21st Century Science & Technology
Science and the New Silk Road

Laurence Hecht

(Reprinted from 21st Century, Winter 2002–2003)

The maiden voyage of the world’s first commercial-scale, magnetically levitated railroad, running from downtown Shanghai to Pudong international airport, was a victory for a concept of international development which physical economist and international statesman Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., has been pushing for some time. This event of December 31, 2002, is a marker for something much, much bigger. It forms a part of an historic shift in world political and strategic alignments, of a sort very few among the ordinary run of strategists can even conceive.

As we shall briefly elaborate below, a change in millennium-old orderings of human economic and political relations is involved. Under these circumstances, a new Renaissance, dwarfing the great developments of the 15th Century, which gave birth to modern science and culture, becomes eminently possible. It is not a foregone conclusion, but a potentiality, as LaRouche, the behind-the-scenes shaper of these events, has identified it. To carry it through, the false paradigm governing modern scientific practice must change.

This is the crucial matter we address in the two historical studies contained in this issue. In the first study, on the Moonification of Science, we expose how the essential tenets of the Russell-Wells “no-soul” gang (that man is not different from a beast, and thought is no more than an epiphenomenon of matter), became the guiding principle behind the practice of science, and statecraft, in the 20th Century. In the second study, a biographical treatment of the extraordinary scientific career of Marie Sklodowska Curie, the same topic is addressed from the other side, by positive example. As the case of Pierre and Marie Curie illustrates, a relentless, and unrecognized, struggle for truth, giving up comforts and placing oneself at odds with all prevailing opinion, is the only means to actual scientific accomplishment.

But, we can not bring back the past. The culture which produced the genius of Pierre and Marie Curie is no more. How, then, shall we re-create it, or something better?

Science and Development
The answer to this life-or-death question lies in understanding the deeper connection among science, culture, and physical economy.

Scientific development and economic development, have ever marched shoulder to shoulder. It was no accident that the plan for the industrial development of Russia, which centered on railroad building, was conceived and fought for by chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev. Today, the development of the vast population centers of the interior of China, Southeast Asia, and India, and their linking across central Asia, to the developed industrial centers of Western Europe (and to the Americas, by way of a Bering Strait bridge or tunnel), depends on the development of high-speed rail lines.

In LaRouche’s conception of this “new Silk Road,” corridors of economic development, stretching 100 kilometers to either side of these magnetically levitated passenger and freight lines, will bring about the rapid modernization and improvement of living standards for the two-thirds of the world’s population which now lives (mostly in squalor) in the Eurasian interior. That will change everything.

Just such a vision of human development has been the nightmare of the advocates of oligarchism and empire, including those now calling for a new American Empire, for over a century. Since Lincoln’s victory in the Civil War, and the consolidation of America as the world’s leading industrial power, the spread of the “American System” of industrial republic was the great fear of the British Empire. World history, from that point on, could only be understood from the standpoint of Britain’s, sometimes desperate, efforts to prevent the adoption of the American System by powerful political factions in other leading nations—Germany, France, Russia, and Japan, most especially.

The industrial development of the Eurasian interior will mark a millennial change in global economic and strategic relations. Human civilization, to date, has been, predominantly, maritime civilization. The density of protein-based food supply available from the sea, initially dictated the concentration of populations at coastal sites. Progress in astronomy and long-range navigational capabilities—much earlier than what mainstream archaeology usually acknowledges—permitted both trade, and settlement of other coastal regions. Development meant pushing inland, moving first up the rivers, and claiming inland territory for human habitation. But the cost of overland transport always prescribed a dependence on water routes for freight.

About 300 years ago, a maritime-financier oligarchy, which had dominated Mediterranean trade from the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, completed the relocation of its center of operations from Venice to London, producing what became the Roman-modelled British Empire. This Venetian rule was successfully challenged only once, by an international flanking operation, stretching over more than four generations from John Winthrop to Increase and Cotton Mather to Benjamin Franklin, and drawing on the continental networks of Gottfried Leibniz and his successors. The outcome was the American Revolution.

The development of Eurasia’s interior, and the rail-linkage of Eurasia to the America’s across the Bering Strait, is an event of equal or greater world historic significance. The availability of high-speed overland transport, and the development of the population centers of the interior of the Eurasian landmass, implies a great historical change. It will finally shift the international economic balance from maritime to land-based power.

With this shift, comes the possibility of freedom from the ideological tyranny of financier-oligarchical power, and a new Renaissance of science and culture. This will be a good time to be alive.

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