This message appears to have been garbled (?)...I'll repost it.
From: Deron Stewart [SMTP:email@example.com] Sent: Friday, March 19, 1999 10:43 AM To: 'firstname.lastname@example.org' Subject: RE: virus: Prisoners my Derrida!
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 self-myth of rational people is that they have a readiness to admit error, and revel in being proven wrong so they can grow. Bullshit.
Russell wrote a lot of great stuff and I am a big fan. But I don't feel I need to take on all his "rather strange ideas" as well. He doesn't need to be put on a pedestal and his every word and action defended...he's big enough to survive his "detractors".