. . .Working Papers on
     Marxism & Science. . .                    WINTER 1981

Working Papers in Marxism & Science is published by the Science Task Force of the New York Marxist School.

Editorial Committee: Elaine Altman, Mary Boger, Eric Holtzman, Lisa Maya Knauer, Eli Messinger, Luis Prado.

Designer: Liz Mestres

Technical Staff: Bill Balderston, Cindy Carr, Bernice Hecker, William Henning, Tom Jones, Michael Lardner, Maisie McAdoo, Tony McGinty, Elizabeth Macklin, Ran Moran.

Editorial and business address: P.O. Box 419, Village Station, New York, New York 10014; telephone: (212) 989‑6820.

Subscription rates:

3 issues                Individual: U.S. $11; foreign (surface mail) $15

                     Institutions: U.S. $20; foreign $22

                   Single issues: U.S. $4; foreign $5

Make checks payable to the Science Task Force.

The Science Task Force plans and implements the program concerning science at the New York Marxist School. The program encompasses a broad range of issues concerning Marxism as a science, the relevance of dialectical materialism to the physical and life sciences, and Marxist approaches to psychology, health, ecology, etc. The perspective of the STF is that Marxist science, as a unified and coherent approach to both the natural and social spheres, is a necessary guide to political activity. The STF plans curriculum in the area of science, organizes lectures, convenes conferences, publishes a newsletter, and edits this journal. Please contact us if you are interested in carrying out similar projects in your own area.

Instructions to Contributors: All manuscripts must be typed, double‑spaced. Please submit two copies. Unsolicited manuscripts will not be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self‑addressed envelope.

All references in the text should be denoted by brackets with a colon separating year and page number.

Example: [Marx 1967:  396]

The bibliography should be titled REFERENCES and is the only place in which the full details of publication are listed.

Copyright © 1981

New York Committee for Education

ISBN 0938886-00-2

...Working Papers on
Marxism & Science. . .

The wealth, complexity and diversity of historical-natural phenomena demand the development of new forms of knowledge which can surpass the limited framework of bourgeois intellectual activity.

The maturation of capitalist society has brought about a rising apathy, pessimism and mystification of the sciences. While some glorify science as a neutral means of human understanding, ignoring its links to class society, others doubt science's capacity to know altogether.

It is against these historical trends that we present this effort to advance the dialogue among those in search of a more holistic and dynamic conception of scientific activity which can respond to today's challenges.

In addition to our editorial board we are aided in our project by several experienced Marxist scientists who have made indispensable contributions to the Science Task Force of the New York Marxist School through their teaching and participation in our Marxism and Science conferences.

We actively welcome fresh contributions, responses, criticism and suggestions. Our pages are open to those interested in presenting their work‑in‑progress to our readers.


CLASS SCIENCE & SCIENTIFIC TRUTH              Richard Levins                         9

WORK, IDEOLOGY AND SCIENCE                      Vicente Navarro                    23

ECONOMIC FORMATION AND THE                    Jim Becker                             56

IN DEFENSE OF ENGELS                                       Arthur Felberbaum                69

METAPHOR IN ORBIT                                            Hilary Rose & Stephen Rose   82

AN INTRODUCTION                                              Eli Messinger                          87

REGARDING THE LAWS                                        Bonifati Kedrov                    110

THE DIALECTICS OF BIOLOGY AND                                                                125

TOWARD A STRATEGY                                                                                        132

A BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                                                                 138


About this issue

The first issue of Working Papers focuses on the debate within the Left concerning the role of science and scientists in the class struggle. The radical science movement of the 1960s and 1970s exposed the class and sex biases of scientific theories and the scientific establishment and fought against the misuses of science for militaristic and racist ends, thereby destroying the myth of scientific neutrality. The more general analyses which followed portrayed scientific activity as driven by the profit motive and the need to provide ideological justification for the bourgeois social order. Scientists were seen as little more than mouthpieces for bourgeois ideology, providing a necessary "cover‑up" for exploitation and racism. Counterposed to this view was an analysis which claimed that, if one stripped away the ideological wrapping, a rational, neutral and objective core of scientific knowledge remained. Capitalism had distorted science, but a rational kernel could be found and preserved.

This contradiction—between science permeated by bourgeois social relations, and science as a tool for comprehension of the world—is highlighted in Richard Levins' keynote address at our Conference on Dialectical Materialism in October 1979. Drawing upon historical examples ranging from Euclidean geometry in ancient Greece to contemporary Cuban meteorology, Levins argues that we can neither reduce science to a reflection of social relations nor stake out a pristine, class‑neutral "core." In order to successfully wage political struggles in the scientific arena, Marxists must both acknowledge the class nature of all science, and utilize that science to know and change the world.

This theme of science, social relations and class struggle is also touched upon in Vicente Navarro's article "Work, Ideology and Science: The Case of Medicine." While Levins constructs a broad theoretical framework for analyzing scientific activity, Navarro is concerned with the role of a particular science (medicine) in a specific historical period (20th century capitalist society). Navarro explores the influence of class relations and class struggle on scientific ideology and political practice. His focus is upon how capitalist relations are reproduced in the labor process, science and politics, and how the working class can develop independent strategies for challenging capitalist dominance.

The reproduction of capitalist relations within scientific practice and thought is the theme of James Becker's article. Becker examines the process of capital accumulation in the U.S. following the Civil War, and the concomitant development of new class relations. A strata of economic "professionals" emerged as part of a new petit‑ bourgeoisie, and Becker explains the distorted


character of modern economics, its debasement from a science into a management technique, as due to the class basis of the economics profession. He presents not only a careful sociological study of the economics profession, but a method for critiquing professionalism in other sciences, using historical evidence to demonstrate the links between the accumulation of capital, social relations and scientific thought.

Questions of science and social relations are intimately connected with political practice. The so‑called Engels debate within the Left, over the relationship of Marx to Engels' natural scientific work, poses the polar extremes of mechanical materialism and idealism as theoretical frameworks for political activity. The experience of the Lysenko period in the USSR illustrates the effects of a dogmatic, deterministic approach to dialectics; the history of the Second International and the Social Democratic movement demonstrates the political ramifications of the attempt to separate Marx from Engels, to separate dialectical materialism from historical materialism, and to separate science from political practice. Arthur Felberbaum's theses "In Defense of Engels" are a challenge to the growing Social Democratic component of the Left. Felberbaum's objective is not only to defend Engels' conception of the dialectical unity of nature and society, but to demonstrate that this is Marx's standpoint as well.

Hilary Rose and Steven Rose's contribution indicates the international character of these debates on science, society and politics. There is a strong trend within the British radical science movement to present lop‑sided critiques of science which overemphasize the influence of social relations. The Roses attack this as tending toward subjectivism and reductionism, and argue that science is not merely ideology and an instrument of class dominance. The Left must recognize the ideological premises embedded within science, but it is necessary, at the same time, to develop a more comprehensive and integrated view of scientific activity and scientific consciousness.

The article on Soviet Psychology is the product of a study group at the New York Marxist School, now in its third year, which is attempting to formulate a Marxist approach to psychology. Lev Vygotsky and A.R. Luria provide an explicitly dialectical and historical materialist framework for looking at individual cognitive development, changes in intellectual activity at the cultural level, and brain functioning. We present this introduction in order to make their work accessible to a wider audience, and to stimulate vigorous discussion on what remains an underdeveloped area of Marxist analysis.

We are publishing an excerpt from the work of Bonifati Kedrov which reflects the prevalent methodological orientation of modern Soviet philosophy of science. Kedrov attempts to develop a rigorous classification of the various steps followed in any


scientific inquiry. His work is of particular interest since it is not widely available in this country.

One of our purposes in publishing Working Papers is to provide a means of communication for Marxist scientists and activists from different parts of the world. To this end, we include a report from an international conference on Biology, Society and the Production of the Mind, held in Bressanone, Italy, in March 1980. The conference dealt with fundamental issues concerning levels of scientific investigation and the critique of reductionism, and emphasized the importance (and difficulty) of developing a non-reductionist materialist psychology.

The first major project of the Science Task Force was a conference on Marxism and Science: Toward a Strategy for Health and Survival, held in New York City in April, 1979. The opening remarks, reproduced here, present our concerns and aims. Issues are raised in a blunt and provocative manner, in order to encourage lively discussion. Although the conference focused on issues which might have seemed abstruse or remote, it drew several hundred people, including activists in anti‑nuclear, women's and health and safety movements, to workshops on such topics as nuclear energy, computers, mental health and sociobiology.

It is our hope that Working Papers can serve as an educational resource for individuals and groups engaged in the process of study and self‑clarification. Therefore, the final piece in this issue is an annotated bibliography prepared for our October 1979 Conference on Dialectical Materialism. We plan to include educational materials (including course outlines or summaries and study guides) in future issues, and we invite you to send us any materials which you've found to be useful.


Notes on contributors

RICHARD LEVINS is an evolutionary biologist and ecologist. He has been active in the anti‑war, the radical science and the Puerto Rican liberation movements. He is on the advisory board of the New York Marxist School and works at the Harvard School of Public Health.

VICENTE NAVARRO has lived and worked both politically and professionally in Europe and North and South America. He was active in the struggle against fascism in Spain. In the United States he has worked with steelworkers in Baltimore on issues of occupational safety. He is currently Professor of Health and Social Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He is a founder and editor of the International Journal of Health Services and the author of Medicine Under Capitalism, and Class Struggle, the State, and Medicine, (Prodist: 1976 & 1978). He is on the board of advisors and lectures at the New York Marxist School.

JIM BECKER was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and became a political activist in the anti‑war movement during the sixties. He is now Professor of Economics at New York University and the author of Marxian Political Economy: An Outline, (Cambridge, 1977). He writes extensively on Marxist economics and theory. He is a member of the advisory board and a staff teacher and lecturer at the New York Marxist School.

ARTHUR FELBERBAUM (1935‑1979) was the main originator of the New York Marxist School's educational strategy, and an initiator of the Science Task Force. For over 25 years, he participated in the civil rights, liberation support, trade union and anti‑war struggles. A working class person without formal academic credentials, his commitment to Marxist education sprang from his belief in people's capacities to understand and transform the world, and his own need for theoretical tools in order to fight capitalism.

HILARY ROSE is a founding member of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science and has done research on housing, welfare rights, and the sociology of science. She is Professor of Applied Social Studies at the University of Bradford and the author of The Housing Problem, (1968). She coauthored Science and Society, (Pelican: 1970) with her husband, Steven Rose.

STEVEN ROSE is a Professor of Biology at the Open University. He helped establish the Brain Research Foundation in London and was a founding member of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science. He is the author of The Conscious Brain, The Chemistry of Life, and coeditor with his wife, Hilary Rose, of Ideology of/in the Natural Sciences.

ELI MESSINGER is a psychiatrist who works in a municipal hospital serving the East Harlem community. He has been active in the anti‑war, anti‑imperialist and mental patient liberation struggles. He was chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, and is now involved in the Committee for Health Rights in El Salvador and the Health Coalition for Affirmative Action. He is co‑organizer of the Science Task Force and a member of the New York Committee for Marxist Education.



to our unforgettable friend,

Arthur Felberbaum

tireless proponent of a scientific basis

for working class politics.

SOURCE: Working Papers on Marxism and Science. New York: Science Task Force, New York Marxist School, Winter 1981. 141 pp.[inside front cover - p. 7 reproduced here]

In Defense of Engels” by Arthur Felberbaum

Metaphor In Orbit (Science is Not All Social Relations)” by Hilary Rose & Stephen Rose

Ideology of/in the Natural Sciences
Edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

Observorman: a blast from the '60s

Science and Nature, issues #1-10 (1978-1989)

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

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