Exchanges on Marxism and ecology

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Oct 22 08:52:03 MDT 1999

>>> bernie wool <bernard.wool at> 10/21/99 07:24PM >>>
Charles:  How can we forget this ? The bourgeois media remind us of these failures
every chance they get. In the _Time_ magazine review of the great scientists and
thinkers  of the 20th Century, Lysenko , the only Marxist, is coupled with Josef
Mengele as a main villain.

Bernie:  Not many people would agree that Lysenko was a Marxist.


Charles: Ok , the only scientist in a socialist country.


  His return to Lamarckianism was essentially one-sided.  He was undoubtedly a
careerist, and the same can be said for the bulk of hoaxers, trimmers and
dissimulators in science - Burt and Eysenck of IQ fame are in the same mould.


Charles: Yes, they aren't mentioned. Nor the Piltdown hoax in anthropology.


 However, Lysencko was also responsible for several Soviet geneticists 'disappearing',
as well as his odd ideas driving
hundreds of thousands of peasants and forced labourers to starvation in a futile
attempt to open up frigid steppe lands to agriculture.  Basically his idea was that by
exposing cereal crops to frigid conditions, the seeds would acquire characteristic
resistance to cold and short growing seasons that could be passed onto their

It is a curious logic that resues Lysencko and others like him because they have been
given a bad press!


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.

Charles:  We almost never hear of the many Soviet scientists who made valid

Bernie:  Don't you think that the economic and political conditions in the FSU were
not conducive to the independence that scientific discovery thrives on?


Charles:What about Sputnik ? Stephen Jay Gould says Soviet scientists codiscovered
punctuated equilibrium. When I was an undergrad, physics majors had to take Russian as
their language requirement because so much top  physics was done by Soviets. This when
the resources of the capitalist world were many times those of the Soviet Union. Who
knows what the real comparison is between Cuban medical discoveries and those of the
capitalist world, little Cuba.

 I thought science was divided up into "disciplines". Seems to me discipline is just
as important as independence. Freedom is the mastery of necessity. Actually, I am not
sure what the key has been to scientific discoveries. I think the pressure and
resources from the capitalists directed what was focussed on by scientists, so
independence from the ruling class was not necessarily a factor in studies. I always
think of Newton as developing mechanics so the bourgeoisie could develop their
technology, or that those were the social pressures on him. And physics developing the
fastest of the natural sciences for the same reason, plus the bourgeoisie wanted
powerful weaponry.

I notice the Marxist discoveries are more in biology, or life science, rather than the
science of things and death merchandise like physics.


 That isn't to say that the work of scientists is not alienated under capitalism - of
course it is, and particularly by the prevailing ideas.  I do not go along with Brian
who stands by the old chestnut that all good scientists are unconsious dialectical
materialists (BTW Brian - did the quotes around 'dialectical materialism' not get
transmitted; you really must learn to read the lines not what you believe is between
them!) - they are generally unconscious of a great deal more besides and reach the
limits of their unconsciousness!  Hawking is a good example, and even Haldane ended
his days as a mystic.  A look around that part of science that seems free of
ideology - cosmology (the 'Big Bang' and such) - reveals a seething broth of dogma and
dissimulation.  Even among scientists who are avowed Marxists.

Charles: Interesting.

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_


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