We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Hiroshima: Grief, horror of atomic bomb remembered 70 years on
I am posting this article not because I think it offers an excellent analysis or interpretation of the subject, but because it is a rather typical example of what we see in liberal mainstream media regarding this horrific event. Mostly the authors of these articles express American guilt over the event. I notice that RT insists that the US should apologize to Japan. Others conservative authors in mainstream media offer many reasons and justifications for why US leaders decided to unleash this horrible weapon on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, neither of which was a significant military target.
Briefly, because I'm running out of time this morning, I am going to argue that ordinary Americans were not guilty--the American ruling capitalist class was. The most credible reasons why they used the atomic bomb against Japanese civilians: 1) to demonstrate this powerful weapon to the Soviet Union which was always seen as the major target by Western capitalists. 2) racism: The US capitalist ruling class were so accustomed to using racism within the US to divide workers from each other that they used this to mobilize a war effort against the Japanese, and to imprison Japanese-Americans.
I experienced this racism as a child during WWII while viewing many cartoons depicting Japanese as yellow, buck-toothed, crazed creatures running amok in the world. All sides in this war used defaming caricatures to depict their enemies, but with the exception of our "Jap" cartoons, they were mostly targeting the leaders of opposing nations, not the people themselves. Hence, Americans were well indoctrinated to accept the use of this horrible weapon against civilian populations in large Japanese cities.
And, of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about capitalist ruling classes use of weapons of mass destruction. In their quest to dominate the world they frequently resorted to using them: poison gas in WWI and fire bombing of civilians in WII (Tokyo and Dresden). And do you have any doubt that the Nazis would have used the weapon in WWII if they had it? Or the Japanese ruling fascist class? (Fascism is only an extreme form of capitalism.) Whether the Soviets would have used it--especially how they would have used it--is open to debate.