Tag Archives: Theodore Kaczynski

The Scientific Outlook, Part 8 – Free Trade and Labor in a Scientific Society

Free Trade and Labor in a Scientific Society

Originally posted August 17, 2008


“In the old days it was expected that about half the children in a family would die before they grew up; this involved pain, illness, and sorrow to the mother, often great suffering to the children, and a waste of natural resources in the care of children who never lived to become productive.” – Bertrand Russell, 1931 (p196)

The Scientific Society and the Enlargement of Organization

From The Scientific Outlook:

[Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]

“Such a state of affairs will have both merits and demerits; more important than either, however, is the fact that nothing less will enable a society imbued with scientific technique to survive. Scientific technique demands organization, and the more it becomes perfected, the larger are the organizations that it demands. Quite apart from war, the present depression has made it evident that an international organization of credit and banking is necessary to the prosperity not only of some countries, but of all. The international organization of industrial production is being rendered necessary by the efficiency of modern methods. Modern industrial plants can easily supply, in many directions, much more than the total needs of the world. The result of this, which should be wealth, is in fact poverty, owing to competition. In the absence of competition, the immensely enhanced productivity of labour would enable men to arrive at a just compromise between leisure and goods: they could choose whether they would work six hours a day and be rich, or four hours a day and enjoy only moderate comfort. The advantages of world-wide organization, both in preventing the waste of economic competition and in removing the danger of war, are so great as to be becoming an essential condition for the survival of societies possessing scientific technique. This argument is overwhelming in comparison with all counterarguments, and renders almost unimportant the question whether life in an organized world State will be more or less satisfactory than life at the present day. For it is only in the direction of an organized world State that the human race can develop unless it abandons scientific technique, and it will not do this except as the result of a cataclysm so severe as to lower the whole level of civilization.

The advantages to be derived from an organized world State are great and obvious. There will be, in the first place, security against war and a saving of almost the whole effort and expense now devoted to competitive armaments: there will be, one must suppose, a single, highly efficient fighting machine, employing mainly aeroplanes and chemical methods of warfare, which will be quite obviously irresistible, and will therefore not be resisted. The central government may be changed from time to time by a palace revolution, but this will only alter the personnel of the figure-heads, not the essential organization of government. The central government will, of course, forbid the propaganda of nationalism, by means of which at present anarchy is maintained, and will put in its place a propaganda of loyalty to the world State.” – 212

Free Trade

“We have seen that scientific civilization demands world-wide organization if it is to be stable. We have considered the possibility of such an organization in matters of government. We shall now consider it in the economic sphere. At present, production is organized as far as possible nationally be means of tariff walls; every nation tries to produce at home as much as possible of the goods that it consumes. This tendency is on the increase, and even Great Britain, which has hitherto aimed at maximizing its exports by means of Free Trade, appears to be on the point of abandoning this policy in favour of comparative economic isolation.

It is, of course, clear that, from a purely economic point of view, it is wasteful to organize production nationally rather than internationally. It would be an economy if all the motorcars used throughout the world were manufactured in Detroit. That is to say, a car of given excellence could be produced with less expense of human labour in that case than it can at present. In a world scientifically organized most industrial products would be thus localized. There would be one place for making pins and needles, another place for making scissors and knives, another place for making aeroplanes, and yet another for agricultural machinery. When, if ever, the world government that we have considered comes into being, one of its first tasks will be the international organization of production. Production will no longer be left, as at present, to private enterprise, but will be undertaken solely in accordance with government orders. This is already the case with such things as battleships, because in regard to war efficiency is thought to be important; but in most matters production is left to the chaotic impulses of private manufacturers, who make too much of some things and too little of others, with the result that there is poverty in the midst of unused plenty. The industrial plant at present existing in the world is in many directions far in excess of the world’s needs. By eliminating competition and concentrating production in a single concern, all this waste could be avoided.

The control of raw materials is a matter which in any scientific society would be governed by a central authority. At present the important raw materials are controlled by military power. The weak nation possessed of oil soon finds itself under suzerainty of some stronger nation. The Transvaal lost its independence because it contained gold. Raw material ought not to belong to those who, by conquest or diplomacy, have happened to acquire the territory in which they are; they ought to belong to a world authority which would ration them to those who had the most skill in utilizing them. Moreover, our present economic system causes everybody to be wasteful of raw materials, since there is no motive for foresight. In a scientific world the supply of any vital raw material will be carefully estimated, and as the moment of its exhaustion approaches scientific research will be directed to the discovery of a substitute.

Agriculture, for reasons which we considered in an earlier chapter, may have less importance in the future than it has at present, and has had in the past. We shall have not only artificial silk but artificial wool and artificial timber and artificial rubber. In time we may have artificial food. But in the meantime agriculture will become more and more industrialized, both in its methods and in the mentality of those who practise it. American and Canadian agriculturists have already the industrial mentality, not the mentality of the patient peasant. Machinery will, of course, be increasingly employed. In the neighbourhood of large urban markets intensive cultivation with artificial methods of warming the soil will yield many crops every year. Here and there throughout the country-side there will be large power stations forming the nucleus around which the population will cluster. Of agricultural mentality, as it has been known since ancient times, nothing will survive, since the soil and even the climate will be subject to human control.” – 239

Labour in a Scientific Society

“The gain from an economic point of view will be enormous: there will be no waste in competitive production, no uncertainty as to employment, no poverty, no sudden alternations of good and bad times; every man willing to work will be kept in comfort, and every man unwilling to work will be kept in prison. When owing to any circumstances the work upon which a man has hitherto been employed is no longer required, he will be taught some new kind of work, and will be adequately maintained while he is learning his new trade. Economic motives will be employed to regulate population, which will probably be kept stationary. Almost all that is tragic in human life will be eliminated, and even death will seldom come before old age.” – 213

“It may be assumed that every man and woman will be obliged to work, and will be taught a new trade if for any reason work at the old trade is no longer required. The pleasantest work, of course, will be that which gives the most control over the mechanism. The posts giving most power will presumably be awarded to the ablest men as a result of intelligence tests. For entirely inferior work negroes will be employed wherever possible. One may, I suppose, assume that the most desirable kinds of work will be more highly paid than the less desirable kinds, since they require more skill. The society will not be one in which there is equality, although I doubt whether the inequalities will be hereditary except as between different races, i.e., between white and coloured labour. Everybody will be comfortable, and those who occupy the better-paid posts will be able to enjoy considerable luxury. There will not be, as at present, fluctuations of good and bad times, for these are merely the result of our anarchic economic system. Nobody will starve, and nobody will suffer the economic anxieties which at present beset rich and poor alike. On the other hand, life will be destitute of adventure except for the most highly paid experts. Ever since civilization began men have been seeking security more avidly than they have sough anything else. In such a world they will have it, but I am not quite sure whether they will think it worth the price that they will have paid for it.” – 242

“Take again the question of work, both the kind of work and the method of performing it. At present young people choose their own trade or profession, usually because at the moment of their choice it seems to afford a good opening. A well-informed person possessed of foresight might know that the particular line in question was going to be much less profitable a few years hence. In such a case some public guidance to the young might prove extremely useful. And as regards technical methods, it is seldom in the public interest that an antiquated or wasteful technique should be allowed to persist when a more economical technique is known. At present, owning to the irrational character of the capitalist system, the interest of the individual wage-earner is very often opposed to the interest of the community, since economical methods may cause him to lose his job. This is due to the survival of capitalistic principles in a society which has grown so organic that it ought not to tolerate them. It is obvious that in a well-organized community it should be impossible for a large body of individuals to profit by preserving an inefficient technique. It is clear that the use of the most efficient technique should be enforced, and no wage-earner should be allowed to suffer by its enforcement.” – 220

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The Scientific Outlook, Part 3 – Scientific Technique and Education

Scientific Technique and Education

Originally Posted July 13, 2008

“Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen…” – Bertrand Russell, 1952 (p41)

Education for the Working Class

From The Scientific Outlook:

[Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]

“Education has two purposes: on the one hand to form the mind, on the other hand to train the citizen. […]

Education in a scientific society may, I think, be best conceived after the analogy of the education provided by the Jesuits. The Jesuits provided one sort of education for the boys who were to become ordinary men of the world, and another for those who were to become members of the Society of Jesus. In like manner, the scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women, and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless, and contented. Of these qualities probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the researches of psycho-analysis, behaviourism, and biochemistry will be brought into play. Children will be educated from their earliest years in the manner which is found least likely to produce complexes. Almost all will be normal, happy, healthy boys or girls.

Their diet will not be left to the caprices of parents, but will be such as the best biochemists recommend. They will spend much time in the open air, and will be given no more book-learning than is absolutely necessary. Upon the temperament so formed, docility will be imposed by the methods of the drill-sergeant, or perhaps by the softer methods employed upon Boy Scouts. All the boys and girls will learn from an early age to be what is called “co-operative,” i.e., to do exactly what everybody is doing. Initiative will be discouraged in these children, and insubordination, without being punished, will be scientifically trained out of them. Their education thought will be in great part manual, and when their school years come to an end they will be taught a trade. In deciding what trade they are to adopt, experts will appraise their aptitudes. Formal lessons, in so far as they exist, will be conducted by means of the cinema or the radio, so that one teacher can give simultaneous lessons in all the classes throughout a whole country. The giving of these lessons will, of course, be recognized as a highly skilled undertaking, reserved for the members of the governing class. All that will be required locally to replace the present-day school-teacher will be a lady to keep order, though it is hoped that the children will be so well-behaved that they will seldom require this estimable person’s services.” – 243

As for the manual workers, they will be discouraged from serious thought: they will be made as comfortable as possible, and their hours of work will be much shorter than they are at present; they will have no fear of destitution or of misfortune to their children.

As soon as working hours are over, amusements will be provided, or a sort calculated to cause wholesome mirth, and to prevent any thoughts of discontent which otherwise might cloud their happiness.

On those rare occasions when a boy or girl who has passed the age at which it is usual to determine social status shows such marked ability as to seem the intellectual equal of the rulers, a difficult situation will arise, requiring serious consideration. If the youth is content to abandon his previous associates and to throw in his lot whole-heartedly with the rulers, he may, after suitable tests, be promoted, but if he shows any regrettable solidarity with his previous associates, the rulers will reluctantly conclude that there is nothing to be done with him except to send him to the lethal chamber before his ill-disciplined intelligence has had time to spread revolt. This will be a painful duty to the rulers, but I think they will not shrink from performing it.” – 248

Education for the Governing Class

“Those children, on the other hand, who are destined to become members of the governing class will have a very different education. They will be selected, some before birth, some during the first three years of life, and a few between the ages of three and six. All the best-known science will be applied to the simultaneous development of intelligence and will-power.

Eugenics, chemical and thermal treatment of the embryo, and diet in early years will be used with a view to the production of the highest possible ultimate ability. The scientific outlook will be instilled from the moment that a child can talk, and throughout the early impressionable years the child will be carefully guarded from contact with the ignorant and unscientific. From infancy up to twenty-one, scientific knowledge will be poured into him, and at any rate from the age of twelve upwards he will specialize in those sciences for which he shows the most aptitude. At the same time he will be taught physical toughness; he will be encouraged to roll naked in the snow, to fast occasionally for twenty-four, to run many miles on hot days, to be bold in all physical adventures and uncomplaining when he suffers physical pain. From the age of twelve upwards he will be taught to organize children slightly younger than himself, and will suffer severe censure if groups of such children fail to follow his lead. A sense of his high destiny will be constantly set before him, and loyalty towards his order will be so axiomatic that it will never occur to him to question it. Every youth will thus be subjected to a threefold training: in intelligence, in self-command, and in command over others. If he should fail in any one of these three, he will suffer the terrible penalty of degradation to the ranks of common workers, and will be condemned for the rest of his life to associate with men and women vastly inferior to himself in education and probably in intelligence. The spur of this fear will suffice to produce industry in all but a very small minority of boys and girls of the governing class.

Except for the one matter of loyalty to the world State and to their own order, members of the governing class will be encouraged to be adventurous and full of initiative. It will be recognized that it is their business to improve scientific technique, and to keep the manual workers contented by means of continual new amusements. As those upon whom all progress depends, they must not be unduly tame, nor so drilled as to be incapable of new ideas. Unlike the children destined to be manual workers, they will have personal contact with their teacher, and will be encouraged to argue with him. It will be his business to prove himself in the right if he can, and, if not, to acknowledge his error gracefully. There will, however, be limits to intellectual freedom, even among the children of the governing class. They will not be allowed to question the value of science, or the division of the population into manual workers and experts. They will not be allowed to coquette with the idea that perhaps poetry is as valuable as machinery, or love as good a thing as scientific research. If such ideas do occur to any venturesome spirit, they will be received in a pained silence, and there will be a pretence that they have not been heard.

A profound sense of public duty will be instilled into boys and girls of the governing class as soon as they are able to understand such an idea. They will be taught to feel that mankind depends upon them, and that they owe benevolent service especially to the less fortunate classes beneath them. But let it not be supposed that they will be prigs – far from it. They will turn off with a deprecating laugh any too portentous remark that puts into explicit words what they will all believe in their hearts. Their manners will be easy and pleasant, and their sense of humour unfailing.” – 244 “Education used to begin at eight years old with the learning of the Latin declensions; now, under the influence of psycho-analysis, it begins at birth. It is to be expected that with the advance of experimental embryology the important part of education will be found to be pre-natal. This is already the case with fishes and newts, but in regard to them the scientist is not hampered by education authorities.” – 185

“In normal cases, children of sufficiently excellent heredity will be admitted to the governing class from the moment of conception. I start with this moment rather than with birth, since it is from this moment and not merely from the moment of birth that the treatment of the two classes will be different. If, however, by the time the child reaches the age of three, it is fairly clear that he does not attain the required standard, he will be degraded at that point. I assume that by that time it will be possible to judge of the intelligence of a child of three with a fair measure of accuracy. Cases in which there is doubt, which should, however, be few, will be subjected to careful observation up to the age of six, at which moment one supposes the official decision will be possible except in a few rare instances. Conversely, children born of manual workers may be promoted at any moment between the age of three and six, but only in quite rare instances at later ages. I think it maybe assumed, however, that there would be a very strong tendency for the governing class to become hereditary, and that after a few generations not many children would be moved from either class into the other. This is especially likely to be the case if embryological methods of improving the breed are applied to the governing class, but not to the others. In this way the gulf between the two classes as regards native intelligence may become continually wider and wider. This will not lead to the abolition of the less intelligent class, since the rulers will not wish to undertake uninteresting manual work, or to be deprived of the opportunity for exercising benevolence and public spirit which they derive from the management of the manual workers.” – 249

Education for the Priestly Class

“The latest stage in the education of the most intellectual of the governing class will consist of training for research. Research will be highly organized, and young people will not be allowed to choose what particular piece of research they shall do. They will, of course, be directed to research in those subjects for which they have shown special ability. A great deal of scientific knowledge will be concealed from all but a few. There will be arcane reserved for a priestly class of researchers, who will be carefully selected for their combination of brains with loyalty. One may, I think, expect that research will be much more technical than fundamental. The men at the head of any department of research will be elderly, and content to think that the fundamentals of their subject are sufficiently known. Discoveries which upset the official view of fundamentals, if they are made by young men, will incur disfavour, and if rashly published will lead to degradation. Young men to whom any fundamental innovation occurs will make cautious attempts to persuade their professors to view the new ideas with favour, but if these attempts fail they will conceal their new ideas until they themselves have acquired positions of authority, by which time they will probably have forgotten them. The atmosphere of authority and organization will be extremely favourable to technical research, but somewhat inimical to such subversive innovations as have been seen, for example, in physics during the present century. There will be, of course, an official metaphysic, which will be regarded as intellectually unimportant but politically sacrosanct. In the long run, the rate of scientific progress will diminish, and discovery will be killed by respect for authority.” – 247

The Scientific Outlook, Part 2 – The Rule of the Scientific Expert

The Rule of the Scientific Expert
originally posted:
July 7, 2008


“Equality, like liberty, is difficult to reconcile with scientific technique, since this involves a great apparatus of experts and officials inspiring and controlling vast organizations. Democratic forms may be preserved in politics, but they will not have as much reality as in a community of small peasant proprietors. Officials unavoidably have power. And where many vital questions are so technical that the ordinary man cannot hope to understand them, experts must inevitably acquire a considerable measure of control.”

– Bertrand Russell, 1931 (p224)

The Expert Manipulator

From The Scientific Outlook: [Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]

“When I speak of scientific government I ought, perhaps, to explain what I mean by the term. I do not mean simply a government composed of men of science. […] I should define a government as in a greater or less degree scientific in proportion as it can produce intended results: the greater the number of results that it can both intend and produce, the more scientific it is. […]

Owing to the increase of knowledge, it is possible for governments nowadays to achieve many more intended results than were possible in former times, and it is likely that before very long results which even now are impossible will become possible. […] Eugenics, except in the form of sterilization of the feeble-minded, is not yet practical politics, but may become so within the next fifty years. As we have already seen, it may be superseded, when embryology is more advanced, by direct methods of operating upon the foetus.

All these are things which, as soon as they become clearly feasible, will make a great appeal to energetic and practical idealists. Most idealists are a mixture of two types, which we may call respectively the dreamer and the manipulator. The pure dreamer is a lunatic, the pure manipulator is a man who cares only for personal power, but the idealist lives in an intermediate position between these two extremes. Sometimes the dreamer preponderates, sometimes the manipulator. William Morris found pleasure in dreaming of “News from Nowhere”; Lenin found no satisfaction until he could clothe his ideas in a garment of reality. Both types of idealist desire a world different from that in which they find themselves, but the manipulator feels strong enough to create it, while the dreamer, feeling baffled, takes refuge in fantasy.

It is the manipulative type of idealist who will create the scientific society. Of such men, in our own day, Lenin is the archetype.

The manipulator idealist differs from the man of merely personal ambition by the fact that he desires not only certain things for himself, but a certain kind of society. Cromwell would not have been content to have been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in succession to Strafford, or Archbishop of Canterbury in succession to Laud. It was essential to his happiness that England should be a certain sort of country, not merely that he should be prominent in it. It is this element of impersonal desire which distinguishes the idealist from other men. For men of this type there has been in Russia since the Revolution more scope than in any other country at any other time, and the more scientific technique is perfected the more scope there will be for them everywhere. I fully expect, therefore, that men of this sort will have a predominant part to play in molding the world during the next two hundred years.

The attitude of what may be called practical idealists among men of science at the present day towards problems of government is very clearly set forth in a leading article in Nature (September 6, 1930), from which the following are extracts: “[…] In the modern world the dangers arising from mistakes caused by prejudice and neglect of impartial or scientific inquiry are infinitely more serious. In an age when nearly all the problems of [governmental and industrial] administration and development involve scientific factors, civilization cannot afford to leave administrative control in the hands of those who have no first-hand knowledge of science. …

Under modern conditions, therefore, more is required of scientific workers than the mere enlargement of the bounds of knowledge. They can no longer be content to allow others to take the results of their discoveries and use them unguided. Scientific workers must accept responsibility for the control of the forces which have been released by their work. Without their help, efficient administration and a high degree of statesmanship are virtually impossible.

The practical problem of establishing a right relationship between science and politics, between knowledge and power, or more precisely between the scientific worker and the control and administration of the life of the community, is one of the most difficult confronting democracy. The community is, however, entitled to expect from members of the British Association some consideration of such a problem and some guidance as to the means by which science can assume its place of leadership. …

It is significant that, in contrast to the relative impotence of scientific workers in national affairs, in the international sphere advisory committees of experts have since the War exerted a remarkable and effective influence even when devoid of all legislative authority. To committees of experts organized by the League of Nations, and exercising advisory functions only, is due the credit of the schemes which were successful in rescuing a European State from bankruptcy and chaos, and in handling an unemployment scheme which settled a million and a half refugees, following upon the greatest migration in history. These examples sufficiently demonstrate that, given the requisite stimulus and enthusiasm, the scientific expert can already exert an effective influence when normal administrative effort has failed, and when indeed, as in the case of Austria, the problem had been dismissed by statesmen as hopeless.

In truth, scientific workers occupy a privileged position in society as well as industry, and there are welcome signs that this is now recognized by scientific workers themselves. Thus, in his presidential address to the Chemical Society (at Leeds) last year, Professor Jocelyn Thorpe suggested that the age is at hand in which the changing majorities of governments will no longer be able to determine major policies, except in directions approved by organized industry, and, in advocating the closer organization of science and industry, stressed the political strength to be obtained thereby. […]

Whatever inspiration or encouragement the meetings of the British Association may give to scientific workers in the prosecution of their researches, there is no way in which the Association can more fittingly serve humanity than by calling scientific workers to accept those wide responsibilities of leadership in society as well as in industry which their own efforts have made their inevitable lot.”

It will be seen from the above that men of science are becoming conscious of the responsibility towards society conferred by their knowledge, and are feeling it a duty to take a larger part in the direction of public affairs than they have hitherto done.” – 227


The Society of Experts and the Oblivious Masses

“The society of experts which I am imagining will embrace all eminent men of science except a few wrong-headed and anarchical cranks. It will possess the sole up-to-date armaments, and will be the repository of all new secrets in the art of war. There will, therefore, be no more war, since resistance by the unscientific will be doomed to obvious failure. The society of experts will control propaganda and education. It will teach loyalty to the world government, and make nationalism high treason. The government, being an oligarchy, will instil submissiveness into the great bulk of the population, confining initiative and the habit of command to its own members.

It is possible that it may invent ingenious ways of concealing its own power, leaving the forms of democracy intact, and allowing the plutocrats to imagine that they are cleverly controlling these forms.

Gradually, however, as the plutocrats become stupid through laziness, they will lose their wealth; it will pass more and more into public ownership and be controlled by the government of experts.

Thus, whatever the outward forms may be, all real power will come to be concentrated in the hands of those who understand the art of scientific manipulation.” -236

This idea of concealing the real power structure from the masses was later described by Bertrand Russell in his book The Impact of Science on Society[2] (1952):

“Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated.

When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen […]” – 41

The Scientific Outlook, Part 1 – Scientific Technique and Power

Scientific Technique and Power

Originally Posted: June 30, 2008


“The scientific society with which the following chapters are to be concerned is, in the main, a thing of the future, although various of its characteristics are adumbrated in various States at the present day, The scientific society, as I conceive it, is one which employs the best scientific technique in production, in education, and in propaganda. But in addition to this, it has a characteristic which distinguishes it from the societies of the past, which have grown up by natural causes, without much conscious planning as regards their collective purpose and structure. No society can be regarded as fully scientific unless it has been created deliberately with a certain structure in order to fulfill certain purposes.” – Bertrand Russell, 1931 (p203)

Science as Power-Thought

From The Scientific Outlook: [Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]

“But scientific thought is different from this. It is essentially power-thought – the sort of thought, that is to say, whose purpose, conscious or unconscious, is to give power to its possessor. Now power is a causal concept, and to obtain power over any given material, one need only understand the causal laws to which it is subject. This is an essentially abstract matter, and the more irrelevant details we can omit from our purview, the more powerful our thoughts will become. The same sort of thing can be illustrated in the economic sphere. The cultivator, who knows every corner of his farm, has a concrete knowledge of wheat, and makes very little money; the railway which carries his wheat views it in a slightly more abstract way, and makes rather more money; the Stock Exchange manipulator, who knows it only in its purely abstract aspect of something which may go up or down, is, in his way, as remote from concrete reality as the physicist, and he, of all those concerned in the economic sphere, makes the most money and has the most power. So it is with science, though the power which the man of science seeks is more remote and impersonal than that which is sought on the Stock Exchange.

The extreme abstractness of modern physics makes it difficult to understand, but gives to those who can understand it a grasp of the world as a whole, a sense of its structure and mechanism, which no less abstract apparatus could possibly supply. The power of using abstractions is the essence of intellect, and with every increase in abstraction the intellectual triumphs of science are enhanced.” – 83

“It has had hitherto less success in direct applications to man, and it therefore still meets with opposition from traditional beliefs where man is concerned, but it cannot well be doubted that, if our civilization survives, man also will soon come to be viewed scientifically. This will have a great effect upon education and the criminal law, perhaps also on family life. Such developments, however, belong to the future.” – 143

“Science increases our power to do both good and harm, and therefore enhances the need for restraining destructive impulses. If a scientific world is to survive, it is therefore necessary that men should become tamer than they have been. The splendid criminal must no longer be an ideal, and submissiveness must be more admired than it has been in the past. In all this there will be both gain and loss, and it is not within human power to strike a balance between the two.” – 215

“In psychological terms, this means that the love of power has thrust aside all the other impulses that make the complete human life. Love, parenthood, pleasure, and beauty are of less account to the modern industrialist than to the princely magnates of past times. Manipulation and exploitation are the ruling passions of the typical scientific industrialist. The average man may not share this narrow concentration, but for that very reason he fails to acquire a hold on the sources of power, and leaves the practical government of the world to the fanatics of mechanism. The power of producing changes in the world which is possessed by the leaders of big business in the present age far exceeds the power ever possessed by individuals in the past. They may not be as free to cut off heads as were Nero or Jenghiz Khan, but they can settle who shall starve and who shall become rich, they can divert the course of rivers, and decree the fall of governments. All history shows that great power is intoxicating. Fortunately, the modern holders of power are not yet quite aware how much they could do if they chose, but when this knowledge dawns upon them a new era in human tyranny is to be expected.” – 152

Scientific Technique

“The social effect of modern scientific technique is, in practically all directions, to demand an increase both in the size and intensity of organization. When I speak of the intensity of organization I mean the proportion of a man’s activities that is governed by the fact of his belonging to some social unit. The primitive peasant may be almost entirely self-directed; he produces his own food, buys very little, and does not send his children to school. The modern man, even if he happens to be an agriculturist, produces only a small proportion of what he eats; if he grows wheat, for example, he probably sells the whole of his crop and buys his bread from the baker like any other man; even if he does not do this, he has to buy most of the rest of his feed. In his buying and selling he depends upon immense organizations which are usually international; his reading is provided by the great newspapers, his amusements by Hollywood, the education of his children by the State, his capital, in part at least, by a bank, his political opinions by his Party, his safety and many of his amenities by the Government to which he pays taxes. Thus in all his most important activities he has ceased to be a separate unit and has become dependent upon some social organization. As scientific technique advances, the most profitable size for most organizations increases. In a great many respects national boundaries have become a technical absurdity, and further advance demands that they should be ignored. Unfortunately nationalism is immensely strong, and the increasing power of propaganda which scientific technique has put into the hands of national States is being used to strengthen this anarchic force. Until this state of affairs is amended, scientific technique will not be able to achieve the results of which it is capable in the way of promoting human welfare.” – 198

“The greatest triumphs of applied science so far have been in the realm of physics and chemistry. When people think of scientific technique they think primarily of machines. It seems probable that in the near future science will achieve equal triumphs in biological and physiological directions, and ….

will ultimately acquire as much power to change men’s minds as it already has power to deal with our inanimate environment.” – 146

“No sharp line can be drawn between scientific technique and traditional arts and crafts.

The essential characteristic of scientific technique is the utilization of natural forces in ways not evident to the totally uninstructed.” – 137

“The power of psychological technique to mold the mentality of the individual is still in its infancy, and is not yet fully realized. There can, I think, be little doubt that it will increase enormously in the near future. Science has given us, in succession, power over inanimate nature, power over plants and animals, and finally power over human beings.

Each power involves its own kinds of dangers, and perhaps the dangers involved in power over human beings are the greatest, but that is a matter that we will consider at a later stage.” – 185

“While it is rather rash to make detailed prophecies, it is, I think, fairly clear that in future a human body, from the moment of conception, will not be regarded merely as something which must be left to grow in accordance with natural forces, with no human interference beyond what is required for the preservation of health. The tendency of scientific technique is to cause everything to be regarded as not just a brute datum, but raw material for the carrying out of some human purpose. The child, and even the embryo, will come to be viewed more and more in this way as the mentality connected with scientific technique becomes more dominant. In this, as in all other forms of scientific power, there are possibilities of good and possibilities of evil. Science alone will not decide which is to prevail.” – 172

[1] Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook (1931). First Edition.

The Scientific Outlook, Series Introduction

Series Introduction

Bertrand Russell


This series examines Bertrand Russell’s 1931 book The Scientific Outlook. Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (1872-1970) was a renowned British philosopher and mathematician who was an adamant internationalist and worked extensively on the education of young children. This included running an experimental school in the 1920’s with his second wife Dora Black. He was the founder of the Pugwash movement which used the spectre of Cold War nuclear annihilation to push for world government. Among many other prizes, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 and UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) Kalinga prize for the popularization of science in 1957.

  • Part 1 of this series examines science as power-thought and the use of scientific technique to increase the power of an elite scientific minority over the unscientific masses.
  • Part 2 examines the composition of the society of experts who will use scientific technique to dominate the masses. At the forefront of this society of experts is the expert “manipulator”, whom Lenin is the archetype. This society also aims to conceal its power and influence behind political veils like democracy.
  • Part 3 explores the application of scientific technique to education with an emphasis on the distinction between education for the “governing class” and “working class”.
  • Part 4 looks at the use of education, the Press, radio and Hollywood as forms of propaganda.
  • Part 5 examines the use of behaviorism, psycho-analysis and physiological manipulation as applied to education.

  • Part 6 examines the application of scientific technique to the reproduction of human beings including the separate breeding techniques to be applied to the “governing class” compared with the “working class”. This also includes the creation of a “priestly class” within the ruling governing class.
  • Part 7 explores the changes to freedom and equality in the scientific society. This includes changes in the relationship between individual freedom and the collective good, freedom of speech and the Press, freedom to choose ones own career and the freedom to have children.
  • Part 8 examines the changes to free trade and labor in the scientific. Including the removal of competition and the choice between pre-determined work or prison.
  • The final article describes the creation of two artificial societies including the design and implementation of a new religion specifically for that new planned society. The two societies described are: Japan following their 1867 revolution and Russia following the Bolshevik revolution.