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
by Berkeley SESPA & Gar Allen
‘Science for the People’ Vol. 5, No. 4, July 1973, p. 46
CHAPTER REPORT: BERKELEY
Berkeley SESPA members have been involved in diverse activities over the past few months. Many people in our group spent a lot of time with the SESPA people who had just returned from China. The China people did a lot of speaking on an itinerary set up by our China Study Group. A program on the U.C. campus featuring a talk by Judy Greenberg and the Joshua Horn film “Away With All Pests” drew about 500 people.
SESPA also sponsored a well-attended talk by Richard Lewontin called “Biology as a Political Weapon.” SESPA members had put pressure on the Committee for Arts and Lectures to invite Lewontin after C.A.L. had sponsored a talk by Robert Ardrey. Ardrey had mangled biology to justify racism, sexism, imperialism, and oppresive society in general. Lewontin gave an excellent talk, attacking biological determinism, and especially the stuff put out by Jensen and Shockley, and their ilk. We are putting out a pamphlet based on the Lewontin talk, and some SESPA members are organizing around these issues for activities to be held at the International Genetics Congress to be held in Berkeley this summer.
Some SESPA people have been working on the support committee for the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers strike against Shell Oil. The strike is over health and safety issues, an area in which SESPA has been involved for some time, and has been endorsed by some environmental groups. So far our work has mostly involved putting out information and speaking. We are now about to launch an attack against Shell for producing too much pollution because they are cutting corners while operating with management personnel and scabs. We are also beginning to work with some working people on some particular inplant health issues.
Some SESPA people have also been involved in a campus group attacking recent budget cuts. We are also trying to develop our own perspective on this issue, in order to have a large impact on the many science students and scientific workers who have been severely hit by the new budget.
We would also like to note that we have sold over 2,000 copies of the Jason pamphlet, and people can still get copies by sending us $1 per copy, or 65 cents per copy for ten or more (Box 4161, Berkeley, California, 94704). Finally, a letter by two SESPA people on the Jason appears in the May issue of Science.
CHAPTER REPORT: ST. LOUIS
This report was inadvertantly omitted from the Mayday issue.
The major report we have to file concerns progress on the St. Louis Ecology Group’s Automobile Project, the initial stages of which have been reported in earlier issues of Science for the People (Vol.IV, No. 3, May, 1972).
The Auto Project moved into another round of its work as we prepare our materials, first presented publicly at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings in Philadelphia in December, 1972, for a book-length publication. A list of our chapter headings, recently revised, follows:
I THE AUTO AS A SOURCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISRUPTION
II THE AUTO AND HUMAN EXPLOITATiON
III PROPOSED SOLUTIONS UNDER CAPITALISM
IV THE AUTO IN ECONOMICS AND POLITICS
V THE SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE
We have found that one of the most important services this work can perform is to show people how interconnected industry, government, the economic system, and environmental disruption really are in our society. We want to counter the current trend which is to attempt to solve problems of environmental disruption (auto air pollution, highway disruption of land or of urban neighborhoods, depletion of the world’s natural resources, exploitation of consumers and workers) piecemeal. A lot of liberal rhetoric has been bandied about recently concerning zero economic growth, the limits to growth, the effectiveness of pollution control devices (on cars, factories). Our point is that it is possible to solve one or another single problem of environmental disruption under
capitalism. But it is not possible to solve them all. It is not possible to meet people’s transportation needs effectively, avoid consuming more than our share of the world’s resources, avoid polluting our air and strip mining the countryside, and avoid destroying our cities’ physical structure, under capitalism—especially a capitalistic system committed to the private automobile as a major means of transportation. We believe that capitalism is exploitative and necessarily expansionist by its very nature. We are illustrating these points in a variety of areas all connected with the automobile and its role in western capitalist societies (principally the U.S.).
The Auto Project Group hopes to have a complete draft of all its chapters by the end of the summer, 1973.
Several of us hold bi-weekly lunchtime discussion groups for grad students, staff (and any interested faculty) in the science departments around Washington University. Each session is devoted to a particular topic relating science and technology to political and social issues. For one session Gar Allen spoke about science education in Cuba; for another Mark Selden of the CCAS spoke about his recent trip to China, and in particular, his observations about medical care there. In a still more recent session Milton Schlesinger of the Washington University Medical School spoke about the U.S. use of chemical warfare agents in Southeast Asia, accompanied by a showing of the NLF-produced film documenting the effects of such chemicals on animal and plant life. These sessions provide a chance for those who are interested to deal with the topic of how science is misused under an unjust and exploitative economic and social system.
— Gar Allen
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