Home > Uncategorized > Aldous Huxley: Nuclear weapons, establishing world domination for one’s gang

Aldous Huxley: Nuclear weapons, establishing world domination for one’s gang


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war


Aldous Huxley
From Science, Liberty and Peace (1946)


The most important lesson of history, it has been said, is that nobody ever learns history’s lessons. The enormous catastrophes of recent years have left the survivors thinking very much as they thought before. A horde of Bourbons, we return to what we call peace, having learned nothing and forgotten nothing — forgotten nothing, except, of course, the causes of war, which (whatever our intentions and our well-worded ideals) we do every thing in our power to perpetuate.


The existence of powerful armaments constitutes for their possessors a standing temptation to resort to violence. Si vis bellum, para bellum: and when the preparations for war are carried on with all the resources of progressive science and technology, the temptation to aggression, to the defence or consolidation of legitimate interests, to the realization of a manifest destiny (the names and justifications vary, but the nature of the consequent war remains the same), becomes progressively more intense, until at some critical moment — the moment when nation X feels certain of being, in some strategically significant way, better armed than nations Y and Z — it turns into a categorical imperative, a divine command to go to war for the greater glory of the nation-god. Nor is this the only temptation to present itself. Recent progress in the applied science of armament-making has been a progress in the development of weapons that will destroy more indiscriminately at greater distances. High explosives and incendiaries, the heavy bomber and the jet-propelled robot plane, the rocket and finally the atomic missile — taken together these constitute a powerful temptation to ignore the traditional rules of war and to obliterate wholesale entire civilian populations and their dwellings. To this temptation all the belligerents in the Second World War succumbed. And so long as governments and manufacturers continue to subsidize research into the science and technology of armaments, these temptations will remain, irresistibly beckoning to nationalistic power lovers, just as drink and sex and money beckon to their respective addicts.

In recent months many persons have optimistically argued that the harnessing of atomic energy must (because that energy is so destructive) put an end to men’s inveterate habit of making war. Similar arguments have been set forth in the past. Whenever progressive applied science has produced some strikingly more efficient instrument of slaughter, hopes have been voiced, and facts and figures marshalled to prove, that henceforward war would be too expensive in life, suffering and money to be worth waging. Nevertheless wars have still been fought. Methods of defence against the new destructive weapon are devised and yet more efficient instruments of counterattack are invented. Advances in technology do not abolish the institution of war; they merely modify its manifestations. In the present instance it seems quite possible that there may be no defence against atomic missiles. But this does not necessarily presage the end of warfare. The collective mentality of nations — the mentality which reasonable adults have to adopt, when making important decisions in the field of international politics — is that of a delinquent boy of fourteen, at once cunning and childish, malevolent and silly, maniacally egotistical, touchy and acquisitive, and at the same time ludicrously boastful and vain.

When the issues involved are of no great weight, the adults in control of a nation’s policy are permitted, by the rules of the curious game they are playing, to behave like adults. But as soon as important economic interests or national prestige is involved, this grown-up Jekyll retires and his place is taken by an adolescent Hyde, whose ethical standards are those of a boy-gangster and whose Weltanschauung seems to have been formed by a study of Houston Stewart Chamberlain and the more sanguinary comic strips. And let us remember that this same delinquent boy who, concealed in the middle-aged body of a politician, decrees that millions shall do and suffer the utmost in scientifically organized malice, resides within us all, ready and waiting, whenever some crisis makes us forget our surface rationality and idealism, to come out into the open. To this boy gangster in our midst, the natural reaction to the atom bomb is not an impulse to put an end to war by getting rid of its causes in nationalism, economic rivalry and the craving for power. Rather it is an impulse to make use oF the new powers provided by science for the purpose of establishing world dominion for his particular gang. It is a highly significant fact that people love to talk about a war to end war, or a war to preserve democracy; they do not love to talk about peace to end war, or self-governing democracy (which is the polar antithesis of militarism) to preserve democracy. Like the adult, with whom he is associated, the nationalistic boy-gangster is frightened of what atomic power may do to him and his world. Nevertheless he continues to think in terms of gang rivalry and his own supremacy. “If,” he argues, “our gang can get its scientists to perfect the rocket and the atom bomb, if it can get its manufacturers to produce enough plutonium and uranium 235, to build enough launching ramps and robot planes and V2’s, then all that need be done is to press a few buttons and bang! the war to end war will be over, and I shall be the boss of the whole planet.”

Because of the boy-gangster in every Foreign Office, every war department and every private home, we may expect that. In the years immediately ahead of us, all the (technologically speaking) advanced nations will spend vast sums upon armament research and the manufacture of new weapons capable of more indiscriminate destruction at ever greater distances. This research will be secret — an affair of “Manhattan Projects” and “Tube Alloys” — and much of the manufacture will be carried on at the bottom of mines and caverns. And at some moment — unless, by a miracle, Jekyll should contrive to get the upper hand — the temptation to press those buttons will become irresistible; the juvenile delinquent in some Ministry for Foreign Affairs will call up his colleague at the Ministry of National Defence and bang! the war to make the world yet safer for delinquency will have begun.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    off topic, do you happen to have a current list of all the non NATO countries, and do you know how many countries now have NATO base whether they are NATO proxies or not?
    thanks for your time and trouble

    • richardrozoff
      March 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      NATO has 28 full members.
      Its Partnership for Peace program has 22 members with a twenty-third, Cyprus, to join soon.
      Its Mediterranean Dialogue has seven with Libya to be the eighth.
      Its Istanbul Cooperation Initiative program has six members.
      Its Partners Across the Globe program has eight so far.
      The above totals 73 nations out of 192 in the United Nations; that is, 38 percent of the world’s countries.

      • March 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

        thank you very much

      • richardrozoff
        March 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        You are welcome.
        If NATO succeeds in signing collective partnerships with the 54-nation African Union and the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations – a process that is underway – the U.S.-led military bloc will consist of 138 members and partners, over two-thirds of the nations in the world.

      • March 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        thank you again, that is scary.

        something i found while researching arms sales as US economic base, lots of good info.

        The Arms Trade is Big Business

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