On Revisionism in Vygotskian Science. Commentary on «In August of 1941» by Yasnitsky and Lamdan (2017)*

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Abstract

In this article we analyze the shift in Vygotskian science from “archival revolution” to the revelatory “revisionist revolution”, which Yasnitsky and colleagues proclaimed in 2012. The aim of revisionist revolu¬tion supporters is a critical analysis of the scientific heritage of Vygotsky, Luria and their colleagues, and the demythologization of Vygotsky’s personality as well as the scientific contribution of his school. We ana¬lyze in detail a selected set of the papers within “revisionist” movement and describe their advantages and disadvantages, and further question the soundness of statements of these papers. We justify our disagree¬ment with the exposed by revisionist papers undervaluation of the results of Luria’s Central Asian expedi¬tions. We also refute the assumptions of Yasnitsky and his colleagues about the absence of documentary evidence demonstrating that the heritage and name of Vygotsky were under administrative prohibition during the years of Stalinism, and provide corresponding documents. We conclude that ignorance of one group of facts, tendentious analysis of the other facts, and partiality in the discussion lead the researchers who work on “revisionist revolution” to misrepresent psychological science development.

General Information

* The original article was published in open access in Russian as: Akhutina, T.V. (2019). O revizionizme v vygotskovedenii. Kommentarii k statye A. Yasnitskogo i E. Lamdana “V avguste 1941-go” (2017) [On Revisionism in Vygotskian Science. Commentary on “In August of 1941” by Yasnitsky and Lamdan (2017)]. The Russian Journal of Cognitive Science, 2019, 6(1), 4—13.

Keywords: Vygotsky, Luria, cultural-historical psychology, Vygotskian heritage, archival revolution, revisionist revolution, Yasnitsky, administrative prohibition, history of psychology.

Journal rubric: Discussions and Discourses

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/chp.2021170319

Acknowledgements. The author wishes to thank Luciano Mecacci and Ekaterina Zavershneva for access to the full text of Dorena Caroli’s report and new data about the lists of books selected for withdrawal from the Soviet libraries, and also to the new article [8].

For citation: Akhutina T.V. On Revisionism in Vygotskian Science. Commentary on «In August of 1941» by Yasnitsky and Lamdan (2017). Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 152–159. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170319.

Full text

 

Why a critical analysis of the “revisionist
revolution” is needed?

In 2017, Anton Yasnitsky and Eli Lamdan published “In August 1941: The Unknown Letter of A.R. Luria in the United States as a Mirror of the Revisionist Revolution? in the journal History of Russian Psychology in Persons: Digest (No. 2) [42]. The article is remarkable because Luria’s newly discovered letter provided [1] the authors with an opportunity to outline the basis of their approach, which they call “the revisionist revolution in Vygotsky studies”. Of the 68 pages, only 10 are focused on Luria’s letter, with the rest devoted to the “revisionist revolution”. The title of the approach is somewhat surprising, because in Russian the word “revisionism” has negative connotations [13, 30, cf. 31]. The idea of a “revisionist” approach is actively promoted by Yasnitsky, as can be seen, for example, in the article on “Lev Vygotsky” in Wikipedia, written with Yasnitsky’s active participation [37]. Both the Wikipedia entry and the 2017 article refer to the “cult of Vygotsky”, which is opposed by the “revisionist revolution in Vygotsky studies”. Since there has never been a public response to the “revolution” from Russian historians of psychology, it makes sense to carefully consider the apology of “revisionism”. The factual side of the Yasnitsky and Lamdan article is a polite letter from Alexander Romanovich Luria and a polite reply from its addressee, Horace Kallen. The history of relations between Luria and Kallen, who facilitated the publication in English of Luria’s book The Nature of Human Conflicts in 1932 in the U.S. [19], is noteworthy. For the authors publishing this document, on the one hand, the letter is evidence of Luria’s (as well as Vygotsky’s) desire for international relations, as Yasnitsky and Lamdan advocate for the important role of horizontal links between scientists, and here we can only agree with them. However, this letter is otherwise just a pretext for them to acquaint the reader with the “research potential of the “revisionist turn” in Vygotsky studies” [42, p. 225]. So, what does the new approach offer us?

The purpose of the “revisionist revolution in Vy­gotsky studies” is “critical study of the scientific heritage of L.S. Vygotsky (1896—1934), A.R. Luria (1902—1977) and the circle of their collaborators” [42, p. 225]. Another article by the leader of this revolution, Anton Yasnitsky, co-authored with Jennifer Fraser [12] points to the task as “to deconstruct the mythologized persona of Lev Vygotsky” (p. 135; here the term postmodern philosophy is used to refer to understanding through the destruction of a stereotype or inclusion in a new context). It should be noted that, back in 2010, the authors referred to their approach using the more neutral term “archival revolution” [38], but in 2012 they changed the name to the emotionally colored “revisionist revolution” [40]. And since 2012, it is the critical, “revealing” character of the texts that has been dramatically strengthened [32].

In the literature review presented in the article under our consideration [42], the authors want to give the reader the impression that it is this critical direction that is now leading the study of the Vygotsky heritage. But that is far from the case. For example, the works of Ekaterina Zavershneva [44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49] hold a prominent place in their review. But her work can only be attributed to the “archive revolution”. Zavershneva is alien to the unmasking pathos of Yasnitsky and his followers[2]. As we discuss further, the main boundary of the “revisionist turn” is determined exactly by emotion and the subjective “revealing” bias of Yasnitsky and colleagues. From this point of view, it is possible to identify particular dynamics in the works by Yasnitsky and coauthors presented in the review [42].

An analysis of three pre-revisionist papers

For an example, let us consider the article “I wish you knew from what stray matter ...”[3] in Dubna Psychological Journal [39], written before the revisionist turn. This is a substantial article, which reveals the erudition of the author. The question raised, in particular, about the place of the work “Tool and Sign” in the heritage of Vygotsky is quite rational, because its earlier proposed solutions are opposite. Yasnitsky believes that this is a relatively insignificant work by Vygotsky, which did not deserve publication. I am closer to David Kellogg [15], who defends the view that this book plays an important role in the development of Vygotsky’s ideas and that he not only planned to print it, but also took steps to publish this work abroad (as evidenced by the discovery of the English text).

However, already in the 2011 article, there is a worrisome reduced estimation of “Thinking and Speech”, in particular its seventh chapter. Yasnitsky writes: “All of the author’s attempts to reason on linguistic topics in chapter seven of his last book look quite naive and somewhat unprofessional, especially in comparison with works on similar topics of his predecessors and contemporaries (e.g., [33]). An absence of references and weak elaboration of the corresponding conceptual apparatus further worsen the overall impression of the text with all the signs of incomplete work and draft” [39, p. 38].

It should be noted that this is the very chapter, written with a foreboding of death (pulmonary tuberculosis, possible arrest), which discloses Vygotsky’s mature understanding of inner speech, the pathway from thought to word. In the future, this understanding will be sought in the fields of neuropsychology, psychoand neurolin­guistics and developmental psychology [22; 18; 1; 2; 3; 4; 11; 6; 5 and many others]. Using the key words “inner speech Vygotsky” in a Google Scholar search provides 33,900 responses, of which 11,400 date from the past five years (2014 to 2018).

Another article, which can be attributed instead to the “pre-revisionist” period, is the publication of Lamdan and Yasnitsky [17] about a paper by Luria [20], published in Paris in the materials of the First International Conference of Child Psychiatry. It presents the case of a boy with mental retardation in whom an early disturbance of visual gnosis led to a chain of pathological consequences due to which meaningful productive speech was not formed. This case is an illustration of the principle of dynamic (chronogenic) organization and localization of functions, which Vygotsky proposed in his last published work and in his last Moscow talk taking an example of visual agnosia. Luria cites this work by Vygotsky [35] in his paper, however, Lamdan and Yas- nitsky [17] do not mention it, thus diminishing the influence of Vygotsky. Nowadays, such a chain of events first described by Vygotsky is called the “cascade effect”, and it occupies an important place when discussing the dynamic principle of developmental neuropsychology [14].

An analysis of the papers after revisionist turn

Let’s move on to the “revisionist” articles. We begin with three articles by Yasnitsky and Lamdan, which the authors refer to as “historical-methodological and historical-theoretical works” [42, p. 233]. They discuss Luria’s research on optical illusions among the Uzbeks [41; 16], and both authors are categorical in their judgments. They cite the well-known Luria phrase, that “the Uzbeks have no illusions”, and his statement that the results of the expeditions were not published for “political reasons” in their opinion, these views “do not quite correspond to reality” [41, p. 4]. In addition, it is argued that “Luria’s experimental data on optical illusions do not stand up to criticism” [16, p. 63]. Let us turn to how the authors draw conclusions made in these “methodological works”.

Arguing against the statement that “the Uzbeks have no illusions”, Yasnitsky ignores the fact that Luria never claimed that the Uzbeks have no visual illusions at all, since cultural differences were obtained only on certain illusions. Luria gives two different examples of perception of illusions in a letter to Wolfgang Kohler in December 1931. He said the same thing in his 1974 talk: “I found it quite astonishing that all the geometrical optical illusions fall into two categories: some already exist in all our subjects, while others do not, including obviously categorial components” (the report was published in Luria’s heritage collection: [26; 27], see p. 274)[4]. And most importantly, in his book on the Central Asian expeditions [23; 25], he notes that “almost all” experienced the Muller-Lyer illusion, “even ichkari women[5] (two thirds of them)” [25, p. 43]. Contrasting the conclusions of Luria and those of Kurt Koffka, who believed that the Uzbeks have illusions, Yasnitsky does not pay attention to the fact that Koffka did not reproduce the main method of Luria — conducting experiments with subjects of different educational levels. Koffka conducted experiments in the Ferghana Valley, a relatively “cultured” area where massive collectivization and literacy training were carried out. When the expedition moved to the area of the village of Shahimardan, with a predominantly illiterate traditional population, Koffka’s health deteriorated due to several consecutive attacks of malaria and he had to leave.

This is the main difference between the experiments of Luria and Kofka that “history-methodology experts” do not notice. However, it is the cultural and educational contrast between the participants in the experiments that is of importance to today’s readers (see, for example, the article by scientists Vadim Deglin from Russia and Marcel Kinsbourne from the USA on the hemispheric differences in thinking styles [9]). In this context, it is perhaps worth remembering also the work of Stanislas Dehaene, Lauren Cohen and Regina Kolinski [10] on the changes in behavior and brain organization caused by the acquisition of reading.

Is it correct to compare Koffka’s results on illusions to Luria’s results? Do Koffka’s results cancel Luria’s conclusions, given that Koffka did not replicate the main methodical technique —investigation of subjects of different educational levels (literate and illiterate populations)? Of course not. Luria could have discussed Koff­ka’s results, but was certainly not obliged to.

Yasnitsky calls into question the statement that the results of the expeditions were not published for “political reasons” [41, p. 4]. It is known that in 1932 the Moscow Control Commission of the WPI[6] started to work in the Institute of Psychology, which “demanded from Luria material on the work carried out under his leadership on a psychological expedition to Central Asia” (from A.R. Luria’s letter addressed to the Culture and Propaganda section of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and to People’s Commissar A.S. Bub­nov, quoted from [28, p. 66])[7]. As A.R. Luria himself said: “I was accused of all mortal sins, even racism, and I had to leave the Institute of Psychology” [27, p. 274]. His move to Kharkiv is also connected with these events. But our “history-methodology experts” think that “the criticism that these studies <of Luria> received in the Soviet Union... nevertheless, does not explain why these studies were not published abroad” [41, p. 19]. It is abundantly clear that it was dangerous to publish on this topic (he was threatened with arrest)[8], and in a situation where Nazism was flourishing in Europe, all the more so. However, Yasnitsky claims that Luria and Vygotsky knew about the results of the study and Koffka’s critical conclusion as early as the summer of 1932. This implied, if not a complete failure of Luria’s entire Central Asian study in 1931—1932, then at least serious reasons to doubt the conclusions of the 1931 expedition and the need for a critical review of both the conclusions and Luria’s experimental methods [41, p. 19].

In Yasnitsky’s opinion, it was not the fear of reprisals but the uncertainty in his conclusions that impeded publication. Moreover, Yasnitsky is in some way in tune with those who accused Luria of nationalism. He writes:

“were the reason for criticism of Luria’s research, which — contrary to the beliefs and open declarations of this researcher and his collaborations — nevertheless allowed one to draw a conclusion about the existence of intellectual and psychological superiority of some nationalities over others in the multinational Soviet state” [41, p. 7; italics ours — T.A.].

This can be written only without understanding the essence of the facts stated by Luria, the interpretation of which became the basis of cultural-historical psychology. The facts clearly demonstrated the influence of new cultural and educational experience on the formation of mental functions, rather than indicating the superiority of nationalities. As Yasnitsky allows himself to deny the statement made by Luria on March 25, 1974 in his talk at the Institute of Psychology on sending a telegram to Vy­gotsky saying “The Uzbeks have no illusions!” [27, p. 274], and to call this episode “apocryphal history”, “tradition” [41, p. 2], Yasnitsky refuses to respect Luria. He also shows his misunderstanding of Luria’s experiments, arguing that Vygotsky’s rave reviews of the results of Luria’s expeditions “did not justify themselves” [41, p. 23]. Yasnitsky’s work is characterized by an abundance of factual material, meticulous digging out facts, but understanding the essence of what lies behind the facts is often lacking.

Was there a ban of Vygotsky’s publications
in USSR? New archival evidence

Let us consider another essay, written by Jennifer Fraser of the University of Toronto and Anton Yasnitsky [12]: “Deconstructing Vygotsky’s Victimization Narrative: A Re-Examination of the ‘Stalinist Suppression’ of Vygotskian Theory”. Based on the title, it is apparent that the authors suppose that modern psychology has developed a view of Vygotsky as a victim and want to re-examine whether there was a ban on his theory. In another article published in 2017, Yasnitsky and Lamdan refer to the “opinion that the works, heritage and name of Vygotsky were under administrative ban during the years of Stalin­ism” as “widely spread but undocumented” [42, p. 8].

Fraser and Yasnitsky use the fact that Rubinstein in Fundamentals of General Psychology and Luria in Traumatic Aphasia both cited Vygotsky as evidence that there was no official ban on the publication and citation of Vygotsky. But it is important to examine how these authors cite Vygotsky.

I did a small search on the citation of Vygotsky by Luria in his works on aphasia in 1940, 1947 and 1975. In 1975/1976, in Basic Problems of Neurolinguistics [24], Luria cites Vygotsky 27 times in 250 pages of text (and no one else so often). In 1948/1970, in Traumatic Aphasia [22], within 365 pages of text Luria cites Vygotsky 10 times, and Esther Bein and Kurt Goldstein 11 times each, according to the author index of the book. The first reference to Vygotsky (p. 56) appears under the “cover” of Piotr Anokhin: “As the studies of physiologists (Anokhin) and psychologists (Vygotsky) have shown...”. On page 85, Luria speaks of inner speech according to his understanding of Vygotsky, but there is no reference to Vygotsky in the text; the name appears only in the index of authors. All other references to Vygotsky in the index appear in a chain of other authors, that is, again masked among less provocative names. Only once does Luria mention the book Thinking and Speech (p. 77), but this reference is not in the index of authors. A book from 1940 entitled The Doctrine of Aphasia in the Light of Brain Pathology. Part Two. Parietal (Semantic) Aphasia, which exists only in manuscript form and in typewriting (family archive) [21], unlike Luria’s book of 1947 [22], was not prepared by the author for printing. There are nine references to Vygotsky within 219 pages of the typewritten version, and they are given without “cover”.

In my opinion, the technique of “undercover” citation suggests that there was a ban, and that Luria deliberately “gradually” introduced the name of Vygotsky in order to teach censors from science that Vygotsky can be mentioned. Of course, A.R. Luria was afraid, but he took the risk, hoping that the time would come when it would be possible to talk about Vygotsky in full voice. It was safer not to cite Vygotsky at all, but the scientists considered it their duty to mention him.

There is a lot of other evidence that suggests that there was such a ban. It is mentioned quite often by Gita Lvovna Vygodskaya and Tamara Mikhailovna Lifanova in their book about Vygotsky (see, for example, [34, pp. 141—144, 344—349]). They talk about the removal of Vygotsky’s books and articles from libraries; in the collections with Vygotsky’s articles cut out, there was a stamp: “Withdrawn according to the ‘Regulations on Pedological Perversions...’”. The authors talk about Rachel Markovna Bosskis’s rescue of books by Vygotsky designated for destruction and about the visit of Daniel Borisovich Elkonin and Mira Abramovna Levina to the communist party boss of Leningrad, Zhdanov (Vy­gotsky’s students were aware that they might be arrested after the visit, but they considered it their duty to protect the teacher), and much more.

Yasnitsky and his co-authors label the testimonies of Vygodskaya and Lifanova as “myths”. Without discussing the ethical side of such disregard, let us consider other evidence of the existence of the ban. I will introduce two such documents.

In August 2015, Eli Lamdan, one of the co-authors of the article that we examine here, and I worked in the Luria family archive at their dacha (summerhouse) in Svistukha. There, while examining the folders in the bookcase, we found a document that convincingly proves the existence of a ban on the work of Vygotsky. Nevertheless, knowing of this evidence did not change Yasnitsky’s opinion about the ban. It is quite possible that at that time the first version of the article under discussion had already been written, but had not yet been published. This is the document (family Luria’s archive, without number).

To the chief of Glavlit[9] of the USSR.

We hereby consider it necessary to draw your attention to the unacceptable situation that has developed with regard to the work of one of the outstanding Soviet psychologistsL.S. Vygotsky.

His books (including the book “Thinking and Speech”) have been removed from the general library storage, references to his works are crossed out of the corresponding bibliography.

We consider this fact to be unjustified and detrimental to scientific work.

Professor L.S. Vygotsky, who died in 1934, was one of the outstanding Soviet psychologists. His book “Thinking and Speech” is still one of the most serious attempts to approach the most complex issues of psychology; in particular, it gives a serious critique of many foreign psychological theories, is based on deep knowledge of their work, and retaining its significance to date.

We believe that there are no circumstances to tarnish the name of this major Soviet researcher, and we ask you to reconsider the issue of him, in particularto restore his book in general storage.

Full members of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR[10] [11]:

/А. N. Leontiev /

/B. M. Teplov /

/B. M. Teplov /

/С. L. Rubinstein /

/А. R. Luria /

/K. N. Kornilov /

In the lower left corner of the pencil writing of A.R. Luria: Sent via APN (Academy of Pedagogical Sciences) 8. VII. 55.

This document was submitted in July 195511, and then Selected Psychological Research by L.S. Vygotsky (Moscow: Publishing House of the RSFSR Academy of Sciences) was published in 1956.

The second piece of direct evidence of the ban on Vygotsky’s books was provided by the Italian researcher Dorena Caroli. Thanks to Luciano Mecacci and Ekat­erina Yurievna Zavershneva, we have access to Caroli’s report [7], which first published a list of books officially seized due to the decision of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of July 4, 1936 (See also [8]).

This list, stored in GARF[12] (GARF. F. A-2306. Op 69. D. 2232. L. 6—12) and presented in pages 97 to 103 of Caroli’s report, contains 108 books, including three major works by L.S. Vygotsky (Pedagogical Psychology, Paedology of the Adolescent [1929 to 1931], Fundamentals of Paedology), a book by A. Gesell with a foreword of Vygotsky, as well as books by P.P. Blonsky, A.A. Nevsky, A.B. Zalkind and K.N. Kornilov, a collection of works edited by A.A. Shein (a coworker of Vygotsky) as well as other books[13].

In addition, Caroli writes that among the papers in the Narkompros archive[14] was found a report of August 7, 1936, compiled by A.S. Bubnov and sent to the Party Central Committee and Stalin, on the implementation of the Central Committee’s decision “On the paedological perversions in the Narkompros system on July 4”. The report pointed out measures taken to “restore pedagogy” ([7, p. 92], a reference to the place of the document in the archive: GARF, A-2306 (Narkompros Foundation). Op. 69. D. 2232. L. 90—91). Among these measures were the book seizure already mentioned above, as well as the direct order to conduct a campaign “to criticize and expose” perversions pointed out by the Party (ibid.). Caroli writes with reference to this source: “Theoretical research on paedology by S.S. Molozhavy and L.S. Vygotsky should have been criticized...” [7, p. 92]. It also shows that there was an official ban, contrary to the opinion of Yasnitsky.

In her article, Caroli provides evidence that after the Central Committee resolution “On Paedological Per- version...”[15] and subsequent orders, a wave of arrests of paedologists and teachers swept the country. For example, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, from August 12, 1937 to April 6, 1938, 1,341 teachers were arrested, of whom 918 were shot, 402 were sentenced to ten years and 21 to eight years in camps” [7, p. 95].

So, the ban on publication and citation did exist. The threat of arrest is enough reason to avoid citing and the more recent publications on topics that are not approved from above. To sum up: Prejudice, the desire to “debunk” or “expose”, can disserve a historian. This is exactly what we see when reading revisionist articles by Yasnitsky with his colleagues.

The future of Vygotsky studies is not in revisionism, but in a more thorough reading of Vygotsky, in the collection and analysis of new scientific achievements, which have been obtained using the ideas of Vygotsky and his circle.

The leader of revisionist revolution, Anton Yasnitsky, as well as Rene van der Veer and Michel Ferrari, earlier went in this direction. In 2014, they prepared and released an impressive 533-page volume of The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology [43]. Another great event for readers was the publication of Notebooks by L.S. Vygotsky (2017, English edition 2018) [36] and the comments to them, which were prepared by Ekaterina Zavershneva and Rene van der Veer with a thorough analysis. We hope that all these authors will continue in this direction.

Conclusions

Although the Vygotsky legacy has a long history, we are still now in the process of understanding his ideas and uncovering his lines of thinking. In this process, I call for accuracy in treating historical factuality and interpreting the results and evaluating the ideas of the cultural-historical approach. Paying tribute to Anton Yasnitsky and his co-authors for their activity in searching for new facts, we (colleagues and readers) should be careful in accepting their conclusions: publications of the “revisionists” can mislead readers owing to a biased selection and interpretation of facts. The suppression of some evidence and the tendentious analysis of other facts, partiality in the discussion, including the desire to “demythologize” the scientific significance of the works of Lev Vygotsky and scientists of his circle, led Yasnitsky and his co-authors to distort the historical picture of the development of psychological science.

 

[1] The original article was published in open access in Russian as: Akhutina, T.V. (2019). O revizionizme v vygotskovedenii. Kommentarii k statye A. Yasnitskogo i E. Lamdana “V avguste 1941-go” (2017) [On Revisionism in Vygotskian Science. Commentary on “In August of 1941” by Yasnitsky and Lamdan (2017)]. The Russian Journal of Cognitive Science, 2019, 6(1), 4—13.

[2] Andrey Maidansky [29] showed in his review “Anton Yasnitsky and Ren van der Veer (eds.), Revisionist Revolution in Vygotsky Studies (Routledge, London, 2017)”, that editors, when including Zavershneva's articles in the collection, deleted or changed passages that did not fit the revisionist ideology.

[3] This is a quote from a poem by Anna Akhmatova (1889—1966): “If only you knew what trash gives rise / To verse, without a tinge of shame”. Yasnitsky used another translation “I wish you knew from what stray matter...”

[4] It is after these words that Luria continues: “I sent Vygotsky a telegram: “The Uzbeks have no illusions”, to which I received such a very affective letter from Vygotsky, which I have preserved” [27, p. 274]. Yasnitsky seems to mix scientific texts and telegrams.

[5] Ichkari women are women who never leave the female half of the house in traditional Uzbek culture.

[6] WPI — Workers and Peasants Inspection.

[7] The control commission “without those conclusions in their hands, without which neither the tasks of the work, nor the draft material can be correctly understood, ... made a number of grave accusations, presenting our work as an example ... of a colonialist study based on racial theory and trying to show the inferiority of the thinking of our border nationalities” (from the same letter [28, p. 67]).

[8] Luria knew that people were arrested for smaller deeds. In 1928, there was the Shakhty Trial (Shakhtinskoye delo), in which mining engineers were accused of spying. In 1929, there was a Case of the Academy of Sciences, when 150 peoplehistorians, philologists, literary scholars — were arrested and accused of creating a secret archive and preparing the counter-revolution. In 1930-1931, the former political allies of the Bolsheviks’ party — representatives of the Industrial party, the Farmers’ party and the Mensheviks — were slaughtered.

[9] Glavlit (Main Directorate for Literature and Publishing) is the supreme department created by a special resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) of the USSR on June 6, 1933, in order to “unite all types of censorship”.

[10] RSFSR — Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

[1] This letter was written at the beginning of the “thaw” (ottepel) which is the unofficial term for the period in the history of the USSR after the death of Stalin that lasted about ten years (mid-1950s to mid-1960s). It was characterized by the condemnation of the cult of Stalin’s personality and the repressions of the 1930s, the emergence of some freedom of speech, and the relative liberalization of political and public life.

[11] GARF — State archive of the Russian Federation.

[12] According to Zavershneva, similar lists of books for withdrawal are also available in the archives of the Nizhny Novgorod region (GANO. F. 1457. Op. 2. D. 18. L. 17).

[13] Narkompros is People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR.

[14] “On Paedological Perversion...” refers to the decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). “On Paedological Perversions in the System of Narcompros” of July 4, 1936 prohibited paedology and negatively affected the development of psychology in the USSR.

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Information About the Authors

Tatiana V. Akhutina, Doctor of Psychology, leading research assistant of the laboratory of neuropsychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8503-2495, e-mail: akhutina@mail.ru

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