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Dee Garrison on: The Effects of Civil Defense
Q: In some ways the Government's civil defense programs have the opposite effect from what was intended; they make many Americans more opposed to the nation's nuclear policies than they had previously been.

DG: Nuclearism is the government policy developed under Truman which makes all information about nuclear war and nuclear strategy top secret. And the people are told that "We can't tell you about the weapons and the policies and the strategies and how many bombs that we have and where we're going to drop them and all those things, because if we did, it would threaten your life. It's necessary to protect you, to keep it all top secret." And that is the nuclearism policy. And nuclearism means the destruction of democracy as we know it, because a democracy, the base of a democracy is an informed electorate which can then study issues and vote as they believe best. If everything is top secret, you don't know anything about nuclear strategy or nuclear weapons.

And the civil defense program was the first and the only federal sponsored program that was part of nuclear strategy, in which the public had to be informed. You had to win over the support of a public. You had to tell the public something. And when you talk to the public about civil defense and explain what it is, you get all these folks, these other-- these experts who rise up and say, "This is stupid. This is silly." You get Governor Minor and Linus Pauling and middle class women protesting. You know. In other words, a debate begins. A national bate--debate begins, again, destructive of the whole idea of secrecy and nuclearism.

And I think that the government recognized that quite early, in the early sixties and during the fifties. And the civil defense program had to be closed because it caused too much trouble. It caused too much debate, caused too much protest. It created arguments at the, you know, nationally heard arguments. People talked about it and debated it, and you can't do that with a nuclear strategy. Nuclearism means top secret. Only we few can know, in order to protect the lives of you, the public. And that is not only the essence of a militarist state, but it is also, in a very real sense, an incredible blow to democratic structures and principles, because the public must be informed in a democracy in order to know how to vote.

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