Friday, April 04, 2014

Edited Transcript of web-dialogue: Karl Marx as the Real "Hari Seldon" -- Marxian "Historical Materialism" as a 'Psychohistorical Materialism'.





Dear Readers,


Below is an edited excerpt from a recent 'blog-entry-and comment' internet dialogue in which I participated.

Enjoy!


Regards,

Miguel







[blog-entry excerpt]:  "The announcement in the 2014 Budget by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne of an institute for big data and algorithm research named after Alan Turing is outrageous. He did more than anybody else to defeat the Nazis and the possibility of world fascism forever, and his name is being associated with an institute which could (collaborating with PRISM used by the National Security Agency in the USA) actually bring about world fascism forever – with computers, mobile phones, CCTV cameras, etc., taking the role of human spies as used by the Nazis. ..."

"...The idea is to gather huge amounts of information about us and try to use computer software (algorithms) to analyse it, in order to model organisations and individuals in the world, predict what we are going to do (particularly if it involves trying to change society) and interact in various ways to bring about some sort of police state so that socialist change is impossible."

"Algorithms would virtually remove the need for human intervention, so there wouldn’t be whistleblowers like Edward Snowden."

"I am an artificial intelligence expert ... so know this in theory is possible ... could be used in a serious attempt to maintain capitalism, or indeed [to] conspire to ensure socialist change is brought about – perhaps the latter is the meaning of the dialectics.org website drawing on ideas described in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov..."



[comment in response]: "Kudos to you on your -- rare -- sagacity in discerning the intent of the use, by the www.dialectics.org Foundation, of the "Foundation mythos" created by Isaac Asimov in his series of [ultimately seven] "Foundation" novels!

In studying, and then, in July of 2012, in joining, Foundation Encyclopedia Dialectica, I learned yet a deeper layer of that intent:  Karl Marx is the actual "psychohistorian", the actual "Hari Seldon", for the single-planet scale of humanity.

Karl Marx is that "psychohistorian" not primarily in the sense of statistical-probabilistic modeling, but in the sense of predicting the future of humanity -- socialism or barbarism, successful socialist revolution, or a "New Dark Age" of "the mutual ruin of the contending classes" -- foreseeing this outcome of the evolution of capitalist society, in part by mathematical means ["the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall" due to "the rise in the organic composition of capital", imperfectly reflecting "the growth of the social forces of production"], and organizing to actualize the positive potential of this prediction ["The First International", etc.].

Marx's work is "psychohistorical" -- indeed, it constitutes a 'psychohistorical materialism' -- not in the sense of bourgeois-ideological/atomistic "personal psychology", but in the sense of the COLLECTIVE 'psyche-ology' of human intersubjectivity, of human culture, of the dynamic human "memes pool" -- of what Karl Seldon calls 'The Human Phenome'. 

Not just physical matter, but also these 'meme-matters', these 'mental matters' of the collective human mind, are "material" in the creation of a "material-istic", objective, prediction-capable science of human history.

The key categories of Marx's '''psychohistorical''' theory of capitalist humanity, as set forth in the "Grundrisse", and in the four volumes of "Capital" -- e.g., surplus-value, value in general, the commodity value-form, the money-value-form, etc., "social relations of production" in general -- are not categories whose elements are "pure" physical objects, "pure" physical "matter", alone. 

The elements of those Marxian categories are, typically, socially-appropriated, and typically socially-created, physical objects, material objects, upon which capitalist-epoch humans [and, to a degree, humans of previous epochs], intersubjectively, collectively project their value-form memes, such that these humans, consciously or not, constrained to act as the agents and "personifications" of these social relations of production, consciously or not -- as the personifications of the capital-relation, of the money-relation, of the commodity-relation, of the value-relation in general -- intersubjectively constrain themselves, and constrain one other, to practice "as if" these memes were "purely"-physical' "purely"-objective realities.

They thereby produce a human social world which exhibits an intelligible course of development -- even a partially mathematically predictable course of evolution -- culminating in socialist revolution, or in ruin -- "the mutual ruin of the contending classes":  a New, possibly Final, Dark Age.

It is, as we see it, the task, and the "Seldonian" ethical imperative, of socialists, to work to avert, if possible, the collective agony of that ruin, of that New Dark Age, in a successful, pre-emptive, global social-relations-of-production social revolution, or, if it proves impossible to completely avert that ruin, to work to reduce both the severity and the duration of that New Dark Age."




[blogger's response to comment in response]:  ". . .Thanks, Miguel, for your interesting and very constructive comment. I saw a post from you on the UK Left Network which alerted me to the http://www.dialectics.org website about the Foundation Encyclopedia Dialectica and Karl Seldon, which I immediately recognised is an amalgamation of Karl Marx and Hari Seldon.


Marxism is sometimes referred to as “scientific socialism” and recognising Marx as a sort of “psychohistorian” makes a certain amount of sense. It is interesting that you refer to “the four volumes of Capital”, since only three are supposed to exist!


Asimov wrote the original three-volume Foundation series, appearing first as smaller stories in science fiction magazines, in the 1930s, before the first computer successfully running a programme was built (at Manchester University, by a team including Alan Turing, after the Second World War). Hari Seldon’s work was clearly about building a sophisticated computer to model the past and present state of the galaxy to predict the future and determine what needs to be done to achieve a desired outcome. The role of the Second Foundation, at the opposite end of the galaxy, made up of people with powers to read minds and nudge people to do things that they would otherwise be less likely to do, was to make minor adjustments to the model as well as interact to ensure it was adhered to. That Foundation may appear to be entirely fictitious but hypnotists do exist (and I have been successfully hypnotised, fully conscious throughout, by a stage hypnotist so I know people aren’t always playing along). If there is a real world equivalent of The Mule, an individual with huge mind reading and mind control powers, then I would suggest that person is Derren Brown (who can control an entire theatre audience, with a cuddly toy thrown three times in succession to choose someone at random, for example).


In the real world, it is not enough to construct general Marxist theories about problems in the world, or even to use such theories practically in political parties and campaigns. The strength of the forces of the state, particularly with relation to big data and AI algorithms (as I related in the blog post above), especially when combined with infiltration, means that socialists must use similar methods too. As soon as I came to the conclusion that there were a large number of infiltrators in my Trotskyist international organisation, I thought of setting up a counter-network, and it doesn’t take much imagination to come to the conclusion that the same thought will have occurred to others decades earlier! On numerous occasions since, I have come across circumstantial evidence that such a counter-network (or multiple counter-networks) already exist. However, it is only with your Foundation that one has revealed itself to me publicly.


This all seems much grander than the project you are involved with, but perhaps you don’t want to reveal too much! Or perhaps there is some sort of inner conspiracy and you are more of a link-person to the outside world. There is a free “Primer” download, that I am about half way through reading, and a book available cheaply on a DVD, from the F.E.D. Press page on the dialectics.org website that I will order soon; I will review both for this blog.


There is a danger that some people become over-concerned with the powers of the state and think it’s all doom and gloom, and an opposite danger that others may think conspiratorial organisations on our side (specifically this Foundation) will do all that needs doing and just leave it up to them. I read once that Asimov eventually saw the end of the galaxy controlled by the Second Foundation as fascistic, which was the motive for the later novels “Foundation’s Edge” and “Foundation and Earth” (he contradicted this by saying his motive was a sizeable amount of money in a preface to the latter book but I think he said that to outwit censors and get these novels widely read).


Whether or not the different ending for the galaxy suggested in the latter two books is desirable and/or comes to pass in the world, we do have the free will to affect what happens. Well, I know I do anyway! I could never properly reconcile that with the Marxist concepts of (dialectical and historical) materialism even when in a Trotskyist organisation (which I was until 1998), but if successful computer modelling is being done based on dialectical materialism, this obviously adds considerable weight to its validity as a theory!"




[F.E.D. response to blogger's response]: "Thank you for your rich and astute response!


We agree with you that “socialists must use similar methods too”, to the computerized mathematical modeling methods already in use by the ruling plutocracy, but, yes also, to opposite ends to those of the plutocracy — to liberatory, not totalitarian and genocidal, ends — and, yes again, based upon Marx’s and Engels’ dialectical, [psycho]historical materialism, in our cases, applied via the new systems of dialectical mathematics discovered by Karl Seldon.


So, you guessed right, again: that is what Foundation Encyclopedia Dialectica is all about.
[And all this, notwithstanding the fact that the financial resources of anti-plutocracy organizations will always be less than those of the ruling plutocracy].



Published portions of F.E.D.’s research in this direction are accessible via a new step-by-step introduction by Karl Seldon, here —

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Briefs_files/E._D._Brief_%238,The%20%27A-Brief-iated%27,%20Redacted%20Intellectual%20Autobiography%20of%20Karl%20Seldon,07MAR2014.pdf

– and via the blog-entry by Aoristos Dyosphainthos entitled “The F.E.D. Psychohistorical-Dialectical Meta-Equations”, which I keep updated here –

http://feddialectics-miguel.blogspot.com/2012/05/fed-psychohistorical-equations.html .


These “psychohistorical-dialectical [meta-]equations” include –

1. The Meta-Equation of Human Ideology/Knowledge Meta-Evolution.
2. The Meta-Equation of Human-Social Forces of Production Meta-Evolution.
3. The Meta-Equation of Human-Social Relations of Production Meta-Evolution.
4. The Meta-Equation of Human-Social Formation(s) Meta-Evolution.
5. The Equation of the Human Genome / Human ‘Phenome’ Systematic Dialectic.
6. The Meta-Equation of the Meta-Evolution of Planetary Human[oid]ities.
7. The Meta-Equation of The Psychohistorical Dialectic of the Dialectic Itself.



FYI: We of the Foundation make no claims to hypnotic powers, or, indeed, to “psychic powers” of any kind.


But, yes, Foundation Encyclopedia Dialectica is, indeed, a conspiracy — a conspiracy to conduct, to disseminate, and to promote, what Marx called “universal labor” — in a time during which the ruling plutocracy is actively suppressing scientific and technological developments that could actually grow “the social forces of production” [e.g., fusion power], while accelerating the development of their forces of destruction [weapons technology, proto-totalitarian surveillance technology, etc.].


We are a cloistered, co-educational monastic sisterhood-brotherhood, “fractally” similar, for modern, capitalist times, to the ancient [i.e., B.C.E.], Pythagorean brotherhood-sisterhood, to the Platonian Academy, and to some of the post-B.C.E. — C.E. — Egyptian scholarly organizations of 'the Alexandrian proto-Renaissance', just prior to the plunge into the last Mediterranean/European Dark Ages.


But you are right, no one should depend upon this Foundation, or, in our opinions, upon any sequestered group, to make the revolution for them — that is a danger, as you noted, and a risk that, if realized, would be a disaster for humanity.


The revolutionary transition to the political-economic democracy that looms, in possibility, beyond today’s plutocratically-degenerated and increasingly totalitarian capitalist “representative democracy”, must be created by the majority of humanity itself, if it is to be created at all.


We of the Foundation seek to discourage any such attitude of “substitution” of ourselves for the majority of the people themselves, by the following public pledges –

• We accept no contributions of money from non-members;

• No Foundation publications are authored in our “real names”, but only “pseudonymously”, lest the pursuit of power in the form of personal fame pervert and corrupt our motivations, and the very content of our work;

• The fruits of our research are typically offered free of any monetary charge, to every person in the global community of the world wide web, lest pursuit of power in the form of monetary wealth pervert and corrupt our motivations, and the very content of our work;

• We advise our www public as to how they might move, in socio-political and economic ways, to bring about a Global Renaissance, and to avert a New/Final Dark Age, with the pledge that no member of the Foundation will ever seek, or accept, election or appointment to political power / political office, lest the pursuit of political power pervert and corrupt our motivations, and the very content of our work;

• If, as we fully intend, a regime of comprehensive, political-economic democracy, should “come to power”, all members of the Foundation pledge to remain outside of any elected or appointed positions within that regime, and, instead, to serve that regime in the greatest way we possibly could: by exposing, and opposing, any tendencies to the abuse of its new found power that emerge in its birth pangs;


The Foundation has allied, and is allied, with activist groups.

But we ally only with activist groups that themselves adhere publicly to at least the last two of the five pledges stated above.

We look forward to continued dialogue with you . . . and are glad to have made your acquaintance.

. . .




P.S.  Regarding the “four” volumes of Marx’s Das Kapital


It is true that we believe that there are important extant manuscripts of Marx’s that have yet to be published, e.g., in the English versions of the collected works of Marx and Engels.


One example is the manuscript entitled “The Money System as a Whole” [“Das vollendete Geldsystem”, written by Marx circa March-April 1851, and which is mentioned in the forward [p. 12], by Martin Nicolaus, to his English translation of Marx’s Grundrisse [“Foundations”].


We believe that this manuscript might provide further insights into Marx’s theory of capitalist crises, which is incomplete in Marx’s published writings, and which could not be more timely than now, with global humanity suffering through the most devastating global capitalist crisis since the 1930s.


However, such are not what I had in mind in my reference to “the four volumes of Capital.


The “fourth volume” of Marx’s Das Kapital — indeed, from the longest, by far, of the final manuscripts for the four volumes of Das Kapital — has in fact, been published, long since, in many languages, from manuscripts [from 11+ notebooks] written by Marx circa 1861-1863, and was indeed written before he wrote the final manuscripts for volumes I-III.


Volume IV was published, in English — itself alone in three separate, thick volumes — by Progress Publishers, Moscow, in 1963, 1968, and 1971, respectively, under the title given it by Marx: Theories of Surplus-Value.



Volume IV is the “historico-critical” part of Marx’s critique of capitalist political economy — “The History of the Theory” of surplus-value — a critical history of capitalist “economics” from the 1600s [“mercantilism”] to the ~1860, and immanently critiques the political-economic views of each of the key capitalist political-economists individually, one-by-one.


Though this IVth volume is not as well-ordered, or as polished, as the final manuscripts which became volumes I-III of Capital — especially volume I — it is chocked full of gems of world-historical insight, and of dazzling theoretical passages.



Marx himself stated repeatedly, in his correspondence, his intention to publish this manuscript as the separate and final volume of Das Kapital [Marx to Engels, 31 July 1865; Marx to Siegfried Meyer, 30 April 1867]."




[blogger's response]:  "Thanks for your extensive reply. I promise I will try to plough through the Foundation’s published material in due course; in fact it will probably be worth me taking a bit of a step back from my considerable amount of political activism, including on the internet as well as the streets and in meetings, soon in order to digest the material and improve my strategies for helping change the world.


Although I was in a Marxist organisation for eight and a half years (the Militant Tendency, now the Socialist Party), I didn’t read that much of the works of Marx and Engels (or Lenin and Trotsky for that matter). I found dialectics hard to comprehend, but perhaps that was because the recommended book (Engels’ Anti-Dühring) was so long and convoluted, with obviously deliberate mistakes – such as 2+2=4 being used as an example of “the negation of the negation” which confusingly really means “history repeats itself at a higher level”. Or at least that was how Militant understood it, but perhaps you know differently…


Having thought about the issue of mind reading/control, there is a way it can be achieved without the need for supernatural powers. [Indeed, the humaniform robot R Daneel Olivaw was taught such powers by the robot R Giskard Reventlov in Asimov's writings, and R Giskard himself was programmed with such powers by a very talented girl. This indicates that Asimov himself didn't regard it as supernatural, and since he was an atheist that is unsurprising!].


Basically, to read someone’s mind, you need to produce a very sophisticated model of a particular person, other people, animals and inanimate objects (including computers) that the person interacts with (which is part of an extremely sophisticated model of the entire world – precisely what Hari Seldon in conjunction with a team of programmers developed in the Foundation series). Once you have that model, it is possible to nudge that person into making a decision slightly different from the one he/she would otherwise make, by interacting with him/her in a particular way.


In the real world, there is not just one computer taking on that responsibility, there are many interacting programs (with PRISM taking the lead on the side of the 1% and the one at http://www.dialectics.org on the side of the 99%), developed by huge numbers of programmers across the world – and there is also the combined intelligence of many different brains cooperating or competing around particular goals, with most people’s being neutral as far as agendas for changing the world is concerned. Animals’ minds must be taken into account too, but I don’t think they can really have sophisticated agendas…


I have a particular agenda myself, of a socialist world with a government elected by proportional representation – see About Steve Wallis, the Maggie Thatcher of the Left for more information. This may conflict with the Foundation’s aim, probably of “communism” as conceived by Marx and Engels, after the state “withers away” with people’s prejudices ending over a period of years after a socialist revolution (possibly peacefully although Marxists usually regard an armed uprising as necessary). I suspect and hope that with sufficiently complex and accurate modelling, the world can be changed without need for much (if any) bloodshed."




[F.E.D. response]:  "Thanks you for once again sharing with us some more of your “beyond the box” creative and original thinking — a kind of thinking not often encountered among those who have spent “eight and a half years” in a MarxIST organization — or even much less time in such an environment!


Marx said it better than anyone else could: “For myself, I am not a Marxist.”


Your “materialist” / anti-mystic thoughts on mind reading are of great interest to us.


Indeed, a “very sophisticated [psychohistorial-dialectical-mathematical] model of a particular person” might be used to predictively simulate the substantive responses of that person to future events and environments, or even to “profile” them comprehensively, via a very advanced version of the “sensitivity analysis” that is standardly carried out on mathematical models used in industry, etc.


Your idea reminds me of an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, in which the Geordi La Forge character utilizes the holodeck capability of the Enterprise to generate a very realistic, 3-D holographic simulation of a noted warp engine design engineer to consult with him on advancing the capabilities of the Enterprise’s warp drive.


If you are a “visual learner”, appropriating for yourself the core of the Foundation’s dialectical method might be facilitated by viewing the following image-intensive presentations [although much has been discovered since these were written] --

http://www.adventures-in-dialectics.org/Adventures-In-Dialectics/Dialectical_Pictography/Dialectical_Pictography.htm

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Applications.html

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Primer_files/6_PrimerI_OCR.pdf

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Primer_files/7_PrimerII_OCR.pdf



The Foundation’s aim is, indeed, “communism as conceived by Marx and Engels”, but that is NOT the Lenino-Stalinist, Lenino-Trotskyist, Lenino-Maoist, etc., “bait and switch” of totalitarian, state-bureaucratic ruling-class, state-capitalism.


Karl Seldon derived a more detailed model of Marxian communism, as political-ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY, based upon the fragments of description left by Marx and Engels, and using his algebra of dialectics to model the historical [r]evolution(s) of the human social relations of production.


He thereby arrived at a model that he named “Equitism”, based upon “a new social relation of production”, beyond the capital-relation, that he named “Generalized Equity”.


“Generalized Equity” involves a system of three new[ly-recognized] communist-constitution human rights, which he named Citizen Externality Equity, Citizen Birthright Equity, and Citizen Stewardship Equity.


More about this definition of “Marxian Democracy” can be gleaned from http://www.equitism.org, e.g. –

http://www.equitism.org/Equitism/Theory/PoliticalEconomicDemocracy/PoliticalEconomicDemocracy.htm

– and –

http://www.equitism.org/Equitism/AmendmentXXVIII/AmendmentXXVIII.pdf.



P. S. The best source for the Foundation perspectives on your questions regarding armed uprising, violence in the context of revolution, and bloodshed — in the process of changing the capitalist world into the world of political-ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY, which is also a world of political AND ECONOMIC checks and balances on political AND ECONOMIC power — is the first [and, so far, only] public interview with Karl Seldon, available at –

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Blogs_&_Interviews_files/Edited_First_Interview_with_F.E.D._Co-Founder_Karl_H._Seldon,29DEC2012,re-edited_02APR2013.pdf






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