Chris Hedges: The Science of Genocide

Chris Hedges, truthdig.com, August 6, 2012

Illustration by Mr. Fish

On this day in 1945 the United States demonstrated that it was as morally bankrupt as the Nazi machine it had recently vanquished and the Soviet regime with which it was allied. Over Hiroshima, and three days later over Nagasaki, it exploded an atomic device that was the most efficient weapon of genocide in human history. The blast killed tens of thousands of men, women and children. It was an act of mass annihilation that was strategically and militarily indefensible. The Japanese had been on the verge of surrender. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no military significance. It was a war crime for which no one was ever tried. The explosions, which marked the culmination of three centuries of physics, signaled the ascendancy of the technician and scientist as our most potent agents of death.

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2 Responses to “Chris Hedges: The Science of Genocide”

  1. Rupen Savoulian Says:

    Thank you for posting this article.

    While Hedges’ writings are quite perceptive, I think in this instance his perspective is deeply flawed.

    Hedges is absolutely correct in pointing out the criminal barbarity of nuclear weapons, of pursuing military supremacy at the expense of human life. Science and technology, guided only by the drive for corporate profits, has developed weapons capable of enormous destruction, and has blighted the environment through pollution and human-induced global warming.

    However, I think it is not science itself that has lead to this deplorable situation, but the irrationality of the capitalist system. While private profit is the main imperative of our economic system, social needs are shunted aside, and the enormous resources of our planet are devoted towards enriching a tiny minority at the expense of the majority, and also endangering humanity’s survival.

    It was not science that lead to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but dogma. The dogma of racial superiority, condemning thousands of Japanese civilians to death in the name of ‘preserving’ American lives. The new religion of our times is not science, but free-market fundamentalism. This dogma subjects all human endeavours, including science, to the drive for corporate profits. Irrationality in the economic sphere finds its reflection in the scientific world, where the scientific resources of the major imperialist countries are devoted to military objectives, rather than alleviating the problems of disease, malnutrition, redressing fossil fuel burning and the like.

    Throughout history, irrational belief systems, superstitions and religion have been responsible for criminal, destructive and homicidal behaviour in many societies. People motivated by a belief in a supreme being have justified their atrocities by invoking their religious beliefs. As Hedges points out, attempts to ‘play
    God’ have been carried out by moral idiots. Religious institutions, claiming to embody the highest ethical standards, have carried out terrible crimes in the name of a higher being. What has amplified the tendency to wars and conflict is not a belief in science, but the subjection of science and technology to the imperialist drive for resources and markets. Let us overthrow this outmoded, decaying capitalist system so that human and social needs become the predominant motive animating our scientific researches and economic system.

  2. sudhan Says:

    Thanks Rupen for your response to Hedges’ article. You are certainly right when you point out that it is not science per se that is responsible for destructive nuclear weapons but rather the capitalist system and its main agents whose only concern is having their way in maximising their profits.

    Science has empowered us to understand nature and what lies in it. Such knowledge has given us immense potential, a potential that is also used for destructive and ani-human objectives. For example, we are watching how the present American administration of Obama is carrying out a criminal slaughter of innocent people in many places by using the Drone machines. In Pakistan, Americans are carrying out relentless killings and such crimes against humanity are tolerated by the powerful nations because America has power and it uses it as it wishes without any hindrance! This is misuse of technology for anti-human objectives. But imperialism is a system of barbarism that uses coercion and armed force to impose its hegemony and domination for political and economic objectives. Isn’t this what we are witnessing now?

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