Thursday, April 14, 2016

Answering the Call, and then Hanging Up

So. I've just come back from an talk calling people to rise up for the communist socialist revolution in America. It was, simply put, an education, and a masterclass in angry rhetoric of the disenfranchised. I was honestly surprised that people were still legitimately pushing for communist revolution; but then again, I shouldn't have been, because Neo-Nazism is apparently still a thing.

I could sympathize with their disillusioned view of the current system, and I could understand their frustration at the multitude of oppressive and unjust problems plaguing society today. However, what I could not stand for was the most egregious misappropriation of "science" this side of Christian Scientists. They threw about the word "science" a lot and talked at length about their founder's new "science of communism" that was going to revolutionize society, but when I asked them about the role science would play in this new world order, they answered that science is to be used to see the objective reality of society and use those facts to come up with a new solution.

Look, I'm a psychologist. I've seen and even done some experiments in the social sciences. And I can safely say that while you can look at society through the lens of history, politics, or economics, it's VERY VERY HARD to apply the method of scientific inquiry to living human subjects, simply because there is too much variance, too much noise in the signal. It is very very hard to come up with testable hypotheses and controlled conditions to analyse the problems of the world, much less prove (or disprove) the benefits of one socioeconomic system above another. Science can only tell you what IS, not what you OUGHT to do - that has to come somewhere else. The whole process of scientific inquiry has its limitations as well, but I didn't see any consideration of that in the rhetoric of the speakers today.

Aside from this, I don't have much faith in revolutions anyway. ("They always come round again. That's why they're called revolutions.") For all their decrying about the failures of capitalism, I failed to see how their new communist system was going to prevent people from exploiting the new rules - because there will always be assholes, and that is why we can't have nice things.

So all that's left is to leave the obligatory quote by Terry Pratchett and call it a night.

“And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.

As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.” -- Terry Pratchett, Night Watch