Friday, 28 March 2008

Political genes are pants science

Why am I a socialist? Is it because I have seen too much of the social damage that capitalism has done to society? Is it because, as a person with disabilities, I have come to hate the system which perpetuates my oppression? Well, according to some genetic scientists - and Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor - it is all in my genes! (BBC News: The search for the 'political' gene)

This comes soon after the recent claim that happiness is genetic (BBC News: Genes 'play key happiness role'). The implications of this are, if you're unhappy, it's got nothing to do with poverty, oppression or over-work, it's all in your genes. How very convenient for the capitalist Establishment!

The idea of our behaviour being genetically influenced, is nothing new. Back in the late 1990s, a 'gay gene' was supposedly discovered. It was hoped that, if it became accepted that homosexuality was genetic, and therefore 'natural', homophobia would decrease. Such a notion, however well-intentioned, was rather naive; skin colour, for example, is genetically influenced, but that has not stopped racism. So, hardly surprisingly, soon after the 'discovery' of the 'gay gene', some right-wingers were speculating about 'curing homosexuality'.

To make matters worse, the 'gay gene' was followed by a glut of dodgy claims to have found genetic links with behaviour - including a 'homelessness gene'! Perhaps the most poisonous piece of bad genetic science was a hideously right-wing book by Chris Brand called The Bell Curve (Bell End more like :-P ), which suggested a genetic link between intelligence and race, and slanderously claimed to 'prove' that black people were less intelligent than whites. The Socialist Review article "Born Or Bred?", from July 1996, covers the topic in more detail.

The idea that behaviour is influenced by genes is very convenient to the capitalist Establishment, as it denies the role of society and material circumstances - which capitalism has had a detrimental effect upon - in determining peoples' behaviour and character. In that respect, it seems to be an extension of the medical model of disability - which similarly implies that disabled people's handicaps are due to a flaw with their body, which must be cured, rather than an intolerant and non-inclusive society and built environment.

A further potential negative implication of' genetics (real or bogus) is the potential for (real or equally bogus) tests for medical conditions - or medicalised behaviour. There is then a danger of the results of such tests being used to deny people employment, insurance, etc. Who needs MI5 or the Economic League, when a simple blood test will do the same job :-(

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against science and research. I'm against bad science, like the politically motivated "behavioural genes", and research which will benefit the capitalist Establishment while attacking working class people (eg nuclear weapons development).

So, it's not our politics which are influenced by genetic factors. On the contrary, it's genetic research which is influenced by political factors, namely the right-wing agenda of the capitalist Establishment.

1 comment:

Barnacle Bob said...

Great point about these simply being seen as a tool by partisans.

Speaking of race, REAL science has shown that only 8% of our genetic difference is between races.

We just found one "liberal" gene (finding the genes is where the rubber meets the road) and it turns out that it evovled 40,000 years ago - one peice of evidence that progressivism started about 60,000 years ago: