The excerpt from Jonathan Schell‘s 1982 book The Fate of the Earth is the nineteenth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace . This dialogue continues the Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975- ) section of the book. The essay centers on Schell’s lifelong quest to abolish nuclear weapons. The Fate of the Earth is based on a series of essays that Schell wrote for The New Yorker in the early 1980s. It won the Los Angeles Times Book prize.
Sadly, despite the fall of the Soviet Union, Schell’s arguments for the only path to a safe world still hold. He sees nuclear weapons as the greatest “predicament” that mankind has faced. With the benefit of current knowledge, I would argue that global climate change has overtaken nuclear weapons as humankind’s worst self-imposed threat. Yet even at number two, the abolition of nuclear weapons must be accomplished for our survival. I would also argue that the two are intertwined under former US President Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex.” Continue reading Schell: Complete Disarmament is the Only Sane Path
The thirteenth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace contains Erich Fromm‘s 1960 essay The Case for Unilateral Disarmament. Fromm was a psychoanalyst and a member of the Frankfurt School. He co-founded the anti-nuclear organization SANE, which as named after his 1955 book, The Sane Society. SANE is now part of Peace Action.
Like Muste and Wallace, Fromm argues that the safest path to security is unilateral disarmament. Not surprisingly, Fromm approaches the discussion from a psychological perspective. To start with he pushes aside the question of whether disarmament is unilateral or mutual. Instead, he reaches for the question of what the reaction of the opposing side will be to disarmament. He rather dryly states that
it is unfortunately true that political leaders can rarely be trusted
Fromm’s purpose is not to demonize political leaders; he argues that the human nature causes them to bifurcate their personal moral beliefs from their morality as institutional leaders. He finds Hitler to be personally immoral, but the Russian [sic] leaders to be moral in their personal beliefs. Continue reading Fromm: Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament