We sometimes talk about fallout as the consequence of a nuclear blast.
That is, what happens when a nuclear weapon goes off.
After the initial explosion, what it’s essentially doing is blasting neutrons into everything. By “everything,” I’m talking about all the atomic particles which form… you know, everything. Not only that, but fallout also includes all the weaponised and radioactive isotopic material that bombs like this scatter in a thin layer as far as the blast dictates. This isotopic material also continues to blast neutrons into everything.
A nuclear reaction, in fact, is like an endless pool table with infinite clusters of balls. When you smash your cue ball (your initial neutron) into any particular cluster (other atoms), that cluster fragments and sends balls into nearby clusters. Then, they fragment, and send balls into yet more clusters. Eventually, the entire table reaches a point of total dissolution, depending on how many balls, how densely packed and so on and so forth.
Nuclear reactions are just chain reactions of dissolution, and the material that we think of as “fallout” can have an extended half-life. Some people think that areas around Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still irradiated (composed partially of radioactive material) and that could be true depending on where the material landed. Some mediums extend half-life; like water.
Why am I talking about nuclear reactions on a free speech blog?
I’m referring more to, in this case, the threat of nuclear reactions and that fallout. I’m going to try to re-purpose the metaphor, and I’m going to try to explain to you that the reason free speech is “threatened” today is because we’ve lived in about a century of justification for the possibility that we might have to use these weapons.
That’s our fallout. Those justifications, how we made them, and how they affect policy.
It’s the nuts and bolts of how the government and military could ever convince us that we should use something that either vapourises people into nuclear shadows, or slowly dissolves them from the inside out as they breathe, drink, or ingest radioactive isotopes nearly incidental of the initial blasts.
They do it, basically, by lying—it’s all lies. This is something I want you to keep in mind as you read this article. On the other hand, it’s motivated lies, and those motivations never, ever change.
The same reason we dropped troops into Iraq with their “weapons of mass destruction,” which turned out to be ideology, AK-47s and cheaply-purchased Ford trucks was why Rome used its own Final Solution on a city-state known as Carthage.
In 2003, it turned out all we’d done is sent good men there just there to die, with vague hopes of a regime change ostentatiously put forth. History, of course, rejects any such attempt as totally futile. People change when you persuade them, not when you occupy them—and even then, it’s dicey for a few hundred years.
However, in that invasion, you started getting reports of maltreatment from soldiers to indigenous peoples—and we start getting people back in body bags and coffins. So, how can they act like that? Well, of course, that always happens. Because it always happens, it’s our topic for today; the dehumanisation of people you need to somehow use force against—war, taxes, or anything likewise.
To start with the more obvious examples, the threat of total war, be it a war of conquest in the First World War, a war of extermination in the Second World War, or a long, steely, everybody-goes-extinct ideological Cold War, has a peculiar effect on society.
It polarises, and forces a bunch of institutions into existence which have to justify and persuade people that this polarisation is how things are supposed to work.
That’s entirely without some natural forces at work that I’ll also take a stab at explaining.
So let’s get after this institutional argument.
What would it take for you to kill someone? And not out of rage or desperation, either. Not out of self-defense or anything like that—the things that usually precede a homicide. There’s a reason that wars have to be institutionalised, and it’s that the mass-murder of an opposing set of human beings doesn’t actually come naturally to us, or it would happen a lot more often.
I mean, when you think about it, why go to all the trouble of formalising ethics about not killing each other if you belong to the same community? There’s no point, in and of itself, unless not killing one another had some kind of societal benefit. This, I think, is where we get to the Finite Resources part of the argument that I always make when I try to define people opposing one another. In order to properly cultivate and harness resources, there’s a fundamental threshold of peace and cooperation that you need for everyone to survive. That way, as few of those precious resources as possible is consumed in domestic or internal struggles to whatever tribe we’re talking about.
Whether hunter-gatherers, agriculture and food-production societies, or large states, anarchy is essentially counterproductive and nobody likes starving to death. Even if that’s all it is—you know, completely ignoring the metaphysical and religious questions—you wind up with the basis cornerstone on why we don’t tend to kill each other for no reason.
How does the institutional argument counter this basic instinct? Well, the first thing you have to do with any persuasive argument is define your terms. You need an enemy to point a nuclear warhead at, and then because you need people to pay for that warhead, you have to convince your tax-paying population that this is a good thing to spend money on.
In other words, the hunter-gatherers should make some swords instead of just bows, arrows, and spears. The food-producers should consider tagging some of their yield for preservation and donation to the military so that the troops can march long distances and still be alive when they get where they’re going. The citizens of the state should vote for—or at least not violently rebel when asked to contribute—some of their output toward the war effort.
You’re not gonna convince them, though, unless maybe two things have been true.
The first: the enemy is trying to destroy you, too. Naturally, success on the enemy’s part would put sort of a kink in the self-preservation instinct. That’s the easy one, though, and it has roots which extend a bit deeper than just “oh, someone says these other people are trying to hurt us so let’s kill them.”
The other: much more important is to convince your people that the opposing group aren’t really people. Or at least, you have to convince them that even if they were people, the values they hold are totally incompatible with your own.
This is where our Finite Resources principle begins to show up again. If an unspoken assumption on the part of literally everybody is that the world only has a finite amount of stuff (which is verifiable—Germs, Guns, and Steel is almost an entire book about how limited resources drastically affects the development of a civilisation) and you need that stuff, then naturally you either need to assimilate or eliminate competitors for that stuff.
So, what does an institution based on warfare do?
It tries to convince you that nobody else really exists on the same level you do. That’s why the Nazis weren’t even much different from anybody else. Go and read Von Manstein’s Lost Victories and you get a sense for this—he says that Hitler’s “ubermensch” stuff only really appealed to the total zealots in the German state.
However, they were convinced of German superiority. They were convinced that Germany had been made a victim, and had had their stuff taken away in the admittedly totally unfair Armistice of 1918. So you have your Finite Resources principle all lined up.
All the German state had to do after that, with its massive propaganda mechanisms, was cast some doubt on other people on Europe being human at all. The anger over the end of the First World War and the near social dissolution of the subsequent Weimar Republic period sort of took care of the rest.
On the other hand, once the Americans got involved, things went totally insane.
As a fundamentally democratic republic, the United States didn’t just need some cover justification to go to war; it fundamentally required the total agreement of the majority. In that vein, what it really needed was a life-or-death struggle to throw all its resources into, and so it turned to ideology.
Militant democracy is something you’ve probably never heard of. Neither have I, in fact, having just made it up, but it fits the practical application of what has been called, “Wilsonianism,” named after Woodrow Wilson who committed the Americans to the First World War and started the ball rolling on all this.
The American constitution claims that all people are created equal and are “endowed with certain inalienable rights,” which they mostly interpret as meaning that people should have democracy and be equal and be individuals and all that sort of thing. That declaration, of course, was meant to apply only to themselves, but you can definitely see the foreshadowing where you could also use it to start interpret, for example, foreign affairs.
This is exactly what happened, first with the Nazis as “the great enemy,” (because of course, genocide and warmongering tend to create the impression that you’re not necessarily in line with the “inalienable rights” bit) and later the Soviet Union, which was rightly viewed as the perpetrator of a global slave-state.
Communism, of course, in any practical form, is a permeative slave-state which owns all the productivity of every individual. That, of course, means that practically speaking, there is no individual.
The problem that arose in that era is that we had—yes, right back to the beginning of the article—nuclear weapons which could erase millions at a time. These were world-ending weapons, weapons that could wipe entire continents clean of life.
My argument, naturally, is that because of the massive effect these weapons could have, the polarisation, the institutional justifications for why we would be able to use them and why we should pay for them became that much more extreme. It also forced the institutions to absolutely refuse to retract any statements they’d ever made, because policy started to layer up around doing so.
SALT and START treaties, meant to “reduce the proliferation of nuclear arms,” mostly served as an excuse to streamline the armament. Destroy older models and replace them with fewer, but much more destructive models—atom bombs to hydrogen bombs.
By the time the USSR abruptly dissolved, America and most of the West had become so involved in its militant democracy that it no longer resembled democracy—naturally, there are also a thousand other reasons for this, but I’m trying to explain this small corner right now—and things began to spill over. With all this taxation levied—and never being retracted—so that the government could pay for its arms race, it needed more enemies to polarise against.
It was only a matter of time before this became an internal problem, where before it had always been a foreign affairs application. More than that, as Western society, now at peace with the world, began to import massive numbers of the defeated civilisations of the past few thousand years, somebody had to keep paying for things.
And don’t think that those defeated civilisations ever forgot anything. From Africa to the Mediterranean to the Near East, the remnants of broken worlds are piled up with sediment. Persia is divided into a million warring city states, but they’re all at war with everybody. Africa, so behind the curve of civilisation, was defeated and eaten by European colonists with hardly a whisper. India and the Mughal Empires, the various Khanates left by the Mongol invasions of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, all spawned yet more enemies in more defeated circumstances (as the Mongols were basically their own civilisation-resetting apocalypse at crucial times in the development of, for example, Islamic society with the total destruction of Khwarezm). Since people from these areas are a lot of things, but most of all, hostile to the West (and not without reason) not only did they not have the skillset to produce in an advanced civilisation, but they weren’t and aren’t inclined to do so. Since the government doesn’t care about that, but likes votes and money, they give these people citizenship then weaponise them against people who pay taxes.
The government now shamelessly uses its institutional arguments against its own people to pay for policies that continue the arms race by convincing masses of its new population to vote for them while they extract massive amounts of taxation from the indigenous people.
How? Welfare. One word. The illusion that resources are not finite. They are finite, but now you’re extracting them from only a specific class of people while trying to convince everyone that those people deserve to be stolen from for sins originally perpetrated by the government.
The mechanic hasn’t even changed! They still use their propagandistic polarisation. They still try to define people who don’t fall in line with self-held principles as monsters.
In the end, it still comes down to how you construe, define, and populate your “society.” The people who make things livable, but now the sides are so weaponised by a century of polarisation that you can’t really talk to anyone about it anymore. Every distance is a massive divide, every difference is the difference between human and non-human—from every side.
What counters this?
Free speech. Talk. To everyone. All the time.
You’re going to find that nobody’s really different. White people didn’t individually enslave anyone, just like the Muslim slave trade (Pan-Saharan slave trade) isn’t something you can blame each Muslim for.
So your fallout isn’t from having used nuclear weapons. It’s to fuel them. Sort of a pre-fallout, but it lands on society and begins to dissolve it the way that radioactive isotopes dissolve tissue. Eventually, what takes shape is a mutated, cancerous, and mostly-destroyed vision of what we started with.
The only thing you can do now, in response, is to keep communication open and to listen to the actual facts, and I’m going to be honest with you: actual facts come from widespread research. The mainstream media barely does any, and believing most modern science is an act of faith, so the only thing you really have left is to cultivate immediate connections and keep the line open.
Do that, and maybe you’ll understand how badly we’ve been affected by this fallout.