“the mysterious energy of love”

 

Before the first world war and the later catastrophes of our time, science largely shunned this field [altruistic love]. The phenomena of altruistic love were thought to belong to religion and ethics, rather to science. They were considered good topics for preaching, but not for research and teaching. Moreover, prewar science was much more interested in the study of criminals than of saints, of the insane than of the genius, of the struggle for existence than of mutual aid, and of hate and selfishness than of compassion and love.

The explosion of the gigantic disasters after 1914 and the changing danger of a new suicidal war have now radically changed the situation. These calamities have given impetus to the scientific study of unselfish love. …

… without reinforcement by the energy of unselfish love, all the fashionable prescriptions for the elimination of those ills of humanity cannot achieve their task. This conclusion equally applies to all the prescriptions that try to prevent conflicts by either purely political, educational, sham religious, economic, or military means.

For instance, we may like to think that if tomorrow all the governments of the world were to become democratic, we would finally have a lasting peace and crimeless social order. Yet recent careful studies of comparative criminality of 967 wars and 1,629 revolutions in the history of Greece, Rome, and the Western countries … up to the present time show that democracies have hardly reversed belligerent, turbulent, and crime-infested nanotocracies. The same goes for education in its present form, other panaceas against international wars, civil strifes, and crimes.

Since the tenth century … education has made enormous strides forward. … Yet the number and deadliness of wars, bloody revolutions, and grave crimes have not decreased at all. On the contrary, in this most scientific and most educated twentieth century, they have reached unrivaled heights and have made this century the bloodiest in the past twenty-five centuries of Graeco-Roman and Western history.

Similarly, the tremendous progress of knowledge and the domestication of all of all forms of physical energy has not given man any lasting peace. Rather, it has greatly increased his chances of being destroyed in all forms of interhuman conflicts.

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Mysterious Energy of Love”; a lecture by Sorokin given in 1959 at an undisclosed university.

 

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… none of the prevalent prescriptions against international and civil wars and other forms of interhuman bloody strife can eliminate or notably decrease these conflicts.

By these popular prescriptions I mean, first, elimination of wars and strife by political changes, especially by democratic political transformations. Tomorrow the whole world could become democratic and yet wars and bloody strife would not be eliminated because democracies happen to be no less belligerent and strife-infected than autocracies. Still less pacification can be expected from autocracies. Neither the United Nations nor a world government can give a lasting internal and international peace if the establishment of these bodies is not reinforced by notable altruization of persons, groups, institutions, and culture.

The same goes for education in its present form as a panacea against war and bloody strife. Tomorrow all grown-up persons in the world could become Ph.D.’s, and yet this enormous progress in education would not eliminate wars and bloody conflicts. Since the tenth century on up to the present, education has made enormous progress. The number of schools of all kinds, the percentage of literacy, the number of scientific discoveries and inventions have greatly and almost systematically increased, and yet the international wars, the bloody revolutions, and the grave forms of crime have not decreased at all. On the contrary, in the most scientific and most educated twentieth century, they have reached an unrivaled height and made this one the bloodiest of all the twenty­ five centuries of Graeco-Roman and European history.

The same goes for religious changes, if by religion is meant a purely ideological belief in God or in the credo of any of the great religions. One of the evidences for that is given by our investigation of 73 Boston converts “brought to Jesus” by two popular evangelical preachers. Of these 73 converts only one changed his overt behavior in an altruistic direction after his conversion. Thirty-seven converts slightly changed their speech reactions; after their conversion they began to repeat more frequently the words. “Our Lord Jesus Christ” and similar utterances, but their overt behavior did not change tangibly. The remaining converts changed neither their actions nor their speech reactions. If by religious revival and “moral rearmament” is meant this sort of ideological and speech-reactional transformation, it will not bring peace nor decrease interhuman strife, because it represents mainly a cheap self-gratification for psycho­neurotics and sham-religious persons.

The same goes for communist, socialist, or capitalist economic remedies, and for scientific, artistic, legal, or other ways of establishing and maintaining lasting peace in the human universe, when these are not backed by increased altruization of persons and groups. In my Reconstruction of Humanity (1948), I have given the minimum of evidence to substantiate these statements. This assumption positively signifies that without a notable increase of unselfish, creative love (as ideally formulated in the Sermon on the Mount) in overt behavior, in overt inter-individual and intergroup relationships, in social institutions and culture, there is no chance for a lasting peace and for interhuman harmony, internal or external. This, then, was our first assumption, already vindicated to a considerable degree by the existing body of inductive evidence. …

While many modern sociologists and psychologists view the phenomena of hatred, crime, and mental disorders as the legitimate objects of scientific study they quite illogically stigmatize as theological preaching or non-scientific metaphysics any investigation of the phenomena of love, friendship, heroic deeds and creative genius. There is no need to argue the patently unscientific nature of such an attitude. It is but one of the manifestations of the prevalent concentration on the negative, pathological, and subhuman phenomena which is typical for the disintegrating phase of our sensate culture.

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Scientific Search for Love,” Fellowship, April 1956

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      February 2022

 

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See also my post

a recorded Sorokin lecture

a recorded Sorokin lecture

 

 

Sorokin, “The Bard of Life” (Walt Whitman 1819-1892)

 

Sorokin, ‘Walt Whitman’

БАРД ЖИЗНИ

‘The Bard of Life’

 

Posted here (English and Russian texts above; also PDF of original text):

Pitirim A. Sorokin, “The Bard of Life (Walt Whitman 1819-1892)

Vseobshchiy Zhurnal [Universal Magazine] 2 (1912), 130-205

Translated from the Russian by Roger W. Smith.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

      February 2022

“the fact of stratification is universal”

 

Any organized social group is always a stratified social body. There has not been and does not exist any permanent social group which is “flat,” and in which all members are equal. Unstratified society, with a real equality of its members, is a myth which has never been realized in the history of mankind. …

Except, perhaps, the few cases where the members of a population are leading an isolated life, where no permanent social life and interaction exist, where, therefore, we do not have a social organization in the proper sense of the word, as soon as organization begins primitive social groups exhibit the trait of stratification. … Traditional opinion about primitive groups as communistic societies which do not have any commerce or private property, or economic inequality, or inheritance of fortune, are far from being correct. …

If we cannot find a non-stratified society among the most primitive groups, it is useless to try to find it among more advanced, larger and compound societies. Here, without any single exception, the fact of stratification is universal. … Among all agricultural and, especially, industrial societies social stratification has been conspicuous and clear. The modern democracies also do not present any exception to the rule. Though in their constitutions it is said that “all men are equal,” only a quite naive person may infer from this a non-existence of social stratification within these societies. It is enough to mention the gradations: from Henry Ford to a beggar; from the President of the United States to a policeman; from a foreman to the most subordinate worker; from the president of a university to a janitor; from an “LL.D.” or “Ph.D.” to a “B.A.”; from a “leading authority” to an average man; from a commander-in-chief of an army to a soldier; from a president of a board of directors of a corporation to its common laborer; from an editor-in-chief of a newspaper to a simple reporter; it is enough to mention these various ranks and social gradations to see that the best democracies have social stratification scarcely less than the non-democratic societies. …

Family, church, sect, political party, faction, business organization, gang of brigands, labor union, scientific society—in brief, any organized social group is stratified at the price of its permanency and organization. The organization even of groups of ardent levelers, and the permanent failure of all attempts to build a non-stratified group, testify to the imminency and unavoidability of stratification in an organized social group. This remark may appear somewhat strange to many people who, under the influence of high-sounding phraseology, may believe that, at least, the societies of the levelers themselves are non-stratified. This belief, as many another one, is utterly wrong. Different attempts to exterminate social feudalism have been successful, in the best cases, only in ameliorating some of the inequalities, and in changing the concrete forms of stratification. They have never succeeded in annihilating stratification itself. … all attempts of the most ardent levelers in the history of all countries have had the same fate. They could not avoid it even when the faction of the levelers has been victorious. The failure of the Russian Communism is only an additional example in a long series of similar experiments performed on small and large scale, sometimes peacefully, as in many religious sects, sometimes violently, as in social revolutions of the past and present. If many forms of stratification were destroyed for a moment, they regularly reappeared again in the old or in a modified form, often being built by the hands of the levelers themselves.

Present democracies and Socialist, Communist, Syndicalist, and other organizations, with their slogan of “equality” do not present any exception to the rule. In regard to democracies this has been shown above. … The enormous potential taste for inequality of numerous “levelers” becomes at once conspicuous, as soon, indeed, as they happen to be victorious. In such cases they often exhibit a greater cruelty and contempt toward the masses than former kings and rulers. This has been repeated regularly in victorious revolutions where the levelers become dictators. …

Social stratification is a permanent characteristic of any organized society.

Pitirim A. Sorokin, Social Mobility (1927). Chapter II

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

       January 2022

Sorokin, “Opinions are not the rules for actions.”

 

See my post

“Opinions are not the rules for actions.”

at

“Opinions are not the rules for actions.”

Roger W. Smith

Peter P. Sorokin

 

Peter Pitirimovich Sorokin obit – PNAS

Peter Pitirimovich Sorokin obit – Physics Today

re Peter P. Sorokin discoveries – NY Herald Tribune 12-15-1960 (2)

Peter P. Sorokin awarded patent for new laser – NY Times 4-25-1964 (2)

Peter Sorokin marriage – Los Angeles Times 12-4-1977 (2)

 

Peter P. Sorokin

 

The family of Sorokin and the careers of his two sons are of intrinsic interest to me.

I have posted here items re Sorokin’s oldest son, Peter P. Sorokin (1935-2015).  They are self-explanatory.

 

Roger W. Smith

a recorded Sorokin lecture

 

I have always wanted to hear a recording of Sorokin lecturing and what his voice sounded like. I recall reading somewhere that his pronunciation in English was atrocious — it was something that, despite his linguistic skills, he never became proficient at.

Now, thanks to the Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation, we have such a recording, available online at

This recording is from a Sorokin lecture entitled “The Mysterious Energy of Love” and is from an original tape that belonged to Sorokin. The recording is comprised of a fragment approximately ten minutes in length from the entire lecture, which was two and a half hours long.

The lecture was given in 1959 at an undisclosed university.

See transcript in my post

“The Mysterious Energy of Love”

“the mysterious energy of love”

 

— Roger W. Smith

Sorokin’s “The American Sex Revolution” now available in Italian translation

 

 

 

 

Just published:

Pitirim A. Sorokin

La rivoluzione sessuale americana

translated by Tommaso Allodi

introduction by Leonardo Allodi

paperback

Edizioni Cantagalli, 2021

“Sorokin always wanted to go back to Russia.”

 

“Sorokin always wanted to go back to Russia and be received again in his home university.* As time went on and he became successful in the U.S.A., this idea became more and more important to him. His hopes for that were particularly high after the death of Stalin. However, he mentioned a number of times that he would not dare return to Russia unless Khrushchev himself told him that it was all right and removed any danger from such a trip. He did send all his books and publications back to the library of his University — Leningrad. Nothing came of this in relation to forgiveness or elimination of the exile terms to himself. In 1958 we went together to West Germany to a meeting of the International Institut de Sociologie. After our week of formal meetings the German Universities arranged for all of us to have a week’s conduct tour together through East Germany to West Berlin and back to see the situations [sic] there. Sorokin did not at that time feel that he dared even cross over territory occupied by the Russians because the alternative to his banishment was death. I may have imaged these thoughts of Sorokin, but at least they have lived with me for some years.”

— Carle C. Zimmerman, Sorokin: The World’s Greatest Sociologist: His Life and Ideas on Social Time and Change (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: University of Saskatchewan, 1968), pg. 86

*Saint Petersburg Imperial University, now Saint Petersburg State University

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

“Another Russian Prophet.”

 

‘Another Russian Prophet’ – The Indianapolis Star 11-23-1923

 

Posted here, the following article about Sorokin:

Another Russian Prophet.

The Indianapolis Star

November 22, 1923

pg. 6

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

     November 2021

“What benefit does Russia derive from this Institute?” Tsar Nicholas II on the Psycho-Neurological Institute

 

A most interesting article has been posted on line and brought to my attention by its author:

“What benefit does Russia derive from this Institute?” Tsar Nicholas II on the Psycho-Neurological Institute: The last Emperor of Russia and Vladimir Bekhterev’s Psycho-Neurological Institute revolutionaries

by Federico Soldani

29th Oct 2021

https://psypolitics.org/2021/10/29/what-benefit-does-russia-derive-from-this-institute-tsar-nicholas-ii-on-the-psycho-neurological-institute-2021/

 

Sorokin was a student at the Psycho-Neurological Institute.

As Soldani notes: “The Institute offered medical training of the highest order, but its students’ revolutionary tendencies were becoming a concern for the government. In 1912, the mayor of Saint Petersburg had reported on political activity among the capital’s students. In margin of the section on the Psycho-Neurological Institute, Tsar Nicholas II had written, “What benefit does Russia derive from this Institute? I wish to have a well-founded answer”. In the spring of 1914 the minister of public education presented an additional report on the anti-governmental attitudes of Bekhterev’s students and recommended the Institute’s closure.”