Oct 25, 2020
For the first instalment of our in-depth study of Soviet Science, Djamil, Donald and Rudy sit down to discuss the scientific institutions and the practice of Science in the early Soviet Union up to the conclusion of the Stalin Revolution. They start off with a survey of the Tsarist Academy, and what kind of structures and specialists the Bolsheviks inherited. The conversation continues with the changing ways the Bolsheviks related to specialists during the Civil War and the NEP, and how they were trying to assimilate the culture of specialists when they realized it was impossible to seize cultural power, and how this relates to the present day debate around the Professional Managerial Class. They then discuss the role of the two anti-specialist trials that kick off the Stalin revolution: the Shakhty affair and the Industrial Party Trial, and how that served to strengthen Stalin's hand in taking over the politbureau and resulted in a culture of blaming specialists for the failure of five-year plans. They finish by analyzing the resulting academy and intelligentsia of the 1930s, fully loyal to Stalin, and how that sets the stage for the rise of someone like Lysenko.