Call for Sanity on Sixtieth Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

The original Einstein-Russell manifesto

It was exactly 60 years ago that Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein gathered together with a group of leading intellectuals in London to draft and sign a manifesto in which they denounced the dangerous drive toward war between the world’s Communist and anti-Communist factions. The signers of this manifesto included leading Nobel Prize winners such as Hideki Yukawa and Linus Pauling.

They were blunt, equating the drive for war and reckless talk of the use of nuclear weapons sweeping the United States and the Soviet Union at the time, as endangering all of humanity. The manifesto argued that advancements in technology, specifically the invention of the atomic bomb, had set human history on a new and likely disastrous course.

The manifesto stated in harsh terms the choice confronting humanity:

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto forced a serious reconsideration of the dangerous strategic direction in which the United States was heading at that time and was the beginning of a recalibration of the concept of security that would lead to the signing of the Nonproliferation Treaty in 1968 and the arms control talks of the 1970s.

But we take little comfort in those accomplishments today. The United States has completely forgotten about its obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty, and the words “arms control” have disappeared from the conversation on security. The last year has seen the United States confront Russia in Ukraine to such a degree that many have spoken about the risks of nuclear war.

As a result, on June 16 of this year Russia announced that it will add 40 new ICBMs in response to the investment of the United States over the last two years in upgrading its nuclear forces.

Similar tensions have emerged between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Isles and between the United States and China over the South China Sea. Discussions about the possibility of war with China are showing up in the Western media with increasing frequency, and a deeply disturbing push to militarize American relations with Asia is emerging.

But this time, the dangers of nuclear war are complemented by an equal, or greater, threat: climate change. Even the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, told the Boston Globe in 2013 that climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

More recently, Pope Francis issued a detailed, and blunt, encyclical dedicated to the threat of climate change in which he charged:

It is remarkable how weak international political responses (to climate change) have been. Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.

As the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto drew near, I became increasing disturbed by the complete inaction among the best-educated and best-connected in the face of the most dangerous moment in modern history and perhaps in human history, grimmer even than the catastrophe that Russell and Einstein contemplated. Not only are we facing the increased likelihood of nuclear war, but there are signs that climate change is advancing more rapidly than previously estimated. Science Magazine recently released a study that predicts massive marine destruction if we follow the current trends, and even the glaciers of the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, once thought to be the most stable, are observed to be melting rapidly. And yet we see not even the most superficial efforts to defend against this threat by the major powers.

I spoke informally about my worries with my friend John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus and associate of the Asia Institute. John has written extensively about the need to identify climate change as the primary security threat and also has worked closely with Miriam Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies on efforts to move the United States away from a military economy. Between the two of us we have put together a slightly updated version of the manifesto that highlights climate change — an issue that was not understood in 1955 — and hereby have published it in the form of a petition that we invite anyone in the world to sign. This new version of the manifesto is open to the participation of all, not restricted to that of an elite group of Nobel Prize winners.

I also spoke with David Swanson, a friend from my days working on the Dennis Kucinich campaign for the Democratic nomination back in 2004. David now serves as director of World Beyond War, a broad effort to create a consensus that war no longer has any legitimate place in human society. He offered to introduce the manifesto to a broad group of activists and we agreed that Foreign Policy in Focus, the Asia Institute and World Beyond War would co-sponsor the new manifesto.

Finally, I sent the draft to Noam Chomsky who readily offered to sign it and offered the following comment.

Last January the famous Doomsday Clock was moved two minutes closer to midnight, the closest it has been since a major war scare 30 years ago.  The accompanying declaration, which warned that the constant threat of nuclear war and “unchecked climate change” severely threaten human civilization, brings to mind the grim warning to the people of the world just 60 years ago by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, calling on them to face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” In all of human history, there has never been a choice like the one we face today.

The declaration on the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto is displayed below. We urge all people who are concerned about humanity’s future and about the health of the Earth’s biosphere to join us in signing the declaration, and to invite friends and family members to sign. The statement can be signed at the petition page on DIY RootsAction website:

Declaration on the 60th Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

July 9, 2015

In view of the growing risk that in future wars weapons, nuclear and otherwise, will be employed that threaten the continued existence of humanity, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.

We also propose that all governments of the world begin to convert those resources previously allocated to preparations for destructive conflict to a new constructive purpose: the mitigation of climate change and the creation of a new sustainable civilization on a global scale.

This effort is endorsed by Foreign Policy in Focus, the Asia Institute, and World Beyond War, and is being launched on July 9, 2015.

You can sign, and ask everyone you know to sign, this declaration here:

Why is this declaration important?

Exactly 60 years ago today, leading intellectuals led by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein gathered in London to sign a manifesto voicing their concern that the struggle between the Communist and anti-Communist blocs in the age of the hydrogen bomb guaranteed annihilation for humanity.

Although we have so far avoided the nuclear war that those intellectuals dreaded, the danger has merely been postponed. The threat, which has reemerged recently with the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, has only grown more dire.

Moreover, the rapid acceleration of technological development threatens to put nuclear weapons, and many other weapons of similar destructiveness, into the hands of a growing circle of nations (and potentially even of “non-state actors”). At the same time, the early possessors of nuclear weapons have failed to abide by their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to destroy their stockpiles.

And now we are faced with an existential threat that may rival the destructive consequences even of a full-scale nuclear war: climate change. The rapacious exploitation of our resources and a thoughtless over-reliance upon fossil fuels have caused an unprecedented disruption of our climate. Combined with an unmitigated attack on our forests, our wetlands, our oceans, and our farmland in the pursuit of short-term gains, this unsustainable economic expansion has brought us to the edge of an abyss.

The original 1955 manifesto states: “We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings,” members of the human species “whose continued existence is in doubt.”

The time has come for us to break out of the distorted and misleading conception of progress and development that has so seduced us and led us towards destruction.

Intellectuals bear a particular responsibility of leadership by virtue of their specialized expertise and insight regarding the scientific, cultural, and historical forces that have led to our predicament. Between a mercenary element that pursues an agenda of narrow interests without regard to consequences and a frequently discouraged, misled, and sometimes apathetic citizenry stand the intellectuals in every field of study and sphere of activity. It falls to us that it falls to decry the reckless acceleration of armaments and the criminal destruction of the ecosystem. The time has come for us to raise our voices in a concerted effort.

Initial Signers

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus, MIT

Last January the famous Doomsday Clock was moved two minutes closer to midnight, the closest it has been since a major war scare 30 years ago.  The accompanying declaration, which warned that the constant threat of nuclear war and “unchecked climate change” severely threaten human civilization, brings to mind the grim warning to the people of the world just 50 years ago by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, calling on them to face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” In all of human history, there has never been a choice like the one we face today.

Helen Caldicott, author

It was the Russell Einstein manifesto on the threat of nuclear war 60 years ago that started me upon my journey to try to abolish nuclear weapons. I then read and devoured the three volumes of Russell’s autobiography which had an amazing influence upon my thinking as a young girl.

The manifesto was so extraordinarily sensible written by two of the world’s greatest thinkers, and I am truly amazed that the world at that time took practically no notice of their prescient warning, and today we are orders of magnitude in greater danger than we were 60 years ago. The governments of the world still think in primitive terms of retribution and killing while the nuclear weapons in Russia and the US are presently maintained on hair trigger alert, and these two nuclear superpowers are practicing nuclear war drills during a state of heightened international tension exacerbated by the Ukrainian situation and the Middle East. It is in truth sheer luck that we are still here on this lovely planet of ours.

Larry Wilkerson, retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

From central Europe to Southwest Asia, from the South China Sea to the Arctic, tensions are on the rise as the world’s sole empire is roiled in peripheral activities largely of its own doing and just as largely destructive of its power and corruptive of its leadership. This, while humanity’s most pressing challenge–planetary climate change–threatens catastrophe for all.  Stockpiles of nuclear weapons add danger to this already explosive situation.  We humans have never been so powerfully challenged–and so apparently helpless to do anything about it.

Benjamin R. Barber, president, Global Parliament of Mayors Project

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

David Swanson, director, World Beyond War

John Feffer, director, Foreign Policy in Focus

Emanuel Pastreich, director, The Asia Institute

Leah Bolger,  chair, coordinating committee, World Beyond War

Ben Griffin, coordinator, Veterans For Peace UK

Michael Nagler, founder and president, The Metta Center for Nonviolence

John Horgan, science journalist & author of The End of War

Kevin Zeese, co-director, Popular Resistance.

Margaret Flowers, M.D., co-director of Popular Resistance

Dahr Jamail, staff reporter, Truthout

John Kiriakou, associate fellow, Institute for Policy Studies and CIA Torture Whistleblower

Kim Hyung yul, president of the Asia Institute and professor of history, Sook Myung University

Choi Murim, professor of medicine, Seoul National University

Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division legal counsel

Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former US diplomat

Mike Madden, vice president, Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27 (veteran of the US Air Force)

Chante Wolf, 12 year Air Force, Desert Shield/Storm veteran, member of Chapter 27, Veterans For Peace

William Binney, former NSA technical director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis and co-founder of the SIGINT Automation Research Center.

Jean Bricmont, professor, Université Catholique de Louvain


Emanuel Pastreich is the director of the Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea.



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  • unheilig

    But … but … War is good! War keeps the economy ticking. War is profitable for everybody except the dead, and they don’t care. War keeps the masses silent and compliant. War unites us in a common hatred. War absorbs surplus populations. War drives technological advancement. War hides all crimes. War justifies God’s righteous actions, just as God’s righteous actions justify war. War floats all boats and makes billionaires of the strong. War turns psychopaths into citizens.

    Peace? Bah! What you got? Nothing! No money, no control. What you got is hippie druggy freaks and commie pinko academics with their flowers and mirrorshades and dumbass peacenik banners. Who needs peace?

  • jadan

    The massive destruction of marine life happening right now is tsking place mainly in the Pacific and is attributed to “climate change”, ie, ocean acidification, temperature rises, and blah blah, even though the proximate cause is Fukushima. If the climate change contingent were not largely supporters of nuclear power, the situation might be amenable to rational analysis, rather than ideological hyperbole. These same anti-war, climate change advocates, overlook, or simply ignore the fact that nuclear proliferation is directly a result of the spread of nuclear power around the world. Fukushima is an extinction event, it is the worst industrial accident in human history, and it is a far greater worry than climate change.

    .For all we know, nuclear weapons have been used in their new “strategic”, “battle field” forms in various US incursions and terror attacks. So long as their is a military that dominates the US political process, the warnings of Einstein & Russel are just naive. The people in power really don’t give a fuck about the egg head who came up with E=mc2, or his philosophical comrade. “Atoms for Peace” has guaranteed that all nations with nuclear power plants have the means to develop weapons.

    Eliminate nuclear power. Focus attention the global catastrophe that is Fukushima and nuclear power itself. But this is difficult for the church of global warming to do, since it has supported nuke power right along. And it is hypocritical for supporters of nuke power to weep & moan about how close it is to midnight….

    • colinjames71

      Bravo for pointing out the Pacific-in-crisis and quite frankly the nonsense of AGW, but I honestly don’t think you can put all if even most of the Pacific’s disturbing problems on Fukushima directly. Imo it’s a synergistic combo of pollution of all kinds, radiation included, overfishing, viral infections (a new virus was recently discovered), the largest and most toxic algae bloom ever, plus unusually warm ocean temps in certain areas. That said, much more study on possible Fuku radiation needs to be performed in addition to impact studies of all kinds. Quickly. It’s getting really friggin scary what’s happening to sea life on the west coast. Also I believe massive, damaging spraying and weather-manipulation experiments have been occuring for some time, but those effects are unknowable as it stands.

      • jadan

        I see Fukushima as an assault on the Pacific ecosystem/immune system. Of course, we don’t understand what an ecosystem is, we have failed to create one every time we have tried ( remember the Biodome?), so we can’t quantify the catastrophe of this toxic event. But from strange viral afflictions that wipe out star fish, to the disappearance of herring, to two-headed whale abortions, the complete chaos in the Pacific ecosystem is all related to the unrelenting release of highly toxic radionuclides in mind-boggling quantities. We are not told the truth. There is a coverup. We simply do not understand the consequences of all this. Chernobyl pales in comparison. Nuclear power gets a pass. When the Twin Towers fell, reason & common sense fled. On 3/11, Japan lost its mind also. We share the same madness. We are mindless fools…this is an extinction event.

        • colinjames71

          Agree with the cover up aspect. I suppose defining an ecosystem is dependent on parameters. You could argue the entire universe is one big ecosystem, going by electric universe cosmology. But even just here on earth… Where does one ecosystem end and another start? You may be right about Fukushima for all I know, I don’t so much disagree as it’s that I just can’t go that far, that definitively at this point. I’ll just reiterate the situation is critical and extremely worrying, whatever the causes.

          • jadan

            Glad you acknowledge the problem! Bumper sticker wisdom says: “All One”. Agree. There are no boundaries among ecosystems. Shakespeare speaks to the issue: ” Take but degree away, untune that string,
            And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
            In mere oppugnancy” Cosmic discord. We shall all meet in oppugnancy.

        • KarenW1

          Glad to see someone isn’t burying their head in the sand about this! this is exactly why I stopped even eating seaweed from the Pacific. Breaks my heart how humans are destroying the planet and the animals, plant life are suffering because of this and many other things. You seem very level headed, Jadan..I’d like to be friends. Contact me, if u like, via my art site Blessings! Here’s to the truth!

    • colinjames71

      Also came across this, from Suspicious Observers, NASA ocean temp study/data. Ignore the story it’s NASA climate change bs.

  • Esmae

    No mention of the years of weather control geoengineering the dispersal of chemtrails, And no mention of Fukushima leaking for 5 years. Couple the radionuclides pumped out into the Pacific with millions of pounds of aluminum oxide, barium from geoengineering our weather / climate with chemtrails, for decades & to no end in the last 10 years. 3 or even 5 degrees would not cause the carnage we see both of animals and humans. Science & technology is responsible for this crime.

    “This, while humanity’s most pressing challenge–planetary climate change–threatens catastrophe for all. Stockpiles of nuclear weapons add danger to this already explosive situation. ”

    Take a good look at the US and Israel, their wars their nuke stockpiles instead this is an obvious pointing at “others”I’d hazard a guess at Iran, mainly.

    As for planetary “climate change”, it’s an intentional terraforming and acidifying of the planet and humanity for a NWO.