We all do, of course. But here is what a physicist and, father named, Norman Alcock is doing about it: He quit his $15,000-a-year job. He has spent his savings trying to establish Peace Research Institutes on both sides of the Curtain. He believes — rightly or wrongly — that other people who want, peace will support, his Institutes, and that scientists working in them, can learn how to ward off World War III

RALPH ALLEN February 24 1962


We all do, of course. But here is what a physicist and, father named, Norman Alcock is doing about it: He quit his $15,000-a-year job. He has spent his savings trying to establish Peace Research Institutes on both sides of the Curtain. He believes — rightly or wrongly — that other people who want, peace will support, his Institutes, and that scientists working in them, can learn how to ward off World War III

RALPH ALLEN February 24 1962


We all do, of course. But here is what a physicist and, father named, Norman Alcock is doing about it: He quit his $15,000-a-year job. He has spent his savings trying to establish Peace Research Institutes on both sides of the Curtain. He believes — rightly or wrongly — that other people who want, peace will support, his Institutes, and that scientists working in them, can learn how to ward off World War III


OF ALL THE RIDDLES of man none has seemed so easy and proved so hard as the riddle of war and peace. How can a race that apparently wants to survive stop attempting to destroy itself again and again and — perhaps this final time — again?

One member of the species who believes he has found a hitherto untried answer is Norman Zinkan Alcock, a forty-three-year-old physicist of Oakville, Ontario. Alcock has bet his life and his livelihood that science, which has established its power to wipe us out. may also have

the power to save us. In the determination to see the second power put to greater use he has quit a $15,0()0-a-year job in private business, and invested his savings and his career in what he hopes will become an international network of Peace Research Institutes.

In Alcock's dream the first Institute, already formed in Canada, will soon be followed by others all over the world. They will seek state support in their various countries on both sides of the iron curtain, but will strive for political independence as state-supported universities do. They will not try to supersede the many other pacifist groups already in existence. But they'll differ in their approach. Their main concern will not be what is right? but what will work?

Alcock has concluded that what might work is a program of research based mainly on the social sciences and run by a small and dedicated group of specialists. Wc spend hundreds of billions, his argument runs, to build more missiles and then we spend more hundreds of billions to build physical defenses and hideouts against them. But we spend almost nothing to shore up our social defenses, to seek the real antidotes that lie in human attitudes.

Here is a whole great terra incognita crying for exploration, Alcock maintains. Ask him specifically what he’d look for there and he’s ready with examples.

□ Suppose the cold war ends. Suppose everyone disarms and the defense contracts run out. Will there again be queues before the soup kitchens of Winnipeg and Toronto? Will apple salesmen reappear on Wall Street? Will England go back on the dole? “In theory,” Alcock says, “disarmament should bring prosperity. In practice, it would to the East, where a transition to civilian goods would be a welcome relief from an overly austere life. But to the West, riding on a wave of affluence, it would bring a slump. This would not have to be so, if a way could be found for diverting the West's surplus production. Logically, foreign aid is that way, bringing comfort to producer and consumer alike. But to convince the West that it can gain economically by a transition from arms to aid will take plans and data. These can only come from extensive study."


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At first, the neighbors thought he was noble. Now, some wonder why he doesn’t get a “real” job

□ Another key question that Alcock thinks could be best examined by some uncommitted, nonpolitical agency is this: How can the conscience of the individual be recruited in a cause higher than, "My country, right or wrong”? Suppose, for instance, there’s a general agreement to stop working on germ warfare and a Russian, an American or a Canadian discovers

his country is cheating. Is there any way to make it not only safe but respectable for such a person to report his suspicions to some supranational authority? Is there any way to have it established that loyalty to humanity is just as honorable as loyalty to a nation?

□ Suppose someone sets off a nuclear missile through a genuine accident. Is there

any way to identify it as an accident in time to prevent the catastrophic chain reaction that otherwise would follow?

Alcock has spelled out some of his ideas and proposals in a booklet called The Bridge of Reason. The book is full of disturbing statements and reminders. "Of the present U. S. defense budget of $40,000,000,000 a sizable proportion is going

to scientific research on methods of waging war. Yet time and again the chairman of the Senate Disarmament Committee has sought an appropriation of $400,000 for studies relating to disarmament, and time and again the funds have been refused, though $400,000 is one thousandth of one percent of the annual defense budget.” Alcock quotes a U. S. senate subcommittee as having said, in 1957 after nearly a dozen years of disarmament negotiations: "No agency of the executive branch has made efforts to ascertain the economic consequences of a reduction in armaments. . . . There are only six or seven persons who work full time on disarmament in the State Department. The subcommittee is struck by the disparity in the effort the world is putting into thought and action for controlling and reducing armaments and the effort going into the development, fabrication and build-up of armaments.” Although there are alarming implica-

tions in everything he says, Alcock doesn’t look alarmed at all. He smiles easily and talks pleasantly. He and his handsome wife Patricia and their four handsome children live in a rambling big house on the shore of Lake Ontario and there’s a rambling wave-washed lot in front. It’s an ideal place for digging shelters but no member of the family has even thought of digging. To hide would be the negation of all that Alcock stands for; so would be a meek acceptance of doom.

“The next war is not inevitable at all,” he says. “It won’t be easy to stop but it can be stopped.”

Pat Alcock shares this faith, but admits that living up to it hasn’t always been easy. “What I’m most puzzled by,” she says, “is why other people are puzzled by us. We’ve lost some old friends. At first when Norman quit his job two years ago they’d say, isn’t it marvelous that Norman has given up so much to do what he believes in?’ That reaction lasted about six months and then some of the neighbors began saying, at least by implication: ‘Yes, it’s still marvelous that Norman is doing all this on his own time and his own money, but when is he going to get another real job?’ ”

The Alcock children bustled through the big front room, reporting in from school, reporting out for play. “Yes,” their mother said after they were gone, “there’s no doubt that they’ve had some uncomfortable moments. Their father had always been quite successful by the usual standards, and I suppose it was inevitable that when the

neighbors’ children began to wonder our own children began to wonder too. But that phase passed quickly and instead of being rather embarrassed that their father is a little different they’ve become rather proud. Not long ago one of our neighbors cleared out a lot and invited us to help ourselves to firewood. We took two loads away and one of the boys said: 'You know, it’s sort of fun not having quite so much any more. It helps you appreciate what you do have.’ ”

Norman Alcock admits without rancor or self-pity that he’s had his ups and downs too, and his time of genuine doubt. After two years of quietly persistent propagandizing, his blueprint for a network of Peace Research Institutes has won a surprising amount of support. His greatest single lift came shortly after the publication a year ago of his little book. Out of the blue he received a letter from a forty-three-yearold social service worker in Florida saying he was so impressed that he was sending a donation. Ultimately Julian Griggs not only gave $6,000 from his own savings — which like Alcock’s own were modest — but decided to move to Canada with his wife and four children to give what further help he could. Now he lives near the Aleocks in Oakville and helps run the Peace Research Institute campaign office in Toronto. “Julian Griggs has been our greatest supporter,” Alcock says, “and his help came at the best possible time.”

Alcock’s personal assets of $20,000 have disappeared since he quit his job with an American manufacturing firm. In its first two years this, along with Griggs’ $6,000 and another $1,500 in small donations from other well-wishers, has been the Canadian Institute’s only source of money. When the first fund-raising campaign is completed he expects to go on a modest salary, along with the other fulltime staff members that the Institute is able to enlist and sustain. *

The Institute’s ideas have already been endorsed by half a dozen older and larger organizations. These include the Canadian Committee for the Control of Radiation Hazards, sparked by the remarkable young model and housewife of Edmonton, Mary van Stolk; the movement called Voice of Women; the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; and the Society of Friends. Among Alcock’s directors and active workers are a former moderator of the United Church, Dr. James S. Thomson; a former head of the World Health Organization. Dr. Brock Chisholm; a wealthy mining man. Dr. Franc Joubin, and a dozen well-known radio, television and theatre people. Encouraged by their backing, the Canadian Peace Research Institute is in the middle of a crash program to raise money and enlist the services of a small group of first-rate scholars and scientists. A professional fund-raising firm will handle the first phase of the campaign for money. Alcock hopes in the next four years to raise more than four million dol-

lars from individuals, from private business and from the government.

A pessimistic interviewer recently spent several hours with Alcock raising a pessimist’s instinctive doubts about how his scheme could be expected to work in actual practice. The fundamental hurdle, getting the co-operation of governments, is not insuperable, Alcock insists. One key condition he envisages for his international chain of institutes is that they’ll use only unclassified data in their work. They won’t seek to usurp or duplicate the functions of the United Nations or come within its

framework. Being “independent of their national governments and of one another” they’ll work closely “with their individual departments of State and National Defense, through general directives or specific assignments.” With these ground rules set up he maintains that “national governments, rather than resisting, will actually welcome proposals for Peace Research Institutes.”

Critics may say, he admits, that his plan is “too ambitious; that it is destined to failure because some portion of humanity will not respond.”

He offers three answers to those who

say the East will not respond. “First, we do not really know; they might, so why not find out? Second, while Russia and China may not, other countries in the Communist orbit may — Poland and Hungary for instance. Third, if a number of neutral nations establish Peace Research Institutes and later one or two from the West join in, it may not matter whether or not the East ever joins. Yet is it reasonable to suppose that proud and powerful nations like China or Russia would stay outside for long?”

Though scientists aren’t always consid-

cred to be men of faith, it is precisely because of his scientific background that Alcock’s faith in his idea remains so stubborn. As a young defense engineer at the National Research Council, Ottawa, and Great Malvern, England, he saw, and in a modest way, helped in, a number of unbelievable occurrences including the development of radar. Only a handful of men were involved in perfecting what the German Admiral Karl Doenitz described as, next to the atomic bomb, the most decisive weapon of the war.

The same kind of concentrated genius and devotion — the effort of “the critica! few” — can accomplish just as many dr? matic and difficult things in the social sciences as it's accomplished so often in the physical sciences.

The people needed, though they may number only a few hundred, won’t be easy to find, Alcock concedes. “They must be possessed of a great sense of urgency . . . must be first and foremost internationally, not nationally minded; professionally selfpropelled and very competent . . . sufficiently foolhardy, or courageous, to drop present quests and throw energies and reputations into a search for peace . . . ready to do this for a minimal salary, or. in perhaps exceptional circumstances, no salary at all.

"Probably such men and women,” Alcock goes on, “are only found in trace amounts in our scientific populations — one tenth or one fiftieth of one percent. No matter, there may be just enough of them if they but find each other.” -Ar

How Alberni got its name

When C aptain Don Pedro Alberni of the Spanish army sailed into an unnamed inlet in what is now Vancouver Island, he had big ambitions. The year was 1790, and his orders were to add the region to the Spanish empire before the British could consolidate their claim. He planted a flag at the mouth of the inlet and went back to report his mission accomplished. But within three years. Captain George Vancouver had arrived by ship, Alexander Mackenzie had reached the coast by land, and Britain’s claim was stronger than ever. The only permanent recognition Don Pedro got for his efforts was in the name of the inlet he sailed into and two settlements—Alberni and Port Alberni — that sprang up long after his death.