Bulletin N° 613
Subject: ON CHANGE FROM THE BOTTOM-UP.
24 May 2014
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The New Science is a subject that has been much discussed (and often forgotten) in our daily lives. It is still common to hear Ph.D. students indulge in a modern day form of scholasticism, using the deductive techniques of logic to defend their faith in an increasingly discredited system, as if all scientific discoveries had ceased since the seventeenth century, with the works of Descartes (b.1596) and Newton (b. 1643).
The fallacies and implicit authoritarianism imbedded in such traditional uses of science and mathematics have been subject to a multitude of radical examinations in twentieth-century western social studies. Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life (1996), has been for many years at the forefront of popularizing the scientific revolution and offering self-conscious radical critiques of traditional scientific dogmas which deliberately alienate objects of study from their social context and the scientist him/herself, as well. “During this century,” writes Capra,
the change from the mechanistic to the ecological paradigm has proceeded in different forms and at different speeds in the various scientific fields. It is not a steady change. It involves scientific revolutions, backlashes, and pendulum swings. A chaotic pendulum in the sense of chaos theory –oscillations that almost repeat themselves but not quite, seemingly random and yet forming a complex, highly organized pattern—would perhaps be the most appropriate contemporary metaphor.
The basic tension is one between the parts and the whole. The emphasis on the parts has been called mechanistic, reductionist, or atomistic; the emphasis on the whole holistic, organismic, or ecological. In twentieth-century science the holistic perspective has become known as ‘systemic’ and the way of thinking it implies as ‘systems thinking’. . . .
The main characteristic of systems thinking emerged simultaneously in several disciplines during the first half of the century, especially during the 1920s. Systems thinking was pioneered by biologists, who emphasized the view of living organisms as integrated wholes. . . . (p.17)
The same social concerns have been taken up by radical mathematicians, who also insisted that science is no more and no less than a cultural expression, which must not be mystified in the interests of ruling-class domination. Jean Coulardeau, in his thought-provoking piece, “Contenu idéologique des mathématiques” [published in the 10/18 French anthology, Pourquoi la mathématique? (1974), and edited by Robert Jaulin], writes about ‘the colonial character of mathematics’ :
La langue mathématique, comme la science en général, tend à devenir universel et ne tient donc plus compte des différences culturelles, mais seulement de l’efficacité. (p.138)
Le langue mathématique est une vaste normalisation de l’expression et de la pensée. Particulièrement hypocrite, il se prétend neutre, intemporel, universel et vérité scientifique. Il se veut même la science des sciences et entend donc s’imposer avec plus de vigueur . . . et plus d’intolérance. (p.140)
Peut-on faire des mathématiques sans coloniser ?
Ma réponse, on s’en doute, est négative. Certains m’ont fait valoir que rien n’empêchait quelqu’un de faire des mathématiques chez lui et qu’il n’était pas pour cela un colon.
C’est vrai, mais ils oublient trois choses :
1° Que pour faire des mathématiques il a fallu qu’ils les apprennent, donc qu’ils trouvent une structure enseignante et sélective typique à notre société ;
2° Qu’ils n’auront aucun goût à faire des mathématiques dans une société qui s’en moquera et n’en tiendra aucun compte ;
3° Qu’ils seront toujours tentés de faire valoir leurs solutions au noms de l’efficacité et qu’ils finiront par les imposer au nom du bien public.
La pensée mathématique est, répétons-le, une manière de saisir le réel qui ne se marie pas avec toutes les civilisations. J’ai déjà expliqué comment la numération n’était concevable que dans une société de grands ensembles. Remarquons aussi qu’il y faut le désir de communiquer. Aujourd’hui, nous nous considérons comme diminués si nous ne connaissons pas la population de n’importe quelle ville du globe. Cela ne nous sert à rien mais a nécessité pour l’établir et le répandre un inventaire et une normalisation internationale de l’expression.
Participer à ces mathématiques qui mettent en carte et à nu notre via n’est pas un acte idéologiquement neutre. Et comme notre idéologie est expansionniste et coloniale, les mathématiques qui la servent ne sont pas différentes. . . . (pp.140-141)
La redécouvert des autres et de la collaboration constructive permettra de faire réapparaître l’affectivité qui a disparu au profit de l’efficacité.
Les solutions scientifiques ne peuvent pas ne pas simplifier le réel pour s’appliquer au grand nombre . Il faut donc renoncer à cela été, par conséquent, renouer avec le réel , mais aussi renoncer aux solutions universelles. Actuellement, la réalité s’adapte ‘les hommes se plient). La liberté est dans le contraire. Comment les mathématiques ne se plieront jamais, il faut renoncer soit aux mathématiques, soit à la liberté.(p.146)
More recently, the critique of essentialism in the social sciences, of reductive thinking --which ruthlessly excludes “irrelevant” considerations in a single-minded search for a proof and which has undoubtedly affected our perceptions, now reduced by training to “powers of observation” (i.e. we see what we want to see, in order to defend a theorem, often to the detriment of life around us.) — offers a condemnation of tunnel vision. This critique stands as one of the organizing principles of The New Science in opposition to "the paranoid fascist discourse," analyzed by Gilles Deleuzes in his influential book, L'ANTI-OEDIPE : Capitalisme et schizophrénie (1972).
The 11 items below offer CEIMSA readers separate slices from life. They are by definition distortions, but nevertheless can serve as partial descriptions, and readers are encouraged to look at these events systemically, as elements of a larger whole, a global dynamic to which the lives of each of us is connected, and, we must add, mediated by our social class interests, and by other less dominant factors, like race, gender, religion, nationality, etc….
Item A., is a talk about Real History by Michael Parenti, debunking orthodox interpretations of history.
Item B., from the New York Times, is a article on the possible disintegration of Ukraine.
Item C., from Grenoble Professor emeritus Roland Borrelly, on Ukraine from the Russian point of view.
Item D., from Information Clearing House, is follow-up investigative report on the Odessa massacre and who was behind it.
Item E., from The Financial Times of London, is an article by Roula Khalaf and Roman Olearchyk on anti-Russian Oligarchs offering to pay bounties in Dnipropetrovsk to target pro-Russian Ukranians.
Item F., from MoveOn, is a call by Mark Crain for mass mobilization against The Real Death Panel now operating in the United States.
Item G., from Jim O’Brien of Historians Against War, is a series of recommended recent articles.
Item H., from Democracy Now !, is another documentary news report on the imminent catastrophe of Climate Change which is now being experienced in the United States.
Item I., from Information Clearing House, is an article by Paul Craig Roberts on US financial hegemony as history.
Item J., from Truth Out, is an article by Tom Engelhardt, on climate change as a weapon of mass destruction.
Clearing House, is an article by Immanuel Wallerstein on Bottom-Up Politics in
And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to take a look at a recent series of short films attempting to interpret US history through the lens of social class struggles:
"Like so many Empires before it, America bid too high for world dominion, and lost."
posted on 14 May 2014
From Michael Parenti :
Dates: 1 January 2011
Subject : Nazism could have been defeated before the War.
"Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it"
- H.L. Mencken
Real History is a four-part lecture series :
part 1: the Myth of the Founding Fathers
part 2: the Spanish American War and the Rise of US Imperialism
part 3: the Functions of Fascism
part 4: the Real Causes of World War II
Who inside Germany was resisting the rise of Hitler and why were they not supported by Britain and France? Why did the Western Allies allow Hitler to take over Austria and Czechoslovakia? Why did Britain and France refuse to enter an anti fascist alliance with the Soviet Union? Why did Britain and France do nothing while Hitler conquered Denmark and Norway even though they had finally already declared war against Germany in 1939?
From The New York Times :
Dates: 10 May 2014
Subject : Russian president traveled to Sevastopol to celebrate victory over Nazi Germany.
From Roland Borrelly :
Dates: 11 May 2014
Subject : Ukraine : le point de vue Russe.
Merci Francis pour la vidéo sur l’Ukraine. En échange voici un bel exposé du point de vue russe qu’on ne trouve pas non plus dans les journaux français !
From Information Clearing House :
Dates: 26 April 2014
Subject : The US Grand Strategy in Eurasia.
From The Financial Times :
Dates: 16 May 2014
Subject : Paying Bounties to target pro-Russian Ukrainians.
The blue shield and gold trident painted on the façade of an imposing building on the banks of the Dnipro river depict Ukraine’s national symbol, and are a reminder that the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk has chosen its allegiance.
by Roula Khalaf and Roman Olearchyk in Dnipropetrovsk
From MoveOn :
Dates: 22 May 2014
Subject : A Real Death Panel.
Dear MoveOn member,
Sarah Palin's catchy line about the Affordable Care Act creating "death panels" to determine which sick people were "worthy of health care" was rated PolitiFact's 2009 "Lie of the Year."1 But as history would have it, Palin may have been partially right after all. There is, in fact, a death panel—but this one's made up of the Republican governors blocking 5 million people from access to health care through Medicaid.
Tuesday, MoveOn members came right to the front door of New York City's Waldorf Astoria hotel—where Republican governors were meeting with major corporate donors—and held a mock meeting of the Republican Death Panel. They read stories from MoveOn members in Texas, North Carolina, and other states affected by the Medicaid Blockade, and from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. MoveOn's mobile billboard drove through midtown Manhattan alerting hundreds of thousands of people to the fact that we've found the real death panel.
Take a look at some of the highlights, then click here to sign up for next week's monthly Medicaid call.
By denying life-saving health care access to vulnerable citizens in 21 states, Republican governors have formed their own de facto death panel—and by one estimate, their negligence could kill as many as 17,000 people each year.2
But their heartless governing is backfiring politically.
Medicaid is becoming an increasingly important issue for this November's election. Embattled Democrats are starting to use it to their advantage, and in places like Florida, Republican governors are finding it harder and harder to find support for their backward, anti-Obamacare rhetoric.3
We've got to keep up the momentum—and that's why MoveOn members are joining a call next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET to plan for next steps in our national campaign.
We'll talk about races to watch this fall that could be affected by the Medicaid Blockade, hear from a special guest whose work was instrumental in passing the Affordable Care Act (hint: she's a nun), and we'll announce a new program to help members running campaigns in their own states.
If you care about increasing access to health care, then this is one call not to miss.
Thanks for all you do.
–Mark, Nick, Stephen, Jo, and the rest of the team
1. "PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death
panels,'" PolitiFact, December 18, 2009
2. "Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The
Health And Financial Impacts," Health Affairs Blog, January 30, 2014
3. "Ed calls on GOP Governors to take the Senior Challenge,"
The Ed Show, May 1, 2014
From Historians Against the War :
Dates: 16 May 2014
Subject : [haw-info] HAW Notes 5/7/14: Links to recent articles of interest
Note: Please see the legislative update and alert from Carolyn "Rusti" Eisenberg that follows the "recent articles" list in this message. The House of Representatives will vote next week on a bill that would authorize an astonishing $600 billion+ in military spending as well as imposing new conditions on talks with Iran. At the same time, the House will vote on Rep. Barbara Lee's amendment to repeal the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which she was the only Congress member to vote against in 2001.
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, posted May 15
A survey of the Pentagon's African presence with lessons from the recent past
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News, posted May 15
Chiefly on the history of NATO expansion in the 1990s, by a former analyst in the Soviet Foreign Policy branch
By Glenn Greenwald, TomDispatch.com, posted May 13, 2014
This is a condensed version of Chapter 1 of the author’s just-released book on Edward Snowden.
By Walter G. Moss, History News Network, posted May 11
The author is a professor of history emeritus at Eastern Michigan University.
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted May 11
The author is a professor of history emeritus at SUNY Albany.
By Anatol Lieven, New York Review of Books, posted May 8
By Trita Parsi, The National Interest, posted May 8
By Ann Jones, TomDispatch.com, posted May 8
On the attempted gutting of the Fulbright exchange scholars program
By Bruno Janti, Portside.org, posted May 5 (originally in Le Monde Diplomatique)
A short article emphasizing noncombatant deaths
By Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston Globe, posted May 5
The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University. The article concerns US policy toward Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Thanks to Steve Gosch, Rosalyn Baxandall, and an anonymous reader for suggesting articles include above. Suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another $600.7 Billion for the Pentagon! But Who Is Counting?
Another year gone by when schools, hospitals, day care centers, food stamps and other valuable services have been cut for lack of federal money. And despite the chatter about a lean military budget, the House of Representatives will be voting next week on the 2015 National Defense Authorization act (NDAA), which authorizes $521 for national defense and $79.9 billion as a placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations. That’s $79.9 billion theoretically available for a US military presence in Afghanistan, once there is an agreement with the Afghan government.
The NDAA is a policy bill, which specifies how the money will be used. There are billions allocated for unnecessary weapons systems, for modernization of the nuclear arsenal, for missile defense in Poland. There are fresh limitations on cooperation with Russia, and new conditions for a nuclear agreement with Iran. A host of miserable policies rolled into one piece of legislation. For a more specific summary of the contents see Council for a Livable World http://blog.livableworld.org/story/2014/5/9/12541/69564.
One bright spot is that Congresswoman Barbara Lee, will be introducing an amendment that would rescind the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which (as she so wisely predicted 13 years ago) has been the basis for endless wars, drones, Special Ops, warrantless surveillance and wiretapping.
You can help by calling your Congressional Representative and letting him or her know its time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, rescind the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and to vote NO on another $600 billion of wasteful Pentagon spending
US Capitol Switchboard : (202) 224-3121
If you get information about how your representative is planning to vote, please send to Carolyn.Eisenberg@hofstra.edu
From Democracy Now ! :
Dates: 7 May 2014
Subject : Climate Change, the imminent catastrophe.
From ICH :
Dates: 22 May 2014
Subject : U.S. Financial Hegemony, en passé simple.
This large energy deal will be conducted outside the dollar system, so here is the beginning of the de-dollarization, the beginning of the de-Americanization.
From Truth Out :
Dates: 22 May 2014
Subject : Climate Change as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
From Information Clearing House :
Dates: 8 May 2014
Subject: Bottom-Up Politics.
As our existing historical system is in the process of dying, there is a fierce struggle over what kind of new historical system will succeed it.