Nuclear Freeze

SLP urges 'yes' vote -- The limits of the freeze
From 'The People', October 2, 1982, page 12

In recent months, there has been growing concern worldwide over the nuclear arms race. Here in the United States, that concern has manifested itself in a nuclear weapons freeze campaign -- a campaign demanding an immediate bilateral freeze by the superpowers on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons as a first step toward reducing the nuclear arsenals on both sides.

Proposals to that effect have been ratified by the legislatures in six states. Similar proposals have been overwhelmingly endorsed by municipalities in several additional states. And nuclear freeze proposals will appear on the ballot this November for referendum votes in a number of states, including New Jersey and California, at opposite ends of the country.

The nuclear freeze proposal has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, it has served to make large numbers of people aware of the accelerating nuclear arms race. It has helped awaken a realization of the terrible destructiveness of nuclear weapons and the horrible residual effects of a nuclear war.

It has also exposed the fallacy of the incredible doctrine of winnable or limited nuclear wars and exploded the fanastic notion of survivability in a nuclear war.

In the process it has alerted many to the perilous foreign policy and militarist bent of the Reagan administration and stirred up and mobilized a vocal and active opposition to the growing nuclear menace.

LIMITS TO THE FREEZE

On the negative side, it unrealistically demands corrective action by the very elements whose material and economic interests impel them to engage in a mad arms race.

It feeds the illusion that the arms race is the product of a bad policy by a misguided administration.

It, therefore, fails to strike at the cause of the arms race, the economic and material interests generated by the prevailing competitive class-divided societies.

Nonetheless, the Socialist Labor Party supports the anti-nuclear protesters and the sentiments that prompt their efforts to bring a degree of sanity into the consideration of the nuclear threat confronting the world. We strongly urge workers throughout the nation to do the same by their voice and vote. We give and urge that support even as we point up the need for the anti-nuclear movement to adopt and rally around a program that aims at eliminating the social and economic factors that are the primary cause of the arms race. This is essential if its goal of world peace and security are to be realized.

Below we reprint a statement on the subject addressed to the voters in the state of New Jersey by the Socialist Labor Party of New Jersey and its candidates in the current campaign.

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This November, voters in New Jersey will have before them a ballot proposition (Proposition 1) relating to a "Freeze on Nuclear Arms Escalation" by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The purpose is to ascertain the degree of support for the nuclear "freeze" proposal that is being widely discussed - and voted upon - in other parts of the nation.

Specifically, the New Jersey referendum will pose the question:

"Do you support a mutual United States - Soviet Union nuclear weapons 'freeze'....?"

The Socialist Labor Party of New Jersey and its candidates urge New Jersey voters to vote "yes" on that question.

We advocate a "yes" vote on the practical grounds that a "no" vote or an abstention would be taken as an approval of the arms race or of the insane notion that building more and "improved" nuclear weapons is the way to peace. In short, a "yes" vote for Proposition 1 would, at least have the merit of expressing explicit opposition to the growing nuclear madness that preently dominates the thinking of the entagon and the Reagan administration and their counterparts in the U.S.S.R.

PROTEST ISN'T ENOUGH

However, the Socialist Labor Party and its candidates have no illusions that the mere expression of public support for nuclear freeze proposals can be an effective way to stop the arms race or eliminate the threat of nuclear war. It can do neither.

The fact is that public demand for a halt to the nuclear arms race does nothing to eliminate the social forces that have created and sustained the arms race and that make the possibility of nuclear war a growing threat. Recent history and our own human experiences attest to this. Despite earlier "Ban the Bomb" demands, despite protests against the arms race that have come and gone, despite "arms control" talks that have been held almost continuously since World War II, the two superpowers have continued to build their nuclear arsenals. Today those arsenals pose a threat to the survival of the entire human race.

To put it another way, it is a historic fact that military "preparedness" has never prevented war -- and disarmament or "peace" movements have never prevented military preparedness.

There are reasons for the arms race -- but they are not the ones we're usually given. The U.S. wants workers to believe that the reason it builds more and "better" nuclear arms is to "deter" the Soviet Union from attack. But even when the U.S. was far ahead in the arms race in the 1950s, it continued to improve, build and stockpile nuclear weapons. The Soviet government gives its people a similar line about "deterrence." The fact is that the rulers of both nations have at different times escalated the arms race. And both nations long ago passed the point where they could obliterate each other. The "deterrence" excuse just doesn't hold water.

CAUSES OF THE ARMS RACE

The real causes of the arms race are economic. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union are class-ruled societies: In the U.S. a small number of people, the capitalists, own and control the economy. In the U.S.S.R. a small number of bureaucrats control the state-owned economy. In pursuit of their own self-interests, both ruling classes, through their respective governments, are continually trying to extend their domination of the world markets, natural resources, spheres of influence, etc.

The arms race is a product of this competitive struggle for material objectives. Each superpower considers nuclear weapons the ultimate means of defending its interests. For example, the U.S. has made it clear that it would use nuclear weapons in Europe and the Middle East if its material interests there are threatened.

These are the primary reasons for the arms race. They are also the reasons why public demand for a freeze will in itself do nothing to reduce, let alone eliminate, the danger of nuclear war.

ENDING THE DANGER

Those who want to strike a blow for disarmament and world peace - and that is surely the vast majority of the people -must join the effort to build a movement that aims to remove the cause of the arms race and war.

The Socialist Labor Party is trying to build such a movement. Our goal is to create an entirely new social system in which the economy would be socially owned and democratically controlled by all of society and administered by the workers who operate the industries and services. This would make possible real democratic control over social policy. There would be no separate class of private owners or bureaucrats. Consequently, there would no longer be any economically - motivated class interests to give rise to an arms race and war.

Accordingly, while we urge you -- the New Jersey voters - to vote "yes" on the "freeze" initiative, for the reasons cited above, we even more strongly urge you to contact the Socialist Labor Party and learn more about its program to reconstitute society on a basis that will remove the material compulsions that breed arms races and threaten to drag the world into a catastrophic war.

Familiarize yourself with that SLP program. And if you conclude that it does offer a sound basis for peace, join us in the effort to so convince workers throughout the nation.

A vote for the "freeze" proposal should, indeed, be a first step - a "first step" toward joining the struggle for the establishment of a society in which the cause of arms races and wars will be eliminated.

To contact the SLP of New Jersey, write: SLP, P.O. Box 593, Camden, N.J. 08101.

[To contact the SLP of California, write: SLP, 914 Industrial Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94303.]