A few posts back, Hopefully Anonymous wrote “Although the USSR was counterintuitively shitty at a range of things where better use of markets and decentralized autonomy would’ve helped (consumer manufacturing, etc.) they seem to me to have been scientifically productive well beyond the space program. It’s not all Lysenko, it seems to me -but my intuition would probably benefit a lot from more knowledge about USSR history during this period.”
Paul Johnson thought otherwise, at least during the tail end of Stalin’s rule. In “Modern Times” he wrote the following:
From 1948 on, theoretical physics, cosmology, chemistry, genetics, medicine, psychology and cybernetics were all systematically raked over. Relativity theory was condemned, not (as in Nazi Germany) because Einstein was a Jew but for equally irrelevant reasons: Marx had said the universe was infinite, and Einstein had got some ideas from Mach, who had been proscribed by Lenin. […] Thousands of intellectuals lost their jobs. Thousands more went into the camps. Their places were taken by creatures still more pliable, cranks and frauds. Soviet biology fell into the hands of the fanatical eccentric T. D. Lysenko […] Scientific genetics was savaged as a ‘bourgeois pseudo-science’, ‘anti-Marxist’, leading to ‘sabotage’ of the Soviet economy: those who practised it had their laboratories closed down. Glorying in the reign of terror was another agricultural quack, V. R. Williams. In medicine, a woman called O. B. Lepeshinskaya preached that old age could be postponed by bicarbonate of soda enemas – an idea that briefly appealed to Stalin. In linguistics, N. Y. Marr argued that all human speech could be reduced to four basic elements: sal, ber, yon and rosh.
I’d rather not just take Johnson’s word, so if anyone has links on Soviet science, tell us about them in the comments.