There is no royal road to science and only those who do not dread of its fatiguing climb have a chance of gaining its luminuos summits.
-Karl Marx

May 19, 2011

Open letter to Anna Hazare

Mr. Anna Hazare
Village and post: Ralegan Siddhi
Taluka Parner, District Ahmednagar
Dear Anna Hazare,
We respect your concern for society and problems common of people. Whole nation is well aware of your anti-corruption movement. Government has accepted your demand of Jan Lokpal Bill which you claim will put a check on corruption of political leaders, bureaucrats and judges. A good fraction of literate people has called it a beginning of new revolution. But there are some questions in our mind. The fundamental of these questions relates to problems of life of working class.
First, corruption is just not bribing. In a country where 40% children and 70% mothers suffer from malnutrition, ‘body mass index’ of 40% people is lower than normal, 18 crore people live in slums and 18 crore don’t have roof to cover their head, then after 60 years of republic if the government does not take responsibility of basic requirement of life (irony is that it actually sells it to blind forces of market), then what else can be a much bigger legal corruption than it? The biggest corruption is that the rights that crores of workers have in form their labour laws are sham; they are limited to files only and are getting meaningless day by day.
Second, the decision of corruption cannot be taken on basis of being legal or illegal, but by counter or pro political behavior with people’s interest. In the current system a capitalist with power of his capital buys labour power at cheap price and earns profit of by selling the processed commodity containing the labour at higher price in the market. This is the root of every kind of exploitation. This is the biggest corruption. Anna Ji, you never point at this corruption, at this polarization of rich and poor.
In every capitalist democracy governments basically play role of managing committee of capitalist plunderers. The opera of election and democracy is there to create illusion among people. Armed forces are ready to crush every movement of people calling it anti-nation. Some people from group of managers and servitors of capitalists earn benefit from inter capitalist house competence. They pocket heavy amount of money by broking for them or by pocketing bribes of capitalist houses. But when this competition goes uncontrolled and severe the truth of system precipitates out (like 2G spectrum, Adarsh Society scam, common wealth scam… etc) and suddenly capitalist lawmakers, social activists become active and start to think over “damage control’. Suddenly there appears a Messiah who can sometimes be a political leader, some officer, and sometime some social activist as ‘whistle blowers’ with his/their anti-corruption campaign. He starts to blame corruption rather than this system for all evils. These people are ‘safety valve’ of the system, shock absorber of the people’s anger. We certainly do not doubt your personal hatred towards corruption. Let us also give a look at drafting committee of Jan Lokpal Bill. Let’s have example of Shantibhushan-Prashantbhushan. We are not talking about uncertain truth or false behind the CD scandal. But it is true that Shantibhushan was lawyer of Mulayam Singh in a case against him on trying to polarize candidates of BSP. It is also true that Shantibhushan charges Rs. 25 lakh for each court appearance. Even Prashantbhsuhan charges in lakhs. Same is the case of Ramjethmalani who came to support you on your forum. The question here is that how can largest portion of our population, the poor people buy justice from these expensive lawyers? In a country where 77.5% of population lives under Rs 20 per day and is scrapped of all basic needs of living then isn’t the wealth of 1 arab 36 crore(wealth of Shantibhushan) and 8 immovable properties corruption? These lawyers lobby for those capitalists who earn profit by squeezing the working class population. Does the institution controlled by Baba Ramdev provide all facilities to workers according to labour laws? The two NGOs of Arvind Kejriwal are funded by ‘one of the boss’, Ratan Tata, of the ‘crony capitalism’. The drafting committee is full of such civilians. All these middle class activists, so called civilians of ‘civil society’, and their NGOs are funded by trusts of national capitalists and multinational companies who loot raw material globally and earn profit by squeezing even the last drop of blood of working class and by selling war machines and medicines. In their society and concerns the 70 crore working class people doesn’t occupy any place. These activists actually help in building hegemony of this system over common masses. We don’t have any distrust over your commitment to make this society ‘corruption-free’. But let us have a look at concept of Lokpal as well. Even if prime minister, supreme court and others are brought under regime Lokpal and even if he be given a sufficiently big staff how can he stop corruption from highest to lowest level, from parliament to block house? It is impossible. The corruption check by Lokpal is an illusion. The thought of checking corruption by such mechanism is like that of bringing society on path of progress by a “enlightened despotic” ruler. But Anna Ji you are a Gandhian. Gandhi himself was supporter of decentralization. Another important point, in your anti-corruption movement media played a very big role in building your miraculous image. But this capital controlled media sells crime, robbery, pulp and cheap stories to earn money. This media also sells sham ideals, pseudo heroism and anti-people utopias. It plays a great role in establishing hegemony of state in people. It is not without reason that it is called as the forth column of ‘republic’. Your movement has played role of safety valve for this system instead of hitting at the roots of the system.
At Jantar-Mantar, in your movement the participation of nearly 1 crore working class population of Delhi was nil. But how could it have been there? You were not at Jantar-Mantar for that population. Dear Anna ji we have strong belief that instead of plucking leaves we should cut the roots of this tree of injustice, exploitation and corruption. Which however was absent in your whole movement. We have some more doubts. Please do reply to the letter or if you want to ask us to come in any open forum we will be very eager to come. We are also publishing this open on notices, if any one has any doubt or disagreement then we will be happy to involve in a discussion.
With Due Respect
Students of Delhi,
Labour activists, (Mazdoor Bigul)

The letter is a part of letter posted to Anna Hazare and published in Mazdoor Bigul.

Brief History of Materialism

From the very ancient times philosophy is divided into two main branches- idealism and materialism. The basic question, especially of modern philosophy, is which is primary thinking or being; spirit or nature. Those who assert the primacy of spirit to nature and, therefore, in the last instance, assume world creation in some form or other, comprise the camp of idealism. The others, who regard nature as primary, belong to the various schools of materialism.
Hegel was the most famous philosopher of idealism who developed it to its summit. But with it, he developed the dialectical approach, which was later combined with scientific materialism by Marx and Engels to establish the basic foundations of dialectical materialism.
In true sense, materialism emerged as an irresistible force before idealism only from the 16th century. Early materialism developed in two different streams. One was the rationalist school of continental Europe. Descartes and later Spinoza were the main ideologues of this stream. The other school was that of empiricists of Britain. Bacon, Hobbes and Locke were the main figures of this stream. Both the schools accepted that there is no doubt in the existence of real material world. Rationalists argued that our knowledge of material world is mainly based on our perceptions and the only way of knowing the world beyond the range of this perceptual knowledge is logical reasoning. But according to empiricists logical analysis and simulation by human mind is unnecessary and they claimed that the source of our whole knowledge is only experience. Whatever is known by experience, only that makes the material world. There were also differences between the thoughts of Descartes and Spinoza as the former believed in the duality of spirit and nature, while the latter, in the unity of nature and material world with the God. According to Descartes, relation between spirit and matter exists only externally but in Spinoza's views matter and spirit are only the two aspects of the same object. Thus, the analytical activities of human mind are nothing but the act of logically understanding of nature or God. This argument would be considerable if it was raised from an atheistic viewpoint, but Spinoza gave the agency of ending dualism to God. Yet, at that time it was a great contribution. On the other hand, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke advanced the empirical materialism of Francis Bacon.
In 17th century, Berkely, a Christian Bishop and staunch enemy of materialism, dealt the fatal-blow to empiricism by putting the following question before it—He asked if the source of our whole knowledge is experience, and the source of experience is itself the perceptions reflected in our mind, what do we know except mind? Whatever we know is just because we have consciousness. Where perceptions will reside in the absence of consciousness? Thus, if our whole knowledge is only based on experience, it will be self-destructive for materialism! And from this loophole in empiricism Berkely again showed path to God. And, in fact, if we take the empiricism to its logical destination, matter itself becomes an "abstract idea" as empiricism can produce no evidence for the fact that matter is something more than mere perceived images in mind.
Here the contribution of Isaac Newton arrives on picture. Newton gave a reasonable explanation of nature, but had not refuted the existence of God. Newton represented the whole nature as a system following some fixed laws. In his famous laws of motion, he gave their infallible generalization and also proved them empirically. Nature emerged as a closed system, existing from eternity and will remain forever. Any changes in the system are completely determinable by laws, and these laws are predetermined and immutable in themselves. Newton did not end the reign of God but pushed him out of the boundary of universe. Thus, according to his views, after making the whole world inside the limits of universe, He just pressed the "start button" and the Game is continuing unabated since then! Completely bound by laws!! The system of Newton was so "full proof" that before the discovery of microscopic world no doubts could be raised on its universality. At that time the prevailing common view was that Newton has discovered everything and now the work of Scientists is only to calculate and explain his ideas. But the commencement of Quantum revolution in the early 20th century uncovered a new world where Newtonian laws were not valid and thus, a crisis originated in Newtonian physics.
Newton was a materialist as he believed in the existence of external world, although he was a positivist and objectivist. In his system there was no chance of co-incidence or uncertainty. Everything was determinable. And this is why his materialism was mechanical. The other important weakness of the materialism of this time was that materialists did not raise any serious questions on the existence of God.
The notion of God faced first grave danger by the thoughts of the French materialists of the period of Enlightenment, among whom Denis Diderot was the greatest. Meanwhile, in England, David Hume gave birth to agnostic materialism by adopting a compromising path in the materialism itself. According to his views, a material world does exist outside us, but on the basis of our experiences or reasoning we cannot know exactly how it looks or how will it become? But for Diderot everything was certain. He (Diderot) believed that organic matter originated from inorganic matter; both are part of material world, which exists undoubtedly, and on the basis of experience and reasoning it can be completely ascertained that how does it look or what will happen to it. Everything is determinable. There is nothing beyond this material world. Consciousness originated only in the most developed form of matter. But for Diderot the material world was as immutable as for Newton. Thus, his materialism was uncritical in which no one has the agency or instrument of change. Human agency was not present in it. This was because materialism has not met with dialectics till this time. Yet, Diderot was the greatest among the materialists of his time. He established the primacy and principality of matter beyond questions. In his views, consciousness is the characteristic property of the most advanced form of organic matter and material world existed before the birth of consciousness.
In the further development of materialism, Immunal Kant played a great role. The contribution of Kant was that he not only lessened the mechanicalness of materialism to a considerable extent but also inflicted on determinism. Kant questioned the validity of closed model of universe and proposed a new model that was later proved correct by Laplace. Kant proposed that Nature is not a static and immutable thing but an ever-changing and evolving process. It is a process in which everything constantly changes its form, constantly coming into being and passing away. He also established the power of reasoning and weakened its dogmatic understanding as well. Kant propounded that some pure and basic analytical concepts are the inherent characteristics of human mind. But in the process of attacking determinism Kant went to the other extreme. He claimed that material world exists, but by any sensible or mental process we cannot know exactly – what or how is it? We can only have perceptual knowledge of the physical world. Material world is unknowable. This was the famous agnosticism of Kant. This great puzzle was later solved by dialectical materialism which showed that process of making unknowable known passes through practice. Thus, till science remains confined to the task of only explaining nature, instead of involving in practice by assuming its transforming ability, world will either remain unknowable or the illusory view of knowing everything will originate.
After Kant, comes the very important contribution of Hegel. Although, he was an idealist, the method he developed proved of great significance for the further development of materialism. In his system the whole world, natural, historical, intellectual is for the first time represented as a process, i.e. as in constant motion, change, transformation, development and the attempt was made to show internal connections in this motion or development. In short, he developed the methodology of dialectics. Although, Hegel grasped some individual interconnections correctly and with genius, yet because of his idealist thinking there is much in his analysis that was artificially labored. Thus his whole system suffered from an internal and incurable contradiction.
And this incurable contradiction of Hegelian system gave birth to a school of philosophers who turned back to materialism. Ludwig Feuerbach was the first one who presented a criticized the Hegelian principles of divinity and eternal idea (Demi Urgos) and firmly established the notion of existence and primacy of material world. He mainly targeted the concept of God and in his book Essence of Christianity presented such a great criticism of theism that made it an imperative book for atheists of whole world. But, like previous materialists, his ideas, too, did not provide any agency or power of change to humans. Like other inorganic and organic matter, humans are also just a part of nature and its extension, society. Humans are different from other inorganic and organic matter only in the sense that it can think over physical world. For this reason, Marx classified his materialist views as contemplative materialism, in spite of learning many things from it. Many few people know that Marx said the following words not for an idealist but for him –
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; the point is to change it."
This short line is an eternal criticism of mechanical and contemplative materialism, empiricism and agnosticism.
Right after this comes the period of Marx and Engels. By critically examining the views of the previous philosophers and also taking into account the recent developments in the field of natural science and social sciences, they created the most advanced world view—dialectical materialism and historical materialism. This explains the world around us most accurately. It neither falls into the pit of determinism nor in the well of agnosticism. It gives a dialectical and materialist explanation of world, according to which, material world is primary and principal; this material world is in the state of continuous motion, and because of this our knowledge of the material world too, is always in the process of constantly developing and always remain far from completion. There will always a horizon that has to be achieved, unfolded and understood, in turn, giving birth to another one. The principality of material world doesn't mean that it becomes predetermined and immutable, rather, its structure and appearance can be changed by human agency; this human agency is itself a part of material world; consciousness is also part of material world and not that of spirit or God.

May 11, 2011

God Particle: A "fatal" crisis for Materialism?

The infinitely large universe, with all its peculiar and puzzling characteristics, has always attracted the imagination of humans. Humans, from the very ancient time, have tried to solve the mysteries of the universe. In earlier times this task was mainly done by priests and intellectuals who served the religious authorities of their respective societies. Thus we find that the earlier picture of universe was shaped in the frame of theology, as it was only possible theory and philosophy. Like most of the branches of modern science, systematic research in the field of cosmology too, corresponds to the period when the whole Europe was awakening from its dark feudal ages. As Papal Church was the strongest and the greatest feudal lord which was holding back the growth of rapidly growing productive forces, a conflict arose between the representatives of the two contradictory forces. We see the reflection of this conflict in the field of human thinking too. New inspired thoughts and germs of thought were everywhere precipitating out of their fantastic theological shell. The proposition of the concept of heliocentric universe against the church propagated common views of earth centric universe marks the beginning of emancipation of the natural science from theology, although, in many minds it is still far from completion. From the very beginning, the process of the emancipation of natural science from theology was not so smooth, and marked with the innumerous acts of suppression of scientific discoveries and inventions, and unforgettable sacrifices of the Heroes of modern science for their thoughts. In fact, the ancestors of the modern bourgeoisie, the Protestant rebels, were as against the free investigation of nature as their Catholic counter-parts. They supported these scientific investigations only if they proved beneficial for their economic development and turned against them as soon as they inflicted on their own religious beliefs, the different shades of Protestantism. Burning of Servetus by Protestant Calvin and of Bruno by Roman Inquisition is just two of the numerous such cases and shows the similarity between Protestants and Catholics in this regard. In process of its historical development in the past few centuries, bourgeois class had already seen how dangerous the loss in religious faith of toiling masses can be for the existence of their rule, for example, the French revolution of 1789 and Socialist revolutions of 20th century. Thus, this legacy has taught bourgeoisie the very importance of maintaining, and even strengthening, the religious faith of common populace for the continuance of their exploitative rule. Making common masses believe in some supernatural authority, God, for grieves and sorrows faced by them, plays the most efficient role in diverting their attention from the real causes of their problems, generated by this unjust system. Thus, the most far-sighted ideologues of ruling class try their best to distort and obscure the real anti-religious and materialistic nature of every important scientific discovery and, for the same reason, any important discovery in every sphere of knowledge. This is the reason that even in the 21st century, when the progress of the natural science have surpassed, probably, even the dreams of the most quixotic minds of the 19th century, scientific discoveries are still being marked with the stamp of God and scientific theories are twisted so as to prove the existence of God.
The act of branding the probable discovery of Higgs Boson in CERN’s LHC experiment as a proof for the creation of universe by God, propagated by the hacks, serving this decaying capitalist system, and also by its conscious protectors and unconscious supporters, once again proves this. The basis for this misleading and false interpretation, of the theory that predicts existence of Higgs Boson, was the naming of this particle as "God Particle" by the particle physicist and Nobel laureate Dr. Leon Ledermann in his book The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question? Though, he did not name it "God Particle" in the sense as it was later advertised by some theologians and a section of media. These philistines, who live not in a real material world but in the abstract world of ideas and in themselves are just a collection of ideas devoid of any bodily existence, have claimed that the discovery of "God Particle" will be a fatal blow for materialism as it proves the notion of creation of universe, at some point of time in the past, by an external agency or God. Hence, it becomes necessary to clear the smoke screen created around the probable discovery of Higgs Boson and have a materialist approach towards any such discovery.
Higgs Boson is a hypothetical fundamental particle predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. Today, Standard Model (SM) is one of the most successful models of particle physics and the existence of all the fundamental particles predicted by it, except Higgs Boson, has been established experimentally. According to this model, in the period of 10-43 seconds after the birth of universe (about which it says nothing) the whole universe was in the state of vacuum which was filled with a dense field of very high energy. This field, also known as Higgs Field, was distributed homogenously through out the universe and was sharply fluctuating. Higgs Boson is the constituent particle of Higgs field. According to SM, at that time all the fundamental particles were massless and gained their mass later through the interaction with this field. This process of generation of mass in particles is known as Higgs Mechanism. The more one interacts, the heavier it becomes. This is why we have massless photon but comparatively very heavy quarks. Thus, this model predicts birth of property of mass in fundamental particles, or in other words, the creation of massive matter from the vacuum filled with Higgs field.
This is a very simplistic, and somewhat rough, sketch of this very complex theory, yet sufficient for our present task. The origination of matter having mass from the Higgs field is interpreted by believers of supernatural power or God as the creation of matter from an external agency. And thus the discovery of Higgs Boson, according to them, will be a refutation of materialism as it claims the primacy of matter which has never been created by some external agency.
Now, there are two important problems in this whole issue that needs to be addressed. First point is that of interpreting vacuum in early phases of universe as the presence of some external agency i.e. some sort of consciousness or God. Second point is regarding the stand of materialism to the conception of matter.
As far as the argument of interpreting vacuum to presence of God is concerned, it is an absolute sophistry. One doesn't require great expertise in science to visualize that vacuum is a physical reality which represents just the absence of matter and not the presence of any sort of consciousness or God in that particular part of reality. Creation of vacuum is a general phenomenon in many of scientific areas. So, if vacuum represents any sort of spirit or divinely thing, it means that we create this divinely existence every time we create a vacuum. It can be easily understood that equating vacuum with God or presence of consciousness is sheer stupidity. Presence of vacuum in the early phases of universe and origination of property of mass in the particles from it does not prove the existence of consciousness before origination of matter. Vacuum is vacuum and consciousness is consciousness, and presence of vacuum does not imply the presence of consciousness. On the contrary, it should be said that only massive matter itself is not the whole material world but just a part of material world. Vacuum is also a part of material world, one of the forms in which objective reality expresses itself.
Second point needs little more attention. Materialism claims that material world is primary which has been never created by any kind of external agency or consciousness or God. The problem with which materialism deals with is what came first matter or consciousness; whether this material world is reflected approximately correctly and relatively truthfully in our consciousness or not; if yes, it should be accepted or not; our consciousness can know looking at the history of development of materialism (see Brief History of Materialism), it becomes clear that it (materialism) has never claimed that property of mass or any other specific property is a necessary criteria for anything to qualify as matter, except that of being an objective reality, existing outside our mind. For materialism "the concept of matter expresses nothing more than the objective reality which is given us in sensation" and "for the sole "property" of matter with whose recognition philosophical materialism bound up is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside our mind" (Lenin—Materialism and Empirio-Criticism). It is not the task of materialism to find out that massive matter originated at some point of time or not; or to find out the different forms in which the objective reality expresses itself. It is a subject of natural science. Dialectical materialism, the most advanced and scientific form of materialism, just provides a correct scientific approach and methodology to solve any problem of natural science.
Thus, even, Fields theory proves to be correct and Higgs Boson is discovered, there will not be any crisis for materialism. The discovery of Higgs Boson will only uncover a new, previously unknown, aspect of matter. Thus, if Higgs Boson is discovered and notion of the birth of massive matter proves to be correct, no crisis is going to arise for materialism. In fact, whether Higgs Boson is discovered or not, CERN's LHC experiment will definitely deepen the profundity of our understanding of nature and universe, in other words of objective reality, and a new path will be shown for its further development, as Engels said—"with each epoch-making discovery even in the field of natural science ["not to speak of the history of mankind"], it (materialism) has to change its form", and so it will.