26 October, 2015

Man & Reality III


Let us attempt to define the philosophical position that currently dominates the widespread everyday attitude to Science and its role in society, not only in the technology dealt with above but in Science itself.

Elsewhere, I have established that “Technology rules OK”, and is often mis-named “Science”! Its productions abound! From space rockets to television, mobile phones to digital cameras, and washing machines to computers – everywhere these products seem to define the main thrust of society. But, what exactly is Technology? How does it relate to Science, and how have its worship, and its effect on the general world view developed to its present state? The essence to these questions must be at least started with the explanation of the relationship between Science & Technology.

It is clear that Science is about “Why?”, while Technology is about “How?”

Early in their development these two things had a different relationship to that they hold today. Long ago as soon as some “useful” thing or process was discovered, it was immediately “put to use” without any real explanation. But there was a danger in this lack of a meaningful explanation. The process was therefore all the more difficult to remember and pass on to the next generation, because it couldn’t be easily explained. So there developed a sort of “apology” for an explanation which often took the form of a quasi-religious or magical ritual, with associated mumbo-jumbo. There is little doubt that such closed shop procedures were in fact quite effective. Without understanding, practitioners were still able to maintain and pass on their powerful techniques. So, it seems that Technology preceded Science but was maintained by the mystical garb of myth. So, obviously, someone, somewhere actually, by chance or design, actually discovered the useful kernel that was later entrenched in the above performances, and indeed, this has to be seen as a kind of “embryo Science”, but any clear essential explanation was at this point absent. The process had mostly involved intelligent observation and realisation rather than any structured scientific activity.

So, from early in the history of modern man, the “practical” use of discoveries was established.

Now this paper is not meant as a history, especially as I am in no position to give chapter and verse on the detailed processes and development of this nascent Science. That is a task for someone better qualified than I in objectively interpreting and delivering History. But, if we are to understand the position as it stands today, we must at least give some time to seeing how that grew from its ground in man’s past. By the time of the Greeks, the situation had become noticeably more rich and complex. The beginnings of detailed observation, Mathematics, Logic and Philosophy were by then established as study-able categories, and the earliest “explanations” (in the modern scientific sense) were attempted. This was the start of true Science, but we would be very hard put to recognise it as such. With basic “elements” such as Earth, Fire, Water and Air, we find it hard to give any credence to it as what we would call explanation, but in an important sense we would be mistaken. It was an intelligent attempt. Its explanations were not stupid AND contained morsels of the truth. Our modern way of putting this would be to say that these concoctions STILL contained some objective content, even though they were wrapped up in mistaken definitions and understandings. None-the-less, for the first time it did put explanation “on the agenda” as a worthwhile undertaking.

By the time of the Industrial Revolution, all sides of the study and use of aspects of Nature had exploded into myriads of lines of development, and new forms of Abstraction had led to the birth of true Mathematics, as well as a range of separate sciences, and sophisticated technological methods of producing things for use. Though the Giants of Culture at this time were often “renaissance men” in that they participated in everything, the various subjects were becoming separately defined, and while Engineers built roads and locomotives, ships and bridges, Scientists attempted to get to the heart of things and explain WHY things performed as they did. By the time of Edison, the inventor/technologist was becoming separated from the pure investigating scientist in that his overriding question was not WHY? But HOW? And his purpose was the employment of discovery in commerce. That is the conversion of knowledge into saleable devices. The public more and more associated “science” with its use in readily acquirable devices and facilities. Those investigative workers, asking the question WHY? were relegated in public consciousness to the ivory towers of Universities where they could ponder the explanation of the world, while the real “useful” people were conceived of as the engineers and technologists.

Thomas Edison

A peculiar form of “research” began to develop that was not carried out by scientists, but by inventors and technologists, who KNEW the available science, but required outcomes that were immediately reproducible and acquirable by the population at large. This form can best be called “suck-it-and-see”. It involved using what science had discovered but with very different purposes. Every conceivable trick was used to find cheap and effective ways of delivery of what had been shown to be possible. Such DIRECTED experiments had reversed the priority relation with scientists. Most discoveries were now made by “disinterested” scientists, while the employment of these in everyday devices was carried out by technologists, involved NO new understanding, no new explanations, but it could reveal effective answers to practical employment and use. Thus occasionally things were made which led to catastrophic consequences, such as all the passengers on a train being suffocated as it passed through a tunnel. There had been nothing wrong with the underlying science. The engine chugged on through the tunnels and emerged unscathed, but no science had been done on how passengers would be expected to react within a tunnel and they all perished. But, though the human cost was very high, the methods of the technologists, after multiple tries, did usually, in the end, provide working solutions. This method has often been termed Pragmatism – “If it works – it is right! The “god” of pragmatism was undoubtedly Thomas Elvar Edison who, in the USA in the 19th century invented functioning electric light, phonographs and many others with the sole purpose of delivering them as saleable products on the market. His objective was to turn scientific discoveries into saleable commodities to millions of customers and thus amass a fortune. Yet Edison was no scientist, he was certainly a technologist. My favourite example of this approach was the saga of the Douglas DC3 airliner/cargo carrier of the 1940s.

Douglas DC3

This aircraft was thrown together and catapulted into its first test flight resulting in an immediate crash. But if you believe in “suck-it-and-see” it is clear what you do next. The fragments were gathered together and studied with a view to correcting the fault, and a new version was quickly completed and again immediately test flown. It crashed again! The process was then repeated many times at great expense and some considerable loss of life. BUT,thefinal product turned out to be a masterpiece! It became the backbone of military transport during the Second World War from packets to paratroopers, and continued after the war to serve airlines throughout the world for many decades. The DC3 was therefore produced by pragmatic methods and proved that they do deliver.

Now this experience, particularly in the USA, led to a philosophical position also, which embodied exactly the same approach – “If it works – it is right!” or “Suck- it-and-see!” “Let’s try it for Christ’s sake!” –“Don’t constantly think about it. DO IT!” And this rather lightweight philosophy was justified by success in commercial and economic terms. The total dominance across the world of American capitalism validated their home-bred, macho philosophy and was overlaid with high sounding conceptions such as “Democracy”, “Liberty” and “Economic Success!”

Now a particular effect of this has been a deification of technology as a panacea for all problems. Technology has been turned into “science”, and is repeatedly called Science. Its practitioners are always called “scientists”, and its achievements are credited with scientific qualities and merits, such as “explaining” the origins of the Universe, or revealing the mechanisms of Nature. An example of this is how the technology of video photography, radio communications and image post-processing (all pure technology) are said to SOLVE problems of the true nature of Jupiter’s moons and many other similar cases. But, of course, what is happening is that uninformed speculation is simply being demolished by new evidence, made available by technology. Technology doesn’t present alternative explanations. It is incapable of such tasks. It merely delivers the data for scientists to interpret and explain. The prevailing attitude to Technology is, of course, so much twaddle. Technology is not Science and as such makes NO contributions to understanding the world.

Such claims are like commending the piano for the creation of a Beethoven Piano Concerto.


What utter nonsense!

Now the establishment of technology as “the most important activity in the world today” has been entrenched also by the role of Mathematics as a quantitative tool in technological achievements and problem solving. Unlike scientific qualitative explanations and theories, technology’s ever-present bed-fellow is Mathematics. The relationship between the two is also the epitome of pragmatism. The limited, yet quantitative aspect of maths formulae fits like a glove with pragmatic technology. Formulae are used until they fail at some domain boundary, thereafter being replaced pragmatically by other more appropriate ones without compunction. No technologist feels any guilt at such suck-it-and-see procedures. They are, after all, his philosophical ground. “If it works – It is right! If it fails, dump it and instead use one that works!” Thus the quantitative and pragmatic aspects of functional mathematics, is the perfect partner to “problem-solving” technology. As long as Science provides the working theories, and maths maps these onto working formulae, technology can march ahead and deliver the goods.

The social basis for Pragmatism is also of significance. Both the current dominance of the USA and the preceding dominance of the British Empire underwrote a pragmatic view of the world. The standard of living at the centre of the dominant culture was always predicated on the extraction of profits from the rest of the world, and these were rapidly taken as being natural consequences of the superiority of the prevailing pragmatic ethos of the empire builders and corporate giants. So, if such a system could provide such elevated levels for most of its general population, its methods must be correct. At the same time the demise of the Eastern Block – simultaneously with this dominance - undercut the currency of socialism, and its place as the future of the world was replaced by a “property-owning democracy” or some other euphemism for the privileges of dominance.
Now, so far we have been concentrating solely on Applied Mathematics, and it is obviously vital in all industry throughout the world. But it doesn’t exactly “thrill you to bits” does it? It is the “toolbox” conception of mathematics. Perhaps that alternative ivory tower area of the subject needs a more detailed look. After all, it seems to be the source of all maths techniques, even those used in the above pragmatic ways. What is its remit and purpose?

This is the third in a new series exploring philosophy and mathematics: Man & Reality. Part IV will be published here next Monday. 

Wolff on Radio Free Brighton

Another good source of all things Richard Wolff... It seems he has a regular slot on Radio Free Brighton.

18 October, 2015

Man & Reality II

Applied Mathematics - The Toolbox!

Though it is rarely evident in the teaching of the subject, there are very different roles for maths in the modern world. Perhaps the first historically, and the most prosaic, is its use in production – in manufacture of all types. When relationships were detected in nature, the requirement was to find-and-fit a mathematical form to the revealed relation to allow quantitative questions to be asked and answered easily. Such “fitting” did not require any theory to be elaborated. No philosophy was involved. A mathematical artisan could rummage around in his toolbox of forms and find a rough fit, then use a few modifications and adjustments to effect a pretty useful final result. The maths would then be indispensable in the effective use of the revealed relation in diverse ways. Over what amounts to millennia, mankind developed a wide range of techniques which facilitated such undertakings, using every conceivable mathematical invention to purely practical ends.

This cycle of discovery, fitting of maths forms and USE has developed into a clearly delineated area, which keeps clear of theory (except as a source of yet more tools) and engages in practical tasks.

We call it Technology, or even Engineering, and its “fitting” activities are often very pragmatic, while being at variance with the concerns of pure scientists, who demand answers to the question “Why?” The pragmatists of concrete world problems are much more interested in the question “How?”

And the incessant clamour for the maths to facilitate their labours has led to a rich set of techniques which could only rarely be said to help in understanding. These techniques basically are superlative “fitting” methods. A few examples will give the clearest idea of what they are like. The most famous is the method of “Equating Coefficients” in generalised polynomial equations. Such generalised polynomials can have no theoretical basis, but can be put forward as the first pragmatic step in covering a well researched relationship (liberally supplied with data) in Nature.

So general, in fact, is this form that every single term is given an unknown constant – not much good so far! But with sufficient sets of related data from the real world, these can be substituted into the polynomial for a number of different cases, and the result can be a coherent set of simultaneous equations in the unknown “constants”. With these, there are algebraic methods (and later on determinants) that enable the solution of these equations involving the exact values of these unknowns. And when these are substituted back into the general polynomial, we end up with a mathematical formula that fits the facts.

Notice the total absence of explanation in these processes. They established a solid cycle between experimental data and mathematical expressions that can, and do, produce powerful, useable formulae.

Another similar process is the so-called “Fourier Analysis”, where almost any time based repeated pattern in nature can be “fitted up” by the addition of multiple “sine waves” suitably weighted. The method does work, but it would be incorrect to say that it throws any real light at all on the actual causality of the situation being modelled – quite the reverse. If anything such a method hides the causality. It is interesting to see that a modern example of such an approach is actually used to produce a so-called “theory”. This is the renowned String Theory which turns out to be of exactly the same ilk. There, oscillations of strings (?) are added together to produce Everything (?) in the Universe. And, if we are trotting out famous examples we must not omit the enduring Ptolemaic Theory of the heavens, which matched the recorded data with the ever more complex addition of epicycles to model the movements of planets, sun and moon as observed.

These are a few examples of the power (and weaknesses) of “fitting”. Mankind was not able to refine the Ptolemaic Theory until it arrived at the Copernican System, was it? For over a thousand years the former had held sway, AND was a barrier to a better theory. A revolution in thinking (and, I believe, in society) was necessary before this edifice was pulled down and something nearer the truth erected.

Perhaps I should include one final example. I am sure that I have made the point I wish to make, but I feel that this last inclusion is nonetheless unavoidable. It involves that icon of technology – the computer. Many calculations and manipulations in mathematics proved to be long-winded and tedious, and it soon became cleat that such tasks would perhaps best be carried out by some mechanistic aid – such as computers. These tireless mechanisms, given an effective algorithm (computer program or set of instructions) could trawl through the data until an acceptably accurate result was achieved. The very inclusion of the computer, though, caused an interesting regression in techniques. Over the centuries many, almost mindless, iterative techniques had been developed for finding the quantitative information required without understanding the causal features involved. These had not been attractive to human employment because of the mind-numbing boredom of repeated application, but also because they added nothing to our understanding. Computers, as you may guess, changed all that. Pragmatists wanting numbers to a certain accuracy were quite happy to consign the job to a computer program, which could churn away at lightning speed, and produce exactly what was required. The era of “the computer says” was born.

Computers paper over the cracks

Computers had another significant effect on the modelling of reality. The inevitable breakdown of individual formulae at domain boundaries was obviously a major problem in constructing effective computer-based models, and restricted such models to very limited context. But there was a way round this difficulty! Computer scientists had been including tests in programs since the beginning, and re-routing the path to different sets of instructions. But, normal procedural languages involved detailed programming of all the tests and switches, and because instructions were only obeyed sequentially, there were often delays until the requisite tests had been made. The solution was a new breed of computer languages called Object Orientated Programming Systems (OOPS!) These languages were effectively “interrupt driven”. They could be given rules that were of general significance, and could be kept separately from sequences of instructions. These rules encapsulated the precise conditions when one domain had become defunct and another had to be set up with its own, and different, instruction sequences. These were handled so that they were ever-available. This meant that the language implemented a runtime version in which the “house-keeping” roles CAME FIRST. That is, the rules were tested out at every single time-slot cycle. A positive result would mean that the current sequences of instructions would be interrupted and the switch in mode effected.

These features effectively papered over the cracks between different domains. As soon as the conditions for a change were encountered the switch was implemented. No understanding of why the switch was necessary - was involved. Some threshold or set of thresholds were designated as sufficient to implement the change. Significantly, the transition seemed “seamless” and “natural”. How lovely!

The dynamic content that always accompanies such changes was, of course, totally absent from these transitions. It was thresholds – Switch! I feel impelled at this point to bring in my evergreen anecdote about reaction fronts in liquids.

From time immemorial, budding scientists had been told to “stir well” and wait for equilibrium conditions before any meaningful data could be taken from an experiment. Breaking this rule led to all sorts of inexplicable data, and no conclusions could be drawn. In the 1980s I was lucky enough to work with some researchers who consciously disobeyed this rule. They wanted to study the reaction fronts when two different liquids reacted chemically. They never stirred! They almost forgot to breathe, as the slightest disturbance would ruin their experiments. They also chose a situation where a reversible reaction could be quite easily be caused to oscillate to and fro between the products at each end of the reversible reaction. They also carefully chose a situation where the products were of significantly different colours. The test tubes unfolded beautiful, striped structures as the oscillation proceeded, and the reaction fronts were clearly shown to be TOROIDAL SCROLLS. So much for stirring and equilibrium then!

Innumerable further examples could be put forward here, but I am sure that the point has been established. But, “Is that all there is?”, as they say. No, it isn’t! The methods described above use mathematics that was disinterestedly developed by pure mathematicians, but to purely pragmatic ends. Indeed this approach has been consolidated into, what may be called a philosophy. The philosophy of Pragmatism.

This is the second in a new series exploring philosophy and mathematics: Man & Reality. Part III will be published here next Monday. Part 1 can be found here.

Richard Wolff on Global Capitalism

13 October, 2015

Man & Reality I

Prelude: The Recurring Dream!

A small, family group, constantly on the move, are struggling to survive as they slowly cross the raw, harsh landscape, only recently released from the iron grip of solid ice. Alone and vulnerable, they are surrounded on all sides by the hostility of the land, and the threat of its predators. But they are aware!

Everyday, glimpses of order momentarily shine through the hostile world, and they grasp for them. These evidently meaningful patterns seem to hold out the promise of understanding and control. And indeed they do! Step by step, small elements of the world are grasped and manipulated by the group to ensure their survival and growth.

The successes are initially modest, but fundamental. The world not only presents constant threats, but also a great deal of promise. Mankind began to mould his environment, at first marginally, and then significantly. There were clear indications that he could be King!

Out of these beginnings, Mankind began the imperceptible ascent to gradually dominate the landscape, and to lead to the unsurpassed expansion of his species across the whole planet. His effective stone tools and weapons were refined over millennia, and his mental and social developments crucially equipped him to survive and prosper. Step-by-step mankind wrested more and more fragments of evident order from nature, though they could initially only be conceived of as almost magical knowledge, and each new morsel was bedecked with elaborate ritual to ensure its continued success, and guarantee its handing down to future generations. Man’s increasing realisation of his own potential grew apace, but was still embedded in the evident reality of his own inadequacies and physical weakness, so the potential was externalised into a conception of a superman as the epitome all possible knowledge and power. Locally this led to the necessary rise of the leader, the chief, but also to something magical & embedded in the detail and wonder of the world itself - to a power beyond you and me – the mind who is responsible for this comprehensible world – the superman who knows all!

So, in parallel with his slow, and sometimes halting, climb to truth, there was also held dear the promise of the generosity and wisdom of the Creator. These necessary elements didn’t always pull in the same direction, and some groupings and clans realised that they could take short cuts in this climb by appropriating the achievements of others by force. Of course, such moves were always excused by the need to increase the glory of their own Gods.

This is, of course, the stuff of history, and the remit of specialists in the field. But, a requirement here is to reveal the motive forces behind certain crucially recurrent patterns in man’s struggle for knowledge and power. What more and more began to be the biggest promise in fragments of nature was the discovery of quantitative relations. From calendars to metallurgy, precise measurements led to recipes which delivered miraculous results. But these did not wrest mankind from its religions. They in fact entrenched them (at least at first). The miracle that is God showed himself in all these things. Indeed, as the investigation of nature became more organised and sophisticated, ever more wondrous and steadfast relations were revealed. What could explain such a wealth of order other than the designing mind of our creator? Now this persistence of man’s view of himself and reality could do no other than show itself even in the most “scientific” of his endeavours, as we shall see.

The Toolbox, the Godhead and the Deep Blue Sea: 
What is Mathematics? 

The trajectory of coming to grips with a profound aspect of man’s struggle to understand the world is never a smooth arc to truth. And, neither can it be otherwise, because such an area is always full of contradictions, breathtaking potentials and precipitous pitfalls. The famous zigzag prevails (as elsewhere when no direct path can be plotted) first waxing lyrical in a given direction, then “correcting” like mad the consequences of that sudden rush of blood, and inevitable careering too far in the opposite direction.

If the situation were a simple two-sided contradiction, then a resolution could be seen to be possible, at least some time in the future, but if the contending forces are many and various, the battle can seem endless, and perhaps it is!

I am in the midst of an extensive study of Abstraction – not as an academic undertaking, where I present a many-sided, even-handed view, but, on the contrary, I am obsessed with the path to truth. I want to understand the methods that mankind has invented and developed which can take him incessantly along this long and difficult path, and equip him to both interact with Reality (i.e. manipulate reality), and understand it.

It is a tall order, but it is difficult to imagine a more worthwhile undertaking.

Without such a study, most things become pedestrian. “History” contains NO “guiding wisdom!” “Science” contains no real understanding, and “Mathematics” becomes a worship of techniques! And it is with Mathematics I must begin.


I was showing a colleague some of my research into the beautiful features of tessellation families that occur in re-entrant polyhedra, and elicited only the response, “But, what use is it? What can you do with it?”

And I found myself saying that it was not undertaken with use in mind. It was, in fact, Pure Mathematics, and it was an area that obviously needed study. The eyes of my questioner glazed over, and it was clear that my studies were considered to be self-indulgent, and useless! Now as someone who has spent most of my life fighting the dangers of mathematical idealism, that reaction stopped me in my tracks. It was quite evident that I had been pigeon-holed as a typical ivory-tower academic (at least in regard to this work), which I knew to be totally untrue.

So, in the light of my well established position with regard to the philosophical ground of mathematics, why do I do this very abstract research? The elements of my studies in this area certainly don’t lie around in nature. They are in fact entirely absent! They are incapable of occurring by natural processes in the real world. In the form that I am taking the studies, they are a figment of my imagination, so how am I energised in this study? What possible truth am I struggling to reveal, and why?

The reader may think that the stated quandary is nothing new, and that all serious academics come across it everyday and deal with it without much concern. Now I could, at this point trot out the usual high-sounding reasons for such intellectual activities, but I don’t believe that it would get us anywhere. Also such platitudes would be totally ignoring the context of my wide range of studies that have got me to this point, and determine the reasons for all my studies.

For example, I have spent many years fighting the consensus in my own specialist areas – Science and Mathematics. I am an enemy of String Theory and much of what is termed Modern Physics. I condemn the dumping of scientific explanation for mathematical formulae, and the amazing speculations of the heroes of Cosmology. My most unwavering criticisms I marshal against the “mystification” of mathematics that takes it as the very essence of reality – “the mind of God” to use Hawking’s famous quote. Nonetheless, you can find me quietly working with pencil and paper for hours, days and even years at a most abstract area of mathematics – and I know that I am right to do so! Why?

Be Patient! I’m afraid that a direct, brief answer to this question would be inappropriate at this juncture. I must explain Mathematics, and use a broad brush, for mathematics is a diverse area with many different uses and purposes. Let us start with the “Toolbox!”

This is the first in a new series exploring philosophy and mathematics: Man & Reality. Part II will be published here next Monday. 

11 October, 2015

Socialism and Communism

Bases & Purposes – Myths and Betrayals

What are the differences between Socialism and Communism? This question was always crucial in the politics of the Working Class, but also vital for the hostile denigrations of those who ruled, and intended to continue to do so.

But, the original, historical meanings, and their clear definitions by Marx, have been almost entirely lost after the betrayals of Stalinism, which, along with the denunciations of its Capitalist opponents, redefined “Communism” as the natural form of the Degenerated Workers State – delivered and maintained by Stalin and his like.

But, the differences, as arrived at by serious theorists of the Working Class Movements and professional and sympathetic philosophers like Marx and Engels, were clearly defined and had to be understood.

Communism was the projected ideal of the Economic System to replace Capitalism, and it was to be the result of a natural Social Revolution, so that such descriptions were of an as yet unachieved situation, so it was not a plan so much as a required direction, and also it would never be achieved in a single step! AS, it, at its heart, required the removal of Class Society, it would never be agreed to by the Capitalists: to them it was Hell on Earth! Also, it could never exist either during the revolution, or in any immediately following period when the Capitalist Nations of the World would strive to put it down, and return such a country to the Capitalist realm.

The revolution would have to form some sort of State to defend itself, so an intermediate system was defined, which would differ from Communism in important ways. This was Socialism!

The proposed Withering Away of the State – a cornerstone of Communism, could never be implemented while the country was under threat from both within and without. A State would have to remain in place to defend what had been gained in a successful Revolution.

For example, the Soviet Union never actually attained Communism, and never could, while it was alone in a hostile Capitalist World, and the evident dangers of that intermediate State, as such, could always be, and, indeed, were misappropriated by powerful leaders like Stalin, to totally undermine its intended purpose.

Stalin, along with other commissars and bureaucrats, built a powerbase within that State, which distorted it beyond recognition.

And, the enormity of the betrayal of this clique, also involved the abandonment of the objective of spreading the Revolution to other countries, by putting the survival of the current Soviet Union (and hence themselves and their privileges), above the requirements of the World Working Classes in the rest of the World.

Stalin betrayed the people of Spain in their war against the fascist Franco, and in Germany insisted that the Social Democrats were Social Fascists, and so allowed the easier rise of Hitler and Nazism, for he banned any sort of United Front in that country, against the common enemy.

So, clearly, many correct criticisms among the working Class of that despicable record, as well as the pervasive lies of the Capitalists enemy, must be swept away, and the principled meanings of these objectives re-asserted, and the real necessary Socialist Interregnum redefined and fought for.

Clearly, a successful Revolution MUST be capable of defending itself from remaining reactionary forces within (who would fight to the death to get the wealth and power back in the hands of their Class) – and also from without! Remember 14 Capitalist powers invaded Russia in an attempt to put down the Revolution. So, the Socialist State must have armed forces and an internal anti-capitalist Police.

Now, you can see the dangers!

Observe what happened in Egypt, in the Arab Spring, when to so-called neutral armed forces removed the elected President, and the top general took over as dictator, with the Army on his side. 

So, the control of both these forces would have to be paramount, and any moves within it against the Revolution’s aims put down ferociously, but also transparently and with the understanding of participating people in their democratic councils and Unions.

It is not by chance that successful Revolutions face their greatest threat from their own military forces. The English Revolution had its Cromwell - backed by the New Model Army that had defeated the King, yet acted to severely limit the extent of the revolution. While, in the French Revolution, its greatest general Napoleon was backed by the Revolutionary Army, to finally take power as Emperor.

A different threat in the Russian Revolution came from the bureaucracy and internal police, who were transformed from keeping order by not only seeking known reactionaries, but also anyone disagreeing with those currently in power too.

No revolution is the same in these developments, but they grow in proportion to the level of “perceived” threats to the revolution.

So, these forces must have an effective counterweight. Remember against the 1917 revolution were the vast Russian Army, but the Bolsheviks knew they had to win to their banner significant parts of this force to defend themselves. Also, a separate over-powerful police had always to be countered by other forces formed directly from working people – arranged via their own Councils or Soviets, who insisted upon the power to control the internal forces, and dismiss or even punish those who exceeded their given responsibilities.

Now, you cannot have tight and complete plans in these regards, formulated before the Revolution even started. But, you can have vital principles, which can exceed any and all donating of power to particular individuals or organisations.

The hierarchical system of democratic Soviets must have controlling power at every level of such forces, they MUST be subordinate to these organs of the people.