Saturday, June 24, 2017
Major Advances in the Search for Life in Universe - Real Science not Science Fiction : The Social Function of Science by J.D Bernal
WHAT IS THE contemporary, and what may be the future, function of science in society? Some things about science already win general acceptance. Science is an integral part both of the material and economic life of our times and of the ideas which guide and inspire it. Science puts into our hands the, means of satisfying our material needs and also the ideas which will enable us to understand, to co-ordinate, and to satisfy our needs in the social sphere. Beyond this science has something as important though less definite to offer: a reasonable hope in the unexplored possibilities of the future, an inspiration which is slowly but surely becoming the dominant driving force of modern thought and action.
To see the function of science as a whole, it is necessary to look at it against the widest possible background of history. Our attention to immediate historical events has, up till very recently, blinded us to the understanding of its major transformations. Mankind is, after all, a relatively late emergence on the scene of terrestrial evolution, and the earth itself is a late by-product of cosmic forces. Up till now human life has only undergone three major changes: the foundation of society and of civilization both of which occurred before the dawn of recorded history, and that scientific transformation of society which is now taking place and for which we have as yet no name.
The first revolution was the foundation of society by which man became different from the animals and found, through the new habit of transmission of experience from generation to generation, a means of advance altogether faster and more sure than the haphazard evolutionary struggle. The second revolution was the discovery of civilization, based on agriculture, and bringing with it a manifold development of specialized techniques, but above all, the social forms of the city and trade. Through these mankind as a whole was removed from parasitic dependence on nature and a certain section of mankind liberated altogether from the task of food production. The discovery of civilization was a local event. It had acquired nearly all its essential features by the sixth millennium B.C. but only at its centre, somewhere between Mesopotamia and India. We cannot trace in the succeeding thousands of years right up to the Renaissance and the beginning of our own times, any substantial change in the quality of civilization. The whole of this period of recorded history marks only relatively small cultural and technical changes, and these for the most part of a cyclic character. Civilization after civilization rises and decays, but each one, though different, is not essentially in advance of the one before. The real perceptible advance is only in area. Every breakdown of the civilization internally and through barbarian invasions meant in the long run, after a period of confusion, the spread of that civilization to the barbarians. By the end of the period all the easily cultivated lands of the old world were civilized.
It is apparent to us now, though it was certainly not then, that by the middle of the fifteenth century something new was beginning. We have come to look on the Renaissance as presaging the rise of capitalism, but it was not until the eighteenth century that any fundamental change was generally recognized. By then, through the application of science and invention, new possibilities were available to mankind which were likely to have an even larger effect on his future than those of agriculture and the techniques of early civilization. It is only recently that we have been able to separate in our minds the development of capitalist enterprise from that of science and the general liberation of human thought. Both seemed to be inextricably connected parts of Progress but at the same time, paradoxically, their appearance was greeted as evidence that man was returning to his natural state, freed from the arbitrary restrictions of religion or feudal authority. We now see that though capitalism was essential to the early development of science, giving it, for the first time, a practical value, the human importance of science transcends in every way that of capitalism, and, indeed, the full development of science in the service of humanity is incompatible with the continuance of capitalism.
Science implies a unified and co-ordinated and, above all, conscious control of the whole of social life; it abolishes, or provides the possibility of abolishing, the dependence of man on the material world. Henceforth society is subject only to the limitation it imposes on itself. There is no reason to doubt that this possibility will be grasped. The mere knowledge of its existence is enough to drive man on until he has achieved it. The socialized integrated scientific world organization is coming. It would be absurd, however, to pretend that it had nearly arrived or that it will come without the most severe struggles and confusion. We must realize that we are in the middle of one of the major transition periods of human history. Our most immediate problem is to ensure that the transition is accomplished as rapidly as possible with the minimum of material, human, and cultural destruction.
Although science will clearly be the characteristic feature of the third stage of humanity, its importance will not be fully felt until this stage has been definitely established. Belonging to an age of transition we are primarily concerned with its tasks, and here science is but one factor in a complex of economic and political forces. Our business is with what science here and now has to do. The importance of science in the struggle, moreover, depends largely on the consciousness of this importance. Science, conscious of its purpose, can in the long run become a major force in social change. Because of the powers which it holds in reserve, it can ultimately dominate the other forces. But science unaware of its social significance becomes a helpless tool in the hands of forces driving it away from the directions of social advance, and, in the process, destroying its very essence, the spirit of free inquiry. To make science conscious of itself and its powers it must be seen in the light of the problems of the present and of a realizable future. It is in relation to these that we have to determine the immediate functions of science.
We have in the world to-day a number of palpable material evils — starvation, disease, slavery, and war — evils which in previous times were accepted as part of nature or as the actions of stem or malevolent gods, but which now continue solely because we are tied to out-of-date political and economic systems. There is no longer any technical reason why everyone should not have enough to eat. There is no reason why anyone should do more than three or four hours of disagreeable or monotonous work a day, or why they should be forced, by economic pressure, to do even that. War, in a period of potential plenty and ease for all, is sheer folly and cruelty. The greater part of disease in the world to-day is due directly or indirectly to lack of food and good living conditions. All these are plainly remediable evils and no one can feel that science has been properly applied to human life until they are swept off the face of the earth.
But that is only the beginning. There are a number of apparently irremediable evils, such as disease or the necessity for any kind of unpleasant work at all, which we have very good reason for believing could be dealt with if a serious and economically well-supported scientific drive were made to discover their causes and eliminate them. The starving of research of potential human value is but one step removed from the starving of man.
These are all, however, but negative aspects of the application of science. It is plainly not enough to remove as much of present evil as lies in our power. We must look to producing new good things, better, more active and harmonious ways of living, individually and socially. So far science has hardly touched these fields. It has accepted the crude desires of a pre-scientific age without attempting to analyse and refine them. It is the function of science to study man as much as nature, to discover the significance and direction of social movements and social needs. The tragedy of mankind has too often lain in its very success in achieving what it imagined to be its objects. Science, through its capacity for looking ahead and comprehending at the same time many aspects of a problem, should be able to determine far more clearly which are the real and which the fantastic elements of personal and social desires. Science brings power and liberation, just as much by showing the falsity and impossibility of certain human aims, as by satisfying others. In so far as science becomes the conscious guiding force of material civilization it must increasingly permeate all other spheres of culture.
The present situation, where a highly developed science stands almost isolated from the traditional literary culture, is altogether anomalous and cannot last. No culture can stand indefinitely apart from the dominating practical ideas of the time, without degenerating into pedantic futility. It need not be imagined, however, that the assimilation of science and culture is likely to take place without very serious modifications in the structure of science itself. Science of the present day owes its origin and much of its character, to the precise needs of material construction. Its method is essentially a critical one, the ultimate criterion being experimental, that is, practical verification. The really positive part of science, the making of discoveries, lies outside scientific method proper. Discoveries are usually unthinkingly attributed to the operations of human genius which it would be impious to attempt to explain. We have no science of science. Another aspect of the same defect of present day science is its inability adequately to deal with phenomena in which novelty occurs and which are not readily reduced to any quantitative mathematical description. The enlargement of science to cover this defect is needed for its extension to social problems, and will be more so the more science becomes assimilated with general culture. The dryness and austerity of science, which had led to its widespread rejection by those of literary culture and, among scientists themselves, to every kind of irrational and mystical addition, is something which must be removed before science can fully take its place as a common framework of life and thought.
To a certain extent this transformation will represent a fusion of existing tendencies inside and outside of science. Particular scientific disciplines; the dispassionate assembling of evidence; the acceptance of the existence of multiple causation, each factor having a definite quantitative part to play in the final result, and the general understanding of the elements of chance and statistical probability, will tend to become the background of every kind of human action. At the same time, history, tradition, literary form, and visual presentation will come more and more to belong to science. The world picture presented by science which, though continually changing, grows with each change more definite and complete, is bound to become in the new age the foundation of every form of culture. But this change by itself is not sufficient, the transformation of science and not the mere assimilation of other disciplines is required for the new tasks which science will have to face.
The stages of scientific advance have marked a progress from the large and simple to the small and complex. The first stage of science, that of the description and ordering of the available universe, is already essentially completed. The second stage, the understanding the mechanics of this universe, is on its way to completion, for already we can see in principle the general scheme of this explanation. There remain unknown, and indeed in part necessarily unknowable, possibilities beyond this, though we can already glimpse a little of this future development. It is quite clear that, if humanity does not in the near future destroy that elaborate co-operative effort, which distinguishes civilization from the previous purely biological existence of man, it will have to tackle a universe which will become more and more itself a human creation. Already the chief difficulties both in the theory and practice of science lie in the problems that human society has created for itself in economics, sociology, and psychology. In the future, as the simpler conquest of non-human forces is brought to its completion, these problems will become increasingly important.
This process will bring new aspects into evidence. The more thought deals with the problems of a rapidly developing society, in part consciously motivated, and in part moving by the indiscernible interaction of the different forces working within it, the more the methods of coping with problems will need to be modified in order to deal with the novel and the unexpected. The first sciences to emerge into rationality were those of the simplest operations — mechanics, physics, and chemistry. Our pattern of rationality is founded on the study of systems where everything is uniform and nothing really new happens. In biology already this mode of thought is beginning to break down. The theory of evolution not only marks an advance in our understanding of nature, but is also a critical step in our method of thinking, because it involves the recognition of novelty and history in science. True, men have studied history already for millennia, but in a very different spirit from that of science. Indeed, they have gone so far as to deny that history could be a science at all because of the very possibility of novelty in it. But there is no intrinsic reason why science should not learn to deal with the novel elements in the universe, which after all are as characteristic of it as the repetitive and regular ones. Science has not done so up till now because it has not had to. Now for the first time the problem is fairly presented. If we are to master and direct our world we must learn how to cope with not only the orderly but also with the novel aspects of the universe even when that novelty is of our own making.
Karl Marx was the first to realize this problem and to suggest how it might be solved. He was able to draw from the study of economics, in the place of the superficial regularities that sufficed for the orthodox school, a profound realization of the developments of new forms and of the struggles and equilibria from which still newer forms derived. We have here the beginning of a rational study of development as such but it is one in which it is no longer possible rigidly to separate the observer from the observed, and which consequently identifies the student with the forces he is studying. In the turmoil and struggle which our social and political world is passing through, these ideas are rapidly winning their way even into the camp of their most violent enemies. They have found their justification, not only in predicting but also in moulding human development, a task which would have been impossible within the limits of a science based on the conception of an ordered and invariable world.
Now as science itself has proceeded almost entirely by the method of isolation, the Marxist method of thinking has often appeared to scientists as loose and unscientific, or, as they would put it, metaphysical. Isolation in science, however, can only be achieved by a rigorous control of the circumstances of the experiment or application. Only when all the factors are known is scientific prediction, in the full sense, possible. Now it is quite clear that where new things are coming into the universe all the factors cannot be known, and that therefore the method of scientific isolation fails to deal with these new things. But from the human point of view it is as necessary to be able to deal with new things as with the regular order of nature. Science may be perfectly right in restricting itself to the latter. But then it is wrong if it implies that outside this regular order the human mind is helpless, that if something cannot be dealt with “scientifically” it cannot be dealt with rationally.
The great contribution of Marxism is to extend the possibility of rationality in human problems to include those in which radically new things are happening. It can only do so, however, subject to certain necessary limitations. In the first place, the degree of prediction where new things are concerned can never be of the same order of exactitude as in the regular and isolated operations of science. Exact knowledge, which has been looked on as an ideal, is, however, not the only alternative to no knowledge at all. There are even very large regions inside science itself where exact knowledge is impossible. The whole trend of modern physics has, for instance, shown that it is hopeless to expect it in atomic phenomena. But there the difficulty is circumvented by relying on the exactness of the statistical knowledge of a large number of events. In a similar way, the exact dates and localities of the critical changes, the wars and revolutions which effect human society, are unpredictable, but here statistical methods are not fully applicable, there being only one human society. Nevertheless, the intrinsic instability of certain economic and technical systems is something which can be generally established and their breakdown becomes, within a wide range of years, inevitable.
There can be no question, even to those completely unaware of the methods by which the Marxist predictions are reached, that the Marxists have some way of analysing the development of affairs which enables them to judge far in advance of scientific thinkers what the trend of social and economic development is to be. The uncritical acceptance of this, however, leads many into believing that Marxism is simply another providential teleology, that Marx had mapped the necessary lines of social and economic development which men willy nilly must follow. This is a complete misunderstanding. Marxist predictions are not the result of working out such a scheme of development. On the contrary they emphasize the impossibility of doing this. What can be seen at any given moment is the composition of the economic and political forces of the times, their necessary struggle and the new conditions which will be the result. But beyond that we can only foresee a process which has not ended and will necessarily take on new and strictly unpredictable forms. The value of Marxism is as a method and a guide to action, not as a creed and a cosmogony. The relevance of Marxism to science is that it removes it from its imagined position of complete detachment and shows it as a part, but a critically important part, of economic and social development. In doing so it effectively separates the metaphysical elements which throughout the whole course of its history have. penetrated scientific thought. It is to Marxism that we owe the consciousness of the hitherto unanalysed driving force of scientific advance, and it will be through the practical achievements of Marxism that this consciousness can become embodied in the organization of science for the benefit of humanity.
Science will come to be recognized as the chief factor in fundamental social change. The economic and industrial system keeps, or should keep, civilization going. The steady process of technical improvements provides for a regular increase in the extent and commodity of life. Science should provide a continuous series of unpredictable radical changes in the techniques themselves. Whether these changes fit in or fail to fit in with human and social needs is the measure of how far science has been adjusted to its social function.
For the full value of these seminal ideas we must wait until the ending of the struggle, which, though it may seem to us interminably drawn out, will appear in history as an episode, though a great and critical one. Then mankind will come into its material heritage and, far from needing science less, will make even greater demands on it to solve the greater human and social problems which have to be faced. To meet this task science itself will change and develop and in doing so will cease to be a special discipline of a selected few and become the common heritage of mankind.
Already we have in the practice of science the prototype for all human action. The task which the scientists have undertaken — the understanding and control of nature and of man himself — is merely the conscious expression of the task of human society. The methods by which this task is attempted, however imperfectly they are realized, are the methods by which humanity is most likely to secure its own future. In its.endeavour, science is communism. In science men have learned consciously to subordinate themselves to a common purpose without losing the individuality of their achievements. Each one knows that his work depends on that of his predecessors and colleagues and that it can only reach its fruition through the work of his successors. In science men collaborate not because they are forced to by superior authority or because they blindly follow some chosen leader, but because they realize that only in this willing collaboration can each man find his goal. Not orders, but advice, determine action. Each man knows that only by advice, honestly and disinterestedly given, can his work succeed, because such advice expresses as near as may be the inexorable logic of the material world, stubborn fact. Facts cannot be forced to our desires, and freedom comes by admitting this necessity and not by pretending to ignore it. These things have been learned painfully and incompletely in the pursuit of science. Only in the wider tasks of humanity will their full use be found
Posted by nickglais on 6/24/2017 01:21:00 PM
Democracy and Class Struggle says this interview shows how low we have fallen at beginning in the 21st Century - when atheists are equated with terrorism.
Saudi Arabia should be a pariah state instead of Trumps "Best Friends"
Posted by nickglais on 6/24/2017 04:45:00 AM
Posted by nickglais on 6/24/2017 04:21:00 AM
Friday, June 23, 2017
The habit of sectarianism is deeply ingrained on the Left and has been the source of counter intelligence manipulation of our movement for years.
Getting beyond sectarianism and dealing with contradictions amongst the people in a different way from contradictions with our enemies is vital for any forward movement in the struggle for Socialism.
Posted by nickglais on 6/23/2017 01:49:00 PM
We have heard that Kevin "Rashid" Johnson has been transferred to Florida from Texas but we are not sure of which prison yet
VISIT HERE FOR ACTIONS TO TAKE :
Posted by nickglais on 6/23/2017 12:19:00 PM
Democracy and Class Struggle says the Russian Oligarchs and Russian Mafia connections with Trump take a new turn - Trump and the Russian Oligarchs are mirror images.
People in the US and Russia need to sort them out - before Trump turns nasty when he is cornered in the coming days and brings us to edge of Nuclear Holocaust over North Korea.
Trump has NEVER been a friend of Russian people just its Mafia and Oligarchs who oppress the Russian People..
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is proceeding along 3 broad fronts.
Investigating Trump for ties to Russian Organized Crime, especially money laundering and other illegalities tied to his business career.
The second front is Trump Campaign and their collusion and coordination with Putin/Russian Govt in fixing the 2016 election.
The third front is Trump’s crimes as President especially obstruction of justice.
Democracy and Class Struggle always thought the first of the broad fronts on criminal and money laundering activities would pose the greatest threat to Trump.
It appears we were right as Trump has publically attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller just as the investigation is getting to close to his most vulnerable area.
Posted by nickglais on 6/23/2017 03:30:00 AM
North Korean ambassador to India, Kye Chun-yong, said his country was willing to consider a moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests if the United States and South Korea stopped their annual joint military exercises.
In an interview broadcast on Wednesday, the North Korean ambassador to India, Kye Chun-yong, said his country was willing to consider a moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests if the United States and South Korea stopped their annual joint military exercises.
“Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of freezing nuclear testing or missile testing,”
Mr. Kye said, speaking in English.
“For instance, if the American side completely stops big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop.
Let’s talk about how to solve the Korean issue peacefully.”
Posted by nickglais on 6/23/2017 02:48:00 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2017
North Korea on Thursday called US President Donald Trump a psychopath as tensions soar following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was evacuated in a coma from North Korean detention last week.
Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the US president was in a tough situation at home and claimed he was toying with the idea of a preemptive strike on North Korea to divert attention from a domestic political crisis.
"South Korea must realise that following psychopath Trump ... will only lead to disaster," an editorial carried by the paper said.
Democracy and Class Struggle says Trump is getting into a corner and is becoming more dangerous after US intelligence chiefs Rogers and Coates have spoken to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about requests from Trump to disavow his Russia involvement which they ignored.
Posted by nickglais on 6/22/2017 02:18:00 PM
War zao ! tud daonet an Douar !
Kent mervel gant an naon , war zao
Ar skiant a gomz ag a laar
Reï an diveza taol-chao !
Ar Bed-koz a bez d'an traon !
Meveillen paour , war sao ! atao !
Greômp vit mad dezi he c'haon
Bezomp maest lëc'h beza esklao !
Ar gann divëza zo,
Holl , war zao a warc'hoaz,
N'o er bed met eur vro
Da vihan a da vraz !
En trezomp neuz salver ebed
Na pab, na roue, na den all !
Demp hon unan a vezo red
Ober aman ar gwir ingal :
Benn harz laëron braz da noazout,
Derc'hel ar spered en he blom !
A dao d'an ouarn keït m'he tom !!
Ar Stâd so fall ! pep lezenn kamm
An dëog a oad ar paour-kaez den ;
Deveriou d'ar re vraz neuz tamm
Gwiriou ar paour zo eur gomz ven
Awalc'h dindan Vaest kastizia
Al Lëaldet ' c'houlenn trëo all
Dindan-hi 'veffomp memeuz tra
Gant deveriou , droëjou ingal !?
Udur ! en kreïz ho brassoni,
Mistri war an holl labour
Deuz gret biskoaz met ransoni
Laerez poan ar micherour ;
Rag en em prez an dud didalve
Kement ve kroûet ve teuzet ;
Goulennomp vo rentet hep dale
D'ar bobl kaez ar pez so gleêt ?
Micherourien a koërijen.
Memprou a labour ar bed-man,
Ar bed so d'al labourerien !
An dud didalve diwarn-han !
Deuz hom c'hoejen hint holl lard mad :
Na pa deufe eur sort brini
Eun deîz an douar da gwitâd
An heol ‚zalc'ho da lugerni !
Garz ebed ken kreïz-tre pep Bro !
An holl dud breudeur war ar bed !
Ar brezellou zôd er blôto !
Dao d'ar re vraz c'hoaz m'ar be red
Evit-hê n'effomp biken ken
A villerou de n'em drailla !
War zao ! ar skiant so ho ren
Demp vo red terri pe blega !?!
Posted by nickglais on 6/22/2017 06:52:00 AM
0:00 Fram Kamerater, Fram Mot Krigerånden (Forward Comrades, Forward Against the Spirit of War)
2:12 Internasjonalen (The Internationale)
6:40 Solidaritetssang (Solidarity Song)
10:00 Brødre, Til Sol Og Til Frihet (Brothers, to Sun and to Freedom)
11:35 Vi Skal Gjenreise Norge (We Shall Rebuild Norway)
14:10 Vi Bygger Landet (We Build the Country)
17:07 Den Unge Gardes Sang (The Youth Guards Song)
18:35 Frihetens Forpost (Freedom Outpost)
21:30 Arbeiderungdommens Marsj (Working Youth March)
22:40 August i '68 (August '68)
25:25 Et Forent Folk Vil Aldri Bli Beseiret (The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated)
29:35 Enhetsfrontsang (United Front Song)
31:11 Et Rødt Flagg (The Red Flag)
33:41 Ridderslag (Knight Song)
34:45 Sågar Kamerat (Saw, Comrade)
36:05 Thällmann Kolonne (Thällmann Column)
38:00 Vi er de Mange (We are the Many)
39:47 Warschawjanka (Warszawianka)
42:14 Revolusjonens Røst (Voice of Revolution)
44:55 Ættens Sang (Clan Song)
48:40 De Siste Hester i By (The Newest Horses in the City)
53:10 Fred på Jord (Peace on Earth)
55:50 Arbeidsløs Jul (Unemployed on Christmas)
57:45 På Stengrunn (On Rocky Ground)
Posted by nickglais on 6/22/2017 06:04:00 AM
Democracy and Class Struggle says Moon Jae-in must prioritise Inter Korean Dialogue as the road to peace on the Korean Peninsula - if the US attempts to prevent Inter Korean Dialogue as seems likely then Moon Jae-in must have the courage to persue it independently.
The choice is clear are you a running dog of US Imperialism or will you develop a spine and persue the interests of the Korean Nation ?
History will judge Moon Jae-in and its verdict will come sooner rather than later - we hope he is a Korean and not just a US puppet.
Posted by nickglais on 6/22/2017 02:39:00 AM
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
10 Times We Came Close to Nuclear War - Tuesday 20th June 2017 Two US Supersonic Nuclear Bombers overfly Korean Peninsula - Stop the Madness - Stop Trump
Fox News Host Suggests Preemptive Nuclear Strike On North Korea
Posted by nickglais on 6/20/2017 04:12:00 PM
This song is written and sung by Dan Berlund. Dan Berglund is a poet and musician who also once were a member of old KFML(r). ''The Communist League Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries''. This song ''The Path of Struggle'' clearly shows in a poetic and lyrical way, the oppressed classes eternal struggles toward their common enemy - the oppressing class. Berglund also pointed out that this struggle is not yet won. If we want to prevail, we'll have to organize and fight! For democracy and freedom from our oppressors!
Posted by nickglais on 6/20/2017 02:30:00 PM
Gerrard Winstanley and The Communism of the Common People : The World Turned Upside Down : In England bondages of the mind, he says in a perceptive phrase I think, are all occasioned by the outward bondage that one sort of people lay upon another.
Gerard Winstanley: 17th Century Communist at Kingston
By Christopher Hill
24 January 1996
[Originally found at: http://www.kingston.ac.uk/cusp/Lectures/Hill.htm]
Well I was cheating a bit when I associated Winstanley and Kingston in my title because Winstanley hadn't all that much to do with Kingston.
He turned up in a Court of Law in Kingston but that perhaps was not a sufficient reason for joining them together, but it enabled me to drag Winstanley in and associate him with this exciting new University.
But Winstanley himself was a Lancashire man; his father was a clothier in Wigan, quite a significant figure in his town, and Winstanley himself, Gerard, was apprenticed to a London clothier, which suggests that his father had ambitions for him to get out of the backward north.
And it looked as though he was going to follow in his father's trade. He married the daughter of a London surgeon, quite classy, who owned some property in Cobham parish, which we shall come back to later.
And Winstanley had set himself up in business before the civil war started. He had possibilities of trade with his native Lancashire I think, which he presumably was relying on.
But the civil war disrupted trade links between London and Lancashire and like many other people, Winstanley was ruined in the early 40s and he left London for Cobham where he presumably lived on property belonging to his wife.
And the only job that he could get was herding other men's cows as a hired labourer, not a good start.
He was very horrified by the poverty which he found around him and by his own poverty and the powerlessness of the poor in face of eviction by landlords or speculative land purchasers.
The law gave no protection once one lost one's holding in the land and became dependent on wage labour, and he had a thing against wage labour, which I shall come back to later on, he kept on about it.
So Winstanley took the initiative in the early 1640s in the movement by landless peasants to squat on waste and common land, something that is perhaps more common today than it was a generation or two ago, and cultivate them collectively.
He started off at St Georges Hill in the parish of Walton on Thames and later moved to Cobham Heath.
He was attacked by local landlords who set the locals against him and he was beaten up.
A court case was brought against him and he was tried at Kingston which, since Charles I's Charter of 1628 had cognizance of legal actions in Elmbridge and three other hundreds.
One of the phrases that he uses about this period is, the old world is running up like parchment in the fire', and he saw the collapse of the sort of civilization he had been used to.
He hadn't done very well out of it, but he was used to it and like very many others he reflected deeply on what was happening.
All 17th century thinking about politics of course took religious forms and Winstanley was deeply concerned about how the helpless poverty of the masses could be explained in terms of a loving and all-powerful God.
He was dissatisfied with the explanations of most preachers, whether established Church of England preachers or sectarians.
Whether they believed in the beauty of holiness, ceremonies, or had the puritan emphasis on preaching and preaching and more preaching, neither seemed to help the poor.
It was no use, Winstanley came to decide, repeating conventional clich‚s, new remedies were called for. Men must think for themselves, not repeat other people's thoughts, a point that keeps recurring, you must think for yourself.
His own ideas crystallized in what he called a trance, which I think we should call a period of deep meditation, which perhaps sounds a little less mysterious, and he concluded that until everybody had food to eat and some security of livelihood, it was no good preaching pie in the sky to them.
He received messages in this trance, if it was a trance, and the messages he received were, 'work together', 'eat bread together', 'let Israel go free'.
'Israel shall neither give nor take hire' and in his written works for 'Israel shall not take hire' he referred to the Epistle of James Chapter 5, verse 4.
'We must go forth and declare it in action, calling upon us that are called the common people to manure and work upon the common lands.' I'm quoting again, I won't repeat that every time.
'True religion and undefiled is to make restitution of the earth', which hath been taken and held from the common people by the power of conquests formerly' and so set the oppressed free.
And in another rather similar phrase he said, 'true religion and undefiled is to give everyone land freely to manure co-operatively.' 'Manure' is of course a 17th century word for cultivate but I think he intended to use rather a vulgar word so as to contrast true religion with the religion of ceremonies and/or preaching.
True religion and undefiled is to give everyone land freely to manure co-operatively, and he quoted the Bible to the effect that the poor shall inherit the earth and said this is really and immediately to be fulfilled. So he and a handful of poor men established a colony on St Georges Hill to take symbolic ownership of uncultivated common and waste land and came under a great deal of attack.
In addition to collective labour on this farm, which the Diggers occupied, Winstanley wrote pamphlet after pamphlet defending their cause.
This was a national issue.
The traditional village was breaking up under the pressures of the capitalist market.
Some richer peasants were doing very well producing for the market, employing the labour of their less fortunate co-villagers who were evicted or otherwise had to give up their smallholdings and become dependent on wages which were inadequately paid by the richer farmers.
But as Winstanley pointed out (I'm quoting again) one third part of England lies waste and barren when children starve or want in regard lords of manors will not suffer the poor to manure it.
If the wasteland of England were manured by her children it would become in a few years the richest, the strongest and the most flourishing land in the world', advancing economic reasons for cultivating the wasteland as well as reasons of social justice.
A couple of years earlier in the Putney debates of 1647, the leveller Colonel Rainborough had argued that, 'the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the richest he and therefore every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government.'
This was in a discussion in the Army Council. Commissary General Ireton replied, 'liberty cannot be provided for in a general sense if property is preserved.'
That might be almost Winstanley's starting point. He realised that property must not be preserved if you are going to have justice for all people.
We're talking about 1649, just after the trial and execution of Charles I, with one of Wigan's MPs (who Winstanley may have known) as one of the judges in the trial.
Levellers in London were arguing for a wide extension of the parliamentary franchise and for a republic. The House of Lords had just been abolished.
There were new hopes that the millennium was approaching. Anything seemed possible in those exciting days, including King Jesus as a successor to the executed Charles.
There was an outburst of religious and political discussion. And Winstanley argued, plunging into this discussion, that the poor, the rank and file of Parliament's army, should benefit by victory over the King, the Bishops and the landlords. 'The King's blood was not our burden, it was those oppressive Norman laws whereby he enslaved us that we groaned under.'
Norman laws, he's harking back to the legend of the Norman yoke: all the evils from which the English lower classes suffer go back to the Norman Conquest, where a foreign aristocracy established itself as the ruling gentry of the land.
This of course was not a new problem. Keith Thomas, some time ago suggested that, 'the whole Digger movement can be plausibly regarded as the culmination of a century of unauthorised encroachment upon the forests and wastes by squatters and local commoners, pushed on by land shortage and the pressure of population.'
Winstanley was trying to organise them in his locality.
It was of course a time of great economic hardship for the lower classes. Over the century before 1640, real wages, they tell us, had halved, and the years 1620-50 were among the most terrible the lower classes had ever endured.
That's saying quite something. The civil war added to these burdens, high taxation, pillaging and plunder by both sides. Men were said to lie starving in the streets of London. The rioting crowds seized corn.
A lot of other pamphlets as well as Winstanley's advocated using lands belonging to the King, the Church and the Royalists to provide for the poor and even to introduce new land confiscations. Others before Winstanley had suggested expropriating the rich and establishing a communist society but Winstanley was the only pamphleteer who had a systematically worked out theory that could be put into practice immediately.
'Action is the life of all', he wrote, 'and if thou dost not act thou dost nothing.'
Posted by nickglais on 6/20/2017 03:11:00 AM
Beirut-based journalist Nour Samaha has uncovered extensive Israeli government support of anti-Assad forces in southern Syria
Posted by nickglais on 6/20/2017 01:52:00 AM
Monday, June 19, 2017
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 11:44:00 PM
Democracy and Class Struggle says when Social Democracy tries to rebirth itself - it cannot rid itself of the stench of what Lenin called that "stinking corpse" of pro imperialist war.
The Pro Imperialist core of the Labour Party machine has always proved more powerful than the honest subjective desires of some of its Labour faithfull.
In the new battle for Socialism in the 21st Century we need to absorb the lessons of social democracy in history and not ignore them or pretend no such lessons exist and develop revolutionary socialism also known as Marxism Leninism Maoism.
GRENFELL TOWER JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT - PALACES OF GOLD BY - LEON ROSSELSON
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 01:07:00 PM
GRENFELL TOWER DISASTER: THE PEOPLE TAKE COMMAND!
Following the terrible disaster at Grenfell Tower, North Kensington, London, there has been much criticism and anger about the inadequate response of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council and the national Government in helping the victims of the fire. A fire in residential quarters on this scale is unprecedented so it is not surprising that the local council's response has been rather inadequate especially given the severe cuts there have been in public services in recent years. However, there is also a very positive side to this tragedy and that is the response of the local people to dealing with their immediate problems.
The surviving residents of Grenfell Tower and other local people did not wait for local council officials to act but immediately started to organise themselves to provide food, shelter, clothing and other necessities for those affected by the disaster. People outside of the immediate area and across the country donated a vast amount of money, food, clothing, bedding and other items for the relief effort. In fact, vastly more donations have been received than can be immediately used. As the local organisation has developed an attitude of resentment and opposition to both local and national government officials has developed for their shortcomings.
What has been very clearly demonstrated in the area around Grenfell Tower is the capacity of ordinary people to get organised to take care of themselves. Local and national government are rightly being criticised for their failures over many years to put in place effective building and fire regulations. At the same time the creative capacity the local people have shown in helping themselves shows that we do not really need highly paid and privileged officials and politicians to tell us what to do, to “manage” our lives for us. We are quite capable of getting our own act together.
The multi-ethnic and multi-national character of the residents of Grenfell Tower and the surrounding area is very noticeable. Many are refugees from conflicts in countries where British imperialism has played a part in creating disorder and chaos, e.g. Syria. This in no way prevented these people working together with white British people to relieve the suffering. This instance shows that the efforts of racists and fascists (including Islamic fundamentalists) to stir up hatred between different ethnic and national groups in Britain will ultimately fail. Human beings have a natural affinity to co-operate with each other but this is often disrupted by reactionary elements acting in their own interests.
In the capitalist system in which we live the energy and creativity of most people is severely limited by the oppressive and exploitative structures in which we are trapped. Both in work and in the wider society we are constrained by complicated bureaucratic organisations whereby sizeable layers of “managers” try to control us so as to maximise our economic exploitation for the benefit of the tiny capitalist ruling class. The apologists for capitalism claim that society would descend into chaos if it were not for the efforts of the directors and managers to keep our noses to the grindstone.
The people's response to the Grenfell Tower incident shows that this claim is a lie and that we are perfectly capable of leading our lives effectively and efficiently without a lot of bosses telling us what to. Tragic as it is, the people's response to this disaster shows that socialism leading on to communism is not some unrealistic fantasy but a real possibility arising out of the everyday capacity of human beings to freely work together in ways which enhance our lives.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 08:46:00 AM
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 08:24:00 AM
Democracy and Class Struggle says even a running dog can develop a spine - time for South Korea to create basis of inter Korean Dialogue. President Moon Jae-in history is testing you - can to rise to the hour.
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 07:26:00 AM
France Legislative Elections: Jean-Luc Mélenchon elected to Parliament : Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaking about the abstentions said that the French had “entered a form of civil general strike”.
Posted by nickglais on 6/19/2017 12:58:00 AM
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Posted by nickglais on 6/18/2017 03:45:00 PM
France: The Legitimacy of the Fifth Republic Called in Question by the high abstention rate in French Elections
French polling institute Elabe is predicting just 42 percent of potential voters will cast a vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections in France leaving the abstention rate at 58 per cent.
If the predictions hold true, this will be the lowest voter turnout in French parliamentary elections under France's Fifth Republic, which began in 1958.
In total, 47 million people were called on to vote but if the polls are right many millions have stayed away.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaking about the abstentions said that the French had “entered a form of civil general strike”.
"Representative democracy" is a more than ambiguous term. It conveys the false idea of an already-constituted people that expresses itself by choosing its representatives. Yet the people is not a given that pre-exists the political process: rather, it is the result of this process. This or that political system creates this or that people, rather than the other way around.
Besides, the representative system is founded on the idea that there is a class in society that represents the general interests of society. In the minds of the American founding fathers, that was the class of enlightened landowners. This system creates a people that identifies its legitimate representatives as coming from within this class, periodically reconfirming as much at the ballot box.
The representative system gradually became an affair for professionals, who then reproduced themselves. But in so doing this system generated its own reverse, the mythical idea of a people not represented by these professionals and aspiring to provide itself with representatives who really do incarnate it. This is the piece of theatre — of constantly declining quality — that each election now reproduces.
Posted by nickglais on 6/18/2017 03:13:00 PM
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Posted by nickglais on 6/17/2017 03:41:00 PM
Sabotage not Socialism the Cause of Venezuela's Problems :Abby Martin interviews Venezuela’s Minister of Economic Planning, Ricardo Menéndez. They discuss shortages, oil dependency, the role of the US-backed opposition movement and more.
Democracy and Class Struggle says we must become more skilled at combating economic warfare and Venezuela is a modern laboratory where US has utilised all modes of economic warfare - socialism suffered economic sabotage in the 20th Century but the 21st Century has spawned new forms of financial warfare and we must become more expert at combating them if Socialism has a chance to be reborn in 21st Century.
Posted by nickglais on 6/17/2017 02:33:00 PM
The General Election has returned a hung Parliament. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has increased its electoral support and made significant gains in numbers of Members of Parliament. On the surface this seems to have been brought about by opposing austerity.
It was clear from the election result that people are desperate to see an end to vicious cuts in public services and the rich rubbing our noses in pay cuts, price rises and poverty.
But voting for Labour, however left-wing its leaders appear to be, is a product of illusions in bourgeois “democracy” still present among many people. The left openly promotes the illusion that Labour can be the saviour of the working class and that it can end capitalism. It is a fundamentally dangerous and defeatist illusion.
Most of the small left-wing organisations in Britain called for a vote for Labour. The Trotskyist ones, such as the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party, openly campaigned for the election of a Labour Government. The ones claiming to be Marxist-Leninist either supported Labour or opportunistically avoided taking up a definite position. Only Revolutionary Praxis and the Revolutionary Communist Group put forward a clear call for people to boycott te electoral farce.
If Labour is transformed into a “socialist” party, as some leftists claim it will be, then it is likely that it will be joined by many of the members of the existing Trotskyist organisations and revisionist “communist” organisations – such as the Communist Party of Britain and the Communist Party of Great Britain – to put up candidates in elections on a reformist programme. This could lead on to the formation of a new “socialist” party. What none of these leftist elements will do is call for a revolutionary way forward.
Long historical experience in Britain and other developed capitalist societies has decisively shown that capitalism cannot be undermined and socialist transformation begun by means of using the existing capitalist political system.
The parliamentary road to socialism is an illusion. Throughout the world, especially in Europe, reformist social democracy has shown itself to be incapable of undermining capitalism. Its time is past.
What is more, a growing number of people have seen through the fraud of parliamentary democracy and refuse to participate. At the same time it is clear that the whole capitalist system on a global scale is riddled with growing antagonistic contradictions it is incapable of solving.
The necessity for revolution has never been so great. With the growing international disillusionment with capitalist “democracy” we are entering a period where revolutionary upheavals and breakthroughs are a real possibility.
Revolutionary Praxis calls upon all serious revolutionary-minded people in Britain to come together to begin the process of creating a revolutionary movement and party. Contact us if you are genuinely interested. Our intention is to convene a forum of those who really want to make revolution as opposed to only talking about it.
FORWARD TO SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!
Posted by nickglais on 6/17/2017 02:02:00 PM