Exchanges on Marxism and ecology

Louise&Richie McGee louiseandrichie at
Fri Oct 22 05:00:32 MDT 1999

Does anyone know any writings by Louis Althusser?
----- Original Message -----
From: bernie wool <bernard.wool at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 12:24 AM
Subject: Re: Exchanges on Marxism and ecology

> Charles:  How can we forget this ? The bourgeois media remind us of these
> 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
> Mengele as a main villain.
> _____________
> Bernie:  Not many people would agree that Lysencko was a Marxist.  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.  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 descendents.
> It is a curious logic that resues Lysencko and others like him because
they have been given a bad press!
> 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:  We almost never hear of the many Soviet scientists who made
> discoveries.
> _____________________________
> 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?  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 Xxxzx who stands by the old chestnut that all good
scientists are unconsious dialectical
> materialists (BTW Xxxzx - 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: .....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.  For me the last heuristics emanating from a Marxist was Engels
Introduction to the Dialectics of Nature,
> especially the final paragraph.  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!
> BW

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