The threat of nuclear war looms over the war in Ukraine. A war between the United States or its North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia represents a credible potential threat of doom for much, if not all, of mankind. This should be an obvious opinion-shaping factor for the average person, but it seems frustratingly unmentioned or glossed-over in media coverage. We have become less aware and less intelligent than our Cold War predecessors.
And less intelligent we would be to embrace a potential nuclear world war. A casual review of my social media feeds has made this painfully clear. People who are educated, gainfully employed, and recognized as such have written terrifying vagaries like, “force will be used;” “more and more lethal aid;” “Americans will die. Europeans will die. Russians will die;” and, “It is time to directly confront Moscow militarily with all of NATO’s power and force.”
Unfortunately, polling shows these attitudes are not merely anecdotal LinkedIn anomalies. A Rasmussen poll from early March revealed just 37 percent of Americans earning under $30,000 annually supported U.S. military involvement in the event of a wider war in Europe; a staggering 66 percent of those earning more than $200,000 supported such an endeavor in that poll. The most shocking – and, arguably, most troubling – numbers were the 51 percent of those earning $50,000-100,000, and 52 percent of those earning $100,000-200,000, who would support such military action.
The opinions of the upper and lower classes are easily understandable. Low-income individuals are unlikely to fare well in event of a global catastrophe; high-income individuals are most likely to find refuge in event of war and enjoy diversified financial portfolios and are least likely to send children into combat. Why, though, should a slight majority of the professional-managerial class support such a potential calamity?
I propose this partial explanation: many segments of our society are no longer capable of nuance. Everything must be black-and-white. If Vladimir Putin has engaged in an illegal, immoral, and irrational war in Ukraine (to be clear, he has), he must be “literally Hitler,” as some of the more profound Twitterati have declared. Or, at the very least, he must be some kind of one-dimensional Bond villain. These interpretations are unhelpful in a highly complex, interconnected world with nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, the professional-managerial class must stake a claim to its importance and moral superiority. Professor and author Catherine Liu suggests this segment of society is “convinced of its own unassailable position as comprising the most advanced people the earth has ever seen. Additionally, it insists on “its ability to do ordinary things in extraordinary, fundamentally superior and more virtuous ways.”
If the working class doesn’t want its children to go to war, the professional class must maintain they are simple-minded. If Russian political interference (whether facts support it or not) is connected to former President Donald Trump, then the professional class must despise Russia to maintain a place in polite society. Disappointingly, even something as terrible as nuclear war seems worth the effort of the professional class to separate itself from the working class.
To be clear, a significant percentage of the professional-managerial class, from both left and right, is deeply opposed to escalating this war. Many of us within the younger part of its ranks have never seen the United States win a war, even against relatively inconsequential countries in the developing world.
The memories of 2008’s recession haven’t faded; nor have doubts over our entire electoral process. Neither party seems capable of governing for more than two years. In light of all this, why should we trust those urging us into a war that will inevitably further disrupt our lives, if not end them outright? Escalation of this war is an idea the professional-managerial class should reject unequivocally.
So I implore my fellow middle-class Americans to stop the irresponsible saber-rattling. This isn’t our war. This isn’t an excuse to send our children to slaughter. This isn’t worth nuclear missile attacks. Challenge Putin’s madness, but please don’t get us into a war we will surely regret.