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Mitin, Mark Borisovich

(1901–1987), philosopher and Communist Party activist. The son of a laborer from Zhitomir, Mark Mitin joined the Communist Party in 1919. In 1929, he completed his studies in the philosophy department at the Institut Krasnoi Professury (Institute of Red Professors; IKP).

In 1930 and 1931, Mitin headed a group of young IKP philosophy graduates who advanced the idea of a “Leninist stage in the philosophy of Marxism” and denounced the school of “dialecticalists” headed by Abram Deborin, a prominent Marxist philosopher, who was in 1926–1930 the editor in chief of the periodical Pod znamenem marksizma (Under the Banner of Marxism). Debate between the two sides began in June 1930 with the publication of an article by Mitin, Pavel Iudin, and Vasilii Ral’tsevich, titled “O novykh zadachakh marksistsko-leninskoi filosofii” (The New Aims of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy), in the party newspaper Pravda. The dispute ended with the victory of Mitin’s group in January 1931, when Stalin endorsed their position. Subsequently, by decree of the Communist Party Central Committee, Mitin and Iudin were admitted to the editorial board of Pod znamenem marksizma; Mitin soon became editor in chief, a position he kept until 1944.

Mitin’s entire career was characterized by advancement achieved through the political destruction of his opponents. In the 1930s, he was considered the leading Soviet philosopher. He not only had access to Stalin, but also advised him in writing the section on philosophy in Kratkii kurs istorii VKP(b) (A Brief History of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks), issued in 1938.

Mitin participated actively in the Party and ideological purges of the mid-1930s. In the forward to his book Boevye voprosy materialisticheskoi dialektiki (Urgent Questions of Materialist Dialectic; 1936) he openly accused his opponents of sabotage and of creating counterrevolutionary groups. Repressive measures against specialists in philosophy followed these accusations.

From 1939, Mitin was a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, deputy director of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Philosophy, a member of the Academy of Sciences’ Presidium, and deputy academic secretary of the Academy’s Philosophy and Law Department. Simultaneously, from 1939 to 1961 he served on the Central Committee of the Communist Party; in 1939–1944 he was a director of the Institute of Marx-Engels-Lenin at the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Three times he was elected deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (1950–1962).

Mitin joined the editorial board of Voprosy filosofii (Questions of Philosophy) in 1949, from 1960 to 1967 serving as editor in chief—one of the most prestigious positions in philosophy a person could hold in the Soviet Union. From 1956 to 1960, he chaired the board of the Society for the Dissemination of Political and Scientific Knowledge (later Znanie), of which he was one of the founders.

An enthusiastic participant in ideological campaigns, Mitin played an active role in the so-called “struggle against cosmopolitanism.” His article “Protiv antimarksistskikh kosmopoliticheskikh ‘teorii’ v filosofii” (Against Anti-Marxist Cosmopolitan “Theories” in Philosophy) appeared in Literaturnaia gazeta (Literary Gazette) in March 1949, and served as the signal for attacking philosophers of Jewish origin and representatives of the nascent neoorthodox tendency in Marxist philosophy. In 1957, Mitin took an active part in the antireligious campaign, and on one occasion gave a lecture on antireligious propaganda in which he strongly condemned Judaism and Zionism.

Beginning in 1967, Mitin was chairman of the Scientific Council on Problems of Foreign Ideological Tendencies (a division of the Social Sciences Section of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Presidium). While keeping this post until his last days, he edited a number of books on ideological struggle and propaganda issues, including a volume devoted to the criticism of “Zionist Ideology and Practices” (1978). Until the mid-1980s Mitin also kept his influence on personnel and cadre policy in philosophy-related departments of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Suggested Reading

Benjamin Pinkus, The Soviet Government and the Jews, 1948–1967: A Documented Study, ed. Jonathan Frankel (Cambridge, 1984); Vadim Sadovskii, “Voprosy filosofii v shestidesiatye gody,” Voprosy filosofii 8 (1997): 33–47; Avner Zis’, “U istokov zhurnala Voprosy filosofii,Voprosy filosofii 7 (1997): 44–54.



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson