Showing posts with label anti-war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-war. Show all posts

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Bairns Not Bombs - An Infantile Protest

Thousands of protesters marched through Glasgow city centre for anti-Trident speeches by the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie, of the Scottish Greens, in George Square. Also addressing the gathering was Labour's North Ayrshire candidate Katy Clark, Cat Boyd, from the Radical Independence Campaign, and Ann Henderson, of the STUC. It is the annual rally organised by the Scrap Trident group will be followed on April 13 by a blockade of Faslane naval base, home of the UK's nuclear deterrent. We, of course, accept that most of the protestors are well motivated, that they care. But actions if they are to be effective require more than fine sentiments and sensibilities. It is not enough that behaviour is well meant: if it is to be effective it must be appropriate. If the anti-Trident campaigners really cared about people they would seek to campaign for their enlightenment; for an absence of nuclear weapons and war—in a word, for socialism.

Since it was founded in 1958, CND has seen the number of nuclear weapons in the world multiply hundreds of times over, but it has consistently refused to discuss what actually causes wars. When people really start to escape from the fears and prejudices that plague well-intentioned bodies such as CND, it will not just be just a matter of ‘'Scrap Trident’; it will be the end of all wars and of the economic rivalries between national ruling classes that cause them. If you are opposed to war and all that it represents—as any right thinking person should be—you will advocate policies and take actions which will make war impossible, by removing its causes. That is, you will seek to transform society in the interests of human beings as a whole. But to do what the SNP and the Greens do — to object to some weapons which might be used in wars, whilst implicitly tolerating others — is to accept the inevitability of war, and the social system which underpins it. Their efforts, because they oppose only certain kinds of war, and not war itself, serve, whether intentionally or otherwise, to make war more likely.

Campaigning against nuclear weapons is an irrelevance. Nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used in Syria, or central Africa, or any of the other myriad "trouble spots" across the globe. Tens of millions of people have been killed and not from a nuclear weapon. Are those anti-Trident campaigners unconcerned about such matters? By what contorted logic does "manner of death" come to mean more to them than "fact of death"? Can we challenge the SNP to close down the armament manufacturers and arms traders in Scotland.

Under capitalism we have a world which is divided into rival and competing nations, which struggle with each other over the control of markets, trade routes and natural resources. It is this struggle which brings nations into armed conflict with each other because militarism is the violent extension of the economic policies of propertied interests. War and the nuclear threat cannot be isolated from the economic relationships of production or the general object of capitalist production, which is to advance the interests of those privileged class minorities who monopolise the whole process of production. It follows that no working class of any country has any stake or interest in war, and we have always said that workers should never support war. Our stand since we were established has been to oppose every war. Armed with this understanding of the cause of war we are committed to working politically with workers of all countries to establish world socialism, because that is where the interest of the working class lies. The Socialist Party has never participated in the hideous cause of capitalism at war.

We have from those opposed to Trident this indignation about the effects of war, and some sort of policy, argued around some slogans, which aims to bring pressure to bear on governments to prevent them from producing nuclear weapons and to make them dismantle existing stocks. This superficial approach cannot possibly succeed, nor does it stand any chance whatsoever of guaranteeing a world free from war or the possible use of nuclear weapons. The superficial approach assumes some general democratic political structure by which populations are able to bring effective pressure to bear on governments conducting a policy of, or preparations for, war. But wars are not planned or conducted along democratic lines. Think back to the last war and the development of nuclear weapons. These things were done in complete secrecy. All governments, in the planning and conduct of war, must retain for themselves a free hand, which is secret, and by its nature without democratic reference to the population at large. Democracy and the conduct of war are anathema to each other. The first casualty of war is democracy.

Socialists have fewer illusions than anybody about capitalism and we are well aware of the dangers. The spectre of nuclear Rrmageddon has once again reared its ugly head as the EU and the US bluff and counter-bluff with Russia in the stand-off over the Ukrainian civil war. If movements continue to support capitalism they must be responsible for all the ways in which capitalism develops. Because capitalism cannot be controlled in the human interest, we do not know all the ways in which it will develop. 

Sincere individuals are swept up by movements such as the no-nuke campaigns but these movements have no substance and are not acting with a clear understanding of the nature of the problems. It would be churlish of us to ignore the contribution of public protest and demonstrations in raising public awareness of the nuclear issue. Sometimes it is forgotten how deeply limited public knowledge of the facts there is. The real disappointment is that comparatively few on the march will move beyond the optimistic (but narrow) objectives embraced by the organisers.