During the Cold War, the thinking of Western European social democrats and communists around science shifted from optimism about scientific progress as necessary to solve social problems to scepticism and concern for technological risks and unaccountable technocracy. The first moon landing offers a vantage point to analyse this transition, as it started a debate about science and crystallised hostility towards scientific funding through taxpayers' money. The reactions of the Western European Left towards Apollo were varied and can be classified into three categories: Big Science Socialism, which celebrated the positive feedback loop between science, state power and socialism; Earth-First Critique, which balanced celebration with reminding of urgent problems on Earth; Radical Anti-Scientism, to which Apollo epitomised imperialistic capitalism and the hegemony of materialistic scientism over humanism. The article examines three figures who approved the Apollo programme for helping collectivism (Tony Benn, Emilio Sereni, Karl Steinbuch) and three figures who condemned it (Marcello Cini, Nigel Calder, Robert Jungk). Beyond these extremes, the article examines the fourth, more nuanced position of the British Labour Party, the German Social Democrats (SPD) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which had to reinvent science policies beyond exhausted technocratic dreams and inflexible renunciation of technological modernity.

The Western European Left and the first moon landing : the fall of scientific enthusiasm and the ebb of Socialism

Costa, Ettore
2022

Abstract

During the Cold War, the thinking of Western European social democrats and communists around science shifted from optimism about scientific progress as necessary to solve social problems to scepticism and concern for technological risks and unaccountable technocracy. The first moon landing offers a vantage point to analyse this transition, as it started a debate about science and crystallised hostility towards scientific funding through taxpayers' money. The reactions of the Western European Left towards Apollo were varied and can be classified into three categories: Big Science Socialism, which celebrated the positive feedback loop between science, state power and socialism; Earth-First Critique, which balanced celebration with reminding of urgent problems on Earth; Radical Anti-Scientism, to which Apollo epitomised imperialistic capitalism and the hegemony of materialistic scientism over humanism. The article examines three figures who approved the Apollo programme for helping collectivism (Tony Benn, Emilio Sereni, Karl Steinbuch) and three figures who condemned it (Marcello Cini, Nigel Calder, Robert Jungk). Beyond these extremes, the article examines the fourth, more nuanced position of the British Labour Party, the German Social Democrats (SPD) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which had to reinvent science policies beyond exhausted technocratic dreams and inflexible renunciation of technological modernity.
Settore M-STO/04 - Storia Contemporanea
First moon landing; astroculture; British Labour Party; Italian Communist Party (PCI); Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/124562
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