A. W. Spencer-Bragg (Harold Walsby): 999 – Emergency!

999 Emergency by Harold Walsby 999 Emergency by Harold Walsby

London: Social Science Association 1946. 64 pages.

Let the mind rise from victory to victory over surrounding nature, let it conquer for human life and activity not only the surface of the earth but all that lies between the depth of the seas and the outer limits of the atmosphere, let it command for its service prodigious energy to flow from one part of the universe to the other, let it annihilate space for the transference of its thoughts – yet the same human creature, led by dark powers to wars and revolutions and their horrors, produces for itself incalculable material losses and inexpressible pain and reverts to bestial conditions. Only science, exact science about human nature itself, and the most sincere approach to it by the aid of the omnipotent scientific method, will deliver man from his present gloom, and will purge him from his contemporary shame in the sphere of inter-human relations. – Prof I. P. Pavlov.  Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, p 41.

In practice, although the S.S.A. did hold some meetings at which contemporary social and political problems were discussed – mainly problems connected with the advancement and application of scientific discovery – and did publish a few articles of similarly broad reference, its central purpose was to publicize Walsby’s analysis of the nature and forms of human social and political consciousness – by now styled a theory of ideology – and to claim for it a vital connection with the most urgent issues of the day. It produced a few issues of a (duplicated) Bulletin and also some half-dozen printed pamphlets, including what almost certainly was the first publication to appear after and about the implications of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. Described as a ‘Social Science Special’, it was entitled The Atom Bomb and came out in the same month. By October it had already reached a third edition.

The theme so promptly taken up was pursued in the title of a printed S.S.A. journal, The New Age of Atomics of which there were just two issues the first October 1945 and the second in November 1946. Also in 1946 appeared the last of the pamphlets, albeit four times the size of any of its predecessors with the title 999 – Emergency! It had been written by Walsby himself using the pseudonym Arthur W. Spencer-Bragg – because, it seems, he felt that such a name had overtones of scientific authenticity. The title and most of the chapter headings (‘The Child with the Loaded Pistol‘, ‘The Rape of Science‘, ‘While Rome Burns‘, ‘The International Volcano‘, ‘The Final Crusade‘) indicate of themselves the tone of urgency in which the pamphlet is couched […]  At this time Walsby and the S.S.A. combined in their public statements appeal to scientists, etc. and the insistence that the advent of atomic weapons and the prospective resurgence of fascism together placed mankind in appalling danger. – Peter Shepherd: Harold Walsby, Independent Thinker.

Continue reading 999 – Emergency! (1946)
The Child with the Loaded Pistol | Social Hari-Kiri | Are Scientists Inhuman? | The Rape of Science | Scientific Superstitions | While Rome Burns | The International Volcano | The Final Crusade