ATOMIC ENERGY: for Barbarism or Socialism? A Socialist Manifesto From the Dawn of the Atomic Age

Submitted by dalcassian on 16 October, 2013 - 8:04

"The impact of the bomb was so terrific that prac-
tically all living things, human and animal, were liter-
ally seared to death by the tremendous heat and pres-
sure engendered by the blast."
—From a Tokyo broad-
cast describing the result of the atomic bomb dropped
by a Superfortress on Hiroshima.
The explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki of the
missiles that were produced by the United States for
the "democratic" camp and dropped on what we were
told was an "ape-like, bestial and inhuman" people are
still reverberating throughout the entire capitalist world
and shaking the very foundations of the system that
produced them.The development of the atomic bomb
has posed in a new and dramatic fashion the question;
Capitalist barbarism or socialism?

The use of the first atomic bomb—and we are told
that this one was a "baby" (!) and the weakest that
could be devised—has given humanity a preview of the
Third World War. It will be a war in which no one will
be immune, in which everyone might perish and which
could be concluded in minutes. Read the tragi-comic
attempt at consolation by Lord Cherwell of the British

"There is no fear of the world blowing up, but civ-
ilization as wc know it may be destroyed."—-United
Press dispatch.

And that of William L. Laurence, writer of the New
York Times' series on atomic power:

"Atomic energy is here to stay; the question is
whether we are."

Or if you think that these lay spokesmen are alarm-
sts, listen to Albert Einstein, whose mathematical theo-
ries were turned to practical use in the control of atomic
energy. Einstein writes in an essay in the November,
1945, Atlantic Monthly, also with that air of absurd con-
solation :

"Atomic power is no more unnatural than when I
sail my boat on Saranac Lake.... I do not believe civ-
ilization would be wiped out in a war fought with the
atomic bomb. Perhaps two-thirds of the people of the
earth might be killed, but enough men capable of
thinking and enough books would be left to start again
and civilization could be restored."

The Chicago group of scientists who worked on the
production of the bomb are not so complacent as Ein-
stein. They say in a resolution of their body:

"The development and use of the atomic bomb has
radically changed world politics, and has created a
situation fraught with grave danger for our nation
and for-the world. Onty a full realization of the new
situation will enable the citizens of this country to
solve intelligently the problems created by the un-
leashing off atomic power. If a wrong course is taken,
it may mean the destruction of our cities, death for
millions of our people, and the possible end of our nation.

It is not melodrama to say that today humanity truly
stands at a crossroads: one sign pointing to the destruc-
tion of mankind and civilization and the other to ever-
lasting peace, freedom and security.

The bombs dropped in Japan struck a blow against
capitalism and a blow for socialism. This may seem
paradoxical, since they helped to establish the victory
of one capitalist nation over another. But the very mag-
nitude of the death-dealing weapons that capitalism
spawned brought a revulsion against war and against
the system which breeds war to millions of people. The
very weapon which wrought such tremendous destruc-
tion is of and in itself an argument against the system
which produced it and an argument for a new social
system which will put an end to war for all time—so-

In order to examine how the release of atomic en-
ergy is an argument for the new society of socialism and
an argument against the old society of capitalism, let
us first of all summarize the facts about atomic energy.


The development of the atom bomb was not the re-
sult of a single scientific discovery. It represented the
totality of knowledge of nuclear physics derived from
decades of study, experimentation and the fusion of
ideas of scientists from all over the world. The trail of
atomic energy leads from the French Becquerrel's dis-
covery of uranium radioactivity, through the German
Roentgen's discovery of the relation between rays and
chemical salts, through the Curies' isolation of radium,
to the English Chadwick's theory of neutrons and the
Jewish Einstein's mathematical calculations which gave
science a theory later proved experimentally in the fis-
sion of uranium.

In addition to using the theories of many scientists
from many nations and many periods of history the
U. S. project picked the scientific brains of the world
and employed them on this job. Thus the "American"
atomic bomb was the product of the labor of Italian,
Danish, English and American scientists, who had for
many years engaged in "atom-smashing," i.e., at efforts
to control and use the enormous energy in the atom.

Obviously the United States can lay no special claim
to the discovery of how to use atomic energy in its pres-
ent explosive and disintegrative form. The government,
for the purpose of creating the greatest destructive in-
strument known to man, spent $2,000,0000,000 on what
Dr. Lewis Balamuth, writing in "Ammunition," educa-
tional organ of the United Automobile Workers—CIO,
calls "the greatest single planned scientific and engi-
neering projedt in the history of the world."

But if the United States can lay no special claim
to the discovery of how to use atomic energy, neither
can she claim any special knowledge on how to produce
the bomb, since it was only her immediate financial and
technological superiority, plus peculiar circumstances
created by the war, i.e., time and the reservoir of scien-
tific knowledge of her allies, which gave her a head start
over her competitors. The other powers were already at
work on the same project. Great Britain and Canada,
for example, worked jointly with this country on the
plan. Germany was very close to developing the bomb
before her defeat. The decisive scientific fact in the pro-
duction of the bomb, the fission of uranium, was dis-
covered first in that country late in 1938. (It is one of
the ironies of history that the Jewish scientist who made
this discovery fled Hitler's realm to Sweden and report-
ed her findings to the Swedish scientist Nels Bohrs, who
then communicated this information, to the U. S. and
Great Britain.)

"Private initiative" and "private enterprise" con-
tributed little or nothing to the discovery and produc-
tion of the atom bomb. The various projects which were
created in the hope of making the bomb were govern-
ment organized, planned and financed. This fact is im-
portant to remember in relation to our later discussions
on the social, political and economic consequences of the
epochal discovery.


While the politicians in Washington and the profes-
sional military men prattle nonsensically about "keep-
ing the atomic bomb secret," the scientists who worked
on the bomb are all agreed that the secret atom bomb
ceased to be a secret once it had been used in Japan. The
universality of scientific knowledge makes secrecy im-
possible. The Oak Ridge group, for example, declares:

"We can claim no enduring monopoly in the pos-
session of the atomic bomb. Other scientists can apply ,
the fundamental principles, perhaps even more suc-
cessfully than we have done."

In testifying before the Kilgore sub-committee of
the Senate Military Affairs Committee, Dr. J. R. Oppen-
heimer, referred to as the leading atomic scientist in
the country, corroborated this opinion by saying:

"Discussion of the secret of the bomb is academic.
It is only possible to keep our policy (foreign policy)
secret.... There never will be a counter-measure
against the atomic bomb, although there may be a
way to intercept the bomb carriers."

The Chicago group writes in Life, October 29, 1945:

"Let us realize the fact, however disagreeable, that in
the near future—perhaps two to five years—several na-
tions will be able to produce atomic bombs."

Even the great productive strength of a country like
the United States does not make her secure. The power
of the bomb is so great—and recall that the present
power may be magnified a thousand times—that it takes
only a few, strategically planted, for a small country to
wipe out a large country.

As a matter of fact, what it took the United States
six years to produce, will take any other country much
less. Whatever "kinks" the scientists of other countries
have to overcome are relatively simple now, since it has
been demonstrated that the experiments in nuclear fis-
sion can be translated from the laboratory to the fac-

The attainment of leadership in the development of
the atomic bomb also means little or nothing. All na-
tions have the secret. All nations are capable of pro-
ducing the atom bomb. A nation does not have to pro-
duce atomic bombs in abundance to match, let us say,
the great productive capacity of the United States. It
needs only to produce enough atom bombs, even if the
enemy has many more bombs and even if they are capa-
ble of superior destruction. And, atomic bomb destruc-
tion is on so vast a scale that it becomes a little ludicrous
to match the degree of destructibility of various atom


The magnitude of destruction caused by the new
bomb will usher in tremendous changes in the "science
of warfare." Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only a pre-
view of the next world war. The disintegration of these
two cities merely indicated the destructive possibilities
of the bomb. We have the opinions of the scientists to
support this view.

Dr. Arthur H. Compton, Nobel Prize physicist and
one of those who worked on the bomb, wrote in the New
York Mirror that "science sees no reason to doubt atomic
weapons will be made that, related to the present atomic
bomb, will be as the blockbuster to the blunderbuss."
In an interview printed in the New York Times of
October 13, 400 Los Alamos scientists who worked on
the bomb project declared:

"Before many years they (other countries than the
U. S., Britain and Canada) may also be manufacturing
bombs—bombs which may be tens, hundreds or even
thousands of times more powerful than those which
caused such devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

What would such bombs mean concretely? The sci-
entists have testified before the U. S. Senate that with
robot atomic bombing, forty cities the size of New York
and tens of millions of lives can be wiped out in a lew

Some scientists put it this way: if another war takes
place, atomic warfare will mean the death of one out of
every four persons in the country.


This type of warfare will not even require pilots.
All the new devices in the technique of mass slaughter
developed in this war—rocket planes, rocket bombs, ra-
dar, radio-directed weapons — can be applied to the
queen of them all, the atomic bomb. The "science of war-
fare" has become so elevated that every city in the world
can be razed. Capitalist civilization has at last produced
a weapon that can truly destroy itself.

The bomb has antiquated the present concepts off
warfare by mass armies, air fleets and navies. It has
revolutionised warfare in a more fundamental way than
did the invention of gunpowder. The mass army in the
next war, if it miraculously succeeded in surviving an
atomic war, could only be used to occupy wastelands,
devastated areas with millions of dead, so great is the
disintegrating force of the atom bomb.

Even more significant than this is the fact that there
is no defense to the atom bomb. The new weapon has
destroyed the military cliche, "To every offense a corre-
sponding defense."

"We might surpass by far the defensive achieve-
ments of this war," writes the Oak Ridge group of
atomic scientists, "but even if we could keep nine of
these missiles from their goal, dare we hope that we
could stop the tenth as "well ?"


Only the House of Representatives' Naval Affairs
Committee insinuated that "an effective counter-meas-
ure to atomic bombs had been developed." What that
might be, they have not indicated. The atomic scientists
of Chicaeo. however, stated October 13 that:

"...Expert scientific opinion contradicted a report
issued Thursday by the House Naval Affairs Commit-
tee." They-called the report "highly misleading" and said
that its "attempt to minimize its (the atom bomb's) im-
portance and convey the impression that the armed
forces will soon bring the situation under control can do
incalculable harm."

Another direct refutation came from Dr. H. J. Cur-
tis, one of the leading scientists on the Oak Ridge pro-

"We scientists can offer no hope of a specific de-
fense against the atomic bomb. Counter-offensive war-
fare will not restore the ruins of our cities nor revive
the millions of our dead."

This opinion is supported by Drs. David L. Hill, Eu-
gene Rabinowitch and John A. Simpson, Jr., of the Chi-
cago group, who say:

"No specific defense against the bomb itself—i.e., a
device which would explode them before they reach their
targets—is in sight. Irresponsible claims that such a de-
vice has been invented only stimulate wishful thinking.
...The conclusion cannot be avoided that in the atonnc
age it will be difficult if not impossible for any one na-
tion, big or small, to make itself secure against a crip-
pling attack."

The Chicago group was even more graphic in its de-
scription of a future atomic war. It stated: "In the not
too distant future, many nations might possess the sev-
eral hundred atomic bombs which would be sufficient to
annihilate in a few minutes sixty per cent of our indus-
trial resources, paralyze ninety per cent of our produc-
tive capacity and destroy one-third of our entire popu-
lation. (These figures represent the part of our popula-
tion and national economy concentrated in thirty metro-
politan centers.)"

Just think, the present atomic bomb devastates an
area of four square miles and damages a surrounding
area of a hundred. No city of a population of 100,000
would remain an effective operating center after the
first hour of an atomic war. Twenty-five per cent or
more of a nation's population could be wiped out in an
initial blow.

What, then, should one think of a scientist like Ein-
stein, who writes that "no new problem has been cre-
ated" by the atomic bomb?


Up to now we have dealt solely with the military
consequences of the creation of the atom bomb. The
question naturally arises: What are the industrial, or
non-military, potentialities in the control of atomic en-

In answer to this question, the opinions of the sci-
entists are not uniform nor so sure as on the other as-
pects. The reason for their equivocation may be found
in the fact that our capitalist government developed the
bomb at great expense for destructive purposes, but has
never contemplated any peacetime industrial project
similar in scope or expenditure which might compete
with existing private enterprise. However, there is
much evidence and testimony available to indicate that
atomic energy has just as great significance for the revo-
lutionizing of industrial production as for the "science
of warfare."

According to Professor Compton, there is no indi-
cation as yet that atomic energy may be used in auto-
mobiles or airplanes, because the radioactive waves pro-
duced by nuclear fission make it impossible to use safe-
ly in such relatively small machines. However, he says
with certainty that "at this moment the obviously great
field open to atomic energy is that of the production of
useful heat and power"

Dr. Enrico Fermi, one of the foremost of the atomic
scientists, communicated his opinion to the Kilgore Sub-
Committee that "The industrial potentialities can be ex-

In his testimony before the Senate Military Affairs
Committee, reported in PM on October 15, Dr. Oppen-
heimer asserted that "... a million kilowatts of electric
energy is not far off, possible five years or less. But to
fit this into our economy may take a long time.”

Other than military use of atomic power also con-
cerned the Chicago group. In its Life (October 29) re-
port, it states:

"The scientists are often asked: What about the
peacetime applications of atomic power? These, too, will
depend on how successfully the specter of atomic war-
fare is banished from the earth. We may look confi-
dently to benefits which the production of new radio-
active elements will bring to science, industry and medi-
cine, since small-scale atomic plants will be sufficient to
provide an abundance of these invaluable tools for sci-
entists, doctors and engineers. On the other hand, only
in a world free from fear of war will it be possible to
give full freedom to the development of large-scale
atomic-power prospects"

Thus we see that the future and complete answer to
this question lies in the field of economics and politics.

The atomic bomb has frightened the entire world,
the little people and statesmen; every nation, whatever
its strength; military men whose business is war, and
the very scientists who created the Frankenstein weap-
on. What greater testimony to the awful power of the
atomic bomb than that it blasted the scientists from the
seclusion of their laboratories into the political arena in
a manner without precedent in history? No one knows
better than the men who produced the bomb what its
powers are! Men of science accustomed to the precise,
exact formulae of mathematics, chemistry and physics,
are not inclined to exaggerate or romanticize. But their
realization of what lies in store for the world if it en-
gages in an atomic war impels them to the halls of Con-
gress, the public platform, the radio and the newspaper
columns to admonish the world about the crisis which
faces it.

What is the message of the scientists?

Dr. Arthur H. Compfcon wrote in the New York Post
October 25:

'"World government is now inevitable. The choice we
have is whether this government will be one agreed on
by the peoples of the world, or whether the great na-
tions will elect to fight the catastrophic third war that
will settle who is master" (Or, that could make nobody
master of nothing!) This theme of "world government"
runs through all the statements of all the scientific


The Oak Ridge project scientists dismiss the unrea-
lizable alternative of the "abandonment of our cities and
a reconstruction of our industries in small units widely
dispersed, or, perhaps placed deeply underground," and
then propose their serious solution:

"We believe that there is only one way open to us.
Every attempt must be made immediately to arrange
for the control of this weapon by a world authority. This
means an effective international control of the produc-
tion of the vital materials and of their use in all coun-
tries. Only the world authority may manufacture atomic
weapons and, by the fact that they alone are in posses-
sion of these weapons, enforce_ international law and
peace. To be able to use this weapon the world authority
must have a military establishment of its own, respon-
sible to it and not to the individual nations.... These
steps... involve the loss of a large degree of sovereignty
on the part of all nations, including our own."

The Chicago group of atomic scientists echoes the
opinion of the other scientific groups:

"Since the world government is unlikely to be
achieved within the short time available before the
atomic armament race will lead to an acute danger of
armed conflict, the establishment of international con-
trols must be considered as a problem of immediate ur-

Some legislators and most of the liberal journalists
reflect the sentiments of the scientists. Senator Glen H.
Taylor (Democrat from Idaho) urged President Tru-
man to request the United Nations Organization to form
a "world republic," or, he predicted in the solemn tones
of a preacher, we would experience "a ghastly orgy of
death and destruction as a result of the atomic bomb.'*'
(New York Times, October 24.)

Or listen to the PM liberal, Alexander H. Uhl:

"As a weapon, the atom bomb must be controlled by
a world state with sovereignty to do the job."

And ponder the conservative Life editorial of Octo-
ber 29, which states the dilemma of society:

“A world in which atomic weapons will be owned by
sovereign nations and security against aggression will
rest on fear of retaliation, will be a world of fear, sus
picion and almost inevitable catastrophe"


A world government or inevitable final catastrophe!
That is the sum of the sober opinions on the fate that lies
ahead for mankind. We socialists say the alternatives
are world socialism or inevitable, final catastrophe. We
believe that the sentiments for world government will
come to naught and that world barbarism will prevail
unless a socialist reorganization of society takes place.
In an age of the highest technology—now the Atomic
Age—half the world has already been barbarized—first
by fascism and totalitarianism, and now by subjuga-
tion to the victorious imperialist powers. The imperial-
ist world has learned how to harness the energy of the
atom, but not how to eliminate war. It knows how to
destroy mankind, but not how to live in peace. There-
fore, there can be no world government without a so-
cialist reorganization of society, and no socialist reor-
ganization without a world goal.

The truth of our contention is borne out in the be-
havior of the world's rulers toward the atomic bomb.
Let us take first the United States, sole possessor (for the
time being) of the production "know-how" of the atomic
bomb. After every scientist has told Congress and the
President of the country whose proud product the atomic
bomb is, that there are no undiscoverable secrets in its
manufacture and that world government and world
peace are made mandatory by the bomb, what do these
political representatives of capitalism do? They propose
that the United States shall keep the secret-that-is-no-
secret! When President Truman stated that the United
States considered the bomb a "sacred trust" and asked
other nations to place faith in our promise to "outlaw”
the bomb, he was announcing to the world that the
atomic armaments race is on!-

Vyacheslav Molotov, Russia's Foreign Minister, un-
derstood what Truman meant. Speaking for the country
whose secret police have already moved in on Czech
uranium deposits, he replied: "Russia will have the
atomic bomb and more, too"

Prime Minister of England, Clement Attiee, was
quick to rush into the. breach. He proposed giving the
formula to Russia "if she defines her territorial inter-
ests" This from the leader of the Labor Government,
whose troops are presently engaged in shooting down
Indo-Chinese in French Indo-China and Indonesians in
Java in the name of—"territorial interests."

One can come to no other conclusion than that the
atomic bomb formula is being used as a bludgeon in the
peace negotiations. And if nothing else proved the fact
that the war was not fought between "peace-loving de-
mocracies" and "totalitarian aggressors" it is precisely
the peace negotiations, where the former Allies, the Big
Three, are fighting nakedly for the spoils of war—the
markets of Europe, Africa and the Far East—over the
bodies of the sixty million dead and half-living, the cas-
ualties of the war. This is the finale of the Second World
War, which they told us was fought to free the world
of the sources of war and aggression, which was to cul-
minate in "one world," and "the century of the common
man" and which was to bring freedom and security to
all the peoples of the globe.


We socialists said that this was an imperialist war,
fought between rival nations for a new redivision of the
world, a new redivision of the sources of wealth and
profits. We are witnessing that new redivision of the
spoils today. We also predicted that unless the working
class set up its own government and eliminated the sys-
tem of profits and plunder, the capitalist world would
go to war a third time. We are witnessing those prepara-
tions. We could not predict the horrendousness of the
weapons that would be devised for the new war. But
even that does not stop the pell-mell rush of world im-
perialism toward the third and perhaps final—slaughter.

But suppose, you say, the United Nations Organiza-
tions formed at San Francisco decided to outlaw or
share the atomic bomb after the big powers had com-
posed their differences? Is it not possible that all dis-
agreements might be settled peaceably? This, of course,
was what the predecessor of the UNO, the League of
Nations, was supposed to do. If the UNO were what it
purports to be, the United States would have rushed
the bomb secret to this body immediately, so that the
bomb could be outlawed peacefully, as all world disputes
are supposed to be settled under the United Nations
charter of the "peace-loving" victors. But the U. S. dis-
dained its own child.
That the United States was trying to use atomic dis-
coveries for industrial monopoly was charged by Ray-
mond Blackburn, Laborite, in the House of Commons,
who said, according to a UP dispatch October 16, that
American interests rejected suggestions of British sci-
entists in 1943 that Anglo-American progress on the
atom bomb be made known to Russia. He complained
that even at present British scientists are not informed
on what has happened at U. S. factories in Washington
where plutonium, a new element used in fission, is being


The formal outlawing of the atomic bomb by the
big powers could have no more significance than previ-
ous internatiqpal agreements to outlaw mustard gas or
the attempts at limitation of fleets. These agreements
were broken. Prime Minister Attlee has said that the
only reason mustard gas was not used was that each
nation was prepared to use it. In addition, it is doubtful
if mustard gas would have been as effective as many
newer weapons. But any nation was prepared to use it
at any time. Given capitalism, the fate of atomic arma-
ments can be no different.

If the ruling classes of the victor countries expected
a world without war to issue from the second war
fought to end all wars, they would not be embarking
upon peacetime military training of their young men.
Peacetime training already exists in England and Rus-
sia. President Truman, certain segments of Congress
and the military above all are now urging the adoption
of peacetime military training legislation in the United
States. It surely looks as though the UNO is outlawing
war! (But let us pluck the flower of hope from the this-
tles of despair. Perhaps the UNO will arrive at a gen-
tlemen's agreement among themselves to outlaw the
bomb so that our youth will murder each other only with
the old-fashioned V-2's—currently being demonstrated
to U. S. military authorities by their defeated German
counterparts—and super-bombers and improved Sher-
man tanks.)
While the big powers may arrive at some other
agreement, a look at the May-Johnson bill, a product
of our own august Senate, is instructive as to the type
of "international thinking" characteristic of capitalist
The bill provides for (a) the control of atomic en-
ergy "secrets"; (b) control of the scientists and (c) a
general totalitarianization of human thought and prog
ress. Violations of the secrecy demanded in the bill
would bring thirty years in jail and a $300,000 fine as
penalties. The Senate, with an alert eye to the fitness of
things, provided the proper committee on atomic power
to handle its legislation, a committee which, although
headed by a liberal, is composed of reactionaries, isola-
tionists and poll-taxers.


The Administration has outraged the entire scientific
world. Dr. Harold C. Urey said that passage of the bill, which
so far has the support of the Truman Administration, "will
lead to an atomic armament race."

Referring to the section of the bill forbidding the teach-
ing of nuclear energy theories, Oppcnhcimcr said: "It could
stop science in its tracks."

Lowell Mellett, writing in the New York Post of October
23 said that "Many of the scientists who worked on the de-
velopment of the atom bomb feel that science, as far as Amer-
ica is concerned, will be placed in a straitjacket if the present
Administration bill for control of atoinic energy becomes
law. They think, further, that passage of the bill will start
other nations off in a mad, secret race with us that can end
only in some nation putting the bomb to use."

Dr. T. R. Hogness, of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago,
called for defeat of the May-Johnson bill, stating that there
was a "clear-cut and strongly-backed effort in Washington''
to prevent them from "fully presenting to the public their
ideas on the implications and future control of the terrible
weapon they have placed in the hands of mankind." This
statement was signed also by Dr. Harlow Shapley, Harvard
astronomer, and Dr. Karl T. Compton, MIT president.

The Chicago group stated further: "A danger of a policy
of secrecy is that while we would be spurring on other na-
tions to develop atomic bombs, wc might sterilize our fur-
ther development of nuclear physics and chemistry in our
own country by withholding information from the majority
of our own scientists----"The maintenance of secrecy in the
field of atomic developments will mean that vital political
decisions also will have to be made in secret without consul-
tation with the people!”

The scientists, whatever their illusions about an interna-
tional agreement by the nations of the world today; have no
illusions about the May-Johnson bill produced in the Senate
of the country whose "sacred trust" the atomic bomb is!


And what of our military leaders—what effect does the
atomic weapon create on their thinking? They don't, natu-
rally, advocate the outlawing of war, That would be asking
them to commit hara-kiri. They don't call for the outlawing
of the bomb, either. The stepped-up destruction of the
atomic bomb leaves little impress on these specialists in de-
struction. Some say, like Major de Seversky: "I don't believe
the bomb is any more destructive than twenty thousand tons
of ordinary incendiary bombs" (!) Otherwise, besides recog-
nizing a very slight difference in magnitude of destruction,
the military goes about with a war-as-usual attitude. The
former U. S. Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall,
stated this viewpoint in his report to the nation;

"So far as they can see world conditions a decade from
now, War Department planners, who have taken every con-
ceivable factor into consideration, believe that our position
will be sound if wc set up machinery which will permit the
mobilization of an army of 4,000,000 men within a period of
one year following any international crisis resulting in a na-
tional emergency for the United States." What an atomic-
powered rival nation could do to the United Slates, given.a
year following an international emergency, the general does
not indicate. He must conceive that we, too, would have our
atomic weapons ready at a moment's notice.

Nor does the cataclysmic explosion that wipes out over
100,000 people at one stroke seem to have produced much
of a dent in the thinking of the New York Times' military
specialist, Hanson W. Baldwin. He readily admits the “pos-
sibility of an atomic Pearl Harbor," but advocates as pre-
ventatives the development of air power, pilotlcss planes,
rockets and an enlarged and highly skilled intelligence serv-
ice! Our spies would keep us informed of atomic develop-
ments abroad; other agents would keep other countries in-
formed on us.

As a novel response to meet a novel situation the Navy
advocates more ships. The Army, with true brass hat courage,
argues you still need an army, the infantry, to seize, occupy
and hold territory in order to clinch the atomic victory. They
do not say that with atomic warfare the action of an infan-
try, which may be the last patrol of the last nation left on
the globe, may be a macabre job of seizing, occupying and
holding a no man's land—all that will be left of civilization.


Given the continued existence of capitalism, the pros-
pects for the use of atomic energy in peacetime productive
channels are no happier than its military use. This is true
whether capitalism develops atomic energy on a wide scale
to revolutionize the power sources of industry or whether
capitalism doesn't develop atomic power for peace at all...
In his testimony before the Senate Military Affairs Com-
mittee, reported in PM, October 15, Dr. Oppenheimer assert-
ed that "...a million kilowatts of electric energy is not far
off, possibly five years or less. But to fit this into our economy
may take a long time." Why? Because whether atomic energy
has industrial application and when "is a matter pf economic
policy." Atomic energy could be manipulated so that "indus-
trial development would never occur."

What Dr. Oppenheimer fears is that the fate of atomic
energy will be identical with that of technological improve-
ments under capitalism. Because production for profit is the
mainspring of our capitalist society, and as a tendency to in-
creasing monopolization continues, the determining factor
in the use of any new discovery is: is it profitable? While the
industrial use of atomic energy might be of enormous benefit
to society as a whole, its use by present-day society might be
unprofitable to the industrialists and financial overlords; the
two per cent who own seventy-five per cent of the wealth of
the United States. Many inventors today, whose discoveries,
if put to use, would aid mankind, play the role of blackmail-
ers of the trusts, because to put their inventions to use would
entail the scrapping of already existing machinery, increased
costs to the owners of industry and reduced profits.


Suppose capitalism did find it profitable to use atomic
energy industrially? Willem de Voorter, writing in The New
International, September, 1945, expresses what would likely
happen if atomic energy were developed under private own-

"Let us assume, however, that U-235 can be made cheaply
enough so as to become a serious threat to present power
sources. While as yet the stuff cannot have any useful part
in our technical processes and is no immediate threat to coal
and oil interests, it then might be. Then we would see an
immediate change in imperialist policies, directed toward
uranium deposits as well as to oil lands. The entire imperial-
ist game will have to be reshuffled and again the people wilt
have to pay for ihe game with blood and life.

"If we assume that U-235 or another new element or iso-
tope is tamed and becomes the power source we are being
promised, the consequences will be, as far as the workers are
concerned, disastrous under a capitalist system. A single air-
plane could serve for fuel transportation over the entire
world, delivering an ounce here, an ounce there. One has
only to visualize the unemployment resulting from its use
in power plants. Truly, the burden of labor would be lifted
from the shoulders of mankind, to make place for the bur-
dens of unemployment and hunger on an ever-increasing scale.
Technological unemployment would reach staggering fig-
ures; and the capitalist would invent the slogan: a fair day's
work for a fair day's wage, when dictating conditions to those
he will employ. This might be interesting for the member-
ship of the AFL: Capitalism will feel perfectly healthy again:
there will be a well supplied pool of unemployed, and a col-
lege degree may be necessary to become an atomic spittoon
cleaner, as in the good old days such a degree was demanded
from gas station attendants."

Atomic energy, like every other labor-saving device under
the "free enterprise" capitalist system, is a potentiality for
the good or evil of society. Under capitalism, profitability
in the long and short term sense, determines the use or lack
of use of any technological, scientific or inventive advances.
The present stage of capitalist monopoly results in stagna-
tion. The big monopolists dominate economic life and deter-
mine, in a general way, the progress or stagnation of eco-
nomic development. This is what Oppenheimer means when
he says industrial use of atomic energy "is a matter of eco-
nomic policy."

As de Voorter indicates, the result of a huge saving of
human labor by the capitalist application of atomic energy
would result in a huge army pf unemployed. For when capi-
talism cannot make profits, it shuts down. Of, worse still, it
goes to war against competitor capitalist nations suffering
from the same disease of production for profit—not for hu-
man needs.

The fact that we live under a social order which periodi-
cally goes to war, and the relation of this to the peacetime
use of atomic energy, greatly concerned the Chicago group
of atomic scientists. In the questions and answers it wrote
up for Life on October 29, it stated:

"The scientists are often asked: What about the peace-
time application of atomic power? These, too, will depend
on how successfully the spectre of atomic warfare is banished
from the earth. Wc may look confidently to benefits which
the production of new radioactive elements will bring to sci-
ence, industry and medicine, since small-scale plants will be
sufficient to provide an abundance of these invaluable tools
for scientists, doctors and.engineers. Oti the other hand, only
in a world free from fear of war ivill it be possible to give full
freedom to the development of large-scale atomic-power

British Prime Minister Attlee stated, on the occasion of
his visit with President Truman to discuss the bomb, that
ninety per cent of United States efforts on atomic energy were
now concerned with the production of atomic bombs, not its
peacetime use. Under capitalism, whether atomic energy is
controlled by the government or handed over to a monopoly
(du Pont has already been suggested) we are certain that the
bomb will not be abolished and that industrial application,
if it takes place, will benefit only capital and lead to bigger

Part V

"Modern bourgeois [capitalist, Ed] society, with its
relations of production, of exchange and of property, a so-
ciety that has conjured up such gigantic means of produc-
tion and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer
able to control the powers of the nether world whom he
has called up by his spells."

--- Communist Manifesto,
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848.

Socialism was a necessity long before the creation of the
atomic bomb and the promise of a vast improvement in tech-
nology that is inherent in atomic energy. In the Atomic Age,
socialism is incalculably more necessary because the only
alternative under capitalism is death or barbarism for the
entire population of our planet.

While capitalism has provided the trained workers and
the technology, i.e., the machines, plants and techniques
which are necessary for a socialist reorganization of society,
it long ago ceased to provide for the simple wants and needs
of the plain people.

Wc want peace, instead of bloodshed and destruction.
We want security and jobs, instead of insecurity and jobless-
ness. Wc want decent homes for our families and good and
plentiful schools for our children. We want comfort and
prosperity, instead of slums, child labor, low wages, unem-
ployment and starvation. We want democracy and freedom
instead of totalitarianism, bureaucracy and racial and re-
ligious conflict.

But in our modern civilization, with its huge industries,
intricate machines and abundant natural resources, capital-
ism is unable to provide us with these elementary wants. It is
unable to avoid periodic world wars. It is unable to give in-
dependence and freedom to the colonial areas of the world,
but dooms them to serfdom and poverty.

Under this system of capitalism, or "free enterprise," a
handful of monopolists control the wealth and power of the
country. They own industry, banking, mining, transporta-
tion. They own our jobs. They own the Congress and the
President because they finance the big business parties which
put these men into office. They send our young men to war
to protect their vested interests. They have the power of life
and death over all of us.


The insanity of this system of monopoly capitalism is that
it creates inequality, poverty and unemployment and all the
crises of society because it produces too much! Not, to be
sure, in relation to human needs, but in relation to the mar-
ket. While the monopoly capitalists arc united against the
wprkers and their political and economic organizations, they
are in competition against each other and against their capi-
talist counterparts abroad. They all try to outproduce and
outsell each other on the market because the mainspring of
capitalist production is profit, not human needs.

Consequently, a clothing manufacturer, instead of taking
a poll of the number of people who need clothes, produces
as much as he thinks he can sell at a profit. So does his rival.
The market becomes glutted, because there are more clothes
produced than the consumers can buy—not, of course, more
than they need.

In addition, the producer takes his profit on his clothes
out of the hides of his employees; the workers are not able
to buy back what they have produced in the clothing fac-
tories. This is one of the important aspects of the capitalist
crises of over-production. The clothing manufacturers also
compete with each other. Their motives are not the needs
of the harassed housewife or the struggling worker but: how
much profit can we make?

What happened in 1929 is the direct result of this capi-
talist method of production. The "free enterprise" system
broke down. The "enterprisers" sat back and rested on their
accumulated profits since they were unable to make any
more and the majority of the population was left "free" to
starve or sell apples to each other.

Under Roosevelt's New Deal, the government stepped in
to bail out the capitalists who could not get industry going.
Industrialists were paid by the government for not produc-
ing. People were hungry while big and little farmers were
paid to plow under wheat and corn, and to destroy steers,
hogs, sheep, etc. People needed clothing while manufac-
turers were paid to destroy cotton and wool. Yet in January,
1939, there were still 12 million unemployed workers in the
United States.


In our present-day United States capitalism, monopoly in
finance, industry and agriculture controls economic life. The
bigger, stronger and richer enterprises have swallowed up the
weaker and smaller. The monopolists decide on production,
profits, prices and wages, just as they dominate the economy
of the country and decide the fate of tens of millions. While
this monopolization of economy reduces competition at
home,, it intensifies competition on an international scale
where giant trusts and combines engage in fierce struggle
on the world market. Since all of the world is divided up
into national states with national barriers or colonial coun-
tries subject to their imperialist masters, the inevitable result
of this great competitive struggle among the nations is war.
It was this competition among nations which led to both
world wars with a couple dozen minor wars between them.
This fact alone indicts capitalism as the great obstacle to
human progress.

After the second world war began, capitalism performed
a "miracle." Unemployment came to an end. Everybody was
put to work. Every factory was going full blast. The govern-
ment spent twenty billion dollars in four years to enlarge old
plants and build new ones. But all of this was done not for homes
for the people to live in, decent clothes to wear, schools for
our children or medical facilities. It was done to produce
bullets, bombs, tanks, planes, battleships, artillery, and finally
the atomic bomb.
And what are the results of this war we were told was
fought for freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom
of speech and freedom of religion; for the Atlantic Charter
with its declaration of self-government for every country; for
the "One World" envisaged by Wendell Willkie, and for
the "Century of the Common Man" promised by Henry

There are 60 million military casualties, a figure equal to
the combined populations of Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslo-
vakia, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Greece, Nor-
way, Switzerland and Sweden! There ore ver $1,000,000,000,-
000 (yes, one trillion dollars) in war costs, that is, an expendi-
ture of resources, machinery and human science used to maim,
kill, torture and destroy—which equals a $5,000 home for al-
most every family on the entire globe, including the multi-
million populations of the Orient which have not yet in their
majority risen to the level of city slum-dwellers.

These bald figures do not take into account the cost of the
war in terms of the destruction of formerly existing wealth
and living standards which has taken place in Europe be-
cause these costs cannot be reckoned. You cannot chart the
physical and spiritual waste of Europeans living in latter-day
barbarism. They dwell in caves, dugouts or without shelter.
They starve or they pillage. They are wracked by disease.
They have exchanged the concentration camp for the slave
labor camp. This is the end of World War II.


All this was done without the atomic bomb. That is why
we say socialism was a necessity long before the development
of atomic energy. Now that we are in the Atomic Age, as
long as capitalism endures, the crises of capitalism will only
be accentuated. There will be bigger and "better" weapons
of destruction.

During the decline of capitalism, with every new discovery
which improved the productive technique of capitalism and
made possible a saving of human labor and a refinement of
the product, the benefits have not been distributed to man-
kind. The more advanced become the tools of our society,
the more wealth becomes polarized at one end, and poverty
at the other. We see the phenomenon of poverty in the midst
of plenty. It is a little more difficult for American workers to
understand this than workers in other countries, because we
live in the capitalist colossus of the world. But on a world
scale capitalism has reduced the standard of living and de-
creased the freedom of mankind. It has produced privation
and totalitarianism in most of the world. The industrial ap-
plication of atomic energy can only accelerate this world-
wide process of decline. It will continue to make the rich
richer, and the poor poorer. It will continue to divert more
and more production into armaments production, to protect
the monopoly of wealth by the few.
How can we trust this system of capitalism which has pro-
duced two world wars in a single generation and which has
been unable to solve the simple problem of security for the
masses of the people, to develop atomic industrial power for
the benefit of mankind? It has been suggested that the for-
mulae be turned over to the Du Ponts in this country for in-
dustrial application.—To the Du Ponts, monopolists who de-
termined the corporation's policy in the current General Mo-
tors' strike, who have avowed they can't afford to pay 300,000
workers a living wage!
But, then, say some, the United Nations Organization may
take over atomic power, since it is so destructive of even cap-
italist interests, and "outlaw" or "control" atomic energy.
The UNO, however, is composed merely of the governmental
representatives of the capitalist nations, plus the equally
exploitive, although not capitalist, representatives of Russia.
The UNO is not even a democratic organization of the na-
tions represented. It is dominated by the Big Three—Eng-
land, the United States and Russia—who are themselves locked
in fiercc struggle on who shall dominate the world. These
victor powers are now engaged in the enslavement of the
defeated and small powers. Witness the British in Indonesia
and Indo-China. (It is not merely the Czechs who had their
Lidice at the hands of German conquerors.) Witness the
Russians in Iran and most of eastern Europe. Witness the
United States in Germany in concert with her allies, or the
way she blinks at the atrocities of her partners.

Capitalism produces more and more for destruction. It
has not been able to use its vast technical and material re-
sources for constructive purposes. It is truly the sorcerer in
our quotation from Marx and Engels at the beginning of
this section, unable to control the powers it has conjured up.
If Marx and Engels saw this in 1848, it is all the more true in
a period of the production of atomic energy. It is too much
for capitalism to handle. Socialism only becomes doubly
necessary as we observe how capitalism may destroy the
whole of civilization in its efforts to control and utilize
atomic energy.

The way in which the atomic project was developed gives
us a clue as to how socialism can organize atomic and all
other production for the benefit of humanity. The govern-
ment furnished two billion dollars for its secret project. It
corralled scientists born all over the world. With this "in-
ternationalized" science, cooperative labor, unlimited re-
sources, and without the object of profits as the central aim
of the project, it produced the atomic bomb. This was done
through government planning.

Even prior to the bomb development, the government
stepped in to organize production for war. It told business
what to produce and how much. It furnished the orders.
It guaranteed the profits. It made the labor available. It af-
forded a priority system to make materials available. War
production was government-planned.

The capitalist government did all of this planning for
bloody and violent war, for the taking of human lives, for

If planning of production and full employment is possible
in war, why is it not possible in peace?

It is, but only by socialist planning. We have seen how the
capitalist government has already released its wartime plans
and controls with the end of the war. We know it was un-
willing to organize and plan production to assure full em-
ployment during the depression.

The scientists recommended a world society as an alterna-
tive to world destruction by atomic weapons. In proposing
this, they recognized, although incompletely, the socialist
solution to capitalist insecurity and barbarism.

Part VI

Socialism, and only socialism, will create a.true world
state, a world without national barriers, without interna-
tional rivalries, without master and slave nations and, hence,
a world without war.

This world government will not be a government of a
dominant economic class but will be a government of all the
peoples that inhabit the globe. Its primary duty will be to
conduct the affairs of the world with the aim of eliminating
poverty, joblessness, hunger and general insecurity. Its sole
criterion would be the needs of the people.

This development is imperative because the world [aces:
socialism or death!

But why will socialism guarantee peace, security and
freedom and prevent the destruction of mankind?

Socialism will destroy the root evil of modern society,
i.e., the private ownership of the means of production, the
factories, mines, mills, machinery and land, which, produce
the necessities of life.

Under socialism, these instruments of production will
become the property of society, owned in common, pro-
ducing for use, for the general welfare of the people as a
whole. With the abolition of the private ownership of the
means of life and with it the factor of profit as the prime
mover of production, the sharp divisions of society between
nations and classes will disappear. Then, and only then, will
society be in a position to become a social order of abun-
dance and plenty for all, for socialism will create a new
world of genuine cooperation and collaboration between the
peoples of the earth.

In abolishing classes in society, socialism will change the
form and type of governments which exist today. Govern-
ments will become administrative bodies regulating produc-
tion and consumption. They will not be the instruments of
the capitalist class, i.e., capitalist governments whose main
reason for existence is to guarantee the political as well as
the economic rule of big business, their profits, their private
ownership of the instruments of production, and the con-
duct of war in the economic and political interests of this


The preoccupation of government under socialism will
be to assist in the elevation of society, to improve continu-
ally the living standards of the people, to extend their leisure
time and thus make it possible to heighten the cultural level
of the whole world.

In abolishing classes, class government and war, social
ism will at the same time destroy all forms of dictatorship,
political as well as economic. The socialist world state will
be the freest, most democratic society the world has ever
known, with the world government truly representing the
majority of the population and subject to its recall. A citi-
zen of a socialist society will look back upon the capitalist
era with its wars, destruction and bloody and cruel dictator-
ships as we now look back upon the dawn of written history.

The socialist world state will assess the industrial poten-
tial of the world, determine its resources, the needs of the
people and plan production with the aim of increasing the
standards of living of a free people, creating' abundance, in-
creasing leisure and opportunity for cultural enjoyment.
Socialism will not concern itself with profits and war,
but with providing decent housing for all the people.

Socialism will provide for a multitude of schools for all
the people. Socialism will eliminate illiteracy, which is one
of the hallmarks of capitalism, and cease to regard schools
primarily as institutions to produce skilled labor to help
operate the profit economy.

Socialism will create a system of health preservation and
insurance in which the needs of the people and the improve-
ment of the human.race would be the paramount considera-

Above all, socialism will provide jobs for all. But this
will be work without exploitation, for the aim of socialism
is not the increased exploitation and intensification of labor,
but the utilization of machinery, technology, science and
invention to diminish toil, to create time in which to permit
all the people to enjoy the benefits of social progress.


The modern world contains all the pre-condilions neces-
sary for socialism. All about us we observe gigantic indus-
trial establishments containing machinery which could pro-
duce the goods of life in abundance. Man has developed a
marvelous technology. The discovery and control of atomic
energy has not only made it more possible for man to con-
trol his natural and social environment to create a fruitful
life of abundance, but has made it imperative.

Socialism will place at the disposal of science and the sci-
entists all the material means to help create an ever-improv-
ing social life for mankind.

Under capitalism, scientists are mere wage workers hiring
out their skills to private industry. The fruits of their intelli-
gence, learning and research become the exclusive property
of the capitalists who profit from the labors of these scien-
tists. Thus, science has become subordinated to profits rather
than to the common good of all mankind. Yet the future so-
ciety depends in large measure on changing this relation of
science to society.

Only socialism can place science where it properly be-
longs: in the service of the people

Man is at a crossroads. He can travel the road of capital-
ism, i.e., he can travel the road of chaos, war, poverty and
barbarism, or he can take the socialist road toward true free-
dom, peace and security, the road toward a society of plenty
for all which would end the exploitation of man by man for
all time.

As Leon Trotsky, the great socialist leader of the inter-
national working class, once wrote:

"It is difficult to predict the extent of self-government
which the man of the future may reach or the heights to
which he may carry his technique..... The forms of life will
become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will
rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe or a Marx. And
above this ridge new peaks will rise.”

Socialism or death!

From Labor Action, November 26 to December 31, 1945

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