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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky: A Marxist...But NOT a Communist?

Sorry, at the end, it should have been not "his approach to Bolshevik Party"
but "his approach to being a member of Bolshevik Party" because I think also
that , in essence, he was not critical of the party in terms of its
fundamental policies to build socialism etc...

2011/6/10 ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com>

> Dear David and all,
> From what I have read in Vygotsky, I had the impression that Vygotsky was
> both a Marxist and a communist.
> A Marxist , especially in terms of the value he attaches to the methodology
> of Marxism.
> And I think that it is very natural to be distanced to some kind of Marxism
> and to be close to another kind for any people in any time, if these people
> are especially of that kind who are in search of creative work to certain
> questions and problems.
> Plekhanov was a Marxist but Lenin was quite distanced to his Marxism in
> terms of the "application" (a bad term, I know) of Marxism to Russia.
> I believe that it is a great merit of Vygotsky not to follow blindly some
> "Marxists" in the science of psychology in that period in Soviet Union,
> trying to realize a creative Marxist approach to the problems of psychology.
> Distance to some Marxists does not mean distance to Marxism. In contrast,
> this is quite healthy and necessary for a "good" Marxist sometimes.
> "if the form of manifestation and the essence of things coincided directly,
> then all of science would be superfluous" (Marx)
> Vygotsky quotes this very frequently, especially in Volume 4 of CW and I
> know other people who quote and value the same a lot, in other sciences,
> they are all creative, quite prolific Marxists.
> So, I think that Vygotsky was not only Marxist but also he was really
> a good  Marxist.
> The reason I think he was also a communist: I think not being a member of
> the Party does not show that Vygotsky was not a communist. I think that
> Vygotsky believed strongly in communism, in  classless human society in
> which man would develop freely.
> It is obvious that in Soviet Union citizens were expected to believe in
> communism, in communist ideals, in classless society as a goal but at the
> same time it is also obvious that not all people were expected to be members
> of the Bolshevik Party and party membership was not given abundantly.
> As a Marxist and a communist, (believing fully in communist ideals), I
> think Vygotsky may have not preferred to apply for party membership. The
> primary reason for this was, I think, that he thought this official status
> as a party member would hinder the creative work he wants to realize as a
> Marxist since he had a different opinion on how to relate science with
> Marxism. He clearly saw that the way Marxism was related with science by
> some scientists in and close to the party was not the best and correct way
> to do that.
> But I think that belief in a classless , communist society, the correctness
> of such a society for the humanity to live in  is really quite visible in
> many places in Vygotsky's work, which means that Vygotsky was a communist,
> in my opinion.
> In summary, I think that stones about Vygotsky's Marxism, communism, his
> appraoach to Bolshevik Party can be located better if we analyze Vygotsky's
> real  relationship to these in a broader way and somehow separating better
> each other in Vygotsky himself.
> Ulvi
> 2011/6/9 David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>
>> Thanks for the prompt and very precise answers, Anton. I would like to
>> respond briefly to your (rightly) tentative answer number three, lest it
>> become, without your wishing it, yet another "bridge too far".
>> First of all, one of the jobs I had to do in China in the early eighties
>> was to help choose people to go to conferences. We sent people abroad who
>> were ALREADY good at languages, because there was considerable concern that
>> a) they would not understand what people said to them, and b) they would not
>> be understood when speaking on behalf of the government.
>> This rather excessive concern with language proficiency is a little hard
>> for native speakers of English to grasp, but anybody who has ever had to
>> give an important speech in a foreign language will understand how very
>> difficult it can be. We didn't ever send people abroad just to get language
>> practice; that would, as you point out, be frivolous and wasteful, and while
>> they were brushing up their pronunciation our country was losing face.
>> Secondly, I think that I have a very different interpretation of
>> Vygotsky's remark about the Russian Revolution than either you or van der
>> Veer and Zavershneva. Vygotsky says:
>> "In essence, Russia is the first country in the world. The Revolution is
>> our supreme caus. In this room only 1 person knows the secret of the
>> genunine education of the deafmutes. And that person is me. Not because I am
>> more educated than the otheres, but [because] I was sent by Russia and I
>> speak on behalf of the Revolution..."
>> (This is followed by somewhat embarrassing personal reflections about his
>> precarious marriage, which will be instantly recognizeable to anyone who has
>> ever, in the throes of youthful Sturm und Drang, tried to escape from a
>> fraught sexual relationship by joining the French Foreign Legion.)
>> This remark (which Zavershneva also writes about on p. 24 of her 2010
>> article in the JREEP issue you guest-edited) is then interpreted as the
>> first clear confirmation we have that Vygotsky was privately as well as
>> publically a committed Marxist and even a communist. I think you go even
>> further when you speculate that his trip may have been in some way
>> underwritten or endorsed or even stage managed by the Cheka.
>> Of course, the Cheka would have been informed. So would the British secret
>> services for that matter. Britain had just elected its first Labor
>> Government,and in fact Vygotsky's trip coincides with the stormy nine month
>> tenure of Ramsay MacDonald which in turn coincided with a) Britain's first
>> council housing and b) the fuss over the so-called "Zinoviev Letter" which
>> supposedly showed that the Soviets were using the MacDonald regime to carry
>> out a communist coup (the Zinoviev letter was later shown to be a forgery).
>> I think that Vygotsky was a Marxist. At that time and place, who was not?
>> When I first arrived in China, the only people who really had any doubts at
>> all about Marxism were people who had actually become interested enough in
>> Marx and Engels and Lenin to read the stuff critically. (These were also the
>> people who were not afraid of the ongoing campaigns against "Spiritual
>> Pollution" and "Bourgeois Liberal Democratization" and thus, maddeningly,
>> they were the folks I spent most of my time with, although I considered
>> myself vociferously Marxist and on a mission to reconvert the whole of China
>> to the true faith.)
>> Vygotsky was, of course, NOT a party member, and he would have found it
>> rather hard to join in those days as the competition was quite fierce. In
>> fact, he seems to have been quite UNinterested in party affairs, as most
>> intellectuals, particularly those of a literary bent, tended to be in those
>> days.
>> I think his remark that "Russia is the first country  in the world" and
>> "The Revolution is our supreme cause" reflects are real confidence in world
>> revolution. I think his further remarks about "the secret of the genuine
>> education of the deafmutes" refers to the actual content of his paper,
>> available here:
>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/reader/p019.pdf
>> The secret is the rather Adlerian belief that the main effect of
>> deafmutism is social, and that with the transformation of society this will
>> become irrelevant. A patriotic, revolutionary-minded Russian might believe
>> this, and even refer to it as a "Russian" achievement rather than a Soviet,
>> or a communist, one.
>> However, it seems to me that a communist would NOT believe this. I note
>> that Vygotsky speaks of "the Revolution" as a RUSSIAN matter (not even a
>> "Soviet" one much less a world movement). Vygotsky has absolutely nothing to
>> say about the (extremely interesting) class struggles going on under his
>> very nose. This suggests to me that, despite what I have always believed,
>> Vygotsky was a Marxist, but not a communist in any sense of the word,
>> neither with a big C nor with a little one.
>> I think that Vygotsky was a Marxist in exactly the same sense that he was
>> a Darwinist (i.e. a somewhat distanced one). Just as Vygotsky considered
>> that Darwin's laws are basically inapplicable to sociogenesis, he did not
>> think that the laws of ontogenesis could be derived from Marx by any
>> formulaic prestidigitation, and was rather disgusted by the attempts of his
>> colleagues to try.
>> Rene van der Veer remarks somewhat deprecatingly that Vygotsky didn't like
>> historians who were only interested in interpreting the work of
>> others...like van der Veer himself! I think Vygotsky probably also wouldn't
>> have liked young scientists who are only interested in world revolution.
>> But I think he would have understood instantly the sort of scientists I
>> was teaching in China, people who went off to the most remote corners of the
>> country in the fifties and sixties because they were revolutionaries. They
>> came back to Beijing in the seventies and went abroad in the eighties
>> because they discovered they were scientists too, and that a successful
>> revolution needed scientists rather more than it needed revolutionaries.
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Edcuation
>> --- On Wed, 6/8/11, Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> From: Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 3:05 PM
>> Thank you, David, for your high opinion of our work! As an announcement, I
>> am
>> reporting that I have just submitted the corrected proofs of yet another
>> paper
>> from this Vygotskian issue of the journal, -- the one on the Vygotsky
>> Circle, so
>> it might get released online fairly soon. Now, to your questions.
>> 1. I have seen many Vygotsky's texts--including those that have never been
>> republished after the war--but not this one. Therefore, I can not verify
>> if
>> Vygotsky's review (1929) of the Sterns' book is identical (or, perhaps,
>> more
>> precisely, *nearly* identical) with Chapter 3 of Thinking and speech
>> (1934).
>> However, I fully trust Rene van der Veer, whom I consider a top expert on
>> the
>> history of Vygotskian psychology and whose name is to me synonymous with
>> the
>> highest quality of scholarship. Thus, in brief, if Rene claims the two
>> papers
>> are just the same, I have no reasons to doubt his words; after all, this
>> what
>> collaboration is all about.
>> Then, you are asking for an explanation of how come the author in his
>> Preface on
>> page 3 of the original edition of 1934 does not mention that the text of
>> chapter
>> 3 had already been published as a book review, although he does admit that
>> two
>> other chapters, i.e. chapters 2 and 4, had been published before. I could
>> try to
>> provide a plausible explanation why this is so. Vygotsky reportedly
>> dictated
>> some fragments of the text (chapter 1 and parts of  6 and 7) ,  and, in
>> all
>> likelihood, the book has never been proofread by its author: as we know,
>> not
>> only did it come out, but also it was typeset and signed out to
>> press   well
>> after his death (Russian: "sdano v nabor" -- August, 27, 1934, "podpisano
>> k
>> pechati" -- December 7, 1934). I could image that the references to
>> chapters in
>> brackets were later incorporated into the text by the editor of the book,
>> Kolbanovskii, who was not really familiar with the circumstances of the
>> manuscript production. This might explain the lack of reference to chapter
>> 3 as
>> previously published. However, please understand that this explanation is
>> a mere
>> ungrounded speculation of mine. Let's say, a hypothesis...
>> 2. The question about Tool and sign is really an interesting one, and we
>> don't
>> know the full story yet. Perhaps, we will never know it. Thus, I would
>> readdress
>> this question to Mike Cole, who certainly knows a part of it. Thus, van
>> der Veer
>> and Valsiner published an English manuscript of the paper in their
>> Vygotsky
>> Reader in 1994. In their comments they claim that this was *the*
>> manuscript that
>> Luria passed to Mike for publication in the West. Then, in turn, Mike
>> seems to
>> have passed the manuscript to the two editors of the Reader who did a
>> great job
>> of publishing and -- even more importantly -- most professionally
>> commenting on
>> the text. Still, much is unclear, for instance: what kind of manuscript
>> that
>> was, if it was handwritten (I would doubt that) or typewritten (I believe
>> so),
>> when and under what circumstances Luria forwarded it to Mike, etc. Then,
>> the
>> Russian text of the 1984 edition might well be a[n edited] translation
>> from
>> English or an version of the paper. I guess, some research--both
>> historiographical and textological--needs to be done in order to answer
>> your
>> question. Anyway, thanks for raising this issue: I have always wanted to
>> ask
>> Mike for a feedback from him, so... Mike, do you have any comments,
>> please?
>> 3. As to Vygotsky trip, I think that the Bolshevik leadership knew fairly
>> well
>> what they were doing. Especially, when the matter concerned funding a
>> foreign
>> trip for an individual for a month or so. Funding was really scarce back
>> then,
>> and they must have had really good reasons for sending this guy abroad.
>> So,
>> since we do not have any evidence in support of this hypothesis, I would
>> not
>> speculate about his possible connections with Russian intelligence or any
>> other
>> related organization that might explain his seemingly purposeless stay in
>> England way after the conference was over. Then, however, the point is
>> that
>> Vygotsky had several advantages over other persons you (and the authors)
>> mentioned: he was young and loyal to the ideas of Socialist transformation
>> of
>> man and society, very proactive, not blind or peripherally located (like
>> blind
>> scholar Shcherbina from provincial town of Priluki), and, perhaps, also
>> importantly, had a good rationale for returning home: a newly married
>> young
>> specialist with a newborn baby (May 9, 1925) staying home did have good
>> incentives not to stay abroad. Yet again, note: this is pure speculation
>> again.
>> Frankly, the name of Golosov does not tell me much, but speaking of
>> Sokolyanskii, one must keep it mind that, according to Hillig and Marochko
>> (2003; the source is available, but it is in Ukrainian) he did make a
>> foreign
>> trip in the August of 1925, and was even the head of Russian delegation in
>> Germany during "Russian weeks" in Berlin. I believe at least a part of the
>> story
>> of Sokolyanskii's foreign trip is certainly true, but in any case this
>> account
>> still needs to be verified. In other words: nope, the Bolsheviks did not
>> send
>> their people abroad just in order to let them practice their language
>> skills:
>> too costly it was for the extremely poor country that had just emerged
>> from the
>> Civil War. As it is argued in a recent publication, Vygotsky was quite a
>> prominent "defectologist" of his country back in 1925 and was the right
>> guy for
>> the job (for more see: Yasnitsky, A. (2011). Lev Vygotsky: Philologist and
>> Defectologist, A Socio-intellectual Biography. In Pickren, W., Dewsbury,
>> D., &
>> Wertheimer, M. (Eds.). Portraits of Pioneers in Developmental Psychology,
>> vol.
>> VII; just wait till September, 2011 when the book is reportedly scheduled
>> to
>> come out).
>> Cheers,
>> Anton
>> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>
>> To: lchcmike@gmail.com; Culture ActivityeXtended Mind <
>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Sent: Tue, June 7, 2011 7:54:05 PM
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done
>> Anton et al:
>> First of all, thanks for what in my view is really PRICELESS work. The
>> Plenum
>> edition of Thinking and Speech has been out since 1987. Rene van der Veer
>> has
>> been suggesting that it is inadequate, and Luciano Meccaci has been
>> promising
>> full documentation of the inadequacies, but I think this is the first
>> clear
>> indication in print that we desperately need a new translation of this
>> book, so
>> that we miserable Anglophones may at long last learn that we don't know
>> what
>> we've been talking about.
>> Secondly--THREE questions:
>> a) You say that Chapter Three of Thinking and Speech was written in 1929,
>> and
>> you provide a very convincing reference to prove this. But the Authors
>> Preface
>> to Thinking and Speech does not include Chapter Three in the list of
>> previously
>> published works, and by implication says that it is being published for
>> the
>> first time. Can you explain?
>> b) There are two slightly different versions of "Tool and Sign in the
>> Development of the Child", one in English and one in Russian. Do you
>> happen to
>> know which was written first (and when?)
>> c) Rene van der Veer and Ekaterina Zavershneva wonder why the unknown
>> Vygotsky
>> (rather than the better known Golosov or Sokolyansky or Sherbina) was sent
>> to
>> the London conference. But it appears that a LOT of people at the
>> conference
>> were not experts (e.g. Lord Whatzisface and the poor Japanese delegate).
>> In
>> China we used to send people abroad for the language proficiency rather
>> than
>> their technical expertise; mightn't the same thing have happened here?
>> Thanks again, Anton--you are a supernatural resource!
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
>> --- On Mon, 6/6/11, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Monday, June 6, 2011, 7:52 AM
>> Thanks, Anton.
>> Mythbusters super star!
>> mike
>> On Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 5:32 AM, Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com>
>> wrote:
>> > Hi everyone!
>> >
>> >
>> > For your information:   most recently several papers from the special
>> > Vygotskian
>> > issue of the journal Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
>> have
>> > been
>> > released and are now fully available online (as html and pdf). These
>> > include:
>> >
>> > In Search of the Unknown: Introduction to the Special Issue
>> > René van der Veer
>> >
>> > http://www.springerlink.com/content/h438g3337j5520l7/
>> >
>> > Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done
>> > René van der Veer and Anton Yasnitsky
>> >
>> > http://www.springerlink.com/content/278j5025767m2263/
>> >
>> > &
>> >
>> > To Moscow with Love: Partial Reconstruction of Vygotsky’s Trip to London
>> > René van der Veer and Ekaterina Zavershneva
>> >
>> > http://www.springerlink.com/content/375141xv6284506g/
>> >
>> >
>> > At a later time, there will be another paper, on Vygotsky Circle of
>> several
>> > dozen Vygotsky's students and associates that will hopefully finally
>> > overturn
>> > the myth of the "troika da pyaterka" of his Apostles that keeps
>> replicating
>> > in
>> > numerous accounts of Vygotsky's life story. I shall keep you posted...
>> >
>> > Have a nice reading!
>> >
>> > Cheers,
>> > Anton
>> > __________________________________________
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