Bombs and Poetry by Freeman Dyson

By Freeman Dyson

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The effectiveness of the declaration in constraining Country A’s deployments does not depend at all upon Country A believing that Country B is sincere. On the contrary, the more Country A mistrusts Country B’s intentions, the stronger the effect of the declaration in discouraging Country A from unstable deployments. For the declaration to be effective, it is necessary only that Country A considers Country B not entirely trustworthy and Country A not entirely untrustworthy and vice versa. These conditions are rather well satisfied in the real world in which we are living.

The remarkable thing is that these people who broke away from the Plymouth community were not yet the rebellious sons and daughters of the Pilgrims. The sons and daughters had not even had time to grow up. These people who broke away were the Pilgrims themselves, corrupted within twelve years of their landing by the temptations of easy money. I conclude from this example and from many others that the psychological confusion and shifting values of the modern world are not new. Even the speed with which values shift is not new.

TRAGEDY AND COMEDY IN MODERN DRESS I begin with a quick summary of the first two lectures. In the first lecture I described the central tragedy of our century, the history of the two World Wars. I told how in both wars the just cause with which the war began, the fight for freedom, was corrupted and almost obliterated by the growth of the modern technology of killing. The culmination of this history was the development of nuclear weapons in quantities so large as to obliterate any [DYSON] Bombs and Poetry 125 conceivable just cause in which they might be used.

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