Social Scientist. v 10, no. 109 (June 1982) p. 3.


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K K THECKEDATH^

Marxism and the General Theory of Relativity

THERE are currently frantic and worldwide attempts by the bourgeois ideologues to use the name of Einstein to propagate idealist views ranging from creationism to agnostic relativism. Attempts have been made to persuade the lay public that the universe is finite in extent, that there was a moment of creation, thus to parade one more 'proof for the existence of the creator.

Through an interpretation of the theory of relativity as a form of relativism it has been made out that most of the laws of physics are a matter of convention. Lenin had noted as far back as 1922 that "the theory of Einstein who... is himself not making any active attack on the foundations of materialism, has already been seized upon by a vast number of boingcois intellectuals of all countries; it should be noted that this applies not only to Einstein, but to a number, if not to the majority, of great reformers of natural sciences since the end of the nineteenth century". 1

The validity of Lenin's assertions is illustrated by most of the popular literature on the subject of the general theory of relativity which is replete with examples wherein the ideas of 'birth of time' and 'birth of the universe' are portrayed as being a consequence of the theory of relativity.

In the present essay we examine some of the popular interpretations of the general theory of relativity to show how they arise from the limitations imposed by an outmoded world outlook. There is no question, as Engels said, of building the laws of dialectics into nature, but we shall see how the general theory of relativity further confirms dialectical materialism—the broadest generalisation of the forms of motion of matter, society and thought.

General Theory

The general theory of relativity is the name that Einstein gave to his theory of gravitation. The name is unfortunate, as we shall see, but it has become entrenched in the literature and we shall therefore refer to this theory as the General Theory of Relativity.

* teaches mathematics at VVilson College, Bombay.



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