[Marxism] Nuclear Issues

DCQ deeseekyou at comcast.net
Tue Jul 11 11:23:20 MDT 2006

On Jul 11, 2006, at 11:57 AM, Louis Proyect wrote:

>> In addition, should we have second thoughts about nuclear issues in
>> general?  Is the politics of abolitionism with regard to nuclear
>> weapons still tenable?  How about nuclear energy?
>> --
>> Yoshie
> Historically, Marxists have participated in the peace movement with  
> the slogan of unilateral disarmament. On nuclear energy, we would tend  
> to soft-pedal objection to 3rd world countries using it. This is  
> obviously going to loom larger as the energy crisis deepens, with some  
> Greens calling for stepped up use of nuclear power. This is not to  
> speak of the batty ex-Marxists in Spiked-online, including the blogger  
> I referred to who has the chutzpah to try to mix CLR James with Ayn  
> Rand!. His latest entry:
> http://neo-jacobins.blogspot.com/2006/07/really-good-arguments- 
> against-nuclear.html

In the abstract, Marxists should have nothing to fear from nuclear  
energy. We are not Luddites. The opposition comes from the fact that  
nuclear energy is catastrophically dangerous. "Cutting corners" for  
profit--the threat that energy executives have their bottom line  
foremost in their mind rather than social safety and utility--is one  
reason why we oppose nuclear power. Another of course is the pollution.  
A third is the fact that we are only at the early stages of  
understanding nuclear energy. It is conceivable that one day we will  
know enough about splitting atoms that it will be as safe and normal.  
But this is conjecture. At this point, the science and engineering  
behind nuclear energy is at an extremely crude stage; a reactor is  
basically a huge silencer trying to tone down and contain a nuclear  
explosion--incredibly inefficient. And the fact that we have to use  
these extremely heavy (and therefore radioactive) elements points as  
well to our infantile understanding of the science.

The final (?) source of our opposition to nuclear energy is that, given  
international and military competition among nation-states, it is  
probably inevitable that non-military application of nuclear energy  
becomes intertwined with military applications.

I don't believe that we should soft-pedal our opposition to nuclear  
power, but explain it. In the context of Iran and North Korea, our  
greatest argument is the hypocrisy of Bush & Co, that they want to keep  
others from having nuclear weapons while they maintain, augment, and  
develop their own stockpiles at whim. We should go on record that no  
nuclear-armed state has the right to deny them to another. But we  
should also point out the insanity and untenability of this massive  
nuclear detente.

Which brings us to the politics of nuclear weapons. We should oppose  
them. Period. No government should have them, starting with ours. We  
should be firm that before we can even discuss some other country's  
possible nuclear program, we should dismantle ours.

Now, the discussion gets interesting when we start asking what a  
socialist might say in Iran about the crisis. Of course, I am far too  
ignorant about the conditions and politics in Iran to have any strong  
opinions about the particular tack comrades might take there. But my  
initial thoughts would be that socialists would be a) denouncing US  
aggression and its nuclear hypocrisy; and b) opposing the hypocrisy,  
timidity, and lack of principle of the state's opposition to the US and  
its ineffectiveness in freeing the Middle East from imperial  
domination. To this, I would probably also add c) the  
stupidity/insanity of trying to fight and win a nuclear war against the  

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