Oppenheimer and ‘the Wealth race’

Last week, I watched the film about Oppenheimer, and that piece of history made me realize that what we are experiencing now is, in fact, a kind of (nuclear) arms race: who can grow the fastest, who can protect themselves the most, to acquire wealth, and who can extract the most resources from other countries. Essentially, it’s a race for wealth. Its al about … growth, growth, growth, just like with bombs: bigger, bigger, bigger. In retrospect, the nuclear arms race was also, to some extent, in support of this wealth race, capitalism versus socialism and communism. The latter, at their core, were focused on more cooperation and fair distribution, and certainly not on excessive growth. These ideologies, partly due to the bomb, have almost been defeated, as growing wealth also allowed for the creation of more bombs and threats (‘Consume or I shoot…’). Most communist and socialist countries have given in, partly due to the envy that arose among the population in comparison to the wealthy West*. Or the armed threat was consciously created to expand markets. I will never forget that during the Berlin Wall era, from the East of Berlin, you could prominently see the lighted sign of the “Kaufhof des Westens,” KDW, over the wall.

Ironically, Oppenheimer himself and many scientists with him were supporters of the communist model, but the bomb and the threat it posed played its part in the downfall of communism… Capitalism has won almost everywhere (or keeps other countries under control for their resources), although there is one country where capitalism is integrated with a communist model, and that is China, of course. However, this comes with excesses in terms of humanity. Moreover, the control of people and the violation of human rights in China occurs within the country itself, while for wealthy Western countries, it’s essentially the same, but it happens out of sight, in other countries where people work inhumane jobs for starvation wages. But back to the topic…:

The nuclear arms race has more or less stopped, although nuclear weapons are still everywhere, along with the threat of destruction. However, the capitalist race is still in full swing, and therefore, destruction is also looming. And the latter is likely to happen sooner than the destruction from the nuclear arsenal. It won’t be direct destruction but indirect destruction, a slow death of culture, prosperity, the implosion of society, and the extinction of much life on Earth. When it comes to destruction of society by the bomb, no one could imagine how powerful the bomb would be. ‘But it was necessary because the other side was working on it,’ that was the arguing. And only a few realized how immense its power would be. In the film, at one point, Oppenheimer, aware of the bomb’s power and damage, says that it must be dropped. To stop it: “Only when the bomb is dropped, people will understand its power and act as a deterrent.” Just telling or shouting that it’s dangerous won’t work. So, it was dropped.

I’m afraid that this also applies to destruction via climate change and environmental impact. Society must also partially collapse before people understand the threat of the capitalist implosion. However, the signals are already everywhere, the climate ‘bombs’ are already falling, so to speak, but apparently, the ‘bombs’ are not big enough yet. People still think they can work around it, or that it’s still far away, or that it will go away in time. After all, a electric car is pretty cool, and we believe we deserve that annual vacation by plane. Didn’t we have a movie ‘Don’t Look Up’ not too long ago?

But it’s still possible that in the ‘struggle for existence’, which is essentially the struggle for wealth*, those nuclear bombs may still play a role. Oppenheimer was right that the two bombs dropped in Japan had a tremendous deterrent effect. But, well, they haven’t disappeared; they are still there. And if the wealth race by a country seems to be lost…”


* or money, or possessions.

Author: ronald rovers