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Roots Run Deeper Than Silos

Dennis Fox

MSU State News
April 5, 1982

Nuclear war is in the air, and with it comes the expected (and welcome) calls for disarmament. The Nuclear Freeze Campaign, sweeping the nation so successfully that it regularly makes the evening news, has come to Michigan, and a wide variety of other activities are gaining momentum. April alone will give us at MSU an almost non-stop opportunity to see films, listen to lectures, attend conferences and publicly demonstrate our concerns about the devastating impact of the nuclear arms race on American society.

Disarmament is certainly necessary. But it is hardly enough.

Showing the connections between the arms race and our national economic troubles is necessary. But that is far from the most important point

Examining the conflict between the goals of the military-industrial complex and the desires of people all over the world for a sane, healthy, survivable life is necessary. But we need to go farther than that.

We need to look at the very nature of our American culture.

We need to ask how we have created a society that is willing to risk world-wide suicide in order. to protect our ... what?

\We need to examine ourselves. To question our basic assumptions. Because it is those basic values -- our conception of ourselves as individuals and as a nation -- that have brought us to where we are today.

Nuclear weapons are not the problem. They are instead the symptoms of an underlying disease. True, we have to get rid of those symptoms before they kill us.

But if we ignore the disease as we treat the symptoms -- if we push for disarmament without getting to the root of the problem -- we are doomed to face the disease over and over again. Nuclear weapons will come back again, or else the disease will manifest itself in some other form of collective psychosis.

What is there about American civilization that has brought us to this point?

It is not a question of who is president at any one particular time, or how many "progressive" politicians can be elected to Congress or whether we need to be able to kill every Russian 40 times or only once or twice. It is not even a question of whether the Russians deserve to be mistrusted any more than we do.

It is a question of what we think is important in our lives.

Why do we have so much confidence in our government that we give up our individual responsibility to "leaders" who have repeatedly demonstrated only that they do not deserve to lead?

How does our faith in the advice of "experts" withstand so much evidence of poor judgment. mistaken assumptions and a horrendous willingness to sacrifice millions of our lives in their computerized scenarios of a "successful" nuclear war?

When will we realize that our reliance on technology, our notions of "progress" and "honor," our conviction that as Americans we have the right to control -- or destroy -- the world in order to protect our "way of life?"--when will we realize that it is these childish, macho notions that are the heart of the problem?

The United States has to protect the American Way of Life by threatening the world with mass murder because that way of life is built on a framework that is fundamentally flawed. Yet rather than admitting the flaw and trying to correct it, we deny its existence and "protect" ourselves by our willingness to destroy everything.

The world is changing, and the American Myth has to change with it. A world-wide suburbia of middle-class materialists is just not possible and the rest of the world is not about to let the United States continue to support a lifestyle based on a disproportionate share of the earth's resources. Will we accept that change gracefully and get on with determining our true needs, based on fair participation in the world community, or will we destroy ourselves with the rest of the world in order to avoid accepting the necessity for change.

Individuals find it difficult to change and so do nations. Yet the longer we avoid facing facts--the more defenses we put up against it--the harder it will be for us in the end.

 


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