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International Socialism, Summer 1965


Richard Hammersley

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From International Socialism, No.21, Summer 1965, p.32.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Just a small point concerning the rejection of positive neutralism by Mike Kidron in his International Capitalism (IS20). I pick on the point, relatively unimportant as it is, because it is indicative of a rather unfortunate tendency in IS treatments of foreign policy. There seems to be a trend to view this field solely in terms of revolution, ignoring the need for a socialist involvement in the immediate problems of international relations. I for one would never decry any plea to analyse the class implications of social movements, internal or international, but this should not deter us from an appreciation of the possibilities of short-term solutions, along socialist or just humanitarian lines. For the immediate future, we should be trying to achieve a synthesis of our beliefs about the ultimate direction of political society and the present objective situation. This means that, though accepting that ‘class solutions are increasingly necessary’, we must still present a socialist alternative within the national, bourgeois, non-revolutionary (call it what you like) framework of Mr Wilson’s politics.

An immediate problem facing the Labour foreign policy makers is the imminent breakdown of the NATO structure. They have tried ANF, to hold up the crumbling facade, but there is the alternative of neutralism. It may not be the spectacular gestures envisaged by CND; it is more likely to be the finding of a more independent basis for policy decisions and moving away from the NATO ‘sheet-anchor’ (unfortunately the example of this is de Gaulle). This is quite possible within the present power structure and is along lines desirable to socialists. We should be fighting for this advance, as well as developing a revolutionary working class.

Third Campism and an ‘alliance of the uncommitted countries’ (incidentally rejected by neutralists themselves) are irrelevant to this view of positive neutralism, except in that the experiences of the neutralist countries are useful in formulating the essentially short-term concepts of non-alignment, international coexistence, and unilateral initiatives. In fact all that can be said about the broad basis of the concept of positive neutralism itself is that it is the application of reformist socialist principles to foreign policy.

If these short-term suggestions are overtaken by revolution, so much the better; but we are not the SPGB, and there has always been room for reformist tactics.

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