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Censorship

Krawtchouk's Mind 260

Posted by Hemos
from the piecing-together-the-beginning-of-computers dept.
A reader writes: "Central Europe Review is running an article on a gulag-condemned Soviet scientist whose contribution to the first computer is virtually unknown because of the Cold War mentality that infected much of society on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The story tells of how in 1937, American digital computer pioneer John Atanasoff came across a Myhailo Krawtchouk paper on a new method for finding approximate solutions to differential equations. Atanasoff tried sending a letter to him, but received no response. Krawtchouk had been attainted for giving a favorable review of the work of "enemies of the people" and shipped to Siberia for 20 years of gold mining, where he died four years later. Krawtchouk's biography gives a more detailed account of how Krawtchouk was labeled a "Polish spy" and "Ukrainian nationalist," stripped of his Academy of Sciences membership, and forced to sign a confession -- that he later retracted -- under torture and threats upon his family. "
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Krawtchouk's Mind

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  • by TopShelf (92521) on Monday April 28, 2003 @08:37AM (#5824231) Homepage Journal
    It could use a little more meat, however - exactly how was Krawtchouk's work influential? Anybody care to dig a little further (I would, but work has a bad habit of getting in the way sometimes)?
  • by sphealey (2855) on Monday April 28, 2003 @08:50AM (#5824294)
    running an article on a gulag-condemned Soviet scientist whose contribution to the first computer is virtually unknown because of the Cold War mentality that infected much of society on both sides of the Iron Curtain

    Krawtchouk had been attainted for giving a favorable review of the work of "enemies of the people" and shipped to Siberia for 20 years of gold mining, where he died four years later. Krawtchouk's biography gives a more detailed account of how Krawtchouk was labeled a "Polish spy" and "Ukrainian nationalist," stripped of his Academy of Sciences membership, and forced to sign a confession -- that he later retracted -- under torture and threats upon his family.

    As a citizen of a Western power, I did not at the time and still today eo not agree with everything that the leaders of the Western nations did during the Cold War. But particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union I think there is plenty of evidence that the two side in that conflict were not just mirror-image evil twins. Facing a society where internal deportation and execution by overwork/freezing is the punishment for publishing a disfavored theory of mathematics, I think there just might be some justification for the policies of the West.

    sPh

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday April 28, 2003 @08:54AM (#5824323) Homepage

    Although similar persecutions continue in some countries to these days, the public opinion in many democracies would not tolerate any outside action against the oppressing governments.

    Living your life under Stalin, Kim of North Korea, Castro, Saddam Hussein is worse than war... Trade sanctions -- a modern democracies' usual "civilized" weapon against each other -- don't work against these scumbags. They pass the suffering onto their people...

  • by autopr0n (534291) on Monday April 28, 2003 @09:02AM (#5824379) Homepage Journal
    Then beeing a "geek".
  • by sprprsnmn (619113) on Monday April 28, 2003 @09:14AM (#5824467) Homepage Journal
    I'll bite.

    It's mainly that true Marxist communism is an economic theory, and not a political system. Marxist-Leninism, OTOH, has been viewed as what "True Communism" is to the sheepish West. It's so easy to demonize a demonic institution like totalitarianism, and label that as the "Axis of Evil" (1.0)

  • Re:err... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LizardKing (5245) on Monday April 28, 2003 @09:35AM (#5824607)

    We were the good guys, they were the bad guys, they lost, end of story.

    It must be so nice to live in such a black and white world as yours. Look up the history of the McCarthy years in the United States for a start. It's finally getting some real historical analysis, having been brushed under the carpet for a long time. The Hoover-era FBI could give the Soviet secret police a few lessons in ethics-free techniques as well. Yes, your local Socialist Worker seller is undoutedly deluded by a bankrupt political creed, but there wasn't much honour amongst the Cold War warriors of either side.

    Chris

  • Re:err... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MojoMonkey (444942) on Monday April 28, 2003 @09:57AM (#5824765) Homepage
    McCarthyism.
    Blacklisting.

    These two are related, and should be a single point. Yes, this was a dark time. Civil rights were being trounced upon. However, no one was tortured or sent to forced labor camps. Not to mention that it didn't take long before sanity prevailed and McCarthy was denounced. Unfortunately, many careers were damaged.

    Internment camps.
    This was bad. Plain and simple. You're right. We are just now apologizing about this, and doing what we can to reconcile. This should never have happened.

    Murder of civil rights leaders.
    Are you saying State sponsered murder? If so, give me a break. If not, you can not hold government responsible for the acts of a lunatic.

    The U.S. has made many mistakes in it's short history. And yes, you could say that there was "plenty of intolerance, persecution, oppression, and corruption." Nobody ever said that it's a perfect nation. But if you think you'll find any less than ANY other country in the world, you are in for a shock.

    You've mentioned isolated occurances that for some reason slipped through the cracks of the safeguards put in place by the constitution. Those occurances are dealt with and measures are taken to make sure that they never happen again. Can you say that for the former Soviet Union?
  • Re:err... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dogfart (601976) on Monday April 28, 2003 @10:58AM (#5825259) Homepage Journal
    the US did fewer bad things, and was by far the good guys.

    Doing fewer evil things only makes you less evil, not "good". Let's just say the magnitude of evil displayed the the US was far far less than the magnitude displayed by the USSR. Someone suffering under a pro-US dictatorship may have suffered less than their counterparts in the Soviet Union, but they suffered nevertheless.

    The collapse of communism got rid of something very evil. Now we have to work on those "lesser" evils perpetrated by the winning team. THEN we can start talking about the "good guys" winning.

  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:19AM (#5825461)
    >> What if the totalitarian government was voted in by the majority of the population in a free and fair election, with full knowledge that the party was totalitarian? .

    Doesn't change a thing. Totalitarian regimes threaten the well-being of the people they rule, and block the spread of true democracy. Failing to eliminate an elected totalitarian regime is an analog to failing to treat someone who has inflicted himself with plague.

    And, yes, so long as people who profess to support so-called international law (show me the elected legislature that creates international law, ok?) and the UN thinks it is more important to respect borders and sovereignty than it is to eliminate totalitarian regimes protected by those borders, I'll call it lack of courage and will.

    The world needs to understand that viable totalitarian regimes cannot be overthrown by internal revolt. They must be eliminated by external forces and pressure. That's the lesson of Iraq. Saddam's WMD is a symptom of totalitarianism, but not the disease itself.
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:34AM (#5825574) Homepage Journal
    The orgional poster said that the USSR and US were not comparable. I said that they were comparable. Now you're claming that I'm 'shifting responsibility'?
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday April 28, 2003 @11:53AM (#5825729) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to hear what Hemos has to say, the editorial integrity issues need to be addressed.

    But, apparently, won't be. Why was this modded down? It's not offtopic, it isn't trolling, and it isn't flamebait. (And it's hard to be overrated when starting at 0.) It's a statement of someone's opinion, and a rather reasonable one at that. Slashdot has been caught plagarizing another site. So some questions arize: Did the editors really get an anonymous submission and hense didn't know it was plagarized? Or, did the author of the original piece also post to Slashdot? Or, did the authors willingly and knowingly plagarize the article?

    A simple acknowledgement of the fact that the story in on Kuro5hin and an explanation of why would do well to calm any conspiracy theorists. Simply ignoring the issue doesn't help and just raises resentment against the editors, who really seem to have an "I don't care" attitude about a site they want us to pay to use.

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