From Fourth International, vol.6 No.8, August 1945, pp.227-228.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
Workers, Farmers – Toilers of America!
The second imperialist world war has ended. Six years of wholesale slaughter and devastation have been brought to an awful climax with the discovery of the atomic bomb and its use, with frightful effect, against the people of Japan.
The din of battle has ceased. Mankind now must contemplate the destruction and the ruin, the pain and the heartbreak, which the war has caused. People in every land are celebrating the end of the carnage, not so much with joy as with a sense of relief that it has come to an end. They do not and cannot feel secure. Over their celebrations, like a lowering cloud, hangs a grim foreboding of things yet to come. Here in America, where the civilian population has been spared the monstrous agony endured for long, unbroken years by the peoples of Europe and Asia, joy that the war has ended is also tinged with dread for the future.
The atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with a combined population of 600,000 men, women and children, has sent a wave of revulsion and anxiety throughout the world, especially among the toiling populations who are the principal victims of war. It is universally realized that mankind has been saved from total annihilation in World War II only because the atomic bomb was invented so late. There is also the conviction, amounting to certainty, that another world war will mean the doom of the human race.
Hatred of imperialist war, and fear of what the future holds, is driving the workers to revolutionary political conclusions. The imperialist rulers, who alone have profited from the war, seek to prevent this at all costs. They want to sidetrack the workers from the struggle to end the capitalist system and establish socialism, which is the only sure guarantee that another war will be impossible.
All the organs of ruling class propaganda are mobilized to deceive the masses into thinking that the end of the war means the dawn of true and lasting peace and that peace can be preserved without revolutionary social change. As a second line of deception, they are trying to persuade the masses that even if another war should come, the American people need not fear annihilation because means will be found to “control” the use of the atomic bomb and insure that it will not be used against this country.
Among the illusions now being sown is the idea that the unlocked secret of atomic energy possesses such ghastly destructive power that the capitalist rulers will refrain from using it in future wars. But the entire history of imperialist warfare refutes this contention. Between two world wars the most frightful instruments of death were invented and perfected. ALL HAVE BEEN USED! During World War II other death-dealing weapons were invented and perfected. ALL HAVE BEEN USED! Demolition bombs of enormous weight were dropped on helpless civilian populations. Incendiary fire-bombs were used to wipe out whole cities and burn their inhabitants to death. The unspeakable flame-thrower was employed by all the belligerents to burn masses of men to a crisp. The only reason poison gas was not used was its unreliability as a weapon, the danger that it might destroy its users.
To annihilate their opponents, the imperialist criminals will employ every deadly weapon in their arsenals. Let no onedeceive himself that the atomic bomb will not be used!
Another illusion being sedulously fostered is that the atomic bomb is “our secret,” that it will be kept “our secret” under tight government control and monopoly, and that therefore America will be safe. But the fact is that it is NOT EVEN NOW an exclusively American secret. It is known to the British imperialists, who collaborated in the scientific work from the very beginning up to the time of discovery. It is known also to the capitalist ruling class of Canada, which likewise took part in the project.
Truman declared that Britain and the United States “do not intend to reveal the secret until means have been found to control the bomb so as to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction ... We must constitute ourselves trustees of this new force – to prevent its misuse, and to turn it into channels of service to mankind.”
But with the defeat of German and Japanese imperialism, the rivalry between British and American imperialism becomes one of the greatest potential sources of another world war. The interests of these two powers meet and clash in every corner of the globe. Unless the whole world system of capitalism and imperialism is destroyed, war between them is more than probable. Can anyone in his sane senses doubt that in the event of such a war the antagonists will use the atomic bomb in the effort to destroy each other?
And what does Truman mean by “misuse” of the atomic bomb? Was the deliberate and cold-blooded extermination of 600,000 Japanese a high act of humanitarianism? In the shyster language of the imperialist criminals, a weapon is “misused” only when it is employed by their opponents. The Nazis “misused” the weapon of aerial bombardment when they blasted Warsaw, Rotterdam and Coventry. The Japanese imperialists “misused” it when they blasted Canton, Hankow and Chungking. Then the Anglo-American imperialists improved on the performance of their rivals and wiped out dozens of German and Japanese cities and hundreds of thousands of civilian inhabitants. They just “forgot,” and hoped their own peoples would forget, their previous pretended indignation.
The atomic bomb, no matter what may be decided in Washington and London, will not remain even an Anglo-American-Canadian secret. Sir James Chadwick, chief British scientist in the atomic bomb project, stated in Washington on August 12 that this deadly weapon was “not a strictly British-American secret” and that “any nation could learn the secret in about five years of experimentation, assuming it had access to the necessary raw materials.”
Consider, too, the ominous import of the following extract from a Washington dispatch to the New York Sun on August 8:
“Twenty-four hours ago, members of Congress were earnestly debating among themselves whether or not the new discovery should be given to the United Nations Security Council and to other Allied governments. Today their thinking is growing up, and they are beginning to comprehend the fact that even if the blueprints and formulae for this new invention were to be destroyed, the scientists of other nations would discover the secret anew in their laboratories.”
The dispatch then continues:
“More awesome still is the realization that the political development of the world has not kept pace with its scientific knowledge – THAT WE KNOW OF NO WAY TO PREVENT THE MISUSE OF THIS NEW DISCOVERY. The thought of negotiating an international series of treaties renouncing the use of atomic explosives in war inspires no confidence in any one.”
Two terrible world wars have proven – and the foregoing quotation underlines the fact – that capitalism is incapable of utilizing the great advances in science and technique for the enrichment of human life. In “peace,” capitalism condemns the masses to poverty and insecurity amidst potential plenty. In war, it conscripts industry and science for the mutual destruction of the peoples.
THEY KNOW OF NO WAY! This admission of bankruptcy and helplessness comes from the most powerful ruling class on earth. Out of their own mouths they are condemned as the murderers of the human race. With an insane calmness they tell the peoples to await their doom.
Let no man deceive himself with the thought that because Germany and Japan have been defeated, a new war, at least during the lifetime of this generation, is unlikely. Capitalist appetites and imperialist rivalries remain. Only the focus of the antagonisms has shifted. War is the end result of the ceaseless capitalist hunt for profits, markets, colonies, spheres of influence. It is a lie that war can be prevented by treaties and agreements among the imperialist bandits. The League of Nations could not prevent war. It was dead and buried before World War II broke out. The United Nations organization will not be able to prevent a third world war. Its very formula of “peace by force” implies war and not peace. In unguarded moments the imperialists admit that they know of no way to prevent war. The admission is implicit in the maintenance of gigantic armaments, which no one proposes to destroy. First Washington dispatches on the atomic bomb quoted official quarters as saying this new weapon would “revolutionize all future warfare.” Could anything be plainer?
Nor should any man deceive himself that America will escape the annihilating blasts of the atomic bomb in a future war. Air power and sea power will afford no sure protection. Scientists already tell us that an air force will not be necessary to carry this new missile on its deadly mission. It will be fired immense distances in the form of a jet-propelled rocket that will speed to its target at a lightning rate and with unerring accuracy. New York or Detroit or Los Angeles will, be as vulnerable as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is at this point that the liberal apologists and defenders of the bloody capitalist system come forward to explain that the new weapon makes future wars “unthinkable,” because its extensive use would mean the utter annihilation of the human race. Thus another dangerous illusion is sown.
After World War I these same liberals declared that another war was “unthinkable.” Now that mankind has suffered another terrible blood-bath, do they seek to inquire why the “unthinkable” came to pass? They do not. For honest inquiry leads straight to the conclusion that under capitalism wars are inevitable and inescapable, and that once war begins all the diabolical instruments of killing and destruction are brought into play. The liberal fakers are employed, and generously paid, to cover up for capitalism, to mislead the masses by Sowing illusions, and thus divert them from the struggle for socialism which alone can end the horrors of war for all time. That is why, while quaking in their shoes at the realization of what the atomic bomb means, they can only mutter the senseless ‘incantation that a new war is “unthinkable.”
THEY know no way!
But there IS a way – THE WAY OF THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!
Capitalism in its death agony, writhing in the toils of mortal crisis, has perfected an instrument of all-embracing annihilation. This deadly destructive force, held in the grip of the criminal capitalist rulers, will be used to decimate mankind unless it is snatched in time from their murderous grasp. The workers must awake, and awake quickly, to the realization that war with all its horrors is the product of the capitalist system.
To conceal the true source of war, capitalist propagandists divide the nations into “aggressors” and “peace-lovers.” This is a lie. The people of every nation hate war, for they are its victims. They are plunged into war by the capitalist rulers, who alone profit from it. It contributes exactly nothing to an understanding of the profound social causes of war to say that Germany or Japan started it. Germany and Japan have been defeated. Yet the germs of war are STILL lodged in the heart of capitalist society. No trust whatsoever can be placed in the “peace-loving” declarations of the statesmen of capitalism in this or any other country. Only the utter wiping out of capitalist rule throughout the world can insure that atomic explosives will never again be used for mass murder.
Toilers of America! Years before the war and right up to the moment of its outbreak, the Socialist Workers Party, the Trotskyist, warned that war was inevitable if capitalism was allowed to live. We told the workers the truth!
When war began, we exposed the lie that it was a war for “democracy.” We laid bare the truth that it was an imperialist war. We have never ceased to proclaim this truth. We proclaimed it alone against all the liars and deceivers of the people!
This truth was proclaimed by our comrades in other lands, in Europe and in Asia. Under the proud and stainless banner of the Fourth International, the Trotskyist everywhere fought against the imperialist war and for the socialist future of the working class!
Today, at this great turning point in history, we bring our message of hope to toiling humanity. We point out the road of salvation!
Let the cataclysmic horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve as a clarion call to the working class! The workers must wrench the power from the hands of the blood-drenched capitalist criminals and take their destiny in their own hands, The fight for socialism is now more than a fight to end poverty and inequality, to abolish the exploitation of man by man. Today the fight for socialism is a fight to prevent the annihilation of the human race. Mankind must now exterminate the capitalist system – or be exterminated!
Time is of the essence. At an ever faster pace capitalism is rushing mankind toward the last abyss of destruction. The end of the second world war does not mean peace, but only an interval between wars, marked by smaller conflicts. This interval will be shorter – much shorter than the last, because the contradictions of decayed capitalism grow ever more acute and capitalism can survive only by means of war. This breathing space must be utilized by the progressive forces of society, the working class and its allies, to smash the capitalist system and usher in a socialist society.
Socialism – or perish! These are the alternatives. There is none other. Only the working class, which suffers the cruelties of capitalism in peace and war, can deal the death-blow to this foul system. The workers can rally the broadest masses to their liberating banner and can change the world. Having abolished capitalism, they can harness the productive forces and the wondrous discoveries of science to the service of human needs. The release of atomic energy opens up grandiose vistas for the development of human society. It holds the promise of eliminating all poverty and raising the living standards of all peoples to undreamed-of heights. Hazardous and unhealthy occupations can become things of the past. The drudgery and servitude of ugly and unnecessary toil can be ended. There ran be leisure and comfort and cultural advancement for every man, woman and child on earth.
All on one condition – that capitalism, the strangler of human progress, is destroyed!
Toilers of America! Working men and working women in the factories and on the farms! The Trotskyists summon you to the struggle for the socialist revolution! Enlist with us in the great battle for a new world in which permanent peace and well-being will be assured for all!
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Last updated on 12.9.2008