SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: Part Two: THE REVOLUTION WE NEED

scientific revolution

THIS ARTICLE IS A CONTINUATION OF SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: PART ONE: OBSERVANCE AND WHY REVOLUTIONS DON’T SUCCEED pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/science-versus-industry-part-one-observance-and-why-revolutions-dont-succeed/

 

Comte believed that only advanced “scientific prevision can avert or mitigate violent revolutions.”[2] What he did not mean when he said this, was that the scientific prevision should be invented in military projects and reactionary wars of rivalry.

But if this is what he didn’t mean, what did he mean? How could a scientific prevision have made our world a better place than it is today?   …

To answer this question, we firstly need a political imagination which is observant of the ways that science can be used positively (i.e. non-superficially and non-militarily). This kind of imagination does not currently exist on any significant political level, in any “significant” nation states, either on the right or the left. This absence only makes the importance of deeper and long-range political thought more urgently necessary. This science-supportive imagination would fuel a positive, purposeful political approach that would make visionary schemes possible. Such schemes would not be industrial because their purposeful aims cannot be corrupted by profit-making needs and remain pure.

We are NOT saying that science has not produced marvellous things with industry, but that it could have produced much better, more human-enriching things if it had not been enslaved to the creativity-numbing limits imposed by the marketplace.

Schooling in this kind of science needs to be nurtured through fantastic and boundless Utopian thinking with a strong idea that we are embarking on a purposeful and limitless journey. The kind of ideas we need are those of futures in which interstellar travel is the norm; in which poverty, war and disease are abolished; in which even death is abolished, and humans will have a chance to live and learn eternally; in which humans have an advanced spiritual connection with the Universe; and in which the ecological destruction of the planet has been reversed. A positive eschatological view of the end of times, in which the descendants of humanity will become the guardians of an ever-expanding cosmos; using knowledge and incredible technologies to work with the physical nature of the Universe in order to prevent its death.

These fantastic ideas exist. It is not hard to conceive of an amazing destiny for humanity’s descendants, but our nihilistic and capitalist system does very little to take the leap into the area where science is seen as a truly transforming power for humanity. By being absorbed into the marketplace, science, like art, loses its seriousness and becomes a mere tool for profits.

The purposeful political imagination needs to imbue science with a humanistic logic and an observance of authentic human development and empowerment, free of the tremendous prejudices heaped against science by the capitalist system in favour of superficial consumerism. Corporate bodies are self-interested. Profit is their authenticity, but also their profound handicap where expectations of making a better world are concerned.

Once it is disassociated from military power and the restrictions of profit-making demands, science becomes the disinterested tool through which humanity can properly understand itself and subsequently develop its own real path towards fulfilment.

 

Of course, this is a radically new reassessment of the real tendency of civilisation, and yet, people have been crying out for it ever since August Comte began to raise these questions in the 1820s. Not that we want to resurrect Comte’s formulated system, or any Marxist formulas either, the immediate and most pressing crisis facing the whole of humanity at the moment is our ecological one and it is toward the enforcement of a definitive solution to our great existential problem that our purposeful political observance must first be aimed.

To put into effect the solutions to this crisis, science and technology are indispensable; the economy is not. If we must dismantle the capitalist marketplace to save our planet and save humanity, then let us make that sacrifice. It is quite simple: We have the problem A. The problem is caused by B. Only by eradicating B can we solve the problem of A.

Our problem is that the ecosystem that maintains life on Earth is being eroded away by the effects of a civilisation based on the superficial aims of production and growth. Superficialities are the lifeblood of our economic system and their superfluity is dragging our superficial civilisation to an absurd, unnecessary end.

The superficial aims of industry have been linked quite effectively and falsely to the noble ideas of freedom and democracy.

Of course, Wealth is reluctant to surrender the measliest millimetre of the profit-making machine it calls civilisation. Wealth will believe in its principles of constant growth, even though the consequences of this ideology are Apocalyptic. Very much of the profits nurtured by the system of growth are spent on maintaining a constant stream of propaganda that reinforces its ideology and defends it as the lifeblood of our world – even to the extent that profit-growth becomes more important than the ecosystem itself.

Gradually, however, the real enemy starts to reveal itself, and we begin to see (because science tells us) that the lifeblood of our system is a cancer. We are ill, and we need some serious painful therapy if we are to avoid a very ugly, and also very painful, premature death.

Before we can direct our mission toward Utopia, we must first undergo the therapy needed to save us from a grizzly death. This therapy will be the next, inevitable revolution. The form of the revolution depends on us, but two things are imperative: it has to take place as soon as possible, and, to succeed as a revolution (and escape the military-theological system[i]) it needs to bring about a non-violent change. Here, we want to replant Comte’s statement on science with an adjustment: not only can scientific prevision avert or mitigate violent revolutions, it can also propagate non-violent change at a revolutionary level. 

Violent revolution has to be averted at all cost, but the revolution itself is absolutely necessary.

The longer we postpone the therapy, the more painful it will be – the more likely it will be bloody, and the less likely it will be of providing any successful result.

It is time now for a great social reorganisation to take place, under the benevolent eye of science and the progressive will of creativity. Let the revolution begin!

TO BE CONTINUED …

[i] For an explanation of this, see part one: pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/science-versus-industry-part-one-observance-and-why-revolutions-dont-succeed/

Advertisements

POPULISM

15-may

‘Populism’: what a feeble term it is. So weak that once it has been uttered it almost immediately needs a clarification. In reality, it could be changed to ‘anti-system’ or ‘radical’; or for certain specific kinds of populisms: ‘anti-capitalist’, ‘neo-fascist’ or ‘neo-Nazi’.

All of these terms, however, carry far more weight and symbolic punch than ‘populism’, which gives us an insight into why the newspeak had a need to invent this new terminology in the first place.

‘Populism’ makes the radical sound legitimate. By diluting the radicalism, it makes it possible to analyse the opponent in a decaffeinated way. But why is the light-discourse necessary in the first place?

The necessity for diluting the radical comes from the very popularity of the anti-systemic feelings. If we call populisms ‘anti-system ideologies’, then we are admitting that the system itself is being deeply questioned by society in a radical way. The ‘populist’ term, however, envelops the radical within the system itself. It turns it into just another political current within the system and eventually, therefore, it hopefully makes it lose its essential pulse and swallow its own tail – even though the success of ‘populisms’ seems to indicate the opposite.

Likewise, it wraps all radicalisms into the same sack, with a belief that this will confuse support for them – how can we support the radical-left if they are fundamentally the same as the neo-Nazis? And vice versa.

Nevertheless, the term itself carries a dangerous charge for the ‘democratic’ system that could blow up in its face. By calling the radical threat ‘populists’, the system puts the radicals on the side of the demos. A ‘populist’ is popular because he/she understands the demos. In its hermeneutic essence, by calling the radical a ‘populist’ there is an insinuation that that same populism reflects a clearer, more popular, more democratic will than the questionably democratic system does.

Of course, if the radical is more popular than the system, then the system really is under threat. In any case, whether you want the system to collapse or not, it is not a good idea to keep using the term ‘populism’.

THE PARANOID DEMANDS OF CAPITALISM

Image result for monopoly

Capitalism demands results. For this reason, it begins scientifically and ends anti-scientifically. The experiment in science is an attempt to prove the validity of a theorem, while in capitalism the experiment has to prove the validity of a dogma.

For the capitalist, the Universe revolves around his or her reality, which is how to make as much profit as possible from MY object. The total immersion in and obsession with this MY, which later becomes an insincere OUR, makes capitalism essentially a paranoiac.

Obviously a world dominated by the paranoid civilisation that is global-capitalism is hardly suited to humanism. For this reason, human-rights are for the majority of human beings, a largely deceitful concept. This lack of faith is part of an inverted condition of mutual suspicion because, in capitalist terms, anything that deals with the human is also untrustworthy. The human, for the capitalist, is a malicious concept, designed to undermine and diminish the MY which is “MY OBSESSION”.

But … what is the MY in capitalism?

It is not “me” but rather what I produce in order to obtain profits for myself, with the emphasis on the profits. The MY reality is equivalent to MY PROFITS.

Results in capitalism are, quite simply, PROFIT INCREASE. This is what capitalism demands. To be a good capitalist you must be obsessed with money. When the capitalist system talks of progress it means Maximising Profits.

The big letters manifest themselves proudly in the capitalist mind: P= Profit; Progress; Power and M= Me; Maximum; Money. PM and MP – capitalist fantasies ardently opposed to the letter H.

 

THE GIFT OF COMMUNISM

Communism was a great gift for capitalism because it enabled it to channel its hatred for the human into another term. It would have been difficult for the capitalists to maintain an aggressive dialectic against its real enemy humanity, but communism gave it the opportunity to do just that without the slightest complex of guilt.

It is hard to argue the ethical position that humanity is trying to rob me of my freedom to make profits, but the image of the communist oppression of individuality, easily transferred onto even milder forms of leftist politics like social-democracy, can be a seemingly valid argument to protest against an anti-capitalist tyranny perpetrated by humanity. Human-rights activists or ecologists now become easily slandered as “communists”.

Nevertheless, when the capitalist thinks of the left, he or she is really thinking of humanity. Humanity is the real enemy of capitalism.

 

CAPITALISM’S MONOPOLY DEATH-KNELL

For the capitalist, competition is healthy, it keeps the capitalist on his or her toes. But, how can MY PRODUCTS compete against Humanity? In order to keep the ruthless game of competition alive, everything must remain fragmented – there can be no monopolies.

And here we get to the paradoxical nature of capitalism: the aim of capitalism is to get results; which is to maximise profits; which is to grow; which is to swallow the competitors; which is to create your own competition; which is to become a monopoly – which is the death of capitalist freedom; which is the death of capitalism.

This is the contradiction rooted in the very essence of capitalism itself. the obsessive paranoia of the capitalist, constantly pushing forward to get results, can only, if successful, convert the capitalist – in the focal point of everyone else’s paranoias.

THE WOEFULNESS OF WEALTH AND THE LOTTERY OF LIFE

Image result for woefulness of wealth

Wealth has always been a reactive and cynically pessimistic force, for it essentially raises and protects itself by stimulating and encouraging whilst at the same time destroying or negating the great hopes of humanity. In fact, through its manipulation of all the agents of power, it replaces humanity with fantasies of the national spirit, of religious crusades or jihads, of the glory of Empire, or, in the case of capitalism, with the illusion of individual freedom and the achievements such phantasmagorical freedoms can bring.

All of these fantasies have a common cause – to dehumanise the human and diffuse any common aims through separation and segregation. Wealth is about disconnection, the establishment of differences. The stance of Wealth is of Us against Them; of Master and Slave; of our Gain against their Loss.

The result of the accumulation in Wealth of the Few is an intensifying of the Poverty of the Many. Capitalism has long been successful in creating the mirage of satisfaction through the seeming great progress toward the technological man. But the price paid by Wealth in the mechanisation and digitalisation of society is one of an unveiling of its own trickery. As civilisation falls deeper into an unauthenticity, society becomes more and more scarred by the false, virtual reality imposed on them; a reality lacking in true potentials; where everyone has an opportunity to be successful, whether talented or not, but success depends on it being an elitist concept. Only a small few can be truly successful, even though anyone and everyone has a chance. Life therefore becomes a lottery, and as more players come into the game, the prize swells but the chances of winning it are less and less.

But the mirror of the simulated reality of false potentials that we are facing has formed fissures and cracks. The distortions caused by these cracks allows us to look past the false image in order to discover that everything is mounted on an empty blackboard. Below the fragile surface of the mirror there is … nothing.

OUR THYMOTIC PATHOLOGY – 1: Fukuyama and Sloterdijk

The ancient Greeks had a concept called thymus which, they believed, explained our unconscious impulses to act. In the Iliad, Achilles does not act consciously, but rather it is Apollo who inspires him to go to battle by stimulating his thymus.

Of course, as a subconscious driving force, thymus can be likened to will, or a physical, personal receiver and motivator of will. Julian Jaynes’, in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, argues that the meaning of the word evolved in its classical usage from an original concept of motion or agitation in the unconscious bicameral man, to eventually become something like our emotional soul. Perhaps in its original meaning we could sometimes associate it with energy – when a man grows tired of moving it is because his thymus leaves his limbs – but it must be given a spiritual or psychological quality as well which seems to come and go and even gives us directions. It speaks to us. The thymus can tell a man to eat and drink, or to fight. Diomedes in the Iliad says that Achilles will fight: “when the thymus in his chest tells him and a god rouses him.” Thymus then, is associated with passion.

Fukuyama introduces thymus to us through Plato. From the Republic, Fukuyama tells us that Plato envisaged the soul in three parts: desire, reason and thymus, which Fukuyama translates as spiritedness.

What Fukuyama is looking for constantly in his book is a handy definition of human nature. Definitions which can correspond to liberal-democratic intentions and thus prove Fukuyama’s thesis that liberal-democracy is the most perfect system because it reflects human nature far better than any other. Plato’s triumvirate-soul is perfect for Fukuyama and capitalism: a will to spirited desire that also has a sprinkle of reasonableness to it. Plato of course saw the triumvirate working in a different way. Its tri-nature being an explanation for the constant moral dilemma between our reasoning and our desires. Plato asks: shouldn’t we subject our desires to the judgement of reason against the danger of allowing it to be subjected to passion? Capitalism of course would argue NO. It’s better for the consumer to desire with a passion and consume with a frenzy. Capitalism wants a passionate element to reign in our souls. The kind of passion propounded by the Romantics, the kind advocated by Nietzsche.

To act with passion the consumer needs freedom, and so the liberal-plutocracy encourages it, or at least a hallucinatory version of that freedom. While you are allowed to consume with passion, you will be fully motivated to work in our system, the one, the only one that can provide the drugs one needs to feed one’s consumer-addiction – which is making the few who are pulling the strings get richer whilst the rest sink deeper and deeper into their addiction. Welcome to Huxley’s Brave New World.

For Fukuyama: “Desire and reason are together sufficient to explain the process of industrialisation and a large part of economic life more generally.”[i] But what room is there for reason in a soul that is driven by a spirited, passionate desire? How much reason can we see in an industrialisation which has scarred the planet? How much reason behind those ideas that created a slave-class of factory workers that are now abandoned to unemployment as the system mechanises the same industries? Instead of the noble concept of reason, we see only egotistical ambition. Only selfish reasons based on greed and desire.

Fukuyama perverts Plato’s idea of the soul by associating it with a singularity that is human nature. Plato himself, however, does not make this association, and in the dialogue Socrates is searching for the best individual natures to fit certain positions (e.g. what would be the right soul for an ideal guardian of the city). Plato’s argument is that the appetitive part of the soul that is desire needs to be controlled, not unleashed as capitalism does.

Fukuyama seems quite liberal (no pun intended) with Plato’s thymus. In Republic IV, 436a ff., Socrates asks: “Do we do things with the same part of ourselves or do we do them with three different parts? Do we learn with one part, get angry with another, and with some third part desire the pleasures of food drink, sex, and the others that are closely akin to them? Or when we set out after something, do we act with the whole of our soul in each case?” Or in other words the three parts that Fukuyama refers to are: that with which we learn (reason), that which gets us angry (thymus), and that which fills us with desire. Here Fukuyama’s translation of thymus, spiritedness, would probably be better rendered as passion, for thymus here is the faculty for arousing anger. Drawing this same line of argument Socrates says that he prefers the term appetite to desire, for appetite implies both desire and non-desire. Non-will is just as an important concept for Plato as will. My revulsion at the idea of eating shit is stronger than my love of eating shell-fish. My will for wanting one thing is often measured alongside a will for not wanting something else. It is between will and non-will that choices are made, and preferences. Only a monster will desire everything, and there is another perversion: the culture that wants everything is a monstrous abomination. The natural thing (and this was Plato’s point), the authentically natural thing is that desire should be moderated by a courageous will to not-want, or want-less.

Nevertheless, in Fukuyama’s perverted misreading of Plato, thymus becomes a perfectly positive drive and one necessary for human satisfaction, in fact it is related by Fukuyama to human dignity.

 

Peter Sloterdijk sees thymus, and capitalism, from another angle. After locating the origin of the word thymus in a kind of receptacle through which the gods activated mankind, Sloterdijk suggests that we are still subject to thymotic power. But now it is via the State or the system that thymus returns to its receptacle like function. Instead of being activated by gods it is now programmed by the system. He says: “Current consumerism achieves, in a significant way, the same elimination of pride in favour of the erotic without holistic, altruistic and elegant excuses, by buying from man his interest in dignity, offering material favours in exchange.” The system now functions not as a body-snatcher, but as a dignity-snatcher: “In this way, the construct of the Homo-economicus, at first totally incredible, arrives at his goal of becoming the post-modern consumer. A simple consumer is he or she that doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know different appetites that… proceed from the erotic or demanding part of the soul.”[ii]

For Sloterdijk the rediscovery of the neo-thymotic human image in the Renaissance played an important role in the rise of the Nation State in terms of that which referred to its output. He lists Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Hamilton and Hegel as they who considered men’s passions as their most important qualities: their lust for fame, vanity, self-love, ambition and the desire to be recognised. All of them saw the dangers in their passions but most of them still dared to sell these vices as positive, productive aspects for society.

The thymotic drive is a creative, productive one, but it is also an angry, jealous, violent one. The will-to-want-more (Nietzschean) thymus coupled to the will-to-be-recognised (Hegelian) thymus is a pyrotechnic combination, an act of madness, throwing gunpowder into the fire. But it is what our system has always advocated. Sloterdijk makes a connection between Thymus and the Hippocratic temperament of Choleric. Both the will-to-want-more and the desire for recognition are areas in the thymotic field of psychology. They are questions of appetite and pride, of longing for success and fortune. Dreams: American Disneyland Dreams, fomented by the surplus-consumer society, our dynamic civilisation creating dynamic individuals from thymotic fantasies.

The greatest effect of the French Revolution, and the American War of Independence that preceded it, was not freedom, brotherhood and equality, but the creation of a dynamic civilisation based on the power of competitiveness, constantly fuelled by personal pride, needs for recognition, greedy ambition and motivating envy. It is these drives, applied to politics, which forces us to question our civilisation’s greatest apparent virtue – our liberal democracy.

“For the people, by the people”: by – to a certain, virtual extent; for – hardly.

Our party system is a reflection of our System, which is made of the essentially thymotic so necessary for making the market work in a dynamic way. Thus our parties are passionately competitive, power-hungry machines made up of power-hungry individuals. The parties themselves are divided into hungry factions, and each faction in ambitious individuals. How could we ever expect these vain-glorious competitors to even really care about those who voted for them except when it is useful? For the party to win it needs succulent policies and needs to sell those ideas seductively. It also needs the competitive, power hungry individuals to appear unified, and to seem to believe in the party principles. Principles that even the most utopian democrats will sacrifice to pragmatism. Over and over again the democratic politicians surprise us by their lack of vision, lack of principles and constant bowing to pragmatism.

Pragmatism is really the emergency exit out of all radical ideologies. In the great global liberal-free-market civilisation, political parties function very much like corporate groups. Voters are like customers for Coca-Cola or Pepsi: once they have been won to one side they will be more or less loyal forever. A loyal Coca-Cola consumer will rather have a Fanta than resort to Pepsi if there is no Coke. But more importantly than the loyalties it can create, modern politics is corporate through its internal competitiveness.

If Fukuyama would have been right and the triumph of liberalism had created a politically perfect system, there would no longer be any need for politics. But this is an absurd paradox. The liberal economic system needs competition. It is no surprise that the fall of communism left liberalism euphoric, but also momentarily crippled, and it was actually spiritually wavering until the Twin Towers came crashing down and the War on Terror began. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but for a system based on competition, struggle and ambition, war seems a logical necessity. And since the collapse of the Berlin Wall we have seen the liberal-democracies rushing headlong into almost any conflict that half-rears its head.

On a superficial level Fukuyama’s general thesis that liberal-democracy has triumphed as the only really viable and desirable political system is correct. Even those who don’t vote in the liberal-democrat systems would, if offered a choice, opt for the choice to vote. The grand majority of humankind want the voting option and therefore we can say that we want democracy. We also want all or some of the liberal ideas of freedom, although here we seem to split if we take the ballot-results as a fair measure between market-freedom and human-rights. The bi-partisan system of democracy is liberalism’s finest invention. By possessing its own inner competition it provides itself with its own self-criticism and its own renewal. Apart from the major options of right or left, the liberal-democratic system can offer a multitude of options for more socially complex societies: liberal-nationalism or liberal-catholicism, as well as free-market extremists and soft-core neo-fascisms.

On the surface it seems like a perfectly desirable system. Perfectly?: no, nothing is perfect. Triumphantly waiting it is, for the few last dictatorships to collapse and drop into liberal-democracy mode as well. When that happens it will be able to pronounce, with absolute conviction, that it is the perfect, and now the also the only system. But, ironically Fukuyama himself points to the liberal-democracies’ most dangerous foe. As the political systems to have fallen in the last half century have collapsed so suddenly, often without any pre-warning, taking us all by surprise, could the same happen to liberal-democracy?

[i] Francis Fukuyama, THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN, p. xviii

[ii] Peter Sloterdijk, ZORN UND SEIT, author’s own translation from the Spanish edition, p.27

PART TWO:

https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/2485

CAPITALISM AND INNOVATION

Sputnik_670

We tend to associate innovation with capitalism. Capitalism is a dynamic system and the incentives for making huge profits from patents have inspired many great inventions and innovations. However, it is often said that innovation would not happen without capitalism and that society would be a more backward place. How true is that? Just how necessary, if at all, is capitalism to innovation?

If we look closely into the market place we start to see instances of the opposite happening. In many cases, innovation is actually retarded by the market. One example is the way that corporations delay product releases until the most potentially competitive and profitable date arrives. Once the ideal machine is invented, an inferior version of it is released at first, and it may take a decade before the original ‘ideal’ product is actually up and fully running to its full potential in the market place. But by then there could be a much better product out there. In this way, technology under capitalism is always loping behind its real potentials.

If to this system of staggering we add the notion of pre-programmed obsolescence, then what we see is a massive waste creating machine that is supposedly geared to giving us what we want whilst ensuring that the quality of what we want is sadly lacking. Why can’t we really have what we desire and need, which is a good product that will not be obsolete two years after buying it?

But even this slogan that capitalism only gives us what we want is perniciously misleading. So much necessary technology has never been produced because there was no profit to be made from them, or, the maximum profit was to be made somewhere else. Clean, hydrogen-fueled cars could have been manufactured eighty years ago, if the profit to be made in petrol was not so lucrative. In the question of car motors what was at stake were the profit margins, not clean air. Capitalism is a system of waste, enormous, unnecessary and dangerous waste.

Clean-energy technology development is loping at least thirty years behind where it could and should be. Here we see how capitalism is completely antagonistic to necessity. But progress has to be intrinsically linked to necessity. Because of this capitalism has to be suspect of actually working in a non-progressive or even anti-progressive way.

In terms of innovation, the greatest achievements we have made in the last century would have to be those made in the space race. They were achievements made with public, not private money. Capitalist innovations have so often be nurtured through the breakthroughs made by state promoted projects, especially military ones, that, rather than a great innovator, capitalism is really just a very clever parasite.