“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.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

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

prefaces, Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Social and Cultural Dynamics” (1937-1941)

 

 

preface – volume 1

 

 

preface – volume 2

 

 

preface – volume 3

 

 

preface – volume 4

 

 

 

The full text of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s magnum opus, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941), is hard to come by nowadays, except perhaps in a library.

I have transcribed and am posting here (downloadable Word documents above) the text of the four separate prefaces to Volumes One through Four of the Dynamics. They make for very interesting and informative reading — including, and importantly, Sorokin’s conception of sociology and his philosophy of history.

Here’s a typical,stirring passage from the preface to Volume One:

 

This work has grown out of my efforts to understand something of what has been happening in the social and cultural world about me. I am not ashamed to confess that the World War and most of what took place after it were bewildering to one who, in conformity with the dominant currents of social thought of the earlier twentieth century, had believed in progress, revolution, socialism, democracy, scientific positivism, and many other” isms” of the same sort. For good or ill, I fought for these values and paid the penalty. I expected the progress of peace but not of war; the bloodless reconstruction of society but not bloody revolutions; humanitarianism in nobler guise but not mass murders; an even finer form of democracy but not autocratic dictatorships; the advance of science but not of propaganda and authoritarian dicta in lieu of truth; the many-sided improvement of man but not his relapse into barbarism. The war was the first blow to these conceptions. The grim realities of the Russian Revolution provided the second. If anybody had seriously predicted in 1913 a small fraction of what has actually taken place since, he would have been branded then as mad. And yet what then appeared to be absolutely impossible has indeed happened.

 

The supple and vigorous, often eloquent — sometimes grandiose — Sorokin-ian style is on full display here.

 

 

— 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 on The Living Church of Russia (Живая Церковь), Christian Advocate, 1923

 

 

‘The Living Church of Russia’ – The Christian Advocate 11-15-1923

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Does the Church of Russia Present a Religious Opportunity’ – Christian Advocate

 

 

The Living Church of Russia – Wikipedia

 

 

The attached downloadable Word documents (above) are self-explanatory.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   April 2020

Sorokin on human emotions in a time of plague

 

 

That bubonic plague, typhus, fever, influenza, smallpox, and other serious diseases alter the sensations, emotions, and feelings of their victims need not be demonstrated. The general characteristic of the change induced by all these diseases is the pain, fear of death, delirium, and sense of weakness experienced by the victim. Apart from this common trait, each of the main epidemics discloses its own pattern of transformation of the victim’s sensations, feelings, and emotions. For our purposes it is unnecessary to characterize the specific changes produced by each of these diseases. It suffices to say that all the important pestilences profoundly transform the emotional and affective life of the patient. This transformation is due nor only to the biological forces of the sickness itself but also to the profound change in the social relationships of the victim. He suddenly finds himself isolated from almost all his fellow men, often even the members of his family. His condition plunges him into a sort of social vacuum. Hundreds of persons with whom he was linked by the ties of friendship and attachment, business, and common interests now try to avoid him. The victim is in the position of a spider whose web has been torn asunder. The former subject–or active participant in social life–is turned into a helpless object, avoided, forsaken, and repellent. He ceases to form a part of society. Socially he is already dead though he is still alive biologically.

 

Regardless of the biological factors, this abrupt psychosocial lonesomeness, this social death, is alone sufficient to create the profoundest change in the victim’s affective and emotional life. Even gradual psychosocial isolation alters the whole mental life of persons so profoundly that often it drives people to commit suicide. As a matter of fact, psychosocial isolation is the primary cause of so-called “egotistic” suicide. Vastly more profound is the change created by the psychosocial isolation due to pestilence. It comes abruptly; it isolates the victim suddenly. It effects a thoroughgoing revolution in the mental life of the victim.

 

Pestilence affects also the emotional life of all those who are in contact with the sick. Their emotional tone is also profoundly disturbed. Anxiety, sorrow, and fear, sympathy for the sick and egoistic concern for their own safety, hope and despair, mounting depression alternating with outursts of macabre exhilaration, irritability, and fatalistic resignation, emotional excitation and dullness, a reckless “devil may care” attitude and intense religiosity–these and similar waves of emotion sweep over the society ravaged by a pestilence. As in famine, its emotional life becomes unstable, jumpy, and uneven, subject to contrasting moods and violent changes. This instability and these contrasting emotional changes are probably the most important characteristics of such a society from the sociological standpoint.

 

 

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, Man and Society in Calamity (1942)

 
posted by Roger W. Smith, April 2020

 

I wish to thank Valery E. Sharapov for calling my attention to this passage.