Nuclearization: An Imperial Requisite

Today’s blog post is a reaction to “Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History” Episode 59: The Destroyer of Worlds.

BIG IDEAS

Carlin spends most of the near 6-hour podcast ruminating on the impacts of nuclear warheads on the world’s powers – namely, the US and Soviet Union – in the years during and following World War II. I will focus less on his thoughts regarding the decision to drop the bomb as it is a tiring historical debate. In short, he argues the “insane” set of circumstances surrounding the war reflected the primal, instinctive nature of mankind. Therefore, while dropping the bomb may have not been the ‘correct’ decision, the event highlights the imperfection of our species.

Throughout his narration of the postwar period, he dives into the psyche of leaders and citizens alike as they navigate the hypothetical destruction of the world at any moment.

Mandatory nuclear duck-and-cover drills were one social control mechanism through which the US Government justified ballooning military budgets to expand and control its empire in the postwar period.

I found his oration of the military-industrial complex’s role in this dynamic fascinating. They pushed for the ramping up of the national nuclear stockpile without regard for how future generations would handle such a burden. From my perspective, the short-term, resource-consuming, Rooseveltian nature of US decision makers forever petrified of another nation holding the best hand meant that outlandish military budgets would cripple potential programs benefiting the working class in this country. This putrid ideology still commands our discourse (see: corporate media outrage over Afghanistan withdrawal and/or devout praise of any president when he inevitably drops bombs on [fill in the blank third world country]) and its impacts will be felt by the youngest among us as we attempt to reverse a disastrous 21st century for America.

Step Into The Trenches Of WWI With Dan Carlin's War ...
Dan Carlin, host of “Hardcore History”

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

In general, the pod’s structure was fantastic. His insertion of audio clips like from Oppenheimer should be the norm (although only available for recent history). I’ve heard some of Carlin’s work before, so, I expected his intense nature and deep-burning rhetorical questions (it’s called Hardcore History for God’s sake). War history is not my cup of tea but seeing as this is more of a psychological study, I’d recommend it to anyone willing to put the time in.

Speaking of time – length is an issue. Or, is it? Many times throughout the pod, I found myself thinking “this shit can’t be much longer, right…. *checks time* …. 3 hours and 14 minutes remaining.” So, I suppose the only downside is that you REALLY have to want to know about the topic to get the most out of it. Of course, you could always pick it on a whim for a class and not be able to change it for 5 hours because you were working…. turned out solid for me.

THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE

When listening to the pod during and after my work shift, it completely took me out of the moment and sent me back in time. The experience was much more visceral and tangible than traditional learning scenarios – largely due to Carlin’s evocative soundscapes and varied emphasization. I’m hyperactive and constantly need physical stimulation throughout the day, so I’ve had to find ways to read and watch history while moving around throughout my undergrad studies. The audio medium allows for flexibility in the learning process and should be a complement to the traditional homework experience for students of sciences and the humanities, in my opinion.

Bryce Nelson

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