Science, technology, medicine and the socialist movement by The Radical Science Journal Collective

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Comments by Norman Diamond
The strength of RSJ’'s position is its large scope. In understanding science as a manifestation and embodiment of the social totality, RSJ's analyses have the potential directly to challenge that social totality. The perspective on science as social relations, manifested in Les Levidow's 'A Marxist Critique of the IQ Debate' (RSJ 6/7), Bob Young's 'Science is Social Relations' (RSJ 5), and other essays including my 'The Politics of Scientific Conceptualization', (in Levidow and Young) has raised the possibility of one's being a science radical and not simply a science worker who is radical on the side. The process of responding to the critics who have a narrower and more exclusive view of science seems to me to have induced the collective (in this essay) to risk focusing down the RSJ perspective in ways that are both unnecessary and undermining of its subversive potential.
A labour process perspective which understands science in terms of how the entire society is constituted not only refuses to accept the existing society as given, it also equips people to understand any social phenomenon, any manifestation of consciousness, in light of its social conditions. It is that continuous non-acceptance and that equipping which is subversive.
On the other hand, science as a labour process — at least as this essay tends to present it — appears to look primarily at the process of science activity. This narrowing of approach is defended at a couple of points as being for agitational purposes. There's little doubt that this orientation, which sees the changing needs of capital from within the workplace, is an important means of identifying issues with agitational potential. No issue is radical per se, however. The subversive potential depends on how and toward what aim the issue is used. The move towards a labour process perspective presented here runs the risk of economism. Science radicals will find it a useful tool but must constantly go back to the broader perspective of science as social relations.
1. Lichtheim, Concept of Ideology; Douglas; Berger & Luckmann; Lukács, esp. p. 234; Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man.
2. There are extensive bibliographical notes on these literatures in Young, 'Evolutionary Biology'.
3. These have appeared in various issues of RSJ: Stauder, RSJ 1; S. Young, RSJ 2/3; Figlio, RSJ 9; Sohn-Rethel, RSJ 2/3; Hodgkin, RSJ 4; Dickson, RSJ 1; Levidow on IQ, RSJ 6/7; Pickvance, RSJ 4; Hales, RSJ 1; Young, RSJ 5.
4. Levidow in Head and Hand; in Radical Philosophy, in RSJ 9; Young, 'Reconstituting Technology'; Yoxen; Brown; Cowan.
5. H. and S. Rose, Socialist Register and a number of articles containing more or less on the same text; Shallice; Benton.
6. C.S.E. Microelectronics, Barker and Downing; Young in Computing and Time Out; Garson; Glenn and Feldberg.
7. The list of innovations is a long one, beginning with nuclear power (in both senses). It includes computers, transistors, sonar, radar, miniaturisation, silicon chips, numerical control of machine operations, robotics, electronic sensors, cybernetics, operational research, systems research (the only section of the US Defense Department which consistently argued that the bombing of Cambodia was militarily useless), rocketry, orbiting satellites for communications and surveillance, high resolution long-range photography, bugging devices, lasers, microwave transmission, optical fibre transmission, voice scramblers, electronic voice recognition, and (currently making progress) voice-to-print translation. The material for rocket nose cones which prevented the astronauts from frying on re-entry found its way to frying in the kitchen as Teflon. Finally, the immunological research of Sir Peter Medwar, which brought him a Nobel Prize and made transplant surgery possible, had its beginnings in the treatment of horribly burned airmen in World War II.
8. We can get some idea of scale from a review of A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System, Vol 2: National Service in War and Peace (1925-1975), which has been called 'the finest history of a major industry which we have'. In the period 1939-45
Bell Labs handled approximately 2000 projects out of which came all the navy radars and between one quarter and one half of the army's (army included air force in World War II). There were 97 radars developed and designed, and 76 put into production, usually with Western production starting ahead of model completion (shipboard there were 10 surface fire control, 22 anti-aircraft fire control, 7 search, 4 submarine search, and two aircraft warning; groundbased there were 7 search, one ground control intercept, three gunfire control, one mortar locating, three anti-aircraft, 4 aircraft gunlaying, 11 aircraft search, 8 high-altitude bombing, three low altitude bombing, and two aircraft missile control). To accompany the radars and guncontrol systems there were more than 115 new instruments or test sets developed and standardized, and ten more designs nearing completion by V-J Day ... Gun control and gun direction were logical extensions of radar work — radar control and gun radar detection, followed by applying output information to weapons or automatically controlling the gun (fuse settings; direction of fire taking into account, in the case of the navy, the roll, yaw, and pitch, and vector velocity of the vessel, the coordinates and motion of the objective, the Euler angles or equal of the gun, anticipation of the elapsed motion of the objective until contact). One gun director (the M-9) was responsible (with its radar from elsewhere) in shooting down 89 of the 91 V-1 bombs launched by the Germans against England in one week.
Other developments with comparable detailed projects — were concerned with sonar, torpedo design and control, worldwide communication systems, secrecy systems, the DEW line, Nike systems and other warning and guidance systems, including ones to distinguish explosive carriers from among decoys, tracking and intercepting ICBMs travelling 24,000 ft/sec above 100,000 ft. The reviewer remarks, 'The work of the Bell Labs sharply illustrates the condensation of about twenty years of normal R&D work into the five years of World War II with invention and innovation almost to order. The transistor and some Nobel Prizes came later' (Brainerd review of Fagen, pp. 817-21). It should be added that there were and are numerous other large-scale contract arrangements between electronics and aerospace firms and government with R&D extending across a range from electronic miniturization to things that fly to the generation of nuclear-powered electricity.
9. Burtt; Whitehead; Dickson in RSJ 8; Young in Irvine.
10. Rosenberg; Diamond; Jacoby, 1971; Jacoby, 1976; Aronowitz.
11. See above, note 5; and Colletti on Marcuse; Horton and Filsoufi; Hoffman.
12. Ellegard; see also Eisley; Greene, Brooke; Durant; Moore; Young, Impact. The progeny of this ideological struggle continue to shape the biological, medical and human sciences. See Greene, Science and Young, 'Natural Theology' and 'Naturalization', as well as the Open University Course Units on Science and Belief: Darwin to Einstein.
13. Significant exceptions are Bill Schwarz's research on Taylorism in Britain (Birmingham Cultural Studies Centre) and Mike Hales' dissertation on the history and ideology of Operational Research.
14. Their inventiveness reaches new heights (goes into orbit?) when they report in yet another rehash of their Science Bulletin article that 'Young owes a considerable philosophical debt to the anarchist Feyerabend (particularly his book Against Method) ...’ (Working Papers, p.82). Now we know which of the unread works of Feyerabend Young is supposed to have studied most closely.
15. Young in RSJ 5; New Scientist; in Teich and Young; McNeil; Mackenzie.
16. Pickvance; Levy-Leblond; also Gorz; Haraway in Signs; in RHR; in RSJ 10; Yoxen in Levidow and Young; in RSJ 10.
17. Beynon and Wainwright; CSE Energy Group; Brighton; Institute for Workers' Control Motors Group.
Carol Ackroyd, Karen Margolis, Jonathan Rosenhead and Tim Shallice, The Technology of Political Control, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1977; 2nd edn., Pluto Press, 1980.
Gar Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the America Confrontation with Soviet Power, Secker and Warburg, 1966.
Gar Alperovitz, Cold War Essays, Garden City, New York, Doubleday-Anchor, 1970.
Perry Anderson, 'Socialism and Pseudo-Empiricism'; New Left Review 35 (1966), 2-42.
Perry Anderson, 'Components of the National Culture', New Left Review 50 (1968), 3-57.
Andrew Arato, 'The Second International: A Re-examination', Telos 18 (1973-4), 2-52.
Stanley Aronowitz, 'Marx, Braverman and the Logic of Capital', Insurgent Sociologist 8, (2 and 3) (Fall 1978), 126-146.
Autonomia: Post-Political Politics, special issue of Semiotext 3(3), (1980). 522 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, New York 10027, USA.
Jane Barker and Hazel Downing, 'Word Processing and the Transformation of the Patriarchal Relations of Control in the Office', Capital and Class 10 (Spring 1980), 64-99.
Mike Barnett, 'Technology and the Labour Process', RSJ 6/7 (1978), 73-9.
Tony Benn, 'Presidential Address" Science, Technology and Society Association Newsletter, no. 1.
Ted Benton, 'Can Science and Ideology be Disentangled? Another Look at Malthus, Darwin and Marxism', paper presented to the joint conference of the British Sociological Society, Sociology of Science Study Group and the British Society for the History of Science, 'New Perspectives in the History and Sociology of Scientific Knowledge', University of Bath, March 1980.
Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (1967), Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1971.
Howard Berliner, 'Emerging Ideologies in Medicine', Review of Radical Political Economics 9 (1), Spring 1977, 116-24.
J. D. Bernal, The Social Function of Science, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1939; M.I.T. Press pb, 1967.
J. D. Bernal, The Freedom of Necessity, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949.
J. D. Bernal, Science in History, Watts, 1954; 2nd edn., 1957; 3rd edn., 1965; also Penguin pb, 4 vols. 1969.
Huw Beynon and Hilary Wainwright, Workers' Report on Vickers, Pluto Press, 1979.
Sergio Bologna, 'Class Composition and the Theory of the Party at the Origin of the Workers Council Movement', in CSE (1976), 68-91.
Pierre Bourdieu, 'The Specificity of the Scientific Field and the Social Conditions of the Progress of Reason', Social Science Information 14 (6) (1975), 9-47.
John G. Brainerd, a review of Fagen (ed.), vol. 2, Technology and Culture 20 (1979), 817-22.
Brighton Labour Process Group, 'The Capitalist Labour Process', Capital and Class 1 (1977), 3-26.
Brighton Labour Process Group, 'The Gross Anatomy of a Bankruptcy: A Workers Guide', mimeo, 1977.
John H. Brooke, 'Precursors to Darwin?' and 'Darwin', in The Crisis of Evolution, Block V, units 12-14 of the Open University Course on ‘Science and Belief: Copernicus to Darwin', Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1974, 5-51, 53-99.
E. Richard Brown; 'He Who Pays the Piper: Foundations, the Medical Profession and Medical Education', in Susan Reverby and David Rosner (eds.), Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1979, 132-154
E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America, University of California Press, 1979.
BSSRS National Committee, 'Open Conflict in the BRG', Science for People 35 (Spring 1977), 6-7.
BSSRS Politics of Energy Group, Nuclear Power - The Rigged Debate, BSSRS, 1980.
N. Bukharin, 'Theory and Practice from the Standpoint of Dialectical Materialism', in Science at the Cross Roads, pp. 11-33.
E. A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, 2nd edn., Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1932.
CAITS Quarterly, North East London Poly., Longbridge Rd., Dagenham, Essex RM8 2AS. £1.50 p.a.
Christopher Caudwell, The Concept of Freedom, Lawrence and Wishart, 1977.
Andy Chetley, The Baby Killer Scandal: A War on Want Investigation into the Promotion and Sale of Powdered Baby Milks in the Third World, War on Want, 1979.
Andy Chetley, The Crisis in Infant Feeding, War on Want pamphlet, 1981
Simon Clarke, 'Marxism, Sociology and Poulantzas' Theory of the State', Capital and Class 2 (1977), 1-31.
Fernando Claudin, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Comininform, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1975.
Charlie Clutterbuck, 'Death in the Plastics Industry', RSJ 4 (1976), 61-80.
Lucio Colletti, 'Bernstein and the Marxism of the Second International', in his From Rousseau to Lenin, 45-108.
Lucio Colletti, 'From Hegel to Marcuse', in his From Rousseau to Lenin, 111-140.
Lucio Colletti, From Rousseau to Lenin: Studies in Ideology and Society, New Left Books, 1972.
Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer, 'Hindess and Hirst: A Critical Review’ Socialist Register (1978), 194-214.
Philip Corrigan, Harvie Ramsay and Derek Sayer, Socialist Construction and Marxist Theory: Bolshevism and its Critique, Macmillan, 1978.
Ruth Schwartz Cowan , 'The "Industrial Revolution" in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century', Technology and Culture 17 (1976), 1-23.
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, 'Two Washes in the Morning and a Bridge Party at Night: The American Housewife Between the Wars', Women's Studies 3 (1976), 147-172.
J. G. Crowther, The Social Relations of Science, Macmillan, 1941.
CSE, The Labour Process and Class Strategies (CSE Pamphlet no. 1), Stage 1, 1976.
CSE Energy Group, Workers' Power: A Socialist Report on the Power and Energy Industries, pamphlet available from Grass Roots, Bookshop, 109 Oxford Rd., Manchester.
CSE Microelectronics Group, Microelectronics: Capitalist Technology and the Working Class, CSE Books, 1980.
Alan Dalton, Oil: A Workers' Guide to the Health Hazards and How Fight Them, BSSRS Health Hazards Pamphlet, 1976.
Norman Diamond, 'The Politics of Scientific Conceptualization', in L. Levidow and R. Young (eds.), 32-45.
David Dickson, 'Technology and the Construction of Social Reality', RSJ 1 (1974), 29-50.
David Dickson, 'Science and Political Hegemony in the 17th Century', RSJ 8 (1979), 7-37.
David Dickson, 'Science and Technology, North and South: Multinational Management for Underdevelopment', RSJ 10 (1980), 19-36.
Maurice Dobb, Studies in the Development of Capitalism, revised edn., Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963.
Mary Douglas (ed.), Rules and Meanings: the Anthropology of Everyday Knowledge, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1973.
Lesley Doyal, with Imogen Pennell, The Political Economy of Health, Pluto Press, 1979.
John R. Durant, The Meaning of Evolution: Post-Darwinian Debates on the Significance for Man of the Theory of Evolution, 1858-1908, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1977.
Troy Duster, 'A Social Frame of Biological Knowledge' and 'The Explosion of Biological Knowledge: Inherited Genetic Disorders and Inherited Social Disorders', draft chapters, 1980 (Dept. of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley).
Troy, Duster, 'Social and Political Issues in Genetic Screening', research proposal, 1980.
Edinburgh-London Weekend Return Group, In and Against the State, Pluto Press, 1980.
Barbara and John Ehrenreich, 'The Professional-Managerial Class', Radical America 11 (2) (1977), 7-31; and 'The New Left and the Professional-Managerial Class', Radical America 11 (3) (1977), 7-22; both articles reprinted in Walker (ed.), 5-45.
Loren Eiseley, Darwin's Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It, Garden City, New York, Anchor Books, 1961.
Alvar Ellegard, Darwin and the General Reader: The Reception of Darwin's Theory of Evolution in the British Periodical Press, 1859-1872; Göteborg, Göteborgs Universitets Arsskrift, Vol LXIV, 1958.
M. D. Fagen (ed.), A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell, 2 vols., Murray Hill, N. J. , Bell Telephone Laboratories, 1975, 1978.
Karl Figlio, 'Chlorosis and Chronic Diseases in Nineteenth Century Britain: The Social Constitution of Somatic Illness in a Capitalist Society', Social History 3 (1978), 167-97; revised version, International J. Health Services 8 (1979), 589-617.
Karl Figlio, 'Sinister Medicine? A Critique of Left Approaches to Medicine', RSJ 9 (1979), 14-68.
Tony Fletcher, Noise, Fighting the Most Widespread Disease, BSSRS Health Hazards Pamphlet, 1975.
Glyn Ford, 'Attitudes Toward Science in the Labour Party', delivered to History Workshop on Science and Society, 24 Feb. 1980.
Paul Forman, 'Weimar Culture, Causality, and Quantum Theory, 1918-1927: Adaptation by German Physicists and Mathematicians to a Hostile Intellectual Environment', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 3 (1971), 1-115.
John Foster, Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: Early Industrial Capitalism in Three English Towns, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974.
Watson Fuller (ed.), The Social Impact of Modern Biology, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971.
Roger Garaudy, The Turning-Point of Socialism, (1969), Fontana/ Collins, 1970.
Barbara Garson, 'The Electronic Sweatshop , Mother Jones (July 1981), 32-41.
François George, 'Forgetting Lenin', Telos 18 (1973-4), 53-88.
Evelyn N. Glenn and Roslyn L. Feldberg, 'Proletarianizing Clerical Work; Technology and Organizational Control in the Office', in Andrew Zimbalist (ed.), Case Studies on the Labour Process, Monthly Review Press, 1979, 51-72.
Lucien Goldmann, The Human Sciences and Philosophy (1966), Cape Editions, 1969.
Maurice Goldsmith, Sage: A Life of J. D. Bernal, Hutchinson, 1980.
Maurice Goldsmith and Alan Mackay (eds.), The Science of Science, Souvenir Press, 1964; 2nd edn., Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966.
Andre Gorz, 'On the Class Character of Science and Scientists', in Rose & Rose (eds.), The Political Economy of Science, 59-71.
A. Gouldner, 'Anti-Minotaur: the Myth of Value-Free Sociology', Social Problems 9 (1962), 199-213, repr. I. L. Horowitz (ed.), The New Sociology, Oxford, 1964.
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, Lawrence and Wishart, 1971.
John C. Greene, The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought, New York, Mentor Books, 1961.
John C. Greene, Science, Ideology and World View: Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas, University of California Press, 1981.
J. B. S. Haldane, The Inequality of Man and other Essays (1932), Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1938.
J. B. S. Haldane, The Marxist Philosophy and the Sciences, 1938.
Mike Hales, 'Management Science and the "Second Industrial Revolution"', RSJ 1 (1974), 5-28.
Mike Hales, Operational Research and the Forces of Production: A Marxist Analysis of Science and Ideology, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Sussex, 1978.
Mike Hales, Living Thinkwork: Where do Labour Processes Come From?, CSE Books, 1980.
Stuart Hall, 'Marx's Notes on Method: A "Reading" of the 1857 Introduction', Working Papers in Cultural Studies 6 (Autumn 1974), 132-170.
Donna Haraway, 'Animal Sociology and a Natural Economy of the Body Politic, pt I: A Political Physiology of Dominance; pt II: The Past Is a Contested Zone: Human Nature and Theories of Production and Reproduction in Primate Behaviour Studies', Signs 4 (1978), 21-60.
Donna Haraway, 'The Biological Enterprise: Sex, Mind, and Profit from Human Engineering to Sociobiology', Radical History Review 20 (1979), 206-37.
Donna Haraway, 'Monkey Business: Monkeys and Monopoly Capital’. RSJ 10 (1980), 107-14.
Mark Harrison, review of Philip Corrigan, et al., Capital and Class (1979), 148-52.
Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1975.
E. J. Hobsbawm, 'Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain, Since 1750 (Pelican Economic History of Britain, vol. 3), Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1970.
Luke Hodgkin, 'Politics and Physical Science', RSJ 4 (1976), 29-60.
John Hoffman, Marxism and the Theory of Praxis, Lawrence and Wishart, 1975.
John Horton and Fari Filsoufi, 'Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder in Theory and Method', Insurgent Sociologist 8 (1) (Winter 1977), 5-17.
Institute for Workers' Control Motors Group, A Workers' Enquiry into the Motors Industry, CSE Books, 1978.
John Irvine, Ian Miles and Jeff Evans (eds.), Demystifying Social Statistics, Pluto Press, 1979.
Russell Jacoby, 'Towards a Critique of Automatic Marxism: The Politics Philosophy from Lukács to the Frankfurt School', Telos 10 (Winter 1971), 119-146.
Russell Jacoby, Essay Review of Harry Braverman, Labour and Monopoly Capital, Telos 29 (Fall 1976), 199-207.
Clive Jenkins and Barrie Sherman, The Collapse of Work, Eyre Methuen, 1979.
Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950, Boston: Little, Brown, 1973.
Greta Jones, 'British Scientists, Lysenko and the Cold War', Economy and Society 8 (1979), 26-58.
Chris Kaufman, 'Safety at Work', Medicine in Society 5 (3) (1979), 33-6.
Douglas Kellner, 'The Frankfurt School Revisited: A Critique of Martin Jay's Dialectical Imagination', New German Critique 4 (Winter 1975), 131-152.
Robert E. Kohler, 'The Management of Science: the Experience of Warren Weaver and the Rockefeller Foundation Programme in Molecular Biology', Minerva 14 (1976), 279-306.
Karl Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy (1923), New Left Books, 1970.
Karl Korsch, Revolutionary Theory (with an introductory essay by Douglas Kellner), University of Texas Press, 1977.
Les Levidow, 'Grunwick: Technology and Class Struggle', RSJ 6/7 (1978), 119-28.
Les Levidow, 'A Marxist Critique of the IQ Debate', RSJ 6/7 (1978), 13-72.
Les Levidow, 'Towards a Materialist Theory of Ideology’ The IQ Debate a Case Study', Radical Philosophy 22 (Summer 1979), 15-20, 29.
Les Levidow, 'Three Mile Island — the Ideology of "Safe Level" as a Material Force', RSJ 9 (1979), 82-92.
Les Levidow, 'Nuclear Power as Capital' (review of Robert Jungk, The Nuclear State, Calder, 1978), Head and Hand 4 (Spring 1980), 1-2.
Les Levidow, 'Grunwick: the Social Contract Meets the 20th Century Sweatshop', in L. Levidow and R. Young (eds.), 123-71.
Les Levidow, 'All-European Conference of Radical Science Journals, Easter 1980', RSJ 10 (1980), 95-101. A similar report for 1981 appears in RSJ 11.
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