Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fifty years of shame

The true face of patriarchy - the war god's erect weapon

On the 15th of May 1957 a Valiant bomber of the Royal Air Force released Britain's first atomic bomb over Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean. At 10.38 a.m. local time it successfully exploded. Thousands of miles away - and safe from harm in England - Prime Minister Harold Macmillan smiled. He and the patriarchs who rule had achieved the one goal they really, really wanted - a place at the top table of leaders in the post-war world.

By the standards of the biggest player - the United States Government - Macmillan's weapon was desperately small, a very unmanly 300 kilotons. So enlargement was hot on the agenda and everyone had to work flat out to achieve it. At the end of the very same month an 800 kiloton weapon had been exploded. This was followed by a 1.8 megaton device in November and a 3 megaton device in April 1958. At last the Prime Minister had a weapon every bit as manly and as satisfying as anything the US or the USSR governments could erect before the world.

For the prize of power our patriarchs were willing to compromise safety at Windscale where, on October the 10th 1957, the core of the nuclear reactor used to provide material for these weapons caught fire releasing substantial amounts of radioactive material. They were willing to risk the lives of their own military assembled to witness the firestorms. They were willing to ignore the peoples of the Pacific. They were willing to release radioactivity across our Mother the Earth. All this when Britain was bankrupt after the war and desperately needed resources to be channeled towards housing, education and health care.

And for what again - so our leaders could be "real men" before the United States Government and the world. So they could be proud to have the capability of far surpassing the worst biblical genocides with a weapon that could destroy not just cities - like Sodom and Gomorrah - but entire regions.

Fifty years later Britain is still a nuclear power - our leaders still want to stand erect as "real men" in Iraq and throughout the world even if only from the safety of their bullet-proof vehicles in London. Fifty years later Britain's offence expenditure stands at 33.4 billion pounds a year, second only to the United States. Fifty years of shame.

Fifty years later some interesting reports have been produced. The Economist ranked 111 countries on the quality of life of their citizens. They looked at important factors like gender equality, health, well-being and freedom. The top ranking country on this scale was Ireland, followed by Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. Britain came a poor 29th. The 2006 Human Development Index of the UN ranks Norway, Iceland, Australia and Ireland as the top four countries with Britain a poor 18th.

There is a pattern here. Countries with low offence budgets whose leaders don't feel the need to prove their "manhood" before the United States Government and the world are by far the best countries in which to live. Ireland is right next to Britain but does so much better.

Now, if you haven't already, take a look at Athana's blog. She points the way forward far more cogently then I.


Anonymous Livia said...

This brings to mind the old George Carlin bit about how government and military leaders are all about making everyone think their dicks are bigger than anyone else's. "What? They have bigger dicks? BOMB THEM!" And he's also right when he points out that all of the deadliest weapons, bullets, missiles and warheads are all shaped like dicks.

Blogger Aquila ka Hecate said...

South Africa is at no,121 in the HDIndex- a poor showing, mostly due to poverty and Aids I think.
On the other hand, we did dismantle our nuclear weapons a while ago -supposedly.

Terri in Joburg

Blogger Morgaine said...

Good post, Paul. As long as we keep having these primate contests of one-upmanship, everyone loses. There's no escaping radiation - it travels and it lasts longer than we do.

I hope the Goddess restores our sanity soon.

Blogger Paul said...


Orange Herald - one of Britain's nuclear bombs tested in 1957 - was shaped more like an egg. I am not sure which is more obscene in weapon shape. Orange Herald does, however, point towards another trait of patriarchal government, lies and deceit.

Orange Herald was the largest fission weapon ever tested. It was a conventional fission Uranian 235 bomb surrounded by Lithium Deuteride and seems to have been a deceit from the start. In the "primate contest of one-upmanship" (thanks Morgaine) the British Government was desperate for a megaton weapon to stand erect before the United States Government. The fusion technology used by the US to achieve megaton yields was beyond the reach of the British at that time but our government seemed intent on deceiving the US government by convincing it that Britain had a viable means of producing such massive explosions. In the event Orange Herald yielded 720 kilotons of power.

This was not the first government deceit over nuclear power. There was an infamous deceit on the British people over the building of the Windscale reactor on the west coast of Cumbria. In order to win over public fears the government said that nuclear reactors would produce electricity too cheap to meter. Now even if this nonsense were true there was no way any government was going to give the people free electricity. Ever since wars were waged patriarchs have taxed and taxed again to finance their ambitions and then done all they could to avoid paying those taxes themselves.

Aquila, to my shame I have never kissed African soil but your quote of what Mary said is a timely reminder of how Africa challenges us all. Worrying is the rise of Christianity on that continent - from 9% in 1900 to 46% today and the fact that much of it is fundamentalist and reactionary.

Morgaine, I love, "primate contests of one-upmanship". Men often accuse me of being emasculated for my devotion to Goddesses. Personally I have never felt more empowered. The Goddess and the women in my life have helped me to live as I should and not try to fit into some patriarchal view of what it means to be a man. Patriarchy is just plain bad for men too.


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