Pretty much every kind of scientific research carried out under capitalism can potentially be used to further the aims of capitalism. Does that mean that we oppose the research, or that we oppose capitalism? It's a matter of strategy. Should we oppose the LHC, which could help answer some very basic questions in physics? Should we oppose research into possible new drugs and therapies, because they will lead to profits for the phamaceutical industry? Should we have opposed the solid state innovations that led to the iPod because it is bringing huge profits to Apple? (will I get to keep my iPod under socialism? I hope so or I'm not for it!)

Charlie's post was of course very interesting. But what sounds to many of us like wise and astute analyses of capitalist science can sound to many outside our fairly small cadre as an anti-science attitude (and in fact this list includes members with that atittude.) What is it that we are really advocating, in real life?

So I ask again: What is the position of "progressive" scientists vis a vis the LHC? Should we oppose it? Should we begin a campaign against it? I go back to Sam's original post, which, with all due respect to Sam, was an all out attack on the LHC as some sort of capitalist plot. That seems to me a pretty simplistic way of looking at it. (the danger that the earth will be destroyed, of course, is something I am sure we all take very seriously.)


On Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 3:03 AM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Michael Balter wrote:
> I have no doubt that the LHC will destroy the earth if not the entire
> solar system, but could someone explain how it is going to yield
> profits for Big Capital? Unless Sam is talking about the physics
> textbook market.

"Big Capital" --AS capital-- does nothing that is not thought to produce
profits. But individual big (and small) capitalists may spend money on
all sorts of things that bring no profit: yachts, private planes, opera
houses, etc. And governments are always a mixed affair. See David M.
Kotz, "The Erosion of Non-Capitalist Institutions and the Reproduction
of Capitalism," in Robert Albritton, Robert Jessup and Richard Westra
(eds.), _Political Economy and Global Capitalism: The 21st Century,
Present and Future_, pp. 159-176. (The three institutions are state,
family, & educational institutions.)


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email: [log in to unmask]

Balter's Blog: