Cover Image
close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession V: From intellectual dependence to creativity
close this folderOn the edge of a razor blade: the new historical blocs and socio-cultural alternatives in Europe
close this folderMiroslav Pecuilic and Zoran Vidakovic
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentI. The new janus - Two faces of science and technology
View the documentII. The pathology of power and science
View the documentIII. The new protagonist - social movements and organic intelligentsia
View the documentIV. Dramatic birth of alternatives
View the documentV. Self-reliance and solidarity (autonomy and new universality)
View the documentNotes

III. The new protagonist - social movements and organic intelligentsia

Thus a similar feeling is developed on both sides - the side of the labour world and the side of the world of science - that the time has come when one could live in a different and more meaningful way, with more dignity and freedom. And targets that provide for a different quality of personal and social existence are being put forth. Alternative technology, a character of work and management which has not been pressed into a bureaucratic mould, social ownership, more humane cities, a more humane medicine and psychiatry, a pedagogical revolution which opens vistas for the development of creative personalities, engagement in the new world economic order - this multitude of new alternatives is bombing the core of the old civilization. The new day gives rise to all those aspirations, while the night wants to destroy even the plausible ones.

However, the great changing of civilization will come about not only as the creation of "technological prophets," as an automatic result of intellectual construction, which is motivated only by its own mysterious imperatives. It is a great social and cultural process in which the potentials of technology and science are put at the service of new goals, purposes, and values, of a different quality of human life. The new technology and sources of energy, great anticipations, and experiments will be born out of this new collective practice of the mass social movement, and the new horizons of civilization. It is by no means a rejection of the great accomplishments of science and technology nor is it a mere take-over of the existing ready-made parts out of which a new edifice is simply erected. It is a great transformation - from within - of all the products of civilization, technology in particular. The points of departure are what is being produced, how, during what working hours, and for what needs. The new technological foundations of this new civilization will be born out of this great experiment.

We must admit that we have not the recipe answers to many questions, that the exploration of this new continent has only opened up before us. However, it is possible to point out at least a few elements - for discussion - which represent the distinction lines between repressive and humanistic technologies.

(a) The application of science and technology that provides for the effective solution of existential problems of the broad masses of the working people, such as: hunger (nutrition), housing, and employment. A strategy of economic-social and technological development which leads to the narrowing of such essential social differences that endanger the survival and development of large sections of the population, entire social groups, and countries or regions. A technological development which is to the benefit of the working people, and not to the privileged position of narrow strata or certain countries.

(b) A way of modernization which is not destructive, which does not destroy the positive cultural and productive heritage of original civilization, but is simultaneously creating new living and working conditions for the population.

Development which preserves progressive cultural and productive tradition and turns it into a point of departure for the creation of new forms of social organization, for a great mobilization of human energy.

(c) Alternative patterns of urbanization, collective conditions of living, a city which develops according to human needs rather than according to a profiteer-bureaucratic logic that alienates people, turning the city into a modern anthill.

(d) Types of industrialization and technology transfer which provide for independent development and progress, which do not maintain subordination and widen the civilizational, economic gap between societies. A strategy of scientific and technological development which is not limited exclusively to the copying of the patterns of others. Greater reliance on one's own forces and endogenous creativity.

(e) The technological revolution in the agrarian regions which leads to the solution of the existential needs of the population, combining traditional methods, knowledge, and experience, with contemporary productive forces. A way of modernization which does not lead to the ruin of the land, to a decline in the fertility of the soil, to a decrease in the quality of food and an expansion of hunger, to a mass pauperization of the agrarian population, and to a larger dependence on developed world centres.

(f) The medicine and biology which explore the relationship between the mode of work, working hours, urban life, the way of using the labour force, and their influence over the human organism, the span of human life, illnesses.

(g) Forms of sociability and modern science and technology. Some fundamental forms of life and mentality, cultural and civilizational values such as solidarity, a tendency towards egalitarianism, and a collective spirit, represent important components of the humane community. But traditional forms of sociability had great limitations: firstly, traditional collective communities were confined to a narrow framework - to a village, to a local community, while the pyramid of the ruling elites and groups rose above them like a kind of superstructure. Secondly, the local community and its solidarity were kept in life by using the undeveloped productive forces which had not changed for centuries - by their conservation, The key problem is how to attain more human and more solidary forms of social life on a larger scale and on the basis of revolutionary productive forces.

The change of technology now becomes an essential precondition for changing society, for the development of voluntary co-operation, for the development and sovereignty of communities and individuals. Such a technology would generate a larger economic independence of local and regional communities. It would coincide with the power that the associated producers and consumers should have over production and products.

The secret formula of the birth of the new alternatives, their point of departure, lies in collective experience of social movements which aim for a different quality of existence. The emancipation of the working people can be their own accomplishment, The changing of the world cannot be the simple affair of the managers, the technical experts who are the only ones "who know the secret code of history" and who transfer society from one combination to another.

However, the decisive role in the formation of the new historical project is played by the organic intelligentsia of the plebeian classes. It starts from the radicalized needs which are generated within the old society, but which cannot be fulfilled within its framework. It performs a great elaboration of the collective aspirations which are already developing within the plebeian masses. It can "hear" and "see" the new practice which is being created, but it constructs a bridge across which it takes the action of denying the old society to the site for building the new one. Deprived of this ability, the aspirations of the masses will drown in general, utopian slogans, just as the intelligentsia, without the independent and lively social movement of the masses, is condemned to exhaust its energy in fictional conflicts and conspiratorial tactics. This is a "new historical power bloc" the unity of the people of labour and knowledge, the alliance of progressive social movements and radicalized science. It is a social force capable of mastering the foundations of modern technology and enriching it with new democratic meanings.

Allow me to quote Einstein who, in his book Why I Am for Socialism, says:

It is not enough to train a man only in his profession. It will make him become some kind of a usable machine, but not a wholesome personality as well. It is important that he should acquire a feeling for what is worth striving for. He must learn to understand what motivates people, their ideals and illusions; their suffering and struggles.

Organic intelligentsia radically differ from traditional, satellite intelligentsia, which are imitative, and have not got the strength to think in a different way, to develop endogenous creativity. They are not capable of touching the horizon of world science while firmly standing on the foundations of their own national culture and needs. Organic intelligentsia are not an elite, which creates "culture for a few by a few." They are called upon to perform a revolutionary innovation of its professions and new orientations in all fields of social life. The understanding that they have to be agents of intellectual, cultural, and moral transformations within their own professions is of crucial importance. Because it is the stimulation of professional narcissism and competition in the great international vanity fair which become the subtle mechanisms of the use of the intelligentsia for anti-social purposes. The realization that they are not the earthly sons of a technological deity but that they truly belong to mankind, being the authentic representatives of their kin, becomes one of the main ways of preventing all possible Hiroshimas.

On the other hand, organic intelligentsia are not of secondary importance, the traveling companions of the social movement, but its equal and key participants. Offering projections and alternatives is an expression of collective aspirations and practice, but not a mere reflex - it is also one of the forms shaping this practice. The transfer of requirements from the social zone to the zone of scientific solutions can only be performed by scientists themselves, in their autonomous and sovereign practice.