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
Their Victory is Our Victory
by Larry Lambert
The great victories of the peoples of Indochina are a great victory for us in SftP and for the vast majority of the American people. SftP was formed as Scientists for Social and Political Action (SSPA) in January 1969, after two years of individual efforts to get the American Physical Society (APS) to take a stand on the war. The founding of SESPA/SftP (the “E” for “engineer” was added later) was indeed a direct result of the struggle of the Indochinese people against U.S. imperialism. Throughout our history we have consistently opposed the war. For years, neither the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) nor the APS could hold a national meeting without a vigorous anti-war protest led by SESPA/SftP. These actions exposed the role of science and of leading scientists in the war, as well as the role of scientific organizations such as AAAS, APS and the National Academy of Science. Many SftP chapters have engaged in sustained anti-war and anti-imperialist activity. Examples are the Berkeley chapter’s expose of the Jason Committee, a group of elite scientists who advised the Pentagon on counterinsurgency and the electronic battlefield (see Science Against the People1); Madison’s indictment of the Army Mathematics Research Center (see The AMRC Papers2); and the Science for Vietnam project of the Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Madison and Washington D.C. chapters which expressed solidarity with the struggle of the Indochinese people and provided scientific information and other forms of aid.
Soon after the founding of SSPA our analysis began to broaden to include the role of science in many aspects of American life. Did science serve the imperial design of the U.S. government, did it serve the profit needs of the monopoly corporations, did it serve the ambitions of the scientific elite, and did it serve the economic, political and ideological needs of the wealthy ruling class? It most certainly did! On the other hand did science serve the needs of the oppressed, the exploited working people, the national minorities, women or even the majority of the technical and scientific strata? Of course not! By the December 1969 AAAS meeting in Boston we were launching a general offensive in science around all these issues under the slogan “Science for the People”. Our profound awakening to the political nature of science is in no small part due to the struggle of the Indochinese people and to our taking up the struggle against the imperial role of American science. Through our struggle in science we have come increasingly to realize that alongside the peoples of Indochina we have a common enemy — the system of monopoly capitalism in its imperialist stage. We have come to recognize the use of science to provide the ideological justification of racism, sexism and exploitation as well as its use in supplying the technical apparatus of imperial war. We are also coming to realize that science in America serves and is controlled by a government acting in the interest of a single wealthy ruling class. In the struggle against our common enemy — imperialism — we are allies of the Indochinese people and all oppressed people the world over.
LONG LIVE THE VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM!
LONG LIVE THE SOLIDARITY OF THE AMERICAN AND INDOCHINESE PEOPLE!