Science & Technology

Automation640Marxists are fully in support of developing science and technology: replacing labour with machinery; producing more wealth for society with less work; and reducing the hours of the working day. In the science fiction of the past – influenced by the rise of automation in production at the beginning of the 20th Century – writers imagined a future utopia in which the biggest problem facing humanity would be what to do with all our leisure time whilst machines did all the work!

Such a society has been made entirely possible by capitalism, which played a most revolutionary and progressive role in the past in terms of its development of the productive forces. But now capitalism is unable to use these productive forces and has become an absolute fetter on further progress. Rather than realising the dream of a life of leisure for all, millions are consigned to forced idleness by a system that cannot create jobs, whilst millions of others work round the clock in order to feed themselves and their families.

— From the article Technology, innovation, growth, and capitalism

The pharmaceutical industry is a very profitable business, particularly if you lack a moral compass. Jazz Pharmaceuticals 15-folded its value in seven years on the back of one drug, for which it charged through the roof.

Boeing is in trouble. The American aviation giant finds itself in the middle of a storm that has culminated in the worldwide grounding of its latest aircraft model, the 737 MAX. There is an emerging picture of a major manufacturer botching a new aircraft design, with more than 300 people dead as a result. This follows two fatal accidents in the space of five months that seem to have occurred under similar circumstances.

“The ocean is rising, and we are too.” So read one placard at the recent #YouthStrike4Climate in London. Young people across the world are taking to the streets to address the burning issue of our epoch: the impending climate catastrophe. Starting in Sweden last August with the weekly protests of one school student, Greta Thunberg, the youth strikes have rapidly spread internationally. In every country the situation is the same: a new, radicalised generation is entering into political activity, demanding action and system change to avert environmental destruction.

If asked 'what is the least proletarian profession?', many might place ‘video game designer’ pretty close to the top. Until quite recently, that opinion might well have been shared by a majority of game designers themselves. But now this is changing rapidly. A snowballing of awareness is taking place about the extreme exploitation that the video games industry is based upon.

In this article, Ben Curry explains the development of scientific thought from a Marxist perspective. Ben introduces the dialectical materialist outlook, explains how it applies to the natural world and demonstrates how the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome laid the foundations for modern science. Science is always rooted in class society, and the lack of a dialectical materialist perspective has led some modern scientists back to the idealism and mysticism that the bourgeoisie railed against in its revolutionary phase.

We previously published a review of The Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions, a book by Swiss-British writer and journalist Johann Hari, in which he attempts to re-examine the way that society views depression. However, while Hari raises some valid criticisms, his critique ends up being exaggerated and one-sided.

In the last 48 hours, liberal news outlets (in particular Britain's Guardiannewspaper), have made a scandal out of the exposé into Cambridge Analytica. This is a shadowy peddler of influence that has been exposed by an employee-turned-whistleblower for its use of masses of digital data to target political adverts.

As with all production under capitalism, scientific production is not democratically controlled by the working class. We argue that the workers can and should be the drivers of scientific advancement.

This article, written for Socialist Appeal, was published a matter of days before Bitcoin's value collapsed by half overnight. This catastrophic downturn proves everything we have written about Bitcoin and how it reflects of the general crisis of capitalism.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will stop research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and is expected to lay-off 300 research and development staff in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in a move that could severely hamper progress towards effective treatments for these illnesses – proving that critical medical research cannot be left in the hands of capitalist profiteers. Corporations like Pfizer should be expropriated and their assets, data and equipment placed under democratic control, to be used for the betterment of mankind.

In archaeology, new evidence and the resulting explanations have come to resemble the conclusions that Marxists reached long ago in explaining how dialectical materialism corresponds to the natural world.

A growing number of scientists are becoming discontented with the old outlook. The rapid rise of the theory of Chaos and Complexity is one of the most significant developments in science at the turn of the new millennium. Many of the ideas expressed by this new trend are strikingly similar to the theories of dialectical materialism worked out by Marx and Engels over 150 years ago. A significant part of the present work is devoted to an exploration of the relationship between Marxist philosophy and the new theories. Will this encounter provide the basis for a new and exciting breakthrough in the methodology of science?

This weekend has seen a massive cyberattack against large corporations and public institutions. Negligence on the part of governments and companies allowed hackers to encrypt data on hundreds of thousands of computers based on tools developed by US security NSA.

In this talk from the Revolution 2016 festival, Ben Curry gives an overview of the historical development of scientific theories and the philosophical ideas that lie behind some of the biggest scientific revolutions in history.

We find ourselves today surrounded by a plethora of new technology, automated processes, and time-saving devices. And yet, at the same time, productivity growth is slowing, the economy is stagnating, and inequality is rising. It is clear that the system has broken.

Since the 1930s a dominant trend has existed within the scientific community and popular science that explains quantum mechanics with all kinds of idealistic and mystical interpretations. Dominant within this school of idealism has been the “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum mechanics, which originated with academics such as Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg who were based in the Danish capital.

In this longer article, Adam Booth examines the rise of the sharing economy, which has featured heavily in the media because of firms like AirBnB and Uber. These new models are presented as offering a revolutionary new dynamic phase in the life of capitalism. But the reality under capitalism is far from this utopian promise.

Flight, and later space travel, were viewed as an indication of humanity’s progress and ability to overcome even the most enormous of obstacles, in this case, the Earth’s gravitational pull. But the recent explosion of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket on October 28, and the explosion of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo just a few days later seem to highlight the primary obstacle in the way of humanity’s development today: the private ownership of the means of production.

Since the dawn of civilisation, humans have questioned the workings of the natural world around them and their own place in the Universe. Through a long process of investigation over millennia, mankind has built up an understanding of Nature and the wider cosmos. Each successive generation has expanded the horizon of our knowledge and in the process extended the boundary of the known Universe. From Ptolemy and Copernicus and through to the modern day, at every stage scientific discoveries have refined and redefined our picture of the Cosmos and our place within it.

A spoof Daily Mail front page is currently circulating on the internet, screaming that giant Islamic spiders are spreading Ebola in Britain and, what's more, at taxpayers’ expense. It won’t be long before we see life imitating art.

Americans’ dysfunctional relationship with food is regularly lamented or mocked in the media and in academia. What is never explained is the root cause of this dysfunction. Marxism explains that conditions determine consciousness. Your physical and social environment heavily influences the choices you make by limiting the very choices that are available to you.

Centuries of scientific research and investigation have helped to propel society forwards and improve the lives of millions. This strength of the scientific method and its ability to discover and innovate has been so great that it has created a mystical sense of infallibility surrounding science. But, as with all other areas of society, the senility and decay of capitalism is now being reflected in the question of science also, and many are starting to worry about the reliability of research.

Karl Marx has been decried by mainstream economists and news outlets as dead, irrelevant and/or outdated. A new study published by the world’s most reputed scholarly journal, Nature, once again shows that despite the hue and cry of naysayers and those who would revise history, his specter cannot be exorcised.

Quantum physics occupies a fascinating place at the cutting edge of modern scientific research. First developed in the early 20th Century, quantum theory is allowing today’s scientists to plumb new depths when it comes to matter and motion. A new book, Quantum Social Science, by Andrei Khrennikov and Emmanuel Haven argues that applying the logic of quantum theory to social systems can take our understanding of human society to a whole new level.

The development of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) has opened up whole new possibilities for improving the nutrition of humanity.For the first time, humans are able to genetically engineer species or organisms by transferring DNA between totally different organisms, potentially allowing for food to be grown in harsher climates, for example, or for existing crops to yield more food. However, under capitalism, GMOs are being abused by large agro-corporations, such as Monsanto, to maximize shareholders’ profits at the expense of ordinary people around the world.  Instead, GMOs have reduced the safety and security of the food system for billions of people. What is a working-class

...

The Marxist analysis of history – that is, the dialectical and materialist analysis of history – explains that the main motor force in history is the need for society to develop the productive forces: to increase our knowledge of and mastery over nature; to reduce the socially necessary labour time needed to produce and reproduce the conditions of life; to improve lifestyles and raise the standards of living.

As Julian Assange and Bradley Manning have discovered, being a whistle-blower is not for the faint hearted. Now Edward Snowden has become the latest fugitive of US imperialism, his only crime being that he told embarrassing truths about the US government.

Capitalism has become an absolute fetter on the development of the productive forces. This also affects the development of science, which is geared to the profit motive. After the October 1917 Russian Revolution the arts and science experienced a short-lived period of freedom, as the Bolshevik leadership under Lenin and Trotsky understood that this was the only way of moving forward. But as the revolution, isolated in a backward country, underwent degeneration under Stalin, this also affected these recently won freedoms. The fate of Nicolai Ivanovich Vavilov, a brilliant Russian geneticist who ended up in Stalin’s gulags highlights this process.

Last week, Edward Snowden became the latest in a long line of whistleblowers. It has been revealed that the US National Security Agency has been given backdoor access to telephone exchanges and a long range of online accounts from major service providers, underlining how the state breaches users’ privacy on a massive scale in order to get intelligence.

The cat-and-mouse game between piracy supporters on the one hand and state authorities and major multinational companies on the other is heating up. Over the past few years there has been a marked increase in the persecution of websites and individuals involved in piracy. Democratic rights are being thrown overboard and the full force of the state applied in the media industry’s ruthless pursuit of profits.

At a 2013 Marxist Winter School, John Pickard - former editor the Militant - explores the topic of Marxism and Science.

On the 24th August 2012 Samsung was ordered by a court in San Jose, California to pay Apple just over $1 billion in damages for patent infringement. Apple is now seeking to ban the sale of certain Samsung products in the USA and a hearing is scheduled for 20th September for that claim. This long-running dispute between these technology giants over infringement of smart phone patents shines a spotlight on the failings of a decaying capitalist system.

Ten years ago the great palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould died in New York of cancer. It was the second time that Gould had faced this terrible disease and this time he was defeated by it. The name of Gould will always be linked to his “punctuated equilibrium theory”, published in 1977 with his colleague Niles Eldredge.

Modern scientific research has identified the major physiological, neurological, and genetic differences between humans and our biological ancestors. In particular, it has been found that the human brain is qualitatively different in terms of the development of the parts of the brain that control abstract reasoning, social behaviour, and manual abilities. This discovery is yet more evidence in favour of the explanation that Frederick Engels gave for the evolution of humans in his essay “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”.

The Stop Only Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act, PIPA) are two bills that were put before the US House of Representatives and Senate in 2011. The two bills are supposedly designed to defend owners of copyrighted content, trademarks and pharmaceutical patents in their long-standing struggle against “pirates”. But there is a lot more to it than that!

A new documentary produced by the BBC, called ‘The Secret Life of Chaos’ has attempted, with a degree of success, to reveal how the latest developments in science through ‘chaos theory’ are finally beginning to make redundant any religious explanation of the workings of the universe and the emergence of intelligent life.

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. This book revolutionised thinking about the living world because for the first time it provided an explanation for the evolution of species. It was a triumph of the materialist world outlook and for that reason its publication was celebrated by Marx and Engels.

We are constantly bombarded with the myth that capitalism drives innovation, technology, and scientific advancement. But in fact, the precise opposite is true. Capitalism is holding back every aspect of human development, and science and technology is no exception.

Recently the Marxist society of the University of London Union met for a discussion on ‘Marxism and Darwinism’. The topic of this meeting was chosen in order to coincide with the recent exhibitions and publicity surrounding the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s masterwork, ‘Origin of the Species’ in November this year.

November of this year sees the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's famous book, Origin of the Species. The beautifully simple idea embodied in his book - evolution by natural selection - was a revolutionary departure with profound scientific and philosophical implications.

50 years ago on 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite into space - Sputnik 1. The launch came as a complete surprise, even to the US intelligence community which was caught completely unawares. The launching of the satellite not only shocked the world, it completely changed it by ushering in a new age - the Space Age.

The way the computer industry functions today is a perfect illustration of all the faults and massive inefficiencies of capitalism, where the primary goal is not serving the interests of society. Developing, improving and distributing software takes place only where big profits can be made. This stands in sharp contrast to free software, where human knowledge and the produce of human labour is used to the advantage all of society.

In the course of human history new discoveries, particularly in the fields of science and medicine, have challenged established thought. This is now happening again with stem cell research. What could lead to curing many diseases that up to now have been fatal is coming under a barrage of criticism because of religious and reactionary prejudices.

The second edition of Reason in Revolt will shortly be going to the printers. Here we publish the new Preface which deals with some of the more important scientific findings since the book was first published. Again, they all confirm the validity of dialectics in a remarkable manner.

Brazil, along with Argentina, is one of the key countries for the Latin American revolution. Therefore it is with great satisfaction that we can announce the forthcoming publication of a Brazilian edition of Reason in Revolt. Here we provide the new Introduction written by Alan for a Brazilian and more in general, a Portuguese speaking audience.

The countries most affected by HIV/AIDS are among the poorest in the world. The layers of society affected are also among the most vulnerable, both in the underdeveloped and developed countries. Eradicating poverty is the first and most fundamental step in eradicating this disease, something which is impossible under capitalism. This article provides some convincing statistics and arguments in favour of a fundamental change in society.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!