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Sunday 26 February 2023

Wisdom Beyond Political Leaders

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I found this interesting, from Watchmen, how insightful the authors were about how Russia would respond to America’s arrogance on the world stage. 

“For one thing, it is an assumption based upon the belief that American psychology and its Soviet counterpart are interchangeable. To understand the Russian attitude to the possibility of a third world war one must first understand their attitude to the second. In WW11, none of the allied powers fought so bitterly or sustained such losses as did the Russians. It was Hitler’s lack of success in his assault upon the Soviet heartland that assured his eventual defeat, and though it was paid for mostly by Soviet lives, the entire world reaped the benefits. In time, the Russian contribution to the war efforts has been downplayed and dismissed – most noticeably as our political differences became wider – as we glorified our own contribution while forgetting that of our estranged former allies. The Russians, however, have not forgotten. These are still those who remember the horror of a war fought on their soil, and almost certainly there are members of the Politiburo in that category. From my reading of various pronouncements made by the Russian high command over the years, I am convinced that they will never again permit their nation to be threatened in a similar matter, no matter what the cost.

The presence of a deterrent such as Dr. Manhattan has doubtless curbed Soviet adventurism, as there have been numerous occasions when the U.S.S.R has had to step down over some issue rather than risk escalation into a war it certainly could not win, Often, these reversals have been humiliating, and this has perhaps fostered the illusion that the Soviets will suffer such indignities endlessly. This is a misconception, for there is indeed another option available. 

That option is Mutually Assured Destruction. Stated simply, Dr. Manhattan cannot stop all the Soviet warheads from reaching American soil, even a greatly reduced percentage would still be more than enough to effectively end the organic life in the northern hemisphere. The suggestion that the presence of a superhuman has inclined the world more towards peace is refudiated by the sharper increase in both Russian and American nuclear stockpiles since the advent of Dr. Manhattan. Infinite destruction divided by two or ten or twenty is still infinite destruction. If threated with eventual domination, would the Soviets pursue this unquestionably suicidal course? Yes. Given their history and their view of the world, I believe they would.

Our current administration believes otherwise. They continually push their unearned advantage until American influence comes uncomfortably close to key areas of Soviet interest. It is as if, with a real live Deity on their side – our leaders have become intoxicated with a heady draught of Omnipotence-by-Association, without realizing just how his very existence has deformed the lives of every living creature on the face of this plant.

This is true in a domestic sense as well as a broader, international one. The technology that Dr. Manhattan has made possible has changed the way we think about our clothes, our food, our travel. We drive electric cars and travel in leisure and comfort in clean, economical airships. Our entire culture has had to contort itself to accommodate the presence of something more than human, and we have all felt the results of this. The evidence surrounds us, in our everyday lives and on the front pages of the news papers we read. One single beings have been allowed to change the entire world, pushing it closer to its eventual destruction in the process. The Gods now walk amongst us, affecting the lives of every man, woman and child on the plant in a direct way rather than through mythology and the reassurances of faith. The safety of a whole world rests in the hands of a being far beyond what we understand to be human.”* 

There is of course much fiction in this comic book reflection. It's reflecting on how America would act if they had a real Superman on their team. But the reflection is largely based on a hard reality: the different way that Russians view the world. 

Imagine how a nation that experienced the brutal invasions of the Nazis feels about the biggest military power in the world building a coalition to contain it, and force it to submit? In fact how often has the West invaded Russia seeking to subdue it? 

But the even more powerful insight in this is the consideration that the US would abuse its dominance, to lord it over its former equals. While they have not actually obtained the alliance of super beings, the US has grown very powerful and very arrogant in its unipolar dominance. Arrogance leads to haughtiness and this haughtiness leads to foolish actions, like continually stoking a war against the largest nuclear power on earth...for instance. 

These are truly remarkable times. 

We all must be praying that the war-mongerers are held back and this war does not escalate. Too much is at stake. 

But how do you convince the haughty to be humble and admit the foolishness of their actions? It is easier said than done. Most humans learn by experience not wisdom.

But it's obvious some can learn this lesson, because in the 1980s these comic books authors understood the situation better than most do today. The wisdom of these comic book writers stands head and shoulders above that of our current political leaders.

*141-142, Watchmen, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons. 

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