Tag Archives: Nuclear Disarmament

How Long is Now?

Jacquetta Hawkes was inspired by the remarkable long story of the growth of human thought.  With the development of the hydrogen bomb in the late 1950s, she feared that this story would come to a catastrophic end.   Along with her husband J.B. Priestley, she played a key role in the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  More detail in The Priestleys and the Bomb, an article I wrote in 02005.

Dr Christine Finn will discuss Jacquetta’s ideas about the Bomb and the future at a meeting of Long Now London on 3 November 02010.

Note the five digit dates!  Writing years in this way is one of the ways the Long Now project encourages creative long-term thinking (I do this occasionally to make a point!).   They are also working on a 10,000 year Clock and Library.

I am delighted to have a reason to write about Long Now.  As a curator of unique and rare archives and books, I am used to thinking long-term, to preserve these treasures for future generations.  I particularly enjoyed  Neal Stephenson’s novel Anathem, which imagines Long Now ideas into a superb, exciting story.


Past, Present, Man, Nature: 8. A Woman asks why

Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.

An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.

Intro | Credits | Previous | Next

8. A Woman asks why

Jacquetta was active in many causes, especially the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which she was instrumental in founding along with Priestley.  Her other activities included governor of the British Film Institute; her strong views on education led her to become a governor of two Stratford schools.  Clearly a good organiser and persuasive advocate, Jacquetta was willing to work hard, to attend committees, and to use her extensive connections in the arts and government to help her causes. She makes an interesting contrast to Priestley, who loathed committees, and believed that he was far more useful writing about the causes he championed.  He said he had had enough of marching in the Great War, but Jacquetta “went the whole distance for six successive Aldermastons”.

Her role in CND shows that she was not afraid to become involved with controversial campaigns; others included reform of the law on homosexuality, and family planning.  When she examined her motives for becoming involved with these causes, in articles entitled “Heart, head and charity” and “Why do I bother”, she cited the example of her mother who worked for child welfare, her anti-authoritarian inclinations from childhood, and her lifelong willingness to fight for her sense of fairness.

Women ask why

Women ask why

Jacquetta’s views on the Bomb in the late 1950s were consistent with the ideas she was expressing elsewhere, that over the span of a “million, million years”, society could change, that civilisation was fragile, that women as nurturers had a particular part to play in ending the madness of the cerebrum gone wild. As she said in this CND booklet, “Women ask why” (1962), “I do not like to think of women apart from men.  But in this one thing it is different … Men have got beyond killing one another and are preparing to kill us and our children.  Women are slow to change.  It might be that we should still all be peasants if it were not for masculine genius.  But now that genius is running mad, and we have to come to the rescue”.