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Conflict on the Historical Front

  • John Barber
Part of the Studies in Soviet History and Society book series (SSHS)

Abstract

By 1931, academic debates between Marxist historians had degenerated into bitter polemics. While their exchanges possessed some genuine intellectual content, this was increasingly overlaid with accusations of political deviance and ideological heresy, as empty as they were vehement. Disputes were no longer only theoretical. As groups and individuals manoeuvred for positions of influence, they sought support from outside the intellectual world. Pokrovsky’s school set the tone of the conflict. Like RAPP in literature or Deborin’s group in philosophy, it aspired to be the party’s voice in the field of history. Hence the industry with which its members attempted to defend or establish orthodox historical interpretations. And its organisational strength made it easily the leading claimant to the role. But there were obstacles in its path. In the first place, the value of one of Pokrovsky’s main assets, that for two decades he had been acknowledged the foremost Russian Marxist historian, was more apparent than real in the changing conditions of the late 1920s and early 1930s. The growing obsession with Leninist orthodoxy made even a long association with Lenin less important than absolute faithfulness to his teachings—or to those emphasised at the time. Here Pokrovsky was at something of a disadvantage. As a historian, he was in no direct sense a pupil of Lenin.

Keywords

Central Committee Historical World Direct Sense Soviet Philosophy Soviet Historian 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 9.
    Quoted in Sokolov, ‘Ob istoricheskikh vzglyadakh M. N. Pokrovskogo’, Kommunist, no. 4, 1962, p. 77.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Quoted in B. M. Leibzon, Leninskoe uchenie o partii i sovremennoe kommunisticheskoe dvizhenie (Moscow, 1963 ) p. 102.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Doroshenko, ‘Ozbrazovanie i osnovnye etapy deyatel’nosti obshchestva istorikov-marksistov (1925–1932 gg.)’, Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta, seriya IX (Istoriya), no. 3, 1966, p. 20.Google Scholar
  4. See A. M. Deborin (ed.), Na boevom postu: sbornik k shestidesyatiletiyu D. B. Ryazanova (Moscow, 1930).Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, paperback edn (London, 1967) pp. 250–1.Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    Em. Yaroslaysky, ‘O tret’ei sile v period proletarskoi revolyutsii i pro letarskoi diktatury’, PR, no. 1, 1931, pp. 28, 31.Google Scholar
  7. 38.
    A. Sidorov, who around 1930 fell out with Pokrovsky and as a result left Moscow to do political work in Nizhnii Novgorod, explicitly states that Pokrovsky escaped severe criticism because ‘J. V. Stalin supported him’. A. L. Sidorov, ‘Nekotorye razmyshleniya o trude i opyte istorika’, Istoriya SSSR, no. 3, 1964, p. 136.Google Scholar
  8. 42.
    A. I. Stetsky, ‘O Komakademii i nauchnoi rabote’, VKA, no. 2–3, 1931, p. 16.Google Scholar
  9. 43.
    M. Mitin, ‘Neposredstvennye zadachi raboty na filosofskom fronte v svyazi s itogami diskussii’, VKA, no. 5–6, 1931, p. 50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Barber 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Barber

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