maugorn (maugorn) wrote,

Mutually Assured Destruction (not congruent with) Polite Society

In a season dedicated to "Peace On Earth", I'd like to put a thought out there. Lazarus Long, the protagonist of numerous stories and novels by R.A Heinlein once stated rather aphoristically:
"An armed society is a polite society".

I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. I've been called all kinds of names and even been threatened (with arms) for dissenting from this aphorism, and frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn. If that's what you're about to do, don't bother. You're not going to change my mind or cow me into backing off of my dissent.

I mean for one thing, it's a wry aphoristic observation from the subjective view of a fictional character, commenting on his also fictional world. This protagonist's whole life is melodrama and the only reason he lived to tell the tale is because the Author said so.

And also- aside from numerous studies, insurance company actuarial statistics, and medical statistics that all keep showing more guns in a group just leads to more people in that group dying from guns, there's a big example, one that I lived in that is IMHO the ultimate debunking of this aphorism:

The Cold War.

Mutually Assured Destruction.
Isn't that what the whole "armed society" thing is implying in the first place? You shoot me, I shoot you. Bang bang we're all dead, so if we want to live we'd better just not get there in the first place amirite? "Howdy pardner" "Nice day, ain't it". Another pleasant day in the Saloon. Poker anyone? Next round's on me boys! Fire up that ol' player pianey!

That idyllic Old West is supposed to be the micro version of the Cold War, and it's real easy to point and say "Look how mutually assured destruction led us to detente."/=


There was no "peace". There was constant fear, paranoia, and this overhanging sense of existential dread. Why?
Because EVERYBODY KNEW that one false step even from a mistake would leave the planet vaporised.

And also EVERYBODY KNEW that as soon as one side felt like something gave them enough of an advantage to even believe they could prevail and not suffer the consequences, that the Peace would evaporate, along with everyone and everything else. And EVERYONE could tell that there were people with their fingers on the launch buttons that were crazy, fanatical, and otherwise prone to irrational decision making.

A state of Mutually Assured Destruction is not a state of Peace.
The stability is fragile and odds are, illusionary.

It doesn't matter if it's just on a personal scale or a planetary one, nobody thrives under that kind of stress. And despite what people say, no one is actually surprised when it eventually blows up and people die, possibly over something trivial.

If we want Peace on Earth how about we work towards

Mutually Assured Survival.
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