In Chapter I of this book, entitled "Introduction: Background of the Discussions," I commented that there is serious reason to question the existing interpretation by many historians of the role of Andrei Zhdanov in the ideological campaign in the sciences after the Second World War.1 In this appendix I would like to give evidence for my doubts. I would also like to repeat my statement that without access to Party archives it is impossible to resolve definitely this issue.
One of the textbook commonplaces of scholarship on the Soviet Union is the view that the ideological campaign in the arts and sciences after the war was directed by Zhdanov, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and one of Stalin's most favored assistants. The name that has been given to this campaign is the Zhdanovshchina. Many authors have considered the session of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences from July 31 to August 7, 1948, when Lysenko received explicit Party approval, the culmination of the Zhdanovshchina. Yet the role of Zhdanov is by no means clear. Recent evidence points more and more to Stalin himself; Zhdanov may actually have opposed the campaign in the sciences.
Some scholars would maintain that until the archives are opened, nothing meaningful can be said about the relations among the top leaders in the Soviet Union. To attempt to evaluate the roles of Stalin and Zhdanov, they would say, is an exercise in Kremlinology, a dubious enterprise involving the use of unreliable sources. This point of view is, in many ways, a persuasive one; Kremlinological analyses are frequently based on the slenderest reeds of evidence. I can not accept it in this particular case, however, for the following reason: To resist inquiry into the politics of the period is to abandon the field to the existing Kremlinological interpretation, one that is widely accepted even though the evidence for it is quite weak.
I shall cite a few well-known non-Soviet texts favoring the existing interpretation, not because I consider these authors to be more convinced of its validity than others, but merely to illustrate its currency. Leonard