Animal Rights Terrorism - the new Fascism?
E.C.Apling at SPAMbtinternet.com
Wed Jan 24 10:58:21 MST 2001
The responses to my original message elicited on this list are extremely
interesting, sugesting as they do, that there was more to the thesis of
C.P.Snow about the "Two Cultures" of the Anglo-Saxon countries than I
previously realised, and that the attitudes pilloried by him in the 1950s
are still with us with a vengeance.
The use of stories of specific isolated events or individual presumptions of
the cause of particular health problems as justification for the rejection
of science as essentially a "capitalist conspiracy" shows not merely poor
logic (arguing from the particular to the general) but a woeful slipping
into idealist philosophy.
It seems necessary to remind readers of #XI of Marx's Theses of Feuerbach:
"The _philosophers_ have _interpreted_ the world in various ways, the point
however is to _change_ it."
Though _political_ changes undoubtedly result from _class struggles_ - the
basic underlying changes - those which alone make the _political changes_
possible rather than mere "utopian dreams" - throughout human history have
been changes in technology, based on increased understanding of the _laws_
of the physical and natural world - the name for which increased
understanding has become, since the soon after the time of Newton and
Galileo, known as science.
To regard the carefully thought-out statements of a scientific profession as
"so much baloney" is puerile in the extreme.
And for Tony Abdo to have the temerity to suggest I am treating science as a
"religion" is both ironic and laughable. In fact the boot is on the other
foot - all materialist philosophy, including Marx's dialectical philosophy,
is BASED on using science as its basic grounding - and only idealist
philosophy can make judgements or prognostications without scientific
Furthermore, the history of science shows clearly that the _laws_ of physics
and of nature are not the immutable dogma of religion, but merely a summing
up of our _present state of knowledge_ and ALWAYS subject to revision as new
experimental data disclose that these man-made _laws_ have ceased to fully
explain experimental results and require modification (cf. The Crisis in
Physics, by Christopher Caudwell).
My original statement was, of course, designed to promote controversy as
well as to draw attention to the immanent dangers of allowing arguments from
_morality_ (treated as an absolute - surely a fundamentally religious
attitude) to be used as a reason to halt scientific and technical progress.
Far be it from me to deny that science and technology have been - on many
occasions and in many particular spheres - used in ways which are abhorrent
to the general scientific ethic.
However I shall conclude by quoting some short passages from an article in
this week's Chemistry and Industry by Sir John Browne (group chief executive
of BP, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, fellow of the Institute
of Mining and Metallurgy andnan honorary fellow of the Institute of Chemical
Engineers, based on two speeches he gave last year to the European
University Institute in Florence, Italy, and to the Royal Society in
"If European attitudes to science and technology do not change, the risks we
run are considerable. ... Most important of all, in my opinion, there is
the risk that by seeing only the dangers of scientific progress we miss the
opportunities which scientific knowledge offers us: we impose on ourselves
unnecessary costs and waste the chance of progress.
The question now is how to counter this sense of doubt in Europe. I believe
the answer starts by restoring reality to the debate over progress, and
reminding people of the basis purpose of science. To my mind this is not
simply the accumulation of knowledge: rather, it is achieving a better
understanding of the world in order to improve the condition of human life
through the application of that knowledge.
In our cynical times a reassertion of a sense of purpose will not be enough
by itself. Today science has to be justified by works. Yet the record of
science in the past century has been remarkable: it has given billions of
people access to the basics of life. With this development has come an
extension of choice and freedom - in many cases for the first time in
To assert that we have made progress is not to deny the problems that
remain, or to deny that some of the problems we face today are the
consequences of the progress we have achieved. But it does seem quite
reasonable to suggest, on the basis of this track record, that science can
find the answer to these challenges. We have no reason, in Europe or
anywhere else, to suppose that progress has come to an end.
I remain convinced that tomorrow can be better than today........"
---- end of quote
Some of you will probably retort - "just the words of a capitalist
executive" - to which the best answer is to quote again from Karl Marx,
"The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with
them the whole relations of society..... The bourgeoisie, by the rapid
improvement of all instruments of poduction, by the immensely facilitated
means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into
It seems that a thoughtful re-reading of the Manifesto is something I might
well advise to many contributors to this mailing list....
NFHS Member #5594
Mailto:E.C.Apling at btinternet.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of Tony Abdo
> Sent: 23 January 2001 20:33
> To: marxism at lists.panix.com
> Subject: RE: Animal Rights Terrorism - the new Fascism?
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