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 Competition in Space, Hardship on Earth

Competition in Space, Hardship on Earth

by Fan Hsiu-chu

Source: Peking Review, No. 30, July 25, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org

    NOT just confined to the ground, air and sea, the fierce rivalry between the two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, has extended to space as well. To contend with U.S. imperialism in its bid for hegemony and to explore the cosmic space for the purpose of arms expansion and war preparations and carrying out espionage activities, Soviet revisionism has invested vast sums of money and huge amounts of manpower and materials in this field. This has resulted in a still more lopsided development of the already bleak Soviet national economy beset with difficulties, imposed heavier burdens on the people which caused discontent among them.

  This is revealed briefly by the Soviet magazine New Times in its 25th issue this year. A reader named A. Vetukh writes to say that there have been people arguing about the "practical usefulness" of scientific research, and, "in the heat of the debate, some maintain that spending on research, and in particular on space research, should be cut" so that "the funds thus released" would be used for the "improvement of the living standard."
     This mouthpiece of the Soviet revisionists, however, dismisses the innocent desire represented by that reader as "regrettably" subscribing to an "old fallacy." New Times exaggerates out of all proportion that such a proposal, if accepted, would "put the brakes on production and lead to economic stagnation," and so forth.

What Is the Real Objective?

  One cannot but question the motive of the Soviet revisionists. As they talk of development and raising the peoples living standard, they want the Soviet people to tighten their belts in order to develop space technology at all cost.
  As a matter of fact, science and technology in any field, including space technology, serve the interests of a given class. Mastered by the proletariat and the working people, they will promote economic development and benefit the people. But unfortunately Soviet space science is now in the grip of the monopoly bourgeoisie, whose aim is internally to carry out exploitation and oppression and externally to contend for hegemony with U.S. imperialism. Artificial satellites, like aircraft, artillery, warships and nuclear weapons, have become Soviet revisionism's instruments for the scramble for hegemony with U.S. imperialism and for expansion and aggression abroad. From 1957 to May this year, the Soviet Union launched more than 890 spacecraft and the United States over 780. Over a half of these were military satellites. Especially in the case of Soviet revisionism, as much as 70 to 80 per cent of the Soviet spacecraft sent in recent years into the orbit were for military purposes.
  It is reported that practically all the year round the Soviet Union uses its spy satellites to photograph the entire U.S. territory and monitor the activities of U.S. naval vessels. The United States, on its part, too, uses satellites to spy on major Soviet guided missile tests and military bases about which Moscow chooses to keep mum. Since each has collected important military strategic intelligence of the other by every possible means including spy satellites, each has in hand materials on the military capability of the other when they meet for the so-called strategic arms limitation talks, using them as chips in their haggling and contention. This is probably what the Soviet revisionist mouthpiece meant by the "practical usefulness" of the development of space technology.
  If spy satellites only account for a major part and not all of the military satellites launched by the Soviet Union and the United States, others such as communications satellites, navigation satellites, earth-surveying satellites and meteorological satellites are also mainly used for military communications in strategic command, control and liaison, for navigation of warships, submarines and aircraft, for locating the precise geographical position of targets of attack by strategic guided missiles and providing the photographing and reconnaissance satellites with meteorological data over the target areas. Some spacecraft which were launched in the name of 'scientific research" and "peaceful use" also serve directly or indirectly the Soviet and U.S. needs of contention for hegemony.
     In recent years the rivalry in space between Soviet revisionism and U.S. imperialism has become more and more acute and disturbed tranquility even in space. The talk of Soviet revisionism about its development of space technology being entirely devoted to national economy development can deceive nobody.
  How much money has the Soviet Union spent on space projects? The Soviet revisionists have always found it prudent to be reticent about this matter, and New Times merely quibbled that "space programmes are very costly." But how "very costly"? The Soviet revisionists will not elaborate. On this matter the other superpower seems more "candid." Calculated in terms of the figures released by the United States itself, U.S. outlay on space exceeded 77.000 million dollars between 1955 and the end of 1974. In recent years, owing to the increasingly acute domestic economic problems, U.S. imperialism has found it necessary to prune off its spending in this field, averaging over 5,000 million dollars annually. Estimates show Soviet spending was even larger than that of the United States, averaging over 7,000 million dollars a year, although its gross national product is only half that of the United States. Thus, it can be seen that Soviet revisionists have gone to astounding lengths to spend on space technology.

Economy in a Mess

     It is an irony that while the Soviet revisionists are never tired of advertising their "advanced" space technology and the so-called "breakthrough" and "successes" they have made, their problems on earth are as innumerable as they are unsolvable. And look at the obsolete equipment and backward technology in civilian industry!
  The Soviet revisionists are bent on space competition, paying no heed to the hardships of the Soviet working people. The national economy out of balance; plans unfulfilled; industrial and agricultural production in great disorder; growing poverty of the people — all these have persisted for a long time under the revisionist rule. The Soviet revisionists themselves have admitted that today in the Soviet Union there are a considerable number of families in economic difficulties. Figures released by the Soviet revisionists show that at present tens of millions of Soviet people are living below the lowest standard and life is still more difficult for the working people in agricultural production whose income is even lower. At the same time, prices soar and consumer goods are in short supply. Referring to the dire difficulties of the Soviet economy, the unabashed Brezhnev recently revealed the truth by ascribing them mainly to the shortage of manpower and materials. It may seem very strange that a superpower which competes with the other superpower in reaching space and the moon is plagued with So many domestic problems. Actually it is not strange at all, because the Soviet revisionist renegade clique which pursues a social-imperialist policy and carries out expension and contention everywhere must inevitably land itself in insuperable plight.
  Exposing the tsarist government's huge military appropriations for aggression and expansion, Lenin once noted that "terrific sums are being squandered by a government which, haggling over every kopek, has steadily cut down grants to the famine-stricken peasantry . . . which, like any kulak, sweats the workers in the government factories, sweats the lower employees in the post offices, etc.!" (The War in China.) If we compare the new tsars with the old ones, we can see that they have everything in common in squandering terrific sums for armament, for war preparations and expansion overseas, and also in haggling over every kopek and cutting down the needs of the commoners.

Source: Peking Review, No. 39, July 25, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org

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