Protect and survive

Protect and survive
| Feminism > UK Feminism

The eighties, god bless them, weren’t all lace bows and pop socks. In celebration of how close to WW3 in 1983 we really were, Mookychick reprints a gloriously terrifying leaflet from the 1980s called ‘Protect and Survive’. If you were a child of the eighties, forget the bogeyman – The Bomb was the bogeyman. Let’s admit the Bogeyman exists – then put him back in the closet.

Q: What is the best way to survive a nuclear attack?

A: Very simple – just don’t have one in the first place.

Let’s consider WW3. It was taken to mean a war that would drag in most of the powerful nations, that would involve nuclear attacks, and would probably mean the end of everything. The goverment did everything it could to calm the people and pretend that protesters and campaigners for nuclear disarmament were deranged, hairy little yoghurt-weaving devils.

In 1983, WW3 came very close to erupting between NATO and Russia. All nuclear weapons would have been deployed, not just one or two – 1983 and a bitter Cold War was very nearly the end of everything.

Fortunately, 1984 did actually happen, and Douglas Adams wrote not one but two books, and Duran Duran wrote Reflex, and to bring things full circle, Neil Gaiman wrote Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book about Duran Duran, so everything turned out peachy.

But back to nuclear war. To calm the populace and make it feel a bit more empowered, the government brought out a booklet called Protect and Survive. You’ll marvel at the cosy uselessness of its advice, which we’ve reprinted for you below. The survival tactics in ‘Protect and Survive’ might have worked if one, maybe two nuclear bombs were fired at, say, Britain. However, Russia had hundreds of the things trained on NATO countries – just as NATO countries had them trained on Russia, or the USSR as it was still called.

To put things in perspective, Russia’s SS20 series of missiles (reportedly all dismantled in 1991 – well, one would hope) could vaporise everything in a 25 mile radius in a heartbeat, and destroy / render uninhabitable everything in a 200 mile radius thereafter. Basically, Russia’s nuclear missiles had 50 times the nuclear capability of Little Boy, the bomb that was dropped by Enola Gay and decimated Hiroshima. They had a fuzzbox – and they weren’t afraid to use it. Although, fortunately, that’s a lie, because they were.

Powerless fear is useless, of course. But facts and being aware of the past are very useful and powerful indeed. With this in mind, Mookychick celebrates the fact that the human race has very cleverly managed to completely avoid blowing itself up, even with these nasty stupid nuclear missiles littering our governments’ depots like cigar butts.

Unfortunately, nuclear weapons still exist. Developed countries have them, and tend to pretend they don’t have as many as they do, tucking them away in old depots and forests, even under rubbish bins and hats – wherever they can, really. Less developed countries are acquiring them as a priority, and are very proud of the ones they already have. Pretty much all countries know it would be really, really stupid to use them – but they still want them. As a status symbol, perhaps. As proof that they’re a player on the world stage. All self-respecting global citizens would much rather that money was piled into education, hospitals and the day-to-day maintenance of running a country, rather than running it into the ground.

The nice politicians probably won’t use those nuclear weapons. But once you’ve had a belly-laugh over the survival tactics below, you might want to think about campaigning against nuclear weapons. Because – when it comes to nuclear missiles – less really is more.

Campaigning against nuclear weapons – links