26 March, 2014

What Marxism Isn’t!

Well, it certainly isn’t Stalinism, which ruled for most of the 20th century in the "socialist" countries of Russia and China.

It isn’t solely a guide to political action for socialists.

And, in spite of what is claimed, it isn’t Scientific Socialism!

And, to also deal with its detractors, it isn’t the Devil’s work on Earth.

What it is primarily, and most importantly, is a Revolutionary Materialist Philosophy!

It has appeared to become many things since Marx turned Hegel “on his head, or rather upon his feet”. For, what Marx achieved was that he was able to carry over the significant gains of German Idealist Philosophy (where it profoundly addressed Qualitative Change) into Materialism, and thus transformed the previous ideas of materialist thinking from mechanist to dialectical. Hegel’s magnificent achievements were wrested from their idealist context to integrate qualitative development into the materialist approach. This was its primary, continuing, and essential contribution!

And, we must be crystal clear, for up to that point Science itself was, though revelatory and pragmatically useful, still purely mechanistic, and could not cope in any real way with qualitative changes and real creative development.

It was the brilliant contributions of Hegel that Marx wanted to integrate with both the achievements in Science, and the newly emerging understanding of Social Development in the History of Mankind!

And, be warned, as soon as this crucial transformation is lost sight of, forgotten, or shelved for later study, you will retrench back to prior forms, and turn these essential intellectual gains into lifeless rules, without any real, transformative understanding. You have only to read the words of innumerable self-professed, present-day “Marxists” to see where such an omission is certain to lead.

Now, I feel it necessary to start in an unusual place to re-iterate, and rejuvenate, this standpoint and method, and to indicate its necessary future development. I need to severely criticise Modern Science!

And the major criticism is just how unscientific it has become!

Alas, Science was always somewhat compromised from the outset, for in spite of being firmly materialist (which opened up entirely new ways of both studying and interpreting Reality, and, indeed, finding its natural imperatives), it had to significantly compromise its standpoint in several crucial ways.

Yet, the reasons for these mistakes were understandable. The concrete World was certainly not easy to study!

For, in all areas, it is a complex of many diverse, simultaneous factors, such that almost every single situation is made increasingly opaque by these many constantly varying factors. And this means that, at best, any evident relations could only be glimpsed momentarily, before vanishing again.

So, faced with this impossible-to-study blur, the first investigators had to seek around for those few areas where relationships appeared simple and maybe also understandable.

They found such a situation by looking upwards to the Heavens. And, there, among the stars, they did find relations, which did not vary or vanish: they were the most dependable relations anywhere. And, in the nightly and seasonal movements of the unchanging stars, they had a realm in which they could reliably match events to precise times, so the first measurements were calendrical, and enabled correct predictions to be extracted.

Hence the first scientists were astronomers, for in the night skies they found the first studiable patterns. And in places like Ancient Egypt, the matching of star positions with the timing of the essential Nile Floods enabled the organisation of a brilliant agricultural nation, and one of the most culturally rich civilisations of the Ancient World.

Now, that experience suggested that the whole of Reality was likely to be similarly organised, but was usually confused by the multiple conflicting factors, which inevitably made most things very difficult to reveal and then study and understand. But, the more ingenious investigators began to control situations, in an attempt to reveal the underlying relations, or “Laws”, which, it was thought, “made” the situation what it was.

Slowly, by isolating such areas, and removing as many confusing factors as possible, while holding others constant, these early scientists revealed quite clearly particular relationships that they could measure, turn into “laws”, and use (as long, that is, as they maintained these carefully organised circumstances).

This methodology was, and still is, what we call Science.

But, that initial contribution meant that while only in possession of such a “Law”, those scientists could not but attempt to go further and also attempt to explain why those things behaved as they undoubtedly did.

These further new considerations made possible an Explanatory View of Reality, and what much later became known as Scientific Theories. And it was then that these became THE major purpose of Science.

Now, let us be clear, several stages were involved in these revelatory methods, and it was only in the third and most significant Phase that the understanding of phenomena was attempted. And this is surely the most important, and difficult, Phase of all.

It has to be this Key Activity, which makes the whole thing scientific, and it is with this meaning that I say that certain professed “Marxists” are certainly not scientific, and their supposed version of Marxism is definitely unscientific.

But, we must not laud the gains of Science too much.

For, from its inception, and based upon the above described experimental methodology, it devised and formulated the fundamental assumption of the Principle of Plurality, which apparently validated both their practical methodology, and their derived theories. For this Principle insisted that complex Reality was composed of many different Natural Laws that were eternal, yet merely added together in various sums, could deliver all actually existing natural phenomena. It validated the usual selective and restrictive experimental conditions, achieved by the careful control, filtering and strict maintenance of its experimental situations, and were mistakenly seen as removing the blur of many other "laws” to be able to reveal, in all its natural glory, each purposely targeted “Law”. And the “Laws” so revealed and extracted were considered to be exactly the same, wherever they appeared and in whatever particular mix. This assurance was the ticket to validate the colossal development of Science, BUT it was also a false and crucially misleading straightjacket, for it really only allowed the Analysis of constrained and purposely stabilised situations. Plurality and its consequent assumptions and methodology made them the Science of Stability only!

Now, it has to be admitted – there wasn’t any other possible approach as far as those practising scientists knew, so they never hesitated in their prodigious surge forwards. And, in addition, they also seemed to have very reliable allies, who also fully subscribed to the Principle of Plurality: they were, of course, the mathematicians.

For, long before the first “scientific” investigations, Mankind had already tackled many of the patterns that occurred in this World, and, by intelligent simplifications, had developed both Arithmetic and Geometry. And, their conceptions of Reality were that the relations they were both finding and formulating via Patterns and Forms were, in fact, the “real determinators” of Reality. And, needless to say, these “Laws” were eternal, and hence in full conformity with Plurality!

Indeed, the data extracted by the scientists could always be fitted up with one or another of the mathematicians’ many standard Forms. These two disciplines seemed to be made for each other!

But, the philosophy of the mathematicians did NOT gel with that of the explanatory scientists, who desired to understand as well as accurately describe Reality. And, this saw the mathematicians’ Formal Laws as making Reality what it actually was. While the scientists had concrete Reality with its properties and consequent causes actually producing the revealed Forms or “Laws”. The mathematicians were idealists! While, the Scientists were materialists.

Nevertheless, on a thousand fronts, these two groups made a worthwhile alliance! Yet, never was there such a glaring example of Cognitive Dissonance!

And, of course, it couldn’t last forever, for the time would surely come when their differences would outweigh the advantages of such an uncritical alliance.

It did, however, survive much too long!

Indeed, the important turn by Marx could have provided a new direction for Science, and though colleagues like Engels made an energetic contribution in that direction, he wasn’t a scientist, and what was required was for the new philosophic stance to be taken up by full-time, professional scientists.

Now, the fact that this never happened was because marxists were forgetting their crucial bases, and concentrating upon too narrow a range of priority concerns, just when the most important general, philosophical questions were presenting themselves in key areas of Science.

The zenith of development in Marxism was clearly achieved during the successful Russian Revolution by the most advanced practitioners and theorists ever, with people like Lenin and Trotsky, during and immediately after that Event. But, unavoidably, and essentially, this trend in developing Marxism was almost entirely dedicated to intervening in the trajectory of a Revolution for the benefit of the Working Classes, and any serious attention to Science was completely left out in the cold.

Before the Revolution Lenin did attend to Science via his book Materialism and Empirio Criticism, where he both made important philosophical points, AND pulled back some of his Bolshevik colleagues from drifting towards the accelerating direction that Science was moving in.

But, the crucial task was never carried through. And, not only was Marxism diminished by this omission, but so was Science.

By the beginning of the 20th Century the dichotomy between Mathematics and Science was coming to a head - precipitated by both the discovery of the Quantum, and an increasing number of inexplicable anomalies, particularly occurring in Physics, and presenting a whole series of non-transcend-able impasses due to both Plurality and crucial unsolved problems of the Nature of Empty Space, the Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves, and also Action at a Distance. Indeed, the philosophical questions could not be delayed any longer, and by 1927 at the Solvay Conference, the only solution that kept both Plurality and mathematical Forms as primary was the abandonment entirely of Explanatory Theory, and a total subscription to the idealist belief in eternal natural laws as embodied in equations.

Now, this was the most significant opportunity for the only philosophical stance that could address these conundrums – Marxism, to step in, and by solving these questions gain tremendous genuine status among scientists and re-invigorate Marxist Theory in a very important area. Indeed, such a success would undoubtedly have gone on to involve many other disciplines, and recruit some of the very best minds to the Working Class cause.

But, that didn’t happen, and what claimed to be Marxism (in Russia and China) was nothing like what its initiators had intended it to be, and, as such, was incapable of addressing such questions. The prestige of the Russian and later the Chinese Revolutions gave credence to this mockery of Marxism, so no real continuity was remaining. It was down to individuals and small groups, without the numbers, resources or training to tackle such questions

So returning to the initial implied question, “What is Marxism?”, it certainly cannot be left in the hands of many who profess to be its current theorists. They are not Marxists and cannot tackle the crucial questions related here.

It is my convinced contention that the real Marxists can only be revealed by the solution of the current crisis in Physics. They who crack this impasse will reveal those who have both maintained and developed what its creators were struggling to achieve.

Now, this short piece was written as an introduction to a new series to be published on the SHAPE Blog entitled, “How do we get Socialism?”, which will be available in regular instalment during the rest of 2014.

Jim Schofield ; Marxist and Scientist, March 22 2014

17 March, 2014

New Special Issue: Yves Couder Experiment I

Couder and Copenhagen:
Is the Sub Atomic Really A Different World?

The following paper has a fascinating, yet demanding objective.

It intends to relate two sets of phenomena occurring in very different physical realms, in order to necessarily undermine the consensus Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory by the analogy of the sub atomic phenomena that it is supposed to apply to, with a set of phenomena created by Yves Couder entirely at the macro level, yet showing amazing similarities with those at the sub atomic level.

Couder, himself, at first merely glimpsed certain resonances between the two areas, but, thereafter, worked consistently to construct an ever closer analogue of that micro world, but entirely at the macro level. His objective was clear!

At the level he was working, absolutely nothing would be beyond revelation and analysis, and via such detailed explanations, he hoped to throw a revealing light upon the current, perplexing detours being “explored” in sub atomic Physics.

And, his efforts produced results far beyond what his expectations. For, his materials and arranged-for performances were merely based upon a single silicone liquid and a series of different oscillations, chosen specifically to cause both resonances and recursions.

What remarkably emerged was a stable sub system, which he termed “The Walker”. And, thereafter, one-by-one, he proceeded to create and display behaviours that were supposedly uniquely confined to the sub atomic realm! And, all of them were occurring at the macro level!


Of course, such things would not normally occur at that level, for in normal circumstances much more energetic and dominant macro oscillations would swamp the sort he was purposely creating and promoting. But, clearly, his main purpose was being fulfilled. These were not only confined to the sub atomic level, and the unique theory associated with them, which was also re-writing many tenets of Physics as it did so, and could indeed be profoundly mistaken! Couder even managed to make his “Walkers” perform “quantized “orbits!

Now, of course, many “Supporters of the Faith” dismissed his creations as mere coincidences, but they were most certainly wrong! Couder had produced a worthwhile analogue at a directly observable and analysable level, without the quantum, and in so doing unavoidably put in question the main tenets of Copenhagen. The “Key Things” at the micro level were indeed the quantization of energy levels involved in sub atomic orbits within the atom, encapsulated in the ubiquitous Planck’s Constant, “h”!

Now, if analogous situations could be created at the macro level, the key tenet of the Copenhagen standpoint would most certainly be brought into question, as the quantum could NOT be the cause in any of Couder’s macro set ups. Let us clarify what were being compared.

At the sub atomic level there were the descrete energy levels involved in the electron orbits within atoms, along with the seeming Wave/Particle Duality in many related phenomena.

At the macro level Couder, using oscillations, resonances and recursions, managed to create a stable entity, which he called a Walker that was composed of a bouncing drop, and also included a Standing Wave associated with it in the oil bath substrate.

And this surprising amalgam could be set to perform what appeared to be quantized orbits.

Though, many other analogues of what happened at the micro level were also achieved, it was this quantization that was the clincher. If Couder could explain that solely in terms of oscillations, resonances and recursion in an integrated stable system, the myth of Wave/Particle Duality and probabilistic predictions due to naturally indeterminate features would be scuppered. You could not claim such features in his Walker, and yet it displayed very similar behaviours.

Now, the questions were posed, but how could the theory at the micro level be demolished?

Clearly, a complete explanation of Couder’s Walkers was necessary, and perhaps the data could also be addressed in the very same way, as had been done for the micro situation.

If this were done, we might well end up with equations very similar indeed to those for the micro level. Yet, instead of Planck’s Constant, “h”, there would be another, which could not be explained away as the Copenhageners had done for “h”.

So, the initial task is clear – it must be to display the currently-used equations for a basic case at the sub atomic level – those for the Hydrogen atom, and a single photon (quantum) of electromagnetic energy emitted from the atom, occurring when a promoted electron returned to its base orbit. The required equations are shown below :

Now, before we go any further, we must dispel the myth that these equations direct what happens in Reality. Of course they don’t! They are nothing but purely formal descriptions of what has been extracted from that situation: they are the Forms that occurred there!

And, crucially, they are not unique to that situation alone. But, are in fact Universal General Forms that can occur in many other places too. This being the established case, they cannot be the causes of what occurs, but merely formal representations or descriptions. So, it should be possible, if analogous forms appear elsewhere to fit those same general forms there too.

Hence, ultimately, we would have the same equations representing both the micro level phenomena AND those for Couder’s Walker! The only differences will be in the particular constants necessary. Clearly, if that could be achieved, there would also be possible a physical explanation to accompany the equations for the Walkers, for it would be straightforward at the macro level to explain all the generalised phenomena. Absolutely NO magic Universal Natural Constants would be necessary. Everything will be explicable in terms of physical properties and relations. So, then we don’t just have a similarity of Forms in the two disparate areas: we have sound, physical analogues!

And, an alternative, physical explanation of the micro phenomena may well be possible, using the same sort of reasons, as did the job at the macro level.

So. This is the task!

But, it would be wrong to limit this critique to this pair of situations alone. The victory of the Copenhagenists would not have been so complete, were it not for other major, and long-standing flaws and contentions in the then current standpoint in Physics.

There had always been a continuing case of what is usually called Cognitive Dissonance, ever since the birth of Modern Science many centuries ago.

At the heart of Science were two opposite assumptions, which most certainly contradicted one another, yet both had proved invaluable in certain contexts.They were essentially the Materialist standpoint, involving Matter and both its properties and its inter-relationships, and the Idealist standpoint, which believed that Reality behaved entirely in accordance with eternally-existing, abstract Laws. Now, these are, indeed, opposites, philosophically, but could be “lived with” quite well. For, the materialist view would look to explain Reality in terms of matter and its properties, while the idealist view would concentrate upon revealing the natural quantitative relations in the most concise language of mathematical equations.

Now, clearly these can exist simultaneously in most pragmatic situations, but they were at extreme variance in the Explanatory Theories extracted from Reality. But, the basis for such a continuing subscription to both standpoints was made possible by both sides subscribing to the very same Principle of Plurality. For, this defining rule insisted that Reality was indeed composed of many different factors, which came together in an almost infinite variety of different sums to actually produce very different phenomena. The Principle claimed that these factors were never changed by their associations in the various arrangements: they all remained exactly the same in their pristine eternal states.

All variety was caused merely by different sets of factors and their quantitative differences, and that alone was enough to generate such infinite variety. The individual component factors were always totally separate in their natures: they were completely unchanged by all possible contexts.

Now, this was crucial to BOTH standpoints, for by careful construction of the conditions, under which investigations could be carried out, it would always be possible to so select and control these to make possible a clear revelation of a targeted factor. All other confusing factors could be either eliminated or held constant, so that the selected one would be effectively revealed. Now, something was indeed always revealed by these methods, and could be extracted and fitted up to an appropriate Form, but the assumption of it being exactly as it would be in totally unfettered Reality, was a consequence of this Principle of Plurality. It could not be demonstrated as the actual case in Reality: it could only be used in the exact same conditions under which it was revealed and extracted.

And, of course, these features were enough for both tendencies in Science.

They both accepted the extracted rule as being the actual available-everywhere “truth”. And, this meant that the idea of Analysis was always possible, and hierarchies of such relations could be conceived of as acting in what was termed Reductionism.

An overall general picture of Reality was delivered to both tendencies in Science, which defined an Experimental Method, plus an arrangement for effective use, and a hierarchical system of such explanations. The materialists were quite content with this, but so were the idealists, who by these means built up ever more eternal relations, which were the causes of all phenomena.

NOTE: This was proved when Wiles finally proved Fermat’s Last Theorem, because he was able to bring together many relations from a wide variety of real world investigations, and weave them into his “complete and ideal Proof”.
The two tendencies learned to live together, though never considering the other’s philosophical standpoint as anything more then a Belief!

Now, for those interested in Philosophy, similar Dichotomies had been recognised for several millennia, at least starting with Zeno and his Paradoxes, and occasionally raising it head, throughout subsequent history, until Hegel defined such occurrences as Dichotomous Pairs – the clear emergence of which not only signalled a crisis in our conceptions, but could, nevertheless, still co-exist for remarkably long periods of time, totally unresolved.

Yet, significantly, without a resolution of such contradictions real progress could never be achieved.

NOTE: That doesn’t mean, of course, that NO progress at all could be made, for it certainly could, but it would be, inevitably, an aberrant growth, with some useful content, but lacking significant understanding to allow major gains to be made. These growths would be like etiolated plants, getting ever weaker and thinner until they, finally and unavoidably, perished. Real progress required that these impasses had to be transcended!

So, for centuries these two opposing, yet partially complementary, strands did indeed continue to co-exist. The trouble was, of course, that the halt in real understanding would inevitably, at some point, be impossible to ignore. Papered-over cracks would widen into unbridgeable chasms, and Zeno’s Continuity versus Descreteness dichotomy came to smash Physics asunder in the so-called Wave/Particle Duality, as a result of the discovery of the Quantum.

Sub Atomic Physics was banging up against this dichotomy constantly, with NO integrating new conception in sight. As long as Plurality was sacrosanct, the problem could never be even realised. Both sides in the crisis never questioned Plurality: it was both common and indeed essential to BOTH – and hence never even questioned!

But, it clearly WAS the problem!

And, its alternative in yet another Dichotomy needed to be addressed.

This opposite to Plurality was Holism! But, with this having the principle of “Everything affecting everything else!”, not to mention, “Change is always occurring!”, no systematic scientific method of investigation, or of Analysis in the formulation of phenomena. seemed even remotely possible.

NOTE: Interestingly, the main exponent of Holism, The Buddha, had lived at about the same time as Zeno – about 2,500 years ago.
All the methods occurring in Mathematics, Logic and later in Science, had been developed only via a belief in Plurality. Progress had been possible compared with the situation prior to this consciously-chosen Principle, NOT by addressing Reality-as-is, but by farming Reality via modified, filtered and then rigorously maintained Domains, in which relations could be both clearly displayed AND applied to achieve some intended purpose. To throw that away, for what appeared to be holistic chaos, seemed wholly reprehensible. So though artists, writers, religions and philosophers never totally abandoned Holism, it certainly had NO place in Logic, Mathematics and Science. Until, that is, Charles Darwin broke the prohibition with his entirely holistic theory of The Origin of Species!

So, with that entirely necessary diversion, perhaps we can return to the major crisis facing physicists in the early years of the 20th century? There was no getting away from it, current ideas were foundering upon the rock of Wave/Particle Duality. What had been seen as continuous waves, now sometimes only made sense as descrete particle-like gobbets of pure energy, or quanta, which became known thereafter as Photons. And, to compound the felony, particles like the electron, occasionally acted as if they were waves.

How, on earth could they be integrated into a new all-inclusive set of conceptions? They couldn’t! The real bases for these emerged dichotomies were NOT understood, so the physicists had to have a “revolution”: it seemed that they had to dump one or the other of their two co-existing standpoints! They chose Form, and totally rejected Explanation! They embraced Equations as the real essences of Reality – the actual drivers of all phenomena. They, and they alone could be trusted as being Truth itself! Explanation was demoted to fairy tales, which might give the appearance of truth, but were in fact totally man-made inventions. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory was precisely this new standpoint!

Now clearly, several things were necessary to retrieve the situation. The most difficult of these to get across, was undoubtedly the philosophic one of explaining and then debunking Plurality, and in its place promoting Holism: no one, at this stage would possibly “but that”, if only because Holism could not compete in supplying a delivering scientific method. So, it would have to be tackled initially experimentally with set-ups that totally torpedoed Copenhagen, and theoretically by showing fully working explanations in the relevant areas without any retreats into the Idealism of the Copenhagen standpoint. Two cases can be shown to have been successful in fulfilling these necessary objectives.

The first was by, this theorist, was the explanation of the seeming Wave/Particle Duality in the famous Double Slit Experiments, without any of the Copenhagen revisions.

And, the second was the Yves Couder, macro level experiments to reveal similar quantization features to what was occurring in the Sub Atomic level, yet existing wholly at the macro level, where the physical causes were clearly evident, and purely physical explanations could be extracted. The former of these two has been published as a SHAPE Journal Special Issue on the Internet, entitles The Theory of The Double Slits, and as a YouTube animation on its SHAPE Channel. While Yves Couder’s revelations are by now well known via his various academic journal publications, and have even featured on Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole on TV.

Read the rest of the issue