Before starting this article, for everyone to be on the same page, it is crucial to define what science is. According to multiple dictionaries, science is defined as: “The branch of human knowledge constituted by the set of objective and verifiable knowledge about a given subject. Obtained through observation and experimentation, explanation of its principles, causes, formulation, verification of hypotheses, and is characterized by the use of a methodology appropriate to the object of study and the systematization of knowledge.”
In other words, no matter where in the world a scientist is located, the steps to follow have been, are, and possibly will continue to be the same, until someone discovers a better way.
The first scientist on record, using a verifiable scientific method was al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham, who was born in 965 A.D., in what is now Iraq. Egyptian Jews may have excelled in medicine and science centuries before al-Hassan except that he left a written record, the others did not.
Others who stood out in fields like medicine were Isaac Ibn Amram, who died in 908 A.D., and Isaac ben Solomon, an Israeli who died in 955 A.D. whose “Treatise on Fevers” was the most advanced in his time and directly influenced the canons of medicine for centuries. Thanks to these men, science advanced considerably, and their knowledge served as support for the “scientific method” and the advancement of others.
But… where am I going with this? Let’s go back in time to the 20th century, when German publications were at their peak and dominated the academic world. Except that, overnight, a difficult situation arose. With the rise of the Nazi regime, there was widespread persecution of the country’s most illustrious scientists, who were mainly German Jews. It paralyzed the publication of their work, which is why many of them fled to the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world.
Real Science vs. “Aryan” and “Bourgeois” Science.
In Hitler’s National Socialist regime, Germans, blinded by a stupid and hateful doctrine, denied Jewish contributions to science. For the Nazis, science was an objective inherent in their nationality and their race. Hence, the 1905 Nobel Laureate in Physics and collaborator with the Nazi regime, Philipp Lenard, claimed that there was an “Aryan science.” Physics, and science was determined by blood and race.
Nazi anti-Semitism not only deprived German physics of some of the most capable researchers, but also threatened which kind of physics could be done, and which would be forbidden. Most pathetically, the attacks on “Jewish physics” were carried out by scientists. Educated people with a solid scientific background, except that as individuals, they were small, full of insecurities, mediocre, nationalistic, and blind to the fervor and favor of their führer.
These scientists received Albert Einstein’s physics with hostility, and it was attacked on racial grounds. Philipp Lenard, put aside the objectivity of science and embraced a “romantic science” that was the “naturphilosophie” or “Naturphilosophy” of Goethe and Schelling, according to which there was a kind of spirit that filled the whole of nature.
People like Lenard, Heinrich Himmler, and Hitler believed in the theory of “cosmic ice.” According to which, the primary ingredient of the universe was ice and thought that the Aryans “preferred to engage in experimental physics rooted intangible reality” because the Jews wove networks of abstruse theories unrelated to experience.
As a result, contrary to popular belief, Nazi Germany became stagnant in its science and technology as scientists lived under threat. They had to be faithful to “Aryan science.” The brains escaped, and their knowledge was given to their new homelands, open to the objectivity of science and technology.
Something remarkably similar happened with Mao’s communist China, as well as Russia and the “proletarian science” that came to set aside “bourgeois science”.
Intuition replaced reason since, as perhaps you might remember, Marxism always appeals to the superstitious soul of the mass. There was a phenomenon called the “sociology of knowledge,” which was placed in a position of irreconcilable contradiction with science and reason.
The hierarchs of the “Soviet Union” determined that there could not be a “bourgeois” or “capitalist science” since it did not start from a “proletarian” logic. Thus capitalism, the bourgeoisie, was a distortion of reality that seeks to perpetuate the power of the ruling classes and keep the proletariat passive, uncritical, and subject to the system. It deeply affected the Soviet Union, and it had consequences in political life, in people’s lives, in education, and of course in science and technology.
USSR condemned ideas and theories. That included Einstein, quantum mechanics, medicine, genetics, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, to name a few, because they did not represent pure “proletarian science,” giving as a belief that every scientific idea is only in the interests of the upper social classes.
In the end, the Russian folded their hands and ate their words. To confront the “cold war,” and the struggle to reach the cosmos, they found themselves isolated, they had no choice but to turn to that damned bourgeois/capitalist wisdom and secretly put it into practice to achieve advances in science and technology.
Today in Mexico, history surprises us once again. Just like nazi physicist Philipp Lenard who claimed there was an “Aryan science.” The director of the National Council of Science and Technology CONACYT, María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, pointed out in the past “everything was awful because neoliberal science had not produced results, even though in the last six years the percentages of its budget had increased”. It is incredible how no one learns from history, and here we go again. A scientist who confuses economy with science. Perhaps the “poor” woman is confused. Probably like nazi scientist Philipp Lenard, she is very well educated, with a solid scientific background, except that, perhaps, as a person she is small, full of insecurities, mediocre, nationalist and blind with fervor towards her leader. Maybe she wishes to please AMLO, to support him intensely without understanding that science has NOTHING to do with economic philosophy. Science is observation, research, reproducibility, analysis, and interpretation of results. Not dogmas.
Perhaps no one has said to María Elena Álvarez-Buylla these great words of Mexican doctor, writer, and researcher Luis Eugenio Todd: “submission is the enemy of science because science is based on reality and not on the politics of power, but the politics of knowledge.”
The Nazis fell, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) fell, and China continues under “communism” in name only. Everyone without exception discovered that at the very moment when it is believed that a “bourgeois,” “Proletarian,” “Jewish,” “Aryan,” or “Neo-liberal” science exists … That country is condemned to ignorance, to ruin… and in Mexico, we are going straight there.
This article goes with a special dedication to my friend, Fernando Garcia.
José E. Urioste Palomeque
For The Yucatan Times / Times Media Mexico
April 27, 2020
Merida Yucatan, Mexico