To the Editor:
Since it was I who provided Theodore Draper with the materials he cites in his debate with Daniel C. Matuszewski on Soviet-American academic exchanges [Letters from Readers, June, September], I am baffled by his continuing insistence that American researchers do not work on contemporary (i.e., post-World War II) topics in the Soviet Union. Even for the period 1972-75 alone, the materials which he cites contain 45 such entries, although Mr. Draper claims to have found only one.
Mr. Draper writes: “Is it too much to ask that American scholars should be able to work in the Soviet Union on subjects such as ‘Soviet Dissidents and the Crisis of the 60′s in the USSR,’ ‘Recent History of Soviet-Japanese Relations,’ ‘Ideals of Young Workers and Students in the Soviet Union,’ ‘Early and Contemporary Soviet-Chinese Relations,’ ‘Industrial and Labor Relations in the Soviet Union in the 1960′s and 1970′s,’ and the like?” No, it isn’t too much to ask, and yes, American scholars are able to work on most such topics.
Here are only a few pertinent examples of actual work which appear in the materials given Mr. Draper: “Occupational Choices of Soviet Youth,” “How Conditions of Socialism and Atheism Affect Processes of Religious Change in the Soviet Union,” “Soviet Labor Law and the Role of Trade Unions in Its Implementation,” “Theoretical Development of Soviet Criminology,” “Soviet Sinology,” “Soviet Perspectives on Modern Society,” “Ideology and Technical Innovation in the USSR,” and “Attitudes of American and Soviet Youth Toward Work.” The full list of some 80 topics covering 1969 through this year is much too long to cite here, but is available upon request to interested readers.
Allen H. Kassof
International Research and Exchanges Board
New York City
Theodore Draper writes:
Now it is Allen H. Kassof’s turn. First, Daniel C. Matuszewski invited me to be impressed by outside reviews of the International Research and Exchanges Board’s program as if they would back up his case. I read the two sent to me and found that they did nothing of the sort. I can only conclude that the reference to outside reviews was something of a bluff. Nothing more is being said of them.
Mr. Kassof now claims that the IREX annual reports for 1972-75 contain 45 post-World War II topics. At least half of these, according to his own list, are short-term “consultations,” not the same as scholarly research at all. Of the remainder, his seven specific titles are supposed to be typical, which they are not. On rechecking, I could not find the third and fourth in the materials sent to me. The other five are hardly in the same political class as topics permitted to Soviet scholars in the United States, for which reason I did not take them as serious evidence of “essential reciprocity.”
This exchange again convinces me that the whole subject needs an impartial outside study. For my part, I am quite ready to believe, as Mr. Matuszewski previously put it, that there has been a “slow development of increasingly frank scholarly interchanges, and the persistence of serious problems and deficiences.” But “essential reciprocity”?—no.