1950s >> 1959 >> no-657-may-1959
The Aldermaston March
The arrival of the second Aldermaston March in London on Easter Monday was a grand opportunity for the Party to make itself felt—and it did! The awakening political interest in this country, which was briefly indicated at the time of Suez, is bringing many young bewildered people into the political arena for the first time. Their rallying point, at the moment, is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Encouraged by our successful and inspiring Annual Conference, during the preceeding three days, an impressive body of Party members reported at midday to the Party Literature Depot that had been set up in a comrade’s car by the Albert Memorial. This was the last halt for the many thousands of marchers prior to their final “assault” on Trafalgar Square. Over Conference week-end, both Paddington and Wood Green Branches had prepared leaflets specially for the occasion. One dealt with the futility of the Campaign in general. The other concerned the controversy within the Movement for Nuclear Disarmament as to whether or not they should withhold their votes from parliamentary candidates who do not promise beforehand to oppose the British manufacture of nuclear weapons, once elected.
Interest in our leaflets was so great that the Party Organiser and a few other comrades went back to Head Office to roll off another 2,000. In all 5,000 leaflets were distributed during the day. Once the March was on the move again the literature depot was set up, this time near to the Square.
Thirty-three comrades drew supplies of literature from the depot but a number of others helped too, so that everywhere you looked the SOCIALIST STANDARD and the pamphlet on War were to be seen. Sales were remarkably good—234 STANDARDS and over 160 War pamphlets—getting on for £15 worth, and these figures do not include a certain amount of literature that had been brought along by individual members.
A most heartening aspect of the day’s effort was the number of provincial comrades who were doing their bit. Obviously enjoying the feel of an all-out Party effort were members from Bradford, Manchester, Newport and Nottingham and, as was to be expected, nearly all the London area Branches were represented. Specially noteworthy were the high sales recorded by a Manchester comrade and the number of accepted challenges to debate issued by the Newport Group secretary.
As for assessing our impact, it was noticeable how many more people than last year were prepared to accept the Socialist contention that the real problem is the continued existence of war-prone Capitalist Society and not the nature of current weapons.
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The following was distributed as a leaflet during the March:
A point of view
“. . . We march in hope. We are building the foundations of a better, saner future, free not only from the horror and cruelty of our time but also its blindness, double-talk and unreason.” (Tribune, 27 March 59.)
If only this were true, how worthwhile this large and impressive march from Aldermaston would be! After your four days on the road, our view of the Campaign may not be popular but it must be put. We hold that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is on an unsound basis and inevitably leads in the wrong direction.
The Campaign fails because it is not concerned with removing the cause of war. In opposing “The Bomb ” to the exclusion of everything else, the effect is to oppose neither bombs nor war. . . . One year of ceaseless activity: Aldermaston, last Easter—Mass Lobby in June—Direct Action at Swaffham in December. Hundreds of thousands have heard your appeal to ban the Hydrogen Bomb, but have you made any impression on the present Government? And do you really believe another Labour Government would be any better?
The truth must be faced. Over these practical questions the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is rent with dissension.
A large body of the Campaign is working for the return of a Labour Government. How futile! The Labour Party is committed to war and the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
An active minority is advocating “direct action” and is trying to persuade people not to vote for any candidate who does not oppose the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Put to the test. Labour as well as the Conservatives will manufacture and possibly use the Hydrogen Bomb. The supporters of “direct action” sense this without understanding why and their methods, the outcome of despair, are a repudiation of democracy.
The Hydrogen Bomb is a monstrous thing. We say war in any form is monstrous!
The risk of nuclear weapons is inseparable from war, and war is inseparable from the way human society is organised today. The world we live in is dominated by the private ownership of the means of life, production for sale and profit, and by economic competition. The struggle between governments represents the rivalry of capitalist ruling groups—a struggle that continually threatens mankind with war.
Russia, with its state-controlled capitalism, is no less involved in this sordid business than are the U.S.A. and Great Britain.
Socialists want to abolish capitalism and to replace private ownership by common ownership. Socialists want a world in which the privilege of a few to monopolise wealth can be replaced by production of goods and services solely to satisfy human needs.
Socialists want a world in which “ Community,” “ Co-operation ” and ”Peace” can become realities not hollow slogans.
Effective opposition to the Hydrogen Bomb demands opposition to the whole monstrosity of war.
Opposition to war demands opposition to capitalism.
Opposition to capitalism demands working for the re-organisation of human society—for socialism.