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Graham - The Ghost of the Executed Engineer Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012
Graham analises the history of soviet industrialisation -esp. its focus on huge-scale industry and infrastructures- from the standpoint of a humanistic view of engineering. The story of Peter Palchinsky -an engineer executed during the Stalin regime- serves as scaffolding for the argumentation against certain class of political-technological vision that governed the industrial development of the USSR with full underachievement considering the resources devoted to it.

Apparently, the lesson conveyed by Graham's analysis is that any political-technological system that centralizes control, prevents and fights criticism, and decides about industry ignoring human conditions will lead to failure. Apparently the neglect of humanist stances on industrialisation lead to industrial catastrophe. The analysis of Havel concerning the fall of the Soviet regime point to the idea that science only is a no-go strategy for technology.

In my perspective, the failure described in Graham's book came fully from the opposite side: industrial decisions were taken ignoring the engineering assessments when they did not fulfill the subjective, arbitrary and narrow visions of politicians.

My personal conclusion is that it is necessary to better educate the politicians in science and technology to limit their ignorance. Political norms will not change nature norms. Nature is quit stubborn concerning its own laws.

However, it is also necessary to stress the education of engineers in the sense that all that we do -I'm an engineer- shall be directed to improving the living conditions of humans. Palchinsky seemed to know this. Soviets didn't understand that the best way to serve humans is not dogmatic politics but rigorous, systematic and complete -putting human experiences into the equations- science and engineering.


The Ghost of the Executed Engineer:

Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

Loren R. Graham

Harvard University Press
128 pages
ISBN 0674354370


Value for time: 7

Main value: Get informed about the history of Soviet industrial policy.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 January 2012 )
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