A Further Perspective

Political Non-Science

One can almost prove scientifically that science and politics don't mix.

By 10.2.12

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"Science is better than faith," the scientist told me. "Faith is about opinions and beliefs that have no rational foundation. There's no way to prove one is better than another, so everybody just ends up yelling. And when the argument gets heated enough, they start killing each other.

"In science, on the other hand, we can prove or disprove things. Feelings don't come into it. If a theory doesn't work under laboratory conditions, if the results aren't reproducible, then it falls to the ground and that's the end of it."

"It's a good point," I conceded, "though you must admit it hasn't always worked that way. Lysenko in Russia did peer review by firing squad."

"Which proves my point," said the scientist. "That wasn't science."

"I could argue that killing people for religion isn't faith either."

"Prove it."

Touché.

In the modern world an appeal to science generally trumps appeals to faith or authority, and although I'm a Christian evangelical, I think that's largely a good thing. Science, historically the fruit of a theistic world view that saw the universe as a rational artifact, works. It works wonderfully. It brings genuine results from which we all benefit. It's been misused from time to time, but taken as a whole it's been an overwhelming blessing to mankind.

The problem comes when we try to apply science to areas that aren't subject to the microscope, the telescope, or the mass spectrometer.

Like politics.

It's a tragedy of history that Karl Marx chose to dress his theories in the clothing of scientific analysis. Ever since his time, Marxists have built systems on his theories in the settled faith that their daring new policies must bear fruit, because they're based on "irrefutable science."

And yet, time and again, those policies have failed.

Science isn't supposed to work that way. So the Marxists are forced to ask, "What can explain such an anomaly? How can science be wrong?"

The answer is always the same – "Wreckers have been at work. Saboteurs, ungrateful for the blessings of socialism, are conspiring to destroy the fruits of the people's labor."

Obviously these wreckers are enemies of humanity, and must be hunted down and eradicated. Any scapegoat will do. It might be the Jews. It might be the intellectuals. It might be the 1%, or anybody else the Supreme Leader happens to be miffed at today.

The purges are generally successful for a while, at least in terms of manipulation of power. The public unites in hatred for the condemned class, thankful to the Party for protecting them. The Party's opponents live in fear, often in hiding, their effectiveness crippled.

And so the machinery of the state grinds on until, like any machine not constructed on genuine scientific principles, it grinds to halt, belching smoke.

Because real science mirrors the real world, and socialism is founded on a lie.

That lie is that man can live by bread alone.

Here's a paradox – the most unscientific claim anyone can make is that science has explained everything. That claim is especially dangerous when applied to humanity. Marx was only one in a string of theorists who've imagined they've reduced human nature to a simple formula, a formula which can be manipulated through the application of enlightened laws drafted by philosopher kings.

They always leave something out. They always miss something.

It's a little like a man claiming to have proved that shoes are unnecessary, because he's cut off his feet.

He may be happy with the results of his experiment (visionary leaders usually have no trouble finding people to carry them from place to place), but his disciples are likely to be disappointed over time.

It's not science that's failed. It's the hubristic claims of people who think they are scientists, but are only self-anointed prophets. Who think they've answered all the questions, because they've ruled the most important questions out of order.

You can generally tell when a true believer is posing as a scientist. He throws a fit and calls you a Nazi when you question his findings.

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About the Author
Lars Walker is a librarian and Norwegian translator, and the author of several published fantasy novels, the latest of which is an e-book called Troll Valley, available for Kindle or Nook.