1960s >> 1961 >> no-683-july-1961

A Lesson in Futility

Marches from Aldermaston and Wethersfield, treks from London to Holy Loch. Sit downs and arrests in Whitehall. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Direct Action Groups seem to be more intensely active as the days go by.

 

What is the Socialist attitude towards these demonstrations? No one can reasonably oppose a spirit of protest against intensifying hideousness in the instruments of war. But to treat the subject, as do the campaigners, in isolation from its causes is to make of C.N.D. an endeavour of impotence and futility. Here, on occasions like the Aldermaston and Wethersfield marches, were organised public protests against nuclear weapons. Yet throughout the whole proceedings there was no expression of antagonism towards the social system of capitalism which imposes upon each of its national capitalist groupings the need to have the most effective means of successfully waging war against their rivals. The leaders—supporters without exception of the existing social order—were cheered to the echo for their references to a capitalist world turning to nuclear disarmament for humanitarian reasons.

 

It is not inconceivable that governments will eventually give up the thought of waging nuclear war. The latest development in H-bombs has made these weapons so widely destructive that the use of them might well mean the destruction of the coveted markets and the extermination of the coveting capitalists themselves. Thus, to avoid the danger of destroying themselves and the very market expansion they are seeking, the various capitalist groupings, through their governments, may revert to “conventional” warfare.

 

This, however, is no solace. The colossal funds which governments have provided for the development of nuclear weapons reveals the financial lengths to which they will go to ensure the armament supremacy which, in the capitalist struggle for markets, alone offers a reasonable chance of triumph over rivals. And, now accustomed to greatly increased provisions for defence, they would be quite prepared to spend huge sums on “conventional” weapons.

 

Who can tell but that these weapons, if multiplied and further developed, would not be just as disastrous as H-bombs? We know, in any case, that with or without the bomb, war takes a sufficiently hideous toll in bloodshed and misery. And in a capitalist system which compels, from time to time, a resort to force, wars will inevitably arise. To denounce “the bomb” whilst acquiescing in the social set-up that brings it into being is contradictory and absurd.

 

It is for that and the added reason that it draws popular attention from the vital necessity of changing the social order that the Socialist Party of Great Britain opposes the C.N.D. The object of the working class should be the ending of a system which, at worst, offers universal annihilation through H-bombs and, at best, brings death to millions through other destructive alternative weapons.

 

F. W. Hawkins