Mankind Quarterly 31 (1991) 231-253
It could be Neo-Lysenkoism, if there was ever a break in continuity!
German Central Office for Genealogy,
It is a remarkable fact that in
recent years the most effective opposition to the study of human evolution has
come not from religious fundamentalists and the political right, but from
biologists and other scientists who identify themselves with the radical left.
The focus of these critics was on the inheritance of intelligence …. So wrote E. O. Wilson in 1978. Meantime, his
opponents, R. Lewontin, S. Rose, and L. J. Kamin (1984), affirmed that the aim of their campaign against IQ and class society was to create a society of greater social justice, a socialist one. Trained as a natural scientist in an East European socialist country (the GDR), where he also had to pass compulsory examinations in Marxism-Leninism in order to qualify, the author may be forgiven for wondering what will result from the injection of socialist political aims into biological and social science in Western universities. Even in
However, the implications of human behavioral genetics
(or psychogenetics as this field is called by Russian
and East European authors) clearly extends beyond natural science.
Recognizing that even the best scientists may be influenced by their personal
experiences, the author believes that he has something to add to the continuing
hereditarian-environmentalist debate. The security service of
In August 1974, the Second Conference of the Pedagogues of the Socialist Countries was staged in
There are biologists who support the following hypothesis of the creation of uniqueness: In the process of fertilization two gametes are melding together, from which results a unique genotype as a hereditary basis. For its development the unique genotype needs an unique environment (including the family and the schools), corresponding to its range of possibilities. If there is not such an environment, the genotype will not realize its promise. Hence, the uniqueness of the genotype is a basis for the uniqueness of a personality.
This biological hypothesis it refuted by the majority of biologists. Social properties of humans, positive and negative one, are not of biological, but of social origin.
But the biological hypothesis corresponds with the spirit of bourgeois ideology . Bourgeois ideologists are satisfied with the prejudice, that a master can only be the offspring of a master, the intellectual of an intellectual, the laborer of a laborer. As it is the case in a society, founded with exploitation. … The biological hypothesis of an unique genotype is a convenient masquerade of social injustice.
The one-sided stupidity of these few sentences is so great that even Richard Lewontin (1975) hardly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Stoletov. For Stoletov, Mendelian segregation seems to be completely unknown. Holding the degree of doctor of biological sciences since 1958, Stoletov should have known better.
The importance of the
1948 session of the Lenin Pansoviet Academy of Agricultural Sciences in
The original proceedings of this ill-famed session (see English translation 1951) were coedited by I. I. Prezent and V. N. Stoletov, both active participants in the conference who presented their own papers immediately before the concluding address – which was made by T.D. Lysenko himself. Stoletov declared:
Lysenko told us that from the works of our teachers of Marxism-Leninism we cannot only deduce the general guiding ideas for studying the variability of inheritance, but also concrete hints concerning the origin of such modifications. … The experiments of the followers of Michurin show in a convincing way that there is no Mendelian segregation. The inapplicability of the Mendelian rules can even be proven by experiments with Drosophila. … No maneuver of the Mendelists is able to rescue the unfertile unscientific theory of chromosomes from complete unmasking. … From the point of view of practical utility Mendelism was a vacuum in the past, is a vacuum in the present and obviously will be a vacuum in the future.
Thus spoke comrade Stoletov in July 1948, as deputy director of the
The first Russian edition
of Stoletov’s book The
Fundamentals of Michurin Biology (see
English edition 1953) appeared in 1948 and was soon translated by the state
into several languages. Then, in 1950, Stoletov was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture responsible for the entire
The great struggle
between Lysenko’s agrobiology,
proclaimed as “socialist biology”, and classical genetics began as early as
1936. In that year, at the instigation of Stalin himself, all testing of
intelligence was forbidden in Soviet schools (and up to the time of this
writing this order has never been officially cancelled in any East European
country). Nobody ever understood the intrinsic logic of this simultaneity of
events better than Stoletov. Because IQ tests measure inter-individual differences, and human genetics is the science of the inheritance of inter-individual differences, when both IQ tests and human genetics are forbidden (or even simply discredited) what cannot be measured cannot be discussed scientifically: hence it is not possible to challenge the thesis that all men are created equal. Since 1936 to the present, the study of the genetic component of intelligence has remained taboo in the
The official resurrection of classical genetics began in the
Any revival of orthodox communist ideology is always accompanied by attacks against human behavior genetics. In the course of a power struggle in Communist China, Lin Piao was accused in 1974 of preaching a theory of innate genius (Li 1974), which was described as being rooted in Confucianism:
The question whether man’s intellect and talents are inherent and attributed to his natural make-up or they are acquired after birth through learning, that is, whether they have class nature or social practicability, has given rise to much controversy between the two classes. … Although some classical authors of Marxism did make mention of “genius” in their works, yet what they meant by “genius” is absolutely different from the “genius descended from heaven”, boosted by Confucius, Lin Piao and their like. … Marxism maintains that the forming of a genius does not depend on a certain person, but on the Party, the vanguard of proletariat, that is, on mass line, on collective wisdom. … Lin Piao claimed that this ability and knowledge were different from others because they originated from his parents, in other words, he inherited them from his ancestors. This is a downright lie, aiming at deceiving not only himself but others also. The core of the problem consists in what he meant by “ancestors” and “inheritance”. If by ancestors he meant the ancestors of mankind, that is the ancestors from man-like-ape to ape man, the brain of man had indeed gone through a number of leaps. … Some people might use lame arguments by suggesting that although ability cannot be inherited, yet the potentiality of acquiring ability may be derived from ancestors. However, the difference between porter and philosopher refers to the fact … that differences are brought about by the kind of training and education children have received during the time of growth and development. … The theory of innate genius, pushed by Lin Piao, is reactionary politically, idealist ideologically and simply a variety of the notorious eugenics. Lin Piao, while flaunting the banner of innate genius, was actually committing heinous fascist crimes. … Armed with Marxism, Leninism and Mao Tse-tung thought, the progressive proletariat and the broad masses of the working people will surely carry on a severe criticism of Lin Piaos theory of innate genius, to get rid of its poison.
And in the Soviet Union, Tschernenko (1983), the last old man of the proletarian vanguarde, asked (as General Secretary of the Communist Party) that: Can a concept be held scientific, that explains mental properties by the existence of genes and denies that such properties are caused by the social environment?
Stoletov (1973) had good reason to boost: On
Doubts about Stoletov’s gigantic foresight were widespread in
The author remembers when – as a boy of 14 – during a blizzard in the Saxonian Ore Mountains in the winter of 1959, he had to rescue cows from open-air sheds where they were kept according to the rules of applied Marxism – much open-air, not much feed, but the milker strongly educated in Marxist doctrine (and as a result of all this, nearly no milk). When the veterinarian of our village criticized this dogmatism, the district journal of the Party accused him of defending reactionary opinions. This manifest contradiction between pretension and reality instigated the author to search for the deeper roots of such policy and to study genetics. He found that until 1965 the official curriculum in genetics was a curious mixture of Lysenkoism and classical genetics, and that a student had to use his own common sense.
Translated by H. A. Freye (as already published in a Russian translation), there appeared in 1968 in Jena a German translation of Curt Sterns second edition of his Principles of Human Genetics. Chapter 27 of this influential book is dedicated to mental characteristics and some data on IQ distributions among relatives are given. In
The interpretation of this tables and other data reveals that a major gene locus of general intelligence, with gene frequencies of 0.20 and 0.80, respectively, could explain the empirical distribution by Mendelian segregation. From the Hardy-Weinberg-law the frequencies of the hypothetical genotypes can easily be calculated, corresponding to the following median IQs: IQ 94 and IQ 130 for the homozygotes, IQ 112 for the heterozygotes. If we consider the probability of a single individual belonging to a specific type, a Mendelian analysis can be carried out.
With respect to human behavioral genetics in the nonmedical field, the intellectual climate in
Despite this new
pressure, during the 1970s both medical genetics (Freye
1975) and differential psychology (including of course, IQ tests; see Guthke 1978) came to be recognized as established fields of research in
In 1980, the manuscript
of the monograph “Psychogenetik” (Weiss 1982a) was
complete. Now some fierce dogmatists were discovering that a cuckoo’s egg had
been laid in the nest of socialism. One example: S. Rose asked his East German
colleague, the professor of neurochemistry D. Biesold
at the Karl-Marx-University of Leipzig (personal communication by Biesold), whether there was no means of stopping further
publications by Weiss, because such publications printed in a socialist country
were particularly disadvantageous to the progaganda of the Radical Left in the Western world. Consequently, in 1981 a battle raged in
Moreover, censors in Communist countries are generally only people who are not interested in doing more work than necessary, and therefore the original version approved was never compared with the text that was finally printed. Because of this, a courageous author has the possibility of inserting new pages into the galleys and publishing data and opinions which had never passed censorship. To cite an example (Weiss 1982a, p. 109), the author was able to insert the following sentence in the published version, which had not been approved by the censors: In a representative sample (n = 6000) of East German university students raised by the Central Institute of Youth Research (1980), in 56% of all families at least one parent has an academic degree, in 33% both parents. This one fact from a secret research program disproved the official Marxist dogma that the majority of all university students in socialist countries are the children of laborers and peasants.
Because Friedrich and his security service co-worker Harri Schulze (see 1986) were unable to stop the publication of “Psychogenetik”, they accused their subordinate Weiss (as was fashionable in the wake of the Burt affair) of forgery of data and with the intention of fleeing East Germany for the West. With the aid of such calumnies, at the end of the year 1982 Friedrich sought and obtained the backing of high-ranking officials of the Communist Party and all further research in psychogenetics in East Germany came to an end.
(1982) has discussed the relation between Marxist ideology and the measurement
of IQ and claimed that Weiss’ East German research would show that Marxism and
IQ were not an intrinsic contradiction, as claimed by the political Left in the
West. The irony of Eysenck’s arguments was that at
the very time the cited author was under the threat of arrest and had already
lost all possibility of doing further empirical work of defending his field of research. After 1984, Weiss was forced to work in a quite different field (for results, see Weiss 1990b). What follows is the usual story of life and resistance under totalitarian conditions. In order to be published abroad, any new theoretical contributions had to be smuggled out of the GDR. As a consequence of this two versions of the quantum mechanics of intelligence appeared, one in
On the morning of October
9, 1989, a Monday, comrade W. Friedrich met comrade Egon Krenz, chief of all security forces in East Germany, in Berlin, and told him that according to the enquiries of his institute the shooting of demonstrators in Leipzig would be the beginning of a violent anticommunist revolution. In order to rescue the privileges of the party, a peaceful outlet had to be found. What followed is history. The Each-Monday-Revolution of Leipzig overthrew the dictatorship. Among the hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators were the author and his family. On