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Re: [xmca] "The psyche of proletarian children" and language and thought
Steve , thank you for your remarks.
I agree that the experience of Soviet Union had its merits and problematic
aspects and is a quite difficult process and contradictory one in many
Specifically, as regards, the fields like culture and science, the
same...merits and problematic handling, interventions etc..
In my opinion, politics, political plan, had its useful effects as well as
its somehow problematic influences on many fields of social life...For
instance, scientists or musicians were nourished in many respects of the
general framework of the regime during their work and creation
processes...but on the other hand, due to not single but many aspects, they
have suffered from the interventions which came from the political plan to
their own area...(These many aspects themselves are contradictory in
themselves. e.g. in the formation of a more integral human being, who can
claim that this process did not create better human beings historically, but
who can deny that this regime could not overcome having quite mediocr human
beings, on the other hand)
I remember to have read somewhere that the new regime opened large horizons
for LSV and his colleagues for developing their theory...but on the other
hand, bans followed...
I think that this interaction of the political plan with other fields like
culture, science could be and should have been - and should be in the
future- managed much better in such a society...political plan, many times,
opened such horizons before but also many times crushed these other
I prefer to emphasize, as far as I see like yourself, to emphasize this dual
and contradictory character of the Soviet Union, distancing myself from
qualifying it completely as something quite bad and also from plaster SU
2009/8/31, Steve Gabosch <email@example.com>:
> These are very useful thoughts, Ulvi. If I may supplement these with a
> couple more. I bring a few of my thoughts about these questions up here,
> not to try to achieve general agreement, but just to provoke more thinking.
> Many of us on xmca undoubtedly have many different ideas on these matters.
> It is not at all my intention to disrupt the plurality of views in this
> forum on such complex issues - just toss in a few thoughts of my own.
> a. I certainly agree with your main point, Ulvi, that the proletariat of
> the USSR was very different from any other country. I think it is
> empirically indisputable that the bourgeoisie (capitalist class) was
> liquidated in what became the USSR, beginning as early as 1917-1918 and
> finishing off with eliminating the kulaks and related propertied classes and
> social layers in the countryside by the early 1930's (at horrible costs to
> the peasants and workers, but that is another story). Some Marxists and
> Bolsheviks have used the technical term "workers state" to describe such the
> Soviet socioeconomic system. As you point out, living in such a society,
> for a worker, was surely different in fundamental ways from living in a
> capitalist system.
> b. Here us where I wish to draw a fine point. The question of whether the
> proletariat in the USSR achieved lasting **political** power in the USSR
> could be considered an entirely separate question. Leon Trotsky, as many
> know, argued that a parasitic bureaucracy emerged in the 1920's that usurped
> political power from the proletariat (as well as what was left of the
> propertied classes) and instituted a police state hostile to the workers, as
> well as the capitalists. To the extent one accepts that something like this
> is what indeed happened, this perspective suggests that the Soviet workers
> suffered a massive political defeat and historic alienation from their own
> workers state and their own proletarian, socialist revolution, despite their
> general class consciousness and understanding of class struggles around the
> c. At the same time, despite these terrible obstacles, the Soviet workers,
> farmers and professionals performed incredible feats of heroism, hard work,
> unbelievable sacrifice and historic accomplishment for many decades - such
> as surviving the world capitalist crises and depression of the 1920's and
> 1930's, weathering the isolating defeats of revolutionary and socialist
> movements in Europe throughout the 1920's and 1930's, defeating the German
> invasion in WWII, emerging as a victorious superpower following WWII
> (alongside the US), industrializing the USSR, mechanizing agriculture,
> creating high levels of cultural and scientific achievement, etc. etc.
> d. This perspective thus draws a picture of an incredibly contradictory
> and bewildering situation in the USSR from 1917 onward - an a)
> socialist-oriented workers state that was b) surrounded and strangled by a
> world capitalist system that was also c) simultaneously suffering under the
> iron heel of a dictatorial bureaucratic police state which d) hampered
> socialist development - yet, despite these terrible obstacles, this workers
> state and its proletarian, farming and professional classes and the Soviet
> people e) still accomplished multitudes of world-changing, historic
> e. How does this relate to Vygotsky and CHAT? This perspective would
> place Vygotsky as having lived through four amazingly different and fast
> moving periods in Russian and Soviet history. He a) grew up in Czarist
> Russia, b) lived through the upheavals of WWI and the 1917 Revolution in
> early adult years, c) thrived as a leader in scientific, educational and
> cultural work during the initial revolutionary years of mass mobilizations
> and socialist flowering in 1920's, and then d) witnessed and suffered the
> terrible consequences of successive victories of the bureaucratic power,
> which eventually purged the USSR of its own proletarian, socialist movement,
> imprisoned science and culture under police state rule, etc. This way of
> looking at the world that Vygotsky worked and lived in could be a way to
> help us understand his constantly evolving scientific and theoretical work
> in his short but very rich 37 or so years, as well as how the
> cultural-historical school and activity theory movement developed and grew
> in subsequent decades.
> Just some thoughts of mine that yours evoked, Ulvi. Thanks.
> ~ Steve
> On Aug 31, 2009, at 4:09 AM, ulvi icil wrote:
> Dear Achilles,
>> Some thoughts:
>> 1. Proletariat in 20s in Soviet Union is not surely a proletariat similar
>> the one in a capitalist society. In this sense, the children of the
>> proletariat there in 20s are not children of an exploited proletariat
>> But in another context, we can remember that during 20s, in Soviet Union,
>> social classes were not liquidated yet, even more, class struggles was
>> on quite violently...New Economic Policy has even strengthened the
>> of kulaks (capitalist peasants) etc We can also remember that liquidation
>> the bourgeoisie takes towards the beginning of the 30s in the true sense
>> the word, with industrialization and collectivisation.
>> 2. Conceptually, even though bourgeoisie was liquidated, Soviet working
>> class saw itself as proletariat...In fact, this was theoretically named as
>> dictatorship of the proleariat...
>> 3. In this sense, Soviet children at that time were proletarian children,
>> but a proletariat who owned the political power and who did not establish
>> yet socialism...
>> 2009/8/31, Achilles Delari Junior <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
>>> Thank you, very much David.
>>> It's very instructive.
>>> I will see the quotations at the Works.
>>> Seems to be interesting that Vygotsky was
>>> open to Rühle, even he was agaist Leninism,
>>> and saw Soviet Union as a form of State
>>> Capitalism... (I don't know if that information
>>> is reliable)... But, the point is just about
>>> relationships between social class position
>>> and social formation of mind. I agree with
>>> the opposition to Zalking thinking in terms of
>>> "class character"... I wonder that in "Socialist
>>> alteration of man" the relation of personality
>>> formation and class struggle seems to be more
>>> in dialectical terms... The entire society is
>>> not homogeneous, then the social formation
>>> of personality is not homogeneous too... But
>>> I really don´t know yet if Rühle thank like
>>> Zalkind. Do you think so?
>>> Thank you very much David... My friend tell
>>> me that she already find a Spanish version from
>>> the Rühle's book reviewed by Vygotsky... and
>>> them this seems to be very useful. There was
>>> yet some pedological works about soviet children
>>> valuation about class struggle, expropriation,
>>> relations between money and work, etc. There
>>> is a list of questions for interview with children
>>> from Mikhail Basov, that contains this kind of
>>> questions, together others about "physical
>>> causality", etc. This is reported by Valsiner,
>>> but I don´t know if this is the same. Can we
>>> call soviet children exactly "proletarian children"?
>>> In a social context in that people believe that
>>> there are no more "classes"? But we will see
>>> that pedologists studies too, if we could...
>>> Oh. Thank you very much... You help me too think
>>> broader than before...
>>> Best wishes.
>>> Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 22:03:53 -0700
>>>> From: email@example.com
>>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] "The psyche of proletarian children" and language
>>> and thought
>>>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>>> Dear Achilles:
>>>> As you probably know, there are a few references to Otto Ruele in Volume
>>> Two of the Collected Works on defectology, and some of these are to "The
>>> psyche of proletarian children".
>>>> Overall, LSV takes a positive view of the work, which is a little
>>> surprising because of his hostility to the ideas of Zalkind on
>>>> Ruele seems to have been close to Adler, and a critic of Freud (or so
>>> says the notes on Ruele in Volume Two. LSV has generally nice things to
>>> about Adler too.
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>> PS: Mike, I wasn't trying to put either you or Meltzoff on the spot; I
>>> was really just writing fluff along the lines of
>>>> I guess the most interesting thing about it for me has to do with Greg's
>>> rather Whorfian letter which argues that thinking and speech have to be a
>>> lot closer than the longitude and latitude metaphor suggest, and that in
>>> particular phasal and semantic aspects of speech are really one and the
>>> thing, linked but not distinct. When two things are linked but not
>>> it is hard to see how they can develop each other.
>>>> Of course, SOMETHING happens in the brain when we read, and it may
>>> in different parts of the brain when we read different scripts (just as
>>> may recover memories from different parts of the brain). But sometimes
>>> structural differences really can be "uncoupled" from ffunctional
>>> differences, and I think this is one of them.
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>> --- On Sun, 8/30/09, Achilles Delari Junior <
>>>> From: Achilles Delari Junior <email@example.com>
>>>> Subject: [xmca] "The psyche of proletarian children"...
>>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>>> Date: Sunday, August 30, 2009, 7:01 PM
>>>> Hi XMCA.
>>>> How are you?
>>>> I wish fine.
>>>> Please, I'm asking you for a help, one more time.
>>>> There is a friend of mine, working with expropriated
>>>> children, fighting against "child work expropriation" in the
>>>> North-east from my country. And she is looking for a particular
>>>> text from Vygotsky, and I suppose that there is no publication
>>>> of it, even in Russian. This is the title, seems to be only
>>>> the manuscript
>>>> Review of The Psyche of proletarian Children by Otto Rulle
>>>> (Moscow-Leningrad, 1926). Private archives of L. S. Vygotsky.
>>>> Manucript, 3. pp.
>>>> на кн.: Отто Рюле. Психика пролетарского ребенка. М.; Л.: ГИЗ, 1926 //
>>>> арх. Л.С. Выготского. 1926. 3 с. Рукопись.
>>>> But this indication that there is only the manuscript is from 1996'
>>>> Lifanova's paper. Then, who knows if there is any publication after...
>>>> Do you have any notice about this work, or some general suggestion
>>>> of reading something about this subject (the psyche of children
>>>> in terms of social classes, and class struggle)?
>>>> Thank you very much about your attention and help.
>>>> Best wishes.
>>>>> From Brazil.
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