Co-Existence, Neutralism, Third Force

Co-Existence, Neutralism, Third Force


This comment on the international situation and plea that politically conscious Americans, especially non-Stalinists, should give more support to the development of a Third Camp starts with several assumptions. I shall not attempt to argue their validity, save in very cursory fashion.

One of them is that the United States and the Soviet Union have not ceased to be heavily armed power-states engaged in a global power-struggle. No decisive steps to liquidate that conflict, which would entail something like a revolutionary transformation in both regimes, including their economies and spiritual outlooks, have yet been taken. For the moment there is a stalemate in power-relationships which is reflected in a series of “truces” in Korea, Indo-China, the Formosan waters, and Germany. This is not new in the history of power conflicts.

Secondly, the conflict between the “capitalist” and Communist economic systems has not undergone any abatement, much less entered the road to liquidation. Moreover, the needs of mankind in the atomic age cannot be adequately served by either of these systems or the world outlook associated with them.

Thirdly, I do not believe that “the balance of terror” produced by equal stockpiles of H-bombs is going to deliver mankind from the scourge of global war. This is not to say that the awful potentialities of nuclear and biological weapons have not at last impressed the imagination of masses throughout the world, so that statesmen have to engage in intensive psychological war over their repute for being men of peace. Nor am I denying that these statesmen are in a certain sense sincere and also feel a dread of nuclear war. This does not, however, deter leaders on both sides from feverish efforts to “perfect” their weapons. If we are realistic, I think we shall conclude that one very important reason why ”nobody wants war” just now is that the military have not had time to work out the strategy of nuclear war and are, furthermore, in the very midst of experimentation with new types of weapons which, each side hopes, may prove of decisive advantage.

The nature of the new weapons requires a vast amount of preparation for any large-scale war and may even lead to “agreements” not to use them in the future, agreements which will quite possibly be kept in the early stages of a war, but which would not be respected when resort to such weapons appeared the one remaining resource against catastrophic defeat.

Professor John von Neumann, the famous scientist who is now a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, recently disposed of the argument that because nuclear war spells mutual annihilation the case against war is now “practical” and not merely ethical or idealistic. In the June 1955 Fortune he points out that “practical” reasons have been cogent in the past when weapons ce...