Libmonster ID: IN-123

Methodological Problems of Historical Science

On January 3 and 6, 1964, a plenary session of the Section of Social Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences discussed a paper by Academician P. N. Fedoseyev and Corresponding Member of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences Y. P. Frantsev on the elaboration of methodological problems of history. The following materials are published in the current issue: 1. The paper by Academician P. N. Fedoseyev and Corresponding Member of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences Y. P. Frantsev; 2. Summary of the discussion; 3. Resolution of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences Presidium (the Social Sciences Section) on the elaboration of methodological problems of history.

A. N. SAKHAROV. Anti-Feudal Tendencies in the Russian 17th-century Countryside

Was the entire medieval period in Russia marked by the growing feudal exploitation and oppression of the peasantry? Was the development of serfdom consonant with the whole pattern of Russia's social and economic life? Drawing on his close analysis of the history of the extensive 17th-century demesne of the Moscow patriarchs, the author answers these important questions in the negative.

Proceeding from the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the dialectical unity and struggle of opposites is an indispensable condition for the development of any social organism, A. N. Sakharov examines in this light the interrelations between the feudal owner and the serf. The author emphasizes that side by side with a relentless class struggle these interrelations also gave rise to certain "cooperation," mutual concessions and compromises which were needed by both sides in order to maintain the economic basis both of the peasant farmer and of the feudal lord sucking the peasant's lifeblood. With the rapid development of money-commodity relations in Russia which were inexorably drawing the countryside into their orbit, this found expression in the fact that the peasants' desire to liberate themselves from the clutches of feudal dependence based on corvee and substitute it by a more progressive and less onerous system founded on quitrent met with a measure of understanding on the part of the feudal organization. At the same time the feudal organization was able to take advantage of the peasant farmers' close connection with, and dependence on, the market and on the swift development and expansion of a definite proportion of the peasant farms for further raising the amount of quitrent and increasing the corvee in the areas unaffected by these general changes. Hence, notwithstanding the fact that many historians subscribe to the thesis categorically declaring that the rate of feudal exploitation was mounting all the time, it stands in need of serious correctives when examining the dynamics of the peasant economy itself.

It is thus obvious that the process of intensified exploitation of the serfs was accompanied by the gradual emancipation of a section of the peasantry from the tight grip of feudal dependence on the basis of developing their economy in the sphere of money-commodity relations and their switch-over from farming to the sphere of trade, handicrafts and seasonal work. It is self-evident, the author stresses, that these new phenomena also ran counter to the existing system of feudal legislation. Economic development in this particular case was by-passing the ossified juridical norms.

In conclusion A. N. Sakharov writes that in order to form a correct idea of the development of the Russian 17th-century countryside it is necessary to take into consideration both the feudal and anti-feudal tendencies, whose progressive development since the beginning of the 17th century paved the way for the growth of capitalist elements in the sphere of Russia's agrarian relations.

A. N. KRASILNIKOV. Right-Wing Labour Leaders on Soviet Foreign Policy

The article is devoted to disclosing the nature, and causes of the highly tendentious and falsified presentation of the Soviet Union's foreign policy by the Right-wing leaders and ideologists of the British Labour Party, which plays a very prominent part not only in British home policies but also in the international Social-Democratic movement of the capitalist world. The author's analysis covers the period from 1945 to our days.

The article examines the following basic directions along which the Right-wing Labour leaders and their ideologists distort and misrepresent the Soviet Union's

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peaceable foreign policy: 1) spreading the myth about the aggressive character of Soviet foreign policy; 2) drawing a parallel between the policy of tsarist Russia and that of the Soviet Union with the aim of falsifying history; 3) persistent attempts to lay the responsibility for the cold war on the Soviet Union; 4) fabrications about the "export of revolution"; 5) ascribing to the Soviet state the urge for world domination; 6) distorting the role of the U.S.S.R. in the rise and development of the world socialist system; 7) distorting the principle of peaceful coexistence as the general line of Soviet foreign policy. The author of the article also shows that anti-communism and blind hatred for the world's first socialist state is the principal nutrient medium that breeds the Right-wing Labour leaders' policy of distorting and falsifying the Soviet Union's peaceable foreign policy.

The article draws a clear line of distinction between the Right and Left leaders of the British Labour movement, showing that the Left forces are more and more resolutely condemning and rejecting a policy founded on hatred and hostility towards the Soviet Union. The author shows how at each annual Labour Party conference this policy encounters ever stronger resistance from the rank-and-file members who are insistently demanding in their resolutions that the Labour leaders follow a friendly policy towards the Soviet Union-a country which practically demonstrates its desire for all-round normalization of relations with Great Britain.

Much attention is devoted in the article to the struggle carried on by the Communist Party of Britain against distorting and falsifying Soviet foreign policy, for establishing relations of peace and friendship with the Soviet Union and the other countries of the socialist system. The author voices his firm conviction that all-round normalization of Anglo-Soviet relations, which accords with the national interests of both countries, will be achieved by the joint efforts of all the Left forces of Great Britain.

K. B. VINOGRADOV and G. V. EFIMOV. Decline of the Eurocentrist Historical Conception

The profound crisis of contemporary bourgeois historical thought is most vividly manifested in the bankruptcy of the Eurocentrist interpretation of history. In our time, which is marked by the collapse of the system of colonial oppression and by the establishment of newly independent states, it is impossible to come out openly with a theory classifying all peoples as "historical" or "non-historical." Yet many prominent representatives of bourgeois historiography cannot abandon their old theories and continue to use them in an attempt to refurbish the pseudo-scientific conception of Eurocentrism. The authors illustrate this thesis on the example of "Universal History" which appeared under the editorship of the West-German Professor G. Mann, the ten- volume "Historia Mundi," Swiss historian J. R. Salis's "Contemporary World History" and other publications. In Britain, "Eurocentrism" has long been distinguished for its "Imperial" leanings (the authors' reference is to the Cambridge historical series); in the United States quite a few works have been written from the viewpoint of Americanocentrism. Modification of the old conceptions by reactionary bourgeois historiography is intimately associated with the present-day ideological and political struggle, with the feverish search for ideological arguments in support of neo- colonialism. The authors examine the racialist theory of J. Pirenne (Belgium), the pretentious views expounded by Ch. G. Starr, Ch. Nowell and other American historians in their two-volume "History of the World."

At the same time the authors note an increase in the number of conscientious Western scientists who are trying to reappraise the conception concerning the special mission Europe and America are destined to play in the history of mankind - a conception that has become fairly widespread in bourgeois science. In his "Short History of Civilization," Professor Lynn Thorndyke of Columbia University departed markedly from traditionally accepted schemes; it is easy to detect new trends in "Europe and the Modern World," a new book jointly produced by historians L. Gottschalk and D. Lach of Chicago. An obvious inclination to revise their former conceptions is manifested by a number of French bourgeois historians.

The young historiographical science of the new sovereign Afro-Asian countries is making significant headway in tracing the historical past of their peoples and in effectively opposing diverse Eurocentrist conceptions.

Marxist-Leninist historical science proceeds from the unity of the world-historic process which is governed by general laws. The Soviet edition of "World History" is based on the Marxist-Leninist concept of mankind's historical development. Profound respect for the historical past of every nation of the world, Afro-Asian and Latin- American peoples included, and a keen desire to make a comprehensive study of this past should be regarded as its most important distinctive features. This is the only correct path leading to the further development of historical science.


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