Anthony St. John
Once Wife of
The Ides of March 1984
The Members of
The Bertrand Russell Society
3802 North Kenneth Avenue
CHICAGO IL 60641
My fellow members of The Bertrand Russell Society of which I hope soon to be a paid-up-in-full distinct offshoot and to which I pray—but not to a god!—one fine day I might be able to donate a sum to help assist
your tireless efforts to disseminate most of the teachings and ideals of Bertrand Russell:
I am writing today to seek your assistance and insight on behalf of the alleviation of a tremendous intellectual woe with which I am afflicted and out of which I endeavor to attain, sincerely, phrenic resuscitation and exactitude in as many matters as I am able to satisfy this my mind’s quest for rationality and truth.
My dilemma concerns itself with my unsettled opinion—when so many more intelligent, wiser individuals surround me with certitude—that not that atomic/hydrogen bombs do not exist, but that tens and tens of thousands of them are poised, on both sides of the enormous ideological fence, to set in motion the repeated overkill of the human race. I sustain my belief with the following notions which perhaps might come to be interpreted by most as proofs:
I have never seen an atomic/hydrogen bomb (to be referred to as “Item[s]” below).
I have known not one individual in my thirty-nine years of life who has admitted—upon request or not—that he or she has seen an Item.
I know not pictures of an Item or Items.
Not once in one year, when I, a graduate of the United States Army Artillery and Missile School, served as a missile/rocket training officer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, did I see an Item, nor did I encounter one individual who could hint at where an Item or Items might be deposited or could say that he (no shes!) had even ever seen one! Yet, we were trained to use Items.
If so many Items have existence, why have they not been used again—in more than forty years of their presence—“to thwart the suffering that has obviously arisen from the domination of an enemy whose evil would maybe create a greater spiritual peril than perhaps the physical deaths of the victims of that enemy?” (This is not my reasoning but that purported by those who deem the Items intrinsic to some national security.)
If such large quantities of Items have being—with so great high-potential attack capability—why has not an Item accident occurred? Are we to trust that the composite intelligence and integrity of the Item Users and Item Threateners (the United States of America has been docketed as the “First Item User”; some Northamerican Item Threateners now clamour for a “No First Item Use”! ) is sufficient to avoid a third real strategic or non-strategic Item Use or Items Use or Accidental Item Use or Accidental Items Use which might annihilate the total population of the world in minutes?
I for one do not trust, for example, the United States Army to possess the intelligence and probity to prevent an Item or Items Accident. I will say why to exasperate my discussion in which I have vented disagreement in the Item debate. Please support my observation from personal experiences?
My two-year service in the United States Army in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Vietnam, as a missile/rocket training officer and a forward observer and battalion/brigade liaison officer, afforded me one of the grandest invigorations of my life, and I am inclined to believe that of the countless thousands of others who also served in the armed forces of the United States of America: an abrupt suspension of continuity. For me, this was effectuated in the following manner: After one year of working for diehard William F. Buckley, Jr.’s National Review, after four years of studying philosophy, after twenty-one years of believing that the United States of America was the most principled nation in the world, after four years of studying military science in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, I was thrust into the mainstream of one of Northamerica’s aspects of violence-let-loose: the United States Army. I met men drug-addicted, Jim Beam-addicted, Librium-addicted, Stars & Stripes-addicted, Playboy-centerfold-addicted, Item-addicted, God-addicted, power-addicted, addicted-addicted…. I was ordered to “zero” women and children, and when I refused protesting on behalf of the requirements of the Geneva Convention—which I attested, by signature, that I had read in Pleiku, Southvietnam—I was called a coward. (I waited anxiously to separate myself from the United States Army, and since then I have been utterly ashamed that I ever put on the uniform of that violence-prone, abusive organization.)
It strikes me as totally odd that the many disparate components of the armed forces of the United States of America—for me, extremely unjust in their exercises of power, often drugged, so frequently drunk, and ostentatiously stupid—have been stable enough over the past four decades to avoid an Item Accident. Parenthetically, I am also of the opinion that if so many Items existed, it would take an enormous monetary effort—at least equal to the very cost of the Items to secure the Items; and, it would take a larger military force than that which now exists to protect so many Items—perhaps at a cost of many more billions and billions of offence dollars allocated to insure national security. An enormous effort would have to be made to guarantee the safeguard of the Items from incompetent individuals and pseudo-freedom fighters not in uniform but earning much from the spending on military armament.
Who tells me Items exist? Political leaders and military strategists and editors at National Review and Harvard University political science professors! Almost fifty percent of the Northamerican people did not vote in the last election—many frustrated with what they often describe as their motive the deceptiveness of United States’ political leaders. Richard M. Nixon, over national television, admitted to me that the Items had, indeed, reality. After his political, emotional and physical downfall, he indicated to me that it was sometimes necessary to lie in politics. Am I being lied to about the Items, too? (Can anyone reveal to me the overall international effect and expense account of the Central Intelligence Agency for those crucial years, let us say, of 1954 or 1967 or 1978?) It is not not possible to assert that our political leaders might be deceptive with us and with others when they say they have already been so. N’est-ce pas?
Not all politicians are obtuse even though the argument of common consent (a flaccid first principle!) is tempting in this case, under these circumstances. Suffice it to say that not all politicians are intelligent. But has there ever been a politician of international stature who denied the Item—whether or not he might be considered stupid or intelligent? Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976) in a talk with Anna Louise Strong, August, 1946:
“The atomic bomb is a paper tiger
which the United States reactionaries
use to scare people. It looks terrible,
but in fact it isn’t…All reactionaries
are paper tigers.”
I wish to quote from my manuscript, Politically Philosophical and Philosophically Political Writings: A Book of Essays, the following proof against the existence of a god, a supreme being:
“I do not believe in God because there are no facts to prove his existence. I believe in cold winds, headaches, restaurant bills, the need to get up in the morning, work, and the oxygen I breathe. If God existed, it would be ridiculous to deny that he did. Yet many people deny his existence. They do not deny that Paris exists even if they have never visited Paris. God’s existence is not taken for granted just as we take for granted death or love of another person. If God existed, there would be absolutely no doubt about it—as there is no doubt about the largeness of the Atlantic Ocean which is incomprehensible to most. God “exists” in the same way Santa Claus or a witch or the Easter Bunny “exists.” We look for them, but we never come upon them even unexpectedly. We want the spontaneity of invented fantasies. (For children, this might be good.) We want God; but, he does not exist. We once needed God to explain the reasons for night and day, to define our limits in an unknown world, to give reason for our fears and loneliness, and to justify our unchosen entrance into a world whose rules and regulations will decide our unchosen departure. All of these things are now better explained without any reference to God, and the abracadabra of the supernatural. Each day we find more reason to believe in the naturalness of our Earth and the things that surround it. Before, we could only speculate and we contrived reasons which we thought had to be beyond our own comprehension. I am happy to know my life is controlled, for the most part, by forces I know have their bases in reality and fact, and not in causes which I must accept are beyond my reason and understanding. And I know each day brings me closer to knowing more about my world and myself.”
Dear members of The Bertrand Russell Society, has the Item become the new god? Not fabricated in the image of a kind, just Budda or Christ, but made by man to remind us—after, for example, the slayings of World War I and World War II (Where is World War III?)—of the image of Man the Monster? Will the “New God” itself back us into a veritable “shit or get off the pot” reaction to use, what I think are, the very few, if any, Items which are said to exist? I beg your assistance. I beg your clarifications. Forever, I demand, “Where are the Items?”
Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 10
51016 MONTECATINI TERME PT
* * *
1 August 1984
Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 10
51016 MONTECATINI TERME PT
Dear Anthony St. John,
I have been long in replying to your letter of 7 June 1984 asking if I have ever seen one of those “Items,” nuclear missiles.
I have thought this matter over very carefully! I think that, in view of what you say about your experiences in the United States Army, these Items possibly do not exist, since, if they did, with such drunken and drug-soaked guardians, one or more of them would have gone off long since. Many women of my country have skilfully, as you may know, stationed themselves at a place known as Greenham Common, for the purpose of observing and of preventing, if necessary, the emergence of one Item—known as a Cruise missile—from its hiding place. At times there emerges a long trail of motor cyclists, followed by a double lorry like two dust carts, within which a long object may be observed, if the lid is lifted. A guard of cars follow this object (Item?) into the shadowed woodlands, chased and mocked by the admirable band of watchful women.
Now what better scheme could be devised for holding the whole world to ransom than for the technological MEN of POWER to proclaim to the world their possession of these Items—holding them, and their guardians, the while, shrouded in utmost secrecy?
You are right—I have never seen one. Two Items fell from the sky at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then one or two warning flares in the sky to frighten and keep humans in subjection. The rest is secrecy and silence! With occasional pretensions at negotiations to disarm. Perfect, my dear Watson. Good on you, Sherlock Holmes!
CORNWALL TR19 6LN
* * *
20 August 1984
CORNWALL TR19 6LN
Thank you for replying to my letter of 7 June 1984, for taking so much time to answer it (I received your 1 August 1984 one on 18 August 1984! Fancy that!), and for thinking over very carefully the matter I proposed to you and others of The Bertrand Russell Society. Perhaps you, Dora Russell, should have pondered at greater length?
I wish to make the following comments on your awkward response:
You are unkind and intellectually dishonest to imply that the only reason I offer for my belief is that “such drunken and drug-soaked guardians” as exist in the United States Army would be reason alone for the non-existence of Items. Is this point—the one you have singled out of context—the only you can discuss with me? Do I win my argument on points, alas?
If you scan through your history books, you will notice that men and women, throughout recorded time, have chased and mocked, more than occasionally, after nonexistent entities. They have all too frequently followed the advice of barbarians and representatives of gods who have lead them on to their deaths millions and millions of times over. If you walk in Europe, you slosh in the blood beneath your feet. (Women congregated at Greenham Common to chase things, that exist only in their imaginations, into the shadowed woodlands are Itemhunters, not Witch-hunters.) There are, and have been, schemes devised for holding considerable parts of the whole world to ransom, and, regretfully, they have been rather successful. May I mention even one on the roster of more than seven thousand religions registered—often tax-free!—throughout this Earth? Even the scheme of the English Monarchy plays a significant role in your country, Dora—does it not?—in holding Subjects in Subjection! (The two stamps on your letter to me, with images of The One and Only Queen affixed to them, are overlaid with this royal edict: BE PROPERLY ADDRESSED! Yes, Your Majestic Highness; no, You Great and Royal Sovereign Personage! Does Prince Phillip cut Elizabeth’s toenails, Dora?) Most humans I know are frightened and kept in one form of control or another:
“A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe,”
Two-thirds of the people in the world have not running water in their homes. And even most middle-class creatures are struggling tormentingly to buy their food and pay their rent. (Did you know it costs 12 Swiss francs to go from Orselina to Cardada in an eight minute, return included, funivia?)
Yes, two Items fell from the sky at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (I cannot believe that you believe that this observation makes my thesis essentially self-contradictory!) One has never fallen again because one does not exist. One does not exist in part because two Items, in fact, fell from the sky at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And if thousands and thousands do have being, my dearest Dora Russell, will you kindly point the way for me? Forever I demand: Where are the Items? Dora Russell, I suggest, earnestly, that you start doing the same damn thing yourself!
I am just trying to peel away some onion skins.
Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 38
50041 CALENZANO FI