The Legacy of Fathers
by Pete Scheiner
This story is about one particular political argument -- me against Phil Horowitz and my Dad -- about Soviet biology, and the theory of Lysenko which to them somehow proved the infallibility of Marxist thinking. It was a vigorous argument, delightful, fun and hard-fought. A wonderful experience going up against those two powerful and persuasive arguers. We had all read Lysenko's book, found evidence for our differing points of view, and fiercely contested with each other.
Frank and Phil were definitely wrong about Lysenko's theory, as became clear later. Looking back, the significance of the debate for me was not the incorrectness of the theory, or even their dogmatism. It was that those two dedicated old Communists listened to me seriously, although I was only a high school student. They held fast to their ideas, defended them tenaciously, but they respected my arguments, as I respected theirs. A wonderful learning experience for me.
Phil and Frank both had fine minds, and were sincere believers in their cause. I loved them both, and wish I could again run over to 44th Street, eager to share, and dispute, my new-found insights with Phil. An intellectual legacy that I treasure.
New York, 2016