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#slty-13:Evgeny Evgenievich Slutsky
Born: 19 April 1880 in Novoe, Yaroslavskaya guberniya, Russia
Died: 10 March 1948 in Moscow, USSR


After leaving school Evgeny Slutsky entered the University of Kiev in 1899 to study mathematics. He was involved in student politics and he participated in student unrest at the university.
Student trouble makers were dealt with by giving them a spell in the army. That is precisely what happened to Slutsky in 1901, but he was not given a particularly long spell and he was soon back at Kiev University. The following year he was in trouble again and this time he was expelled and there was no chance to complete his studies at Kiev.
Slutsky decided on getting an education abroad and he entered Munich Polytechnikum were he was able to complete a degree and return to Kiev in 1905. This time he went for course more in keeping with his political interests, taking a degree in political economics in the Faculty of Law. He graduated with the Gold Medal in 1911.
From 1913 until 1926 he taught at the Kiev Institute of Commerce, then in 1926 he moved to the government statistics offices in Moscow. After eight years there during which time he published important statistical papers, he began teaching at the University of Moscow. From 1938 onwards he worked at the Institute of Mathematics of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences.
As a statistician, Slutsky was influenced by Pearson's work and he was interested in both the mathematical background of the statistical methods he studied as well as their application to economics and, later in his career, to natural sciences.
While at the Kiev Institute of Commerce, Slutsky gave the fundamental equation of value theory to economics.
Slutsky introduced stochastic concepts of limits, derivatives and integrals from 1925 to 1928 while he worked at the government statistics offices. In 1927 he showed that subjecting a sequence of independent random variables to a sequence of moving averages generated an almost periodic sequence. This work stimulated the creation of stationary stochastic processes.
He also studied correlations of related series for a limited number of trials. He obtained conditions for measurability of random functions in 1937.
Slutsky applied his theories widely, in addition to economics mentioned above he also studied solar activity using data from 500 BC onwards. Other applications were to diverse topics such as the pricing of grain and the study of chromosomes.


Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

SLUTSKY & HISTORY
By Martin Malia, Reply by Aileen KellyIn response to The Secret Sharer (March 9, 2000)To the Editors:As someone with good memories of Boris Slutsky's public reading of his poetry in Moscow during Khrushchev's "thaw" of 1962, I appreciated Aileen Kelly's commemoration of his career [NYR, March 9]. But she goes well beyond this to place on him a burden of historical interpretation that his stature simply cannot sustain. For the "dissident" status she assigns him was stricly a posthumous, post-Soviet discovery—as in the far more important case of Dmitri Shostakovich.Nonetheless, she claims Slutsky's example shows Soviet society "was evolving, even maturingâ€■evidence [that] should be borne in mind by those who believe the Soviet file should now finally be closed," in the negative, that is. I am the central example she gives of such insensitive foreclosure. By contrast, Sheila Fitzpatrick and Stephen Cohen are held up as defenders of a more open and positive view.To make this dubious point, moreover, Kelly caricatures my position in terminology taken from her two authorities' "revisionist" Sovietology. Thus: I consider Soviet society an "ideological monolith," both "static" and "all-encompassing" in its social "control." This monolith was held together by a "logocratic spell" broken only when the dissident intelligentsia seized the opportunity offered by glasnost under Gorbachev to carry out Solzhenitsyn's famous injunction, "Refuse to live according to the Lie." Indeed, the "spell" was total until 1989-1991, with only up-front dissidents escaping it—a view "belied by Slutsky's poetry" and supported by the pluralistic picture of Soviet life Fitzpatrick gives in her Everyday Stalinism. In short, Kelly objects to my viewing communism in terms of what her authorities decry as the "totalitarian model."But what alternative exists to this universally used shorthand for the unique amalgam of Communist Party-state, command economy, secret police, and mandatory ideology? For Soviet history was not centrally about workers' power or overcoming backwardness. It was about "building socialism," defined as the suppression of private property, profit, and the market. And it aimed to achieve this "highest goal of history" through the liquidation, by "class struggle," of all "kulaks," "petty bourgeois" NEP men, "wreckers," and other "enemies of the people." Thus, under communism, ideology, though not everything, was the sine qua non distinguishing it from more prosaic forms of modernization. Nor was the system static. Its culmination was the Stalinist Thirties, its "maximalist versionâ€■and defining moment," as Kelly quotes Fitzpatrick's characterization."Totalitarianism" properly understood thus does not mean the Soviet people were mindless automatons controlled from a single center. And this was made clear long before Slutsky or Fitzpatrick by waves of dissident émigrés, samizdat writers, banned Nobel laureates, and Jewish refusniks.Such dissent, of course, could not be expressed openly because it would reveal the Communist emperor had no clothes—which indeed occurred with Gorbachev's glasnost gamble. But when the system was functioning properly everyone had to use Party-speak publicly (the archives reveal that the leaders themselves used it behind closed doors). Hence Solzhenitsyn preached liberation from the language of "the Lie" as the first step toward liberation tout court. And real dissent is public—and perilous—as his example illustrates. Until the collapse of 1989-1991, therefore, most disaffected intelligensia were closet cases, cautious "Galileos" as opposed to foolhardy "Giordano Brunos." So Slutsky confined his protest to writing "for the drawer."To Kelly's authorities, of course, any suggestion of ideocratic power acting "from above" is cold war calumny. Soviet development, rather, was driven by social forces acting "from below." Yet in making this partially valid point, they transmogrified their predecessors' position into a straw man called "monolith." In reality, there is nothing essential in Fitzpatrick's picture of disaffection under Stalin that was not already highlighted in 1958 by the "totalitarians"' patriarch, Merle Fainsod, in his Smolensk Under Soviet Rule.Yet "revisionism" was not just a matter of historical methodology. Its subtext was advocacy for the enduring legitimacy, founded on "social mobility," of the Soviet regime (Fitzpatrick) or anticipation of eventual "socialism with a human face" (Cohen). These ideological expectations, however, perversely caused the revisionists to get the Soviet dynamic backwards: they mistook the post-Stalin loosening of the system for liberalization, when in fact it denoted decomposition leading to collapse. Communism as ideocracy can readily account for this outcome: no Lie, no system. Social maturation, however, draws a blank. For if Soviet society was "evolving" as nicely as Kelly and her authorities maintain, then why is it not still there? Surely, this is the overriding historical problem posed by the surreal Communist epic—not the now pointless celebration of Soviet "pluralism."Martin Malia
Berkeley, CaliforniaAileen Kelly replies:Some of Martin Malia's comments on my review make me wonder whether he has read it or just been told about it by friends. For example, he does not need to insist that Slutsky's "dissident" status was "a strictly posthumousâ€■discovery": this fact, and the reasons for Slutsky's conformism, were at the heart of my piece. Unlike Malia, however, I don't believe that this external conformism automatically detracts from the quality of Slutsky's insights into the workings of Soviet society. What does it mean to say that Shostakovich's case was "far more important"? That his music conveys a sense of his tragic age far better than Slutsky's poetry? A debate on their relative merits could be interesting, but Malia is apparently not concerned with my discussion of Slutsky, which he seems to interpret as a mere pretext for the real subject of my review—a veiled attack on Malia's own views about the Soviet system.His suspicion is based on just two points at which I suggest that Slutsky's portrayal of the evolution of Soviet society is relevant to a continuing debate among US academics on the nature of the regime. In this debate Malia currently has a high profile, thanks to his recent book, Russia Under Western Eyes, and his New York Times polemic with Stephen Cohen: hence my reference to both men by name. Malia's reaction to my summary of the positions expressed in their publications reminds me strongly of the ideological origins of these polemics in cold war passions, when the fervent anticommunists of the "totalitarianism" school did not hesitate to question the intellectual independence and integrity of those whom they suspected of any sympathy with the opposing camp.The authentic flavor of this polemical style (one of the last legacies of the Soviet period) is conveyed by his incantatory references to the "revisionist authorities" whose mouthpiece he believes me to be. He includes among them Sheila Fitzpatrick, despite the fact that I criticized her for downplaying Stalinism just as the "totalitarianism" school downplayed de-Stalinization. Although he may not have intended it, he gives the impression of believing, in the style of Lenin, that all "revisionists," however much they may appear to disagree among themselves, are in secret collusion against the one true version of history.I argued that the discovery of Slutsky's rich picture of Soviet society should make us more wary of all prescriptions or predictions about Russia's future that ignore or underestimate the complex heritage of her recent past. Malia dislikes the implication that he is guilty of such an insensitive foreclosing. He is not, as it happens, the main target of this remark, but the attitude I had in mind is well illustrated by his claim in Russia Under Western Eyes that with communism's collapse "the reputedly world-historical turning of October was annulled and all its results were repealedâ€■. It was as if 1917 had never occurred." (p. 406)He complains that I use the standard terminology of my "authorities" to caricature his views. Here his memory seems to have let him down somewhat: as demonstrated in his book, the following terminology to which he objects is his own. The reference to a "logocratic spell" broken by Solzhenitsyn's injunction is on p. 407 (see also p. 397); on p. 309 Soviet Marxism is described as an "all-encompassing state tyranny."I do not think I have caricatured any of Malia's views, but his method of ideological typecasting certainly caricatures mine. While I do not share his belief that the Soviet Union was brought down by a tiny number of dissidents, I have never attributed to him or to any other historian the absurd view that the party-state had turned most of its citizens into automata. I merely think he takes far too little account of the cumulative results of the disillusionment and disaffection of ordinary Soviet people over seven decades. I have never held the view that Soviet Russia was evolving "nicely," which is why I was so impressed by Slutsky's portrayal of its last years as a society adrift, searching for direction with only the experience of past tragedy and past errors to guide it.Malia refers to Slutsky's poetry and the testimonies collected in Fitzpatrick's volume simply in order to claim precedence for the "totalitarianism" school as having been the first to tap such sources. It is depressing to see these firsthand accounts of often terrible experiences being used to refuel old ideological disputes which are increasingly meaningless to new generations. We would do better to learn from these testimonies what Slutsky learned: that ideologies are disastrously incapable of explaining historical processes and moral experience.
The Jewish News recently spoke with author/producer/music supervisor Allan Slutsky about his dedication to the project, his partnership with producer/director Paul Justman and producer Sandy Passman, his own musical experience and his Jewish background.JN: What first sparked your interest in Motown music?AS: This has been a 35-year odyssey. I’m 50 now. In the ’60s, when I was 15 years old, I was in a group called The Majestics. I was the lone white, Jewish guy in an all-black band, which was kind of crazy at the time because all my friends were into rock, you know, Hendrix and The Who.And I was a soul man. I used to play these clubs deep in the heart of Philly’s black neighborhoods. [Motown] is the music that I played. This was the music of my youth.
JN: Most people have never heard of the Funk Brothers. What initially drew you to their story? How were you first introduced to these virtually anonymous musicians?AS: I’m a professional musician. I went to Berklee [College of Music] in Boston and I had a company called Dr. Licks Publications, which I started in the early “80s. I transcribed guitar solos note for note from famous guitarists and I would sell these to a publisher named Hal Leonard.I decided to write a book called The Art of Playing Rhythm and Blues. It was a survey of the most famous R&B scenes of the ’60s; Chicago, New Orleans, Philly, Motown.When I started researching [the Motown section of the book], and started transcribing in particular James Jamerson, the [Motown] bass player — those bass lines! — I went out of my mind. Listen to this stuff. I had never listened to it with that critical of an ear when I was younger.The book [Standing in the Shadows of Motown] started when I was in Chicago at [a music industry trade show]. I had the idea to try to find Jamerson’s widow since Chicago’s right next to Detroit.So I went to Detroit and called the musicians union. They gave me her number. I hooked up with her to discuss the possibility of doing a book. She started taking me around to all the other members of the Funk Brothers who were telling me all these incredible stories about James.
JN: At that point, did you realize what a big project it would turn into?AS: Well, I thought, “Man, there’s a little bit more here than a book.� Also, I had never written a real book. I had always written technical books. But I got obsessed with the story.And next thing I knew — three years later — I had spent about 10,000 hours and $60,000-some writing the book.The book came with two CDs. And on the CDs I had enticed everyone from Paul McCartney on down — every major bass player in the world — into playing excerpts from James Jamerson and talking about him and the influence that he had on their careers.
JN: Did you suspect at that point that this would be an important contribution to music history?AS: I didn’t know what I had done. It was like an act of desperation. It was crazy. I was totally dead.And the next thing I know, the book wins the Rolling Stone-Ralph J. Gleason Award for Book of the Year in 1989. I was floored.There’s an old saying: “A little bit of success can be a dangerous thing.� I guess I got a swelled head. I hadn’t taken myself seriously until I won that award. Then I thought, “There’s a movie in this.� That set me up for 11 years of searching for funding on a full-time basis. It wasn’t part time. Every day I would work on it from six to 12 hours.
JN: It took that long to drum up interest or support?AS: I made over 1,000 pitches during those years. We got close a few times. But I was a pretty angry guy.Do you know the story about how Schindler’s List got made? There was a tailor in L.A., and he would pitch the story to every movie type who came into his place. [No one was interested] until one day Steven Spielberg walked in.Obviously, Motown is not at the level of the Holocaust, but I knew I had an unbelievable story and I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me. From hanging out in South Philly, I got a bit of what they call “Italian Alzheimer’s disease�: You forget everything but a grudge. So I used anger as a motivating force.The level of disrespect shown to these guys! These guys created such monumental stuff and nobody would give them a break.
JN: At what point did it start to seem possible that the film would actually get made?AS: Well, I had momentary doubts going into the ninth and 10th years. After I won the award, I got a certain amount of legitimacy. So for six years or so, I was given carte blanche to run around.But after about the sixth year, I became like the crazy aunt in the attic. It was like, “Oh, there’s Slutsky talking about his stupid film again.� And nobody ever thought it would happen.What I’ve learned in the journey is that it’s a miracle any independent films happen. Everything works against you.
JN: When you finally got around to filming these musicians, what surprised you the most?AS: The musicianship. My biggest fear was whether or not the guys could still play. Half the band’s in their 70s. But when they actually sat down, they were incredible. They’re my heroes.Uriel Jones needed quintuple bypass, which he didn’t tell me at the time. [Bassist] “Pistol� Allen [who passed away in the summer of 2002] was dying of cancer and he didn’t tell me about that either. One of the guys had lifelong polio, which was hitting him harder in his old age. There were various infirmities: high blood pressure, diabetes.You could just see that they had made a conscious decision to get their story out. They refused to give in. And that was the most amazing thing to me.
JN: There’s a moment in the film when the Funk Brothers go to England and unexpectedly receive the star treatment. They’re considered icons there. But in the U.S., they’re almost completely unknown. What does that say about Americans as consumers of pop culture?AS: If you want to see total adulation, go to [the Web site] soulfuldetroit.com.In England, there’s a club called the Northern Soul Movement. It’s an obsessive group of approximately 20,000 record collectors whose only interest is obscure Detroit music and Motown.[The Funk Brothers] are worshipped. Motown was always bigger in England than it was here.JN: Do you have a favorite moment in the film?AS: I have a couple. One of them is in the end. We’re doing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,� and the choir comes in. There’s a shot where you see both drummers. It’s just before the credits roll.And you see “Pistol� Allen, who is no longer with us, and you see the look on his face. And the look says, “I’ve waited my entire life for this moment and it’s here.�He was dying of lung cancer, and his face radiates the most incredible joy you can imagine. It’s as if you can tell in that moment he knows he might be dying, but he’s going to be remembered. That one hit me the hardest.
JN: In addition to writing the book and being one of the film’s producers, you also transcribed and adapted the musical arrangements and played guitar in the film. How did all these roles overlap?AS: We all had a gazillion jobs. It being an independent film, I was holding down about 12 different jobs. For me, the musical part was logical because I had transcribed every one of these Motown songs. I knew every note.I had to re-teach these guys what they had played 40 years before. Forty years later, they’re different musicians. But nobody’s interested in what they play like now.It’s kind of arrogant to think that I’m going to teach these masters. But the way that they had always approached their music, it was like disposable music. They each went in, played, got a paycheck and split. They didn’t sit there — like this white Jewish kid — to obsess on every note. They played it, and it was on to the next tune.JN: Tell me more about your Jewish background. Do you think that being Jewish influenced you in your drive to tell this story?AS: That’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. From a very young age I worked with my father. I was always around black people way more than the average white kid was.In Philly, there were always a lot of Jewish businessmen working in the ghetto. They had variety stores, clothing stores. My father was in the cigarette-vending business.The mob controlled all the “good� neighborhoods. My father, being an independent, had to go into the worst parts of the city to do his business. The mob didn’t want any part of that. It was too dangerous.But there was a history in my family of a lot of interaction with African-Americans. My grandparents were very, very religious. And my father was always willing to help people out. In the Jewish religion, it’s called tzedakah.I don’t think that I was consciously thinking about that, but it was the way I was raised. My parents did a good job on that end.
JN: So, in a way, the film itself is tzedakah?AS: I think so. Really, the film has to make a $10-million profit just for me to break even. I knew I probably wasn’t going to make money on this. It was more an affair of the heart.Whether I have a Don Quixote complex or what, I took it upon myself to help [the Funk Brothers] get their dream.
JN: Was that also the case for your partners?AS: Definitely. [Director/Producer] Paul Justman and [Producer] Sandy Passman were heroes. Paul was in this about 11 years; Sandy, six years. That’s a long time for people to hang in there and fight against overwhelming odds. I can’t say enough about them.As far as the Jewish connection between me, Paul and Sandy: When we were trying to come up with a management name, we would sometimes kid around and jokingly call ourselves “Three Jews Management� or — you know the old Louis Jordan song “Five Guys Named Moe�? — we thought about calling ourselves “Three Guys Named Moishe.�
JN: How about your musical training? Did being Jewish influence you there, too?AS: In addition to everything else I’ve done, I’ve probably played 2,000 Jewish weddings and bar mitzvahs. I’ve played these songs over, and over, and over, and over.Every bar mitzvah band has its obligatory Motown medley. It’s all part of my background.
JN: It must mean a lot to you to have your dedication to the Funk Brothers’ story pay off.AS: Exactly. The only musical phenomenon of the last 40 years that was as big as the Beatles is Motown. And every single story from Motown has been told and retold and exploited over and over.Berry Gordy borrowing $500 dollars — you’ve heard that story a million times. This was the first new story.Suddenly, we pop up and say, “Guess what, fellas, you didn’t know 50 percent of the story.�The way the Motown story has been marketed all along — it’s the Temps, it’s the Supremes, it’s Stevie, it’s Marvin. To me, the Motown story is the story of a dozen musicians and a cast of revolving vocalists.That’s the Motown story to me. But, then again, I’m a musician.
JN: So did the film live up to your expectations? Did you achieve your goal? AS: My belief with this film was all we had to do was not screw it up. We had the greatest story in the world. We just had to let [the Funk Brothers] tell their story the way they remembered it and get the hell out of the way. And that’s basically what we did. In a couple places they get some braggadocio; they’re strutting their stuff. Well, they’re entitled to it. They stood in supermarkets with their music playing overhead and people in the checkout lines are snapping their fingers or singing to it. And these people don’t know they’re standing next to the guy who played on it. They’ve had enough years of aggravation, and anonymity, and obscurity. It takes its toll. The fact that they’re finally getting their due now is a great thing. If this film gets them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Jamerson already got in last year — or if maybe the soundtrack wins them a Grammy, it’ll be a good thing. It’ll be a mitzvah.