the rest were rewritten (see Sovetskaya Estonia, January 6, 1989).

 Scientists are not inclined to accept the procedure of electing institute directors. Under the provisions (appendix to the Presidium Resolution No. 980), a general meeting at the institute examines the nominations and "establishes its opinion" of every nominee. This "opinion" is forwarded to the respective Department of the Academy, which then elects the director (Clause 27). Practice has shown that the "opinion" of the institute's general meeting may be ignored. In other words, nothing has changed: the Academy Department, not the staff of the institute, elects the director. But that is not all. Having resolved that the academic staffs would take part in so-called competitive elections of directors, the Academy had a short time later de facto repealed the competitive system for dozens of institutes where new directors were appointed, not elected. Academy President G.I.  Marchuk said recently that 150 out of 250 directors had of late been elected by "democratic means" (Izvestia,  January 8, 1989). Academicians say in their letter that "several nominees are named to each vacancy."  Can they name the several nominees to the office of, say, director at the Academy's Far East Institute, to say nothing of the elections that did not take place at the Academy's Institute of Oriental Studies, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, and so on.

Despite some of the cosmetic changes in the Provisional Statutes of research institutes, the dictatorship of the director is sustained, if not redoubled. Under those Statutes, the director himself, and not the staff, names "members for the academic council and its sections," who are then endorsed  by the appropriate Department of the Academy (Clause 45). And when the director was at once academician-secretary of the Department, as in the case of Academician E. M. Primakov, his power was, in effect, unlimited. Doubly so, because the "academic council is a consultative body under the director of the institute" (Clause 42).

It is more than obvious that the ferocious battles fought to join the clan of academicians and corresponding members of the Academy are spurred by the enormous benefits and privileges. Cone are the days when, as is said in the first Statutes of 1724, "learned men who apply themselves to advancing science, think unusually little about their own sustenance."  Nowadays, they do think about it. And how! Some scholars suggest that additional payments for the title of academician should be abolished, so that scientists should apply themselves more to advancing science (see Pravda, December 7, 1987 and Sovetskaya Rossiya, January 19, 1989), They point out reasonably that in most countries, save Spain, the earnings of a scientist depend on his work, not his title.

This aroused the fury of those who wrote the letter. Here is their objection: "Guaranteed maintenance is wholly justified, because it stands for recognition of the highest competence and enables the beneficiaries to concentrate on the main scientific problems, to display independence, and to boldly defend their scientific concepts and judgments irrespective of any outside influence."

Could anything be more absurd? lt follows that if the academician does not get his monthly 500 additional rubles, he will not be able to defend anything independently? What can be expected then of candidates and doctors of science? What daring and independence can there be without an additional payment? The impression is, however, that once an academician secures prosperity, he ceases to create. And why should he worry if 500 rubles a month are guaranteed whatever he does or does not do?

"I don't know," Dementy Sdatochny said, (and I agree), but l would have been straightforward and outspoken; I would have said: stop this once and for all!"

 Science in the Grip of Bureaucratic Clans

 Pirates in science,  especially those who hold titles,

make life unbearable for people who are not protected

by any  titles.  ln fact, they mock and taunt society.

 Literaturnaya Gazeta, August 19, 1987

 I have read somewhere that the Academy of Sciences has more than 290 scientific institutions with more than 2,500 research divisions. Science is, therefore, concentrated in research institutes Their relative autonomy, it would seem, should allow researchers to advance science. Nothing of the sort. Practically all institutes reproduce the Academy's bureaucratic system within their own walls.

How they choose directors we already know. Now a few  words of who they choose. The Letter has an answer to that question as well: "ln fact, directors of academic institutes are, as a rule, eminent scientists who have made a universally recognized contribution in the respective field of science."

Letters and articles published in the press place this statement in question. It may be true in exceptional cases, but "as a rule" directors of institutes are usually picked from among so-called science managers. l do not take it upon myself to pass judgment on directors on natural science institutes, though, judging from the press, not everything is well there too. In the case of humanitarian institutes, however, l venture to declare that, with few exceptions, none of the directors have made any universally recognized contribution to the social sciences, if only because these sciences are dragging out a miserable existence

Let me add that institutes of a foreign policy trend were not headed by scholars but by people from the Central Committee apparatus or the Foreign Ministry,  whose nomination was endorsed beforehand or at least arranged for in the Central Committee Secretariat, whereupon they were "elected" by the Academy of Sciences. As a rule, they became scientists, that is, academicians, after they had become directors by suddenly displaying "outstanding scientific ability" in that office. And though this did not lead to scientific discoveries, articles and monographs were liable to appear. True, the written achievements of these academic directors usually gravitated to co-authored monographs where they usually acted as general editors.

But the problem is broader. The new director usually begins forming a loyal team, which helps him follow his particular line, a line that does not always coincide with the interests of science. Scholars call these teams scientific mafias. I daresay such groups exist in nearly every institute, causing collisions and conflicts, precipitated chiefly by someone's striving to secure the title of full or corresponding member of the Academy.

There have been cases when two groups joined hands to fight a third. Conflicts also erupt between the team and the real scientists in the institute. This may be described as a contradiction between the bureaucracy and science usually ending in a victory for the former. How these mafias take shape has been described by Sandro Belotski, Dr. Med., in his article, "The Phenomenon of Science Managers" (see Moscow News,  No. 40, 1987).

The said phenomenon is conditioned by the structure of institutional science. The post of director is automatically associated with a diversity of other pods: in the Academy of Sciences, the journals, the various ministries or the Central Committee apparatus not short of Central Committee membership, membership of the USSR Supreme Soviet, and organizations with permanent contacts abroad, international organizations, etc. Some posts afford regular trips abroad to international symposia, seminars, and conferences. 

Naturally, no one man can do a thorough job in all these posts. That is why the director picks "his own" people, each of whom is responsible to him for one of the "posts." Special treatment is accorded to those who write the texts for speeches abroad. ln principle, the director can have the report written by any one of the departments. But he tries to avoid this. First, because he does not want to parade his frequent trips abroad before the staff, and, second, because a researcher with any respect for himself would refuse to ghostwrite. That is why he prefers his "own" people, and all the more so because it does not take scholarship to write any such speech, for which general statements drawn from official speeches do perfectly well.

Personal loyalty to the boss pays off in trips abroad, promotion, and easy defense of academic degrees.

You may ask why this does not provoke resistance on the part of the true scientists? Why?

This question was answered in part by M. Frank-Kamenetsky, Dr. Maths., in his article "Why Are the Scientists Silent?" (See Literaturnaya Gazeta, March 16, 1980).

Since administrative, party, and scientific power are concentrated in the hands of the director's team, he wrote, any action by true scientists is doomed to failure. What must be remembered is the team's expertise in behind-the-scenes maneuver.  But that is not all. Chiefly, this system seems to fit most of the researchers, that is, those who are not really involved. The Institute of World Economy and lnternational Relations, for example, has a staff of nearly 1,000, of whom some 350 are service personnel (people looking after the building, the lifts, the flowers, and the like), and 650 are "scientists." Considering that in every sector of 12 to 15 people only three or four usually do the real work, we get 180 to 200 people at most who do all the work.  The remaining 430 to 450 prefer to back up the bureaucratic administrative system, which allows them to feed off science. Where else would they find a job in which they are essentially idle and earn a bearable living. Where else but under bureaucratic "socialism"?

lt is not in their interests to change that system. Small wonder they were frightened out of their wits when science was put on economic autonomy principles. Luckily for them, this did not last long. Let me explain why.

 From the Power of Politics to the Power of Economics

 Promote Russian thinking and Russian science

still hoping that a new word" would be spoken

one day .

 M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin, "The Diary

of a Provincial in St. Petersburg"

 The system of planning has naturally spread to the realm of science. Five-year research programs naming the specific subjects and directions, were sent down to the institutes in centralized fashion by the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The product in social science could usually be divided into two categories: the bulk was various references and notes, while the smaller part amounted to printed matter such as articles and monographs.

The references and notes may be identified as informative, analytical, prognosticated, and advisory. All of them were of an applied nature which, in substance, did not require fundamental research.

The printed matter, notably monographs, breaks down into individual and collective. The bulk of the individual works are candidates' dissertations describing some purely specific subject. lt is believed that collective monographs should deal with fundamental research since they cover a range of problems and are chronologically profound, that is, cover a longer period of time. The integrity of all these researches, as I have said before, was fairly loose. And here is why.

First, despite the volumes and volumes of collective monographs which did, indeed, cover a large variety of subjects and problems, they were not related to each other by any clear-cut theory or, at least, concept. Every subject stood by itself, with the result that the monographs in question were, essentially, collections of articles on diverse problems.

Second, unification saw to it that all chapters were leveled out to fit one mediocre standard even if some inordinately gifted scholar had contributed. The main thing that moved these monographs was not to stand out the style or, much less, in ideas.  All contributors were obliged to follow the "opinion" prevalent in the institute, an "opinion" usually shaped by its boss. All daring thought was mercilessly rooted out in the many discussions at all levels.

Add the damage done by editors who stand guard over the official viewpoint, and you get a thoroughly revised piece of writing from which all thought has been removed.

Third, since the more "fundamental" works are usually consigned in advance to getting a prize, people from the director's team are naturally included in the list of contributors, which makes the monograph still more mediocre. The fact that the director himself is by tradition appointed the monograph's general editor, leaves a special imprint: he wants a monograph that is not subject to dispute, that is, a monograph devoid of scandalous ideas. He wants it to conform with the theses and conclusions of the latest party forum. As a result, not a single fundamental collective monograph has ever created a scandal, argument, irritation or anger in the scientific community. Though such monographs satisfied the great army of philistines, they had nothing in common with science.

This is perfectly natural, because the way such monographs are written is in substance anti-scientific. lt amounts to the very bureaucratic method that has made inroads in scientific thinking. Can we imagine that Capital or the Dialectics of Nature could have been written by a collective of scientists?  Well, we could imagine it, but the result would be a collection of articles concerning various economic problems and natural science.

lt is a good thing that scientists and political leaders have come out against that type of research.

Has anything changed today in the organization of scientific research?

According to Academician Guriy Marchuk, President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, the funding will henceforth be not of the institute but of the research programs endorsed by the Presidium and the General Meeting of the Academy. The payroll of a research institute will depend not on the outlays, but on the amount of work done, inasmuch as "under the new provisions any research is, in the final analysis, a commodity" (see Izvestia, November 17, 1988).  And one more innovation: any ''commodity" of an applied nature is to be sold to consumers ( enterprises or associations of enterprises) at agreed prices on the basis of an economic contract. After settling with the state budget, the remainder of the profit will go into the various funds of the research institute.  This system reproduces the cycle of autonomous (khozraschot) production in industry.

It is safe to say that such a reform holds certain advantages for technical and natural science research institutes that engage in applied research. If only because it enables consumers to determine the consumer usefulness of the scientific commodity. But this does not go to say that the reform is faultless. Though in the case of social sciences they rise to the surface more tangibly. Academician Marchuk has said rightly that fundamental social science research will hardly find an immediate consumer, unless it is the state. The Academician amplified: "If the research is of a high scientific standing, funding from the budget is guaranteed" (see Sovetskaya Rossiya,  June 11, 1988).

How does all this affect fundamental social-science research? It does not. The state is the sole consumer, as before. And since funding from the budget antecedes completion of the commodity, there is no question of any high scientific standard. The operate formula here: is money commodity. The formula is complete after the financing. But to reproduce the financing, that is, to realize the second phase, commodity money the commodity must be of use to the consumer. In formal terms, as Marchuk has pointed out, the usefulness should depend on a "high scientific standard." But how is that standard to be determined? And by whom? The worth of Vavilov's research, for example, was determined by Lysenko. And everybody knows the result. The research of Deborin was determined by Mitin, and so on. It may be recalled, too, that Schopenhauer spoke unkindly of Hegel. And the standard of Hegel's work could not initially be properly determined by anyone ... with the sole exception of Heinrich Heine, a poet.

Yet in our case everything is simpler. Since the state (party) is the consumer, the standard of research will be determined in accordance with the conclusions drawn at the latest congresses and plenums, so that the closer the research to these conclusions, the "higher" is its standard. That is the only way the institute,  the collective of researchers, can make sure that its fundamental research will be funded again. That is the only way it can carry through the cycle, "money  > commodity  >  money."

As we see, fundamental social-science research, which is attuned to repeating the provisions of party forums, remains subordinate to party and state authorities, which, naturally, is contrary to the interest of science.

To be sure, considering the present situation, in which the party and its leaders are the initiators of perestroika and the new thinking, the social sciences have every opportunity to make the most of their potential. But where is the guarantee that the situation will remain unchanged and that forces in the upper echelon of power will not be reshuffled? God forbid that this should happen. But the issue is a fundamental one. Science must not be dependent on the political situation, on who stands at the helm in the party or the state. The prime and essential condition for science to make headway is independence from the authorities.

True, the present organization of science allows specialist social scientists to prosper. Their applied research may be in demand among various organizations and ministries, such as the Foreign Ministry, say, or the Ministry of Defense. But here, too, the director's team will be the main winner thanks to his strong informal ties with the more influential "consumers."  That was why the science managers were not in the least upset by the khozraschot evolutions of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

ln short, the current academic reform has not, in essence, torn down the command system in social science.

How to overcome it ? One of the ways was suggested by M. Frank-Kamenetsky: set up a free scientific market. The market system offers complete freedom to scientists or groups of scientists who may not want to fill state orders because, for example, the latter do not allow them to fully realize their scientific potential. Studying market demand, the scientist could himself approach possible buyers of his scientific commodity. Under such a system, the consumer has a choice, which, in turn, leads to competition among scientists. ln the final analysis, the quality of the scientific product is advanced. Such an approach makes for a more precise determination of the consumer value (usefulness) of scientific research and the value of the scientists.   Naturally, it will deliver a knockout to science managers

lt is a system that implies independence of scientists or groups of scientists from their institute's administration, the Academy, and the state. In principle, the modern-day institutes with their staffs of 300 to 1,000 are nothing short of an anachronism. All over the world, the staffs of research institutions never exceed 40 to 50 people. lf, however, we are still unable, owing to tradition, to renounce such institutes, we must at least reorganize them into what Frank-Kamenetsky conceives as a kind of scientific cooperative run by a "shareholders' council."

But what to do with fundamental social science research whose consumer value cannot be appreciated today? It could be evaluated by the scientists themselves, and the famous Hartfield's Quotation lndex, in which all works quoted at least once a year in any journal of the world are listed, could be used as a criterion. First, it is extremely difficult to get theoretical works published in the Soviet Union owing to the lack of a consumer demand. Second, even if something is published in Russian, reader abroad will hardly get to read it owing, first, to the language barrier, but also due to prejudice against Soviet research which they usually see as a repetition of official dogma. Third, first place in the Hartfield lndex may go to a place which is cited precisely to show its worthlessness.

            It is another matter when fundamental research is examined by other fundamentalists, who are able to appreciate ideas and to make use of them. After all, fundamental discoveries in social sciences, such as philosophy and politology, are in substance just as objective as those in physics and mathematics. That type of scientific product could be sold only in the international market, but not until Soviet scholars are published in Western publications without the existing restrictions on the part of the institute, the censors, or the copyright authority.

 Summing Up

 To touch on all issues and discuss them

in a way that nothing should ever come of it.

 M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin,

"Diary of a Provincial in St. Petersburg"

 Summing up, I would say that the current USSR Academy of Sciences reform is little more than a face-lifting and cannot be considered satisfactory. lt has a reverse effect, for, if l may say so, it only serves to perfect the bureaucratic command system of management. In fact, the authority of the apparatus, and of the individual official, is given more muscle. Only the managerial segment in science can overlook this, because it wants to maintain and reproduce its own existence. It is in the interests of science, however, that this segment should be abolished. But how?

It seems to me that all the reforms, including those conceived by people dissatisfied with the prevailing system, cannot solve the problem. All of them are half-baked, inconsistent, and vague.

But isn't there any cardinal solution? I think there is. Let's see how science is organized in the West. The practice there have proved effective, if only through their superiority over Soviet social science. Why not recall Lenin's urging us to learn from the Germans and Americans for the good of the country. What is the difference between their practice and ours?

First, the role of the academies of sciences there is quite different. They are not government institutions, and are not subordinate to the government, and come under the control of the public. Membership is representative and honorary. Scientists get no monetary handouts for being academy members. No disputes occur for this reason. Consequently, the first thing we must do is strip the USSR Academy of Sciences of its status of organizer and manager of science,[4]  while its functions could be reduced to those of a scientific discussion club where scientists could exchange ideas, concepts, and theories. In principle, science would only benefit if the Academy of Sciences were dissolved. ln Japan, for example, there is no academy of sciences. Yet its industry is ahead even of the Americans

Second, but large, unwieldy research institutes are an anachronism. Their staffs should number 10 to 15 and a maximum of 40 to 50 people. Take the London Institute of Strategic Studies or the Swedish International Stockholm Peace Institute, both of which are world famous. As you see, I have not named technical institutes run by companies, whose personnel may number as many as 3,000. Natural and technical sciences call for a different type of organization. That, however,  is another topic. What I am talking about here is social science, which wants small institutes as elsewhere in the world.

Third, many institutes function under the auspices of universities. This junction offers a colossal double effect: students learn about science at first hand, that is, from those who work on it. At the same time, scientists have contact with the more gifted students, whom they take under their wing and lead into science. What we have at present has fenced of science from the lecturers, with the result that students hear lectures which are constantly behind the new findings in science. Small wonder that our political economists who teach in higher schools have fallen far behind those who are active in research. A lecturer who is also a researcher would solve this problem favorably.

Fourth, Western scientists may be published in any country of the capitalist world. Their concept, thus, stands an international test. We must remember the simple fact that science has no borders. lf, furthermore, we want to influence world science, all bans on publishing abroad must be lifted. (I repeat, this applies to social science.)

Fifth, the Soviet scientist must, at long last, have the right to move about freely all over  the world. Western scientists have that right. I might add that he should also have the right to choose the country where he wants to work, a capitalist one included. Social science should not be afraid of a "brain drain," for it makes no difference where the results of research are published since anyone is free to make use of them. 

Sixth, it is essential to borrow the Western system of registering the qualification of scientists. Most scientists are aware that the system of defending candidates' or doctors' dissertations is anachronistic. No less obvious is the redundancy of the Academic Degree Commission as just another bureaucratic organization.

Seventh, and the most important: social science must he relieved of governmental and party control. The party and government will only gain therefrom. The scientist will control himself, suiting his own ideological and philosophical outlook.

And no matter that his viewpoint may differ from the official line of the party and government. No matter too, that the scholar may prove to be an idealist rather than a materialist. We must not forget that idealists have contributed not a whit less to science than materialists. Possibly more. In any case, no contemporary materialist philosopher has scaled the heights of idealist Hegel.

lt has not been my purpose to dwell on the subject of the Soviet scientists' technical equipment. Here we are still in the Stone Age. Though if we should cardinally alter the process and structure of science, we could settle that problem quickly enough.

I presume that the above will provoke a negative reaction among the bureaucrats of the  Academy of Sciences and any other science managers. Whatever suggestions have been made are sure to go against their grain. But I think these suggestions fit the needs of Soviet science. In that case, it would hardly be worthwhile to serve the interests of officials and bureaucratic organizations, and thereby deprive our society of a chance of taking its due place in the world community as a great socialist power.


The article was published in Heartbeat of Reform.  Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1990, pp. 113-137.

[1] I would not risk analyzing our fundamental successes in the natural sciences too. A good idea about them may be gleaned from  the articles of Academicians V. Goldansky  and R. Sagdeyev, which express their writers' anxiety about the state of affairs in that field (see Sovetskaya Kultura, May 27, 1988 and Izvestia, April 27, 1988.

[2]  This is borne out by the composition of such CC CPSU commissions as the 21-man commission on social and economic policy, which has only one academic member, the 23-man commission on international policy with just four,  and the commission on legal policy with not a single learned jurist professionally engaged in questions of legal policy (Pravda, November 29, 1988.)

[3] True, the press did have time to react to three of the nominations, and those three were not elected.

[4] This idea predominated when the new statutes of the Estonian Academy were discussed.  Academician E. Parmasto said, "We must renounce the thought the Academy of Sciences is the cleverest of all." (Sovetskaya Estonia, January 6, 1989).

By Oleg Arin (Rafik Aliyev)