Forum Replies Created
Thomas More wrote: “The diameter of the sun is certainly beyond the control of any human society, even the most democratic.”
But ‘diameter’ is a human construct, and its measurement is a human activity.
For example, any ‘diameter’ would change depending upon the required accuracy and units employed to determine a ‘diameter’.
Thus, ‘the diameter of the sun’ is entirely within ‘the control of any human society’.
The real political question is, who would you have control that ‘diameter’ – an elite, or ‘the most democratic’?
Thomas More wrote: “Science is only bourgeois when it is hijacked to back up bourgeois beliefs and perceptions.”
This statement starts from the ideological assumption that there is an asocial, ahistorical activity called ‘science’ which can be ‘hijacked’.
You’d have to prove this ‘science’ is a universal, absolute entity, not subject to change, and describe the parts which can’t be ‘hijacked’. There has to be an ‘unmalleable essence’ which you can appeal to, and ‘restored’, after it has been rescued from the ‘hijackers’.
History can easily demonstrate the origins and development of any ‘science’ that you can identify, how it changes over time and who made these changes.
Thomas More wrote “L. Bird, are you not confusing social reality with natural?”
It’s very apt that you’ve asked this question, Thomas, because one of the key ideological beliefs that was introduced by the bourgeoisie was the separation of ‘social’ and ‘natural’.
This is reflected in the separation of arts/science, fact/value, truth/opinion, ‘material/ideal’, etc., and is a dead end which has been causing concern even to their thinkers for a long time.
It’s a reflection of class society, and the determination of an elite to keep the power of ‘nature’ in their undemocratic hands, by presenting ‘the world’ as outside the reach of democratic controls.
Thomas More wrote: “Of course science will always have problems because it is open-ended and enquiring, which ideology is not.”
I’m afraid I disagree with you here, Thomas.
‘Science’ is as ideological as any other human activity.
Bourgeois ‘science’ emerged in very specific socio-historical conditions, and was built upon bourgeois ideas, concepts, interests and purposes.
We’d need to rethink what we socialists mean by ‘science’, and certainly introduce democracy to the social activity.
Thomas More wrote: “I believe science in socialism would be open to all, and scientists today are inaccessible to the masses, which has fuelled in part the populist anti-science movement of the conspiraloons.”
I agree, Thomas. But, in political terms, what does ‘open to all’ mean to you? Where would ‘power’ lie, in this openness? Who would have the power of ‘education’?
As a democratic socialist, I would answer ‘open to all’ implies democratic control of science – ie. its theories, methods, concepts, universities, professors, etc. would be within the open power of all.
The masses would control science, not an elite (which is what the ‘materialists’ argue, as did Lenin).
Thomas More wrote: “L.Bird, Einstein didn’t believe in external reality?”
Of course he did, and I do too, Thomas. It’s a myth expounded by ‘materialists’ that their political opponents don’t. Lenin smeared his opponents by lying, and it seems to be a key part of the materialist method – personal abuse and untrue smears, anything but engagement with critics.
The fundamental question is (and has been since Kant in the modern period (if we ignore Protagoras and Ancient Greek thinkers for the moment)) ‘Who creates this ‘external reality’?‘.
The Idealists answer ‘God‘.
The Materialists answer ‘Matter‘.
Marx, who reconciled Idealism and Materialism (which was the contemporary task of German Idealism, which he solved) into Social Productionism, answered ‘Humanity‘.
Any ‘external reality’ that we know, we create by our conscious activity, and so, we can change it. ‘External Reality’ is a social product, and changes.
Only the third ideology is suitable for democratic socialism, because both ‘god’ and ‘matter’ supposedly have the divine power of ‘creation’, and are under the control of an elite of priests or scientists.
Marx argued for ‘Entausserung’ (‘Externalisation’, or ‘Production) of our own ‘nature’. That’s why ‘production’ figures in all of his key theoretical terms, like Mode/Means/Forces of Production.
So, Thomas, who or what produces your ‘external reality’? The answer has political implications.
Bijou Drains wrote: “As far as I can tell he is the only living person who interprets Marx in the way he does. That’s not to say he is not an affable at times interesting contributor, and he does have a sense of humour and irony, however he is not representative of our views.”
Thanks for the nice personal assessment, BD!
But.. you’re wrong again. I’ve posted dozens of names of authors since Labriola in 1896 (the earliest I can find, if we don’t include Marx himself “All I know is that I’m not a Marxist”). These cover not just Marxists/Socialists, but philosophers of science, like Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend, and scientists like Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, and more recent, Rovelli.
So, lots of living and dead people think that science has problems, and lots of living and dead socialists think socialism must be democratic, including its science.
Much of this happened before the SPGB was born in 1903, so just why it comes as a surprise, and worse, as an attack, beats me! 😛
But of course, I certainly don’t ‘represent the SPGB’s views’. God forbid.
Thomas More wrote: “So what he says about Marx isn’t true?”
No, it’s entirely true. I can give you the quotes, if you wish (although I’ve given many quotes from many thinkers in the past, and they’ve had no effect upon the ‘materialists’ – it’s almost like a cult).
Bijou Drains wrote: “…we do not close down those who we don’t agree with but attempt (sometimes very frustratingly) to engage them in debate”
Your memory seems to be letting you down once again on this thread, BD.
I’ve been banned for a time, for the very thing ALB has done – personal abuse. The only difference is, I was returning it, not initiating it, like ALB.
Still, I’ve learned. The SPGB bans those who respond to SPGB members’ abuse, so I don’t do that any more, and have to grin bear ALB’s insults. The power of the party, you see.
As for ‘frustration’, it’s all mine! The SPGB, you included, refuse to engage in a discussion about ‘science’, and simply accept the bourgeois version.
Well, it’s your party.
Thomas More wrote: “I now know the view of the SPGB.”
No, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, Thomas.
I’m a democratic communist and Marxist, very critical of the SPGB’s ‘materialism’ (which they share with Lenin), and the SPGB appears to agree with you.
They too, sadly, are unable to engage in an informed discussion about 21st century science, and appear to be stuck in the pre-Marxian 18th century.
ALB’s insulting reply, above, seems to be the heights that their ‘intellectuals’ aspire to.
ALB, of course, knows all about these political and philosophical issues, but won’t defend his beliefs.
Whenever he’s tried in the past, I’ve been able to prove him wrong, about Marx, Engels, Bogdanov, Pannekoek, etc. and physics, maths, philosophy, logic, so he’s given up being openly criticised, and turned to abuse. Just as Lenin did, to his critics, in his Materialism and EmpirioCriticism.
The ‘materialist method’, apparently – personal abuse.
- This reply was modified 1 day, 13 hours ago by LBird.
Thomas More wrote: “So socialism will change the laws of physics, the orbits of the planetary spheres, gravity, and biological descent through modification?
These things are bourgeois and not valid once one embraces socialism?”
Well, if not democratic humanity (‘socialism’), who will change all these things?
Pannekoek, for example, mentioned that the so-called ‘laws of physics’ are a social product, and Marx held that our task is to change ‘nature’, not to ‘contemplate’ it.
Of course, all the examples that you mention have changed, many times, throughout history, as different social classes have built a ‘universe’ in their interests, to their purposes. And, of course, each has claimed that their ‘universe’ is the one ‘True’ universe. The bourgeoisie, of course, are no different.
It always surprises me that socialists seem to have no actual knowledge of physics, mathematics, logic, chemistry, etc. and how they actually originated and developed, and just where they are now.
It’s almost as if these socialists believe the ruling class idea that the ‘Universe’ is just sitting there, waiting to be discovered, and that the bourgeoisie already know how to do this magic trick, and simply contemplate ‘what exists’.
I’m not sure of your political view of ‘science’, Thomas, perhaps you do want to ‘contemplate’ what is ‘valid’, but personally I’m with Marx on this issue, and want to change ‘Our Universe’.
Plus, ‘validity’ is a judgement, and thus contains an ethical element, and, within a socialist society, only the masses, not a self-selecting elite, will determine it.
Our political choice is ‘Who changes the laws of physics?’ Either an undemocratic elite or a democratic majority. I know which I think socialism involves.
The unchanging universe is a conservative construct. Why would socialists start from that premise, in their science?
Thomas More wrote: “…to take up the same struggles fought by Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin.”
Err… the class struggles fought on behalf of the bourgeoisie, and its making of our contemporary world?
Both ‘reason’ and ‘science’ have a class component, so, as a democratic socialist, I’m all in favour of ‘Bourgeois Reason and Bourgeois Science‘ being ‘in Danger‘.
Any apolitical, ahistorical and asocial ‘defence’ of ‘Reason and Science’ as being about ‘Objective Truth’, ‘Eternal Verity’ or ‘Absolute Knowledge’, places us into the hands of the bourgeois elite, and helps support capitalism.
Of course, that is not to say there isn’t a danger from ‘conspiralunacy’, flat earthism and Illuminati-ists – and indeed postmodernism – but unless we locate the origins of ‘reason and science’ in an historical and social context, and the political forces involved in their creation, and why they did so, we risk becoming advocates of the mythical ‘politically neutral science’ which supposedly ‘impartially discovers the existing world’ by the agency of an elite of ‘disinterested scientists’.
This is 2020, not 1820. Even by 1920, the myths of ‘Objective Science’ were obvious, to anyone who followed Physics, Mathematics and Logic. All three, as depicted in the 19th century, turned out to be untrue.
Fighting mysticism by supporting elitism is not the answer: democratising ‘Reason and Science’ is.
- This reply was modified 1 day, 14 hours ago by LBird.
alanjjohnstone wrote: ”
Joseph Dietzgen said it for me
“If a worker wants to take part in the self-emancipation of his class, the basic requirement is that he should cease allowing others to teach him and should set about teaching himself.”
Bijou Drains wrote: “So if we cannot learn from others, who or where can we learn from. You yourself repeatedly report that Marx says this or Marx says that, so you are using Marx in the expert role. You have set up Marx as the expert specialist educator, yet you reject specialist educators.”
This is completely untrue, BD, as I have written many times about Marx’s failings.
I could accuse you of trolling, but I’m prepared to put it down to simple forgetfulness on your part.
I’m tempted to argue that democratic socialists can criticise Marx, because they regard truth as a social product which changes, and so can point out Marx’s mistakes, whereas the ‘materialists’ cannot do this, because they must have ‘Truth’. For them, Marx’s ‘materialism’ can’t be challenged, for ‘Matter’ is their God.
For democratic socialists, who think Marx’s ‘idealism-materialism’ puts humanity in the driving seat, not ‘divine matter’, we can determine Marx’s status – and, indeed, change it. 😛
- This reply was modified 2 days, 19 hours ago by LBird.
rodshaw wrote: “Indeed, the more you know, the more sceptical you can be about other’s views or the information they give you. But we’re never all going to know the same things. We’re not telepathic. We can’t absorb information by osmosis. There would have to be ways for people with more knowledge in a certain field to be able to make it available to others. Of course, it would then be up to the others to decide whether they accepted it or not. But why wouldn’t they? And how would they know any different?”
rod, this is a conversation I’ve been trying to have here for years.
At one time, I thought robbo203 was going to engage, but he kept seeing problems in ‘democracy’, and it’s hard, as a socialist, to have a serious conversation about political issues whilst ‘democracy’ is seen as a problematic issue. I’m afraid if socialism can’t be discussed in terms of ‘democracy’, it’s not my sort of socialism (nor Marx’s, I might add).
One thing I really like about your post is the emphasis on ‘we’ (rather than I’).
All the points you rightly make about difficulties, apply just as much to ‘specialists’ as to ‘generalists’ (to use SPGB terminology). There are no ‘educators’ who ‘know better’ than the ‘others’. This is a basic political principle of Marx and ‘Democratic Socialism’. If one wants to argue that there is an elite of ‘educators’ who ‘know better’ than the rest of us, then that’s fair enough, but one should be aware of the political implications of that ideological belief, and be open about it with others and oneself. ‘Materialists’ have this ideological belief, as Marx himself pointed out.
The key political point you rightly make is that “Of course, it would then be up to the others to decide whether they accepted it or not.” The ‘others’ (ie. non-specialists) must have the power to decide. This would be democratic science, and a suitable ‘scientific method’ for socialism.
As to ‘why would they’ override ‘specialists’ and ‘how would they know any different’ – simple answer: many/most/all (delete to preference) ‘specialists’ don’t actually understand the wider political/social/ideological/cultural/scientific implications of their arguments. ‘Eugenics’ is only one (minor?) example of this; perhaps ‘nuclear energy’ is even more important.
It’s a basic principle of democratic socialism that the many ‘know better’ than the few. The term ‘better’ is value-laden, and values can only be decided by society itself, not by an elite.
Why would we challenge Nobel prize winners? Because many write and talk nonsense – history constantly proves this. How would we know any different? Because we’d be products of a democratic education system that teaches critical thought, democratically controls academia, and produces social individuals with a healthy scepticism of ‘experts’.
Really, this conversation would have to expand to discuss ‘education’ within a socialist society, because so many assumptions by ‘materialists’ are made based upon the present education system. Our universities would be very different, in content, structure, and power, to today’s bourgeois, undemocratic, institutions.