“The Year of the Bomb”

Friday, the 31st December, 1954, saw the publication under the above heading of one of the most blatantly tendencious articles that has ever appeared in the Manchester Guardian. It was like the Daily Worker in reverse, and we feel sure it is an augury of what the Soviet bloc must expect throughout the coming year in the verbal war between East and West.

The article points out the terrible effects of the H-bomb, in particular “that the biological consequences are uncertain. Some scientists say that radiation may cause the birth of deficient or deformed children . . . ” The article then goes on to point out that people “have begun to grasp what these bombs mean. They have begun to ask whether any government could ever use such weapons. The answer, a bitter and unhappy answer, is that some governments might. We cannot count on a Communist Government respecting the interests of common humanity.” The article also mentions the millions murdered and imprisoned in Soviet labour camps in Northern Siberia.

No one could detest the Russian system more than we Socialists—and what was said about Russia is quite true, but it is equally valid for the Western Powers. Apart from the fact that the first concentration camps were set up by the British in South Africa during the Boer War, and the slave labour in the Crown colonies, it is also a fact that the first atom bombs were dropped by the Americans in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The effects of the bombs at the time were unknown but it was known that they would be devastating. The biological consequences in the case of the Atom bomb were and still are uncertain. The same held good for the Atom bomb then as for the H-Bomb now, And who knows what genetical monstrosities may not turn up in the future, caused by the Nagasaki and Hiroshima handiwork? Yet all this was done ostensibly on behalf of “Democracy” and the “Western Way of Life”. There was little respect for “the interests of common humanity” in that particular instance.

All this of course contrasts rather strangely with the one-sided article in the Manchester Guardian. The truth of the matter is that when property is threatened governments everywhere fall over themselves in their haste to protect it, and use every weapon at their disposal in that endeavour.

Who drops the H-bomb first, and where, is dependent upon whose interests are threatened and how much—and it might be the Western powers who do the dropping again! Whoever drops the H-bomb (if it is dropped), East or West, we can be sure that it will be in the interests of “Peace”, the Eastern or Western “Way of Life”.

As Socialists we have continually pointed out that the only solution to A-bombs, H-bombs, and all the other horrible instruments of modern warfare is to get rid of this capitalist system, and replace it with a society in which the means of living are held in common and equality of access prevails. Then, and only then, with the abolition of this system, with its racial, religious, national, class and individual antagonisms and prejudices, can we live a life where social harmony and equality will be an established fact; and war, poverty and insecurity a thing of the past.

Jon Keys

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