Defend science and the environment

Washington, D.C.

Workers World newspaper supported and Workers World Party members participated in both the Earth Day March for Science on April 22 and the Climate March a week later. We stand with those who fight Trump and his cohorts’ attempts to ruthlessly slash crucial scientific research, like the cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency that will only increase the devastating impacts of global warming.

As Marxists, we recognize that scientists are workers and that math and science are essential to understanding and fighting against the insatiable and destructive capitalist drive for profits. Scientists are also fundamental to constructing a “people before profits” society that puts the health of the planet and all of its people first.

On Earth Day, the March for Science mobilized thousands of people at more than 600 locations around the globe. There were marches and rallies from Portland, Maine, to Ketchikan, Alaska; from Helsinki, Finland, to Santiago, Chile. Scientists from all fields — researchers, teachers, nurses, doctors, journalists, including Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous women, men and LGBTQ people — rallied and marched to protest the systematic campaign to erode, defund and discredit science itself by Trump and his big-business backers.

Just one week later, more than 250,000 gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Climate March, enduring record 90-degree-plus temperatures. Gathering at Capitol Hill, the protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. As they passed the Trump hotel, they shouted “Shame!” and “We will not go away, welcome to your 100 days!” Sister marches were held across the globe.

The day before the march, Boss Trump forced the Environmental Protection Agency to take down its site devoted to the science of climate change. The Trump austerity budget is designed to strip billions of dollars of funding for a whole array of medical, climate and educational research, while fattening the Pentagon budget and giving huge tax breaks to the banks and oligarchs.

For Workers World, promoting science also means promoting the social science of Marxism. We cite here from Frederick Engels’ work “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific,” published first in 1880 — 137 years ago.

“Active social forces work exactly like natural forces: blindly, forcibly, destructively, so long as we do not understand, and reckon with, them. But, when once we understand them, when once we grasp their action, their direction, their effects, it depends only upon ourselves to subject them more and more to our own will, and, by means of them, to reach our own ends. And this holds quite especially of the mighty productive forces of today. As long as we obstinately refuse to understand the nature and the character of these social means of action — and this understanding goes against the grain of the capitalist mode of production, and its defenders — so long these forces are at work in spite of us, in opposition to us, so long they master us, as we have shown above in detail.

“But when once their nature is understood, they can, in the hands of the producers working together, be transformed from master demons into willing servants. The difference is as that between the destructive force of electricity in the lightning in the storm, and electricity under command in the telegraph and the voltaic arc; the difference between a conflagration, and fire working in the service of humanity. With this recognition, at last, of the real nature of the productive forces of today, the social anarchy of production gives place to a social regulation of production upon a definite plan, according to the needs of the community and of each individual.”

The production of goods and services in today’s capitalist society is a cooperative endeavor of millions of people, created and enhanced by centuries of scientific, mathematical and technical research. But the capitalist social structure rules over this productive system “blindly, forcibly, destructively” in its mad drive for more and more profits.

For Marx and Engels and all revolutionary socialists, then, math and science are tools for the workers and oppressed not only to overturn this rotten system, but also to reorganize production “upon a definite plan” that fulfills human needs.