Against the Bomb: The British Peace Movement, 1958-1965

By Richard Taylor | Go to book overview

7
MARXISTS AND NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

ALTHOUGH playing a far lesser part in the Peace Movement than the mainstream CND, the radical direct actionists, and the orthodox Labour Movement activists, the Marxists had a distinctive and significant role in the 1958-65 period.1

Marxists presented a structural analysis of the H-bomb issue and the political questions surrounding it which was fundamentally incompatible with many of the assumptions on which the mainstream Movement was based. For all Marxists, whatever their differences in orientation, the issue of the bomb was inseparably linked to the structure of existing society, and for them the unilateralist Movement was intimately involved with the struggle to create a socialist system.


THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND THE PEACE MOVEMENT

The Communist Party (CP) saw CND as part of an ongoing and variegated Peace Movement which had been steadily growing since the end of the Second World War. The concerted international drive for disarmament conducted by the World Peace Council in the 1950s (including a campaign by the British Peace Committee which obtained over one million signatures for a peace petition in Britain), the Stockholm Appeal, the Campaign Against German Rearmament--all these were seen by the CP as a part of an internationally based peace campaign to reduce international tension and, ultimately, to lead to international agreement on disarmament.

This campaign and the related objective of securing Britain's withdrawal from NATO and the closure of American bases in Britain were the CP's priorities. Thus, whilst the CP (and in

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1
In other periods Marxists have played a considerably more prominent role in the Peace Movement. This applies particularly to the 1930s and the 1980s. See M artin Shaw, "'War, Peace and British Marxism, 1895-1945'", and Richard Taylor, "'The Marxist Left and the Peace Movement in Britain since 1945'", in Richard Taylor and Nigel Young (eds.), Campaigns for Peace: British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century, Manchester, 1988.

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