Shuttles and Jose

Armand Diego causebellum at
Thu Feb 6 14:55:05 MST 2003

Since Jose complained about no keeping the subject
line as originally written to keep the thread
together, here it is.  Your thread remains intact.  I
write this in a hurry, so I apologize for not
proofreading it.

Does Jose denies that there is a military connection
with the Shuttle space missions?  Nope.

He wrote:

> In addition to the civilian NASA program, the U.S.
> military has its own "space program,"  as does
corporate America, but it is a mistake to build a
> huge wall between the three. All rely on overlapping
>companies, technologies, facilities and to some
extent leading personnel. There is a
> military-industrial-space complex that is fed from
> different budgets and whose program components focus
on diffrerent core missions, but that whole
> complex is still a very distinctive feature of
> American capitalism and a very significant source of
U.S. military (and other) capabilities.
> The astronaut corps is largely drawn from the ranks
> of military aviators, where the first batches came
from 40-odd years ago, although NASA *today* is
> very conscious of at least *projecting* a diverse
> astronaut corps, including immigrants, minorities
and women, and especially among those sorts of
> astronauts you'll find many who are not from the
> armed forces. No openly gay astronauts, though, that
I know of.

But Jose tries to minimize this US military influence
in the NASA programs.  He writes:

> Nevertheless, there is simply no evidence that the
> civilian government space program is some sort of
elaborate hoax, as depicted by Armand Diego, that
> 90% of the missions are really secretly military in
> nature, things like that. The position that's been
espoused is akin to those who took the movie
> Capricorn One (about a faked NASA mission to Mars)
> as a veiled docudram rather than fiction and have
been denouncing the fraud of the Apollo program
> to the moon ever since.

His method consist in assigning people who dennounces
the military connection of NASA programs statements
that they never did.  I never said that said that the
"civilian government program is some sort of hoax"
First because this "civilian government" he talks
about is the head of US imperialism and also of the
Pentagon. I only drew the conclusion that the civilian
nature of the NASA programs were and are under
military ovesight and under pressure to do science at
the service ot the military needs of US imperialism.

He does, however admit:

> Undoubtedly the results of a lot of the
> investigations that are being
> carried out by NASA, if they come up with something,
> will be used by the
> military, too. I hardly expect the Pentagon to
> insist on keeping the old
> tech if NASA comes up with a better internal
> combusiton engine.

> There are often small parts of missions that are
> explicitly said to be
> military research, and those you get very few
> details on. In the recent one,
> for example, this involved firing the attitude
> thrusters with the shutle in
> a certain position so it could be observed by some
> military satellite or
> base -- I don't remember the details right now, if
> they were given.

But, again he tries to minimize the military
utilization stating that "small parts of missions that
are explicitly said to be military research" and he
also recognizes that "you get very few details on."

Of course, one could be tempted to ask him how exactly
he knows how "small" those missions are if "you get
very few details on."

He does not talk about the "Star Wars" of the Reagan
years or about Bush's intentions to revive parts of
that program disguised as a defense against nuclear
terrorism.  Does Jose really think that shuttle
missions and space exploration in general had in the
past or have in the present nothing to do with all

Then, Jose also wrote:

> The comrade who posted on the list who said it was a
> matter of imperialist
> prestige or American prestige or something like that
> was, I think, generally
> right. That was the overriding factor early on, the
> "space race" was big
> during the cold war. Today, I think other factors
> also play a big role, like
> pork-barrell politicking and horse trading,
> institutional inertia and
> corporate "lobbying" (payoffs, really, in the form
> of campaign donations),
> even the pressure of the academic and scientific
> community, most narrowly
> and purely speaking, many of whom may not be huge
> fans of the shuttle
> component of it but want a vigorous program of
> scientific exploration of
> space.

In other words, was more a symbol of imperialism
during the cold war that it is today.  And here
remains the thrust of the difference between what Jose
would like to believe and what  reality is.  The space
program was used as a political/military enterprise to
compete with the Soviet Union for technology and
prestige.  Remember how humiliated the US felt when
the Soviets won some points by being the first in
putting a sattelite with a dog up there or when they
were the first in other areas of space exploration?

Today, there is no Soviet Union to compete with, but
there is the hegemony of US imperialism to keep.  The
Space programs, including those of NASA are part of
that political/military/economic thrust of US
imperialism, its technological weapons and also its
showcase to ideologically advance the idea of the
superiority of capitalism and imperialism.

In that sense, the success or failure of shuttle
missions, space stations and other space missions and
endeveours either enhance the imperialist prestige and
re-inforces the ideological belief that is nothing
there to stop it or, like in the present case,
undermines the case for US invulnerability and

In that sense, the blew up of the shuttle, put on the
table a number of discussions.  First is the fact that
for many in the world, oppressed by imperialism, this
is a show of its fragility and a dent on its projected
invulnerable future. Second, exposes the nature of
space exploration, more and more serving the
objectives of the military and imperialism in general,
rather than advance sicence in general.

And yes, from the point of view of the most oppressed
layers of the working class and from the oppressed
nation, any failure of US imperialism should serve a)
to unmask the nature of their enterprises and b) to
celebrate their failure.

Those who have confidence that is something called
"civilian nature" of space exploration may try to
demand that all military experiments be excluded from
future missions or that NASA and other "civilian"
structures will be independent of the Commander in
Chief of the US Armed Forces or that pilots,
cosmonauts and other personnel will not be "detailed"
temporarily - as it happens today - to NASA by the
Armed Services.

They can add the demand that NASA will be administered
by an independent committee elected by the world
scientific community.

Then Jose really blows some steam:

These morenistas were talking
> about how they celebrated
> that these cowboys and imperialist agents having
> gotten themselves blown up,
> what a wonderful thing it was, they lift their
> glasses of chardonnay in
> celebration and so on.
> I believe that is a fundamentally wrong political
> attitude and message. For
> one thing, at the heart of marxism is the idea and
> sentiment of human
> solidarity.

Jose opposes our celebration for the failure of
imperialist military operations and the fact that they
suffered a setback in their aspirations with a
supposedly lack of "sentiment of human solidarity."

Marxists have plenty of "sentiment of human
solidarity" but they are reserved to the working class
and the oppressed; the thousands of Afghans who were
filled since last year; for the hundreds of thousands
of Iraqis that Bush is prepare to murder; even the
hundreds of Nigerians who died the same day of the
Shuttle disaster, victims of bourgeois

But when few membes of the military died trying to
demonstrate the superiority and hegemony of US
imperialism and someone like Jose,  tries to
incorporate the liberal idea que is something worth
saving from US imperialist incursions in the space,
thre is no agreement.

There is a discussion on this list about "labor
aristocracy." Jose's words reminds me of the
discussions about colonialism in the Second
International at the end of the 19th Century and the
beginning of the 20th century when many Social
Democrats defended the idea of colonialism as
progressive since that would create the proletariat in
the colonies and bring civilization to the "savages"

Those were reactionary rationalizations of the labor
aristocracy to justify and defend colonialism because
that brought "civiization" to other continents.  Of
course, these characters of the Second International
also stated that there were some "bad features" in
colonialism and those features needed "reform."  But
they argued, against those "ultraleftists" of the type
of Lenin, that was not a good idea to throw the baby
together with the water.

As it was NOTHING progressive about colonialism, there
is NOTHING progressive about the imperialist
domination and race to dominate space.

Their main purpose and objetive, more now in the
framework of the present US ruling class
political/military offensive, is to dominate the space
to enhance US hegemony.

Even the experiments that could serve some very useful
purpose such as those related with climate, global
warming, telecommunications and so on are regulated
and disseminated only if they advance the interests of
US imperialism, if not they remain under wraps.

Jose even mentions the positive role that the NASA and
generally space exploration serves in encouraging
young people to become scientists.

While the interest of young people in science is
progressive, their interest in the case of space
exploration is led, regulated and oriented to serve
the objectives of US imperialism, not science per se.

Among other things because encourages the education
linked to the military, stablishes the ideological
framework that one have to become a member of the US
armed forces to be in space, and is done in the
framework of "demonstrating" US superiority.

Marxists must take into consideration the interests of
the international working class to answer the question
whether the US imperialis drive unto space, not the
space exploration per se, benefits them or not.

In addition: someone listed in a previous message the
bios of several of the most important people in NASA.
Those bios demonstrates that they came fromt he high
levels of the military and that they were involved for
decades in "military security" operations and so on.
I recommend that Jose and others read those bios
already posted to stop the nonsense of saying these
are normal civilians with no relationship with the

The Jose needs to expand the discussion to other areas
and launches a political attack against Moreno, the
newspaper Frontlines and the Left Party, etc

I won't respond to those for three reasons:

One is because Jose is using the typical diversionary
tactic on e-mail discussions and is trying to create a
flame war.  Second, because it comes from someone who
does not want to discuss his slide towards liberalism.

The third reason is because I understand where Jose
comes from:

Many years in the SWP, editor of one of their
magazines, ended up frustrated and with no political
clue about why he wasted all his years in that
madhouse.  He is not alone on that, there are many
people like him that came from the same experience and
I understand how cynical and defeated they may feel.
And how hostile they may be against all kinds of
revolutionary organizations.

He can't understand why some other people would not
feel the same about their political pasts.

For those in the list who would like to discuss the
Left Party or Frontlines positions or trajectory
without being draged in the swamp offered by Jose, may
consider reading their materials at:


or write directly to them to: leftparty at



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