Oh no. That is just so wrong. We are not overcoming our violent nature because of nuclear weapons. For one thing, our nature is violent for a reason. Violence is a self-protective instinct that makes sense, and can’t be overcome.
And even if our violent instincts were “bad” (I definitely do not think so, but if they were) then we still could not overcome them.
Eventually we will have a real need for defense, and nuclear weapons (or worse) will be used. End of world, good bye.
One of the typical progressive beliefs is that we are getting “nicer,” and less violent. That is not true, it is an illusion. We don’t have the gunfights and duels, and public hangings, of the old days.
But this is really (in my opinion) because we live under the most powerful military state that ever existed on earth. If we wanted to be violent, it would not allow us. Instead we (mostly the men, actually, because they are the natural defenders of the tribe) express their violent instincts with games and entertainment.
Is it good that we live under the protection (and control) of a huge military power? It might seem that way, temporarily, but in the long run nothing could be worse.
The American concept cannot work unless the citizens have the ability to overthrow the government once it becomes corrupt (as it inevitably will). But we can’t overthrow it because they have the big weapons.
It is inevitable that weapons technology will continue to advance. It is also inevitable that world-destroying weapons will eventually be used.
People understandably need to feel safe, even if it’s only MAD that they think will protect them. But sorry, we are anything but safe.
Yes mockturtle, I think it is very corrupt now. But people would not be motivated to actually overthrow it unless they were suffering intolerably. There is suffering here now, but the average American is still enchanted by their iPhones and giant TVs. Lots of Americans are still doing very well.
The government, and its friends the Big Banks and Big Science, can do any horrible thing they want, but people won’t notice unless is affects them directly and obviously.
But nobody says something like that unless other things — terrible things — did happen. Two things went wrong. The first is that the bomb was even more explosive than the scientists thought it was going to be. Instead of 6 megatons of yield, it produced 15 megatons of yield, an error of 250%, which matters when you are talking about millions of tons of TNT. The technical error, in retrospect, reveals how grasping their knowledge still was: the bomb contained two isotopes of lithium in the fusion component of the design, and the designers assumed only one of them would be reactive, but they were wrong. The second problem is that the wind changed. Instead of carrying the copious radioactive fallout that such a weapon would produce over the open ocean, where it would be relatively harmless, it instead carried it over inhabited atolls in the Marshall Islands. This necessitated evacuation, long-term health monitoring, and produced terrible long-term health outcomes for many of the people on those islands.
If it had just been natives who were exposed, the Atomic Energy Commission might have been able to keep things hushed up for awhile — but it wasn’t. A Japanese fishing boat, ironically named the Fortunate Dragon, drifted into the fallout plume as well and returned home sick and with a cargo of radioactive tuna. One of the fishermen later died (whether that was because of the fallout exposure or because of the treatment regime is apparently still a controversial point). It became a major site of diplomatic incident between Japan, who resented once again having the distinction of having been irradiated by the United States, and this meant that Bravo became extremely public. Suddenly the United States was, for the first time, admitting it had the capability to make multi-megaton weapons. Suddenly it was having to release information about long-distance, long-term contamination. Suddenly fallout was in the public mind — and its popular culture manifestations (Godzilla, On the Beach) soon followed.
Incidentally, there’s a new Godzilla film on the way, and it looks awesome. The latest trailer contains dialogue to this effect:
You know those tests in the Pacific in the ’50s? Those weren’t tests. They were trying to kill it.
Anyway, it was thinking about fusion bombs (foremost among other things) that have made me think that intelligence has yet to be proven to have long-term evolutionary advantages.
Incidentally, we can make fusion bombs of immense destructive force. The largest so far was the Soviet Tsar Bomba, exploded in 1961 with a yield somewhere between 50 to 58 megatons. And the version they detonated was only at half-strength! YOWZA! Precision guidance systems made such large bombs largely useless and modern weapons tend to be much smaller. (That way they can make more of them!)
But they can keep increasing the destructive yield by putting more shells on them. (Forgive the very loose terminology, but I’m tired.) Theoretically, a device could be built to pretty much wipe out all life on Earth with one blast. The delivery system would be the backyard: You don’t really have to move the thing to make it effective. Fortunately, no one has built such a thing … that we know of. But it would be kind of the ultimate veto power on pretty much everything.
Just re-read the article. I cannot find where Annie says that nukes are overcoming our violent nature. She says that nature is confounded and baffled by nukes. Our violent natures are thus channeled in other directions. Drones, perhaps. Cyber warfare. Comments on blogs…
The article is both insightful and thought-provoking. As Donna has suggested, cyber-technology is probably the ultimate weapon of the future. But I don’t fear our destruction by outside forces. I think we shall do a fine job of it on our own. :-( BTW, I also believe that we should be looking for moral/ethical, rather than scientific, leadership for our salvation.
The Tsar Bomba detonation set up a shock wave that went through the earth 3 times. We used to have something called the “Davy Crockett”, which was a nuke that you could mount on a jeep. Profitable? Yeah…but not as profitable as a lot of systems, so, meh. When the systems get too expensive the military winds up getting fewer of them (i.e. The B-2)
I wrote “the article” and I don’t think we will overcome our violent nature. Therefore, we will almost certainly escalate until we destroy ourselves. But the existence of nuclear weapons, while making that possible at last, has also postponed it. It has really put us in a bind, and it’s an interesting bind.
Icepick, coincidentally I had to fact check an article just recently about the lifespans of marine organisms that began with Castle Bravo and how the radioactive cesium (I think that’s the one) from the blast gets incorporated into the otoliths or “ear stones” of fish, which are layered almost like the rings of a tree. I had to look up Castle Bravo—the article’s author had been careless about identifying exactly who detonated the blast—and I read the whole story in military sources.
amba, the article does say, or imply, it’s a test to see if we can avoid using these weapons. It does imply that avoiding using the weapons would mean we passed the test (even if you think we can’t), and this would be somehow good.
I think asking any animal to turn off one of its protective instincts would have to be damaging to the animal. I don’t think it would mean we passed a test.
There are hidden assumptions going on. They are invisible, like air, because almost everyone takes them for granted.
Progressive ideology and Christianity, and some other major religions, assume that violence is bad and should be overcome. The idea is not questioned by our society.
So that is what I was trying to say. Not just that we can’t overcome violence, but that trying to overcome violence is anti-nature and NOT a worthwhile goal.
Violence became a destructive force, rather than a healthy instinct, when we stopped living in small territorial groups, and started practicing agriculture. Different ethnic groups were crammed together in unnaturally small amounts of space, and of course they wanted to kill each other. Especially since there was never enough agricultural land.
This led to religions like Christianity or Buddhism saying violence should be avoided. But those religions also said that LIFE on earth should be avoided! Because you can’t have life on this dimensional level without violence..
mockturtle, your statement is completely wrong. That is what we are all taught in school, but it is not true. Violence is not a base instinct. Our natural instincts all have purposes, which are not “base.” Nature is not “base” and we are not better than nature.
My thinking is based on holistic philosophy and respect for nature. Our civilization has a very different perspecitve. I did not dream up my ideas — they have been expressed by some every well known writers. But they did not agree with everything claimed by our mainstream civilization.
People think they have overcome their violent nature — and most of us are never violent. But it’s because we are protected, as I said, by a hugely powerful military state. We don’t need to be violent.
But this protection has a terrible cost. We have lost our freedom. All we have now is an illusion of freedom.
I have to say, it’s a damned shame at times that we cannot act on our violent nature. I have a neighbor in desperate need of being drawn and quartered (which is much worse than it sounds), and I am legally not permitted to do it. In this case, it is a net loss for society in general, and for my family in particular.
The character Bates on Downton Abbey is so attractive because he is a killer who kills people who need killing.
realpc, I think your fantasy of the freedom we’ve lost, the freedom to be killed by a rival tribesman or a large carnivore, is also an illusion. Violence has always been a part of our lives, freedom never.
Real, if you felt the urge to beat your child, would you act upon it simply because it’s a natural instinct? Or would you muster some self-control? If you are married and are ‘instinctively’ attracted to someone else, is it right to have sex with that person simply because the urge is natural?
What I believe is that an individual can stem natural urges that are inappropriate. I do not believe that, as a species, we can eliminate these urges. I also agree that humans are the same as they have been since creation/evolution. No better, no worse. Flawed and born sinners.
BTW, Amba, I’ll all for killing those who need killing. That’s justice. I’m a big proponent of the death penalty.
Amba, my idiot neighbors had their two most dangerous dogs taken away after the dogs jumped a fence, went after another neighbor’s pet and then bit the other neighbor when she came out to defend her pet. (The husband followed closely behind with a baseball bat to go after the pitbulls himself).
Since then, the neighbors have been fined $2,004 for violations of the county code regarding the handling of dogs, and they face another $683 dollars in fines for another incident that hasn’t gone through the system yet.
Guess what? Yesterday, they turned up and had one of the confiscated dogs back. They then turned it loose and it ran loose in the neighborhood for a good 24 hours with no supervision. I called the country today, and it turns out they will probably get both dogs back, even though they haven’t paid the fines and probably never will. (He’s up on felony hit and run charges and facing five years minimum in prison, and their house is being foreclosed upon.) Un-fucking-believable.
So I think what I have achieved (besides about $1,000 in damage to my car from where the dogs were eating it*), is a classic Pyrrhic victory.
The law is completely useless if you are dealing with a criminal. But if I do anything to those dogs, anything at all, I’m facing prison time for animal cruelty. Un-fucking-believable. (I cleared that last bit up with Animal Services a few weeks back.)
I am so sick of our useless, rotten, corrupt government. Why the fuck am I paying taxes again?
* Considering taking them to small claims court, but they’ll never pay, She hasn’t worked in over a year, and he only works under the table. Of course, they recently bought a boat….
I saw that on Kim’s FB timeline. I am incredulous. What, the dogs have to fatally maul a toddler before they can be confiscated for good or/and put down?? It’s infuriating. There is no protection or recourse in less-than-swanky neighborhoods, which is why people form gangs and vigilante neighborhood watches
As for what it will take to get rid of the dogs permanently: The only way I can actually attack the dogs legally is if they attack a person or animal first and I come to that person or animal’s defense. So, if I can just get the dogs to attack someone, I can run out there and club them! But I am absolutely NOT allowed to defend my property. So when they attack the car, I can’t do jack shit, or I am facing jail or prison time for animal cruelty.
So far they have torn the splash guards off the bottom of the car (that’s over two hundred in damages right there), eaten a windshield wiper (!), and put teeth marks all over the two front fenders. There will be no way to repair those, they will absolutely have to be replaced to fix the damage.
The law in this state is absolutely fucking ridiculous. (This is a matter of state law more so than county ordinances. The counties are restricted in what they can do. Yes, I will be writing my state representatives when I calm down enough.)
I honestly don’t know why anyone bothers being honest or law-abiding any more.
… just because it illustrates what mockT called to mind. I’m the definition of ~tangent~.
Also- in light of behaviors that are natural– or un– there was a pregnant Mom that drove her van filled w/her children, into the ocean because she felt she was possessed. She’d been reported tot he cops, but until she ~did~ something harmful, everyone was in danger. Natural… or unbalanced?
“realpc, I think your fantasy of the freedom we’ve lost, the freedom to be killed by a rival tribesman or a large carnivore, is also an illusion. Violence has always been a part of our lives, freedom never.”
We haven’t bothered to define “freedom.” I just meant the American idea of freedom from tyranny.
You always tell me I have fantasies about how wonderful it was to live in a primitive tribe. And then I always answer that I don’t have those fantasies. I always say we got some things but also lost a lot of things.
We evolved to live in small relatively stable groups. I think we were happier and healthier, but life has always been tough in any time or place. I don’t romanticize anything.
I point out some of the important things we have lost, and I mention how horribly dangerous our current situation is. That does NOT mean I think something else was wonderful.
Saying one thing is bad does not imply I mean another thing is good.
“Real, if you felt the urge to beat your child, would you act upon it simply because it’s a natural instinct?”
ALL mammals are able to control their instincts depending on the context. We are not special in that. Instincts are not as simple as you are implying. We don’t simply have an instinct for violence — we have an instinct for violence only in certain contexts, where it makes sense. To defend your child, for example.