The scientist’s power of life and death is over his fellow human beings as well as over what you call the lower orders. Ours is only over plant life. The scientist’s work, when turned to war, enables one group of people to obtain the mastery over another. That is well enough, I suppose. But now the stage has been reached where not only the countries engaged in a war must go through its agonies, but also all the other countries who have no part in the war at all and all of nature as well. Like the trees, these other countries are condemned to death without any right of appeal.
“They are condemned not only to death, but to obliteration though they have no place in the quarrel. They neither start such wars nor end them. Their fate is only to suffer in the struggles of the giants. They are helpless to save themselves. With such weapons as this bomb of yours, war cannot be limited any longer. It must ruin all. And since it must ruin all, the responsibility of the scientist is extended from his own nation to the whole human race.”
“This is the same squirrel cage in which I have been running for the last ten years,” said Dr. Kokintz, bitterly. “If we did not make the bomb, the Russians would make it. The Russians would make it and we believe would use it. We make it in the hope that we will never use it. It is madness, but how are we to get back to sanity? It is, as I said, not the scientists who must lead the way back to sanity, but the people who control the scientists, and they are so filled with distrust of each other’s intentions, that an agreement even to ban so out-dated a weapon as the atom bomb cannot be achieved.
“There is fear and suspicion everywhere. The Communists fear, by the very nature of their own political philosophy, the capitalists. The capitalists see in Communism the ruination of their way of life. The Asiatics, exploited for centuries, distrust the Europeans. The Europeans, fearful of the enormous populations of Asia and the growth of nationalism and technology in India, in Africa, and even in China, fear the Asiatics.
“There is no trust anywhere, and the only safety for a people lies in having weapons of such terrible power that none dare attack them.”
“And where do the little nations fit in in all of this?” Pierce asked, quietly.
Dr. Kokintz shrugged. “I do not know,” he said.
“You do not know because you do not care about the little nations,” Pierce said. “You think that the people who live in them are peculiar and quaint and behind the times and not really important. You forget that they are your fellow beings. You think of them as being a kind of sub-strata of the human race, of no importance because they have no weight to make felt.”
“I suppose that is so,” Dr. Kokintz replied. “Whoever has the most weight in the world receives the most consideration. That is the one international law which is recognized by all. You must admit that it would be more disastrous for all free men if the United States were destroyed than if, say, Belgium, or Ireland, or Grand Fenwick were destroyed.”
“Perhaps. But a Belgian or an Irishman or one of our own people would not agree. And so long as the world can contemplate the destruction of a small nation without any deep pang of regret, so long will it be uncivilized. It is the same in the government of communities–the rights of the weakest and poorest citizen must receive the same support as those of the richest and the roost powerful. Otherwise civilization is merely a name and not a real force. But without civilization, no individual is safe, no nation is safe, and in these days even the world itself is not safe.”