first posted 981221
minor clerical change 001216

T. D. Lysenko -- Persecutor or Victim? (3/4)


Copyright 1998 by TL
Posted by permission of TL

Scroll back to end of previous segment

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

"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
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
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

The Lysenko Affair:  David Joravsky   (Anti-Lysenko)

The Vavilov Affair:  Mark Popovsky  (Anti-Lysenko)

Lysenko  and  the  Tragedy  of  Soviet  Science:   Valery  Soyfer

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

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

Return to main Lysenko page.

Return to CSU charter page.