Category SfP Bulletin March 1986
I dreamed I found this letter, written 193 years ago:
Dear Citizen Guillotine:
In reply to yours of the 17th inst., your sentiments do you credit. But you must learn to think positively. Your machine is a boon to humanity. Besides making the process virtually painless, it makes it ever so much easier on the executioner. He needn’t worry about botching the job. All he needs to do is press a button. Anyone can do it.
Besides, you can’t dininvent it.
Vive la liberté, l’égalité, la fraternité!
That Dr. Guillotin, like Robespierre, perished by the instrument that bears his name is a legend. Robespierre did. But Guillotin died peacefully in 1814, aged 76. Nor is there evidence that he wrote a letter urging Robespierre to refrain from making use of the invention. In my dream, I must have got Guillotin mixed up with Einstein and Szilard.(See last month’s BULLETIN.) As a matter of fact, Guillotin did not invent the guillotine. In an antiquarian museum in Edinburgh, Scotland, a rude guillotine is preserved. By this instrument the regent Morton was decapitated in 1581.
But it doesn’t hurt to add one more legend to the existing stock, especially since legends (like fables) are often instructive. There is a saying even more ancient than the legend about Dr. Guillotin: “He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Coming back to Robespierre’s apocryphal letter, about one thing he was absolutely right: you can’t disinvent it. And this is what we keep hearing from our atomic warriors. But just because no one can disinvent the guillotine doesn’t mean it has to be used, much less that think-tanks must be established where brilliant people can be inventing improvements and thinking up more creative ways of using it or threatening to use it.
Now the reason the push-button axe was named after the good doctor was because he proposed the use of it as a “humane” instrument of execution and in order to extend the right to be decapitated (which used to be confined to nobles) to every one. (This is historical, not apocryphal.) Thus the guillotine was meant to be a contribution to democracy. So is the bomb. It extends the right to die for one’s country to all in the holocaust — an honour once confined to soldiers.
The two legends that inspired the concoction about Guillotine and Robespierre are those about Eve and her apple and about Pandora and her box. Adam succumbed to seduction, Epimetheus to nagging. The implied moral: Treasure your ignorance. Once lost, It is lost forever. You can’t extinguish knowledge about good and evil; you can’t chase the ugly creatures back into their box; you can’t disinvent the guillotine; and, of course you can’t disinvent the Bomb.
As if that were the problem.
Of course you can’t reverse the irreversible. But you can put the irreversible processes to better uses. Knowledge of good and evil provides the opportunity to cherish the one and shun the other knowingly. Ignorance makes the choice between good and evil a matter of chance.
The monsters couldn’t be kept in the box forever. But they could be exterminated once they got out.
You can’t disinvent the H-Bomb, nor the neutron bomb, nor napalm, nor binary gases, nor the obscenities of biological warfare. But it doesn’t follow (as is insidiously implied by the “you can’t disinvent” argument) that, since you can’t disinvent them, you’ve got to keep them (deterrence) or think up ways of using them “effectively” (strategic analysis) or, worst of all, use them (prevailing).
The way of science is not to stifle curiosity, not to curb creativity, nor to shrink from awesome knowledge. It is not the pursuit of truth wherever it may lead that has besmirched the good name of science and brought fear of science to people of good will. It is the disavowal of responsibility for their work by scientists seduced into making what is “technically sweet” (J. Robert Oppenheimer) or into working for the highest bidder.
President of the New Brunswick Chapter, Israel Unger, is chief judge for the provincial Science Fair this year. Winners of local fairs who compete in this bilingual fair are able to compete for two prizes, one at the junior level,the other a senior prize, each worth $100 to the youngsters who make the best presentations that seek “to alert humanity to dangers of war waged with nuclear weapons”.
The Ottawa Chapter is also sponsoring “peace prizes” at science fairs in the Ottawa region.
Apocalypse at the Downtown Dream Factory — a gala opening March 1 and a run of 10 days at Koffler Centre, U. of Toronto,214 College St., of a show of the extraordinary photomontages of Richard Slye. Sponsored by the Toronto Chapter of SfP, PSR, Lawyers for Social Responsibility and the U of T Book Room.
David Cox, acting Director, Research, and Wytze Brouwer, visiting fellow, CIIPS, are among March seminar speakers for the Toronto Chapter.
May 14 — Annual Meeting of the Quebec (Montreal) Chapter. Details in the next BULLETIN.
The New Brunswick Chapter raises the question, “Do you consider the Toronto Globe & Mail Canada’s national newspaper? If you do, are you satisfied with the kind of book reviews of war-peace related books that appear?” Chapter members report that reviews of such topical books often present, not overviews of the contents but take-off points for a presentation of US Star Wars propaganda. Comment invited.
Colin Bell, BC Chapter, wants the BULLETIN to remind members that their responses to the questionnaire circulated with the last issue will be greatly appreciated.
The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Research on War and Peace Between and Within Nations. Editor Bruce Russett, Yale University. Published by Sage Publications, Inc. A quarterly, $36 US per year. Address:275 S. Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90212 USA.
Manuscripts should be submitted in triplicate to Bruce M. Russett, editor Journal of Conflict Resolution, P.O. Box 3532, New Haven,Conn. 06520 USA.
SfP board members active with the Journal are Anatol Rapoport, Gaming Editor, and Michael Wallace, Int’l Advisory Board Member.
Science for Peace members are responsible for these publications you can subscribe to, thereby keeping up with the thinking of Canadian leaders in the common search for peace. Write directly to the addresses below for subscription rates, etc:
- Peace Magazine, edited by Metta Spencer, Box 490, Adelaide Street Station, Toronto M5C 2J6.
- Canadian Spectrum, Robert M. Laxer, chairperson, R R #1, Beeton, Ontario LOG 1AO.
- Thoughts, Dr. Donald Bates, editor, History of Medicine,McGill University, Montreal, Que. H3A 2T5.
- Input/Output, which may become the “official” newsletter of the emerging Canadian Computer Scientists and Engineers for Social Responsibility, originated by Al Rycroft, Box 248,Station B, Ottawa, Ont. KIP 6L4.
- CPREA Newsletter for those who are not members of the Canadian Peace Research and Education Ass’n, edited by and available from Donald Bryant, 560 Bayshore Blvd., R.R. #1, Huntsville, Ont. POA 1KO
- Peace Research Reviews, now world-famous, still edited by the founders, Hanna and Alan Newcombe, Peace Research Institute – Dundas, 25 Dundana Ave., Dundas, Ont. L9H 4E5.
And for viewpoints from members outside Canada:
COPPED Peace Chronicle, edited by Clinton Fink and Jane Mohraz. Members of COPRED receive the newsletter. Write COPRED, U. of Illinois, 911 W.High St. Rm. 100, Urbana, Ii. 61801 USA.
It is always a temptation for your BULLETIN editors to quote from these most topical and well written magazines and newsletters. But quotation misses the flavour — as well as the information — of what is not quoted.
Please report those we’ve missed.
S. Kounosu, “Reflections on Star Wars.” Original manuscript, available from the national office.
William Epstein, “New Hope for a Comprehensive Test Ban”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February, 1986. (Reprints available from the national office.)
Gwen McGrenere, “Why Are We Stalled?” A paper presented at the Conference on European Security Requirements and the MBFR Talks, May, 1985. Available in manuscript from the national office.
Soviet News & Views, a monthly newsletter from the USSR Embassy Press Office and press releases and quotes from the Soviet Press are available from Apt. 1108, 400 Stewart Street, Ottawa, Ont. KIN 6L2.
Two books from the Committee of Soviet Scientists for Peace, Against Nuclear Threat are available in Canada: Space-Strike Arms and International Security, an abridged report of the committee in October, 1985, and the night after … Climatic and Biological Consequences of a Nuclear War, edited and with an introduction by Yevgeni Velikhov, chairman of the committee and vice-president of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The books may be ordered from Peoples Coop. Bookstore Ass’n, 1391 Commercial Dr., Vancouver V5L 3X5 or Progress Books, 3rd Floor, 71 Bathurst St., Toronto M5V 2P6. Also available from the Embassy.
John Buttrick, “An Economist Looks at World Military Spending.” Text of a seminar paper delivered in the Toronto Chapter series January 15 at the University of Toronto.
William Epstein, “Canada Seems to Have Gone Soft on a Test Ban”,from the Globe & Mail, Feb. 5, 1986.
On videotape: Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, speaking on the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral on Peace in a Public Television Interview, Oct. 1985 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Available from the New Brunswick Chapter.
Anatol Rapoport, General System Theory, Essential Concepts and Applications, Abacus Press, Tunbridge Wells, Kent (UK) and Cambridge, Mass. (US) 1986. Vol, 10 in the Cybernetics and Systems Series, Dr. J. Rose, Editor.
This book represents an effort to formulate the tasks of general system theory from different perspectives, ranging from that of a mathematician, who sees formal mathematical analogies between widely different contents as the most promising basis of integration, to that of a philosopher, who seeks to extend the concept of a “living system” beyond the most conspicuous examples — individual living beings.
Here are two articles we have been asked to recommend to you. Copies were sent to us which we can reprint for you:
Stan Augarten, “Can Computers Be Fail-Safe?”, PC Magazine, January 14 1986.
Gore Vidal, “Requiem for the American Empire”, The Nation, January 11, 1986.
Anatol Rapoport, “Conflict Escalation and Conflict Dynamics,” a paper for publication as a chapter in a forthcoming book, The Quest for Peace, to be published by the International Social Science Council. The book will be trans-disciplinary, trans-national, with an international editing committee of Christian Schmidt (Paris), Dieter Senghaas (Bremen) and Raimo Vayrynen (Helsinki).
Copies of the original manuscript are available from the SfP national office.
Jerry F. Hough, Stanley R. Sloan, Paul C. Warnke and David Linebaugh, Arms Control and the Strategic Defense Initiative: Three Perspectives, Occasional Paper 36, The Stanley Foundation, Muscatine, Iowa 52761, USA, October, 1985.
All Stanley Foundation papers are free of charge.
Dear, admired friend of peacemakers the world over.
“..(The) Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) (was) set up to commemorate the 150 years of peace for Sweden from 1814. I was chairman of the government committee which formulated its constitution and plans of work. The follow-up of these was assured by Gunnar Myrdal, as chairman of SIPRI’s international board until 1973. SIPRI’s internationally recruited staff has scrupulously kept its independence as a research organization.
“We disarmers have to persist in doing everything in our power to campaign for public enlightenment. The present competitive escalation of the arms race is a flagrant miscalculation endangering the security of us all. More security can only be assured by reversing the trend, by beginning and continuing to disarm and to demilitarize our societies….
“Such a strategy of truth means, in the final instance, facing the arms race as the major intellectual and moral dilemma of our time. As it has been created solely by mankind,it lies within our power to solve it.”
— Alva Myrdal, in The Game of Disarmament
UPDATE. . . Beginning this spring the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security will publish a quarterly periodical which will provide summaries of Institute activities as well as guest opinion articles, an annotated bibliography,the legislative calendar and a digest of arms control negotiations. The February issue of Update. . .lists grants from April to December, 1985. Among grantees are Science for Peace members Paris Arnopoulos (president), for publication of conference proceedings for the Canadian Ass’n for Future Studies; Jean-guy Vaillancourt and Ronald Babin for publication of two books; Robert Reford and Stephanie McCandless for “Introducing the World” Handbook/Guide; Philip Ehrensaft and Pierre Fourier, Les Depenses militaires au et au Quebec at la reconversion industrielle.
Science for Peace’s national conference on European Security and the MBFR Talks and the publication of the Proceedings, May 1985, and the Science for Peace International Conference on Accidental Nuclear War to be held in May, 1986, in Vancouver, were also funded. A grant to Science for Peace, BC Chapter, was made in December for research on post-secondary educational modules.
Both Peace Magazine and _Spectrum_edited by SfP members, were award recipients.
If you want to receive Update … write to C.I.I.P.S., 307 Gilmour St., Ottawa KIP 0P7.
April Conference reminder: April 21, 22, 23: Illusions and Realities in the Nuclear Age, Montreal.
And in May — from the 26th through the 30th — Science for Peace and the UN Ass’n. in Canada (Vancouver Branch) present the International Conference on Accidental Nuclear War at UBC in Vancouver. Organizing Committee Chairman is Michael Wallace.
A limited number of student registrations at $40.00 will be accepted for the conference. Write University of British Columbia Centre for Continuing Education, 5997 Iona Drive, Vancouver V6T 2A4, Andrea Demchuk, Coordinator.
The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution is seeking a director and professor of peace studies. The post is offered by Bethel College, which created a Department of Peace Studies in 1974. The successful candidate will teach half time and direct the Institute’s work focusing on three areas: public education on peace issues, developing grant proposals and administration of the program. Solid academic credentials are necessary, including the Ph.D. degree and multidisciplinary experience in teaching and involvement in public peacemaking. Full information may be obtained from Brian Schrag, Academic Dean, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas 67117, USA.
L.T.(Terry) Gardner,who has served for three years as education director for Science for Peace, has been named Coordinator of the new University of Toronto Program in Peace and Conflict Studies in University College, where he is Professor of Mathematics. Announcement of the program will appear in the 1986-87 Calendar of the Faculty of Arts and Science and in the University College Program.
C.C.Gotlieb (U of Toronto). reports that a group of computer scientists and engineers, meeting in Ottawa Feb. 15, are considering the formation of a Canadian organization as a counterpart of the American Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility. They considered the expansion of the publication INPUT/OUTPUT to reflect their concerns.
The Soka Gakkai Exhibit, “Nuclear Arms: Threat to our World”, the Japanese photographic exhibition on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which will be a highlight of the Montreal Peace and Security Conference April 21-23, will travel to Toronto for 10 days from May 9-18. It will be on view at Robarts Library, U of T Campus, from 8:30 am-10 pm Monday to Friday, from 9-5, Saturday and 1-10 pm Sunday.
Currently preferred date for the AGM of Science for Peace is May 10. The official call comes April 1. Your opinion would be appreciated before then by the Board. Send your nominations to the committee or to the office.
Science for Peace Board members belong to a virtual “frequent flyers club” across Canada. But the great increase in peace action and peace education activities in the world will see them spreading their wings across both Canada’s bordering oceans. Chan Davis is off for Vietnam, with a stopover in Bangkok to pick up a necessary visa.
Myriam Fernandez has been invited to be a Canadian representative on a tripartite scientific commission (US, Canada, China) investigating plant pathology research programs in China.
Across the Atlantic to England – Hanna Newcombe will attend the Int’l Peace Research Ass’n Conference in Sussex, England.
Three board members head for the Soviet Union — Michael Lanphier in March, Derek Paul in May and Anatol Rapoport in September.
Anatol Rapoport and probably John Dove will be in Hungary in July; AR also goes to Amsterdam.
Walter Dorn contemplates two years at the University of Buffalo to get his Ph.D.
David Suzuki narrates a new film about the world’s food, the vulnerability of modern crops and the fragile genetic resources on which they are based.
Fragile Harvest was filmed in Ethiopia, Peru, Turkey and North America, and is available in 16mm or videotape, French or English. 55 minutes, colour. Distributed by film transit, 4872 av. Papineau, Montreal H2H 1V6. Produced by Kensington Communications, 104 Bellevue Ave., Toronto M5T 2N9.
The Science for Peace BULLETIN just came and as usual I enjoyed reading it. In the ‘President’s Corner”, however, an unfortunate mistake has been made. You say that “Kapitza was sentenced to deportation and compulsory labor.” Is this correct? We saw him twice in Copenhagen: once in Age Bohr’s house about 1968, when he came together with his son and again in 1973, when he visited with his wife. At that time we spent a whole day with him, taking them out to Louisiana and Sletten. Surely he suffered under Stalin’s house arrest and strict surveillance, but lived to enjoy once more freedom of movement and communication.
However, I agree with you that the treatment of Sakharov continues to warrant the severest criticism and effort to free him.
- Hannah Peters
My source was Sakharov Speaks by H. Salisbury. There may be no contradiction here: Kapitza could have served his period of house arrest and also been sent to compulsory labour. His obvious subsequent release and rehabilitation with freedom to travel abroad again was what was not mentioned in the Salisbury book and is a welcome corrective thereto. Thank you for this important information. — A.R.
Full text version of all articles from PDF edition is also available.