Copyright © 1998 by TL
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Lysenko is "accused" of holding genetics back in the Soviet Union. Well: what did he actually hold back? A science that has gotten good at identifying genes, or explaining old farm methods "in a genetic manner" but that can't, to-date, even give us a blue rose or one helpful thing that they have been promising since Vavilov's time? Analogy: geneticists can tag and identify every letter on this typewriter, but they can't type out one single word! Lysenko held back people who wanted to get almost mystically dizzy about "genetics." See Marsh's paper for details on genetics. During the war, with Nazis destroying everything in their wake, these theoretical laboratory monks played with fruit flies. Is it any wonder that Lysenko denounced them as "fly lovers?" Geneticists have not even grasped just how heredity works, they all miss something despite their categorizing and cataloguing genes. E.g., there are some plants (e.g. tropical grasses like sugar cane) that have reached a "quantum leap" in photosynthetic production. They have a separate and superior system of photosynthesis known technically as the C4 system (the "C" standing for carbon) - these plants have a way of protecting their products from being oxidized, whereas other plants lose much of what they produce through oxidation. If geneticists could produce something like this - then they'd have done something. All they can do is theorize and maybe identify what is going on, "tag things" in the plant, and then claim credit for it when they had nothing to do with the plant's ability to do this nor with the practical breeders who bred such plants. That system of photosynthesis evolved somewhere and somehow. No one tinkered with the genes of the plants. If these fools listened to what Lysenko said and understood it when he did theorize, they'd know that if they could figure out just what forced these plants to evolve this way they might be able to "break the heredity" of other plants and possibly make them evolve also, in a direction they want them to evolve based on the same kind of ENVIRONMENTAL stress (NOT gene tinkering in a lab devoid of environment) that causes everything to evolve. That is what Lysenko was talking about: the environment, the environment of supreme stress - stress enough to "break heredity" and make the next generation of organism come out unlike the previous! That's also how evolution works. See Marsh's text. This is not Lamarckian at all and to use "Lamarckism" as a critique is so patently WRONG it's not even worth being called a critique. Lecourt (Proletarian Science) clearly pointed it out, unfortunately in a footnote; Raissa L. Berg in her hyper-polemical book "Acquired Traits," and who was a Lamarckian amidst many in the USSR at the time, makes it more than perfectly clear that the Lysenkoites were HARD BOILED Darwinians and utterly ANTI Lamarckian; and Phil Marsh has explained this in full in his text. Yes, Lysenko used the phrase (after Stalin insisted on it) but I can use the phrase "inheritance of acquired traits" to mean "the way you have inherited your peculiar behavioral eating habits due to how your Victorian parents raised you..." The phrase would mean something like this to any non-scientist and any scientist could use it in such a way if he had to. It could also be used to mean strict genetic inheritance since no one is specifying "where" or "how" the traits got acquired. You can acquire genes from parents just as you can acquire inheritance (i.e., the family estate and money)! This is a semantic problem, not a scientific one! These people have made this entire history into a war between Vavilov and Lysenko when it was not this at all. Nor is it any matter of politicking pro or con Stalin. To eat or not to eat: that was Lysenko's concern. It is others who have made an issue of this: a fantastic drama of their own invention; others who have connected Lysenko to Vavilov. Nothing happened to others who criticized Lysenko and ONLY did that without the other non-Lysenko-related suspicious activity. Lysenko also wrote theory on evolution, heredity, and environment. Loren Graham is playing the blind man when he fails to see why Western pro-racists recognize this when they call the UNESCO program, e.g., or the Boas anthropological school, "Lysenko-ist," or any other anti-racist opponents. These so-called "Lysenko-ite" schools are in direct conflict with would-be geneticists such as Shockley and Rushton, outright racists! Same old conflict. And just what did the first Lysenko-ites claim about all this genetic hogwash? That it lent itself to racist theory? The 1990's has proven them to be right on target with all the racist literature out there using genetics to back it up right now, available to read. The gene was not a proven fact and even today, what one can see of the "gene" is fuzzy under a microscope. What "genetic theory" consisted of, during the 1930's when Lysenko and others were against the gene as the sole explanatory mechanism for heredity, can be seen clearly right "next door" to the USSR: Nazi Germany. Genetic theory of this type, normal for that time period, was the central dogma of Nazi theory. The Nazis didn't invent this, nor did Hitler. Such "crack-pot" views were born in Anglo America and England and they were not considered the theories of crackpots, but of respected university professors! Lysenko, in speeches and in writing, was highly aware of Goebbles' Ministry of Propaganda and of how this theory of heredity was used in the USA against those of African decent to justify slavery, by the British to justify colonization of non-whites. The Nazis considered the Slavic people and others to be sub-human. The well-known Nazi plan for the Slavs and others was to invade their area, colonize them after exterminating the more rebellious elements and then rule over them like masters. Every German child was taught this in school; this is well documented. Shockley, e.g., would claim to be a kindly, humanitarian eugenicist when he offers to sterilize people with lower IQ's while he manages to show statistics to "prove" that blacks have, on average, lower IQ's! Yet he doesn't advocate inviting Chinese here to intermarry with whites to RAISE the white IQ when his colleagues show that Chinese average IQ scores are higher than white ones! He never manages to produce other data, as do S. and H. Rose, which show other conclusions from other samples. People who attacked Shockley for his rubbish were called Lysenkoites: this was 1960's-1970's USA. Lysenko never said he didn't believe genes existed and he even addressed this charge against him specifically; he was countering the THEORIES ABOUT genes that were well-known and rampant during those days. This "common" view is so ingrained in American culture that I personally have run into otherwise very nice and friendly white Christians that think that the very recent behavior of African Americans in inner cities is due to the "nature of their breed!" They don't realize that, not too long ago, their kind believed that the "nature of blacks" was to be docile, tolerant, friendly and timid! Somehow, it never occurs to these "very nice white Christians" that social factors had a thing to do with the recent inner city behavior, not to mention the drugs dumped into such neighborhoods! It is interesting to note (if you have the guts to note it) that the Anglo Christians succeeded in doing to the Amerinds and Africans exactly what Hitler wanted to do to the Jews and Slavs when they SETTLED in America, wiped out the indigenous people and dragged blacks here to build the country by using them as if they were cattle! That is exactly what the Nazis wanted to do in the vast lands of the USSR and this is widely known, "the norm" of German thinking, and any Communist would have known this back then. This, in terms of SOCIETY AND BEHAVIOR, was what "genetic thinking" amounted to! One must take things into the time period and KNOW JUST WHAT the Lysenkoites and Marxists were battling against. What I would have done with investigating scientists chosen and approved of by Lysenko, if I were Lavrenty Beria, the Head of the whole NKVD: I'd not only have let them look at Vavilov's work, but I'd have given them something Lysenko wrote and put Vavilov's name on it. I'd have rewritten the non-scientific portions in my own writing style to disguise the style itself. Then I'd have let them evaluate that. Also, I would have had secretly, and in isolation from each other, chosen scientists that hated Lysenko and, if possible, I would have picked them from a group that didn't know about the intrigues. Then I'd have had something written by Vavilov that was not well-known and I'd have taken that and rewritten the non-scientific portions in my own writing style just to disguise the style itself. Then I'd have put Lysenko's name on it as if he was its author. Then I'd have asked his enemies to review it and comment on it. Now, do I think Beria did this? I think it is highly probable that he did because he was cunning, smart, "the best." These genetics advocates who had done not one deed for agriculture in terms of practical things, were putting down and defaming the man who gave the Soviet people the food that Lewontin's unbiased statistics show that he gave. They insisted, even after the war, on believing that Lysenko was responsible for Vavilov's death when that 1931 NKVD file proves the opposite. They insist on believing the rubbish today. They have tried to make Trofim Lysenko into a Red Devil. Fine! It's better than being the fools that Vavilov and his would-be defenders are. Lysenko fed people. Vavilov fed no one except the rats that ate his stored up samples of seeds during the siege of Leningrad. "Keep Smiling" Western style. That was what Popovsky said Vavilov did. In an odd quirk of Fate or Fortune, when Vavilov's idolaters sought to have a bust of him made to put on a mass grave he was buried in, the statue came out looking nothing like Vavilov - but it had a big smile on its face. Mockery! There are many that may think this is all so cruel on my part. Is that an understatement? Ha! If you can't take it, then stop dishing it out. (Don't go looking for food in Hell's Kitchen... you might get burned.) Additional facts to consider when trying to see if Lysenko had "higher-up connections" and/or NKVD connections. He WAS a higher up, himself! Also: In 1942, Trofim Lysenko was called upon to be on the "Soviet Commission on Nazi Crimes in Russia" (Current Biography, 1952). In this capacity, he'd have HAD to have been cooperating with the NKVD and Beria. >From Krementsov: 1935: Lysenko was a member of the Ukrainian Central Executive Committee. 1936: Lysenko was a member of the All-Union Central Executive Committee of the USSR Soviet of People's Deputies and was a delegate to the Eighth Congress of Soviets which adopted the new Constitution (Stalin's Constitution). 1938: Lysenko became a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet. He was a Deputy Head of the Soviet of the Union, the highest legislative agency of the USSR. And from Soyfer: 1936: Lysenko participated in the work of the Extraordinary Eighth Congress of Soviets and was a member of the editorial commission that drafted the final text of the "Stalin Constitution." 1937: Lysenko became a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet. 1938: Lysenko was appointed Vice-Chairman of one of the Supreme Soviet's two chambers, the Council of the Union. Thus: Lysenko held nominal rank higher than Stalin himself for Stalin was a member only of the executive body, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, which had no legislative power. When the Supreme Soviet met in the Great Kremlin Palace, there were three levels of platforms. On the lowest were seated the Party and governmental leaders, including Stalin; the rostrum for speakers was positioned a little higher; and at the very summit were the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the two legislative chambers. Thus, Lysenko for many years, sat in the Kremlin above Stalin. As vice-chairman of the Council of the Union, Lysenko presided at meetings that had nothing to do with science or agriculture but did extend Soviet repression (Soyfer's subjective word for "influence") in other directions. In the steady stream of front-page photographs of the Supreme Soviet, every citizen of the country could see Lysenko, seated, standing, applauding, but always towering above Stalin, Molotov, Beria, Voroshilov, Khrushchev, or Vyshinsky. There was no higher place of honor. Lysenko also took an active part in the meetings of the Party Central Committee and at Party congresses. (This rather puts a hole in the theory that Stalin was a dictator! What this means is that the Kremlin's seating arrangement had 3 tiers, each higher than the first as in a football stadium, and Lysenko was on the 3rd or top tier while Stalin and others were in the front row or bottom tier. That could be called the lowest tier but it's still the front row.)
Additional reading material on these issues: Conway Zirkle is actually the first one with a book in English, but his book is so poor and so filled with errors that it's not even worth mentioning as being against Lysenko. He even went so far as to deliberately change a technical botanical fact, the color of a plant, in Lysenko's text in order to make it come out nonsense. His book is so filled with paranoid fantasies about who is or is not a Marxist that it's not worth reading, even if you want "dirt" against Lysenko. The Rise and Fall of T.D. Lysenko: Zhores Medvedev (Anti-Lysenko) The Lysenko Affair: David Joravsky (Anti-Lysenko) The Vavilov Affair: Mark Popovsky (Anti-Lysenko) Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science: Valery Soyfer (Anti-Lysenko) Lysenko Is Right: James Fyfe, 1950. Full details written by a botanist who had accurate facts. Excellent. Stalinist Science: Nikolai Krementsov, 1997, with much newly released archival material. Oddly, this book doesn't even mention NKVD Major Stepan Shundenko and the rest of the people directly involved with him. Odd since NKVD Major Shundenko was put in charge of an investigation of Vavilov and ended up working directly under Vavilov in the same building as Lysenko! Nor does this book mention the Shlykov letter to the NKVD which Soyfer reproduces in his book! He does mention that Vavilov was writing letters and giving information to the British geneticists, including Darlington (Darlington had the view that human races are separate species) and that Vavilov did this right in the middle of the war when Britain was the enemy and Germany was a temporary ally of the USSR. Archival material he presents also clearly shows that it was not Lysenko or Lysenkoites who tried to involve the top party bosses: it was the geneticists! The geneticists demanded governmental intervention! Well? They got it! Also is shown that while the geneticists did laboratory work with "useless things" (fruitflies, butterflies) the Lysenko group did practical work with things like tomatoes, beets and wheat: things people ate. While the geneticists worked in laboratories, the Lysenkoites worked on the actual collective farms with real food-stuffs. The same Shlykov, after WWII, sent a foreign American agricultural expert a couple of years old research samples of alfalfa. Shlykov wrote a letter to the American promising to send more researched seeds of great value in the USSR. At this time, Shlykov was the Director of the All Union Institute of plant-growing research. He was caught before he could send what he promised and sentenced to a term in a labor camp in Khazakhstan, charged with subversion and counter-revolutionary activity. No one was immune from breaking the law: the NKVD was GOOD AT CATCHING people! It didn't matter if Shlykov was once a friend or still a friend of NKVD Major Shundenko; none of that mattered. The Radicalisation of Science, Edited by H. Rose and S. Rose: Chapter Two: "The Problem of Lysenkoism" by Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins: for the real statistics and the real growth in agriculture with Lysenko at the helm with the situation regarding planting and Soviet environment fully explained. Not pro or con, just an objective expose in short. Race, Intelligence, and Bias in Academe: Roger Pearson. (The genetic view in simple terms and views against Lysenkoites in the USA.) Political Economy in Science: by S. and H. Rose, Chapter 7, "Scientific Racism and Ideology: The IQ Racket from Galton to Jenson." Contrast the above Pearson rubbish to this one chapter. Guess what they call the Roses who present the missing facts left out by the liars with their racist agendas? They call them Lysenko-ites! Nothing has changed. The Nazi Primer: Official Handbook for Schooling the Hitler Youth; N.Y., Harper and Brothers, 1938. If not able to obtain the first then: Education in the Third Reich: Race and History in Nazi Textbooks, Albany: State University of N.Y. Press, 1985. Hitler's Willing Executioners: D. J. Goldhagen, for an in-depth view of what the "genetic theory outlook" can produce in a society where people become like madmen and the NORM is to have an hallucinatory world view. The extreme genetic view is to completely dismiss culture as irrelevant to the "type of character" various humans have. This view even excludes prenatal care or nutrition, something fundamental to the still-growing brain of a child after he/she is born. (It is odd that such people never get statistics on the numbers of Down's Syndrome people born and check to see which population group has the most of them!) Reading this book and fully understanding it is a MUST if anyone wishes to grasp why so many others are against the "genetic theory of heredity." This theory has nothing to do with DNA, strictly speaking. It is the theory that "all you are" is solely genetic, your likes, dislikes, your behavior, your temperament - ALL YOU ARE. It utterly denies the effects of environmental factors which includes cultural factors. The book is not about Hitler or about Nazis. It is about ordinary German, Christian people with this genetic world-view. Lysenko, Views of Nature and Society: Haresh Kirpalani, unpublished manuscript. Anti-Lysenko in the political sense but pro-Stalin and anti-Khrushchev, but this lacks much of the information needed to form a clearer picture, i.e. that Lysenko was not anti-Stalin at all and that Stalin did, indeed, back him for obvious practical reasons. This manuscript clearly shows that this issue of "bourgeois versus proletarian science" or environment versus genetics, or nurture versus nature, was not an issue of Western versus Soviet science by showing the Western people's scientific work which is at odds with the hard genetic line. In this sense, the Kirpalani book is pro-Lysenko and shows where Lysenko's scientific views were correct. Race and Human Evolution: Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari, 1997. Mentions the "Lysenkist" view as being the environmentalist view. This book shows the same argument carried over into the field of paleoanthropology, with the geneticists as the adversaries, the subject being human evolution! The book also shows where geneticists make false claims against Wolpoff's multiregional view of evolution by trying to slander it as "polygenetic," which oddly used to be the genetic view! The Mismeasure of Man; Expanded, Revised Edition: Stephen J. Gould. The same argument with Gould going up against the geneticists and their racist arguments! It is clear to all who have studied this subject in its widest forms that the genetics group has a definite political agenda. First it was used to support colonization of non-whites; next it was used to prove white superiority and carried to extremes by Nazis and RESPECTABLE professors in USA UNIVERSITIES. Now, these same geneticists would back track, call their own past views the "crackpot views of cranks" and try to adopt a politically correct line: but it is still clear that it is THEY who have used politics in their science - NOT THE OTHER SIDE! THEY who demanded Stalin and the Polit Bureau get involved regarding Lysenko, and it backfired! The way the geneticists make it sound, it comes out vice versa. It is always the other side that looks at data and lets data tell them about life. Geneticists come up with theories, they make declarations and then always have to revise what they say, even going so far as to take credit for ancient practices by explaining them in a "genetic manner." And true to form, the most extreme of the genetics fans would call someone like Gould a Lysenkoite!Scroll ahead to next segment
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