New Crisis and New Reintegration

From: "Sociology of My Mental Life", in: Allen, P.J., ed. Pitirim A. Sorokin in Review. The American Sociological Forum. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1963. Xxii; pp.4-36

Bulla

1917. Shooting at the demonstration by the police of the Provisional Government

Already, World War I had started to make some fissures in my optimistic Weltanschauung and in my conception of the historical process as progress. The revolution of 1917 enormously enlarged these fissures and eventually broke this world outlook, with its system of values and its "progressive," rational-positivistic sociology. Instead of the increasingly enlightened and morally ennobled humanity, these historical events unchained in man "the worst of the beasts" and displayed on the historical stage, side by side with the noble and wise minority, the gigantic masses of irrational human animals blindly murdering each other, indiscriminately destroying all cherished values and, led by shortsighted and cynical "leaders," "overthrowing" creative achievements of human genius. This unexpected world-wide explosion of the forces of ignorance, inhumanity, and death in the supposedly civilized and enlightened humanity of the twentieth century, forced me, as it did many others, to reexamine sternly my "sweet and cheerful" views of man, society, culture, and values, all moving, according to these views, harmoniously from ignorance to wisdom and science, from barbarism to magnificent civilization, from the "theological" to the "positive" stage, from tyranny to freedom, from poverty to unlimited prosperity, from ugliness to ever-finer beauty, from animality to noblest humanity and morality.

This re-examination was fostered also by my personal experiences during the years of 1917-22. My book Leaves from a Russian Diary gives a detailed account of these experiences. Since the beginning of the Revolution, I whole heartedly dedicated myself to the revolutionary reconstruction as one of the leaders of the Social-Revolutionary party, as an editor of the party's papers, Delo naroda and Volia naroda, as a member of the Council of the Russian Republic, as one of the organizers of the all-Russian Peasant Soviet, as a member of Kerensky's cabinet, and as a notable professor of the University of St. Petersburg. For many years, fighting for the basic reconstruction of Russia (and other countries), I never believed that this reconstruction could be successfully made by the blind and destructive violence of masses led by unscrupulous leaders using all means—good and evil—for realization of their purposes. Guidance by available scientific knowledge and by the binding power of universal and perennial moral norms appeared to me as the necessary conditions for a fruitful and painless reconstruction. These convictions were responsible for my revolt against the early-cynical, ignorant, and inhuman—policies of the Communist party and government (now largely replaced by constructive ones), against the beastly and destructive violence of its followers, as well as of its opponents, and against the "abomination of desolation" wrought by these forces during the first five years of the Communist revolution. There was too much hate, hypocrisy, blindness, sadistic destruction, and mass-murder to leave my "cheerfully progressive" views intact. These "existential conditions" and the trying, personal experiences of these years started a re-examination of my Weltanschauung and a reappraisal of my values. This reconstruction of my views, values, and my very "self" proceeded slowly during the five years I lived in Communist Russia and then, after my banishment, in Europe and the United States.

To the end of the 1920's this painful and, at the same time, blissful process of reintegration continued and gradually matured into its essential features. It resulted in what I now call the Integral system of philosophy, sociology, psychology, ethics, and values. My volumes: Sociology of Revolution, Contemporary Sociological Theories, Social Mobility, and Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology, published in the years 1925-29, already are marked by the features of this reintegration, sufficiently advanced but not quite completed as yet. My Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-41), The Crisis of Our Age (1941), Man and Society in Calamity (1942), Society, Culture, and Personality (1947), Reconstruction of Humanity (1948), The Ways and Power of Love (1954), and Fads and Foibles of Modern Sociology (1956), not to mention other books published in the period of 1930-61, are the fruits of a more or less matured reintegration. Writing these volumes, I have been quite aware that in many essential traits my reintegration theories have sharply deviated from the prevalent theories of American and European sociologists, historians, and psychologists.

For this reason, I expected a strong opposition to my "integralist" views on the part of the psychosocial scholars who, before World War II, did not pass through the crucial experiences of the great revolution and World War I. However, the expectation of a severe opposition and other unpleasant consequences of my "deviant"—integralist—standpoint did not, for a moment, make me hesitate to publish these volumes. My usual "bullheadedness" (mentioned before), and my deepest conviction that a supreme duty of a scholar is "to tell the truth" as he sees it, regardless of any and all consequences, are probably responsible for a lack of hesitation, on my part, in challenging the prevalent theories in my later volumes. The expected opposition and some of the adverse "existential" consequences have come, indeed.

But with these negative results have also come many positive reactions. Somewhat surprisingly for me, my "integralist" views and theories have found an enthusiastic response on the part of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, religious leaders, and eminent thinkers throughout the world. My volumes have been translated into all major languages of humanity; and my "deviant" theories have been widely discussed and have already a considerable literature in the form of books about my books, Ph.D. theses, hundreds of scientific articles, and special chapters in the textbooks of sociology and in the history of social thought, not to mention thousands of popular write-ups about them. And as time goes on, my "yarns" seem to be paid increasing rather than decreasing attention throughout the world. Personally I am gratified by both-positive and negative—reactions to my "mental productions."

Other "existential" conditions of my life, at this age of seventy-three years, are also satisfactory: my health is rather good for my age; I am still fairly vigorously continuing my studies, writing, lecturing, and enjoying recreational activities; there is no scarcity of invitations for lecturing and counseling on the part of American and foreign universities and learned institutions, and even on the part of several governments.

So, in spite of routine tribulations of human life, these existential conditions permit me to be at peace with the world, with my fellow-men, and with myself, not withstanding the most turbulent state in which mankind finds itself at the present time. However, this peace does not hinder me from taking a humble, but active, part in the paramount tasks of our age: the prevention of a new threatening world catastrophe and the building of a new, nobler, and more creative order in the human universe.