HUMANISM AND PEACE
By Linus Pauling
American Humanist Association
8:00 PM, Friday, March 17, 1961, Cleveland, Ohio
What have we, as human beings, to hope for? We suffer from attacks by the vectors of disease, from accidents, striking with the blind malevolence of chance, from the ills accompanying the deterioration of age; and also, and in a sense the most viciously, from man's inhumanity to man, especially as expressed in the evil institution of war.
I believe that we can have hope, and that we can win a great victory not only over the plague of man's natural condition, the physical ills that beset us, hut also over the terrible plague of man's oppression by man, over the evil of war.
The world has been changing rapidly during recent decades. This change has involved especially a greater understanding by man of the causes of human suffering.
We now know that certain combinations of genes, which in some cases can be predicted to occur with high probability, lead to gross physical or mental defect such as to cause great suffering for the person who is so afflicted and for his parents and other human beings. We know now that the pool of human germ plasm is continually being changed by gene mutation, and that the natural process of removing deleterious genes from the pool of germ plasm, in order to preserve its integrity, involves a great amount of human suffering.
We are faced with an ethical problem, characteristic of the many ethical problems that we shall have to face as our knowledge of the nature of human beings and the nature of the world in which we live increases. Shall the deleterious genes that exist in the pool of human germ plasm and that would continue to increase in their incidence unless they were removed be removed by the suffering and death of millions of children, or by a procedure that involves the attempt to recognize then and to prevent the conception of these defective children?
This question is one of ethics, of philosophy, in the sense expressed by Corliss Lamont, that philosophy involves the analysis and clarification of human actions and aims, problems and ideals.
Many admirable statements have been made about these natters in the past by great philosophers and teachers.
I believe that there is great value in the philosophy of humanism -- that the chief end of human life is to work for the happiness of man upon this earth (and we might soon have to add the moon and then Venus and other planets).
Humanism, as I understand it, is a rational philosophy. It rejects the mysticism and supernaturalism of the revealed religions. It rejects life after death and the idea that suffering in this world may, for the righteous, be compensated for by the bliss of an after-life. Included in this rejection of the supernatural is the rejection of a belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent god who watches over and cares for human beings, interfering, sometimes in response to prayer, with the ordered regularity of events as determined by natural laws.
Humanism is a philosophy of service for the good of all humanity, of application of new ideas, of scientific progress, for the benefit of all men— those now living and those still to be born.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer believes that not only man but also other forms of life should be included in the field of our concern. He has expressed this belief in his principle of Reverence for Life.
I would like to go further — I advocate the principle of Reverence for the World. This is a wonderful world in which we live. Some of its wonders are being annihilated, destroyed, so that our children's children will never be able to experience them. I do not like to think of the beautiful minerals, beautiful crystals, that are being removed from the ground and destroyed in order to make more copper wire or uranium rods, especially for the useless activities of preparation for war. There will never be a second crop of minerals.
Instead of the principle of maximizing human happiness, I prefer the principle of minimizing the suffering in the world. The difference between maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering involves weighting factors. If we take a scale determined by income, we may select a certain value of the income as standard — one that is just enough for a satisfactory life, different, of course, according to duties and circumstances. An increase by 80¢ in income would give some added happiness — but the suffering caused by a decrease by 80¢ surely deserves a far greater weight, perhaps 10 or 100 times greater.
Man has reached his present state through the process of evolution. The last great step in evolution was the mutational process that doubled the size of the brain, about 700,000 years ago—this process led to the origin of man. It is this process that permits the inheritance of acquired characteristics of a certain sort — of learning, through communication from one human being to another; so that abilities that have not yet been incorporated into the germ plasm are not lost, until their rediscovery by members of the next or following generation, but instead are handed on from person to person, from generation to generation. It is this result of man's great powers of thinking and remembering soft communicating that has been responsible for the evolution of civilization.
How a man or woman is not truly an organism, in the sense that a rabbit is, or a lion, or a whale; instead, he is a part of a greater organism - the whole of mankind, into which he is bound by the means of communication -speaking, writing, telephoning, traveling over long distances, in the way that the cells of a rabbit are interconnected by nerve fibers and hormonal molecular messengers.
This great organism, humankind, is now master of the earth, but not yet master of itself; it is immature, irrational; it does not act for its own good, but instead often for its own harm.
We must now achieve the mutation that will bring sanity to this great organism, the organism that is mankind.
Must this be a mutation of some of the genes in the pool of human germ plasm? Perhaps such a genetic mutation, providing, for example, extra¬sensory perception and instantaneous communication among all human beings, would do the job; but I fear that we do not have time for this mutational process to be effective. The human race may cease to exist in a decade.
We must accordingly hope that the mutation can instead be in the nature of the giant organism, humankind, itself — a mutation in the means of communication, the nerve fibers of the organization, that will transfer to this great organism itself some of the desirable and admirable attributes that are possessed by the units of which it is composed, the individual human beings.
I believe that this change in the nature of the world will occur.
The attributes that must be transferred from the units, human beings, to the great organism, humankind, are sanity (reason), and morality (ethical principles).
I believe that we are now forced to change in this way by the development of weapons that could destroy the world, and that will destroy the world unless the nature of the great human organism changes in time.
One hundred sixty nine years ago Benjamin Franklin said, in discussing the progress of science, "It is impossible to imagine the heights to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter. 0 that moral Science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human "beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity."
The power of man over matter has increased so greatly during the last two decades that for the first time it has become possible for mankind to be wiped out by man.
I estimate that the United States now has material enough for 125,000 nuclear weapons, and the U.S.S.R. enough for 60,000 — I can provide reasonable substantiation of the first number, but the second is not much more than a guess. Of these weapons, many thousands of them, probably some tens of thousands, are in the megaton class, each one with explosive energy about equal to or even several times greater than that of all of the explosives used in the whole of the Second World War. One 20-megaton bomb, such as the Bikini bomb exploded by the United States on 1 March 1954 and the similar bombs exploded by the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain, could destroy completely any city on earth.
If the weapons now existing in the stockpiles of the great nuclear powers were to be used in a thoroughly efficient manner they might suffice to kill everybody on earth. Even if used inefficiently, as they probably would be in a nuclear war fought during the next few years, hundreds of millions of people, most of them in the highly developed nations of the world, would be killed, and there is grave doubt that civilization would survive.
Moreover, the military scientists who devote themselves to the "games theory" of nuclear war engage in a serious discussion of nuclear devices, "doomsday machines”, whose function would be to destroy all human life, to leave not one single human being living on earth. Mr. Herman Kahn, without discussing such devices in detail, conjectures that if the project of building one were started today and were sufficiently well supported the machine could be built by 1970 at a cost of 10 to 100 billion dollars. He discusses the possible military threat that a nation with such a device could exert upon the rest of the world in order, through blackmail, to impose its national will upon the world.
I have made an analysis of a method of killing everyone on earth first proposed in 1950 by Dr. Leo Szilard. This method involves the use of hydrogen bombs with the addition of the element cobalt, so as to produce radio¬active cobalt, cobalt 60, in great amounts.
I have calculated that for 6 billion dollars, one twentieth of the amount spent on armaments each year by the nations of the world, enough cobalt boobs could be built to assure the death of every person on earth, with a great factor of safety (or of un safety). The radioactive cobalt uniformly spread over the surface of the earth would for several years provide more than enough radiation every few hours to cause the person exposed to it to die of acute radiation sickness* Ho matter what sort of protection were to be devised, it is highly unlikely that any human being would remain alive.
Nuclear weapons are cheap. A 20-megaton bomb that could destroy New York or London or Moscow and kill 6 or 8 or 10 million people contains only $85,000 worth of explosive materials. Plutonium costs $14 per gram, $64,000 for the ten pounds needed for the trigger of the bomb. The 200 pounds of lithium deuteride constituting the second stage costs about $4,000; the expensive material, deuterium, can be separated from ordinary water by the hydrogen sulfide-water counter current method at the cost of $68 per pound. The material for the third stage, 1000 pounds of ordinary uranium metal, costs $17,000.
We are faced with a choice among three alternatives: (1) to continue the arms race, without restriction; (2) to change war, by abolishing megaton weapons, in such a way as to make it “credible", "rational"; (3) to abolish war, work steadily toward the goal of total and universal disarmament, and replace the use of military might in the conduct of world affairs by international agreements and international law, in such a way that disputes between nations are settled in accordance with the principles of justice and morality.
I believe that we shall be successful in moving forward rapidly toward the goal of peace and disarmament.
To work toward the goal of total and universal disarmament is the policy of the great nations of the world. On 28 October i960 Ambassador James J. Wadsworth of the United States told the United nations that total world disarmament could be achieved within five or six years, with good faith and "a real sense of urgency" on both sides.
Ambassador Wadsworth said "We want — earnestly, deeply and sincerely — general and complete disarmament under effective international control. We are not backing off from that one inch. . . We want to begin progress toward our goal now, to take those measures that can be taken now while at the same time we are trying, concurrently, to solve the problems that lie ahead in reaching the goal of general and complete disarmament."
Prime Minister Macmillan of Great Britain has said that complete and general disarmament must be the avowed goal of all nations. Premiere Khrushchev of the U.S.S.R. strongly advocates total and universal disarmament and has pledged that the U.S.S.R. will permit complete inspection and international controls within the U.S.S.R. when total and universal disarmament has bean achieved.
During recent years there has been significant, although slow, progress toward the goal of total and universal disarmament. For over two years, since 31 October 1958, the representatives of the governments of the three great nuclear powers have been negotiating at Geneva toward the formulation of an international agreement to stop the testing of all nuclear weapons. Most of the clauses of the agreement have been written and accepted by the negotiators.
The completion of thi3 agreement and its acceptance by all nations in the world will be a great and significant step toward world disarmament and peace. It is proper that the negotiators should move ahead with care; they must not make a serious mistake. On the other hand, the length of time required for the negotiation seems to be excessive.
For example, one of the problems that has long awaited solution is that of the number of veto-free on-site inspection trips, to determine, as can be done, whether or not a set of seismic disturbances that had been recorded on the inspection instruments was an earthquake or was the result of the surreptitious underground test of a nuclear weapon (all tests in the atmosphere can be detected). About 100 earthquakes with an energy equal to or greater than that of a small atomic bomb, of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki type (19 kilotons), occur each year in the Soviet Onion. About 30 of the 100 can be definitely identified as earthquakes from the seismological records, leaving 70 that might be investigated. In February 1959 Prime Minister Macmillan suggested that the U.S.S.R., the United States, and Great Britain should establish a fixed yearly quota of veto-free Inspections which could be carried out without hindrance on the territory of each of the nuclear powers concerned. On 26 July 1960 the Soviet delegation to the Geneva Conference, with authorization of the Soviet government, stated that three veto-free on-site inspection trips could be made each year within the territories of the Soviet Union. The United States had asked that twenty be allowed.
It seemed to me at the time that negotiation of the number could and should proceed rapidly: that the United States could suggest 19, the U.S.S.R. 4, the United States 18, and so on, until agreement was reached at either the arithmetic mean or the geometric mean of the two values originally proposed. Instead, month after month went by with no indication of progress, until on 3 March 1961 the Atomic Energy correspondent of The New York Times, John W. Finney, reported from Washington that the United States was preparing to make a concession on a crucial issue. He wrote that according to high State Department officials the United States was preparing to reduce its demand to about 17 inspections a year in the Soviet Union, and, moreover, that Soviet diplomats had been dropping hints that Moscow would raise its proposal from 3 to perhaps about a dozen per year. We may accordingly hope that when the negotiations are resumed next Tuesday (21 March 1961) there will not be a deadlock at about 17, on the one hand, and perhaps a dozen, on the other, but instead a reasonable com¬promise, of the sort that could be suggested by anyone, will immediately be found and accepted.
There is another issue that may cause trouble in the bomb test negotiations, last summer the United States proposed that a committee of nations be sec up to decide whether a State or authority desiring to sign the agreement not to test nuclear weapons and to permit international inspection of its territory would or would not be allowed to do so. The U.S.S.R. made strong objection, stating that the treaty should be open for accession by all States on an equal footing, without any discrimination, that the doors Should be thrown wide open for all States to become parties to the treaty, that all countries should accede to the treaty in order that peace be established firmly, and that any State that wishes to assume the obligation devolving from the treaty should be given the possibility of doing so. In the discussion, on 4 August 1960, it was brought out by Ambassador Wadsworth and Ambassador Tsarapkin that the prob¬lem was essentially whether the Chinese People's Republic or the Chinese Nationalist government would be allowed to sign up for Taiwan and for Mainland China.
There is accordingly the possibility that civilization will come to an end because of a minor political disagreement centering about Taiwan.
I hope, however, that the bomb test agreement will be completed without delay, ratified by the Senate, and in the period of a few years signed by all of the nations in the world. I hope that this step will be followed by the formulation and acceptance of other agreements, including effective agreements to stop the manufacture of more nuclear weapons, to atop the manufacture of short range and long range missiles and of great bombers, to dismantle more and more of the existing nuclear weapons and the machines by means of which they might be delivered, to stop research on other weapons, especially bacteriological and chemical, and ultimately to stop all military activities, always with the best possible system of controls and inspection.
At every stage the steps to be taken must be ouch as to increase the safety of the United States, the U.S.S.R., and other nations and the safety of all people in the world. It is not difficult to take action that increases our safety, because we are far from safe now — we are, in fact, in greater danger than ever before in the history of the world. Nevertheless, all of the international agreements must be made with great care, so that they are fair—that they deal fairly with the different nations involved. This will, of course, mean that to us the agreements will seem to favor the Russians, and to the Russians they will seem to favor us. We must recognize that, because of the bias given to us by our point of view and given to the Russians by their point of view, a fair agreement will have this aspect to each of us.
In the meantime, we must be careful not to take actions that increase the difficulty of achieving the goal of total and universal disarmament through international agreements and international law.
It is evident that the spread of nuclear weapons to further nations or groups of nations would Increase the difficulty of achieving disarmament. It has been proposed by NATO Commander General Norstad that the United States turn over stockpiles of nuclear weapons to the NATO group of nations. Secretary Herter also proposed that five Polaris submarines with their complement of 80 missiles with megaton nuclear warheads be turned over to NATO, and that an additional 100 Polaris rockets with negated nuclear warheads be sold to NATO, at one million dollars apiece. To carry out these actions would be a tragedy. The only hope for the world lies in achieving control of the methods of waging war and ultimately to reach the goal of total and universal disarmament. Every seep that we take should be carefully considered with respect to whether or not it increases or decreases the difficulty of reaching this goal. The transfer of nuclear weapons to NATO would be a calamitous step toward world destruction.
Positive action must be taken also to achieve the incorporation of China into the world community of nations. The Chinese People's Republic is probably well on the way toward development of its own nuclear weapons. Instead of encouraging this activity, we should be asking a strong effort to include the Chinese People's Republic in the negotiations for world disarmament.
A positive proposal that needs to be revived is that of the formation of a buffer region in Europe — the Rapacki Plan. Such an action, the disarmament of 95,000 square miles of Western Europe (West Germany) and 212,000 square miles of Eastern Europe (East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland) would be a valuable contribution to the cause of peace. When this plan was proposed in 1953 it was harshly rejected by the western powers. Edouard Le Ghait, in his book "Ho Carte Blanche to Capricorn: the Folly of Nuclear War Strategy", says "Up to a few years ago the intellectuals in western countries very sincerely felt that it was the U.S.S.R. that must bear the major responsibility for the armaments race and the state of tension throughout the world. The harsh rejection of the Rapacki Plan, the frightening paucity of the arguments used in this connection, dealt a terrible blow to the faith the intellectuals still had in the 'free world' and its struggle for peace, democracy, and a better future. Up to that time everything had been simple. Everything could be blamed on the Russians. And then the name of Repack was heard, and it echoed like a reproach to which there can be no answer."
In October 1959 The Hew York Times reported that United States armaments manufacturers had begun to pour massive amounts of capital and technical experience into the reviving West German arms industry.
In 1960 the United States Senate spent 55 minutes in deciding to pass a 41 billion dollar appropriation for arms. There are about 40 million families in the United States. Accordingly in this short time of 55 minutes the Senate approved an expenditure for the year of $1000 per American family for armaments. Then the Senate debated for five and one half hours a bill for disarmament studies — studies of ways in which the economic dislocation that might follow disarmament agreements and a decrease in the military budget could be minimized — and after the long debate the bill was voted down as "extravagant".
Per United States family this is one cent for disarmament studies-debated for five and one half hours and then rejected as extravagant
We can no longer afford to evade our responsibilities. The time has come now when morality must win out in the world. The survival of the whole human organism now depends upon whether or not we can work together for the common good.
I believe that we can have hope. I believe that we can win the final victory over the immorality of war, that the nations of the world will give up war, will become moral; that the fine ethical principles that are now accepted by the units of humankind will be taken over also by that whole great organism itself; and that we, all the people of the world, who together constitute this greatest of all organisms, the whole of humanity, the culmination of the great process of evolution, will move forward together into the world of the future, a world of peace and morality and ever-increasing happiness.