There was a time when the scientist in Europe was looked upon with fear and suspicion. He was the alchemist, the magician. Galileo was persecuted by the Church and the State. But gradually situation changed. The modern scientist enjoys a sort of privileged status in society. Science has become an exclusive profession, which needs long years of devotion, training and apprenticeship.
Unlike the others, the scientist can demand no immediate reward for work. In the beginning, the scientist had to depend on the patronage of kings and nobles. Today men have understood the wider application of science in the production of goods. The government also subsidizes the universities to carry on scientific research that may have a social utility. Where profit is the governing motive in a society, the scientist has to submit to the dictates of the profiteers for his livelihood. That is why real fundamental research has been and will always be carried on in the Universities.
Inventions of science may create unemployment. The invention of a mechanical labour-saving device may throw hundreds of workers out of employment. In the nineteenth century, it led to riots, which were cruelly suppressed. Rationalization leads to strikes and lockouts. Again, instead of saving life science often deals out instruments of death. Politicians spend millions for the invention and perfection of nuclear weapons for mass destruction.
It is also significant that the benefit of science today is confined to a small section of the people. The greatest scientific activity prevails in the countries, which have developed heavy industries most. Science in the modern world is a virtual monopoly of the industrial sector of the world. The scientist today, as indeed in all times, is the servant of the forces of production. Science for the sake of knowledge alone is already an outmoded practice.
The emancipation of science will come only with the establishment of socialist society in a popular...