the alarming thing about the state of the antinuclear campaign is that so much of the discussion turns upon questions of tactics—how to break the silence-barrier or to raise consciousness of the issues. It is thus a discussion about means rather than ends. The ends remain undiscussed. We know where we stand. Are we not unilateralists? What is there to discuss, then? Our only debate is with Macmillan or Gaitskell.
But many of the frustrations expressed in the Blackpool defeat and in the swing towards Direct Action have arisen from precisely our own failure to ask where we are going and what we are aiming at. The Campaign for Democratic Socialism has not caused this; it is we who have insufficiently thought through the positive implications of the negative slogan of disarmament.
The Campaign has gone through two main phrases. The first was a revolt of people by both self-preservation and moral concern for others to resist testing and nuclear armaments. Then, there were two key questions: Are you prepared to use nuclear weapons first?—to which it was easy to answer “No”. The second was more difficult: “Are you prepared to use them second, i.e. in retaliation?” When the full implications of retaliation in a Five Hours’ War struck home, people were forced to say “No, we are not prepared to incinerate millions of innocent people in Hungary, Russia and Poland, whatever our fate”. They renounced senseless brutality as well as aggression. At this point, the “deterrent” argument had to be rejected.
The second phase was the politicisation of the movement. Naturally, many were, and still are, primarily motivated by the very valid moral and practical reasons outlined above. But from Easter 1960, there was a serious grappling with the policy implications of unilateralism, eventually culminating in CND’s official adoption of an anti-NATO position. In this, the New Left played a significant role.
But although this logical move from rejection of the Bomb to rejection of nuclear alliances was made, the emphasis was a negative one. It has been moral and political protest against, a perfectly valid and self-standing position, but incomplete to many who—reasonably—ask “What can we put in its place?”