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The Writings of Professor Robert M. Young

'Reconstituting Technology: Chips, Genes, Spares' 83k.

The radical science movement consisted largely of activists working within particular scientific, medical and technological disciplines. They were, on the whole, innocent of theory in philosophy, philosophy of science and marxism and suspicious and hostile towards those who did know some theory. I was shattered when I left a paper of mine (on 'The Limits of Human Nature') in the files at the offices of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and came back to find that someone had added under my name: 'MA, Bullshit'. In fact, the few intellectuals in the radical science movement did have something to say, and this has become ever more apparent as new technologies have developed and democratic accountability has not. I am therefore relieved that there is so little that feels dated in this attempt on my part to bring an embryonic marxist labour process theory to bear on microelectronics, genetic engineering and surgical transplants. It was prepared for a setting in which some of us were trying to bring the radical scientists into contract with the marxist social scientists in the late 1970s, an important effort which came to very little. I still think its argument is relevant, even though its examples are dated. My direct predictions have come true or are well along in the process of doing so. The political analysis seems to me to stand up remarkably well, but, alas, there is little evidence of the process of decision-making in the origination of technologies being subject to democratic initiative or accountability. The paper was presented to the Annual Conference of Socialist Economists, 'Capitalist Crisis, Working Class Strategies and the Transition to Socialism', Leeds University 13-16 July 1979. Conference Papers, pp. 119-28.


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Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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