Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Message for Aldermaston Marchers (1963)

Editorial from the April 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

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.

In the knowledge that you have not "banned the bomb," many of you have widened your interest, and nuclear disarmers are brought more and more into other forms of protest. You have protested about housing, about poverty and hunger, in the hope that you may be more successful in these fields than with the Bomb. But you will not succeed, and your continued disappointments are leading to apathy and disillusionment. Before this happens to you, why not face certain facts about which there can be no dispute.

We live in a world if private property relationships—where the minority have and the millions have not. A world ruled by buying and selling with profit as the driving force. Competition and tension dominate our lives. Men compete for jobs and capitalists compete for trade. Exports are a "must" for every country, and the big fish eat the small ones. Today America and Russia face each other, armed to the teeth, both proclaiming their desire for peace and the need to preserve their "way of life." But "peace" and "preservation" lead to the brink of war as in the recent Cuban crisis.

War solves nothing. You say that you are not in favour of war, yet you support the very system that gives rise to it. Your main concern is that war should be "humanised." For you it is war with nuclear weapons that is immoral and suicidal.  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. Policies of social reform over decades have not fundamentally altered the class basis of society; poverty, unemployment and insecurity are still with us..

Many of you, supporters of the Labour Party, will be in a difficult position at the next General Election. Your loyalty will be tested to the point that you will vote Labour in order to keep the Tories out. You hope that a Labour Government will be more likely to renounce nuclear weapons, a hope that has no justification, for the Labour Party is committed to protecting British capitalism. And to do this, they will ask you to fight with all the monstrous weapons of modern technology.

Have you ever thought that Socialism might be the answer? Not nationalisation, or some vague talk of public ownership but a world based upon common ownership of the means of wealth production. A world where men will co-operate to serve the interests of all. Not production for buying and selling and killing, but to serve people's needs—for use, not for profit. Socialism will be world-wide and means the abolition of classes. The Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion Parties in other countries work to this end. It is the only solution to war and the other major social problems.

A pipe dream you may say. But only so long as you and millions like you are prepared to waste your time dealing with the effects of capitalism instead of removing the causes. The Socialist Party offers you no easy way out. Socialism will not come about by marches, sit-downs, or days of prayer. Socialism requires the understanding of men and women. It is not a blind faith, but a conviction based on knowledge.

The choice is in your hands. Either the present type of world continues with its threats of war, unemployment and poverty, or you get down to the job of building the only desirable alternative that will be in harmony with social development. The real choice before mankind is Socialism or Capitalism. Where do you stand?

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