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USSR, Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China, Germany, control of nature


In Totalitarian Science and Technology Paul Josephson considers how physicists, biologists, and engineers have fared in totalitarian regimes. Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin relied on scientists and engineers to build the infrastructure of their states. The military power of their regimes was largely based on the discovery of physicists and biologists. They sought to use biology to transform nature, including their citizens, with murderous effect in Nazi Germany. They expected scientists to devote themselves entirely to the goals of the state, and were intolerant of deviation from state-sponsored programs and ideology. As a result, physicists, biologists, and engineers suffered from the consequences of ideological interference in their work. Many lost their jobs; others were arrested and disappeared in prisons. In physics, this meant rejection of the theory of relativity, in biology in the USSR, the rejection of modern-day genetics.

In this revised, on-line edition, Josephson also analyzes the uses of science and technology in such authoritarian regimes as the Soviet Union, National Socialist Germany, North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and Cuba. He argues that politics plays an important role in shaping research and development in all countries, but nowhere with greater risk to citizens and the environment than in closed political systems.


Asian History | European History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Political History | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


Colby College. History Dept.


1591023211 ; 9781591023210

Publication Date



Humanity Books


Amherst, NY


The Office of the Provost of Colby College provided funding to enable the purchase of this out-of-print book and make it accessible to all readers online.


Totalitarian Science and Technology by Paul R. Josephson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Totalitarian Science and Technology
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