The hobgoblin of little minds

I'm giving a talk at the 2010 antiTHESIS interdisciplinary symposium, to be held on 9 July at the University of Melbourne's Graduate Centre. The theme of the symposium is 'futures', which immediately grabbed me -- as did last year's, 'fear', but I didn't get my act together in time for that -- so I thought I'd use the opportunity to play with some ideas I touched on in the conclusion to my thesis.

Here's my title and abstract:

Avoiding apocalypse: lessons from Britain before the Blitz

This is an age of anxiety. Our civilisation -- from a global scale down to the local level -- is faced by a bewildering range of possible catastrophes: climate change, nuclear terrorism, economic collapse, pandemics, and even asteroid impacts. How should we respond to these threats to our life as we know it? Are our political and cultural systems even capable of reacting effectively to such huge challenges? History provides some answers: this is by no means the first age of anxiety. One particularly interesting example comes from Britain in the 1930s and the almost universal dread of the next war: of annihilation from the air of cities and civilians, by gas and blast and flame. Many proposals were put forward for the prevention of this apocalypse, ranging from the construction of a British bomber fleet second to none, to a nation-wide system of deep air-raid shelters, to an international air force to maintain peace and punish aggression. The choices, in other words, were to resist, adapt or negotiate. In this paper, I will explore which approaches were attempted -- and which were not -- and why, and attempt to draw conclusions for us today, particularly with respect to the global response to climate change.

This also sheds some light on my previous post: perhaps it's not that I don't care about strategy per se, just military strategy?

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