No coarser insult, no baser aspersion, can be thrown against the workers than the remarks: “Theoretic controversies are only for academicians.” Some time ago Lassalle said: “Only when science and the workers, these opposite poles of society, become one, will they crush in their arms of steel all obstacles to culture.” The entire strength of the modern labour movement rests on theoretic knowledge. - Rosa Luxemburg
There are two ideological oppositions to this Luxembourgeois project of bringing science and workers together:
- the elitist or technocratic argument that workers can't possibly grasp and use science because their little brains can't handle it;
- the populist or obscurantist argument that science is bullshit anyway and mythology, "common sense", an "alternative narrative" or (God help us) "the correct politics" is all the working class need.
Science - by which I mean, the idealised scientific method, rather than the imperfect implementations of it we have under capitalism - is the best tool for understanding the material universe. Of course the lifeworlds of indigenous people have built up stable civilisations which lasted dozens of millennia, and a future post-capitalist society will have to humble itself to learn from them re: sustainability. Science is more ambitious, though. Science has enabled technology which has enabled a massive increase in the human population and the cultural riches it has created. If you don't think that's a good thing, then I'll thank you to stop reading this blog right now. There's no way back to pre-industrial or pre-agricultural society, anyway. Capitalism has fucked the whole planet up, there is no "outside" to it, and the mess created by technology in the service of profit has to be fixed by science and technology in the service of sustainable human civilisation and flourishing.
Only a rising class has any true interest in science, in the sense of finding out how the world really works, in order to liberate itself. In contrast, every ruling class, in every era, is only interested in that ideology which enables them to keep that position. The bourgeoisie promoted science in their struggle to become the ruling class over the feudalists and the slave-owners. But, since they firmly established themselves as the ruling class, they have no further need for science. They're all in favour of technology, insofar as it increases their profit and their class dominance over the rest of us. But they are much more interested in pseudoscience, or "woo", which justifies their right to rule over and exploit all of us (and the living planet) forever, and in communicating those ideas to the working masses to keep them quiet. (There is one exception: the bourgeoisie are very, very interested in the science of mass psychology, to keep us docile and under control, working hard and consuming when they prod one of our psychic hot buttons.)
Hypocrisy is of course the homage that vice pays to virtue, and pseudoscience is so popular because because we've been trained in bourgeois civilisation that "science is good and must be obeyed", but then being given garbage arguments from authority and just-so stories from white men in even whiter coats and being told that that's "SCIENCE". Anti-Darwinian "creationism", climate change denial, "evolutionary psychology" which claims that patriarchy, racism and class society are the natural order, all kinds of "alternative facts" about COVID-19 and 5G wireless transmission... these all pose as being "anti-system", but instead reject the only tool which could actually enable the oppressed peoples of the world to seize power of their own destiny and that of the living planet..
Walter Benjamin pointed out that fascism takes on the appearance of revolution to make sure that no revolution actually happens - the ruling class remain the ruling class but with a "fresh aesthetic". Anti-rational beliefs spontaneously appear among the masses when "SCIENCE" has been used as a club to keep them down for 100 years. The ruling class cynically encourage them to circulate because they keep the masses either content with their place in life, or channel their anger into self-destruction or into fascist-style movements which pose no real threat to class society. You heard me right: pseudoscience is an essential part of fascism.
As I think Jason Colavito would agree, the issue is not religion or beliefs in the supernatural, but those things dressed up in the garb of science to make them effective brain-bludgeons. (Chaos Marxism is neither for nor against religion, which can support reactionary or revolutionary politics or abstention from politics altogether.) I suppose any old "alternative narrative" can make "the people rise up". But it depends on what you want. Do you want a new civilisation based on universal liberation, quality of life, ecological sustainability and the fulfilment of human potential? Or do you want fascism, Stalinism, or the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom?
For education within the movements in the scientific method and critical thinking!
For the scientific method and evidence-based policy as central features of a programme for a post-capitalist society!
Science does not contradict indigenous lifeworlds, but complements them! For their combination to create a new global sustainable civilisation of human flourishing!
Bring Workers And Science Together!