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Issue #1764      February 8, 2017

Culture & Life

Science and nonsense

Marxism-Leninism is not only a political theory (albeit a very significant one), it is also a science. Its alternative name in fact is scientific socialism. Communists are committed to science and the scientific method, which is why we take such a dim view of creationists and other anti-science crackpots.

Donald Trump shamelessly uses lying as a tactic.

Religion dominated – and seriously inhibited – intellectual life in Europe for hundreds of years, until the pressure for material development combined with the sudden influx of riches from the newly discovered lands of the East and the Americas brought about a realignment of class forces. The previously all-powerful feudal landowners and their ecclesiastical allies found themselves having to make room for merchants and traders, people who measured their wealth not in land but in capital itself.

This new class, soon to be the ruling class, encouraged innovation and scientific research, for it expanded the possibilities for improving their financial position even further. The doctrines and practices of the Church came under intense scrutiny as inventions and discoveries multiplied and the sum of human knowledge expanded exponentially.

At the same time this new ruling class recognised that religion can be a valuable tool in promoting and defending the principles and values on which capitalism depends and encouraged its continued existence. Ideally, however, capitalism needed a different religion, one that did not (hypocritically) preach against accumulating riches, and Protestantism was born. As Christianity diversified into different trends, capitalism reached an accommodation with all of them.

Jumping ahead a couple of hundred years and capitalism has become dominant. The workers and peasants on whom it depends for the continued creation of its wealth have become aware of their rights and have launched revolts and full scale revolutions with varying degrees of success in an attempt to remove the capitalist foot from their proletarian neck.

In the leading capitalist country, the USA, religion flourishes despite the country having been founded as a secular state with careful separation of church and state embedded in its Constitution. The class interests of capitalism have overridden the intentions of the USA’s founding fathers and their institutions and mass media assiduously promote religious beliefs as an essential part of modern life.

A consequence of this is the formation of bizarre pseudo-scientific establishments like the Institute for Creation Research. “Creationism” is an attempt to dress anti-scientific religion in the clothes of science. So powerful is the religious lobby in the USA that this attack on science is actually taught in schools on par with science itself in some US states!

A favourite target of this “scientific” church lobby is advocates of evolution within the (genuine) scientific community. Evolution is not a theory, as they invariably assert, but a proven, scientific fact. But, incredible as it seems, in the heartland of capitalism evolution is still vigorously attacked. William Rivers Pitt, writing recently in Truthout, noted the dishonest tactic used by one of “creationism’s” most ardent defenders, the late Duane Tolbert Gish, “neuroscientist and hardcore creationist.” Gish apparently enjoyed engaging in public debates with scientists advocating evolution, but significantly “Mr Gish’s chief tactic, known in debate terminology as ‘spreading’, was to fire off as many points as possible in a short span of time.

“Nearly every point delivered is either partially or completely false, but the opponent faces a daunting task when confronted with so many issues to refute at once. Like as not, they are overwhelmed, and the spreader emerges victorious while seeming to be a master of voluminous data ...

“Nowhere is the tactic more evidently used than within the confines of the corporate ‘news’ media. ... It is a marvellous way to fill precious air time with the nitrous oxide of nonsense that comes from a bunch of people shouting lies simultaneously at the top of their voices.” And why does the corporate “news” media give these people airtime? Because, as Pitt observes, it’s “good television.”

Pitt raises another, related point: who uses this tactic notably now? US President Donald Trump. “Trump modelled his entire presidential campaign on the tactic – outrageous tweets, bizarre proclamations, an ocean of lies deployed on the hour at all hours of day and night.”

Far from relinquishing the tactic after he was elected to the Oval Office, Trump has stepped up its use. Says Pitt: “Consider Trump’s recent remarks at CIA headquarters:

“When I was young – and I think we’re all sort of young. When I was young, we were always winning things in this country. We’d win with trade. We’d win with wars. At a certain age, I remember hearing from one of my instructors, ‘The United States has never lost a war’. And then, after that, it’s like we haven’t won anything. We don’t win anymore.

“The old expression, ‘to the victor belong the spoils’ – you remember. I always used to say, keep the oil. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said, in addition to that, keep the oil. Now, I said it for economic reasons. But if you think about it, if we kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you’ll have another chance. But the fact is, should have kept the oil.”

Pitt skewers this farrago for the dishonest nonsense it is: “No, we were not always winning. No, we can’t keep the oil. No, he actually was a fan of the Iraq invasion. No, we don’t have ISIS because of the oil. No, they shouldn’t get another chance. Five dollops of galactic nonsense delivered in an avalanche of jumbled verbiage, all of which is abandoned without correction or refutation as the next avalanche comes sliding down the hill.”

Pitt makes the comparison: “That was how he campaigned, and that is how he is governing”.

So the next time Trump spews a seeming load of rubbish, remember – he’s not a fool, it’s deliberate!

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