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  Einstein - Drop Science Not Bombs
Kevin McCormick 2007
19x25" signed and numbered silk screen; edition of 100
  einstein poster  

This poster design is a tribute to Einstein as a Pacifist, and recognizes his important, but little known dialogue with Sigmund Freud in 1932 on the topic of war. "Drop Science" is slang meaning "to educate." Drop Science Not Bombs is a call for education and understanding, rather than violence.

I have written in length (below) about the "Why War" (Warum Krieg in German) dialog between Einstein and Freud.- two of the world's greatest minds pondering in 1932 whether we can save ourselves from war and self-destruction.

The 2007 "Drop Science Not Bombs" Einstein print, by Kevin McCormick is 19x25" in a limited signed edition of only 100 hand printed posters on 100 lb archival paper. Satisfaction with the print is guaranteed, or i will gladly refund your money.



thanks for looking, this print recently sold out.

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." - Einstein



A brief background: This correspondance between Einstein and Freud occured just before the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany in January 1933. Einstein was about to leave Germany to be a guest professor at Princeton University. He thought that the position would be temporary, but In 1933, the Nazis passed "The Law of the Restoration of the Civil Service," which forced all Jewish university professors out of their jobs. His work was considered "Jewish Physics (in contrast to German or Aryan Phisics) and a campaign was mounted by the Nazis to blacklist any teachers who taught Einstein's work.

Sigmund Freud is commonly referred to as "the father of psychoanalysis" and his work has been tremendously influential in the popular imagination — popularizing such notions as the unconscious, defense mechanisms, and dream symbolism — while also making a long-lasting impact on fields as diverse as literature, film, Marxist and feminist theories, literary criticism, philosophy and psychology.

einstein zoomWhy War? (Warum Krieg?) In 1932 Albert Einstein was contacted by the League of Nations, the international body that was the precursor of the UN. He was asked to invite someone -- he could choose anyone -- to reflect with him in a series of public letters on a pressing problem or question. The question Einstein selected was this: "Is there any way of delivering humankind from the menace of war?" He was asking the question that many of us are asking today: "How can we promote peace?"

He chose his interlocutor carefully. The physicist with unprecedented understanding of the structure and workings of the universe selected a thinker with unprecedented insight into the structure and workings of the human mind: Sigmund Freud. Freud readily agreed to participate in this conversation. He had just published Civilization and its Discontents, in which he had offered a complex analysis of the psychological difficulties of living together in community. Yet his response to Einstein's question about peace was surprisingly optimistic.1

Here is a summary of their dialogue: Summary of Einstein's Letter, dated 30th July 1932 (my own comments are in gray)

Einstein expresses how happy he is through the initiative of the League of Nations to correspond with a person of his choice, and that the opportunity offers a unique chance to discuss what he considers the most important question currently facing civilisation with Freud. He then goes straight to the question: "Is there a way to free people from the spectre of war?".

He says, it has become apparent that through the advances of technology it is now possible to wipe out humankind. Despite this fact all attempts at a solution have failed frighteningly.

He has come to the conclusion that people who are involved in avoiding war in practise, through their professions (e.g. diplomats, politicians, peace organizations) have reached a point, partly out of a feeling of helplessness, where they would welcome the input of people who have gained a certain amount of distance to all life questions due to their scientific work.

Einstein says his thinking gives him little insight into the depths of human feelings and desires. Therefore, all he can do is to pose the questions and give answers he hopes Freud can expand on, due to his "deep insight into human urges and desires". Further, Einstein hopes Freud will be able to point to unpolitical ways of education that could remove psychological barriers that a normal person does not see.

The only possible solution - A supreme court of all nations

The only possible solution Einstein sees, is for the nations of the world to create a legislative and legal body that will be called upon in all matters of conflict that may arise between them. A sort of Supreme Court of all nations. All nations would agree to call upon this court when conflict arises and to follow the decisions and directives of this court.

He is quick to point out that the first problem with any court is, that it is an institution created by people. Such a court will be all the more prone to influences from outside the court if its own power is insufficient to enforce its decisions in practice. It is a fact of life that power and the law are intertwined. The decisions of a court will be closest to the ideas of justice within the society for which it acts, the more power this society can invest in enforcing respect for those ideas.

We are far from creating an organisation with sufficient power to enforce the laws it decrees, Einstein says. His first conclusion is, that it will be necessary for nations to give up a certain amount of their sovereignty. It is without doubt the only way to security.

So far, all attempts in this direction during the last decades have failed. Obviously strong psychological mechanisms with the human psyche are working against these attempts. Some of these mechanisms can be identified. The minority in power, within any given society, will resist any infringements upon its power. This striving for power is driven by materialistic and economic wishes. Einstein refers to the minority within any society which will stop at nothing to gain advantages for itself and will not stop at war or weapons deals in order to increase its own power and influence. (War itself has become a huge industry today, with companies like Halliburton influencing Whitehouse policy based on the tremendous financial benefit of war. For more on this, i recommend a movie called "Why We Fight" which documents the Military Industrial Complex - the collusion between corporations and the military that formed after WWII.)

einsteinEinsteine spoke of Macht und Recht, power and right, or violence and law. He called for a world in which Recht would supersede Macht -- law would supersede violence.

The next question arising from this is, why does the majority allow itself to be used by the minority in power? The minority stands to gain and the majority stands to suffer and to lose. (Einstein includes also soldiers in the majority, since they have joined the military in the hope to defend their country).

His answer is that the minority in power rules over the schools and the press, and also has influence over the religious organisations. The minority in power uses these institutions to manipulate and channel the feelings of the masses in order to use people for their own gain. (Interesting that in 2007 the "News" itself is part of a for-profit public company that must increase earnings. This means that, if NBC runs a mini series on Global Warming that is critical of the Auto Industry, Companies like GMC and Ford will no longer advertise on their station)

This however, he claims, cannot be the only reason that the majority lets itself be used in these ways, and will indeed let itself be driven to the extent of frenzy and self-sacrifice. Einstein concludes that there must be a force within humans, a wish to hate and destroy. A force which during normal times is dormant, only showing itself in the abnormal. It can however, easily be awakened, and increased to the extent of mass-psychosis.

This seems to be the most tragic issue involved in the emergence of war. At this point Einstein refers to Freud's knowledge of human desires and urges, hoping Freud may shed more light on the subject.

Freud said, we are torn between a drive for Eros or connection, and a drive toward Death, Thanatos, or Aggression. And indeed, the eagerness to engage in war is an effect of the drive toward Aggression, which itself is always embedded in political, social, and economic contexts. But, he argued, one can bring Eros into play against Aggression: whatever leads us to share important concerns produces a sense of community. "Anything that encourages the growth of emotional ties will operate against war." (this is why social programs like Social Security and Medicare are under attack today- Because they encourage emotional ties and strengthen the population. - They are programs that infer that you should care about others.)

Then Einstein poses one last question, asking Freud whether it would be possible to influence the development of humans in a way which could make them more resistant to what Einstein calls the psychoses of hate and destruction. (Note: Freud, in his reply, points out that aggression is the opposite pole to love, and thus, is a necessary emotional force which is required for survival. He does not refer to aggression as a psychotic emotion).

Einstein then notes that he does not have the so-called "uneducated" people in mind. In his experience it is more the so-called "intelligentsia" which is open to ideologies, being the kinds of people who learnt about life from paper, rather than from experiencing real life situations. Finally, Einstein comments on the fact that he has only talked about war and there are other types of human conflict. He says the reason for concentrating on war, is that it is the most extreme and destructive, and is therefore the best way to demonstrate how to prevent conflicts.

In closing, Einstein refers to the fact that Freud has written about most of the issues involved with the problem of war either directly or indirectly, however, Einstein would like to know Freud's opinion on bringing peace to the world, based on his latest insights, since these could be useful.

The signed limited edition poster above will be available in March 2007. The poster is hand printed on 19x25" archival paper, and is $30. Please contact me if you would like to reserve one The design is also available on t-shirts.

1This text was borrowed from Freud, Einstein, and Upaya: Contemporary Reflections on the Question "Why War?"

Click here for the Full English translation of the correspondence between Freud and Einstein

*The translation of the letters between Einstein and Freud were made available in 2002 after international copyrights had expired. (the original correspondence was in German) This chapter in history, and the correspondence of these two great minds is strangely not widely known.

Note: In 1939 Einstein sent a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt urging the study of nuclear fission for military purposes, under fears that the Nazi government would be first to develop nuclear weapons. Roosevelt started an investigation into the matter which eventually became the Manhattan Project. Einstein did not work on the bomb project, and, according to some, he later regretted ever having signed this letter.

Other related quotes from Albert Einstein:

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

"It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

"The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one."

"Force always attracts men of low morality."

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."

"Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war."


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