Dimensions of a new age; Influence of the space age on government
This is Dimensions of a New Age. From radio television, the University of Texas. We are, all of us, newly arrived in the age of space, and we have come so quickly. Swirling about us are powerful influences, likely to have upon our lives the most prodigious impact known to mankind in the last 500 years. But we can barely grasp the magnitude of these social forces. We can only guess at their meaning. What does it signify for us to live in a world of such suddenly extended proportions? Toward the answer, radio television, the University of Texas, has prepared this recorded radio series.
Produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center, in cooperation with the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, we present Dimensions of a New Age. And now here is our moderator, Rod Wright-Meier. Does the age of space pretend changes in the character and purposes of government? Later in today's program, we bring you the views of Dr. Reinhold Nieber, vice president of Union Theological Seminary, whose penetrating studies of political philosophy are known throughout the world. But first, let us hear the opinion of a United States senator who has spoken out often and infatically concerning the role of government in the extended universe. The honorable Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. Hello, my fellow countrymen. Henry Ford's first motor car and the Wright Brothers' first airplane touched all revolutions that have, in less than a lifetime, remade the world. No nation today is untouched by these contemporary inventions. But what was the reaction of the people to these history-making gimmicks?
It has been recorded that the automobile was noisy and caused undue commotion. The airplane was seen as a frivolous instrument in the hands of daredevils. Little can be seen as worthwhile beyond this point and very few took seriously the inventive genius behind them. Is the American community taking the advent of the Space Age seriously? Are we, in fact, dismissing the firing and the orbiting of space-searching vehicles as having little or no consequence in our earthly activities? The reaction of many Americans to the advent of the Space Age follows too closely the pattern of complacency in years past. Too many of us do not realize that the Space Age, which began only a few years ago, is probably the most historic event in world history since that infamous voyage of christmas Columbus and the subsequent discovery of North America and the New World. Outer space is, in fact, the New World of perhaps the next 500 to 1000 years.
What we do now will have profound effect upon the Earth for many years thereafter, maybe forever. In looking back, we see the great impact the New World had upon the Earth, and governments which foresaw the meaning and the potential of the New World emerged to new possessions of influence. We must continue to be counted among the great visionary powers of the world by recognizing the full meaning of outer space and its infinite frontier. The part of this Space Age, is it just another dimension of warfare, or is it an age in which contributions will have been made toward perfecting peace for the world? We must be mindful of the first of course, but if we compete against other nations, in perfecting space weapons, and we fail to realize as the great peaceful potentials of outer space, the consequences could be devastating. We know that our immediate decisions concerning the uses of outer space technology for the good of mankind can and will hold any advances into space as merely adding a new dimension to warfare. But this is not a one nation job.
We're building toward the axioms of outer space science and technology, but again this cannot be done by one nation alone. There must be a cross fertilization of technical and scientific information on outer space exploratory projects. And the cooperative international excursion into this vast and unknown area at this early period in the Space Age will contribute immeasurably toward focusing the world's attention on the peaceful uses of what can be considered an international resource. Others on this broadcast series will no doubt discuss specific potentials of this new dimension from a technical standpoint. My few minutes will be concerned with the impact of space exploration upon the world's governments. As we have seen the two great technological revolutions of the 20th century, the automobile and the airplane, have virtually changed the character and the purposes of all levels of government throughout the world. Both, of course, have added new burdens, but both have brought so vast an array of capabilities for the people and their governments that burdensome technicalities are forgotten. So it is now, without our space, the most powerful revolution of all time has begun in our own times.
And we are both witness to it and eternally responsible for giving it the direction that will mean peace, that will mean freedom and fulfillment for all of those who follow after us. The space age revolution will change the roles and responsibilities of government more than anything in a millennium. There are many reasons for saying this and here are just a few of the examples. First, we have been assured that within the 1960s satellites will bring a new worldwide system of communication. Using earth circling satellites as relays, for example, telephone communication between continents will have come as casual and perhaps as inexpensive as some long distance calls in our own native land. Since the world's system of national governments can be likened to isolation booths walled off by physical and legal barriers, a simple means of international communication will allow people of all nation to communicate freely and easily with one another. This space technology development alone could be one of the most powerful forces for bringing men together and for crushing the barriers to world understanding the world has ever known.
To, in much the same manner, intercontinental radio and television broadcasting will be made possible through space satellites. Nations have a world away will begin to transmit broadcasts easily to our living rooms and to the living rooms of the world. Truly then, the barriers of world governments will be made transparent. The eyes of television upon the earth, God willing, will breed understanding instead of suspicion, cooperation and not frightened isolation, free exchange of knowledge and not mutation. No nation then will be invulnerable to the eyes and ears of the world. Scientists also assure us that by 1970 satellites may well be able to deliver intercontinental mail in minutes and space satellites and even perhaps space stations will help provide navigation guidance for air and sea lanes. Fourth, weather control techniques employing outer space technology will someday soon modify the earth's atmosphere so as to change deserts to gardens and jungles to paradise.
This power sufficient to rule the earth presents a dramatic challenge to America which we must be ready to accept and accept today. Together these few examples show us the task that we have before us in America in this primitive period of the space age and where the collective talents of the world must be employed in the next several years. Space you see is not merely a vast empty frontier which governments can explore are ignored at will. Space and space exploration constitute a new force which will require many changes especially among free governments. If our enduring values are not to be sacrificed and lost, positions in space will be won by brains not grown. Because of this space presents the first real opportunity in mankind's history for men of all nations to work together with common purpose for common gains and common goals. Until now we have had wars on earth largely because there was no such common denominator for joint effort among nations. Now we have something tangible upon which our joint efforts may be given.
The result of this effort will bring people's on earth closer together working together in joint enterprise for the development of the still untouched potential that awaits mankind in space. At the request of the President of the United States, President Eisenhower and the Secretary of State, Secretary Delos, I appeared at the United Nations on November 17, 1915. To present America's program for control of outer space for peaceful purposes by all nations of the world. I made this statement expressing my own beliefs and beliefs which I hope all Americans will hold for the future. Today outer space is free. It is unscored by conflict. No nation holds a concession there. It must remain that way. We of the United States do not acknowledge that there are landlords of outer space who can presume to bargain with the nations of their earth on the price of access to this new domain.
We must not and we need not corrupt this great opportunity by bringing to it the very antagonisms which we may by courage overcome and leave behind forever if we proceed with this joint venture in this new realm. Men who have worked together to reach the stars are not likely to descend together into the depths of war and desolation. I cannot help but believe that when this new dimension for government comes to be a reality in our understanding, we shall find ourselves devoting our efforts to making of government a far better, a far more constructive, a far more useful instrument for expressing the true values of mankind and the hungry people of the world in which we live are now keeping their eyes fixed upon the example that we set.
And nation after nation I hope will emulate the example set by these United States of America. The space age is truly the beginning of new history for the world. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson has charged the governments of the world with the eternal responsibility for giving human affairs in the space age in light and direction. To find just what aspects of political philosophy bear upon such responsibility, we went to New York to the vice president of Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Reinhold Nieber, one of the most distinguished political philosophers of our time. Dr. Nieber, in your writings you have referred to the distinction which certain political philosophers make between the moral standards of individuals and the moral standards of nations.
Can you clarify this distinction for us? Yes, I've made that distinction myself. I've not only referred but I wrote a book many years ago in 1932 in which I made that as a basic distinction. Now I'd say that individuals and groups, and by groups I mean both family, I mean families, races, nations, have a single standard in the sense that they must concern themselves with something beyond themselves. They also have a single characteristic and that is that the group and the individual is primarily concerned with himself or with themselves. This is the power of self-regard. Now the difference isn't too wide because in both cases you could say if a nation of an individual seeks his life absolutely, purely, directly he will destroy his life. Because in both national and individual life the nation and the individual is in a whole web of interests and this web of interests enlarges his life or their life.
And if you grasp after self-realization your own ends to immediately do absolutely you destroy yourself. In that sense there's no difference. That's why the people who say there is a common morality for groups and for individuals are right but they're wrong at one point. And that is that it is possible for individuals to sacrifice themselves for a larger whole. I don't think it's possible for nation to do that. Let's say that the highest morality for a nation is justice, concerned for the interests of the other. And by, if you will, a wise self-interest is interesting that every statesman who commends, for instance a loyalty of a market to the free world, to the NATO, etc., etc., always commends in terms of national self-interest, which reveals the fact that collective self-interest is more powerful than individual self-interest.
One nation can absolutely sacrifice itself for the larger whole. How many individuals do that either from that matter? We all remember that. There are Christians who say, well, if you're Christian, you're on selfishness, I think it's a dangerous illusion. The power of persistence of self-interest individually must be taken for granted or you're not mature politically. Nevertheless, it's an interesting thing that in politics you always look for a confluence of the partial interests and the universal interests. And you never say to America, we know this is bad for a mark, but you must sacrifice yourself for Europe, or you must sacrifice yourself for the free world. No, no statesman ever says that.
No matter how morally he is, and no matter how sentimental he is, he couldn't say that as a statesman, because he knows that isn't true to the stuff of life. Dr. Nieber, to go on here to another question, you have stated that whatever the moral judgment upon empire may be, we must recognize the fact of empire as one of the recurring patterns of the large-scale community, which will persist as long as strengthen pinches on weakness, either exploiting that weakness or supplementing it. Now, maybe before you answer this, I'm quoting you here. Maybe if you will define for us what you mean by empire and what you mean by the large-scale community. And you said that, Mr. Wright, because empire is a bad word in the modern parlance, particularly in America, empire is supposed to mean exploitation and is supposed to mean coercion, et cetera, et cetera. Perhaps it would be better to use instead of empire, imperial power, because I'm talking about, for instance, the imperial power of America.
Now, we're traditionally anti-imperialistic. England had an empire, Britain had an empire, we didn't have, we had a lot of sentimentality about the fact that we didn't have, we had a vast continent so we didn't have to have an empire. But what I'm talking about is just the formation of community above the level of the integral community. Now, nobody can deny that our power impinges, not only the Russian power, but our power impinges upon every part of the world. When you see the coming and going and Washington, the president going to Latin America, the Latin American president coming here and going to Asia and going to Afghanistan, you realize that these two imperial powers have power that impinges upon the whole world. In that sense, the imperial structure is a perennial fact in human existence. And I think it's one of the illusions of old-fashioned liberal theory to imagine that you could get rid of all these supernatural structures and just simply have the nation.
And then the community of mankind is something like that, the universal community and the integral community. But meanwhile, history just proves that always there are always stronger nations than weaker nations. Now, even though to kind of carry on from this, even though penetration of outer space by two vital nations, that is the two vital nations of the United States and Russia, does not appear to be either exploitation or supplementation of the weak by the strong, it does appear to constitute an extension of dominion. Does this alter our historic concept of empire, do you think? I wouldn't think so, Mr. Wright-Mar. It doesn't alter our, but you're quite right. It constitutes an extension of dominion. It is a source of both prestige and power, not of wealth.
And incidentally, without this outer space business, the modern empires don't seek wealth. The Russian Stalinist empire did exploit its empire. But now they've turned around in a way that we've turned around. We're trying to help all these people. We're seeking strategic advantage and prestige. And if you analyze this whole development of rocketry, you find that perhaps empire is the wrong word to use there, but it is a competition for prestige and force in imperial relationships. Take, for instance, when the Russians put up their first sputnik. This was a tremendous source of prestige, and it was the place where Russian ideology changed from a purely stale, communist revolutionary ideology. We're going to bring revolution to the world, saying, we are going to be more expert than the capitalists are in technology.
And we are now. That was prestige. Didn't it bring prestige and force closer together? This is fantastic about this whole exploration and conquest of outer space, because it's always a matter of prestige. But it's also a matter of force in the more specific sense of the word force, because what the Russians will also say in this missile thing is, we've got missiles that are more powerful than your missiles. I don't know all the details about the so-called missile gap, but we know that many of our experts are worried about the missile gap. By their superiority in missiles, if they were intended to, I don't think that they intend to do that. I don't think they want to start the war. But nevertheless, the exploration of outer spaces always got the two factors in the force and prestige.
Of course, what I call the missionary motive of empire is also there. That is, there's a common missionary motive in we competing with the Russians and saying to the Russian saying to the world, we're going to help you to achieve technical competence. Now, that's the missionary motive. We want to help you out of your poverty. Now, that is, they're also missionary motive. Of course, a competitive missionary motive that we say a democratic society can do this more easily than a communist society, in the Russian saying a communist society can do it more easily than a democratic society. In other cases, there's a certain missionary zeal in this thing for what we regard as valuable. And I think, while I am deeply committed to the so-called values of the West of a free society, I think we have to recognize that in Asian Africa, this is not as obvious as we think it is.
Because the free society, the older nation of parties and the equilibrium of power that you have in a capitalist society, modern capitalism, not the ancient capitalism that the Russians are talking about, these are achievements that have taken us centuries to devise. And you couldn't blame the so-called backward nations if they would say, that's beyond us. Let me ask you just one more question, Dr. Nibir, before we close this discussion. I know you're interested in some of your feelings on the possible destruction of the use of nuclear power. Are there elements in the development of nuclear power? Do you think that are calculated to older man's values and his traditional views?
Well, I wouldn't say older values. I should say that the nuclear dilemma in which we are wouldn't alter any traditional view, but it must make us conscious of two dimensions of the problem. On the other hand, we have a certain loyalty to our civilization. One is good in the civilization, and we must preserve that. But on the other hand, it is quite true that the possibility of nuclear destruction is so great as to have altered many things. And it may have all of the things much that the torturous disarmament proposals have been going on in Geneva for a long time may be partially successful. I don't think they'll be wholly successful for some time. But I think that it's significant that these two nations, these two blocks of nations, which have so many contests in the world, and who accused each other of wanting to start a war, now don't do that anymore, and rightly so, because both of them know that the other really doesn't want to start a war. That's the new thing in the human situation.
That neither one side wants to start. Now, that doesn't mean that it might not start by miscalculation. That's the terrible danger. And here we are in the 20th century, in which the 18th and 19th century drapped, and we realize that we're living in a kind of a paradise on the edge of this terrible possibility that miscalculation might blow us all up. All countries that are capable of doing it afraid that the other will. Afraid that the other will. This is a deeply tragic and ironic fact. And perhaps this will make for a whole new attitude, and that is a double attitude. And in that sense, I won't say values, or attitudes. On the one hand, we don't simply capitulate and say it's better to live under Russian despotism than to be destroyed. Men don't do that. That is, men that have any sense of dignity wouldn't do that.
I've always thought there was a nuclear dilemma in the nuclear days. It was a tragic thing. But we should get through it. It might not be something quite different. It might not be the thing that prevented these two blocks of nations that would have torn each other to pieces long ago, from maintaining some kind of a piece until they get a better kind of a piece. It's a hopeful thing in the so-called nuclear dilemma. That we probably would already be in war. Well, I'm quite sure we would. So we can't be too optimistic. We can't be too pessimistic. You can say the future is more full of promise and peril than it has ever been. Thank you, Dr. Nieber. We are honored by your participation in our series. Today's program, concerning government and the extended universe, has brought you these remarks by Dr. Reinhold Nieber, distinguished political philosopher and vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, in addition to the observations of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.
This is the eighth in a series of programs which were themselves planned to contribute to public education in the age of space, to sketch for this radio audience the dimensions of a new age. Next week at the same time, we look at the new emphases in our economy introduced by rapid, complex, and expensive technological changes. Dr. Martin Summerfield, professor of jet propulsion at Princeton University, and Mr. William S. Palmer, investment counselor and managing director of the missiles, jets, and automation fund will comment upon economics in the space age. These programs were produced and directed by Roderick D. Wright-Meier, who serves as moderator, coordinator and writer, Mary D. Benjamin. The series was under the supervision of Robert F. Schinken, Jim Morris speaking.
A salute line to his fellow and his colleagues, our guide, to and to the people in downfall. Dimensions of a New Age was produced and recorded by radio television the University of Texas under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of Educational Broadcasting. This is the NAEB Radio Network.
- Dimensions of a new age
- Producing Organization
- University of Texas
- KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- This series explores the new developments and challenges that have emerged in the wake of the "space age" that occurred in the mid-20th century.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Director: Rightmyer, Roderick D.
Host: Grauer, Ben
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-56-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Dimensions of a new age; Influence of the space age on government.” 1960-10-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-fj29ds51>.
- APA: Dimensions of a new age; Influence of the space age on government. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-fj29ds51