Ludwig Wittgenstein once remarked, “even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched”. Animated by such a thought, the Left’s relationship with science has always been ambiguous. Whilst ofering the promise of liberation, scientiic progress seems ultimately unable to realise that promise. As Adorno argued in the context of the Holocaust, the growth of scientific knowledge is apparently impotent to address the normative questions of political life. Increasing humanity’s domination of nature, it cannot do anything to overcome the structures of domination that exist between people.
In recent years, mainstream academics have begun to reappraise the Enlightenment claim that there is a positive relation between scientific, moral and political progress. In this discussion, voices from the Left have been of the radar. Issue 13 of the Oxford Left Review humbly attempts to address that imbalance. In choosing the theme of science and technology, we hoped to platform views that critically assess the status of science whilst analysing the uses and abuses of technology.
Will Searby opens the issue by critiquing the implicit biases of scientific discourse. Gulzaar Barn applies a similar critique to science’s relationship with race, suggesting that “the recent resurgence of discussion on ‘intelligence’ and genes within science and bioethics may serve to perpetuate a hostile and exclusionary environment”. In ‘Eugenics and the Left’, Ellasaid Woodhouse also focuses on genetics, giving an historical overview of the Left’s fraught relationship with eugenics. In the face of these problems, Ben Krishna defends the scientiic method, suggesting that its problems are due to application rather than essence.
OLR 13 also considers the implications of new technologies. Alexander Breton positively reviews David Healy’s Pharmageddon, only wishing that Healy had gone further in his attack on Big Pharma. Kate Bradley analyses the politics of Wikileaks and its material effects over the last eight years. Olivia Arigho Stiles then discusses the historical connections between technology and culture, focussing on the signiicance of Dada to 1960s counter-culture. Charlotte Sykes reviews Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power, which ofers a damning indictment of capitalism’s efect on creativity. Nevertheless, Peter Hill explores our theme in action by offering a glimpse into a dystopian future society faced with environmental disaster. In an interview for OLR 13, environmental consultant and ecological futurologist Paul Mobbs considers the immediate dangers of fracking, modern consumerism and endless growth.
The unthemed section is headed by Max Leak’s article, discussing the implications of devolution at a local, national and international level. Ever committed to retaining a broad world-view, the journal concludes with articles on recent institutional events in Pakistan and Peru by Alex McGann and Helena Eatock respectively.