One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
Middle Earth had its Mount Doom, into which the One Ring of Power could be tossed, ridding that evil from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional setting. Real Earth is not so fortunate, but in all other aspects the lessons drawn from his classic apply. It only comes up short in one respect. Tolkien never delved into the psychology of Sauron, Saruman, and the lessor denizens of Middle Earth who lusted after the One Ring’s power, other than to depict the inevitable corruption of the soul their lust produced.
There are two conclusions uncorrupted souls have difficulty accepting, although both experience and logic point uncompromisingly towards them. The first is that those in power and those who lust for it want power for power’s sake, ultimately to destroy and kill. The second is that they want to destroy and kill because they want to destroy existence and kill themselves. We owe the first conclusion to Orwell, the second to Rand. (For a fuller explanation see “The Last Gasp,” Robert Gore, SLL, March 24, 2020.)
This article assumes both conclusions are well-founded and that the second in particular is the key to understanding where the world is now and where it’s going. They offer a realistic assessment of the chances for nuclear Armageddon.
It is no coincidence that the twentieth century witnessed history’s most totalitarian regimes and its bloodiest wars and genocides. By all indications the twenty-first century will extend the connected trends. Power goes hand-in-hand with destruction and death. Governments are based on their capacity to inflict violence; what else can they produce? Rejecting lofty rhetoric and revolutionary rationales, Orwell wrote that: Power is not a means; it is an end. The twentieth century demonstrated that power is a means to inflict incalculable destruction and death. Know them by their fruits—those are the true ends of those who seek and hold power.