30 October, 2017

True Democracy

How should Socialists see Democracy?


Rule for the People, and by the People

That is how it is usually defined, but how would that be both set-up and maintained as such? 

A strictly local Democracy would be the easiest, because of the small scale of the individual units, which would allow issues to be about things that were clear to all involved, and the crucial “democratic processes” easily and quickly organised when necessary.

So, a true democracy must get that level sorted first!

And, it should have its own financial resources, so as to avoid, as is often currently the case, the domination of purse-string-holders at the top significantly-limiting options at the bottom. And clearly, the same principles must then be upheld for all higher-level democratic bodies too.

In other words the final overall structures, at all higher levels, should be built from the bottom up!

In Russia, during both the 1905 and the 1917 revolutions, the natural unit, at the bottommost level, was the soviet (the Russian word for a council). The smallest versions of these were in factories, or barracks of soldiers, and ship’s companies in the Navy. For example, in 1905 on the Battleship Potemkin, the sailors threw the officers overboard and sailed and ran the ship themselves via a soviet. While among civilians the soviet unit was generally the factory, where the members worked, though often they were local-area soviets, set up by the peasants, but excluding the landed gentry!

And, though higher levels too were necessary, to act upon wider matters, beyond the remit of the individual soviet, they would necessarily-involve such principles as “instant recall”, which were straight forward to implement by simply taking the decision in a soviet meeting, and sending a suitably documented group along with the elected replacement to the higher body, to also bring the recalled representative back.

Petrograd Soviet

Soviets were ideal units in most cases because they were workers’ organisations, no votes at all were given to the enemy class, and managers and foremen all had a single vote, the same as did each and every worker.

The criteria for setting up such organisations were flexible in what constituted the natural unit, but steadfast in who had a right to be in it. Clearly, in a revolution the workers took over the factories, and the soldiers took over their regiments: so, from the outset, the “change of ownership” was a pre-requisite, and inevitably transformed the nature of how the unit functioned.

NOTE: Indeed, even within Capitalism, there is much that can be learned from the establishment of Worker Co-ops, for it is at such bottommost levels that the really necessary nature of worker democracy is tried out and perfected.

NO “democracy”, imposed from above, should ever be trusted! And, certainly, neither should anyone with evident wealth. Indeed, a main task of a revolution is to part the wealthy from their fortunes, and put it all under democratic control.

In Russia the workers, peasants and soldiers looked to an All Russia Congress of Soviets as the final State-Wide Organisation, and, correctly, never trusted the Constituent Assembly (or parliament) which though dominated by “professed socialists” was NOT for revolution, but for so-called Parliamentary Democracy, while everything else stayed the same.

A study of those two alternatives is enlightening. In the Congress of Soviets there was a constant inflow of representatives from the individual soviets bringing new members for the Congress, to replace prior ones that didn’t do what their soviet wanted.

NOTE: The issue of mandating the soviet’s representative will be crucial and difficult, as full cognisance of all the eissues that will come up, is unlikely to always be available to the lower body.

The Constituent Assembly, on the other hand, had representatives that had been elected to serve for the duration of the Parliament, and who were generally initially chosen by non democratic organisations, whose policies they pursued.

When the revolution finally occurred it was the government ministers set up by the Constituent Assembly that were arrested, in the storming of the Winter Palace, and “All power to the Congress of Soviets” was the battle cry!

But, the salutary lesson, that has to be learned from Russia, was that in spite of its Soviet origins, it was re-organised from the top down by Stalin and his gradually built-up bureaucracy into a Parliamentary type Democracy, which ceased to reflect the wishes of the People and increasingly reflected those of the ruling and privileged bureaucracy!

Education is political


But still, many questions remain to be addressed. For example, take the key problem of making informed decisions! If a gathering, which is democratically entitled to make a decision, do not have the necessary information to make that decision, and, particularly, if a better informed group with their own agenda, win the argument, and get their required policy agreed upon, that may be democratic, but it has been achieved by inadequate understanding by the majority of the electorate. And, if such a situation persists then decisions will regularly be taken, directed mainly by the better equipped group.

The only answer, to such a bending of democracy, has to be achieved by the adequate education of the populace, with consequently NO advantages to any better equipped groups. Nevertheless, the genuineness of any Education System - in the Schools, Colleges and Universities must be kept out of the hands of groups with their own privileged agendas. So, who will determine what occurs there?

For example, this student won a place at a University to study Physics, but then spent 3 years being fed the totally idealist Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, and has spent a good period of his life since attempting to remedy that mis-education.

So, who will determine what is taught in a nationwide Education System?

And, the more you think about it, the more areas you uncover, where mis-education and mis-information can allow vested, privileged interests to dominate.

How do you think the Stalinist Bureaucracy took control of Revolutionary Russia? Clearly, “one person one vote” isn’t enough!

There must, also, be a fight for Education, purposely excluding the old enemy class: the democratisation of Education must replace the privileged classes with able and educated individuals from the Working Class.

But, how this is to be achieved is not an easy question! I got an education by passing exams, but at every stage was given a version of Education determined by the enemy class. Indeed, this was, and still is, so widespread that even successful students from the Working Class are often seduced into switching sides to get a measure of privilege for themselves.

Now, how can such things be avoided?
It seems to be a classic “chicken and egg” situation! But, there is an answer!

The Revolutionary Parties must develop Theory, as an equally important side of their work on Economics and Organisation, And, this has NOT been the case in my experience over almost 50 years! Such questions as Education must be addressed by the theorists of Revolutionary Parties - indeed, it is much more general even than that!

Armed with the most advanced philosophical stance in Human history - Dialectical Materialism or Marxism, theorists must also enter-the-lists in all the major disciplines, and convert them to a better direction, and if that doesn’t exist yet, work to deliver it!

No one else can do that.

But, nevertheless, sadly over the past century, the Marxists have not done it either. Since Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio Criticism a century ago, absolutely NO contribution, of transforming merit, has been made to Sub Atomic Physics, until this theorist tackled the major questions over the last eight years!

To transcend the impasse in Education, theoretical advances must be achieved within the Revolutionary Party to break the hold upon Education of the enemy class. You do it by answering questions that they are incapable of answering! And, winning such battles in the academic disciplines will see significant gains upon two vital fronts. First, it will win the best intellectuals to the revolutionary banner! And second, it will arm the working class with the best advice in making hard decisions. 

Fox News Propaganda

Communications & The Media

Clearly, apart from Education, the most powerful means of mis-informing the Working Class has been the Mass Media, which have been solely in the hands of the enemy class for their entire history. Not only via Newspapers, Radio, Television and Films, but also by recent moves to further control Social Media and the Internet, under the excuse of disabling terrorists or fighting "fake news". For these are all powerful means of lying to the people under the guise of delivering The News!

Now, having been in the socialist movement all my adult life, I have been in different organisations with various kinds of newspapers, but the problems involved, whether in producing the content, or financial and distributive inadequacies, they were always close to being disabling. When it was done right, however, it had remarkable effects.

But frankly, they generally just weren’t good enough!

And, the major problem was, once more, the lack of an absolutely essential development of Theory. Not only was there an absence of the disseminating of Marxist Theory, but it also made the analyses and policies far less than sufficient too!

Now, there has been a major effect due to Social Media on the net, but the vast majority of it, as in the Arab Spring, was neither Marxist nor even revolutionary in any way informed by history: the series of nascent revolutions fell like ninepins before the forces of reaction.

The issues outlined here, clearly, still require further contributions upon what is necessary, but this comrade after a lifetime in the movement, has made more progress in the last period of “Marxist development” than in the previous 40 years of “Activity”

This piece has recently been published, alongside others, 
in Issue 54 of SHAPE Journal, entitled True Marxism

29 October, 2017

New Special Issue: Postcards from Copenhagen

Anil Ananthaswamy’s reportage of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory:
a critique by Jim Schofield.

For, the whole period of my published criticisms of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, the writer of this paper has had to deal with a regular series of articles in New Scientist by Anil Ananthaswamy, who trenchantly writes in support of this now generally accepted, but clearly idealist, view of Sub Atomic Reality.

In an important way, I have to thank Anil, for he not only presented me with diverse targets to deal with - such as in his contributions on Mathematics, but also, by such excursions, allowed my much wider philosophical and historical stances to be dealt with in tandem with my Physics-based criticisms. So, in his own seeking for wider confirmations of his preferred stance, he made my position all the easier to express.

And, this is because not only Copenhagen, but also the Classical stances in Mathematics and the Sciences, have all been stymied by the same illegitimate amalgam of Pragmatism, Idealism, and Materialism - all of which (and also including Formal Logic) have persistently been further damagingly distorted by the universally agreed-to Principle of Plurality.

But, the most pernicious component, when it comes to dealing with the inevitable contradictions generated by this amalgam, has certainly been Pragmatism - “If it works, it is right!”, as the legitimising stepping-stones across each-and-every illegitimate transfer - always blanking-out the contradictions with a pragmatic by- pass.

As the reader can imagine, specialists usually rigorously keep to where they can justify their differing stances, and only make brief and narrow ventures into other disciplines to excuse their pragmatic hops over evident difficulties: but then finally, Copenhagen ended that old “solution”, for good.

Truly Major philosophical changes were unavoidable, which, in the case of Copenhagen, meant a dumping of the Materialist component in the amalgam, and a switch to considering Formal Equations as the primary, driving Truths of Reality!

The original source of all the problems, which finally came-home-to-roost in the 20th century, was, of course, the highly successful, pre-intellectual method termed Pragmatism, which was then coupled with the first of Mankind’s brilliant intellectual achievements - Mathematics!

For, this was wholly idealist from the very start - via the Euclidian Geometry of the Ancient Greeks.

So, as each pro-Copenhagen article appeared in New Scientist, I immediately responded via a dedicated review, so that now I have almost a dozen responses - all published on the SHAPE presence on the Web.

So, with the latest of these on the Origins of Mathematics, I felt a whole issue of the SHAPE Journal should be allocated to re-releasing these responses.

All of Anil’s original articles are clearly mentioned and available via New Scientist if required.

Issue 54: New papers on Marxism

This edition presents a collection of recent papers by Jim Schofied, which all contribute in some way to a furthering of Marxist theory. Grounded in a staunchly materialist philosophy, it is just as capable of dealing with the problems we see in science today, as it is those in society.

11 October, 2017

BBC on the Russian Revolution

Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution

Last night on BBC 2 there was a programme on the Russian Revolution, which occurred exactly 100 years ago in 1917. But, if you thought it would be an unbiased and informative account, think again!

It was in fact an extremely hostile documentary, and had most presenters dismissing the revolution as a military coup d'état, which installed a dictatorship.

A lone sympathiser in the form of Tariq Ali did not at all effectively balance the tenor of the account, and most contributors used sources that were extremely hostile.

Neither Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution, nor Read's Ten Days that Shook the World were used, but, instead, an incredibly biased account having the main Bolshevik leader, Lenin, in disguise and manipulating away in smoke filled rooms, replacing the undoubted major turn within the People, who were making an objective Revolution, independently of any leaderships, but only resulting in success due to leaders who, alone, understood revolutionary situations, and knew how to lead a genuine revolutionary transformation, which was already happening objectively within the people.

When Kornilov was marching on Petrograd with an actual coup d'état in mind, it was the revolutionary masses that halted his drive towards the capital, and successively melted away his whole army!

No real account of the trajectory of the Revolution during 1917 was delivered here, nor how the new state could win both in a Civil War, and in several wars of intervention to defeat the Revolution, by the USA, Britain, France and Japan.

Shame on the BBC!

It was a travesty of an objective account. It was propaganda by an enemy of Social Revolution!

09 October, 2017

The Route to Life

Unacknowledged Philosophical Bases 

Flawed Foundations always lead to Catastrophic Collapses!

I: An Introduction

When watching a recent YouTube video of an hour- long discussion between Robert Wright, a Buddhist expert in Philosophical Psychology, and Jeremy England, an orthodox Jewish physicist, whose remit was the developmental processes that must have occurred prior to the Emergence of Life, within wholly non-living circumstances - I came across something surprising. 

You might expect what the scientist’s premises were, but, on some fronts at least, you would most likely be significantly mistaken, whereas, your preconceptions of the bases assumed by the philosophical psychologist might be assumed to be less rigid and materialist, but in fact the clearly-evident, major philosophical flaws actually came from this latter side of this discussion, and effectively tried to defeat the scientist’s current unconventional researches with either Classical or even Copenhagen premises usually widely employed in Physics. It was the very inverse of what you might expect!

Now, as a philosopher and a physicist, myself, I have spent some considerable time tracing the development of philosophic stances from their clear inception with the earliest Homo sapiens - in the almost 180,000 years-long Hunter/Gatherer Phase, of their means-of-life, wherein only Pragmatism, in which. “If it works, it is right!” was Mankind’s single available intellectual methodology.

But, note, this limitation didn’t stop this physically, ill- equipped descendant of the Apes, successfully spreading itself into all of the then accessible World. And, this only stepped-up in tempo with the remarkable Neolithic Revolution, wherein permanently-static domiciles replaced the prior constantly-wandering mode-of-life and very temporary, moveable homes, which was only enabled by the methods involved in Farming and Animal Husbandry. And, thereafter, very quickly also led to a wide range of new skills including pottery, weaving, and ultimately metallurgy, and a vast development of social relations and communications, finally achieving what we term Civilisation.

Then, around 2,500 years ago, in Ancient Greece, the intellectual foundations were dramatically changed, initially by the development of Mathematics (Euclian Geometry), and thereafter by Formal Logic, both of which brought in Idealism (via Plato), but within a generation also had also, via Aristotle, included Materialism.

But, of course, these were far from delivering a coherent and consistent set of alternatives: they were, instead, specific to given situations and with only ever strictly local applicability. So, all three stances were used “when each was appropriate”! The overall stance was a remarkable-and- piecemeal amalgam of Idealism and Materialism - held together by Pragmatism!

Nevertheless, many only-glimpsed relations were somehow grasped from Reality, which, more often than not, actually failed when they were attempted to be applied in the real World.

And, it was found essential to purposely limit and maintain a much simpler situation, in order to “hold Reality still”, farming it in various different appropriate ways, in order to extract any relations at all!  

Now, perhaps surprisingly, this did not stop effective use! As long as the precise conditions-of-extraction were exactly replicated, then the relation could be effectively applied.

But, to then allow these relations to become eternal Natural Laws, which was always assumed, an absolutely essential tenet had to be crucially attached to such processes. It was the Principle of Plurality, which stated categorically that all such Laws were always totally separate from one another: they were eternal and could never be modified in any way.

All complex situations were onceived of as merely complications of some subset of these laws, in various different proportions. Individual Laws were totally un-modifiable! And, this was also instituted for the, also new, processes of Formal Logic too. For, the model for both had been the precursor achievements within Pure Mathematics, where the absolutely essential idealisations that were always used DID legitimately conform to this Principle!

The Crisis in Physics, which led to he Retreat that became Copenhagen, was precisely down to this contradictory amalgam of stances, which became totally untenable there, long before its evident emergence in non-investigative, and primarily cerebral-only disciplines - like Wright’s for example.

In other words, and perhaps surprisingly, my critique of both Classical and Copenhagen Physics turns out to be also exactly correct in damning Wright’s stance, as it too is totally pluralist (whereas, as a Buddhist, you would assume him to be a holist!).

So, it seems productive to concentrate upon England’s evidently progressive diversions from the usual preoccupations of the vast majority of physicists, and primarily address where he is diverging from the current consensus, and looking to how Physics played a role in the Revolutionary Origin of Life, before criticising his short-comings.  

Jeremy England

II: Jeremy England’s Stance and Purpose  

On watching the video of this hour-long debate, for a second time, I began to discern the debaters’ differing Grounds, from which the various areas dealt with were tackled. So, perhaps, the main contribution here should start by revealing these, in contrast to my own.

Wright, as the interviewer, was obviously the major determinator of what was discussed, so it was he who also set out what to him were the probable bases common to them both.

The primary basis was clearly assumed by him to be Thermodynamics, and, in particular, its Second Law, about the Universe inevitably running down (which, of course, does not sit well with a natural Origin oof Life). He, secondly, also was clearly a subscriber to a belief in eternal Natural Laws (or Plurality) though all this was never overtly spelled out.

Finally, whenever his set of bases weren’t able to take things further, he would switch the ground, sometimes quite dramatically, into areas where he felt more confident, or to where he thought England’s position might be less defensible [Something like “Yes, but arguing”, but not quite as blatantly dishonest!]

Nevertheless, as long as the observer of this discussion disregarded Wright’s God-like stance’ the responses of England were able to show what he and his colleagues are researching, and some of the strengths and weaknesses of his grounds too. His area of study is pre-life, purely-physical developments, that were contributary to the ultimate Origin of Life in specifically conducive situations, and with already-existing natural processes.

He chose, as a physicist to follow the usual assumption of Physics being the most basic science, and looked only for physical processes that were so endowed.

Now, the writer of this review has also addressed a similar set of questions, but, instead, based them upon pre-life chemical reactions.

In the Wright-England discussions the whole question of a non-living process as being similar to Darwin’s Natural Selection, concerning the evolution of living things, could not be avoided. All, including this writer, agreed that both the Reproduction and Competition of life forms, especially with their changed genetics, could NOT be replicated in pre-life conditions, but by restricting the discussion to Physics, the gap, to Natural Selection, was so large that a very different approach had to be taken - basically also thermodynamic, but with England playing down the usual Entropy abstraction, and preferring “work” instead.

Now, we never got to hearing about his physical examples, which would have been crucial, but nevertheless, absolutely NO route to Life was evident.

In the writer’s own researches, however, concentrating upon pre-Life Chemistry, rather than Physics, much more similar processes to those in life could be addressed. And, something akin to competition could be included, where different processes required the same resources. Indeed, the “competition” for such resources simply boiled down t a preponderance of one process over its competitors, along with differences in the speeds of such rival processes.

In addition, sequences of processes into “conducive strings”, and even “conducive cycles”, made revealing links to what is already known of Metabolic Pathways in Life. 

Metabolic Pathways

And, with all these considerations, situations such as Dominances and paucities of required resources, showed how mixed populations of multiple processes could change and even lead from dominance to paucity, and the dynamics of alternative developments and different dominances. Such a clearly relevant set of investigations wasn’t involved in the Wright-England discussion. 

But Jeremy England did reveal a much sounder attitude to so-called Natural Laws, as being “arranged for” by the involved specially-tailored domains, and consequent methods of investigation, and also, therefore, depended upon as man-made models, in those given circumstances.

Nevertheless, the errors of Plurality undermined both sides of the discussion, for neither went beyond Law, and certainly didn’t address the essential role of Emergences in developmental creation of the wholly new. What was implied was that such miracles as Life, simply emerged from adequate complexity, rather than ONLY occurring following a Major Crisis and Collapse, thus precipitating the ONLY situation in which the Wholly New could possibly emerge - that is in a veritable Revolution or Emergent Interlude.

As the writer has spent many years upon such studies, he has formulated what he calls Truly Natural Selection for the non-living era, and ended up with his Theory of Emergences, it is clear that this discussion never approached these relevant, indeed, absolutely essential topics.

This review was published this month as part of a new issue of SHAPE Journal on Real Emergence

Issue 53: Real Emergence

There are many different definitions and uses of the concept of Emergence - but surely the most important are those crucial events when something unpredicatble, and completely new changes the game forever - a revolution such as the origin of life on Earth.

When the complexity of Reality is studied taking into account all phases from the beginning of the Universe (if such can be conceived of), then many new, innovatory Levels will be shown to have emerged at many different times, which also changed the whole environment. New forms of matter successively emerged from the basic resource of Hydrogen, and doubtless before that the same could be said of pre-Hydrogen forms. From this it is clear that Matter itself has developed, and emergent Levels (in my definition) have proliferated throughout this history, each one significantly changing the environment and changing its potentials.

So, the emergence of Life is only one of many emergent Levels before and since.

How can we characterise this sort of Emergence?

07 October, 2017

Guns in America: what are they really for?

Why is America in love with guns?

Why can't Gun Control Laws be passed in the US Congress? 

It's not because of the lauded Second Amendment. For, that was put in over two centuries ago, when the indigenous Americans still had to be removed and their land stolen, and wars of continued existence against the ex-owners, Britain, were still very much a possibility.

No, the current reason isn't so much to do with that revolution as it is to do with who benefits from the current economic set up-in the USA, who also funds the politicians, and the NRA, and ultimately who wants to be able to defend themselves against what they fear most?

It is the Rich: and who they fear most are The People! 

The defence of private property is big business - which it turn, also needs defending. They have tried every other possible means of staying in the driving seat, and keeping their wealth, but the 2008 crash showed that all their methods could not keep them and their world safe forever.

The real threat voiced by the workers in the Major Depression of the 1930's, which scared both Rooseveldt and the wealthy elites to death, and led to the New Deal, could happen again, but this time could actually lead to Revolution!

How do you think these people consider the recent massacre in Nevada? One man suitably armed, and in the right place, can deal with almost 600 people at once, particularly if they are in the open streets demonstrating or marching upon their safe Latifundia.

Instant death could be rained down upon them as in Las Vegas. And also, they don't want to be caught un-armed when alone.

Shoot first and ask questions later, seems to be the best bet! If mass killers are despatched routinely in this way, it will surely disuade most others from "trying-it-on" to unseat the wealthy.

Capitalists want War!

The usual solutions for a major Capitalist crisis are being trotted out again!

What happens when those with wealth and power need to radically transform things to their advantage, in a major economic crisis?

We know the answers, for they have done it before.

They have two means to stymie us:

Fascism and War!

You are already seeing their lurches to the right with their growing ultra-right parties, and populist precursors such as Trump and now Macron, who has precipitated a General Strike in France with his anti-Union proposed measures.

Meanwhile, Trump wants to end the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, as they are spoiling US plans in the Oil-rich Middle East.

And, the stoked-up beligerence with North Korea has the exact same intentions.

And, if such bullying tactics don't work, there is always WAR!