The New Enlightenment: Combining Voltaire and Prometheus

Wim Rietdijk, D.Sci.



The Essential Social Reformer: Techno-Science pushing Reason, Rational Values and Emotional Awakening

This page is about some aspects of The Scientifization of Culture, by theoretical physicist C.W. Rietdijk, with an Introduction by psychologist H.J. Eysenck. You can find more about this politically, sociologically and philosophically highly incorrect work on The Scientifization of Culture.
      One of the essential aspects of this publication is the thesis that thinking, not only in the political domain but also in those of sociology, economics, philosophy, our ideas about the meaning of life and various others, has been unconsciously adjusted to dominating group interests and corresponding ideology, taboos and habits of thought. One of the consequences is that various vital facts and theories on them simply remain repressed because of their not fitting with such interests and ideology: thinking about them is taboo.
      In what follows we give an idea of what this actually means, as a physicist applies his more objective ways of thinking to the interests-, tradition- and taboo-infested domains of social, moral, sexual and other vital typically "human" problems.

1. "A British team of scientists has discovered how defective genes can be removed from sperm and eggs, raising the prospect that scores of hereditary diseases could be eliminated from mankind. The breakthrough, described by eminent scientists as landmark research, means that faulty genes... could be replaced by healthy ones before an egg is fertilized,... A more controversial possibility would be to use the process to enhance the genetic make-up of sperm and eggs in order to produce offspring born with cosmetic 'improvements',..."
      "Dr Stephen West, who led the research team at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's Clare Hall Laboratories in Hertfordshire... [said] 'I honestly think that 20 years from now it will be fairly routine. The implications are phenomenal... You could create super-races effectively'." (The Sunday Times, 8 Dec. 1996.)
      Great care will be necessary, but in the future many human problems will be sensibly tackled by genetic engineering.
      In coherence with their missing the boat as to joining in with today's all-important process: the techno-scientific revolution, most intellectuals and "idea-mongers" failed completely in seeing that most core human problems are in the domain of "natural" shortcomings and defects rather than in those of politics, group relations, the "existential" philosophical and the like. It would be fine for politicians, ideologues and obscure philosophers if they were in the latter domains, but it is not so. For example:
a) Internet will do more in obviating unofficial censorship and social sieves - and, therefore, in fighting conformism - than all good intentions, and also in making kindred spirits find each other.
b) Sexual problems have much more to do with a "genetic scarcety" of physical attractiveness and good characters, and with the irrationality of the "marketplace" for love partners (too much coincidence, too small in scale,...) than with anything else.
c) Elevating the level of politics would be helped by giving politicians and journalists the right to interview each other while using ever more sophisticated technological lie-detection, rather than by verbal ethics.
d) Religious problems and that of a possible afterlife can better be addressed with scientific research - parapsychology, near-death experiences, brain and reincarnation research,... - than via churches and speculative philosphy.
e) In the last resort, social and other relational problems could be brought nearer to a solution by the genetic improvement of man as referred to in our above quotation (and by eugenics) than via the "disadvantaged industry", which asserts rearguard groups - underclasses, anti-socials, most addicted,... - to be "deprivileged". (This does not imply help and the enforcement of middle-class values to be useless with respect to most "disadvantaged".)
f) Government would improve more by our successfully selecting Thomas Jefferson's "natural aristocracy of virtue and talents" via future subtle measurements of brains and genes, in coherence with voting, than by keeping to the beaten tracks. Also, easy electronic referenda can do much to foster democracy.
g) Modern contraceptives, automotion, economic growth and the "spirit of rational techno-science" did more to reduce sexual taboos, racism, nationalism, dogma and stupid convention than politicians, philosophers and - again - good intentions.

2. Anti-egalitarianism traditionally has been "rightist" - nationalistic, racist or associated with class-rule or discrimination of people in no way morally, intellectuelly or genetically inferior -, and produced much evil.
      However, in the course of the past half century many politicians, a "new class" of bureaucrats in redistribution, help and policymaking bodies, and most intellectuals who were integrated into the establishment, got vested interests in both an expanded state and egalitarian tendencies and "help". That is, redistribution and much "help" got institutionalized (in Quigley's sense). The corresponding ideology (now called "political correctness"), especially propagated by the intelligentsia, serves the "help agencies" by asserting that underclasses, lazy, undisciplined and unintelligent pupils or students, anti-socials and addicts are "deprivileged". I.e., their situation is purported to result from "social disadvantagedness" rather than permissive values and/or bad genes. Good news for all working in the field, who also have a "Parkinsonian" interest in many "problem people" being around and, therefore, in mismanagement of the phenomenon of their existence.
      An example is the educational establishment, thriving on problem groups, much bureaucracy to "help" them, permissive values to cause them to proliferate, and fending off performance ethic, delayed gratification, back to basics and discipline. It also thrives on studied inefficiency, such as teaching physics, mathematics, languages etc. in an unsystematic way. E.g., physics is said to be best teached via "discover it by yourself", and foreign language by "discovering" grammar and words from reading rather than clear, systematic and conveniently arranged thorough textbooks. That is, textbooks putting coherent reasoning, theses and laws first and foremost in science, and grammar, wordlists and translation exercises in foreign languages. The more problem groups and inefficient teaching, the more the educational domain can Parkinsonian-like expand. Such a thing is institutionalization. Emphasizing discipline, fifteen hours homework a week, simple marks and selection into rather homogeneous classes according to levels of intelligence, are all taboo in the politically correct egalitarian world. Good for those thriving on human failure.

3. Alas, our institutionalized, politically correct intelligentsia does not constitute the only specimen of moral and intellectual failure among our elites. Neither does its political correctness form the unique example of its own failure. Its "cultural" correctness competes with it: our intelligentsia's massive involvement with irrational and anti-moral (subjectivistic and relativistic) philosophy and incoherent or inane art completes it (Heidegger, Foucault, postmodernism, Beuys, Appel, Rauschenberg...).
      A few examples out of many about the state of our elites:
a) Whistle-blowers will be dismissed or frustrated rather than promoted or decorated;
b) After pope Pius XII's war-time silence about concentration camps and the Holocaust, no after-war government uttered criticism or publicly asked for an explanation;
c) For decades, the US and other Western powers left cruel dictators in power in many cases in which it would have been easy and without risk of great wars to bring them down. Think of the Duvaliers in Haity, Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua: they were "puppets" of the West. Also think of leaving Saddam Hussein in power by stopping the Gulf War too early in 1991, leaving many to the murderer and torturer...;
d) The French and Italian governments had a secret arrangement with Libya and the PLO containing that the first-mentioned would do nothing to bother terrorists en route on their territories, in exchange for the promise that no French and Italians would be attacked. (NRC Handelsblad, April 4, 1986.)
      The number of similar cases is so enormous that the above characterizes a mentality of our establishment: that of lacking integrity and neighbourly love, which make up the difference between good and evil.

4. Points (2) and (3) above make it clear that not too much trust as to social progress has to be put in our establishment and the sector of it constituted by the organizing, policymaking or ideas-creating intellectuals: they are either immoral ("realistic") or conformistic, politically correct, or both. Or they invested heavily in irrational "postmodernism" or incoherent poets, painters and composers. At that, their prevalent egalitarianism is in itself kindred to nihilism, viz. to the idea that somebody's having or lacking moral, intellectual and emotional qualities does not make much difference after all.
      Actually, the bulk of our intelligentsia became a kind of clergy: jointly shaping and pushing a rather uniform orthodoxy, i.e., political correctness, such as egalitarianism, "nurturism" as against genes and the idea that the rationalism of the Enlightenment is "outdated" (and that values are relative). Such political correctness functions as the interest-supporting ideology of people and organizations who/that thrive on problem groups ("the disadvantaged") and on all Parkinsonian, group-privilege and other corruption having to fear from the objective, enlightened ethic as well as from an emerging Promethean culture to which lie-detection, the measurement of man and transparency up to and including genes are going to be inherent.
      In short, our intelligentsia sold out enlightened values such as objective truth, integrity, human quality and neighbourly love with respect to the victims of moral and genetic rearguards. It reduced everything to the "social", group and relations-based domains from which it derived organizational and manipulative power, ignoring the true liberators of man from poverty, disease, unofficial censorship and coincidence: the techno-scientific revolution and the ideas of the Enlightenment. Instead, reactionary subjectivism such as Heidegger's, the chaotic nihilism of postmodernism or the cultivated unreason of Michel Foucault, and incoherent "modern art", serve as foci of attention. These precisely have in common their utmost contrast with the Enlightenment and with the idea that man can systematically improve his fate by applying the rule: Conscious striving combined with intelligence results in method, in coherent action.
      Of course, such contrast is not a coincidence: the relevant anti-Enlightenment, anti-rationalistic, chaos-emphasizing and relativistic ways of thinking unconsciously are attuned to repressing precisely such kind of facts and coherent theories that could endanger core interests of the dominating relatiocracy and the troubled waters they need in various respects.

5. John Kenneth Galbraith said in The Affluent Society that in times of peace economic growth will be only a small part of what it could be. In Chapter 6 of my book it is discussed in detail why this is so, and what can be done to it. An outline of my argument:
Starting from Fisher's formula:
            MV = PT
I propose a policy aimed at fostering growth and containing inflation at the same time. Its essence is:
a) Increase the money supply (M in the formula) by creating a limited additional amount of it, corresponding to raising demand so as to effect optimum employment (V, representing money's rate of circulation, is supposed not to change much);
b) Make price-increasing and efficiency-reducing agreements, regulations and practices in the economy punishable by law, and apply price controls where such measure works insufficiently to foster competition;
c) Substitute or complement negotiations between unions and employers about wages etc. by obligatory arbitration that fixes them mainly in conformity with market forces, as far as macro-priorities such as fighting inflation and justice allow so. Forbid strikes as an instrument of cartelized labor.
      The above policy will cause MV in Fisher's formula to rise, while P (the general price level) does not (because of b) and c)). Therefore, production volume T will increase. Of course, M should not be increased so much that total demand would exceed production capacity, because then inflation would indeed be unavoidable.
      Why our politicians did not bring the above policy into practice? In short: because too many special interests are humoured by them. E.g., unions are not fond of arbitration and making strikes unlawful, whereas employers do not like the prohibition of myriad regulations and the authorities sometimes applying price controls.
      Hence we see: It is vested interests in inefficiency that frustrate reason (and rational ethic) also in economics - which keeps silent about all of the above -, as they do in so many other domains discussed in The Scientifization of Culture.
      Actually, democracy in particular means that the votes of the electorate prevail on organized groups. Extensive public discussion about the above policy should precede voting on it in parliament or in a referendum, and governments should not be much interested in the opinions of organized business or labour about it. In order to create such situation, we should deprive the relevant groups of all means to sabotage democratic votes, such as strikes or contributions to election campaigns.

6. Not even from physics ideology is absent, especially in cases where a connection exists with what one will call "the problems of life".
      The Scientifization of Culture shows this, too, in remarkable detail. In Chapter 10 Einstein is quoted saying "The most surprising of all is that the world almost certainly has a meaning", and many concrete instances are given that strongly suggest him to be right. In spite of their having been published earlier by the author in well-reputed scientific Journals, and their never having been refuted, the relevant results remained far from being intensively discussed. Again ideology is responsible: present-day cult of uncertainty, relativism and incoherence - in philosophy, art and often in people's way of life - contrasts to the highest degree with the implications of both Einstein's pronouncement and the results in question, as will appear below and even more in the book at stake.
      E.g., the author proved that the Special Theory of Relativity implies that the world is four-dimensional in a realistic sense, so that the future actually exists "already". [See Philosophy of Science, Vol. 33 (1966), p. 341, and also C.W. Rietdijk in D. Diner et al. (eds.): The Wave-Particle Dualism; A Tribute to Louis de Broglie on his 90th birthday (Dordrecht, 1984), p. 433.]
      This demonstration causes the world to be a lot less "coincidental" than many like to believe. The more so because in addition the author proved that not merely the existing world is four-dimensional, but various physical laws are so too. The latter is of major significance because it implies that not only some very concrete physical processes show an aspect of the ("already" existing) future having influence on the present - via very exact formulae -, but that human destiny could have such aspect too. An aspect which may cause life to be less "coincidental" than many think and even could make it indeed meaningful in Einstein's sense. [As to the proofs about four-dimensional physical laws that imply the future to sometimes cast its shadows before see, e.g., C.W. Rietdijk in Foundations of Physics, Vol. 8 (1978), p. 615 and Vol. 11 (1981), p. 783.]
      The Scientifization of Culture contains 75 pages of scientific discussion about such physical results - explaining them for the layman as far as possible - and their possible relations with parapsychology, religion and deeper laws in our lives. Within this scope, also an extensive experiment about "The Roots of Coincidence" (title of a book by Arthur Koestler) is discussed, in which many coincidences in his own life convinced the author of their showing long-term coherence. Most popular - too popular - authors writing about the "new physics" and its connection with human life and destiny (such as Fritjof Capra) think that its consequences amount to such life being more "coincidental" and uncertain than implied by classical physics. Being a rationalist, I am, on account of my own physical and other research - and giving many references to scientific publications in my book - of the opposite opinion. It is emphasized that "traditional" rationalistic physics (and reductionistic rationalism at all) was a very partial rationalism. I.e., it implied the world to function systematically, according to precise laws, merely in the small domain, at the same time being chaotic on the macro-level of a whole human life, evolution or the universe as an entirety. Chapter 10 of my book is even more rationalistic: subtle coherence does not only govern local physical and other processes, but also does so with respect to what transcends locality, in various physical processes and - probably - in human life too. In such sense it also "orchestrates results in the long term".
      In this stage between facts (nonlocal coherence in quantum physics) and (strong) hypotheses (about macro-coherence in human lives), the author, still being a rationalist, felt himself driven to start his Chapter 10 with the motto:
      "The dynamic and the emotional, good and evil, beauty and disharmony, the questions of life and death, of fate and wisdom, of love, passion and the magnificent, of triumph and defeat get a new dimension of majesty and depth if they would appear to fit within an integrating, coherent scope. This is why I studied theoretical physics and also tried to find out something about the laws of human destiny and of the fabric of society. In listening to beautiful music, in having tears in my eyes in seeing the sun set over the sea, my overwhelming feeling is God speaking to me:
'My works surpass everything in your imagination, My laws and coherence cause the world to evolve from one Supreme Principle they reflect and from which ensues all that was, is and ever will be. I neither play dice, nor can I be outwitted.'
      Because only a deeply coherent world can fully verify such feeling, this book is devoted to reason and moral sense which are inseparable."
      Without such view on life - in which "God" is a deep coherence in natural laws, somewhat comparable to how our "mind" is a coordinating instance in the functioning of our bodies, not violating but integrating "local" laws - also consistent nonconformism seems hardly to be worthwhile...

7. Also, a general subject of The Scientifization of Culture is that in modern society an excess of permissiveness is endemic with respect to human failure and inferiority in general, at the cost of their victims. We see this, inter alia, in politics, in the domains of law and education, as to eugenics and in social security.
      What is more, even social science, philosophy and our value system to a high degree are subtly adjusted to the moral failure and inefficiencies on which various powerful groups thrive. In economics, this resulted in its not seeing the obvious. Also it led up to our social thinkers failing to expose "progressive" education, sexual taboos and emperor-without-clothes kinds of "modern art".
      Within this scope, radical relativism and postmodernism can most simply be explained as ideological inventions to shield from science and reason much that is wrong in man and society. (From the time of Jesus of Nazareth mankind invented myriad other excuses for not taking truth, good and evil too seriously.)
      More generally, The Scientifization of Culture shows that socio-cultural bias constitutes the single most important cause why social science failed in producing a coherent theory of culture and society, and why so many concrete problems in them could not be solved. (E.g., think of crime, education, economic stagnation,...) Reason and science should not be adjusted to man, his culture and society, but man and his shortcomings should adjust to science, reason and concomitant integrity.
      The latter adjustment will be a major consequence of the ongoing information and Promethean revolution. This is the main reason why so many hate it instinctively, and either conservatively revert to the past or call on Heidegger, Foucault, postmodernism, "modern art" or the cult of "irreducible, inviolable and transcendental man", being above science. This in order to avert the relevant calamity and shield from reason and rational values everything immoral or inferior on which they could so nicely thrive up till now. Within this scope, "mystery" and the "non-rational" are euphemisms for troubled waters.
      Actually, Western governments will be so nihilistically indifferent to human quality that they do not even bother about moral and/or intellectual rearguards outbreeding high-IQ groups, and tolerate the massive immigration of low-IQ people.

8. A core problem of life is the menace emanating from "the others" as far as they are immoral, and our finding safety from them: at least an inner stronghold against injustice and the unsympathetic. Only enlightened religion may give an ultimate answer here, but society can help much. E.g., by seriously emphasizing the moral dimension in unmistakably taking sides with integrity and compassion as against crime, deceit in business and politics, and so on.
      Apart from being a scientific treatise, The Scientifization of Culture also calls on you for help as to this vital problem.

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