Unified field theory - LOV?

Zeynep Tufekcioglu zeynept at turk.net
Thu Jun 20 16:29:08 MDT 1996


Chris:
...
>*Properly interpreted* the area of "complexity", the study of how
>the interaction of large numbers of entities produces at times
>quite complex patterns, has IMO the closest fit with the marxist
>analysis of how the exchange of commodities multiplied many times
>over years has a *probability* (not a rigid certainty) of
>creating patterns which "emerge" from the jostling chaos.

Maxwell devoloped the theory of gases using probability, coming up with
pretty "certain" equations. I'm not saying that probable and certain are
same things, but often I feel "certain" is interpreted/construed to mean
deterministic. So, it reads, probabilistic vs. deterministic. The two terms
can't be compared as such. They refer to different levels of abstraction.
You may be innocent of this, but I'm wary of such usage.

>This is my long-winded attempt to explain my paragraph, subtly.
>It does not of course mean it is going to help us overthrow
>world capitalism in the next five years. But it might give us
>a perspective to see why we have not ovethrown world capitalism yet.

Again: Huh? Elucidate a bit, how it might give us a perspective to see why
we have not overthrown world capitalism yet. I say, instead of developing
more "sophisticated" theories inspired by mathematics about why we have not
overthrown world capitalism yet, let's go crude: For our part, we lost touch
with the real life and our revolutionary ideals and methods, and for their
part, the enemy is smart and strong and sophisticated its methods of
domination, and incidentally, happens to have more guns.

>And it might give us an overall perspective that helps to
>pose the marxist question of how the social nature of production
>can be brought again under social, democratically accountable
>control.

Again, do you mean something like this: Under socialism, now we can use the
developments in mathematics and computers to develop models, which aid
social plannning? Very true, but we've got this dirty job of getting rid of
capitalism first. I guess some people will have all the fun after the
revolution.

>Exchange value as a field? I wonder what you exactly mean.
><<<<<<<<
>
>
>So do I, exactly.  But see the parallel thread going on at the
>moment about whether white workers are labour aristocrats because
>they can drive cars which guzzle up dwindling energy supplies.
>
>The arguement can take place about use-values. But until it also
>takes place about exchange value, it will lack perspective.
>
> And in
>terms of exchange value there are great problems of unequal
>exchange, which IMHO cannot be answered just in terms of plunder by
>the rich of the poor, although that certainly happens. There are
>many complex gradients of exchange value between countries and
>peoples.

You mean unequal exchange like used in the underdevelopment theories?

..
You say;

>I confess I was one who could never see the magic of differential
>calculus.

I confess feel the same way about this hype around non-linearity.

Take the infamous butterfly effect. Weather systems. Dependency on initial
parameters. All used to demonstrate that the world is "chancy". I feel like
throwing up when someone uses the butterfly effect to claim that Marxism is
teleological.

Yes weather systems are hard to predict with high levels of accuracy, but we
have had regular seasons for some millenia. So what, we can't predict the
exact time it will rain.

I'm certain that capitalism is fucking up the world, and the only
alternative is socialism. If that's crude, deterministic, reductionistic
Marxism, I'm all for it.

I think that analogies from non-social-sciences are dangerous, because so
often, the terms are completely misunderstood, misused, abused. I'm no
exception, I think that I do this as well, and I should stop.

A good quote about the pitfalls of "double entendre" is from Stephen Jay Gould:

"In ordinary English, a random event is one without order, predictability,
or pattern. The word connotes disaggregation, falling apart, formless
anarchy, and fear. Yet, ironically, the scientific sense of random conveys a
precisely opposite set of associations. A phenomenon governed by chance
yields maximal simplicity, order, and predictability- at least in the long run."

I wonder how many social scientists understand that simple fact. And they so
carelessly use random to mean probable, chance to mean non-determinism,
probable to mean completely unpredictable and incomprehensible and on...

>Things are not absolutely certain: they are probable. ..
>Expectations of probabilities are more flexible.
>But now Science tells us it is
>permissible.

Btw, why Science, not science?

"Highly probable" is what we base our actions upon. Yes, nothing is certain,
as far as our knowledge is concerned. But we choose. We act. Something
happens. We react. What's new about it? Science tells us now that it is
permissible? Gracious of them. Wanna learn whether Schrodinger's cat is dead
or alive? Pull the damn tail. Meooww and scratch, it's alive. Praxis,
praxis, praxis. That's what makes Marxism a "science" and more than a
"science". I'm no physicist, but what I do know suggests, we should not
import our concepts from physics.

I honestly think that this interest non-linearity and chaos, a very valid
interest mathematically, will not help us change the world. In my more
pissed off days, I can't help suspect that the current interest just might
be a reflection of the fact that scientists have now realised that, hey,
there is uncertainity in the world, especially regarding their next
paycheck, since neo-liberalism entails cuts in education budgets.

I'm not belittling what you say. Just that I think that concentrating on the
questions as posed won't help us much, regardless of the validity/invalidity
of the questions.

Let physics be physics, mathematics be mathematics. Mix marxism, physics and
mathematics and we mess up all three.

I really *am* interested if you suggest how we could use a better
understanding of physics or math to change the world. Seriously. It would
finally enable me to have my cake and eat it too, providing me with the good
excuse I've been yearning for to read more on both subjects, lovely as they
are as long as they stay in their place.

Zeynep



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