A New Book in the Context of Old Disputes between «Physicists» and «Lyricists»
A scholar has to be cautious with words much in the same manner as a physicist is to be careful with radioactive materials. But the opposite turns out. It is precisely historians, sociologists and art historians bury us in words with elusive meanings, with dozen of different meanings (that are in no way specified) or with no meaning at all. The science is not a heap of facts but a system of knowledge. And if we want to respect social sciences they are to be reduced to a system and be expounded in a way which presupposes distinct and clear, if possible unequivocal terminology. Yu.I.Semenov, specialist in primordial society economy, professor of Moscow physics and technological institute is engaged in this work for many years. In his new book Yu.I.Semenov approaches the subsequent history of Homo sapiens from the same position. The article is a review of Semenov’s new book.
Blossom and Berries. In Connection with the 40th Anniversaryof «Youth Revolution»
Un 1960s Western Europe and USA were convulsed with youth riots. A fanciful mix of rock-n-roll, pacifism, anarchism, Maoism and exotic mystics slopped over streets. So called Paris spring became the peak of the movement. Flat 40 years passed since that time. Jubilee publications are written in romantic and nostalgic tones. Que faire? Picturesque and naïve «flower children» could not survive in stone ju7nggles. Their idealism proved to be incompatible with harsh expedient laws of economics and politics. Some iconoclasts died, others «sold themselves to the bourgeoisie» and sit in European parliament. From the author’s point of view, many pillars of the contemporary global world order are realized slogans of the Paris spring. One would think what can the Russian Federation Ministry of education officials have in common with Paris students who marched out under slogans «Professors are out of date!» and «Two times two doesn’t equal four any more!» Meanwhile the orientation to «emancipation» of young people from «superfluous knowledge» lies at the basis of the contemporary so called ‘reform of education'. We confront a paradox: progressive (even too progressive) movement has turned into obscurantist reaction, while long-haired fighters for «total emancipation' didn’t not lose at all and didn’t sell themselves. The social order which asserts itself nowadays in place of capitalism owes a lot to rioters of 1968. If one takes a look form this point of view one will see that finally they conquered hated bourgeois. However by God it would be better if they hadn’t done that…
Winding Ways to the Temple
Heretofore the public education in Russia has been considered to be secular one. However such state of affairs is increasingly questioned. Clerics come to schools and universities. New textbooks are published (pertinent examples are «Islam. Spiritual and Moral Education of Schoolchildren» and «The Orthodox Biology»). Religious organizations are resolute in their claims to perform a peculiar role in moral instruction. All these trends cause intense discussions in the society. Separation is occurring: on one side of the barricade (or rather church fence) secular humanists are gathering, on the other side religious conservatives are rallying. Historian Il’ya Smirnov repeatedly published in ‘Russia XXI' his tongue-in-cheek critical reviews of textbooks where mystics and clerical-monarchical propaganda substitutes for strict scientific knowledge. However in this article the author does not take so resolute position and recognizes that on a wide range of issues believers articulate more humane, responsible and, strange as it may seem, more liberal judgments than their secular opponents. At the same time under the cloak of secular humanism we with increasing frequency find dogmas that have neither scientific nor moral substantiation.
The Civilizational Failure
«The Russian history» textbook by G.A.Eliseev, S.V.Alekseev and D.M.Volodikhin was published in 2006 and was allowed to educational institutions by the Russian Federation Ministry of education (already renewed, reorganized ministry). On behalf of all Russian science the ministry has certified with the state seal those amazing discoveries that lie in wait of young readers right from the first page of the textbook’s first chapter and onwards. And the ministry has approved the remarkable methodology offered by the authors of the textbook instead of the bleak «positivism». Previously the creative freedom was restrained by requirement of some arguments and evidence, substantiation or at least the precise definition of terms. Now these remnants of the totalitarian regime are dismantled. Aveskhan of Macedonia congratulates the authors of the textbook and their ministerial patrons with the victory they secured.
The Russian officials permanently express their indignation caused by arrangement of monuments to SS-men in Latvia and Estonia and commemorations in honor of SS-men organized in these states. Rehabilitation of Nazism in the Baltic states and in Western Ukraine is really a disgraceful, ignominious phenomenon. However the paradox lies in the fact that the monument of SS-men, Gruppenführer Helmut von Pannvitz and his fellows in arms from punitive units of Wehrmacht and SS was constructed in the capital of the Russian Federation, near Sokol subway station already under Elstin and it was not demolished in the year of the Victory 60th anniversary in spite of Muscovites' protests. The organized and purposeful revision of conventional scientific (read moral) notions on the WWII has gone (and still goes) unabated under accompaniment of jubilee speeches. Books, movies and performances whose authors freely scoffed at the memory of anti-Nazi fighters have kept to appear. It should be emphasized that quite often such undertakings were funded from the State budget and enjoyed the complete and cordial support of officials. Recently Ilya Smirnov, a historian, has published a series of articles on creeping rehabilitation of Nazism. Today he comes round to the theme and takes into account contradictory experience of the Victory 60th anniversary. He demonstrates how the political propaganda is disseminated under false cloak of «creativity». This propaganda campaign drubs the idea that the forefathers of the younger generations of Russians were cruel and brutish murderers and Nazis were innocent victims of the Soviet «totalitarian» regime into conscience of people who are coming into age. The author draws a particular attention to underlying motives of the organizers of this propaganda campaign as well as to the deplorable fact that these people still control principal Russian media and may employ the air and press to advertise their production and defame their opponents.
Saga of Slav Rurik and Other Valets Taught the Russian History in Pure Vologda Sanskrit
Introduction of so called «concetrical» system of instruction in the secondary school has been one of the most important educational «reforms» of 1990s. Nowadays the curriculum consists of two separate «concentrates» which has to be learned twice: in the incomplete school training which is mandatory for everyone and then in the higher secondary school (in the 10th and 11th classes) for students intending to enlist higher education institutions. One could find certain logic in this transformation: for example, it is easier to explain the serious scientific problems researchers of ancient Russian history confront with to 16 year old student than to a younger student provided someone really intends to discuss scientific problems with students. However new textbooks for higher secondary schools proved to be by far more primitive and remote from the contemporary science than textbooks for younger children. Therefore the author could not pass by one of the most popular textbooks for the Russian secondary school. «The history of Russia from the ancient times…» for the 10th class is published by a major publishing company and has got a recommendation from the Ministry of education. Only extra print run of the textbook indicated in the imprint data comprises 100 thousand copies. How does the textbook deepen and improve knowledge of history school students have obtained in the «first concentrate»? How does the textbook content relate to the most recent achievements of scientists, in particular, to works of Novgorod, Smolensk and Ladoga archeological expeditions that have seriously changed our perceptions of the most ancient period of the Russian history?
Computer Accounting of Little Flying Crocodiles.
Introduction of the Common State Exams (the Russian abbreviation for them is «ЕГЭ») is one of our principal «educational reforms». Its differences from the system of knowledge checking traditionally adopted in the USSR (and Russia) include the following characteristics: the school-leaving exams are combined with the entrance exams to a higher education institution (or, to be precise, to all higher education institutions simultaneously); questions are substituted for tests and an examiner is replaced with a computer. About 2 billion rubles are spent on introduction of the CSE since 2001. It is an amount comparable with the amount that presumably was lacking for devices, reagents, salaries and even for the simplest fire alarm systems and fire extinguishers in elementary and secondary schools. It should be added that the very concept of the CSE does not find support among scientists and educators. The article demonstrates the true nature of the Common State Examination on the specific discipline: basics of social sciences. It’s impossible to evaluate knowledge and abilities of youngsters on the grounds of such exam’s results. However, as the author thinks, it’s possible to evaluate knowledge and abilities — not of pupils but the «reformers» who invented and introduced the new system.
The idea that communism and Nazism are but the variants of the same «totalitarian» ideology has spread on the ruins of the USSR. It is supposed that one can hardly find any important difference here. The author of the article yet thinks that there is a strong difference between them, as well as between a Soviet and SS soldier. It is not a matter of nationality (Russian or German) — there were different people among the Hitler’s chasteners, including not-Aryans; it is a matter of the ideology. Communism and Nazism do not simply differ in some points — they are totally incompatible ideologies. That is why the fall of the USSR could not but turn into the revenge of the powers that were defeated in 1945. It happened not only in the Baltic countries and Western Ukraine. The idea: «let's beat Nigers!» (Azerbaijanians, Armenians, Jews, Russians — underline the necessary one) appears in an empty shaved head not from nowhere. It is the natural reaction of the lower classes to the fact that the radical anti-communism reached its climax in the higher circles, circles of big money and philosophical degrees. The word «internationalist» became dirty in the 1990-es. The «white spots» (censorship's shades) of the history that was written by soviet historians turned into the brown points of the new conjunction.
The economic science which came instead of «political economy of the developed socialism» proved to be not much closer to the real life of Russians working in plant shops, institutions, in hospitals and polyclinics (where people have to pay for so-called «insurance health service» once again putting their money in pockets of doctors, nurses and hospital’s door-keepers). However economists prefer «official data» (that confirm that all candidates running for mandates at elections are destitute people), average indicators and abstractions like «market reforms» to the harsh reality. Consequently, the everyday economics develops along its own lines while the science develops along it own lines. This science is incapable to give answers to the simple questions the life raises before an individual. The crux of the matter is that in the real life economics is inseparable from politics, i.e., from voluntary decisions made by bodies of power in interests of certain persons, organizations and social groups. The authors demonstrate that poverty of the Russian education system is result not of some abstract «insufficient financing» or «budget deficit» but of the conscious, deliberate policy aimed at support of some social groups at the expense of other' less privileged ones (for example, teachers).
Osya, Kisa and Tikhon visited this place
Reviews written by «Aveskhan of Macedonia, the popular expert» appeared in the Russian education related media in the second half of 1990s. It was precisely the moment when the so called «alternatives» proclaimed by the RF Ministry of education started to bring specific fruits and schools began to get such textbooks that simply could not be reviewed seriously. One could either cry or laugh. Aveskhan of Macedonia preferred the second option (though it was laughter through tears). And the very appearance of this person was connected to «History of Russia up to Peter the Great reign» textbook by A.P.Bogdanov (Moscow, Drofa Publishers, 1996). This textbook suggested the correspondence of «Russian princes» Asan and Aveskhan (both of whom had never existed in the reality) with Alexander of Macedonia which schoolchildren had to study. A lot of such textbooks was published since 1996. All of them were duly decorated with «Recommended by the Ministry of education» stamp. Every time when the Minister of education at press conferences is asked to comment on a next «discovery» from a successive textbook (examples of such «discoveries» are statements like «any bee may become a drone bee» or «Moslems are pagans» or «Ancient Greece was a single centralized state with the capital in Athens» etc.) the Minister puts the blame on unqualified experts, careless authors and publishers, in short, on whomever he likes but not on himself or his officials. It should be emphasized that it is precisely the Ministry which «recommends» or «permits» such obvious, a fortiori nonsense. The problem is why the Ministry recommends this nonsense. There are two feasible alternatives: 1) due to ignorance and professional incompetence; 2) it is done deliberately. A new publication by Aveskhan of Macedonia contains information valuable for a correct answer to the question.
The author demonstrates that in statistical reports and textbooks two very different types of human activity are presented under the same label of «advertisement». Of these two different activities only one may be considered as a socially useful activity. But it is far from being prevailing. Something different prevails: an activity which is closely related to the bigoted practices of «brain-washing» in J. Goebbels' agency and in Wahhabi training camps. Meanwhile not just the future of prosperous branch which absorbs expenses comparable to those for education but also fundamental theoretical principles of the science which came to Russia in 1990s from the West to replace «Marxian Leninst political economy» depend on the definition of advertisement. If advertisement is something different from what it pretends to be then the «objective» economic science is dubious not in some its partial and secondary considerations but in the very principles by which it defines itself. In other words, this science is based on sands, on an ideological cliches like «freedom of choice» or «the consumer’s sovereignty». The words are nice but are they relevant to the reality? If consumers' choice is free what are advertisement companies so generously paid for? If this choice is not free and a human person (a consumer, a voter, a respondent) is just a miserable puppet whose behavior is controlled from without in order to secure alien and too often blatantly hostile interests then what is the difference between the «open society» and the «totalitarian society»?
Does a serf need the art of fencing?
The author emphasizes that the word «reform» permanently used in various combinations long ago has severed from any specific meaning. So called «reform of education» is no exclusion. The fact is that under Eltsin the branch experienced major changes that touched millions of people (pupils, their parents, teachers). However a future historian will in vain investigate official documents, verbatim accounts and materials of discussions in search of the concept of transformations. He will discover just a set of general, senseless words about «democratization», «humanitarization», «advanced experience of other countries» etc. all of which are practically irrelevant to the real politics. Nobody has substantiated or explained the real politics in the sphere of education. Nobody has discussed the real politics at pedagogical councils. It was simply implemented.
The author demonstrates that the last combination of moves promoted by the Ministry of education (the single exam for the school-leaving certificate and for admission to the higher educational institution; 12 years term of secondary schooling; tests instead of traditional exams and the state financial obligations towards those particular persons who perform superbly) is not some new politics developed under Putin and subject to his aims but the direct continuation of the politics developed under Eltsin. A researcher sometimes has to reveal the true aims of this politics by comparing declarations with the specific actions and extracting information between the lines of official documents and interviews given by ministers and other high officials. It is precisely what the author undertook in the article.