Do you feel that the government does not truly value the 35% of your income it claims? I do. This week’s examples: $500 million tossed away on a fantastically frivolous and fairly unpopular 150th anniversary of Canada being handed over to a bunch of racist white guys in frock coats who ran it anyway. The $i0.5 million awarded as an apology to the terrorist Omar Kottar, because at the time he murdered an American medic and blinded another man he was a “child soldier” and thus knew not what he did. He wasn’t five, he was fifteen, a man in those parts of the world whence his family originates. Boys his age have been sentenced as adults in the UK and elsewhere if the crime warrants it. If Kottar was old enough to handle a rifle and throw hand grenades, he’s old enough to pay the price. So Canada trampled over some Charter rights in the process – who cares? Why should a terrorist have any rights? They don’t accord us rights. That the taxpayer should be forced to compensate this man to the tune of $10.5 million is scandalous, another grandstanding world gesture by Trudeau le Petit to bolster up his global image as cool dude PM. Not at home, pal. Add to this the planned $ trillion on defense and you wonder if there ought to be some curb on government spending. The half billion spent on a hundred-foot duck and a birthday jamboree could have been used to keep all those idle promises to improve the lot of indigenous communities. The trillion on death machines could make this place paradise. But no – the same old shit. We should demand an Internet plebiscite on all spending over X amount of dollars. You want to blow half a billion on pompous frippery, press Yes or No.
But the UN finally managed to do something useful. They passed a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Except – surprise, surprise – the 122 signees were all countries that do not possess nuclear weapons. Disgracefully, Canada did not sign, losing an opportunity to be a meaningful world leader. Did your government ask you if you wanted to ban nuclear weapons? No, of course not. The arrogant Dark Lords want to keep their toys, which “act as a deterrent”. A deterrent against what or whom? Have we not been dragged into enough pointless European conflicts by Britain now to be willing participants in endless US global rumbles? You would think we’ve learnt our lesson, and perhaps we have – but the Molochs on Parliament Hill haven’t. Besides, fear makes for strong governments. Let me tell you something about fear. In 1955, Betrand Russell and Albert Einstein – then widely considered to be the two most intelligent men alive – issued a manifesto on the dangers of nuclear war. It was co-signed by eleven other individuals, ten of them Nobel laureates. Einstein died shortly thereafter, but said that it was his firm conviction that if we did not rid the world of nuclear weapons the human race had a hundred years left at the most. The text stands today as it did then, except we should probably add at least one zero where applicable. Read it for yourself and decide how far behind intelligent people the world actually is. By the way, Joseph Rotblat was the only scientist to quit the Manhattan Project in protest.
The Russell-Einstein Manifesto
9 July 1955
In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.
We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.
Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.
We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.
We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?
The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.
No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.
It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima.
Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish.
No one knows how widely such lethal radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.
Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert’s knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.
Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?1 People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.
The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term “mankind” feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.
This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.
Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes.
First, any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second, the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should, therefore, welcome such an agreement though only as a first step.
Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.
There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.
We invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:
“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.”
Percy W. Bridgman
Herman J. Muller
Cecil F. Powell