Nuclear energy as the continuation of war by other means - Jean-Pierre Baudet

Nuclear energy as the continuation of war by other means - Jean-Pierre Baudet

In this text written in 1986 in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, Jean-Pierre Baudet defines nuclear power as “the logical result of the theoretical-practical aberration based on the dispossession of men...reduced to the status of mere economic subjects”, and discusses certain features it has in common with commodity society, such as its basis in separation and secrecy, its “blind indifference” regarding the survival of its protagonists and its “hostility towards man” as it decrees “a permanent state of emergency” and wages “the real total war about which the madmen of the past could only dream” against its “inadequate” human “prop”.

Nuclear Energy as the Continuation of War by Other Means – Jean-Pierre Baudet

“Do you tremble, skeleton? You would tremble even more if you knew where I am taking you.” (Turenne)

“Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.” (Tacitus)

“My soldiers would be perfect if they did not have families and homes.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

Some people think that we must distinguish between the civilian and the military uses of nuclear energy; as if both did not present comparable dangers, connected in the first case with the probability of a catastrophe, and in the second, with its extent once catastrophe strikes. More to the point, however, it is nuclear energy in its totality that cannot be distinguished from war, which it in fact contains as a latent conflict, a silent confrontation that undermines the whole social system that produces nuclear energy, and which should now be analyzed.

Our era has been so successfully domesticated that the idea that the temporary pacification of the wage workers and the unemployed is a state of peace has filtered into its consciousness: as if they were not under various forms of compulsion, and as if it was the proletarians—who are in reality always too good and too accommodating—who initiated hostilities and invented the social war in the middle of the 19th century! All of this presupposes that one forgets that capital, from its most elementary form, the commodity, to its most developed form, its extensive international and intensive spectacular deployment, is itself nothing but an incessant war: war, first of all, conducted by exchange value against its perishable basis and antagonistic vehicle, use value (1); and also the war of the monopolies and their state surrogates, devastating the planet, crushing the last economies based on the cultivation of edible plants, reducing their populations to famine and, therefore, to forced dependence, sweeping aside in one stroke those ephemeral governments that presumptuously aspired to oppose for one minute the IMF or the Red Army, and the threat posed in the old metropoles by a workforce reeling from the brutalization of having to economically compete with the starving masses of the earth.

This second kind of war, which confronts by means of competition, and subsequently also with weapons, populations that are rowing in the same slave galley, the most classical and phenomenologically the most ancient kind of war, is, despite its immediately recognizable horrors, nothing but the periodic and crude manifestation of the commercial war, incubated in the very heart of the basic commodity form, and this must be recalled in these terms because it reemerges with a bold tranquility, without mediations and in a most resounding fashion, in the form of nuclear energy as well as the ongoing destruction of the conditions necessary for life.

Commercial war is undoubtedly more recent, certainly more discrete, but also more essential and enduring than its political form, military war: this is why commercial war is the illustration of the hegemony of logic over chronology and, above all, it is the absolute form of war, the unlimited and uncontrollable quest for destruction, the blind indifference as much to the survival of its protagonists as to a post-war era that it is not even capable of conceiving. Although, in the theatre of the eternal political conflicts, there are factors capable of preventing or mitigating the effects of war, there are no such factors capable of limiting the war of value against reality, and of society against those men who reflect the latter: except, of course, the war that men could launch against such a society.

Every time a political or military war ends, because an army defeats its civil or military adversary, the ferocity of the absolute war of the exploitation of men and of things that is ready to suck the blood of the survivors is redoubled; and nothing changes when revolutions stop halfway and the waves of servitude, rapidly resurgent, engulf the islets of freedom.

The war conducted by the commodity against men is merciless, and as such is always ready to provide lessons to the military in all that concerns horror; and it could do so employing the terms of General Sheridan who, having devastated the lands of the Shenandoah Valley, where the Confederate forces had families and resources, felt that he had the authority to offer this advice to Bismarck, who had embarked upon the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871: “You know how to strike the enemy better than anyone, but you have not learned how to annihilate him: you must abandon many more towns to the flames, or you will never defeat the French” (quoted by Basil Liddell Hart, The Revolution in Warfare). And this same Sheridan added, more modern than ever: “One must leave the people nothing but their eyes so they can cry about the war.”

Later, however, Ludendorff’s total war and Douhet’s “destruction of nations” expressed still more exactly what a social system based on economic concentration thought about men. Regarding the wars waged by Belisarius, de Saxe, Epaminondas or Frederick the Great, by Hannibal or Alexander, one could say that, despite everything, in the words of Giovanni Acuto, the Venetian condottiere, they were fought “in order to live, and not to die”; and this judgment can be applied with yet more justice to the struggles carried on by Cluseret and Rossel, by Abd-el-Krim or Durruti, Makhno or Zapata. But the war that exchange value and its power of abstraction have declared on all of reality is of another kind: because it cannot end except due to a lack of combatants, since no form of peace can be allowed by the commodity, that “very trivial thing. . . . a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties” (Marx), which reasons as if it had come from another planet, and with an absolute disdain for ours—which is nonetheless its only field of action, unfortunately for us.

The judgment of the commodity upon human beings has already expressed itself over the years in various revealing ideas, among which the most recent is, for the time being, the somewhat ambiguous notion of liveware coined by Robert Jungk. As an extension of the already common ideological forms of constant and variable capital, hardware and software, this new reduction, more shameless than ever, of living beings to their mere reified and commercial use, signifies a veritable squaring of the perfect circle of all of reality, scrutinized, retouched and molded by work and the commodity; the squaring of the circle is not only invoked here as an illustration of an approximating method which approaches its object in the infinite without touching it, but also because this method of petty and reductive reasoning, the basis of differential and integral calculus, irresistibly recalls for the intelligent scientist the “cat that advances upon its victim while looking the other way” (Banesh Hoffmann, The Strange Story of the Quantum).

Liveware: this is therefore the concept of the nuclear worker, and the latter will probably embrace it in such a way that he will find it to be an accurate, if somewhat ironic, designation. In a world produced by commercial madness, the substance becomes the subject, but only on the condition that the subject returns to the substance.

Truly, the hostility towards man which governs the very essence of capitalist society does not require further demonstrations: no other society (not even despotic slave societies) universally reduced man to such a triviality, and Clausewitz would not have been able to so justly and lucidly compare war with the money economy if the latter was not itself a form of war. This is why all the reforms achieved in the last century and a half in the domain of the “social question” have had hardly any effect on this form of society, but only on its names; and in all of this there was nothing that justified changing one’s opinion. Time just passes in a useless inventory of ugly examples piling up one on top of another, and the contempt for man accumulates upon its preceding realizations.

Thus, in Seveso, for example, some women were accused of having “capitalized on the events in order to have abortions (. . .); by a strange paradox, they were put on the same footing as contemptible culprits (. . .) who had not taken into consideration the effects of the accident, of which they were victims”. (Calypso Log, July 1986). We have discovered the theory that maintains that those who eat radioactive thyme are themselves solely responsible due to their gluttony, and not nuclear energy or the Ducros management, which resold this thyme without a moment’s hesitation. The German women who had abortions in early May 1986 in order to prevent giving birth to children with radiation-induced birth defects (microencephaly, for example) were characterized as obvious hysterics. The citizen of Gomel whom we discussed above, is considered to be a hypochondriac who suffers from acute egocentrism. Although it seems absurd, medicine would rather register an enormous increase in gluttony, hysteria and egocentrism, instead of admitting the existence of health disorders caused by radiation, and was not afraid of abolishing the latter category at the price of an absurd recrudescence of all the others: an unexpected effect of the polymorphism and the lack of specificity of radioactive lesions, of course.

As for us, miserable dilettantes lost in the land of science that forbids opposition to its dictates, we cannot content ourselves with recognizing, in this contemporary enterprise of propaganda where psychologically fabricated vituperation overlaps with human infantilism and the bosses’ false indignation at the patients, the syncretic re-issue of the Christian relics concerning fault and sin according to which all misfortunes are just and deserved; this repugnant obsession with self-crucifixion, “. . . from which mankind has not yet recovered; man’s sickness of man, of himself. . . . We have here a sort of madness of the will showing itself in mental cruelty which is absolutely unparalleled: man’s will to find himself guilty and condemned without hope of reprieve, his will to think of himself as punished, without the punishment ever being equivalent to the level of guilt, his will to infect and poison the fundamentals of things. . . .” (Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals).

This is how, in all cases, modern society prepares for a considerable step backwards by means of a vast program of defamation, and the quickest possible liquidation of the fragile and ephemeral formal rights that the juridical fiction had instituted—the right to health, the right to work and the rights of the workplace, the right to the image, and tutti quanti. The spokespersons of the economy know that we are at war: for this reason they demand, with all the logic in the world, a permanent state of emergency and full powers that allow their unhindered operations, immune to punishment, far from the shackling statutes and obstacles of decency.

As for the nuclear war, it has begun in the greatest secrecy. Everywhere, in every country, nuclear plants are established under conditions of high security and their existence is concealed for as long as possible, hidden by military secrecy when they are purely state institutions or claiming the same secrecy for motives of commercial competition when they are private.

With a little luck, the secret gets out, but discretion is maintained while the occasion demands that we limit ourselves to experiencing a close brush with catastrophe: and the luck of Three Mile Island is reproduced every day, but it will not last long. In November 1979, the city of Toronto narrowly avoided being evacuated at the last minute due to a rail transport accident involving highly dangerous materials; in November 1984, in the Fourviére Tunnel, a routine accident took place which could have poisoned the whole population of Lyon with 22 barrels of sodium cyanide; and each passing day brings its contribution to this countdown which is not specifically nuclear, although it is manifested in that sector, as we have seen, with the greatest generosity.

In the face of such a conspiracy of silence, even voters must, at times, understand something; knowing that this society does not do what it says and above all deserves constant mistrust, how is it that they don’t take account of the fact that neither does it say what it is doing and that it deserves to be simply abolished? A society that, by deceiving men, keeping them in ignorance, exploiting them, and sacrificing them reveals only too well what it thinks of them, complains that it must have resort to them and only does so for the lack of something better. Its most intimate and sincere dream is still—and it does not despair of seeing it realized someday—to unburden itself of an indefinably inadequate prop, a source of obstacles and endless roadblocks, an inadmissible friction.

The myth of the commodity economy is decidedly two-faced, and has something about it of both Midas and Pygmalion, insofar as nothing is blessed in its view except its artificial creatures, which illuminate the features of the materialized abstraction, and these creatures, offspring of contact with reified power, will not know how to live except exclusively in a dead world of value and not in the impure universe of living nature. Some of our contemporaries have understood this: why else would they have tried so desperately to display the angular features of the machines they imitate, to merge with them by way of speech and dance, tastes and adornments? And what else can explain the pride they feel when they display on their lifeless torsos the prestigious symbols of the divinities that hold sway over them: Marlboro, the aroma of the wide open, filtered spaces? Simple advertising props, props of value, supporters [in English in original—translator’s note] of a football team or a political team, stooges of the most eclectic kind of commodity imbecility that could possibly be imagined: permitted pleasures and recommended ambitions repatriate those who had perhaps attempted to escape. And the ritual of fashion, liquidating the signs and blinding those who were already mute, brutalizes all those who have anything to do with it.

These are the people who, flattered by their assimilation as simple cogs and always ready to display on command the horrible laughter of idiots, must endure in peacetime the infusion into civilian life of dangers that humanity had previously only experienced in times of war. The authorities, who are perhaps not yet fully aware of the real gravity of this situation, now hold the power of nuclear energy totally at their discretion, which is why Dr. Weinberg accumulates the powers of a dictator like the daily emissions from a nuclear power plant:

“The prefect is being transformed into the absolute soul of his region, a veritable general in command of the police, the army, the hospitals and even the communications media.” (Libération, May 2, 1986)

A single power will thus coordinate the measures to be adopted as well as the lies that will be pronounced concerning those measures, on a much more comprehensive scale than the police do when they seal off a neighborhood because of a drive-by shooting, as if it were a lottery, and to preserve an already cracked façade he must prepare a script that is favorable to his version of the facts, having arrogated to himself the responsibility for public relations.

Obviously, one can expect nothing from such a prefect: but the employment of such powers will not fail to bring about the disappearance of the last regions unaffected by professional cynicism and numbing routine; and one must admit, judging by the examples of cynicism that our epoch has only recently offered, some examples of which we have alluded to, that we have little reason to believe in miracles and to think that a prefect would hesitate to exercise his powers to the maximum extent. These judgments on human beings, implicitly pronounced by the practice of power, will not fail to one day assume the most explicit possible character that they could legitimately possess by law within such an order of things.

The implementation of an ORSEC-Rad plan [a French plan for evacuating the population in the event of a nuclear catastrophe—Translator’s note] or any similar plan implemented in any other country would undoubtedly contribute robust proof for this claim, when the people who live near the nuclear power plant will only have a few days to die ignominiously in the basements of their homes. Surrounded by armed forces in a highly contaminated zone, these people will come to understand, a little too late, the delicate sense of irony that allowed this plan to be defined as an “evacuation” plan, and the kind of diplomatic considerations that made its actual contents so secret. They will also have to admit, even if in a somewhat hasty manner and without having over-taxed their powers of abstraction, that the authorities truly did not hold the people it helped in this way in very high esteem.

But it will then be difficult to demand explanations from local and national officials, who will have abandoned the disaster zone as discretely as possible in a military helicopter, while their administrative subjects, bound to their estates like medieval serfs, will be shot on sight “for health reasons” as soon as they approach the geographical boundaries assigned for their “socially accepted” agony: maybe they had not been enlightened by the television network of their choice?

There can be no doubt that, at this moment, in what would appear to be more or less a democracy, the officials and leading advocates of the nuclear industry (2) should choose to reside in the vicinity of their nuclear power plants, thereby providing irrefutable proof of their absolute faith, their resolve and their probity. After all, history has known epochs where the notion of honor was testimony to the price of privilege, even to the point where tribute paid was itself experienced as a privilege; so that we have every right to consider such a practice to be the sign of the existence of an elementary moral code, and its absence, on the other hand, as the undeniable and sufficient proof that a deeply-seated bad faith rules the whole social system. But it is undeniable that, in our epoch, where no one produces objects destined for the satisfaction of their own needs and in response to their own qualitative demands, it is simply a matter of cruelly exploiting the needs of others; therefore, to promptly find the mediocre broth with which commerce is carried on to be distasteful is an utterly unheard-of idea, whether dealing with a new chemically-synthesized beverage or a nuclear power plant. From this perspective, the commodity system would have made any resident of the epoch of Haroun al Rashid laugh, because half of the popular tales of that time had the purpose of discrediting such crude swindles. And nothing is therefore capable of preventing, in the logic of commodity production, those who consumed every sort of falsified and profitable product throughout their lives from consuming in the end one or two “unimaginable” catastrophes, that is to say, phenomena that were positively foreseen would happen to people of their kind: and while their corpses litter the scene where nuclear energy acquired its independence, casting a pall over the sun of alienation, the personnel of the general staffs, whose survival is indispensable in order to engender further aberrations—unless they turn out to be of the same kind—will be decorated for their historic flight.

The equivalence of existence and virtual death has now invaded the integrity of lived time and become a constant feature of our experience. The faces of those we meet are marked by the stigmata of this infamy; and although they do not seem to notice they nonetheless behave as if it were so: they no longer expect anything but the execution of their sentences. Nothing remains but to ask if they will also work during their last moments in order to limit the economic loss which, let us say, their definitive “liquidation” will entail; only those unacquainted with the studies concerning the possible uses of various currently available bombs, above all the “neutron” bomb, could laugh at this query, as these studies include the elaboration of costly scenarios devoted to determining whether it would be possible to instill, with some prior conditioning, during the 48 hours remaining to the victims of a radioactive disaster before they completely wither away, a sort of patriotic-hormonal outburst that could spare these temporary survivors the torpor of unproductive meditations and summon them once again to the battle and certain death.

But this dreadful moment, which is fatal for those who are most directly affected, will, however, be merely a new prelude to the train of miseries that we have already shed light upon in this book. The fallout will spread throughout the countryside, its effect accentuated by the pollution of the soil, the water and the air, and will concentrate in the food chain, as if it knew how to renounce the pleasure of an all-too-easy overwhelming victory, in order to launch a massive assault, lasting decades, on impotent and ignorant victims, always mindful of the maxim that exhorts us to “ . . . accustom ourselves to look upon War, and the single campaigns in a War, as a chain which is all composed of battles strung together, one of which always brings on another. . . .” and recalling that “. . . a single advantage cannot be separated from the result of the whole” (Clausewitz, On War, III.1).

In this war, as in all others, the dangers that threaten the troops cause the mud where one can tranquilly wallow look desirable, which they always identify with peace. Men therefore only aspire to preserve, by means of an inevitable accumulation of degradations, the essential elements of the trivial cycle of their everyday survival, and have now learned, thanks to the various fast food chains, to love chains in general. Faced with each new catastrophe, the previous degree of contamination will seem like a veritable Eden; and governments will see how the hurricane of social reaction evolves on each occasion: on each occasion the choice will have to be made for yet more submission, or for the increasingly concrete rejection of this kind of management along with those who conduct it. It is not going too far to say that this campaign may very well be the last campaign to free our species: might not our species even risk losing all or part of its physical integrity to bring an end to the worst possible kind of secular conflict that pits civil society against the separated powers that rule it?

In this “non-neutral nature”, to borrow Eisenstein’s expression, the power of separation, which is still the indestructible cellular form of the logic of commodified thought and activity, is now on the verge of the limits of the territory it can devastate: in its constantly accelerating separation from the matter to which it has been delivered (3) it represents a true inversion of the life process; and if researchers pose the question of “artificial” particles, it is because these particles do not exist in a separate state outside of the material of which they form a part; and research by way of separation (or separation by way of research) in this sense constitutes a veritable machine for going back in time.

Dr. Alice Stewart, whom we quoted above, wrote in 1983: “It is possible that life and the development of the biosphere on the surface of the earth had to wait until the intensity of the radioactive emissions from the surface of the sun declined to current levels. The discovery of x-rays, and then of radium, made possible the overexposure of individual animals and plants to very high levels of radiation in countries with advanced technology. Only after the discovery of nuclear fission did the measurable levels of ambient radiation begin to rise. The current problem, then, a direct legacy of the Second World War, is how to prevent a reversal of the natural process that could cause irreparable harm to the forces of life” (quoted in Ecologie, No. 371). Such are the latest advances in the war that commercial value has declared on matter, by way of a few scientific concepts and their technological employment, which no society not based on commodity economy has every known or could ever know. By freeing itself from philosophical concepts such as alchemy, science has also broken with all thought embracing the living totality in order to embark upon a long and successful career; and having been transformed into a servant of “progress”, it lost any possibility of being reconciled to the rational kernel of the world-view that it had so summarily rejected.

In his book, The Dangers of Low-Level Radiation, Holger Strohm states: “It is quite possible that many human diseases, including cancers, are related to genetic factors, and above all to the 10,000 invisible or, as Muller calls them, ‘discrete’ mutations, which occur for every observable mutation”, and rather than an annoying terminus ad quem, the spread of different types of cancer might instead represent the cumulative effect of increases in background radiation, an epiphenomenal sign of long-lasting transformations that are still being investigated. As for the famous smoker’s cancer, which would have had to have been invented if it did not already exist (since it constitutes the principle example adduced by the pro-nuclear forces to show the insignificance of the role played by radiation in the etiology of cancer), it could well comprise one element of this category, since tobacco leaves are particularly susceptible to contamination by radioisotopes, especially plutonium and polonium, as professor Radford has demonstrated (4).

All of the above considerations, although quite incomplete and allusive, will suffice to indicate that the war we are talking about, far from being dubious, appears to be the real total war about which the madmen of the past could only dream; and this is so even prior to its culmination in a large-scale nuclear war, for which those responsible for the more limited war we are currently discussing are nonetheless implacably laying the foundations. What is easy to prove on paper—that nuclear dementia is nothing but the logical result of the theoretical-practical aberration based on the dispossession of men who are reduced to the status of mere economic subjects—can only be put to use by a social movement that inscribes this understanding in reality by combating it, in such a way that the question is not posed in the kind of bastardized and ephemeral terms that forbid any solution.

Left to its own devices, the commodity would never have let anyone survive except isolated individuals—treating the social fabric just as it has treated the physical fabric of matter, breaking up the previously existing group bonds in order to face only the monads spoken of by Tacitus, who rejected them, and Napoleon Bonaparte, who hoped to create them. (5)

Human society lies prostrate, decomposed into a state of impoverished molecules, because in molecular paring each female electron has only one male proton, with a negligible unstable existence reserved for the neutron, which is dog, cat, child or bonsai. These minimal units of advanced decomposition survive in an environment that is gradually being adapted to their existence, where studettes [standardized one-room studio apartments in France—translator’s note], minimal simplifying units and neologisms set in concrete, were invented at the same time as the quark: all that remains is to tremble before the idea of what a real estate boson might be.

In order to bring these human particles together all that is required are causes, and the world is full of causes; it is only thanks to critique that these causes will be radicalized and perfected: “Simultaneously preserving religion, the king’s person and his authority, the two Chambers of Parliament, the laws and the liberties of the people, appeared to be the initial cause; but when this was revealed to be impossible, the task of the revolutionaries was to preserve what they could themselves preserve, in other words, the liberties of the people and their representatives; and this was none other than the good old cause” (John Rogers, Mr. Pryn's Good old cause stated and stunted 10. years ago. Or, A most dangerous designe, in mistating the good, by mistating the Bad old cause; clearly extricated and offered to the Parliament, the General Council of Officers, the good people's and Army's immediate consideration, 1659).

Nothing has changed, except that the liberty of their representatives has been turned against that of the people; what was basically true for that epoch is also true for ours.

What fortunate times, when one could open up a book and read the following observations: "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages,[sic] are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." (Thomas Paine).

But we live in an epoch that, on an increasingly more profound level, does not allow us to bet on the future; an epoch that brings in its wake, in a state of artificial survival, a hideous procession of evidence of its regression, but that nonetheless is from now on capable of blocking the unfolding of its own future even on its most distant horizons.

Capitalism in decomposition will have in the end invented nothing more than this, but it is a historical result; colonizing the future in advance so as to no longer have to face the subversion of the present, which is virtually negated, and simply reduced to the deranged continuation of the present beyond all limits. A society that, for example, if it were to emancipate itself now would have to devote centuries to the management of nuclear power plants and toxic and radioactive wastes that are making entire countries, one after another, into landscapes of hazardous waste and deserts devoid of all living nature (6).

We have, together with the reader, plodded through many pages of this nameless morass. We have entered an era of writings that should never have existed. A weary sojourn towards disgust, where each detailed discovery only reinforces a judgment formed in advance! Making an inventory of the incredible exploits of the existing “structures” and their (pseudo-) human supporters that animate them brings no consolation, when we know that there is nothing else we can do except catalog them. We deserve the anger of those who have had the patience to follow us this far: but what, then, does this social system deserve, which is actually producing, with a matchless abundance, the phenomena whose surface we have barely even scratched in this text?

The day will come when we will be able to discuss an entertaining question with bitter levity: do we need to recall an undignified past, rich in negative lessons and instructions about what not to do? Is it necessary to devote museums to the past that will make us feel reborn after leaving them, or is it better to abandon it all to a well-deserved oblivion, in order to enjoy an eternal youth?

The supporters of the first option will cite that Greek philosopher who, upon waking up in the morning, became desperate to give himself the pleasure of going back, conscious of the joy, to such a sleep; and its opponents will argue that nothing in that past justifies an exercise of memory. As for ourselves, we have in this work expressed everything we know and everything we have been able to learn about the radioactive rainfall from Chernobyl based on a diligent reading of the press and the reconstitution of a certain historical environment. Since no one can expect any more from us, no one can complain that we were incapable of offering more. What can be regretted is the poverty of our talent, whenever our theoretical elaborations should appear impoverished, and the weakness of our judgment whenever we shall have been mistaken in our commentaries. This is the situation, and all that remains is to ask who has more right to complain: the public, if our work has not satisfied it, or we, who have been compelled by the public to endure all of this and to write about it.

In any event, and whatever the weaknesses and virtues of our improvised considerations, they shall have at least one advantage, that of reaching a conclusion that we can judge to be definitive: “Chances are that this or that instrument will break sooner or later; generations do not succeed one another in order to contemplate the world, but in order to be this world by pursuing rational goals: this is in my view the most elevated point of view, one that cannot ever be surpassed. Tranquility brings sadness; and hope for the future is vain! Tomorrow is made today, it is the present moment that gives birth to the future; foolishly placing one’s hope in the latter, will only result in its monstrous deformation at your idle hands” (Clausewitz).

Jean-Pierre Baudet
September 1986

Final Chapter of Tchernobyl. Anatomie d'un nuage : Inventaire provisoire des dégâts physiques et moraux consécutifs à la catastrophe du 26 avril 1986, Editions Gérard Lebovici (1987).

Translated into English from the Spanish translation downloaded in 2001 from the now defunct website of the Spanish journal Maldeojo.


1. “Exchange value could arise only as an agent of use value, but its victory by means of its own weapons created the conditions for its autonomous domination. Mobilizing all human use and establishing a monopoly over its satisfaction, exchange value has ended up by directing use. The process of exchange became identified with all possible use and reduced use to the mercy of exchange. Exchange value is the condottiere of use value who ends up waging the war for himself” (Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Section 46).

2. Assuming that the very existence of nuclear power plants does not itself prove the absence of democracy!

3. Pierre Thuillier, historian of science, asked “whether we are still in the domain of ‘nature’ or at the threshold of creating artifacts, artificial particles. . . .”! These particles are certainly not miraculous; I merely want to emphasize that they are produced in some way by man.

4. Holger Strohm, Friedlich in die Katastrophe.

5. See the quotations at the beginning of this text.

6. After Chernobyl, 150,000 frogs were slaughtered in Scandinavia because of high levels of contamination.