[INDOLOGY] FW: SOS - Russian Academy of Sciences is in danger!

Jo ugg-5 at spro.net
Fri Jul 5 01:07:50 UTC 2013

Dear Victoria Lysenko,

How shocking.
I don't have time to go to the sources, so will resort to Wikipedia (on Bureaucracy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureaucracy ) for short reminders of past thinking on this process of government bureaucracy, in this instance taking over a professional organization. These excerpts are all selected from the above-noted Wikipedia article, leaving out the  citations:

Karl Marx theorized about the role and function of bureaucracy in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, published in 1843. In his Philosophy of Right, Hegel had supported the role of specialized officials in the role of public administration, although he never used the term "bureaucracy" himself. Marx by contrast was opposed to the bureaucracy. He saw the development of bureaucracy in government as a natural counterpart to the development of the corporation in private society. Marx posited that while the corporation and government bureaucracy existed in seeming opposition, in actuality they mutually relied on one another to exist. He wrote that "The Corporation is civil society's attempt to become state; but the bureaucracy is the state which has really made itself into civil society." [How prescient this sounds in terms of today's mega-corporations and the US Supreme Court's ruling that money is speech and corporations are persons. JK]

Writing in the late 1860s, political scientist John Stuart Mill theorized that successful monarchies were essentially bureaucracies, and found evidence of their existence in Imperial China, the Russian Empire, and the regimes of Europe. Mill referred to bureaucracy as a distinct form of government, separate from representative democracy. He believed bureaucracies had certain advantages, most importantly the accumulation of experience in those who actually conduct the affairs. [But as we have seen in the 20th c., bureaucracies have no institutional memory. JK] Nevertheless, he thought bureaucracy as a form of governance compared poorly to representative government, as it relied on appointment rather than direct election. Mill wrote that ultimately the bureaucracy stifles the mind, and that "A bureaucracy always tends to become a pedantocracy."[29]

"The German sociologist Max Weber described many idealized types of public administration and government in his 1922 work Economy and Society. His critical study of the bureaucratisation of society became one of the most enduring parts of his work. It was Weber who began the studies of bureaucracy and whose works led to the popularization of this term.
".......While recognizing bureaucracy as the most efficient form of organization, and even indispensable for the modern state, Weber also saw it as a threat to individual freedoms, and the ongoing bureaucratization as leading to a "polar night of icy darkness", in which increasing rationalization of human life traps individuals in a soulless "iron cage" of bureaucratic, rule-based, rational control.

"In his 1944 work Bureaucracy, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises was highly critical of all bureaucratic systems. He believed that bureaucracy should be the target of universal opprobrium, and noticed that in the political sphere it had few defenders, even among progressives. [Mises must have been writing in an ivory tower. JK] Mises saw bureaucratic processes at work in both the private and public spheres; however he believed that bureaucratization in the private sphere could only occur as a consequence of government interference... 

"The American sociologist Robert K. Merton expanded on Weber's theories of bureaucracy in his work Social Theory and Social Structure, published in 1957. While Merton agreed with certain aspects of Weber's analysis, he also considered the dysfunctional aspects of bureaucracy, which he attributed to a "trained incapacity" resulting from "overconformity." He saw bureaucrats as more likely to defend their own entrenched interests than to act to benefit the organization as a whole. 

None of these critics seem to have understood how easily bureaucracy could be subverted by corruption, as we have seen in the 20th c history of 'western' governments. Whatever the social criticisms of Russia's old Academy of Sciences might be, it is devastating to see it brusquely, brutally taken over by government.

Joanna Kirkpatrick   

-----Original Message-----
From: INDOLOGY [mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info] On Behalf Of Viktoria Lysenko
Sent: Thursday, July 04, 2013 3:22 PM
To: indology at list.indology.info
Subject: [INDOLOGY] SOS - Russian Academy of Sciences is in danger!

Moscow, 4, July, 2013
Dear colleagues,
The Russian Government is currently trying to push through the Parliament (Douma), well known for its docility, a reform draft concerning the Russian Academy of Sciences, which involves the transfer of all assets of the Academy along with its institutions to the hands of a special group of so-called “efficient managers”. No serious and elaborated program of reform is proposed, except for some drastic  measures with unpredictable consequences. Among them, the abolition of different regional branches of the present Academy, as well as of various other institutions (the Academy of Education etc.), and the creation of a new Russian Academy, which will be a sort of club for a few outstanding scientists endowed with annuities for life. What will happen to the numerous academic institutions and their fellows is not clearly articulated in the project. 
The main purpose of this "reform" is  evident from its priorities: to deprive  the Russian Academy of Sciences of its independent status and to seize its property, which will allow  bureaucrats to dictate to scientists what they should do. The project appeared all of a sudden on June 28th, , at the onset of summer holidays, and came as  a surprise even for the newly elected president of the Academy of Sciences, not to mention the other fellow members. It was prepared in secret, away from the scientific community, under flagrant violation of ethical standards and mandatory procedure, involving discussion and peer review (Government Decree N 159 of 22 February 2012 "On Approval of the Rules of the public discussion of draft federal constitutional laws and federal laws"). The first reading took place on July the 4th, the second one, contrary to the procedure according to which for the matters of such importance a period of 60 days is provided for introducing amendments, will take place on Friday 5th July. So, only 2 days for “discussion” no time for amendments. And this raw and adventurist project will pass the main steps of ratification! Could one imagine something like this in any democratic country!
 While declaring to focus on improving the efficiency of scientific research, the project does not contain any constructive ideas that would promote science. Adoption of the law will strike a blow to the country's science, the backbone of which the Academy has been and continues to be. Many scholars are scandalized by a humiliating attempt to persuade members of the Academy to support the "reform" by promises of status and cash handouts.
The 300-year history of the Russian Academy of Sciences - is not an empty phrase. It is the only social institution that for centuries embodied the unity of Russian history, culture and national identity. The history of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a unique example of a centuries-old succession – it should not be interrupted by a subjective hasty decision.
Our government's attempt to create an efficient management of the Defence Ministry’s property culminated in corruption and collapse. Projects to create an oasis of 21st century  science in "Skolkovo"  brought  nothing but huge costs. All this inspires serious concerns about the future of science in Russia. We do believe that our colleagues all over the world must know what is going on in “democratic” Russia and have a right to express their opinion thereon.
Prof. Dr. Sergei Nikolsky
Deputy Director of the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia


Victoria Lysenko, dr.hab.philos.
Head, Department for Oriental philosophy studies
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Volkhonka, 14
Professor, Russian State University for Humanities
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