Thursday 1 October 2015

Dr Strangelove is alive and well

With the1962 Cuban missile crisis, nuclear war seemed imminent. If the missile-carrying Soviet vessels didn’t turn back from Cuba, there would be war. Jackie Kennedy recalled that she insisted on sleeping with her husband—not something she often did. She didn’t want to die alone. If she was scared, the rest of us had every right to be. That year the anti-nuclear movement remained the focus of my politics. I read Robert Jungk’s Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, the horrific telling of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with its account of the shadows of the dead imprinted on the earth. It left me in shock. The book’s title is taken from Robert Oppenheimer’s words when witnessing the first atomic bomb explosion in July 1945. He quoted the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I started to self-educate myself with all that was not taught at school, following Bertrand Russell’s axiom that ‘Men are born ignorant not stupid. They are made stupid by education.’ I read everything: from Marx's Capital to Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I joined CND and started marching against the bomb. Fifty three years later and Dr Strangelove is still scaring the shit out of me! Read more here in 'Left Field'.

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