1960s >> 1965 >> no-732-august-1965

Editorial: Nuclear Waste

It was 20 years ago this month that the world witnessed the terrifying spectacle of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Twenty years of gradually mounting evidence to help piece together like a jigsaw, a background of cynical and calculated brutality that is almost without parallel. Twenty years in which the soundness of the Socialist Party’s stand on the whole question of war in all its forms has been again and again vindicated.

This will no doubt be a month of commemoration and protest. From statesmen and politicians of every variety we may expect the usual tired platitudes, lies and hypocrisy as they spuriously talk about peace and prepare for another war. CND will be well to the fore, attempting to deal with nuclear weapons in isolation from their root cause – Capitalism. But society cannot put the scientific and technical clock back. From this time forward man’s ability to manufacture nuclear weapons is here to stay. The only truly reliable way to “Ban the Bomb” is to establish a society where human relationships could not possibly cause war or call nuclear weapons into use. Only world Socialism really guarantees that Hiroshima or Nagasaki could not happen again.

We have felt it important to return to the question again this month because apart from the threat to humanity’s existence in a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, it illustrates well a point we have made many times― the shocking wastefulness with which Capitalism not only squanders society’s material resources, but squanders humanity itself.

We live in a world capable of a tremendous productive effort. The work that went into the first atom bombs must have been colossal, yet it pales into insignificance when compared with the picture today. America’s defence expenditure (never “offence” expenditure) last year reached the staggering estimated figure of $54,000 millions. Comparable figures for Great Britain were £2,043 million, West Germany 20,929 million Deutschmarks, and France 23,485 million Francs. The U.S. contribution alone to NATO forces included eight hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles (nuclear if necessary) and over three hundred Polaris submarines. At the beginning of last year, Soviet defence minister Marshall Malinovsky was boasting of Russia’s hundred megaton bomb and the missiles that were available to carry it to any part of the globe.

And this is the spectacle which has been the curse of the capitalist world, to come into still sharper focus in the post-war years. Millions go ragged and hungry and badly housed, while unsaleable food piles up in the warehouses and backwater barges, and vast resources of human ingenuity and productive effort are squandered in turning out yet bigger and more destructive weapons. Not only that. There are now five runners in the nuclear arms race with at least two more – W. Germany and India – thinking of entering the slips.

Even whilst CND have been campaigning, more nations have entered the nuclear field. The bombs are bigger, and there are more of them. CND have protested against one aspect of capitalism’s wastefulness. They will miss the important point until they realise that the need is to remove Capitalism itself. Gigantic waste which is horrifying in its effects is synonymous with Capitalism in every direction, from nuclear terror, to world hunger. The campaign against these problems outside the context of the demand for Socialism cannot carry the prospect of success.

It is when we realise this that we see the urgent necessity for the removal of capitalism and its replacement with a world of common ownership, for this is the only way to tackle such a problem. Only then could we be sure that society’s resources would be harnessed to serve human needs instead of the requirements of the profit motive. In a Socialist system there would be abundant wealth to meet everyone’s needs, but waste would be anathema – a thing of the past. Such conditions would make possible the development of human abilities on a scale undreamed of today, for the concern of all would be to produce and distribute the very best of which they were capable. Certainly a goal worth striving for; but more than that, one which becomes a matter of greater urgency with the passing of each day.

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