50 Years Ago: A Message for Aldermaston Marchers

This might be your last Aldermaston. The March has lost its impact and become an “Easter habit.” These marches were originally organised in the belief that with mass support you would be able to force the British Government to renounce nuclear weapons. You have had the support. You have engaged in all types of activity on a vast scale. You have captured the energy and enthusiasm of tens of thousands; you have distributed leaflets and pamphlets by the million. And yet you have failed.

The past six years has seen the development and stockpiling of all types of nuclear weapons in this and other countries. Polaris submarines (and no doubt their Russian counterparts) keep their patrols day in and day out. Bombers with their loads are on round-the-clock alert. The neutron bomb—”the ultimate weapon”—is on the point of production. In fact, nuclear-wise the world is “hotter” today than ever before. Russia, alike with the other capitalist powers in her concern for expansion and supremacy, proudly tells of her multi-megaton explosions. The British Government defence estimates of £1,838 million will be passed by Parliament without any real opposition. The United States armaments bill this year will be about £19,000 million.

Your protests, both constitutional and direct action, have had no effect on the Government. The Labour Party, like the Conservatives, are committed to nuclear weapons. Your own leaders have spoken evasively and you have found yourselves wavering (…)

We can understand your desire to abolish these weapons, but the position you take is inconsistent and unrealistic. Socialists are opposed to war in all its forms. But first and foremost we are opposed to the capitalist system which gives rise to war among other social problems. You are concerned with removing evils in isolation. This cannot be done.

(From editorial, Socialist Standard, April 1963)

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