A new Mexican edition of Reason in Revolt, Marxist Philosophy and Modern Science is coming out shortly. Here we provide a new introduction by Alan Woods, in which he looks at some of the more important scientific breakthroughs since the book was first published ten years ago. He also dedicates some words to the poverty of modern bourgeois philosophy which has sunk back to the level of subjective idealism.
In introducing the Mexican edition of Reason in Revolt it is necessary to provide some justification for writing a book on Marxist philosophy and modern science. What relevance has philosophy for science? And what relevance have both subjects got for society and politics?
A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be invited to speak to the science department of the UNAM in Mexico City, at the invitation of two of the leading experts in chaos theory in Mexico. They were kind enough to praise Reason in Revolt and recommend it as required reading to their students.
In my lecture I tried to explain the way in which general tendencies in society find their reflection in ideology, including science. I also pointed out that reactionary ideas can be expressed in science, for example, reactionary theories in genetics that attempt to provide a scientific basis for racism.
In the last analysis, these are philosophical questions of great importance. If we adopt the standpoint of philosophical idealism, we will tend to formulate scientific hypotheses in a certain way. If we adopt the materialist standpoint we will tend to formulate questions in a different way. In recent years the crisis of bourgeois ideology has been expressed, among other things, by a general drift towards idealism, mysticism and superstition. One of the purposes of this book was to identify and combat these tendencies. This is also a philosophical question.
It was the early Greeks who first made the all-important break with religion. The Ionian Greeks were the first to attempt to explain the universe without recourse to supernatural elements. This is the true beginning of both philosophy and science, which up to that time were one and the same thing.
Reading the writings of these early materialist philosophers one is constantly amazed at how much they understood about the nature of the universe. They worked out that the world was round, that the sun was a lump of hot metal, and that the light of the moon was a reflection of the light of the sun. Long before Darwin they discovered evolution, and worked out that man had descended from a fish. They even discovered the existence of atoms and thus laid the basis for modern atomic theory. And they did all this without the aid of machinery or any apparatus other than the mind itself.
However, after approximately 2,500 years in which philosophy generally acted as a stimulus for human thought and development, it now appears to have run into a blind alley. In our own period philosophy has gotten itself a very bad name. This is well merited. When reading the bourgeois philosophers of the last hundred years, it is hard to know what is worse: the barrenness of the content or the intolerable pretentiousness of the manner in which it is expressed. The content is trivial and banal, as superficial as a crossword puzzle, yet they make the most grandiose claims for it, strutting around and ridiculing the thoughts of the great philosophers of the past with the most astounding insolence.
The modern bourgeois philosophers imagine they have killed off the old philosophy (or “metaphysics”, as they contemptuously call it) but their imagined victory is like that of Grimm’s brave little tailor, who “killed seven at one blow.” The seven victims of the tailor were, in fact, flies, not men. And our modern philosophers are, to use a German expression, mere flea-crackers.
The poverty of modern bourgeois philosophy
Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii)
For decades the logical positivists arrogantly presented their ideas as “the philosophy of science.” There is a deep irony here, since they also accused dialectical materialism (without the slightest foundation) of aspiring to the role of the “Queen of the Sciences”. Nowadays nobody takes these ridiculous claims seriously – least of all the scientists, who never did. Now they are reduced to fighting a desperate rearguard action, which amounts to the total dissolution of philosophy, reducing it entirely to semantics (the study of the meaning of words).
This endless discussion of the minutiae of meanings resembles nothing so much as the interminable debates of the medieval Schoolmen on such fascinating subjects as whether angels had sex and how many of them could dance on the head of a pin. This comparison is not as absurd as it may seem. Actually, the Schoolmen were not fools and made certain advances in logic and semantics (as do their modern equivalents). The problem is that in their obsession with form, they forgot the content altogether. As long as the formal rules were obeyed, the content could be as absurd as one liked.
The fact that all this fussing and fiddling and playing with words could be given the name of philosophy at all is a proof of how far modern bourgeois thought has declined. Hegel wrote in the Phenomenology: “By the little with which the human spirit is satisfied, we can judge the extent of its loss.” That would be a fitting epitaph for all the bourgeois philosophy after Hegel.
Modern bourgeois philosophy claims to have solved all the great philosophical problems of the past. How has it accomplished this mighty feat? By analysing words. This victory puts all the battles of the First and Second World Wars, together with Austerlitz, Waterloo and every other battle completely in the shade.
But what is language but ideas that are expressed in speech? If we say we can only know language, we are only restating in a different way the old, worn-out notion of subjective idealism that we can only know ideas, or more correctly, I can only know my ideas. This is a philosophical blind alley which, as Lenin explained long ago, can only lead to solipsism, that is, the notion that only I exist.
The idea – or more correctly, the prejudice – of the intellectual that imparts to words a supernatural significance, is merely a reflection of the real conditions of existence of the intellectual. The intellectual works with words, for they are the only material he or she knows how to work with.
With the aid of these material things men have always transformed the world and controlled their environment. And by changing the world around them, men have also changed themselves. They have gradually lifted themselves above the level of animals and become human. It is this ceaseless human activity – this creativity that springs from collective human labour – that has made us what we are. It is the basis of all human progress, culture and knowledge.
Once human consciousness develops to a certain level on the basis of the social division of labour, it acquires an independent life of its own. The priests and scribes of ancient Egypt became conscious of the material power of ideas and words, which gave them an authority and a power over their fellow men. The division of society into thinkers and doers dates from that time, as Aristotle understood very well.
For the intellectual, the only reality consists of words. For him, it is really the case that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” In post modernism narrative is everything, and we can only know the world through the words of individuals. Here language appears not as a phenomenon that connects people with the world and each other but something that separates and isolates. It is a barrier, beyond which we can know nothing.
The bricklayer works with bricks, the painter with paint, the ironmonger with iron and the carpenter with wood. But the intellectual works only with words. They are what earn him his daily bread, they fill his life and provide him with work and pleasure. They raise him up or dash him down, give him a reputation, or take it away. They act as a magical charm for charms and spells have to be uttered as words.
They also give him power over other human beings. In the most primitive societies certain words were taboo, just as they are now. The ancient Israelites were not permitted to utter the name of their God. Nowadays we are not allowed to utter the word capitalism but must instead say “the free market economy.”
From the earliest times those privileged layers who enjoyed a monopoly of culture have held manual labour in contempt. The words of the Egyptian scribe who advised his son to follow in his footsteps, describes the activities of farmers, builders and all others who work with their hands in terms of abhorrence, are quoted in Reason in Revolt. They adequately express the deeply ingrained prejudice of the intellectual against manual labour.
The mystification of words is therefore not new. It has its roots in the division between mental and manual labour. But it has acquired its ultimate expression in modern bourgeois philosophy. That is hardly surprising, given the fact that the gulf between rich and poor, haves and haves-not, “learned” and ignorant is greater now than in any other time in history.
The masses have been expropriated, not only physically but also morally and culturally. The language of science is completely inaccessible for the great majority of educated citizens, never mind the uneducated ones. And the situation is even worse with philosophy, which has become utterly bogged down in a morass of terminological obscurantism, compared to which the language of the medieval Schoolmen appears a model of clarity.
The need for dialectics
Modern bourgeois philosophy has become arid and stultified. It is remote from reality and shows a complete disregard for the life of ordinary people. So it is no wonder that people in turn treat it with contempt. At no time in history has philosophy seemed so irrelevant as the present. The total bankruptcy of modern bourgeois philosophy can be explained in part from the fact that Hegel carried traditional philosophy to its limits, leaving very little room for the further development of philosophy as philosophy. But the most important reason for the crisis of philosophy is the development of science itself.
For thousands of years humans have tried to make sense of the world in which we live. This constant search after the truth is an essential part of being human. But for the great majority of our history, this attempt to understand the workings of the universe was deprived of the necessary tools. The insufficient development of the productive forces, science and technology meant that the only instrument available to us was the human brain – a truly wonderful instrument, it is true, but quite inadequate for the immensity of the task.
It is only in the two centuries or so since the Industrial Revolution that the development of science has provided us with the necessary tools to place the study of nature on a sound basis. In particular, the spectacular advances of science and technology in the last fifty years have put every other period of human advance in the shade.
In such conditions, the old philosophical speculations about the nature of life and the universe appear as naïve and even ridiculous. Surely science has once and for all freed itself from philosophy? To this question Engels answered in the affirmative, but he added that what remained valid in philosophy was formal logic and dialectics. Science still needs a methodology that will permit it to waste the least possible amount of time and make the fewest possible mistakes.
It is impossible to understand history without the dialectical method. This can be seen in the history of science itself. A major advance in the application of the dialectical method to the history of science was the publication in 1962 of TS Kuhn’s remarkable book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This demonstrated the inevitability of scientific revolutions and showed the approximate mechanism whereby these occur. “All that exists deserves to perish” holds good not only for living organisms but also for scientific theories, including those which we currently hold to be of absolute validity.
In the philosophical writings of Marx and Engels we do not have a philosophical system, but a series of brilliant insights and pointers, which, if they were developed, would provide a valuable addition to the methodological armoury of science. Unfortunately, such a work has never been seriously undertaken. With all its colossal resources, the Soviet Union did not produce it. The marvellous insights of Marx and Engels on philosophy and science were left in an undeveloped state.
Does this mean that dialectics has been totally absent from the development of modern science? Not at all, the latest developments in the field of chaos theory, together with its derivatives, the theories of complexity and ubiquity, have a clearly dialectical character. And it is a great tribute to the vitality of science in Mexico that these questions are being taken so seriously there.
The dialectics of nature
Engels wrote that in the last analysis nature works dialectically. Modern science, which is the central theme of this book, has furnished us with a great wealth of examples that prove the validity of dialectics. It can be seen in every branch of science.
Dialectics teaches us to study things in motion, not statically, in their life, not in their death. Every development is rooted in earlier stages, and in turn is the embryo and starting point of new developments – a never-ending web of relations that reinforce and perpetuate each other. Hegel already developed this idea in his Logic and other works. Dialectics teaches us to study things and processes in all their interconnections. This is important as a methodology in areas such as animal morphology. It is not possible to modify one part of the anatomy without producing changes in all the others. Here too there is a dialectical relationship.
Thus, the fantasies of science fiction (and religion) are really impossible. Take the traditional idea of an angel – a man with wings. If such a creature ever existed it would bear no relation to the beautiful beings depicted in medieval paintings. It would be too heavy to flap its wings. Wings of such a size would require a huge breast bone (sternum) that would stick out over one metre from the chest, and it would need legs as long as stilts. This would be a really monstrous-looking creature, not a bit like the beautiful angels that adorn medieval cathedrals. As for space fiction, where we can find every kind of weird and wonderful creature, up to and including a “cloud that thinks” – the less said about this, the better.
New discoveries in biology are constantly obliging us to update the theories of the origins of life on earth. Even in the ten years since Reason in Revolt was first published, new theories have been put forward. It is most probable that life on earth began very early on at the bottom of the seas, in the form of minute organisms that derived sustenance from the volcanic energy that came from undersea volcanic vents. These early life forms thus did not require sunlight. They developed in conditions that were incredibly hostile. These minute bacteria over a long period provided the oxygen that was necessary to transform the atmosphere and create the conditions necessary for the development of life as we know it. We owe everything to these humble bacteria!
It is interesting to observe in nature how life forms that have dominated the planet for very long periods have been made extinct as soon as the material conditions that determined their evolutionary success have changed. It is equally fascinating to see how these previously dominant species have been replaced by other species that were seemingly insignificant and even species that seemed to have no prospect of survival.
Darwin envisaged evolution as a gentle upward curve, uninterrupted by sudden changes and catastrophes. But in fact the line of evolution is interrupted by periodic catastrophes, characterised by the extermination of certain species and the emergence of new ones. Most often the species that became extinct were the very ones that ruled supreme in the previous period. This was the case, for example, with the giant trilobites that dominated the ancient oceans for millions of years, or dinosaurs.
In such cases, it is the minor species that generally emerge from obscurity to occupy the niches left open by the disappearance of the previously dominant species. The tiny mammals that replaced the dinosaurs occupied a minor niche low down in the food chain. Yet they contained in an undeveloped form the germ of important future developments, including humankind and its entire works. Thus, in evolution it is often the case, to quote the Bible, that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
Life forms evolve that are well adapted to take advantage of a given environment, but the very specialisation that fits them for a given evolutionary context turns into its opposite when conditions change. And because life itself is often poised on the edge of chaos, even relatively small changes can produce catastrophic consequences. We have seen this repeated many times during millions of years of evolution.
What is true of nature is also true of society. Capitalism in its origins was an historically progressive socio-economic system that developed the means of production, industry, technology and therefore advanced the cause of civilization. Despite the terrible crimes it committed, of which the rape of Latin America is one of the most horrific episodes, it nevertheless played a progressive role in developing the productive forces and therefore establishing the material base for a new and superior human society. But that period came to a close long ago.
The “evolutionary adaptations” that originally enabled it to displace feudalism and emerge as the dominant socio-economic system have long since turned into their opposite. It is displaying all the symptoms we associate with a socio-economic system in a state of terminal decline. In the period that is now unfolding before us, the capitalist system is destined for extinction.
History has more than once furnished us with examples of apparently powerful states that collapsed in a very short space of time. And it also shows how political, religious and philosophical views that were almost unanimously condemned became transformed into the accepted views of the new revolutionary power that arose to take the place of the old. The fact that the ideas of Marxism are the views of a small minority in this society is therefore no cause for concern. Every great idea in history has always started as a heresy.
A new view of evolution
In the field of palaeontology Stephen Gould’s revolutionary theory of punctuated equilibria now generally accepted as correct – has completely overthrown the old view of evolution as a slow, gradual process, uninterrupted by sudden catastrophes and leaps. We pointed out that Gould was influenced by the ideas of Marxism, and in particular by Engels’ masterpiece The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man, which he warmly praised. In fact, Gould pointed out that if scientists had only paid attention to what Engels had written the investigation of human origins would have been spared a hundred years of errors.
The biggest breakthrough in biological science since our book was published has undoubtedly been the human genome project. At a single stroke, this has completely demolished the reactionary theories of racism based on false genetic theories that we criticised in Reason in Revolt.
The human genome results should also finally finish off the nonsense of creationism. It should cure us once and for all of that arrogance that for thousands of years has tempted men and women to claim for themselves a privileged status in nature that expresses itself in the belief that we can have a special intercourse with supernatural forces (God) and thus escape from our mortal destiny and achieve “eternal life”, which, on closer inspection, bears a striking resemblance to eternal death.
Yet, paradoxically, precisely at this moment when the triumphal march of science is opening up all the locked doors and discovering all that was hidden from our view, the stranglehold of religion and superstition over the minds of men and women has never been stronger.
Although we have long ago emerged from the caves and struggled towards the light of day, the residues of barbarism still lurk in the shadows of the human psyche. In the dark recesses of the human mind lie all the accumulated rubbish of the last 100,000 years. The past has been partially overcome, but it has not yet been decisively consigned to the museum of prehistory. The senile decay of capitalism poses a threat not only to living standards and democratic rights but also to the future of culture and civilization itself.
The twentieth century was witness to two World Wars, the second of which led to the deaths of over 50 million people and came close to destroying civilization. The madness of fascism, with its concentration camps and gas chambers, was a monstrous retrogression to the primitive state. It showed just how shallow and fragile the thin veneer of human culture is, and how easily progress can be thrown into reverse.
In the long period of capitalist upswing that followed the Second World War, the defenders of the “free market” were convinced that wars and economic slumps were things of the past. It was confidently predicted that humanity had entered into a new age of gold – an age of universal peace, prosperity and democracy. These illusions were strengthened a thousand fold by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the so-called “new world order”.
The first years of the 21st century have immediately reduced these dreams to ashes. Far from the promised paradise, we see the most turbulent period in recent history: constant wars, crises and instability at all levels. The old demons that most people believed to be long exorcised have returned: mass starvation, genocide, concentration camps, suicide bombings and atrocities of all sorts fill the television screens on a daily basis.
In such a world irrationality becomes the norm, rationality the exception. As evidence of this assertion we may cite the President of the strongest, wealthiest and most scientifically advanced nation on earth – the United States. George W. Bush is a fundamentalist Christian, whose knowledge of world literature does not seem to extend far beyond the first chapter of Genesis.
The big bang
One of the more controversial aspects of the book was our criticism of the Big Bang theory of cosmology. This is undoubtedly a model that is said to answer many questions about the universe. But we must bear in mind that it remains a hypothesis, and that it certainly does not answer all the questions. Indeed, as time goes on, ever more questions and discrepancies appear. This process was exhaustively discussed by Kuhn, and it is equally applicable to the present situation in cosmology.
The big bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities things that we have never observed. The big bang theory cannot survive without assuming all kinds of things such as the inflation field, dark matter and dark energy. Without them, there would be fatal contradictions between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.
The history of science shows that even such an apparently secure and all-embracing theory as Newtonian classical mechanics, which was universally accepted as the last word by scientists for a very long time, was eventually shown to be incomplete and one-sided. At a certain stage small discrepancies emerge that cannot be explained. These are initially dismissed as trivial or irrelevant, but eventually lead to the overthrow of the established theory and its replacement by a revolutionary new theory, which remains in force until in turn new discrepancies emerge, and so on.
There is no reason at all to suppose that the present situation in cosmology and theoretical physics will be any different. Especially if we bear in mind that the study of the universe involves a tremendous number of unknown factors. We are basing ourselves of necessity on partial observations of the visible universe, and many errors may creep in as a result of lack of information. To some extent this can be made up for by resorting to abstract mathematical models and the results provided by particle physics etc. But in the last analysis these results must be checked by experiment and observation. They cannot serve as a substitute for the latter.
There have been many theories in the past that were accepted unquestioningly by scientists because they appeared to explain things, but turned out to be false – for example phlogiston and ether. There is a striking comparison between these theories and the idea of “dark, cold matter” which has been posited by the supporters of the big bang theory in order to explain away the fact that there is simply not enough matter in the visible universe to fit in with the theory.
According to Eric Lerner and others, the big bang theory’s dominance rests more on funding decisions than on the scientific method. Dissident scientists recently met to review the evidence at the first ever Crisis in Cosmology conference in Monção, Portugal. The theory of the universe fails to explain certain crucial observations. Recently 33 eminent scientists submitted an Open Letter to the New Scientist magazine attacking the fact that alternate approaches are not being researched. This indicates that there is dissatisfaction in some circles about the present state of affairs in cosmology. This really should not surprise us.
Mexican history and culture
The history of what we call civilization (that is, class society) is characterised on the one hand by the development of the productive potential of humankind, of art, science and technology. On the other hand, it is characterised by the material and cultural expropriation of the great majority of humankind.
In no country does the expression cultural expropriation hold a deeper or more tragic meaning than in Mexico. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Mexican people had established one of the world’s greatest and most remarkable civilizations. The cause of their ruin was gold – “the sweat of the sun”, as the Aztecs called it. “We have a disease that only gold can cure” the invaders told them, by way of explanation, before seizing their land and wealth and enslaving them. The same disease afflicts the whole world today and causes the same terrible results.
It was the misfortune of the Mexican people to come into contact with Europeans just at a time when the primitive accumulation of capital was in full swing. There is no need to repeat here the well-known story of the violence, treachery and deceit practiced by Cortez and his men. Montezuma received the Spaniards politely, believing them to be gods, but his hospitality was immediately violated. The vast and thriving lake-city of Tenochtitlan was burnt, plundered and destroyed without mercy.
The Aztecs, although they had reached a high level of social and cultural development, were no match for the guns, steel and horses of the Spaniards. After a short, sharp war, they were reduced to slavery and their amazing civilization destroyed. The last Aztec chief, Cuhatemoc, was tortured with fire to reveal where the gold was, and then hanged when the Spaniards did not find the quantities of gold they had expected.
The results of the conquest were incalculable. When the Spaniards first came to Mexico, the country was a flourishing state with a population of 22 millions. 80 years later its culture was destroyed, its economy in ruins and its people enslaved. 90 percent of the population had lost their lives, either massacred by the Spaniards and their allies or from hunger or diseases like smallpox that decimated whole communities.
The destructive activities of the Spaniards soon reduced a once proud people to an abject condition of servitude and despair. Physical slavery was accompanied by demoralization, disease, depression and alcoholism. But the genocide of the Native Americans did not stop at physical extermination. It also involved an attempt to destroy their art, religion and culture. In order to eradicate all traces of the native culture the Spaniards built Christian churches over the remains of their pyramids and cult centres.
We can appreciate the perfect execution of Mexican art from before the conquest, but we can only dimly appreciate the idea that lies behind it. These works of art are more than mere representations: they are religious symbols. These impressive stone images of gods contain an idea. The snake, for example, represented rebirth, through the shedding of its skin: as the crops grow and experience rebirth annually, so does the snake.
But here immediately we find a contradiction. The snake’s huge jaws that are gaping open, ready to swallow anything in its reach. Within is darkness and destruction – the end of all things. This is a representation of the eternal cycle of death and birth. It is a perfect artistic representation of the unity of opposites, portraying the balance of nature. Life cannot exist without death. In fact we begin to die the moment we are born. This contradiction lies at the heart of the art of Mesoamerica. We see a constant recurrence of opposed pairs: life and death, day and night etc. Death is the sun when it sets, etc.
In a primitive and mystified form, here we already find the undeveloped elements of dialectical thought. It is a naïve way of expressing the real contradictions that exist at all levels in nature, thought and society. It is the dawn of genuinely human consciousness, striving to understand the workings of the universe. This striving has not yet freed itself from religion. At this early stage, art, science and religion are really different aspects of one and the same thing.
After the conquistadors had enslaved the Aztecs with fire and sword, the hordes of fanatical priests descended upon them like hungry locusts, greedy for captive souls. Not content with robbing the Native Americans of their lands and wealth, they set about destroying their souls. The agony of this remarkable people is conveyed in the poignant verses of an Aztec poet:
“Smoke rises, the mist is spreading.
Weep, my friends and know that by their deeds
We have lost our history.”
Crude, ignorant and contemptuous of the culture of the natives, the Spaniards crushed it underfoot without a second thought. Priceless works of art were melted down into gold ingots and lost forever to humanity. Part of the gold and silver was recast into huge Christian relics of little or no aesthetic value. I remember the indignation I felt some 25 years ago when I was shown the tasteless gold altarpieces, silver caskets and the like in the cathedral of Cadiz. Similar grandiose monuments to idiocy and fanaticism that decorate churches in other Spanish cities were likewise made from the melted down artefacts of a culture, hundreds of years old.
The Mexicans, weakened and traumatised, were unable to prevent this spiritual enslavement, but resorted to a tactic of passive resistance, which in the last analysis saved important elements of the traditions and culture of their fathers. The Mexican sculptors, artisans and builders who were forced to toil on the construction of huge churches and cathedrals, triumphal monuments to celebrate their own servitude, took their revenge by injecting native elements into the art of the Christian invaders. In this way the spirit of Mexico was preserved, in spite of everything.
A colossal potential
Perhaps there is no place on earth where the idea of dialectics can find such a powerful echo as Mexico. It is a land where revolution is as natural as breathing. The vibrant energy, which the Mexican people have displayed throughout their entire history, comes directly from the very soil of Mexico, is inseparable from Mexico’s revolutionary tradition.
The Mexican bourgeois revolution of 1910-17 was a major turning point in the history of the nation. In many ways it marked the birth of the Mexican nation, which in the previous period had lost about half its territory to the USA. Under the dictatorship of Porfiro Diaz (the man who coined the phrase “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so near to the United States”) the country was divided up between local chiefs, like so many feudal barons, some of whom even had their own currencies and banks. The national identity of Mexico was in danger of being submerged altogether. Mexico was saved by revolution.
The revolutionary spirit of Mexico can be seen not only in its history and politics but in its art, sculpture and architecture. I remember being very impressed by the great mural painted by Diego Rivera in the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. Here we find impressive depictions of the main episodes of Mexican history, executed with great vitality and spirit. Spanish priests and Aztec warriors rub shoulders with conquistadors, and Mexican peasants and workers appear alongside Karl Marx, with the Communist Manifesto in his hands. This was art born of the revolution.
The rebirth of the Mexican national spirit was not confined to the visual arts. In the field of music we have Revueltas and Mancayo, whose compositions are steeped in the tradition of Mexican folk music. The revolution gave rise to a new national literature. All this was made possible by a bourgeois revolution. Just imagine to what heights the Mexican people could soar on the basis of a socialist revolution!
Despite the undoubted achievements, when weighed in the scales of history, the bourgeois revolution has failed to give the Mexican people the future they deserved. For almost a century the bourgeoisie has ruled Mexico, and what has it achieved? The productive forces stagnate, while agriculture is ruined. Everywhere we see unemployment and poverty. The youth is faced with the choice: unemployment or emigration. And what remains of national independence when Mexico is held fast in the embraces of the northern giant?
A socialist planned economy would create the possibility of mobilising the productive forces of Mexico – its fertile land, its industry, science and technology, and above all the enormous creative potential of its population – for the purpose of transforming society. The colossal talent of the Mexican people, its artists, scientists, students, intellectuals, writers and architects, would flower as never before in the long history of this rich, beautiful and wonderfully diverse country.
London, October 6, 2005
- Preface to the second volume of the US edition of Reason in Revolt (April 2003)
- Reason in Revolt - Preface to the first volume of the US edition (June 2002)
- Introduction to the first German edition of Reason in Revolt - 'Aufstand der Vernunft' (April 2002)
- Authors' Preface to the second Spanish Edition of Reason in Revolt (July 2001)
- Reason in Revolt: Marxism and Modern Science