Exchanges on Marxism and ecology

bernie wool bernard.wool at
Fri Oct 22 10:18:18 MDT 1999

Charles Brown wrote:

> ((((((((((((
> Charles: If you mean I am putting forth logic that rescues Lysenko, I am not. I am
>saying that the only failures ( and Lysenko was a failure) in the mag are from a
>socialist country, coupled with a Nazi. There are none of the bourgeois murdering
>scientists. What about the bourgeois scientists at Dow Chemical here in Michigan who
>developed napalm. What about all the scientists who developed biological weapons ?
>Aren't they main viliains ? For that matter, what about the fact that Einstein's
>discovery was turned into the atomic bomb. These are not put in the category
>"villains" in the magazine article. As a matter of fact the "successes" in nuclear
>physics are more dangerous to humanity than some of the hoaxes and failures.
> By the way, on the news last night, the doctor-scientist that some cell-phone
>companies paid to study health problems with cellphones says there is significant
>evidence of them causing cancer. Good for him ! The company still denies it, but
>perhaps some of these scientists are drawing the ethical lessons from tobacco, etc.
>Fishcer the great British biologist, spoke out for the tobacco companies saying it
>was not proven that it was linked to cancer, according to Stephen Jay Gould in
>_Dinosaur in a Haystack_.
> (((((((((
> On the other hand we have Oparin and Haldane, both Marxists who certainly did make
>huge advances, noteably their thought-experiment on the origin of life that Miller
>and Urey concretised with remarkable results in the 1950's. Sadly, their experiment
>no longer fits with current evidence for the composition of the early atmosphere - a
>brave try.  the O-H hypothesis stemmed directly from Engels.
> ))))))))))))
> Charles: These are not popular names here. Not surprising. I am just noting the
>specifics of this bourgeois propaganda.
> .

___________________________Bernie:  Yeah, I agree with you that the bougeois tendency
is to lionize those whose faces fit, and conveniently to forget both the proven
charlatans and those who are 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'.  However, don't you
feel that to get restless because of this selectivity is not so productive as to look
at science, indeed knowledge of any kind, in the light of the conditions under which
it is obtained?  Capital (not merely its particular form capitalism) alienates, and
that surely is the source of what is clear to both of us as a crisis in culture - the
moment when we can truly grasp what 'socialism or barbarism' really amounts to

> ____________________________________
> Charles: .....Dialectics should be a heuristic device for suggesting answers to
>problems in
> empirical science.
> _____________________________________
> Bernie:  Would that it were, would that it were.  Lenin came a cropper in
>Materialism and Empiriocriticism, and his Philosphical Notebooks (vol 38, Coll Works)
>show a tendency to turn dialectical materialism into the dogma that it most certainly
>became under Stalin, and Trotsky and the Trotskyists too.
> ((((((((((((
> Charles: Yes, yes, yes. We all know Lenin was a crypto-Stalinist and control freak
>and tending to dogmatism.  Whereas all those who find this and the bourgeois
>scientific discoverers are freethinking , freedom loving, radical democrats, whose
>independent thinking has led to a society that is oh so free compared to the
>socialisms.  Thank God for bourgeois individual freedom and independent thinking. It
>has saved us from Leninist dogma and  tyranny.
> Lou, I'll be dropping off this Marxism list. This Marxism is too autocratic and
> (((((((((((
> For me the last heuristics emanating from a Marxist was Engels Introduction to the
>Dialectics of Nature,
> especially the final paragraph.
> ((((((((((((((((
> Charles: Gee, Marxism is remarkably difficult for anyone since Marx and Engels to
>understand, adhere to and practice. It reminds of an esoteric, secret religion.
> Sadly he subsequently sowed the seeds for all manner of confusion - purely because
>he was decades ahead of his time and hadn't empirical grist for his philosophical
>mill.  In that Intro, you will find that he saw the necessity for Einstein's work
>while the latter was in diapers, or just a twinkle in Einstein Senior's eye!
> ((((((((((((
> Charles: That's more than a lot of anti-Engelists would give him. Most of them find
>_Dialectics of Nature_ embarrassing like _Materialism and Empirio-Criticism_
> CB

  The big problem seems to me to be that Engels and Lenin's ideas are too often taken
out of the historical context in which they arose, without even looking to see if they
were on track then, let alone now.  That is the essence of dogma - using what
individuals said a century ago to justify applying it unchanged to entirely new
conditions.  There is a world of difference between the method of Marx, which is the
entire sum of his work on capital at a period of its flowering, and that of both
Engels and Lenin on the natural world and our perception of it.  the last is sort of
like applying the magic formula of 'dialectical materialism'  (please note the quotes
- I am not saying there is no such thing, just that as Engels and
Lenin stated it, it is just a series of simplistic formulae; almost mystical
crystallizations) before even the four 'disciplines' had got a move on, let alone any
tendency as there is now for an organic unification of them and between the science of
social being and that of external nature.

That explosion of knowledge in the last 100 years, and what seem to be interweaving
strands for its unification, has its own set of problems, because of the conditions
under which it has emerged.  It is full of distortions and perversions.  Only removing
those conditions can allow us truly to glimpse what cultural wealth is and what is

So let's not squabble over what the bourgeois press says or leaves out, or put its
words in anyone else's mouth by way of rhetoric.  Human culture is in a mess, and we
are just beginning to grasp just what a mess emerged in the FSU and other 'deformed
workers' states' - call them what you will - despite 'diamatics'.  The greatest of all
the messes is plainly that of ecological disaster.  How do we begin to develop a way
of winning knowledge that is increasingly independent of capital?


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