We are worried that the de-contextualized “March for Science” on Earth Day 2017 was a reactionary misdirection of popular energy. In order to influence their cause, the people need to carry out tactics aimed at liberating science from the yoke of crony-capitalism. Only then will science be allowed it to enhance the lives of the people instead of just those of the 1%.
The practice and benefits of science and technology need to be placed in democratic control of organized communities. This can be accomplished by changing the relationship of entire classes of people to the centers of power and productive forces of society. Because of science and technology’s historical link to the ‘military-industrial complex’ and ecological destruction, we believe that popular fanaticism about science can only add fuel to the fire which is burning up ‘our’ planet.
Before commenting further, we would like to add a point of clarification. This is not a diatribe or attack on the principle of science itself. Quite the contrary, we recognize the unique value of the scientific method and the knowledge gained by means of it. Our commentary is critical specifically on the focus on the issue of science on a day supposedly devoted to stewardship and respect for the environment.
The extent to which the establishment loves science even more than the people can be counted in billions of dollars.
First, let us acknowledge the reason why the Trump administration is suppressing the results of ecological research. Could it be any more clear that the incentive for political climate-change denial is created by the power of the oil and gas industries? Imagine a physicist who to approaches the government with a plan for a new way to split an atom — Is there any doubt that he would be given all the money and assistance he needs to develop the next big weapon of mass destruction? Of course not.
The quickest glance at human history shows that there was no threat to the eco-health of ‘our’ planet before the 20th century explosion of science and technology. Prior to the industrial revolution, the totality of human activity amounted to spiritually and physically sustainable interactions within healthy ecosystems.
There is no principled war on science. In fact, the extent to which the establishment loves science even more than the people can be counted in billions of dollars and bought elections. Scientific R&D [research and development] has had the overwhelming support of government and big-business for ages. All in all, the research funded through the Pentagon and other institutions have led to new and exciting ways for privileged elites to exploit the environment and enslave labour.
‘But science simply reveals the truth. How could it have assumed a destructive relationship to the environment?’
A liquid naturally assumes the shape of the receptacle into which it is poured. In the same way, scientific discoveries are molded by the socio-political structure in which they are applied as technological advances. The technological applications of science are made real by the relationship of different classes of people to the means of production and exchange.
In an economic system of chattel slavery, for example, an improvement to technology related to agriculture does nothing to liberate the slaves and only makes their exploitation more efficient. Also, in today’s western society, when elites control capital to the exclusion of the working class, technology may only accelerate inequality until the shape of the receptacle [the political structure] is radically altered in the first place. This is why the popular demonstration against the Trump administration should be calling for systemic change to a social order which happens to incentivize the political denial of ecological research. To all the people who marched on April 22nd, we love that joined to express something you feel strongly about, but lest we not fail to contextualize the issue.
If only the climate of politics and governance were changing
STEM R&D is a fundamental link to various industries and the combination of forces which Dwight E. Eisenhower called the ‘military-industrial complex: Just take a look at the Manhattan Project.
J. Robert Openheimer and the Strategic Advisory Committee of which he was the head realized the destructive potential of the science they were undertaking and began vehemently pleading the government to halt the development of the hydrogen bomb. Naturally, the government ignored the experts and carried on funding, directing and appropriating scientific brilliance in order to enforce the interests of the ruling class upon foreign and domestic enemies. The momentum and power of the political vehicle in motion here is one which transforms the beauty of brilliant minds into a growing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Changes within American universities after WWII provide another example. In the 1930s, American universities graduated less than 100 physics PhDs a year. This number grew to over 500 by 1955 and 1,500 by 1970. Did students suddenly become interested in a ‘rational’ approach to understanding nature? By no means! By 1954, 98 percent of federal funding for physics came from the Pentagon and 75 percent of all students whose research was funded by the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC] went on to work for the government.
Economic growth without a revolutionary change in social structure will lead to nothing more than increase in inequality, and an increase in scientific without the same pre-conditions will produce nothing but new ways to exploit the resources of the planet for the benefit of the privileged few who control the means of production, distribution, exchange and governance.
The glaciers of bureaucracy and corruption situated in Washington and Wall Street have been resilient to the energy of human passions because of the gravity of their influence which motivates the masses to chase windmills instead of identifying the real enemy and engaging in a protracted struggle against it.
We observe the militarization of knowledge is being carried out to logical conclusion. Clearly, cheer-leading for science in general is not only futile but also utterly misguided. When powerful politicians are denying something like climate change, the question is not why they are too foolish or stubborn to respect science, but rather how we can eliminate their interest in suppressing the findings of a particular branch of [ecological] science.
Reinstate Glass-Steagle, get money out of politics, and continue moving toward democratic communal and worker-control of all institutions, then continue inquiring into the mysterious circumstances of life through scientific exploration or by any other respectable means.
Only the ignorant speak of karma-yoga and devotional service as being different from the analytical study of the material world. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achievers the results of both.
-The Bhagavad Gita 5:6