Future Issues

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

Future Issues

By the Editorial Collective

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 5, No. 5, September 1973, p. 30 – 31


We are planning to put out an issue of the magazine devoted entirely to the energy problem. We hope to be able to do this by early 1974, and this is a call for people who might be willing to work on such an issue as well as those who may wish to contribute articles.

We might try to focus discussion around three key questions:

  1. What is the energy problem? Who experiences this as a problem? Although primarily concerned with the US, we are led inevitably to the Third World and its relationship to the US when trying to answer questions such as these.
  2. What does an analysis of the energy problem tell us about formulating a strategy for radical political change?
  3. What are the implications of the energy problem for the scientific and technical workforce?

Some areas of investigation could be:

  • What has been the history of energy consumption and production and its relationship to the dynamic of economic growth in the US?
  • How has the energy industry evolved, and what has been the role of the state in this process?
  • What is the alignment of power and who makes the major decisions in the energy field? What are the respective roles of the oil industry as well as the coal, gas, and uranium industries? What about federal agencies (AEC, FPC, FTC, etc.), the utility companies, the Congress and the White House?
  • We need to examine issues involving capital costs and economic growth, the limits to growth hypothesis and resource depletion, environmental and ecological factors, inflation and increased cost of living, as well as international competition and collusion and the causes of the international monetary crisis.
  • What conflicts have developed within the capitalist class?
  • What are the implications for labor? Will there be belt tightening? Attempts to divide workers from the environmental opposition?
  • How important will the importation of oil be (from the Middle East)? Possible military intervention to shore up reactionary regimes?
  • What alternative sources of energy and alternative technology will be developed? On what time scale? For what purposes? Will there be a massive R&D “Apollo” project, a bonanza for certain sections of the energy industry?
  • What are the characteristics of the energy workforce, e.g., the proportions of skilled, unskilled, and technical workers and their distribution by industry?
  • What will be the repercussions of various energy policies on labor in the energy industry?
  • What issues will be best to organize around?

Please send questions, suggestions, written material, etc. to Energy Issue, c/o Magazine Support Group, SESPA/SftP, 9 Walden St. Jamaica Plain, Mass. 02130.


The newly organized magazine support group recently got together to review and analyze the subject matter of previous issues of Science for the People so that we might uncover some areas of interest to serve as topics for future articles. As we discussed our own experiences as laboratory workers, we soon realized that the focus of our attention had actually shifted to a discussion of the economic, social, and political aspects of the laboratory environment. In fact, although most participants in the discussion were laboratory workers, it was apparent that many of us were analyzing our work-situations for the first time. Although readers of Science for the People may or may not be laboratory workers, it is important for all of us to analyze our work environment.

We intend to present an entire issue of the magazine dealing specifically with the problems of the lab work environment, although many of them can be applied to any work situation. Please contribute; for a more effective analysis we need to share your experiences and ideas.

Some of you could form groups to work on specific topics. As suggestions, we present the following outline of the topics of our discussions.

1. How valid are popular conceptions about the laboratory?

The lab is one big happy family.

Lab work is exciting.

The lab is a personally enriching environment.

Lab workers are engaged in a collective search for the “Truth”.

2. How is the research laboratory organized?

Social structure and division of labor-how is the decision making power related to the separation of manual from mental labor? Does it have to be that way?

How people in different job categories relate to their work.

What proportions of carrot and stick are used to ensure maximum committment?

Racism, sexism, and other forms of institutionalized discrimination

3. What does the lab produce?

Material products (research results, money, etc.)

Social products (ideology and conceptions of scientific work)

4. What’s wrong? A political analysis of lab organization and production.

5. What kind of struggle should be waged?

Democratizing the lab

Organizing workers

Values and limitations of such struggles

Please send all contributions to Sue Conrad, c/o Magazine Support Group, SESPA/SftP, 9 Walden St., Jamaica Plain, Mass. 02130

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