Middle East

Iranian Press

Modernity and Nuclear Technology

Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima
"The Achilles' Heel of Modernity?" The first atom bomb explodes over Hiroshima, Aug. 6, 1945.

One may, and at the deepest level of analysis one must, consider nuclear technology a mechanism that has put an end to the West's military, economic, and technological pre-eminence. It will remove it from its superior and seemingly unshakeable position through the inevitable spread and distribution of this technology to non-Western states. The West can at best postpone the trend a while. The increasing accessibility of non-Western states to nuclear technology is an expansive process with no return. It would be useless for Western states to seek to oppose this reality. The West will realize much sooner than it may imagine that it no longer has exclusive control of this technology.

Technology, said [the philosopher Martin] Heidegger, is a fundamental aspect of modernity. Western thought has displayed the height of its abilities and achievements in the form of technology. If technology is the height of modernity, nuclear technology must be considered the zenith of that technology and its highest manifestation. It represents the most startling, precise, and powerful—but also most destructive—technology humans have seen. No other technological instrument is so amazing or capable of destroying human life so fast and irreparably. Nuclear technology is modernity in its most startling manifestation, but also a point that can end modernity itself. So modernity faces the constant danger of non-Western access to nuclear technology and is obliged to consider this as an increasing probability. In reaching its zenith, modernity has also paved the way for its destruction. Nuclear technology is the Achilles’ heel of modernity, the potential source of its destruction that opens a perspective filled with annihilation and nothingness.

When the West gained access to nuclear technology and used it against its enemies, it never imagined that one day the same technology would cast a shadow as the greatest threat to itself. But the frightful genie has emerged from the magic lamp of modernity and laughs as it reduces all the power and capabilities of Western man to naught. The West forgot that it is impossible to command and control technology or impose its own impregnable logic on all other matters. Technology's destructive essence and modernity's limitless thirst for power have met in nuclear technology: Together they will determine a fate of destruction for modernity.