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Undercurrents Manifesto 1973 Page 1

Science with a Human Face


UNDERCURRENTS has been started by some people who believe that
radical views on scientific and technological subjects need a medium
in which they can be aired.
Science, we feel, has largely abandoned its original 'quest for truth' --- if the
phrase sounds naive today, it is a measure of that abandonment. Nowadays, a
significantly new scientific theory has to fight against a massive weight of
bureaucratic orthodoxy and entrenched academic reputations if it even to be
given a hearing. And scientific theories are only listened to if they emanate
from 'senior academics' or 'respected researchers', men who, almost by
definition, have cast their minds in an orthodox mould.
Technology, too, while still masquerading as mankind's great emancipator, is
increasingly becoming the instrument of our enslavement. Though it continues
to be regarded as simply the application of scientific rationalism to the
satisfaction of human needs, technology in practice is the means whereby the
unjust economy and power structure of our industrial civilisation is kept intact
and entrenched. Technology no longer concerns itself with the satisfaction of
individual human needs, but with the churning-out of cheaper and ever-more-
sophisticated products which the masses can be persuaded they need,
brainwashed as they are by the propaganda of advertising and the mass media.
Keeping the wheels of industry turning in this way produces an ever-increasing
national and international 'cake', extra slices of which can be thrown
occasionally to the poor in case they become too discontented, provided of
course that the overall distribution of wealth stays the same (the top one-fifth of
Britain's population still controls three-quarters of the individual wealth of the
country). More fundamentally, the supremacy in our civilisation of the
scientific world view has come under heavy fire in recent years. Critics like
Theodore Roszak have led assaults on the 'myth of objective consciousness'
and have charged that the scientist. whose "habitual mode of contact with the
world is a cool curiosity untouched by love, tenderness or passionate wonder",
has arrogated to himself an excessively dominant say in the way the world is
run and viewed by its inhabitants.
The scientist has been pilloried, too, by such bodies as the British Society for
Social Responsibility in Science, for remaining too aloof from the uses to
which scientific knowledge can be, and is being, put. And as pollution,

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industrialisation, standardisation, the depletion of natural resources, and the


other concomitants of the industrial way of life begin to bite increasingly into
people's awareness, the man in the street is beginning to wonder if the
technological game is worth the environmental' candle. Nobody says much
about the 'white-hot technological revolution any more.
But do science and technology intrinsically contain the seeds of humanity's
undoing? Must we believe that science has irrevocably fallen from its position
as the expression of one of man's highest drives the urge to understand the
world and our own place in it? And must technology remain no more than
man's self-issued license to rape nature, rather than a means whereby we can
live in sympathy and harmony with the natural world, understanding its laws
and using them cooperatively for the simultaneous advantage of human beings
and of the ecosphere?
Undercurrents believes it is possible to evolve a 'sadder but a wiser' science, a
science that is aware of its limitations as well as its strengths, which will search
the hitherto ignored areas of human experience for clues to a more meaningful
and relevant synthesis than is dreamt of in our present philosophies. We also
believe that technology can be reoriented to serve not economies and
governments but individual human beings -- to provide small-scale sources of
basics like energy, food, shelter, clothing and tools; to provide unfettered
communications between the smaller, more human communities that our
world must create if it is to avoid overpopulation, alienation, violence and all
the attendant evils of the mass society; and less importantly perhaps to provide
simple data processing and automation facilities in a way that genuinely
relieves human beings of boredom and drudgery without enslaving them to
machines or to their owners.
Not that Undercurrents believes that decentralisation should -- or could .. be
carried to extremes. It is unnecessary and undesirable for humanity to regress
into a disconnected series of isolated cultures. The cross fertilisation of ideas
and genes that has been so vital to the evolution of our race should continue
in a decentralised society ,as is perfectly feasible given intelligent use of
modern techniques of transportation and communication. In Undercurrents
itself we have tried to implement the notions of variety and decentralisation,
that we advocate in wider spheres. The polythene bag format is no accident. It
permits an extreme flexibility of format, as we hope the contents show.
Many of the items in this issue have been produced by individuals working in
relative isolation; and we'd like to see this trend continue and develop. If
you've got something to say, within the general context of the Undercurrents
editorial line, you can do one of several things. You can send us an article or
news item in the normal way -- and we really want to hear from you. Or you
can typeset it yourself, paste it up and send it to us -- which cuts our costs and

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ensures that what you want to say is said your way; or you can send us 1,000
prints of your piece (our circulation is only 1,000 copies at present) as the
editor of Resurgence' has done for us in this issue . (Though be sure to check
with us before sending pasteups or prints: we'll try to include as much as we
can, but we may not have room for them)
In this first issue of Undercurrents we've broken new ground in a large number
of ways. Not all the experiments will be successful: in particular, the print
quality isn't all we'd hoped for, mainly because we're printing most of the
material ourselves and we're still learning. Undercurrents, incidentally, would
cost us at least three times as much if it were printed professionally. You pays
your money and you takes your choice.
This first edition is unlikely to set the world on fire. But it's better, they say, to
light a candle than to curse the darkness.
GB [UC01: 1973]

Please Do Not Ask For Credit


In Undercurrents No. 1, Anna Bowman put the glorious golden reviews
section together, while "Eddies" was (were?) whipped up by Ant Stoll, who
handled the publicity and did numerous us other odd things, as did Norman
Beddington. The administrative genius of Mike Hutchinson kept us out of debt,
we hope, and out of court, we hope even more. John Cima, footballer and
part-time Leonardo Da Vinci, did the cover and the poster and the lovely
pictures and lots of other things, while the indefatigable Pat Coyne amazed us
all by agreeing to do most of the printing for no apparent reason (madness, we
fear). David Gardiner, poet philosopher and gentleman, tried to turn us all into
anarchists -- or was it syndicalists? And maybe he succeeded. AII the good
typesetting was done by the ever meticulous Maria-Zena Leitao, and all the
bad setting was done by the rest of us.
A number of editorial circulations were boosted by Linda Lee and Mary Boyd,
who hope to do the same for Undercurrents when it goes on sale. The whole
project would have been impossible without our fairy godmother from
Peckham, Ann Ward, and her manic Multilith. But the blame for it all lies with
Godfrey Boyle, who dreamt it up, and who coordinated things (or tried to),
and who sometimes wishes he hadn't bothered.
Undercurrents, the magazine of alternative science and technology, is published and
printed quarterly by the Undercurrents Syndicate, 34 Cholmley Gardens, London,
England. Price per copy, 25p (60 cents); annual subscription (surface mail £1.20
($3.00) All original Undercurrents material may be freely reproduced without
permission, provided that acknowledgment to Undercurrents is made. Undercurrents
staff are unpaid and the magazine is produced at cost, using voluntary helpers.

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