Saturday, July 02, 2005

Revisiting the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

Last month I lamented that the 50th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto had passed without much notice. It turns out that I was wrong, as I had thought the anniversary was on June 9th when it is actually on July 9th. Thankfully, this was brought to my attention by Sandra Ionno Butcher of Pugwash Online who also points out that "the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs will host a conference in Hiroshima, marking the 50th anniversary of the Manifesto, and also the 60th anniversary of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Butcher is the author of "The Origins of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto,"a splendid essay detailing the historical development of the manifesto up through the first Pugwash conferance. It is quite informative.

She also pointed me towards a recent op-ed piece by Joseph Rotblat, the last remaining signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. Rotblat frames the significance of the manifesto poignantly:

Fifty years ago we wrote: "We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?" That question is as relevant today as it was in 1955. So is the manifesto's admonition: "Remember your humanity, and forget the rest."

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