On the Origins and Demise of the Communist Academic Regime
Michael David-Fox and György Péteri
This volume asks questions about how a twentieth-century order representing itself as "scientific socialism" reshaped science and the world of higher learning. It is concerned with understanding how a particular Soviet academic regime arose, how it operated across varying local, national, and international settings, and how key aspects of it outlived the political system that fostered it. Those interested in these systemic aspects of Soviet science might pause to consider something history has rather recently made into a simple fact. Communism in the former Soviet Union lasted from 1917 to 1991, about the life expectancy of many humans today. In Eastern Europe, its more abbreviated life span was somewhat less than forty-five years. For the first time, in other words, students of organized intellectual life under communism can become its biographers. They can contemplate a discrete, identifiable lifetime-stretching from birth pangs, to middle age and midlife crises, to old age and sudden, unexpected demise. The present volume brings together explorations of three main phases of the biography of the Soviet scientific system: its origins in Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, its export to the countries of East Central Europe after World War II, and its strange, partial death and suspended animation in the 1980s and 1990s.