Die Physiker


Dürrenmatt was not alone in voicing criticism of the role of science in Western democracy in the early 1960s. In the same month that Dürrenmatt began writing The Physicists, January 1961, President Eisenhower delivered his famous farewell address. In it, he warned of two particular threats to the American political system that closely parallel Dürrenmatt’s nightmare. First, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The now-permanent coalition of the military and mass industry, Eisenhower observed, was at that point unprecedented in American history. One might say that a military-industrial complex (the phrase has been in common parlance since Eisenhower used it) that exists for the purpose of being ready for war at all times leads to a situation in which even peace implies a state of war. Of course, it is the ever-increasing resources of science and technology that make possible the maintenance of such a military-industrial complex.

more from Samuel Matlack at The New Atlantis here.