About This Issue

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 sftp.publishing@gmail.com

About This Issue

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 11, No. 4, July/August 1979, p. 4

In this issue we present an edited version of a pamphlet written by two SftP members in response to the Three Mile Island disaster in late March. We hope that this article will serve.as an organizing tool to help build a larger anti-nuclear movement. The article surveys the catastrophic potential, long-term health hazards and economic myths surrounding the nuclear power industry. In its clear call to action, it reminds us that what is needed is not merely a better understanding of the dangers of nuclear power, but a political force with the power to “end this nuclear madness.”

Although the problem of nuclear waste disposal has been brought into focus since the disaster at Three Mile Island, the disposal of industrial chemical wastes may pose a hazard of more immediate and even greater magnitude. In addition to the thousands of known dumps, each year hundreds of hidden and illegal disposal sites are discovered. An ever widening circle of people find their lives affected by these chemical poisons. The article on Love Canal in New York State describes the consequences for an unsuspecting population of the disregard for their health by the chemical industry and the local government. This article demonstrates that this is an issue that can make people conscious of the injustices of our economic system and of the need for a militant response in dealing with these issues.

In this issue, we also present the text of a speech and subsequent question and answer session by Nguyen Van Hieu, a Vietnamese scientist who visited this country early this year. Hieu describes the development and present structure of scientific research and education in Vietnam. It is apparent that the Vietnamese people face a task of enormous proportions in rebuilding their many-times ravaged country. We are hopeful for their success, given the heroism and persistence expressed by the Vietnamese in their decades of struggle against imperialism. This interview gives a picture of a surprisingly broad-based Vietnamese science. However, it raises as many questions as it answers about the present structure of research and education, the class nature of present day Vietnam (especially with regard to the position of scientists and other intelligentsia) and the extent to which progress against elitism has been made. To answer these questions requires a greater exchange of in-formation and resources between our two countries. an effort in which we hope that SftP can play a role.

Any discussion of class relations in Vietnam raises questions about its internal development, its foreign policy, and its relationships with other socialist couhtries. Similar questions are raised with regard to a discussion of the Chinese situation. In printing this article about Vietnam and the continuation of the article on the agricultural system in China, we are not taking a position with regard to these broad questions. We feel that each article can teach us something about the specific issues raised. We would like, however, to solicit debate among SftP readers regarding the important questions not dealt with in these articles. To what extent can one compare strategies for development and socialist transformation between countries with different histories and levels of industrialization? How much progress in egalitarian relations can we anticipate in socialist nations given a prolonged crisis situation where survival is the first goal? Is it possible, or even desirable, for a developing country to become industrialized without pursuing a model of development similar to that of the advanced capitalist nations? What is the relation, if any, between domestic industrialization, internal social structure and a “socialist” foreign policy?


We are pleased to include in this issue brief reports from the first National Conference of SftP and from the Western Regional Conference. The fact that after ten years SftP has held its first national conference hopefully signals a new period of growth and development for the organization. Translating the resolutions of these two conferences into a vital national organization will require continued commitment and discussion. Much of this discussion will take place in the SftP Internal Discussion Bulletin over the next year and we invite everyone interested in SftP to take part in this process.

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