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New Left Review I/8, March-April 1961

NLR Editorials

Editorial on CND

Perhaps the only lesson to be learned from four years of campaigning for Nuclear Disarmament is that there is no simple way in which a political campaign can calculate its effect upon people and Governments. It eludes all the fixed categories of "politics". From the Central Hall meeting to Aldermaston, from Aldermaston to Swaffham, from Swaffham to Scarborough, from Scarborough to the Ministry of Defence and Glasgow... On each occasion, the deep effects of a public campaign on a moral and political issue have outrun the predictions. At times, the Unions appeared to be running behind popular feeling: the Labour Party has double-talked its way around the issue: the Government has been sluggish and drugged—summoning back with one hand the Bomber Command it had, with the other, so recently consigned to the scrap-heap: the Disarmament Talks have rallied and failed. How, we felt, could this massive apparatus of arms and rearmers, of Cold War politicians and technical hoo-haa be broken through? Yet, on each occasion, a larger and larger proportion of people have roused themselves from an apparent apathy, to demonstrate and argue, learn, confront, persuade and cajole. The long swing to political involvement has outlasted the minor set-backs and the moments of lassitude.

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