Saturday, May 7, 2022

Repression of Sociology in Russia Sure Sign of New Onset of Totalitarianism, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 26 – Perhaps the best indicator that Russia under Vladimir Putin is entering a new era of totalitarianism is his sweeping crackdown on sociology, a move that reflects his anger at any source of information which challenges his preferred image of the country and the fact that “sociology is impossible in a totalitarian society,” Igor Yakovenko says.

            The Moscow commentator says that even if there are people who call themselves sociologists, the true practice of their discipline is impossible not only because the regime won’t allow them to report facts it doesn’t want to face but also because people resist offering their real views (

            That is because as a result of the efforts of the state, the population has been transformed into totalitarian personalities who respond as the regime would like not only because of fear of punishment or desire for preferment but also because they have been forced to adopt a worldview that is at odds with reality.

            And it is the success of the regime in doing that, Yakovenko says, that is just as great a factor in the onset of totalitarianism as the use of force and propaganda by the state. He draws that conclusion on the basis of an examination of the suppression of sociology in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and the results of the Harvard study of Soviet emigres after World War II.

            On the one hand, he writes, “the fate of sociology was if anything more tragic than the fate of genetics and cybernetics” because any real sociology would challenge the communist myth. And on the other, as the Harvard study showed, the Soviet population itself had become totalitarian and expressed views accordingly.

            After a brief flowering of sociology and freedom between 1988 and 2003, both the Putinist state and the increasingly totalitarian attitudes of the population have set the stage for what Yakovenko calls “the new pogrom of sociology” that is now taking place. So far, that process has been largely bloodless but there is no guarantee it will remain so.

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