The Joan Hinton Letter to the
Federation of American Scientists
(Continued from Page 47)
before. But we all pondered over Dirac
and then suddenly 150 thousand people
were killed. \\ e-re we lo blame? We
were only studying science, finding out
how the world was put together. Was
the government to blame—really? Do
we not have anv say as to what our life
work is to be used for? Arc we' puppets
or human beings? Can we nol vision tbe
world of tomorrow? Will it be ei world
eef destruction and misery, agonizing
death by radiation— or will il be a
world while mountains arc moved by
atomic bombs to change the Course of
rivers and make rich green land out of
deserts? Where is our imagination?
Bv 1948 I could nol stand il any
longer. My friends edl seemed lo be
going back into secrel work. Were they
crazy? Were' we who studied physics
to spend all our lives thinking up means
of mass extermination? Even my Fellowship money came from the Navy. We
we're' doing nonsecrel work at the time.
We needed some deuterium for our accelerator. In the room where I studied
there veeis only a little space in the cornet"
for a desk; the rest of the room was
piled wilh ceiscs of heavy welter righl up
to the ceiling for the Argonne. W e asked
for some. Nowhere in \merica could we
gel anv. Finally we sent tee Norway, and
two little bottles were senl back lo us
with a pieliiic eef a Viking ship and a
little note saving. "I thought you bad
In Washington, a friend of mine had
asked me to go to China. I had refused.
I was determined to become a physicist.
Bul the iele-a kepi gnawing al me. It
would not let me go. until finally I felt
like I was being caught in a horrible
Hup. \.e matter where vou turned, you
were laced by war, secrel wenk. the
Navy, the Army, and madmen locked
in their laboratories thinking up new
and better methods of total destruction.
Suddenly, I made up mv mind and left.
But it was not easy. The' leeve- eef science
and physics was pretty strong. Of all mv
until k- and books I only had room
for two in my trunk. I sal for a long
linn looking at those hooks, then took
Joos and lhe handbook of physics and
chemistry and set mil for China alone
with a terrible emptiness in my heart. I
had broken away from everything I ever
had desired or known. I broke away
because I had to. I hail lo find out whal
uei- L'eeing on in the world outside ..I
physics. Whal was happening to the
peoples "f lhe world so I came to
China, tee see Vmi'iieei from the outside
and lo understand the tremendous upheaval going on inside Vsia.
WHAT I LEARNED IN CHINA
And what have I learned in the three'
years since I have been in China? Perhaps the' main thing is that the people
of the Easl do nol wenil weir. Thai the'
people's of ihe' East are nol interested
in America. They are occupied with
building up their own countries, pulling
them out of their centuries of feudalism,
changing them eis fast as possible into
modern, industrialized land- with abundance for all lands where beggars
cease lee exist, and slums and "Maxwell
Streets" arc things of the past lhat the'
children read about in history books.
Everything is for peaceful production,
for building, for life, for lhe people—
and I learned something else thai these
people can get along perfectly all right
without America. I used to think thai
American aid would mean a lol to
China. A country so backward—how
could s|,e develop without American
help? But where there is a will there is
a way, and the Chinese' people have a
will so strong that nothing America can
do will ever stop it. They will think of
plenty of ways, and they will develop
fast. The only obstacle to their development would be a war. They are not
afraid of \merica. If sh,. must fight.
China will show thai she is made of steel
bul China will never starl ;i weir; war
is againsl her every interest.
I know thai you may ask, "How do
vou know? They are just filling you
with propaganda, vou fool!' So I will
mil talk any more in generalities. I will
only tell a few things from my experience. Till' firsl is the' eienelilieins I Inuiiil
in Kuoniinleing. China. I spent a year in
Kuoiniiitang territory, and all that time
il ne-ve'i' ceased In amaze me why we
America) should ne giving millions of
dollars of aid to such ei stupid, corrupt, conceited, useless government as
the government of tin- Kuomintang. Jusl
one' example will suffice (though anybody who lived in Shanghai for jusl a
lew months al lhal time' could cite
countless examples). That is, tin' busi-
ni's- of the "gold yuan.
For the fun of it. I kept ;i logarithmic
plot of lhe inflation, and it wees a fairly
straight line. I have forgotten jusl now
whal the period wee-, bul lhe line was
pretty steep. It was steep eiinmjll see
lhat towards the end, prices would
double or even triple in a day.
I remember especially how carefully
Have you seen page 15?
I had lo plan lo bin a jackknife. I wen]
to a certain place (of which kin"
Shanghai weis teeming) early in the
morning with a briefcase lo cash one
American dollar. The briefcase havhlj
been duly loaded full of Chinese notes
I tori' as fast as I could lo the store am'
emptied ihem oul on lhe counter befof*
ihe price could rise. \ briefcase full °'
Meet.- for a jackknife? The poor slut'''
keepers were in ei terrible fi\. They lu"'
to either not count the money and ffi
slui k short or hire several extra hand"
just for counting money and lose tha'
much in wages anyway.
And the banks were in an impossible
state. The' cosl of shipping and countinj
money was far beyond the value of the
money. In feie-t. it was not even wortl]
the paper il was printed on. The clerk*
in the' banks were peering out fi""1
behind heaps of bills piled up to ''"
ceiling. "Money, money everywhere, 1'"
not a crumb to eat." And so. of coursft
in order lo slay alive one had lo P"
one's wealth into something hesiu'"
paper money: in silver dollars, America'
dollars or goods, and the barter system
Then the government announced ll;
"currency reform." finder penalty °
death, all gold, silver. American dolls'*
and hoarded goods were lo he Inn"''
ill to the beinks and exchanged for ''''
new stable' "gold yuan.'" Every day ["e
paper had pie tuns eef people being sh"
for disobeying their order. Houses wi'1'
soarehed. \nyl<ody found guilty v:'~
dragged off lo prison. Thousands up0"
thousands of ordinary folk turned |'
lhe little bit of savings |hey hail '"
return for paper "gold yuan."
I'll' el week or two. as I I'l'ini'llll"'1'
prices remained stable. Then whisperiW
began in lhe black market and sf><"
the) broke the "::nlil \ nan" fell of '
pedestal. To when'? Righl smack *
the' extrapolation 'if the exponential."
flation curve which I had been l''"","|j
all year. Whal did thi- mean
that tin- governmenl had pn'vi"""
printed this tremendous excess of """'
had held them oul of circulation f<" j
week or two until as much gold **
silver, etc., as could be collected t<"'\
the people weis taken in, and then '
i'ii. leaving the whole- population "'.
nothing but worthless scraps of l'''l."(|
I hieii-einds up,,n thousands of peopl' ]
without a eeiil of savings the hi",-1"
mosl cold-blooded mass robbery in "o
liny ur ever dreamed of. And tin' '•""
and silver was pocketed bv the
Four" the ruling families of Cliii"1
and shipped te. America and olio
places as fa-l ei- possible before ''.''!',',,
tion. \l lhe time I was too slop"' i,
realize what was happening. I naiv (;
assumed lhal thi- lime maybe lb'' & $
ernmcnl weis finally really plan:
do something aboul the inflation. I'
only after that poinl fell se> perfectly
FACTS FORUM NEWS, March,