A Letter to Miss Ryoko of Japan

The News of the World (7.4.57) published a letter from a Miss Ryoko, in which she expressed her dismay and disappointment that the British Government is continuing with its H-Bomb tests, in spite of protests from Japan. Among other things she wrote:

“So here I am writing with hope—what is the reply of my comrades in United Kingdom on your bomb test against which everyone here claims there is nothing but evil or aggressive intention.”

The following letter was sent by a member of the S.P.G.B. to Miss Ryoko.

Dear Miss Ryoko,

Will praying stop war?
Will wishing stop war?
Will deputations to ministers stop war?
What then will?

Firstly, understanding what its causes are. Society is organised into a buying and selling system. Everything from babies’ napkins to hearing aids is made for a profit. To live, most of us must work. We work for employers. They sell the goods to make money. When they cannot sell in one place, they try another. When all of them are doing this; e.g., I.C.I., Dunlop, Mitsubishi, Messerschmitt, American Automobiles, a struggle ensues. When the struggle starts to hurt we call it war.

Briefly stated, trade is war.

You spoke in your letter of Britain’s peaceful use of atomic energy. But even this is for trading and profit-making.

Let me suggest an example of what is meant If some brilliant scientist at Harwell found a way of heating the water supply of nearby villages from atomic waste, which cost nothing, would it be pumped free to the people’s houses? You know the answer.

The governments represent the interests of the employers—those who own. Therefore, all governments, in the end, work against the interests of those who are employed—those who own nothing (of importance). This is proved by the very operation which is worrying you—development of nuclear weapons. The people hate and fear it. But the governments and ruling groups in all big countries continue to justify the arms race. When the time comes they will conscript the workers, men and women, to fight for them. But if everybody was determined to end profit-society and run industry for people’s needs, war could not occur.

In the last century Britain expanded her manufacturing enormously. Huge fortunes were made, while the life of working people was cruel, dirty and dangerous, people died at an earlier age—the deaths of babies were hardly commented on. This process involved too, seeking abroad for raw materials, labour and markets. Result, constant small wars to this end, with China, India, Africa, and the dark-skinned people of the world generally.

In this century your country had a similar development. And your living standards appall even the lowest paid workers here.

I mention these things to show that trade is struggle, instead of production being geared for free use over the whole world.

You may feel, on reading as far as this, that the writer is a dreadful pessimist, overstating a case. But surely you, as a Japanese woman, are keenly aware that the revolting destructive force of the atom bomb did not prevent America’s and Britain’s governments from using it on helpless and exposed human beings to achieve their ends. Many people here, when they learnt about such bestiality, were shaken, but I doubt if Mr. Truman and Mr. Churchill were.

Pious resolutions achieve nothing. People must learn to act for themselves. Until they do, the horrors your people suffered will continue to haunt us all.

Some of us are ready.

In the meantime we can only attempt to educate our fellow-workers, as we in our turn have had our eyes opened to the nature of society, and what makes it tick (and explode).

This is a painfully short statement. If you are interested to follow up some of the arguments, I should be very happy to write again.

Yours fraternally,


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