NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE hung over the world throughout the years of the Cold War. It now threatens to become a reality of almost unimaginable horror. Those who target the missiles and run the Indian and Pakistani governments are horrifying. But all the major Western powers share the responsibility.
As Indian writer Arundhati Roy says, 'Tony Blair arrives to preach peace, and on the side to sell weapons to both India and Pakistan.' India's first nuclear device used plutonium supplied by Canada and equipment supplied by the US, Germany, France, Norway and Britain. Pakistan's nuclear programme used equipment supplied by Canada, Belgium, Germany, the US, France and Britain. The nuclear nightmare is not some aberration caused just by two terrible regimes. They have been backed and courted by the key powers in the global system.
Everyone must hope that this time the threat of nuclear devastation is averted. But it will return. It flows from the instability built into a world based on economic and military competition for profit. It flows from a system which whips up nationalism, and scapegoats and demonises 'foreigners'. The US and Russia have enough nuclear weapons targeted at each other's cities to destroy the world many times over.
George W Bush's insane Star Wars plan will make the threat of that nuclear Armageddon more likely. Britain, France and China all have enough nuclear weapons to kill hundreds of millions of people. Israel, a key ally of the US and Britain, has nuclear weapons aimed at every Arab capital.
Arundhati Roy wrote last week, 'All the music, the art, the architecture, the literature, the whole of human civilisation mean nothing to the monsters who run the world. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?'
A hundred years ago, at the start of the last century, the great German-Polish socialist Rosa Luxemburg warned that the drive to war under capitalism poses a stark choice for humanity. That choice is between socialism and barbarism. It is one that faces us again today.
Either we sit back and let the drive to war that goes hand in hand with capitalism destroy civilisation and plunge us into barbarism. Or we throw our energies into building the movement from below that can wrest control from the monsters who run the system and can build a better world.
Time to get back to reality
YOU WOULD barely have known that millions of people faced the threat of nuclear annihilation if you read the papers or watched the news at the beginning of this week. We were force-fed endless coverage of the golden jubilee. News editors gloated that patriotic fervour was sweeping the country.
There were a million people on the streets of London for the jubilee pop concert on Monday. But not all of these people were hardline monarchists. Many were just enjoying the holiday event, the music and the fireworks. And a large number of people were sick to death of the idea that people should bow down before this rich bunch of scroungers.
The media had to work overtime to whip up support for the jubilee. The BBC organised the pop concert at Buckingham Palace. The Daily Mirror, which likes to call itself 'socialist', ran page after page in praise of the monarchy.
But those old enough to remember know these events were nowhere near as popular or deferential as the coronation in 1953 or the silver jubilee in 1977-a point conceded even by the monarchy's cheerleaders.
As soon as the celebrations have died down, the government and press will be back to business as usual-scapegoating refugees and attacking the poor. But next week we will see a glimmer of an alternative as thousands of workers fight for decent pay.
Firefighters are set to march through London next Tuesday and 50,000 council workers are to strike on Wednesday and Thursday. In the following week huge protests are set to take place in Seville in Spain at the summit of European leaders.
And in two weeks time a major protest is planned in London to tell the government and the press to 'stop their war on asylum seekers'.
Taking on the Nazi BNP
YOUNG STUDENTS in Burnley showed how to respond to the election of three BNP councillors. Chris Healey and Helen Marks were among 30 students who took to the streets of Burnley to protest against fascism last month. Students from Habergham Sixth Form Centre, Towneley High School, Burnley, Nelson and Colne colleges collected signatures from over 600 people on a petition opposing the BNP.