In 1983, when I was in college, I participated in something called a “Die-In.” A group of us set up crosses on the commons and threw ourselves on the ground as if we were dead. The idea, such as it was, was to suggest that nuclear weapons were bad and should be done away with. Quite honestly, I didn’t really think it would work (to put it mildly). But as Larry Wittner shows in his compelling Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford, 2009), I was wrong, or at least partially wrong. Larry demonstrates that the nuclear disarmament movement had an impact on government policy. Politicians, not just here in the US but also in unlikely places like the USSR, actually listened to the protesters. But they sensed that a lot of people–like Einstein and me–were very uncomfortable with mutually assured destruction and wanted something done about it. Ronald Reagan listened. And so did Mikhail Gorbachev. After reading Larry’s book, I’m thinking I may organize another “Die-In.”
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