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Well immediately you have the explosion of hydrogen bombs and they're way beyond the a bombs that we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You have radioactivity in the earth in the water in the crops in the cattle. Assuming they're not killed by the blast and the fire or by the radiation immediately there might be some survival maybe half the population would survive maybe a third. And the part that survives would have been exposed and if it's exposed much of that will die within three weeks. Well I say to you read the book called The War Game it doesn't moralize. I think what it has is facts facts which if you really want to live in the world and have your children live in your grandchildren and you want this nation to survive fact you can't ignore.
And I think many of us have arrived at this point where the problem is how do you know when it's a defensive war now if missiles are going to come toward you a tremendous speeds. And how are you going to know who started it and what will it matter. If the government of England for example is insecure or fearful getting some report believes that this to be an attack it will act immediately according to the plans it esmé. That means that the roads to the cities will be closed to people coming in pregnant women old people handicapped people will be evacuated as fast as possible. The dispersal of the population is important because of its concentrated it's finished and we tend to live more and more concentrated as we do in New York. Probably to get out not to have anybody come in. The traffic problem had to be controlled transportation might be controlled. The
telephone radio television all immediately become part of a government operation rationing of food and water gas electricity. You may have to have a totalitarian control. And then what chance had and as has been said if you're exposed when and when the bombs go off you're finished. If by any chance you survive you probably would be having such a dose of radioactivity radiation that you probably would have a certain time wish you were dead. Now I'm not a physician and I'm not a nuclear scientist. I've done a lot of reading in the periodicals of nuclear physics and I've talked with nuclear physicists and when I say the things I do I think I'm speaking true. They're not pleasant facts and most people turn away and they'd rather watch a football game and so would
I. And certainly even if you know these exactly as they will what are going to do about it. And this is the problem that you have as a citizen of a democracy if you are a citizen of an imperial empire with an emperor or a dictatorship or if you don't care things will happen without you. But assuming that citizenship is an honor and a responsibility to know was much as you can to think as best you can and to try to do something about it. With all the instrumentalities that democracy may offer you then it seems to me that we have to think seriously about this. And this is where the Vietnam war comes into a focus as as an example of war. It isn't just by itself but. The fact that the that the French were in Vietnam for 100 years and build institutions had missionaries businessmen farmers
investment with their 100 years and still were not wanted and still had a bitter war and that for ten years practically we helped them with all kinds of aid military. Millions of dollars worth and still they were defeated. This does something to your thinking about this particular war. And the question of how we got in there and why we got in at the French were no good there when most of the go criticizes us. He could say well why did you fools get in there. We got out we had sense we finally faced the fact that we couldn't stay there. But you had to get into it. But then we say to ourselves well did we decide this or was this decided for us and who made these decisions. Then you have the curious thing that a number of presidents of the United States got us involved.
And I don't doubt that that none of them expected it would be like this. Well in life we sometimes think we do something which will result in a particular effect. And it doesn't. So we weren't so smart or we wasn't weren't so wise. Whether you take a Truman or A and Eisenhower or a Kennedy. Or Johnson what where were the people of this country and where was the Congress and what were these men thinking. And if you're a Marxist Of course you have a very simple answer. That's capitalism. That's the way it has to work. And there are people who say that the reason until you change the system you're not going to avoid a thing like this well maybe it's not that simple. There is such a thing as economic causation of involvement. No question about that in my mind. It certainly shows in our involvement in Latin American countries and what effect we've had and what some people have investments and some people
make money and want those investments protected. And some people who believe that the resources that they get through those investments are good for the country. And then there are the religious groups that have missionaries and think they're going to preach and save and they've invested in institutions they don't want them destroyed by their own people destroyed. Then you've got the military itself the way it thinks. And every group has a habit of thinking and if men are trained in the military and have a high sense of honor and loyalty and training and cards they're bound to think that this is an honorable thing to do. This is the way to do it this is the way to solve a problem. And then you've got people who are nationalists who can't see beyond the boundaries of this country. And then you have the tremendous anti-communist feeling in this country the fear of communism and the fear of Russia and China and Castro. When you add all this up you say well these are the forces that made these policies and President Eisenhower and
so often when he was finished with being president that that one of the problems of the country was the economic military complex if you may remember his statement. And we have said Johnson has been the prisoner of certain economic and military thinking and I know I'm self was to a certain extent by his own statement I would say all right but that when it where does that leave you and me. Some people raise the question of constitutionality the fact that the Congress never directly declared war and the declaration of war therefore they would say was it's unconstitutional done by the president. The president has said that at first that we had commitments. And that's a question about that just what those commitments are and what other commitments you have which may be greater and deeper commitments for this country. He's also said as time has passed that it isn't just a question of defending the freedom of the
Vietnamese or self-determination for the Vietnamese but also it's of national interest to this country to be there. It's in our national interest. And some of sad that this is to contain communism in Asia. You get these different interpretations each one is the justification for the war. But I personally have a fear and I had it from the beginning that we were putting our foot into a bear trap that 12000 miles from our own shores in a massive land and massive population of nations that we could be bled and we could be bled out of our strength and bled out of our friends our allies and bled out of our youth. And we're not the first great nation that at some point or other has made a mistake and then destroyed by now we are the strongest nation in the world at the moment the greatest pro to take it to the highest standards of living a tradition of freedom
to menace potentials in our people and on our earth. And at the same time I believe personally that we are trapped into a situation which it would be wonderful to get out of. How to get out of. This doesn't mean that the men who are fighting this war aren't loyal and brave and many believe what they're doing is right and many see things that make them believe it. I'm sure that though I haven't been over there many also are demoralized by it and torn to pieces by because the young American is not a butcher. He's a thinking person he is sensitive he's basically decent and fair. And what's happening to civilians and to crops in the water. And the difficulty of getting security there even when you have one.
To make things to cure there that you can go out on a road that you can go out at night. Anything of that sort it is extremely difficult. But the question of What am I doing this far from home must bother many and still they go on in what they believe is right in terms of their duty to this country but so also many have said I will not go I'd rather go to jail I've got to make my protest. And some are doing this to save their soul. And there are certain number of passages the conscience objectors whose real purpose at times has been I don't want to get into this evil thing called war. Others have not thought of it as a personal salvation that they don't have to do evil but rather that they were by their protest trying to awaken the people to the fact that we shouldn't be doing it at all. And this is a real agony of conscience of people paying taxes for this war this problem the tax rise. There many people will pay but but wish they couldn't didn't wouldn't
big. Not because they are loyal the government because they don't believe that their money should go to this and they wish there was some way of registering their protests. Some of us of thought I have that if enough people sign petitions for negotiation now under certain conditions. That this might make the difference to the Congress and to the president and we will see in the election of 68 in part where this country stands on its attitude toward this particular war. Now of course back of it all as I say the possibility that it could become a nuclear war that as we have been told we have been led to believe that a limited war is possible even though you have atomic weapons back of you. And there's enough overkill now in the stockpiles of nuclear weapons both in Russia and in our country and some of the countries that have nuclear weapons enough for 20 tons of high explosive to every man woman and child in the world.
This last September I visited the Soviet Union for the first time and in Leningrad I had had some arguments professor of psychology and artist children in a school who you know want to know what I thought about their country and what I thought about their school and then why there wasn't a strong Communist Party here. Questions like that. But one thing that that hit me very hard was that they said and one particularly intelligent woman said You don't know what it means to live through a siege of 900 days as we lived through it in Leningrad and to lose a part of the population that we didn't suffer as we did. And you don't know what it means now to go to our museum and see a map of Leningrad and see the U.S. They stood poised to strike at Leningrad. We know there are missiles aimed at us in the Soviet Union
and that will be if there aren't already in China. There might have been in Cuba. This is no way to live. No way to live. There's no security there's no dignity there's no future in it. So this is one of the problems of how can these small war whether it's Israel Arab or whether it's the war and it be contained or is it possible that the only answer is to get rid of all war. That there is no defense against nuclear war now that's been said for some years and nobody is listening anymore. And I think immediately of the United Nations and you may laugh at the United Nations. When I was finishing college the United Nations was in the League of Nations was in being and many of us young people at the time believed the League of Nations is the answer. The first world war killed so many millions of people. It laid waste to Europe.
Now we're going to learn at last they'll be in it's the last war going to international organization and then we saw through the thirties how that was eroded until it was with a group of buildings in Geneva and a document called The Covenant of the League of Nations. Then comes your second world war with more death and more deadly machines and weapons ending with the atom bomb and now we establish United Nations and again we're a whole. And now what does that become. And part of it is that it's torn by the Cold War the alignment of the Cold War. And I really I just can't see the cold war. And I'm saying this to you Americans who hear my voice it should be possible for people to live on this little Earth planet with different religions with different cultures music art poetry
different ways of dressing different food customs and it should be possible to live with a different political and economic formations also or ideology. It should be possible. It is not going to be possible if you have some mad people who are crazy for power and there always are in every country some people like that if they get loose and get a following or if the people are mobilized because the people believe everything they're told and decide to go after somebody else with fear and hate. Now you walk in a socialist country because the communist countries though they are controlled or controlled countries they have one party and there's no question about control them got civil liberties the way we have them. But when you walk the streets are the same the people are the same as you and me. They're friendly people. They're sharing their love their kids. They work very hard.
They don't get much out of life yet. I never saw a harder working bunch of people than I saw in the Soviet Union. If they keep it up and if they plan well they will become a country of high standards of living and they intend to increase the quality of their production and to increase the life of the villagers to make that better and who increase consumers goods. Those are the three things I am planning to do. A lot of their stuff is going into space and into military preparation because they're scared of us. They made a decision some time ago to have socialism in one country and they threw out Trotsky who believed in world revolution. The Chinese have finally come to probably what may be like a Trotsky position. Yugoslavia is a socialism in Yugoslavia. If if these people in Austria who have really a basically a socialist way of life and Denmark which has a mixed economy with public sector and private sector and cooperatives. If they can live as well for them under their system let them live that way.
But if you enter into reasonable relations with them you don't need to be afraid of them. I believe this maybe I'm naive. But I'm thinking this way. I'm not a man with the answers. I have humility about these problems they're all down deep in human lives. You don't get rid of them easy and I'm very suspicious of the snap quick answer about anything in the field of what you call the social sciences. But I think the 20th century with this magnificent jet planes its mass production is radio and television. It's nuclear energy. It's gasoline combustion energy. It's hydroelectric energy. Brother what I can do for the human race that energy and that productivities and the communication and transportation systems that have come down and we have seen two attempts an international organization to get rid of the dread of war. We have seen the breaking up of the great
empire the great thing about the 20th century the imperialist nation. We have seen some countries go socialist. We've seen our own country establish social security and social minimum and try to temper and humanize the economy with its big corporations its competitiveness its dollar and market madness commercialization. But the greatest thing we could achieve in the 20th century the greatest achievement any nation could achieve if they could only achieve it as a nation by itself. Greater still with other nations would be to achieve a world without war. And I think it means our personal re-education to be fit to be a citizen of this community of human beings on this earth to see our educational system goes beyond national boundaries to a respect for differences of culture religion race ideology political economic systems
and cooperation and mutual support for the have not countries. It means a building up of the collective security system at the top. Difficult to overcome the distrust and the hatred. And it may mean that within our own country we have to control better the forces within the country ways of thinking ways of acting that involve us in war. And it may mean that when we choose our president who is our congressman we have to ask this kind of question as well as where do you stand on taxes or other things domestic things. I believe that people should not exterminate one another because they don't agree they shouldn't exploit one another for their pleasure and profit. They shouldn't merely tolerate one another. There's tremendous enrichment in the differences among people. And if you if you travel at all in the ancient civilizations in the
ruins of the ancient civilizations a museum one of the wonderful things is the way they even with their wars and their foolishness and their destruction because they all went down Athens with this beautiful Athena the temple of Athena is dead and the Greek gods are dead and a dream is gone. And this is happened many times and this is one of the most beautiful civilizations that man has ever created and the Minoan civilization of fifteen hundred B.C. 2000 B.C. the Egyptian civilization and their God. But they did influence one another. They enriched one another and so far as they traded and travelled and were open minded and brother that any country that can do that today that would be the America. And I think we have a great moral responsibility among the nations and we
shouldn't let them on. You heard Algernon de black leader of the society of ethical culture as he spoke on the topic. The moral problems of war and peace. This was another program in a series of peace love and creativity the hope of mankind. On our next program psychoanalyst Claude Miller will discuss intellectual Lom. These programs are recorded at the Cooper Union in New York City by station WNYC.
The series is made available to the station by the national educational radio network.
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Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind
The moral problems of war and peace, part two
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the second part of a lecture by Algernon D. Black, leader, The Society of Ethical Culture.
Series Description
This series presents lectures from the 1968 Cooper Union Forum. This forum's theme is Peace, Love, Creativity: The Hope of Mankind.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Speaker: Black, Algernon D. (Algernon David), 1900-1993
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-10-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:23:09
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Chicago: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The moral problems of war and peace, part two,” 1968-03-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The moral problems of war and peace, part two.” 1968-03-06. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The moral problems of war and peace, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from