Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Politics, purpose and the enemies of joy

The discovery of the Higgs boson particle as the basis for all atomic structure in the universe by CERN in Geneva was confirmed on the anniversary of the 236th year of American independence. Like electricity and the double helix, the United States could have made one of humanity's major scientific advances of discovery, and much earlier. The precursor to the Large Hadron Collider was the Superconducting Super Collider in Waxahachie, Texas, which when established for building in 1991 was well on its way to doing so. At the same rate of LHC, the SSC would have discovered the Higgs boson at around the dawn of the new century.  But in the midst of development 1993, it was stopped dead in its tracks: after all of its funding was withdrawn by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress at the time, and it failed to find a source of private finance. 


Nobody can really identify the basis for political authorities doing things like this. Perhaps only out of their sheer callousness and nihilism, culturally shared by their small-minded constituents. Or perhaps it was the priorities of public spending. We compare the roughly $2 billion cost of the LRC to the $683 billion or so of present yearly military spending by the United States government; the former being the equivalent of around 0.3% of the latter. Deactivating less than a few American weapons of mass destruction would have easily financed the equivalent of of the LHC or SSC, and all long-term scientific discovery consequentially entailing  immense benefit to humanity as a whole. It reminds us of Foucault's insistence of political engagement and actual opposition as being inherently necessary to assure human decency and facility of advancement. Or plainly as possible, the abandonment of such projects or advances are the result of nothing but sheer ignorance and pathology of these political powers, as well as in contradiction of the U.S. Constitution, which according to the intellectual ideals of those founding fathers such as Franklin and Jefferson promotion of "the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Note the interchangeable respect for the practical sciences and creative arts, which brings me onto the origin of the term enemies of joy.


Chris Coltrane referred to the closure of a library by a Conservative Party council in this way:





Is there anything more callous or nihilistic than the closure of a library, when considering books as containing the sources of inspiration and knowledge of unimaginable importance? We recall of Carl Sagan, who wrote in his Cosmos of his passion for astrology and physics beginning in his childhood reading at a local New York library. And it is Sagan who reminded us that "the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." We can also imagine a young Sagan being inspired by Ray Bradury, who is oft quoted on the matter: “You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” 


As torturer Agent O'Brien elaborates to Winston Smith in Orwell's dystopia, one of the primary motives of the enemies of love, knowledge and joy is the destruction of culture. Within this, an inherent drive of social engineering to cleanse and indoctrinate minds out of wonderment and individualistic cognition, whether developed in libraries or discovered at the LHC for the sake of knowledge and betterment, and into sheer servitude of bare existence. 

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