Henry Noble MacCracken, “Russia of To-day”

 

Henry Noble MacCracken, ‘Russia of To-day’ – NY Evening Post 5-5-1923

Henry Noble MacCracken, ‘Russia of To-day’ – The Literary Review 5-5-1923

 

Posted here (above) as a PDF and Word document is the complete text of following article:

“Russia of To-day”

By Henry Noble MacCracken

The Literary Review, New York Evening Post

Vol. 3, No. 35

May 5, 1923

pp. 657, 658, 665

The article reviews a recent “pamphlet” (so termed by MacCracken; actually a short book) of Sorokin’s that he published in Prague:

“современное состояние России” (sovremennoye sostoyaniye Rossii;  The Present State of Russia)

By Pitirim Sorokin

Prague, 1922 (MacCracken gives the wrong year of publication, 1923)

MacCracken writes:

“The psychology of the refugee” is the phrase with which most European observers of to-day are apt to dismiss any report written by an exile of this home land. There is much that is just in the observation. It is inevitable that the refugee should, in order to justify himself for leaving his home land, exaggerate the abnormalities of home conditions, the cruelty of his enemies, and the need of foreign aid and intervention. It is natural also that the refugee should stress the circumstances which passed under his immediate observation, and should generalize from insufficient data of the universal conditions. The precariousness of his own means of existence, the characteristics of dependency, well known to social workers, all influence his judgement and his interpretation of facts.

It is true that most books about Russia bear marks of the refugee psychology. They all, or nearly all, tell the same story. In contrast with the present conditions, the previous condition of Russia is treated as idyllic, and in most of the books at least the deplorable conditions of the present are attributed to the active ill will and viciousness of a small group of people, instead of to unsound political and economic doctrine, and the inevitable conditions of war.

As a result, scarcely any really trustworthy accounts of conditions in Russia to-day can be found. It is quite out of the question to expect that an American observer, however familiar with Russia he might have been in the past, could get a really wide and impartial view of Russian conditions, or that, seeing them, he could really interpret them. Those residents of Russia who might give such a picture are prohibited from writing by the Soviet Government. Whatever else the Bolshevists may have to reproach the capitalistic governments with, at least they cannot claim superiority in the matter of freedom of speech.

It is therefore a wholly exceptional opportunity which is presented in the recent pamphlet of Pitirim Sorokin. Exiled last autumn from his professorship of sociology at Petrograd University, Sorokin brought with him [to Czechoslovakia] official data concerning conditions in Russia, and in the course of a few days wrote at white heat his pamphlet, which was published in the first week of January of this year. After extended conversations with him in Prague in December, he gave me an advance copy of his work, with permission to use extracts from it in any way.

Henry Noble MacCracken (1880–1970) was president of Vassar College from 1915 to 1946. He and Sorokin were lifelong friends. MacCracken first met Sorokin during a trip to Czechoslovakia in late 1922. He invited Sorokin, upon Sorokin’s coming to the USA, to visit Vassar College, where Sorokin had a pleasant stay before going to the Midwest to deliver lectures on the Russian Revolution.

 

— transcription of article by Roger W. Smith

     posted April 2019

Sorokin working in his azalea garden

 

Sorokin working in his azalea garden - Boston Sunday Globe 5-23-1954

This photo of Sorokin in the yard of his Winchester, Massachusetts home appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe of May 23, 1954 under the headline “Winchester Hillside Aglow With Azaleas, Grown by Harvard Professor.”

 

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See also my post

“Pitirim A. Sorokin residence”

Pitrim A. Sorokin residence

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     April 2, 2019

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

 

See the comments posted below. They clear up some items (factual matters and questions) in my original post.

 

Sorokin, ‘Darkness, Despair, Death Grip Russian Educators’

Posted here as a Word document is my transcription of an article by Sorokin:

pg. A2

 

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How this article got published in the USA, or who delivered it, is not known. When it was published, in December 1922, Sorokin was in Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to the USA in November 1923 (not October, as biographies of Sorokin incorrectly state).

— transcribed and posted by Roger W. Smith

     March 2019

 

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A PDF file is below.

Sorokin, ‘Darkness, Despair, Death Grip Russian Educators’ – NY Tribune 12-10-1922

another rare Sorokin photo (1924)

 

Sorokin 1924

 

Early photos of Sorokin are a rarity — particularly, it seems, photos of Sorokin the emigré newly arrived in the USA.

This photo is from the front page of the Minneapolis Daily Star of July 30, 1924.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     March 2019

a fervent anti-communist

 

«Мы участвовали, участвуем и будем участвовать в борьбе с коммунистической бандой».

— Сорокин Питирим. Третье письмо другу // Борьба за Россию / La Lutte pour la Russie (Париж). 1929. 9 февраля. №116. С.2–5

 

“We have participated, are participating and will participate in the fight against the communist gang.”

— Pitirim Sorokin. The third letter to a friend // Fight for Russia (Paris). 1929. February 9. №116. pp. 2-5

 

quoted in

Дойков, Юрий

Питирим Сорокин. Миннеаполис. Миннесота. 1924–1930

Архангельск, 2009

стр. 113

 

Yuri Doykov

Pitirim Sorokin: Minneapolis. Minnesota, 1924–1930

Arkhangelsk, 2009

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      March 2019

another Sorokin quote… ““I would rather have a man of common sense”

 

“I would rather have a man of common sense from the street as a ruler than a high brow social scientist.”

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, quoted in The Hammond Times (Hammond, Indiana), December 30, 1935, pg. 1

 

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Sorokin had a way of making headlines with pungent remarks that showed him to be the eternal gadfly. He often came off as the high-handed scholar showing off his erudition and scorning his contemporaries — he was not infrequently given to writing pompously — while, at the same time, he prided himself on his scorn of academic pomposity and intellectual sterility and his identification with common humanity.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     March 2019

a Sorokin quote

 

“Utopia you cannot make in a day. Russian tried to butter the bread of everyone and found it spread too thin to suit the taste of the people.”

— Pitirim A. Sorokin; quoted in Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, April 8, 1943, pg. 4

 

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Sorokin was indeed quotable.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     March 2018

a rare Sorokin photograph

 

imageedit_3_6597285211

Minnesota Alumni Weekly, May 4, 1929, pg. 540.jpg

 

Photos of Sorokin during his early academic career are rare.

Here is an item from the Minnesota Alumni Weekly of May 4, 1929 (“Faculty Books,” pg. 540) noting the publication of Sorokin’s Social Mobility. Sorokin was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota at that time.

The photo caption reads: “…. he told us, very proudly, that he is in the process of becoming an American citizen, and he would soon be able to file for his second papers.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     March 2019

“Men cannot be treated like mice and guinea pigs.”

 

Before accepting a position in the sociology department at the University of Minnesota, Pitirim A. Sorokin was a guest of Vassar College, where he gave lectures.

The following article appeared in the Vassar Miscellany News, March 18, 1931: “Scintillating Selz Sends in Successful Solutions”

The article noted that Katherine Selz ’31 was the winner of the college’s Chat Current Events contest.

The prize-winning answers included the following:

 

“Who said:

Q. ‘Men cannot be treated like mice and guinea pigs’?

A. Mr. Sorokin”

 

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This squib provides a revealing glimpse of Sorokin: the provocative lecturer and a sociologist who was firmly against what he called quantophrenia. And insight into what was Sorokin’s humanistic conception of sociology.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      March 2019

“a mysterious mixture of crackpot and genius”

 

“Harvard’s Pitirim Sorokin, 66, a Russian artisan’s son who became the first professor of sociology at the University of St. Petersburg and later at Harvard. Brash, brilliant young Sorokin ran away from his father at the age of nine (“My father was good man, except when he was drunk”), managed to get himself enough education to enter the University of St. Petersburg. A social revolutionary, he was arrested three times by the Czarist police, served as one of Kerensky’s secretaries, was later arrested three more times by the Communists. Exiled in 1922, he soon came to the U.S., and with the publication of his monumental Social and Cultural Dynamics, a study of the fluctuations of “sensate” and “ideational” cultures, he set the academic world to wondering whether it had found a new Spengler. Today, a mysterious mixture of crackpot and genius, Pitirim Sorokin has his colleagues wondering still.”

— ‘Goodbye, Messrs. Chips,” Time, June 27, 1955, pp. 59-60

 

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Time magazine, it should be noted, was known and often parodied for its glib, snarky style.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

     February 2019