On being a conscious scientific worker

Being a conscious scientific worker in the United States requires that we understand the history of scientific ideas and production. Since the colonization of the Americas until the present moment, scientific work has embodied some of the ugliest parts of our society, including the racist practice of eugenics, the harsh reproductive environments intentionally created for Black and Indigenous peoples, and the complicit role that scientific work has in developing and sustaining mental burdens, both by exploiting the scientific worker and by contributing to the for-profit production of non-individualized medicine.

“Science” in the United States touts itself as largely apolitical, but a historical understanding of scientific work teaches us that it is intimately tied to injustice in all its forms: colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. Despite this understanding, the nature of scientific work is not antagonistic to the worker. On the contrary, the Scientific Workers Collective (SWC) envisions scientific work as an outlet for curiosity and wonder that is essential for all communities fighting for liberation in the present moment and for generations to come.

To be able to materialize the world that we envision, it is not enough to react to injustice in isolation. Scientific workers must actively build towards a future that is enriching, creative, and compassionate for themselves and others. Educating ourselves on the ugly and revolutionary history of our field of work so as to combat medical and scientific apartheid today is crucial. Practicing self-criticism and constructive criticism amongst ourselves reinforces our transformative capacity as individuals and, by extension, as a collective.

Examples of self and collective evaluation have been practiced by revolutionary scientific workers of the past. Although it is majorly erased, the revolutionary fervor of Black, Indigenous, and/or trans women who were scientific workers furthered their own community’s liberation through movements that are very much alive today. Importantly, the acts of primarily white, cis-men scientific workers also hindered the revolutionary process in more ways than one. Transphobia, homophobia, and sexism are just a few of many traumatic experiences that non cis-men were subjugated to as part of revolutionary groups, making an analysis and adherence to radical gender politics one of the most important principles we can practice as organizers today.

By studying the revolutionary process of scientific workers in close detail and analyzing their failures and successes, we can begin to understand history as two sides of the same coin, without which we would not have a real foundation for our revolutionary projects in the present day.

We call on scientific workers in the United States and elsewhere to form part of a tide to abolish systemic violence by deepening our political consciousness and vision of a world that is possible!

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