Why my model for optimistic, techno-capitalist thinking is … a famous nuclear strategist

But sunny futurist Herman Kahn was more than an architect of Armageddon. He saw a thriving humanity that would survive the Cold War and eventually master the Solar System.

In my (free, paywall-down) essay last week, “Forget about Left Wing and Right Wing. How about an Up Wing America?,” I wrote that my model for optimistic techno-solutionism is the postwar think-tanker Herman Kahn. Some readers — well, some folks who read my tweets about the piece — thought it laughable that I would turn to an infamous nuclear war theorist and Cold Warrior for Up Wing inspiration.

I mean, I get. Once I wrote an op-ed mentioning Kahn as a sunny futurist, and my editor suggested I strike the reference. He thought it would confuse readers who were likely aware of Kahn only as an architect of Armageddon, an intellectual who became famous by thinking about the unthinkable.

Kahn’s 1960 book On Thermonuclear War, based on a dozen lectures he gave at Princeton University a year earlier, sold some 30,000 copies. And its influence was far-reaching. In it, Kahn argued that strategic thinking in the Nuclear Age needed to be more nuanced than the either-or notion of Mutual Assured Destruction. Khan posited there were a variety of nuclear war scenarios that policymakers should consider, including ones that involved the strategic and tactical use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear war was survivable and winnable. (Soviet war planners agreed, by the way.) Survivors might not envy the dead.

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Πηγή: fasterplease.substack.com

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