This is a Letter to the Editor of Physics Today from during the Cold War, March of 1982. Background was a letter from another subscriber urging preemptive surrender to the USSR, which Petr Beckmann, on the Reason Magazine Board at the time, believed was the real purpose of all such defeatist whimpering. I was at the time a dues-paying member of John Hospers’ Libertarian Defense Caucus, not the regular Libertarian Party. Here’s the letter:
I’ve enjoyed reading the articles and letters addressing the topic of nuclear weapons in recent issues. There is, however, one point which has been conveniently ignored by both sides during the debate: the difference between the philosophic bases upon which the Soviet and American governments are based.
Capitalism is rooted in individualism, and is retaliatory in nature, as can be seen in our code of laws. Socialism is altruism applied to government; its collectivist and egalitarian aspects can be traced to that basic premise. All socialist states, whether communo-fascist or redistributionist, depend on the initiation of force to achieve their goals. This basic difference is generally omitted in the course of “scenario building,” and the result is that the conflict is viewed as though both nuclear powers had similar goals.
During the second World War, no American strategist would have considered the extermination of the Jews as a tactic and many were surprised when Germany’s National Socialist government embarked on that very program. Today we tend to think that the Soviet Socialist government would not target civilians because we ourselves see no strategic benefit in such a course. The fact is that we have different goals and different philosophies. The possibility that the Soviet state might regard us as the National Socialist state regarded the Jews cannot be dismissed by any who have compared the original documents on which those systems were built.
It is possible, therefore, that the option of surrender may no more exist for Americans than it did for the Jews during the last war.
Our best option seems to be to follow the advice of Edward Teller and Andrei Sakharov and increase our defenses to the point at which we can sustain a first strike and still defeat the aggressor. Any less of an effort will simply serve to reinforce the tendency to fire on warning and thus increase the possibility of an accidental war.
J. H. PHILLIPS 3/82 Austin, Texas
PHYSICS TODAY / MAY 1982 131
This letter was written 36 years ago this month. As I look around I still see many of the same things.
Many at the time urged surrender to the communist dictatorship whose policies they literally worshipped. Even this issue included a hand-wringing appeal from Italian “scientists.” Those “peace” appeals relied on a Pascal’s Wager form of intimidation and never (except for a letter in a preceding issue of Physics Today) advocated surrender to totalitarianism in so many words. Propagandists for looter statism simply blocked off all other alternatives as insane, misguided, ill-informed or unrealistic, and let the reader arrive at the only alternative left standing.
Those same people today urge totalitarian control of the economy and impoverishment of every aspect of life on the strength of the Millerite supposition that another trace gas (carbon dioxide, not freon anymore) stands poised to wipe out humanity. The only country not required to give up a kilowatt-hour of electrical energy to please the Vichy Paris Accord proponents is itself a communist dictatorship. Search Google News Archives for members of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Union of Concerned Scientists, Stockholders for Corporate Responsibility, _X__ Anti-Pollution League, _X__ for Social Responsibility and you will find today’s CO2ercion advocates among the survivors. The phenomenon is a political 5th Column meme that worships slavery and death as alternatives to the delusions of Armageddon and Rapture that “the left” (correctly, in my view) attribute to “the right”. (The Libertarian theory of non-aggression and individual rights is completely different from the European politics of 19th-Century political parties).
That same issue of Physics Today raised the question of whether a bolide impact might have–in a matter of hours–so completely changed the climate as to wipe out the Dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If such a danger arises again–and a look at the Moon clearly shows hundreds of thousands of such events–only an advanced energy-converting industrial civilization would stand a prayer of warding off or surviving such a test of humanity’s competence to survive. This is the test the dinosaurs failed.
Co2ercion advocates have nothing to say about that proven scenario. The article on the Monte Carlo algorithm in that issue of Physics Today, incidentally, relates to a mathematical technique developed by designers of thermonuclear weapons (Nicholas Metropolis, John von Neumann and Stanislau Ulam). The purpose of those weapons was to defeat National Socialist Germany and their Japanese allies in the 1940s.
Bolide impact is the “Alvarez Theory” because geologist Walter Alvarez asked his physicist father Luis why the clay boundary? Luis Alvarez designed the geodesic detonation cord for the plutonium bombs used at Alamogordo and Nagasaki. These competent people whose technology defeated National Socialism and held off International Socialism until it rotted and collapsed are the ones whose ideas make sense to me. The Fifth Columnists still recite the exact same totalitarian formulas and slogans, and care nothing for measurement data, definitions or conceptual clarity. They are the villains in Atlas Shrugged.
The Libertarian Party had by 1982 already seen to the repeal of cruel, Medieval laws against birth control, and provided the philosophical and ethical arguments that toppled totalitarian parasitism. I’m proud to be a Libertarian Party member and supporter, and hope we can count on your spoiler vote to repeal another mess of really cruel and unusual laws the kleptocracy and its lobbyists use to eat out our substance. That’s winning!
Find out the juicy details behind the mother of all economic collapses. Prohibition and The Crash–Cause and Effect in 1929 is available in two languages on Amazon Kindle, each at the cost of a pint of craft beer.