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As many thinkers have said – from Epicurus to Spinoza and onwards – we should always think about life rather than death. This is especially true if you think there is no life after death, as I do.

Nicolas Walter, ‘Living Without Religion’ on the BBC World Service, 1996

In 1961, humanist Nicolas Walter (along with his wife Ruth) was a founding member of the anti-nuclear Committee of 100, as well as of direct action group Spies for Peace. In 1963, members of the Spies for Peace broke into what turned out to be ‘Regional Seat of Government 6’, one of a number of nuclear bunkers from which a select few would govern the country in the aftermath of nuclear war. The group collated the documents they discovered there, and circulated their findings as the pamphlet Danger! Official Secret. Arguing that those behind these bunkers were ‘quietly waiting for the day the bomb drops’ and planning for military government, the pamphlet had a significant impact on the British public, who were unaware of such preparations, or the perceived gravity of the nuclear threat. On 10 April, 3,000 copies were sent out in time for replication and distribution on the Easter Aldermaston march. Walter was a lifelong activist, motivated by a belief in the rights of human beings to speak and act freely. As well as his efforts for peace and disarmament, he was a committed opponent of the blasphemy laws. In both areas (as well as in his promotion of humanism), he knew the power of the written word. Following Mary Whitehouse’s blasphemy prosecution of Gay News, Walter distributed copies of the targeted poem under the imprint ‘Free Speech Movement’ – an echo of his Spies for Peace activity.

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