Evolution Of Social Thinking Of Soviet Researchers And Ideological Politics

Abstract

The article is devoted to the evolution of social thinking of Moscow scientific intellectuals and activities of the Ideological Commission of the CP Central Committee in the late 1950s - early 1960s. The subject of the research is views and attitudes representatives of political and intellectual elites concerning relevant issues of past and present of Soviet state and society. The purpose of the study is to analyse the activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU connected with new “challenges” of time, that were caused by reforming of the higher education system USSR and processes in the mind of Soviet scientific intelligentsia in the late 1950s - early 1960s. The research is carried out on the basis of memories of participants of philosophical disputes in Moscow State University and archival materials of the Ideological Commission of the CP Central Committee used for the publication “History of the Great Patriotic War”. Archival materials of the Ideological Commission of the CP Central Committee of the Fund 11 of the Russian State Archive of Recent History help identify main areas and mechanisms of ideological politics of the CP Central Committee. Published private sources contain data on the ways and conditions of ideological politics in the USSR.

Keywords: Soviet thinkingintellectualsideologicalpolicyidentity

Introduction

In middle 1950s-early 1960s, the Soviet scientific intelligentsia proved to be in situation of intellectual search for replies to the pressing questions of modernity that were due to a variety of changes in domestic political life and new events in international space.

Particulate de-Stalinization and political rehabilitation were held by Soviet leadership, as well the return to Leninist heritage was proclaimed, the higher education system of USSR and personnel politics on academic teaching staff were reformed.

The Cold War was going on in the international arena. The USSR was aiming to the expansion of socialist bloc and the influence on world anti-colonial movements. The world’s leading researchers spoke about global problems of humankind and coming postindustrial and informational society. All of these factors, and more, encouraged Soviet leaders’ search for new balanced forms of the Soviet ideological politics.

New developments in international, social and cultural life During “Khrushchev’s Decade «determined the intellectual search the Soviet intelligentsia. The gradual changes in the perception of historical past and contemporary realities, classical view of the world and Marxism-Leninism philosophical foundations. In this regard the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU was established in 1958, whose aim was development and implementation of comprehensive ideological politics both at home and the international level to consolidate the basis of Soviet socialist system and its cultural - ideological political sub-system. Studying the given aspects of the issue has been based representatively on archival record keeping materials of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU of the Fund 11 of the Russian State Archive of Recent History, as well as published papers such as materials of philosophical debate at the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the memories of participants.

Problem Statement

Modernization processes initiated both “top-down” and “bottom up” are known to be evident in the Khrushchev era. Modernization included de-Stalinization, reforming in the system of secondary and higher education, establishment of activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU etc. “From bottom” modernization was evident in philosophical debates about Marxism and materialist dialectic, new areas in humanistic studies and international scientific cooperation.

Despite a lot of researches devoted to various aspects of political and economic history, history of culture and everyday life of the Khrushchev era, the issues of modernization of the Soviet political system in the 1950-60s, nature and role of relationship and interaction between the authorities and society, political and intellectual elites, intellectual elite and intelligentsia haven’t lost their scientific relevance.

In this regard, the problem of the research is the nature and extent of relationship and interaction the “from above” and “from bottom” modernizations in searching for possible options for future development of Soviet society, strengthening the basis for Soviet worldview, liberalization of scientific and social life, which resulted in the balance of social and political forces and combination of two development vectors.

Research Questions

The subject of the research is views and attitudes representatives of political and intellectual elites concerning relevant issues of past and present of Soviet state and society.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to analyse the activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU connected with new “challenges” of time, that were caused by reforming of the higher education system USSR and processes in the mind of Soviet scientific intelligentsia in the late 1950s - early 1960s.

Research Methods

Historical-genetic, historical-relative as well as historical-systematic methods were used. The historical-genetic method served to define the characteristic of historical circumstances of development of social thinking the Soviet scientific intelligentsia and the activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The historical-relative method helped identify the content of philosophical debates in 1950-60s on materials of the memories of participants. The historical-systematic method defined the modeling programme of complete picture of modernization Soviet society and state in the late 1950s - early 1960s made from the views and attitudes perspective of soviet political and intellectual elite.

Findings

The analyses of published private sources owned by representatives of Soviet scientific intelligentsia (Kozyrev, 2011) shows that emphases on development of practical-focusing approach in education as well as a number of other modifications was produced inside academic community before reforming the higher and secondary education systems in 1958.

According to memories of participants of philosophical debates the new Soviet research areas in philosophy of low in the mid 1950s- early1960s can be identifying. These include philosophy of justice, probabilistic logic, problem of truth in justice, problem of relativity of true knowledge. Surveys of such topics were published in foreign journals. The Faculty of Philosophy of MSU discussed the nature of formal and dialectical logic and its ratio.

It can be acknowledged by content analyzing of philosophical debate at the MSU in 1950-60s that the evolution of social thinking of the Soviet scientific intelligentsia in the field of intellectual searches for further developing of worldview foundations takes place before Stalin’s death. For example, discussion about the nature of ideal beginnings was opened by Soviet philosophers in 1954-1955. These searches clearly reflected in creative activities of E.V. Ilyenkov and V.I. Korovikov (Illesh, 2016).

Following the pre-revolution heritage of Russian religious philosophy, two friends, recent post-graduate students and young lecturers of History of Foreign Philosophy Department at the MSU E.V. Ilyenkov and V.I. Korovikov published theses, where replied the question about the subject of philosophical study from the perspective of idealism. In their opinion, the subject of philosophy is the laws of thinking instead of the real, physical world.

The reconstruction of Ilyenkov and Korovikov’s thesis shows:” Since the sciences gets to dialectical materialism method of thinking <…> and therefore taken together they provide the only possible picture of the world as a coherent whole into all its aspects. In terms of purity and abstractness, the laws of dialectic can be examined and fleshed out as logical categories by philosophy only<…>Philosophy is a study of scientific thinking, of its laws and forms… Formulated by philosophy, provisions themselves are not the laws of reality, but the laws of thinking. (Illesh, 2016) The Ilyenkov - Korovikov’s case was inspected by the Culture and Science Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU, serious violations were revealed. Following the inspection reports, “It was confirmed that mentioned statements weren’t occasional<…>. Some lectors tried to interpret in a perverse way history of Marxism geneses and to deny the sources of Marxism<…>Some students have questioned the validity of the most important provisions of Marxist dialectic on their seminars <…> they dealt with looking for contradictions in wordings in Marxism-Leninism classicists’ statements<…> there is an opinion that the existence of numerous disagreements and points of view is a positive thing<…> Ilyenkov and Korovikov’s thesis received sympathy and support at the History of Foreign Philosophy Department for Humanities Faculties at the MSU” (Rumyantcev, 1955).

E.V. Ilyenkov and V.I. Korovikov were relieved of their duties “as weak in theoretical terms” upon decision of the Culture and Science Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU (Rumyantcev, 1955).

We shall notice that young Ph.D.’s theses were announced before the famous XX Congress of the CPSU and declared not only vitality of epistemology as independent branch of philosophy, but also triumph of subjective idealism as the world’s picture.

Ilyenkov and Korovikov’s thesis of 1954 – 1955, relating to pure philosophy at the first glance, considered to be a distinctive point of bifurcation in the revision process of dogmatics of Marxism-Leninism ideology and dialectical materialism at first.

Despite a number of serious administrative measures, soviet scientists evolved gradually in terms of relativism, choice and freedom of intellectual searches. So, memoirists (Kozyrev, 2011) were thinking about intensive discussions on the ratio of formal and dialectical logic; relevant and intuitionist logic was developed. All of these contributed to finding of logical paradoxes, doubts and emancipation of philosophical thought. The well known XX Congress of the communist Party of the SU in 1956 was the political elite’s response to evolution of soviet social thinking. It catalyzed gradual emancipation process of public awareness in spite of the fact that closed character of N.S.Khrushchev’s report “About the personality cult and its impacts”.

Contemporaries of the events included the representatives of scientifical intelligentsia remembered about that time as a transition period and noticed the facts of political rehabilitations and theoretical political “thaw”. For example, The Doctor of Philosophy, V.V.Sokolov remembered about the former Dean of Faculty of Philosophy Grigory Georgievitch Andreev spent a half term in prison and came back in the MSU after the XX Congress (Kozyrev, 2011). He also was happy to tell that since 1957 it has started publishing of A.F.Losev’s works, and how he was preparing the review to new book of Losev for journal “Philosophy issues” in 1958 and trained him to pick up BBC station.

The 1957-58s were marked in history of Soviet society and the State with new “challenges of the time”, routing of anti-party group was held, the process in “opening up” of Iron Curtain and in improving of international scientifical cooperation was continued. There was an objective need for updating of ideological reference points in soviet historiography to the year 1958.

As Professor Anatoly Alexandrovitch Startchenko recalled events in the late 1950s - early 1960s, he didn’t deny that there were people who went to Pasternak’s funeral, “someone went to some priest’s furnel” (Kozyrev, 2011). But such matters weren’t dealt with in Party meetings and they didn’t go wide with them. There were dissidence and non-conforming opinions that were reflected brightly in works of A.A.Zinovyev, the author of popular book “Gating Heights”.

Against this background, the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU was established in 1958 (Nabokina & Smirnova, 2018). The Order “About measures to improve the preparation of training in Philosophy at State Universities” was adopted as part of modernization of higher philosophical education. There were the following urgent problems: “ The link between studying Philosophy, other sciences practice of communism building is clearly insufficient<…> students graduated from philosophy schools have a limited understanding of philosophical problems in natural science<…> Graduates of faculties of Philosophy don’t get jobs corresponding their qualification”. (Central Committee of the CPSU, 1957)

In this regard, the Ministry of Higher Education of the SU has been asked to “revise the existing study plans of faculties of Philosophy in order to train the qualified personal, which are expected to have excellent knowledge of Marxism-Leninism theory and bases of modern natural science, as well as be able to promote scientific-materialistic worldview<…>to prolong the study period until 6 years<…>to enroll students at faculties of Philosophy based on their secondary education, work experience for 3 years and recommendation of local party structures only <…> to make graduates available to the party structures, recommending them to study, in order they work as assistants and laboratory assistants in higher education institutions as well as teachers of social studies in secondary specialized schools (Central Committee of the CPSU, 1957).

Scientific issues, that were far away from ontology and epistemology became the most prospective and the “safest”. One of the most relevant area of philosophic researches was symbolic or math logic. Academic circles during review period had heated debates about validity of logic as a science, its subject of study and distinction between symbolic logic and math. “From above” modernization in philosophic science and education was intended to find new ways and methods of impacting on philosophic community, whose identification started to change seriously. These changes were related to the revision of Marxism-Leninism paradigm.

It should be noted, that “From above” modernization in soviet philosophic and education fitted into the general context of reforming in soviet educational system, aimed at specialization and professionalization in educational process, practically oriented approach in education and met, in general, scientific and research demands of soviet scientific intelligentsia.

The other effort in the activities of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU was aimed at development of publication prospect “History of Great Patriotic war of the Soviet Union” (Central Committee of the CPSU, 1958). The key issue of publication was the nature of World War II and its continuity with World War I. It was necessary to refute the position of west European historiography about the liberating aspect of World War II in its first phase and to explain transformation from imperialistic war to liberation one after the SU entered the World War II. There was also a proposal in 1956 to take some steps back from Stalin’s formulations about original liberating and anti-fascist aspect of War, which were created before the W. Churchill’s speech in Fulton.

The focus in work of the Ideological Commission in question has opened up new prospects for national historical science already in 1958, for example, a comprehensive approach to study of the World Wars, researching of diplomatic relations among the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition and reasons for delaying of the opening of the second front as well as the west European “politics of appeasement” and the role of the Munich agreement for initiating the Second World War etc.

The next focuses in the activities of the Ideological Commission were the participation in changes in archival activities. In 1956-64 the process of partial declassification of archives and expansion of research sources base. Soviet archivists took part in work of international congresses.

The Central Committee of the CPSU, including the Ideological Commission, had objective to make further improvements in archival activities in the face of de-Stalinization without harm to Marxism-Leninism bases of soviet historical science (Rumyantcev, 1955).

The international scientific cooperation had to be established in order to ensure that soviet archivists could learn foreign experience and overcome delays in work of soviet archives as well as in order to raise awareness about research sources base held by opponents represented by west European historiography.

The Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU decided on “secondment of staff from archives of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs to France” in that regard (Central Committee of the CPSU, 1958).

It was very important not to lose control over informational field of soviet history and to “filter” politically and ideologically unjustified, harmful informational flows. Tactical logic, connected with selection, regulation and control of sources base resulted from political objectives to provide “information security” of the Soviet regime.

This can be seen in Regulation of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU “To archival records transferred to the Marxism-Leninism Institute from the Institute of History of Party the Central Committee of the PUWP” and “To transfer of certain materials to the Central Committee of the SUPG”.

In sum, the Ideological Commission dealt with revising and formulation of new historiographic positions, restructuring of archives, control over the interaction between soviet intellectual elite and its foreign colleagues, searching for like-minding people among foreign scientists.

Conclusion

The activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU was prompted by new “challenges of the time” for soviet ideology, Soviet State and perhaps even for soviet statehood. To these factors also must be added the emancipation of public awareness, the start of dissident movement and alternative groups of Soviet intelligentsia, new forms of warfare in the Cold war in bipolar information world’ space, new trends in world’s Humanities.

From the analyses of the nature of philosophic debates in Khrushchev’s decade and new direction of research it has become clear that ideological politics of the Central Committee of the CPSU was changing dramatically towards to soviet intelligentsia.

Not only administrative penalties, but also the method of soft power”, desire to discreet and careful control and leadership in mental changes in life of scientific and pedagogic community were observed increasingly in methods of ideological manipulation imposed on educational process.

That approach enabled intensified dialogue between soviet scientists and their foreign colleagues and inclusion of international scientific experience that was the subjective need in the new foreign-politics and geopolitical environments.

In the mind of soviet intelligentsia started to grow the rethink Marxism-Leninism paradigm and criticism of soviet reality.

Under these circumstances, the Central Committee of the CPSU tended to redirect intellectual searches of soviet scientists to issues in science and mathematics logic and other apolitical subjects. But despite this, the soviet society and especially soviet intelligentsia were changing, influenced by both external and eternal causes. The soviet government appeared to recognize the inconvertibility of this process that had to be kept within strict framework while maintaining its control and leadership (Rumyantcev, 1955).

In addition to the politics of containment and control over destructive processes in alternative intellectual searches of soviet intelligentsia, the Central Committee of the CPSU used the tactic of foundation strengthening in soviet world view. In 1961the Third Programme of the CPSU, declaring the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism, was adopted, the compulsory course “The bases of scientific communism” was added in educational plans of Higher School.

There was one more direction in ideological politics of the Central Committee of the CPSU during the Khrushchev’s decade. That means the process of the liberalization of social and scientific life and the mitigation of ideological pressing. Soviet philosophy started to be enriched gradually and partially by idealistic heritage, the Silver Age culture, and disapproved, criticized, but coming out of underground vanguard.

Developments in history and philosophy were bilateral in nature: “from above” and “from bottom” modernizations. Perhaps, the Ideological Commission could keep certain balance of two development vectors in given period. However, the Soviet intellectual think was ahead seriously of the “from above” modernization. This feature was reflected in most clearly in resonant and dramatic Ilyenkov - Korovikov debate, that opened limitation and “framework” of Khrushchev’s thaw, on the one hand, and the inevitability of effects of liberalization in culture sphere for soviet public mind.

Since the 1954-55, before the famous XX Congress of the CPSU the serious ideological changes, relating to rethinking of basic Marxism-Leninism postulates and socialistic paradigm, were begun.

After analyzing the content of soviet philosophical discussions, it becomes clear, that the origin and development of dissident mentalities began much earlier than in 1956, not only among political prisoners, rehabilitated persons and art intelligentsia, but in philosophical, scientific and students’ communities.

There had been profound changes in different cultural spheres, in soviet science and education system. They were dui to both cultural politics “from above” and internal evolution of worldview bases in the minds of soviet intellectual elite and soviet intelligentsia as a whole. The establishment and activity of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU were resulted from new internal-politics and foreign-politics conditions of soviet state and society as well as serious changes in public mind, evolution of social thinking of soviet scientific intelligentsia and its identity (Rumyantcev, 1955).

It should be noted, that it is a widely held view in home and foreign historiography, considering the Khrushchev’s restructurings to be aimed at “softing” and continuous transformation of political regime from totalitarian to authoritarian. In the process of easing of regime soviet political elite and soviet intelligentsia went gradually through a split. Moreover, in 1969 the high-profile historical-publicist essay by A. Amalric “Will the Soviet Union survive till 1984?” was published, where the author declared, that gradual crisis process of the decaying bases of soviet statehood had been starting since the Khrushchev decade, which would end with the final breakdown if the US, according his prediction.

No doubt, there are grounds to belief with regard to both soviet and pre-revolution study about intelligentsia, that “internal proneness to conflict and contradiction in domestic political culture was reflected completely in the evolution of views of Russian intelligentsia” (Nabokina, Smirnova & Tokareva, 2016). However, soviet leadership was able to keep balance in sustained development in framework of ideological politics during the Khrushchev’s decade. In that regard we couldn’t agree with the opinion of foreign colleagues, that “The Commission failed in its mission” (Tszymei, 2016) and was abolished in 1961.

By characterizing of ideological politics of the Central Committee of the CPSU and activity of the Ideological Commission in modernization of soviet humanitarian sphere in the late 1950s - early 1960s it can be grouped broadly in three components: stabilization, liberalization and updating. Despite of serious problems in relationship between soviet political elite and scientific intelligentsia, the combination of these components allowed to keep balance of political and social forces as well Marxism-Leninism ideology as the one of the foundations of Soviet State and society.

References

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Publication Date

29 March 2019

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Future Academy

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58

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, science, technology, society

Cite this article as:

Smirnova, J., & Nabokina*, M. (2019). Evolution Of Social Thinking Of Soviet Researchers And Ideological Politics. In & D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1398-1405). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.03.02.162