From International Socialism (1st series), No.2, Autumn 1960, p.1.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Summit collapsed, and so did Kishi. In Kishi’s case the working class was there to see him go – six million struck to see him off; in the case of the Summit it was nowhere to be seen. Surely there’s a lesson here for Campaigners: if the workers of this country and elsewhere are not brought into the struggle for unilateral and unconditional nuclear disarmament, the Campaign will remain an impotent, middle-class appeal to the Powers that Be to reach some agreement that would be mutually acceptable and that might, incidentally, save humanity.
It is true that conditions could hardly be more different in the two countries. Japan has endured the ghastly tragedy of atomic bombardment and, less well known, of fire pattern-bombing (which murdered 300,000 people in Tokyo in a single night). Japanese unemployment is high (kept that way partly by the unofficial embargo on imports into this and allied countries) and wages are low. The Japanese bosses are more integrated with US capital than are our own. An RB47 is not a U2. The differences are there, but the principle remains and the Cold-War coincidence of Kishi and the Summit underlines it: the only power on earth that can stop the Bomb and its attendant lunacies is a working class conscious that it wants to do so.
True, we have made some progress in this direction: the trade-union unilateralist vote might well upset Gaitskell’s defence policy this year and force him to declare for the Parliamentary Labour Party’s independence from such hindrances as Conference decisions. More trade-unionists were to be seen on the Aldermarch this Easter than ever before. Union officials are giving CND speakers a better hearing.
Good, but not enough. Machinery cannot substitute for men, not even union machinery. Sometimes it is their very distance from their members, their very middle-classness, that makes union officials the more receptive to CND propaganda. We need to pierce beyond them, to reach the rank-and-file worker. And to do this we have to make the fight against the Bomb live in terms as simple and as direct as the fight against the Boss.
And why not? Is it not true that the Cold Warriors stop short at, say, conscription, because conscription is unacceptable to the working class (as measured in votes)? Is it not true that the arms budget sticks at £1500 million a year (plus or minus £100 million) year in year out, no matter what the weather forecast at the Summit, and that this is so because a greater degree of waste (and taxes) might become unacceptable? Is it not then obvious that the Cold War can go on only within the limits that are acceptable to the working class and that every realized demand – every extra sixpence in the pay packet, every betterment of conditions – narrows these limits?
If these propositions are roughly true, even very roughly, the Campaign has the means to grow in appeal. It should broaden its propaganda to take in all aspects of the struggle against the Powers that Be. Strikers should hear that the Campaign believes a blow against the Boss is a blow against the Bomb, Workers should know and see that CND will mobilize support for them not only as marchers but as workers. In this way working class action against individual bosses might be united and directed against the bosses as a whole, might indeed become a political struggle against the entire system and its monstrous issue – the Bomb.
For the Campaign to remain isolated from the class struggle is to remain weak. The choice is there, the example is there, and socialists should be there to influence the one with the other.
Last updated on 14 February 2010