Friday, January 27, 2017

The Test Ban Treaty (1963)

Editorial from the September 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

Over the recently signed Test Ban Treaty there hangs a massive, inevitable question. Elsewhere in this issue of the Socialist Standard we discuss some of the implications of the Treaty and the possible reasons for it. Briefly, the big nuclear powers have come to an agreement to stop atmospheric testing because of a recent shift in the balance of power in the world.

The Soviet Union, which has tried for so long to control the potential might of China, has now apparently given up and in some ways has thrown in its lot with the Western bloc. China must now step up its efforts to master the secrets of nuclear weapons which the Soviet Union has refused to give them.

If the present situation develops much further we may see a massively powerful, nuclear armed China on the one hand, gathering as many allies among the new Eastern and African states as it can, and on the other—almost the whole of the rest of the world. By no means is this an attractive prospect.

The result of the Test Ban Treaty can only be, then, another big power line-up in the world and a continuation of the old, ruthless struggle. The only difference will be that the sides will have changed and perhaps the areas of dispute. The basic conflict of capitalist interest will remain unaltered. For the majority of people in the world—for the working class—this will bring further insecurity, further tension, perhaps in the end the unimaginable terror of a mighty conflagration.

And the question is: What will they do about it? The Test Bun Treaty is typical of all the pacts and agreements which capitalist powers make between themselves. All these pacts, at best, only shuffle the cards into different, no less menacing combinations. This does not, of course, prevent the politicians presenting each treaty as a step towards peace, as a cause for rejoicing among the working class.

And the big question is: Will the working class believe them? Will they reflect upon the history of all the treaties 'which have been solemnly and ceremoniously signed only to be broken when the very time came for them to be kept? Upon the many pacts of non-aggression which have preceded the signatories making war upon each other? Upon the fruitless discussions which have taken place with none of the participants seriously intending to settle anything?

Will the working class take the trouble to think into the facts about the big power divisions in the world? Will they ask themselves why the powers' interests are opposed, so often and so frighteningly? Why, indeed, there are powers, separate nations big and small? These are the sort of questions which the Test Ban Treaty should bring to mind, once again.

Capitalism is now a futile social system. It cannot unite the human race — it can only divide it catastrophically. It cannot serve human interests; it can only deny and damage them. It cannot solve its problems, such as war, but only continue to produce them in one form or another.

The only way out of this insane maze is to get rid of capitalism and replace it with Socialism. Will the working class realise this? Before the desperate conflicts of capitalism make it, for many of them, too late?

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