1980s >> 1984 >> no-960-august-1984

CND – Campaign for Conventional Warfare

CND has risen again. Once again the very real anxieties about the use of nuclear weapons have made many people want to do something to stop them. So there are marches and speeches and demonstrations. Will they succeed? Can they succeed?


The last CND campaign failed with a loss of heart among its supporters. The Labour Party Conference in 1960 voted for unilateral nuclear disarmament, only to reverse the decision in 1961 when Labour’s shadow ministers argued strongly that they could not survive in government without nuclear weapons. In 1957 Labour’s Aneurin Bevan had said, “You will send a foreign secretary—whoever he may be—naked into the conference chamber”. What he meant was something like this: “You elect us to run British capitalism, an essentially competitive, profit-making system. Every capitalist nation, including Russia and China, strives to expand its markets, increase its grip on sources of raw materials and trade routes. Powerful nations must be able to provide protection for their shipping and for smaller nations from whom they want oil, copper, sugar, wheat, aluminium, etc. They must make treaties and form alliances. They must sit round the conference tables and bargain for the pickings. And their persuasiveness in the conference chamber depends, in the end, upon their military strength because, when diplomacy fails finally, nations have no alternative but war. Nuclear nations, therefore, win nearly all the arguments . . . ” Bevan was right. This is the only way international capitalism can work. And the Labour Party ended up realising it too.


After this, CND support fell away, disillusioned. Many thousands, convinced nothing could be done, dropped out of the movement. Some, however found another, more potent way of opposing war. They realised that, within a system that can only be geared to war, it was futile to try to persuade governments to disarm. They realised that the only possible way to abolish nuclear weapons, as well as all the other vile and gruesome means of death and destruction produced by capitalism, was to abolish their root cause—capitalism itself. So they became socialists. Clearing away all the mystification about our present social system in the media and in education, they recognised that the two hundred year old system of industrial capitalism is already dangerously obsolete. About 10 per cent of the world’s population own, or control through the state, the means of producing and distributing the things we need to live. These people form an economic class, the capitalist class. The other 90 per cent, the working class, owning virtually nothing but their ability to work, have no choice but to work for them, either producing goods and services or running the cumbersome administration of capitalism. When wars are declared it is the 90 per cent who are compelled to fight one another and die in millions. The propaganda machinery of their respective governments persuade them to see each other as wicked or subhuman. Yet they have no quarrel with one another. Only the profitability of capital is at stake. This is insanity.


Socialists oppose not only nuclear war, but all war. And they organise to abolish its cause—the private, including state, ownership of all land, mines, factories, oilfields, offices, docks, transport, etc.—so that they belong to everybody or nobody, and are used by the whole of society, democratically, to produce goods for everyone’s needs. Frontiers and nations will fall into disuse. War will be an impossibility.


Nuclear technology as such need not be a danger. If it can be made safe, a society geared to human needs might decide to use it to produce abundant energy. In the present society geared to profit above everything, it can only bring disaster. Capitalism cannot be humanised. It cannot even be controlled. It cannot cope with the nuclear age. Our only hope is to scrap it before it destroys us. Help us organise to replace it with a free, classless, propertyless, democratic world without frontiers—socialism.

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