Slaying Liberalism With Anarchist Science
Liberalism has colonized and debased science, reducing it to an expert-dominated faith system dedicated to control over truth.
This, more than anything else, is why so many people these days seem to be rejecting science entirely — and part of the reason scientists must break free from the dying paradigm of classical European Liberalism.
People generally (with some exceptions) aren’t as dumb as most experts and their wealthy patrons like to believe. Most human behaviors have some kind of logical, reasonable explanation —but other people can’t always see it, or they misinterpret the signs.
Communication is hard. Probably the hardest thing everyone successfully accomplishes each day of their lives. In truth, we can’t really know anything without communicating with others — all science, all philosophy, all life as we know it depends on getting communication right.
And when it goes wrong — this is equally true in any friendship, marriage, and even international diplomacy — the consequences are often tragic.
Liberalism, at its heart a counter-faith created by white European Christian men to counter the power of religious authorities, depends on ignoring the complexity introduced by free communication.
This is what renders it so very blind and vulnerable. Abd the dead neo-Roman society Liberalism seeks to erect with our blood can be killed the same way the old one was torn down fifteen centuries ago:
Now, about anarchy — I’m not talking about, as J.R.R. Tolkien so aptly termed them, “bewhiskered bomb-throwers”—random murderers aren’t even anarchists, but self-absorbed nihilists.
Anarchy is not the abolition of social order, but of social control.
It seeks the exact opposite of a world of total freedom without restraint, of the strong ruling the weak — nihilism. In fact, in many strains of Liberalism, particularly Rousseau, that control-obsession bursts out as arguments in favor of the rule of Great Men, not any kind of meaningful democracy.
We are all educated from a young age to think anarchy is the same as nihilism because of the threat anarchist thought poses to Liberalism, the dominant global faith system of our time, a child of Christianity whether in its capitalist or socialist flavors.
Liberalism as a secular faith holds these truths to be essential:
- Observation described through reason is the sole source of meaningful knowledge
- Trained experts who gain the esteem of their peers in their particular knowledge domains have the right to judge Truth
- Truths are proven through controlled experiments and formal logic that show which categories a research object belongs to and its native properties
- These classifications must be taught to the unknowing through a process of formal education, where students ponder scriptures in the form of peer-reviewed articles, papers, and books.
- The best students are selected by teachers to become apprentices in their scientific discipline, ordained as full Truth-creating members after demonstrating mastery of that sect’s core beliefs and skills.
This process is called science, and nothing that is not proven science by this process is allowed to exist.
It isn’t necessarily a bad system — sure as hell beats one where someone who claims to speak directly to God dictates the will of God to the rest of us. You want a world run by psychotics, that’s the fastest road there.
Liberalism is responsible for many of the world’s most consequential advances and innovations, it is true — but contrary to the claims of the professors and other upholders of the faith, this model isn’t science.
It is a method of inquiry, a way of doing science that has been elevated to mythic status by certain groups of scientists. A particular set of thinkers became popular among the kind of people who did science up until the internet started to erode the foundations of the myth.
Not all scientists have ever entirely agreed to this purely methodological approach to science —this is simply the standard model taught in abbreviated form to elementary school students and only partially expanded on when they go to university. A kind of pedagogy, a way of introducing people to structured inquiry into the mysteries of the cosmos.
And the incompleteness of Liberalism does not mean that the results of science done this way have to be rejected.
They must simply be recognized as incomplete, in the same way physics was less complete before Einstein. Newtonian mechanics is an excellent set of tools, but you can’t establish a global positioning satellite network Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Einstein’s most important insight about reality was that despite the material universe appearing to be extremely mechanical, their motions possible to describe on a glorified spreadsheet if you have a computer big enough to run it, in point of fact every object in the universe has its own distinct frame of reference. To accurately predict the movement of two objects in space and time, you have to integrate the frames of reference of both on some level.
When doing science you always have some kind of observer bias effect to consider — a hidden force impacting all your calculations that depends on the relative position between the observer and the rest of the objects in the system the observer is an integral part of.
The classical view of Liberalism separates the observer from the observed — Einstein proved that at a basic fundamental level even the seemingly-predictable physical world contains an indeterminate, fluctuating component.
This key difference between the classical and Einsteinian perspective is subtle, but from it arises one of the most fundamental insights critical to quality science both in the harder physical disciplines like chemistry and biology as well as the softer social sciences like economics and politics:
That all results are slightly wrong, and the apparent truth of science will shift over time.
The underlying categories of reality we agree exist are always, to some degree, arbitrary constructs of the human mind.
This is not to argue that nothing exists or all physical phenomena are reducible to mental states, as idealists too often do. Mental states are physical phenomena, as best as scientists can tell given the limited information available about what really goes on in the human mind. That’s why drugs have such an impact on how we think — alter the brain’s neurological chemistry, you alter its own perception of itself as an observer.
Categories like ‘animal’ aren’t fixed, they aren’t perpetually real. They are produced and sustained by human minds trying to understand their environment and communicate this understanding to other minds. They agree to group organisms according to some trait they seem to have in common.
This is purely for convenience, they only have meaning so long as they are useful — so long as ‘animal’ and ‘plant’ help people get by in a complicated world where sometimes proper rapid categorization is what makes the difference between life and death.
Liberalism, being a child of Christianity that inherited many of its quirks, assumes categories do have intrinsic meaning. Which is why the paradigm fails so very badly whenever its proponents have to discuss race or class or gender.
For example, Race was made up by Europeans early in the age of colonialism as a tool to justify the lighter-skinned Europeans — despite plenty, particularly in the southern half of the continent, having recent African ancestry themselves — enslaving and murdering people with darker skin tones.
Black and white didn’t have any meaning in ancient Europe — one’s family, tribe, and eventually nation (another made-up category of Liberalism) defined identity. If a dude from Africa joined up with a crew of Vikings raiding in the Mediterranean and wound up marrying into a Norse family, nobody in their home country would have seen his kids as anything other than a Norseman whose parent was born in the hot sun-lands.
Later of course religion became a dividing point, eventually nationalism rose, then colonialism produced an incentive for Europe’s wealthy to paper over emerging class and ethnic differences with the new racial identity of white supremacy that still troubles the world today.
Before being colonized and enslaved, Africans had their own nations, kingdoms with ancient heritages and vast amounts of wealth integrated into global trade networks that had crossed the Sahara since humans left their home continent. Europeans in colonial days simply leveraged technology imported from Asia and their new race doctrine to justify long campaigns of divide and conquer that turned Africa’s many ethnic groups against each other until all were so weak they were eventually conquered.
Black and white retain such meaning today not because these races really exist in any biological sense, but because five centuries of brutal history have invested the terms with meaning that must continue to have importance until the consequences of white supremacy no longer have daily meaning for the people trapped in the apartheid social system it created.
Black, white, and everyone else included. Even those with white privilege lose out under a race system, because their whiteness can always be challenged, so they too remain under threat.
Unfortunately well-minded champions of Liberalism keep race theory alive by framing Blackness and Whiteness as intrinsic, the legacy of this monstrous categorization something that can never be escaped. Lack of any alternative to whiteness means white people will resist racial justice out of a misguided sense of self-preservation.
Because all minds are slightly different, produced by an individual’s life experiences that all vary to some degree, there can be no genuine unified social frame of reference in the human world.
No matter how much you try to educate people into certain truths, they will always vary — or at least, appear to, which amounts to the same thing in a human world where tribalism is the basic law of social organization.
Liberalism fails because it denies this basic physical fact, or at best, demands it be fixed through a process of formal education. But this, of course, raises the key issue of who decides what truths exist and which are taught to whom.
An information asymmetry pervades the structures of Liberalism that constantly undermines it, destroying the unity its precepts demand for the whole thing to function. A power gradient naturally emerges that lets the question of who decides bind itself to who has power.
And so is Liberalism fated to forever schism over who controls this architecture of Truth. In its requirement for universal obedience to Truths as defined by some Authority with the ability to compel obedience to its implications, Liberalism functions no differently than its parent, the Roman Christian church. It eventually degenerates into a club for the preservation of its own priests, far remote from its original promise and purpose as a path to Enlightenment and Liberation.
It is for this simple reason that scientific knowledge advances, as Thomas Kuhn reports in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions a fellow scientist remarking to him, only over the grave of dead scientists. It was this way with the germ theory of disease and plate tectonics.
Anarchist science offers a way out of Liberalism’s authority trap by applying Einstein’s basic insight globally across the practice and philosophy of science.
Anarchist science is not science reduced to narrow method, as Feyerabend puts it, but as a basic activity all humans do and have done for thousands of years.
Science is, at its heart, simply an effort to produce reliable explanations about the world we inhabit.
It works to produce meaningful, consistent information that everyone can apply as they can in order to cope with a difficult and dangerous world.
Anarchist science is not about establishing any kind of perfect Truth and adopts no intrinsic categories. The world is categorized, but the generation of categories themselves and how they are measured is always interrogated and published, the schema always subject to revision.
Patterns and processes evident in empirical data are evaluated with the purpose of obtaining any useful information that can be shared as widely and in as simple of language as possible. Theories are produced to explain phenomena, shared, and weighed by the broader community for accuracy, completeness, simplicity, and utility. What the knowledge can be applied to achieve, if put to effective use, and the consequences of doing so must also be considered.
Then the general public is free to make its assessment and debate the response to the information science has revealed. That’s what science has always been about — helping people decide for themselves what choices to make.
Our expectation that the sun will rise above the horizon every morning and fly across the sky is not justified by the fact this is a proven scientific Truth accepted by scientific authorities. It’s simply what we’ve experienced all our lives — that’s why eclipses have historically been so unsettling and sometimes seen as a harbinger of the apocalypse.
Science is simply invoked to explain this truth, this fact of existence — and why it sometimes stops being true for a brief time, as during an eclipse. There is an infinite range of conceivable explanations, from angry gods to random chance.
For most of history people lacked the tools to explain what was happening with enough clarity that people accepted the single explanation we now to today: the Moon orbits around the spinning Earth which also orbits around the Sun, and sometimes, the Moon’s apparent path across the sky crosses the Sun’s for a time.
Many suspected something like this, surely — only a few of the theories of old survived to be read about and smugly interpreted by scholars today as the truth of the past, so we don’t know the full universe of theories floated by our ancestors. The fact we accept the explanation above as true is a function of now having multiple lines of evidence that make this the best possible explanation.
Still, not everyone believes it — plenty of people believe the Moon landing was faked, others think the Earth is flat. Their belief, however, is largely irrelevant because it isn’t widely shared by anyone with the ability to do anything about it.
Truth doesn’t matter to science — all are free to interpret data as they choose. People in positions of responsibility then face the difficult task of persuading people to a particular course of action based on the implications of the science.
Liberalism is a simple faith — once the judgement of some Authority has been rendered, critical thought is no longer required. The entire paradigm is ultimately a tool for leaders to abdicate their responsibilities, blaming inadequate science or people’s failure to agree on truth for the leadership’s failures.
Truth is useless to science for the same reason God is. By definition, an all-powerful all-knowing Creator responsible for everything cannot be observed — unless this God wants to be.
God, if God so chooses, can make these words change to be something other than I type if God wishes. Nothing can control God, God controls us — even if we’re allowed to have free will, it may only be an illusion to keep us doing what God wants.
God created everything. And that also effectively means God is everything. Which also means that God is nothing at all.
God is the void, empty and cold. God is infinity, and zero. God is the random error in the regression analysis, the noise out of which signal is obtained, defining it in invisible, perhaps unpredictable ways.
In short, God is a paradox. And paradoxes are useless for generating reliable information, because they can’t be predicted with any reliability. God is uninteresting to scientists, because there is nothing reliable to be learned that does not require a leap of faith.
If bridges only stay up because God wants them to, then there is little point in making sure they are built well. If a person only stays healthy because God is protecting them, there is no reason to care for personal hygiene.
That’s precisely why matters of God or the gods or the void atheists appear determined to believe exists must always remain matter of faith. An expression of wilful surrender to the unknowable.
Which is the very antithesis of science.
That’s why science and religion must forever be separate. Not to say one cannot complement the other — both are required to live well in this life — but the fact is both deal with fundamentally different facets of existence that cannot ever be fully reconciled and in fact can’t be if we want to preserve the possibility of free will.
Statistics implies that a fully understood world would mean we live in an over-prescribed universe where there isn’t any true free will. Which is, of course, exactly what nihilism argues in the end.
It is easy to forget that knowing is as much about what you don’t know as what you do.
All useful information in our world is rooted in difference — objects and locations appear to not be exactly the same, there is variation in the material world. Difference is what produces all the texture of the world, and our brains need it to remain healthy.
Science is simply the ancient human activity of making sense of observed difference. Trying to work out what explanations for witnessed variations are the most frequent and impactful
Indigenous peoples have always done science, communicating the results in oral myths, legends, and tales. Barbarians in ancient Europe far from urban Rome or Athens did science, looking up at the same stars as the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and Persians and coming up with their own tales for why the strange world is as they experienced it.
No one controls or has ever controlled science — not any breed of experts, professors, bureaucrats, or priests.
The distinction between the science Liberalism promotes and Anarchist science is extremely important in new global era humanity has entered, a time that will see more than one pandemic, climate disaster, and disastrous war.
The anti-science rebellion we’re seeing rise across the United States and much of the so-called educated, civilized world — while at the same time billions are crying out for our hoarded vaccines abroad — is not rooted in a rejection of science itself.
It is an attempt to seize control of science and Truth, to displace the existing priestly system and replace it with one powered by a new neo-conservative ideology. One that, if you look at the rhetoric, explicitly frames itself as scientific, encouraging people do “do their own research.”
Not real research, of course, just readings of the conspiracy-laden scriptures the radicals prefer that cloak themselves in scientific language without offering valid scientific content. Having learned well from Liberalism, they aim to displace its leaders using its own techniques, claiming power over Truth and Authority to reside in their strange self-destructive new society.
Liberalism insists the average person is too dumb to to this unless properly educated first. Which may be true on some level, but the process of education under Liberalism is often as deeply alienating as any religious indoctrination.
Most successful students learn early on that they do best when they agree with their teachers on most points important to that teacher. A majority of college students don’t feel comfortable disagreeing with their professors because you don’t get ahead by doing that most of the time. And because a college degree is required for almost any stable, well-paying job, it is pretty much a necessity — why risk your grades and potentially career upsetting a fragile white dude with tenure?
The assumption that academic credentials qualify a person to speak with authority on science is critical to Liberalism — it is has been a disaster for science. On too many levels ideology, identity, and income match up in the professor class and this invariably produces a calcified structure that slowly destroys itself.
People are rejecting things like vaccines simply because they associate them with a priestly caste they reject as antagonistic to their own. They’re being told they have to adopt them because an authority figure says so — the very authority figure whose legitimacy they reject, who also tell them their only chance of a good life is to take on massive debt in order to become properly educated.
This is a fault of Liberalism, and abandoning the bigoted dead faith of old does not mean we have to give up anything of actual importance to modern science.
The many mathematical and theoretical tools developed by generations of working scholars — most you’ve never heard about because the big names suck up all the attention — that prove themselves every nanosecond of every day.
Jets fly, computers exchange code across the world in seconds, doctors and nurses give lifesaving drugs and treatments. People in much of the world have only heard of diseases like typhoid, dysentery, and smallpox in the context of history thanks to sanitation.
Science is amazing, and we’re not giving it up — we’re only casting aside the rotten philosophical foundations.
And eventually, the privileged position of the tenured professor caste and any incentives to put scientific results behind paywalls have got to go too, legacies of Liberalism that they are.
Anarchist is not a rejection of science, but a reclamation of it from the colonizers who have stolen it and seek to profit from our ignorance of the best parts of it.
Indigenous science, citizen science, crowd science — wherever there is information, there is valuable knowledge to be gleaned. Quantitative methodologies can and should be integrated fully with Qualitative to ensure that no one forgets that the categories we construct from data are always superficial, used to describe patterns only so long as they are useful.
Anarchist science is the ancient mode of science, a purely pragmatic approach to knowing focused on serving communities and safeguarding human dignity.
It requires no academic hierarchy, no priestly caste, only a healthy skepticism of authority claims coupled to a curiosity about the world and a willingness to consider and accept better explanations than one can come up with on their own. Scientific results are not adopted by the public because a President or celebrity says they ought to be, but because in ten billion billion conversations people work out what seems most true from their perspective.
And on the whole, in time, people do get it right. Slavery is no longer acceptable, science is done according to certain essential standards, even if fields are often wearing blinders.
Anarchist science is the philosophical paradigm that, coupled with pragmatic methodology, systems science, agent-based modeling and simulation, and cybernetic communications, could revolutionize many fields that have been stagnant for too long.
Economics, political science, sociology, policy studies, geography — too many of the most impactful fields are still dominated by white suburbanites, mostly men from a narrow, privileged background. Far too many of those who aren’t were selected by white men like these to carry on the sacred traditions.
Because these fields generate many of the ideas that governments and corporations use to justify their self-serving actions, the entire planet is teetering on the brink of a period of intersecting climate change, conflict, and economic turmoil the likes of which no one alive has ever been through.
People are already rejecting the paradigms of old, the young turning against capitalism and socialism and all the other contesting isms that plague the European intellectual heritage. The day of the old white man is passing — though too slow for too much of the planet, I’m afraid.
Science must be free, as it once was, restored to its true purpose: serving people.
Only now, we won’t have to exchange oral stories along trade routes to share what we know. We have the internet, unless it falls entirely under the control of the likes of Facebook and Google.
But despite their power, there will remain channels of communication even Facebook won’t be able to buy or quash completely. Science will be communicated — you can’t stop the signal, Mal.
The sooner Liberalism falls, the better — for society and for science. Only then can true pluralism rooted in mutual respect flourish.
Embrace anarchist science. Unless you’re already got tenure — and let’s face it, you almost certainly won’t —you’ve got little to lose, young scientists.
Break free. Form collectives. Pool resources. Support the community.
The time has come for all willing barbarians to set fire to the Ivory Tower, sacking Rome once and for all.