Philosophy and Ideology. Z. A. Jordan 1963
To make the further course of events comprehensible, the main institutional reforms and changes in the informal organisation of scientific life must be briefly described. Among the former the reform of the higher education system and the setting up of the Polish Academy of Science were the most important.
The reform of higher education was a problem which attracted much attention even during the German occupation and it was taken up as soon as the war was over. While the most urgent task of the universities was to resume teaching at the earliest moment in order that a start on filling up the gap caused by the war and the war losses could be made, this was clearly recognised as a provisional arrangement pending a thorough overhaul of the whole system. The demand that the doors of the universities should be thrown wide open as a matter of right to all who deserved it because of their abilities, was widely accepted. Moreover, the work of reconstruction and future expansion required that provisions should be made for training an ever increasing number of young men and women both for the professions and for scientific research. The pre-war set-up of the universities was considered to be unequal to these tasks.
It was realised that a university being a social institution has to express the characteristics of the social order in which it exists. Whatever social order was to prevail in Poland, it was certain that it would not be liberal capitalist democracy. It was, therefore, also certain that the type of liberal university, on which the establishments of higher education in pre-war Poland had been largely modelled, was bound to disappear. There were powerful academic groups which opposed this idea for fear that this would facilitate the replacement of scientific standards in teaching and research by political and ideological ones and the imposition of restrictions on the autonomy of universities by State administration, which was increasingly becoming an administration of a Communist State. However valid these fears might have been, they failed to appreciate the temper of the times. In Poland, perhaps more than anywhere else, a liberal university would have been an anachronism. It was unimaginable that after the cruel experiences of war the universities wished to or keep aloof from social needs, social struggles and tensions, unsullied by contact with the realities of life, when the dangers and precariousness of this course had just been so clearly demonstrated by the fate of science in Nazi Germany and occupied Europe.
A new conception of a university, which would reflect social needs, and, on its part, help to spread the moral, social and intellectual values created by disinterested pursuit of knowledge, could not have been formulated in any other manner than by experience, the method of trial and error, the competitive co-operation of the universities as they strove to perform their re-defined function. The general direction in which the universities should evolve could be fixed in advance, but the means had to be left undetermined until the best and most effective ones were found in practice. It was certain, however, that the universities would at once have to take into account the new responsibilities arising from the widening of the basis of recruitment for higher studies. It would not be enough to train the undergraduates for the professions and scientific careers. They would have to be helped in realising how best to play their part as citizens outside the universities.
Excluding a small but vocal minority, the prevailing and strongly held view was that the autonomy of the establishments of higher education should remain untouched in the educational reform. The developments in Nazi Germany provided new confirmation of the traditional belief that unless the right of scientific communities to follow their own judgment in the discharge of their duties is safeguarded, science suffers grievous harm. Moreover, the trend towards centralisation, in particular in the economic sphere, was visible all over the world and in Poland it was, for various reasons, a necessity that was widely accepted. This trend was in itself a powerful argument against delegating university self-rule to a higher authority. The dangers of centralisation must be counteracted by the strengthening of the role and weight of public opinion, and universities are important centres where public opinion is formed. They could not perform their new social function unless they were autonomous in their formal and informal organisation. Freedom from restrictive external controls, whether they were imposed by the State or a political Party, was essential for the effective functioning both of the State and of the universities. Subjected to political exigencies, science and teaching would degenerate and fail to play their social and cultural role.
These views voiced in public discussions and at various meetings were endorsed at the conference convened by Cracow University and the Academy of Science and Learning at the beginning of 1946. The conference, and later the Academy, failed, however, to take practical steps and produce anything more tangible than an expression of opinions. Soon the initiative slipped out of the hands of the learned societies and university bodies. A few months after the Cracow conference the Council of Higher Education Establishments was called into being by a Government decree and its members were appointed by the Prime Minister. The Council, under the chairmanship of W. Sokorski, Secretary of the Central Commission of Trade Unions, also a Government appointment, was entrusted with the preparation of the reform bill for Government approval. The work of the Council was carried out behind closed doors, and its provisions were not officially known until the bill was published as a decree in October, 1947.
Although the decree left many matters of detail untouched, it was of fundamental importance. It gave to the Minister of Education, and, through him, to the Communist Party, unlimited powers to do practically anything he liked. He could change the organisation of universities, determine the content of teaching, introduce new subjects, transfer the professors and the teaching staff from one university to another, and appoint new lecturers and professors. Nominally he was advised in what he did by the Central Council for the Affairs of Science and Higher Education, but in fact the Central Council had no effective power. It was conceived in such a manner that it could act in support, but it was unable to set its own views against those of the Minister. There was nothing that could stop the Minister from establishing his dictatorial rule over the universities.
This was what actually happened and in the following years the formal and informal organisation of the universities was gradually changed; by the end of 1951 it was altered out of recognition. Apart from considerable and beneficial increased opportunities for university studies, which, in this respect, put Poland among the leading countries of Europe, all the other proposals concerning the educational reform mentioned in the preceding public discussion were either ignored or given aninterpretation far from the intentions of those who put them forward.
A university was no longer a self-governing scientific community. It was controlled by a Rector who himself was appointed by the Minister and could be dismissed by him at any time. The heads of the departments were elected by their colleagues, but they too had to be approved by the Minister. The composition of the Senate and of the faculty councils was greatly extended, which meant, in practice, the neutralisation of the influence that a member of the Senate or a faculty council could exert by his own authority and exposed the traditional university organisation to an outside pressure.
Dialectical and historical materialism became a compulsory subject for all undergraduates and it was not possible to take a degree without having passed an examination in this subject. The curricula were fixed by the Minister and a strict control over their application was enforced. The changed curricula ensured that the teaching of all subjects conformed to the official doctrine of dialectical materialism and included specific fallacious theories which enjoyed the support of the Communist Party.
The Minister took advantage of his powers over the teaching staff to remove some professors and to appoint others, to abolish old chairs and to set up new ones. The selection of appropriate candidates for chairs and lectureships, combined with the setting up of new chairs, can, in all circumstances, stimulate a new school of thought or a new branch of science. The wide powers, which the Polish – Minister of Education possessed, not only provided the opportunity of achieving this purpose, but also made it possible to establish a virtual monopoly of the Marxist-Leninist way of thinking in the whole field of science and scholarship. He neither needed to wait for the chairs to fall vacant, nor was he uncertain which particular school of thought offered best prospects of scientific progress. The process of changing the ‘worldview profile’ of the universities was accomplished swiftly. It did not take long before Marxist-Leninist was established as the dominant university Weltanschauung, pervading practically every branch of knowledge. The teaching of the Marxist-Leninist doctrines and the inculcation of the Marxist-Leninist outlook in the minds of the younger generation became as important a function of the university as the training for professions.
Finally, the institution of joint chairs was introduced. A jointc hair comprised one or more subjects of instruction and its personnel consisted of several professors, lecturers, and auxiliary scientific workers. Each such chair had its director, appointed by the Minister. He was responsible for the work of the joint chair as a team, and supervised the didactic activities and scientific research of its members. The institution of joint chairs was to strengthen what was described as ‘planned activity’ in university teaching and to enhance the ‘ideological influence’ of the so-called progressive professors over the others.
Viewed against this background, it is perhaps easier to understand how it was possible that the teaching of non-Marxist philosophy and sociology could be suddenly discontinued. Some philosophers and sociologists, among them Ingarden, Ossowski, Ossowska, and Tatarkiewicz, were given leave of absence and the right to teach was withdrawn from them. Other philosophy and sociology chairs were transformed into chairs of logic and of the history of social thought respectively.
This did not mean that formal logic was recognised unreservedly nor that it was considered to be entirely immune from any ideological entanglements. The dividing line between the materialist and the idealist philosophy also passed through logic, though it was concerned only with the theory of logic and its philosophical applications. Marxist-Leninists laid down two demands on formal logic: that it does not exceed the narrowly drawn bounds of its subject-matter and that its foundations are revised in accordance with the requirements of dialectical materialism. The first of these demands was strictly enforced. Excursions into the field of philosophy, the theory of knowledge or methodology were considered as an infringement upon the rights of dialectics. Logic was ‘put in quarantine’ and restricted to the teaching of formal calculi.
Philosophical subjects, other than formal and mathematical logic, could be taught only by Marxist-Leninists. Since they were few some new appointments were made. Moreover, the study of philosophy was concentrated at Warsaw University. Outside Warsaw there were exclusively ‘service chairs’ of logic and no philosophy courses were given apart from those in dialectical and historical materialism, the compulsory subject of instruction for all undergraduates.
Within the above described bounds the development of formal logic was little hampered or interfered with. There was at least one chair of logic at every university and logic was a compulsory subject in almost all curricula of undergraduate studies. Logic benefited from the patronage of the State though perhaps on a less munificent scale than other sciences, and was assured of State support in the future in order that it might carry on its tradition of the past. The Philosophical Committee of the Polish Academy of Science, set up in 1951, included a section of logic, over which Ajdukiewicz presided. The resolution, passed at the First Congress of Polish Science, that a periodical devoted entirely to logic should be started, was implemented, though with some delay and on a modest scale. Meetings of logicians could be organised, at which plans for future activities were worked out, purely logical papers were read and discussed. The first meeting of this kind was held in Warsaw at the end of 1952, i.e. at the time when the prospects for philosophy looked grim.
The fate of sociology was worse. Non-Marxist philosophers could take refuge in giving lectures on formal logic. There was no corresponding refuge in sociology. Even the most trusted among the sociologists were not trusted enough to be able to lecture on their own subject. Since there was not a single trained Marxist-Leninist sociologist the teaching of sociology ceased entirely until 1956. The sociologists could do two things. They could either critically examine the socalled bourgeois sociology – provided that the verdict was a foregone conclusion – or study the history of social thought. In the latter case they enjoyed a somewhat greater degree of freedom in their studies and hence the history of social thought became their favourite subject. This was the course taken by the leading sociologists and their numerous pupils. In this manner they succeeded in holding, as it were, the second line of defence and in saving something from destruction.
In the autumn of 1950 the Institute for the Training of Scientific Cadres, attached to the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party, closely modelled on the Soviet Institute of Red Professors, was organised in Warsaw. It evolved from a Party school, set up in 1948, at which distinguished Party members used to teach. In 1950 the school assumed the name of the Institute for the Training of Scientific Cadres, later changed to that of the Institute of Social Sciences, and the first full three year course of study was inaugurated.
The Institute had three departments, each of them with several chairs of philosophy, political economy, and history. The philosophical department had three joint chairs: of dialectical and historical materialism (subdivided into three sections – historical materialism, philosophy of science, and aesthetics), of the history of philosophy, and of the theory of the State and law. The number of ‘aspirants’ in philosophy who studied at the Institute amounted to some eighty persons by 1954.
Students of the Institute must have been graduates of an establishment of higher education (this condition was not always essential) and have had at least four years of work in the Party behind them. They were supposed to be taught and to teach themselves in order to gain experience, to write a thesis which would complete their graduation and secure them the title of a candidate of science, and throughout their studies combine intellectual work with work for the Party. The objective of the Institute was to train teachers of philosophy and the social sciences for the universities and other higher schools, to prepare for research work, and to supply this new type of scholars who, without being themselves physicists, chemists, biologists, physiologists, historians, sociologists, were to direct the development of these sciences in the light of dialectical materialism. Since the students of the Institute were to devote themselves, above all, to the elaboration of ideological matters, their task was to develop what was called the progressive tradition of Polish science and to become the intellectual elite and leaders of the country.
Admission to the Institute for the Training of Scientific Cadres became the main channel of obtaining a teaching appointment in philosophy and the social sciences at the universities and of securing the opportunity for research in these fields. Later similar opportunities were created in the philosophical department of Warsaw University and at the Polish Academy of Science, but in these cases too the degree of candidate of science, which opened the road to a teaching or research appointment, had to be taken in Marxist-Leninist philosophy, for no other philosophy was officially in existence. Under these circumstances it was almost a miracle that a new generation with a thorough knowledge of subjects other than Marxist-Leninist philosophy – general methodology, methodology of the social and historical sciences, philosophy of science – grew up at all.
The second major institutional change that was to assure to Marxism-Leninism a dominant position was the setting up of the Polish Academy of Science. The Academy came into being chiefly for political and ideological considerations. But from 1956 it had shaken off much of its initial inspiration, had settled down to more normal forms of existence and activities, which are associated with the institutions of this kind, and its important role in the advancement of science and scholarship in Poland is beyond doubt.
The setting up of the Polish Academy of Science was formally based on the resolution passed by the so-called Congress of Polish Science, held at Warsaw, in July, 1951. The Congress, carefully prepared for almost two years, was conceived as a major ideological campaign. Hundreds of minor and major conferences were held in preparation for the Congress. Eminent representatives of Soviet science participated in these conferences, read papers, took part in the discussions, and conveyed to their Polish colleagues their own experiences in transforming science according to Marxist-Leninist principles. The purpose of these elaborate preliminaries was to make every scientist and scholar familiar with what was called ‘progressive methodology’, that is, with the application of dialectical materialism and its various theories to particular natural and social sciences. The Congress was to endorse and publicly proclaim the achievement of this objective and to become the beginning of a new development in the history of science in Poland, then firmly based on ideological and methodological principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The Congress was a huge gathering of scholars and scientists, divided into eleven sections and some sixty sub-sections. At the committee meetings reports and evaluations of the position existing in particular branches of science and learning were to be read, discussed and accepted. This did not always go according to plan, since the opposition was still considerable. With very few exceptions the reports were never published. The joint report on philosophy and sociology is known only from a summary and the names of its authors have remained, officially, anonymous.
It is not possible to assess the real results of the preparatory work for the Congress. According to the official account, the discussions at the meetings preceding the Congress invariably showed that the principles of dialectical and historical materialism were victorious in every branch of science and learning. The superiority of the dialectical method was recognised, the duty of everybody to acquire thorough knowledge of it was emphasised, and the opportunity of benefiting from the achievements of Soviet science was eagerly seized upon.
There is little doubt that some successes were scored. The most spectacular among them were some self-confessions of past errors, combined with the adherence to the orthodoxy of Marxism-Leninism. These successes were offset by equally resounding failures. Thus the linguists refused to acknowledge any value for their research either in the Marxist-Leninist doctrines or in Stalin’s pronouncements on linguistics. Jerzy Konorski, one of the most distinguished Polish physiologists and an internationally known authority on the theories of Pavlov, under whom Konorski studied before the Second World War, could not be persuaded to accept these theories as a dogma from which the solution of every possible physiological, psychological, medical, and philosophical problem could be deduced. The philosophers of the Warsaw school refused in corpore to accede to the Marxist-Leninist evaluation of philosophy in Poland in the inter-war period and to follow the dialectical method in their research and teaching. The general trend of developments in the following years strongly suggests that the ideological and methodological turning point, officially announced as an important achievement of the Congress, was an illusory or at least a grossly exaggerated event.
The setting up of the Polish Academy of Science was a permanent achievement of the Congress. This should not be understood to mean that, had the Congress not taken place, the Academy would not have been set up. The Academy came into being by the decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and what the politicians decided the scientists and scholars for their own reasons, only partly concurrent with the aims of the Party, formally resolved at the Congress.
The political purpose in setting up the Academy was threefold. The Party wished the scientists to co-operate within an organisation that was to be clearly committed to the Marxist-Leninist conception of science, that is to say, to a conception recognising the priority of political considerations in scientific research. The Academy was to provide the organisational framework for the planning of science which would take into account not only problems arising from scientific development but also fully meet the present and future needs of the State and of the national economy. It was assumed that this task could not be achieved unless there existed a supreme body that co-ordinated, organised, planned and controlled research work on a national scale. Last but not least, the Academy was necessary for ideological and educational reasons. Polish scientists and scholars, said Jan Dembowski, President of the Academy, were trained on Western models and they failed to appreciate the progressive methodology of Marxism-Leninism. The Academy, as he put it, was to play a very real part in introducing the scientists and scholars to this new and superior approach to science.
On their part, the scientists and scholars did not disapprove of all of these aims. On the one hand, they recognised the need for a supreme scientific body in the country that would be responsible for organising and planning research, for safeguarding scientific standards and for the advancement of knowledge. They also saw in the Academy an opportunity of participating in the reconstruction and development of their country and of contributing to scientific progress. On the other hand, they were afraid of the harmful effects that a one-sided emphasis on the practical applications of science could have on scientific advance. They had misgivings about the planning of science that, by being conceived too rigidly, might stultify inventive and creative minds. They were convinced that no useful purpose could be served by concealing facts and silencing critical opinions. They were acutely aware of the fact that dogmatism is the greatest obstacle in the path of scientific advance .
Thus, the scientists approved of some of the objectives pursued by the Party and disapproved of others, though their joining of the Academy purported to commit them indiscriminately to the politicians’ acceptable and unacceptable aims. The incompatible purposes which the Academy was to serve in the expectation of the politicians and the scientists somewhat explain its chequered fortunes in the first years of its existence.
The Academy came into existence in April, 1952, when the President of the Republic appointed its first Praesidium and also the first members. The statutory rules laid down that no change in the Praesidium could be made and no new officers elected without the approval of the highest authority in the State. This practice continued for a few years. But in June, 1956, the General Assembly of the Academy met and held a memorable debate. The Praesidium resigned and in January, 1957, the first genuine elections of the Praesidium took place. Kotarbiński was elected its Chairman and important changes in the activities of the Academy were made.
Among the first members of the Academy, appointed by the State authorities, there were some striking omissions, by no means accidental, and some purely political personalities with no academic qualifications or scientific achievements. It was to be a general principle that a member of the Academy should be a scholar or scientist of distinction in a particular field of knowledge. A Party scholar was exempted, if necessary, from this requirement. But the membership of all the four sections of the Academy included many leading scientists and scholars in every domain of learning. The latter constituted an overwhelming majority and could, in principle, have a decisive voice in the Academy. Yet in the first few years of its existence this was not the case.
The Academy became the chief promoter, endowed with considerable powers of enforcement, of the ‘progressive methodology’ in every branch of knowledge. It supported and disseminated fallacious theories, such as Lysenko’s and Lepeshinskaya’s, and held them up as the highest scientific achievements. It enforced further centralisation of science in order to tighten political and ideological control over scientific activities. It lent its authority to the distinction between ‘bourgeois’ and ‘progressive Soviet science’ and encouraged giving precedence to ideological considerations over respect for facts and the requirements of logic. In general, the Academy started as a force for increased centralisation and ideological regimentation, for a stricter political control and orthodox submission of science and learning to the doctrine of Marxism-Leninism. During the initial period of its existence the Academy often made pronouncements unworthy of the supreme scientific body in the country. It submitted declarations of homage to those who were destroying science, cultivated the cult of the ‘most outstanding man alive’, took political decisions concerning the truth of scientific theories. It did not do anything to protect scholars who were removed from their university chairs and did not speak up for those subsequently arrested and held in prison for many months without any reason whatsoever.
The explanation of this state of affairs should be sought in the contrast between the Academy’s fictitious façade and the reality concealed behind the trappings. To an outside observer the Academy was a self-governing scientific community composed, in its majority, of the leading scientists and scholars in the country. In reality the Academy was controlled from the outside, from the offices of the Communist Party. The decisions taken there were passed on to the body of men in the Academy who enjoyed the full confidence of the Party to carry them into effect. They formed the Scientific Secretariat of the Praesidium, and, through the Praesidium, which ‘rubber stamped’ (this is Professor Infeld’s expression) what the Scientific Secretariat prepared for its formal approval, controlled the Academy. Besides the Scientific Secretariat of the Praesidium each section of the Academy had its own Scientific Secretariat, composed in the same manner, which in its respective field exercised a closer supervision over the implementation of the principles accepted at the higher level. The members of the Scientific Secretariats were almost exclusively members of the Party, who often owed their scientific position to Party membership. While nominally the Praesidium and the General Assembly were the highest authority in the Academy, the’commanding heights’ were held by the network of the Scientific Secretariats. The latter were representatives of the supreme power in the State and against this power no majority vote of the Academy members could prevail. Behind the formal, statutory structure of the Academy, there was hidden an informal and more important one, with a delegated, but real and effective power of decision. It was not subject to control by the members, and, though it ruled the Academy, could not be held responsible or be called to account for its action.
The outcome of the discrepancy between the façade and the reality was that the decisive voice on particular scientific matters within the Academy belonged to persons with little if any competence and knowledge of the branch of science. which was subject to their control. The bodies that effectively ruled in the Academy were composed of men who were described as ‘laymen’, ‘learned politicians’, or ‘scholars by Party appointment’ . Political scholars, who made their appearance in 1948, managed by means of the Academy to establish themselves in a commanding position over the whole field of science and scholarship. This was in keeping with the tenets of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine. According to this doctrine the leadership of the Party is the highest authority even on scientific matters. A political scholar does not recognise the demand for the freedom of science if this means freedom from Party control.
The informal organisation of the Academy accounted for much of its unusual activities, but did not explain everything. Science can be described as a system of research techniques and logical procedures for acquiring knowledge. But science is also a socially organised activity. In this capacity science is exposed to the impact of other social processes, has definite connections with other social factors, such as system of power and awards, class structure, cultural values, and generally depends in various ways upon the society of which it forms a constituent part. Consequently, science can be affected not only directly, but also indirectly, that is, by the processes taking place in its social environment.
In an article which caused a considerable stir at the time Chalasinski pointed out that the ideological superstructure in Poland in the Stalinist period exercised a disintegrating influence upon the ethos of science as a social activity. It replaced the distinction between professional competence and incompetence by that between conformity and non-conformity to the truth imposed by a nonscientific authority. The priority of politics, the subordination of any consideration to political exigencies and expediency, made nonsense of the rationality of science. Its universalism was invalidated by the stipulation that the ability to discover truth is dependent on holding the correct kind of political beliefs and upon rank in Party hierarchy. Freedom of thought and speech, freedom to publish and publicly defend one’s views were restricted and with it the scientist’s main means of exercising influence, the power of persuasion and reasonableness, was taken away from him. The defence of freedom and autonomy of science was equated with the ‘nostalgic voice from the previous century’ . A public disagreement with opinions on scientific matters, imposed by political authorities, was treated as a politically hostile statement. A whole social mechanism of chain reactions was put in motion which tended to discourage the scientist, either individually or collectively, to actively oppose the misuse of science for political purposes. Finally, resignation from the Academy meant giving up the opportunity of exercising any moderating influence whatever with no apparent gain of any kind. In such a dilemma no conclusive argument could be produced for this course.
On its foundation the Polish Academy of Science absorbed the two greatest and most influential scientific societies in the country – the Academy of Science and Learning in Cracow and the Warsaw Scientific Society. This was followed by a sustained effort to absorb or to oust, in some way or other, all the remaining scientific societies. The regional scientific centres were gradually compelled to restrict their activities, and found themselves under severe pressure to surrender their academic status and to transform themselves into bodies for the popularisation of science. Also plans of reorganising the specialised societies were envisaged. This was partly the question of integrating their activities into those of the Academy and partly that of neutralising the authority of professional competence which they represented in public opinion. Specialised scientific societies, stated Jan Dembowski, President of the Academy, erred by their exclusiveness, resulting from the demand of academic qualifications from their members, and no longer corresponded with the needs of the country. They should throw their membership wide open not only to the young, but also to ‘working people, rationalisers and shock workers’. Their perspicacity and good judgment, unburdened by the routine of academic thinking, would discover the weak points which escape the mind of a scientist.
These ideas were enforced mainly in professional technical associations, but some scientific and scholarly societies also suffered from them, and, in some cases, had to discontinue their activities altogether. Among the latter was the Sociological Institute in Łód", after the war the main sociological association in the country. It was revived in 1956 and about the same time the sociologists formed a section within the Philosophical Society, later transformed into the re-established Polish Sociological Association. The Philosophical Society was little affected. While during the Stalinist period the Society as a whole could not initiate any activities on a national scale, the regional organisations met regularly and were probably the only platforms for genuine philosophical discussions, held in closed circles, in which various schools of thought could be heard and argue with each other. They managed somehow to survive the period of repressions and to carry on their normal existence. The Society has greatly increased its activities since 1956.
The Polish Academy of Science enforced a strict censorship of all scientific publications. This was facilitated by the centralisation of the nationalised publishing industry. Since 1950 a central commission, later known under the name of the Central Office of Publications, was supervising all publishing activities and controlled them more and more rigorously. The Central Office of Publications was the only supplier of print and the only distributor of books. Thus it became impossible to publish anything without official approval. Within the framework of this organisation the Academy proceeded to establish its own detailed system of censorship over the content of scientific publications. The printing of scientific publications was entrusted to a handful of publishing houses, of which the most important was ‘Polish Scientific Publishers’ (Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe), set up in 1951, and responsible for the production of nearly three quarters of all scientific books and periodicals. The responsibility for the form and content of any publication passed from the hands of the author or the sponsoring society into those of the publishing houses and the supervisors appointed by the Academy. This system of control had nothing to do with the accepted practice of editors and publishers, who have their advisers or independent referees passing scientific books and papers for publication. The control of the Academy also invariably applied to manuscripts qualified for publication by appropriate committees appointed by scientific bodies.
The censorship of the Academy was mainly political and ideological. For these reasons some manuscripts were refused publication and others were held up for years waiting for a decision which was not forthcoming. The censorship was anonymous and there was no appeal against its verdict. The author was advised by the publishing house that he should leave out some passages, change the wording of others, or supplement his manuscripts in some definite manner. He had either to accept the advice or give up the publication. The censorship, sponsored by the Academy, not only suppressed freedom of thought, but also humiliated the author and abased the value of the written word.
The censorship was not restricted to new works and current periodicals. The re-edition of books written a long time ago was also censored and the text altered or tampered with. The most notorious instances were the fate of Józef Nusbaum-Hilarowiczs Idea of Evolution in Biology and J. H. Pestalozzi’s Wie Gertrude ihre Kinder Lehrt, both published under the auspices of the Academy.
It was an established rule that each book had its officially appointed scientific editor, who together with the censors was hold responsible for the content of the publication. Since the work done on the manuscript by the censors and the editor often changed the text out of recognition, the authors lost interest in giving to their manuscripts the final and finished form before sending them to the publisher. The mechanism created for the exercise of ideological control over scientific publications produced a peculiar situation. The author supplied a substitute of a book, and the work itself was emerging at the writing desk of the ideological supervisors, helped by the editors employed by the publishing house.
The publishing activities of the Polish Academy of Science have also considerable and notable achievements to their credit. With the large financial means at its disposal the Academy launched a comprehensive publishing plan. It included the publication in Polish translations of a great number of famous works from English, French, German, and Russian literature. Students of law, economists, educationists, philosophers each had their separate ‘Libraries of World’s Classics’. The largest of them, ‘The Library of Philosophy Classics’, now numbers over fifty works. The responsibility for the choice of works to be translated and for the translation has been in the hands of a committee composed of the most competent persons to be found in the country. Philosophers and sociologists who at that time were forbidden to teach have been among its members. The circulation of philosophy classics reached very large figures. For instance, eight thousand copies of the translation of Kant Kritik der reinen Vernunft were published, of which three quarters was sold almost immediately.
The last aspect of the Academy’s activities to be briefly considered is the creation of a wide network of scientific research institutes, covering many fields of knowledge. More than eighty bodies ranging from fully-fledged and well organised institutes, staffed with numerous research workers, to commissions meeting occasionally for some definite purpose, have been established. Practically every scholar and scientist has been connected in some way or other with a working body and participates in the research organised by the Academy.
Such a huge and complicated organisation has its merits and demerits, and it can serve various purposes. It might be used as a means of control that has nothing to do with the aims and interests of science; there is little doubt that initially the effort to concentrate all research work in the institutes and other bodies of the Academy was undertaken to achieve this end among others. It might also provide an organisational framework for the most effective use of human and material resources for the benefit of science. In some branches of science, in which team work, expensive equipment, a considerable outlay of money play an increasing role, such a centralization of research is necessary and in fact practised all over the world. There is evidence that the network of the Academy institutes has actually stimulated research by providing vast opportunities either for individual or collective efforts.
Since 1956 one of the institutes of the Academy has been the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology. At the time when the Academy was set up, all the energies of the Marxist-Leninist philosophers were concentrated on the reorganisation of philosophy as an undergraduate study. Since an institute has a statutory obligation to carry on research, philosophical research had to conform to Marxist-Leninist principles, and no Marxist-Leninist could be spared for this purpose, the intention of organising the Philosophical Institute was at first abandoned. Some of its functions were provisionally taken up by the Philosophical Committee, set up in May, 1952.
The Philosophical Committee was a supervisory body and had three sections: dialectical and historical materialism, history of philosophical and social thought, and formal logic. With the exception of Ajdukiewicz and Kotarbiński, other non-Marxist philosophers did not sit on the Committee. Schaff, the leading Marxist-Leninist philosopher, was appointed its chairman. The primary function of the Philosophical Committee was to provide an ideological authority and leadership in transforming the teaching of philosophy and philosophical research to the established Marxist-Leninist pattern. The Committee assumed supervision over the Editorial Board of the ‘Library of Philosophy Classics’ (Without interfering with its work). It published Myśl Filozoficzna, a periodical devoted exclusively to Marxist-Leninist philosophy. It also watched Studia Logica, the supervision being rather nominal than real; no Marxist-Leninist ever contributed a single article to this periodical.
In 1953 it was decided to set up the Seminar of Philosophical Sciences comprising two sections, namely of logic and of history of philosophical and social thought. With the organization of the historical section in the Philosophical Seminar two serial publications were started (Archiwum Filozofii i Myśli Spolecznej, Studia Mediewistyczne), of which the first number appeared in 1957 and 1958 respectively. Finally, in 1954, the Philosophical Committee was considerably enlarged by the co-option of representatives of the provincial universities. Kotarbiński and Ajdukiewicz were members from the beginning and now they were joined by Czeżowski and Kokoszyńska. Other prominent non-Marxist philosophers still remained outside it and the Philosophical Committee continued to be dominated by Marxist-Leninists.
In 1956 the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology was formed and a number of changes for the better took place. Schaff was appointed director of the Institute, and Ajdukiewicz became his deputy. Kotarbiński assumed the chairmanship of the Scientific Council. The Philosophical Committee fell into abeyance. The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology has seven seminars or departments concerned with the history of modern philosophy and social thought, the history of ancient and medieval philosophy, logic, dialectical materialism with a section for the philosophy of natural sciences, the theory of culture and social change, social research, the theory and history of moral philosophy, and philosophical bibliography and documentation.
To complete the description of conditions in the universities, scientific institutions, and philosophical publications, under which Marxist-Leninist philosophy could make the claim of having obtained the dominant position in the intellectual life of the country, a few further details must be added. They concern the philosophical periodicals and scientific contacts with the outside world.
In 1949 there appeared the last philosophical books of the non-Marxist writers and no others could be published until 1955. This did not apply to the textbooks of formal logic, the translations of the classical philosophical works, a few translations of the contemporary Catholic thinkers, which the publishing house Pax, owned by the so-called progressive Catholics, managed to bring out. The prohibition was also extended to non-Marxist philosophical periodicals (except the Catholic Roczniki Filozoficzne), which were declared to be objectively a weapon in the struggle against Marxist-Leninist philosophy.
In 1949 the last volume, the forty fifth in succession, of the main Polish philosophical periodical Przegląd Filozoficzny was published. Kwartalnik Filozoficzny, another periodical established after the First World War, managed to bring out one number, devoted to Descartes, in 1950, but then the order to discontinue publication was enforced. Ruch Filozoficzny, a bibliographical philosophical periodical, stopped appearing in the middle of 1950, and Studia Philosophica, published in French and English, appeared for the last time in 1951. Nauka Polska, a yearly publication devoted to the development and organisation of science, could produce only one volume in 1947. Sociological and psychological periodicals (Przegląd Socjologiczny, Kwartalnik Psychologiczny, and Psychologia Wychowawcza) shared the fate of the philosophical ones. They too stopped appearing in 1949.
About the same time the content of various periodicals, which were not to be banned for the time being, changed abruptly and radically. This was particularly noticeable in those with a liberal editorial policy, of which Myśl Współlczesna and Życie Nauki, both of interest to philosophers, provided examples. They became, to all practical purposes, exclusively Marxist-Leninist periodicals. It was also at that time that the peculiar Marxist-Leninist style in philosophy, militant and offensive, confusing argument with invectives, with invevtive,-like qualifying terms and sweeping condemnations, made its first appearance in Poland. It firmly established itself when Myśl Filozoficzna, the Marxist-Leninist philosophical periodical, was started at the end of 1951. The intrusion of political considerations into philosophical argument was clearly discernible towards the end of 1948, and it increased gradually in volume and insistence. It too reached its culmination in Myśl Filozoficzna, which announced in its first number that it would not be inspired by academic objectivism and philosophical detachment.
Finally, about the same time, Polish scientists and scholars were made aware of the importance to be attached to the struggle between proletarian internationalism and imperialist cosmopolitism, the latter being a peculiar and most rabid form of bourgeois nationalism. Cosmopolitism was the ideology of capitalism in the era of imperialism, which under the guise of universal values tried to impose upon the world an ideology hostile to proletarian patriotism and to protect the capitalist domination. Contemporary cosmopolitism was a conscious and elaborate expression of the reactionary aspirations of international imperialism, above all, of American imperialism. On the other hand, internationalism was another name for the peaceful co-operation of nations which without losing their national identity were striving towards the common good of making socialism a reality. Internationalism was perfectly compatible with patriotism. It accepted the principle that every nation, whether large or small, could contribute to the cause of progress, that is to say, of progress towards socialism, provided that it took the right road leading to this goal. The right road was marked out by the scientifically established laws of historical development. The support of socialism implies the support of proletarian internationalism, and the rejection of capitalism implies the rejection of imperialist cosmopolitism.
It is not true, therefore, that there is only one science, neither socialistic nor capitalistic. First, there is no impartial science and to expect science in a society based on class struggle to be impartial is, as Lenin put it, ‘silly and naive’. Second, there is a progressive science inspired by internationalism and working for the benefit of man, and a reactionary science, cultivated in the capitalist countries and preparing the destruction of mankind. There is no third course, for neutrality is in such circumstances either hypocritical or mendacious.
Cosmopolitism might take two different forms. It might consist in playing the part of admirers and disciples of capitalistic science or in ignoring or underestimating one’s own national contribution to the progress of civilisation. Accordingly, there are two ways of combatting cosmopolitism. The first is to discover in the history of one’s nation the progressive revolutionary tradition, the groping progress towards Marxism-Leninism and the proletarian ideology. The second is to reject the grovelling attitude towards West-European capitalistic science and culture, to recognise that ‘to-day Moscow is the capital of political and scientific progress’, and that Soviet science provides an inspiring model of progressive science to all nations. The first Soviet model which the scientists were urged to accept, to bear witness to the victory of proletarian internationalism over cosmopolism in Poland, was the new biology of Michurin and Lysenko.
It is unnecessary to dwell on these views for they are familiar from elsewhere. What is of interest is the use made of them in the framing of the policies for the development of science and in philosophical discussions. For the suppression of some philosophical schools of thought was sometimes justified as a measure intended to protect the national culture against the evils of cosmopolitism.
Those who were responsible for the formulation and implementation of the policies of the Academy assumed the distinction between cosmopolitan and international science as the basic principle in all their decisions. This not only resulted in declarations of admiration for the progressive Soviet science, in advocating and in establishing close cultural and scientific relations with the Soviet Union, but also in maintaining these relations to the exclusion of contacts with the world outside the Soviet sphere. Very soon after the Academy was set up, the recommendation to sever all contacts with science that was not international was formulated and implemented.
In philosophical discussions the distinction between cosmopolitan and internationalism rendered immediate and valuable service in establishing Marxist-Leninist philosophy in its dominant position. It was impossible to deny that the philosophical schools of thought other than Marxism-Leninism developed in close connection with Western European philosophy, had their origin in and drew their stimulus from its developments. It followed from the doctrine of cosmopolitism that non-Marxist philosophy reflected a hostile ideology and that to continue its cultivation was a political act directed against national interests. To criticise the logic of such a verdict was to stand condemned by one’s own words.
The doctrine of cosmopolitism helped to increase the political pressure upon the philosophers and to induce one more inhibition to the freedom of expression. It also opened the flood-gate through which a mounting stream of translations from the Russian and of Russian publications began to pour into Poland. Biology and economics were probably the first to experience a pronounced effort to impose upon them the ideological theories accepted in Soviet biology and economics. This was accompanied by a vast and indiscriminate supply of translated articles, pamphlets and books on these subjects published in the Soviet Union. Anything whatsoever that happened to come into the hands of the publishers was published in translation.
The position in philosophy was at first different. Soviet philosophical articles and essays, translated and published in Polish periodicals, were initially few in number and carefully selected. Whatever opinion could have been formed about them, they did not offend intellectual standards accepted in Poland, prior to the establishment of the Marxist-Leninist dominance strictly adhered to by everyone. When a deviation from this rule occurred in 1947, it was unfavourably commented upon by Marxist and non-Marxist alike. This wise discrimination was abandoned with the proclamation of the dogma of two sciences, the cosmopolitan and the international. The eagerness with which anything Russian was seized upon to be extolled and admired rendered poor service to the reputation of Soviet philosophy.
For a few years contacts outside the Soviet part of the world were restricted to the point of complete severance. Some philosophers who sent their contributions to the international congress of philosophy, held in Brussels in 1953, were publicly censured. Opportunities of obtaining books and periodicals published in the non-Soviet world were largely limited to those who were to use them for the purpose of ideological polemics. Philosophical developments outside the Soviet world were generally known only by hearsay or as reflected in the distorting mirror of Marxist-Leninist criticism, from which, to recall Schaff’s observation, academic objectivitism and philosophical detachment disappeared. Isolated from the exchange of ideas, non-Marxist philosophy was expected to offer less resistance or to become submerged by the expanding Marxist-Leninist philosophy.