The Most Important Error of Marxism: It Ignores Intelligence As a Cause

irusseb001p1The most important error in his theory, to my mind, is that it ignores intelligence as a cause. Men and apes, in the same environment, have different methods of securing food: men practice agriculture, not because of some extra-human dialectic compelling them to do so, but because intelligence shows them its advantages. The industrial revolution might have taken place in antiquity if Greek intelligence had remained what it was at its best. To this it is customary to reply that slave labor, being cheap, removed the incentive to the invention of labor-saving devices. The facts do not bear out this view. Modern methods of production began in the cotton industry, no only in spinning and waving, which employed “free” labor, but also in the gathering of cotton, which was the work of slaves. Moreover no slaves were ever cheaper than the wretched children whom the Lancashire manufacturers employed in the factories of the early 19th Century, where they had to work 14 or 16 hours a day, for little more than board and lodging, till they died. (It must be remembered that the death of a slave was an economic loss to his owner, but the death of a wage-earner is not.) Yet it was these same ruthless employers who were the pioneers of the industrial revolution, because their heads were better than their hearts. Without intelligence, men would never have learnt to economize hand labor by the help of machines.

I do not wish to suggest that intelligence is something that arises spontaneously, in some mystical uncaused manner. Obviously it has its causes, and obviously these causes are in part to be sought in the social environment. But in part the causes are biological and individual. These are as yet little understood, though Mendelianism has made a beginning. Men of supreme ability are just as definitely congenitally different from the average  as are the feeble-minded. And without supreme ability fundamental advances in methods of production cannot take place.

Russell, Bertrand. Understanding History. New York: Philosophical Library, 1957

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Advice to China: Heroic Abstention from War is Path to Victory

bertrand-russellIt is not unlikely that the great military nations of the modern world will bring about their own destruction by their inability to abstain from war, which will become, with every year that passes, more scientific and more devastating. If China joins in this madness, China will perish like the rest. But if Chinese reformers can have the moderation to stop when they have made China capable of self-defence, and to abstain from the further step of foreign conquest; if, when they have become safe at home, they can turn aside from the materialistic activities imposed by the Powers, and devote their freedom to science and art and the inauguration of a better economic system—then China will have played the part in the world for which she is fitted, and will have given to mankind as a whole new hope in the moment of greatest need. It is this hope that I wish to see inspiring Young China. This hope is realizable; and because it is realizable, China deserves a foremost place in the esteem of every lover of mankind.

Russell, Bertrand. The Problem of China. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1922

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Secrets of the West


There have been only a few very rare periods in human history, and a few very sparse regions, in which spontaneous progress has occurred. There must have been spontaneous progress in Egypt and Babylonia when they developed writing and agriculture; there was spontaneous progress in Greece for about 200 years; and there has been spontaneous progress in Western Europe since the Renaissance. But I do not think there has been anything in the general social conditions at these periods and places to distinguish them from various other periods and places in which no progress has occurred. I cannot escape from the conclusion that the great ages of progress have depended upon a small number of individuals of transcendent ability. Various social and political conditions were of course necessary for their effectiveness, but not sufficient, for the conditions have often existed without the individuals, and in such cases progress has not occurred. If Kepler, Galileo, and Newton had died in infancy, the world in which we live would be vastly less different than it is from the world of the sixteenth century. This carries with it the moral that we cannot regard progress as assured: if the supply of eminent individuals should happen to fail, we should no doubt lapse into a condition of Byzantine immobility.

Russell, Bertrand. “Western Civilization.” In Praise of Idleness. London and New York: Routledge, 2006

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The primary aims of government should be security, justice and conservation

irusseb001p1The primary aims of government, I suggest, should be three: security, justice, and conservation. These are things of the utmost importance to human happiness, and they are things which only government can bring about.

Russell, Bertrand. Authority and the Individual. London and New York: Routledge, 2010

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Carlin’s comment on China’s Bullying Culture

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What the Tortoise said to Achilles shows the nature of implications.

The reason Tortoise couldn’t stop hypothesizing is that an implication never asserts its constituent propositions.


A. P is true.

B. if P is true then Q is true, (P implies Q).

B only asserts the implication.  Even if both P and Q are false, B can still be true. One is tempted to say there is an implicit hypothesis C which asserts that A  and B together imply Q:

C. If P is true and P implies Q, then Q is true.

But C, as an implication, can be true regardless whether A,  B, or Q are true or not. One is tempted to say A, B, C together implies Q:

D. If A is true, B is true and C is true than Q is true.

Since D, again, can be true by itself and insufficient to reach Q, one would say A, B, C, D together implies Q. Thus the Tortoise’s regression.

The root of the problem is that, in all the newly accepted hypotheses, Q is never asserted. Each hypothesis only asserts the implication. An implication only asserts the relation of what proposition logically follows a given proposition. An implication does not assert the constituent propositions. That is why each hypothesis can be true by itself yet still insufficient to move any closer to Q.

In order to stop the regression, we need to distinguish inference from implication. An inference deduce one true proposition from another true proposition instead of simply imply one unasserted proposition from another unasserted proposition.

*1.1 and *1.11 in PM is the primitive idea that converts asserted implications into inferences:

*1.1 Anything implied by a true elementary proposition is true. Pp

Notice that *1.1 and *1.11 are not hypotheses. They are general statements and whatever inference can be made in virtue of *1.1 or *1.11 has already been contained by *1.1 or *1.11. In other words, the inference discovers nothing new and asserts nothing that has not been asserted by *1.1 and *1.11.  *1.1 and *1.11 simply help the reader to “see” particular cases. Take the Tortoise’s case for example:

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.

(B) The two sides of this triangle are things that are equal to the same.

(Z) The two sides of this triangle are equal to each other.

Both A and B are true means this is a particular case of *1.1. Since 1.1 is a general assertion that asserts all its individual cases, we know Z is asserted.

Another example illustrates that 1.1 is not a hypothesis:

A. Pigs Fly.

B. If Pigs Fly then I am pope.

C. If pigs fly and pigs fly implies I am pope then I am Pope.

Z. I am Pope.

Both B and C assert only implications that are true and can hold on its own but, nevertheless, assert none of its constituent propositions. Since A is false, A and B together does not make a case that belongs to the class of cases asserted by 1.1, thus Z cannot be accepted.


Russell, Bertrand. §38. The Principles of Mathematics. New York. London: W.w. Norton & Company, 1996

Alfred North Whitehead. Russell, Bertrand. *1.1. Principia Mathematica 1st ed. Merchant Books, 1910

Carroll, Lewis. What the Tortoise Said to Achilles. Mind, 1895.

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China vs. Japan from American perspective

Let snarks fight snarks.

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Is the war inspired by hate or by profit?

If it is inspired by hate, then it is pointless. If it is inspired by profit, then war will render it unprofitable.

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If we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive everyone

1948 Siege of Changchun: The Communist army starved 150,000 civilians to death.

“Changchun was like Hiroshima,” Zhang wrote. “The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.”


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董坚毅。哈佛大学博士,52年回国,55年支援大西北。57年被定为右派送夹边沟劳教。60年饥荒袭来,董亦不能幸免。其妻顾晓颖(也为留美生)来探视, 待寻得其遗体时,周身皮肉已被割食一空,仅剩头颅挂在骨架之上。夹边沟劳教人员2800多人,饿死2100多人,死难者掩埋草率,累累白骨外露绵延两公 里。

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