Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Guest Spot on the Blog - Owen


Blog by Owen, who wished for no further introduction other than writing a piece entitled 'Nuclear Psychology and Psychopathology'.

"I would like to thank to Dr Tempest for having me as the guest blogger today. I am writing about the government’s proposal of renewing UK’s nuclear arsenal; Trident system in 22 years time. The proposal will be voted in the commons this Wednesday, March 14th, 2007. The government will possibly be able to pass the motion only with the support of opposition, against the will of their backbenchers to my relief. I see this as a vital decision which would affect not only the future of UK but a very important issue for the whole world.

We all know that all living beings survive through inter and inner species competition. This includes even the plants, where a big chemical war goes between them for the preferred territory in our back gardens. For the animals –including humans- the well established survival strategy is to get faster, stronger, stealthier, and more reproductive and increase their ability to cooperate as a group. Fights and wars for territory between species and within the species is we can say the rule in nature. I have to note the inner species altruism is also a very important factor in survival but the competition and altruism are not mutually exclusive, or the altruism, in other words the cooperative loyalty, is often to the immediate group and for humans take the order of (according to priority) family-tribe/nation-humanity depending on where the threat comes from and to who. I believe human kind, thanks to their more developed intelligence, has been on the route to change wars from being a rule into an exception. As humans became more organised the trend has been from a continuous war state between families, later tribes, to gradually much less frequent wars with the emergence of states. It could be argued that the destructiveness of the wars have shown an opposite trend and wars have become more and more destructive.

In this survival struggle display of aggression plays an important role for protection of the species especially in terms inner species competition. Male competitors for prospective mates start their dominance struggle with display of aggression; gestures to give the impression of a greater body mass, display of teeth, or other weaponry such as antlers, horns, so size becomes an important issue. Often the disputes resolve and the dominance is established with little or no damage by ways of only the aggressive display or minor skirmish. Deaths during these do occur but rarely otherwise it would have threatened the existence of the whole species. In terms of interspecies competition, the display of aggression takes many forms; i.e. the bright colours of most venomous snakes, which advertise their dangerousness. So the idea is to be threatening in a very visible way and keeping the enemy as far as possible and to avoid even coincidental direct confrontation which carries risk of damage no matter how well the fighting ability of the species is. These displays often come at a cost; they attract attention of their predators with their bright colours. But their very existence in this colourful form is the proof that this strategy works. We can describe Trident project as a colourful display but also the venom itself. It is very expensive at a cost of about £70 billion –ideally could have been spent on health, innovation, education etc-, and carries the possibility that it can attract the attention of prospective enemies. But when it comes to survival one cannot experiment with concepts such as “Lets give up the venom and see if we will survive”, especially at this point of human history where full cooperation and altruism of the whole of the species is not formed for the whole of the humanity but still remains at a tribal level. Just try to imagine the post WW II history without the existence of nuclear weapons, which I believe have prevented a full scale war and paradoxically brought the cooperation of the enemy states. Skirmishes related to the dominance display continued; such as Korean War, Cuban conflict or Vietnam, but never reached to a full blown confrontation. People, perhaps the first time realised that war carries the risk of annihilation of the whole species, hence over came their altruism towards their nation/tribe as in the order I have mentioned above and placed it with the humanity instead. Unfortunately good will and wish do not make up for the realities of the aggressive side of nature and its bitter rules but knowledge and power does help to manage risks and reduce them. The priority chain described above in terms of altruism is unlikely to be broken unless there is a larger threat. It is a very simplistic and unrealistic mind-set to argue that if one is against nuclear weapons, one should argue to get rid of such weapons without paying attention to history, strategy, human psychology, sense of future and other nations’ intentions.

Unfortunately, we are living in a world of uncertainties, and this is not only a reference to terrorism. I do not believe that nuclear weapons can protect UK against the risk of a potential nuclear attack by terrorists but only to create a just world where democracy in-between states/nations is established. The Labour backbencher’s rebel on the subject at a time when the world’s energy resources are getting scarce and when China has successfully destroyed a satellite in space against the existing conventions, this way declaring their ambitions to develop advanced nuclear capabilities, and Russia’s increasing defence budget, seems to be displacement of their anger towards Tony Blair and an expression of their confusion about their identity as a party. How can such argument add up when one still has another nation’s nuclear weapons, star wars stations on their own soil which they have no control over, and yet try to get rid of a protection that belong to themselves, which they have the full control. Who can guarantee whether our current friends’ national structures will not change in the future? Who can guarantee one day US will not have a very extremist government which can change the whole nature of intergovernmental relationships in the world? Only equals can negotiate and when there is power discrepancy between nations one can only plead. I do believe UK is a significant power in keeping the world peace and should remain so independent of other nations and only in this role can work towards achieving a world wide nuclear disarmament…

A world where altruism for the whole humanity wins over the tribal one is I believe at heart what John Lennon described in the famous song. I do believe in his view and continue to imagine… "

Thanks Owen for posting me your views on such a topical and timely issue.

4 comments:

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Thanks for this post Owen, it has certainly made me think about this topic and it will be interesting to follow this issue in the Commons tomorrow. Michelle

John Templeton said...

nice one owen. very thought-provoking

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Owen, with me it is not a mattef of £70 billion on Trident or another £70 billion on health.
The government can afford both, any nonsense about higher taxes are false, red herrings.

Trident is not about defence, but about investment in research, science, innovation - the end product being Trident.

Iraq was a perfect excuse for the US to drop all the old arsenal, and issue new arms manufacturing contracts to replace 'spent' stocks

So I support any investment which creates research jobs - but nuclear weapons? Why not spend £70 billion on space - no need for wars over land or finite resources.

On the other hand would another £70 billion on health, make services any better, or would costs og hospital, staff & pharmacy simply rise - leaving little for 'real' patient care.
I'm just asking?

Owen said...

Many thanks for your kind comments. I agree that this government unfortunately does not have the nerve to produce steady, well planned long term solutions/policies in most areas including health but knee jerk reaction policies in response to immediate needs/pressures. As a result all they do is to disturb the working system and eventually return to the base line after all the chaos and waste they cause.

I also agree that such an investment would mean investing in innovation and research and most of the money would add to wealth of this country and the taxes.

Many thanks once again.

Owen