1990s >> 1999 >> no-1133-january-1999

A reply to CND

Thank you for your circular letter “Trident—what the bloody hell for?”, delivered through my letterbox.

You talk about the “astounding”, “shocking”, and “sickening” nature of the government’s current actions and beliefs, but forgive me: what about yours?

This government, like all governments, represents the interests of the state; and the state acts as a collective for the interests of society’s owning class (landowners, landlords, entrepreneurs and other capitalists). In pursuit of the interests of the capitalist class the state will, as Brecht put it, “make war as a continuation of business by other means”. The idea that given the likelihood of war it is either possible or sensible to discriminate as between particular kinds of weapons—voting against nuclear weapons but in favour of others—now that really is “astounding”, “shocking”, and “sickening”. It is also mind-bendingly foolish.

If you are opposed to war and all that it represents—as any right thinking person should be—you will advocate policies and take actions which will make war impossible, by removing its causes. That is, you will seek to transform society in the interests of human beings as a whole, without restriction to so-called race, nationality or gender, by establishing socialism in place of capitalism.

To do what you do—to object to some weapons which might be used in wars, whilst implicitly tolerating others—is to accept the inevitability of war, and the social system which underpins it. Your efforts, because they oppose only certain kinds of war, and not war itself, serve, whether intentionally or otherwise, to make war more likely. Your literature obscures and obfuscates. It makes the likelihood of enlightenment and desirable change the more difficult. However concerned you may feel about the welfare of the human race, your actions betray the very constituency you claim to serve.

Campaigning against nuclear weapons is an irrelevance. Nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used in East Timor, or Kosovo, or central Africa, or any of the other myriad “trouble spots” across the globe. Tens of millions of people have been killed since the end of World War II, and not a nuclear weapon fired in action. Are you unconcerned about such matters? By what contorted logic does “manner of death” come to mean more to you than “fact of death”?

I accept that most members of CND are well motivated: that to use a cliché, “they care”. But actions if they are to be effective require more than refined sensibilities. It is not enough that behaviour is well motivated: if it is to be effective it must be appropriate. An effective parent knows that it isn’t enough to want to act in a child’s interest; that if you are to be effective, you need also to know what to do. Members of CND need to learn just what is involved in keeping people free from the tyranny of death by war—whether at the hands of nuclear weapons or acceptable (sic) alternatives—and free also from poverty and famine, and poor health and abject lifestyles, and all the other social ills which are celebrated daily by capitalism.

If you really care about people you will want to campaign for their enlightenment; for an absence of nuclear weapons and war—in a word, for socialism.


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