Monumentally bad writing: recovery from thermonuclear war, loan forgiveness, and taxes (1966)

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25 Responses to “Monumentally bad writing: recovery from thermonuclear war, loan forgiveness, and taxes (1966)”

  1. Jake0748 says:

    Hey, check this out.

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=AD0704499

    Its some research report about the Vietnam war, written by the same folks – human sciences research inc. Seems to be just as obfuscatory. But its 184 pages and just the table of contents and abstract are giving me a headache. Please, somebody else read it and distill out the funny bits. :P

  2. buskerbayarea says:

    I’d like to see us morally evolve past the point of needing money. Then the idea of war profiteering will now longer be culturally applicable. This would eliminate the risk of nuclear war completely.

    What’s more is that a moral evolution that could create a money-less civilization would erase economic inequality from the face of the planet. We will be able to live and breathe as independent members of the human collective organism. I propose that economic alternatives must be explored systematically and rationally – and that is the only thing that will get us out of our financial crisis.

    Perhaps a first goal can be the eradication of global debt?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Time for another video party featuring “A Boy and His Dog”.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072730/

  4. cruise says:

    Anyone interested in attitudes to nuclear conflict would find a trip to the http://www.secretnuclearbunker.com fascinating (assuming you’re in the uk).

    It’s the bunker that the uk leadership would have hidden in in the event of a nuclear attack. It’s since been retired and opened to the public.

    I’ve been twice, and for someone like myself who was born after the bulk of the cold war, it’s really remarkable how it was viewed.

  5. bjacques says:

    Well, you would need to know what the prime rate was, for credit cards whose interest rates are pegged to some multiple of it. Because not receiving a bill doesn’t let you off the hook for making your monthly payment. On the other hand, they’d probably decide you’re now a credit risk, and jack up the rate accordingly.

    So screw ‘em.

    Would gold, women and sheep be traded on the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago?

    And who’d be in charge of organizing griots to memorize (incompletely) the names of the great cities from before the Great Burning, and sing their ballads, like “24 Hours from Ulsa” and I Lost My Heart in Anfrancisc?”

    Someone had to think of these things.

    • karl_jones says:

      Would gold, women and sheep be traded on the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago?

      Yes, but not in that order.

  6. karl_jones says:

    “News from Paul Freeman. He got that body-and-soul program on the move, the one he hoped to adapt from the existing federal resources-allocation program. He said it was tough.”

    “That was the postwar one?” Sweetwater inquired.

    “Right.” Nick stretched his long arms. “Consequently it was drafted to ensure that only people the government approved of would be allotted food, medicine, clothing and power.”

    “You mean,” Kate supplied, “it was built to make certain that the people fool enough to drag us into a major war would wind up on top again afterwards.”

    “So they could screw us up the next time, right.”

    The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

  7. karl_jones says:

    I remember reading — sometime back in seventies — about the #1 and #2 items (in terms of total quantity) stockpiled by the US Government against nuclear war:

    1. Cash

    2. Morphine

    Of course, that was forty years ago, and we’ve since grown more sophisticated as a nation. Thus:

    3: ???

    4: Profit!

  8. scottfree says:

    I came home late one night and flipped channels on the tv, settling on a docu-drama on channel 5 (UK) about an apocalypse of some description. What was particularly striking about it in the first place was how many ‘experts’ there were in the field of pure speculation about how people would react to something that has never happened before — the complete breakdown of an advanced industrial state into anarchy. Their whole scenario seemed to be based on a bizarre theory of human nature. All they could imagine was a frantic and desperate scramble for what few resources were going and imagined as its ideal a sort of farm camp where one could work and raise a family. Well, doesn’t that sound familiar?

    It’s typical fantasy science fiction parading as a sort science — it says more about the present circumstances than about the future. The theses is basically that people are inherently competitive and violent and nasty and the state and work and reproduction keeps those characteristics in check. Well, one could easily say on the other hand that a state built around protecting conditions for the accumulation of wealth which has as its basis the exploitation of people who create wealth (in its elemental form, commodities) would actually predispose its subjects to those characteristics, and under other conditions, other characteristics might flourish.

    Not that I’m saying an apocalypse would be particularly pleasant for anyone, but my question is why people only seem able to talk about what is under the pretence of talking about what might be after a huge disaster. Further, in this case, although the quotation from the paper is very brief, I find the emphasis on discomfort to businessmen interesting, as that essentially is what happened during the financial crisis: whereas banks could rely on each other as lenders and borrowers, all of a sudden a breakdown in that network of ‘mutual trust’ occurred — evidently on the back of a large number of sub-prime mortgages going bust, which would be the ‘a-bomb’ in this scenario, that caused credit ratings to drop, cause interest rates to rise, causing an inability for even banks to pay back loans. The banks stopped lending to each other, and everyone’s credit suffered. Compensation for the crisis has, now, a few years later, of course taken the form of increased taxes, especially sales tax or VAT in the UK. I don’t reckon this fellow is talking about an atomic disaster at all. I think he’s talking about the financial crisis and the recession that’s ensued.

    What a weirdo.

    • Festus says:

      Scottfree, great point about the bizarre and largely unproven theories of social chaos after disasters. Rebecca Solnit studied how people actually behaved after a couple of major disasters (including 1906 SF earthquake, Katrina hurricane) and she finds that most people set about helping their neighbors. This is enormously helpful and reduces death and suffering. She proves that altruism (or at least community building) is an excellent way to handle stress.

      However, Solnit also shows the extraordinary power of the bizarre theories about human beings as essentially nasty, self-serving brutes. These theories were snapped up the media after the Katrina hurricane. Media then spun all sorts of fake stories about murder, rape and looting. These fake stories and the general belief in evil human nature did have consequences–they led to police shooting people for the smallest of infractions, they led to abandonment of thousands out of fear, and they prevented lots of neighborhood folks from helping each other.

    • Anonymous says:

      The theses is basically that people are inherently competitive and violent and nasty and the state and work and reproduction keeps those characteristics in check. Well, one could easily say on the other hand that a state built around protecting conditions for the accumulation of wealth which has as its basis the exploitation of people who create wealth (in its elemental form, commodities) would actually predispose its subjects to those characteristics, and under other conditions, other characteristics might flourish.

      All true. In difficult times, you’d think the co-operative people banding together would wipe out the exploiters. So why doesn’t it always work out in predictable ways? How does one explain Rand Paul or Idi Amin?

      Unfortunately the Milgram experiment suggests that more than sixty percent of people do what they are told without regard for their own profit or loss. So really, what inevitably happens is all groups take on the characteristics of their leadership, regardless of whether the group is a nation, a garden club, or a post-holocaust subsistence economy.

      The Russians used to say “A fish rots from the head down”. Sadly, it seems that at any given time most of us are acting as pawns and not rooks.

  9. warreno says:

    Heh. If you think this text is bad, try swallowing Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon. Nuke holocaust wipes out pretty much everything, and the protagonist is worried about how he’s going to get decent tobacco for his pipe. An absolute steaming pile of marmot shite.

    And Stefan way up @3, irradiated food is not the same thing as radioactive food. I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea of eating the former, as should anyone else be.

  10. BB says:

    “putrified moral-punk thinking on envisioning American society post nuke holocaust.”

    Sounds like one of the more inspired Sheen poems.

  11. Editz says:

    “Just walk away. Leave your pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I spare your lives.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    I read something equally reprehensible in a Business A-Level study guide: “The problem with the environment is that you can’t sell it.” There’s a world of ‘why do you think that way?’ in that simple statement.

  13. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Are they saying, are they fucking saying, that my Amazon Prime membership might not work after the apocalypse? Well, that’s rubbish.

  14. Nadreck says:

    An interesting data infrastructure wipe-out happened the first time that the Japanese invaded Korea. At the time about 1/3rd of the population were slaves and their ownership papers, along with all the other title documents, were stored in various governmental archives. The slaves took advantage of the samurai’s quick demolition of the Korean land forces to burn all of the government record buildings to the ground.

    They very briefly tried to work for the Japanese but quickly found out that that was a much worse deal than what they had before. Pretty soon every single Korean was working to fight the Japanese. The bandit chiefs teamed up with the cops and so on. The IED and the IAD (Improvised Archery Device) were invented. The Korean Navy set off in their ironclads and sent the entire Japanese Navy to the bottom. The Chinese Emperor said “What the hell are you people doing down there? As if I didn’t have enough problems. Do you know how frick’in busy I am?”

    Wacky antics ensued.

  15. Stefan Jones says:

    Some of this blythe attitude toward nuking was still around in the 1980s.

    While Dumbfuck Reagan was trying to sell us on a new ICBM system he renamed “Peacekeeper,” triumphalist cold-warrior conservatives were smugging on TV, saying that all American Families had to do in the event of the Big One was dig a hole in their back yard, cover it with a couple of doors, and wait down there a couple of weeks. Piece of cake!

    There were also these plans for a food rationing system where irradiated food would be carefully labeled and given to older people who didn’t have as much to lose by getting cancer or radiation poisoning.

    • pb says:

      Giving old people the irradiated food seems like the least bad option. What would you suggest?

      • Jake0748 says:

        Umm… maybe like try to avoid a nuclear war in the first place? m

        Or as Stefan said, feeding it to the idiot politicians, maybe save some for all the fat-cat businessmen who always seem to profit from wars and preparations for wars.

      • karl_jones says:

        Giving old people the irradiated food seems like the least bad option. What would you suggest?

        “Old people don’t need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so that it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.”

        – Homer Simpson

  16. Anonymous says:

    What’s with anti-tax libertarianism anyway? Nothing wrong with taxes, they are the keystone to what keeps our society as comfortable as we have it today. What needs to change is how the taxes are actually spent.

    Though I’ll agree, it’s really an odd priority for post-holocaust society. Especially considering there would be no money to tax, and no infrastructure to collect it.

  17. Stefan Jones says:

    I’d shove it down the craws of the politicians and cold warriors responsible for the war. Every meal, to remind them of their failure.

    The least bad option is not having a nuclear war in the first place.

  18. OtiGoji says:

    While visiting the Reagan Library a few years ago, I couldn’t help but notice a full scale mock up of the Fat Man. My eyes were drawn to a charming stencil message that read something like “Inert unarmed device: For display only.” Whew, that was a load off my mind.

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