I. Laptev, Antipatriotic Acts Under the Guise of ‘Scientific’ Criticism. September 2, 1947
Original Source: Pravda, 2 September 1947.
Certain English and American journals with pretentious scientific names have been carrying in recent years a wrathful, slanderous, and completely unscientific propaganda against progressive Soviet biological science. The February issue of the English journal Discovery contains an article, “Revolution in Soviet Science” by a scientific reactionary, C. D. Darlington. This member of the Royal Society has seen fit, by a single stroke of the pen, to liquidate Russian biological science, just as the fascist politicians have in, their time “abolished,” on paper, the Soviet Union, transforming it into a … “geographic concept.” Darlington has maliciously declared that Timiriazev’s discoveries “are nothing but the requirements of William of Occam,” of a medieval scholastic. Darlington calls Michurin “an importer of plants” from Canada and USA. He attacks T. D. Lysenko in the same style.
The slanderous article of Darlington has provoked a justified resentment among English scientists. Angry letters with sharp protests against this article, against the despicable slanderous attacks on Soviet scientists, poured into the editorial office of Discovery. H. G. Creighton wrote about the article of Darlington: “the political irritation and the vindictive anticommunist and anti-Soviet wrath have blinded his objectivity and have led him to some very unscientific arguments against Lysenko.” Another American scientist, M. Hamilton, declared to the editor that, “a disagreement in the field of genetics cannot serve as a justification for dirty political insinuations,” and that Darlington has pleased by his articles only those who “in the depth of their soul hate science and all that it has given and gives to mankind.”
One can add nothing to these truthful and objective evaluations of Darlington’s article. They clearly show the inner motivation of the attacks on Lysenko and other Soviet biological scientists.
Darlington is seconded in USA by a certain Professor Karl Sax, who is angered by a mere mention of dialectic materialism and its application in the field of genetics. He is displeased especially because Soviet scientists consider fideism, i.e., the “doctrine” which replaces knowledge by faith, to be foolishness. He endorses the racists demagogic assertions well known to the Soviet people, that our country is “totalitarian” and that biological science in it is “suppressed.”
Karl Sax’s effort appears in the American journal Science. It is notable that in USA, as well as in England, a series of scientists have protested against Sax’s reactionary political insinuations. Dunn, a professor of Columbia University, in his reply to K. Sax in the same journal declared: “The progress of the biological research in the Soviet Union gives us a very valuable lesson. Great individuals have arisen in Soviet biology, valuable discoveries have been made and continue to be made now in the midst of war” (Science,1944, No. 2561, p. 67).
J. Somerville, an American scientist who attended the discussion of the problems of genetics in USSR in 1939, wrote: “So long as representatives of the state act according to the principles of dialectic materialism, there can be no question of scientific conclusions made under dictation, or of an artificial limitation of scientific activity. The dialectic materialism is a philosophic doctrine which not only does not hold science in contempt but considers it the basic source of its own principles” (Philosophy of Science, 1945, Vol. 12, No. I).
In the light of all this, a feeling of deep indignation is provoked by the debut of A. Zhebrak, a member of the Belorussian Academy of Sciences, on the pages of the journal Science with an anti-patriotic article, “Soviet Biology,” directed against progressive Soviet biological science.
One could expect that the Soviet scientist, A. Zhebrak, would stand against the dirty slander on Soviet science made by reactionary English and American “scientists,” such attacks on Soviet science as, according to the justified remark of the English biologist Haldane, came in the past “from Hitler’s friends.” Unfortunately, we see the exact opposite. Under the guise of polemics with Professor Sax, A. Zhebrak has completely adopted the latter’s stand. Together with the most reactionary foreign scientists, he humiliates and defames our progressive Soviet biological science and its eminent modern representative, Academician T. D. Lysenko.
First of all, A. Zhebrak has completely misrepresented Soviet biological science before the American reader. In dealing with problems of plant physiology, genetics, and selection, he has deliberately omitted to mention such leaders of science as Timiriazev, Michurin, and Williams, whose work is the basis of that of the modern Soviet investigators in this field. Not a word is said about such world-renowned scientific institutions as Lenin’s All-Soviet Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of USSR, and others.
Solidarity with the reactionary K. Sax is undignified for a Soviet scientist, A. Zhebrak. Writes A. Zhebrak: “Unfortunately, Professor Sax … regards modern biology, and particularly genetics, as synonymous with the name of the academician Lysenko. In criticizing the mistaken views of Lysenko, he apparently holds the opinion that he criticizes not only the academician Lysenko but also the very basis of Soviet biology and the relation of the Soviet government to science.”
One must have lost the feeling of patriotism and of scientific honesty to declare that a scientist known to the whole world, a pioneer in the field of genetics, academician Lysenko, has no relation to Soviet biology … What a feeling of patriotic indignation will be the answer to this of every Soviet peasant, every writer in socialist agriculture, who for a number of years has been getting good harvests on the basis of scientific methods developed by T. D. Lysenko!
A. Zhebrak has needed this in order that, having given over the Soviet scientist T. D. Lysenko for the amusement of the corrupt capitalist press, he might represent himself a devoted ally of Darlingtons, Saxes and their like, who chose to “criticize” T. D. Lysenko in order to fight for reactionary idealism against dialectic materialism.
The political meaning of this fight is obvious to everyone. Reactionary biologists know it well. None other than Robert Simpson, in an article. directed against Lysenko and entitled “Science-According to the Totalitarian Model,” has declared, “The dual role of Lysenko in politics and science calls for a fearless inquiry by scientific men into the dangers of science becoming subservient to the state … It’s time to break a few lances.” Simpson is worried because the Soviet land has found methods to get an abundance of grain, milk, meat, wool, and fur. He is worried because capitalism is unable to give this abundance to the people.
Zhebrak, as a Soviet scientist, ought to have unmasked the class meaning of the struggle taking place in connection with problems of genetics. But, blinded by bourgeois prejudices, by a contemptible subservience to bourgeois science, he has adopted the view of the enemy camp. To please this camp, he has dishonored representatives of Russian science in a foreign journal which specializes in maligning Soviet scientists. For A. Zhebrak there exists such a thing as “pure science.” Zhebrak writes: “together with American scientists, we, working in the same field of science in Russia, are building a general biology on a worldwide scale.”
So, this is the source of the anti-patriotism of this “scientist”! So, neither does progressive Soviet biological science exist in nature, nor is there a reactionary idealistic biology. So, there exists only a single biology “on a world-wide scale.” This explains the alliance of Zhebrak with Darlington, Sax, and other obscurantists of the reactionary capitalistic camp.
A national exclusiveness is remote from Soviet scientists. In their investigations, they generalize everything progressive which is given by the foremost scientists of foreign lands. They develop science on the basis of comradely criticism and self-criticism. They are imbued with the spirit of life-giving Soviet patriotism, the spirit of Soviet national pride in their science, science which develops on the only solid foundation, dialectic materialism-science which serves the interests of the people. A Soviet scientist is proud to wage an unrelenting struggle with that “science” which is profoundly inimical to dialectic materialism, which serves not the people but the fooling of people, and the strengthening of the power of exploiters.
The antipatriotic act of A. Zhebrak is aggravated by a personal attack on the academician T. D. Lysenko. With a petit. bourgeois impertinence, he declares on the pages of an American journal that academician Lysenko was rewarded by the government “not for his opinions or experiments in the field of genetics” but only “for his work in the field of agricultural practices.” Knowingly misrepresenting the orders of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of USSR regarding the bestowal of high government rewards on the academician Lysenko for eminent scientific attainments, for theoretical scientific works, which have a first-rate importance in the practice of socialist construction, A. Zhebrak is calumniating Soviet science by this dishonest declaration. More than that, he makes the absurd assertion that the work of academician Lysenko ” … founded in reality on naive and purely speculative conclusions, is unable to interfere with successful development of genetics in USSR.” It follows that, according to Zhebrak, Lysenko acts as a brake on progressive development of genetics! A. Zhebrak has gone too far.
How disgusting is the role of Zhebrak in taking it upon himself to please the reactionaries of the whole world by defamation of his compatriot scientist in the pages of a foreign journal inimical to us! Only a man who has lost all sense of social duty could take such a step.
One could close the discussion of this antipatriotic attack by Zhebrak, but we have before us another issue of the American journal Science, Vol. 105, No. 2718, for 1947. It has an article by N. P. Dubinin (Institute of Experimental Biology of the Academy of Sciences of USSR), entitled “The work of Soviet biologists: theoretical genetics.”
First of all, one is put on one’s guard by the fact that this journal, inimically disposed toward Soviet biologists, gives a front place to Dubinin’s article. But the answer comes easily. All the founders of Soviet biology are ignored in the article. Whom does Dubinin regard as Soviet biologists? It happens that here are lauded such “Soviet biologists” as Dobzhanskii, Timofeev-Rezovskii–open enemies of the Soviet people.
Dobzhanskii, for example, is now working in USA in the field of slander against Soviet biologists and “creates the style” in this anti-Soviet campaign. With a feeling of loathing and indignation one reads further in this article praises for a series of similar personages. The whole Michurin trend in biology is ignored by Dubinin. Every Soviet biologist will resolutely rise against such an obviously wrong, clearly antipatriotic, representation of Soviet biology.
What do the above facts mean? They mean that a certain backward part of our Soviet intelligentsia still carries a slavish servility for bourgeois science, which is profoundly foreign to Soviet patriotism. We are proud of our country, of victorious socialism, and of our progressive Soviet science. It is necessary to pull out decisively and pitilessly the rotten roots of obsequiousness and slavishness toward bourgeois culture. Only in such a way can one accomplish successfully the great task set before Soviet science by Comrade Stalin, namely, to exceed in the briefest possible time the attainments of science in foreign lands.
To the court of public opinion with those who act as a brake on the accomplishment of this task, those who defame our progressive Soviet science by their antipatriotic acts!
Source: Journal of Heredity (1948), Vol. 39, pp. 19-21.