Theoretical Issues in the Soviet System
ONE OF the major characteristics of modern civilization has been the relative ease by which ideas nurtured in one culture are assimilated into another. This phenomenon is a contributing factor to the dynamics of modern life and makes the study of comparative history so attractive in contemporary historiography. There are, of course, complicating factors. Few ideas are assimilated without undergoing adaptive modifications. This fact challenges the observer to examine the adaptive mechanisms and the sometimes unexpected consequences produced by intercultural exchange. Ideas transplanted into a different social context generally always produce shifts in meaning. Typically, new ideas are absorbed by a blending process that connects them with ideas already objectified and understood in the culture. The result of this process is a change in the texture of the new idea as it becomes part of the intellectual landscape of its adoptive culture.
This chapter will explore these issues in an attempt to understand how the concept of protecting discoveries has developed in its new political, economic, social, and ideological environment. It has received strong rhetorical support, seems to have blended well with the existing legal regimes protecting patents and copyright, and plays an important role in the social system of science in the USSR. It will be argued here that Soviet theory has not advanced much beyond its European foundations other than acquiring a dialectical materialist expression. It has shown the most promise and dynamism in the area of the practical elaboration of theory, where it has been narrowly pragmatic and extremely flexible.
For our purposes, then, it is not sufficient merely to note that the basic