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Atomic Bombs or Democracy

by Peter Burger and Hans Krieger Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at 3:50 AM

The atomic bomb reveals the totalitarian element latent to human existence. Our species is marked by the ability to impose the universal death penalty on itself.. War thinking devours most resources of the world and is resistant against experiential knowledge.


By Peter Burger

A civilizing perspective must follow the moral judgment. Notes on the mass murders in Japan on August 6 and 8, 1945

[This article published on 8/9/2015 is translated abridged from the German on the Internet,]

A few days ago Spiegel Online published an article about Paul Tibbets, the death-pilot of the Hiroshima bomb titled “The Unrepentant Mass Murderer” [1]. The focus should not be on a cynical individual personality but on the civilization abyss that opened up with the world domination experiments over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Paul Tibbets is only one of countless representatives of the “banality of evil.” Long before he came on the scene that civilization complex of misanthropy existed and prepared for the invention, production and deployment of atomic bombs.

A mass murder civilization complex is central, not little sociopaths, gigantic sociopathic structures, a systemic machine of repression and lies and not accidentally involved humans and would-be heroes. That abyss of our species, the dark backside of a possible beauty of everyone, “materialized” so to speak in the form of the atomic bomb. This event of the abyss concerns the human family on the planet as a whole including the future – not yet born – generations.

The ideological “superstructure” is crucial. The atomic bomb reveals unsurpassably the totalitarian element latent to human existence. Our species is marked by the ability to impose the universal death penalty on itself. Can a great cultural achievement cancel this horror and thus overcome a “civilization thinking” in the categories of capital punishment?


This does not seem to be the case seventy years after “Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” We put up with the war religion whose highest deity is the atomic bomb, the most powerful form of religion for the civilization process. War-thinking devours most resources of the world society by far and incessantly reproduces a world disorder where the potentials of sympathy, solidarity and joy in life are systematically stifled.

The costly military production of suffering is passed off politically as “rational conduct.” In the mass culture, infantile superman myths (including the beautiful mushroom cloud) subsidize the war machine. The passionate principle of the United Nations, liberating humanity from the scourge of war, can hardly be discerned now.

Whoever has the “thing” does not need to speak any more.

On July 8, 1996 the International Criminal Court declared the threat of using a nuclear weapon and the use of atomic bombs violate international law…[2]

The atomic bomb as Arundhati Roy emphasizes is the most anti-democratic and most totalitarian thing ever produced by humans. Whoever can threaten with massive destruction inevitably refuses to develop a global survival culture under the sign of empathy, dialogue and reason. Whoever has the “thing” does not need to enter any dialog with anyone without the “thing.” Therefore the bomb is incompatible with the promises of enlightenment, freedom, democracy and international law.

The bomb raises paranoia to a higher power that endangers people infinitely more than any other species on the planet…

The physical (or social) elimination of humans occurs at come place of the earth at the touch of a digital button day after day. Even supposedly progressive – “post-colonialist” – arguments are put forward for being accustomed to suspension of law. Belligerent anarchy on a global scale is rated as the normal case while the idea of a lawfully ordered world of nations only amounts to an old-European (“imperialistic”) working model. When things are stylized this way, there is no alternative to the totalitarian solution – including remote-controlled murders and possession of nuclear weapons.

The withdrawal of “nuclear weapons in Germany” is a pious desire of parliament.

Several hundred local German communities and respectable politicians from all parties are members of the international network of Mayors for Peace [3], mayors for a nuclear-weapon-free globe. On March 24, 2010 the CDU/CSU, SPD. FDP and the Greens presented a bill [4] in the Bundestag to “withdraw the nuclear weapons remaining in Germany.”

A half decade later, nothing is moving in a positive direction in this matter. This says something about the incompatibility of atomic bombs and democracy. My proposal is a referendum on the fate of nuclear warheads and simultaneously a poll of the world population regarding all nuclear weapons on earth. Afterwards we will be even wiser.

Theologians who justify the “Christian bomb” [5] with blasphemous “prayers” and totalitarian thought-patterns have existed since 1945. However the Fulda bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen in agreement with a Vatican document [6] recently stressed that possession of nuclear weapons is immoral. Renke Brahms, peace commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Germany, said: [7]

“The threat with nuclear weapons cannot be regarded today as a means of legitimate self-defense from the view of evangelical peace ethics… At last nuclear weapons cannot be a stable component of the military strategy of states or military alliances.”

In the area of peace ethics, nuclear theologians have no chance any more of gaining a hearing in the large churches. This will first become convincing when the “No” to the current doctrine of NATO and other despisers of the United Nations becomes Christian practice everywhere. If all church bells ring simultaneously next year on Hiroshima Day for a new chapter of history without the bomb, then I will believe the sermon is taken seriously.

The many commemorative articles in the media in the last weeks should be praised. However many remain in the perspective of a well-meaning moralizing and do not touch the civilization complex and subject – for the time being – to the control of state systems. The atomic bomb is not produced and deployed by “evil persons.”

War thinking is resistant against experiential knowledge and blind for the insight that no one (!) is the exclusive owner of its productions. A future perspective of human civilization can not be developed under the dominance of atomic weapons or so-called superpowers. What empire of history has not succumbed at the end to its own megalomania?

Seen realistically, there is no alternative to a global, supra-national friendship movement beyond the death-penalty ideology of “good and evil.”… Maybe bridge-building from below is the greatest conceivable subversion of the nuclear madhouse.

In 2005 the author wrote a book “Hiroshima, War and Christians” which can be downloaded free of charge on the Internet [8].











By Hans Krieger

[This article published in Ossietzky 15/ 2015 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

A new age of anxiety began with the atomic flash over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and the second over Nagasaki three days later. Since then, humanity has lived under the threat of its self-extinction through the destructive potential of its technical power. So the division of the world in West and East began. Hiroshima was the starting signal for the gigantic arms race of the Cold War that more than once came within a hair’s breadth of a hot war or nuclear inferno.

According to American self-understanding, dropping the atomic bomb was a patriotic act. The 220,000 people who died immediately in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or died tormented in the following weeks and the other 600,000 who succumbed to the late consequences of terrible suffering after long years were the price for saving 500,000 American soldiers… The atomic bomb was to force the island-empire to capitulation.

But nothing is right in this cynical calculation. The military advisers of President Harry Truman repeatedly decried the use of bombs as unnecessary barbarism. Dropping bombs did not force the war’s end. Rather the war’s end was delayed to deploy the bombs.

Months before, Japan signaled its readiness to capitulate and only asked for assurance that capitulation would not mean renouncing on the empire as a symbol of national identity… Capitulation was not desired. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the emperor question was not important any more. Japan capitulated and matter-of-factly retained its emperor. Stalin was the real addressant of those intimidating gestures. Japan was not brought to reason with the dropping of the atomic bomb. The Soviet Union should be made compliant for the new order of the postwar world according to the will of the US superpower.

This emerges from the documents searched very thoroughly by the American political scientist Gar Alperovitz. Truman delayed several weeks the victors’ conference on Europe’s future planned for June 1945 in Potsdam. At the same time he drove the atomic scientists who prepared a first test-explosion in New Mexico’s wilderness. The test had to succeed during the Potsdam conference even with unfavorable weather conditions. As the sole owner of a successfully tested horrific weapon, Truman wanted to force the Russians to their knees.

Truman’s advisers met a changed president after the meeting and victory announcement in Potsdam. They had not known him to come on so strong and domineering. Negotiations on Russia’s reparation claims against Germany were cancelled; the Soviet Union had to keep to its own occupation zone. The Soviet Union must have felt threatened, insulated itself and tried to build and secure a protective bulwark in Eastern Europe. No one can know how the postwar history would have turned out without Hiroshima.

To make the threat credible, the US had to show readiness to deploy the bomb. That was the reason for Hiroshima. A very populated big city was consciously chosen as the target, not industrial facilities. Nagasaki was necessary to demonstrate that America had more than one of these terrorizing bombs.

The victims never received compensation any more than the victims of the war in Vietnam where 60 million liters of dioxin-laden Agent Orange pesticides were sprayed over wide parts of the land. People still die today of the late consequences and misshapen children are born. Remembering the victims would endanger America’s self-image of always fighting for a good cause. Therefore the renowned Smithsonian Institute in Washington was forced with massive threats to cancel its planned memorial exhibit planned on the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. The danger existed that pieces of the exhibition like scorched children’s clothing and a half-radiated teddy bear could awaken sympathies for the victims.

The basic pattern is visible here that continues up to today, to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and to the targeted killings with drones. American is penetrated by the ideology of the “just war,” by the conviction that this is a war of good against evil and America obviously represents the good. In a paradoxical way, the moralizing of weapons – the battle of good against evil – should justify the deployment of absolutely immoral means. This must make us distrustful toward all attempts to substantiate belligerent operations with protection of freedom and human rights.

Hiroshima remains an admonition – for outlawing war generally and not only atomic weapons. All energies should be used for developing effective instruments of non-violent conflict resolution – in contrast to persuasions of war ministers – the true responsibility of Germany that was to blame for two world wars.

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