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CND - Out of Touch With Reality

When India's Prime Minister Mr. Nehru decided to prepare by all possible means for what he said might be a war against China lasting for years, he admitted that under pressure of events he and the Indian government had abandoned their long-held policy. He said that for years they had been “out of touch with reality,” and the Chinese invasion had shocked them all out of “the artificial atmosphere of our creation.” For years Nehru had been chiding other governments for their reliance on arms and the waging of war—now he was calling on the Indian workers to emulate the action of the British Government in 1940 of building up armaments after the evacuation of Dunkirk. He appealed to the American and British governments, hitherto the objects of his rebukes, to supply arms to India.

It was not only Nehru who suffered a shock to his beliefs, but also CND, for to them Nehru’s line had been a favourite example of the kind of policy governments ought to pursue. CND like Nehru has been out of touch with reality. To them armaments (including nuclear weapons) and wars, are simply the result of the governments having wrong policies: so what could be easier than for the British Government to give up its reliance on nuclear weapons and its association with governments having nuclear weapons, and set an example, which other governments would follow, of peaceful co-existence. Now CND has seen, not the Western governments following the example supposed to have been set by Nehru, but Nehru following the example of the governments which CND said were wrong. He is appealing for help to governments which have nuclear weapons. It is worth noting exactly how unrealistic CND was.

The following is taken from the CND leaflet Why We Are Marching, issued at Easter, 1962, for the Aldermaston march:

    "Millions of thinking people reject the government's Defence policy. Behind that looms the vast and immoral folly of the H-Bomb. That is why we are marching from Aldermaston where Britain’s H-Bombs are made, to London where our government makes decisions which spell life and death for us all.

    We want Britain to give a lead: by renouncing nuclear tests, weapons, bases and policies. By aligning herself with the uncommitted nations in pressing for disarmament. By using the resources freed to fight world hunger, disease and poverty."

Now CND sees the chief uncommitted government, Nehru’s, preparing the country for war and turning resources away from civilian uses to the production of armaments and the organising of armies. Steel plants are turning over to the production of armoured plates for tanks; fertiliser factories are changing over to the production of strategic goods; motor plants are turning out jeeps; warships are being built and the air force expanded. The Bombay correspondent of the Financial Times (11/12/62) reports:

    "India’s Third Five-Year Plan is being geared to meet the needs of the country's defence. A “war complexion” has already been given to the Ministry of Steel and heavy industries. Producers in both public and private sectors have been asked to go ahead with the requirements of the Defence Ministry."

Thus does capitalist reality catch up with well-meant illusions. Capitalism is by nature expansionist and predatory, no matter that particular governments call their capitalism “socialism” (India and China both fall into this category). Privilege and profit for the ruling class is the aim, and the armed forces to hold and extend markets and control of sources of raw materials, are the means. Armed force is a capitalist necessity both to protect the propertied class against their own dispossessed and for use against rival capitalist interests.

While the dramatic somersault of India's government highlights the unreality of CND the reality has been there for them to see all along. The Indian government was ’’uncommitted" in the sense of choosing not to join up with the American or Russian power blocs, but that was all: in every other respect it behaved like all the other governments. About a third of the central government expenditure has been on the armed forces ever since India got rid of British rule. The amount has been growing more or less steadily year by year. In 1960-1 it reached about £225 million—now it will rise still more. And, such is the contradictory nature of capitalism, that thousands of desperately poor among the unemployed will get work they otherwise could not find.

The moral of this is clear. War is not in the interest of the working class anywhere, but the remedy is not the unreality of asking capitalism to behave differently but the Socialist policy of getting rid of capitalism which causes war.

Edgar Hardcastle