CLVXII – Super-Bombs for the Super-State

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"It
will allow us to safeguard
our state's security,"
declared Russia's deputy armed
forces chief of staff in publicly
praising what is called the
"Father of All Bombs."
As the erstwhile Soviet Union
continues with the fallout
of its collapse, the surviving
Russian government has sought
ever-more-powerful weapons
with which to threaten and
kill those who dare to secede
from its authority. Russian
generals threatened to use
such weaponry against Chechnyan
rebels.

Twenty
years ago, in my Calculated
Chaos
book, I wrote
of the institutional virtues
of the neutron bomb: a weapon
that only destroys people,
without damaging buildings,
bridges, transportation facilities,
factories, and other physical
assets. While it is different
from the neutron bomb, the
Russians' latest contribution
to the state's arsenals of
destruction serves similar
ends. "All that is alive
merely evaporates," the
Russians reported. The aforesaid
government official added:
"I want to stress that
the action of this weapon
does not contaminate the environment."
It only obliterates pesky
people, those elements in
the statist equation which,
characterized by their own
self-interested free will,
are capable of upsetting governmental
planning and control. A bridge,
or an airport, or an office
building do not care to what
ends they are being put, for
they have no capacity for
"caring." The state,
like other institutions, seeks
conditions of "equilibrium,"
of changelessness. The only
time in which humans are in
equilibrium is when they are
dead or, at the very least,
can be counted upon to not
deviate from governmental
dictates. This is why the
state has long been attracted
to robotic actors, be they
technological or biological
in nature.

The
only practice in which the
state has demonstrated any
competency lies in its increased
efficiency in the mass slaughter
of people. Consistent with
all forms of human action,
it constantly endeavors to
lower the unit costs of mass
destruction. The arms race
— from spear-throwing to the
use of more conventional weapons
to nuclear bombs — has always
been driven by a desire to
maximize destructiveness at
the lowest costs. But the
state must also take into
account the costs of cleaning
up the mess afterwards. The
World War II "battle
of Stalingrad" reportedly
left some two million dead
on the surrounding battlefield,
with the remains of soldiers
still being found. Even to
the Russian government — never
known to be squeamish about
such matters — this is a most
untidy affair. Far better
to have the dead vaporized,
rather than being left to
litter streets, parks, and
offices!

Like
their American counterparts,
the Russians are learning
to touch all the politically-correct
bases in defending their policies
and practices. This bomb "does
not contradict a single international
treaty," the government
reports, nor does it discriminate
on prohibited grounds (such
as race, gender, religion,
etc.). It destroys indiscriminately
any who have been unfortunate
enough to be in a targeted
area. Above all else, the
bomb is environmentally safe,
a quality that many self-styled
environmentalists — for whom
human well-being has never
been the highest priority
— will likely find attractive.

The
Russians have added this bomb
to the package of mechanized
horrors with which political
institutions terrorize people.
In threatening to use such
super-bombs in its "anti-terrorist
operation" against the
Chechnyans, the Russians have
acknowledged that the alleged
"war on terror"
is, in fact, a "war of
terror." The United States
admitted as much — at least
to those willing to look behind
the cascade of lies — in the
use of its own super-bomb
to terrorize Iraqi civilians
in its campaign of "shock
and awe." Nor have the
American people been deprived
of the opportunity of discovering
what the Chechnyans have learned,
namely, that the "war
on terror" is, in reality,
a war against themselves.

So,
where does this leave the
Americans? Russian officials
stated that this bomb is four
times more powerful than the
American version — known as
the "Mother of All Bombs."
In employing familial imagery
in the naming of such vicious
weaponry, the state has cynically
perverted the normal loving
and protective role parents
play toward their children,
into the psychotic acts by
which some mothers drown their
children, or fathers shoot
theirs. The conservative celebrants
of warfare who love to bleat
their "pro-life"
and "family values"
homilies, might pay close
attention to the contradictions
they enthusiastically endorse.

I
suspect that most Americans
can now be counted upon to
urge their government
to respond with an ever-more-powerful
super-bomb. After having "won"
the Cold War — whatever that
may mean — "we"
do not want to take second
place in the race to develop
the tools for the mass obliteration
of all the "others"
in the world who might insist
upon their own purposes and
directions for their lives.
Perhaps scientists at the
University of California's
Livermore Labs can be counted
upon to restore American pride
by developing a "Super-Father"
of a bomb. Defense contractors
can certainly be counted upon
to promote such a project!

Despite
the rampant insanity by which
we continue to organize human
society, most people still
regard anarchists as unrealistic
and strange, and politicians
as practical visionaries.
Perhaps this is to be expected
when people evaluate one another's
conduct by normative standards
(e.g., in a cannibal society,
a vegetarian would be looked
upon with distrust).

Nonetheless,
I remain optimistic that the
state is in decline: recourse
to such weaponry as described
herein is testimony to the
failure of political systems
to generate the peaceful order
they have long vocalized as
their purpose. The collapse
of the state will come about,
I suspect, for the same reason
that brought about the demise
of that earlier leviathan,
the dinosaur: an inability,
occasioned by its massive
size, to remain resilient
to the changes over which
it had no control.

On
the other hand, it may be
argued that we are genetically
fated to our self-annihilation.
The late Arthur Koestler once
described mankind as an evolutionary
mistake; a killer ape with
a highly-developed intelligence
was bound to prove troublesome.
If Koestler is right — and
I am not convinced that he
is — our obsession with employing
so much of our energy to the
creation of technologies for
controlling and destroying
one another, may be so programmed
into us that only a head-on
confrontation with life forces
might alter our behavior.
If this is so, as we humans
continue our lemming-like
march to our own destruction,
we may glimpse the dolphins
waiting in the wings to bring
a peaceful expression of intelligence
to life's stage.

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