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The Union of Sybaritic Stalinist Republicans: The New USSR: Lysenkoism, Lies, and Luxury

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Message Donald Unger

Nowhere is the Stalinist bent of the newly-Russophilic Republican Party more evident--or more chilling--than in its full-hearted commitment to Lysenkoism, one of the Soviet Union's early forays into science-denial.

This movement did not start with Donald Trump, but it has reached terrifying new heights in the first year of his administration, most notably in the furiously intensified war on the idea--on even the mention--of anthropogenic global climate change.

Trofim Lysenko directed the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, from the late 1920s until 1964. He and his followers viewed science through an ideological lens, arguing, among other things, that evolution worked not via Natural Selection but via Natural Cooperation, and that changes to an organism are passed down to its offspring.

That latter assertion is a version of Lamarckism, named after the 18th century French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who argued, among other things, that cutting off the tails of mice would lead them to produce tail-less offspring.

Lysenko's concept of Natural Cooperation fueled assertions that are better described as alchemy than biology: that rye could transmute into wheat, for example, or weeds into food grains.

It hardly needs to be said: This was not science.

Under the banner of Lysenkoism, Stalin purged over 3000 scientists; many went to prison; some were executed.

This was all done, of course, in service of denying the "inconvenient truths" of natural competition and inherent characteristics: heritability smacked of dynastic privilege and raised questions about human perfectibility; evolution based on competition ran counter to the state dogma of cooperation.

And therefore?

They could not be "permitted to be true."

The Stalinist War on Science decimated the fields of agronomy, biology, genetics, neurophysiology, and many others, for more than a quarter-century, arguably leading to the starvation of millions of people.

Stalinism rested not just on lies but on an unrelenting War on Truth, which pervaded large parts of Soviet society; whatever the underlying reality, citizens of the Soviet Union were always rising to ever-greater heights: with equality, employment, housing, food, healthcare, and education for all; with an ever-rising standard of living; in a system based on a level of justice and humanity that was "the envy of the rest of the world."

Except . . . some citizens were more equal than other citizens.

For vast swaths of the Proletariat, buttressed by Lysenkoism, Stalin did Marie-Antoinette one better: "Let them eat weeds!"

Meanwhile, the Nomenklatura--the party loyalists who staffed the state bureaucracies, effectively the ruling class of the USSR and, later, the Warsaw Pact nations--ate caviar, and enjoyed vacation dachas and the equivalent of private travel at state expense, among other perks. These privileges were heritable: Their children also enjoyed elite educations, higher quality healthcare, and substantial immunity from "burdensome regulations."

Things did not end well for the Soviet Union.

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New York City-born, and a longtime resident of central Massachusetts, Don Unger writes about issues related to politics, culture, gender, and the environment. His book ├ éČ┼"Men Can: The Changing Image & Reality of Fatherhood in America├ éČ Ł was (more...)
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The Union of Sybaritic Stalinist Republicans: The New USSR: Lysenkoism, Lies, and Luxury

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