23/10/2021 by socialistfight
God is dead: The modern substitute is the irrationalist idealism of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Mussolini and Hitler
By Gerry Downing
The Guardian editorial on the previous page—The fundamental truth is that it is impossible to know everything about the world—is an ideological attack on Marxism and on the organised working class by denying the material reality of the world and asserting the impossibility of asserting the truth. This reflects both the division of modern philosophical currents into (a) the materialist and idealist and (b) the mechanical and dialectical.
If it is true that Schrödinger’s famous cat-in-a-box thought experiment bolstered Quantum theory then objective reality is a nonsense – unless we “determined” whether the cat was alive or dead, it was “in limbo – in a state between life and death”. Who cared about the cat’s real state, all that matter was our knowledge of it? That nonsense like this could pass itself off as “philosophy” is beyond belief.
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is very different to the cat-in-a-box thought stuff. The Uncertainty Principle addresses what happens when we measure simultaneously both the momentum and position of a quantum sub-atomic particle and states we cannot know both at the same time. Einstein was enough of a dialectician to correctly reject this as a fundamental physical law.
The Guardian admit “his achievements were tarnished by tacit support of Nazi Germany”. A somewhat diplomatic understatement, given his sponsorship by Heinrich Himmler and his work for the Nazi nuclear programme during the Holocaust until the end.
The Nazis had immediately dismissed Einstein and Schrödinger from their university posts in 1933 as Jews and he did not object. He and many other German physicists collaborators were interned in England after the war. The Guardian makes no attempt to explain this mutual attraction and why the Nazis found his philosophical irrationalism so compatible with fascism.
It is true that we can never adjudge objective reality exactly and hence we can never arrive at any final objective truth because these are in constant change and motion. Our efforts, via our philosophical understanding of dialectical materialism, is an endless approximation of these changes and from these we attempt to predict likely future outcomes. We reject Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns” irrationalism. He used it to justify the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, despite the total lack of evidence of any connection.
As Trotsky observed, “Although economics determines politics not directly or immediately, but only in the last analysis, nevertheless economics does determine politics.” This is both a rejection of mechanical class reductionism and an assertion of the dialectic in practice. Class reductionism holds that the struggles against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. are a diversion from the struggle of the working class to achieve the socialist revolution.
This contradicts Lenin’s famous ‘tribune of the people’ comments in his 1903 What is to Be Done where he asserts the necessity to champion the struggle against all injustice in all classes so the revolutionists can put forward their perspective of universal human liberation.
The dialect consists in defending Megan Markel against the racism on Prince Charles inquiring about how black her baby might turn out to be? Because that question reflects and bolsters all racism and reaction and obliges us to defend her as a universal principle.
God does not play dice
Albert Einstein rejected chance in science as absurd. “god does not play dice,” he determinedly asserted. “I am not an atheist”, but an agnostic or a “religious nonbeliever” he said, but he believed in “Spinoza’s god”. This ambiguity in his materialism did not prevent him from rejecting irrationalist nonsense whose unspoken premise was ultimately a personal god or Übermensch (Supermen).
His agnosticism was a step forward from, but was also similar to, Isaac Newton’s who saw god as the creator and he spent a huge amount of time and effort attempting to reconcile god and science. Nevertheless, he rejected Leibniz’s (1646 -1716) thesis that god would necessarily make a perfect world which requires no intervention from the creator, obviously a defence of the very imperfect and unequal status quo of class society.
But Newton also believed in the pantheistic god of Baruch Spinoza; there was no personal god who directly intervened in the affairs of people; god was the great watchmaker who created and set the universe in motion and then stepped back and let it roll. These are contradictory beliefs, of course, but they tend towards a materialist interpretation of history, human evolution and liberation.
“Thought and its extension (nature) are one substance”, Spinoza proclaimed, putting humanity as part of nature above any god and earning Engels’ enthusiastic approval decades later. An impersonal god is no use to suffering and oppressed humanity who seek comfort in the hope of blissful fulfilment and equality in the afterlife of heaven. Once a determined uprising against oppression begins they begin to want the New Jerusalem liberation via revolution here on earth.
Now back to the irrationalist philosophers and thinkers who opposed materialism before economists like Adam Smith. His labour theory of value was taken up by Karl Marx and then all defenders of class and privileges came to understand its revolutionary implications and therefore had to reject it.
The Guardian editorial quotes Professor Carlo Rovelli as saying, “Quantum theory views the physical world as a net of relations” and elsewhere he says, “there is no contradiction between solving Maxwell’s equations (on electric charges and currents) and believing that god created Heaven and Earth” but he says it (the contradiction) is ultimately unsolvable because (most) religions demand the acceptance of some unquestionable truths while scientific thinking is based on the continuous questioning of any truth.
It is soundly scientific to ‘doubt everything’ but asserting we cannot even approximate to reality and truth even in constant motion is ultimately a defence of the status quo of capitalist oppression via god himself.
There is a traceable line of the development of thought lodged in philosophical idealism as opposed to the dialectical materialism. The idealist tradition came from god, as the origin of all though, thence to Nietzsche, “god is dead” and only the Übermensch can rule, and think scientifically, and so the Untermensch (sub-humans) must serve them.
And that ultimately does lead to a justification of Nazism, even if that was not the original intention. Elements of the thought of ancient Greece and Rome, Kant and Hegel led to the mysticism of Schopenhauer and thence to the elitism of Nietzsche and individualism of Wittgenstein and the Nazi Heidegger, the Nazi who never abandoned his Nazism and never apologised for his part in promoting and defending the Holocaust.
Of course, many of the same and other elements of ancient Greece; Heraclitus, Rome; Lucretius, the 18th century Spinoza, Kant and Hegel, also led to Feuerbach and thence to Marx and Engels and from them to Lenin and Trotsky. ▲