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III. World political trends

However, neither of those two situations is intrinsically stable; particularly when seen within the context of the basic political dynamics of the worlds:

1. As is well known, since the mid-1950s and the nuclear stalemate or "mutual superiority" between the United States and the USSR, the locus of confrontation between the great powers has shifted from the equilibrium zones to the periphery.

2. From then on, any liberation or revolutionary war emerging in underdeveloped countries of the world was likely to be transformed into an indirect confrontation between the above-mentioned great powers, provided that massive logistic supplies could be provided by both of them. Since the US was able to do so around the world after 1945, the matter was reduced to the increasing capacity of other great powers to give logistic support to popular movements. Apparently, the Soviet Union today is capable of giving logistic support to revolutionary movements in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. These are the "hot zones" of the world today.

3. Simultaneously, multi-polarization of the world, both economic and political, increased, thus making it possible to establish new alliances and pacts in order to take better advantage of the new social division of labour on a world scale.

It is within this context that some recent events can be explained. For instance, the increasing inability of the United States to enforce the applicability of post-war pacts such as CENTO, SEATO, etc., and the emergence of organizations like OPEC, which gives the oil-producing countries the possibility of increasing their share of the world oil surplus - a phenomenon made possible by the strategic nature of oil, the will of OPEC states to back the organization, and, last but not least, the increase in the profits of transnational oil corporations. Moreover, the rift between China and the Soviet Union made possible the formation of cross-ideological alliances such as those that came into being in the Indo-Pakistani war and the Angolan revolution; also, the case of the intervention of Viet Nam in Cambodia revealed that conflicts between underdeveloped socialist countries can also happen. Along these lines it is not surprising that closer links are growing between the US and China. One can not even rule out new and formerly perhaps even more unthinkable ententes. So far, the most significant of these phenomena is the expanding capability of the USSR to give massive logistic support. In the last 30 years the Soviet Union has gone from supporting Korea to backing Angola and Eritrea with the help of the Cubans. Whether it will continue to expand towards Latin America is yet to be seen; so far the compromise reached during the missile crisis in Cuba seems to be still operative; however, one can hypothesize that it may not be so by the end of the century.

These trends lead to the conclusion that underdeveloped countries will continue to suffer political instability and that the probability of revolutionary successes in the hot zones is increasing.

IV. The role of science and technology

It is obvious that, in the face of such trends, dominant capitalist countries need to foster new means of legitimizing the present situation, in order to reinforce the more orthodox method of economic, military, and political domination. We like to advance the hypothesis that one such means is to create a new myth which could both revive and make more credible the idea that underdeveloped countries can in effect develop within the capitalist system. It seems that within this new developmentalist ideology science and technology are to play a key role.

As was suggested by one participant in the International Colloquium of ACAST in Vienna:

... such a myth could be useful to fulfill three functions:

(a) The process of qualitative intensification of technological dependence, which predominates in most developing countries, could be conveniently disguised.

(b) The neutralization and progressive obstruction of the few attempts of underdeveloped countries to control technology imports and direct investments, such as, for instance, the Andean Pact regulations, could be hidden.

c) The strategies of "global planned obsolescence" and "technological domination," developed by a few multinational corporations in some of the main OECD countries, could be efficiently legitimized.4

Furthermore, it is now possible that concepts such as "appropriate technology," "increasing capacity to negotiate," "technology transfer," and so on, which appear profusely in the jargon of development ideologists, are but good ways of obscuring the basic facts, namely:

1. The true obstacle to satisfying the basic needs of the masses lies in the present system of domination.

2. The local bourgeoisie's, allied with transnational corporations, are using technology to increase their control and domination of the population rather than bettering their standard of living.

3. The industrialized countries are, in fact, less inclined to share on an equal basis the fruits of scientific and technological development.

4. Experience shows that industrialized countries treat science and technology as commodities to be exchanged in the markets of underdeveloped countries on an unequal basis.

An analysis of the many conferences supposedly devoted to creating the preconditions for the effective application of science and technology to foster development of Third World countries would probably confirm all four conclusions.

V. A proposition

The great question is, then, what shall the underdeveloped countries do to change these trends?

We wish to end this paper on a rather optimistic although utopian note. We are convinced that, in so far as the problems of science and technology continue to be negotiated only at inter-state forums, such as TCDC, UNCTAD, UNCSTED, the North-South dialogue, UNIDO, etc., we can only expect infinitesimal progress or no progress at all.

Many reasons can be argued in favour of such a conclusion, but one that seems to us to be critical is that perhaps the most important protagonist is being left out of the negotiations. We are speaking of the transnational corporations.

It seems to us that the time is ripe either to create a specific organization or for an existing organization such as the Group of 77 or the Non-Aligned Movement to make its priority objective to deal, in a global way, directly with the transnational corporations. Then and only then can a more substantive context be given to common efforts to increase the capacity to negotiate, to create an information bank, to foster managerial capabilities, to create multinationals of the underdeveloped countries, etc. One reason why we think such an operation may work is that transnational corporations, as in the case of OPEC, may also derive benefits from it. Among others, uncertainty could be reduced and therefore they could plan future ventures and profits in a more reliable way.


1. José A. Sliva Michelena, Crise No Sistema Mundial: Política y Blocos de Poder. Paz e Terra, Río de Janeiro, 1977, p. 27 (author's translation).

2. See Samir Amin, "Verve una nuova crisi strutturale del sistema capitalistico" (Terzo Mondo, ano VIII, gruppo IV, nos. 24-25, June-September 1974, pp. 9-14); Andre Gunder Frank, World Crisis and Latin American International Options (The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1974, p. 1).

3. See José A. Silva Michelena, op. cit., passim.

4. See Hebe M. C. Vessuri, "Ciencia, Tecnología y Sociedad en Vísperas de la UNCSTD: El Coloqulo Internacional en Viena" (Interciencia [4] 6, November-December 1979, p. 361).

The technology of repression and repressive technology: The social bearers and cultural consequences

Zoran Vidakovic

Zoran Vidakovic

I. The vicious circle of repressive technology
II. The main social figures of repressive technology
III. Militarization of the economy and science: the birthplace of the metropolitan technocracy
IV. The genesis of the "technocratic elite" in dependent societies


A great cultural result of our time is the basic perception that the social functions of science and technology have been mystified, refracted through the prism of the ruling ideologies and stated in a fetishized form of productivism, economic growth, promotion of civilization, technological solution of social contradictions, unified technical culture that pretends to be universal, general human culture, and so forth. This basic knowledge results from a collective experience in the economic, broader, crisis and from radicalized social struggles and movements. These began, first of all, with anticolonial movements, or movements for the emancipation of dependent and super exploited countries, and were followed by the radicalized currents of industrial and intellectual workers in the developed countries. Included are radical movements of scientific workers, technicians, agronomists, doctors, architects and urbanists, university students, and so on. We now must give concrete form to this basic perception, to operatively testify to it in relation to all segments of the scientific and technological complex.

Such a testimony is given, first of all, in this paper with respect to the technology of repression, that is, armament and its scientific research and technological potential, as well as parliamentary sectors (nuclear energy, outer-space research, and so forth) and the "reserve potential" of totalitarian control over man and society (big-genetic, psychological, meteorological, with respect to food sources and so on). In this, without a doubt, is the paradigm of the entire repressive tendency of science and technology. I intend to show the following:

a. All of the major aspects of the repressive function of science and technology in our era tend to be directed analogously or substantially close to the functions of the technology of repression in the narrow sense. Together with militarized science and technology in the service of force and violence, science and technology which are geared toward greater exploitation of natural sources and economic, socio-political, and cultural hegemony in international relations comprise a unified, organically linked structure of repressive functions. Within this structure, other sectors of repressive technology may partially substitute for the technology of force in the narrow sense but, in any case, functionally combine with it.

b. The main machinery of exploitation and rule within individual societies and in international relations decisively moves toward combining the monopoly of the technology of repression in the narrow sense with other forms of scientific and technical monopoly geared toward repressive functions. As a socio-political expression of this movement, the ruling social forces - classes, their hegemonistic fractions and socio-political blocks - regroup themselves in a way that expresses and allows for the combination of both forms of repressive technology. Social groups that are the protagonists of the technology of death and violent exploitation - the military hierarchy, the military-industrial technocracy, the managerial nucleus of the transnational corporations, the corresponding political and banking oligarchies - take on increasingly greater importance within the ruling socio-political blocks. There is a strong tendency for these groups to become the hegemonistic nucleus of the ruling classes in metropolitan societies.

c. The bearers of such a type of social hegemony, in which a scientific-technological monopoly and its repressive use is essential, will continue to guide the development of science and its technological application, material resources (the utilization of natural sources and accumulation), and human potential toward the expanded reproduction of the total conditions and factors of such hegemony. The expansion of repressive technology then exerts an ever more intensive effect on the total structure, that is, on the social character of the productive forces of labour. The repressive functions absorb a predominant part of the total material, intellectual, and socio-organizational potential of the existing scientific and technological complexes. These functions leave a decided socio-economic, political, and cultural mark on the majority of scientific work and the technological application of its results.

d. The above-mentioned socio-political restructuring globally conditions decision-making in the direction of scientific and technological development, so that the effectiveness of repression becomes a top priority. The repressive functions, that is, the scientific-technological complexes in industry, agriculture, communications, medicine, urbanism, and so forth, determined by them, thwart the investigation and realization of alternatives urgently needed for the material progress of the conditions of life, the rational regulation and cultivation of natural conditions, the abolition of socio-economic, regional, cultural, and national discrimination and segregation, the autonomous development of individual societies, regions, nations, and cultures in accordance with positive historical premises and primary actual needs, and the international co-operation of autonomous actors. Grandiose, diabolical scientific and technological selection is carried out systematically at the expense of the primary needs and historically formed progressive values of humanity.

e. For such a negative scientific and technological selection, a monopoly of political decision-making in the hands of those interested in repressive technology is alone not enough; a specific socio-cultural articulation of such technology is necessary as well. Under the influence of hegemonistic groups that aspire to the repressive use of a socio-technological monopoly, a specific socio-cultural macrocosm is formed in metropolitan societies: this is the structuring of interests and the articulation of the values and motives of "organized knowledge" in industrial corporations, scientific foundations and universities, scientific and technological intelligentsia, and so on. The immediate social and cultural environment of the bearers of fundamental and developmental research - the selection and formation of scientific "elites" and technical cadres, their social hierarchy, ideology, and mentality; their scale of values and goals; their position and prestige in society; the legitimacy of their motives; and the evaluation of their results - is established in the function of the scientific and technological advancement of effective repression. Parallel with this, ideological, political, and scientific-theoretical forms of the mystification of the repressive functions of science and technology have been worked out. This refers, of course, to the development of economic, demographic, sociological, political, socio-anthropological, and other social theories that would be able to legitimize scientific and technological monopolies and their repressive aims - for example, the functional-structural systems theory of society found in contemporary German sociology; neo-Malthusian crisis theories, "socio-biology" as defined by Wilson and Trivers, and so on.

f. In "developing countries," in as much as the process of their emancipation has not prevailed, technology placed under the guidance of metropolitan monopolies takes on multiple and potent repressive functions; it becomes an essential, and may become a decisive, factor in conditioning their structural dependency. "The transfer of technology" is transformed into the implantation of military-technical, techno-economic, and socio-political and cultural instruments for extending and continuing dependency and underdevelopment. With the help of these instruments, a fundamental technological inhibition is established in the development of those countries: a fundamental and radical frustration of scientific research and technological advancements that would be oriented toward primary needs and development possibilities. The repressive scientific-technological monopoly is constructed in a dependent society as an armature of international and, consequently, internal relations of exploitation - an armature able to overcome strivings and efforts toward economic and political emancipation. This armature, a lever for ensuring continued dependency, is built not only into the material-technical structure of production but also into the class structure in dependent societies. Local oligarchies and ''elites" regroup and form in the function of the military-political and techno-economic transmission, with the tendency to impregnate the "cultural assimilation" of the authorized parts of the dependent society with the mystification of the scientific monopoly and repressive technology.

g. In uncovering and abolishing the repressive functions of science and technology, there indisputably exists a common denominator among the efforts for their progressive transformation in otherwise differing societies and regions with materially unequal and culturally specific possibilities, priorities, and choices. This common denominator is the global, international premise for the emancipated and autonomous, progressive and creative contribution of all parts of the world to their own and general scientific and technological progress.

My argument should indicate that from analytically based, socially motivated, and culturally articulated criticism of the repressive functions of science and technology it is possible to derive a far-reaching strategy for their progressive transformation and development. Such a strategy, that would initiate and enable over a long period of time successive and continually linked research and the embodiment of socio-cultural alternatives that would, at last, give the totality of scientific and technological development a significantly different quality, is necessary. It is superfluous to insist on proof that such a strategy of scientific and technological development is but one of the aspects of the historical projects of emancipated and emancipating social practice, and that such possibilities exist only within specific constellations and orientations of social forces.

I. The vicious circle of repressive technology

One should not harbour the illusion that the radical transformation of science and technology and their complete liberation from the materially objectivized and ideologically impregnated effects of economic, social, and political antagonisms, exploitation, and alienation can be realized without long-term creative and preventive efforts. This requires an entire historical epoch: the extent of this liberating practice is difficult for us to imagine now. Today's strategy must begin with criticism and removal of those negative characteristics of scientific and technological development in which are condensed the extreme, most difficult effects of the antagonistic structures, which are, at the same time, the constitutive obstacles to the investigation and realization of socio-cultural alternatives. In this work, I have linked this condensation of negative characteristics which make up an obstacle to social progress to the notion of the repressive functions of science and technology. True, strict socio-critical analysis would indicate that socio-antagonistic and repressive characteristics are interwoven in all the historically formed features of science and technology. My approach is justified if from this whole I single out those attributes and tendencies of science and technology that are the fundamental, essential bearers and expressions of repressive functions. In this way, I put this notion into a historical relation - covering that which in our period is, in the first place, possible and necessary to subject to criticism and change.

Accordingly, I single out three focuses of the repressive function of science and technology:

1. the orientation of scientific-technological development primarily toward the current or potential goals of military force and totalitarian control of society; and functional inclusion of such development into the internationally transformed system of accumulation and distribution of surplus value;

2. establishment of a scientific-technological monopoly by metropolitan centres of accumulation, and direction of monopolistically controlled research and industrial, agricultural, and other application of results in the function of economic and total social hegemony in international and interregional relations;

3. determination of scientific priorities and technological selection in production (as in transportation, urban development, medicine, and so on) in the function of forced exploitation and repressive control of the behaviour of the labour force.

The historically regressive tendency in contemporary science and technology stems from an interaction and combination of the three above-mentioned sources. In their mutual action and interaction, overlapping and condensation, we recognize the dynamics of the expansion of the repressive, exploitative, and destructive effects of science and technology. Here in short are the main aspects of these dynamics:

a. The priority of scientific research and technical innovations within the framework of a military-scientific-industrial complex enables the super concentration of capital and monopolistic accumulation of knowledge in metropolitan financial and industrial centres that become the supports of immense systems for the international exploitation of labour and natural resources.

The linkage of military and scientific resources creates an exceptional economic advantage: the metropolitan centres that gain this advantage will continue to expand both these resources and to control an ever greater part of world accumulation. The military-repressive orientation of science and technology is transformed into an essential economic factor of hegemonistic expansion and exploitation in international relations.

b. The economic mechanism of international hegemony and exploitation - "unequal exchange," restriction of the economic development of dependent countries in conformity with the strategy of a super monopoly, control of the labour market, direct investments, and so on - is established and functions in the presence of the international machinery of non-economic compulsion that In part ensures the reproduction of the social conditions for monopolistic accumulation. With this, the economic and non-economic causes and motives for the precedence of scientific-technological development in the function of military repression are constantly being renewed.

c. Military force and threat alone are not enough to insure the international social conditions of monopolistic accumulation. Sociopolitical upheavals and movements for the economic emancipation of subordinated countries constantly disturb these conditions and endanger the totality of the relations of exploitation. Parallel to economic restrictions and political force, a specific scientific technological control apparatus becomes increasingly important for the international order of hegemonistic expansion and exploitation. The advantage gained through the aid of the military-scientific-industrial complex and monopolistic control of international accumulation constitutes a strong point for the further development and direction of a scientific-technological monopoly as a relatively independent instrument for international repressive control of agricultural, industrial, economic, and socio-political processes.

Technological force or the threat of such force is applied alternatively or cumulatively with military and financial force or repressive threats. As the military-repressive priority has led to well-known deformities with regard to the orientation of science and the programme for technical innovation, so too monopolistic scientific-technological development subordinated to the goals of repressive technological control of the international labour process, the utilization and reproduction of labour, agricultural and industrial orientation, the economic and social policy of individual countries, their internal and international socio-political orientation, and world exchange and distribution leads to profound inversion and distortion of science and technology with respect to the primary needs and developmental possibilities of societies.

d. The priority of scientific-technological development in the composition of the military-scientific-industrial complex and its effect on the influx and disposition of accumulation contributes to the division of the economy into sectors with essentially different conditions for reproduction. industrial sectors and agricultural branches that do not enjoy the advantages of militarization have economically limited possibilities for significant technical innovations and reduced and endangered accumulative capability. This forces and leads them to increase the exploitation of surplus value by forced utilization of labour and by decreasing its value and price by the massive dequalification of workers. Their structurally limited possibilities for developmental research and technological innovation are to a large extent directed toward the development of the means of labour, the technical organization of the labour process, and technological approaches that enable intensive exploitation of primarily dequalified labour. In this way, the orientation of technology as an instrument of increased exploitation of labour is strengthened. Particular attention should be paid to the practice of decreasing the necessary work time, primarily by the concentration of work efforts (labour efficiency norms, repressive technical organization of work, and so on) and reducing the qualifications of workers (parcelization and technical simplification of work) and not primarily by improving the means of labour and technological efficiency in general.

The hypothesis that, accordingly, in large sectors of production this has led to a change in the main tendencies of technological development is not without its place. Backward and repressive technology in the production of goods (directed toward intensive exploitation of labour and its dequalification) is the other face of the system of production and accumulation that favours rising scientific and technological development in the production of arms and other means of repression.

e. In a uniform chain of regressive tendencies, following the links that make up the just-mentioned repressive technology (the production of arms and the super-exploitation of labour in production outside of militarized sectors) comes a link with new repressive functions: monopolistic technological control of dependent countries in combination with other instruments of restriction and force inaugurates the development and use of science and technology within the framework and for the goal of the super-exploitation of the labour force of dependent countries.

This chain of negative factors closes up in a vicious circle. The economic function of the production of arms constantly stimulates the scientific-technological revolution in the military-industrial sectors, reduces the accumulative capability and possibility of essential technical innovation in other sectors, and orients their technology toward forced exploitation of the labour force. If the possibilities for such exploitation of labour in metropolitan societies are limited, sectors of production whose accumulation capability is endangered move to countries in which they can create the conditions for more intensive exploitation. This moves science and technology controlled by metropolitan centres toward functions of repression in "developing countries," thereby establishing in these countries massive poverty and other conditions that enable the exploitation of cheap labour. Super-exploitation and the impoverishment of dependent countries radicalizes the social resistance of the working masses and the movements for emancipation, and this again stimulates the development of the military-repressive apparatus and its combination with the entire economic and technological system of force (that is, the international division of labour, its technical and social organization, the differentiated technical characteristics of internationally divided labour, and so on), all in the function of economic and technological repression.

The contradictions of the system of accumulation in which science and technology are intertwined cannot be overcome by the division between metropolitan and dependent "developing countries," repressive control and forced exploitation of the latter; rather, their solution is sought in relationships of military, technological, and financial dependence and exploitation of the majority of industrially developed countries by the leading groups of the metropolises that hold the main levers of monopolistic control by means of the advantage of the most developed military-scientific-industrial complex and the other means of linking the scientific-technological monopoly and the international repressive machinery of production (as, for example, the agro-industrial complexes, nuclear energy plants, until recently the petroleum monopoly, control of the market of investment equipment, and so on). Along with this, in the circle of developed countries, in their mutual relations a chain of factors of the negative orientation of science and technology moves as well. In a division of labour among these countries, the leading group tends to maintain the scientific technologically propulsive sectors of production, with greater accumulation capability, while sectors with relatively backward and, with respect to labour, clearly repressive technology tend to be located in another category of industrial countries. This also leads to radicalization of social conflicts in this category of industrial countries (for example, in England, Italy, France, and several other European countries). The bearers of international hegemony react by strengthening all the repressive apparatus and, especially, the mechanisms of scientific-technological dependence that have indisputable advantages in establishing dominance over industrially developed countries.

Further analysis of these networks of factors that condition the growth of repressive functions and the exploitative and destructive effects of science and technology exceeds the framework of this paper. Attention will be further centred on the main social figures that provoked these processes, as representatives and protagonists of repressive technology and the cultural and psycho-social personification of its regressive characteristics.

II. The main social figures of repressive technology

The repressive functions of science and technology are directly based on the monopoly of scientific research, monopolistic private ownership of scientific knowledge, and exclusive control of its technological application. This monopoly is an integral and essential part of the system of international monopolistic accumulation and control of the conditions of production, exchange, distribution, and consumption. Herewith is stated an indispensable part of the truth, but still not the whole truth.

The international scientific-technological monopoly, mystified as a scientific and technological "gap" between developed and developing countries, is not completely explained by this, nor is this sufficient to explain the efficiency of the repressive functions of science and technology in international relations. For more complete knowledge it is necessary to shed some light on the totality of class, socio-political, and cultural phenomena that on both sides of the hegemonistic relationship - in metropolitan centres of monopolistic usurpation and in subordinated social environments - produce and reproduce the total social conditions for the effective repressive effect of the scientific-technological monopoly.

The international scientific-technological monopoly is formed and represses especially by means of two basic social figures that represent a condensation of the international whole of antagonistic social reproduction: the metropolitan monopolistic technocracy and subordinate (satellite) local "oligarchies" and "elites" in dependent societies.

The monopolistic technocracy in a uniform structure links the material, intellectual, socio-political and military, cultural, and psycho-social conditions and factors that create the total social strong point of the metropolitan scientific-technological monopoly. It synthesizes interests and motives, values and goals, forms of social organization, and a hierarchy of functions and positions that move the intellectual production of the scientific-technological substance of this monopoly and, at the same time, directs this production toward investigation and selection of the optimal possibilities for exploitative and repressive action. This social figure in its own practice, ideology, configuration of interests, and mentality interiorizes the repressive functions of science and technology; these functions determine its "maximum consciousness," its social character.

Special attention must be paid to the genesis of the contemporary metropolitan technocracy, as this reveals the global social premises and moving factors of the formation of the metropolitan scientific technological monopoly. It especially reveals the genetic dynamic nucleus of this monopoly in the mutual effects of the militarization of the economy and science and the expansion of large systems for international control of the conditions of production and accumulation. It also is worth nothing the articulation of these social figures that personify the metropolitan scientific-technological monopoly and its exploitative and repressive orientation, with other social and political forces, interests, and ideologies in the metropolitan social environment.

At the other pole of the social axis of the scientific-technological monopoly, international social restructuring has formed dependent groups characterized by a constitutive link or symbiosis of the local "oligarchies" of holders of economic and political power and local "technocratic elites" that tend to expand toward the whole "culturally assimilated" intelligentsia and white collar personnel, and is permeated by colonial derivations of the metropolitan ideology. In this symbiosis, we find the other half of the total social and cultural conditions of the repressive scientific-technological monopoly. As the character of social practice and the cultural image of metropolitan technocracy is an inserted strong point of selective production and repressive use of scientific knowledge and technological models in the material social being, so is the subordination of interests and motives and the incapability for research and knowledge beyond the framework of the hegemonistic interests and the models that are the incarnation of these interests - creative impotency, dependency, caricature-like imitation of metropolitan status and cultural patterns, basic insensitivity to the interests of the working masses in their countries, and scorn for the native culture of these masses and their creative and productive potentials - inscribed in the social and cultural profile of the local "elite" in subordinated societies. Without such a socio-cultural lobotomy of the local "elite" that transforms them into forever dependent premature infants, collective and intellectual weaklings, and social subordinates, effective scientific-technological repression of dependent societies would not be possible.

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