Hiroshima and after

October 1945, U.K.

Another date has been added to History’s gruesome chronology of horror. Hiroshima, August 5th 1945, marks the application of a new technique in the sordid science of slaughter. In one catastrophic flash a city has been destroyed and “all life seared to death”. While the monument of dust still towered above the ruins, the news was released upon a world almost satiated with carnage.

Yet it is significant to observe that although the use of the atomic bomb hastened the end of the war in the East, the announcement was received with little popular enthusiasm.

Before 1939 it was comparatively easy for the ruling class to convince the workers of the need for a large navy, army, and air force. Armaments, they maintained would ward off would-be aggressors and thereby ensure peace. Their solicitude for our safety seemed almost genuine. Years of grim experience, however, have proved the Socialists’ contention that armaments are no insurance against war. New methods of persuasion will be needed next time to herd the population into the future shoddy equivalents of Anderson shelters, particularly since we are told by the US War Department that “an atomic bomb could be made 1,000 times more powerful than the type used on Japan”.—(Sunday Despatch, London, August 12th, 1945). There will be very few near miss stories!

The reaction of the military mind is summed up by General Ismay, who in 1941 stated on behalf of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, “although personally, I am quite content with the existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement”.—(Times, London, August 7th, 1945).

Let there be no mistake! The disastrous effect of this latest device to uplift humanity will in no way prevent its use. In fact because of the power of destruction, it becomes obvious that the element of surprise will be a major advantage in war. It may well be that a matter of hours will decide which group of capitalists will emerge victorious from the next edition, which gang will be jet-propelled on the next Crooks Tour, to sit at the fleshpots of some future Potsdam Conference.

Unfortunately for the British and American capitalistic class it will be impossible to monopolise the development of nuclear power. Sir James Chadwick, chief scientific advisor to the British members of the Combined Allied Policy Committee in Washington, has admitted that any nation with reasonable industrial facilities could start now and produce an atom bomb in 5 years’ time, without assistance from Britain and the USA. Its antecedents are the past ages of patient research. From the 1890’s when the Curies conducted experiments in radio-activity, up to the recent perverted achievement, the efforts of such scientists as Professor Rutherford of Manchester, Niels Bohr of Copenhagen, Dr Lawrence of California University, Professor Joliot of France, and others in Germany, Japan, Russia and elsewhere, prove indisputably that in the modern world production is a social function. In brief, as reported by the US War Department the bomb was created “not by the devilish inspiration of some warped genius, but by the arduous labour of thousands of normal men and women”.—(Sunday Despatch, London, August 12th, 1945), i.e., members of the working class.

General Fuller in the Sunday Pictorial, commenting on the cause of war, says “there are several . . . but in the economic age in which we live, the one which seems to me to tower above all others, is the ‘profit motive'”. To socialists the profit motive is the only explanation of war in the modern world.

As long as Capitalism remains, there will be no slackening of research for even “better and more beautiful” methods of destruction, no tightening of the purse-strings which have already disgorged £500,000,000. Meanwhile the producers of wealth will be sampling the elusive fruits of rationed victory amid Portal shanty-towns and unemployment queues.

There is no need to enlarge on the physical results of atomic warfare. Combined with jet-propulsion, mass-murder is possible by remote control.

It is, however, relevant to examine a few of its effects on the current political fallacies of the defenders of “private enterprise”.

The USA is now as vulnerable to attack as the rest of the world. Geographical situation offers no advantage, and in consequence the last crumbling bastion of isolationism is breached. This is clearly demonstrated by her policy of expansion especially in the Pacific.

All ideas of warfare are obsolete, or at least require drastic revision, and already, at the end of the worst war in history, the spectre of the next conflict haunts the celebrations of peace.

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