Russell-Einstein Manifesto

In the mid 1950s, many people were very concerned about the implications and dangers of the Hydrogen and Plutonium bombs that had recently been invented.

Manifesto-ABombThe first test had taken place only ten years earlier on July 16, 1945 north of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Then, on August 6th of the same year, The United States unleashed “Little Boy” onto Hiroshima, Japan. Days later, “Fat Man” was let loose over Nagasaki, Japan. More than 100,000 civilians were immediately killed by the blasts. Many more were to die in the aftermaths.

It was on August 18th, that year, the first written comments about the bomb from Bertrand Russell were published. “The prospect for the human race is sombre beyond all precedent. Mankind are faced with a clear-cut alternative: either we shall all perish, or we shall have to acquire some slight degree of common sense. A great deal of new political thinking will be necessary if utter disaster is to be averted.”

Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein were the leading intellectuals of the 20th Century. Russell was a Nobel Laureate in Literature, he was a noteworthy mathematician and philosopher.  Of course, Einstein was a Nobel Laureate in Physics, a world famous physicist and one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived. Both Russell and Einstein strongly advocated for world peace throughout their lives.

Meantime, the only nuclear scientist who resigned from the Manhattan Project because of moral objections, Joseph Rotblat, noted that he was “worried about the whole future of mankind”.  Back when Rotblat figured that the Nazis could not succeed in their efforts to build an a-bomb, he resigned from the American a-bomb project.  Rotblat founded the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.  The Conferences and Rotblat jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1995.

During the next several years Rotblat and Russell collaborated on efforts to reign in nuclear proliferation. They met often with Albert Einstein and other scientists to discuss their concerns.  The group then composed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

The document was signed by nine other scientists in addition to Einstein and Russell: Max Born, Perry W. Bridgman, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman J. Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil F. Powell, Joseph Rotblat and Hideki Yukawa. Einstein’s signing was his last major effort in favor of world peace.  He died only a few days later.

Nearly all of the document’s signers either already had received or would receive the Nobel Prize. The manifesto was released during a press conference on July 9, 1955 in London.

Basically, the signatories of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto stated there were two choices for humanity. Either progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom or the risk of universal death.

More than half a century has elapsed since the release of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.  Yet, there has been almost no progress on the aims of the document by any of the nuclear nations.  Worse, the U.S. failed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The American officials have consistently displayed an attitude that treats nuclear disarmament as non-reverseable.

It remains to be seen that the major world powers will ever become serious in the efforts to remember our collective humanity. Russell and Einstein urged that we ban nuclear weapons and halt warmaking altogether. Humanity faces enormous problems in the present day and the future. If we can eliminate the threat of nuclear war, can our energies be applied to other urgent needs?


The Blue Jay of Happiness recommends this link to the Manifesto:


About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, History, Politics, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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