Regression and Renewal

The Prophecies of Pitirim Sorokin

In February 1941, the world was at war. Nazism and fascism ruled virtually all of Europe and parts of Africa. Imperial Japan was poised to conquer much of East Asia. Joseph Stalin still controlled the world's largest land mass, although Hitler was soon to shake Stalin's throne. That year, Pitirim A. Sorokin, born in 1889, delivered the Lowell Institute Lectures on the topic, "The Twilight of Sensate Culture." The lectures summarized his four-volume work, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937), which was subsequently reissued in 1957 in a one-volume revision by the author himself.

Although the immense four-volume Social and Cultural Dynamics represented many years' work and was prepared for publication in the early days of the Hitler regime, it already took nazism and fascism into account, as well, of course, as communism. Sorokin was the first professor of sociology at the University of St. Petersburg in 1919. As a proponent of non-Bolshevik socialism, he had been sentenced to death but was pardoned by Lenin himself His opposition to Bolshevism continued, and he was fortunate enough to be expelled from the Soviet Union in 1922. After making his way to the United States, he became a professor at the University of Minnesota. He was called to Harvard University in 1930, where he founded that university's department of sociology. His interest went far beyond mere descriptive sociology; in the years...

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