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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession IV: The control of space and power
close this folderScience, technology, and politics in a changing world
close this folderJosť A. Silva Michelena
View the documentI. What kind of transformation?
View the documentII. The nature of the crisis
View the documentIII. World political trends
View the documentIV. The role of science and technology
View the documentV. A proposition
View the documentNotes

I. What kind of transformation?

Very few people today, among social scientists, will oppose the notion that time and space are both social realities, the meaning of which only can be apprehended in the context of specific social formations. From a long perspective, the process of change that the world is undergoing today can be regarded as another episode, an important one, in the long process of transition from a capitalist to a socialist mode of production. Many will probably raise their eyebrows at reading such a statement, perhaps bewildered by what seems to be a commonplace. However, it is a fact that most analysts of the present world crisis, whether Marxists or not, tend to concentrate on what is happening in the capitalist world, thus leaving aside the unity, although a contradictory one, of world history today. We have argued elsewhere that the basic dynamics of the present transformation of the world are determined by the dialectic between capitalist and socialist camps which, without ignoring the internal contradictions within each, is mainly determined by the specific objectives of the great powers of the capitalist and socialist blocs:

In short, the consideration of the objectives of great powers, both capitalist and socialist, leads to the conclusion that the bourgeoisie, as the hegemonic class of the capitalist system, has a primarily economic interest when it tries to prevent the expansion of the socialist camp, and from that the need to combat it politically, militarily, and ideologically derives. In contrast, as socialist powers try to expand their influence to other countries, their primary objective is a political one.1

Such a process, of course, is not a unilinear one, nor even can it be said that the outcome is inevitable or predetermined. Options are open to the point that it is not possible to say what final form the socialist mode of production will adopt. The so-called socialist societies of today, from a long perspective, can only be regarded as incipient historical experiments from which a more definitive form will gradually emerge. It is as if we were writing in 1450 and trying to guess what would be the specific form of what was only much later called capitalism. We cannot pursue further this argument in the present paper for it will take us far away from its specific objective, which is to highlight the main points of relationships between science, technology, and politics in the present world crisis. However, the preceding remarks were necessary both in putting the problem in a wider context and in laying the groundwork for comments which will be made later in this paper.