European science has become the root and brain of modern industrial civilization. Today when this civilization has seemingly demonstrated its power, we feel that the entire concept of industrialism is in a grave crisis.(Footnote 1)
It is this crisis of identity, the insoluble collision of the anthropological model of western civilization and worldview that lies at its basis with a new empirical reality of the world. A man perceived contradictions which cannot be solved within the framework of industrial civilization .
What is this pessimism that is provoked by the "greenhouse effect"? In spite of the idea of an infinite universe, suddenly man ran up against a natural barrier, a barrier that deprived him of the freedom to expand. A barrier which put in doubt the very idea of progress. To revise the categories of liberty and progress means to examine the metaphysics of industrialism itself. The elite is not going to do this prefering instead to revise ethics. Because the simplest way is to prevent the growth of energy consumption out of the "first world". But it means renouncing the ideal of humanism and democracy. The extreme - the assimilation of the idea of global fascism by the West. This is one of the ways to exit from crisis. This is not accepted by man of the West yet, he is indecisicive. But these experiments of deeper nature are already being done (Iraq, Somali), and the conclusion is pretty clear: the average man of Western civilization tends to accept it. It is visible in the fact of the fast rebirth of the Eurocentrism among the middle class in the West. The flashes of this ideology always indicate preparation for some new Great Crusade.
European civilization has been waging a struggle against traditional societies for more than four centuries. Fragile, unprotected cultures of these societies in most instances turned out to be noncompetitive in economic and military terms. They perished and their peoples were dying out or were remelted in the ethnic melting pot. Only a few big civilizations managed to erect cultural, idological or military barriers (iron curtains of various types) and initiate their own modernization programs without destroying traditional cultural structures. First of all these were Japan, China, India and Russia.
The "Desert Storm" is just a smallscale experiment in the "postmodern" eurocentric project. Perestroika is a larger scale experiment but in this instance we, until now, only observe a senseless rejoicing at the sight of the crushed "Empire of Evil". This is a triumph of the technomorphous mentality, this is a way to continue the simplification of the world, to the end of history.
The mythification of science that became a new Church of modern society was tolerated during the period of smooth expansion of the West. But in time of crisis it is dangerous, and first of all for the West itself. We have already lost the great knowledge which could be received from the honest study of the tragic experience of fascism. Fascism that was the morbid perversion of western democracy, the modern society "archaization". We can lose the rich experience of fascism's glassy reflection - perestroyka, this artificial archaic society modernization. Perestroyka is perverted to the absurd, compressed in time in an attempt to reproduce, "as one package", the protestant Reformation, Science and Great French revolutions. And it is completed not with the industrial revolution but with the monstrous deindustrialization of the huge country. And Eurocentrism is the meta-ideology of this project.
Our experience is particulary eloquent because society basic supports destruction, and in the short instant of rupture, one can see in the break what is hidden in the tranquil period.
Russia was the scene of revolutionary modernization under the slogan of progress and freedom twice in this century. In 1917 the revolution was carried out under the banners of radical left ideology of industrial civilization, i.e., Marxism. Now at the close of the century it is going on under the banners of an equally radical branch of liberalism.
In both cases the scientific community plays a very active role in the revolution and science serves as a basis to establish the legitimacy of the revolutionary political, economic and social order. I leave out the declared goals and ideals of perestroika. A revolution that did not proclaim noble goals is not known to history!
Although ideologies (Marxism and liberalism) of the two Russian revolutions seem to be in strong opposition to each other, actually they are based on the same postulates regarding the picture of the world, nature, man, society and state. In both cases they are structurally hostile to a traditional society. Therefore, it is no wonder that the matrices of ideological postulates and actions of the 1917 revolution and perestroika are remarkably similar and offer an opportunity to study the conflict of two types of civilization close to the experimental mode. Social conditions have changed now (society has become much more complex and urban) and the technology of revolution has become radically different (destruction of cultural structures in the first place instead of social ones). The ideological power of Science now is much more evident that in 1917.
The clear-cut diagnosis of the Russian intellectuals, the beautiful but sick subculture, was made by Dostoevsky and after the 1917 revolution by Russian philosophers. This is a cultural hybrid of deep religious and painful moral feelings of archaic Russia with eurocentric ideals and the scientific ideology of the West, a hybrid unknown both in the West and in the East.
Comparative analysis of both experiments on Russia leaves much to be said about vulnerable points of traditional society, about basic myths and weapons of Eurocentrism, about the role of science in this struggle. It is clearly seen how social technologies generated by the eurocentric paradigm when applied to the traditional society cause not only destruction of great values but also create unknown dangers on the global scale.
Science as a generator of ideologies
Particularly evident is the role of science in the formation of ideologies during critical periods of history. Deep transformation in a society are inexorably ideology-based in spite of all claims for "deideologization" of life. The creators of a new ideology turn to science - as in the prescientific period they used to turn to priests and philosophers. But what can science offer them? What is its contribution in forming the foundations of ideology? Mainly in its impact on man, in changing his perception of the world and introducing the scientific method of cognition and thought.
In any society the image of the world structure serves man as an ideal base on which his perception of a desirable or permissible structure of society is built. The "natural course of things" has always been the most important argument in ideological debates. But the immediate ideological concepts legitimating the political system, the production relations etc. are related to the fundamental categories in which man perceives his own existence in society. And those categories are inseparably connected with the image of the world and the perception of the place of man in this world. Having offered a new conception of the world, science filled up the existential concepts with new content.
First of all, the new image of the world changed the perception of liberty. This perception plays the key role in the ideologies of the bourgeois society in the fight against feudalism, in the course of destroying traditional societies during the colonial period, for the neutralization of the social projects.
The rise of the market economy required liberation of man from political, economical and cultural bonds as well as the feeling of being part of orderly and confined Cosmos. Science destroyed that Cosmos giving man, instead, another world - an infinite, "cognizible machine that can be described in a simple mathematical language". Newton's Mechanics gave a direct ground to ideological slogans of freedom, equality, civil rights.
Ideologically important are two vital aspects of the mechanistic image of the world - the reversibility of processes and the linearity of correlations between the action and the result - the cause and the effect. The feeling of freedom becomes dominant only in the world of reversible processes. Both the norms of culture and the instincts lay down a powerful restriction to the freedom of actions which may lead to irreparable results. The sensation of irreversibility of the natural and social processes - or lack of such a sensation - can, to a great extent, determine the human adherence to this or that ideology.
Secondly, Science gives the idea to man about himself, an antropological model. Namely, Science answers the main question of life: "What is a human being?". In fact, it offers a model of society, a model of economic order. At last it gives a model of a correct ("natural") political order, legitimate power and its relations to the individual. Recently, one more way has been established in which science forms society and its ideology - the direct participation of scientists as active and powerful social groups in the political process and power bodies. The scientific elite today defines the fates of mankind directly through participation of "bishops of science" in political decision- making.
The "freedom formula" in Eurocentrism is based on a mechanistic worldview and determinism which creates the illusion of the possibility to predict the consequences of one's actions. It eliminates the methaphysical component from the responsibility problem, and substitutes this problem with the task of rational calculations. Deterministic and quantified systems are deprived of any sacred side (as a philosopher said: "there can be nothing sacred in any thing that has price"). In spite of recent scientific progress, determinism is staying at the basis of Western thinking - "God does not play dice".
Levy-Strauss wrote about the destructions which Europeans made on dependent cultures as a neccesary and as a fertil soil creation on which modern western civilization has grown up. But the sincere feeling of irresponsibility is not less important. It simply deprives the Europeans of the feeling that natural and human formations are fragile and sacred. It deprives him of the fear of irremediability. And it is not the evil will but naive, almost childish feeling that you are not guilty. Infantilism became an important part of culture. Yugoslavia is in flame. The country where, as one of UN officials said, the West "made all the mistakes one can imagine". But a middle Western man calms himself with the primitive explanation: democratization made ethnic hatred free and this Balcan War is natural thing.
In one meeting of european experts I said that this explanation is equivalent to such mechanistic sillogism: the property of wood is to burn; the incendiary only make this property free and the burning of a wooden house is natural thing. To my surprise the experts agreed: yes, the wooden houses must burn out! Only NATO's generals which do not want to make war upon the serbs objected.
To imprint in the human mind simplified doctrines is possible because eurocentric mass-culture is deprived of historical memory. It is very surprising to hear that german and italian intellectuals in TV-discussions qualify the USSR population as if "it has not assimilated eternal values of freedom and democracy". I wonder, how these people have formed? Do they know about Hitler and Mussolini? Atrophy of historical feeling is the product of technomorphous mentality and rationalism which cut man off from the great storage of unformalized, tacit knowledge - traditions. During perestroika collective amnesia was reached as result of an intensive cultural program developed in terms of the theory of the "cultural nucleus" destruction of Antonio Gramsci. And the leading voice in the chorus of ideologists was one of scientists.
The mechanistic idea of freedom of man who is outside of the world and who has thrown off the chains of irrational taboos - is a very powerful eurocentrist weapon against traditional society. These weapons were created by science. Because "the demand for freedom" or "slave mentality" (as if posessed by "homo sovieticus") are treated in the Western view as biological but not sociocultural parameters.
Thus, according to Eurocentrism, russians are refused some natural, biologically inherent to human beings features. Really, the matter is not freedom itself but the myth of freedom, one of the main principles of Eurocentrism as an ideology. The philogenetically given desire of freedom to man has another nature than the idea of liberty of jacobins or Jefferson.
It is an astonishing fact that right and left ideologists did not notice that the general point of Eurocentrism on which Gorbachev has built the discourse of perestroika, the idea of "universal human values", unavoidably leads to an extreem racism, only in two logical steps. Well, it is a rough demonstration of "culture naturalization", a phenomenon that the social philosophy of Eurocentrism can not escape.
And today the discussion between Ulof Palme and von Hayek is very important. This brilliant paladin of market economy said ten years ago that it is neccessary for the very existence of liberal society that humans have to root out some natural instincts. He has marked in particular instincts of solidarity and compassion.
Having accepted that these instincts are natural, the philosopher has relieved the greatness of the modern society project: to convert man to a new biological species. At the end of XXth century, some try to bring to life the dream of Friedrich Nietzshe who has created the ideal of ubermensch who is "behind of Good and Evil". A small race of those who manage to root out of his heart and soul some instincts will form the "golden billion". This race will have full right to subordinate inferior races with the. Then instinctive prohibition to kill one's neighbour will be automatically removed. Those who belong to another species are not neighbours.
Eurocentrism has created its own antropological model which includes a few myths and which has changed while new material has appeared for mythmaking. First, in the epoch of scientific revolution, this model was based on the formula of mechanical (even non-chemical) atom, which followed Newton laws. Thus, the concept of individual appeared. Then there was a long period of biologisation - social darwinism and later, genetics - when human being were presented as animals in a permanent struggle for survival. And a cut-throat competition as a mover of evolution.
After thorougly accepting darwinism in european culture, evolutionism received the status of a fundamental myth. Having received a powerful impulse from ideological structures (protestantism's "natural theology", Malthus' theory and mechanistic political economy by Adam Smith) darwinism returned its debt. It has given to Eurocentrism well masked ideological weapons which have been intensively used in all spheres of social life.
Behaviorism presented a human being as a cybernetic system which responds to exterior stimuli. Long discussions recently passed around sociobiology - an attempt to connect all these models. Although these trends and scientific programms discovered many interesting things and raised significant questions, knowledge has been deformed, when transferred into culture, in accordance with the demand of ruling ideology.
At all these stages the myth of homo economicus was been creating and strengthened. The myth of a specific human being who developed a market economy and is very happy to live there. This antropological model legitimized the destruction of traditional society and establishment of a new social order when the labour force became a commodity and every individual becomes a seller.
Perestroika, this "revolution from above" imposed by the Communist Party apparatus and State structures, drastically contradicted the values, stereotypes and yet archetypes of Soviet (earlier - russian) traditional society. It happened in all basic models - man, society, power.
A situation was created of the kind that Mikhail Bakhtin has named "death of Gods". That is, forcible demolition of old values performed with a cultural sadism never seen before. Unprecedented growth of mortality (mostly unnatural) and symmetrical falling of the birth-rate were the most integral indicator of the population's response to this revolution. Other social and economical indicators have similar dynamics.
Famous scientists were the shock force of the revolution. The systems of cultural immunity of the Soviet people could not resist this force. The academician Sacharov was an emblematic figure. Perhaps, ideologically he was the "number one" person. Sacharov's discourse, on the whole, is an extreme manifestation of Eurocentrism and economic determinism. This can be shown reliably on his model of a law-based State and land privatization as purely an economical phenomena.
But Sacharov was a pure idealist, a knight of Eurocentrism. If he were still alive the destruction of the country, explosive suicide-rate growth and the attack on the Parliament would have become his own tragedy. The remaining part of the Gorbachev-Yeltsin team did not reach this level. Their ideological activities turned into an absolutely new event never seen before: the elite group of scientists taking an active part in political life, has perpetrated a widescale fraud. This part of the scientific community has acted as an obscurantist, antiscientific force. The set of falsifications, the lies about many indicators of economical and social life of the Soviet Union were its extreme manifestation.
Indirect frauds occupy an intermediate position. Specifically it has meant the implantation in social conscience as axioms such theses that are estimated as wrong in science. These are the principle ones:
- The statement that the adoption of the neoliberal model leads to the creation in Russia of a consumer society, like that of the USA or Sweden. The impossibility of significant "first world" extention is the generally adopted fact.
- The statement that a market economy designed accordingly to a mechanistic scheme of liberalism is an equilibrated system. It is common knowledge that this system can keep up the equilibrium only by means of intensive consumption of raw materials, energetic and ecological resourses from the "third world".
- The statement that private property is a natural right. Antropology showed that private property has existed for only one half a percent of humanity's entire living period. And already three centuries ago private property was considered the object of social agreement, which means it is a social, not natural phenomenon.
- At last the very principles of mechanistic determinism and reductionism that lie at the base of liberalism ideology are overcome by science. The world is complicated, in a certain sense geocentric. This means that the important processes in it are nonlinear and irreversible. Synergism and non-addituvity, fluctuations and self-organisation - are normal and not anomaly.
It is a pity but the logic of ideological struggle leads many prominent and respectable scientists to positions of very extreme social darvinism and class racism that were impossible to expect in russian culture. And still sader is that because of the conjunctural considerations, Western democracy welcomes this drift. To be happy at Russia's destruction is to become a victim of illussions generated by a technomorfous eurocentric mentality. When some critical treshhold will be achieved this destruction inevitably will give birth to convulsions of global scale.
1 This article is published in "VEST (Tidkrift for Vetenskapsstudier)" Goteborg University. 1995. V. 8. N 4. P. 75-83.
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c 1995, S.G.Kara-Murza