how did Sorokin’s “Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs” get published?

 

 

Pitirim A. Sorokin’s lifelong friend and fellow academic Carle C. Zimmerman, with whom Sorokin taught for many years, states in his Sorokin: The World’s Greatest Sociologist: His Life and Ideas on Social Time and Change (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: University of Saskatchewan, 1968, pg. xiii-xiv), regarding Sorokin’s groundbreaking study голод как фактор (golod kak faktor; published in English as Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs):

After the famine of 1921, … [Sorokin] embarked upon a study of the sociology of hunger and famine. The communist government had killed the landowners and tried to collectivize the peasants. As a result of this, agricultural production declined to disastrously low levels. A former grain exporting country could no longer feed itself. A drought in 1920 and 1921 resulted in wholesale starvation. Millions died of famine. Sorokin’s book about this was too much for the communists. His manuscript was destroyed and he accepted banishment September 23, 1922 to save his life.

This statement is misleading. The book was published in Leningrad in 1922. Soviet censors immediately destroyed it. It is easy to see why. Sorokin’s study was written in the midst of, and in response to, the Russian famine of 1921–22. It shows how the government in power can create such conditions.

In the introduction to the English translation by Sorokin’s wife, Elena P. Sorokin, which was published in 1975 as Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs, Elena Sorokin notes that “The censors … caught up with the book in its final stage of production and destroyed it. When Pitirim and I were banished from the USSR …, we smuggled out the proofs of the book.” It was published posthumously, as noted above, in a translation by Sorokin’s wife.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   December 2017

 

 

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covers – books by Pitirim A. Sorokin