Short Cut to Nowhere
“I do not expect to be still alive at Christmas!” This dramatic message was delivered to a crowd of Saturday afternoon shoppers. The speaker then urged her audience to write to their MPs, to Khrushchev and to Kennedy, imploring them to ban nuclear weapons. For this was Autumn 1961 and The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was flourishing.
Eagerly I approached a CND supporter and introduced myself as a Socialist. Warmly greeted, I was handed a leaflet, with the assurance that CND drew its support from all shades of political — and non political — opinion. I quickly expressed my opposition to all war and was introduced to a Pacifist. Then I pointed out that to campaign against particular weapons whilst supporting the social system that gave rise to wars . . . But the Pacifist had turned away and my erstwhile friend of the leaflets had moved on!
They had no time to listen to Socialist ideas. The fear of nuclear war, the dangers involved even in testing the horrific weapons, made it imperative to “get something done now.” However the road from Aldermaston proved not to be a short cut, even to arms limitation, but a blistering dead end.
More than a dozen years have passed since I stood rejected at the edge of that High Street meeting. The recent British underground Nuclear test underlines the fact that these weapons, and the threat of war (plus actual conflict) are still around. Still in fact a cause for urgent concern. But where is CND?
It is a familiar story. The Socialist case was turned down because of an overwhelming concern with a specific issue. Getting rid of the nuclear threat could not, as members of CND put it, wait for Socialism.
Is it too much to hope that the tragic irony of it all has not been lost on those energetic campaigners?
As Socialists we too are horrified and sickened by the countless problems which are inseparable from capitalism. It is in fact this understanding, that a social system based on the profit motive cannot also be geared to human interests, which gives the obvious answer. The only way to resolve the multiplicity of problems, including war, is through the achievement of Socialism; it necessarily follows that this is the quickest solution. Which is, of course, the reason why we have no time to engage in reformist struggles.
The need for Socialism is too urgent.