Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the nostalgic clowning of depotentiated social units

gizmodo | In George Orwell's 1984, citizens of the totalitarian state of Oceania were required to accomplish the impossible task of holding two contradictory ideas in their minds and accepting both of them: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Orwell called this "Doublethink." Similarly, Citizen Cold Warriors in the United States were expected to be able to reconcile these two diametrically opposed thoughts: A nuclear war can destroy all life on earth. You will survive if you build a family fallout shelter.

But the family fallout shelter's ostensible purpose - to ensure survival during and after a nuclear attack - was impossible to achieve. That wasn't why it was created. It was part of the propaganda campaign to convince the American people that they could survive a nuclear war.

How The US Was Supposed to Survive a Nuclear Holocaust With 9 Inches of ConcreteNo one knows exactly how many shelters were built. But tens of thousands of Americans - maybe even hundreds of thousands - actually did build shelters. Millions considered doing so. Why? How could so many people believe that hiding in an underground concrete cube would save their lives during a nuclear attack? And then, if they somehow did survive, why did they believe they could function when they emerged into a post-apocalyptic world with fires raging, cities destroyed, and a landscape littered with the dead and injured? Because by the time the Federal Civil Defense Authority launched its Family Fallout Shelter campaign in 1958, Americans had spent nearly a decade steeped in Civil Defense campaigns, posters, films, classes, and emergency drills. The idea of being a Citizen Cold Warrior had become embedded in the American psyche. People built shelters because doing so seemed to be their best hope; it was a desperate grab for empowerment in the face of the unthinkable. Doing something felt better than doing nothing.

The roots of the family fallout shelter can be traced back to 1952, when the U.S. created a new bomb - the hydrogen bomb - that was 1,000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This bomb would destroy an atomic bomb shelter as easily as the wolf blew down the house of straw in the fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs.

The world witnessed the astounding power of this new weapon on March 1, 1954, when it was exploded above the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. The blast vaporized the island below it and carved out a crater a half-mile wide and several hundred feet deep.

The bomb also threw several million tons of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. After a nuclear bomb is detonated, it sucks dirt, water, and other matter into the explosion and transforms it into radioactive particles that can be as large as snowflakes or so small as to be invisible. Fallout can drift in unpredictable directions for thousands of miles over a period of years.

How The US Was Supposed to Survive a Nuclear Holocaust With 9 Inches of ConcreteNo longer was a nuclear bomb's killing power limited to the place where it was detonated. Now everyone, everywhere was a potential victim of radioactive fallout. The following year, the U.S.S.R. exploded its first hydrogen bomb. Fear of fallout gripped the nation. The government acknowledged that a bomb shelter would be useless against a direct hit by the H-bomb. However, it said, you can protect yourself against fallout. During a nuclear attack, go into your fallout shelter and stay there for two weeks, until the radiation in the atmosphere has dropped to a safe level.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared: "The National fallout shelter policy is based firmly on the philosophy of the obligation of each property-owner to provide protection on his own premises."

2 comments:

Big Don said...

FWIW  http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/06/10/physician-epidemiologist-35-spike-infant-mortality-northwest-citie-meltdown-result-fallout-fukushima-25311/

CNu said...

depotentiated social units indeed...,

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