Re: [xmca] Totalitarianism as a Totalizing Construct

From: David Preiss <davidpreiss who-is-at>
Date: Wed Apr 11 2007 - 20:21:19 PDT

David Kellogg,

It seems to me that by your note you are implying I am making a contrast
between good and evil. I don't doubt the russians' abilities to perform
gigantic instrumental advances in science as their counterpart westerners did
(however the collapse of their whole political endeavours). What I am just
saying is that I certainly doubt Vygotsy built his career against those

I haven't made any claim also about the nature of the USSR science. I also
share your questioning of western ethnocentricism, which by chance I have been
able to revisit here in many talks in AERA, supposedly global, but performed
by only american or americanized academics.

What I don't have any doubt, though, is that life under Stalin was anything
but good (as it is living under the war on terror). If you think the USSR was
a nice place to think about human nature, well, that's your take on this
issue. We think different and so be it.

David Preiss

Mike Cole escribió:
> For an interesting book on Science in the USSR that covers the Stalinist
> period, I highly recommend Loren Graham's work. It ranges very widely
> across the sciences including physics, biology, and even psychology.
> Fascinating discussion of the polysemy of totalitarianism.
> mike
> On 4/11/07, David Kellogg <> wrote:
>> Dear David (Preiss):
>> Thanks for your note from busy AERA. Hope you are staying out of the
>> Chicago wind!
>> I went to school in "anti-totalitarian" Chicago when it was a training
>> ground for "los chicago boys", the men who served as quartermasters for
>> General Pinochet. So I guess I don't find the word "totalitarian"
>> particularly helpful, except possibly as a description of how the private
>> sector has laid its clammy hand on every aspect of public life under
>> capitalism or the way in which North Americans assume that their America is
>> America and the way that Westerners assume that their world is the whole
>> world.
>> As a young adult I lived through the "anti-spiritual pollution campaign"
>> and the "campaign against bourgeois liberalization" and of course the
>> movement which is incorrectly described by the totalitarian media in the
>> West as the "Tiananmen Square Democracy movement" (because that is what
>> Western TV screens showed). My wife grew up during the Cultural Revolution
>> (and was a militant participant at age seven). It was not a different world;
>> it was the same one, and people made decisions (including life and death
>> decisions) in much the same way as you do.
>> I also think that the USSR, even under Stalin, can hardly be considered
>> a second or third rate science power (they led the world in space, for
>> example, and were a very close second in atomic energy). When my father
>> visited the USSR in the early sixties, he was astonished to discover that
>> the Russian physicists had read all of his work, and highly embarrassed to
>> admit that he had read none of theirs, even though theirs was available in
>> English and his was not available in Russian. This shouldn't have been so
>> astonishing, given the totalitarian nature of Western intellectual life.
>> David (Kellogg)
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David D. Preiss Ph.D.
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Escuela de Psicología.
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860.
Macul, Santiago de Chile.
Teléfono: (56-2) 354-4605
Fax: (56-2) 354-4844.
xmca mailing list
Received on Wed Apr 11 21:23 PDT 2007

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