ABOUT THIS ISSUE
by the Editorial Collective
‘Science for the People’ Vol. 7, No. 6, November 1975, p. 2 – 3
In this issue, the familiar theme of the applications and development of science in our society is followed in two groups of articles. The first group deals with some of the dangerous ways in which scientific results can be loaded for and applied to increase the profit of big
business, the exploitation of the working classes, the ideological control on society. It contains contributions on the expansion of large scale dairy industry, on robots, on newly proposed genetic theory of human behavior. The second group deals, on the contrary, with some of the way in which scientific knowledge and professional skill can be used to increase the control of the working classes on their working conditions and to enlarge international solidarity. It contains contributions on a new, simple technique to discover mutagenic properties
of chemicals and a relation on the Science for Vietnam activities in Italy.
The article on the dairy industry discusses the concentration and centralization of this industry through the use of technology. Some questions are raised which hopefully will provoke discussion and response: Does large-scale production and automation tend to result in
jobs that are boring and non-creative, independently of the economic milieu? What are the ramifications of the alliance, suggested by the authors, of small farmers, farm workers and consumers? What are the specific ways in which their long-term interests are in harmony?
The paper on the dairy industry has indicated how the use of technology has been instrumental in the building up of large-scale dairy farms; the paper on robots makes it clear that this trend toward automation is not limited to large-scale production and global control but is new increasingly being extended to small-scale production, clerical work, and engineering skills through the introduction of the most sophisticated and versatile machines, the robots. Hopefully this article, which gives factual information and organizes it in the frame of a class analysis of the dynamics of capitalistic society, will stimulate other contributions and reflections on more comprehensive topics, all of them in urgent need of definition, careful consideration theoretical understanding. In particular, we feel that our readers could contribute out of their practice, at least as much as out of their theoretical analysis, on such problems as the role of class struggle in the development of automation and the introduction of robots; on the intrinsic contradictions which the introduction of these devices could create for big business both in terms of the definition of the market values of commodities and in terms of the vulnerability of automated systems to class struggle; on the role of automation in a society freed of capitalistic exploitation.
The article “Sociobiology: The Skewed Synthesis” deals with the use of science· as an ideological tool to maintain the status quo. Recently certain people have advocated a genetic explanation for human social behavior; the article discusses in particular the recent book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by Harvard professor E.O. Wilson. The danger of such expositions is that they may be used to support oppressive legislation with the fallacious reasoning that “antisocial behavior” is “in the genes” and thus cannot be changed, but must
be controlled by laws. The authors of this article show that the “science” used by Wilson and his colleagues is not only false extrapolation but in fact contains many political assumptions and, upon close examination, reveals the class prejudice of the researcher. This raises
the important question of what kind of scientific research should or should not be done. Should we hold to the faith that we will always be able to counter racist, classist or sexist theories by showing that they derived from badly done science; or rather should we take a political position that some types of research should not be done since the results will inevitably be used in oppressive ways?
In the view of many people who work in science, doing ‘politics’ is something that one does quite apart from one’s work in science. At the opposite extreme are those who believe the only real political contribution they can make is by doing radical, alternative science. The
article: “Cancer Prevention: Good News from Peoples Science” is an example of an intermediate position: straight establishment science which, through the imagination and persistence of the researchers, was tilted in a direction which will result in potentially great benefit to
the working class (which is not to say that it won’t be used against workers as well). This approach should be a component of Science for the People’s strategy: identifying specific niches in establishment science where deviations can be arranged — despite funding bias,
tenure and career hassles, research organizational politics — resulting in conceptual and practical innovations with immediate political consequences. There are possibly a great many such opportunities awaiting discovery, pointing out a pursuit.
Science for the People since its beginning has been strongly committed to solidarity with the people of Indochina. The article “Vietnam Rebuilds: Dialectics and Diodes” shows us a way to maintain those ties and help in the reconstruction of Vietnam and the building of
socialism. The questions that the Vietnamese people are asking today. about the role of science in a new society and the ways to teach it, can ultimately also help us to answer those questions ourselves. Finally, this issue contains the report of a Science for the People member who was chosen to attend a conference on detente and disarmament. The conference was sponsored by the World Federation of Scientific
Workers, and was convened in Moscow. The occasion of this event stimulated a new discussion within the organization on some very basic questions: the nature of the Soviet Union, Soviet foreign policy, and the relation between the competing superpowers. Hopefully this
debate will develop further, in part because it has obvious implications on the history of efforts to build a socialist society.
CONTRIBUTORS: Michelle Fluck, The Genetic Engineering Group, Pam Hardt, Robert Shapiro, Chuck Garman, Dave Cbidakel, Bruno Vitale, Diana Echeverria.
EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE: Eric Entemann, Michelle Fluck, Chuck Garman, Ann-Marie Crowley, Bob Park, Lorraine Roth, Alice Miller, Rich Rosen.
PICTURES AND GRAPHICS:
p. 6 Man and Machine
p. 7 D. Chidakel
p. 9 D. Chidakel
p. 10 R. Shapiro and P. Hardt
p. 13 R. Shapiro and P. Hardt
p. 17 Red Paper #7
p. 20 Faces of North Vietnam
p. 24 D. Chidakel
p. 25 B. Ames
p. 27 Diana Echeverria
p. 35 Faces of North Vietnam
EDITORIAL PRACTICE: Science for the People is prepared and distributed through the efforts of three groups of our members, each taking responsibility for the editorial, production, and distribution functions respectively. Membership in these groups reflects a commitment to participate in magazine work for at least six months, up to a maximum of one year. The groups will be accountable to the general membership through open meetings called to discuss each issue and through criticism and comments received through the mail. In this way it is hoped that the magazine will present a more coherent political perspective, better reflecting the view of the larger organization. Nation-wide participation is strongly encouraged; interested individuals should contact the magazine coordinator at the Science for the People office. We also encourage preparation of single issues of the magazine by chapters outside of Boston, and point out that the separation of editorial and production functions should make this a more realistic task.
Every effort will be made to publish articles describing Science for the People activities. Analytical articles will be judged on the quality of their writing, and whether they reflect the general political outlook of Science for the People. The editorial committee may make minor changes, but any extensive rewriting will be carried out with the consent of the author. The editorial committee reserves the right to make editorial changes, or comments in italicized script, on all articles submitted. Authors should submit articles as double-spaced typed manuscripts; if possible, six copies are helpful. Contribution of drawings, cartoons, photographs, or designs on the topics of science, technology, energy, pollution, health care, the struggle against racism and sexism, imperialism, etc. are very welcome. For legal purposes, Science for the People is incorporated. Science for the People is available in microfilm from Xerox University Microfilms, 300 North Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106, (313) 761-4700.
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