There is one thing better than presence of mind when under atomic attack, and that is "absence of body." In
other words, instead of gawking from
the Empire State Building tower when
a city-buster drops, be in a rocking
chair on Cape Cod!
But now is the time to have some
presence of mind and prepare for that
day out-of-town. For if the cold atomic war ever becomes
a hot one — and God forbid that it should — those of us
who survive the first attacks will have a lot to learn in too
much of a hurry. This will have to do with the urgent
necessity of depopulating our large cities and decentralizing our centers of industrial production — that is, if we
vv ish to continue living. Just the thought of such a possibility, however remote or unlikely, should spur us to make
every possible preparation under normal conditions right
now, in this tenuous peacetime era.
1 do not intend this to sound like an air-raid siren wailing. Even if there is never another war, or nuclear bombs
never fall on our land, I have long believed that we Americans should have a richer and fuller life. And if many of
the box-like city factories were dispersed, beyond the
suburbs and further out into the countryside, maybe we
would find elbow-room for mudguards. This would cut
down the annual bill for putting curves back in fender
dents, add to the life-expectancy of the family jalopy and,
who knows, it might also give us parking space free of
meters and summonses.
An increasing percentage of business and professional
people, as well as several millions of our industrial workers, now live in the suburbs or in the country. An increasing number of industrialists are becoming aware of the
fact that the principle of decentralization can contribute
much to better community relations, better management-
worker relations and, under the right circumstances, lower
it in a double sense. In another war, dispersal may
necessary for survival. In a prolonged peace, for which*
all pray, decentralization of our urban plants and industj
populations will afford better living conditions for
Dispersal, of course, is an old principle of both deip.
sive and offensive warfare. Our early ancestors learned,
the hard way — from the Indians. Cannon, even mus*'
were of little avail with redskin snipers like ghosts am1
the trees. The proud, solid phalanxes of British RedcO*
under Cornwallis learned an even more costly lesson t1*
the guerrilla attacks of our Revolutionary armies. TiJ
could never get a shot at where they were- supposed to ,
The same principle applies to many millions of w^
ers who are able to leave the hustle and bustle, the- ear"
So, when I say "Decentralize — and Survive!" I mean America.
monoxide and incinerator dust of the cities for only
weeks' vacation each year. They find a beach, or a f\
stream, and begin to live and breathe again. Others esc*!
in the family ear from the brick, steel, and concrete, ■
subways and buses and elevators, on pleasant week6™
from spring to fall.
IJut this is not enough. Decentralized industries "a
provide campuses for the workers, just as colleges el"
the students. Manufacturing, distributing, reception I
service units need not be- jammed into a single buiJ*I
but may be dispersed over a considerable tree-stu«|
area, with lawns and connecting walks bordered v
perennial Bowers and shrubs. Many such potential i",,
trial areas are available in the country — the WOodlaOj
of this great land of ours — with accessibility to e\e ^
power, transportation, and other factors essential t0
Most important, beyond all that, people can 1|V''.
work in such atmosphere with more dignity, greater I
dom and happiness. It is a better place to raise I
dren. And if some screwball touches off an atomic I
more precious lives will be saved to help build a 'Hf.
i vi is Forum News, March.'