The Corruption Of Science By Politics
Been to the movies lately? Maybe you are trying them out again.They seemed to have improved under the desperate desire to get audiences back.
I know there are reasonable criticisms but I found “Barbie” to be fun, if only because it completely ignored the last 20 years of gender dysphoria and asserted bracing but welcome sex binary.
“Mission Impossible” was a blast too but we’ve come to expect that from this franchise. Unexpected is “The Sound of Freedom” which is a terrifying expose of contemporary issues that, for reasons which are unclear, is a film utterly despised by the left.
We should talk about “Oppenheimer.” It’s about many things but ultimately the theme concerns the use and abuse of science in service of state power.
The U.S. government tapped a promising physicist to build a better bomb. Once two years and $2 billion were consumed in the great project, it needed to be deployed, whether necessary to win the war or not. Germany was already defeated and Japan was ready to surrender but the chance to demonstrate to the world the superior military might of the United States was too good to pass up.
J. Robert Oppenheimer swallowed his moral scruples about the bombings in Japan—he thought the bomb would be used against Nazis—that cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. But he drew the line at pushing for the hydrogen bomb or building even more of the bombs he built. He became an advocate for arms control in order to avoid an escalation with the Soviet Union.
At this point, he was hounded by Washington for his personal Russian relationships that included dalliances with communists. So yes, his benefactor the state turned on him, exactly as the film depicts Albert Einstein predicting to him.
Later of course his reputation was restored. And this movie goes a very long way to memorialize him as a complicated but brilliant man.
One feature of the film I found particularly valuable was explaining the extremely strange relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in these years. Following the Great War, there was a massive Red Scare in this country from 1918 to 1923, and that included Congressional hearings, censorship, and new sedition legislation that is today being used by the Biden administration against Trump and his supporters.
During the New Deal, which amounted to a rejection of free-enterprise dynamics of the American spirit, President Roosevelt brought into his administration many admirers of Soviet “achievements” in agriculture and housing. Among them was the hugely influential Rex Tugwell, an economist who embraced central planning and crafted much of the legislation in those years that cartelized industry, controlled prices, and embarked on Soviet-style projects.
This is one reason that champions of freedom in those days despised the New Deal. Reds were all over Washington. And despite the legend, their policies did not release the United States from the grip of depression but only prolonged it with controls, spending, regulation, and subsidies.
Yes, I know, we’ll never get rid of the myth that the New Deal saved us but the reality is that the Depression lasted through the next war and didn’t really end until peace came in 1945 and following.
But step back a few years in time. When the United States entered World War II, the U.S. and Russia became allies, and FDR and Stalin became fast friends in the effort to defeat the Nazis and Imperial Japan. It was “Roosevelt’s Road to Russia” that was completed in this alliance. During those days, there was no danger for scientists and others in having communist and Red connections but rather quite the reverse.
After the war, there was another switcheroo. President Harry Truman was facing party losses in Congress and cleverly triangulated by ramping up the Red Scare again. In 1948, the communists won an election in Greece, and this was highlighted in the United States as evidence of a growing imperialism under the influence of Moscow.
In the blink of an eye, Russia went from valiant ally to feared enemy. And this was a decade and a half after the United States went from feared enemy to valuable domestic influence. And this was only a decade and a half after Russia went from friend of the West to feared enemy. Yep, in the course of a half-century, the switch happened three times.
Did you ever wonder why George Orwell’s book “1984” was so named? It was a spin on 1948 when the Cold War began and within an instant the public mind flipped from celebrating to hating an entire nation. This is why in the book, international relations between Oceania, Eurasia, and East Asia were in continued flux. With each change, the announcement went out that we’ve always been at war with whomever the ruling class wanted war with next.
At the end of the Cold War, the United States celebrated emancipation in Russia and the demise of the Soviet Union and trade relations picked up. But sure enough, two and a half decades later, mainstream media—the same voices who once favored arms control and peace during the Cold War—is agitating for war with Russia. As in Orwell’s book, they tell us that we’ve always been at war with Russia.
The same crowd that agitated for decades for peace with Russia now wants all-out war!
In any case, this is the larger historical context in which Oppenheimer was grilled for his communist connections and why he went from friend to enemy so quickly. It was all about regime priorities. They have exerted more influence on science in modern times than we care to admit.
Let’s explore a case from the science of economics.
When the American Economic Association was founded in 1885, one of its first publications was an utterly vicious and disgraceful tract that favored segregation, white supremacy, eugenics, and much worse, not only for blacks but also for southern Italians, Jews, and Slavs, if you can believe it.
This deployment of fake science kept up for decades in all the mainstream economics textbooks and journals. It didn’t really end until after the Second World War. This is a tragic history because economics as a science began in the late Middle Ages with an emancipatory spirit. It was corrupted in the United States during the 20th century by state influence.
And so it has been throughout the century. This impacts every discipline from physics to economics to engineering to climatology.
Speaking of which, the founder of climatology in America is Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward (1867–1931). He was a consummate member of the academic establishment. He was a founder of the American Restriction League, one of the first organizations to advocate a “scientific” approach to immigration rooted in Darwinian evolutionary theory and the policy of eugenics.
“Darwin and his followers laid the foundation of the science of eugenics,” Ward alleged in his manifesto published in the North American Review in July 1910. “Why,” Ward demanded, “should the breeding of man, the most important animal of all, alone be left to chance?”
By “chance,” of course, he meant choice. Ward explained that the United States had a “remarkably favorable opportunity for practicing eugenic principles.” And there was a desperate need to do so, because “already we have not hundreds of thousands, but millions of Italians and Slavs and Jews whose blood is going into the new American race.”
Thus are the thoughts of the earliest Harvard climatologist. And his successors have not distanced themselves from state priorities either, as you can easily discover by picking up today’s newspapers.
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