SOVIET HISTORIANS' CONFERENCE
A U.S.S.R. conference on measures to improve the training of scientific and pedagogical personnel in historical sciences was held in Moscow on December 18 - 21, 1962. The full text of Academician B. N. Ponomaryov's report and an extended summary of it are published in No. 1 of our journal. The purpose of this information is to highlight the work of: a) the plenary meetings held on December 18 - 19; b) the History of the CPSU Section; c) the History of the U.S.S.R. Section; d) the General History Section; e) the concluding session of the conference on December 21. The materials of the closing session include: the concluding remarks by Academician B. N. Ponomaryov, the Conference Recommendations and Message to the CPSU Central Committee.
N. A. POPOV. The Revolutionary Outbreaks Among the War Prisoners in Russia in the Years of the First World War
Drawing on archive sources and materials published in the periodical press, the author of this article illustrates the rise and development of the revolutionary sentiments among the war prisoners in Russia in 1915 - 1917. The author emphasizes that in the early period (1915 - 1916) elements of spontaneity and insufficient organization predominated in the war prisoners' revolutionary struggle. At the close of 1916 and in the early months of 1917 the activity carried on by the Bolshevik organizations among the war prisoners resulted in the appearance in a number of POW camps (in Tomsk, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Omsk, Lugansk, Chita, Krasnoyarsk) of anti-imperialist and, subsequently, of Social-Democratic groups headed by staunch internationalists. These groups translated into their national languages V. I. Lenin's works and individual articles from the Russian revolutionary press, disseminated Bolshevik literature, explained the Bolshevik Party's policy to their comrades and carried on revolutionary propaganda.
The article shows the role played by the Russian bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917 in further stimulating the war prisoners' revolutionary movement in Russia and raising the political level and class consciousness of its participants. The article cites concrete facts and examples of the war prisoners' revolutionary actions in 1917, of their participation in the political manifestations and strike struggles of the Russian working class. All in all, nearly half a million war prisoners took part in Russia's strike movement during that period.
The author points out that not all war prisoners correctly understood the events taking place in Russia at that time or grasped their implications. Imperialist agents succeeded in infecting some of them with the poison of nationalist propaganda. However, under the impact of the momentous events taking place in Russia and Bolshevik propaganda carried on in their midst, N. A. Popov writes in conclusion, a sizable part of the war prisoners in Russia began to see more and more clearly that the question of the socialist revolution was put on the order of the day and that they were faced with the task of taking part in it on the side of the working class and the poorest sections of the peasantry.
A. D. EPSTEIN. Certain Tendencies Manifested by West-German Clerical-Militarist Historiography
The article subjects to a critical analysis the treatment of certain political, philosophico-methodological and sociological problems by reactionary West-German historians belonging to the Ranke Society.
The followers of Leopold von Ranke (1795 - 1886), the author points out, are guided by his behests, according to which "world history does not accept the predominance of
new ideas that tend to destroy the preceding historical life and lead to the establishment of a new world." Hence the conclusion that "the further development of world history demands the overthrow of revolutionary forces."
The philosophy and political aims of Ranke's successors, writes A. D. Epstein, are manifested most saliently in their efforts to rehabilitate fascism. Germany's national catastrophe, as they see it, should be attributed not to the establishment and the 12-year domination of German fascism, but to its collapse. Fully in keeping with the thinly camouflaged vindication of fascism is their interpretation of the historical period preceding the advent of fascism. They openly urge the replacement of bourgeois-republican institutions by the fascist order, regarding the parliamentary and republican system of government merely as a temporary concession to the democratic forces prompted by tactical considerations. While condemning the Weimar Republic's constitution, the members of the Ranke Society extol only one of its paragraphs (No. 48) vesting the President with extraordinary powers. They believe that the transition to totalitarian despotism is inevitable because the Weimar democracy proved powerless to crush the Radical opposition by force.
The article further exposes the reactionary methods resorted to by Ranke's followers in the elaboration of problems far removed from contemporaneity. Thus, E. Klebel sees history only as a succession of German kings and emperors. Were it not for the untimely death of Henry VI, he declares, Byzantium, which upheld its independence for many centuries, would have become an integral part of the Roman-German Catholic empire. The victorious struggle of united Italian cities against Barbarossa, which culminated in the defeat of this conqueror and his banishment from Italy, is characterized by E. Klebel as "lack of understanding" between this bloody tyrant and the people of Italy. The dismemberment of Germany is attributed by E. Klebel only to the fact that Germany spent many centuries in futile expectation of a great personality capable of effecting its political unification.
The members of the Ranke Society urge all Germans to study "the experience of the Third Reich" in order to gain a better understanding of "the future paths leading to the East." The Drang nach Osten, they urge, must be carried out in three directions: the northeastern, the central-eastern (Austro-Danube-Balkan) and the southern (in the direction of Italy).
Ranke's followers, the author writes, believe that the essential meaning of history can be grasped only by "God's partners," i. e., the top leaders of the clerical party. The "theoretical works" produced by some of the members of the Ranke Society are based on complete renunciation of all attempts to trace the causes of historical phenomena and to study the laws of social development, on fideistic interpretation of the past and the present. The new sociological theory advanced by Ranke's adepts denies all social classes and proclaims a kind of "relative collectivism," under which the leading role will belong to the so-called "elite" groups recruited from among the aristocracy. According to this theory, similar "elites" in the past were represented by the nobility, the patricians of the medieval free cities, the Jesuits, the Teutonic brothers, etc. Nowadays similar role in Western Germany is allegedly played by the clergy educated in evangelical academies, the officer caste, officialdom, etc. The reactionary sociologists, A. D. Epstein writes in conclusion, try to conceal the acute class contradictions shaking the capitalist world by shamelessly distorting historical facts and resorting to outright falsification.
G. I. LOTSMANOVA. The Shaping of British Imperialism's Colonialist Ideology
The article examines the views of Ch. Dilke, J. Froude, Benjamin Disraeli, W. Forster, Herbert Spencer, J. Seeley and other bourgeois ideologists of the 1870's-1880's who openly preached imperialism and whose works effectively refute the assertions of contemporary bourgeois ideologists concerning the allegedly "lofty," "non-economic" interests pursued by Britain in her colonies.
Analyzing parliamentary debates, the author shows that the reactionary ideas and slogans advanced by Ch. Dilke, J. Froude, J. Seeley and others, their imperialist schemes of penetrating the already conquered colonies and new continents, their ambitious plans of building railways, etc., reflected the demands and sentiments of the British bourgeoisie which was seeking a way out of the mounting economic and social "difficulties" in intensifying the exploitation of colonial peoples and in new colonial conquests.
The author makes a critical analysis of diverse colonialist "concepts" put forward by bourgeois ideologists in the seventies and eighties of the 19th century, exposes the attempts to provide "theoretical" substantiation for the British colonial rule with the aid of racialism, "social Darwinism" and other bourgeois concoctions.
In conclusion G. I. Lotsmanova writes that the cult of the empire, social-imperialist demagogy, justification of British colonialism and its imaginary services to colonial peoples and other features peculiar to British bourgeois ideology of the 1870's-1880's subsequently became typical of the whole process of British colonial imperialism's ideological development.
B. I. KOVAL. Concerning the Social and Economic Development of Brazil in Mid- 19th Century
The article notes that the widespread employment of slave labour and extensive development of the plantation-slaveowning production constituted an essential peculiarity of Brazil's social and economic position in the 16th-18th centuries. Drawing primarily on Brazilian sources, the author points out that up to the 19th century the slave class was numerically stronger than any other section of Brazilian society. Characterizing the evolution of the plantation economy, the author draws attention to the fact that under the influence of international capital the plantation was converted into "a commercial system of exploitation," although the form of exploiting the immediate producer remained unchanged. Gradually there emerged closer ties between the plantation economy and the world capitalist market. At the same time the author makes a point of stressing that in the period of Spain's colonial domination there did not yet exist the necessary conditions for the development of capitalist relations in Brazil.
The article further examines the new stage in the country's social and economic history ushered in by the proclamation of Brazil's independence. The author cites statistical data illustrative of Brazil's growing financial dependence on foreign capital and her steadily increasing foreign trade deficit in the middle of the 19th century. The article points out that this shackling dependence on foreign capital was one of the cardinal factors contributing to the perpetuation of slavery and impeding the rise and development of capitalist enterprises. B. I. Koval cites many graphic examples showing how the crisis of the plantation economy and the mounting abolitionist movement gradually led to the weakening of slavery and to its complete abolition in 1888.
The objective development of productive forces imperatively demanded that the slave-owning system should quit the scene and clear the road for the development of capitalism. Under the impact of deep-going economic processes and the powerful political movement, slavery was officially prohibited in May 1888.
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