Shouting across the gulf

Mary Midgley

  • Greenham Common: Women at the Wire edited by Barbara Harford and Sarah Hopkins
    Women’s Press, 171 pp, £3.95, June 1984, ISBN 0 7043 3926 9
  • Weapons and Hope by Freeman Dyson
    Harper and Row, 347 pp, £10.95, May 1984, ISBN 0 06 337037 9

Is there anyone who can keep in focus both sides of the debate about armaments, who can see fully what is meant by both armers and disarmers? To the armers, who occupy most of the positions of power, British arms, and Western arms generally, appear as the natural and only possible response to a pressing danger. They look like a roof over our heads. To the disarmers, they appear as the main source of that danger. They look like a pile of explosives in the loft just over that rickety, explosive old stove, our foreign policy. Neither side is much surprised at this discrepancy, since each has a tribal category ready for its opponents. Armers know that disarmers are well-meaning, ignorant amateurs and probably women. Disarmers know that armers are narrow-minded, ignorant bureaucrats obsessed with out-of-date fantasies of military glory. It is terribly hard for them to communicate at all.

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