George Kateb’s “Nuclear Weapons and Individual Responsibility,” (Dissent, Spring 1986) achieves an instant credibility by his open acknowledgment of what we prefer to ignore—the possibility of nuclear annihilation and the anonymity of the powers that control that possibility, impervious to the considerations that sway individuals—such as the loss of all we love, of trees, dogs, and wheat fields, not to mention ourselves, in a nuclear holocaust. It is surely important that that unacknowledged reality be made overt and become a part of our decision-making.
It is, however, not so clear that this well-deserved credibility should extend beyond the initial recognition to Kateb’s proposals for dealing with the nuclear threat. These are somewhat surprising. “Remote as the connection may seem,” he tells us, “the encouragement of state activism, or the failure to resist it, contributes to nuclear statism and thus to the disposition t...
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