[OUTLOOK]Waiting for the real truth to show itselfThe agricultural productivity of the former Soviet Union in its early days was extremely poor. As a result of fierce civil wars involving fights for the revolution and against it, the farmland became devastated.
Increasing the productivity of food grain was the government’s utmost priority.
A biologist, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, rode the tide of the times. He developed an agricultural method of “vernalization,” cooling grain before it was planted, which was supposed to increase the crop yield.
His agricultural experiment was based on the evolution theory of a Russian biologist, I.V. Michurin, that organisms can inherit traits which their ancestors acquired.
Michurianism overturned the theories of heredity of world-renowned scientist Gregor Mendel.
At that time, Joseph Stalin was also struggling with the grand project of inventing a completely new Soviet-style man on the basis of dialectical materialism. The lines of pursuit of the two endeavors were on the same track.
As a result Mr. Lysenko was elevated to the status of a hero of proletarian science and his “practical directions” for agriculture became widespread throughout the Soviet Union.
It was later proved by experiments that Lysenko’s agricultural method was bogus. There was no proof that vernalization increased crop production.
However, renowned scientists who doubted his theory were persecuted for their political inclinations and their loyalty to the party became suspect. Meanwhile, the number of sycophants who reported exaggerated crop results grew. Established genetics and biology were criticized as “bourgeois science” and their laboratories were closed.
The agricultural science of the Soviet Union, which was a forerunner in the world, strayed in the wrong direction as it was taken hostage by Lysenkoism for more than 30 years. The country’s agricultural sector became irrevocably devastated. It was only long after the death of Stalin that scientists could fix the fallacies of Lysenkoism.
President Roh Moo-hyun has criticized claims and ideas that counter his policies, calling them, categorically, “dogmatism.” He explains it away by saying, “There is no reform without any resistance.”
In connection with his reform effort in real estate and education, he warned the people that “It is most dangerous to shake government policy with ‘dogmatic logic.’ ” At a cabinet meeting a few days ago, he slammed his critics: “Self-righteousness and egotism, and the demand for exclusion and overthrow are the enemies of democracy.”
Putting aside the public sentiment against the administration that was reflected in the local elections, even lawmakers from the governing party have severely criticized the failures of present government policies. When in these circumstances the president talks about self-righteousness and egotism, who does he mean are self-righteous and egotistic?
Dictionaries tell us that dogmatism means the adoption of an assertion or opinion by a man in authority, automatically considering it as warranted, disregarding the reality. It is like Lysenkoism, which made science a handmaid of politics and drove farmers to starvation for the advancement of the individual. People who betray their personal beliefs and reality if these do not match up with the code of the powerful belong in the same category.
Dogmatic ideologies give facile explanations about things in the world. They allow people to think there is no need to explore the reality and agonize. Statistics on wheat crops and their fate in the market can be manipulated by power according to the theory. The word of the religious sect is a more important truth than reality.
If ideology can define the United States as an imperialist force, but the regime in the North belongs to the same Korean race, many things can be explained away.
If we establish that the wealthy man is a Nolbu, a greedy elder brother in a Korean folk tale, and the poor man is a Heungbu, a good-natured younger brother, it is easy to explain the economic policies of the present government.
Even if the harvest was poor, it was not the fault of Lysenko. Everything was all right so long as the buck can be passed to lazy farmers.
Lee Byung-wan, the president’s chief of staff, has explained the low popularity of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, saying it was because it has not made efforts to pander to people. He said, “Although the economy improves, the livelihood of grassroots people is still in trouble.” He also said the difficulties in people’s livelihoods derived from the aftermath of the foreign exchange crisis caused by previous administrations’ failures and that it couldn’t be relieved even by the great King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty if he were resurrected today.
Is it possible that the grassroots people should suffer hardship although the economy is good? Is it reasonable to attribute all that goes well to the present government, while those doing badly are blamed on previous governments?
Did Lysenko believe in his own theory, or did he consider it a tool for exercising power?
Whichever it might have been, it was farmers who suffered the pain of paying more taxes while the harvest decreased.
Around us nowadays, there stride Lysenkos in our society and they criticize anyone as an enemy who criticize and attack anyone who suspects their true colors.
As long as men in power indulge in dogmatism, the truth will not reveal itself. Therefore, we have no other choice but long for the downfall of the men in power.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ibo.
by Kim Jin-Kook