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M.N.Rutkevich: monistic attack o­n TetraSociology or agonies of Marxism

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5. M.N.Rutkevich: monistic attack o­n TetraSociology or agonies of Marxism

The completion of the book coincided with the publication of M.N.Rutkevich's article[1] assaulting TetraSociology. Russian Academy Science's corresponding member, M.Rutkevich is a leading Marxist theorist among those 80% (on our researches) of Russian social scientists who are still loyal to monism, particularly to its Marxist variety. He criticizes the very brief summary of TetraSociology published in the same journal[2].

For all the obviousness of the intent, which is to bash and trash (reject) TetraSociology, M.Rutkevich's article is very devious. We cannot neglect to respond to it because it is a typical example of Marxist-type criticism still prevailing (making 80% of the total!) in Russia. We will try to briefly go over the motives behind the subterfuges in M.Rutkevich's article, separating Marxist grain there from Marxist husk and smoke-screens.

In length, M.Rutkevich's article is nearly equal to ours: it has 27 paragraphs, o­nly 9 of which focus o­n "critique" of (or rather, assault, rejection of) TetraSociology. And are the other two thirds about? What does M.Rutkevich "critique" and o­n what grounds does he reject TetraSociology?

On the face of it, this is what M.Rutkevich criticizes me for: "L.Semashko's article attempts to apply the physics notion of four-dimensional space to sociology"[3]. This, along with the article's title, suggests that the key argument against TetraSociology is that I supposedly "transpose" (or broadcast) physics into sociology. For reasons that are not clear, M.Rutkevich devotes a big part of his article to expounding well-known mathematical and physical ideas of N.Bohr, W.Heisenberg, H.Lorentz, G.Minkovsky, A.Einstein, totally unrelated to the imputed "transposition," which does not exist in TetraSociology, but o­nly in the "critic's" mind. TetraSociology draws an analogy between physical and social space-time, but does not "transfer" or "transpose" the former into the latter. My arguments are straightforward. If society is a part of nature, then social space-time, most likely, is similar to physical space-time, and if it is four-dimensional, then social space-time, most likely, is too. (This kind of similarity is the most probable of all, but it is not absolute.) The crux of my article is that I disprove identity between the two nor try to "transpose" o­ne into another. What I try to do is to establish the optimal number of social space-time dimensions based o­n it obvious inclusion into physical space-time, it is built over physical and supplemental to it. At all distinction they can not be absolute unsimilar.

Another analogy that I take the license to make is social space-time's dependency o­n social invariants, which is similar to physical space-time's dependency o­n the mass and kinetic energy of bodies in Einstein's theory of relativity. These are two ideas about similarity that TetraSociology takes the liberty to advance. I make no "references" whatsoever "to the theory of relativity, applying it to sociology"[4]. In TetraSociology, social space-time's coordinates - social resources, processes, structures, and states, as well as the components of the social linking them - have nothing to do whatsoever common with space-time parameters in the theory of relativity. Thus, it is not clear o­n what logical grounds M.Rutkevich imputes to me the "transfer and transposition," i.e. identity of social space-time with physical. As is known from the school course in logic, analogy is similarity, not identity, between separate objects. It is a mystery how the respected and highly experienced corresponding member of the national Academy could make a schoolboy's mistake of confusing analogy with identity; and the explanation to this is M.Rutkevich's overwhelming desire to trample down TetraSociology.

Thus, there are grounds to believe that this academician's peremptory and totally unfounded conclusion about the "absolute scientific groundlessness of applying the notions derived from a particular theory - theory of relativity - to constructing four-dimensional social space-time" is a malicious slander and does not have any logical foundations. Obviously, the reasons and motives behind Rutkevich's statement lie outside the realm of logic. Thus, the first grain of the "critique" is hollow and false.

The second grain of the "critique" is the charge of "ineptness" of my categorizing processes as spatial coordinates, which I regard as primarily synchronous, and categorizing developmental states as a temporal coordinate, regarded as primarily diachronic. The "critic" ignores the oft-repeated word "primarily," which I use to indicate that in society there is no clear-cut boundary between spatial and temporal coordinates and that they are dialectical and inter-inclusive. Unfortunately, because of space constraints, I had to leave out of the article a very important chapter o­n the social space-time dialectics (see above p.2.7). The point of this dialectics is that ALL social space coordinates are various forms of social time, the latter being people's life and employment times. Resources are the past, people's frozen time; processes (functioning) are the present, people's "short," current time; structures are a combination of both kinds of time; and states are people's "long" time inhering in developmental states, which embrace people's past, present and future times. Yes, for the reason indicated, the article does not explain the space-time dialectics; however, the oft-repeated word "primarily" points at it.

M.Rutkevich is known for his works o­n dialectics and he could not have missed this word; obviously, he neglected to notice it on purpose, in order to simplify the task of branding TetraSociology "inept," something which it is not. o­nly metaphysicians or schoolboys can make rigid distinctions between space and time. M.Rutkevich, meanwhile, is no schoolboy and he considers himself a dialectician; therefore, inter-inclusion of polarities should be an axiom for him. Why then does he consider "inept" inclusion of time into space, if ALL social space-time coordinates are a continuum of different forms of people's life time? M.Rutkevich's conclusion does not seem to have logical grounds. It seems to have ultra-logical motivations. Now having done away with the "grains" of the "critique," We will proceed with an analysis of the motivations. We have fathomed already the quality of the "grains" and their worth.

What is essential in the ultra-logical motivation for the criticism is a desire, by all possible means, to discredit and reject pluralism, which has always been the ideological foe number o­ne for Marxists, and which Marxists have always rejected and trampled down by all means possible, including violent o­nes. As an intransigent and belligerent Marxist, M.Rutkevich could not have failed to understand that TetraSociology's pivot and chief value is a variety of pluralism, the four-dimensional (tetra) o­ne. Being a form of pluralism, TetraSociology is scary and dangerous for Rutkevich. However, in the XXI century, after the obvious triumph of pluralism across the globe and 12 years after the fall of Communist totalitarianism, the collapse of the USSR and the indisputable collapse of their ideological base, Marxism - the collapse which even sceptics cannot but acknowledge (the Marxism's crash is rejected o­nly by its fanatics) - fighting against pluralism openly and honestly would be an outrage. This is now a "mauvais ton" in general, and in science in particular. M.Rutkevich has not mustered the courage for a frontal attack; he resorts to a ruse instead. He disguises his attack as a "criticism" (rejection) of subjectivism, with this criticism running for more than half the article. "Why subjectivism?" an uninitiated reader may ask. Go look into Soviet-era Marxist dictionaries and encyclopaedias and see how they define pluralism: "[it is] o­nly a disguise concealing the subjectivist-idealistic foundation of contemporary bourgeois philosophy"[5] (italics mine - L.S.). This kind of appraisal of pluralism is often accompanied with epithets such as "eclectic." Criticizing and rejecting subjectivism, M.Rutkevich rejects pluralism, being wary of even mentioning the term. Fighting against subjectivism is simpler, more familiar, less dangerous than fighting against pluralism, which has always been a terra incognito for Marxists.

So, what are the shortcomings of subjectivism (read - pluralism), from our "critic's" viewpoint? The key o­ne is all the attempts "to transpose individual concepts and theoretical notions" from o­ne science into another, in particular from natural science into social science. Rutkevich includes into this "barren," in his opinion, "branch" of research not o­nly TetraSociology, but also the "new historical chronology" proposed by the mathematician, RAS member F.T.Fomenko, and the principle of complementarity in sociology postulated by I.S.Alekseev and F.M.Borodkin, and the new interpretation of social time proposed by historian A.Gurvich and sociologist G.Zborovsky. The "critique" equates these theories with A.Comte's attempt to liken sociology to "social physics" and the attempts by Social Darwinists to apply the Darwinian ideas about struggle for existence to society. The critic labels these ideas as "Kantian variety of agnosticism" and "a subjectivist position"[6], which does not prevent him from calling o­ne of the endeavours "a noble banner"[7]. What an eclecticism of Marxist evaluations!

Even sensible varieties of Marxism do not deny the usefulness and fruitfulness of drawing analogies between different sciences, and applying notions derived from o­ne science and modified to another; they do not deny productivity of cross-disciplinary links in science. We ca not elaborate o­n this purely philosophical topic, which is so dear, for the reasons indicated, to our "critic." If not him, who is to know about the significance and fruitfulness of ideas cutting across different sciences: if we are not mistaken, he has written about it more than o­nce.

Each scholarly theory deserves a criticism, but it should be an honest criticism, not a trumped-up o­ne; a criticism grounded in logic, and not in an ultra-logical desire to completely discredit and trash the theory. Having always been a platform for diverse theories about the same subjects, both natural and social sciences are pluralistic at the core. Herein lies the gnosiological source of the sciences' progress, and the indication of eternal limitations and incompleteness of the human mind. For some reason, the "critic" rejects these axioms, indirectly trying to show that the sole and absolute verity for all sciences resides in Marxism alone, which God-like towers over both natural science (remember the attempts to discredit cybernetics, genetics, structural linguistics, etc.) and social sciences. And now there are new, fledgling theories to trash and trample out, because they are not as "perfect" as Marxism, even the dead o­ne. Such is the "critic's" true design.

Can we regard this "critique" as a critical evaluation and dialectical negation contributing to progress in sociology? The article provides no reason for that. This is why we call the author not just a critic, but a "critic" in inverted commas, meaning destroyer, naysayer, terminator. M.Rutkevich certainly remembers Marx's famous pronouncement about the difference between metaphysical negation as "barren, futile, sceptical," as a total destruction, and dialectical negation as "a link in the chain and a progress which retains what is positive." If TetraSociology and the other theories which the "critic" labels as subjectivism/pluralism are "totally unfounded," and he completely rejects them, seeing nothing positive in them, then what else can we call such a position if not metaphysical? That's a rhetorical question. And where is, in the critique, the dialectical negation as a link in the chain and a progress? The critique lacks it. Just as it lacks life and development. There is nothing but death and destruction in it. Dead Marxism is grabbing theories that are alive, trying to strangle them. Such, objectively speaking, is the essence of this kind of "critique," whether the authors realize it or not.

With intransigent belligerent Marxism, the end justifies the means. In the nine paragraphs that "critique" TetraSociology, M.Rutkevich often uses the following epithets: a mere nothing, inept, contrived, unpersuasive, groundless, confusion, far-fetched proposition, futile, not innocuous, deification of quaternity, lacking coherence of thought, scholasticism[8]. That many epithets o­n o­nly a page and a half! Instead of presenting a strong argument, M.Rutkevich calls names and adopts a belligerently monist stance.

The following phrase crowns the Marxist scholasticism: we will not "untangle the snarl that TetraSociology is," "all we need to do is to establish its futility and unharmlessness" (and so o­n, with the epithets we quoted above)[9]. How arrogant and supercilious this openly racist phrase is! This is the Marxist racism of the beginning of the XXIst century! Gods of Marxism do not have to try to understand other theories - all they have to do is to establish in advance that the theories are futile. Then why put o­n this "critical" show with the roles assigned in advance: Marxism is the o­nly true, God-given theory, while all other theories are vain attempts to replace it. If nothing has to be taken "seriously" and all is established beforehand, then, of course, spiteful words, trumped-up charges and falsified accusations would suffice. It would have been more honest to limit the article to two words: "Rejected by Marxism", and that would be it. Just rubber-stamp every new theory accordingly.

Had the "critic" conscientiously compared TetraSociology and historical materialism in their treatment of social space and time, the social, method, employment, social reproduction spheres, classes, sociological statistics, informational and sociocultural technology, democratic government, attitude to religion and racism, he would have to acknowledge that TetraSociology retains all that is positive and vigorous in Marxism. (And this would be a dialectical, rather than "futile," negation!) Besides, he would have found in TetraSociology many new ideas in a new frame, that are unavailable to Marxism. But it takes an honest and unprejudiced scholar, rather than a Marxist, to do this. Our "critic" does not see anything positive in TetraSociology, not even in the ideas it has borrowed from Marxism, although M.Rutkevich, I beg your pardon, concedes o­nce that TetraSociology offers "several reasonable ideas", such as the notion of four processes of social reproduction derived from A.Smith and K.Marx. But this single line in Rutkevich's article gets lost amidst the spiteful epithets and distortions I mentioned. The senile Marxism with its rotten teeth obviously cannot crack the nut of TetraSociology, or other new theories. "Perennially dated," Marxism cannot keep pace with the time. It cannot recant the obsolete monistic principle of primacy, with its oppressiveness and exclusivity, and adopt the modern principles of pluralism, supplementality and equilibrium. These are the signs of agonies.

Of all the numerous Marxist-type "critiques" of TetraSociology that have appeared over the 25 years of its existence (until 1998 TetraSociology was called "The system-spheres approach," or simply "The sphere approach"), all looked mostly like a witch-hunt with an implied suggestion to persecute the author (the persecutions proceed till now in relation to publications, work and protection doctor's) and none was constructive. All these critiques were tantamount to a more or less rude and barren rejection, i.e. mere repudiation. With Marxists, dialectical negation has obviously degenerated into metaphysical negation. The quality of their "critiques" bears no scrutiny and criticism.

To conclude, I am not sure that my response to our "critic's" article will be published in the journal, which already has two of my articles shelved away. For this reason I publish the response in this book, where it seems appropriate. The contrast between the pluralism of evaluations provided by Western sociologists and the monism of the Marxist rejection of TetraSociology is very typical too and is unflattering to Marxism.

[1] Rutkevich M.N. Natural science and sociology. o­n appropriateness of transposing notions, in Sociological Studies, 2002 (3), p.12-18.

[2] Semashko L.M. TetraSociology: Sociology of Four Dimensions. Towards Formulating the Problem, in Sociological Studies, 2001 (9), p.20-28. The article includes abridged pp.2.2-2.6 of the book. Remarkably, that has been the o­nly and, probably, the last o­ne of my publications in the journal, which declined my articles more than o­nce. My request to have a more detailed exposition of TetraSociology published in the journal was declined too.

[3] Rutkevich M. Ibid., p.13.

[4] Ibid., p.17.

[5] Kondakov N.I. Reference book o­n logic. M., 1975, p.447.

[6] Rutkevich M.N. Ibid., p.15, 16 and further.

[7] Ibid., p.18.

[8] Ibid., p.17-18.

[9] Ibid., p.18

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