Ideology and class

April 2024 Forums General discussion Ideology and class

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 63 total)
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  • #83686
    Hud955
    Participant

    To save you any further hassle from the moderator LB, I've transferred my last reply to you in the Chomsky forum to this new thread.

    LBird wrote:
    Hud955 wrote:

    The methodological individualism that lies at the root of his linguistics is a different beast.  This is an analytical tool, not a social or political statement.

    [my bold]

    So, 'methodological individualism' is not political?

    Hud955 wrote:

    What is interesting about this is thatmethodological individualism is often at the root of theories proposed by those with pro-capitalist sympathies(often but not always).  And it is not difficult to see why that should be so.  It can certainly be linked with the political ideology of bourgeois individualism.  But while it has political implications…

    [my bold]

     

    So, 'methodological individualism' is political?
     

    Hud955 wrote:

    …methodological individualim itself makes no value judgements and  has no political content.

    That's an astonishing statement, Hud.  

    No value judgements or political content? You don't think the theory is related to social classes and their historical development, and their ethics? Simply astonishing. 

     

    Blimey!  You are hard work, LB, There is a difference berween an analytical tool and the political uses to which it is put (theory and practice).  Ideologies are not stable and the narratives that they are composed of swap allegiences very easily depending on the demands of the class environment.  Methodological individualism, in general aims to explain social phenomena as the aggregate of individual actions. Certainly it is used by neoclassical economics and so called 'anarcho-capitalists' to justify capitalism.   Chomsky, however, draws no such conclusions from it in his linguistics.  On the contrary, he goes out of his way to ensure that his linguistic theories have no social implications whatsoever.  If they do have any, let me know, because I can't see them.  And if Chomsky is aware of such, then he has made a good job of covering them up.  For Chomsky, methodological individualism is implicit in genetic theory and he resticts its application to that sphere.  Genes mutuate within individuals, one at a time; they do not mutate collectively within populations.  It doesn't matter what ideological perspective researchers come from, no-one who investigates such issues would seriously challenge that. Frankly, it would make no sense if they did.

     

     

    LBird wrote:
    Hud955 wrote:

    …you will need to explain how someone with a commitment to working class politics…

     

    Chomsky has a commitment to Communism, to workers' power, to the end of private property, the market and money, and to the democratic control of world production (including production of scientific knowledge and truth)?

    I don't think so. Chomsky's 'methodological individualism' is the philosophical basis of his 'biological determinism' and his individualist, 'free-thinker', 'free association' Anarchism.  

    His research, his selection parameters, which he employs to select his 'facts' (see my post 67 about your incorrect method), and his 'evidence' and 'proof' about individuals having biological mechanisms which determine their ahistoric and asocial language abilities, are all totally at odds with anything whatsoever to do with our Communist politics, philosophy or method. 

    If by 'methodological individualism' you are referring to Chomsky's reliance on the neo-darwinian synthesis and selfish gene theory as summarised, say by Dawkins then I disagree.  Methodological individualism in the realm of genetics does not lie at the root of 'biological determinism'  Quite the contrary.  It lends itself much more to a Marxist interpretation of society than the ideology of the previous functionalist school with its social selection theories.  

    I'd agree that Chomsky's approach to politics comes from an anarchist tradition and is therefore 'individualist'  in a way that a Marxian thinker would reject.  In the political sphere, however,  Chomsky clearly states his belief that that in a class society like our own individual needs and interests get expressed through class structures; he acknowledges, class action and class ideology, and puts a particualr focus on how class ideology is disseminated through the media. He has stated his support for a revolution against capitalism by a mass of the population.  None of these ideas are contained within or remotely entertained by bourgeois or methodological individualism.   

    (On a side point, I'd draw your attention to your Soviet-style use of authoritarian phraseology like 'your incorrect method'. Whether my method is 'incorrect' or not is for you to demonstrate, not to assume.   It seems your commitment to a democratic 'truth' depends on whether people agree with you or not!) 

     

     

    LBird wrote:

     Y'know, that human and social activity, that the bourgeoisie pretend is an objective, neutral method to get at 'The Truth', and are supported in this myth by academics, who can see the threat, too, to their power, legitimacy and authority, when confronted with claims for democratic controls.

    Many physicists since Einstein have been aware that science is based upon 'theory and practice', as Marx argued, and not 'theory alone' or 'practice alone' or 'practice and theory'. 

    I'm beginning to think that you regard political philosophy as not being at the root of science.

     

    You would be correct.  Capitalist interests inevitably influence the practice of science within capitalism and the direction that scientific enquiry takes.  A capitalist class discourse, moreover, influences the way science is presented to us.  But the capitalist class is also profoundly dependent on an objective science to maintain its profits, and cannot allow purely political motives to dominate scientific enquiry.  You only have to look at the disastrous effects of politically motivated science on a capitalist economy during the time of the Soviet state to see where that leads.  Another way of putting this is to say that within capitalism, science must be placed at the service of capitalist interests, but those interests require at least some degree of objectivity.  For this reason, your mechanistic interpetation of the principle you keep banging on about fails to engage with the actual needs and interests of the capitalist class.

    A good deal of the current methodology of science could be usefully transferred to a socialist society with only surface modification.  The same is not so true of scientific practice within capitalism which is deeply influenced by capitalist interests and ideology.

    What you appear to ignore is the fact that ideology is a fluid and promiscuous beast that can transfer its allegiences very quickly in response to social and class needs, and does so all the time.   

    #110188
    robbo203
    Participant

    I think LB's basic problem is that he has fallen into the trap of holistic thinking which people like Emile Durkheim had been accused of falling into by his detractors – namely of reifying "society", of giving it an objective existence over and above, and independently of, the individuals comprising it.  Hence, the latter's talk of  "social facts" as having a thinglike quality about them.  They externally impose themselves on individuals and Durkheim claimed to have demonstrated this in the case of his famous study of the pattern of suicide.  For instance, if you were a Protestant you were statistically more likely to commit suicide than if you were a  Catholic. But , of course, society or indeed "class", cannot exist apart from the individuals who comprise it – anymore  than mind can exist apart from the brain.  Which is not to say the brain determines what goes on in the mind or individuals "determine" society,  which is crude reductionism.  What we can say is that the latter supervenes on the former.  Society/class depends on individuals but cannot be entirely explained in terms of its individual constituents.  This is "emergence theory" which, to me at least, is a plausible middle ground position between the crude reductionism of atomistic individualism  and the methodological pitfalls of a thoroughgoing holism. The practical implications of LB's commitment to the latter are revealed in his often asserted and frankly  absurd suggestion that the the "truth" of scientific theories should be determined by the working class as a whole by means of a democratic vote since, according to him, the only alternative to this is to subscribe to an elitist view of science where the truth is determined by a tiny minority. I have repeatedly challenged him to show why it is even necessary to subject scientific theories to a  democratic vote – the democratic procedure is something that is more applicable to the implementation of practical decisions , not the merits or otherwise of sciejtific theories – and how it is remotely possible for the working class as a whole to familiarise itself with the fine grained details of literally thousands upon thousands  of scientific theories that are churned out every year in order to competently vote upon them.  Of course the idea is absurd.  Not even the most gifted scientist alive would be capable of comprehending in detail more than a small fraction of the totality of scientific theories generated yet LBird expects  all 7 billion of us to go much further than this gifted scientist and knowledgeably vote on the whole lot!  Refusal to fall in line with his surreal recommendations for a future communist society is to risk being accused of endorsing an elitist view of science based on a "bourgeois ideology". This constant mantra of his – that he is a "democratic communist" and his opponents are, inadvertently or otherwise, exhibiting their attachment to a bourgeois ideology –  is his get-out  clause by which he deftly evades all serious discussion of the practicalities of what he is proposing.  I have not been able to pin him down on this point but you might have better luck  Richard 

    #110189
    LBird
    Participant
    Hud955 wrote:
    To save you any further hassle from the moderator LB, I've transferred my last reply to you in the Chomsky forum to this new thread.

    Thanks for that Hud.This discussion here will also be relevant to the 'anthropology' discussion, too.Your post was a very long one, but I think it can be reduced, in essence, to this question, and your answer to it:

    Hud955 wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    I'm beginning to think that you regard political philosophy as not being at the root of science.

    You would be correct.     

    Are you happy with my attempt to focus on this core issue, which I think will get to the heart of our disagreements on this site?I think once this issue is clarified, every other issue in your post will be seen in the light of our respective answers to this core philosophical issue.

    #110190
    LBird
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    I think LB's basic problem is that he has fallen into the trap of holistic thinking…

    You'd do well to read what I write, robbo, and try to recognise your own ideological perspective.To an individualist, like you (or YMS), any attempt whatsoever to move the focus away from 'individuals' will be regarded as 'holistic thinking'.There is a mid point between the two, perhaps best represented by Margaret Archer in her book Realist social theory: the morphogenetic approach.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Realist-Social-Theory-Morphogenetic-Approach/dp/0521484421Perhaps you could have a read of it?You probably won't, because, from what I can tell from 18 months discussions, no-one here actually reads anything to do with the subjects we discuss, but simply give knee-jerk reactions, based upon their own existing and unacknowledged ideologies.I'm the opposite: I've bought many books recommended by comrades, not least Pannekoek, Dietzgen and Untermann.The other ones that I've bought, based upon my own development, run into dozens. At least I'm learning.This thread would probably be better served by letting Hud criticise what I say, because I've had lots of discussions with you, and we all know already where it will lead.You'll 'pooh-pooh' democracy in social production. You won't have 'truth' elected. You want elite control of science. Oh yeah, and you want 'free association', not 'workers' power'.

    #110191
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
     You'll 'pooh-pooh' democracy in social production. You won't have 'truth' elected. You want elite control of science. Oh yeah, and you want 'free association', not 'workers' power'.

     This is oh-so-predictable.  Once again and for the umpteenth time, how are 7 billion workers going to democratically determine the "truth" of multiple thousands of scientific theories by means of a vote as you have explicitly advocated? HOW? HOW? HOW?   What are the ACTUAL REALISTIC PROPOSALS you have in mind by which you imagine this absolutely surreal and fantastic state of affairs can ever be put into effect ?  Stop, for once, perpetually running away from this question and answer it directly And, while you are about it, please explain why it is according to your "mystical holistic" ideology you feel some strange compulsion for all 7 billion of us to vote on the merits of all these thousands upon thousands  of scientific theories?   Assuming your batty idea was even remotely possible – what then?  The "workers" have given their stamp of approval to some obscure esoteric theory of cell division in microbiology, presumably having swotted up on the details in the months leading up to the Big Vote.  68.76% of the workers decide the theory is OK, the rest give it the thumbs down.  Are you then going to forbid any expression of criticism of the theory that the 68.76% have just voted in favour of? If not then what was was the whole point of that whole costly resource-consuming time-consuming exercise?  All of which goes to show you dont understand what democracy is for at all, do you? I'm all in favour of democracy but where it is needed – in practical decisionmaking -not where it is simply not needed.  It is stupid fetishising democracy  for its own sake. Next youll be having 7 billion workers collectively decide where we each live, what clothes we wear, what thoughts we think , what music we listen to  what books we should be allowed to read etc etc etc. If rejecting that makes me an "individualist" in your eyes then so be it.  I would far sooner be that than live in your fascistic Orwellian utopian nightmare misnamed "democratic communism" Your totalitarian  "workerist" ideology is the exact opposite of a self-critical open-minded undogmatic  approach that is supposed to be the hall mark of scientific endeavour where "the truth" is something that is never absolute but only provisional. In practice. moreover,  it is your approach, not mine,  that will lead to scientific elitism because by default the sheer impracticality of what you propose will concentrate power in the hands of the few.  Because in practice there is no way all 7 billion workers are going to be able to do what you suggest and if you think otherwise then prove it and stop pretending that you have already done so! If anyone is simply giving " knee-jerk reactions, based upon their own existing and unacknowledged ideologies., it is you LBird. You fail to realise that behind your claim to be a "democratic communist" is a much more sinister ideological thought process. Time for you to start acknowledging this hidden ideology of yours!

    #110192
    LBird
    Participant

    You're going to have to read, and think critically about what's being said, on the rest of this thread, robbo.We already know what your ideology tells you, because you keep repeating it, whereas you haven't a clue about mine.This is obvious, because I can give an account of yours that you can agree with.That is, I can say 'robbo is opposed to democracy in truth production', and you'll agree with this as an accurate account of your position on 'truth production'.But, you can't give an accurate of my position 'LBird is in favour of democracy in truth production', because you can't imagine that this is possible, whereas I agree that your position is, not only entirely possible, but the one taken by the bourgeoisie and academics.For me, locating our opposing positions within a class society, and looking at those positions historically in their emergence, and tying them to wider ideas about society and power, and ideology and politics, is the answer to trying to identify which is better suited for the proletariat, as it goes forward and builds for socialism, as it becomes ever more self-conscious of its power, legitimacy and authority, and as it challenges the power of the bourgeoisie, in every sphere of society, including academia.Which is the position that will suit a society within which the majority control the means of production?A. 'Democracy in truth production'; orB. 'Elitism in truth production'.

    #110193
    LBird
    Participant
    robbo wrote:
    …a self-critical open-minded undogmatic  approach that is supposed to be the hall mark of scientific endeavour where "the truth" is something that is never absolute but only provisional.

    That's interesting, robbo, So, you oppose ALB and DJP's view on science?Remember, when I maintained that whether 'the sun goes round the earth' or 'the earth goes round the sun' is a 'provisional truth', and is related to the society that produces that 'provisional truth', they argued that "No, it's The Truth that 'the earth goes round the sun', and will be forever more. It's an 'absolute truth', and only a ignorant relativist would maintain otherwise".Not a direct quote, but you get the gist.Here, I think that the solution of the problem of knowledge production in science is a vote. I think that, because as you say, science tells us that it produces only provisional truths, that the 'truths' produced by science should be widely discussed and voted upon.Those who disagree have the problem of telling me the method that science uses, that can produce non-provisional Truths, eternal and absolute, when science itself actually tells us, as you are aware, that only "a self-critical open-minded undogmatic approach that is supposed to be the hall mark of scientific endeavour where "the truth" is something that is never absolute but only provisional".Well, I'm critical, open minded and undogmatic about the relationship between the sun and earth, robbo. How about you?

    #110194
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
     But, you can't give an accurate of my position 'LBird is in favour of democracy in truth production', because you can't imagine that this is possible, whereas I agree that your position is, not only entirely possible, but the one taken by the bourgeoisie and academics.

     We are all waiting with bated breath to hear why you think "democracy in truth production" is either 1) necessary2) practically possible for a global population of 7 billion Stop evading these questions, LBird. Answer them – if you can…

    #110195
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    robbo wrote:
    …a self-critical open-minded undogmatic  approach that is supposed to be the hall mark of scientific endeavour where "the truth" is something that is never absolute but only provisional.

    That's interesting, robbo, So, you oppose ALB and DJP's view on science?

    I can't see anything to disagree with in the quote from Robbo above….What do you think "ALB's and DJP's" view on science is?

    #110196
    Capitalist Pig
    Participant

    too many words…what are we talking about lol

    #110197
    robbo203
    Participant
    Capitalist Pig wrote:
    too many words…what are we talking about lol

     Ideology, CP , ideology One of the people on this list, LBird, thinks scientific theories should be ideologically endorsed  by the  workers (7 billion of us) by means of a democratic vote to determine whether such theories are true or not.  It is a dotty idea, of course, even if what LBird is  also saying – that there is no such thing as a "value free science"  – is true enough in itself. However, saying science is not value free is no justification whatsoever  for what LBird is proposing  and I for one am waiting to hear his response to post number 8 on this thread.  I will bet money on him once again evading these questions but let us see . I may be proven wrong!

    #110198
    Hud955
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
     I think that you regard political philosophy as not being at the root of science
    Hud955 wrote:
    You would be correct.     
    LBird wrote:
    Are you happy with my attempt to focus on this core issue, which I think will get to the heart of our disagreements on this site?I think once this issue is clarified, every other issue in your post will be seen in the light of our respective answers to this core philosophical issue.

    Go ahead, LB.  Take this in whatever way you like.  I'm leaving the field to you.

    #110199
    Capitalist Pig
    Participant

    I don't really understand how scientific theories can be ideologically endorsed. Its like saying that scientists should embrace pseudoscientists. But I don't know maybe I just need to read his post hehe…

    #110200
    Hud955
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    You're going to have to read, and think critically about what's being said, on the rest of this thread, robbo.We already know what your ideology tells you, because you keep repeating it, whereas you haven't a clue about mine.This is obvious, because I can give an account of yours that you can agree with.That is, I can say 'robbo is opposed to democracy in truth production', and you'll agree with this as an accurate account of your position on 'truth production'.But, you can't give an accurate of my position 'LBird is in favour of democracy in truth production', because you can't imagine that this is possible, whereas I agree that your position is, not only entirely possible, but the one taken by the bourgeoisie and academics.For me, locating our opposing positions within a class society, and looking at those positions historically in their emergence, and tying them to wider ideas about society and power, and ideology and politics, is the answer to trying to identify which is better suited for the proletariat, as it goes forward and builds for socialism, as it becomes ever more self-conscious of its power, legitimacy and authority, and as it challenges the power of the bourgeoisie, in every sphere of society, including academia.Which is the position that will suit a society within which the majority control the means of production?A. 'Democracy in truth production'; orB. 'Elitism in truth production'.

     Your A and B analysis is false dichotomy, a fundamental logical error.  (And one that you consistently make.)   Material possibilities are rarely if ever be constrained by just two choices.  You have set up your question here to try to control the direction of the future discussion. Another example, along with the usual patronising tone of your remarks, of your authoritarian attitude to this matter. Robin asked you for proposals on how you think a system of democratic truth production should work. All we get back is the statement that he is unable to conceive of how it would work.  We know that LB. He has clearly indicated as much.  What we want to know is how you think it would work.  Once more you have dodged the questions.  Can we, for once, get a direct response from you?I'm very happy to discuss the matter with you, but I am not playing these kind of games.

    #110201
    LBird
    Participant
    Hud955 wrote:
    I'm very happy to discuss the matter with you, but I am not playing these kind of games.

    What? The 'kind of games' that involve philosophical discussion?I had higher hopes of you, Hud, but I'm to be disappointed, once again.

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