Thursday, August 7, 2008

Anti-Americanism of Bengali intellectual

For time being, let's assume, invasion of Afganisthan and Iraq was US imperialism.

But then could anybody tell me, does there exist a single example in the history, when a country could transform into democracy from a bloodthirsty detector without intervention of a foreign power, directly or indirectly? Hitler & Mussolini had to be deposed by external power, and invaded (?) so as to call! From Stalin's Soviet to democratic Russia took 50 years for a peaceful gradual transition to democracy!

In Afghanistan, it was definitely for cleaning up Talibans, the breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. People who could smell a pipeline there, are definitely some brainwashed islamists and mentally off-balanced leftists. Then came Iraq, the most controversial one because Iraq has oil and US foreign policy has not been too kind for the countries who nationalized their oil resources. On the top of that, no WMD could be found in Iraq led to overwhelming suspicion that Iraq was invaded for oil.

Now that people of Iraq responded en mass in the concluding election is a direct proof that people of Iraq are determined to change their own destiny. If their elected Parliament supports for nationalization of oil, what would my leftist friends would say?
America invaded for oil but once democracy was established they were kicked out?

Question, then I would ask to my leftist friends: who paid for this democracy?
Who shed blood for establishing this democracy in Iraq and Afganisthan?

Answer is US and only US.

One might argue that US did so, so that their defense manufacturing companies like GD, Lockheed, Bechtel or Haliburton can profit from the war. May be it is true, but so what? Isn't it true that we are living a good life because of new discoveries like life saving drugs , cars, TV, Internets etc. all of which have been discovered by capitalist greed? The honest and truthful assessment of Iraq and Afghanistan would be the same- these two countries are seeing horizon of hope because of US capitalist greed. And when a person speaks against US capitalist greed, he or she is no better than a hypocrite ( or worst than a terrorist because terrorists are at least honest in stating that they are the enemy ) because he survives on medicine & equipments invented in USA, he communicates through telephone and Internet invented in USA and enjoys through sound/media equipments invented in USA! And guess what, behind his quality of life, only single factor that contributed is American capitalist greed. Socialist systems or other countries never invented any significant commercial discovery, that is worth talking about.

If you are enjoying its fruit, why then don't we admit it!

Well here comes the intellectual problem--Bengalis intellectuals are born hypocrit because they are trained by their hypocrite mentor who are half literate at best. Even if they never read Karl Marx except a few quotes by him, they would portray as if they have a PhD in Marxism! Most of them even don't know the difference between dialectic materialism and historical materialism, between Marxism and Leninism! Short cut way to be an intellectual icon of common mass in our society is to shed tears for the poverty and then blame it to American capitalism. You don't need to pursue logic and reason but to find an enemy, an wealthy one so that you address both hunger and jealousy of the common mass. And then finally promise them a free lunch of socialism that could not feed any society at any given time of the history.

And thus an intellectual leader among the Bengalis is born. Except for Tagore and Amartya Sen, in last one century we didn't get an intellectual whose contribution
in world history of intellectualism is worth mentioning.

And yet, we are proud, we the Bengalis are genius, the intellectual race.May be on a moribund shore of industrial wasteland in West Bengal and Islamic bomb industries in Bangladesh.

Chairman Mao versus Naked Gandhi: Who will have the last laugh?

Biplab Pal04/07/05

This is not an article. It’s a prelude to a great debate. A debate that will continue to hunt the mankind as the tyrannical oppressors will continue to bleed the civilization.
Oppressed nations and subjugated ethnic minorities always revolted back with arms…throughout the history. Central power of Rome was engaged in endless battles to suppress the revolution of independence by Gaul, Goths, Normans and Egyptians. Countless revolution against Mughal Empire by Marathas, Rajputs, Bengalis and Southern India finally pulled down the whole empire. In that sense, Mao’s method of arm resistance against oppression is not new and he is not the only icon of great arm resistance in the last century. Truly speaking every nation has its own hero. Bengalis have Netaji and Mujibar. Marathis have Shibaji. But still Mao emerged as the final prophet of arm struggle for independence because in him, oppressed people of all kinds see the hope of a utopian society-free of class and oppression. Final independence.
Compared to Mao, nonviolence resistance of Gandhi is rather new. Principal of nonviolence as a form of protest is a direct consequence of Buddhist and Jain renouncement. Self immolation to protest tyrannical regime is a historical Buddhist tradition. In 900 AD, during seize of the Nalanda and Takhashila by Muslim invaders, monks sacrificed their life as a protest against burning of the valuable books. The same tradition continues even in modern Burma where often we find the news of self-burning of the monks as a form of the protest. In that sense, Gandhi does not hold the patent of Satyagraha (nonviolence resistance) but he emerged as an icon because for the first time, he successfully applied this method to liberate the largest colony of the world-India under British Raj. Not only Gandhi achieved success both in South Africa and India, he also proved his superiority as a civilized culture over British. A nation too proud of their civilized ancestry, bowed before Gandhi-Gandhi as a man. Never had it happened in world civilization that a man who liberated a nation from empirical power also achieved highest esteem from the ruthless power lords of the empire. Mujibar Rahaman is still considered to be a traitor and conspirator in Pakistan. Status of Netaji to British historian is no different. But when it comes to Gandhi, he is a hero both in his home and abroad.
Here is a glimpse of the current conflicts in the world. A brief summery will tell you, influence of Gandhi and Mao.
Naxalite struggle in India: In last two years around 56 districts in India have been brought under grip of communist rebels – Inspired by Mao
Communist rebels in Nepal: Mao
Kashmiri freedom struggle: Islamic Jihad
Tibetan Freedom movement: Gandhi
Democratic movement in Burma : Gandhi
Armed struggle of Palestine : Islamic Jihad/Che
Democratic movement in Uzbekistan : Gandhi
Rebels in Chechen :Islamic Jihad
Liberation movement in South Africa: Gandhi
Tigers in Lanka: Tamil nationalism
Several rebel groups in Latin America—Mao/Che
It is interesting to note that the nature of the rebel movements is undemocratic (authoritarian) if it is not inspired by Mao or Gandhi. Movement inspired by Gandhian philosophy gained more respect and support from the rest of world because of its democratic and spiritual nature. Movement inspired by Islamic Jihad gained most notoriety and hatred because of its cruelty against common people. Besides, non-Gandhian rebel movements always produced authoritarian monsters like Osama Bin Laden, Pol Pot and Pravakaran. It is interesting to note that cruelty against Tibetan people by China is no less than cruelty of Israel against Palestine. But Dalai Lama successfully managed to keep Tibetans nonviolent and established his cause before the world. Therefore Tibetan freedom struggle gained respect all over the world where as Palestine freedom movement gained notoriety as its nature transgressed from secular (initially Arafat was greatly influenced by Che) to Islamic.
I am summarizing the view of Gandhi and Mao over different aspect of life and society.
Struggle for independence:
Mao’s method is definitely by gun but there is bigger truth. Gun should be in the hand of poorest of poor people. It is only when the last section of the mass will be mobilized for true independence –a society without oppression will emerge following Marxism. I am attaching a few famous quotes to understand Maoist viewpoint of freedom through arm struggle.
War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes.
"Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War" (December 1936), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 180.
However there are good wars and bad wars in Maoism unlike Gandhi who dumped all kinds of wars as manslaughter. In this respect, Mao’s vision is same as that of Krishna in second chapter of Gita. However unlike Krishna, Mao’s justification for war is based in dialectic analysis and not on metaphysical duty.
“History shows that wars are divided into two kinds, just and unjust. All wars that are progressive are just, and all wars that impede progress are unjust. We Communists oppose all unjust wars that impede progress, but we do not oppose progressive, just wars. Not only do we Communists not oppose just wars; we actively participate in them. As for unjust wars, World War I is an instance in which both sides fought for imperialist interests; therefore, the Communists of the whole world firmly opposed that war. The way to oppose a war of this kind is to do everything possible to prevent it before it breaks out and, once it breaks out, to oppose war with war, to oppose unjust war with just war, whenever possible.
Ibid., p. 150.
Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power.
"On Contradiction" (August1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 344.*
Gandhi on the other hand analyzed the history and came to conclusion that anything that is achieved through violence loses its objective of supreme value of humanism. He saw an inherent contradiction in violent method of resistance.
“Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.!”
Clearly Gandhi didn’t see any merit in Mao’s arm revolution because it destroys the supreme divinity in the heart of the revolutionaries.
“It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself, for we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being, is to slight those divine powers and thus to harm not only that Being, but with Him, the whole world.”
Nature of virtues in a Man and experimenting with truth:
Both Gandhi and Mao had strong view on evolution as a human being. While Gandhi stressed on honesty and truth, Mao focused on evolution of human being as an intelligent analytical persona. Mao is definitely more inclined with true nature of evolution—it is the cunning and deceptive method to kill the prey has made us evolved as human being.
The only virtue I want to claim is truth and non-violence
Mao analyzed the truth in dialectic manner-which is also the basic method of science. To him every truth is like a hypothesis that needs to be tested in the due course of social evolution.
In their social practice, men engage in various kinds of struggle and gain rich experience, both from their successes and from their failures. Countless phenomena of the objective external world are reflected in a man's brain through his five sense organs - the organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. At first, knowledge is perceptual. The leap to conceptual knowledge, i e., to ideas, occurs when sufficient perceptual knowledge is accumulated. This is one process in cognition. It is the first stage in the whole process of cognition, the stage leading from objective matter to subjective consciousness, from existence to ideas. Whether or not one's consciousness or ideas (including theories, policies, plans or measures) do correctly reflect the laws of the objective external world is not yet proved at this stage, in which it is not yet possible to ascertain whether they are correct or not. Then comes the second stage in the process of cognition, the stage leading from consciousness back to matter, from ideas back to existence, in which the knowledge gained in the first stage is applied in social practice to ascertain whether the theories, policies, plans or measures meet with the anticipated success. Generally speaking, those that succeed are correct and those that fail are incorrect, and this is especially true of man's struggle with nature. In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man's knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth. -Mao
Science in Society:
Gandhi’s view on applied science is controversial. According to him, science is the main cause of growing materialism in the society. Materialism destroys the inherent spiritualism of a man—he saw the negative impact of science. He witnessed the devastation brought by scientific invention in the First and Second World War. He didn’t see any value in material comfort as a result of scientific discoveries.
A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of a help. Therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and a snare.
Mao also believed in limited materialism but he also welcomed science to enrich materialism –as a mean to progress in the society and as a society. His assessment of science in the society is by far the best one can find in any leader.
Natural science is one of man's weapons in his fight for freedom. For the purpose of attaining freedom in society, man must use social science to understand and change society and carry out social revolution. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature.
Speech at the inaugural meeting of the Natural Science Research Society of the Border Region (February 5, 1940).
“The history of mankind is one of continuous development from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. This process is never-ending. In any society in which classes exist class struggle will never end. In classless society the struggle between the new and the old and between truth and falsehood will never end. In the fields of the struggle for production and scientific experiment, mankind makes constant progress and nature undergoes constant change, they never remain at the same level. Therefore, man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. Ideas of stagnation, pessimism, inertia and complacency are all wrong. They are wrong because they agree neither with the historical facts of social development over the past million years, nor with the historical facts of nature so far known to us (i.e., nature as revealed in the history of celestial bodies, the earth, life, and other natural phenomena).
Quoted in "Premier Chou Enlai's Report on the Work of the Government to the First Session of the Third National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China" (December 21-22, 1964).
Mao was a great lover. He was married four times. He wrote a lot of beautiful love poems. He has insatiable sexual appetite for daughters of the proletariat. It is rumored Mao never turned down any request to sleep with him!
Gandhi saw sex as a stigma. A deterrent to spiritual attainment. Sex is merely a necessity like urination for the purpose of reproduction.
However there is a link between Gandhi and Mao in their sexual practice. Sleeping with teens to enhance the internal energy is a Taoist (Daoist) practice. Both followed this Taoist practice to elevate their metaphysical male energy level!
In his book The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress: Secrets of the Female Taoist Masters, Hsi Lai writes that Mahatma Gandhi "periodically slept between two twelve-year-old female virgins. He didn't do this for the purpose of actual sexual contact, but as an ancient practice of rejuvenating his male energy. . . . Taoists called this method 'using the ultimate yin to replenish the yang.'"
Mao’s private Doctor Li wrote a book on unknown sex life of Mao “Memoirs of Private Physician of Mao Ze Dong” where he also found how Mao fell in love with Taoist sexual practice to regain his youthful energy. The practice is same as what Gandhi did with naked young girls. However Gandhi used virgin girls merely as a testimonial of his celibacy control where as the Chairman grew found of group sex in the form of Taoist practice.
A few controversial lines from “Memoirs of the private physician of Mao Ze Dong”
The English edition claims that Mao adopted the Daoist practice of complementing Yang with Yin via sex:
"Mao became a practitioner of Daoism then [when he was 67]: sex was intended to prolong life and not just for pleasure." (p.343)
That is all there is to the sensationalist story of Mao practicing Daoist sexual methods. No mention of Yin or Yang or any other details. In the English edition, this sentence is slightly altered:
"It was then that [Mao] became an adherent of Daoist sexual
practices, which gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for
pleasure but to extend his life.[italics added]"
Then the "editors" of the English version proceed to add two entirely new sentences that are not in the Chinese edition:
"He was happiest and most satisfied with several young women
simultaneously sharing his bed. He encouraged his sexual partners
to introduce him to others for shared orgies, allegedly in the
interest of his longevity and strength." (p.358)
On the same page, the "editors" also insert a long footnote, amplifying the term "Daoist Sexual Practice" with the explanation how Yin could be made to complement Yang. There is another reference to group sex in the English edition:
"[It was at] the height of the Cultural Revolution, that Mao was
sometimes in bed with 3, 4, even 5 women simultaneously."(p. 517)
There is no explanation of who saw this or under what circumstances it was observed. The Chinese edition makes no mention whatsoever of group sex for the simple reason that the Chinese would see through the lie. Likewise, the Chinese Edition does not make the assertion that Mao also liked to have sex with men as is alleged in the English edition.(p358--359).
Gandhi’s experiment of sleeping naked with naked young teens looks less scandalous before Mao’s sex life as described by his physician.
Gandhi yoke did sleep with young females--and what's more, both parties were often naked at the time. He was 77 when this odd practice came to light, and from what we know sleeping was all they did. However, when a renowned holy man of any age pulls a stunt like this, he takes the chance that it'll turn up in a book with a title like The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress.
Gandhi's sleeping arrangements attracted public attention during the winter of 1946-47, when he was trying to quell violence between Muslims and Hindus in the Noakhali district in what is now Bangladesh. It came out that Gandhi was bunking nightly with his 19-year-old grandniece, Manu. In part this was an effort to stay warm in the winter chill, but Gandhi soon acknowledged there was more to it: he was testing his vow of brahmacharya, or total chastity in thought and deed. If he could spend the night in a woman's embrace without feeling sexual stirrings, it would demonstrate that he had conquered his carnal impulses and become "God's eunuch." It turned out that Manu was not his first brahmacharya lab partner--he'd also recently gotten naked (partly, at least) with another young woman in his extended family, starting when she was 18.
There were quite a few raised eyebrows in India. One of the most vocal critics was Nirmal Kumar Bose, a university lecturer who served as Gandhi's interpreter in Noakhali. While conceding that no hanky-panky had taken place (Gandhi and his entourage typically all slept in the same room) Bose protested that the master was exploiting the women, each of whom felt she had a special place in his affections and became "hysterical" if slighted. (Here I follow the account by author Ved Mehta in his 1976 New Yorker series on Gandhi and his followers.) Gandhi, far from being abashed, vigorously defended himself in meetings, letters, and articles, arguing that making a woman "the instrument of my lust" would be far more exploitative than what he actually did.
Remarkably, the critics eventually quieted down. Even Bose, who quit in protest and later discussed the issue in a book, My Days With Gandhi, remained an admirer. Gandhi continued to sleep with women until his assassination in 1948, and the matter is little remembered today. The esteem in which Gandhi was held no doubt partly accounts for the lack of repercussions, along with his advanced age. His notoriously eccentric views on sex may have been a factor too. Gandhi believed that sex for pleasure was sinful (for that matter, he felt eating chocolate was sinful), that sexual attraction between men and women was unnatural, and that husband and wife should live together as brother and sister, having sex only for purposes of procreation. (I take most of this from a memoir by journalist William Shirer, another admirer.) He swore off sex at age 36, required a similar vow of his disciples, and publicly freaked when he had a nocturnal emission in 1936 at age 67. Many hearing him rationalize his unusual blanket substitute probably figured, eh, that's the mahatma for you. (For what it's worth, the kinkier takes on the story--e.g., that Gandhi was regularly massaged by naked women--have no basis in fact that I can discover.) Whether or not you buy the notion that he didn't get off on contact with his very young bedmates (or feel that that would make it any less creepy), it says something about this profoundly strange guy that you can hear his claim that naked sleepovers were tests of purity for both participants.
Religion and God:
While Gandhi sought final salvation and supreme goal of mankind in achieving his relationship with God, Mao’s view of God was completely sociopolitical based on Marxism. Gandhi’s perception of God starts with Spinoza but then it quickly gets dissolved in Gita.
My own experience has led me to the knowledge that the fullest life is impossible without an immovable belief in a Living Law in obedience to which the whole universe moves. A man without that faith is like a drop thrown out of the ocean bound to perish. Every drop in the ocean shares its majesty and has the honor of giving us the ozone of life.
If you think, this sounds more like Spinoza then read another quotation from Gandhi on Religion
“Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the truest to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.”
Clearly, Gandhi could not think of a life with a religious purpose.
Mao not only rejected religion but also any metaphysical or any subjective idealism.
“Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics. “
Clearly Mao adopted more scientific approach than Gandhi. But in personal life Mao failed to rise above personal greed in his old age. His individualistic lust to retain power forced China into its nightmare –Cultural Revolution. Millions of people died so that Mao could eliminate his opposition. Gandhi was also power hungry but he never sacrificed his ideals to subdue his opposition-to him that would have been end of the supreme objective.
Here lies the triumph of Gandhian policy that emphasized and warned
Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
However a stronger and better philosophy is not necessarily the best contender for survival. Survival is determined by the natural selection-which theory can adapt to changing social dynamics. I don’t know who will be the ultimate survivor.

Theist Existentialism and Islamic Terrorism

-Biplab Pal, 10/27/05

In those days of crusade, both the crusaders and the defenders were highly confident-killing infidels is not a sin but the surest path to God (Allah)!

Thousands of years passed by. I am not sure how many among 1.2B Muslims can think otherwise for this rubbles of deaths in Delhi, which must have crossed sixty now. Only one thing has surely changed. Thousand years later, they have developed another face-public face to be apologetic, no matter whatever they discuss in the inner circle.

Situation is same with Hinduism-I was reading that in every 40 minutes on average, we have have one death from dowry! Speak in public with any Hindu, specially if he is new to you, he will show you how progressive he is against all the Hindu rituals! Dig deeper, he might be one of those who beats his wife for dowry. His actual self, didn't change from days of Manu, but he did develop a modern face to speak and live in the religious world of double standards.
Majority of the Muslims belong to same category, specially if they live in the west. They speak of death to infidels in their Mosques while put up an apologetic face in the public. As if Islam will be the last religion to sanction terrorism!

Well, problem of terrorism is complicated. It is like poison ivy, that needs seeds, some watering and some negligence to clean it. In this case seed is Koran, Arab money is watering it and American defense corporates are making sure that they grow it well, so that at the end, we need their service to clean terrorism! That's why we find double standard of US Govt which will never recognize Koran as source of terrorism.

Koran starts with invectives against those who do not believe in the advertisement of Allah and promises toughest treatment against them by all 'merciful' Allah. Anybody who has a minimum gray matter in his/her head will immediately understand from Koran that Muhammad faced a daunting task to establish his new religion specially when Jews, Christians and Pagans were quite advanced civilization of their time. To cash on the angers of poor pagans, to fuel their hatred against rich pagans, Muhammad would have done only one thing. That is to sanction this anger and hatred in the name of Allaha- that is what the Koran is all about. This is nothing new in the history, specially this is a prescribed one from Kautilya (400 BC). In Artha Satra, Kautilya wrote, the easiest way to induce hatred or love among the common people is to sanction it in the name of God-A king must preach his subjects that he talks to God and a king's will is therefore the God's will. Muhammad, definitely proved himself as the most worthy student of Kautilya!

But wait, who does not know the above! Non-Muslims of course. Yes, even Muslims do understand above. But they can not believe it, because believing that Muhammad is as good fraud as any other king when it comes to religion, is tantamount to disbelieving his own existence. Yes, this is the classic problem of theist existentialism, existence precedes essence. Root of all terrorism.

Most of the Muslims do not know what rotten egg is there inside Koran as the most of Hindues do not know what garbage is called Vedas. But they believe, these are sacred book. Why?

Because they want to find a meaning of life-an objective, as to why they live and they should live. So they believe that these books have defined their objective of life-submit to Allah and reach kingdom of heaven. This mortal life is sin and eternal life in heaven is defined as supreme objective of life. If you look at all the Muslim terrorists, they have defined their objective in heaven!

Sometimes, I laugh at the desperate attempts of the Muslim apologetics who want to prove that the terrorism is a handiwork of American corporate. American corporates definitely didn't define their objective in heaven. Koran did. Americans merely utilized a seed of poison ivy-known as Koran. Tomorrow, when Americans will not be the master imperialist, the seed will remain. Other master race will use it.

Surely we need to destroy the seed. It must be destroyed by the Muslim themselves-understanding that Koran is merely a problem of existentialism for them. Understanding that they can have an independent existence without Koran. A Muslim as human being,a biological being who can love his friends of all religions and Koran are two independent existence- it is mixed up because they are born and brought up that way.

But that can not be done, unless we can provide an alternative to religion.

An apologetic may argue that merely a few thousands are terrorists among the hundreds of millions ( Like Taj Hashami). But is there any difference between an apologetic and a terrorist? Both the apologetics and the terrorists are suffering from the same problem- problem of existentialism. Neither can think of their existence disbelieving in Koran. One is explicit, others are implicit, silent supporters of same supreme objective. That's why everywhere, it is a few of thousands of fundamentalists, run over millions of others- who are ' apparently' good religious people-nonterrorist type. Why? Because these millions do not have moral strength to oppose these few hundreds. Opposing is equivalent to destroying their own existence as Muslim! They are essentially on the same boat. Iran fell in to the hands of Islamic terrorists because of these apologetics.

My bottom-line would be to provide an alternative to religion-philosophy of science. Which I deem to be the only solution.

Origin of Hindu Fundamentalism : In search of Montheism

-Biplab Pal :12/3/05
In my recent debate with Mehul Kamdar, I proved the fact that Hindu fundamentalism has grown up from Indian nationalist movement that started during 1870-1900. My argument is simple-there was no such cohesive religion as Hinduism before British. It was merely a paganism of diverse culture with obscured religious texts, divided into thousands of sects, casts and subcasts. Such a dilapidated and dying force, striving for its existence in fanatic forces of Maratha nationalism and thousands of local feudal kings serving under Newabs, could never unite against pan-Islamic and Christian fundamentalism that was threatening the existence of local pagan culture. In those days, it was a mixture of Bramhinical Hinduism with locally rooted deism. By 1830, Christian missionaries with their everlasting zeal of mass conversion caused resentment among conservative Hindues. Along with it, grown a section of Hindu population, educated in Lord Bentinck’s vision of humanism, started a mass reform of Hinduism. Notable among them are Raja RamMohan Roy, VidyaSagar, Keshav Sen, Debendranath Tagore , Dwananda Swaraswati and Bal Gangadhar Tialak, who were increasingly aware of the fact that in order to establish Hindu unity against the threat of monotheism, polytheist deism in Hinduism would be of very little help. Hinduism as a platform boosted virtually every religious philosophy, and therefore, a booming need for monotheism forced the reformed Hindues towards Gita and Adityabad or non-dualism in Vedanta as a primary source of inspiration.
Though Gita was written around 1000BC and Koran was composed roughly about 7th century AD, central message of Gita and Koran are similar:
Both the texts transpire a non-material philosophy based on sacrifice of materialism. Sacrifice and submission of ego as our existence as biological being on the feet of supreme creator is the central theme of both Gita and Koran.
Both the holy texts demand absolute devotion to the lord (Allah) and nothing but the lord (Allah)
Also similar are the facts that both the books demand they are the absolute truth-all other religious texts are adulterated!
And both the books declared war against invaders and tyrannical leaders-holywar is translated as DharmaYudhya in Gita and Jihad in Koran.
Difficulty is, considering the historical timeline of the past, when science didn’t emerge as supreme military power, above mentioned cannons were extremely powerful tactics to unite and strengthen a society. Pure deism is good for a flourishing culture but it can not boost a military unity. The central canons expressed in 1-4, are deadly religious weapon which can be used for both fundamentalism and unification of a society.
I was looking for more information into the subject and found this wonderful article by a professor from University of Utah on the origin of Hindu fundamentalism.
Strangely the article supports and states everything I stated in the debate in connection to political promotion of Monotheism for Hindu fundamentalism. Hope the article will be interesting reading to our audience.
Let me begin with some observations that should give any reasonable person pause. In 1998 Hindu fundamentalists proposed that a new Goddess temple be built at Pokharan, 50 km from the site of the atomic bomb tests that were conducted in April of that year. According to their program this would be the 53rd example of Shaktipeeths (seats of strength, literally Goddess power) of Hindu preeminence. Another power center is the new temple to Rama in Ayodhya, being built on the site of the Babri mosque, destroyed by a Hindu mob in December 1992.) Some suggested that radioactive sand from the test site should be distributed as prasad, the Hindu sacrament, but cooler heads vetoed that idea. Some Hindu fundamentalists also believe that ancient Indians actually possessed atomic weapons, which they call AOm-mad-bombs.
The Indian military helps to fuel this religious enthusiasm by having named its long range missile after the Vedic god of fire Agni. (The Pakistanis countered by appropriating the power of the Hindu Goddess by naming their missile Ghauri, a name for the Goddess in Southern India.) The followers of Shri Shena, a fundamentalist organization in Mumbai, proudly proclaim that, after the bomb tests, Hindus were no longer eunuchs and now could stand up to the world as real men. During 1999 Durga festival in Calcutta celebrants found new figures in the traditional tableau of the Goddess Durga and her attendants. They saw life size figures of brave Indian soldiers who won a victory in the mountains of Kashmir because of Durga’s divine grace. Hundreds of years ago Hindu kings went into battle only after receiving Durga’s blessing by sacrificing dozens of water buffalo to her.
Another chilling experience is to read about the recovery of an original Hindu Empire, extending West into Afghanistan and Central Asia encompassing all Buddhist sites; extending North to recover the Tibet, the original land of the Aryans according to Dayananda Saraswati, extending Northwest to Cambodia to recover the Hindu Khmer kingdoms of Angkor Wat and North Vietnam, where Shiva lingas have been found; and extending Southeast to Java, where a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom once flourished, and Bali where three million Hinuds still live. This reminds me of Zionist maps of Greater Israel or plans by some Calvinists for a new Confederate States of America where God-fearing Anglo-Celtic top males will rule their households and their nation of fifteen states.
The origins of Hindu religious nationalism are quite recent considering the long history of advanced cultures in the Indian Sub-Continent. V. D. Savakar’s Hindutva (literally Hinduness ) was published in 1923, but the ideas of this book go back to the beginning of the 19th Century. The supreme irony about Hindu fundamentalism is that its first writers were profoundly influenced by European Orientalism and its archeological and linguistic discoveries. The same Orientalism that gave Europeans the excuse to view Asians as effeminate and impotent, thereby lacking the capacities for self rule, was used by Indian writers to create a view of India as a unified nation that gave birth to not only to the European languages but also to its first civilized peoples and the world’s greatest religion. The idea of India as the cradle of civilization and spirituality is, amazingly enough, found in Voltaire, Herder, Kant, Schegel, Shelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. Some scholars argue that the Indian philosophy that we now know as neo-Vedanta found in Aurobindo, Vivikeananda, and Gandhi, is just as much German idealism and Indian philosophy.
Hindu fundamentalists were flattered by Aldous Huxley’s idea of the Perennial Philosophy and its mystic monism, originally found in the Upanishads and only later, according to their views, spread to other cultures. Thesophists such as Annie Besant turned orientalism on its European creators, claiming that what they perceived as weaknesses-- namely, non-dualism, nonviolence, renunciation, meditation, and tolerance were precisely what was needed for the salvation of Western societies. In the 1870s there was a concerted effort on the part of English theosophists to merge with the Indian Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans) as part of Annie Besant’s vision of a World Federation of Aryans. Ironically, in another move of reverse orientalism, members of Arya Samaj vetoed this idea because they insisted that Indians were the only true Aryans! Interestingly enough, both Indians and Europeans agreed on at least one proposition: Hindu civilization was indeed corrupt and suffering a long decline, but Hindu fundamentalists believed that the solution to that problem was not Christian capitialism; rather, it was the recovery of a glorious Hindu past that Europeans had conveniently rediscovered for them.
Even before Arya Samaj there was the Brahmo Samaj (Society of Brahma, the Hindu Creator God) founded in Calcutta in 1828 by Rammohan Roy, who, although still preserving the idea of Vedic authority, developed a fully modernist, that is rationalist and humanist, approach to Indian identity and nationhood. Debendranath Tagore, father of the more famous Rabindranath Tagore, broke with Roy over the issue of Vedic authority, and another nationalist Keshab Chandra Sen proposed that Hinduism ought to be Christianized. The result of these developments within the Bengal Renaissance was a growing view of Hindu supremacy and exclusivity. One of the most dramatic examples of these views came from Bajnarain Basu, who waxed eloquent as follows:
The noble and puissant Hindu nation rousing herself after sleep, and rushing headlong towards progress with divine prowess. I see this rejuvenated nation again illuminating the world by her knowledge, spirituality and culture, and the glory of the Hindu nation again spreading over the whole world.
Rajnarain was insistent that the Hindu Motherland could have no place for Muslims because their religion was alien to India. India’s religion should be a cultural Hinduism based on the Upanishads but allowing for the mediation of the one true God by means of the traditional idols. The Brahmo Samaj proposed gradual but sure reform on the elements that had tarnished the image of Hinduism word wide: caste problems, widow remarriage, untouchability, and child marriage.
Arya Samaj was founded by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay, now renamed Mumbai because of Hindutva. (Madras is now called Chennai and Hindu nationalists want to change all English street names to Hindi and do not want their children to attend English medium schools.) Dayananda’s philosophy is sometimes called neo-Hinduism or Semitized Hinduism, what I would call an Abrahamic Hinduism. Dayananda claimed that the Aryans originated in Tibet, a hypothesis that the Nazis tested by sending Ernst Schaefer and Bruno Beger on two expeditions there in the 1930s. (The Nazis were also captivated by an alternative bizarre idea that the Arctic was the home of Aryans, an idea promoted by Hindu nationalist B. G. Tilak.) While in Tibet the Aryans, according to Dayananda, purged themselves of inferior people (identified as the dasyus in the Rigveda) and then spread to the rest of the world. In India they established the Hindu Golden Age described in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This great age came to an end with the Kurukhetra War, the beginning of which is dramatically described in the Bhagavad-gita and the result, according to the text, was over a million deaths. Hindu civilization then descended into a long decline that was exacerbated by the pacificism and nihilism of Buddhism and Jainism, which were seen as failed off shoots of Hinduism and not separated religiously from Hinduism. During the Second Millennium CE a weakened Hindusim was easy prey for first the Mughal invaders and second British imperialism.
Dayananda saw the Aryans as paragons of virtue and the world’s first monotheists. Even though he uses the Hindu epics as proof of the Golden Age, he argued that only the Vedas and the Upanishads have religious authority. (Oddly enough, the members of the Ayra Samaj retained the Vedic fire ritual for their services.) He rejected the authority of the priests to interpret scripture and set himself up, in a way very similar to some preachers in the Abrahamic religion, as the only one that could interpret the Vedas correctly. He saw the Vedas and Upanishads as the literal Word of God and as the infallible text of the one true Hindu church, a concept alien to the Indian religious tradition, but one again very similar to the Abrahmanic religions. Setting the stage for 20th Century Hindutva, Dayananda lauched systematic attacks on traditional Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists.
On the plus side, Dayananda believed that the subjugation of women came with the decline of Hinduism and declared that this was a social ill that needed correction. He also spoke out against the thousand plus subcastes (jati) that divide Indians according to specific vocations and prevent lateral movement in Indian society. With regard to the four main castes Dayananda thought that it was a mistake to think of them as hereditary, a position that was an advance over Gandhi, who, while rejecting the oppression of the Dalits, still maintained the hereditary nature of the four main castes.
After Dayananda’s death there was a campaign to reconvert Dalits whose families had gone over to Christianity and syncretistic Muslims who, because they so fully participated in Hindu celebrations, ought, according to Arya Samaj, to return to the fold of the true faith. This campaign of reconversion is still at the forefront of Hindu fundamentalist efforts today, especially among the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
A key figure in the transition from the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj is Chandranath Basu who is the author that coined the term Hindutva (Hinduness) and he turned Hindu nationalism in a decidedly conservative and reactionary direction. In 1892 he published Hindutva: An Authentic History of the Hindus in which he defended traditional views Hindu ritual, caste, restriction of women’s education and civil rights, and the maintenance of male authority. Chandranath was firmly committed to demonstrating the superiority of Hinduism over Christianity, especially after the wide spread concern that conversions to Christianity were increasing in the latter half of the century.
In the novels and commentaries of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya, we see again the profound influence that European philosophy had on the rise of Indian nationalism. Particularly important was the work of Immanuel Kant, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Auguste Comte. Interestingly enough, Bankim early support for women’s equality, presumably under Mill’s influence, disappeared in his later works, which also contain stronger claims to Hindu supremacy and more stringent anti-Muslim comments. He criticized Mill and Comte for their atheism and substituted Krishna’s religion of love as the key to human spiritual cultivation and progress. Nineteenth Century Indian nationalists were fully caught up in the idea of evolution and Bankim proposed that Hinduism was the perfect candidate for Comte’s idea of Apositive religion, the final stage of human perfection. Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy finds a new Indo-European home, but it has a new humanistic twist. Bankim rejects both the abstract monotheism he finds in Abrahamic religions and the impersonal monism of his own Brahmo Samaj in favor of the divine incarnation of Krishna as a human being.
At the turn of the century one of the most important Indian nationalist figure is B. G. Tilak, whose importance and standing in the Congress Party was second only to Gandhi. For purposes of our study of Hindu fundamentalism, Tilak was instrumental in inventing a powerful new form of devotionalism centered on the elephant god Ganesha. Tilak’s strategy was calculated and very effective: the new Ganesha festival (first celebrated in 1893) would compete with the Muslim festival of Muharram, which Hindus had always attended. Hindu nationalists in the state of Maharastra were successful in creating a new division between Muslims and Hindus that would intensify decade by decade into the new century. The Ganesha festival in Bombay is now so huge that it is common to see pictures and stories of it in the international press.
Tilak also resurrected King Shivaji, who, by the grace of his patron goddess Bhawani, was by far the most successful Hindu warrior king against the Mughal Empire during the 17th Century. Hindu fundamentalists admire Shivaji’s courage and excuse his ruthlessness against the Muslims he defeated. Tilak also instigated celebrations honoring Shivaji but many of them in the 1890s turned violent, the beginnings of the communal conflict that was to increase in the next century but was an uncommon occurrence in earlier times. Tilak used the Bhagavad-gita to justify Shivaji’s campaigns against the Mughals but also the violence that may be necessary to keep the Muslims of his day in line. Shivaji has become a hero and a model for a militant leader who will bring back the glory of all things Hindu. It is significant, however, in terms of the historical Shivaji that while Muslims repeatedly declared jihad against him, Shivaji principal motivations were Maratha nationalism rather than a broader Hindu nationalism based on the concept of the Indian Sub-Continent as one nation and the idea of Hinduism as a universal religion. Tilak also ignored the fact that Shivaji not only had Muslim allies but employed Muslims in his army and administration, demonstrating that his concept of a Martha nation included non-Hindus as well. Nonetheless, the revival and revision of Shivaji’s reign resulted in a number of Shivaji societies that believed that violence against British rule was a religious duty.
Tilak was also involved in researching and writing about the origins of Hinduism and the Hindu nation. I have already mentioned his wacky thesis, defended in a book entitled The Arctic Home of the Vedas, that Aryan culture actually goes all the way back to the last Ice Age. Drawing on astronomical allusions in the Vedas, Tilak takes Vedic history back 8,000 years and argues that the Vedic gods were polar deities worshiped by arctic Aryans. From all of his research he drew the same conclusion that many other 19th Century Indian nationalists did, and I will conclude with this illustrative but problematic passage:
During Vedic times, India was a self-contained country. It was united as great nation. That unity has disappeared bringing great degradation and it becomes the duty of the leaders to revive that union. A Hindu of this place [Varanasi] is as much a Hindu as one from Madras or Bombay. The study of the Gita, Ramayana, and Mahabharata produce the same ideas throughout the country. Are not these. . . our common heritage? If we lay stress on forgetting all the minor differences that exist between the different sects, then by the grace of Providence we shall long be able to consolidate all the different sects into a mighty Hindu nation. This ought to be the ambition of every Hindu.
The sects of which Tilak speaks the Sikhs, the Jains, and the Buddhists. Not at all included, unless they pledge allegiance to Hindutva (conversion itself is not mandatory), are India’s 40 million Christians and 120 million Muslims.
Needless to say, seeds sowed by Tilak, Bankim and Dawananda have grown up as today’s RSS, Bishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiva Sena. That will be another story.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sir Karl Popper against Pseudoscience of Marxism

Biplab Pal

Published on November 17, 2005

We live in a wonderful world of mysterious structures and processes. Throughout the human civilization, we made attempts to understand that every experience around us is behaving in accord with universal laws. Any of such human effort is indeed a scientific approach but what makes for a scientific approach to delving into the mystery that surrounds us, and separates this from practices and theories that are not scientific? What makes Newton's work on planetary motion scientific, but astrological prediction of human future based on planetary motion unscientific? Is there a criterion, a set of rules, that we can apply to demarcate the scientific method from other approaches to knowledge, and that will help us to adjudicate between competing solutions to these mysteries? The question is not about which practice deserves the noble title "Science", but about the best method for promoting the growth of knowledge and the control of error. There may be a defensible argument that shows that the disciplined study of astrology led to prediction of human future with some supporting evidences but the question is:

· Are the results repeatable under same conditions?

· What is error between prediction and the theory?

· Is there any method that has been followed to control the error? Meaning, how do we know that the experimentalist who was trying to validate the theory didn’t manipulate the experimental data. This has been a classic problem in Marxism. Throughout its development after 1870, Marx, Lenin and Mao, manipulated the historical data severely to fit into their theories, which otherwise would have been rejected based on the data.

· What happens if the theories are not in agreement with 95% of the experimental data? Do we reject the theories? Or adjust the theories? Marxism suggests adjustment. And Karl Popper shows such adjustment led to dogmatism in Marxism. Adjustment can be done only if a theory is matching with some confidence interval limit, such as 95% or 99%. Else the theory should be dumped and new theory needs to be proposed.

Problem of David Hume’s Inductionism and Scientific Method:

Let us start with a simple question. What is knowledge?

Before David Hume Treatise of Human Nature [1739], all approaches to knowledge had assumed that it could be derived by a process of justification. Deductive logic, meaning we know A and B to be true and hence a logical deduction of C based on A and B is the right path to knowledge. The empiricists argued that all knowledge was derived from experience; while others argued that knowledge was derived from reason itself. But they all agreed that knowledge was Justified True Belief.

If that is true, what is the problem of predicting future based on past observation?

The empiricists thought that our knowledge of the regularities and universal structures of the world were derived logically from experience or observations. But Hume pointed out that our experience is limited and that there is in fact no logical or even probabilistic connection between say, the number of times the sun has risen and whether it will rise tomorrow.

1. The assumption that there are universal laws and regularities and that we can know these.
2 There can be no valid reasons justifying our belief in a universal law other than those based on experience.
3. There is no valid inference from observed cases to unobserved cases.

4. Yet, universal laws cover an infinite number of possible cases throughout the whole of space and time, and therefore necessarily go beyond all actual and possible experience.

This is the notorious problem of induction. What is it basically?

Simple. Think about the fact why do you think Sun will rise in the east tomorrow? Or next year same time?

What is the rational behind it? Can there be any direct proof other than inductive one that it is happening for last 500 million years and therefore it will be the same next year? And yet an asteroid can kill the whole planet next year! Hence when we form a scientific law, it indeed goes much beyond our direct and verifiable experience.

Why is it notorious then? Well, problem is, Science had to admit that it does work on the principal of induction. Which is, experimentally verified theories are applicable to the situation in space and time that is not necessarily verifiable!

And why is so much of noise about it? It contradicts the basic definition of science-knowledge is experimentally verifiable truth!

Indeed Hume showed, science is basically inductive truth from experiment!

Popper attempted a solution to this problem. The basic principal is again admitting experiments as standard and therefore, as adjudicator between competing theories. Only one assumption is retained. The golden assumption.

The world contains universal laws and structures and we can discover what they are.

Let’s see this simple, yet the most puzzling statement. Let say a scientist observes that males like to have sex only after dinner. How he will attempt to prove so scientifically? Will he collect all the data of men’s sexual habit (1a)? Or he will collect the data pertaining to what men do after diner (1b)? Or he will collect only evidence of whenever men do sex after diner (1c)? Or he will collect the men’s sexual habit after lunch? (1d) or he will gather data pertaining to when men do not do sex after dinner (1e)---

Look, how difficult it can be to choose the right one. And how will he chose the right one? Right one will be the choice that will control the error most effectively.

Popper found the most elegant and so far most universally accepted solution.

He proposed the complete rejection of the search for justifications and replaced this quest with the search for truth alone by the method of bold conjecture and refutation. Whether intentional or not, his proposal revived a hint in Plato's Meno that the possession of merely true opinion would serve one just as well for the satisfaction of curiosity.

So let review this in the light of above problem (1). If the scientist collects the data following (1c), he does collect evidence that men do sex after dinner but the observation does not lead to a scientific law.

To elaborate his argument Popper focused on scientific knowledge as the problem could be stated more clearly for this type of knowledge. Popper expressed his wish to characterize a heroic conception of science, a conception that captured the spirit and method of great scientists such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein and Bohr. It must be understood that Popper's main concern in his philosophy of science is to account for and to promote the growth of knowledge. So that we may be able to chart better at least the contours of that vast ocean of truth that Newton spoke of. It is Popper's idea that such men made possible a tremendous growth of knowledge by championing bold ideas and subjecting them to severe attempts at refutation.

A scientist must have the data of (1e) which is attempt at refutation in order to establish his theory as scientific observation. This is the core of Popper’s logic of scientific method.

Sir Karl Popper’s “The logic of Science” (1934):

In 1919 Popper's was provoked to the analysis of this bold risky approach of those scientists who had expanded our knowledge by his first hand experience of approaches and those who did the exact opposite: Marxism, Freudianism and Adlerianism. When they encountered attempted sound criticism, these theories were always able to deflect it. Karl Popper originally used the term "conventionalist stratagem" to describe this type of response to criticism, but then adopted the term "immunizing stratagem" from Hans Albert. Popper argued that Marxism, which originally was an empirically testable theory, had been recast in the form of empirically irrefutable metaphysics. This maneuver, Popper argued, saved Marxism from refutation and immunized it against further attacks. (Popper, [1976], Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography, page 43.) Freudianism and Adlerianism were, Popper says, irrefutable from the beginning. The basic theory of Freudianism or Adlerianism does not need any immunization to make it irrefutable. (Nevertheless, it does incorporate immunizing stratagems.)

Let review this for a brief moment. Example will serve as best training. Setara Hashem posted an article from African Communist Party draft which “attempted to correct socialism”:

Now, they issued a statement towards their goal to make socialism more dynamic and ‘scientific’:

“We believe, however, that the theory of Marxism, in all its essential respects, remains valid and provides an indispensable theoretical guide to achieve a society free of all forms of exploitation of person by person. The major weaknesses which have emerged in the practice of socialism are the results of distortions and misapplications. They do not flow naturally from the basic concepts of Marxism whose core is essentially humane and democratic and which project a social order with an economic potential vastly superior to that of capitalism.”

“In summary, we believe that Marxism is a social science whose fundamental postulates and basic insights into the historical processes remain a powerful (because accurate) theoretical weapon. But this is not to say that every word of Marx, Engels and Lenin must be taken as gospel; they were not infallible and they were not always correct in their projections.”

Here is the example of immunizing stratagem from the above:

, remains valid and provides an indispensable

because accurate

Automatically the whole article shifts to non-scientific paradigm.

Popper contrasted these two theories with the theories of Newton and of Einstein which were full of testable (i.e. falsifiable) content. Thus the term "immunizing stratagem" arose in connection with Popper's attempt to solve the problem of distinguishing scientific from pseudo-scientific theories - the so-called demarcation problem. Popper's solution was the methodological rule to allow into science only empirically falsifiable hypotheses, and subject these to severe criticism. In addition, theory development was to proceed from less to more testable, i.e., more informative theories. If a theory is refuted and an alternative sought, it had to be more testable, not less, and the more testable the better. For to reduce testability is to reduce knowledge, but in science we desire the growth of knowledge. An immunizing stratagem is a development in theory that reduces testability.

Popper begins with a rough characterization of bold ideas: a theory is bold if it is a new, daring, hypothesis. It is daring if it takes a large risk in being false. Popper argues that this risk can be analyzed ultimately in terms of the amount of possibilities that the idea excludes the degree to which it forbids states of affairs. Severe attempts at refutation are severe critical discussions and severe empirical tests.

Popper illustrates these ideas by examining the development of cosmology, from the heliocentric theories of Aristarchus and Copernicus to Einstein's general theory of relativity. Popper argues that this development illustrates not only the growth of knowledge but an improvement in method, in which theories become ever more daring and subject to severer tests.

It becomes apparent that riskiness and testability are linked: the greater the former the greater the latter. Aristarchus and Copernicus conjectured that the sun sat at the centre of the universe, in opposition to the prevalent earth-centred view of their own times. The heliocentric theory was exceptionally bold because it clashed with both common sense and the prima facie evidence of the senses. It went beyond the appearances to posit an unobserved reality; the appearances were explained in terms of this unfamiliar reality. This was bold in itself, for it broke with the Aristotelian idea that to explain something is to reduce it to the familiar.

However, Popper says, neither Aristarchus nor Copernicus were fully scientific because neither of them was bold enough to predict new observable appearances and thereby expose their theories to new empirical tests. They explained the known appearances, but did not explicitly suggest the existence of unknown appearances, appearances that might decide between the heliocentric and earth-centred views. If they had made such predictions their theories would have been much more informative, and therefore have taken a larger risk of being false, but they would also have promoted the growth of knowledge.

Kepler comes closer to Popper's idea of good science. Kepler had a bold theory of the world, but he also made detailed predictions of new appearances. Not only that, he abandoned many of his ideas in the light of the observations furnished him by Tycho Brahe. In accordance with a promise he had made Tycho, Kepler tried to fit Tycho's model of the solar system to these observations. Tycho accepted neither Copernicus's nor Ptolemy's model, but like all other astronomers Tycho took for granted their Aristotelian/Platonic assumption that orbits must be circular. Nevertheless, he subjected this idea to empirical testing. Kepler made seventy different trials to fit the model to the data and failed. He then took the bold step of proposing that the orbits of the planets were elliptical. The data fell snugly into place.

Kepler's three laws, though good approximations to the truth, have been refuted. But, Popper says, though false, Kepler's theory is regarded as scientific. Newton's theory is also regarded as false but scientific. Hence it is not truth which decides whether a theory is scientific. Why should this be? Each theory, though false, represented an attempt to increase knowledge, and did so because even though each was false, it had greater truth content than its predecessor and exposed itself to more tests. Popper's answer, then, is that it is a theory's openness to empirical refutation that makes it scientific. But more generally, it is whether the theory is an attempt to expand our knowledge, whether it represents an increase of information on the theory it replaces.

We may infer from this that Marxism or Freudianism would not be counted as unscientific simply because they have been refuted, but because of the way Marxists and Freudians have dealt with refutations. What is most important for the demarcation criterion is a critical attitude and the proposal of increasingly falsifiable theories in response to refutations. Kepler's elliptical orbit hypothesis represented just this sort of increase of information content in response to empirical refutation.

What impressed Popper most about the theory of relativity were the following characteristics:

(1) Like Kepler's and Newton's theories, Einstein's theory was very bold, differing fundamentally from Newton's outlook.
(2) Einstein derived from the theory three predictions of vastly different observable effects, two of which were radically new, all of which contradicted Newton's theory.1
(3) Einstein explicitly declared in advance of the experimental tests of his theory, that they were crucial: if the results did not precisely match his predictions, he would abandon them as false.
(4) Einstein regarded his theory as simply a better approximation to the truth. For a number of reasons he was convinced that it was false. He specified a number of characteristics that a true theory would have to satisfy. (Popper argued that Einstein's attitude to his theory clearly showed that belief in the truth of a theory was unnecessary to working on it as a promising candidate. It is worth noting, though, that Einstein believed that the theory was closer to the truth than its rivals; so it could not warrant the inference that belief is irrelevant to explaining why Einstein worked on the theory.)

Popper's proposal was that science was distinguished from pseudo-science by two things:

1) The boldness of predicting as yet unobserved phenomena; especially phenomena which will pit the theory against its competitors and allow us to decide between them. Einstein was acutely aware of the need to compare his theory with its competitors.
(2) The boldness of looking for tests and refuting instances. (I would also add: the boldness of accepting refuting instances, which is not implied by the boldness of looking for them.)

We may generalize the methodological conclusions of Popper's investigation as follows:

1. Propound empirically testable theories;
2. Aim to refute them;
3.Given any theory T, aim to replace it by another theory T' which is more general and precise (i.e, has higher information content.), one that explains the success of T, explains the refuting evidence of T and is moreover independently testable.

Popper later placed much more emphasis on the importance of non-empirical theories, while retaining empirical content as the ultimate goal of theory development. These are purely methodological rules. But there is also an historical thesis connected with it. It is Popper's conjecture that these ideals are responsible for some of the greatest leaps of man's scientific knowledge. Many commentators have confused Popper's methodological/normative analysis with his historical hypothesis. Kuhn is perhaps mostly responsible for this confusion, and others (for example, Boudon) have been lead astray by relying on secondary sources. Chalmers also makes this mistake.

It is worth emphasizing that there are two aspects to the demarcation criterion: one of attitude and one of pure logic. Firstly, the scientist must try to find falsifying instances to his theories. This is a matter of the correct attitude; the critical attitude. Secondly, the scientist must have at his disposal refutable theories. The possibility then arises of a scientist earnestly following the first injunction without realizing that the theory he is dealing with is empirically irrefutable. Equally, a body of theory may be logically capable of refutation, though its adherents have refused or neglected to look for refuting instances. Since Popper is interested in the growth of knowledge he is most concerned to discourage the use of immunizing stratagems that flout the demarcation criterion, effectively reducing the information content of our theories. (The term "information content" will be defined later.) Kepler, for instance, could have described the planets that did not fit his master's model as not really planets. After all, he might have said, planets do not behave like that: a planet is essentially an object with a circular orbit. This would have been an example of what Popper calls an immunizing stratagem. Such a maneuver, Popper would say, saves the theory but at the price of a reduction in information content. As we have seen Kepler's actual response greatly increased the informative content of astronomy, and is rightly admired for that.

Why Marxism is not a science:

To clarify the logic of the sorts of systems we are talking about and the possible empirical criticism to which they could be put, let us take an example from chemistry. A classic metaphysical sentence is: gold has an acidic solvent. This is an irrefutable statement, for however far and wide one looks for such an acid without finding it, it is always possible to say that it exists at some other time or place. So is experience, our strongest critic, irrelevant to this type of statement? Professor John Watkins has pointed out that experience can be brought in as a critic here indirectly via a well tested scientific theory which is directly testable. (Watkins, [1958].) The metaphysical sentence in question is in fact incompatible with the well tested theory that gold has no acidic solvent.

But is such an analysis relevant to the Marxist's attempt to evade criticism? Yes, for like the spatio-temporally unrestricted singular statement about gold, the Marxist's apology is also a spatio-temporally unrestricted singular statement. Both would require a systematic search of the whole of space and time for a direct empirical refutation (or alleged "confirmation"), which is obviously impossible. (Of course, the Marxist's assertion covers only future time, though it might be made to cover the past if he were desperate enough.)

A Marxist is unlikely to adopt such an unrestricted prediction, at least not at the time of writing (The article forwarded by Setara Hashem was a perfect example). Such a position might emerge after innumerable attempts to evade criticism, perhaps taking 50 to 100 years to evolve. By that stage the moral of the apologist may well have sunk to an unrecoverable low. But even if a Marxist did resort to this desperate maneuver, he would still be open to an indirect empirical refutation. Ludwig Von Mises argued that without a price system, which communism would eliminate, there is no even equally adequate way to allocate resources. (Mises, [1935], "The Impossibility of Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealthquot; , Reprinted in F. A. Hayek, ed. Collective Economic Planning.) Against the desperate hope in the possibility of communism Mises pitted economic theory, a theory which makes many detailed empirical predictions.

One might argue that economics does not make predictions of the same empirical precision as does chemistry. One might even argue that economics is not empirical at all, but a very suggestive and true metaphysical theory.

The analogy with chemistry would then be weakened. But we can certainly say that economics has greater informative content than the Marxist's unrestricted singular prediction, and may still undermine the Marxist's case.

It is easy to assume that empirical observation is the strongest critic. The implication would be that if a network of ideas succeeds in shielding itself from empirical counter-evidence, it will have evaded, if not all sorts of criticism, at least the most damaging both psychologically and logically. This may not be true. An interesting possibility is that perhaps opposing metaphysical theories are sometimes of greater weight than empirical observations. Watkins has shown how metaphysical theories serve to filter out some possible theories before they even enter the body of science; these theories do not even get discussed because they conflict with the prevalent metaphysical background assumptions.

Watkins' discussion of the influential role of metaphysical doctrines ('haunted universe doctrines) is highly suggestive in this context:

...what informs and integrates the heterogeneous ideas of Augustine, or Bossuet, or Condorcet, or Burke, or Comte, or Marx is in each case a distinctive view of history which both shapes each of their interpretations of historical facts and suggests a certain kind of moral and political outlook....the moral-political suggestiveness of haunted universe doctrines indicates that large clashes of belief in the moral-political sphere need not have their origin in disagreement over moral principles or over observable facts. They may be generated, partly or wholly, by conflicting metaphysical interpretations of the world. (Watkins J. W. N. [1958], "Confirmable and Influential Metaphysics." Mind 68.)

The Marxist account of history too, Popper held, is not scientific, although it differs in certain crucial respects from psychoanalysis. For Marxism, Popper believed, had been initially scientific, in that Marx had postulated a theory which was genuinely predictive. However, when these predictions were not in fact borne out, the theory was saved from falsification by the addition of ad hoc hypotheses which made it compatible with the facts. By this means, Popper asserted, a theory which was initially genuinely scientific degenerated into pseudo-scientific dogma.

These factors combined to make Popper take falsifiability as his criterion for demarcating science from non-science: if a theory is incompatible with possible empirical observations it is scientific; conversely, a theory which is compatible with all such observations, either because, as in the case of Marxism, it has been modified solely to accommodate such observations, or because, as in the case of psychoanalytic theories, it is consistent with all possible observations, is unscientific. For Popper, however, to assert that a theory is unscientific, is not necessarily to hold that it is unenlightening, still less that it is meaningless, for it sometimes happens that a theory which is unscientific (because it is unfalsifiable) at a given time may become falsifiable, and thus scientific, with the development of technology, or with the further articulation and refinement of the theory. Further, even purely mythogenic explanations have performed a valuable function in the past in expediting our understanding of the nature of reality.

We may conclude that even if an ideology assumes the form of a metaphysical doctrine it may yet be criticized, not only by unproblematically empirical theories, but also by scientifically acceptable metaphysical assumptions. The Marxist's retreat to unrestricted prediction, does not save his position from criticism, but only creates other grounds for criticism.

History of Transformation of Marxism into a dogma:

(From Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, at least from the 1870s the pressure towards the doctrinalisation of Marx's interpretation of history became increasingly strong, for several reasons.

(1) Marx & Engels did aim to increase their own political influence in the labor movement and socialist movement, and for this they needed a popular ideology or doctrine which people could easily understand and act upon. Both men were quite capable of splendid political rhetoric and, occasionally, of making sweeping generalizations

(2) Attacks by critics, academics and competitors in the socialist movement also forced them to systematize their ideas; generalizations from experience and research demanded a more explicit coherent theoretical framework.

(3) Christian religious and moral doctrine was still very influential among the working classes, who mostly lacked access to a scientific education, and this created the political need or pressure to articulate a complete alternative belief system or scientific world outlook. Thus, Engels sought to distinguish between religious-utopian and practical-scientific socialism.

These three factors are the original sources of the tension between science and ideology in Marxism. Engels, who was the first great "Marxist systematiser", tried to take a nuanced approach in his writings and popularize the materialist approach without vulgarization.

In a Preface to the English edition of his pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (completed in 1880), Frederick Engels indicated that he accepted the usage of the term "historical materialism". Recalling the early days of the new interpretation of history, he stated:

"We, at that time, were all materialists, or, at least, very advanced free-thinkers, and to us it appeared inconceivable that almost all educated people in England should believe in all sorts of impossible miracles, and that even geologists like Buckland and Mantell should contort the facts of their science so as not to clash too much with the myths of the book of Genesis; while, in order to find people who dared to use their own intellectual faculties with regard to religious matters, you had to go amongst the uneducated, the "great unwashed", as they were then called, the working people, especially the Owenite Socialists".

In a foreword to his essay Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886), three years after Marx's death, Engels claimed confidently that "In the meantime, the Marxist world outlook has found representatives far beyond the boundaries of Germany and Europe and in all the literary languages of the world."

In his old age, Engels speculated about a new cosmology or ontology which would show the principles of dialectics to be universal features of reality. He also drafted an article on The part played by labor in the transition from Ape to Man, apparently a theory of anthropogenesis which would integrate the insights of Marx and Charles Darwin

(This is discussed by Charles Woolfson in The Labor Theory of Culture: a Re-examination of Engels Theory of Human Origins).

At the very least, Marxism had now been born, and "historical materialism" had become a distinct philosophical doctrine, subsequently elaborated and systematized by intellectuals like Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, Georgi Plekhanov and Nikolai Bukharin. Even so, up to the 1930s many of Marx's earlier works were still unknown, and in reality most self-styled Marxists had not read beyond Capital Vol. 1. Isaac Deutscher provides an anecdote about the knowledge of Marx in that era:

"Capital is a tough nut to crack, opined Ignacy Daszynski, one of the wellknown socialist "people's tribunes" around the turn of the 20th century, but anyhow he had not read it. But, he said, Karl Kautsky had read it, and written a popular summary of the first volume. He hadn't read this either, but Kelles-Krausz, the party theoretician, had read Kautsky's pamphlet and summarized it. He also had not read Kelles-Krausz's text, but the financial expert of the party, Hermann Diamand, had read it and had told him, i.e. Daszynski, everything about it".

After Lenin's death in 1924, Marxism was transformed into Marxism-Leninism and from there to Maoism or Marxism-Leninism-Mao Ze Dong Thought in China which some regard as the "true doctrine" and others as a "state religion".

In the early years of the 20th century, historical materialism was often treated by socialist writers as interchangeable with dialectical materialism, a formulation never used by Friedrich Engels however. According to many Marxists influenced by Soviet Marxism, historical materialism is a specifically sociological method, while dialectical materialism refers to a more general, abstract, philosophy. The Soviet orthodox Marxist tradition, influential for half a century, based itself on Joseph Stalin's pamphlet Dialectical and Historical materialism and on textbooks issued by the "Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union".

Criticism against Popperians:

Before all said and done against Karl Popper, one must not forget, his “of immunizing stratagem” is the supreme guidance in the research of experimental science. Null hypothesis is just one of criteria that prevents immunizing stratagem but because of some practical difficulties with null hypothesis, improvements have been made with the method. However that does not mean, by furthest imagination, as the rejection of his philosophy. There are approximately 400 Journals on social science and everyone accepts statistical hypothesis testing without any exception. This is the supreme victory for Popperians.

Here are the famous objections raised against Popperians:

(1) In Physical Science laws are very precise. For example, no experimental evidence has been found to negate Special Theory of Relativity. Does that mean we will reject STR? This was the objection from Stephen Weinberg and indeed found to have same problem in some social theories. However, solution to this problem was made via the fact :

A theory can be tested via alternative hypothesis and does not need null hypothesis if statistical data shows the theories have been proved right in 100% cases (like STR or GTR). This will reduce research time, which is always the problem, if the problem is sought to solve through null hypothesis. However this does not mean deviation from immunizing stratagem, but to establish immunizing stratagem through 100% supportive evidence.

Since a lot of exceptions to historical materialism can be found, this Marxist theory is not eligible for “Immunizing Stratagem’ and indeed should go through null hypothesis for testing.

(2) The Quine-Duhem thesis argues that it is impossible to test a single hypothesis on its own, since each one comes as part of an environment of theories. Thus we can only say that the whole package of relevant theories has been collectively falsified, but cannot conclusively say which element of the package must be replaced. An example of this is given by the discovery of the planet Neptune: when the motion of Uranus was found not to match the predictions of Newton's laws, the theory "There are seven planets in the solar system" was rejected, and not Newton's laws themselves. Popper discussed this critique of naïve falsifications in Chapters 3 & 4 of The Logic of Scientific Discovery. For Popper, theories are accepted or rejected via a sort of 'natural selection'. Theories that say more about the way things appear are to be preferred over those that do not; the more generally applicable a theory is, the greater its value. Thus Newton’s laws, with their wide general application, are to be preferred over the much more specific “the solar system has seven planets”.

While underdetermination does not invalidate the principle of falsifiability , Popper himself acknowledged that continual ad hoc modification of a theory provides a means for a theory to avoid being falsified. In this respect, the principle of parsimony, or Occam's Razor, plays a role. This principle presupposes that between multiple theories explaining the same phenomenon, the simplest theory--in this case, the one that is least susceptible to continual ad hoc modification--is to be preferred.

(3) Other practical difficulties:

A: Astrology will have enough falsification: Does not matter, it will be a rejected scientific theory because it will not meet stringent 95% confidence level criteria

B: In medical testing, one needs to wait till a patient will die (null hypothesis)! Typically null hypothesis is tested on animals, alternative hypothesis on human. Human are special enough to make exception.

(4) Thomas Kuhn’s influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions argued that scientists work in a series of paradigms, and found little evidence of scientists actually following a falsifications methodology. Popper's student Imre Lakatos attempted to reconcile Kuhn’s work with falsificationism by arguing that science progresses by the falsification of research programs rather than the more specific universal statements of naïve falsificationism. Another of Popper’s students Paul Feyerabend ultimately rejected any prescriptive methodology, and argued that the only universal method characterizing scientific progress was anything goes.

On the one hand, logical positivists and many scientists criticize Kuhn's "humanizing" of the scientific process going too far, while the postmodernists in line with Feyerabend have criticized Kuhn for not going far enough. SSR was also embraced by those wishing to discredit or attack the authority of science, such as creationists and radical environmentalists, and the changing national attitudes about science which occurred at the same time of the book's publication (Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was released in the same year), and modern scholars have wondered whether Kuhn himself would have made more explicit that he meant not to create a tool with which to undermine science had he seen what was coming down the pipe.


I have learned two most important lessons of my life from Karl Popper:

(1) Immunizing Stratagem’ or assuming that my thoughts are right and infallible are root cause of ego and dogma that lead to wrongful analysis because we tend to fool ourselves by manipulating evidences. Hence to analyze a thought, first thing we need to do, is to find a counter evidence first to make our ‘self’ free from dogma. This is the supreme spiritual guidance to remain truthful and to see the truthful.

(2) Free thinking does not lead to non-dogmatic or rational thinking. Only way to think rational, is to follow the framework of scientific method of falsification which is the basic guide against dogmatism. Opposing the falsification method in our thinking can lead to dogma and irrationalism.

Rewritten with from:

(I have mostly edited and added some examples for understanding)