Dear Comrades and Friends,
We can start our statement with a story from Germany. I don’t know if you have watched the documentary titled “Light Bulb Conspiracies”. In 1981 in a science exhibition in Hannover, engineers from East Germany presented a light bulb used at fridges and washing machines. It was created by an East German company called Narva and it had actually the capacity to function for more than 20 years. Its use, of course, was rejected from West German engineers as not contributing to entrepreneurial standards. “You ‘ll get yourself unemployed” they said. Its production stopped after the German reunification and it can now only be found at museums.
Inspired by this story we could say the following:
Firstly, a few words about the current background. Science and research is always among the priorities of the strategic planning of the bourgeois states. Nowadays, capital has the luxury το choose from a wide range of graduates who are being trained to constantly switching from job to job. A small part of them will eventually become executives of capitalist production. This small part is presented as a brilliant example. Anyone who tries and has an open, business mind can progress, they say. The one who seizes the opportunities, as we are always told, the one who is worthy and secular, only looking at his personal interest will succeed.
The facts of course show something else: only a few people, especially from working class families, in the end manage to succeed in that. There is a plethora of unemployed scientists or scientists working on different fields. Why do these contrasts happen? Why does the salary of researchers or their working conditions constantly worsen while they are so much needed?
We believe that the answer is obvious.
Capital always needs new fields of profitability and as a result it seeks to have scientists and researchers constantly at its disposal with reduced demands in order to use them as future scientific proletariat. Continuous restructuring in all levels of education – from nursery school to university – serve the strategic targeting of business groups to create cheap and flexible workforce to serve the needs of capitalist profitability. A way to achieve that is through the evaluation of study programs indicating the most market friendly ones– based on temporary market demands for scientific resource. At the same time, there is significant degradation of scientific studies, both undergraduate, and postgraduate level. While there is an objective accumulation of knowledge and know-how in certain scientific fields, they come into operation only if the capital wants it, and not of course based on the peoples’ needs for scientists who, with their work, will help to create a better life quality.
So, we detect the key point at the motives and aims of production, which is the profit and nothing but the profit. The companies decide the research questions, the companies may change them, as many examples show, and the companies may also order the research findings according to their needs.
This commercialization of science directly affects both the development of science itself and the position and role of scientists. As the science progresses new fields of applications may appear, new chances for better understanding are brought upon. However this comes in direct contrast to the demands of the market, the monopoly groups, who want a large number of graduates just to be only handlers of new technology rather than commanders, they want us incapable of deepening to the understanding of the science and knowledge that is embedded in the means of production. So, we believe that commercialization of research deviates the research prospects in the long run.
Other scholars talk about innovation. They say that being innovative is the new element of a successful scientist. This is reinforced by: the need to strengthen the R & D sector of monopoly groups and achieve better interconnection with education. But innovation is not free of the demands of market as well. Try to remember your studies. How is the term innovation used in the lectures? In my program, LL and HRM, we search for innovative techniques to impose redundancies and wage cuts.
Another crucial element is mobility. In recent years, strengthening “mobility” has emerged as a key tool of EU policy for young scientists. Promoting mobility at EU level contributes to the pooling of scientific potential where capital needs it.. That is why researchers keep on moving from country to country.
And how can we answer to that situation?
How can a researcher help to the class consciousness and organisation? We do not regard scientists as something superior than workers, either low or high skilled or other parts of the people, such as artists, athletes or writers. We believe that scientists have their distinct role side by side with the other categories of working class originated people.
One usual argument against our organisations is the opinion that a scientist should not be interested in politics at all and should be focused only on his research and work. Professor Glinos, the progressive Greek philologist and teacher and member of the Communist Party of Greece, when he was asked for his opinion about the future of the new generation, he stated that distinguishing science from politics is absolutely impossible. He explained that there is no socially organised human activity that is unrelated to politics and therefore to class struggle. Education and research are very important mechanisms that preserve the ideological domination of bourgeois class. For that reason, no student or researcher could claim that he/she is out of certain motives and aims of research organisation.
We have to consider the role that young scientists and researchers can play under the current circumstances, under circumstances of capitalist domination on educational and scientific research. In fact, we have to choose which side are we on. A young researcher or scientist, especially when originated from working class, should join the struggle to overturn the capitalist system. He/She should be a part of a coordinated and insisting struggle against the capitalist system itself and not only against its various forms of governmental management.
Do we mean by that that young scientists should not work or not be innovative and progressive at their scientific object? Of course not. We mean that they should be aware of the aims of the research they conduct and they should question these aims. By questioning these aims, we see that joining the class war against capitalist system is inevitable.
Lenin said that “every revolutionary should be the best at his field of work, the best at his place of struggle”. An old motto of our organisation says: we are the first in class, we are the first in struggle. We surely need skilled scientists in every scientific field that they would eventually help in building socialism in Greece or in the Netherlands, or in any other country. And we should gain as much knowledge as we can from education currently offered. However, in order to apply this knowledge in favour of peoples’ interest, we know that capitalism should be overturned.
Comrades and friends. Sometimes they say that communists do not have modern propositions. That is not true.
One may wonder what is that you as communists propose for the scientific research nowadays. Of course, conditions for workers and scientists are not the same as in 19th or the 20th century, at least in the western countries. However one should keep in mind that change of shape does not mean change of content. For example, when two of the biggest engineering companies in the Netherlands have an income of 5.5 billion euros, isn’t it logical that the wages of the workers will be higher than other countries? But let’s think, does this mean that there is no creation of surplus and its consequent exploitation by the capitalists? We think that exploitation does exist.
For what kind of research are striving for?
The role of scientific research to a socialistic economy will be very different compared to nowadays. First of all, researchers will not be bounded by the limitations that capitalism imposes on them. A very good example is the situation in the scientific journals. Isn’t it true that if you want to have access to a scientific paper in order to conduct your research you have to pay a very big amount of money to publishing companies (like Elsevier)? This as we understand sets limitations to researchers. Other limitations are set by patents and intellectual property rights.
It is obvious that a new socialistic economy will direct research to the path of satisfying social needs, the real modern needs and not the artificial needs that capitalism promotes. For example, every year we have a new iPhone. But what if all these engineers who work and conduct research for products like smartphones worked for example in projects of using technology to conduct surgeries. Of course, this type of research happens also in capitalism. For example TU Delft has a master program for biomedical engineering. However, one should keep in mind that in most cases results from projects and researches will be used by the multinational companies that activate in the medical field, even against the initial intentions of a scientist.
Communists are not against the development of new technology of course. We are not conservatives. We acknowledge that human capabilities are infinite. We also don’t disagree with the connection of universities to the economy. However, the content will be very different under socialistic economy. Let’s think for example why there are so many Greek doctors in other European countries and at the same time there are major needs in hospitals in Greece. Also, why there are so many unemployed teachers and professors, while at schools there are so many voids. Finally, why there are so many engineers leaving Greece even if infrastructure is needed (especially for protection against floods or earthquakes).
The reason in every case is the structure of a capitalistic economy, which when is hit by an economic crisis, the first expenses that are being cut are those connected to education and healthcare system. On the other hand, tax exemptions are increasing for capitalists because that’s the way that development will come according to dominant theories.
OK, one may say that I agree with all these but in capitalism we have the opportunity to found a start-up and make it profitable. What could we say on this? Firstly, these companies in their vast majority will be sold to a bigger company, which will use the knowledge obtained from this company in order to produce very large profit. Of course, one can say that “I don’t care I can make easily a ton of money!”. However, we cannot forget that according to Forbes only 10% of these companies are successful, while there are many examples, throughout the history of capitalism, of companies that failed due to the competition from a bigger company.
Furthermore, a start-up may have a very good idea that could possibly make the life of some people much easier. For example, in Greece some students founded a start-up for disabled people to find places that are accessible for them. Of course, this idea can improve the life of thousands of people, who are practically excluded from social life. However, the problem is who will finance this activity? A company will do it only if they can make a profit out of it. This although can be used in the socialist society of the future, due to the direction of the economy, which as we said earlier will try to cover the needs of all people.
Dear Comrades and friends. Some say what we communists say is impossible.
Let’s remind the following:
In this year we celebrate 100 years from October Revolution. In only 10 years after the Revolution the percentage of students from working class or rural families were up to 70%, whereas during the years prior to October revolution of 1917 it was practically zero. The students obviously did not pay anything for their studies and they had access to healthcare, sports or cultural activities. One of the impressive achievements was the nullification of unemployment of young scientists.
The most important part was the planning in connection with the scientific workforce. If for example a decision was taken to increase the hospital beds, then the number of doctors, nurses and so on, would increase correspondingly. That’s how the number of positions in the universities was also decided. The graduates were offered a job at which they had to stay for 3 years without any fear of dismissal. At the end of this period they could change job according to their will. Although there is nothing left from these achievements now in modern Russia, the collective memory about Soviet education is still strong as it is shown from the slogan of Russian students against commercialization: “Gagarin studied for free”.
Of course we are not just nostalgic historians. We believe that future Gagarins could not only study for free but could help the whole society to progress. And this is up to us.
Thank you for your patience