Open Letter to the American People on American-Soviet Friendship
Introduction by Corliss Lamont
New York: The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, 1943
Sorokin was one of the signers. His Russia and the United States was published in 1944.
Corliss Lamont (1902-1995) was an American socialist and advocate of various left-wing and civil liberties causes. He was Chairman of The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, which was founded in 1943.
from Barbara Evans Clements, Bolshevik Feminist: The Life of Aleksandra Kollontai (Indiana University Press, 1979), pp. 117-118:
Kollontai’s political fortunes rose with those of the Bolsheviks. At the Sixth Party Congress in late July, while she sat in jail, she became the first woman elected to the Central Committee, polling the sixth highest vote. In nominating her a Bolshevik candidate to the Constituent Assembly, Stalin placed her fifth on the list, after Lenin, Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Lunacharskii. When she was released from prison, Proletarii, the party newspaper, welcomed her back by declaring: “Greetings to the fighter, returned to our ranks.” Requests came in to the Petrograd offices for her pamphlets, and colleagues acknowledged her as one of their best orators. Pitirim Sorokin, a Socialist Revolutionary who was later to become an eminent sociologist, wrote after losing a debate with her:
As for this woman, it is plain that her revolutionary enthusiasm is nothing but a gratification of her sexual satyriasis [sic]. In spite of her numerous “husbands,” Kollontai, first the wife of a general, later the mistress of a dozen men, is not yet satiated. She seeks new forms of sexual sadism. I wish she might come under the observation of Freud and other psychiatrists. She would indeed be a rare subject for them. [Pitirim A. Sorokin, Leaves From a Russian Diary (Boston: Beacon Press, 1950), p. 59]
Sorokin’s anger at Kollontai and the Bolsheviks’ admiration for her sprang from the same source—Kollontai’s talent as a speaker. She had never been more effective in presenting Bolshevik demands for “peace, bread, and land” and “all power to the soviets.” Bolshevik popularity was greater than ever before, and Kollontai, buoyed by sympathetic audiences and by her party’s success, rushed happily from meeting to meeting. Her speeches, she felt, “expressed the general striving, the united mass will,” of the crowds who shared her radicalism. The final push by the people toward freedom and community had begun. Both then and later, Kollontai hailed the spontaneity of the revolution. She attributed the party’s success to the fact that it simultaneously expressed the will of the people and led their historically determined march.
My paper “Pitirim Sorokin and the Russian Émigré Community” (PDF above) has been published in:
RUSSIAN EMIGRATION ON THE WAVES OF FREEDOM: Proceedings of the International Conference dedicated to the centenary of the Philosophy Steamer and the 80th anniversary of The New Review (New York: The New Review Publishing, 2022)
Posted here (above) are the third movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s eleventh symphony; and an excerpt from A Long Journey: The Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin.
The third movement, “Eternal Memory,” starts with a halting motion on pizzicato strings, over which a noble melody (“You Fell As Victims,” most famous of all the revolutionary songs and whose deployment was by no means limited to Soviet composers) is heard on violas then extended to upper strings. A somber new theme, heard initially on woodwind and brass before being transformed on violins, begins the ascent to the apex, at the summit of which the climactic motif from the previous movement is sounded out balefully on full orchestra, underpinned by pounding timpani that continue as the intensity subsides. The viola melody, now a distant recessional, is heard again before pizzicato strings arrive at a questioning pause.”
– program notes to a recording of Shostakovich’s Eleventh
Note that the beginning of the third movement is so faint that it is barely audible for a minute or two.
A footnote: My uncle Roger Handy gave me a Christmas gift of Shostakovich’s eleventh symphony in a premier recording by André Cluytens that was released when I was in college, for which gift I was and remain deeply grateful.
Of … memorable reunions in Minneapolis, that with my closest old friend, Professor N. Kondratieff, must be mentioned. As a foremost agricultural economist and expert on business cycles, he was permitted by the Soviet Government to visit American universities and research institutions in his field. This task brought him to the University of Minnesota where he stayed with us for several days. It was a real joy for us to see him alive and well and to talk with him about our Russian friends, the economic and political conditions in Russia, and the basic problems of the world at large. Unfortunately this reunion was our last meeting. A few years after his return to Russia, he was accused by Stalin in 1931 of being the leading ideologist and planner of an anti-Communist reconstruction of Russian agriculture. As such, he was “purged,” and disappeared. We heard rumors that he had been banished and had perished somewhere in Turkestan or Mongolia. But exactly how and where he perished we have never learned up to the present time. Requiem eternam et lux perpetua to you, our dearest friend!
A Long Journey: The Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin, pg. 233
As the semester [at the University of Minnesota] got under way, they learned that their old friend Nikolai Kondratieff would be visiting in early November. Kondratieff was widely known in Russia as a theorist of economic cycles, a statistician, and an agricultural economist. Pitirim had not seen Kondratieff since staying with him in Moscow after being released by the Chekha. They had first met as boys at the Khrenovo Teachers’ Seminary when Pitirim was fourteen and Nikolai almost eleven. Kondratieff, like Sorokin, was expelled for revolutionary activities. When he learned that Pitirim was in night school at the Tscherniayevskye Kursy, he went to St. Petersburg, where the two were roommates for several years. They completed night school together and went on to the University of St. Petersburg. Nikolai had met Elena shortly after she became acquainted with Pitirim, and all had endured the trials of the revolution. Kondratieff had also served in the Kerensky government as the deputy minister for food.
Kondratieff’s visit lasted for nearly a month, and the Sorokins delighted in showing him the Twin Cities. Pitirim also introduced Nikolai to some of his colleagues in the department and to others in agricultural economics. As Kondratieff’s work had not yet been translated into English, American scholars were largely unaware of his ideas, although some knew of him as a Soviet economic planner and farm expert. Sorokin kept Kondratieff’s visit quiet because he feared that their association might create problems when his friend returned to Russia. Pitirim’s concern actually foreshadowed his friend’s ultimate fate. Five years later, Kondratieff’s economic ideas brought him into conflict with Soviet policies. He was jailed in 1930 and appeared in the mock trials of 1931-32 in which Stalin purged so-called enemies of the state. However, Pitirim did not sense that when Nikolai left for Washington in early December 1924 it would be the last time he would see his boyhood friend. Kondratieff..
Barry V. Johnston, Pitirim A. Sorokin: An Intellectual Biography, pp. 29-30
Kondratiev was removed from the directorship of the Institute of Conjuncture in 1928 and arrested in July 1930, accused of being a member of a “Peasants Labour Party” (a non-existent party invented by the NKVD). Convicted as a “kulak-professor” and sentenced to 8 years in prison, Kondratiev served his sentence, from February 1932 onwards, at Suzdal, near Moscow. Although his health deteriorated under poor conditions, Kondratiev continued his research and decided to prepare five new books, as he mentioned in a letter to his wife. Some of these texts were indeed completed and were published.
His last letter was sent to his daughter, Elena Kondratieva, on 31 August 1938. In September 1938 during Stalin’s Great Purge, he was subjected to a second trial, condemned to ten years without the right to correspond with the outside world. However, Kondratiev was executed at the Kommunarka shooting ground by firing squad on the same day the sentence was issued. Kondratiev was 46 at the time of his execution.
Posted here are excerpts from Jacques J. Maquet, The Sociology of Knowledge: Its Structure and Its Relation to the Philosophy of Knowledge: A Critical Analysis of the Systems of Karl Mannheim and Pitirim A. Sorokin; translated by John F. Locke (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1951)