Nobel Conference X The Quest for Peace: Polykarp Kusch - Is Enduring Peace a Realistic Hope?

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Polykarp Kusch, winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize for Physics, speaking at Nobel Conference X: The Quest for Peace held at Gustavus Adolphus College. Kusch's speech was titled “Is Enduring Peace a Realistic Hope?”

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I have no answers. I will explore with you. my own uncertainties the ambiguities that arise in my mind on the matter of peace. The Quest for Peace and has had two major related objectives first. The freedom from hostile contention by means of armed forces between Sovereign Nations or states or between factions within the same Nation or state. And second freedom from the imminent threat of overt War which has for example been a fact of life in the United States since the end of World War II. I see no Prospect at all that these large and magnificent objectives will be realized even in the remotely foreseeable future. After living more than 60 years in a contentious world. I see no evidence of man's advancement to perfection. In fact until we are governed by soffit philosopher-kings or the Democratic equivalence philosopher presidents or philosopher Senators. The definition of perfection among men will continue to be a master for contention perhaps for military contention. I think one could write a book. Wars held in defense of definitions of perfection. There have been such Wars. Nevertheless mankind has no choice other than the continuing search for peace. That search May infect moderate the conditions under which Wars are fought reduce the prospect that a local war will grow into a worldwide Holocaust and perhaps and large the range of matters that are or can be resolved by negotiation rather than by military force. And unrealistic optimism at this point in history is almost certain to defeat us in our Quest for Peace and uncompromising realism about the problems offers us. I think the greatest hope for even for achieving even a small part of our goal. War has always been cruel it has been costly of human life and costly of human dignity. We who live in the United States have largely during the last century been spared the horrors of War brought home to st. Peter, Minnesota, orthodontist, Texas. Thanks to the genius of a technology that has allowed us to watch our war on television. All the inhabitants of the globe are our Nate Neighbors. They are suffering becomes to some degree our suffering. The horrors on a child in Cambodian Shirley no less than a child of God than one in St. Peter becomes painfully real to us. We have seen with our own eyes that a Vietnamese father loves his child. No less than does a father in Dallas. We do see clearly the price of war in personal terms perhaps as never before in history. A new dimension has recently been added to our perception of the cost of War. We are suddenly and sharply aware that the resources with which our world has been endowed during the formation of the planet are finite. Today rapidly diminishing resources of oil and natural gas are much on our minds tomorrow. It will be something else that's promises to run out not instead of oil but in addition to Wild no matter what new resources of oil are found in the elementary fact is that our fossil fuels cannot sustain without limit our present use of them. Access to the wealth of Natural Resources has continually improved a lot of man while these resources do not in themselves give us civilized and rewarding lives. They do give us some of the means by means of which we may seek such lives. In terms of unreplaceable resources the cost of war and of the apparatus of War Ready to make war specifically the dod has always been high but with touching face in the unlimited bounty of Nature has made man unperceptive of that particular cost of War. That drain on our resources reduces the capacity of men and women in this generation and in generations to come to live lives of meaning to realize the potential that is intrinsic in humanity. There was a time within my lifetime when a liberal would have been reluctant to describe the loss of material resources as being in essence equivalent to the loss of human life. The clear fact is that people are replaceable and therefore Expendable and just truth is epitomize than the words cannon fodder. The Dowry of mankind is not however replaceable. in any event, I think that as we Face a future with a depleted planet, we must recognize the importance of resources not as a source of wealth, but as a life-giving component in the Society of man As we attempt to devise a strategy for the use of diminishing resources, it would be well to consider the use of resources by the military apparatus for the rich is engaged in Warfare or only prepared to go to war. There is no gasoline shortage any DOD today. They got first call on it the high cost of War. It's essential futility and the degradation intrinsic to war have of course been recognized for a very long time. In spite of this Wars have Mark the entire history of mankind. They have been endemic in States differing markedly and social and political organization religion technological sophistication and level of Education of the populace indeed almost every feature of the organized communal life of man has been conditioned and often formed by the capacity to make war. The search for peace is as old as the records of civilized man. Men and women of intelligence of compassion for mankind and of unquestioned Goodwill have salt and during peace throughout all of history. While some of them have been in genuis Romantics others have been knowledge knowledgeable in the ways of the world. However, all devices created by men of Goodwill and wisdom to bring about Universal peace have failed. Not the one holy Universal Christian church for the League of Nations or the United Nations. All dedicated to peace have been able to stem the Relentless. We are currents of wars. It is exceedingly difficult to see anything on the horizon to lead to the belief that we could now succeed in the Quest for Peace. As I noted earlier, there was a new factor in human Affairs the sudden awareness of The Limited natural resources with which we have been endowed. Their rational used is obviously imperative. However, I see nothing at all to suggest that the rational use of diminishing resources will lead to a withering of the military apparatus. Ultimately as major resources disappear. We will I am quite persuaded go at each other with bows and arrows and pull axes. I do not pretend to be an anthropologist or a psychologist or even an amateur in knowledgeable amateur in these fields and amateur and every field but not the knowledgeable amateur. Nevertheless, I think that man is an intrinsically combative creature. The evidence for this is particularly striking in the United States. Look as a button the most Elementary way at our passion for the more violent athletic event such as football in which our surrogates do violence on our behalf. We drive potential instruments of death combatively and the resulting Carnage is considerable. A philosopher at Gustavus. Adolphus College is a philosopher but what he drives the car, he becomes a menace. I ask professors of philosophy to forgive me. You were an example. In the fall of 1968 when students were rioting in protest against the war in Vietnam. I commented publicly to an outraged audience that the total number of Americans killed in Vietnam after that date was much smaller than the number of Americans killed annually in automobile accidents. I don't intend to be quite the true, but they are not unrelated. That's the tistics that in one year. We kill more Americans on the road of the United States that we did in Vietnam up to the fall of 68, true statistic that statistic off to be a troubling one to those who believe that concern for human life is Central to the Quest for Peace. In 1967 the last year for which statistics were readily available to me. The death rate in the United States due to Firearms was 11 per 100,000. This is one in every 9000 of us. Death rate from used fire of these 11 for a hundred thousand 1.46 were attributed to accidents children playing with shotguns. 5.332 suicide and 4.212 homicide in that year one in 25 thousand of us was killed by gunfire homicide. Axe and homicide. The rate in each of these categories is much less in any other country civilized or not. Do site but one comparison. The homicide rate by firearms in Canada was 16% of that in the United States. In 1970 Firearms were used in the United States to commit 10340 murders. 80000 assaults and 138900 robberies. This is by the use of guns. The statistics are clear yet. We have not been able to pass effective gun control legislation. I find it difficult to believe in our legislative or arranged against the large guns while allowing deaths from small guns of that legislation gun legislation has been aggressively supported by a minority of us and even more aggressively support opposed by another minority. Most of us have simply not troubles to make ourselves heard. Yelp gun control ever became a political issue in this country and any substantial way it became an issue with between the gun lobby and The Limited band of men who were guns. We struggle to become rich far beyond providing the means of living an extremely comfortable life and providing for security wall for oneself and one's family. We like to win. We collectively people we like to enjoy the feeling of ascendancy over our fellow man. I have beat you down. I have one it describes. our spirit there was no chance at all that evolution in the darwinian sense will produce a more Pacific Humanity. The time scale of biological evolution is obviously too long. I take billions of years and there is no Assurance at all that in the struggle for survival. The peaceful individual would preferentially survive. In principle, it would have course be possible to breed a Peaceable race. but man is not likely to accept a program of deliberately breathing human types. In fact, I myself would be opposed to with all kinds of reasons. What is more it just quite unknown what other traits that have made men a highly imaginative and creative animal would be lost if man lost his back tightness. Two periods relatively free of Wars the pox romano and the pox Britannica are well-known. delete some people to believe that there were periods of Peace in each of these. And uneasy peace was maintained by Force of Arms each was the consequence of military success and each carry G implicit threat that any challenge to the Primacy of Rome or Britain would certainly fail and perhaps failed bloodily to suggest on the basis of this evidence of these phrases that extended periods of real peace have occurred is I think a misreading of History So much for history. I next I next I'm going to talk about. my own uncertainties about whether I would fight the war or not. In the first half of the 1930s. I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois and World War 1 as well as its aftermath was much on my mind. I am old enough to remember the signing of the Armistice in 1918 after the war ended it was still very much on people's mind. I and many of my fellow students were convinced that there could never again be a war of the magnitude of World War 1 which convulsively change the entire world. Nevertheless when the time came we hide my friends colleagues. We really did think that it was necessary to fight World War II. Could the conceivable alternative of a German Victory be more palatable to a moral man, then giving support to the Allied cause and ultimately fighting on its side of the war. do the shore World War II was not by any stretch of imagination a conflict between unqualified virtue and unmitigated evil Nothing in life. Is that simple yet? I then saw no decent alternatives to the fighting of the war. During the student Revolutions of the late 1960s. I wept for the moral disgrace of the Vietnamese War, but I never apologized for the involvement of the United States and of my own personal involvement in World War II. It is not possible to avoid the risks Miss managing the pre-war. Posed by a rapid course of events. It is not possible in devising ongoing policy to use hindsight and blunders are inevitable. The point is however, that's true. Perhaps one's own errors one may find oneself in the position where there is no option other than to go to war. In fact peace at any price is not the preservation of Peace in any sense in which I would recognize the word. In a peaceful world all men would-be as brothers. Suppose that the Labyrinth Society undertakes genocide or returns to a defect or even a djura slavery or otherwise violates basic human rights? Does one assert the obligations of Brotherhood even if military action is necessary or does one wipe from one's conscience any concerned with such violations in the assertion that these are after all matters internal to a sovereign state? I don't know the answers gentlemen and ladies. These questions trouble me. I think that the issues of many wars cannot be rationally resolved and that reason compromise is impossible with national leaders of Imperial pretensions. Let me inject a non-textual sentence our problem. Is that by and large we hear our men and women of Reason Humane persons after all you are here. This does not describe the real world. That's one of my problems. And the issues of Wars cannot be sometimes rashly resolved. How can one achieve a decent compromise with a chief of state who has a mythical conviction that one part of his people is of a superior race and that all others were there in his or on other domain should be ruthlessly destroyed. It seems like an impossible question to ask in the 20th century, but it happens. How can one rationally come to terms with the state that proclaims its manifest destiny? That also occurred in this Century to be sure at the beginning of the century. How can reason affect a leader who supposes that he and his people are Defenders of the true face for the religious faith of political face or economic face. These last three paragraphs. I've expressed my concern. I'm unable. to make a positive assertion that all wars are unnecessary or bad I have Please me agonized over with my wife says don't ever talk about war again in public. It takes too much out of you because I simply don't know what I would do in these instances. I know about the future. I talked about a little history. But my moral uncertainties. Let's talk about the future man faces greater problems today than ever before in his long history pre-eminent among these is the Relentless increase of the world's population. If I had to write the world's problems in order, I would put the pop population increase I would leave the next eight spaces vacant before I put another one in to emphasize that that is the gut problem. It has been asserted that the planet could sustain a much larger population than the present one and still provide adequate food and Essentials of Life a reasonable man. Might ask why should the population be allowed to increase to the maximum that can be sustained through the use of great ingenuity. Waiopae what do we gain by getting a population up to the maximum? The Earth will hold in any case no amount of Ingenuity can supply the minimum needs of the population which will then again be control to the classic devices of starvation pestilence and War. To the Arsenal of War I'm happy to tell you we have added the nuclear bomb a potentially efficient a magnificent way of controlling population by simply obliterated them. Something new you didn't used to be able to do with that easily. The population problem. This is the problem. In fact when I'm going around lecturing about the problems of nuclear weapons always start the lecture with the the problem of population if we don't cope with a population problem, you are certain ultimately certain ultimately to cope with them with do Clearwater consider This pain no, I'm sorry as of June 30th 1972. The cost of the United States of the Vietnamese War was estimated to be 352 billion dollars 352000 million dollars. Included in that also would cost our veterans benefits. Since the War lasted for two and a half years after that date one may safely assume that the total cost of the war will be considerably greater than 352 billion dollars. Consider the spending of that amount of money in another country and for no other purpose. India is the largest country that is greatly overpopulated in which starvation is endemic in which the standards of living are incredibly low and in which the power of modern technology has not significantly been felt. The population of India is stated to have been 547 million in 1971. Suppose buy some unbelievable magic. The money had been spent in India. and that's just advantage of the money has been spent in India. That is at 352 billion dollars that the Vietnamese at War has cost us would be expended in India together with the material Ingenuity and Manpower in pussy than that price that price War fought This is about $650 for every person in India, which is an awful lot of money in India. You education through persuasion. A much reduced birth rates would improve the quality of life of everyone. If you please to unlicensed propaganda, even through Medical Services all on a massive scale, we could perhaps have reduced. the birth rate in that sad country A Primitive agriculture would behave behave become much more productive suppose. We had done this thing these things Perhaps the inhabitants of that country would have found Hope. Suppose we had totally failed in achieving any iota of our objectives supposed would we then have been worse off then? We now are Or Mike would conceivably be better off even after a total failure in India and to ask the question is to answer it. Of course of visionary in supposing that this might conceivably have been done but it does describe our values even without the war in Vietnam. Could we have spent $350 billion dollars which we could afford the problem of one nation. It seems to me that before the Quest for Peace can be fruitful. We must devise a reasoned and Humane worldwide strategy for the control of the population level. Boring. This the future is ominous for the population cannot increase without limit and horrible things will be visited upon us. Including Wars a virtual Annihilation will Hitler be the last mad man in history. 2C curly bangs round for an assertive least Superior race and willing to make a virtually unlimited sacrifice of human life to achieve the goal. I don't believe it. You need more space. You're going to get it ultimately. The problem of a rapidly growing population is greatly aggravated by the circumstance that the goods of Life are very in equitably distributed among the human population by even the most Elementary definition of equity. I do mean to include among the goods of Life those things that make life Pleasant and even meaningful. But I wish especially to emphasize the things that are essential to a decent life. Such as an adequate protein in the diet of children, the inequity extends into that degree. We drive Cadillacs and the enormous number of children in the world do not have enough proteins to let their minds our brains mature. As long as the inequity persists you have gross social instability a climateright for war but will Americans or Germans or perhaps even swedes peacefully surrender a portion of their goods to maintain a decent World Order. the president of these United States recently said quotes There are only 7% actually five and a half percent of the people of the world living in the United States and we use 30% actually 33% of all the world's energy. This is a knighted states five and a half percent. That is the average per capita use of energy in the United States is 9 times the average per capita consumption of energy in the rest of the world. The president added I have the same quotes. I didn't hear it. I read it. That isn't bad. That is good. That means we are the richest strongest people in the world and that we have the highest living standard in the world. That is why we need so much energy and may it always be that way in the quote. I could weep over moral disgrace in Vietnam meeting over other moral disgrace and also the president comment was later tones down. In any case, I believe that the comment reflected the spirit of the large fraction of people in the United States. It wasn't that isolated thing. It is not a comment designed to awaken face. We arouse face in the prospect of a peaceful world. World Resources are diminishing not increasing. They are finite and in a large number of cases Irreplaceable that truth is now on the mind a virtually everyone but it has been stated for many years didn't catch on you might be interested in a book by President Johnson Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall with the title quot The Myth of super abundance. In January 1972 will the undergraduates write this down read this stuff will give you an exam fine Ale in January 1972 along paper of blueprint for survival appeared in the British Journal the ecologist. It is concerned with the problem of continuing growth in the face of diminishing resources. I quote a single sentence. We can be certain that sooner or later our present Industrial Way of Life will end and that it will do so in one of two ways either against our will in a succession of famines epidemics social crisis or war or because we wish to create the society which will not impose hardship or cruelty upon our children in a succession of thoughtful Humane and measured changes. Probably how do you manage your measure change a similar studies the limits of growth or report for the club of Rome's project on their predicament mankind was published in the United States are related. Well one might argue and one does in fact argue about many of the details of both of these studies the central thesis that many of our resources will run out at present rates of usage in the relatively near future is unarguable. These studies apparently made no significant impact on the policies of government here or elsewhere. We have not words. We at large the hard way that the end of the volume is in sight and no amount of Williams technology or tax incentives for further exploration for oil will provide us with oil for very long will be patience is illaoi oil depletion allowance is the language of Texas. I was going to create Royal just create Richmond. What one means by very long depends of course on one's values I myself hope for the continuation of the best of man society into the indefinite future. If you have no affection for man, if you say well if you last a century or two or even another fifty years, that's fine with me. I'll be dead. Unassailable argument. It's a matter of your values my own extend for a long while in the future. In any case there was going to be fierce competition for the remaining natural resources weikel to industrial societies. Can one really believed that the amiable and equitable distribution of the world's residual oil will be made. Who will decide what the word Equitable means? Or will we Americans be willing to go to war to obtain what we believe to be our fair share of oil obviously. You going to Great River Bowl tradition? We would not go to war for that reason, but for a high moral purpose whose fulfillment would quite incidentally get oil to fall on our pipes for a few more years. I do detect a note of increasing belligerence towards those that control the large share of the world's oil resources are Highly Educated man. Ask me the question. Do you think it is fair that 3% of the world's population controls 40% of its oil with the clear implication that we ought to get going on the business of rectifying an obvious inequity. on January 4th the Dallas Morning News Prince of the column with the title imperialism. Was it so bad? The column reports on an article in the Sunday Times of London and the Sunday Times take my word for it is at least two cuts above the Dallas news. Anyway, the caller reports on an article in the Sunday Times of London in which the question was Colonel blimp right was asked. Maybe the other maybe the very young don't understand about Colonel bullet, but many of you do. What Colonel blimp right the assertion was made apparently in the London in the London paper? The following assertion was made. It has become clear to the United States and the Western powers in general that the existing assumptions about International morality and legality. Make no more sense. He's a euphemisms for horrible things. The London times was further quoted as saying if the normal processes of a negotiation proof people in an effort to obtain essential energy supplies, the advanced nations may decide that the imperatives of survival require a total reassessment of relationships with the oil producing states. I must say I find that phrase potpourri assessment of relationships. One of the best euphemisms. I have ever heard in my life. tremendous euphemism the official date for the beginning of the Great Depression is October 29th 1929. The worldwide depression continue to the beginning of World War II during the war the term depression lost its meaning whatever privation wanted may have endured during the war was not an immediate consequence of the economic dislocations. Depression ended with the beginning of the war the different kind of a world the post-war years have by-and-large been years of great prosperity for us and for our one-time enemies. I have a most uncomfortable feeling that many believe World War II to have been a felicitous event that broke the depression syndrome and gave birth to Prosperity without presidents. It turned out that the depression before the war and believe me. I was there having a good time. I must tell you I enjoyed the human population after the end of the war. Pendas change the texture of once daily life, unfortunately. War in a generalized that war is perceived to have been a good thing. It broke that Dreadful horror the depression. And has been and is a possible president. For the future resolution of grave social and economic problems. These are the future. This is the future. some of it and how people look at the future about the probabilities are in my mind. In present-day America a larger fraction of the population has been educated to the College of the or university level than any other country at any other time. I think I'm right to the degree to which our current Prosperity is a product of an inventive technology and sophisticated management. The prosperity is evidence of a well-educated citizenry. We have the most Splendid technicians in the world. On the other hand, we collectively like a vision of what the Society of civilized men should be. No image of gold. We like tolerance we lack respect for the planet. We respect for we we lack respect for human life. We lacked the capacity to plan for a future sum of whose elements are known. Pretty hard to predict sutures, but you don't some things about it. We do knock on the whole have a critical and inquiring cast of mind. equality often described as one of the desired endpoints of a liberal education we clearly do not place a high value on the life of the mind or the products of the mind not only as this describes the process of education, but especially as the mind give substance to an entire life. Education May properly determine what men and women do after all one cannot be an attorney a doctor of veterinarian a physicist or even an economist without a great deal of rather specialized education and our support of Education in America comes about to our respect of its capacity to prepare people to do something. More importantly education talk to you trippin what men and women are in addition to what they do? It seems to me and increasingly seems to me that education has by and large failed in producing people with qualities. Do sings You may be civilized and reflected men and women. It has failed to produce persons with goals for man and not only goals for self. It has failed to produce persons with a respect for the world in which they are placed and so help me or respect for the only articulate observers of the world that we have men. I would not be fair either to you or to me. If I ended this talk without commenting about the many millions of persons throughout the world. Who are we indeed was in the best tradition of mankind who respect human life and the Dignity of man who are civilized and Humane all respects. Unfortunately that in men's group of persons. Small was in the totality of mankind has not been able to prevail. Our real problem. One of our real purpose is to Foster and nurture the Humane tradition so that may infect Prevail. Thank you.


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