In The Name Of Sanity
By Lewis Mumford
Assumptions and Predictions (written in 1946)
The "defense" strategy outlined in the PNAC is founded on the post cold-war assumption that as the single remaining super-power the U.S. must do whatever is militarily necessary to prevent other, lesser powers from obtaining nuclear capabilities.
This position, which the U.S. now presumably finds itself in as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union, is a unique position according to PNAC - one that demands a unique defense strategy. But is it really so unique? Is it not rather like the position the U.S. was in over 50 years ago, at the end of World War II?
At that time, the U.S. had emerged from the war as the dominant international power. It alone had nuclear capabilities, which it utilized in the war (the 20 kiloton Little Boy uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 8, 1945, killing 80,000, and the 22 kiloton Fat Man plutonium bomb that killed 70,000 on August 9th.) The cold-war with the Soviet Union, which eventually turned into a nuclear stand-off, had not yet begun. For Russia's first succesful test of an A-bomb would not happen until July 14, 1949.
What U.S. defense strategies were being contemplated, in those years between 1945 and 1949, when, like today, the U.S. faced no present nuclear threat but feared that other countries (the Soviet Union) would soon develop such capabilities?
We can get some sense of what people were thinking back then by considering a essay, written in 1946, by Lewis Mumford (later to be included in his book, "In the Name of Sanity"). Mumford was somewhat ahead of his time; in this essay he is already considering the probably consquences of a nuclear war with Russia. Four possible scenarios are imagined and evaluated: striking the Soviet Union before it has developed nuclear capabilities, shortly after it has developed such capabilities, long after both countries have amassed a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, and - finally - a scenario in which there is a stand-off and nuclear war never breaks out. Years later, the fourth scenario would come to be called the 'cold war'.
All four scenarios turn out to be rather grim, and lead Mumford to the conclusion that war is not the answer; the only real alternative is a co-operative effort, between countries, to 'wipe out... these new weapons of extermination'. (See also J. Robert Oppenheimer, who lead the team of physicists who worked on developing the first atomic bomb, On Atomic Energy, Problems to Civilization - a talk delivered in 1946 at Berkeley. He arrives at a conclusion similar to Mumford's and diametrical opposed to the one offered by PNAC. [audio])
The preface from the chapter that appears below, added years later by Mumford, says:
Written in the autumn of 1946, this essay serves as a passport of credit for the rest of the volume; for it was conceived and published before the cold war had broken out, before security investigations had been instituted throughout the American government, in short, before the now familiar phenomena described herein had made their appearance. Except for the removal of a single verbal repetition, not a word has been altered.In this essay, Mumford begins by considering a first-strike scenario. The U.S. attacks Russia BEFORE Russia has acquired nuclear capabilities - a situation not unlike the one we find ourselves in today. Mumford calls this 'a preventive war'.
In imagining this scenario, Mumford's assumption is that the strike would involve use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. Interestingly, although Russia is not among the countries that now appear on the PNAC's list of possible targets, and nuclear weapons have not yet been used, Mumford's description sounds a lot like a description of recent events.
All of the words that follow are Mumford's.
FIRST ASSUMPTION: The Atom Bomb is used by the United States against a single power before any other power has an equivalent means of retaliation.
As soon as one makes this assumption, one also lays down certain other conditions. One of them is that the object of such an attack would be Soviet Russia and that the purpose of it would be to safeguard the United States from an unwelcome surprise of a similar nature. On this assumption the Lilienthal plan for safeguarding the production of atomic energy has not yet been put into effect: fear has therefore risen that Russia has been stalling for time and perhaps will soon be at the point of being able to meet our challenge of atomic supremacy halfway.
Unfortunately, the success of such a preventive war depends upon the military element of surprise: hence the assumption of an undeclared war must also be made, which means that the military forces have taken it upon themselves - as part of their 'sacred trust' of safe-guarding their country from attack - to make the political decision, possibly with the advice and consent of the President, but not with the open authority of the Congress. The necessity for secrecy finds additional justification in the fact that, no matter how steadily political relations between the two countries might deteriorate, it is unlikely that such an attack would have sufficient popular support in advance to sanction a cold-blooded declaration of atomic war. After the attack has taken place, the proofs of its 'necessity' can be easily brought to light: the 'finding' of an atomic bomb, supposedly planted by the enemy, in the heart of Washington or New York; or the reported encountering of an imaginary fleet of Russian bombers, halfway across the Atlantic, as the first strike against the enemy is made.
By hypothesis, the first act of this atomic war is unbelievably successful: every plane finds its target and every bomb reaches it; so that some 36 Russian cities with populations of over 200,000 each are wiped out, in all about 18,000,000 people; and the obliteration of certain other strategic cities of smaller dimensions, removes another 7,000,000: 25,000,000 persons in all. The first newspaper headlines to herald this unprecedented success would undoubtedly read: "Red Menace Removed Forever!" But the elation of victory is presently succeeded by a sense of frustration: for, assuming the present deployment of Russia's military forces, the atomic victory is not at once followed by an unconditional surrender. The United States has done its worst; but it has not yet done enough. Though theoretically wiped out, the Russian Government proceeds to make an effective response to the situation by moving its armies in force to the periphery of Europe and Asia, taking these areas under its protection and summoning them to unite against this Yankee imperialism which has butchered twenty-five million innocent people and plainly is bent on bringing the whole world under its barbarous dominion.
Russia's response takes time; but the fact that Russia's major cities all have been wiped out does not prevent this response from taking place; nor does the wiping out of Russia's military potential prevent her from falling back upon industrial Asia and Europe to serve as arsenal. So, far from the menace of Russian domination being settled, the whole case has in fact become more difficult. Just as in the past the drying up of the grasslands pushed the Mongols and the Huns onto the periphery of the continents, so the radioactivity in the destroyed areas, and the fear of further attacks, set in motion a great mass migration. Though millions will perish on the trek, millions more will reach their destination and mingle with the non-Russian population. Even if the supply of atom bombs is inexhaustible, there is no military answer to this situation. Shall further instruments of extermination then be used to back up the atom bomb? Bacterial warfare perhaps? Not if we hope to follow up our victory anywhere in Eurasia. The large-scale use of DDT or the spraying of radioactive materials on the land might lead to unparalled starvation within the Russian domain; but the impulse to adopt these grisly methods must take account of another fact: the growing of moral recoil.
In spite of a complete suppression of free discussion over the origins and justification of this war, in the newspapers and on the radio, a steadily deepening moral reaction has taken place: the very unwillingness of the President and the military authorities to submit to any examination of their case, only increases the general sense of suspicion and guilt. The usual justifications for suppression in wartime are now lacking, for, according to the propaganda issued by the military, the enemy has been wiped out, and the war is all but over. Suspicion and misapprehension grow, however, when an act is presently passed to raise an armed force of ten million amphibious and airborne soldiers for the invasion of Europe and Asia. Even those who had joyfully accepted the atomic victory pause at this next step. Instead of a cheap war, the one-sided atomic war has turned out to be a costly one: instead of a swift war, it promises to have no termination at all. In a country with the territory and population of Russia, even whole-sale extermination is still not total extermination. To complete the illusory quality of this victory, and to give an extra touch of irony, the danger of atomic retaliation has not altogether been removed, for Russia can now look to the willing aid of European and Asiatic scientists: so the main purpose of the attack is, in this event, nullified. Meanwhile, so many links in the process of human co-operation and human understanding would have been destroyed by the very manner in which the attack was carried out, that any hope of bringing peace and order for centuries would be fantastic.
SECOND ASSUMPTION: War itself does not break out until each of the two chief powers, the United States and Russia, possess a large stockpile of atom bombs, and by hypothesis, the stockpile of the United States is many times that of Russia.
By the time this war breaks out, certain precautions against surprise have already bee taken: every package and crate of goods in international trade is rigorously inspected, not only for radioactive materials but for other mechanical components of the atom bomb, and all direct air travel between continents has broken down: the outlying islands have become halfway stations, and any foreign plane found beyond these points is shot down on sight without warning. Nonintercourse between countries has reached the point where even diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States have been broken, because of the suspicion on each side that the conventions of diplomacy are only a thin disguise for an espionage organization. After a succession of feints and withdrawals, war breaks out on both sides, with or without an accompanying public declaration; for by now the impossibility of publicly declaring war in advance has been accepted in the United States, along with a renunciation of various other essentials of the democratic process. For all the superiority of the United States in number of atom bombs, our absolute losses are greater because, thanks to the surviving premises of free enterprise, our dispersal has been less effective. American forces in Germany are surrounded and exterminated, despite their offer to surrender or their threats of ultimate retaliation if their surrender is not accepted: their threat is empty because their side has already done its worst. Both countries, in the first shock, suffer severely; but relatively, Russia's losses are less serious than those of the United States; for most of the conditions established under the first hypothesis would still obtain. England, the most vulnerable of the big powers, is not in the path of the great raids, which sweep across the Arctic; but, unmoved by the British proclamation of neutrality, Russia, as an act of precaution, makes a saturation attack on England's chief centers, followed by a series of contamination raids, the purpose of which is to cut the United States off from its main ally and its principal base for organizing a ground operation against Europe.
In both countries, the military establishment, because of its reasonable degree of dispersal, is more intact than the civilian population; but despite the piling up of stores and weapons in the prewar period, the United States forces, precisely because of the technical refinements of their weapons, suffer more quickly than the more primitive Russian organization from the total disorganization of industrial and social life which follows the destruction of urban centers.
On the edges of the old metropolises, life reverts swiftly to the preindustrial level. With forty million people dead in these centers - a few survivors perhaps remember this was General Grove's original estimate - with no hospital or medical services capable of taking care of the maimed and wounded, the Army is faced with the burden of relief and reorganization, if its own security is not to be ultimately threatened. "Mercy deaths" add to the total holocaust. But the war is not yet over. From bombproof shelters, deep in the Ural Mountains, Russia launches new supplies of atom bombs. This settles down to a war of attrition, which is also a war of nerves. All forms of international intercourse cease throughout the planet; and unfortunately most of the plants for creating synthetic substitutes for natural products located in distant parts of the world have been destroyed; so there is no way of offsetting this loss. In the 'island cultures' which appear in the less threatened parts of the world, there is a deliberate relapse into primeval ways: in some places, machines are attacked and disemboweled, and in others they are allowed to fall into complete neglect: in any event, they are treated as symbols of man's decadence, of his will-to-extinction. Free curiosity, invention, innovation, become taboo; and life resumes the repetitious round of tribal society, weighted down by fears even heavier than those Nature alone once occasioned.
THIRD ASSUMPTION: Atomic war does not break out until a sufficient time has elapsed to bring about the atomic armament of the greater part of the civilized world. Not two countries, but at least twenty, are involved in the atomic armaments race: Africa, Asia, South America all contribute their quota of suspicion, fear, and death.
On this hypothesis, certain other events may reasonably be predicted: namely, a vast increase in the production of atomic energy, possibly a decrease in the size and weight of the apparatus itself, and even, thanks to the extraordinary concentration on physical research, the utilization of commoner elements hitherto impervious to atomic disintegration. But to keep the prospective horrors within the bounds of the commonplace, I shall not posit the release of atomic energy among the lighter elements. Because of the secrecy that everywhere surrounds atomic experiment, there is much guesswork about the work of rival powers and little diffusion of scientific knowledge: indeed, to guard against diffusion by code and cryptogram or any other kind of indirect exposure, all scientific publication is classified as top secret; and even puzzle magazines and comic magazines are not allowed to leave the country in which they are issued - a precaution that followed a terrible leak through what seemed an entirely innocent channel. Though this tends to retard atomic investigation, a national concentration of scientific resources on atomic physics and its adjacent spheres in mathematics and chemistry has partly counteracted this tendency.
In every other department of life, there is a slowing down of creativity: worse than that, an active regression. Life is now reduced to purely existentialist terms: existence toward death. The classic otherwordly religions undergo a revival; but even more, quack religions and astrology, with pretensions to scientific certainty, flourish: the tension and anxiety cause even atomic scientists to take refuge in one or another of the new cults. The young who grow up in the world are completely demoralized: they characterize themselves as the generation that drew a blank. The belief in continuity, the sense of a future that holds promises, disappears: cenrtainty of sudden obliteration cuts across every long-term plan, and every activity is more or less reduced to the time span of a single day, on the assumption that it may be the last day. To counteract this, a cult of the archaic and the antiquarian becomes popluar: the Victorian period is revived as mankind's Golden Age. Suicides become more frequent, expecially among those carrying the weight of responsibiliity in science and military affairs; and the taking of drugs to produce either exhilaration or sleep becomes practically universal.
In this situation, secrecy gives rise to suspicion and suspicion to uncontrolled fantasies of deception and aggression. Despite the most rigorous immigration barriers, despite the almost complete cessation of foreign travel, rumors that the Communist party has access to the secrets held by other countries, put even the most remote minor officials under the constant surveillance of the FBI; only to encourage the further suspicion, as the ranks of the FBI swell to the dimensions of a considerable army, that Communist influence has also penetrated the FBI. No man trusts his neighbor or dares speak to him freely. Research that turns out to be sterile is regarded as a possible manifestation of treason: those involved in it are purged. Mistakes, failures to achieve production schedules, slips of the tongue, all lead to further purges: the new police state can take no chances. Internationally, an apparent stalemate is reached, because the perfection of an indiscriminate weapon of attack has been followed by the policy of an indiscriminate retaliation on all suspected enemies.
In the threatened atomic war, as in a riot, people will claw and club their neighbors because they have no means of identifying the real culprit and no means of isolating their reaction to him. At first, that universal danger is a restraining influence; but as the tension mounts, this becomes the medium for a psychotic outbreak. We will suppose that an atomic explosion takes place either by accident or by deliberate intention; both are definitely possible, and in the very nature of the case, the facts themselves can never be determined. Perhaps a single unbalanced person is responsible for what happens; perhaps a group on the top levels, secret admirers of Hitler, neo-Hitlerians in fact, have decided that the moment has come to establish national supremacy, even if half the world, and half the nation itself, is therewith exterminated. This lights the fuel for a widespread holocaust, one even greater than that originally feared, for meanwhile one or more countries involved has found a way of retarding atomic explosions so that they come not in a moment but in waves of increasing duration: the blast is small but the gamma rays are far more effective. Before the world's atomic stockpiles are exhausted more than half the population of the planet has been killed; and by reason of this high order of radioactive saturation, changes take place in the weather and in the balance of vegetable, animal, insect, and bacterial life; so that the food supply is not sufficient for the random hordes that remain. Death by starvation, or by the drinking of radioactice waters even at points distant from the contaminated areas, slowly destroys more than three-quarters of those who remain.
Now, for the first time in history, the disintegration of civilization takes place on a world-wide scale: no 'island cultures' are left to carry on the old processes, even at a reduced level. Within a generation, mankind will enter an age so dark that every other dark age will seem, by contrast, one of intense illumination. Even the animal survival of the species may for long hang in the balance. The trauma left on the human psyche will be far worse than that from any previous fear or terror, even the melting of the icecaps. Surviving man will repress his higher functions, not merely his curiosities and his mechanical skills, but his powers of abstraction and symbolism, as threats to his life: he will revert to a stage just this side of the idiot level, a creature of low cunning, focused on the immediate and the concrete, seeking safety in repetition and order, in respect for taboo, ruthlessly killing every variant from this norm, partly losing the use of language itself in his desire to control fresh departures - this will be all that remains of HOMO SAPIENS. He will survive as an animal with the merest remnant of his intelligence, by eliminating every other capacity that identified him as human.
On this Third Assumption, the damage to the environment might be so complete that man would not have even these diminished alternatives. For if the lower orders of life remained, variations in bacterial enemies, to say nothing of transformations in the human genes, might result in the production of diseases and deformities which would wipe out the surviving members of our species. If that happened, there would be no further social deductions to draw.
FOURTH ASSUMPTION: Atomic war does not break out at all. But meanwhile, for at least a century, in every part of the earth it remains a growing threat; and the response to this threat is made only in those departments that can be controlled by individual non-cooperative states. The adaptation is complete.
On this hypothesis, the manufacture of atomic weapons has not resulted in violence, destruction, or whole-sale extermination; indeed, the very universality of the terror, which almost guaranteed non-resort to war under the Third Assumption, has resulted in something that could be called, in a purely formal sense, peace, and this indefinite suspension of hostilities seems likely to last as long as the total danger that now confronts mankind. Is this, then, the Atomic Golden Age? Let us look at it more closely before we follow General R. W. Johnson's advice to "Dig, son, dig."
It would be needlessly repetitive to describe results already touched on in the Third Assumption; but in the course of a century certain trends, already visible under those conditions, are carried to their logical conclusions. As the danger presses, the plea of the insurance companies and businessmen to hold population in the old centers is first met in the United States by the building of extensive underground shelters and new subway systems. But in New York City, because of its rocky terrain, this process proves too costly to carry through, and that city is the first to be abandoned: its Atomic Age population dwindles to something less than 100,000. At first the Federal government assumes the entire municipal debt and grants a subvention to private owners on a basis of half their assessed values; but this proves too heavy a load, and in engineering the compulsory exodus from the big cities an elaborate pension system is worked out to compensate the still dissatisfied property holders. The nationalization of banks and insurance companies is only the first of many more desperate measure to distribute losses. Taxes continue to rise to a point that nullifies financial success; and as soon as the top salaries in the bureaucracy become greater than the maximum net income from private ownership and management, all the earlier advocates of free enterprise become eager for state ownership and flock into the government, where power and privilege are now concentrated.
Presently, the development of the atomic earthquake bomb, capable of penetrating thirty feet of solid concrete and exploding within the earth, makes it plain that any sort of concentration, even underground, is a military liability. Hence the sporadic dispersal of population, which has been taking place, first of all, with military equipment and personnel, gives way to a large-scale effort, using every resource of government, to decentralize and deconcentrate. Under this dispensation, the advocates of the Linear City come into their own. I will not make the picture too grim: let us assume that people continue, where possible, to live and sleep in houses above ground; but all who can afford the luxury, have provided against 'the day' by purchasing from the government the standard underground shelter, like the week-end cottage of an earlier day; and the rest of the population has bunks assigned in the underground dormitories. Meanwhile, factories, adminstrative buildings, schools, in fact almost all collective structures are distributed underground, forming underground roadtowns, connected by a transcontinental subway system. Though the invention of the atomic filter provides security against atmospheric contamination, the cost is so prohibitive that, for many years, only the military installations underground are so equipped, even though without such filters all these underground precautions are - against persistent and thorough saturation - as futile as they are disruptive.
As one of the first precautions against atomic assault, all air traffic of any sort within the country has ceased, except in a few desert areas reserved for military aviation. When a choice has to be made between giving up the airplane or giving up the radar watch that is now maintained day and night along the borders of the entire continent, the atomic danger leaves no question as to which must be abandoned. While in most parts of the country this problem of securing a water supply is readily solved by tapping only underground sources, the likelihood that radioactive materials would be used by an enemy to destroy surface crops and cattle makes it necessary to build up great hydroponic underground farms. Unfortunately the costs are far greater than those of surface farming: another item that demands huge susidies and in turn still higher taxes. With falling productivity in almost every part of the industrial mechanism not connect with atomic production or security, the individual standard of living falls, too; and there is a growing tendency among people to desert their posts in the underground collective life in order to scratch for a bare, self-centered, insecure but adventurous living on the surface - although this automatically cuts off the 'new pioneers' as they call themselves from every form of social security and pension, and from protection in case atomic war breaks out. When this movement shows signs of becoming a mass reversion to irresponsible primitive life, the government rounds up and shoots every deserter.
Meanwhile, the Constitution of every country is altered, where necessary, so as to give complete control to the military caste. Included in the caste, also in uniform, also sworn to perpetual secrecy, are the scientists and technicians responsible for atomic production and antiatomic defense. Even on the highest levels, the means of creating secrecy - the fragmentation of information and knowledge - prevails. The Chief of Staff, who is ex officio dictator - though in the United States still called, by courtesy, President - appoints his own successor; for he alone is the point at which the jigsaw puzzle of guarded knowledge can be put together. The military caste not only takes over the function of government; it likewise exercises rigorous control over every department of education: at no point can individual initiative or individual opinion be tolerated. By the age of twelve, youths who score high in their aptitude tests are set aside for further training in technological and scientific research along increasingly narrow lines laid down by atomic warfare and its accessory arts. No evasion is possible. Other lines of research are progressively neglected, and, for lack of contact and cross-fertilization of ideas, the quality of research in the physical sciences themselves falls off.
By skillful conditioning, ensured by the centralized control of publication and expression in every form, backed up by constant espionage on conversation, this state of affairs is characterized as freedom, just as the military dictatorship is promoted as the ultimate expression of democracy: one for all and all for one. To make this pill palatable, certain benefits and perquisites are first bestowed on the mass of workers, who at this stage still have organizations capable of striking; but these privileges are soon canceled out by the actual depletion of real wages and decent living standards, and when the workers realize this, they no longer have the means of uniting or even communicating, to register their grievances. Long before this dictatorship is perfected, travel and intercourse between countries has practically disappeared: the police state has become the prison state, and even the jailers do not know what the weather is like on the other side of the wall, though many ingenious efforts are made to plant secret agents in other countries.
Because of the all-enveloping quality of the danger, every thought, every action, every plan becomes subservient to the requirements for atomic warfare. Will this fear of a total catastrophe lead to the traditional indifference of the peasants who cultivate their crops on the slopes of Vesuvius? The answer is No, for the peasant's life is free from fear precisely because he continues to do what he always has done, whereas every precaution taken to avert atomic disaster shuts the door to some cherished aspect of normal living and concentrates even the most remote parts of the personality on one theme alone: Fear. The steady increase in atomic desctructiveness reaches a point at which everyone realizes that enough potential energy has been stored to destroy all the living spaces of the planet: so as time goes on, fear becomes more absolute, and - with increased isolation - the prospect of finding a way out becomes more blank.
These conditions - as unfamiliar to the experience of the race as the atom bomb itself - must lead to grave psychological disruptions. We can posit the familiar forms of these regressive reactions: escape in fantasy would be one: purposeless sexual promiscuity would be another: narcotic indulgence would be a third; but perhaps the most disturbing result of this cutting off of the personality from the normal sources and outlets of development would be the frequent outbreaks of catatonic trance; complete resistance to the demands of outward life. Like Bartleby in Melville's story, such people would in effect say, 'I know where I am,' and have nothing further to do with life. But if the libido were turned outward instead of inward, paranoiac manifestations would probably be universal: suspicion, hatred, agression, non-cooperation would break out at every level, followed by rounds of muderous violence. In short, the disorders of personality exhibited by the Nazi elite would not merely become universal: they would, if possible, be magnified, though the worst sadism might sometimes be disguised, as with the Nazis, as responsible scientific experimentation with live subjects.
As tension continues to mount, millions of people working below ground begin to show other signs of profound psychological maladjustment for which the current psychological conditioners attached to the General Staff have no adequate answer. Rumors of something more lethal than the atom bomb, impervious to every known means of defense, begin to spread through the catacombs and warrens of this civilization. An epidemic of influenza of a new virulent type creates a fresh wave of terror, because it is suspected to be the work of an unseen and unidentifiable enemy. Hitler's real secret weapon, people say, is at last perfected. A 'Let's Dies Above Ground' movement begins to spread. Something like a collective attack of claustrophobia breaks out in more than one country almost simultaneously: workers drop their tools and roam around the surface in predatory bands. The very troops who are brought to the surface to combat this subversive movement in more than one case become the victims. Still, no country as yet dares make a wholesale atomic attack. Peace reigns: the rigid peace of death.
On the Fourth Assumption, not a single life has been lost in atomic warfare; nevertheless death has spread everywhere in the cold violence of anticipation, and civilization has been almost as fatally destroyed as it would be under the Third Assumption.
For what is civilization? Civilization is the process whereby a part of mankind threw off the limitations of a rigid, static, tribal society, increased the range of human co-operation, communication, and communion, and created a common instrument for the continued development of the personality and the community. The basis of civilization lies in the fact that energies that were once devoted almost exclusively to physical survival eventually reached a point at which an increasing part of them could be devoted to man's higher functions: instead of submitting to brute necessity, he dominated his environment, he freely remolded his own patterns of living, he created goods and values, purposes and meanings, in short, a common social heritage that other men could share over ever wider reaches of space and time. Men first achieved survival in isolated and restricted groups. Civilization is the never-ending process of creating one world and one humanity.
When secrecy, isolation, withdrawal, and preoccupation with mere physical survival dominate in a society, civilization begins to disintegrate: in the end, the capacity to become human is arrested, if it does not actually disappear, because the very meaning of human life lies in the fulfillment of values and purposes that issue out of past continuities and are directed toward an ever-developing future. Otherwise, the social order becomes a prison and existence therein is punishment for life. That is why the Fourth Assumption turns out, in some ways, to be the most horrible of all: nothing less than a living death. If man fails to take the path toward world co-operation, on every level from government upward, there is no alternative that will not prove monstrous, until the knowledge and intelligence that created our new weapons of extermination are, by one means or another, wiped out. The very precautions men may take for safeguarding life against atomic warfare may also do away with every sound reason for living.
Each of these Assumptions reduces to absurdity the thesis that there is any form of security for individual governments and peoples that can be purchased by their isolated efforts alone, no matter how ready they may be to alter every habit and interest and drive and custom. That way lies suicide. Unconditional co-operation on a world scale is, therefore, the only alternative to the certain disintegration of civilization and the probable extermination of the race.