RE: virus: Prisoners my Derrida!

Deron Stewart (
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 10:42:56 -0800

At the end of the day I have no doubt the Russell would have backed down. It's one thing for him to say that he wouldn't back down, but it's another for him to actually push the button. (Trouble is that the RAND corporation memes are specifically designed to infect the military and they are the ones who actually have control and they are quite capable of actually pushing the button when the time comes).

I have an image of all the "rational" think tank types yelling "Wait, we didn't really mean it...!!!!!" as the bombs start falling. Words have power and shouldn't be thrown around so casually.

In a letter to Walter Marseille (who proposed a plan for inspection of nuclear plants) in May 1948, Russell wrote:

"The Russians, even without atomic bombs, will be able to destroy all big towns in England, as the Germans would have done if the war had lasted a few months longer. I have no doubt that America would win in the end, but unless W. Europe can be preserved from invasion, it would be lost to civilisation for centuries.

Even at such a price, I think war would be worthwhile. Communism must be wiped out, and world government must be established. But if, by waiting, we could defend our present lines in Germany and Italy, it would be an immeasurable boon. I do not think the Russians will yield without war. I think all (including Stalin) are fatuous and ignorant. But I hope I am wrong about this."

btw, I didn't mention his marriage or question his "honesty" so I can't speak to that. (But, whatever the case it certainly is relevant to look at how someone lives their life when evaluating their ideas. That simplistic "ad hominem" line they spoon feed in first year philosophy classes is nonsense.)

This whole discussion started when Reed said that Russell never admitted he was wrong about calling for war. Apparently he never did? I've seen only references to his denials and his defence of the idea, but never any admission of mistaken thinking. And, after all, part of the alin's death, Russia seemed to become more liberal at the same time as the USA was plummeting into full blown paranoia, xenophobia, adventurism and McCarthyism.

I would suggest that depending on how the questions were asked, Russell would have replied quite differently. The difference between proposing a world government (even enforced through the threat of war) in order to prevent nuclear proliferation and proposing a "preventive war" or precautionary first strike seems to require less didactic obfuscation than the recent angst and debates held in the USA over what is really implied by
"having sex" or the meaning of "is".

I am at a loss to understand what his wives had to do with the issue* I am still trying (and failing) to connect his marriages with the "less than honest" appellation. I fail to see where "less than honest" came from. Is it alleged that he stole money? That he failed to credit colleagues for their contributions? That he cheated in exams? That he was fundamentally immoral (whatever that means) because he was not a Christian? Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.