It Couldn’t Happen Here

The man who led the Chernobyl clean-up operation told me that the disaster was the single biggest cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Let us hope that we never have occasion to discover whether a similar-scale disaster in the West would have a corresponding effect on political structures. There is no reason to believe that the immediate response of the responsible corporation would be any different to that of the authorities in Kiev, namely denial, as that is the standard response of all human organisations to the catastrophes they have themselves created. And we are so much better at sophisticated spin-doctoring than the Soviets ever were, so perhaps we could get away with denying it for a whole lot longer.

When Moscow finally realised what had happened, the Soviet authorities crash-evacuated a large area, using not only the police and army but also Party organisations that we do not have in the West. In contrast, evacuation plans for British nuclear power stations envisage the clearance only of a circle with a radius of about a mile. The area poisoned by Chernobyl, however, is larger than many of the countries of Western Europe; and an area of the same size around a reactor on the Franco-German border, say, would have a population in the tens of millions. Such an evacuation would obviously be quite impossible.

Now, governmental logic dictates that if remediable action is not within the capacity of government, or would cost too much, then no event necessitating that action can possibly happen. Not officially, anyway. Whereas, after a few days of fumbling, the vast organisational and engineering resources of the Soviet state were devoted to trying to deal with the consequences of Chernobyl, it is likely that the vast informational and obfuscational resources of Western states would be devoted to trying to hush up any similar occurrence. And the GWOT legislation empowers a degree of repression of whistleblowers and nuclear protesters unimaginable at the time of Three Mile Island. It is by no means certain that the authorities would succeed, but in the absence of the ability to do anything else, they would have no alternative but to give it their best shot. For if all you have is a hammer, then you must define the problem as a nail.

Posted on May 17, 2009 at 08:57 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Age Of Enron-cence

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