A Socialist Labor Party Statement—

The Issue Is Survival

“We will move this year a step toward our ultimate goal—the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this earth.”

So said Jimmy Carter on Inauguration Day. Six months later, the new president gave the green light to the cruise missile, a qualitative escalation of the arms race, and to the neutron bomb, the latest atrocity from the Pentagon’s bomb factory. A few more such steps and Carter will have moved the nation to the brink of nuclear war.

By now Americans are used to being lied to about nuclear policy. The same administrations, Democratic and Republican, who year in and year out support the expansion of the war machine, are the ones who stage cynical charades about “disarmament.” And neither Carter’s “human rights campaign” nor his professed interest in morality has made his administration any different.

In the more than three decades since Harry Truman greeted the slaughter of 78,000 Japanese and the wounding of tens of thousands more at Hiroshima as “the greatest thing in history,” the U.S. military has progressed from the A-bomb to the H-bomb and now the N-bomb, each more sophisticated and more horrible than its predecessor.

Today the U.S. nuclear stockpile is equivalent to 615,385 Hiroshima A-bombs and it’s expanding at the rate of three warheads a day. As each one is put in place, we’re assured it will never be used. Such promises ring with bitter irony, considering that the United States is the first and only nation to have used atomic weapons on human beings.

The latest doomsday device, the neutron bomb, has aptly been called the “supercapitalist weapon.” Its ability to kill people while preserving property coldly symbolizes the values of the system that created it (values which the private property system upholds in peacetime as well as war).

The neutron bomb works by releasing a concentrated burst of radiation in a limited area, bringing a slow, extremely painful death to civilians and soldiers. Because the radiation fades away in a few hours, the Pentagon has given it the bizarre euphemism “clean bomb.” Troops can occupy the body-strewn bomb site hours after it’s dropped.

The weapon has been specifically designed for “tactical use” in a European war, and it offers a better chance of securing the industrial wealth, resources and markets that ruling classes seek when they send troops off to fight. In addition, its high accuracy and mobility give it a flexible military potential that increases its chances of being used. Far from a “deterrent,” it makes nuclear war more likely.

But the threat is not due solely to the technological sophistication of new doomsday weapons like the neutron bomb and the cruise missile. The real problem is that both the arms race and the drift toward war are deeply rooted in the U.S. social and economic system.

The current perfection of the war machine is not an idle gesture. Korea, Vietnam and the many interventions in between have amply demonstrated that. If anything, the renewed acceleration of arms production is a measure of capitalism’s desperation as its problems at home and abroad grow more acute.

The recent fight against the B-1 bomber has shown that it won’t be enough to oppose a particular weapons system in order to halt war preparations and the march toward war. As terrifying as the weapons are, the main enemy is the system that sooner or later is bound to use them.

Ever since 1945, the capitalist military machine has been preparing the Hiroshimas of the future. It’s up to us, as potential victims, to stop it by building not just a renewed peace movement, but a deeper one for fundamental change to a new society.


The nuclear threat is real and growing. The war machine must be stopped before it does what it was built to do. This is why the Socialist Labor Party supports the campaign against the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons—and against the capitalist system that needs them.



Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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