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The Scientific Outlook By Bertrand Russell


The scientific Outlook
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"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 counter arguments, 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," Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 218-219

"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. It follows that such an organization, if it can subsist for a generation, will be stable. 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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 219-220

"Whether men will be happy in this Paradise I do not know. Perhaps biochemistry

will show us how to make any man happy, provided he has the necessaries of life; perhaps dangerous sports will be organized or those whom boredom would otherwise turn into anarchists; perhaps sport will take over the cruelty which will have been banished from politics; perhaps football will be replaced by play battles in the air in which death will be the penalty of defeat. It may be that so long as men are allowed to seek death, they will not mind having to seek it in a trivial cause: to fall through the air before a million spectators may come to be thought a glorious death even if it has no purpose but the amusement of a holiday crowd. It may be that in some such way a safety valve can be provided for the anarchic and violent forces in human nature; or again, it may be that by wise education and suitable diet men may be cured of all their unruly impulses, and all life may become as quiet as a Sunday school." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 220-221

"There will, of course, be a universal language, which will be either Esperanto or pidgin-English. The literature of the past will for the most part not be translated into this language, since its outlook and emotional background will be considered unsettling: serious students of history will be able to obtain a permit from the Government to study such works as Hamlet and Othello, but the general public will be forbidden access to them on the ground that they glorify private murder; boys will not be allowed to read books about pirates or Red Indians; love themes will be discouraged on the ground that love, being anarchic, is silly, if not wicked. All this will make life very pleasant for the virtuous." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 221

"I think it probable, however, that almost all interferences with liberty for which there is a theoretical justification will, in time, be carried out in practice, because scientific technique

is gradually making governments so strong that they need not consider outside opinion. The result of this will be that governments will be able to interfere with individual liberty wherever in their opinion there is a sound reason for so doing, and for the reason just given, this will be much more often than it should be. For this reason scientific technique is likely to lead to a governmental tyranny which may in time prove disastrous." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 231

"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 instill submissiveness into the great bulk of the population…It is possible that it may invent ingenious ways of concealing its own power, leaving the forms of democracy intact, and allowing the plutocrats or politicians to imagine that they are cleverly controlling these forms…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" Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 243-44

"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 the suzerainty of some stronger

nation. The Transvaal lost its independence because it contained gold. Raw materials 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 who would ration them to those who had the most skill utilising them… 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. But uranium and thorium, or any other raw materials suitable for generating atomic energy, should be retained in the hands of the international authority." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 247-248

"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 researchers 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 throughout 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, insofar 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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 251-252

"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 on 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 hours, 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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 253-54

"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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 255

"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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 257

"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 may be 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." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 257-258

"We may, I think, assume that both the quantity and the quality of the population will be carefully regulated by the State, but that sexual intercourse apart from children will be regarded as a private matter so long as it is not allowed to interfere with work. As regards quantity, the State statisticians will determine as carefully as they can whether the population of the world at the moment is above or below the number which leads to the greatest material comfort per head. They will also take account of all such changes of technique as can be foreseen. No doubt the usual rule will be to aim at a stationary population, but if some important invention, such as artificial food, should greatly cheapen the production of necessaries, an increase of population might for a time be thought wise. I shall, however, assume that, in normal times, the world government will decree a stationary population" Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 259

"It is probable that there will be certain kinds of labour mainly performed by negroes, and that manual workers in general will be bred for patience and muscle rather than for brains. The governors and experts, on the contrary, will be bred chiefly for their intellectual powers and their strength of character. Assuming that both kinds of breeding are scientifically carried

out, there will come to be an increasing divergence between the two types, making them in the end almost different species." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 260

"If the simultaneous regulation of quantity and quality is taken seriously in the future, we may

expect that in each generation some 25 percent, of women and some 5 per cent, of men will be selected to be the parents of the next generation, while the remainder of the population will be sterilized, which will in no way interfere with their sexual pleasures, but will merely render these pleasures destitute of social importance. The women who are selected for breeding will have to have eight or nine children each, but will not be expected to perform any other work except the suckling of the children for a suitable number of months. No obstacles will be placed upon their relations with sterile men, or upon the relations of sterile men and women with each other, but reproduction will be regarded as a matter which concerns the State, and will not be left to the free choice of the persons concerned" Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 261-262

"There would be professional nurses in creches, and professional teachers in nursery schools, but they would be considered to be failing in their duty if they felt any special affection for special children. Children who showed any special affection for a particular adult would be separated from that adult." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 264

"The manual workers may, I think, be fairly happy. One may assume that the rulers will be successful in making the manual workers foolish and frivolous; work will not be too severe, and there will be endless amusements of a trivial sort. Owing to sterilization, love affairs need not have awkward consequences so long as they are not between a man and woman who are both of them unsterilized. In this way a life of easygoing and frivolous pleasure may be provided for the manual workers, combined of course with a superstitious reverence for the governors instilled in childhood and prolonged by the propaganda to which adults will be exposed." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 265

"The psychology of the governors will be a more difficult matter. They will be expected

to display an arduous and hard-working devotion to the ideal of the scientific State, and to sacrifice to this ideal all the softer sentiments such as love of wife and children. Friendships between fellow-workers, whether of the same or of different sexes, will tend to become ardent, and will not infrequently overstep the limits which the public moralists will have fixed. In such a case the authorities will separate the friends, unless in doing so they will interrupt some important research or administrative undertaking. When for some such public reason friends are not separated, they will be admonished. By means of governmental microphones the censors will listen in to their conversations, and if these should at any time become tinged with sentiment disciplinary measures will be adopted. All the deeper feelings will be frustrated, with the sole exception of devotion to science and the State." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 265-266

"Persons suffering from unendurable boredom will be encouraged to ascend Mount Everest or fly over the South Pole, but the need for such distractions will be regarded as a sign of mental or physical ill-health. In such a world, though there may be pleasure, there will be no joy" Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 266

"Just as the sun worship of the Aztecs demanded the painful death of thousands

of human beings annually, so the new scientific religion will demand its holocausts of sacred victims. Gradually the world will grow more dark and more terrible. Strange perversions of instinct will first lurk in the dark corners and then gradually overwhelm the men in high places. Sadistic pleasures will not suffer the moral condemnation that will be meted out to the softer joys, since, like the persecutions of the Inquisition, they will be found in harmony with the prevailing asceticism. In the end such a system must break down either in an orgy of bloodshed or in the rediscovery of joy." Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 267

"Perhaps by means of injections and drugs and chemicals the population could be induced to bear whatever its scientific masters may decide to be for its good. New forms of drunkenness involving no subsequent headache may be discovered, and new forms of intoxication may be invented so delicious that for their sakes men are willing to pass their sober hours in misery. All these are possibilities in a world governed by knowledge without love, and power without delight. The man drunk with power is destitute of wisdom, and so long as he rules the world, the world will be a place devoid of beauty and of joy". Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook Page 267-268

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