Mutually Assured Destruction
Scratching around the loft’s eaves today — on hands and knees, in torchlight, insulation dust and ancient spider webs as I hunted the cable to a dodgy switch in the bathroom below, I wasn’t thinking of the ‘good old days’ of Cold War claustrophobia. But reading just now about the network of nuclear bunkers that crisscrossed the UK between the 1950s and 1990s, I was almost taken in by the nostalgic tone of Kate Ravilious’ piece for Atlas Obscura. She visited abandoned, decayed outposts restored as visitor attractions: small spaces of uncanny normality projected into the most abnormal of all futures: post-thermonuclear meltdown. What they really represented, of course, was the seemingly infinitely extendable insanity of their present: planned-for Mutually Assured Destruction.
Of all the ideologies our species has dreamt up, pursuing the means of all-out nuclear holocaust to deter all-out nuclear holocaust seems one of the more questionable. Odd times. There aren’t direct analogies between the risks of impending nuclear sui-genocide and global climate crisis. For one thing, this crisis is actually underway and will be whatever we do, although the severity is open to some control. But the calculated MADness behind ‘business as usual’ seems common to both.