…nothing today distinguishes Science from a permanent and generalised threat of death…
by André Breton
“Unmask the physicians, empty the laboratories” (1958)
Rough translation of this
Tract from the Anti-Nuclear Control Committee, Paris, February 18, 1958
Nothing, nothing today distinguishes Science from a permanent and generalized threat of death: the quarrel is over, whether it should ensure the happiness or unhappiness of men, so evident is it that it has ceased to exist to be a means to an end. Modern physics has however made promises it has kept, and it still promises tangible results – in the form of piles of corpses. Until then, in the presence of conflicts between nations, or even the possible annihilation of a civilization, we react according to our usual moral and political criteria. But here is the human species doomed to complete destruction, whether by the cynical use of nuclear bombs, be they “clean” (!), or by the devastation caused by the waste which, in the meantime, pollutes in an unpredictable way the atmospheric and biological conditioning of the species, since a delirious escalation in “experimental” explosions continues under the guise of “peaceful ends”. Revolutionary thought sees the elementary conditions of its activity reduced to such a margin that it must revert to its sources of revolt, and, on this side of a world which only knows how to nourish its own cancer, must rediscover the unknown chances of fury.
So it is not a humanist attitude that we will call for. If religion has long been the opium of the people, Science is well placed to take over. The protests against the arms race, which some physicists affect to sign today, enlighten us at most on their guilty complex, which is in any case one of the most infamous vices of man. The breasts that we strike too late, the guarantee given to the dismal bleating of the herd by the same hand that arms the butcher, we know this refrain. Christianity and its magnifying mirrors that are police dictatorships have accustomed us to it.
Names adorned with official titles, at the bottom of warnings addressed to authorities unable to match the scale of the cataclysm, are not in our eyes a moral pass for these gentlemen, who at the same time continue to claim credits , schools and fresh flesh. From Jesus on the cross to the “anguished” laboratory technician who is unable to give up manufacturing death, hypocrisy and masochism are the same. The independence of youth, as well as the honor and the very existence of the spirit are threatened by a denial of conscience even more monstrous than this fear of the year 1000 which precipitated generations towards the cloisters and the cathedral building sites.
Hold on to the theology of the Bomb! Let’s organize propaganda against the blackmailers of scientific “thought”! While waiting for something better, let’s boycott the conferences devoted to the exaltation of the atom, let’s hiss the films that lull or indoctrinate public opinion, write to newspapers and public bodies to protest against the countless articles, reports and radio broadcasts, in which this new and colossal imposture unfolds without shame”