Present science policy discourse is focused on a broad concept of “techno-science” and emphasizes practical economic goals and gains. At the same time scientists are worried about the freedom of research and the autonomy of science. Half a century ago the difference between basic and applied science was widely taken for granted and autonomy was a value in high esteem. Most recent accounts of the history of science policy start abruptly from World War II, emphasize the Cold War context, and neglect the pioneering role of the Soviet Union in forming todays “big science.” This paper claims that a closer look into the intellectual heritage from the early twentieth century will be helpful in navigating present issues of science policy. The “Lysenko affair” was a paradigmatic case in forming Cold War views on science and politics.