File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-03-16.132, message 17

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 14:23:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Re: A Fear of the Future

Shawn Wilbur is right:

>Let's not pretend that the folks attempting to gain the intellectual
>property rights to soybeans,  of tailoring those beans to the pesticides
>they sell,  are champions of the Enlightenment.

And,  further,  I would agree that there exists:

>[A] very rational -- and very marxian -- concern about these technologies
>as they have actually been shaped by capitalism.

I did not intend in my original post to cast aspersions on Professor
Hubbard,  who -- like her colleagues R.C. Lewontin,  Dick Levins,  Steffie
Woolhandler,  and numerous others grouped around the old Science for the
People Collective -- has proven to be both a practical and dedicated enemy
of the ravages of capitalist science.    My purpose was simply to note the
tone of defeatism and despair that pervades so much of science writing on
the Left today,  and to contrast it with the optimism and forward thinking
that one used to routinely encounter in the work of,  say,  J.D. Bernal or
J.B.S. Haldane.    I,  along with many others,  are saddened by this turn of
events and by the wider pattern of melancholy within Marxist thought of
which it is such a conspicuous part      

Having said that,  I can only nod in assent with James Farmelant's general
observations on what he aptly terms the "pessimism" of the Left.    This
morning,  Reuter's carried a report on some sizable demonstrations in Norway
against the import of genetically altered potatoes.   The demands carried
with it a call for the outright *banning* of not only Germany's Qiagen and
France's Genset (two of the largest biotech companies in the country),  but
of domestic research into *all* agronomic genetics,  as well.    Several
well-known left parties were significantly represented at these

Now,  I am all for standing foursquare against venture capitalists and the
ruin they visit rather promiscuously on public and private research alike.
And they *are* reaching gigantic proportions: in 1996,  the ten largest
European biotech firms raised more than $8 *billion* in outside capital,  as
compared to less than $4 billion the previous year (*Bioworld Financial
Watch*,  February 3,  1997).    This has the potential for another
exponential increase after the second quarter of 1997 when the results of
several important large-scale clinical trials in new genetically engineered
medicines are scheduled to be made public.    Too,  with the establishment
of the London-based European Medicines Evaluation Agency (through which new
drugs can be simultaneously approved across all European Union
member-states),  everything can be pushed thorugh in six months or less,
thus overwhelming the ability of citizens groups and peoples' lobbies to
monitor potential hazards.

But,  surely,  the Left is at a level of sophistication sufficient to
separate the wheat from the chaff in this regard.    In order to provide
adequately for the mass socialist civilization of the future,  humanity will
need at the very least to exponentially increase its resources in food,
medicine,  energy,  building materials -- goods and services of virtually
every kind -- to meet the challenges ahead.    Success in that worthy
endeavor will surely depend much on what we do in these new areas of science

Louis Godena 

NB to Stephen:  According to the *Boston Globe* (February 26th), Flynn (an
astute urban politician but a deeply ignorant man) trotted out all the old
science-fiction fantasies of armies of cloned Hitlers,  parent-offspring
twins,  and legions of Alduous Huxley's proletarian slaves>

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