Note to Readers:

Please Note: The editor of White Refugee blog is a member of the Ecology of Peace culture.

Summary of Ecology of Peace Radical Honoursty Factual Reality Problem Solving: Poverty, slavery, unemployment, food shortages, food inflation, cost of living increases, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, pollution, peak oil, peak water, peak food, peak population, species extinction, loss of biodiversity, peak resources, racial, religious, class, gender resource war conflict, militarized police, psycho-social and cultural conformity pressures on free speech, etc; inter-cultural conflict; legal, political and corporate corruption, etc; are some of the socio-cultural and psycho-political consequences of overpopulation & consumption collision with declining resources.

Ecology of Peace RH factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate & sign their responsible freedom oaths; to implement Ecology of Peace Scientific and Cultural Law as international law; to require all citizens of all races, religions and nations to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are updated at EoP MILED Clerk.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Killing Times: The Killing Times are Here: Population Policy || Fatal Freedom: Genetic Roots of Self Decepton || Tragedy of the Commons

Killing Times: The Killing Times are Here: Population Policy || Fatal Freedom: Genetic Roots of Self Deception || Tragedy of the Commons
Large: Der Spiegel: Planning for Nuclear War; Dimitri Khalezov:
WTC Nuclear Demolition.
“Only when arbitration is able to unravel the tangled skein of crime and hypocrisy among individuals can it be extended to communities and nations. As nations are only man in the aggregate, they are the aggregate of his crimes and deception and depravity, and so long as these constitute the basis of individual impulse, so long will they control the acts of nations.” -- Military Gospel According to Homer Lea

A Nuclear Broken Arrow - An unexpected and unplanned event, involving nuclear weapons, such as: accidents in launching, firing, detonating, theft and loss of the weapon.

The Swan primary of Operation Plumbbob: Diablo, on July 15, 1957, at the Nevada Test Site, Area 2 b, was fired in a full-sized structural model of the thermonuclear system. Boken Arrow: Diablo misfired. The discussion and investigation lasted over a day, trying to understand what could have gone wrong, and more importantly who was going to disarm and inspect a faulty nuke. Finally the crew of 3 engineers who were the last on the tower was assigned to this dangerous task. Eventually it ended up good, and the device was successfully disarmed. Though disarming a nuclear bomb that didn't go off after firing and potentially could've detonated at any second was more than a tough job. -- Test: Diablo; Date: July 15 1957; Operation: Plumbbob.

"If each human family were dependent only on its own resources; if the children of improvident parents starved to death; if thus, over breeding brought its own "punishment" to the germ line -- then there would be no public interest in controlling the breeding of families. But our society is deeply committed to the welfare state, and hence is confronted with another aspect of the tragedy of the commons. In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class that adopts over breeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement? To couple the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action. The most important aspect of necessity that we must now recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in breeding. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. ~ RRR Zhivago Hunter :: “Nuclear Freedom is the Recognition of Mutual Coercion, Mutually Agreed Upon Procreation Values Necessity” :: Buffalo Bill DMW ~

"It is important to understand the distinction between information and intelligence. Information is an assimilation of data that has been gathered, but not fully correlated, analyzed, or interpreted. Intelligence, on the other hand, is the transformation of information into knowledge and insight." -- Admiral Jeremy Boorda, Joint Military Intelligence College

Role of the "Massive Casualty 'Wake Up' Event".. Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strikes Military Gospel Doctrine: It’s going to get much worse. It is going to continue to get worse as you continue to believe what cannot be true. As long as you pull the comforter of delusion over your head the nightmares are going to get worse. They breed in that environment. They like it there. When it is time to wake up and you do not wake up, then the means applied to wake you up are going to intensify and intensify until you do wake up. Your real enemies are the people who are pointing your attention in the direction of an imaginary enemy. Your primary, real enemy is your ignorance and obstinacy. Your secondary enemy is the one manipulating both for their profit and entertainment. You need to realize that what is victimizing you is not just doing it to keep you in fear and to bleed you dry. These agencies and entities enjoy the spectacle of what they are putting you through. When you suffer and place the blame on something that never existed or is long dead, they laugh. You amuse the hell out of them. You had better wake up.

Killing Times

The Killing Times are Here: Population Policy

by Anthony Nolan

Garrett Hardin is a spokesperson for a particular environmental perspective that has been profoundly influenced by liberalism and especially by that form of liberalism under the sway of the Rev. Malthus. Hardin’s work is neither philosophy, history, politics, nor science, and therein is the problem. Hardin’s work is historically uninformed and this ignorance has led him to significantly misrepresent the nature of the problem. This is nowhere more obvious than in his thesis of what he terms “the tragedy of the commons”, as well as his 1968 article of the same name.

For an historically informed account of what happened to the “commons” see E.P. Thompson’s Whigs and Hunters: Origin of the The Black Act as well as his Customs in Common. There is also a useful Wiki entry on the Black Act.

In a major article some thirty years ago Hardin used the metaphor of the earth as a lifeboat to pose the problem of resource distribution on an overpopulated planet. He likens our common circumstances to a survival situation in which those who are in the lifeboats must decide how to respond to those who are in the water and seeking rescue. The dilemma is that there are more people in the water and at risk of drowning than there are available spaces in the lifeboats. Moreover, as the survivors of the Titanic sinking testified, the danger for those in the lifeboat of assisting those in need of rescue is that the desperation of those in need of rescue will likely overturn the lifeboat and put all at peril.

The lifeboat metaphor is a wickedly simple one that resonates with our deepest fears. Howard was able to manipulate the insularity of island Australia and turn it into prison camp Australia precisely because his own sinister ethnic and class fears reflected fears that are deeply rooted in Australian culture. (For more links see here.)

When Hardin first proposed his lifeboat ethics more than thirty years ago it was on the back of Ehrlich’s Population Bomb and the Club of Rome’s Report, both of which made the point that the planet was a finite and closed system. Back then this was not so obvious. In the intervening period all attempts at rational population control and more equitable resource distribution between centre and periphery (or first world and third world) have failed. The poor, predictably enough, have kept on reproducing until now it is a commonly held view that there is a problem not amenable to rational and humane policy response.

The Catholic Church among others has a lot for which to answer.

On the thread Depopulate or Perish there appears to be a reasoned consensus that the gross numbers are now so great that the political economy of overpopulation is no longer an issue. The gross numbers have it – there simply are too many people. In the past whenever I've encountered those who feel that there are too many people on the planet I've responded with the suggestion that they are free to take matters into their own hands and do the reasonable thing by reducing the population by one person. In other words, I've issued them with a polite invitation to do themselves in as the only ethical approach. This is because those who feel that there are simply too many people inevitably feel that there are too many of somebody else’s family, class, ethnicity or nation. In other words the problem is constructed as “too many of them” rather than "one too many of me".

Which raises the point: how are we to proceed now that it is apparent that the raw numbers are just too great for rational and humane policies to work? Effectively we are considering who to kill by policy neglect and exclusion from the lifeboat.

Let us pursue not the metaphor of the Titanic but the real history to see who dies, who gets saved and what are the crucial factors in the moment of urgency. I think that the real history is very informative. Wikipedia shows the percentages of survivors and dead by class composition (ie by ticket) as:
  • First Class 39.5% lost
  • Second Class 58.3% lost
  • Third Class 75.5% lost
  • Crew 76.2% lost.
  • More than 60% of the First Class passengers survived. Less than 25% of the Third Class passengers survived. Less than 25% of crew survived.
Apparently a disproportionate number of women survived compared to men and some suggest that this resulted from the quaint “women and children first” policy of the times. It is of note that:

Six of the seven children in first class and all of the children in second class were saved, whereas only 34 percent were saved in third class. Nearly every first-class woman survived, compared with 86 percent of those in second class and less than half of those in third class. Over all, only 20 percent of the men survived, compared to nearly 75 percent of the women. First-class men were four times as likely to survive as second-class men, and twice as likely to survive as third-class men.
I think that the above facts are readily understood. If the earth is the Titanic then it is the poor and the working classes of the world who are about to get shafted. This then is where we are at. Let us not kid ourselves. The moment has arrived where we are beginning to consider these sorts of issues – who will live and who will die. The most dignified way to do this is with total transparency about what we are doing. No shirking the fact that the poor of the world are about to be left to their own devices, hopefully to die with as much grace and as little trouble as possible, while the developed and industrialised nations steadily row away from their rescue.

How does that feel?

Source: Webdiary

Depopulate or Perish

by John Pratt

Most of us would agree that there is a limit to the number of people this planet can sustain. It may be 10 billion or 100 billion but there is a limit. The only debate is about the size of the limit and how we prevent the human population from reaching the limit and destroying the planet.

We are currently witnessing planetary degradation such as diminishing water supplies and agricultural land. We also have increasing species extinction, and declining resources – in fact, peak everything.

This is an extract from Richard Heinberg’s book Peak Everything.

The great transition of the 21st century will entail enormous adjustments on the part of every individual, family and community, and if those adjustments are to be made successfully, rational planning will be needed. Implications and strategies will have to be explored in nearly every area of human interest - agriculture, transportation, global war and peace, public health, resource management, and on and on. Books, research studies, television documentaries, and every other imaginable form of information transferral means will be required to convey needed information in each of these areas. Moreover, there is the need for more than explanatory materials; we will need citizen organizations that can turn policy into action, and artists to create cultural expressions that can help fire the collective imagination. Within this whirlwind of analysis, adjustment, creativity, and transformation, perhaps there is need and space for a book that simply tries to capture the overall spirit of the time into which we are headed, that ties the multifarious upwellings of cultural change to the science of global warming and peak oil in some hopefully surprising and entertaining ways, and that begins to address the psychological dimension of our global transition from industrial growth to contraction and sustainability.

The sooner we accept that there are limits the sooner we can work towards creating this brave new world.

With the global economy in crisis, people everywhere are searching for answers to the dilemmas we find ourselves facing. We need to find ways to make the global economy sustainable. To do this we need to take a serious look at global population growth. We need to understand how we can limit population growth, using humane methods such as education and female equality. Organisations that encourage population growth should be asked at what point they think the planet will need to stabilize so that all humans have a reasonable chance to a sustainable lifestyle. Failure to act means we will condemn millions to poverty and starvation.

Cardinal Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, recently said:

There is a crisis in the Western world. No Western country is producing enough babies to keep the population stable, no Western country.

What does the Cardinal mean by keeping a population stable?

At best this is a racist remark: the world population is estimated to be over 9 billion by 2050:

The United Nations on Wednesday said that the world population would hit seven billion in another three years and nine billion by 2050.
According to a revised estimate by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Nigeria is among nine countries whose populations would account for half of the global count between the period.
Other countries are India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, China and Bangladesh.

Does Cardinal Pell suggest that the “Western World” should produce babies at the same rate as the developing world?

It about time we had a good look at population and demanded that our government stop the baby bonus and limit government welfare to those who have more than two children.

The planet will have to depopulate or we will perish.

Source: WebDiary

Zero Population Growth Values Nuclear War Terrorism:

“Nuclear Freedom is the Recognition of Mutual Coercion, Mutually Agreed Upon Procreation Values Necessity”

THE FATAL FREEDOM: Genetic Roots of Self Deception

by Jay Hanson (Revised 8/29/97)

Exploit: To employ to the greatest possible advantage.

LITTLE BOY: Little Boy; Date:August 6, 1945; Site:Hiroshima,Japan; Detonation:Air Delivered; Yield:15.00kt; Type:Fission,U235
Little Boy, 6 Aug 1945, Hiroshima Japan
There is now scientific consensus that humanity is "unsustainable," and may have less than 35 years before the "functional integrity" of its life-support system is destroyed. [1] Despite this staggering evidence of its colossal stupidity, humanity remains firmly committed to a paradoxical struggle against itself. Moreover, caught by an insatiable drive for power [2]—like a school of sharks caught in a feeding frenzy—humanity resorts to self-deception and is conspicuously unable to rationally question its own premises. In this essay, I endeavor to point out the fatal flaw inherent in capitalism [3]: the fatal freedom to exploit the commons.


FATMAN: Nagasakia: Name:Fat Man; Date:August 9, 1945; Site:Nagasaki, Japan; Detonation:Air Delivered; Yield:21.00kt; Type:Fission,Pu239
Fatman, 9 Aug 1945, Nagasaki Japan
A few million years ago, our ancestor Homo Habilis developed a hierarchical social life based on hunting and gathering. Habilis males and females shared meat and produce, dividing jobs by gender: child care and gathering to females, fighting and hunting to males. Habilis originated the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that was to last for millions of years until the invention of settled agriculture.

Hunter-gatherers exploited an area until it was exhausted and then moved on to a new one. For millions of years, exploitation contributed to survival of the species and evolution selected for the best exploiters.

The transition to settled agriculture began around 12,000 years ago and was primarily subsistence in nature. Farmers generally grew only enough food to feed themselves and their families. Approximately 7000 years ago, the inventions of the plow and irrigation allowed food supplies to increase by dramatically increasing the power of farmers to exploit nature. Instead of just exhausting an area and moving on like the hunter-gatherers did, now farmers could totally devastate an area. And then move.

HARRY: Test:Harry; Date:May 19 1953; Operation:Upshot/Knothole; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 3; Detonation:Tower, altitude - 300ft; Yield:32kt; Type:Fission
Harry, 19 May 1953, Nevada TS
"Some 4,400 years ago, the city-states of ancient Sumer in modern-day Iraq faced an unsettling dilemma. Farmland was gradually accumulating salt, the byproduct of evaporating irrigation water. Almost imperceptibly, the salt began to poison the rich soil, and over time harvests tapered off.

"Until 2400 BC, Sumerians had managed the problem of dwindling yields by cultivating new land, thereby ensuring the consistent food surpluses needed to support their armies and bureaucracies. But now they had reached the limits of agricultural expansion. And over the next three centuries, accumulating salts drove crop yields down more than 40 percent. The crippled production, combined with an ever-growing population, led to shrinking food reserves, which in turn reduced the ranks of soldiers and civil servants. By 1800 BC, Sumerian agriculture had effectively collapsed, and this once glorious civilization faded into obscurity." [4]

We knew that irrigation "inevitably leads to the salinization of soils and waters" [5] that long ago?! But we have been doing it ever since?! Have we been deceiving ourselves for over 4000 years?


CLIMAX-RED: Test:Climax; Date:June 4 1953; Operation:Upshot/Knothole; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7; Detonation:Airburst from B-36 Bomber, altitude - 1334; Yield:61kt; Type:Fission
Climax, 4 Jun 1953, Nevada TS
In the late 50s, the social scientist Erving Goffman made a stir with a book called THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE, that stressed how much time we all spend on stage, playing to one audience or another. Goffman marveled that sometimes a person is "sincerely convinced that the impression of reality which he stages is the real reality."

What modern evolution theory brings to Goffman's observation is an explanation of the practical function of self-deception: we deceive ourselves in order to deceive others better. In his foreword to Richard Dawkins' THE SELFISH GENE, Robert Trivers noted Dawkins' emphasis on the role of deception in animal life and added, in a much-cited passage, that if indeed "deceit is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray—by the subtle signs of self-knowledge—the deception being practiced." Thus, "the conventional view that natural selection favors nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution." [6]

For about 40,000 years, self-deception also contributed to survival and social evolution selected for the best self-deceivers! [7] Indeed, self-deception and exploitation certainly seem to be what we do best.


ANNIE: Test:Annie; Date:March 17 1953; Operation:Upshot/Knothole; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 3; Detonation:Tower, altitude - 300ft; Yield:16kt; Type:Fission
Annie, 17 Mar 1953, Nevada TS
A "commons" is any resource used as though it belongs to all. In other words, when anyone can use a shared resource simply because one wants or needs to use it, then one is using a commons. For example, all land is part of our commons because it is a component of our life support and social systems.

A commons is destroyed by uncontrolled use—neither intent of the user, nor ownership are important. An example of uncontrolled use is when one can use land (part of our commons) any way one wants.

The inevitable outcome of self-deception and exploitation is brilliantly illustrated in Garrett Hardin's classic, THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS (1968). The "commons" refers to the common resources that are owned by everyone. The "tragedy" occurs as the result of everyone having the fatal freedom to exploit the commons.

FOX: Test:Fox; Date:May 25 1952; Operation:Tumbler-Snapper; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 4; Detonation:Tower Shot, altitude - 300ft; Yield:11kt; Type:Fission
Fox, 25 May 1952, Nevada TS
Hardin's essay goes something like this: Visualize a pasture as a system that is open to everyone. The carrying capacity of this pasture is 10 animals. Ten herdsmen are each grazing an animal to fatten up for market. In other words, all the grass that the pasture can produce is now being consumed by the 10 animals.

Harry (one of the herdsmen) will add one more animal to the pasture if he can make a profit. He subtracts the original cost of the new animal from the expected sales price of the fattened animal and then considers the cost of the food. Adding one more animal will mean less food for each of the present animals, but since Harry only has only 1/10 of the herd, he has to pay only 1/10 of the cost. Harry decides to exploit the commons and the other herdsmen, so he adds an animal and takes a profit. Shrinking profit margins force the other herdsmen either to go out of business or continue the exploitation by adding more animals. This process of mutual exploitation continues until overgrazing and erosion destroy the pasture system, and all the herdsmen are driven out of business.

Although Hardin describes exploitation in an unregulated public pasture, the pasture also serves as a metaphor for our entire society. Our communities are the commons. Our schools are the commons. Our roads, our air, our water; we ourselves are the commons!

TESLA: Test:Tesla; Date:March 12 1955; Operation:Teapot; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 9; Detonation:Tower, altitude - 300ft; Yield:7kt; Type:Fission
Tesla, 12 Mar 1955, Nevada TS
There is no "technological" solution to this fatal flaw in capitalism. A "political" solution is theoretically possible: prohibit freedom in the commons. But with capitalism serving as our political system (one-dollar-one-vote), there is no political solution either! [8]

Most importantly, Hardin illustrates the critical flaw of freedom in the commons: all participants must agree to conserve the commons, but any one can force the destruction of the commons. Thus, as long as we are free to exploit the commons, we are locked into a paradoxical struggle against ourselves—a terrible struggle that must end in universal ruin.


X-RAY: Test:X-Ray; Date:April 14 1948; Operation:Sandstone; Site:Enwetak Atoll, Island Engebi (Janet); Detonation:200ft. Tower Yield:37kt; Type:Fission
X-Ray, 14 Apr 1948, Engebi Isle
Three-hundred years before Hardin, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes anticipated the inevitable outcome of freedom in the commons in LEVIATHAN (1651):

"And because the condition of man . . . is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another's body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man . . . "

"To this war of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues."

Every social phenomenon, according to Hobbes, is based upon a drive for power that emerges when individuals compare themselves to other individuals. The result is that the objects one seeks to obtain are not pursued for their own sake, but because someone else also seeks to obtain them.

SEMINOLE-VIEW: Test:Seminole; Date:June 6 1956; Operation:Redwing; Site:Eniwetak Atoll, Bogon Island; Detonation:Surface, elevation - 7ft(2.1); Yield:13.7kt; Type:Fission
Seminole, 6 Jun 1956, Bogon Isle
"Scarcity" is the relationship between unlimited desire and limited means. For Hobbes, scarcity is a permanent condition of humanity caused by the continuous, innate drive for power.

Society becomes a lifeboat in which all the passengers are fighting each other. In order to escape universal ruin, men will create a great Leviathan, a semi-absolute state that controls its subjects and prevents permanent scarcity from developing into a war of "all-against-all."


MOHAWK: Test:Mohawk; Date:July 2 1956; Operation:Redwing; Site:Eberiru (Ruby) Island, Enewetak Atoll; Detonation:Tower, 300ft; Yield:360kt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Mohawk, 2 Jul 1956, Eberiru Isle
From Plato to our present society, we can trace the faith in human reason through the ideas of Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and especially the English philosopher John Locke. In his SECOND TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT (1690), Locke argued that there is a natural law governing humans and that it can be known by human reason: "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it . . . that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions."

Locke did not accept Hobbes' idea that scarcity results from an innate drive for power. Locke said it was the invention of money that caused scarcity. Prior to money, it was solely the usefulness of things that counted, and every man should have only as much property as he needed. [9] Money caused scarcity by enabling a man "to enlarge his possessions" more than he needed. [10] Although Locke saw money as the source of the problem, he also saw that "improving" the earth could help to alleviate scarcity. [11] Moreover, improving the earth didn't harm anyone because there was still plenty of land left: "Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use."

DAKOTA: Test:Dakota; Date:June 25 1956; Operation:Redwing; Site:Bikini Atoll lagoon, Yurochi (Dog) Island; Detonation:Barge, 5000 feet off Yurochi Island; Yield:1.1Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Dakota, 25 Jun 1956, Yurochi Isle
So rather than attack the source of the problem as Hobbes did, Locke chose instead to treat the symptoms by attacking nature. No doubt the great moralist would have followed Hobbes for social reform if all the land had been taken. Thus, Locke's temporary—till the land is gone—answer to the scarcity caused by money was to exploit the earth, and Hobbes' permanent war of "all-against-all" was reflected in Locke's temporary war of "all-against-nature."

Locke's ideas legitimized colonialism as a quest to alleviate scarcity. For example, America was an empty continent that could be exploited to help alleviate the effects of scarcity in Europe. Cecil Rhodes, a well-known imperialist of the last century, even wrote about the necessity of an ongoing exploitation of the universe: "I would annex the planets if I could." More recently, former president Reagan in a speech after the failure of the Challenger, told the American people that we have to conquer space in order to overcome war, scarcity, and misery on earth. His argument for more exploitation is exactly the same as that given by Locke in the seventeenth century.

BLACKFOOT: Test:Blackfoot; Date:June 11 1956; Operation:Redwing; Site:Runit (Yvonne) Island, Enewetak Atoll; Detonation:Tower, 200ft; Yield:8kt; Type:Fission
Blackfoot, 11 Jun 1956, Runit Isle
Both Hobbes and Locke knew that scarcity originates in human relations and that people trying to escape scarcity would inadvertently spread and propagate it to the ends of the earth. Even into outer space.

From the beginning, rationality has never held a prominent place in our society. In the final analysis, the call for endless economic growth is rooted in a hidden, insatiable drive for power; rational debate rarely manages to bring this fact out into the open, let alone confront it. Modern society remains a crumbling monument to self-deception and exploitation.


APACHE-RED: Test:Apache; Date:July 8 1956; Operation:Redwing; Site:Enewetak Atoll; Detonation:Barge, in the Ivy Mike crater; Yield:1.85Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Apache, 8 Jul 1956, Enewetak Atoll
"Every man . . . is left perfectly free to pursue his own interests in his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men."—Adam Smith (1776)

"We human beings are being led into a dead end—all too literally. We are living by an ideology of death and accordingly we are destroying our own humanity and killing the planet. Even the one great success of the program that has governed us, the attainment of material affluence, is now giving way to poverty. The United States is just now gaining a foretaste of the suffering that global economic policies, so enthusiastically embraced, have inflicted on hundreds of millions of others. If we continue on our present paths, future generations, if there are to be any, are condemned to misery." —Daly and Cobb (1989)

FOX: Test:Fox; Date:February 6 1951; Site:Frenchman Flat (NTS), Nevada; Detonation:Airdrop, altitude - 1435ft(445m); Yield:22kt; Type:Fission
Fox, 6 Feb 1951, Nevada TS
It is now obvious to anyone brave enough to look, that our continuing self-deception and exploitation no longer contribute to the survival of the species. If we are to survive, we must now recognize the necessity of giving up the fatal freedom to exploit the commons. Locke's temporary war of all-against-nature must now come to an end.

When a society is free to rob banks, it is less free, not more so. When individuals mutually agreed (passed laws) not to rob banks—gave up the freedom to rob banks—they became more free, not less so. Only by giving up our fatal freedom can we free ourselves from the inexorable, deadly logic of the commons. Only then can we become free to establish a new organizing principle for humanity.

We've known for 4000 years that freedom in the commons brings ruin to all. . . . What are we waiting for?

The Tragedy of the Commons

BY Garrett Hardin (1968)

"The Tragedy of the Commons," Garrett Hardin, Science, 162(1968):1243-1248.

STOKES-RED: Test:Stokes; Date:August  7 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7b; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 1500ft; Yield:19kt; Type:Fission
Stokes, 7 Aug 1957, Nevada TS
At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, J.B. Wiesner and H.F. York concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are…confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security. It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation.'' [1]

I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind of conclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical solution to the problem. An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.

SMOKY-RED: Test:Smoky; Date:August 31 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 8; Detonation:Tower, altitude - 700ft; Yield:44kt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Smoky Red, 31 Aug, Nevada TS
In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are always welcome. Because of previous failures in prophecy, it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution is not possible. Wiesner and York exhibited this courage; publishing in a science journal, they insisted that the solution to the problem was not to be found in the natural sciences. They cautiously qualified their statement with the phrase, "It is our considered professional judgment...." Whether they were right or not is not the concern of the present article. Rather, the concern here is with the important concept of a class of human problems which can be called "no technical solution problems," and more specifically, with the identification and discussion of one of these.

It is easy to show that the class is not a null class. Recall the game of tick-tack-toe. Consider the problem, "How can I win the game of tick-tack-toe?" It is well known that I cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly. Put another way, there is no "technical solution" to the problem. I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word "win." I can hit my opponent over the head; or I can falsify the records. Every way in which I "win" involves, in some sense, an abandonment of the game, as we intuitively understand it. (I can also, of course, openly abandon the game -- refuse to play it. This is what most adults do.)

PRISCILLA-BLUE: Test:Priscilla; Date:June 24 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 5; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 700ft; Yield:37kt; Type:Fission
Priscilla, 24 Jun 1957, Nevada TS
The class of "no technical solution problems" has members. My thesis is that the "population problem," as conventionally conceived, is a member of this class. How it is conventionally conceived needs some comment. It is fair to say that most people who anguish over the population problem are trying to find a way to avoid the evils of overpopulation without relinquishing any of the privileges they now enjoy.

They think that farming the seas or developing new strains of wheat will solve the problem -- technologically. I try to show here that the solution they seek cannot be found. The population problem cannot be solved in a technical way, any more than can the problem of winning the game of tick-tack-toe.

What Shall We Maximize?

HOOD-RED: Test:Hood; Date:July 5 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 9; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 1500ft; Yield:74kt; Type:Fission
Hood, 5 Jul 1957, Nevada TS
Population, as Malthus said, naturally tends to grow "geometrically," or, as we would now say, exponentially. In a finite world this means that the per-capita share of the world's goods must decrease. Is ours a finite world?

A fair defense can be put forward for the view that the world is infinite or that we do not know that it is not. But, in terms of the practical problems that we must face in the next few generations with the foreseeable technology, it is clear that we will greatly increase human misery if we do not, during the immediate future, assume that the world available to the terrestrial human population is finite. "Space" is no escape. [2]

A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero. (The case of perpetual wide fluctuations above and below zero is a trivial variant that need not be discussed.) When this condition is met, what will be the situation of mankind? Specifically, can Bentham's goal of "the greatest good for the greatest number" be realized?

DOPPLER: Test:Doppler; Date:August 23 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 1500ft; Yield:11kt; Type:Fission
Doppler, 23 Aug 1957, Nevada TS
No -- for two reasons, each sufficient by itself. The first is a theoretical one. It is not mathematically possible to maximize for two (or more) variables at the same time. This was clearly stated by von Neumann and Morgenstern, [3] but the principle is implicit in the theory of partial differential equations, dating back at least to D'Alembert (1717-1783).

The second reason springs directly from biological facts. To live, any organism must have a source of energy (for example, food). This energy is utilized for two purposes: mere maintenance and work. For man maintenance of life requires about 1600 kilocalories a day ("maintenance calories"). Anything that he does over and above merely staying alive will be defined as work, and is supported by "work calories" which he takes in. Work calories are used not only for what we call work in common speech; they are also required for all forms of enjoyment, from swimming and automobile racing to playing music and writing poetry. If our goal is to maximize population it is obvious what we must do: We must make the work calories per person approach as close to zero as possible. No gourmet meals, no vacations, no sports, no music, no literature, no art…I think that everyone will grant, without argument or proof, that maximizing population does not maximize goods. Bentham's goal is impossible.

CHARLESTON: Test:Charleston; Date:September 28 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 9; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 1500ft; Yield:12kt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Charleston, 28 Sep 1957, Nevada TS
In reaching this conclusion I have made the usual assumption that it is the acquisition of energy that is the problem. The appearance of atomic energy has led some to question this assumption. However, given an infinite source of energy, population growth still produces an inescapable problem. The problem of the acquisition of energy is replaced by the problem of its dissipation, as J. H. Fremlin has so wittily shown. [4] The arithmetic signs in the analysis are, as it were, reversed; but Bentham's goal is unobtainable.

The optimum population is, then, less than the maximum. The difficulty of defining the optimum is enormous; so far as I know, no one has seriously tackled this problem. Reaching an acceptable and stable solution will surely require more than one generation of hard analytical work -- and much persuasion.

We want the maximum good per person; but what is good? To one person it is wilderness, to another it is ski lodges for thousands. To one it is estuaries to nourish ducks for hunters to shoot; to another it is factory land. Comparing one good with another is, we usually say, impossible because goods are incommensurable. Incommensurables cannot be compared.

MIKE-RED: Test:Mike; Date:October 31, 1952; Operation:Ivy; Site:Elugelab Island, Enwetak atoll; Detonation:Surface; Yield:10.400 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Mike, 31 Oct 1952, Elugelab Isle
Theoretically this may be true; but in real life incommensurables are commensurable. Only a criterion of judgment and a system of weighting are needed. In nature the criterion is survival. Is it better for a species to be small and hideable, or large and powerful? Natural selection commensurates the incommensurables. The compromise achieved depends on a natural weighting of the values of the variables.

Man must imitate this process. There is no doubt that in fact he already does, but unconsciously. It is when the hidden decisions are made explicit that the arguments begin. The problem for the years ahead is to work out an acceptable theory of weighting. Synergistic effects, nonlinear variation, and difficulties in discounting the future make the intellectual problem difficult, but not (in principle) insoluble.

Has any cultural group solved this practical problem at the present time, even on an intuitive level? One simple fact proves that none has: there is no prosperous population in the world today that has, and has had for some time, a growth rate of zero. Any people that has intuitively identified its optimum point will soon reach it, after which its growth rate becomes and remains zero.

KING: Test:King; Date:October 31, 1952; Operation:Ivy; Site:Runit (Yvonne) Island, Enewetak Atoll; Detonation:Airburst from the B36 Bomber; Yield:500kt; Type:Fission
King, 31 Oct 1952, Runit Isle
Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidence that a population is below its optimum. However, by any reasonable standards, the most rapidly growing populations on earth today are (in general) the most miserable. This association (which need not be invariable) casts doubt on the optimistic assumption that the positive growth rate of a population is evidence that it has yet to reach its optimum.

We can make little progress in working toward optimum population size until we explicitly exorcise the spirit of Adam Smith in the field of practical demography. In economic affairs, The Wealth of Nations (1776) popularized the "invisible hand," the idea that an individual who "intends only his own gain," is, as it were, "led by an invisible hand to promote…the public interest." [5] Adam Smith did not assert that this was invariably true, and perhaps neither did any of his followers. But he contributed to a dominant tendency of thought that has ever since interfered with positive action based on rational analysis, namely, the tendency to assume that decisions reached individually will, in fact, be the best decisions for an entire society. If this assumption is correct it justifies the continuance of our present policy of laissez faire in reproduction. If it is correct we can assume that men will control their individual fecundity so as to produce the optimum population. If the assumption is not correct, we need to reexamine our individual freedoms to see which ones are defensible.

Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons

UMBRELLA: Test:Umbrella; Date:June 8 1958; Operation:Hardtack I; Site:Enewetak Lagoon; Detonation:Underwater, depth - 150ft; Yield:8kt; Type:Fission
Umbrella, 8 Jun 1958, Enewetak Lagoon
The rebuttal to the invisible hand in population control is to be found in a scenario first sketched in a little-known Pamphlet in 1833 by a mathematical amateur named William Forster Lloyd (1794-1852). [6] We may well call it "the tragedy of the commons," using the word "tragedy" as the philosopher Whitehead used it [7]: "The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things." He then goes on to say, "This inevitableness of destiny can only be illustrated in terms of human life by incidents which in fact involve unhappiness. For it is only by them that the futility of escape can be made evident in the drama."

The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.

OAK-OKCLOUD: Test:Oak; Date:June 28 1958; Operation:Hardtack I; Site:Enewetak Lagoon; Detonation:Barge, 8.6ft elevation from the surface; Yield:8.9mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Oak, 28 Jun 1958, Enewetak Lagoon
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, "What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?" This utility has one negative and one positive component.
  1. The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly + 1.
  2. The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decisionmaking herdsman is only a fraction of - 1.

Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another.... But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit -- in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.

Some would say that this is a platitude. Would that it were! In a sense, it was learned thousands of years ago, but natural selection favors the forces of psychological denial. [8] The individual benefits as an individual from his ability to deny the truth even though society as a whole, of which he is a part, suffers. Education can counteract the natural tendency to do the wrong thing, but the inexorable succession of generations requires that the basis for this knowledge be constantly refreshed.

A simple incident that occurred a few years ago in Leominster, Massachusetts shows how perishable the knowledge is. During the Christmas shopping season the parking meters downtown were covered with plastic bags that bore tags reading: "Do not open until after Christmas. Free parking courtesy of the mayor and city council." In other words, facing the prospect of an increased demand for already scarce space, the city fathers reinstituted the system of the commons. (Cynically, we suspect that they gained more votes than they lost by this retrogressive act.)

GEORGE-WHITE: Test:George; Date:8 May June 1951; Operation:Greenhouse; Site:Island Eberiru (Ruby), Enwetak atoll; Detonation:Tower; Yield:225kt; Type:Fission/Fusion
George, 8 May 1951, Eberiru Isle
In an approximate way, the logic of the commons has been understood for a long time, perhaps since the discovery of agriculture or the invention of private property in real estate. But it is understood mostly only in special cases which are not sufficiently generalized. Even at this late date, cattlemen leasing national land on the Western ranges demonstrate no more than an ambivalent understanding, in constantly pressuring federal authorities to increase the head count to the point where overgrazing produces erosion and weed-dominance. Likewise, the oceans of the world continue to suffer from the survival of the philosophy of the commons.

Maritime nations still respond automatically to the shibboleth of the "freedom of the seas." Professing to believe in the "inexhaustible resources of the oceans," they bring species after species of fish and whales closer to extinction. [9]

The National Parks present another instance of the working out of the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to all, without limit. The parks themselves are limited in extent -- there is only one Yosemite Valley -- whereas population seems to grow without limit. The values that visitors seek in the parks are steadily eroded. Plainly, we must soon cease to treat the parks as commons or they will be of no value to anyone.

HALLIARD: Test:Halliard 1; Date:September 11 1958; Operation:Grapple; Site:Christmas Island, Pacific; Detonation:Airdrop, altitude - 8550ft(2650m); Yield:1.8mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Halliard, 11 Sep 1958, Christmas Isle
What shall we do? We have several options. We might sell them off as private property. We might keep them as public property, but allocate the right to enter them. The allocation might be on the basis of wealth, by the use of an auction system. It might be on the basis of merit, as defined by some agreedupon standards. It might be by lottery. Or it might be on a first-come, first-served basis, administered to long queues. These, I think, are all objectionable. But we must choose -- or acquiesce in the destruction of the commons that we call our National Parks.


In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears in problems of pollution. Here it is not a question of taking something out of the commons, but of putting something in -- sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water; noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting and unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. The calculations of utility are much the same as before. The rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we are locked into a system of "fouling our own nest," so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free enterprisers.

TRUCKEE-PURPLE: Test:Truckee; Date:June 9 1962; Operation:Dominic; Site:10 Mi. S of Christmas Island; Detonation:B-52 Airdrop, altitude - 6,970ft; Yield:210kt; Type:Fission
Truckee, 9 Jun 1962, Christmas Isle
The tragedy of the commons as a food basket is averted by private property, or something formally like it. But the air and waters surrounding us cannot readily be fenced, and so the tragedy of the commons as a cesspool must be prevented by different means, by coercive laws or taxing devices that make it cheaper for the polluter to treat his pollutants than to discharge them untreated. We have not progressed as far with the solution of this problem as we have with the first.

Indeed, our particular concept of private property, which deters us from exhausting the positive resources of the earth, favors pollution. The owner of a factory on the bank of a stream -- whose property extends to the middle of the stream -- often has difficulty seeing why it is not his natural right to muddy the waters flowing past his door. The law, always behind the times, requires elaborate stitching and fitting to adapt it to this newly perceived aspect of the commons.

YESO-BLAGOON: Test:Yeso; Date:June 10 1962; Operation:Dominic; Site:20 Mi. S of Christmas Island; Detonation:B-52 Airdrop, altitude - 8,325ft; Yield:3.0mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
The pollution problem is a consequence of population. It did not much matter how a lonely American frontiersman disposed of his waste. "Flowing water purifies itself every ten miles," my grandfather used to say, and the myth was near enough to the truth when he was a boy, for there were not too many people. But as population became denser, the natural chemical and biological recycling processes became overloaded, calling for a redefinition of property rights.

How to Legislate Temperance?

Analysis of the pollution problem as a function of population density uncovers a not generally recognized principle of morality, namely: the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed. [10] Using the commons as a cesspool does not harm the general public under frontier conditions, because there is no public; the same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable. A hundred and fifty years ago a plainsman could kill an American bison, cut out only the tongue for his dinner, and discard the rest of the animal. He was not in any important sense being wasteful. Today, with only a few thousand bison left, we would be appalled at such behavior.

In passing, it is worth noting that the morality of an act cannot be determined from a photograph. One does not know whether a man killing an elephant or setting fire to the grassland is harming others until one knows the total system in which his act appears. "One picture is worth a thousand words," said an ancient Chinese; but it may take ten thousand words to validate it. It is as tempting to ecologists as it is to reformers in general to try to persuade others by way of the photographic shortcut. But the essence of an argument cannot be photographed: it must be presented rationally -- in words.

That morality is system-sensitive escaped the attention of most codifiers of ethics in the past. "Thou shalt not…" is the form of traditional ethical directives which make no allowance for particular circumstances. The laws of our society follow the pattern of ancient ethics, and therefore are poorly suited to governing a complex, crowded, changeable world. Our epicyclic solution is to augment statutory law with administrative law. Since it is practically impossible to spell out all the conditions under which it is safe to burn trash in the back yard or to run an automobile without smogcontrol, by law we delegate the details to bureaus. The result is administrative law, which is rightly feared for an ancient reason -- Quis custodies ipsos custodes? --Who shall watch the watchers themselves? John Adams said that we must have a "government of laws and not men." Bureau administrators, trying to evaluate the morality of acts in the total system, are singularly liable to corruption, producing a government by men, not laws.

TRUCKEE-BLUE: Test:Truckee; Date:June 9 1962; Operation:Dominic; Site:10 Mi. S of Christmas Island; Detonation:B-52 Airdrop, altitude - 6,970ft; Yield:210kt; Type:Fission
Truckee, 9 Jun 1962, Christmas Isle
Prohibition is easy to legislate (though not necessarily to enforce); but how do we legislate temperance? Experience indicates that it can be accomplished best through the mediation of administrative law. We limit possibilities unnecessarily if we suppose that the sentiment of Quis custodiet denies us the use of administrative law. We should rather retain the phrase as a perpetual reminder of fearful dangers we cannot avoid. The great challenge facing us now is to invent the corrective feedbacks that are needed to keep custodians honest. We must find ways to legitimate the needed authority of both the custodians and the corrective feedbacks.

Freedom to Breed Is Intolerable

The tragedy of the commons is involved in population problems in another way. In a world governed solely by the principle of "dog eat dog" --if indeed there ever was such a world--how many children a family had would not be a matter of public concern. Parents who bred too exuberantly would leave fewer descendants, not more, because they would be unable to care adequately for their children. David Lack and others have found that such a negative feedback demonstrably controls the fecundity of birds. [11] But men are not birds, and have not acted like them for millenniums, at least.

BAKER-PALM: Test:Baker; Date:July 24 1946; Operation:Crossroads; Site:Bikini Atoll lagoon, Marshall Islands; Detonation:Underwater, depth - 90ft(27.5m); Yield:23kt; Type:Fission
Baker, 24 Jul 1946, Marshall Isles
If each human family were dependent only on its own resources; if the children of improvident parents starved to death; if thus, over breeding brought its own "punishment" to the germ line -- then there would be no public interest in controlling the breeding of families. But our society is deeply committed to the welfare state, [12] and hence is confronted with another aspect of the tragedy of the commons.

In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts over breeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement? [13] To couple the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action.

YANKEE: Test:Yankee; Date:May 4, 1954; Operation:Castle; Site:Barge shot (14 feet above surface) on the Bikini atoll; Detonation:Surface; Yield:13.5 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Yankee, 4 May 1954, Bikini Atoll
Unfortunately this is just the course of action that is being pursued by the United Nations. In late 1967, some thirty nations agreed to the following: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society. It follows that any choice and decision with regard to the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else.'' [14]

It is painful to have to deny categorically the validity of this right; denying it, one feels as uncomfortable as a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, who denied the reality of witches in the seventeenth century. At the present time, in liberal quarters, something like a taboo acts to inhibit criticism of the United Nations. There is a feeling that the United Nations is "our last and best hope," that we shouldn't find fault with it; we shouldn't play into the hands of the archconservatives. However, let us not forget what Robert Louis Stevenson said: "The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy." If we love the truth we must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even though it is promoted by the United Nations. We should also join with Kingsley Davis [15] in attempting to get Planned Parenthood-World Population to see the error of its ways in embracing the same tragic ideal.

Conscience Is Self-Eliminating

UNION: Test:Union; Date:April 25, 1954; Operation:Castle; Site:Barge 13ft above surface, Bikini atoll; Detonation:Barge Shot; Yield:6.9 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Union, 25 April 1954, Bikini Atoll
It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience. Charles Galton Darwin made this point when he spoke on the centennial of the publication of his grandfather's great book. The argument is straightforward and Darwinian.

People vary. Confronted with appeals to limit breeding, some people will undoubtedly respond to the plea more than others. Those who have more children will produce a larger fraction of the next generation than those with more susceptible consciences. The differences will be accentuated, generation by generation.

ROMEO-OKCLOUD: Test:Romeo; Date:March 26, 1954; Operation:Castle; Site:Barge in the Bravo crater, Bikini atoll; Detonation:Barge Shot; Yield:11 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Romeo, 26 Mar 1954, Bikini Atoll
In C. G. Darwin's words: "It may well be that it would take hundreds of generations for the progenitive instinct to develop in this way, but if it should do so, nature would have taken her revenge, and the variety Homo contracipiens would become extinct and would be replaced by the variety Homo progenitivus. [16]

The argument assumes that conscience or the desire for children (no matter which) is hereditary-but hereditary only in the most general formal sense. The result will be the same whether the attitude is transmitted through germ cells, or exosomatically, to use A. J. Lotka's term. (If one denies the latter possibility as well as the former, then what's the point of education?) The argument has here been stated in the context of the population problem, but it applies equally well to any instance in which society appeals to an individual exploiting a commons to restrain himself for the general good -- by means of his conscience. To make such an appeal is to set up a selective system that works toward the elimination of conscience from the race.

Pathogenic Effects of Conscience

BRAVO-IABCLOUD: Test:Bravo; Date:March 1, 1954; Operation:Castle; Site:Artificial Island, Nam(Charlie) Island of the Bikini atoll; Detonation:Surface; Yield:15 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Bravo, 1 Mar 1954, Bikini Atoll
The long-term disadvantage of an appeal to conscience should be enough to condemn it; but it has serious short-term disadvantages as well. If we ask a man who is exploiting a commons to desist "in the name of conscience," what are we saying to him? What does he hear? -- not only at the moment but also in the wee small hours of the night when, half asleep, he remembers not merely the words we used but also the nonverbal communication cues we gave him unawares? Sooner or later, consciously or subconsciously, he senses that he has received two communications, and that they are contradictory: 1. (intended communication) "If you don't do as we ask, we will openly condemn you for not acting like a responsible citizen"; 2. (the unintended communication) "If you do behave as we ask, we will secretly condemn you for a simpleton who can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us exploit the commons."

Every man then is caught in what Bateson has called a "double bind." Bateson and his co-workers have made a plausible case for viewing the double bind as an important causative factor in the genesis of schizophrenia. [17] The double bind may not always be so damaging, but it always endangers the mental health of anyone to whom it is applied. "A bad conscience," said Nietzsche, "is a kind of illness."

To conjure up a conscience in others is tempting to anyone who wishes to extend his control beyond the legal limits. Leaders at the highest level succumb to this temptation. Has any president during the past generation failed to call on labor unions to moderate voluntarily their demands for higher wages, or to steel companies to honor voluntary guidelines on prices? I can recall none. The rhetoric used on such occasions is designed to produce feelings of guilt in noncooperators.

DOG-DESERT: Test:Dog; Date:November 01 1951; Operation:Buster-Jangle; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7; Detonation:Airdrop from B-50, altitude - 1417ft; Yield:21kt; Type:Fission
Dog, 01 Nov 1951, Nevada TS
For centuries it was assumed without proof that guilt was a valuable, perhaps even an indispensable, ingredient of the civilized life. Now, in this post-Freudian world, we doubt it.

Paul Goodman speaks from the modern point of view when he says: "No good has ever come from feeling guilty, neither intelligence, policy, nor compassion. The guilty do not pay attention to the object but only to themselves, and not even to their own interests, which might make sense, but to their anxieties.'' [18]

One does not have to be a professional psychiatrist to see the consequences of anxiety. We in the Western world are just emerging from a dreadful two centuries-long Dark Ages of Eros that was sustained partly by prohibition laws, but perhaps more effectively by the anxiety-generating mechanisms of education. Alex Comfort has told the story well in The Anxiety Makers; [19] it is not a pretty one.

R4BUFFALO: Test:Round 4; Date:October 22 1956; Operation:Buffalo; Site:Breakaway Site, Maralinga Test Range; Detonation:Aluminum Tower Shot, altitude - 110ft(34m); Yield: 16kt; Type:Fission
Round 4, 22 Oct 1956, Maralinga TR
Since proof is difficult, we may even concede that the results of anxiety may sometimes, from certain points of view, be desirable. The larger question we should ask is whether, as a matter of policy, we should ever encourage the use of a technique the tendency (if not the intention) of which is psychologically pathogenic. We hear much talk these days of responsible parenthood; the coupled words are incorporated into the titles of some organizations devoted to birth control. Some people have proposed massive propaganda campaigns to instill responsibility into the nation's (or the world's) breeders. But what is the meaning of the word conscience? When we use the word responsibility in the absence of substantial sanctions are we not trying to browbeat a free man in a commons into acting against his own interest? Responsibility is a verbal counterfeit for a substantial quid pro quo. It is an attempt to get something for nothing.

If the word responsibility is to be used at all, I suggest that it be in the sense Charles Frankel uses it. [20] "Responsibility," says this philosopher, "is the product of definite social arrangements." Notice that Frankel calls for social arrangements -- not propaganda.

Mutual Coercion Mutually Agreed Upon

EASY: Test:Easy; Date:November 05 1951; Operation:Buster-Jangle; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7; Detonation:Airdrop from B-45, altitude - 1314ft; Yield:31kt; Type:Fission
Easy, 05 Nov 1951, Nevada TS
The social arrangements that produce responsibility are arrangements that create coercion, of some sort. Consider bank robbing. The man who takes money from a bank acts as if the bank were a commons. How do we prevent such action? Certainly not by trying to control his behavior solely by a verbal appeal to his sense of responsibility. Rather than rely on propaganda we follow Frankel's lead and insist that a bank is not a commons; we seek the definite social arrangements that will keep it from becoming a commons. That we thereby infringe on the freedom of would-be robbers we neither deny nor regret.

The morality of bank robbing is particularly easy to understand because we accept complete prohibition of this activity. We are willing to say "Thou shalt not rob banks," without providing for exceptions. But temperance also can be created by coercion. Taxing is a good coercive device. To keep downtown shoppers temperate in their use of parking space we introduce parking meters for short periods, and traffic fines for longer ones. We need not actually forbid a citizen to park as long as he wants to; we need merely make it increasingly expensive for him to do so. Not prohibition, but carefully biased options are what we offer him. A Madison Avenue man might call this persuasion; I prefer the greater candor of the word coercion.

BAKER-BIKINI: Test:Baker; Date:July 24 1946; Operation:Crossroads; Site:Bikini Atoll lagoon, Marshall Islands; Detonation:Underwater, depth - 90ft(27.5m); Yield:23kt; Type:Fission
Baker, 24 Jul 1946, Marshall Isles
Coercion is a dirty word to most liberals now, but it need not forever be so. As with the four-letter words, its dirtiness can be cleansed away by exposure to the light, by saying it over and over without apology or embarrassment. To many, the word coercion implies arbitrary decisions of distant and irresponsible bureaucrats; but this is not a necessary part of its meaning. The only kind of coercion I recommend is mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected.

To say that we mutually agree to coercion is not to say that we are required to enjoy it, or even to pretend we enjoy it. Who enjoys taxes? We all grumble about them. But we accept compulsory taxes because we recognize that voluntary taxes would favor the conscienceless. We institute and (grumblingly) support taxes and other coercive devices to escape the horror of the commons.

An alternative to the commons need not be perfectly just to be preferable. With real estate and other material goods, the alternative we have chosen is the institution of private property coupled with legal inheritance. Is this system perfectly just? As a genetically trained biologist I deny that it is. It seems to me that, if there are to be differences in individual inheritance, legal possession should be perfectly correlated with biological inheritance-that those who are biologically more fit to be the custodians of property and power should legally inherit more. But genetic recombination continually makes a mockery of the doctrine of "like father, like son" implicit in our laws of legal inheritance. An idiot can inherit millions, and a trust fund can keep his estate intact. We must admit that our legal system of private property plus inheritance is unjust -- but we put up with it because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has invented a better system. The alternative of the commons is too horrifying to contemplate. Injustice is preferable to total ruin.

It is one of the peculiarities of the warfare between reform and the status quo that it is thoughtlessly governed by a double standard. Whenever a reform measure is proposed it is often defeated when its opponents triumphantly discover a flaw in it.

SWORDFISH: Test:Swordfish; Date:May 11 1962; Operation:Dominic; Site:400 nMi. W of San Digeo; Detonation:Rosket Launched Depth Bomb, underwater, at 650ft; Yield:20Kt; Type:Fission
Swordfish, 11 May 1962, San Digeo
As Kingsley Davis has pointed out, [21] worshipers of the status quo sometimes imply that no reform is possible without unanimous agreement, an implication contrary to historical fact. As nearly as I can make out, automatic rejection of proposed reforms is based on one of two unconscious assumptions: (1) that the status quo is perfect; or (2) that the choice we face is between reform and no action; if the proposed reform is imperfect, we presumably should take no action at all, while we wait for a perfect proposal.

But we can never do nothing. That which we have done for thousands of years is also action. It also produces evils. Once we are aware that the status quo is action, we can then compare its discoverable advantages and disadvantages with the predicted advantages and disadvantages of the proposed reform, discounting as best we can for our lack of experience. On the basis of such a comparison, we can make a rational decision which will not involve the unworkable assumption that only perfect systems are tolerable.

Recognition of Necessity

Perhaps the simplest summary of this analysis of man's population problems is this: the commons, if justifiable at all, is justifiable only under conditions of low-population density. As the human population has increased, the commons has had to be abandoned in one aspect after another.

First we abandoned the commons in food gathering, enclosing farm land and restricting pastures and hunting and fishing areas. These restrictions are still not complete throughout the world.

DE BACA: Test:De Baca; Date:October 26 1958; Operation:Hardtack II; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 7b; Detonation:Baloon, altitude - 1500ft; Yield:2.2kt; Type:Fission
De Baca, 26 Oct 1958, Nevada TS
Somewhat later we saw that the commons as a place for waste disposal would also have to be abandoned. Restrictions on the disposal of domestic sewage are widely accepted in the Western world; we are still struggling to close the commons to pollution by automobiles, factories, insecticide sprayers, fertilizing operations, and atomic energy installations.

In a still more embryonic state is our recognition of the evils of the commons in matters of pleasure. There is almost no restriction on the propagation of sound waves in the public medium. The shopping public is assaulted with mindless music, without its consent. Our government has paid out billions of dollars to create a supersonic transport which would disturb 50,000 people for every one person whisked from coast to coast 3 hours faster. Advertisers muddy the airwaves of radio and television and pollute the view of travelers. We are a long way from outlawing the commons in matters of pleasure. Is this because our Puritan inheritance makes us view pleasure as something of a sin, and pain (that is, the pollution of advertising) as the sign of virtue?

Every new enclosure of the commons involves the infringement of somebody's personal liberty. Infringements made in the distant past are accepted because no contemporary complains of a loss. It is the newly proposed infringements that we vigorously oppose; cries of "rights" and "freedom" fill the air. But what does "freedom" mean? When men mutually agreed to pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less so. Individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring on universal ruin; once they see the necessity of mutual coercion, they become free to pursue other goals. I believe it was Hegel who said, "Freedom is the recognition of necessity."

MIKE-SCLOUD: Test:Mike; Date:October 31, 1952; Operation:Ivy; Site:Elugelab Island, Enwetak atoll; Detonation:Surface; Yield:10.400 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Mike, 31 Oct 1952, Elugelab Isle
The most important aspect of necessity that we must now recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in breeding. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. At the moment, to avoid hard decisions many of us are tempted to propagandize for conscience and responsible parenthood. The temptation must be resisted, because an appeal to independently acting consciences selects for the disappearance of all conscience in the long run, and an increase in anxiety in the short.

The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon. "Freedom is the recognition of necessity" -- and it is the role of education to reveal to all the necessity of abandoning the freedom to breed. Only so, can we put an end to this aspect of the tragedy of the commons.

Notes (See Word Version)

The Tragedy of the Commons Revisited

by Beryl Crowe (1969)

reprinted in MANAGING THE COMMONS by Garrett Hardin and John Baden W.H. Freeman, 1977

MIKE-MCLOUD: Test:Mike; Date:October 31, 1952; Operation:Ivy; Site:Elugelab Island, Enwetak atoll; Detonation:Surface; Yield:10.400 Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion
Mike, 31 Oct 1952, Elugelab Isle
"There has developed in the contemporary natural sciences a recognition that there is a subset of problems, such as population, atomic war, and environmental corruption, for which there are no technical solutions.

"There is also an increasing recognition among contemporary social scientists that there is a subset of problems, such as population, atomic war, environmental corruption, and the recovery of a livable urban environment, for which there are no current political solutions. The thesis of this article is that the common area shared by these two subsets contains most of the critical problems that threaten the very existence of contemporary man." [p. 53]


"In passing the technically insoluble problems over to the political and social realm for solution, Hardin made three critical assumptions:
  1. that there exists, or can be developed, a 'criterion of judgment and system of weighting . . .' that will 'render the incommensurables . . . commensurable . . . ' in real life;
  2. that, possessing this criterion of judgment, 'coercion can be mutually agreed upon,' and that the application of coercion to effect a solution to problems will be effective in modern society; and
  3. that the administrative system, supported by the criterion of judgment and access to coercion, can and will protect the commons from further desecration." [p. 55]


"In America there existed, until very recently, a set of conditions which perhaps made the solution to Hardin's subset possible; we lived with the myth that we were 'one people, indivisible. . . .' This myth postulated that we were the great 'melting pot' of the world wherein the diverse cultural ores of Europe were poured into the crucible of the frontier experience to produce a new alloy -- an American civilization. This new civilization was presumably united by a common value system that was democratic, equalitarian, and existing under universally enforceable rules contained in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

FIZEAU-DAY: Test:Fizeau; Date:September 14 1957; Operation:Plumbbob; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 3b; Detonation:Tower, altitude - 500ft; Yield:11kt; Type:Boosted Fission
Fizeau, 14 Sep 1957, Nevada TS
"In the United States today, however, there is emerging a new set of behavior patterns which suggest that the myth is either dead or dying. Instead of believing and behaving in accordance with the myth, large sectors of the population are developing life-styles and value hierarchies that give contemporary Americans an appearance more closely analogous to the particularistic, primitive forms of 'tribal' organizations in geographic proximity than to that shining new alloy, the American civilization." [p. 56]

"Looking at a more recent analysis of the sickness of the core city, Wallace F. Smith has argued that the productive model of the city is no longer viable for the purposes of economic analysis. Instead, he develops a model of the city as a site for leisure consumption, and then seems to suggest that the nature of this model is such is such that the city cannot regain its health because the leisure demands are value-based and, hence do not admit to compromise and accommodation; consequently there is no way of deciding among these value- oriented demands that are being made on the core city.

"In looking for the cause of the erosion of the myth of a common value system, it seems to me that so long as our perceptions and knowledge of other groups were formed largely through the written media of communication, the American myth that we were a giant melting pot of equalitarians could be sustained. In such a perceptual field it is tenable, if not obvious, that men are motivated by interests. Interests can always be compromised and accommodated without undermining our very being by sacrificing values. Under the impact of electronic media, however, this psychological distance has broken down and now we discover that these people with whom we could formerly compromise on interests are not, after all, really motivated by interests but by values. Their behavior in our very living room betrays a set of values, moreover, that are incompatible with our own, and consequently the compromises that we make are not those of contract but of culture. While the former are acceptable, any form of compromise on the latter is not a form of rational behavior but is rather a clear case of either apostasy or heresy. Thus we have arrived not at an age of accommodation but one of confrontation. In such an age 'incommensurables' remain 'incommensurable' in real life." [p. 59]


Name:No. 24/RDS-37; Date:November 22, 1955; Site:Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan; Detonation:Air drop; Yield:1.6Mgt; Type:Fission/Fusion, U235/Li6/Tritium
"In the past, those who no longer subscribed to the values of the dominant culture were held in check by the myth that the state possessed a monopoly on coercive force. This myth has undergone continual erosion since the end of World War II owing to the success of the strategy of guerrilla warfare, as first revealed to the French in Indochina, and later conclusively demonstrated in Algeria. Suffering as we do from what Senator Fulbright has called 'the arrogance of power,' we have been extremely slow to learn the lesson in Vietnam, although we now realize that war is political and cannot be won by military means. It is apparent that the myth of the monopoly of coercive force as it was first qualified in the civil rights conflict in the South, then in our urban ghettos, next on the streets of Chicago, and now on our college campuses has lost its hold over the minds of Americans. The technology of guerrilla warfare has made it evident that, while the state can win battles, it cannot win wars of values. Coercive force which is centered in the modern state cannot be sustained in the face of the active resistance of some 10 percent of the population unless the state is willing to embark on a deliberate policy of genocide directed against the value dissident groups. The factor that sustained the myth of coercive force in the past was the acceptance of a common value system. Whether the latter exists is questionable in the modern nation-state." [p.p. 59-60]


GRABLE-BLUE: Test:Grable; Date:May 25 1953; Operation:Upshot/Knothole; Site:Nevada Test Site (NTS), Area 5; Detonation:Artillery shell airburst, altitude - 500; Yield:15kt; Type:Fission
Grable, 25 May 1953, Nevada TS
"Indeed, the process has been so widely commented upon that one writer postulated a common life cycle for all of the attempts to develop regulatory policies. The life cycle is launched by an outcry so widespread and demanding that it generates enough political force to bring about establishment of a regulatory agency to insure the equitable, just, and rational distribution of the advantages among all holders of interest in the commons. This phase is followed by the symbolic reassurance of the offended as the agency goes into operation, developing a period of political quiescence among the great majority of those who hold a general but unorganized interest in the commons. Once this political quiescence has developed, the highly organized and specifically interested groups who wish to make incursions into the commons bring sufficient pressure to bear through other political processes to convert the agency to the protection and furthering of their interests. In the last phase even staffing of the regulating agency is accomplished by drawing the agency administrators from the ranks of the regulated." [p.p. 60-61]

Psychology, Ideology, Utopia, and the Commons

by Dennis R. Fox 1985

American Psychologist, 40, 48-58 Abstract

The failure of social scientists to seriously question their own ideological and methodological assumptions contributes to the complex interrelationship between global ecological and individual psychological problems. Much of the literature on the tragedy of the commons focuses on saving the global commons through increased centralization and regulation, at the expense of the individual's autonomy and psychological sense of community. "Utopian" speculation in general and anarchist political analysis in particular are necessary correctives to misplaced attempts to merely rearrange the elements of the status quo rather than to radically alter it in a direction more in keeping with both survival and human dignity.

Excerpt: NUCLEAR ARMIGIDEON TERRORISM: (Word: 1300KB): Zero Population Growth Values Nuclear War Terrorism (JAG) || Image Source & Descriptions from: CrazyHorse BrokenArrow :: “Calling an airstrike near a friendly position, overrun by foe, creating high probability of 'Blue-on-Blue'” :: ApacheTom.

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