27 October, 2019

Special Issue 66: The Origin

Papers on Emergence and Abiogenesis - The Origin of Life on Earth

This edition collects my key papers addressing the Origin of Life and introduces my theory of Truly Natural Selection - the idea that matter itself undergoes a kind of evolution, and that this process eventually lead to life emerging on our planet.

This is part of an ongoing examination, by this author, of Emergences - those crucial events whereby all truly new entities originate.

Several sets of papers, upon this topic, have been published by this theorist before in the journal, but it can’t be, and certainly isn’t, a totally completed project. Indeed, the most important part of such a task, is always to divide yourself off from the Millennia-old, and very well established amalgam of different stances unified by both a belief in the Principle of Plurality on the one hand, and the age-old validator of “If it works, it is right!” on the other. And, truth-be-told, you only detach yourself from that well-entrenched position, in a series of stages, as you realise yet another weakness in the Old, made clear by an emerging appreciation of the strength of the New.

Now, I also feel that I cannot expect my readers to follow the same devious path as I have been forced to take, so there are times when a full re-statement of certain arguments, including a great deal of what has already been published before seems completely unavoidable. And this is just such a situation!

And, it is also very important, for the additions and extensions are via the Holist and Dialectical approach to science and understanding, as against the usual Pluralist and Formal Logical approach. This major transfer turns out to be both profoundly difficult and easily self- torpedoed, by unconscious and habitual returns to the old methods.

Now, as these methods have been used to both demolish the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory in Sub Atomic Physics, and the revelation of the world of Mathematics as actually being in Ideality, rather than Reality, and finally a wholly original stance upon the Origin of Life on Earth, it is clearly important to get as clear a description of the methods involved as possible.

25 October, 2019

Avoiding Global Catastrophe by Unifying the Struggles of the Left

Extinction Rebellion must challenge Capitalism or it will achieve nothing.

Two significant problems currently stand in the way of the essential political actions absolutely necessary to dispense with the clearly evident causes of both accelerated climate change and profound social inequality - the Capitalist System that dominates our planet.

For nothing less could possibly make any real and lasting difference!

However, being confronted with such a seemingly impossible-to-achieve solution (global system change, no less) will always then impel everyone to focus their anger-and-actions upon a current single issue or evident problem which seem capable of being addressed. And, the apparent lack of any wide-ranging and integrating stance for our activism, more or less guarantees the inevitable downturn and final ebbing-away of support in all such individual-and-separated endeavours! The underlying cause isn't dealt with and so these burgeoning movements can ultimately achieve nothing.

The first difficulty is that clearly and evident separation of all the necessary and growing struggles, which, when so isolated from one another, and with no evident, overall-solving-objective available, can never individually have the necessary wherewithal to actually visualise any real change-in-the-system, and no matter how legitimate those single issues are, they will definitely only swiftly build to a maximum, and then decline, ENTIRELY due to each isolated struggle's unavoidable lack of achieving any persisting success.

Surely, the dynamism of such struggles just HAS to be understood!

For, the "purely moral" isolation often involved does NOT naturally indicate a necessary wider scaling-up of protest into something both more general, and with a wider range of other related and important struggles - with common causes. And crucially, a unifying-political-form of organisation, encompassing the extended, clearly-related range of issues, and a consequent coherent, comprehensive and integrated Programme of what has to be done, AND ALSO, necessarily, a series of clear Objectives to be concretely achieved, on-the-road to a Final permanent Political Transformation of the situation, will be vital in sustaining the necessary momentum of all the struggles.

I was immediately energised by the Extinction Rebellion response to the clearly accelerating Global Warming and consequent Climate Change, and the also clearly evident increasing undermining of the usual Climate Stability, into instead the possibly catastrophic outcomes for both the Planet and its Peoples.

I have been involved in a wide variety of such political struggles all my adult Life, and have seen the rise and fall of many totally legitimate, but almost always separated social movements, which, even when they succeeded, NEVER left behind a sufficient political Change to defend and maintain those gains! So, while the solution seems clear,  the Unity of such Struggles required is never ever achieved both concretely or organisationally.

YET, the argument frequently and vigorously insisted upon by many organisers of such actions is that the widening the struggles will drive away supporters of this particular individual struggle, and hence cause it to fail! This is certainly the flawed reasoning behind trying to keep Extinction Rebellion "apolitical" - which basically means, don't criticise Capitalism!

Quite the opposite - it will fail precisely because the basis for the problem still remains, and at the first opportunity any gains will be removed again.

I was greatly stimulated by the remarkable actions of those energised to both help, and then to vigorously organise and demonstrate after the terrible Grenfell Fire Disaster in London: there were many angry, energetic, articulate and organising people powerfully moved to do whatever they could.

Justice for Grenfell

But, like so many other protest movements, it rose to a crescendo, then finally ebbed away...

Such great people (mostly powerful grassroots voices from that community) should have been integrated into a force-for-change, but where are they now?

What a waste of love, energy and talent!

Now, we have to reveal exactly why this never happens.

I am a Working Class person, who got an Education and thereafter a series of posts in Educational institutions, from Schools to Universities, in three different countries. I was, throughout my adult life, involved in such struggles, and consequently ended up involved in one organisation or another, but though they all had what they considered was an overall unifying stance, the leaders both didn't, and indeed couldn't, have meant it.

These people were invariably from the Wrong Class!

And, the level of understanding, though often sophisticated, and well-read, was always inadequate to powerfully energise both their members, and those they were attempting to help or recruit.

I have subsequently met many of my past-colleagues again later in life, and they had all reverted-to-Class, and they found my continuing political commitments embarrassing, and even often pretended that they didn't recognise me, and kept out of my way!

So I was, over time, in a variety of different leftwing Political Parties - but none, in the end, could do anything.

I came to revolutionary politics via an odd route. Despite my working class roots as I was far from class-conscious as a youth. 

I am a physicist, but a steadfast opponent of the then and now current Copenhagen Stance, which is still today the consensus position in Modern Sub Atomic Physics, so, in my youth, I looked around for an alternative stance. I finally found it in a book entitled Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, which criticised the at-the-time-of-its-writing, increasingly popular ideas of Henri PoincarĂ© and Ernst Mach, who were termed Positivists.

The stance of the writer of that book, a certain V. I. Lenin, was brilliant, philosophically, but he was no physicist.

Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism

So, finding out that Lenin was a Marxist, I joined the Communist Party, expecting to find what I needed there... But it wasn't available!

It took me some time to find out, but I never found anyone who wanted to discuss the problem, and finally realised that the version of Marxism which they subscribed-to, resided solely in a series of books covering a particular area of studies - and that certainly did not include Physics!

No one was an active practicisng Marxist, though they all insisted that they were. And throughout my political life, in various Parties, I found the very same problem. A consistent, coherent and comprehensive stance was simply not involved.

So, more generally, the separation of struggles COULD NOT be integrated via a shared theoretical stance - for nobody involved seemed to have one!

Now, even supposing such a comprehensive Marxist Stance actually existed, and I could understand it, several difficulties were still inevitable. Not least was its comprehensive application to Modern Physics - a truly mammoth task: then a facility for applying it to political campaigns and objectives, and finally, perhaps most difficult of all, the means by which all the various struggles including new ones (as they arose) could be presented from an integrated critical position - absolutely essential to formulating the correct policies for them all, and sufficiently energising to my auditors to integrate them all into a coherent and extendable overall campaign.

I feel I have finally got somewhere with the first two of these objectives.

But now, at 80 years old, and almost blind, I feel I will not complete the third...

That, perhaps, will be your task!


Harriet Fraad is good on this, demonstrating how current political issues of racial and sexual discrimination intersect profoundly with class oppression through a long (and continuing) history of exploitation and invasion by the rich and dominant ruling class. 

02 October, 2019

Issue 66: Holistic Materialism I

This is the first in a special two part series entitled Holistic Materialism. These issues constitute a set of loosely related papers by Marxist theorist Jim Schofield concerning his philosophy of science, and his application of Holism and Dialectical Materialism to the sciences, especially particle physics. This has been a historical and epistemological project as much as it has been a philosophical and scientific one. In order to understand the mistakes and impasses we are presented with in science today, it is imperative to go back and have some understanding of how knowledge and philosophy have evolved over human history.

But what exactly is Holistic Materialism? Holism is a word that means different things to different people, a seemingly vague term that is often abused and misused - ‘holistic medicine’ for example covers all sorts of pseudoscientific nonsense no empricial researcher would care to be associated with. However Holism as a philosophical concept refers to something quite specific, and for Jim Schofield it is encapsualted in its opposition to the Pluralist position (not to be confused with pluralism), which sees all entities and laws as separable - capable of being isolated and studied in isolation - but more importantly, that this separability will somehow unlock the truth of how things in reality work. Essentially it is the philosophy of reductionism and this underpins almost all contemporary scientific research. Jim Schofield’s work is a unique critique of the hidden assumptions which underpin all science.

This is not the first time the term Holistic Materialism has been used, however. We see it linked to biology and 19th century naturalists in the writing of Ernst Mayr.

“The discovery of the similarity between dialectical materialism and the thinking of the naturalists is not new. Several authors have called attention to it, particularly Allen... He starts quite rightly: “The process of natural selection is as dialectical a process one could find in nature.” Allen thought that the dialectic viewpoint of the naturalists had been lost between 1890 and 1950... Allen asserts that the “holistic materialism” of the naturalists had failed to incorporate two important dialectical views. First “the notion that the internal change within a system is the result specifically of the interaction of opposing forces or tendencies within the system itself.”

The Roots of Dialectical Materialism (Mayer, 1997)

In the work of Schofield we see this kind of holist view of natural systems but very much informed by the dialectics of Karl Marx. It is not enough to see the interconnected-ness of things but realise how natural dominances emerge, to the point of seeming universal, and also how these dominances can come crashing down as their internal contradictions finally play out. It is in these crucial events that we see the Emergence of the wholly new. In these papers we see how Pluralist science prohibits access to this fundamental feature of reality, and that while those 19th naturalists may have hinted at the way forward, holist science is something new.

01 October, 2019

Workplace Democracy and Democratic Ownership

"Workplace Democracy and Democratic Ownership: moving from theory to strategy". Richard Wolff and Gar Alperovitz at Left Forum, 2013.

Some very interesting and unexpected revelations come out of this debate - worker co-ops alone will solve nothing as they will inevitably recreate all of the same problems regarding market competition and consumption that you get with laissez-faire capitalism - the only difference will be workers rather than bosses will have to become cutthroat in order to survive. 

So what is the solution? Society must control the economy, not the other way around. Top-down Stalinist type controlled economies didn't work either - so what does the relationship between society and the workplace need to be in order to make work work for the benefit of all?

Gar Alperovitz hints at a possible way out looking his work with steel workers in Youngstown Ohio in 1977... democratic community ownership of companies and resources, rather than worker cooperatives, as a way of really democratising the means of production (and distribution and digital infrastructure, in the modern world), and subsequently the entire economy.