The Road to Peace

A film with the above title was shown at our Head Office, 52, Clapham High Street, on January 6th. The meeting was part of our indoor winter activities where first a documentary film on some topic of current importance is shown, then a Party speaker gives the Socialist point of view, after which the audience takes part in questions and discussion.

On the evening in question the film, which ran for about 20 minutes, showed some of the horrors of war, including faces shrivelled up by napalm bombs. It then gave a glowing account of the activities of the World Peace Council leading up to its 1954 conference.

Pictures of large demonstrations in many countries all with banners demanding peace and the banning of H-Bombs were shown, and in the emotional excitement worked up in the film with the aid of a choir, we were told that the common people everywhere wanted peace. War can bring only suffering and destruction, the crowds in their demonstrations stood for peace. Friendship and negotiations are put forward as the Road To Peace.

A film which shows the ugliness of war and comes out as the champion of peace might well receive the acclaim of everybody, that is. everybody who does not look beneath the surface. Since the 1954 conference of the World Peace Council there have been countless negotiations, including the Geneva Conference of 1955, but none of the powers including those which sponsor the World Peace Council have stopped making H-Bombs or any other preparation for war.

Our speaker had to explain the cause of war as being rooted in the Capitalist system of international rivalry for trade routes, markets and natural resources as the film left this out of account.

Having explained that wars arise from the very nature of Capitalism our speaker went on to show the futility of mass demonstrations of people who did not want war but who, from lack of understanding, supported the conditions which cause it to occur. He went on to say that when the demonstrators went home and became once more individuals, each of them knowing no alternative to capitalism, helped to make up the millions who vote Labour, Conservative or so-called Communist, thus retaining the system from which war is inseparable.

The stand of the Socialist Party of Great Britain during both world wars and in the minor conflicts between and after them, including Korea, Suez, and Hungary, was stated clearly as flowing from our class objective recognising the world working-class as one with no interest in the employers profits.

Socialism was defined by our speaker as a world system where flags, nations, buying and selling, wages and profits would not exist but where common ownership of the natural and industrial resources of the earth would mean production for use and because their CAUSE had been removed, crises and wars could not occur.

Leadership, supported by the film, was condemned in favour of understanding.

The signing of petitions was stated to be futile whilst the Capitalists know they can count on the national feelings of the vast majority to support them and their wars; in fact a majority of those who signed the petition to “ban the bomb” voted for and helped to elect the very politicians they presented it to.

The question and discussion period showed the audience to be interested in how distribution would take place under Socialism without money and also how we could be sure we would have no dictators under Socialism. One contributor said money gives people “freedom of choice.” These and other points raised were dealt with in the winding up and the meeting was in every way a success. How about coming to our next one?

Harry Baldwin