Straddling Theory and Reality

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Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Jul 9 2018 22:06

Incredible response Mike and much appreciated. Thank you.

the croydonian anarchist's picture
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Jul 12 2018 21:32

"I assume you've seen Kautsky's views about 'science' being kept separate from 'workers'?"

Would be interested to read this, anyone know article/book this is referring to?

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Jul 13 2018 07:50

Me too.

As a Leninist the works of the likes of Kautsky were pretty much proscribed. We were told what was in them (i.e - reformist nonsense, cowardly denunciations of Lenin & the workers state.etc).

Dave B
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Jul 13 2018 19:02

The intellectuals and the workers

Die Neue Zeit (Vol.XXII, no.4, 1903),

For Lassalle, who coined the aphorism on science and the proletariat, science, like the state, stands above the class struggle. Today we know this to be false. For the state is the instrument of the ruling class. Moreover, science itself rises above the classes only insofar as it does not deal with classes, that is, only insofar as it is a natural and not a social science. A scientific examination of society produces an entirely different conclusion when society is observed from a class standpoint, especially from the standpoint of a class which is antagonistic to that society. When brought to the proletariat from the capitalist class, science is invariably adapted to suit capitalist interests. What the proletariat needs is a scientific understanding of its own position in society. That kind of science a worker cannot obtain in the officially and socially approved manner. The proletarian himself must develop his own theory. For this reason he must be completely self-taught, no matter whether his origin is academic or proletarian. The object of study is the activity of the proletariat itself, its role in the process of production, its role in the class struggle. Only from this activity can the theory, the self-consciousness of the proletariat, arise.

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/kautsky.html

the croydonian anarchist's picture
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Jul 14 2018 10:56

Sounds like absolute nonsense to me. Yeah, no shit, science serves the ruling class. But saying that therefore you can ignore the entirety of it, learn it all yourself by class navel gazing is hilarious.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Jul 14 2018 11:16

What the hell does "self-taught" in this context mean anyway? How do I learn natural biology without consulting Darwin? If I do consult Darwin have I been irreparably indoctrinated with bourgeois science? I can only imagine that comrade Kautsky means that its only okay to learn bourgeois science from approved SPD intellectuals.

Fluffy
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Jul 14 2018 14:29
Quote:
Moreover, science itself rises above the classes only insofar as it does not deal with classes, that is, only insofar as it is a natural and not a social science.

It looks like just the 'soft' sciences (sociology, anthropology, etc) being critiqued. That instead of offering a way to understand human interactions and development, with the aim of building a better world, these sciences are prone to misuse, either wilfully or through ignorance, as a means to keep us in our place and/or as a way to justify the dehumanisation and mistreatment of social subclasses.

I think being 'self-taught' in this context just means that we should all develop our own class consciousness/analysis rather than just blindly following an accepted theory.

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Jul 14 2018 16:41

It is a shame that L-BIRD had to be so obnoxious when stating their views. If Agent’s advice had been taken (post #28), we could have expected several replies to the interesting observations above.

I cannot claim to be privy to L-BIRD’s thoughts, though I gathered from their posts, all science should be regarded with suspicion (or rejected outright?) as it is a product of capitalism and therefore (only?) serves the interests of the ruling class. It is a fabrication based on a conceit that ‘they’ understand a pre-existing reality and common folk need ‘them’ to explain our existence, rather like conventional religion did in the past.

On the other hand I could be completely wrong.

the croydonian anarchist's picture
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Jul 16 2018 10:38

Saying science only existed after capitalism is also just factually wrong.

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Jul 16 2018 12:08

Yes, science has roots that run very deep into history though ‘modern science’ appears to run parallel with capitalism.

Wikipedia on the History of Science:

‘The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Previously, investigators of nature called themselves "natural philosophers". While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example by Thales and Aristotle), and scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those earlier inquiries.’

Wikipedia on the History of Capitalism:

‘The history of capitalism has diverse and much debated roots, but fully-fledged capitalism is generally thought to have emerged in north-west Europe, especially in the Low Countries (mainly present-day Flanders and Netherlands) and Britain, in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Over the following centuries, capital has been accumulated by a variety of different methods, in a variety of scales, and associated with a great deal of variation in the concentration of economic power and wealth, and capitalism has gradually become the dominant economic system throughout the world. Much of the history of the past five hundred years is, therefore, concerned with the development of capitalism in its various forms.’

Attending a lecture, I was once informed that Aristotle, due to the smallness of his wife’s head, reasoned that a woman had fewer teeth than a man. Apparently he never thought of actually counting them. This was long before the ‘scientific method’.
(This may have been a joke though I doubt it.)

Wikipedia on the Scientific method:

‘Scientific method is an empirical method of knowledge acquisition, which has characterized the development of natural science since at least the 17th century, involving careful observation, which includes rigorous skepticism about what one observes, given that cognitive assumptions about how the world works influence how one interprets a percept; formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental testing and measurement of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as opposed to a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.’