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50 Years Ago: What To Do About The H-Bomb

THE PROBABLE CONSEQUENCES of using the hydrogen bomb as an act of war must now be familiar to everyone. The newspapers, screens and radio have given enough facts and pictures of the latest tests to leave us in no doubt about the “progress” that has been made in the development of atomic weapons since the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Almost as often as we hear descriptions of the tremendous destructive power of these weapons, we hear a demand to “ban” them . . .

The socialist argues that it is senseless to imagine that the problem of war will be solved by advocating the banning of this or that weapon, or even of all weapons. Sir Hartley Shawcross was near the mark when he said that it was no use pretending that a treaty made in advance would make countries obey the rules of war as if it were a game of cricket. The only solution to the problem of war is the removal of its cause – the property basis of society.

Let us make our position quite clear. We have no objection to the banning of hydrogen bombs. But we do have an objection to people getting killed by other methods also. Our cry is not, therefore, “Ban the H-Bomb!” Carry this a stage farther. There is no objection banning all war. But, even assuming that this aspect of present society could be changed without changing its whole basis (and there is no reason to suppose that this is possible), it would still leave unsolved the other problems of poverty and insecurity which also take toll of human life and happiness.

All of the separate cries to end this or that social evil in the world today add up to the cry to end Capitalism. The singling out of objects “for immediate attention” may claim the merit of moderation, but it is tragically inefficient in obtaining results. To treat each symptom separately – “Ban his Boil!”, “Abolish that Pimple!” – is to let the patient go on suffering from a disease which only a revolutionary change can cure.

(From front page article by S.R.P., Socialist Standard, May 1954)