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Peace is possible!
This is the text of a leaflet that was distributed in 1960 by the Socialist Labor Party of America
A thoughtful West Virginia teen-ager, Judith W., is worried about her future. Or, to be more accurate, she is worried about whether she has a future. She is acutely aware that the great Powers of East and West have nuclear weapons that in 24 hours or less could reduce the world to a radioactive, incinerated relic spinning in space. And she wonders why, in these perilous, hair-trigger circumstances, the political leaders of the various countries don't exercise more prudence and common sense. Judith wrote her fears to the Charleston Gazette. Because they are also the fears of millions of other teen-agers, and of parents of teen-agers, we reproduce her letter here.
Editor, The Gazette:
I am a teen-ager and as most teenagers I dream about my future. I dream of someday going to college to study to be a journalist and I dream of getting married and rearing a family. But in the situation the world is in today it seems as though my dreams will never come true.
If the tension between Russia and the United States keeps mounting I believe we will have another war, only this one much larger than we can handle.
Don't the leaders of the various countries realize what will happen if we become involved in another war? Is it so important to prove which is the stronger and more powerful nation? Why can't we live peacefully and trust one another?
With all the atomic weapons we have today a simple click of a button could end everything. I don't want this to happen. I want to grow up and enjoy life without fear of death. But since I am young and have no voice in government affairs all I can do is pray that God will help our countries and our leaders to realize the terrible consequences of a war.
I love my family and my friends. I love my country and my life. I want lasting freedom and lasting security to be mine always.
-- Judith W.
It is evident that Judith does not understand why the tension between Russia and the United States is mounting, or why the leaders of the various nations behave as they do, or why the great Powers do not trust each other. If she understood these things she would not feel herself so helpless that all she could do is pray. For she would then realize that the threatened nuclear war has a cause. And she would reason logically that if enough people understood what this cause was they could act to remove it and transform the world from one of pervading hatred, distrust and competition into one of brotherhood, mutual trust and cooperation.
Socialists understand what causes war! The Socialist Labor Party has a program for uprooting that cause, and for building a world society of peace and freedom, and security for all.
THE "BEST MINDS" HAVE FAILED
Before you reject this under the mistaken notion that it is the boast of "crackpots," just reflect for a moment on these facts:
Throughout the twentieth century our nation has been under the direction of men who were supposedly our "best minds." And what a sorry mess has been made of things! In these six decades we have had two disastrous world wars, plus a bloody conflict in Korea which enthroned a despot that the Korean people themselves have ousted. [And now we are deeply involved in a conflict in Southeast Asia that may lead to a major war with China.]
We have had a terrible, decade-long depression from which the nation escaped only because World War II created markets for the output of American fields and factories.
And, despite the nameless misery of wars and depressions, despite the vaunted progress in the expansion of material production, what is the situation today? Not only is this nation in a state of moral collapse-with the mass of the people in a state of apathy and seeming indifference -- not only are crime, delinquency, alcoholism and mental illness at an all-time high, and not only do millions of American families still live in abject poverty in the midst of actual and potentially greater abundance, but now we find ourselves once again going down the road to war. And this time it is a suicidal nuclear war.
"Leaders" have failed us in the past. Why should we expect that they would not fail us this time? Take Woodrow Wilson, for example. He was re-elected a second time on the slogan "He Kept Us Out of War!" Then, one month and a day after his second inauguration, the United States became involved in World War I.
Or take Franklin Roosevelt. He was elected for his third term on the promise that our boys were "not going to be sent into any foreign wars." Now it is common knowledge that long before Pearl Harbor, economic and material interests were driving the U.S. into involvement in World War II.
THE REAL CAUSE OF WAR
The fact is, it is not "leaders" who cause war; war is caused by economic competition, by the international struggle for foreign markets and sources of raw materials. It is not Socialists alone who perceive this. We could cite the testimony of any number of leading capitalist spokesmen on the point. President Woodrow Wilson, for example, told an audience in St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 5, 1919:
"Why my fellow citizens is there any man here, or any woman-let me say, is there any child here-who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?"
Or, consider this frank statement, quoted from an official U.S. Navy document and inserted in the Congressional Record, April 5, 1947:
"Realistically, all wars have been for economic reasons. To make them politically palatable, ideological issues have always been invoked."
Any possible future war will undoubtedly conform to historical precedent.
Present difference with our world neighbors [meaning the Communist bloc], now in the diplomatic stage, we hope can be kept there. But, after all, war is merely diplomacy by force of arms.
WHY CAPITALIST NATIONTS "EXPORT OR DIE"
The question is: Why must capitalist nations "export or die"?
Simply because without foreign markets to absorb the surplus products resulting from the exploitation of wage labor, those surpluses would pile up in the warehouses and produce stagnation, and ultimate collapse, at home.
Hence the bitter struggle that the capitalists of the West and the bureaucratic exploiters of the Russian workers are waging today. Even capitalists who are aware of the suicidal nature of nuclear weapons, and who fear war, find themselves supporting policies and calling for national postures that lead to war. As a statement issued by the Church of England conference at Malvern in 1941 put it:
"The system under which we have lived [the capitalist system, that is] has been a predisposing cause of war even though those who direct and profit by it have desired peace."
THE WAY TO PEACE
The moral is plain. If the Judiths of this world are to have a future -- if the perilous arms race is to be halted and nuclear war averted -- the capitalist cause of war must be uprooted. Let no prejudices, no false loyalties to outmoded institutions, prevent you from accepting this irrefutable logic. All of us, grownups and teen-agers alike, have an inescapable obligation to future life on this planet. That obligation is to reorganize our society in such a way as to eliminate war-breeding competition and replace it with peaceful cooperation and brotherhood. This means we must each of us begin now to educate ourselves so that we may understand and educate others.
Peace is possible. But it requires that the working class -- all the people who perform the useful functions of society and who have DO property interests to blind their judgment-unite politically to outlaw private ownership of the tools of production at the ballot box. And it requires also that the workers consolidate their economic power in one integral Socialist Industrial Union to back up their Socialist ballot and take and hold the industries.
Peace is possible -- but not until production for sale and private profit is supplanted by production for use. Only then will nations cooperate to raise the cultures and living standards of all peoples. And only then will the burden of fear be lifted from the hearts of all the Judiths everywhere.
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