So you can see that the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken. Contrary to the customary pattern, I have gradually become more and more of a rebel as I have grown older. RUSSELL: It does rather look that way. Lord Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872-1970) speaking from the plinth of Nelson's Column. There is also threat and counter-threat, where each side hopes the other will give way—a course inevitably bringing such dangerous factors as prestige and national pride into play. When I was young, I thought the battle for tolerance had been won. It would be better, of course, if such aid were given cooperatively by both sides, but I don’t think that this is practical politics at the moment. If mankind is to survive at all, intelligent people must learn to think and act in a less provocative manner than in former times. PLAYBOY: In a scathing reference to President Kennedy, Premier Khru­shchev and Prime Minister Macmillan, you said in 1961 that “they are the wickedest people who have ever lived in the history of man, and it is our duty to do what we can against them.” Did you actually mean to say that Kennedy, Khrushchev and Macmillan are the worst of a gallery of villains which includes Hitler and Attila? RUSSELL: It is something more. With an unfailing wit, the recordings cover mathematics, literature, atomic physics and history. I think it essential to teach a certain hesitancy about dogma. RUSSELL: On the contrary. On October 21, 1962, for example, the New York Times reported: ... Bertrand Russell’s letter on this page reflects an unfortunate and - despite his eminence as a philosopher - an unthinking receptivity to the most transparent Communist propaganda. The same applies to Western visitors in Russia. RUSSELL: I said at Trafalgar Square that we would need luck as things were, and we have been extremely lucky so far. These things I still believe. PLAYBOY: On a personal level, why have you chosen to adopt a policy of civil disobedience as a means of promoting the cause of peace? PLAYBOY: So far we have been talking mainly of the issues which have preoccupied you during the last half-dozen years. . Bertrand Russell - On Nuclear Morality (1962).ogv download 2.6M vlc-record-2020-01-06-08h04m02s-Bertrand Russell - On Nuclear Morality (1962).mp4-.ogv download In October 1961—after a decade of mounting personal outcry against the unabating arms race—Russell warned his uneasy listeners at a ban-the-bomb rally in London’s Trafalgar Square that they would be lucky if any of them were alive in a year’s time. PLAYBOY: Even if a nuclear conflict is avoided, either through disarmament or a continuing balance of power, Khrushchev has made it clear that future “peaceful co-existence” will entail a continuing nonviolent struggle on the ideological front and an intensified campaign of economic competition which he predicts will eventually “bury” us. All rights reserved. What I am saying is this: When two great powers disagree about anything—it doesn’t matter what—they must find a way to settle it somehow by arbitration or by negotiation, not by war or threat of war. They have not altered a scrap. The truth is that neither is wickeder than the other. You get the same sort of explanation in both countries. The subject of sex is so surrounded by superstitions and taboos that I approach it with trepidation. It would not be difficult to build a peaceful world if people really wanted it. As spiritual leader of the famed Committee of 100, a ban-the-bomb group that commands widespread popular support in Britain, he has also earned international eminence—and a brief prison term for civil disobedience—as the most articulate agitator for the controversial cause of unilateral disarmament. RUSSELL: I still take exactly the same view. For every day we continue to live, remain able to act, we must be profoundly grateful. America should remember the War of 1812 when the United States would not tolerate a British blockade. Playboy interviews were one platform that gave these feared enemies opportunities to explain their views to American audiences and present overt critiques of US foreign policy. If we are to preserve individual liberty in this new world of huge firms and institutions, we must begin thinking in different terms from the tenets of classical liberalism. Neither side wants agreement, and they have to have something plausible to disagree about. Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2020. Fifty years after his death, Russell’s voice—an enduring call to liberal dissent—is preserved on YouTube, where self-isolating listeners can find a trove of his words and wisdom.


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