a notice of Sorokin’s first book

 

 

The Zyranians are a Finnish people in the north of European Russia who are gradually coming under the influence of Russian culture but still retain to a considerable extent their language and their ancient beliefs and customs. A young Zyranian student, Pitirim Sorokin, who has not yet completed his university course, has just published in Saint Petersburg a thick volume of 456 pages under the title of “Crime and Penalty, Virtue and Reward. A sociological study of the fundamental forms of social conduct and morals.” Professor Maxim Kovalevsky contributes a preface to the book, and it is perhaps less remarkable that a Zyranian at the age of twenty-four years should publish a book of such a size on a subject than that he should find reviewers, on the whole, inclined to be laudatory.

 

— “Notes on Current Books,” The Russian Review, Volume III, No. 1 (February 1914), pg. 224

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   June 2020

 

 

 

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correction:

 

In a post at

 

 

http://rksorokinctr.org/index.php/component/content/article/9-2011-06-23-08-52-45/128-2015-02-20-13-45-45.html

 

 

Marina Lomonosova notes that the earliest known works of Sorokin were believed to date back to 1910. As a result of her analysis of bibliographic material, Professor Lomonosova discovered an earlier article by Sorokin: «Кое-что о современной художественной литературе» (Something about Contemporary Fiction), published by him in 1907 in the magazine «Искры» (Sparks).

“one dollar a month”

 

 

See above-mentioned report of Lounatcharsky depicting the terrible condition of teachers and schools. Here are a few official statements. “The situation of the village schools is most dreadful. There is no kerosene, no light, no newspapers, no books. The schools are empty. No teachers. Cultural activity has died.” Isvestia, November 17, 1922. “I could torture you with terrible descriptions,” said Lounatcharsky himself : “among the teachers there are dreadful conditions, beggarliness and pauperism, awful mortality and disease, suicide and prostitution. The teachers have only twelve per cent. of the minimum income necessary to live” (about one dollar a month). Isvestia, No. 293, 1922. “Economic situation of the students is very bad,” said Bukharin in his report to the last Conference of the Russian Communistic Party in May of 1924: “The picture is terrible, the students are starving and could be called as the beggar-students, who do not have any shelter or room or income and how they are living nobody knows.” Isvestia, May 31, 1924. “According to the appearance of the present students you can not say who are before you: whether a student or hobo or beggar. Their clothes are nothing but rags. Their faces are emaciated and pale. Such poverty and starvation influence the health of the students very much. You can scarcely find a student without catarrh of the stomach. Such life favours to the terrible increase of tuberculosis and typhus. Greater part of the students have had them. Anemia, malaria and eye-sight illnesses are quite usual phenomena among them. After three years of such a life the state will receive only the invalids good for nothing who are the burden for the country and for themselves.” Such is the characteristic of the students given by [Martin Ivanovich] Latzis–one of the cruellest red terrorists in Pravda, June 4, 1924. See also Isvestia, No. 260, 1922. Iakovleff: The Village As It Is, 1923, and other Bolshevist publications in which they state their complete failure and complete disorganization of the instruction and education in Russia. The description of the University­-life see in my Leaves from a Russian Diary.

 

— Pitirim A Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution (J. B. Lippincott Company, 1925), footnote, pg. 345

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

May 2020

 

 

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See also my post:
“Darkness, Despair, Death Grip Russian Educators” (Sorokin on Russian universities, post-Revolution)

 

https://pitirimsorokin.com/2019/03/24/darkness-despair-death-grip-russian-educators-sorokin-on-russian-univerities-post-revolution/

Preface, etc. – Sorokin, “Social Mobility” (1927)

 

 

Preface, etc. – ‘Social Mobility’

 

 

See downloadable PDF file, above.

 

 

I have obtained a rare copy of Sorokin’s groundbreaking work Social Mobility (1927), which was later republished as  Social and Cultural Mobility.

The characteristic vigorous Sorokin style is already on display here.

I was struck by the following passage from Sorokin’s  preface:

 

Speculative sociology is passing over. An objective, factual, behavioristic, and quantitative sociology is successfully superseding it. This explains why I have tried to avoid basing my statements on the data of “speech reactions” only; why in the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing; why, wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description. For the same reason I have tried to avoid an “illustrative” method, consisting in confirmation of a statement by one or two illustrative facts. Still used extensively in sociology this “method” has been responsible for many fallacious theories it the field of social sciences. It is time to declare a real war on this “plague of sociology.” Trying to avoid it I have endeavored to support each of my principal statements by at least a brief survey of the whole field of the pertinent facts and by indicating at least the minimum of literature where further factual corroboration may be found. When I have not been sure that a certain relationship is general or firmly established, I have stressed its local or hypothetical character.

Another “plague” of sociological theories has been their permeation with “preaching or evaluating judgments” of what is good and what is bad, what is “useful” and what is “harmful.” Sociological literature is inundated with “preaching works,” 90 per cent of which are nothing but mere speculation, often quite ignorant, given in the name of science. As the primary task of any science is to face the facts as they really exist; and as such “preaching” only compromises the science itself, it must be avoided by all who care for and understand what science means. This explains why the book, with the exception of a very few casual remarks, is free from such “preaching.”

Trying to face the facts I naturally do not care at all whether my statements are found to be “reactionary” or “radical,” “optimistic” or “pessimistic.” Are they true or not-this is the only thing that is important in science. If disfiguring the facts of sociology in the interests of the upper classes is a crime against science, no less a crime is disfiguring the reality in the interests of the lower classes. Either of these crimes should be fought by scientific sociology.

 

 

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The emphasis on a scientific, statistical, quantitative approach to sociology — reflecting trends in Russian and European sociology by which Sorokin was influenced — is evident.

‘[I]n the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing … wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description,” Sorokin writes. He inveighs against the “plague” of sociological theories permeated with “preaching or evaluating judgments.”

Yet, it can be said — in fact, I think it is undeniable — that in Sorokin’s later works can be found just such characteristics (those he criticizes here), as he shifted from dry quantitative sociology to what might called sociology and social/historical philosophy in the grand manner.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

flight from the cities

 

 

 

… the population of Moscow amounted on February 1, 1917 to 2,017,000; on August 26. 1920 it was only 1,028,000. In Petrograd there were before the revolution 2,420,000 people; in 1918-1,469,000; in 1919-900,000; in 1920–740,000. V. the Red Moscow and the Statistical Materials for Petrograd, Vol. V, p. 19. Altogether about eight millions left the towns in the period from 1918 to 1920 (See the miscellany During 5 Years, 1922, p. 295).

 

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution, footnote, 244

 

 

 

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Newspaper stories are saying that the Coronavirus epidemic has already caused some people to abandon cities like my own beloved New York.

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

dedication page, “Social and Cultural Dynamics”

 

 

dedication, 'Social and Cultural Dynamics'

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the dedication page of the first volume of Sorokin’s Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937). Peter and Sergei were Sorokin’s sons.

Few would disagree, I am sure, that there was something wonderful — authentic, deep, sincere — about Sorokin the person. And I feel this can be seen in his family and the Russian émigré milieu he and they moved in: their closest associates and friends.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

Sorokin letter to President Kennedy

 

 

Sorokin letter to JFK 5-23-1961

 

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Mutual Convergence of the US and USSR to the Mixed Sociological Type’

 

 

This letter of May 23, 1961 from Pitirim A. Sorokin to President John F. Kennedy is self-explanatory. The “enclosed reprint of my paper” which Sorokin refers to in the letter is probably his article “Mutual Convergence of the United States and the U.S.S.R. to the Mixed Sociocultural type,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology; January 1, 1960. A copy of this article is posted here (PDF file above).

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 2020

 

 

Sorokin, Nabokov

 

 

According to a Wikipedia entry, in 1936, Vladimir Nabokov, then living in Berlin, began seeking a job in the English-speaking world. In 1937, Nabokov left Germany for France. His family followed him to France; they eventually settled in Paris. In May 1940, the Nabokovs fled the advancing German troops to the United States on board the SS Champlain.

In Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years by Brian Boyd (Princeton University Press, 2016), pg. 514, it is stated:

By late October 1939 Nabokov had settled arrangements at Stanford [University, to teach a summer course there] with [Stamford faculty member Henry] Lanz. Now ready to apply for a visa, he sought affidavits from eminent Russians in America: the artist Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, and his friend the historian Mikhail Karpovich, who appears to have put him in touch with Alexandra Tolstoy, the novelist’s daughter. Head of the newly established Tolstoy Foundation, which looked after the interests of Russian émigrés in America, Alexandra Tolstoy secured an affidavit for Nabokov from Sergey Koussevitzky, the longtime conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Nabokov became an American citizen in 1945.

All of this is of interest, since Pitirim A. Sorokin had close, extensive contacts with the Russian émigré community. Sergey Koussevitzky was a lifelong friend of Sorokin and his wife Elena.

It would be interesting to know if there exists correspondence between Sorokin and Nabokov.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2020

“Sorokin Would Welcome Fuehrer, Duce at Harvard”

 
“Sorokin Would Welcome Fuehrer, Duce at Harvard”

The Minneapolis Tribune

February 25, 1939

pg. 15
ALSO published as:

Harvard Savant Would Teach 3 Dictators “Common Sense”

The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland)

February 25, 1939

pg. 3

 

 

[By the Associated Press]

Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 24 — While one Harvard scientist [Percy W. Bridgman] today gained support in his “manifesto” to bar scholars of totalitarian states from his laboratories, another said he would “welcome Mr. Hitler, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Mussolini to my classes, so that they might learn the ABC’s of common sense.”

Commenting in an interview on Physicist Percy W. Bridgman’s announcement in Science magazine that he wanted to make it more difficult for totalitarian states to get scientific information they might misuse, Prof. Pitirim Sorokin, of the sociology department said:

“Any scientific discovery or invention which could be applied in war should be kept secret except from the Government concerned — because today’s friends may be tomorrow’s enemies.

“However, in the case of the social sciences, since our theories are different from the totalitarian ideologies, and critical of them, it would be useful if the Nazis, the Communists and the Fascists–yes, even Mr. Hitler, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Mussolini–would come to our classes to learn some common sense.”

 

 

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See also (pdf file below):

 

“Physicist Shuts Laboratory To Subjects of Dictators”

The New York Times

February 24, 1939

pg. 1

 

 

‘Physicist Shuts Laboratory to Subjects of Dictators’ – NT Times 2-24-1939

 

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis” by P. A. Sorokin (1938)

 

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis’ – Harvard Alumni Bulletin

 

 

 

Posted here (above) is the following downloadable PDF file:

 

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis”

By Dr. P. A. Sorokin, Professor of Sociology

Harvard Alumni Bulletin

Vol. XL, No. 16

February 4, 1938

1. 512-514

 

 

Sorokin gave this address in December 1937 as part of a series of radio talks

 

 

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We have here Sorokin writing in the characteristic style of the years following the publication of his Social and Cultural Dynamics, the fist three volumes of which were published in 1937 —  a style that foreshadows that of The Crisis of Our Age, which was published in 1941.

Scholars currently studying Sorokin’s early works in Russian are learning more about his career as a writer. Overlooked (mostly) in the past was the early journalistic experience he had. Sorokin qua writer is a topic that deserves study. One will find, I believe, both strengths and weaknesses.

The fact that Sorokin wrote the majority of his major works in a second language is not something to be ignored. Even in this rather straightforward article, there can be seen occasional infelicities in grammar and wording.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 2019

 

 

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addendum:

 

An article of interest — in Russian — which I have not yet seen has recently been published:

 

Американский этап лингвистической биографии Питирима Сорокина (“The American Stage of Pitirim Sorokin’s Linguistic Biography”)

 

by Сергиева Н.С. (Natalia S. Sergieva)

 

Полилингвиальность и транскультурные практики (Polylinguality and Transcultural Practices)

 

Vol. 16, No..1 (2019), pp. 35-44

 

 

Abstract:

 

The article discusses the features of the bilingualism of an eminent sociologist of the twentieth century Pitirim Sorokin in the American period of his life. The purpose of the study is to identify and explain the linguistic features of his scientific thinking in connection with the development of his scientific worldview. The study is based on the materials of Pitirim A. Sorokin Collection at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Archival manuscripts and research notes allow us to trace the process of changing the language and switching codes in the professional activities of Pitirim Sorokin after moving to the United States of America. It has been established that the use of a mixed metalanguage by Pitirim Sorokin can be considered as additional evidence of the continued connection with the Russian period of his life and scientific activity. Russian remained for him a tool of scientific thinking, planning and management.

“wriggling, banging of seats, scraping of feet, twisting, whispering, and flipping of note book leaves in the auditorium” (during a Sorokin lecture, 1924)

 

 

With all this talk of courtesy and etiquette going the rounds today, and classes on the subject organized voluntarily by pupils of our schools, I do wish some one would start a fad for courtesy in the public lecture room. We need it here in Decatur.

I’m prompted to this comment by the wriggling, banging of seats. scraping of feet twisting. whispering, and flipping of note book leaves in the auditorium last week when Dr. Pitirim Sorokine was speaking.

The audience composed of about equal proportions of townspeople and students, had difficulty in understanding his broken speech, so it gave up trying and wriggled, banged. and so on, until those who could understand were not permitted to hear.

Part of the fault may have lain with those who introduced the speaker. I think it would have stimulated personal interest if, instead of trying to explain his message, that had been left to him and explanation given instead about the man himself.

Who even in that noisy audience would not have sat quietly, for instance, if they had known that this man came out of Europe unable to speak a single word of English, and in one month was lecturing all over America in the language?

Instead of blaming him for his broken speech. and punishing him cruelly with noise. I think he would have been listened to with admiration and respect. None but would have given him just due for the accomplishment of a difficult feat–if they had known of it.

Dr. Sorokine had long been a student of English and could read and write it with ease. But to read and write, and to speak, are quite different things. as those of us who can struggle through a page of French. only to fall flat before pronunciation, can relate to our sorrow.

And in just one month he had conquered his ignorance of spoken English to such an extent that be spoke it in lectures before that most critical of all audiences in the world, students in a lecture room.

If any person in that audience, with two years gruelling drill in French, had been set before a Parisian audience to deliver a lecture on any subject, do you suppose they could have done it? And if the audience had been noisy, and then heaped the last insult by rising one by one and clumping out.

 

The Assistant Woman’s Editor.

 

 

“Let’s Talk It Over,” Decatur Herald (Decatur, IL), Tuesday, March 25, 1924, pg. 10

 

 

 

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EDITORIAL COMMENT: Let’s hear it for empathy.