A left wing view of science

59 posts / 0 new
Last post


Originally posted by N.R.KISSED:

I am arguing against the unexamined philosophical assumptions by which certain economists are making claims to of empirical validity. I am arguing that a science cannot be defined by it's mathematical models alone and seperate from it's assumptions and constructs. [/b]

Philosophy - a certain type of philosophy, anyway - makes use of mathematical logic and constructs rigorous proofs. Yet no one makes the kinds of claims for philosophy that many economists make for economics. That's because philosophers realize that logical proofs depend on concepts and presuppositions that are open to dispute, whether they are in fact disputed or not in a given time and place.

In other words, I agree.

[ 02 March 2008: Message edited by: RosaL ]

Cueball Cueball's picture


Originally posted by Erik Redburn:
[b]Sigh. This is a perfect example of what's wrong with so many of these debates. By arguing against "science" itself, rather than the rather unscientific ideology and methods actually employed by neo-liberal economists, "the left" ends up doing more to support their pretensions than oppose them, while undermining their own credibility with others. The evidence for the failure of "mainstream" (elite) economics is many and manifest in the last thirty years. I'll prove it. We are now sinking back into the same kind of "stagflation" that we supposedly left behind in the seventies, except that the inflation can no longer be credibly blamed on big labour. We are also on the verge of a possibly deep recession despite billions of dollars of public moneys being used to support stock market values. That in itself is proof that the proponents of "free market" economics no longer believe their own ideology anymore. But then most who justify it are employees of big banks, therefore not as disinterested as they insist. (and no need therefore to fall back on questioning the human ability to interpret objective reality either)

[ 02 March 2008: Message edited by: Erik Redburn ][/b]

Who is arguing against science?

The point is you assert a series of postulates, then use logic, and mathematics to construct formulas using these postulates as the basis. Then having constructed a series of forumlas, based on these postulates you turn around and say, "Look! See, the system works, our postulates are proven."

That's not science, that is garden variety charlatanism.

The "market" works because people believe it works, why else do you think it is so dependent on the investors having "faith" in it? It's a step up from a pyramid scheme, and a step down from a perpetual motion machine.

[ 02 March 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Erik Redburn

Oh sure, I think we've already clarified that more or less. I was just afraid we were needlessly falling back on more intangible questions of relative perceptions, when there's already fairly abundant evidence that this near 'perpetual motion machine', as you put it, isn't working. Not for those who aren't invested in it directly or collecting commissions on it. (another plausible reason is that the growth of the money markets itself -money itself being an abstraction- continues to surpass that of the economy on which it's supposed to be based, while any downturns are immediately taken out on those who have no control over it, downsizing etc. Profit itself having shifted from the primary motivating tool to the only understood purpose; slight difference that current standard models may not recognise. We may diverge again on that, but this confusion of means with ends would undermine its own justification, demand based pricing and effective reinvestment of surplus)

[ 02 March 2008: Message edited by: Erik Redburn ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture


Cueball: The "market" works because people believe it works, why else do you think it is so dependent on the investors having "faith" in it? It's a step up from a pyramid scheme, and a step down from a perpetual motion machine.

Markets work also because they are compulsory. This is just as important - maybe more important - an observation as your remark is. And I mean that markets are compulsory both for those who sell their own hide (workers in the labour market) and for those who seek out the "factors of production", which, of course, include those on the labour market, in order to run a successful business.

Ellen M. Wood actually makes the claim that capitalism became capitalism when markets became compulsory and no one could escape them. This give a whole new slant to loud talk about "free" markets. Such talk is actually misleading. ETA: I'm here reminded of Eduardo Galeano's remark, quoted by Naomi Kline in her recent excellent book, that during the neo-liberal assault in Latin America and the imprisonment of likely opponents to that agenda, "people were in jail so that prices could be free".

Aside: I do hope this thread will deal with more than just the problems of orthodox economics.

[ 02 March 2008: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

Good point. Thanks NB.


I think far too many talented scientists and engineers have been recruited or attracted to working for the military. And there is no question as to the collaborative efforts between the Pentagon and globalizers of a political and economic ideology since start of the cold war.

[url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.htm... new raygun[/b][/url] produced for the U.S. military is the latest in crowd control. Microwaves have been known about for many years, but now the electromagnetic spectrum can be used on people for the purpose of enforcing market rules around the world. Last night on the news channel, someone said, to the effect, that if the military was able to use this during the first few years of the military occupation in Iraq, there might have been fewer human beings slaughtered for the sake of a resource grab.

Thomas Friedman referred to protesters at Quebec City and Seattle as the "Coalition to Keep Poor People Poor." But now the globalizers really do have an invisible hand to use in crackdowns against dissent. It's all very scientific and very compatible with Milton Friedman's shock doctrinaire new Liberal capitalism, or that special interest group known as "the coalition to make rich people superrich" at the expense of democracy.

[ 03 March 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Good point Fidel; however, military production not only affects scientists but it also affects huge swaths of the voting public in ways other than through new weapons of crowd control. The snorting sounds of the military at the public trough is only matched by the squealing sounds of the cheerleaders for militarized industries. The pollution of democratic culture by military production increases the critical mass to silence normal human sentiments of peace and anti-war awareness. This is especially obvious in the USA where state after state vies for the lucrative military production deals of the MIC. [i]Science in the service of humanity[/i] is perverted and becomes the iron fist that enforces the rule of capital ... as you have alluded to with your remarks.

No wonder so many anti-scientific views exist on the political left when science, and scientists, sign their Faustian bargain with the sulphur-belching, warmongering capitalist devil. The very idea of science in the service of humanity comes across as quaint and passй.


I could make positive comments about the USA and how socialist ideas have played an important part in that country's economic fortunes post-1929 to 1960's-70's, but I think the MIC and Republican cabal have worked to undermine and sabotage a lot of it since the 1980's or so. And a surprising amount still remains. It's an amazing country full of amazing people. It's unfortunate that warhawks and their friends in big business have become the greatest menace to world peace and prosperity in the meantime.

Alternative Radio - David Barsamian interviews Ralph Nader(1995):


[b]Q:[/b] Was it you that told me that if the federal government shut down for a year it would be the most popular institution in the country?

[b]A:[/b] Yes, because people would realize how much flows in terms of economic activity, technological research, health care research, health care delivery, management of the parks and the forests, construction. They would realize just how much they were getting from the government. Not to mention a lot of these new technologies, like telecommunications, satellites, all came out of the Defense Department and the space program in terms of the basic research, development and engineering stages. [b]When the government isn’t perceived as delivering, the demand is to cut back and strip government of its capability to deliver, instead of rising up and making government deliver.[/b]

I think what confuses many people is that neoconservative ideologues from the U.S. have not recommended to developing countries what has worked somewhat well in America. American James Galbraith says many Europeans misunderstand what makes the American economy tick. It's a case of, do as Washington says but not as they've done at home.

[ 03 March 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]