This essay is reproduced here as it appeared in the print edition of the original Science for the People magazine. These web-formatted archives are preserved complete with typographical errors and available for reference and educational and activist use. Scanned PDFs of the back issues can be browsed by headline at the website for the 2014 SftP conference held at UMass-Amherst. For more information or to support the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org
About This Issue
Science for the People has published many articles about IQ documenting the use of intelligence testing, a so-called “objective, scientific tool,” to discriminate against various minorities that potentially threaten the established power structure—Eastern Europeans, women, Blacks, the poor. While the cultural bias of IQ testing has been widely exposed, the article by Joe, Mike and Laura Schwartz and Susie Orbach goes beyond these critiques to question the very concept of intelligence.
They point out the arbitrariness of the definition of intelligence—that the testers make value judgements about different activities. What makes mathematics a more difficult, “intelligent” task (thus giving it more prestige and value in this society) than mothering—a skill we tend to take for granted that is not limited to an elite few? This article blows out the very walls of the IQ debate. Real meaningful change will not come about by merely altering the face of the problem. As the authors point out, Blacks did not call for “culture-free” testing, but rather for the elimination of IQ testing altogether. We have to learn to identify and challenge the framework and all the basic assumptions that accompany it. Because this is often so difficult to do from within the system, especially one in which the tools of ideology are so strong, we are grateful for articles like “The Myth of Intelligence” that shake us up and make us think about the origins of our values and assumptions.
There has always been a sexual division of labor in America. However, when the basis of the American economy was the family farm, “woman’s work” was skilled labor that was considered no less essential to survival than men’s work. At one time women were producers on the small farm, taking the raw crops farmed by the men and turning them into usable products for family consumption and often for sale as well. Industrialism maintained a division of labor between men and women, but took over the skilled aspects of women’s work. In “Farming Out the Home: Women in Agribusiness,” Sally Hacker documents how the mass production and marketing of food has degraded women’s position both within the family and within the economy as a whole. Agribusiness squeezed out the family farm, forcing some women into low-paid urban jobs, while others stayed at home, but without the fulfillment of their farm-related skills. Both the rural and the urban woman have been turned into consumers with no control over the variety and quality of products.
In contrast to the middle-class rural housewife described in the first part of the article, Hacker also describes the life of the Chicana migrant worker, who has been assigned to agribusiness’s “dirty work.” In the fields and assembly lines of the corporate farm, she receives the lowest pay and faces some of the poorest working conditions of all agricultural workers. After this she has to work a “second shift”—trying to meet her family’s needs with the inadequate housing and health care provided by the company. Hacker details the struggle of these migrant women to win better working and living conditions from their employers. In “Farm-ing out the Home,” Sally Hacker has given us a thorough account of how agribusiness has changed both the basis of the American economy and the day-to-day life of American women.
The pieces on corporate investments in South Africa and the appeal for medical aid to Zimbabwe support the struggle against racism in the African nations. At this time, when American leaders are raising hypocritical voices against the denial of human rights outside this country, the connections among American corporations, U.S. imperialist foreign policy, and U.S. support of racist governments in other parts of the world must be made clear. The racism in Zimbabwe and South Africa and the racism in the U.S. are part of the same system of oppression and economic exploitation. SftP needs to join together with those who are trying to make people recognize and confront U.S. imperialism. We need to extend our support to those who are fighting back.
In this issue, we include a report on SftP’s Western Regional Conference. While many of our readers are not actually members of SftP, we feel it is important for people to know that we do more than just publish a magazine. We are also an activist organization with several chapters working around the country to build a movement around the social and political implications of science and technology. The WRC report highlights some of our major activities and raises many questions about future directions for the organization. We welcome feedback on this from members and nonmembers alike.