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L. Neil Smith's
Number 607, February 13, 2011

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Lysenko's Revenge
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise and
(This is a new chapter for Where We Stand)

It isn't the fact that people go on and on reinventing the wheel that I mind so much, as their idiotic insistence on reinventing it square.
—L. Neil Smith

Once upon a time, one Trofim Denisovich Lysenko—and I should add that I owe this insight to my good friend and cherished colleague Albert Perez—was a peasant lad who attended a local university and quickly rose to become the supreme galootie of Russian agriculture, all because of a theory of his that clicked with certain aspects of Marxism.

A theory that—like Marxism itself—was completely bogus.

And wasn't really Lysenko's to begin with.

It seems that, about the time of the American Revolution, a bright young fellow with the elaborate monicker Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck, a poor but proud French aristocrat—and one of the world's original thinkers about evolution—decided (I don't know why) that the process occurred through the inheritance of characteristics that were acquired by one's ancestors. In short (no pun intended) if you chopped off the tails of a sufficient number of generations of rats, baby rats would eventually be born without any tails.

The proper way to achieve this effect, of course, is to find and breed rats born naturally without tails, or selectively breed rats with smaller and smaller tails, until you have a family of rats that have no tail, the rodent equivalent of a Manx. (I've always said that "Manx!" is the noise a cat makes when you cut its tail off, but I was kidding.)

The Lamarckian theory of evolution by the inheritance of acquired characteristics was thoroughly disproven by the later work of Gregor Mendel and a great many others. In its time, however, it was widely considered to be leading-edge, favored even by Charles Darwin himself as an explanation for what he was seeing in the field. Comrade Lysenko appears to have come along a couple of centuries later and revived Lamarck, in the process vehemently denouncing Mendel and every legitimate geneticist who followed the good abbot as hopelessly bourgoise (for which read "Productive Class") and therefore counter-revolutionary.

Mendel himself was safely dead, beyond the reach of the Grand Inquisition or its modern offspring the OGPU. And in the ordinary course of events, a pseudoscientist like Lysenko would have been ignored as a psychopath or a charlatan. But this was Sovietized Russia, under the bloodstained thumb of Joseph "Stalin" Djugashvili, god-emperor himself of psychopaths and charlatans. The prophet Karl Marx had written that, having lived a sufficient number of generations under the "dictatorship of the proletartiat", a new kind of human being would emerge—later known as "New Soviet Man"—who would automatically live his life for the sake of others, giving to them according to his abilities, letting them receive according to their needs.

This might be possible (although it would ultimately result in the extinction of our species; what other organism would accept such a suicidal philosophy?), if acquired traits—that is, traits forced on unwilling individuals at bayonet-point—were inheritable. The trouble was that they are not. As Ayn Rand pointed out, no matter how many generations of communists passed, individuals were still born and grew up demanding to be free. Mendel and his intellectual heirs—indeed the entire field of scientific genetics—became anti-Soviet heresy, punishable by arrest, exile, and death. More than one of Russia's foremost scientists was shot, or starved or worked to death in Siberia. Hundreds paid the penalty for their allegiance to the truth.

As with good and evil, in which any compromise is also evil, in any compromise between science and politics, science will inevitably lose. Supported by transparent fraud and naked brutality, Lysenkoism nevertheless reigned supreme within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1920s until 1964, stunting the growth of real science, holding back progress, and through the repeated failure of Lysenko's crackpot Lamarckian agricultural theories, starving millions to death for decades. And regrettably—as we are beginning to see here in the West—this is exactly the kind of catastrophe that can happen to any culture, at any time that science and politics get mixed together.

It can start, for example, with skyrocketing fuel prices—the direct result of idiotic foreign policy, taxes and regulations, and the suppression of new technologies, bolstered by a surrealistic desire to create a "green" economy—and what then become advertised as energy shortages. In reality, it's the Developed World's equivalent of a Cambodian forced march and will eventually produce the same results,

Look: a company in any other branch of industry wants you to buy as much of their product as you can, in part so that they are able to manufacture a greater volume, lowering their costs and passing savings on to their customer whop will be motivated to buy even more. This is a familiar part of the happy cycle of profit and progress under real capitalism.

As Robert LeFevre pointed out long ago, only an industry that is run by government, or to government standards, refers to its customers "pigs" for "buying too much". And only in a government-run economy are individuals, desperate just to obtain the necessities of life, forced to stand in long lines for hours to purchase shoddy and over-priced products.

Exactly as no shortage of food on this planet is responsible for people in the Third World or anywhere else not having enough to eat, no lack of resources is responsible for what are advertised as energy shortages.

In the Third World, governments—corrupt politicos and military dictators looking to starve their enemies or simply for their piece of the action—stand between food producers and consumers. In the First World, similar obstructions are augmented by the established energy companies desperate to keep efficient, innovative competitors out of the market. They endorse solar and wind power, of course, because they're trivial and impractical; historians of the future will laugh at them. But suppressed technologies like catalytic fusion and thermal depolymerization constitute a real threat—except that they have to get past ranks of bureaucratic and political gatekeepers, dedicated to defending the interests—and the vast fortunes—of energy's Old Guard.

But I have digressed.

"Manmade Global Warming" is a collection of ideas that have been thoroughly discredited by real science for years. Yet you would never know it by observing the behavior of politicians, media personalities, and certain corrupt academics and scientists. There is not now, nor has there ever been any scientifically respectable evidence for global warming. Just like Lysenkoism, it is a complete and total fabrication, a hoax, deliberately perpetrated for prestige, power, and material gain.

The field is rich, but three facts alone are sufficient to dismiss it out of hand. Recently, when the Earth was indeed warming slightly, Mars and Jupiter were enjoying the same relatively balmy weather. I could be wrong, of course, but to the best of my knowledge, there are no farting cows or SUVs on either of those planets. Earth's climate seems to be more closely linked—and not unreasonably—to what's happening with the Sun, than to anything our species does or doesn't do.

Then, too, there's the intriguing truth that high levels carbon dioxide actually follow periods of atmospheric warming, by roughly 900 years, not the other way around as advertised. Be that as it may, carbon dioxide, far from being an enemy of the Earth as ludicrously claimed by those who wish to make an Original Sin of exhaling, is the staff of life for plants. High levels of the stuff have produced the lushest periods in geological history. And plants, in turn, make oxygen.

Finally, Global Warming's most "respectable" proponents, at the University of East Anglia, Pennsylvania State University, and NASA have been caught cherry-picking evidence or simply fabricating it altogether.

Of course it hasn't helped the poor warmistas that the winters lately have been colder, record-breakingly so, forcing humiliating cancellations of their tax-supported confabs. Nor that the northern and southern icecaps have been growing thicker and more extensive, rather than otherwise. Nor that as many (if not more) glaciers are growing as retreating. Nor that there have been fewer, not more, hurricanes. And worst of all, that the carbon credit exchange they'd all hoped to make trillions from collapsed and died an ignominious death.

No polar bears were drowned in the composition of the paragraph above.

Yet Global Warming (now known euphemistically as "Climate Change" in the same spirit-of-the-catbox that "liberal" became "progressive") continues to eke out a strictly political life because, exactly as Lysenkoism served Stalinism by backing up Marx's flawed biological conceits, Global Warming serves today's collectivists—in particular the United Nations and their vicious Agenda 21—by offering them an endless supply of justifications to seize absolute control, not merely of the means of production as Marx had aspired to do, but of each moment, breath, thought, word, footstep, gesture, and every other aspect of the lives of the unfortunate individuals within their malign reach.

To be absolutely certain that there be no opposition to their vile putsch, dissenters—honest meteorologists and other scientists who dismiss Global Warming as the crock it happens to be—have found themselves intimidated, denied funding and tenure, even fired. Here and there you'll even see demands in astonishingly high places that all "climate change deniers" (how much more appropriate it would be, simply to call them "heretics") should be prosecuted, imprisoned, or even executed. Somewhere, the ghosts of Stalin and Lysenko are having a huge laugh together, along with Savonarola, Torquemada, Himmler, and Mengele.

And now we see exactly the same methods being applied to promote another con-game called "socialized medicine". The reputation for failure that this bonnet-bee has acquired since it was first rolled out in Prussia in the 1880s should be enough. And yet its advocates appear to be motivated more by a species of religious faith than by evidence and reason. Anyone who objects to having this monstrosity foisted on them by naked force is denounced by its proponents—moral and intellectual bankrupts unable construct any rational, coherent arguments in its favor—as "brownshirts", "racists", or "Nazis", when in fact is is their jackboots that we are feeling on our necks.

There's really only one cure for this societal disease, and that is a Constitutional amendment which, once and for all, will mandate a formal separation of science—especially medicine—and state, in effect, denying government funds to all forms of scientific (as well as anti-scientific) endeavor. We must leave technical progress to the market, instead, which once made us the most productive, prosperous, and progressive nation in the history of humanity. Government funding of science has always been a corrupting influence, skewing the pursuit of knowledge in directions it wouldn't have taken without political pressure.

Naturally, this will lead to calls for the abolition of corporate taxes (which are not paid by corporations in any case, but passed on to individuals like you and me, through prices that are higher than they would be otherwise) so that there will be sufficient capital for companies—and individuals—to invest in genuine scientific endeavor.

It's long past time that we rid ourselves of "Lysenkoism American Style". We must scrap every article of legislation inspired by the discredited theory of Global Warming, and for the most part, by environmentalism in general. We must remove the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats guilty of having rammed it all down our throats. We must prosecute the academic hoaxsters behind the lie of "climate change".

While we're at it, we should give the United Nations and all of its little tentacles 24 hours to get the hell off the North American Continent.

And then we can get on with the important business—clearly beyond the average Marxist's comprehension—of living in a free society.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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