Our Comrades at NASA

Are you are among the uninitiated lumpenproletariat who believe the decline of the Roman Empire was attributable to a multitude of factors?  Do you still naively assume that rampant immorality, political corruption, inability to effectuate regime change without violence and bloodletting, failure to curb runaway inflation, the complete over extension of military resources and the eventual drought of plunder were among the reasons for the fall of Rome?

Then you obviously have not read the latest NASA report on how the benighted empire could have avoided collapse if only it had adhered to the tenets of Karl Marx.  Apparently, Rome could have continued indefinitely if only its rulers had been more careful about natural resources and had distributed the wealth of Rome’s 1% more equitably among the crowded apartment dwellers and poverty-stricken farmers infesting Rome’s smelly slums and bucolic fields.

Eschewing also the thesis of Edward Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,  which blamed the demise of the predatory Roman Empire on the deleterious  influence of Christianity, Safa Motesharrei, who works for the National Science Foundation, proposes that the collapse of Rome (and other empires such as the current American hegemony) could have been avoided if only communism had been embraced and effectuated. 

You may well wonder just what NASA, (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is doing funding research on the decline of the Roman Empire when officially it is supposed to be responsible for America’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. 

Wonder no more.

Mr. Motesharrei attaches his study to science.  His research was sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, so that must make his musings on the collapse of societies and empires and insights on nature and resources “scientific.”

He writes in his report that “Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably.”

It probably comes as a surprise that NASA, which is supposedly devoted to the scientific exploration of space, would now have become a shill for Marxist ideologues promoting “equitable distribution.” 

But the trend toward turning the agency into a propaganda machine was noted some four years ago when President Obama, according to an article in Investor’s Business Daily, told NASA administrator Charles Bolden that NASA’s priority should be "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering."

The ideological corruption of an agency that once was the gold standard for the application of scientific theory to the exploration of aeronautics and space is calamitous.  Worse, if possible, is the jettisoning of the scientific method itself in preference for the promotion of ideology. 

It is not be the first time -- nor will it be the last -- science was or is hijacked for the express purposes of bolstering contemporary political correctness.

19th and 20th century history is replete with examples of ideological takeovers of science for propagandistic purposes.  The accuracy of the scientific method has been corrupted by regimes intent on using the intellectual capital and the prestige of leading scientists and scientific institutions as well as the results of the scientific method for the nefarious purposes of giving credibility to narrow ideological goals.

One need only think of the eugenics and racial theories promoted in the United States by such luminaries as Margaret Sanger. Such theories were disseminated and eventually put to deadly use by the Third Reich. 

Another example: A variant of Lamarckism, Lysenkoism, was put into effect in the Soviet Union with disastrous consequences. Critics of Lysenkoism, which was not completely repudiated by the Soviet Union until 1964, have pointed out the catastrophic results of allowing Marxist ideology to trump Mendel’s correct scientific discoveries in the field of genetics.

What happened?

First, a convinced Marxist, Trofim Lysenko, became the Director of the Soviet Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences in the 1930s under Josef Stalin.  A devout Marxist who believed in the evolution of the perfect Soviet man, Lysenko also believed that plants could pass on characteristics that could be inherited by the next generations of plants.  He firmly rejected Mendel’s discoveries because they did not fit with Marxist ideology.

In an article published in Forbes magazine, Peter Ferrara puts it this way:

“Lysenkoism was ‘politically correct’ (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with certain broader Marxist doctrines […] Lysenko’s theories also seemed to address in a quick and timely manner the widespread Soviet famines of the time arising from the forced collectivization of agriculture...

“Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine.  Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award.  Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism.

“The V.I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences announced on August 7, 1948 that thenceforth Lysenkoism would be taught as the only correct theory.  All Soviet scientists were required to denounce any work that contradicted Lysenkoism.  Ultimately, Soviet geneticists resisting Lysenkoism were imprisoned and even executed.”

Ferrara goes on to write that global warming theory is simply a variant of Lysenkoism; that is, once again, ideology trumps true science. 

Mr. Motesharrei follows in the footsteps of Lysenko, falsely applying ideological standards to the “scientific” study of history.  He errs in evaluating the ancient past by twentieth century ideological standards of political correctness rather than studying the era according to its own terms.  Just as bad, he applies Marxist ideological diagnoses to the collapse of the Roman Empire and then pastes his prophetically retrospective observations onto the current situation of America, which he sees as inevitably in decline unless Leninist principles are rigorously and immediately applied.

But the worst problem with Motesharrei’s diagnoses and solutions is that he claims they are scientifically based.  He uses an indecipherable “mathematical” formula called HANDY, supposedly a cross-disciplinary, mathematically and scientifically correct formula ratifying his Marxist tendencies. 

Nafeez Ahmed, apparently an enthusiastic supporter of Motesharrei’s theories and the HANDY formula, writes in The Guardian that "[Civilization].... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."

Quoting Mr. Motesharrei’s thesis, Mr. Ahmed continues:

“The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:

‘Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.’”

Ahmed concludes:

“The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business -- and consumers -- to recognize that 'business as usual' cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.”

So there we have it.

It seems NASA has now provided an infallible “scientific” rationale for the “fundamental transformation” of the United States -- if not the entire world -- including a call for immediate change of America’s societal structures before the entire edifice collapses.  The communist ideal of redistributing wealth and resources will save us all.

What was once America’s premier agency for the scientific exploration of space is now reduced to despicable boosterism.  It has become a cheerleader for our current administration’s efforts to fundamentally transform America into a socialist, if not a fully communist state.

Let’s hope the few real scientists remaining at the agency will refuse to embrace a corrupted variant of Lysenkoism, deserting a failing spaceship for the more reliable and scientifically sound vehicles of science being built by private enterprise.

Those devoted to real science should leave NASA, allowing it to sink into the black hole of discredited ideology.

Further, NASA itself should be abolished.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where one of her chief interests was the interface of science  and theology.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com