jottings from tertius

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"If there was no God, there would be no atheists." G.K. Chesterton


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Tektonics Apologetics Ministry
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The Adarwinist reader
Bede's Library: the Alliance of Faith and Reason
A Christian Thinktank
Doxa:Christian theology and apologetics
He Lives
Mike Gene Teleologic
Errant Skeptics Research Institute
Stephen Jones' CreationEvolutionDesign
Touchstone: a journal of mere Christianity: mere comments
The Secularist Critique: Deconstructing secularism
Ex-atheist.com: I Wasn't Born Again Yesterday
imago veritatis by Alan Myatt
Solid Rock Ministries
The Internet Monk: a webjournal by Michael Spencer
The Sydney Line: the website of Keith Windschuttle
Miranda Devine's writings in the Sydney Morning Herald
David Horowitz frontpage magazine
Thoughts of a 21st century Christian Philosopher
one-eighty
Steven Lovell's philosophical themes from C.S.Lewis
Peter S. Williams Christian philosophy and apologetics
Shandon L. Guthrie
Clayton Cramer's Blog
Andrew Bolt columns
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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton


"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton


"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon


Sunday, November 02, 2003

the Triumph of Ideology - when science becomes an "ism"

 
a case study in the pseudoscientific use of science:
Marx maintained that capitalism suffered from insoluble internal contradictions, which doomed it to destruction. In reality, capitalism, being an empirical system responsive to realities and capable of adjustments, has managed to overcome every one of its crises. Communism, on the other hand, being a rigid doctrine - a pseudoscience converted into a pseudoreligion and embodied in an inflexible political regime - has proven incapable of shedding the misconceptions to which it was beholden and gave up the ghost. If it is ever revived, it will be in defiance of history and with the certainty of yet another costly failure. Such action will border on madness, which has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Richard Pipes Communism: a History of the Intellectual and Political Movement p 161



Science, religion and ideology do not exist in isolation one from another, without reciprocal influence. Religious learning lays claim to the creation of a world picture and to the explanation of different natural and social phenomena. Both religion and science contain elements of ideology. But more recently anti-religious ideologies have come into existence; science has achieved extraordinary progress, providing increased knowledge of the world and of man himself, much religious learning has lost its former ideological role and has been pushed into the background of history. So it is now possible to distinguish fairly clearly between the social functions of these three phenomena.

The aim of science is to supply knowledge to society, to order its comprehension and use. Scientific concepts tend towards lucidity, certainty, simplicity. Scientific theories require verification; i.e. corroboration, or refutation. Religion deals with the phenomena of the soul, with the religious feelings of people, with belief. Ideology, as distinct from science, is constructed from indefinite, ambiguous expressions, open to varying interpretations. It is impossible to prove experimentally the assertions of an ideology and it is impossible to refute them - they are meaningless. Unlike religion, ideology demands no belief in its postulates, but merely formal recognition or acceptance of them. Religion is impossible without belief in that which it proclaims. Ideology can flourish amid complete lack of belief in its slogans and programmes. It is very important to make this distinction. This often seems bewildering; in the Soviet Union for example, nobody believes in the official ideology, and yet it prospers. How can this be? It is because people do not believe in the ideology, that they accept it. Belief is a condition of human psychology, of the soul. Whereas acceptance is only a particular form of social behaviour. When there is belief in an ideology, then historical confusion occurs, causing the ideology to assume the uncharacteristic functions of religion. When the attempt is made to prove or disprove the principles of an ideology by intellectual arguments, then it is confused with science. The aim of ideology is not the discovery of new truths about nature, society and man, but the organisation of social consciousness according to some predetermined social pattern.

Ideology is not intended to be understood - an impossible exercise, or simply not worth the trouble - but it must be accepted. And to achieve this a system of compulsion and punishment is set up. Some people choose to conform and thereby gain successful careers and have some happiness. For many, existence without the guidance of an ideology is generally impossible. At one time, for example, the Christian Church operated in such a manner. It combined within itself not only religious, but also ideological functions, and on occasions made use of the former in the interest of the latter.

…Historically [Marxism] emerged as a claim to the scientific understanding of everything in the world. …Marxism proclaim[ed] itself as a science, a higher science, a most scientific science… And it is necessary to recognise that there are facets of Marxism which may be examined from a scientific point ofview. However, in the main, Marxism…long ago lost the characteristics of a science and turned into an ideology in the strictest possible meaning of the word… it now shows the very classic pattern of an ideology. Such is the irony of history. Until now Marxists have insisted on the fact that, thanks to Marxism, philosophy has for the first time become a science. On the contrary, Marxist philosophy has in fact moved away from science to the furthest possible distance, and become the nucleus of an ideology.

The striving of Marxism to look like a science is accounted for by a complex of causes both historical and sociological. Science had acquired such importance in society that to advance other than in the name of science was simply outmoded. It was even believed that paradise on earth could be brought about scientifically. Marxism came into existence through a struggle against religion and other forms of ideology by opposing them with its scientific view of everything taking place in the world.

But the main thing that determines the pseudo-scientific appearance of Marxist ideology in a developing communist society is its actual role in the functioning of this society: a role involving the means of government of the masses, the standardisation of their behaviour, the exploitation of the lowest strata of the population by the highest, etc. Marxism disguises itself as a science, making it easier to represent the established society and its leadership as superior and natural products of the objective laws of history, to explain any mercenary interest and misgovernment as brilliant scientific foresight, etc.. Marxist ideology had to make even greater efforts to be attractive, by pretending to be another sponsor of science. For in our time of scientific insanity it would be an inexcusable folly for a ruling state not to keep up with the times.

But apart from its scientific claims, Marxism also professes to represent the interest and aspirations of the oppressed and aggrieved classes of society - an expression of the age-old hopes of earthly paradise. But dreams and desires by their very nature have nothing in common with science. Social dreams are the essence of Utopia. The transformation then of Utopia into science is ruled out - contemporary science and the practical experience of mankind testify to this.

It is possible, by means of analysis, to show that Marxism, is not a science. Not one Marxist concept… follows the logical rules of scientific construction. Not one assertion of Marxism - setting aside empty platitudes - can be scientifically verified... Devising their own communist paradise on earth - and naturally calling their inventions scientific communism - the founders of Marxism and their followers disregard the most elrmentary demands of experimental science…

The strongest evidence of the fact that Marxism is an ideology and not a science, is the contradiction between theoretical Marxism and its practical application. More than sixty years experience in the Soviet Union and the experience of many other communist countries has given absolutely undeniable evidence concerning the nature of these supposedly Marxist societies: a low living standard for the greater part of the population, enforced attachment to the place of residence and work, enormous differences in the standard of living between the higher and lower levels of the population, the repression of any different trends of thought, the absence of civic freedoms, the self-seeking, the bribery, the system of privilege, the mismanagement, the spectacular extravagance of the leadership, the militarization, etc., etc... Western communists try to convince us they are building a communist society without these deficiencies, and are preserving the best features of democratic societies. It is hard to devise anything more absurd, especially from a scientific point of view. Scientific research of real - not fabricated or ideological - communism could with no special difficulty reveal that all these facts are not accidental. they are essentially the inevitable results of the precise realisation of the positive ideals of Marxism. Although Marxism began its historical career with the intention of explaining scientifically the path of social progresss, it has in fact completely renounced the very scentific understanding of society, by which it assumed the role of the ruling state ideology.

I think that there is no need to discuss the conduct of Marxism in the capacity of ideological dictator in the past history of the Soviet Union. It is well known to everyone: the base actions, the forgeries, the crimes... If everything were described in detail, stripping away the ideological machinery of Marxism through the years of Soviet history, even the enemies of Marxism would not believe the truth of this picture. It is said that Marxists followed good intentions. As is well known, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But in reality the members of this Marxist army of ideologists aimed only to satisfy their own egoistical needs. And this is not possible, according to the social laws of history. I mean normal social laws, and not that senseless Marxist twaddle about the laws of society, with which the leaders make fools of themselves to millions of ordinary people.

Marxism turned out to be a highly convenient form of ideology because it gave rise to a vast torrent of ideological texts, demagogic promises and slogans, resembling science, but not requiring any scentific training to produce. Anyone can soon learn to manufacture perfectly Marxist texts and speeches for any situation. It is precisely the ambiguity and formlessness of Marxist concepts that make them ideal for the ruling sections of society, for the interpretation of Marxism becomes the prerogative of the higher party leadership. And in this way the system is perpetuated.

Alexandre Zinoviev The Social Status of Marxism

6:22:00 pm