Print

Print


I responded not specifically to attack Michael but to remind us all that 
we are not responsible for what the system does to us, but we are 
responsible for what we do to oppose it.  Our opposition requires 
organization and focused action.  This list serve does serve a function, 
but apparently that function does not include the organization of 
whatever in order to actually take a coherent public stand.
Michael's distress that the networks would use this to boost ratings and 
his remark that "science for the people has to be based on science or 
its of no use to anyone." appeared to be directed to the network.  There 
was no other subject indicated with whom he was disappointed. 

As for concrete struggle, i will not give up the term because some 
persons to whom Michael exhibits an animus used it in the past.  On the 
other hand, some examples of what concrete struggle might be could be 
useful.  (1) Organize a group of scientists to compose a public 
statement informing the public on the non-science.  (2) Propose to the 
organization of parents and work with them to have public 
demonstrations, say, in DC demanding adequate funding for well designed 
studies.  (3) Michael could write an article for Science that exposes 
what is going on in this field and when it is rejected make a cause 
celebre out of it.  (4)  He could use his position as visiting lecturer 
at BU to get the students involved even though it might get him fired.  
The publicity that would follow might help. (5) He could get a bunch 
together to either be present and critical at an already organized panel 
at a scientific meeting or take the initiative to organize one.
(Of course Michael, doing some of these things will take away some of 
the time and energy you need to fight what your past posting suggest is 
the "main danger," a bunch of die-hard, dogmatic reds  who you propose 
are the reason that we don't have a strong left presence in the US.)

Organizing demonstrations, strikes, slow downs, withholding of services, 
appearances at government committees, etc . . . these are concrete 
actions.  They do involve struggle and often some self-sacrifice (or at 
least self endangerment).  When we were all young most of us, i assume, 
did a lot of that.  Now it is time to pass on the baton to the young.  
Only by being involved in concrete struggles (sorry to offend you, 
Michael, with my language, i have a limited vocabulary.) will they learn 
who is the enemy and what is its characteristics.  Equally important is 
that participating in struggle is energizing, is a morale builder.  Look 
beyond Obama at the many young people who have come awake just because 
he speaks words of hope.  Are we going to let them down by not offering 
our experience and organizing knowledge so that they can go into the 
streets for health care for all and against anything they perceive as 
unjust?  I might add that i have a lot of respect for the capacity of 
young people to detect bullshit.  I tell my students of physics not to 
take anything i say for granted, mother nature is the source of 
knowledge of the real physical world.  Check it out in the lab.  I tell 
the young people with whom i work politically to speak their mind and 
act their passion, because the answers are in the struggle.  It doesn't 
take them long to discover that the struggle is not between evil and 
good, but between those who uphold the system and those who want to 
change it.

As for you Michael (after all this is a list serve and we should imagine 
any posting being directed to everyone, or at least most), why do you 
have a  knee-jerk reaction to the expression "concrete struggle?"  It 
must have powerful negative associations, for it is a meaningful 
expression now-a-days.  It seems redundant because struggle or action 
appears intrinsically concrete. But those whose main struggles involve 
thinking, talking and writing need to be addressed with a two-word 
phrase that means getting up off their arses, or from behind their 
podia, or from behind their desks and at least walk the picket line, if 
not more.

Next time we do a street theater piece or have a speak out or there is a 
protest action, i'll invite you, Michael.  Concrete struggle is very 
healthful for mind and body.

herb

Michael Balter wrote:
> I'm not quite sure what prompts this rant from Herb, but empty words 
> about "concrete struggle" don't get us anywhere and some people need 
> to get their heads unstuck from old slogans and old thinking and 
> seriously face the real challenges ahead of us.
>
> The vaccine-autism campaign is a grassroots movement of parents, 
> exploited by charlatans and the media to be sure, but a grassroots 
> movement nevertheless--just like 9/11 conspiracy movement. The people, 
> at least some of them, have spoken, and they are wrong. A science for 
> the people needs to be based on science, that is my point, eg a 
> science that can educate people that correlations (such as that 
> between the time of vaccination and the time of onset of autism 
> symptoms) are not necessarily causations. This is the job of 
> progressive scientists as well as scientists more generally, because 
> the vaccine-autism "link" is just another way good people get 
> distracted from real issues.
>
> MB
>
> On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 9:44 PM, herb fox <[log in to unmask] 
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>     Why should anyone expect science for the people to emanate from
>     CNN, from the NYTimes, from Science magazine or, for that matter,
>     from the overwhelming majority of scientists who depend on funding
>     from the establishment?  Why should we be surprised that
>     non-science is disseminated as science, when non-news and
>     non-truth is disseminated by the media?  Why should anyone with a
>     minimum understanding of how the system works expect that the
>     networks would do anything other than boost their ratings?
>      Science for the people , an intrinsically anti-systemic demand,
>     is our slogan, definitely not theirs.   We should fight for it;
>     but never should we harbor the illusion that the ruling class and
>     its institutions operate under our slogan.  Only by concrete
>     struggle that threatens their ability to profit will we even win
>     concessions from them.
>     herb
>
>     Michael Balter wrote:
>
>         Watching Larry King on CNN, it is clear that one of the main
>         effects of Autism Day has been to boost the ratings of TV
>         networks irresponsibly pushing the vaccine-autism link and
>         other nonsense about this problem--including the entirely
>         unfounded notion that there is an "epidemic." Science for the
>         people has to be based on science, or it is no use to anyone.
>
>         http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1576829,00.html
>          for starters.
>
>         MB
>
>         -- 
>         www.michaelbalter.com <http://www.michaelbalter.com>
>         <http://www.michaelbalter.com>
>
>
>         ******************************************
>         Michael Balter
>         Contributing Correspondent, Science
>         Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>         Boston University
>
>         [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>         <mailto:[log in to unmask]
>         <mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
>         ******************************************
>
>
>
>
> -- 
> www.michaelbalter.com <http://www.michaelbalter.com>
>
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> Boston University
>
> [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> ******************************************