Started in January 1972, Undercurrents magazine was a medium for radical views on scientific and technological subjects. It was envisioned, coordinated and edited by Godfrey Boyle, and was one of the first “Green” magazines in the UK. Started as a quarterly “magazine of radical science and people's technology”, it later appeared every two months as “The Magazine of Radical Technology” or just “Undercurrents”. There were 63 issues published until 1984, when it merged with “Resurgence” magazine. It had its peak in the 1970s, when it had a circulation of about 7,000.
Science with a Human Face
In their manifesto, “ Science with a Human Face“ the Undercurrents collective stated,
“UNDERCURRENTS believes it is possible to evolve a 'sadder but a wiser' science, a science that is aware of its limitations as well as its strengths, which will search the hitherto ignored areas of human experience for clues to a more meaningful and relevant synthesis than is dreamt of in our present philosophies. We also believe that technology can be reoriented to serve not economies and governments but individual human beings -- to provide small-scale sources of basics like energy, food, shelter, clothing and tools; to provide unfettered communications between the smaller, more human communities that our world must create if it is to avoid overpopulation, alienation, violence and all the attendant evils of the mass society; and less importantly perhaps to provide simple data processing and automation facilities in a way that genuinely relieves human beings of boredom and drudgery without enslaving them to machines or to their owners.
Not that UNDERCURRENTS believes that decentralisation should -- or could .. be carried to extremes. It is unnecessary and undesirable for humanity to regress into a disconnected series of isolated cultures. The cross fertilisation of ideas and genes that has been so vital to the evolution of our race should continue in a decentralised society, as is perfectly feasible given intelligent use of modern techniques of transportation and communication. In UNDERCURRENTS itself we have tried to implement the notions of variety and decentralisation, that we advocate in wider spheres.”
Undercurrents promoted “Alternative Technology”, renewable energy, waste recyclimg, self-sufficiency, decentralisation, small-holding, organic gardening and other similar topics. It had regular articles about the dangers of nuclear power and the anti-nuclear protest movement. It also promoted alternative culture in its many forms, so articles about communes, the intentional community scene, cooperatives, collectives and other grassroots political and social alternatives also found space in the magazine. In addition, it dealt with pseudoscientific subjects such as orgone energy, leylines and dowsing.The index of Undercurrents 1 to 43, prepared by Charmian Larke of the Alternative Technology Information Group, gives an idea of how wide the spectrum of themes and articles was up to the start of 1981. Some of the ideas would now be considered elements of Permaculture, others, such as recycling and renewable energy are accepted and main stream.
Intentional Communities and Coops in Undercurrents
Over the years, Undercurrents published a wealth of articles about intentional communities, cooperatives, new towns, new villages, autonomous houses, geodesic domes, the (British) Communes Network and similar projects. Some examples include:
- CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology), Issues #7, #8, #13, #19, #22, #34,#35,#37
- Christiania, Issues #17, #24, #39 (Issue #39 had a number of articles about International communities)
- Cooperatives, Issue #41
- Crabapple, Issue #12 (With Reference to [Twin Oaks], and in Issue #34
- Ecological communities, Issue #35 (Greentown), and Issue #43
- Findhorn, Issues #17, #18,#19, #25
- Garden Villages of Tomorrow, Issue #16
- Kibbutzim, Issue #39
- Laurieston Hall, Issues #12, #21, #35, #38, #39
- Lifespan, Issue #16
- Longo Mai, Issue #40
- Mondragon, Issues#26, #28
And in Issue #32 there was a review of Communities magazine.
Well known authors who contributed to Undercurrents included:
- E.F. Schumacher, author of “Small is Beautiful” ,
- Geofrey Ashe author of many books about King Arthur,
- Milovan Djilas author of “The New Class”,
- John Seymour author of “The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency”,
- Colin Ward, author of Anarchy in Action,
- John Papworth, Founder Editor of Resurgence magazine
- Godfrey Boyle, author of “Renewable Energy and the Grid”
- Lawrence D. Hills Founder of the HDRA
- Dave Elliot of the Open University (UK),
- Herbert Giradet, and many, many more.
Undercurrents on the Web
Recently, Chris Hutton Squire, one of its editors has started to republish the magazine on the World Wide Web using Scribd. Up to now (June 2009) issues #5 through to #17 are available.
- Undercurrents on Scribd
- Etext of The Undercurrents Book of „Radical Technology“ edited by Geoffrey Boyle and Peter Harper.